Store founders celebrate a milestone year

In 1939, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt stating atomic energy might be more than just a fantasy. In 1939, the movie version of The Wizard of Oz took viewers on a fantastic Technicolor journey for the first time. In 1939, Rose and Jerry Richman were married in Albany at the Ohav Shalom temple, and they are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary this year.

The Richmans, who founded Pearl Grant Richman's in Stuyvesant Plaza, now live in West Palm Beach, Fla. They will celebrate their anniversary on Thursday, June 11.

Jerry Richman, 91, said he met his wife, Rose, 92, one day while sitting out on a porch at a friend's house. He was in the process of moving from Schenectady, where he attended high school, to Albany, he said, and they hit it off.

"I got friendly with her and kept talking and finally starting dating," he said.

Richman said that was the year he graduated high school, 1935, and he married Rose a few years later.

He did not attend college, but instead went to the school of hard knocks.

"I learned from experience," he said.

Jerry worked at a men's shop before buying up the store that later became Richman's Cards and Gifts. He said after three days of receiving merchandise, they needed to expand, and they did, purchasing a lot right next door. At the time, rent was $575 a month for both stores.

Eventually, the owner of Pearl Grant, a store nearby in Stuyvesant Plaza, became ill, and her brother offered the store Jerry. It then became Pearl Grant Richman's. That was 50 years ago, in 1959.

"My wife worked by my side all these years," he said.

Jerry was also the original president of the merchants association, a guild of local businesses in Stuyvesant Plaza. That job was later passed to his son, Barry.

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