Moses Fox Club

Because last week I wrote about the employee newsletter, Go-Getter, I thought it appropriate to quote from one of the early Go-Getters regarding the founding of the Moses Fox Club. The following excerpt is from the February 9, 1940 edition of the Go-Getter.

Moses Fox Club Formed at Annual Dinner for Twenty-Five Year Employees

At the very festive annual dinner for veteran Foxonians on Saturday night, Mrs. Beatrice Fox Auerbach announced the formation of the MOSES FOX CLUB – to be composed of employees who had been Foxonians for twenty-five years or more. Mrs. Auerbach, introduced by Judge S. Elsner, Toastmaster, spoke as follows:

“A year has passed since those who have been associated with G. Fox & Co. for 25 years or more were gathered together. . .

“The store, in the past year, has undergone marked changes. All have been of a progressive nature. The growing pains have almost completely subsided and we may feel that in its growth the store has now become an institution.

“Last year, we met in the cafeteria. This year, we are meeting in our Connecticut Room, which typifies the reconstructed G. Fox & Co. It is particularly fitting that the first formal, private dinner to be held here should be tonight’s occasion, celebrated by those having intimate association with the store. . .

“The significance of occasions such as this is very deep, and it seemed to me that some form of permanency should be given to them. I believe that it is safe to say that there isn’t a person here tonight who doesn’t revere the memory of my father, Moses Fox. We are all conscious of that extraordinary bond of sympathy which existed between him and every person, regardless of station, connected with G. Fox & Co. Those who knew him – and none knew him better than you who are here tonight – constantly saw in him the signs of greatness and with it all an unparalleled and unusual modesty. His life was devoted to his business and to those associated with him. He held no public office and shunned the spotlight of publicity; however, he was ever ready to throw his strong support behind every movement to further the interests of the community and of humanity. His life is the story of fulfillment of American ideal – the story of one who, through his own efforts, his understanding, his tolerance and his great appreciation for the value of service, raised from humble beginnings a great institution. It is appropriate, therefore, to inaugurate at this time, in his memory, and as a tribute to him THE MOSES FOX CLUB membership to which shall be enjoyed by all whose employment with G. Fox & Co. now extends over a period of 25 years or more. I have designed, and had caused to be made, emblems of membership. This will now be distributed to you all.”

The whole 77 25-year Foxonians received the gold Moses Fox Club pins, engraved with their initials and dates of employment.

The Moses Fox Club annual dinners were one of the highlights of the entire year forMoses Fox Club pin employees and being inducted into the club was considered to be quite an honor. The annual event was such a big to-do that it was almost always covered by the local papers.

The library’s collection of G. Fox materials contains a fair amount of materials relating to the Moses Fox Club, including the Moses Fox Club pin pictured here that belonged to Carmelo Brutto, who was inducted into the Moses Fox Club in 1966.

The Go-Getter, Fox’s Employee Newsletter

G. Fox & Co. published and distributed a weekly newsletter to G. Fox employees called the Go-Getter. While our collection does not contain a complete set of the newsletters, we do have quite a few of them. The first issue we have is Volume II, Number 16, dated July 14, 1933 and the last issue we have is Volume XXXIX, Number 48, dated November 27, 1973. The newsletter may have later been renamed Fox Tales because we have a copy of a “Love Letters Special Edition” of that publication dated June 1976.

The newsletters contain articles on a wide variety of subjects, from announcements concerning engagements, weddings, births, deaths, illnesses and promotions to profiles on individual departments and employees. Sometimes letters from Beatrice Fox Auerbach were included in the newsletters. Occasionally, word games such as crossword puzzles were also a part of the newsletter.

These newsletters provide a sense of the camaraderie among employees as well as a more intimate look at how Fox’s operated. I highly recommend taking a look through them and I just can’t resist saying, Go get a look at the Go-Getters!

