The Pascal & Nacht haberdashery store on 53rd and Eighth Avenue in New York City was my great-grandfather’s store in 1890. Here he is in front of the store in one of the few pictures we have of him. The store represented his first move up the economic and urban ladder. The whole family was proud of him. Sigmund Pascal (my great grandfather) started on the Lower East Side as a peddler in 1888 at age 26. He had been a banker back in Bucharest. His father had been a state lottery agent. But, when the Romanian government passed anti-Semitic laws barring Jews (non-citizens) from employment in banking, and from attending most schools, the Pascals decided to move. Jake Nacht – a fellow countryman from Romania –met the family when they arrived at Castle Gardens, NY in 1888. Our family lived on the Lower East Side. After two years as a peddlar, Sigmund and Jake opened their store way uptown. No one in the family had been in clothing before. But in New York, Sigmund and his sisters went into the garment industry as did most New York Jews. Sigmund’s sisters finished neckties in their apartment. In 1892, Jake’s brother took over the store and Sigmund moved on to be a wholesaler in woolen goods. Most likely this meant he supplied precut fabric to other immigrants like his sisters – making clothing in their apartment or small shop. Sigmund didn’t marry until 1895, after he saw his three younger sisters married and his brothers in school or established. That was the right thing to do.
– Rachel Greenfield