A child of the Hill District, David “Lefty” Abrams (1895-1982) gained local fame as a star baseball and basketball player at Central High School and the Carnegie Institute of Technology, as well as with the Coffey Club, a local Jewish sports association.
As a child, Abrams was a regular presence at the Irene Kaufmann Settlement House. He was admired by his Central High School classmates, who named him their class treasurer for his senior year. When Abrams was tossed from the varsity basketball squad for fighting, much of the first string quit in protest, leading to their first loss of the season.
Abrams served in the aviation corps during World War I and attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology upon his return. He is thought to be the first Jewish captain of the Skibos, Carnegie Tech’s basketball team.
Abrams graduated from Carnegie Tech in 1920 with a degree in engineering, but like many Jews at the time, was unable to find work in the field. After working for a cousin whose chain of shoe stores went bankrupt during the Great Depression, Abrams decided to go into business for himself. In 1936, while looking at a shoe store to purchase in DuBois, Pa., he found a better opportunity in Indiana, Pa. So David Abrams, his wife Mabel Hyde Abrams, and their children Howard and Leonard moved to Indiana later that year, where he became the owner of Ash’s Shoe Store on Philadelphia Street.
David Abrams already knew many people in Indiana from his days as an athlete and quickly became a prominent member of the Jewish community. He served on the building committee for Beth Israel Congregation that stood on the corner of Washington and Fifth.
Howard Abrams (1933-2013) worked at the store after returning from the military, then left to work at Brody’s Department Store and later for the zoning office of the Indiana Borough. In 1969, Abrams became a founding board member of Indiana County Workshop Inc. a nonprofit that provides vocational services to people with disabilities.
Howard Abrams married Ina Rae Abrams. They had two sons Michael and Stephan.