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1932-1937: SNO WHITE BAKERY



Snow Whilte Bakery Replace
Figure 1:  373 Issaquena
Current building where Sno White Bakery was located

       As stated in Chapter One, initially this location was The Metropolitan Baptist Church and the school house. In 1906. King & Anderson bought it from the church trustees and replaced the buildings with two houses.i In the north side house Nick Furris and his family managed the Busy Bee Cafe (365 Issaquena) and also lived there until 1927.ii Charles Lee moved his bakery into the building, because the Busy Bee Cafe moved next door on the the north side. The bakery changed hands by 1932. Joe Magdovitz bought it and changed the name to the Sno-White Bakery.iii

       When Joe was 95 years old, this author interviewed him about his seven years in Clarksdale and his bakery. His described his first night in Clarksdale which was September 22, 1927, when he arrived in Clarksdale form Connelsville, PA to visit Ida, his sister, and Phil and their new daughter, Selma. He added:" I arrived just in time to listen to the the Dempsey--Tunney fight on radio with the whole family at Phil's [Shankerman] store . . . .and it took me four years to get back home [to Connellsville, PA]."iv

       Before Joe arrived, his Uncle Harry Baker and wife, Nellie, brought two older brothers, Amil and Harry, to the Delta. Amil had worked in Clarksdale, but by this time he owned a store in Memphis. Harry was in Memphis working when Joe arrived. His story is the next interview about Mack's,  his Issaquena store.v

       Before Joe bought the bakery, he told about his first few jobs: "I went to Clarksdale at nineteen. I worked one year for Uncle Frank [Baker] who had a store [on Delta]."vi  Then he worked for Myer Kline on a six months contract to manage his furniture store in Alligator, down the road about thirteen miles south. Kline, a plantation owner, had about five plantation stores in Alligator which was close to the plantation. The story this writer was told said that he advertised in many cities for young unmarried Jewish men to come to Alligator to manage one or more.

Then, Joe added:

I had a job with Continental Baking Company and I was with them for four years . . . . [as] cashier for a year and then chief clerk for three years. . . . After I left there I got my first car in 1931--Chevrolet Coupe convertible . . . – black with red wheels.. It was one that had a rumble seat in it. They had it at the Chevrolet place. It was a beautiful car. I'll tell you how I bought it.

Although he bought the car with his brother, Harry,vii Joe added:

The money I spent for it would be . . . worth a fortune today. I bought it for $635, that's all I paid for the car. All Indian head pennies. I had saved them, [when] I was cashier for the Continental Baking Company for a year, and I saved every penny.viii

       Joe then talked about buying and managing the bakery: "[When I was 23 in] 1932 I bought the [Lee Bakery], because it had gone broke and [I] went into the bakery business . . . [it lasted for] seven years . . . Irvin Shankerman was on one side [of the bakery] "ix Within a short time, several of his extended family opened stores. Across the street on the east side was Harry's store. Albert Israel and Abe May were more in the middle of the east side and next to each other. He said: "The upstairs of the buildings were not being used. The women hung around a restaurant down the street."x He was referring to the existence of the red-light district as to whether or not it was still there in 1932. He didn't have anything else to say about it. His conversation returned to the description of the bakery:

Seven people . . . worked for me. [The first crew] went to work at two o'clock in the morning, . . . because we had to make donuts and things. We used to bake donuts for the bread routes. They'd [Delivery trucks would] leave town around four or five o'clock. [I would be there only] when somebody didn't show up, then I had to help out . . . . I used to have people [customers] come into the bakery from the whole section around Clarksdale. Especially on holidays when I used to bake bread.xi

       During a phone interview with Jerome, Joe's nephew and Harry's son, mentioned: "Al King, one of the seven people who worked for Joe, taught Joe how to bake and bought [the bakery] later."xii Another baker who influenced the success of the bakery was his sister, Libby, who was living with Joe in a house they bought together.  Jerome added:

Al King was Joe's number one baker. Before Aunt Libby married she used to come down [to the bakery]. She was a wonderful baker . . . business just prospered and grew, because Libby brought all [of her] Mama's recipes. They had all this Jewish rye bread, Jewish pumpernickel, and  everything [other Jewish bakery items].xiii

       Joe mentioned Saturday night closings, because it was the biggest time: ". . . we stayed at the store, the bakery, sometimes until . . . twelve [to] one o'clock . . . . We waited until the other merchants would close up and then [we] would close up."xiv

       Joe lived in Clarksdale primarily during the Great Depression years. When asked he talked about his social life with both the married and single Jewish men who were merchants, such as Ben and Louie Jacobson, Budgy and Sol Hirshberg, Fred Cohen, and Louis Binder. When these friends weren't working most of them were going to dances, playing bridge at Louis and Pearl Binder's house, and playing baseball at Moon Lake. Although money was scarce, love must have run out of control, because most of them were married between 1927 and 1936.

       Joy, Joe's daughter, said one time Joe called Harry in May 1934 to ask him to arrange a blind date for his Memphis visit. This worked out well, because his blind date, Hilda Reisman, married him in October 1934.xv They returned to Clarksdale for about three years; Joy was born in August 1936. Sometime after 1936 and before Joe sold the bakery, he moved to another part of downtown. He described his new location as: "We moved the bakery over to that street. . . . Livingston store was there too. It was on the corner, the opposite corner . . . this was Second . . . . I was . . . right next to a service station. Livingston was across the street."xvi

       Joe described his final bakery sale:

I sold the bakery to my baker [Al King]. He wanted to own a bakery, so I sold it to him and moved to Hughes, Arkansas. I went into the furniture business. My father-in-law owned the Arkansas store, but it was originally owned by a furniture company.xvii

  1. "Clarksdale, Mississippi," August 1909, Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, 6; March, 1918, 4; May, 1923, 4.
  2. Compiled by Ernest H. Miller, Clarksdale Miss. City Directory, Volume IV, (Asheville, North Carolina, The Miller Press, June 1927) 26, 47, 81, accessed May 7, 2014, http://www .ancestry .com.
  3. Joy Magdovitz Bearman phone interview conducted by author, April. 6, 2014; 1933 Clarksdale Mississippi City Directory, 235.
  4. Joe Magdovitz interview conducted by author, November 14, 2002.
  5. Interviews included Jerome, Joe and Lawrence Magdovitz at the various times listed in other notes.
  6. Bearman phone interview, April. 6, 2014.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Joe Magdovitz interview, November 14, 2002.
  9. Ibid
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Jerome Magdovitz phone interview, August 9, 1994.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Joe Magdovitz interview, November 14, 2002.
  15. Bearman phone interview, April. 6, 2014.
  16. Joe Magdovitz interview, November 14, 2002.
  17. Ibid.