Beatrice Fox Auerbach’s Guest Books

Beatrice Fox Auerbach’s guest books represent another unique and interesting part of the collection. (They also happen to be another personal favorite.) The four guest books collectively span the great majority of Mrs. Auerbach’s adult life. Beginning in 1914, three years after Beatrice Fox and George Auerbach were married, the books continue until just two months before Mrs. Auerbach died. Each guest book contains a complete array of signatures, messages, poems, and sometimes even illustrations that pay tribute to the gracious hospitality for which Beatrice Fox Auerbach was known.

Mrs. Auerbach’s guest books begin a few years after her marriage when she was living in Salt Lake City, Utah. The importance of family in Mrs. Auerbach’s life is quite evident in her guest books. There are frequent entries in the guest books from her many family members, including her sister, brothers-in-law, children, grandchildren, aunts, and uncles. Guest Book, Theresa Stern FoxIn fact, Mrs. Auerbach’s mother, Theresa Stern Fox, is the first to sign her daughter’s guest book, which emphasizes the importance of family in Mrs. Auerbach’s life. An image of this first page of Mrs. Auerbach’s guest book is represented at left. (As with all the images in this entry, click on it if you would like to see it in more detail.)

If there was an award for the most creative entry by a member of the family, the award would have to go to a December, 1944 entry by Mrs. Auerbach’s grandson, George Auerbach Koopman.George Auerbach Koopman’s Handprint Not even five months old at the time, George really left his mark on the guest book, quite literally in fact! Judging by the handwriting, the entry itself was written by George’s mother, Georgette, but there is no denying that the handprint was made by George himself. This one was definitely one of the more interesting entries in all the guest books!

Many people signed the guest book with only their signatures or with a few lines of gratitude, but others left more creative messages, often in the form of poems. Herb Auerbach’s poem to BeatriceBeatrice Fox Auerbach’s brother-in-law, Herbert Auerbach, left this poem in her guest book after a visit.

Poems weren’t the only way people expressed themselves creatively in the guest books. Many times, folks would draw little illustrations to go along with their messages or signatures. None of the other illustrations, however, can compare to those left by Marj and Huck.

Marj and Huck’s Tree Illustration

An example of one of their illustrations is represented here.

The last entry in any of the guest books is dated September 9, 1968, just two months before Mrs. Auerbach’s death. Once again, it reinforces the singular importance of family in Mrs. Auerbach’s life as the entry was written by her cousin, Hortense Plaut Bozsan.

Final Entry in Guest Books

“My Holiday, 1949”

During each of her trips abroad, at least those taken in the latter part of her life, Mrs. Auerbach wrote detailed letters to her family to keep them informed about her activities. After each trip, these letters were typed and the pages bound to create books commemorating her experiences. The collection contains volumes from three vacations she spent traveling different parts of the world with her close friend and frequent traveling companion, Chase Going Woodhouse. The earliest travel journal has the format of a diary and details her visits to Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Trans-Jordan, Israel, Old Jerusalem, Switzerland, and Germany during her vacation from August to October, 1949.

In an excerpt of one of her entries, Mrs. Auerbach writes about the differences that have occurred in the years since she had visited Istanbul as a child:

“We drove into town through the old Ottoman Empire walls down to the Pera Palace Hotel, as we were unable to be ‘put up’ at the Park, which is far more modern but very small and our dates of arrival having been changed, the rooms could not be held. The Pera Palace is the same old hotel that Mother, Dad, Fan and I stopped at years ago, long before I was married. It is very run-down. The owner, a wealthy man, fills about twenty-five of the two-hundred-fifty rooms and then does not take any more guests, but just says politely but firmly, ‘I am full.'”

The travel journal is full of descriptions of the places that she and Mrs. Woodhouse visit. Mrs. Auerbach has quite strong opinions about many of the people she meets, but especially about the political and economic climates in the countries she explores. To me, the significance of this travel log is in its representation of one woman’s view of post-World War II life. Mrs. Auerbach talks a lot about the destruction that occurred during the war as well as what has been rebuilt and what life is like for people after the war. She definitely has her own point of view and it certainly makes for an interesting read!

