The day after the 2019 International Holocaust Remembrance Day, vlogger Casey Neistat posted a really beautiful and inspiring documentary that he and his filmmaker brother Van Neistat made as the Neistat Brothers in 2003 about the legendary Lillian Vernon, founder of Lillian Vernon catalog company.
Vernon was born Lillian Menasche in Leipzig, Germany but fled in 1933 after her brother was attacked by an anti-Jewish mob when the Nazis took over their opulent villa home. The family moved to an apartment in Amsterdam where they lived for four years before emigrating to the United States in 1937. In 1951, Vernon started the business for which she’d become world-famous, right from her kitchen table.
Vernon decided after many years to revisit these places where she had once lived. The current occupants of her former homes were wonderfully accommodating, allowing Vernon to cross their respective thresholds. The residents of the Leipzig home even sold their 1932 phone books that reflected the Menasche address to Vernon for €100. Vernon was elated with the purchase.
..then you think of all the nonsense of things you buy and this is so good. Well, it kind of throws it into perspective. I was in Milan and I bought a fantastic jacket for about $8,000. It’s absolutely repulsive it weighs 9,000. I never wear it and I said Here I am bought those [phone] books for 120 dollars and I will cherish them it’s just so amazing he didn’t want it – he didn’t care about it. He would have given it to us. That was the interesting part.
Lillian Vernon passed away at the age of 88 in Manhattan on December 14, 2015, leaving behind an incredible legacy still carries her name.