Announcement Date: October 11, 1970
How Friends of Jack Martin Remember Him Still
By ROBERT MG. THOMAS Jr.
When Jack Martin died in 1950, a three-paragraph obituary mentioned that he was a graduate of New York University (where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and the Psi Chi psychology society), had served as a captain in the coast artillery, was president of the Embros Curtain Company at 230 Fifth Avenue, and that he was only 34 years old.
Nothing was said about his friends,-which is not unusual; but they as it turns out, are. The Jack Martin Fund they started as a memorial, originally to combat polio, the “three-day illness’ that took his life, has raised-more than $2-million for Mount Sinai Hospital; and
they aren’t finished yet.
When the fund’s 19th annual Crown Ball is held at the New York Hilton on Saturday, Gustave Feldman, Mr. Martin’s brother-in-law and the fund chairman, expects to add as much as $300,000 to the total. Last year the benefit, whose earnings had risen steadily over the years, cleared a record $425,000; but Mr. Feldman points out that 1970 has not been a good year for the soft goods industry, whose executives provide the fund’s support. In fact, it’s been terrible. As a result, Mr. Feldman has had a hard time selling ads for the ball journal, the benefit’s “big money-maker.”
Midi Called Culprit
“More firms have been forced to close this year than ever before,” he said, “even more than in the Depression.” He explained: “The fact that the midi-length didn’t go over according to the projections of Women’s Wear and a few couturiers has had a definite effect on business, and executives have had to curtail their donations.”
Though he doesn’t pretend to be involved in high fashion, Gus Feldman is something of an expert when it comes to the midi in the popular-priced junior sizes mass-produced by his own Santo Dress Company: “The midi is not being accepted,” he says. “We offered It, we shipped it, It was not successful. We revised our hem lengths, shipped one inch below the knee and it was accepted—grudgingly. Our above-the-knee is doing well, but we even had to shorten them. They want them the shorter -the better.”
Also, Mr. Feldman finds that hotel and related costs have risen about 15 per cent, which the fund promptly countered by hiking ticket prices 25 percent—from $200 to $250 a couple. He figures the dinner will cost about $60 a couple, and since the fund has no operating expenses, everything above that will go directly to the hospital.)
To keep costs down, Mr. Feldman and about 40 of the fund’s 240 members donate the hors d’oeuvres, and the liquor is provided by J & B Scotch through Sam Jacobs, who used to live next door to Mr. Feldman in Lawrence, L. I., and who, conveniently, is a J & B executive.
Mr. Jacobs has moved, but is “still on the island,” which his former neighbor finds’ unusual. When they leave Lawrence, most of Mr. Feldman’s contemporaries, who rode’ the postwar wave of migrations to the suburbs, go back to the city.
“It’s the second great exodus,” he says. “When their children are grown and gone, they move back to Manhattan. They’re getting big money for their houses, but they pay a lot for their apartments, too.”
Many members of the fund are from Lawrence and got to know Mr. Martin, who maintained bachelor quarters on West End Avenue, when he visited his sister and brother-in-law.
Men Who Helped
Mr. Feldman attributes much of the fund’s success to the drawing power of the well-known and popular garment industry executives who have agreed to serve as guests of honor over the years.
He cites ,S. C. Hansen, a Sears vice president, who was one of the first; as well as Charles C. Bassine, chairman of Spartans Industries (Korvette’s); Jared L. (Terry) Rosenthal of Mangel Stores and Harold M. Lane, the chairman of Lerner Stores, whose son, Mr. Lane Jr., its president, will be honored on Saturday—the first time a son has followed a father in that position.
Mention of the senior Mr. Lane reminds Mr. Feldman of the typical success story that runs through the garment industry like a common thread: “He [Mr. Lane] was a blouse buyer out of Filene’s in Boston when old Mr. Lerner, who had a few blouse shops, ran into him and became impressed with his salesmanship. He hired him to open half a dozen stores in New England and from there on, well, I guess you could just say he became a multimillionaire and a famous philanthropist.” Lerner Stores now operates 400 specialty shops, the nation’s largest chain.
It’s the kind of story Industry executives love to tell; and, who knows, if he had lived maybe they would be telling Jack Martin’s story today. As it turned out, of course, they do.
Mr. Feldman recalled that Mr. Martin had taken his father’s small curtain importing business and turned it into a thriving modern manufacturing operation with a plant at Bush Terminal and a showroom in Manhattan. The company didn’t do so well after Jack Martin’s death and closed when his father died.
The Jack Martin Fund has been a different story. In 1956 it gave Mount Sinai the Jack Martin Respirator Center, “the first one between Boston and Miami.” And when the Salk vaccine reduced the need for polio funds, it shifted its attention to adolescent psychiatry after hospital officials assured Mr. Feldman there was “a great and growing need for it.”
“They showed us how we might make the same history we did with polio,” Mr. Feldman explained. The fund promptly opened the Jack Martin Adolescent Psychiatry Division and has supported it fully ever since.
On Wednesday, Mr. Feldman reported that 742 of the higher-priced tickets had been sold for this Saturday’s 19th fund benefit. Though that’s down somewhat from the 1,000 to 1,400 who usually attend, he thought it was pretty good considering. Besides, there was still time to sell more, and the journal was still open for ads.
When he speaks of his friends in the garment industry and the $2-million they have raised, Mr. Feldman does not try to disguise his pride. “We’re not professionals, 9 he says, “we are an amateur group.”
The New York Times
Published: October 11, 1970
Copyright © The New York Times