Rothman's Guitars, Newsletter page
· · We are an 88+ year-old General Store involved in buying and selling Vintage guitars, banjos and other instruments. Probably one of the most unique Department stores you'll ever experience. A local fixture in downtown Southold, NY with a lot of history.
· · 54180 Main Road, PO Box 878 , NY 11971 631-765-3770 Fax 631-765-2642
Table of contents
"Fifty years of Art on Main street"
It’s been a long haul here at the old department store. As the last ½ century has come to teach us, our use of time has total effect on the life we live. My tenure here at the Department store is most relevant in the last 25 years, when I actually had a “hands on” position of running the store. I become the torchbearer to keep the Rothman’s tradition of having most everything one needed. My use of my time to perpetuate my grandfathers legacy, of always having that “hard to find” item for my customers, kept me involved in running the store. It was my mission to keep the Department store just as that, a Department store. I also became the keeper of the archives, which drew interest in customer who crave information about our more famous customers such as Albert Einstein and Benjamin Brittan.
As the evolution from hardware, to guitars to gallery took place, a lot of factors influenced this evolution. From the day I was born I had, and the department store environment had some influence on me as I influenced it. Whether it was the effect on my grandparents or parents, I grew up in the Department store environment. Visiting on an almost daily basis, making displays, or just hanging out, I settled into this store. My daily affirmation of displaying and creating displays in the store kept alive my artistic urges. My love of music and the guitar helped to develop my guitar business, which helped to keep my interest in developing an eclectic mix of merchandise in an old time General Store environment.
As the General Store concept starts to fade into the memories of a generation that knows only Wal-Mart and Home Depot, we become more of museum of a bygone era. People would come in to look at the way people used to shop, at slower more healthy pace. Let them look, it might be a thing of the past, but we’re here to stay. As a gallery we can incorporate all the aesthetics of the arts. I am able to make use of my time to pursue my in interest in the arts.
Fifty years on Main Street, a lot of history and a whole array of different people have passed through our doors. As the time passes we reflect on the fact that 2005 is both the 50th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s death and the 100 year anniversary of the first publishing of his Theory. Our most famous customer sent a series of letters
to David Rothman between 1939-1946. When these letters were sold several years ago, we though they were gone forever.
I was able to have one of the returned by being mailed to David Rothman at the same address this past fall. Here you have the most famous scientist of the 20th century, whose most famous theory had to do with events and time, be part of recreation of an event that took place over 50 years ago.
This play on the relationship of an event and it’s timing brought me to this next show in the Gallery. I will be looking back on 50 years and my point of reference to specific points in time. The use of photography, printmaking and color will help to capture time and make for a visual event that will reflect on these specific points in time.
The gallery and store is open most days 10-4 or when someone is here. Come in, take a look and think about what the next 50 years might be able to bring the Rothmans.
"Drive by Gallery"
Well so much for the whole drive through gallery idea. It was a great notion, something that would and could go over real well in our fast paced world, but you can see it just won’t work. Maybe Sgt. Green might be the only one who really attempted to, and I must say most unsuccessfully, actually drive through. He found out the hard way that was not the actual intention of this "Drive through” concept. As I quickly found out, along with an assortment of traffic regulations, and controlling traffic flow, I have to rethink the whole idea and refer to this gallery as a “Drive by” Gallery.
It still offers the same “Art in public Space,” that you can view as you drive by, that is if you don’t want to stop in the designated parking space and maybe even get out of your car or come in to the store. The window gallery is still available for viewing, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The current show includes our "Pollock or not" and has featured some of the weathered, wooden birdhouse sculptures along with some hand colored photo prints.
Rothman's Department Store continues to be here as it has for the last 90+ years. In today’s world with all big box stores, competition has never been stronger. Rothman’s maintains a certain quality of service rarely found in these big stores. Rothman’s Guitars ads a unique flavor to the shopping experience. We are still one of the last “General Stores” left on Long Island. And certainly one of the only stores where you can pick up your Hardware items, Weber grill, or frying pan while shopping for a New or Vintage Martin or Taylor Guitar. We continue to find some excellent instruments and offer them at competitive market prices. Even with the scarcity of Vintage instruments, we are still able to find an assortment of sought after guitars, keeping us probably the most unique Guitar store you will ever see. The guitars we offer are of an excellent caliber and we will continue to offer them at a great savings to the players. And we continue to be here to serve are comparable caliber of customers.
"For Sale, Entire Contents of Store"
That’s right, you heard it here first. Or if you like most of our better customers, you already knew. The guitars are for sale. The pots and pans are for sale. The hardware and house wares, everything is for sale. Right now or most days between 9-5 you can walk in and buy just about every damn thing we have on the shelves.