Connecticut Room Menus

Archives are full of surprises and there’s nothing quite like the thrill of finding a hidden gem! While searching through the library’s ephemera collection to answer a reference question on an unrelated topic, a box of advertisements caught my eye because the label had G. Fox & Co. on it. Unbeknownst to me, the library has a whole box of G. Fox catalogs and a folder of other interesting materials such as a Charga-Plate (the old version of today’s credit card) and a pocket photo album. What really caught my eye, however, was the Connecticut Room menu from Friday, October 17, 1947!

This menu is a wonderful reflection of its time! Inserted in the menu is a small slip of paper that states:

“In compliance with the President’s request for conservation during the food crisis, G. Fox and Company will

  1. Serve no meat on Tuesday.
  2. Serve no poultry or eggs on Thursday.
  3. Serve bread or rolls only on request.”

This was in response to President Truman’s address about the world food crisis, the first presidential address to be telecast. It’s pretty amazing to see what kinds of information can be gleaned from a menu.

In the Koopman Family Collection, we also have a Connecticut Room menu; this one from Tuesday, October 5, 1965 and it’s really quite interesting to compare and contrast the two menus, from the food that was served to the difference in prices.

Click here to read more about the two menus!

Georgette and Dorothy: Humanitarians

Last week, I wrote about Beatrice Fox Auerbach’s two daughters, Georgette and Dorothy, but this week I want to focus on one aspect of her daughters’ lives: their humanitarianism.

Georgette and Dorothy were both deeply committed to serving their community, a trait most likely inherited from their mother. In fact, they worked with their mother in a number of instances, especially through their involvement with the Service Bureau for Women’s Organizations. These women not only contributed extensively to this and many other organizations from a monetary standpoint, but also donated generously of their time, in spite of the fact that they both must have had their hands full running households that each included six children!

An article in the Hartford Courant, “Georgette Auerbach Koopman,” appearing on April 7, 2004, shortly after Georgette’s death demonstrates the extent of her community commitments. Included in the article is a list of Hartford-area institutions that directly benefited from Georgette’s time and money: the Wadsworth Atheneum, the Hartford Stage Company, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, the Connecticut Institute for the Blind, the American School for the Deaf, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Kingswood-Oxford School, the Hartford Art School, the University of Hartford, and the Hebrew Home and Hospital. This list may be extensive, but it is by no means complete. (For instance, both Georgette and her husband Richard were members of the Connecticut Historical Society, as were her mother, sister and brother-in-law.)

Dorothy was equally committed to being active in the community. She was often involved in the same organizations as her sister.  The organizations closest to her heart appear to have been the American School for the Deaf, the Connecticut Institute for the Blind, the University of Hartford, and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. Her obituary, like her sister’s, places great emphasis on her community involvement and volunteer efforts.

Beatrice Fox Auerbach shared her strong commitment to and love for the Hartford and Connecticut communities with her two children. Georgette and Dorothy continued, if not surpassed, their mother’s humanitarian efforts and Connecticut deeply benefited from their generosity.

Beatrice’s Girls

Of all of her many accomplishments (and there is quite the lengthy list), Beatrice Fox Auerbach was probably most proud of her role as a mother and, later, grandmother. Beatrice and her girlsMrs. Auerbach had two daughters, Georgette and Dorothy. Georgette was born on May 14, 1916 when the family was still living in Salt Lake City, Utah and Dorothy was born on October 14, 1919 after the family had returned to Hartford. It is quite clear based on the materials in this collection that Mrs. Auerbach adored her children, as did her husband, George. As a matter of fact, in the Graphics Department, along with this photograph of Beatrice with Georgette (at left) and Dorothy, there is also the sweetest photograph of George Auerbach holding a thirteen-week-old Georgette!

There is also a lovely letter written by Georgette and Dorothy in January of 1925 (they were 8 and 5, respectively) to their mother while she was away in Washington. They write about attending a concert with their grandpa (Moses Fox) and that “Daddy” surprised them by showing up unexpectedly at their cousin’s birthday party. (I find it especially interesting that they address the letter as “Dear Mother” and yet refer to their father as “Daddy.”)

