Somewhere around the turn of the century, Max and Eva Adler began their clothing business. No one in the family remembers the exact date and so much has happened in the street that no one remembers it either, but they all remember hard times.
When Max passed away, their son Irving ( in front of the store wearing a white shirt) took over the family business with his wife ( leaning over outdoor stand- wearing blue top, light skirt). They ran it with the help of Eva ( in foreground- wearing blue sweater, dark skirt) and her sister Tillie Mendelson ( sitting in front of store- yellow top, dark skirt).This painting was done two years after Irving Adler passed away and in it I moved reality around a bit and integrated the generations. Eva’s and Max’s granddaughter and her family are shown as they were when I met them two years later. They walk into the middle of the painting, slightly to the right. Leslie, the granddaughter holding Stacey’s hand and her husband, Dr. Paul Kaplan holding Amy in his arms with Jody following behind. Now in 1979 as I write this story, they have a fourth child.This is more than a painting of Orchard Street to me- it’s a painting of a group of people who mean very much to me.There is Trianos Genis (on the street he is called “John”). He came from Greece in 1968 and he and his family have been in many of my Orchard Street paintings. Directly over him in a dark suit is a man whom I have known since I made my first drawing on Rivington Street from the window of the Romanian synagogue where he is the “shammes” or caretaker. To the left of him (in striped blue and white shirt) is Mike Tejeda, who worked for the Adlers. To the right of him is Pedro O’Neil, who has been here for over twenty years and works for Robbins. Robbins is in the middle of the painting on the left and it’s owner Irwin gave me much of the information for this painting, since when I began it, the Adler business had already been sold.Robbins was begun by Irwin’s father, Joseph, in 1932. At that time it was on Grand Street. When they moved the business to Orchard Street, the Adlers were already there. The two boys would play ball in the street on Sundays, because on that day no pushcarts were allowed on the street. Stores opened after sundown on Sabbath and closed around 11 or 12 at night. After the stores closed, people still came out on the street and it was a world in itself. Now, after dark, the streets are deserted and dangerous.During the Christmas season, electrical wires were connected to the pushcarts so that people had lights by which to sell their wares. It cost a pushcart peddler $1.00 dollar a day for a permit to operate on the city streets. When the Essex Street Market opened, the pushcarts we’re forced to be in the closed market area and things were never the same after that. The character of the street had changed completely.The black haired girl coming out of Mandels is Edith Burgos and straight across from her to the left is Irving Talb (in checked jacket with hat). He came from Greece in 1951 and has a store near where Edith is walking. This story was written four years after the painting was completed. Mandels is no longer there and Edith now works across the street. There are less of the American born Jewish owners now and more who were born in Greece or Russia or came from Israel. The Freedmans own Adlers now.In the last few years, I have painted in many exiting areas, but there has not been one place where I could do so many paintings of the same block and still find material for countless others.Notes on people in paintingMike (Miguel) Tejeda- Came to United States in 1965. Went to George Washington High School. First worked for a place on West 17th Street, then for the Adlers. From watching other people on Orchard Street I came to realize that the relationship between him and the Adlers was unusual. It came from both sides. Mike was outgoing and friendly and felt himself to be a part of the business, and the Adlers treated him as a member of it. He took care of them and they took care of him in turn. When in 1990 I was painting in the Garment Center, we ran across each other and he gave me the address of his present work- American Farms Incorporated Milk and Milk Products.Irving Tabb- Came from Greece in 1951. His family was killed in the concentration camps. Now he has a second family.