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In the late 1920s, my grandfather Julius felt confident enough about the enterprise and its future to retire, and David and my father took over the direction of the company. Concurrently, and unheard of for real estate companies at the time, they decided to take the company public in 1928, under the name of Tishman Realty & Construction Co., Inc. Part of the financing for the stock float was arranged through my mother’s relatives and their friends in the Chicago banking business. It was a moment when stocks of all sorts were rising fast, and going public seemed a good way to make money. A minority of the shares were held aside and sold to the public, but the overwhelming majority of the Tishman Realty shares were divided equally among the five brothers, each receiving 20 percent. Tishman Realty became a public firm controlled by the family stock ownership.

The years 1929 and 1930 were the most successful in the company’s business history; in 1930, they completed six apartment buildings and rented every unit in them all.

In 1931, the mustard gas that had weakened my father’s constitution spawned cancer that made him gravely ill. My only knowledge of this was that I occasionally saw him in his bed being treated for some-thing I had no sense of what that might be. A nurse and my mother were always at his bedside. One of my only recollections of my father is of the moment that from his bed he gave me a grape lollipop. During his final days, I was sent to the Carlyle Hotel with my eight-month-old sister, Louise, and her nurse. About a week later, my mother came to the hotel and told me that my father had passed on. I had just turned five.

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After my father’s death, my mother, my siblings and I continued to live in Tishman-owned buildings. Still young, I was unaware of the Depression that engulfed the entire country and that seriously impacted the real estate business. For income, my mother had money from the substantial life insurance that my father had been prescient enough to buy.

At three-and-a-half, I had entered the Walden School, which my parents chose because it embodied their progressive ideas. Walden was coeducational, multicultural, and very progressive, certainly when compared to the more establishment-type private prep schools attended by my cousins. In the 1930s, many of the Walden teachers were refugees from Nazi Germany. Their husbands and wives were professors at The New School, in Greenwich Village, a hotbed of intel-lectualism and liberal thought. My mother was as progressive as they were. I remember at an early age picketing General Electric with teachers and classmates, though I cannot recall what we were picketing for or against.

During the school year we four lived in a Tishman property, a four-story walk-up brownstone on 72nd Street between Second and Third Avenues. Later I would learn that this building had been purchased as a “light protector,” a small building on a lot that was next to a larger and taller apartment building; the firm had purchased it so that another developer could not come in and erect a tall building on that lot and block the light coming into the Tishman apartment building’s windows. “You’ll be happier in a Tishman building,” was the slogan of the ads the company placed in newspapers and in Playbill, a magazine distributed in theaters. Sunlight coming through the windows was considered a contributor to that happiness and a necessity for good apartment layouts.

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