Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A Glimpse into the Lives of Sam and Charlie Camlot

A Perspective from Sam Camlot's Daughter

Hearing peoples' stories of what life was like years ago gives a fascinating glimpse of another world. At 86, Harriet shared her childhood memories with me and I am very appreciative. She talks easily about the past, giving insights on what her father and her Uncle Charlie were like.

Sam and Charlie first had a store/ drugstore in downtown Philadelphia but due to the Depression, they went bankrupt. They moved to different areas of Philadelphia after that. Harriet's family moved to Bridge St in northeastern Philadelphia and her uncle's family moved to the southwest.

Both her parents, Sam and Betty ( Singerman ) worked from 8 am to midnight 7 days a week to make ends meet. In back of their store was their kitchen and they lived upstairs. There were 2 bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. She slept in the same bedroom as her parents. There were boarders: a family with children. The boarders used the upstairs kitchen. There was one bathroom for all of them.

She was an only child. Harriet told me the additional child in the 1940 Census was a definite mistake. She then added that her father didn't have time to have had an affair.

Despite her parents working all the time, Harriet said she did not feel neglected. She would come home for lunches. Her parents were there because they were at their store.

She lived in a gentile neighbourhood. Her elementary school had 10 Jews in the whole school.

Harriet said her Uncle Charlie did not have a "cooperative wife". Rose didn't get up in the morning and Sarita, Bernice and Alvin would have to get themselves to school. The children would come in late and Sarita would have to explain why her brother was late. Their mother would get up at 2-3pm in the afternoon. Rose loved to cook. She spent the nights knitting, crocheting and sending cards to the family.

Bernice joined the army to get away. She loved it. She worked in a clerical role. Sarita was told she was too short, 4'10". She "tried to do something to stretch herself".

Harriet said her father was a giving person, Everyone loved him. If anyone didn't get along with her father, he couldn't get along with anyone.

Charlie was hard to get along with. He was bitter. He wanted to be a doctor. He studied and did exams and became a naturopath. Harriet said that he didn't have any formal education. However according to the 1940 census, Charlie had four years of college education. The 1930 Census has him listed as a "physician: industry, naturopath".

Harriet remembers her father telling her that he was in England for 6 months because he ran out of money. He was 13 and she wondered how he could have managed being by himself. I told her that a man with the name of Israel Gillman was with him.. His birthdate in his Draft Record would make him older than 13 at that time in 1910. He would have been 16. She had also heard that he crossed illegally into Detroit to avoid conscription.

Harriet said her father had a theatre at one point. Interestingly I found information that in Sept 1921 Sam Camlot, a theatre owner in Sherbrooke, along with Joseph Blitt, Bernard Gillman and Isser Singerman formed a corporation.

National Amusement Co., Limited.
Notice is hereby given that under Part I of, the Quebec Companies' Act, 1920, letters patent have been issued by the Lieutenant-Gouverneur of the Province of Quebec, bearing date thirteenth day of September, 1921, incorporating : Joseph Blitt, Bernard Gillman, ; Isser Singerman, Sam Camlot theatre owners ; all of the city of Sherbrooke, in the district of Saint-Francis, for the following purposes :
To acquire by purchase, lease or other title and to hold and own any theatres, play parks and other places of amusements where theatrical, operatic, vaudeville, moving picture performances and all other forms of entertainments of amusements may be presented, and to sell, lease, dispose of and otherwise deal with the property so acquired and held ;To carry on real estate business in all its branches
The powers specified in each paragraph are to be limited or restricted by reference to under the name of "National Amusement Limited", with a total capital stock of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000.00) divided into two hundred (200! shares of one hundred dollars ($100 00) each. The head office of the company, will be in the city of Sherbrooke, in the district of Saint Francis. Dated at the office of the C.-J. SIMARD. 3356 Assistant Provincial Secretary.


Harriet's father never asked anything of her except when she had been labour for 24 hours. Her father told her that his brother came to him in a dream and asked that her son be named after him. So she named her son Charles. The second name Elliot was after the husband of her father's sister, Sarah. His name was Eli and he was a scholar and was a wonderful man.

Harriet's mother was one of 9 children. She was the first to be born in Canada. One brother was killed at 13 years old by a streetcar. Peter Singerman, her grandfather, worked at a newstand by the train station in Montreal, Quebec. He was a quiet man. Her grandmother, Bella was a midwife.

I am very grateful to Harriet for giving me some understanding of the lives of her father and uncle and their families. My hope is that there will be more people who will want to share their stories.

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