Newark, New Jersey, is home to Harold Matzner. His father worked for the Works Progress Administration, providing unemployed people with low-wage jobs. The family had shelter and food, but I needed help finding something for my parents at that time, Harold Matzner says. My father had only a third-grade education as the country worked its way out of the Great Depression. We were thankful for food and shelter. Matzner’s father didn’t complain about his job,” he explained.
As a child, his parents lived with his maternal grandfather, a Jewish Orthodox cantor and Hebrew teacher, in a walk-up apartment on the fifth floor. The father of my mother’s mother put his three children in an orphanage when she was young. Harold Matzner describes his mother as loving and overflowing with goodness. Eventually, he married again, and the children returned home, but I always felt sorry for my mother since she thought religion was more important to her father than her children.
Matzner’s father eventually became a minority owner in a printing company after moving out of his apartment, which led him to stop being Orthodox. It is well known that he was a good salesman. “I followed him around and spent a lot of time with him in the printing shop. He was good-looking, outgoing, and had a great sense of humour. There was a great deal of manual printing in those days. During my eight-year-old days, I spent hours collating coloured papers. Working has always been an important part of my life.
Matzner learned at a young age that the more effort you put into your work, the more success you will achieve.” During his youth, Matzner worked various jobs, including selling seeds and dog food door to door, running a paper route, and helping in his father’s printing business. Sports were his favourite hobby, and he enjoyed playing baseball and football in his spare time and running.
When bullies chased him home, this helped him. Matzner says he never got caught. When Matzner confronted the main bully at school, we got suspended for two days, but the bullying stopped after that. “The bully never caught me.” Matzner struggled in school, which he later discovered was due to dyslexia, which wasn’t diagnosed. Due to his father’s dyslexia, he dropped out of school early.
Matzner says he could not talk to anyone about his disability, and he was also left-handed, and they tried to turn him into a right-handed person by tying his left hand behind his back. I felt like I was different from all of the other kids because of that. However, I never gave up. I knew I was smart and had self-confidence, which kept me going.