Caplan Siblings: Harry, Rachel, and Mike
Following the death of her husband Solomon, Sarah Garber Caplan admitted three of her children to the Home in 1896. Although the children had been born in New York, the family was living in New Orleans at the time of admission.
At age 11, Rachel returned to her mother in 1903. A 1910 shorthand graduate of Soule Business College, Rachel later married Morris Weiss with whom she raised a family.
Harry Caplan, 1903. Photo, JCRS.
Mike Caplan, 1903. Photo, JCRS.
Harry lived in the Home until 1905. Fifteen years old, he started his working life as a stenographer for a series of businesses including the Queens & Crescent Railroad, Royal Insurance Company, and Gassle & Beary court reporters. In 1919, Harry was hired as secretary to the president of Canal Bank (later known as National Bank of Commerce) ultimately becoming secretary of its board of directors. He frequently returned to the Home, including to entertain the children with his baritone horn, sometimes performing with his brother Mike in the Jerusalem Temple Shrine band. Harry also served as secretary of the Home’s board from 1943 until his death in 1953. In a memorial resolution, fellow Home board members paid tribute to Harry’s devotion to the children’s interests.
Harry B. Caplan, 1953.
Michel Caplan, who was known as Mike, lived in the Home until 1909. While there, Mike developed his skills as a cornet and trumpet player. In 1905, when the Home’s 50th anniversary and Isidore Newman School dedication events were threatened by the musician union’s eleventh-hour refusal to play, talented 11-year-old Mike led the Home Band, capably filling the melodic void. While rebuffing the union’s “despotic demands,” the Picayune favorably opined about Mike and his fellow substitute performers, “This band of small boys can beat many full-fledged professionals.”
Mike pursued his passion for music throughout his life, often performing for charitable and civic causes including the Home and American Legion, while serving nearly four decades as recorder of Jerusalem Temple. Starting in 1946, the year the Home closed, Mike organized an annual Shrine Circus matinee which children from institutions all over Louisiana attended without charge. In 1970, in addition to noting his role as a featured trumpeter in the circus band, the Times-Picayune recognized Mike’s pivotal role in the popular event by dubbing him “Circus Daddy.”
Michel “Mike” Caplan in an advertisement to promote the American Legion’s Veterans Day ceremonies and Shrine Circus. Times-Picayune, Nov. 10. 1965.