From the DJN Foundation Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History
Detroit Jewish News Foundation Archivist
I read the recent obituary in the JN for Irving Nusbaum. His passing was a topic of conversation and sadness among some of the folks I know. Personally, I did not know Nusbaum and am sorry I did not. But then, again, like many of us who have watched Detroit television over the past few decades, we did know him, at least a little bit.
Nusbaum was one of a group of entrepreneurs in Detroit who eschewed the middleman, so to speak, and directly engaged the public. If you watched any late-night TV at all, certain individuals became familiar to households across the city. There was Mr. Belvedere (a.k.a. Maurice “Bud” Lezell) representing Belvedere Construction, who told all of us listening, “We do good work!” There was Woodrow W. Woody who owned the Pontiac dealership in Hamtramck and told us that he would personally greet us when we came to buy a car, and he always asked us to “Please drive carefully.” And, there was Irving Nusbaum.
Nusbaum appeared in hundreds of commercials for his New York Carpet World stores, always telling viewers about an ongoing “gigantic” sale. Indeed, every week, he told us about a bigger, better sale we would not want to miss. Nusbaum did not limit himself to TV. When I went into the Davidson Digital Archive, the first advertisement for New York Carpet World that I could find was in the March 24, 1972, issue of the JN. Sure enough, the ad carried a photo of Nusbaum and a personal message to all readers about the superior service he offered customers.
But we did not know watching TV that Nusbaum was a leader in Detroit’s Jewish community and in Israel. He was, by all accounts, a great guy, a mentsh. Perhaps the advertisement I found in the Aug. 21, 1981, issue of the JN is more telling. In this ad, New York Carpet World is offering one-half off scholarships for “Jewish Boys and Girls to the Yeshivah Nursery Program.”
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.