May 2016 JHS interviewed Florence Hertzman in her waterfront home in Old Naples.
Florence and her husband Harold began coming to Naples in the early 70’s for a couple of weeks at a time from Ontario Canada.
An Ontario road builder Bob Hardy centered in Naples. He loved the location and he had some vision of building golf courses here during the early 70’s and of course he wanted some backing. There were some Canadian men, along with my husband who decided that they would back him for investment in Florida, and they eventually built several golf courses; the first one was Quail Creek up on Immokalee Road. It turned out to be a five-star golf course. Harold Hertzman, Harold Zhukov, Harry Cates, Alec Ruben, Harry Ruben and Bob Hardy. Bob was a man of integrity, and in later years, would call this group of men ‘the kosher nostra.’ Bob had a team of men who were also building. They built two beautiful apartment buildings on Gulfshore called the Laurentian Apartments and they’re still standing and they still are lovely and also housing development at Immokalee Road and Airport Road. Quail West led to Quail Creek and the Hardy family built in total, 11 golf courses.
In the 1970’s 3rd Street was a lovely, local street; there was a movie theater, there was a gas station, there was a shop – a grocery store. Florence remember R. R. Robinson – a beautiful decorating store and Gattel’s, a lovely shop. There was an art gallery owned by Jane McNickel. Naples was not as crowded then.
When the Hertzmans decided to buy in Naples, they looked for a place on the water. Harold approached the banker. He already had his bank account open and asked ‘if I wanted to invest in a property in Naples, where would you suggest would be a good place to invest?’ And the bank manager said, ‘absolutely anywhere in Old Naples – on the beach if you could, but anywhere in Old Naples would be the best investment.’ They bought a virgin piece of property in 1970 and started building in 1972.
The real estate agent office was Imperial Properties. Harold walked into the office one day and the listing for this property had just come on; it was sitting on his desk. So Hertzman immediately decided, ‘I’ve got to look at it and check it out.’ He paid the asking price immediately. The offer was accepted and almost immediately somebody came to the agent and said, ‘I would like this offer annulled. And it took a couple of days. At the time that in Naples it was a common story, common knowledge that properties in Port Royal were forbidden for Jewish people to try to buy. Later they met Joe Weinfeld, who attested to the fact that the properties were not freely open to Jewish buyers.
The Hertzmans made non-Jewish friends like Bob Hardy and his friends and Ruth Canalis and her husband who had frequent cocktail parties entertaining for the Canadian people and made them very welcome. They did not know any other Jews until they joined Temple Shalom predecessor on Pine Ridge and Goodlette Road. There they met Irving Berzon and his wife and Burt and Skippy Gordon.
Soon many of their Northern friends were coming down to buy properties at The Glades.
Florence, a painter, joined Naples Art Association and became friendly with her instructor Edmund Oppenheim and his wife Emily. The Hertzmans also befriended Florence and Sam Lockshin, who were by then Naples “old timers.”
Florence’s artwork graces the walls of her home, situated just steps away from Naples Pier. The Hertzmans built it in 1972.