Courtesy of the Ainbinder family
Hyman and Freida Ainbinder
Jewish Journal Staff
On September 5, Hyman Ainbinder will become a centenarian. The former kosher butcher from Peabody with a sweet singing voice will mark the milestone with his wife, Freida, 98, at their home in the Simon C. Fireman Community assisted living facility in Randolph. The couple will also mark their 71st anniversary this year.
Hyman spoke to the Journal from his home. In a strong, unhesitant voice he easily recalled every important aspect of his life — coming to America, working various jobs, getting married and raising two children.
He spoke about his brother, Sol Ainbinder, and his wife, Irene, who owned “a poor man’s farm” in West Peabody during the 1930s and 1940s. Sol cleared 10 acres, uprooting trees by himself, Hyman said. Sol eventually bought a trailer, which he and Irene lived in while raising cows and chickens in the woods. “They lived a rural life,” Hyman said. How the Ainbinders worked and lived was typical of that era.
The family was part of the massive migration of European immigrants who bordered ships going across the Atlantic during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, braving the uncertainties of a new life in the Goldina Medina that they believed would be better than the one they left. Hyman’s father, Samuel, and Hyman’s eldest brother, Abraham, like thousands of other breadwinners, paved the route for their family’s immigration to America. After they were settled, they would send for their families.
When he was about five-years-old and just before World War I broke out, Hyman boarded The Patricia with his mother and remaining siblings to leave their family home and the life they knew in Beresdov, near Rovna, in Russia. They gathered all the belongings they could carry and headed for America so that the family could once again be whole.
“We settled in the West End [Boston] where my aunt and uncle had a tenement ready for us. We stayed there until the Armistice, in 1918 when we moved to Chelsea,” Hyman said. He remembers people crowding the streets in celebrating of the end of the war.
Born 100 years ago in 1908, Hyman was too young to serve in WWI and by the time World War II came along he was married. He got a job with General Electric and a deferment from military services because of his work with the defense contractor.
Hyman parents, Samuel and Zelda Ainbinder, lived at 13 Mill Street on the second floor. On the first floor, Samuel ran his butcher shop, recalled Hyman’s nephew, Harold Singerman, age 80.
“The shop was interesting,” Singerman reminisced. “There was a stairway leading to their apartment and in the back, they had chickens. The slaughterer would come around Thursday or Friday to kill the chickens.”
Hyman was raised in that home. After working for several other employers, he went to work for his father, and eventually took over the business, which he later moved to Main Street in Peabody’s downtown square.
Singerman calls Hyman “the quintessential kosher butcher.” He had to be “made of iron,” Singerman said, to put up with all the yelling of the Jewish women when they burst into his shop a few days before Shabbat to get their orders in.
“You can’t imagine the stresses at the end of the week,” he quipped. “Take me first, no me first. The woman would be yelling.”
Hyman operated the Peabody Kosher Meat Market at 101 Main Street from 1945 until he retired in 1971. It was one of three kosher butcheries in Peabody, which supplied meals for all the Jewish homes. Singerman worked in the shop at first sweeping the floors, but Hyman “never liked the way I did it,” Singerman said. Hyman had to keep teaching him over and over. Eventually, he sent Singerman out to deliver meat to his customers’ homes.
Recalling many stories from the old days, niece Ann Gail Bender said she remembered hearing relatives laugh about some of Hyman’s exploits as a young man. On Friday nights, after Hyman’s father would go to bed, Hyman would wait for him to be asleep and then leave the house, stealthily push the car out of the garage and into the street. He’d quietly ease himself into the driver’s seat, start it up, roar down the street and go out with his friends.
“My father was a cantor and I inherited his voice,” Hyman said. He still sings “God Bless America” and “Ha Tikvah” at the association meetings once a month.
His philosophy for a good life: go to bed early and get up early for a full schedule of daily activities. Stay busy and don’t look too far into the future. Just take it a day at a time.