Einstein’s Long Island Summer of ’39
https://www.longislandpress.com/2013/02 ... the-beach/
Rothman and Einstein-The same can’t be said for the memorable months he spent out east in 1939 when he rented a cottage on Nassau Point in Cutchogue so he could put his sailboat in Horseshoe Cove. Before that summer was over Einstein would sign a letter to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt warning him that the United States couldn’t afford to wait while Nazi Germany was possibly making a nuclear weapon.
Fortunately, Einstein had a big fan in Southold. David Rothman, who had opened Rothman’s Department Store in 1919, hadn’t graduated high school but he had maintained an avid interest in science. He recognized Einstein’s stepdaughter Margot when she entered his store looking for a chisel sharpener (she was a sculptor). Rothman presented it to her as a gift and asked her to convey his “respects to her father,” as he recalled.
The next day, Einstein came into the store himself looking for “sundials.” Or so Rothman thought and he dutifully showed him the one he had in the backyard. Einstein pointed to his feet. He really needed sandals, so Rothman sold him the largest pair he had left: women’s size 11. Einstein, who’d described himself in a letter to a friend as “a kind of ancient figure known primarily for his non-use of socks and wheeled out on special occasions as a curiosity,” gladly wore them all summer, along with a pair of shorts tied around his waist with a piece of rope, and a white sports shirt.
When the 60-year-old scientist had first entered his store, Rothman, then 43, was playing Mozart’s “Symphony No. 40” on his phonograph and they started talking about music. Rothman had begun playing the violin when he was 36; Einstein had started when he was six, but he insisted they play together. The next evening Rothman came out to Nassau Point with his instrument and some sheet music, but he was out of his league almost immediately and so they spent the rest of the night chatting. They clicked, and later Rothman arranged many musical evenings at his Southold home where Einstein and a few friends would play. Sometimes almost a hundred people listened outside, hoping for a glimpse of the famous scientist.
The Rothman Department Store is still in business having recently moved to a building next door to its original building which is now Einstein Square.