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A little more about the Gendlers

By Staff | Feb 4, 2018

The guest column in the Register last week about the Nathan Gendler family, written by his granddaughter, created quite the number of comments.

It was such an interesting story, about how this young woman was able to keep her job because of a grandfather she never knew and had never met.

He had died when her mother was a young child.

Many folks commented on it because it was so interesting. Even if they did not know the family, it was a great little story for them to read.

Others said they found it fascinating to see the photo of the Gendler girls with the Faribault County Courthouse in the background. It was so interesting, they said, because there are no large trees or homes surrounding the courthouse like there is today.

Someone even knows exactly where that photo was taken.

Sue Hauskins called to say that the Gendler family lived in the house where she and her husband now reside. The side of their house which faces Nicollet Street is where the photo was taken.

Sue says that the author of the story, Gwen Irene Shapiro, and her mother and grandmother, came to visit the Hauskins in Blue Earth at least one time, years ago.

Sue invited them in to see all the changes which had been done to the home over the years. One door inside the house had been covered up and was not there anymore, for instance.

The Gendlers told Sue Hauskins that there had been at least one wedding ceremony in the house, a birth, and an operation.

That’s right, Nathan’s wife Bessie had to have some surgery and it was performed by the doctor right on the kitchen table.

Sue Hauskins knew her home was the old Gendler place, both from the information on the deed and because they had found an old wooden crate in the basement, under the stairs, with the Gendler grocery store name on it.

Sue also learned that behind their home there had once been a barn, which the Gendler’s used for storage.

That might not be all they used it for.

George Bassett called to say he remembers the Gendler family well. A cou-ple of the boys were his age, although the oldest boy, who came back to run the store after Nathan Gendler died, was much older.

George was in Boy Scouts with one of the Gendlers and remember them as being a very nice family.

And yes, they were the only Jewish family in town. He recalls that at Christmas time, while they did not celebrate the birth of Christ, of course, still did something else.

Every Christmas the Gendler family took boxes of food from the store to give to those who were struggling.

George says he knew all about the barn behind the Gendler, now Hauskins, home. It was where Nathan kept all the scrap iron he collected. And George says Nathan also bought wool and stored it in the barn.

Branches of the Gendler family also had scrap iron (junkyards) in other cities, like Austin and Albert Lea.

George had one more tidbit of information the location of the Gendler store.

It was located just to the north of the building that now is Armon Decorating. It now is the home of BE Fit.

George also confirmed the sad end to the Gendler tale. Nathan Gendler did die before he was 50 years old. And he was such a well-liked man that the community was in shock. There was a large group of Blue Earth folks who made the trek to the Cities for the burial not so easily done in those days.

And yes, the older brother did come back and run the store for a while, but George says he was not the businessman his father was, and when the Great Depression hit the store could not survive and sadly closed down.

Most of the family members moved away, both to the east by Chicago and to the west, to California, although some stayed in Minnesota, just not Blue Earth.

George recalls that by 1938, they were all gone.

He remembers one more thing, something that would have maybe been impressive to a small boy back in the 1930s in rural Minnesota.

Mrs. Nathan Gendler, Bessie, had pierced ears and wore fancy earrings. It was the first time he had ever seen a woman with pierced ears.

Quite uncommon in Blue Earth, Minnesota, at the time, George says.

My, oh my. Times have changed since then. In oh, so many ways. From large trees at the courthouse to pierced ears.