Hal Trivia

I spent hundreds of hours with Hal over the last 15 years.  Both in synagogue as a fellow ”minyanaire” as well as in our neighborhood.  Hal lived down the street from my house.  One of our recent projects was to create a computerized scrapbook of his life.  I was able to scan dozens of photos, newspaper clippings, greeting cards, and other memorabilia and put them on a CD.  Sadly, Hal passed away before the scrapbook could be completed.  I’ve posted some of these images on the website.  The following random recollections are from conversations I had with Hal over the years.  I’ll continue to add entries as I recall them and friends and family add to the list.  Please e-mail me if you have some Hal Trivia you’d like to see included.  

Hal’s middle name is Theodore. 

Hal was an only child.

The family name was spelled “Kanthor” in Russia.  His father changed it to Kanter when he emigrated to America.

Hal’s mom was known as Janet to friends and family.  But Hal claimed that the actual spelling was Janette.

Hal planned to be a lawyer.  The money was set aside for him to attend law school.  His mom took ill and Hal delayed registering for class.  After a year, he was an integral part of his family’s business and law school was forgotten.

Hal grew up near the childhood home of Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame.  He remembers Rod as a bright and intense young man.  He thought that the Kanters and the Serlings might be distant relatives.

Hal tried to enlist in the service following Pearl Harbor.  He had sinus problems and was classified as “4F”.  He tried several more times to enlist but was turned down each time for medical reasons.  Hal supported the war effort by taking a civilian job in a defense plant near his home.

Hal was a Mason.

Hal delivered “Meals on Wheels” in Alachua County for 14 years and received numerous commendations for his efforts on behalf of senior citizens.

Hal was born in Syracuse, New York.  He lived in the greater Syracuse area for the first 66 years of his life.  First, in Manlius when he was a child.  The Kanters then moved to Fayetteville where Hal helped run the family businesses – The Fayetteville Liquor Store – with his parents.  Hal attended Beth Hamedresh Hagadol synagogue for many years.   He was a member of Young Israel of Syracuse synagogue (located in the nearby town of Dewitt) prior to moving to Florida in 1984.

Hal’s childhood love for electric trains continued all his life.  He specialized in collecting “G gauge” cars and tracks.  G gauge is scaled 1/24 actual size.  Hal frequently attended train collector meetings from Jacksonville to Orlando.  He was respected for his extensive knowledge of the hobby.  You can learn more about the hobby of train collecting by clicking here.

Hal’s dad, Samuel Kanter, was a student in the yeshiva when he received the dreaded notice from the tsar conscripting him into the Russian army.  He was 16 years old.  Samuel left Russia in 1905 and came to America in steerage aboard a ship departing Bremen, Germany.  He settled in New York state.

Hal’s maternal grandfather, Rabbi Blaustein, was a native of Bremen, Germany.  He received his rabbinical training in Europe and emigrated to America right after the Civil War.  His first pulpit job was as the leader of a pioneer synagogue in Porland, Oregon in 1870.  After three years in Portland, he moved to Denver for two years, and then on to Albany, New York.  Hal’s mom, Janette (Janet) Kanter, was born a short time later in Albany.  Rabbi Blaustein worked as a rabbi and as a “mohel” (ritual circumciser) through his middle years.  He ended his career as a “shochet” (ritual slaughterer).  Hal had very vivid memories of his grandfather’s davening (praying).  Hal recalled that he had a very beautiful cantorial voice.

Hal’s mom and dad met in Albany and married in 1916.  Hal was born two years later.  Hal’s mom was 22.  Hal’s dad was 29.

Hal always considered his mother and father as his “two best friends”.

Samuel Kanter was a member of a fraternal group (similar to Shriners) called “The Independent Order of Odd Fellows”.

Hal’s mom was a successful business woman.  She operated her own baby store for many years.  She was also an accomplished piano player and knew all of the popular tunes of the day.  She would visit the homes of expectant mothers and entertain the family for hours.  This was in an era when most middle class homes had a piano in the parlor.  Hal said that his mom would always leave a customer’s home with a signed order form.