I was digging around the house recently for something old and vaguely interesting, when I uncovered a white box in the basement. In this box were numerous photographs, some in color, most in black and white. While all of them were rather eye-catching, one in particular caught my attention. It was an old photo postcard, the front depicting eight distinguished-looking gentlemen, while the back was covered in cursive so detailed I couldn’t even read it save for the year at the top: 1914.
That in itself gave me pause. Upon close inspection I recognized that the language written there was Romanian, but since it was written with English characters, I couldn’t tell at first glance. To think that, in just one century, the standard alphanumeric alphabet has changed so much in how it is written that today’s youth, namely myself, can’t make heads or tails of it is indicative of just how much the times have changed. I recall learning basic cursive in elementary school, but nothing as ornate as this, and certainly not for use on simple mail correspondence.
I showed this postcard to my father, who has a better eye for cursive writing than I do. What he told me about the gentlemen in this picture was quite surprising.
According to him, this is a photo of my great-great-uncle Aron Schacter, though which man exactly is him my father is unsure. A Romanian man, Aron Schacter started his own furniture company in America in the early 1910s, the National Chair Company. As the head of this successful startup during America’s industrial boom, Schacter became a self-made man and earned the right to bestow sponsorship upon immigrants, allowing them to join him in America. With this right, he brought his entire extended family over from Romania (in a state of unrest, as this was right before World War I broke out). The other gentlemen in the postcard are his various brothers and cousins, but a major exclusion is Schacter’s niece, Eva, who just happens to be my great-grandmother.
It’s a little sobering to realize that if it were not for the actions of one industrious man, I would more than likely not even exist—assuming my father is telling the truth as well as remembering correctly. Googling has yielded nothing of Schacter or his National Chair Company, unfortunately, so I cannot verify this information, but I think that’s all right; if this man was truly as my father says he was, then all I can say is this: Here’s to you, Aron Schacter. You made some damn fine chairs, and those chairs led to me. So, y’know, thanks for that.