In 1930, Joel Basch was still in the tobacco business and living with his wife Jeanette and sons Sidney and Gustavus in Columbus, Ohio. Sidney was working as a clerk in a finance company and Gustavus as a salesman in a furniture store.
In the 1930s, Gustavus moved to Miami. In 1940, he was still living in Miami, where he was the manager of a tourist camp.1 I wondered what that meant and searched for Gustavus in the newspaper databases and found this advertisement from the December 6, 1936, Miami Herald (p. 72):
Apparently a “tourist camp” was a place for tourists to stay while vacationing in Miami—a place to park a trailer or rent a cottage. As indicated in the advertisement as well as on Gustavus’ World War II draft registration, this was his own business.
His parents, Joel and Jeanette, were listed right above him on the 1940 census, but they were enumerated twice in 1940—once in Columbus living with their older son Sidney, once in Miami with their younger son Gustavus. The Columbus enumeration was done on April 11, 1940, and the Miami enumeration was done on April 30, 1940. The Columbus enumeration reported that Joel, now 73, was retired, and that Sidney, 43, was a clerk at an insurance company.
Gustavus enlisted into the US Army on August 11, 1942,2 when he was 38 years old. He was serving as the “chief of the radio nets for his fighter squadron in 1943.” According to Wikipedia, a radio net is “essentially a moderated conference call conducted over two-way radio…. A net manager is the person who supervises the creation and operation of a net over multiple sessions. This person will specify the format, date, time, participants, and the net control script.”
The family suffered a terrible loss on January 10, 1945, when Sidney Basch had a cerebral hemorrhage and died in the family’s garage in Columbus. According to his death certificate, his body was not discovered until ten hours later. The newspaper reported that a neighbor found Sidney’s body, lying between the garage door and the rear bumper of his car; the paper also reported that Sidney had a history of heart attacks. He was 48 years old when he died.3
His brother Gustavus was serving in Europe at the time of Sidney’s death, but must have been discharged not long afterwards. He spent several months with his parents in Columbus after his discharge before returning to Florida in October of 1945.4
Two years later Jeanette Mendel Basch died on December 26, 1947. According to her obituary, she had been ill for a year. Jeanette had outlived two of her sons—Robert, who’d died as a young child, and Sidney. She was survived by her husband Joel and son Gustavus.5
But Joel only outlived Jeanette by three years. He died on December 8, 1950, from a heart attack and arteriosclerosis. He was 87.
Gustavus, who according to Joel’s obituary 6 was the secretary-treasurer of Tourist City Corporation in Miami when his father died in 1950, continued to live in Florida for the rest of his life. He died on November 13, 1989, in Miami, at age 85. Gustavus had not married or had children.7
An article that ran in numerous Florida newspapers revealed that Gustavus had died a wealthy man. In his early years he had invested in real estate in Miami that he sold after World War II; he had successfully invested his profits in the stock market and died with an estate worth five million dollars. He left two million dollars to the Miami Metrozoo and smaller amounts to his alma mater, Ohio State University, the United Negro College Fund, and South Miami Hospital. I found it ironic that Gustavus had done so well “gambling” on the stock market, given that his father Joel had lost his business as a young man due to gambling debts.8
As neither of Joel and Jeanette’s sons had children, there are no living descendants of Joel and Jeanette (Mendel) Basch. But their stories are not forgotten.
- Gustavus Basch, 1940 US census, Census Place: Dade, Florida; Roll: m-t0627-00580; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 13-22, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census ↩
- Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. ↩
- “Solicitor’s Body Found in Garage,” Columbus (OH) Dispatch, January 10, 1945, p. 1. ↩
- “To Miami,” Columbus (OH) Dispatch, October 2, 1945, p. 12. ↩
- “Mrs. Jeannette Basch,” Columbus (OH) Dispatch, December 27, 1947, p. 3. ↩
- “Joel Basch,” Columbus (OH) Dispatch, December 9, 1950, p. 11. ↩
- SSN: 265019585, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 ↩
- “Frugal Man Leaves $2 Million to Zoo,” The Tampa Tribune, 25 Nov 1990, p. 29. ↩