Mrs. Auerbach remained close to her daughters from the time of their births until her own death in 1968. In addition to adoring her daughters, however, she was certainly also a doting grandmother. Mrs. Auerbach had twelve grandchildren. Georgette and her husband, Richard Koopman, had three boys and three girls: George, Rena, Harry, Dorothy Brooks, Richard, and Beatrice. Dorothy and her husband, Bernard Schiro, had five girls and a boy: Susan, Linda, Robert, Helen Beatrice, Elizabeth, and Jean. In case you missed it, check out our previous posting, Happy Birthday, Beatrice!, for a look at the entire clan!

Theresa Stern Fox and her Eyeglasses

Theresa Stern Fox was the wife of Moses Fox and mother of Beatrice and Fannie. In my opinion, the neatest thing we have that belonged to Theresa is her eyeglass prescription along with a pair of her old lenses. I don’t know how historically significant this item may be, but I think it’s still incredibly nifty!

The eyeglass prescription is from 1917, written by Dr. E. Terry Smith of Hartford. Evidently, Theresa needed a new pair of reading glasses. The lenses are most likely from her previous prescription and were removed so that the lenses from the new prescription could be placed in her existing frames.

Without this prescription, we may never have known that Theresa wore glasses and, while I don’t know the relevance of having that information, I am certainly happy with having added another detail to the life of one member of the Fox family.

Moses Fox’s Household Expenses

Beatrice Fox Auerbach’s father, Moses Fox, became president of G. Fox & Co. upon the death of his father, Gerson Fox. Like his father before him, Moses Fox was a pillar in the Hartford community. Very few materials concerning his private life have made it into our collection, probably because he was an extremely private man who shunned all personal publicity. We do, however, have some of his financial papers detailing his household expenses between 1928 and 1937 for his home on 1040 Prospect Ave in Hartford. These expense lists offer an interesting look into the private life of a man who was at once both well-known and not known.

The household expense lists do not cover the entire period between 1928 and 1937, but do offer fragments of his financial life. Moses was somewhat meticulous with his finances. He always itemizes his expenses by month, totals each month, and then provides totals for a set number of months. At the end of the list, under the total house expense for the given months, is a listing for what half the total expenses would be. I believe he does this because he and his wife, Theresa, shared their home with Beatrice and her daughters during this time period and Beatrice would have contributed the other half of the household expenses.

A typical month in 1935 finds the household expenses totaling about $1500. Of that, about $415 a month (sometimes slightly more) is spent on domestic help and there is almost always a line item of miscellaneous totaling exactly $400. Other expenses include repairs, which are often further broken down by the type of repair like plumbing, chimney cleaning, or awnings, garden & lawn, laundry, and other usual expenses like electricity, gas, telephone, and groceries. While it may be typical of the time, I thought it was interesting that “milk” was listed separately from “groceries” and often exceeded $50 a month.

I wonder how future researchers will use these lists and if the kind and amount of expenses will tell us anything about how the Fox family was affected by the Great Depression. I find them very interesting, as well as a wonderful source of information, and sincerely hope that other people will also be interested in them. Feel free to stop by the CHS and check them out!

The Ephemeral Side of Fox’s

Ephemeral is not generally a word that comes to mind when thinking about G. Fox & Co.; afterall the store was in operation until a few months after its 145 anniversary! Fox’s was a Hartford institution. And yet, despite the fact that the store was a fixture in downtown Hartford for such a long time (or perhaps for that very reason), there aspects of G. Fox & Co. that were very short-lived.

Advertisements, gift certificates, charge cards, shopping bags, shoe and hat boxes, stationery, envelopes, bills and receipts, even matchbooks. All of these items, and many others with the G. Fox logo, are represented to some extent within the collection. Generally speaking, materials like those listed here are classified as ephemera, or items designed to be useful for only short periods of time. Because of the very nature of the material, ephemera is often discarded once the objects are no longer of use. For that reason, our collection doesn’t contain large amounts of G. Fox ephemera and most of the items we do have are from the later periods of the store’s operation.

Pictured below are some examples of the ephemera in our collection. Click on the image to see an enlarged version.

G. Fox Ephemera

Fox Ephemera