Toms River Regional Schools Hall of Fame

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Isadore M. Hirshblond

  • "The show must go on! Why? There's five dollars in the box office and we can't return it."
Isadore Manuel Hirshblond was born in October 1886 in Latvia, Russia and died April 11, 1961. He arrived in America in January 1903. Isadore married Mary Gwyer of Toms River and had two sons, Edgar and Manuel.

Isadorewas the owner and operator of the Copperthwaite Store, Main Street, Toms River and sold the business in 1918. He purchased the Toms River Amusement Co. and in the same year founded the Traco Theater Co. He rebuilt the old structure into a modern theater. During the 1920s he had vaudeville on the stage with many famous acts such as Abbot & Costello. The bookings were midweek, as the acts were either on their way to Atlantic City from NewYork or vice-versa. In 1927, he installed sound projection and had one of the first theaters in the state with sound. In 1940, he became associated with Walter Reade Theaters, assuming the management of the two local theaters, Traco & Community. In 1950, the Toms River Drive-In was built on Route 37 (now the site of KMart). Isadore managed it until it closed in the late 50's.

A philanthropist, Isadore was a charter member of the Toms River Kiwanis Club, member of Harmony Lodge F & AM, 32nd Degree Mason, and member of the Crescent Temple, Trenton, NJ. He was President of the Ocean County Shrine Club and was instrumental in organizing the Shrine Club to sponsor an underprivileged Children's Christmas party starting with a free movie and ending the party with a turkey dinner. He was also a member of the Tall Cedars, Lakewood Elks Redmen. He helped to organize the Toms River Business Men's Association, which eventually became the Chamber of Commerce. He was also a member of the Variety Club of Philadelphia.

"lzzy" Hirshblond was a very colorful man, who came to America unable to speak English. He learned the language and became a very successful businessman. His love of the entertainment industrywas in his soul. His Traco Theater was a dynamic institution that brought much enjoyment to the area. A highlight was Amateur Night, which featured local performerson the Traco stage. He was very select in his choice of films. His joy of life was personified in his community involvement. He never missed a high school football game; he gave theater passes to the team members on the night before the games and went to the locker room prior to the game to hand out chewing gum to the players. During the war, he would organize private cars to transport the baseball team to away games due to curtailment of school buses. Thanksgiving night, win or lose, the Toms River High Schoolfootball team, cheerleaders, and band were always his guests at the theater with introductions between the evening performances. He funded a scholarship prize for the outstanding athlete that was continued until the second high school was built. He also organized the steak and bean dinners for the winner and loser of the Toms River vs. Lakewood football game.

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