Thursday, May 21, 2020

Ben Yosowitz and Family


Good lines of merchandise were always been stocked by Yosowitz Men's Clothing store on the Square in Lawrenceville and the store was at all times a credit to the city of Lawrenceville. But who was the family who started and continued the store? 

In January 1912, Ben Yosowitz and Lillian Berkowitz were married by Rabbi Fowler in Terre Haute.  But a year later in February Lillian was granted a divorce and Ben was ordered to pay her $400 as alimony. In 1914, Ben returned to his homeland and married his sweetheart, Jennie Prizant who had been born in Czechoslovakia, on January 1, 1894. Jennie became a great help in the store and, as soon as their three boys Mandell, Joseph, and Morris, were large enough, they also did their bit toward making a success of the business. Mandell remained associated with his father in the business; Joseph founded and operated Joseph’s, a ladies’ ready-to-wear business in Vincennes for 44 years; and Morris was in the shoe business in Arizona.

Ben and Jennie Yosowitz purchased a lovely home on 709 E. Jefferson St. in 1947 and had it completely remodeled and redecorating before the family moved.  A full basement was added; the first floor contained a large living room, sun parlor, dining room, kitchen with dinette area, two bedrooms and a bath.  They had previously lived at 607 North 13th St.   Ben suffered a heart attack in November 1949, but recovered and continued to work.  He died August 16, 1975, and Jennie died November 14, 1976.

Mandell Yosowitz was born December 19, 1914, and attended LTHS entering first, University of Illinois, and later, graduating from DePaul University as a music major in 1937.  He was an excellent violinist and vocal soloist. He began teaching at the high school at Raceland, Greenup County, Kentucky, where he was in charge of the band and taught music.  He was also the Boy Scout master in that county.  In 1941, he accepted a position as head of the music department in the Williamson High School in West Virginia, but the school year was to be cut short for Mandell.

The stores of Hyman Frockt and Ben Yosowitz closed every year to celebrate their Jewish heritage. When WWII began, it was only natural for the two oldest Yosowitz boys to enlist.

Mandell enlisted on December 12, 1941 and was sent to Indianapolis; he was soon sent to training school for the Army Air Corps and later, sent overseas.  While in North Africa, a major from his outfit called his parents to inform them of his welfare, praising him highly for his conduct. In 1945, under the Adjusted Service Rating Plan S/Sgt. Yosowitz had amassed sufficient points to warrant being shipped back to the United States for a discharge.  On October 6, he was on board the SS William M. Evarts that left Suez, Egypt heading for the homeland.  He had been overseas for 34 months and during the latter part of this period was assigned to the 19th Weather Squadron. 

Mandell married Norma Sager, August 10, 1952, in Piggott, Arkansas, and the couple had two daughters. Norma was the daughter of Roy and Mary Sager of Lawrenceville; she had graduated from Welborn College of Nursing just a few days earlier, on August 1, 1952. She worked as a nurse at the Lawrence County Memorial Hospital before retiring as well as working for Dr. Pace and Dr. Cullison in their medical practices. Mandell continued to work with his father, eventually taking over the business completely. In 1960, Mr. and Mrs. Mandell Yosowitz and their daughters resided at 1010 22nd St. in Lawrenceville. Norma died June 5, 2008, at age 81 yrs. Mandell had preceded her in death, August 14, 2007.

S/Sgt Morris Yosowitz, the son of Ben and Jennie, also served in WWII, receiving a blue citation ribbon with the oak leaf cluster, a good conduct medal and a campaign medal with two battle stars on it. He had enlisted in Indianapolis and then been assigned for training for a clerical technician course at Ft Logan in Colorado because of the unusually high marks made on his examinations. Later in 1942, he was transferred to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where he worked in the Squadron Orderly room as correspondence and file clerk.  He received his promotion to sergeant on October 4, 1942.

Morris was stationed in Sicily during 1944 but also saw service in Africa, Italy, and France in his two years of service overseas.  Returning stateside, in November 1944, he was assigned to an South Carolina Army hospital for a short time where he was under observation and then he returned to Lawrenceville on furlough. On February 8, 1945, he was given an honorable discharge for medical reasons.

After the war, in January, 1949, Mandel drove him to Phoenix, Arizona for the balance of the winter as he has been in ill health.  Morris married Marilyn Freyer on January 8, 1950, and the couple resided at 901 12th Lawrenceville. He worked with his father and brother, Mandell, in the Lawrenceville store until finally moving to Arizona permanently.  

The third brother, Joseph was born April 1, 1916, in Lawrence County and graduated from LTHS with the class of 1932. Joseph started a women’s wear store in Vincennes in 1934, at 214 Main Street. Joseph’s as it was known, was considered one of Vincennes “smartest shops”.He married Sally Maurer and the couple had four children, the two sons being doctors.  Dr. Edward E. Yosowitz of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston was mentioned in the 1974 July issue of the Saturday Evening Post, for having developed a device which would aid women who had difficulty carrying a child to full term.