My maternal grandfather, Simon Lubowsky, owned a jewelry store in the Bronx. He was mostly a watchmaker, though on his passenger manifest when he came to the U.S. he described himself as a silversmith. I think a lot of the walk-in business was related to watch repairs, but I’m not really sure. Back in those days of mechanical watches, they needed to be cleaned regularly and we believe that the chemicals he used in cleaning them were what caused the leukemia he died of.
He also sold both fine and costume jewelry and he always had displays of personalized jewelry In the window. When my mother was growing up, all of the personalized jewelry always had her name. As I was his first granddaughter, I got pride of place for about 8 years. I have never completely forgiven my cousin, Ellen, for sharing the spotlight with me after that.
I guess he did well, but owning your own business is a huge constraint on your time. He had enough flexibility that he could close the store and take us to the Bronx Zoo, but it was hard for him to take vacations. What finally got him to retire, however, was a couple of robberies.
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