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Marshall M. Sloane

Full text from interview with Marshall Sloane in 2010. Highlighted section are included in audio presentation. Audio requires QuickTime player (free download from Apple) or equivalent MP3 player installed with your browser. 

Marshall SloaneMarshall M. Sloane was born and raised in Somerville, Massachusetts.  He graduated from Somerville High School, attended Boston University and received and Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Salem State College, as well as an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Southern New England School of Law.  He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

The Sloane family arrived in Somerville more than 100 years ago.  Mr. Sloane’s father, Jacob, started a furniture business in Magoun Square in 1912, which Marshall took over in 1952.

In 1959, Mr. Sloane opened Community Cooperative Bank across from the Sloane Furniture Store in Magoun Square; and in 1969, Mr. Sloane founded Century Bank and Trust Company, a full-service commercial community bank whose focus was and remains providing financial services to small and medium sized businesses.  Mr. Sloane is Chairman of the Bank and also serves as Chairman of Century Bancorp, Inc.

A strong believer in community involvement, Mr. Sloane’s extensive work and accomplishment in community affairs have been widely recognized.  In appreciation for the Sloane Family’s many years of  community service and contributions to the City of Somerville, on September 21, 2006, the City of Somerville named Magoun Square – The Jacob George Sloane Square in honor of Marshall Sloane’s father’s contributions and community service to the city and service to his country in WWI.

Mr. Sloane and his wife, Barbara, reside in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.  They have three grown children and nine grandchildren.

Part 1 – The Early Years in Somerville – Approx. 6 minutes.

     The first of my family to arrive in Somerville was my father's uncle, Abe Sloane, who opened a florist shop in Davis Square.  He had three sons and a daughter; one son was Alvin a Professor at MIT, another was a retailer and one followed in his father's footsteps, but as a wholesale florist.

     My mother's father my grandfather, Jacob Jacobson arrived in the USA in the 1800s and settled in Meridan, Connecticut.  He later moved to Lawrence where my Mom was born in 1896.  My mother had two sisters, Edith and Anna, and three brothers, Sam, Edward and Abe. Abe was the only sibling to attend college; he became a lawyer and practiced in Somerville until World War II when he entered the service and ultimately settled in Hawaii working for the government.   I'm sure my grandfather worked hard in the Lawrence mills from sunrise to sunset until they moved to Dorchester where he opened a grocery store, later moving to So. Boston and then to Somerville, where he started a wholesale paper business with his three sons. 

     My maternal grandfather, Jacob Jacobson, lived in Somerville on Highland Road until the time of his death.  Abe Sloane and my grandfather were early founders of the Somerville Temple.

     My father, Jacob Sloane, came to this country in 1910 from Eishyshok, a small town in Vilna.  He came over on the ship Megantic ArrivalMegantic and lived with his uncle and cousins.  Most Jewish guys were told when they landed in this country that there was gold in the street if they became tailors.  I think my father may have tried that for a week or two and didn’t like that so he decided to go into his own business as a peddler, selling teas and coffees   He did that for a number of years and in 1912, he started a business in Magoun Square selling second hand furniture with his first cousin, Ben Elitov; eventually, they set up a second store in Union Square. 

     My Dad would help people coming to this country by letting them purchase furniture on payment plans.  He knew that if he treated the first wave of immigrants well, he’d sell furniture to their brothers and sisters and relatives when they arrived.  He recognized that he could only do well if his customers did well.

My mother and Ben Elitov's wife Anna were sisters. 

     My mother and father married in 1920 after WWI and lived at 46 Main St., Somerville to be close to his business.  My father's big coup was marrying my mother who was American born and beautiful... a real accomplishment for a green horn in those days. CertificateMy mother was a great influence on my father.  She Americanized him and was a great business partner, friend, wife and mother of his children.  His second coup was buying the real estate in which his store was located and moving upstairs there with my mother.  Because there were no bath facilities, they had to go to the public bath houses on Dover Street in Boston to take showers.  My father was a firm believer of building security for his family...and to achieve this end, he would sacrifice many of his own personal needs and desires.   Needless to say my maternal grandfather was very upset that his beautiful daughter was living under these conditions.  

     Because my father went into the service during WWI, Uncle Ben took over the business.  While my father was in the service, Ben married and began taking $15 per week out of the business.  When my dad returned, he also wanted to draw a salary but was informed that since he was single he didn't need the $15, and that's when the partnership broke up.  Ben took the Union Square store and Dad took the Magoun Sq., in which he ultimately began selling new furniture. 

     As the depression drove many banks out of business, my father bought a bank office building across the street from his furniture store in Magoun Square, a bank that was closed during the depression and which had laid empty for years.  He never removed the vault or the teller’s windows because it was his “dream” to lure a branch of a large bank back to our square…it really looked as though the employees went out for lunch and never returned.

     Around 1925, my mother started to bug my father about family living in Europe, his mother and sister, husband and two children (Melvin Small and Freda Tubman).  FurnitureSo he brought them to this country and gave my uncle a job in the furniture store.  They too were very much a part of the Somerville Temple.  Mel Small became an attorney and Freida Tubman opened her own furniture store with her two children (Harold and Richard) and it still operates today as Circle Furniture.

     As our family progressed, we moved into 8 Hinckley Street behind the furniture store were I spent a good part of my youth with my sisters, Shirley, Elaine and Irene.  Ultimately we moved on to Broadway...a major move of upward mobility.  I always told people I lived in an 18-room house, but never mentioned that it was a triple decker with two other families living in the other units. 

     My grandfather, Jacob Jacobson, bought a 75-acre farm in North Reading and all the son-in-laws were to build a summer house on it… he wanted it to be a family compound.  My father and my Uncle Benny were the only two that built there.  We used to go there every summer until my sisters were a little older; there were no boys up there so that ended that.  I really enjoyed our summer home there.  My father would come up there every night and I would help him with his gardening, which he loved.  We also raised chickens there and planted fruit trees, raspberry and blueberry bushes.  After WWII, we sold our summer home in No. Reading and rented summer homes at various locations like Little Nahant, Swampscott and Nantasket, places my sisters loved because there were lots of boys around.

         Our life basically centered around the temple and school.  Magoun Square was made up of many small Jewish merchants, Mr. Gordon, the haberdasher, Sam Mandell, a cousin, had a men's shop, George Rose, Jack Marcus and Bob Olgen had hardware stores, and Mr. Sidell had a shoe store, where I got my first pair of shoes. 

     I always looked forward to new shoes at his store as they always were accompanied by a little gift such as a school box, etc.  Mr. Shudler had a delicatessen, Mrs. Resnick owned the National D store which sold a variety of Jewish foods, and from my understanding, she became quite an entrepreneur eventually owning the Wellington Circle Shopping Center.  I understand that her star salesman was Harold Lebow before he became a doctor.    The kosher butcher shop was owned by Ed Oakman and was a focal point for Jewish women who would go there to buy meat.  Prior to that, we had to go to Chelsea to buy our meat because my mother kept a kosher kitchen.  All of these people were involved in the Somerville Temple.

End of Part 1.... continue to Part 2


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