Select Bloom Miscellany

Here are some Bloom stories and accounts over the years:

Mayor Bartholomaus Blume of Marienburg

The town of Marienburg in Pomerania (now part of Poland) had sprung up around its castle which had been built by Teutonic knights on the east bank of the Nogat river.  In 1457 the castle was pawned to imperial Bohemian soldiers who then sold it to the King of Poland.  The town itself came under Polish attack but held out under Mayor Bartholomaus Blume for three years.  When the Poles finally took control in 1460, Blume was hanged and quartered. 

A monument was erected in the town to Blume in 1864.

James Gardner Bloom of Norfolk

James Gardner Bloom was a prominent citizen of Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk.  Ursula Bloom in her novels claimed that he almost made it to the peerage.  However, the process was interrupted by the madness of George III.  The Regency which followed didn't favor the Bloom family. 

A painting of him shows him in his militia uniform at the time of the Napoleonic threats to England.  Ursula Bloom claimed in her book The Rose of Norfolk (which mainly covered the next generation of Blooms) that his fair coloring was due to Danish ancestry.

James Joyce's Leopold Bloom

Leopold Bloom is the fictional protagonist of James Joyce's UlyssesHis peregrinations and encounters in Dublin on June 16, 1904 are intended to mirror, on a more mundane and intimate scale, those of Ulysses in Homer's Odyssey.  Bloomsday, June 16, is celebrated each year by enthusiasts of James Joyce.

Born in 1866, Leopold Bloom was the only son of Rudolf Virág, a Hungarian Jew from Szombathely who had emigrated to Ireland, converted from Judaism to Protestantism (after he had married Ellen Higgins), changed his name to Rudolph Bloom, and later committed suicide.  At the time of Leopold's fictional birth, the Jewish population of Dublin numbered some two hundred.  Leopold was in fact born in an area of Dublin known as "little Jerusalem."  Today a plaque on Clanbrassil Road marks the spot.

"Here, in Joyce's imagination, was born Leopold Bloom, citizen, husband, father, worker, the reincarnation of Ulysses."

Leopold himself was not circumcised.  He had converted to Catholicism in order to marry Molly Tweedy in 1888.  The couple had one daughter, Milly, born in 1889.  Their son Rudolph (Rudy), born in 1893, had died after just eleven days.  They were living at 7 Eccles Street in Dublin at the time of Ulysses.

Bloom's Restaurant in London

For the nearly 45 years of its existence, Bloom’s restaurant in Whitechapel in the East End of London was a magnet for exuberant dining.  Be it the Marx Brothers or Princess Margaret, Frank Sinatra or Barbra Streisand, the boast of the proprietor, Sidney Bloom, was that no one ever went away hungry.

The establishment was equally well known for its cast of manic and long-serving waiters, who often featured in the - “waiter, waiter, there’s a fly in my soup;” “be quiet or they’ll all want one” - type of joke.  One of the best known (jokes, not waiters) was the story of the Chinese waiter who was congratulated by a diner on his excellent Yiddish.  “Shush, he thinks he is learning English,” said the manager.

Quietly presiding over this theatre of dining was Sidney Bloom, a modest, shy, cautious man who, with his wife Evelyn, created Britain’s most famous kosher restaurant.  Born in the East End, Bloom was educated at Raine’s Foundation School but left at 16 to join his parents’ salt beef business.  Morris and Rebecca Bloom opened their shop in Brick Lane, then a centre of Jewish commercial life, in 1920.

Morris, a pre-First-World-War immigrant from Lithuania, had learnt the art of pickling meat in his home town. He got up at 3 am to go to the kosher meat market that then flourished in Aldgate, brought his purchases home by wheelbarrow, and pickled beef until the restaurant opened.  He later decided to try his hand at sausage-making.  Because he used veal rather than beef, resulting in paler sausages than people were used to, he initially had to give them away to convince customers of their tastiness.

The little restaurant flourished and Morris moved to a larger site in Brick Lane and opened a meat products factory in the next road, Wentworth Street.  The restaurant moved into the factory, “over the sawdust,” when it was hit in the Blitz.  After the War, the restaurant moved to Whitechapel and later to Golders Green and continued until 2010. 

Blums, Bloms and Blooms into America by Place of Origin

German lands

The Blooms of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania

The Blooms had been in Clearfield county, Pennsylvania for over a hundred years when they held their family reunion in 1909.  This was an acoount of the family at that time.

"The Bloom clan is one of the largest in Clearfield county.  They are the descendants of Wilhelm/William Bloom, a native of New Jersey and a Revolutionary war veteran who came to Clearfield county with his wife in 1796.  They came up the west branch of the Susquehanna river in a canoe and settled on the spot where the family reunion was held.

The ancestor Bloom and his helpmate had eleven children, seven sons, four daughters, and from them are descended the many hundred Blooms of Clearfield and surrounding counties.  The Blooms have figured extensively in the affairs of Clearfield county since its inception.

They are a hearty and tall people, noted for longevity and multiplicity.  Ross Bloom of Curwensville, who was eighty-eight years old, attended the gathering of the family; as did Benjamin Bloom who has a record of which he can be proud.  He is seventy seven years old and the father of thirteen children, eleven of whom are living.  He has so many grandchildren that he fears of missing some should he endeavor to count them, scores of great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren.”

The reunions have continued to this day.  The descendants now number in their thousands.

Morris Bloom Wedded to Sarah Greenberg

The following article appeared in the October 1, 1878 edition of the New York Times.

"Morris Bloom, an industrious Hebrew peddler living at No. 49 Orchard Street, became enamored of a comely Jewish maiden named Sarah Greenberg, living at No. 104 Hester Street, and the attachment of the young people resulted in their betrothal.

Bloom's relatives in the clothing business had other plans, however, for the advancement of Morris and urged him to break his engagement with Sarah in order that he might marry some girl of means and commence business on his own account.

But the young peddler was constant in his affection and refused to comply with their wishes.  Sarah kept house for her brothers and worked as a tailoress.  Bloom's refusal to give up the young girl resulted in the estrangement of his relatives.  When the requisite time had elapsed he found himself without funds to celebrate his marriage or to begin housekeeping.  Abraham and David, Sarah's brothers, did agree to give $300 which they had saved to furnish rooms for their sister.  So the young couple, happy despite their poverty, presented themselves to the Mayor's office to be married.

There they were told that the ceremony could not be performed unless a fee of $5 were paid.  Not being in a position to pay that sum, they adjourned to Judge Gildersleeve's chambers.  Here they were speedily made man and wife in the presence of a crowd of lawyers, reporters, and court attendants."

Hyman Bloom the Painter

Hyman Bloom, who died in 2009 at the age of ninety six, was one of the last survivors of the thousands of artists who benefited from the patronage of President Roosevelt's New Deal program, the federal arts project.  This project ran from 1935 to 1943 and at its height employed 5,300 artists.

Bloom, whose surname was Melamed, had arrived with his parents in 1920 in Boston where they had changed their name to Bloom.  His paintings had their first outing in 1942 when he was a "shy, mop-headed" young artist living "a hermit-like existence in a Boston slum."

Bloom had originally wanted to be a rabbi, but his father couldn't find a teacher for him.  So he made rabbis a subject of his paintings.  His style of richly colored agitated pigment laid on heavily was like a visual equivalent of the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer.  He was also clearly influenced by the European expressionists George Rouault and Chaim Soutine.  The New York critic Hilton Kramer once wrote that on approaching the gallery showing Bloom's work he could smell the pastrami.

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