Aaron Fruchtman was born on Ridge Street in the Lower East Side of New York City on July 21, 1919 to Polish immigrants, Harry Fruchtman and Clara Klüger Fruchtman.
Like many other Jewish boys and girls of his time, his parents, who were unable to care for him, placed Aaron, along with his younger brother, David in the Hebrew National Orphan Home (HNOH) and his older sister, Sylvia, in the Israel Orphan Asylum (IOA), in 1929, where they lived, worshiped, and studied until after their high school graduation, though Sylvia had, early on run away from the IOA and returned home to her parents.
During his time at HNOH, Aaron studied and played trombone in the band, where he became proficient enough to earn a scholarship to the Julliard School of Music.
Unfortunately, his studies were disrupted by a series of unfortunate events and by financial pressures, during which time he was working in the Bronx as a "collector", and which was followed by his induction during WWII, into the US Army in 1942. He was quickly promoted to the rank of Staff Sgt in the Intelligence division and became an expert marksman, earning medals for both marksmanship and good conduct.
After being stationed stateside for the early part of his military career, where he performed as a magician and hypnotist for his comrades, wrote a gossip column for his outfit's newspaper, and where he was, among other duties, in charge of organising base entertainment, Aaron was able to arrange a transfer to the Aleutian Islands, where his brother, David was stationed.
Following the War, Aaron returned to the Bronx, where he lived with his parents, while taking on a variety of jobs. It was during this period, that Aaron changed his first name to George and his last name to Fredrics, though he remained known as "Aaron Fruchtman" to many of his childhood friends from HNOH.
During the 1950s, George began to work regularly as a professional magician and hypnotist in what was known as the "Borscht Belt," a group of hotels located in New York's Catskills Mountains, which catered primarly to Jewish clientele from New York City and where many of America's greatest comedians, as well as magicians launched their careers.
It was while working at one of these hotels that George met his bride to be, Norma Rubin, whom he married in 1960. In 1962, their only son, Howard, was born.
During this period, in addition to continuing his work as both a professional magician/hypnotist and expert on the detection of crooked gambling, George, now a father, took on the task of working for a pioneering company in the field of electronic surveilance and security products. It was while working at Continental Telephone Supply that George developed a deeper interest in spy equipment and other electronic gadgets.
In 1966, while leaving his apartment on Walton Avenue in the Bronx, George took a fall and twisted his ankle, fracturing it badly. This led to him becoming incapacitated for about a year, and caused him to look towards finding work that required less time standing and walking.
After recovering from his injury, George became an executive recruiter ("headhunter") for a major personnel recruitment firm, Sales Consultants, inc. where he worked until 1971, before starting his own recruitment firm, where he began to specialize in placing people within the automotive aftermarket field. All the while, he continued performing and lecturing throughout the New York area.
In July of 1968, George moved his family to Roslyn Heights, Long Island, NY, where the pace of life was a bit more tranquil than in the decaying neighborhoods of the South Bronx.
In 1984, after years of involvement with the Alumni organization of HNOH, George became the Editor of The Alumnus, the publication for HNOH alumni, He served in that role for a number of years, until he began to find himself unable to continue due to Norma's declining health.
George continued performing till very near the end of his life, even while caring for Norma during her long illness (which ended with her death in November, 2005) until he himself began to require increasing levels of care.
After a difficult struggle with Parkinson's disease, and other related ailments, George passed away on April 6, 2006.
During his life, George was involved in an enormous array of activities and had interests that spanned the gamut from medicine to auto repair. He worked in sales, dealing in such things as novelty items (e.g. sneezing powder, snapping gum, joy buzzers, etc.), Chunky chocolates, and security mirrors.
George was knowledgeable about many things, as he read voraciously. But what he was most well known for was his intelligence, his witty, wacky and uninhibited sense of humor as well as his generosity towards, friends and family and his committment to fighting against injustice wherever he encountered it in his life.
In short; George never did give up....
Last updated on:
August 11, 2008 ,
by Howard Fredrics
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