A LONG WAY page 101
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Irwin and his family spent five
years in Montreal before coming
to Detroit. Solomon opened a shoe
store on Fenkell, where he tested
the quality of leather by sinking
his teeth into it. (The easier to
bite, the cheaper the leather.)
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Right: "Uncle Sam"
and his wife: Family first.
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10-9, Sun. 12-5
Above: Jack Kutnick and his wife, Ann.
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Solomon woke early each
morning, dining on bread dipped
in coffee, and came home late.
Though he had no formal educa-
tion, he was, his son says, an in-
telligent and kind man.
"I never remember him yelling
at me, or laying a hand on me or
my sisters and brothers. He just
gave me a talking to, then would
give me a couple of pennies and
say, 'Now go out and buy some
Solomon's youngest son, Irwin,
went to Cass Tech and was the
first in his family to graduate from
high school. Now he has children
and grandchildren and great-
grandchildren, all of whom he has
helped along the way.
It was his father's motto and
now it's his, too, Mr. Sherman
says. "Help the next generation,
and then that generation will help
out the next."
He saved every penny he made.
He had a reason.
Sam Kutnick had three broth-
ers and two sisters back in Rus-
sia, and he was determined to get
At first, money was the answer.
By 1914, Sam had managed to
bring over three brothers and one
sister. They comprised a diverse
group: the eldest brother was Or-
thodox. The youngest, Phillip, was
a painter who had become a
hunchback after breaking his
back in a fall.
Getting Phillip admitted into
the United States was a struggle.
"My dad went to Washington,
D.C., twice trying to get him in,"
Jack Kutnick says. But immi-
gration officials were adamant:
they didn't want anyone with a
Eventually, Sam got his broth-
er Phillip to Canada, and then fi-
nally to Detroit.
But one sister remained in Rus-
sia. Sam decided to go in search
of her himself, and he took a boat
back to Europe.
When he could find nothing—
to this day what happened to the
last sibling is a mystery — he
brought over her three children.
In the United States, Sam found
them homes with relatives, and
one he raised with his wife, Ida,
with whom he lived in an apart-
ment on Dexter and Joy roads.
Sam was successful profes-
sionally for many years in his
business, Detroit Auto Parts on
Grand River and 12th Street. But
13 then he lost everything in the De-
pression — only to start all over
He was active with the Labor
0 Zionists, a dedicated supporter of
E Israel who once purchased a tiny
slice of the land of
which he knew little.
After World War II,
up the Israeli land
parcels to American
Jews. "You didn't
know what it was and
you never saw it," Mr.
Kutnick says. "But my
father was patriotic so
he bought it." (The
family has since sold
Sam traveled some-
times, too. A favorite
vacation spot was
New York, where
Sam Kutnick had
cousins. A hotel was
out of the question. "You were
"My father wanted to go to Eu- with family," Jack says. "You dou-
rope," his son, Jack, of Franklin, bled up and stayed with the kids."
Until his death in 1954, Sam's
recalls. But instead he landed in
the United States, settling first in first commitment always was to
Texas and then Detroit, where he his family. Everybody got togeth-
came when he learned Henry er for dinner every Sunday night.
Ford was paying the princely sum Everybody got along, regardless
of religious practices or politics.
of $5 a day.
That's just how it was back
But Sam wasn't really inter-
ested in working for somebody then, Jack says. "Family ties were
else. He knew he could make a lot closer, I guess, than they are
more on his own, so he opened an today." ❑
auto parts store.
hey called him "Uncle
S a m . "
Sam Kutnick was 15
years old when he left Rus-
sia. He wasn't interested in at-
tending a yeshiva and he certainly
didn't want to join the Russian