Now a lot of people come in and walk around thinking they’re in a museum. Now you might be, but most of the items in each display area can be purchased. . Most items are marked at our everyday sale price, while others have been discounted more. Even our mail order customers are able to request hard to find hardware items and have them UPS’ed to their doorsteps.
Now several years ago when we put a sign in the window to remind people driving by that actually sell the items in our store, it created quite an uproar in the Real estate world. I had numerous calls from Realtors inquiring whether the property was for sale. We had people also asking whether we were going out of business. No, we just wanted to remind people that we sold stuff.
As we make the transition to incorperate gallery space in the retail store we just wanted to remind our cliental that we sell stuff. Always have, and will continue to stock our shelves with the everyday to the unusual. We want to be your first choice to look for those unique items, which we are known for. We don’t want to be your last stop after you’ve looked everywhere else.
The Real Einstein Sandal Story
Most of you, by now, have heard of the relationship between the great scientist, Albert Einstein and my grandfather, David Rothman. I have included the stories and anecdotes about the summer Einstein spent on Nassau Point and the stories that my grandfather used to tell about his time spent with Einstein, in my Guitar News. This was the summer of 1939 and Einstein told my grandfather that it was one of the best of his life, that he owed to my grandfather’s initiative.
Some of you are aware of their initial meeting and how Einstein came into the store looking for “Sundials,” in his thick German accent really asking for sandals. My Grandfather mistook his asking for sundials and took him out to the back yard to show him the only sundial he had, his. Upon realizing his mistake, they proceeded to go back to the store where Einstein bought a pair of sandals that my grandfather had on the shelf.
This story has been told over and over, printed in magazines, newspaper articles, and other media interviews with my Grandfather throughout the years. It became known as the “sundial” story and my grandfather always took great pleasure in rehashing how he met the illustrious scientist.
As the years went by, people would always come into the store to see pictures and ask questions about how Einstein came to shop at Rothman’s and how Grandpa Dave met him. The sundial story was told over and over and no one ever got tired of hearing it. About 5-6 years ago, someone took notice of the pictures and suddenly wondered why the professor’s sandals appeared to look like woman’s sandals. This was a person who had never heard “the sundial story.” Now as I take notice of the sandals in the picture, they do appear to be quite effeminate and I can’t really understand whether they were just the style in 1939 or was there more to the story.
I started to rehash the original Sandal/ sundial story only to wonder what really took place that summer morning in 1939. Einstein did indeed come in for a new pair of beach shoes upon the recommendation of his daughter who had visited the store a few days earlier. He felt it would be the best place to find beach shoes as the choices for shopping for such items were few and far between on the East End of Long Island in the 1930’s. As Einstein came in asking for the shoes and after the misunderstanding about what he wanted, he was taken into the store to find that the only pair left which would fit was a woman’s size 11. Between the combination of Einstein’s embarrassment about the sundial incident and my Grandfather’s enthusiasm to make a sale to the great scientist, Einstein bought these beach shoes with grace.
Under normal circumstances, Einstein would have thrown them in his closet and gone barefoot. Not the case this time. The fact that Einstein was taken by my grandfather’s warm personality, they were able to develop a special bond. This friendship allowed him to be uninhibited about wearing them. Einstein saved them for the afternoons when “Mr. Rothman was coming to visit.” He wore them gracefully as not to embarrass my grandfather for selling him the shoes.
The summer of 1939 was a special time for Einstein. He was able to relax in a way he couldn’t in Princeton. He was able to sail on the Peconic Bay and take part in musical soirees my grandfather organized for him. He would play in quartettes with my grandfather and his friends. Einstein had the opportunity to meet the British composer Benjamin Brittan, who he heard play at my Grandfather’s house one evening after having dinner there. When asked what he thought of this young composer, he told my grandfather, “He will go far.”
My grandfather spent many memorable evenings with Einstein that summer, including him in his life, as the professor tried to include Grandpa Dave in his. When Leo Szillard came out to draft the historic letter to FDR, my grandfather was there when he arrived. After the scientists went off to write the letter, Ms. Dukas (Einstein’s secretary) came out to tell him he would be best to go home as the professor will be busy for the rest of the evening.
Einstein never forgot those sandals. He wore them at times my Grandfather visited him on Nassau Point, especially the day they were taking photos. This sundial incident was how this bond was made, maybe it was how the two great men were able develope this friendship. My grandfather continued to send Einstein a new pair of sandals on occasion, until Einstein’s death in 1955. Einstein was always thankful to Grandpa Dave for the new pair of sandals, even though he would say how his old ones were hardly worn and he put said, “still so elegant.”
Stay tuned for more. Latest Update
Return to Rothguitar's Home Page .