Objects of the Month

March 2011: Birthday postcard from Rich's Shoes, 1935

Birthday postcard from Rich's Shoes, 1935
  • Object No.: 2001.21.13
  • Donor: Flora Atkin
  • Description:

    Birthday postcard addressed to Eleanor Blumenthal from Rich's shoe store, postmarked January 23, 1935

Bernard Rich opened a men's clothing store at 1322-1324 Seventh Street, NW, in 1869. His sons, Louis and Max, soon joined the business. In 1894, B. Rich & Sons became a family shoe shop and, four years later, moved into the four-story building they had built at 10th & F Streets, NW.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Rich's Shoes remained at 10th & F for more than half a century, becoming a downtown landmark. In addition to this main store, Rich's opened a branch in Georgetown by 1954 and another in Chevy Chase Shopping Center two years later. In 1961, the downtown shop relocated a few blocks west to a modern, new store at 1319-21 F Street, NW. A final branch opened in Farragut Square in 1968.

Throughout the years, the business passed to Max's son, Herbert, and then to Herbert's son, Frank. When the last of the four stores closed its doors in 1987, Frank's youngest son, Ned, was also part of the family business.

Frank Rich, Sr., remembers the sender of the birthday postcard, Rae Solomon, as a "very competent children's shoe salesperson" with loyal customers who returned to her year after year with their growing children. Eleanor Blumenthal, the 12-year-old postcard recipient, lived at 2012 Klingle Road, NW, with her parents, Joseph and Anna, and older sister, Flora. Eleanor's grandparents, Rachel and Herman Blumenthal, lived above their store on Seventh Street, NW, in the heart of the downtown Jewish community.

Rachel kept albums of penny postcards that she received for holidays from family and friends. Rosh Hashanah, birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Valentine's Day were among the many events commemorated in her collection. Her granddaughter, Flora, now an Honorary Director of the Jewish Historical Society, has donated more than two dozen of her family's postcards to the Society's archives. The Society has used the postcards in youth education programs and as invitation illustrations for special events.

Do you have materials from your childhood in the Washington, D.C. area that you'd like to donate to the Jewish Historical Society's collection? Please contact us at info@jhsgw.org or (202) 789-0900.

Point of Interest: The Rich's building at 10th & F Streets, NW, is now home to Madame Tussauds, which came to Washington, D.C., in 2007.