A biography of Leonard J. Grossman, as Trudel understood it.
[Note: Remember to click on images for larger or more complete photos.]
Albert Bertold Grossman, Leonard J’s father, attended Rabbinical Seminary in Hungary, where his oldest brother was the director, with the intention of becoming a rabbi. He is a very highly educated person, especially in Jewish knowledge of theology and theosophy.
In order to visit another brother in the USA, he came to Atlanta, Georgia where he settled as an art connoisseur. He knew where all objects of art were at that time and through that, was in touch with many very wealthy families. In one year, he crossed the ocean 12 times in order to bring “objets d’art” to the USA. A very wealthy banker joined with him to form the insurance firm of Grossman and Haas to insure the art he brought here.
In the meantime, a German Jewish couple, Leopold and Rosa Meyer, lived in New York. He had left Germany under Bismarck, fought for the English in the Crimean War. One of their children was Henrietta, born in New York. When she was four months old they moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Leopold Meyer was a good friend of James A Garfield who later became President of the USA, and who made Mr. Meyer superintendent of the Postal Service in Cleveland. He was a Republican and leader of the German Americans in his town. When he died, he was sitting in a chair and held a cane which Garfield had given him as presents.
One of his daughters had married the superintendent of the B’nai Brith Orphan Home in Atlanta Georgia. When they had a baby, her sister Henrietta came to visit them. At that time, Albert Bertold Grossman was secretary of the biggest Jewish club there. He was the best dressed, best looking man there, about 20 years older than Henrietta.** He fell in love with that beautiful girl, who all the newspapers were writing about. Although he was expected to marry the daughter of his partner, he married this beauiful young lady one year later. She was the favored niece of Rabbi Emil Hirsch, who was the so-called uncle of the whole meschpoche.
This young couple, Albert and Henrietta, had one daughter, Madge, who married a wealthy lawyer, Raymon Schwartz, a Portuguese Jew whose family came to the USA under George Washington. Her father lives with them in Sumter, SC. The mother, who unfortunately died a few years ago at the age of 58, was for many years the head of the biggest Christian Science church in Chicago. She wrote the words to many beautiful songs and was a wonderful wife and mother.
On July 4, 1891, Albert and Henrietta’s son Leonard Jacob Grossman was born in Atlanta. For a short time they lived in Cleveland with the mother’s relatives. A few years later there was a baby brother, Vivian Bernard (Later: Bernard Vincent) Grossman.
When they left Atlanta Leonard was six years old and knew mostly German. They never talked English at home. Even their housekeeper, who came from Switzerland, talked only German. Of course in kindergarten in Atlanta and in school in Cleveland, he had to speak English. They moved to Chicago when the father was made manager of all the salesmen in 30 states for a disinfecting company. A richer banker, Henry Grünebaum, started a new insurance company with Albert B. G. This life insurance company is still in business but under a different name.
Leonard attended eight years of grammar school, four years high school, one and one half years of law school. In 1912 he returned to Atlanta where his family had moved back one year earlier. He had worked his own way through high school and university with different jobs – assistant janitor, usher in theaters, salesman, newspaper reporter, etc. He was also president of his class 1908-1910 and also in the Kent Law School.In 1908 he won an award as champion speaker for Illinois schools. He won several awards and a free scholarship to the University of Chicago. In Atlanta, he found a job as a newspaper writer. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1913.
For six years he practiced law in Atlanta.
In 1919 he moved back to Chicago and opened a law office. He became Assistant Corporation Counsel for Chicago after four years of being lawyer for the police department. From 1927-29 he was alderman of the ward which included the University of Chicago. From 1929-31 he was Special Assistant Corporation Counsel until Republican mayor William H. Thompson lost the election.
June 1, 1921 he got married and Feb 17, 1929 his daughter Flora Mae was born. After the defeat of the Republican Party in November 1932, his wife started divorce proceedings, after they had already not lived together for several months. In 1933 the divorce was finally granted with even rights for both parents on behalf of the child. Flora Mae would live with her mother but leonard would hasve the right to visit her at any time, or have her with him. Leonard was not forced to pay more than $10 a month for child support since the judge knew he would do what he could.
Now the trouble is that his ex-wife can go to court and ask for more money if she can prove he earns more. But that is not possible at this time since he does not earn that much, now that his “party” is out. He works 18-20 hours every day and has very big expenses: office rent, secretary, hotel room, food etc. The mother, on the other hand, has an excellent job at a hotel on the south side owned by former good friends of his. She can afford a lovely apartment and a lady to take care of Flora Mae.
Leonard gets many cases referred from his former partner, Albert Goodman, but it is not like a political job.
Since he cannot give the mother as much money as she would like, there seems to be an argument every Sunday either with the mother, aunt or grandmother who all try to turn the child against her father. I am never there when they fight. Either I stay at the place where we eat, or wait in the lobby of the house where they live. I do not want to be involved. As a result we have not seen Flora Mae for several weeks now. But as you heard on that record he is doing better all the time and we hopethinks will improve so we can get married before too long and he can give the mother more money, that is all she is interested in.
*The painting still hangs on my livingroom wall. According to family legend it is one of those from Albert Grossman’s art dealing days. Whenever it hangs crookedly, Trudel used to say, “The ship is sinking,” which became a family expression for such things. To this day when I see a crooked piece of art I use that phrase. People look at me strangely. I wish I could read the artists name.
**That age difference was not so unusual. Trudel’s parents, and both of her sisters married men about 20 years their senior, just as Trudel would.