Photo Credit: The Steinfeldt Photography Collection of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest.
This image of the Modelevsky family and the interior of the Modelevsky Grocery store in St. Paul, Minnesota, was taken in 1926.
Pictured, left to right, are Hilda Singer, Charles Modelevsky, and Zelda Modelevsky.
The store was located at 559 Charles Street. This is what 559 Charles Street looks like today (on Google “Street View”):
Shaya ‘Charles’ Modelevsky was born in Russia, in 1874. His father’s name was Chaim. He married Zelda Weisburd—8 years his junior, and together they had four children: William, Bernard, Edith and Aaron. Shaya passed away on April 30, 1953. Zelda lived on until 1965.
On the right wall of the grocery store in the picture hang posters for Carnation milk, Rice Flakes, Chesterfields cigarettes, and Rice Krispies. The late Golda Meir, who used to live not far away, over in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was a heavy Chesterfield smoker. The left wall is dominated by two Union Leader beer posters.
On the front of the counter, to the right of Zelda Modelevsky, there’s some kind of cake mix poster proclaiming: “It’s Easy.” On the left side of the picture stands a pinball machine.
I suppose one could spend a contemplative afternoon at Modelevsky’s grocery store, sipping beer, smoking Chesterfields and playing pinball. Business must have been booming, back in 1928. I know that from the fact that they hired Hilda Singer to help around. Unless she was a relative.
Hilda Singer was 21 when the photograph was taken. She lived until 1990. Her husband, Irving, passed away in 1964.
The 1940 census mentions Hilda and Irving, who lived on Ashland Avenue. Both are listed at age 35. They had a roomer, Ben Wenstein, age 45.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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