Keeping with the Times
Tell us about your childhood.
Q: Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Brooklyn and moved to Flushing when I was thirteen years old. When I
married, I rented an apartment there as well with my new wife. I lived in the same
apartment complex for twenty years. Living in New York was a challenge. I attended school
there, had friends and socialized.
Q: What was it like living in New York?
The big city has a lot to offer and it is always easy to travel. There is a lot of transportation available at
walk ing distance so getting to a place didn't always require having a car.
Q: How many members are in your family?
Q: Are any of them deaf or hard of hearing?
I am married now with two sons. My wife is deaf and my sons are hard of hearing. I also have two brothers both
deaf, as well as myself. My parents are both hearing.
Q: Describe your education background.
When my parents found out that my older brother, Ken was deaf, they enrolled him at Public
School 47 in New York City, a school for the deaf. My parents put me in that school also
when I was 3 years old. My younger brother, Eric, was the only one to go to a regular
school too, even though he too was deaf. I transferred to New York School for the Deaf when
I was 13 years old and graduated from that school at 19.
Q: How did you meet your wife? Tell
us about your family.
I met my wife, Robbie (Kovack) at Marie H. Katzenback
School for the Deaf when they had their reunion picnic. We have been married for 32 years
now and have our two sons, Scott and Russ Stein. My son Scott, is 31 years old, married and
has two children. He works as a financial accountant for a loan firm in Florida. My younger
son, Russ, resides in South Dakota. He is married and has a daughter. So my wife and I are
proud grandpar ents of three grandchildren. Russ works as a video relay interpreter for
Communication for the Deaf in South Dakota.
Q: Did you have a Jewish upbringing? If so, what
was it like?
Q: What was your fondest memory as a child growing up in a Jewish home?
I had a Bar Mitzvah and my parents celebrated the Jew ish holidays. My fondest memories of being
brought up in a Jewish home were the holidays we would celebrate together. It brought us
together as a family while some of us were living apart. I can almost still smell the sweetness of my mother's Jewish cooking. My mother would also do the special cooking on Friday
nights, which I looked forward to coming home from school. I slept away at school during
the week so this was a treat for me.
Q: How, when and why did you start up your trade?
After I graduated from Fanwood, my Vocational Counse lor recommended that I be a watchmaker
according to the tests I was given. Being a watchmaker it is strange to recall as a boy
growing up, I never had my own watch. Somehow, I never felt the need to own one. I finally
got my first watch when I was older and finished attending school to learn the trade of
Q: What companies did you work for before starting your own?
In 1966, I attended Bouleva watch making school in Woodside, NY and was offered a job right after
completion of the course. I stayed for two months and felt that I could do better. I ventured out to get a job for Radio Watch Company in
New York City and remained there for two years. I then applied to Sheffield Watch Com pany
in New York City and worked with them for two years. From there, I applied at Fortunoff's
in Westbury, NY and that was the longest I stayed with a firm, six years. In 1978, I
decided to make the move to Florida with my wife and children due to my wife's severe
allergies. I got a job with Squire International Jewelry and worked there for two years. It
was during that time, that I knew I was ready to start my own business with my many years
of experience. What ways did you fund your own business? I started out renting a space from
a jewelry store and the customers would frequent often. I worked in that space for ten
years and acquired many customers. At the time, I was living in South Florida. We then
bought a new home further North and it was at this time that relay services and faxes were
available to the deaf community. I had the full opportunity to have my own business at home
since 1990. This is a great opportunity for me as I make my own time and can continue to do
other things as well.
Q: What was the hardest challenge to face?
The hardest thing at first was finding customers and stores to keep my business running. Now that the stores are
familiar with my good workmanship, they depend on me and that keeps the business going
well. I am grateful for this.
Q: How do you communicate with your customers?
Q: How many people do you service?
Q: Where do you publicize your services?
I work for 18 store owners. Upon first meeting them, we communicate by writing and gestures. After they get to know me,
conversation becomes very natural without any difficulties. My business is never advertised
in any news papers. I have many customers that have worked with me for many years. I do not
work for individuals, so I can't say that I have any deaf customers. I only do busi ness
with store accounts. How have watches changed throughout the years? There has been a
tremendous change in the makes of watches. In the beginning, watches were mechanical and
required winding. Now the newest technology has made all watches quartz run by batteries.
I do repairs on antique watches and old watches, too. I have kept up with the latest as
times are changing the way watches are made and repaired.
Q: What are your future goals?
I now live in Port St. Lucie in Florida, where I have resided for 11 years. My future goal is
similar to everyone's dream ...TO RETIRE!!!
Front Page | Table of Contents | News Archives