Rose-Marie’s Corner: The Beginning of Robert Goodman Jewelers (Part 2)

Rose-Marie’s Corner: The Beginning of Robert Goodman Jewelers (Part 2)

Upon graduation from the University of Michigan, Raymond went to work in the family’s business of jewelry manufacturing and wholesale, Goodman & Company. Ray became a traveling salesman in a four-door Buick, advertised at the time in the depths of the Great Depression with a special retail price of $995 (sales tax was unheard of in those days). When Ray crashed his Buick in Gladewater, Texas and wanted to replace it with another “special at $995”, he was told by every Buick dealer that they were clear out of inventory. Finally, the local dealer in Gladewater suggested Ray pay for the Buick Special, but he’d have to travel to Flint, Michigan to pick it up. Raymond took the train north and picked it up. He isn’t one to give up on things easily!

In September of 1939, the draft went into effect. In order to avoid being drafted, Raymond joined the United States Naval Reserve in March 1940 with a guarantee that he would not be called up for officer’s school until January 1942. That’s when Ray traveled up to Chicago for three months of training at the Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School at Northwestern University. In May 1942 Ray was commissioned an ensign of the U.S. Navy and went on active duty on the battleship USS New Mexico as a communications officer. The ship sailed from San Francisco to Hawaii to prepare for action. Later it sailed escort for troop transports to the Fiji Islands and then patrolled the southwest Pacific. All the way until the end of the war in 1945, Raymond served in the communications room on several different aircraft carriers as part of the admiral’s staff, where Ray enjoyed sharing all meals in the Admiral’s mess. To this date, Raymond’s trunk from those years is still sitting in the basement of the house here in Indianapolis.

Immediately following his return home from the war, Raymond went back to work in the family business, which by then had expanded by venturing into a retail jewelry store located at 30 West Washington Street, right behind the Goodman & Co. manufacturing building. In 1944, the Goodman’s bought both buildings from the Indianapolis Star and News, which had occupied them but moved their offices. The retail store was originally called H.H. Mayer after the partner Jacob Goodman had in this venture, but that partnership dissolved rather quickly, and Jacob changed the name to Goodman Jewelers. Raymond replaced his sister, Sarah, as the manager at the store.

There were several jewelry stores in downtown Indianapolis. They all had late hours on Thursday evenings, and it was customary for the personnel to give the store windows a new look on those evenings. It just so happened that one Thursday in 1952, when Raymond walked across the street to the Tea Room at the old Lincoln Hotel for dinner, he noticed a lovely young lady trimming the windows at Barney’s Jewelers. Her name was Marjorie Hornstein. Ray and Marjorie knew each other casually, but that evening the sparks flew when she looked up and smiled at Raymond and he waved to her. As soon as he got back to the store after dinner, he picked up the telephone and called her to ask her to have dinner with him the next evening. She agreed and, Ray tells me as his eyes glaze over, they enjoyed a very quiet and romantic dinner at Keys Restaurant, where the waiter, who was a friend of Ray’s, had arranged for them to have a table on the second floor.

Raymond was by then 36 years old, and Marjorie a mere 23. As I’ve mentioned before, her favorite uncle, Joe Rothbart, had advised her to give up on Raymond, because he feared that he would never marry. But after a courtship of a little over a year, at the home of Ann and Harry Hornstein on 49th Street, Ray and Margie were married on March 22, 1953. A year later their daughter, Judith, was born, and a year after that John was born. Baby Bobby, who would become my husband 23 years later, came along in October 1958, when the family was renting a home on Meridian Lane just south of Kessler Blvd. After having lived there for several years, the landlord decided he wanted to live in the house, so the young Goodman family had to move. A few blocks north, the “town” of Meridian Hills was being developed. It is there that Ray’s sister Mayme bought a double lot as a gift to them, and Ray and Marjorie built the house on Illinois Street between Holliday Park and the Meridian Hills golf course. Ray still lives there by himself today among all the beautiful furniture, art, crystal and porcelain that Marjorie accumulated over the years.

Meanwhile, Mayme Goodman had been dating Albert Frankel for about 20 years (yes, you see why Marjorie’s family advised her to give up on Raymond?!). Mr. Frankel was in the real estate business and decided to build an outdoor shopping center on the east side of Indianapolis. He hired a young man just out of the military from Fort Benjamin Harrison, whose name was Mel Simon. Mel Simon was hired as the manager of the project, and he was the one who saw the great possibilities of shopping centers in the suburbs where homes were being built after World War II but where there were no nearby stores for the residents. Albert Frankel didn’t share Mel Simon’s vision, and Mel ended up leaving and starting up his own real estate firm, Simon Properties, which over the years became a national and international shopping mall enterprise, still based in Indianapolis.

In 1958 as the Eastgate shopping mall opened, Goodman Jewelers was one of its first tenants. The concept of a covered shopping mall became popular, and as they were being built in Indianapolis, Goodman Jewelers added a store in each one. Over the years, Goodman’s even ventured out into the covered malls in smaller Indiana towns, such as Bloomington, Muncie, Kokomo and Marion.

Bob always knew he wanted to work in the family jewelry business and began attending jewelry trade shows with his father Raymond when he was 16 years old. Upon graduating from Indiana University in 1980, Bob went to work full time at the Goodman Jewelers headquarters in Downtown Indianapolis. In the late 90’s, it became increasingly difficult for a small family jewelry business to compete with the national jewelry chains in the shopping malls, and in the year 2000 the last Goodman Jewelers store was closed.

It was time for a new concept. Bob’s father, Raymond (at one point President of Jewelers of America), retired, and in August of 2000, Bob and I (Rose-Marie), his wife since 1981, became partners in a new venture in the town of Zionsville, an upscale suburb north-west of Indianapolis. We named it Robert Goodman Jewelers in order to continue the 97-year-old tradition of a family name of trust and service in the jewelry industry, but also to distinguish the new business as a single-store operation where the owner is present every day.

This is our 11th year in Zionsville, and we still help every customer in our renovated early 20th century building. It has been an incredible journey in this small and wonderful close-knit community. Many people from Indianapolis and surrounding towns still recognize the Goodman name as their parents’ or grandparents’ family jeweler. We hope to be able to serve past and future customers for many years to come!