Oral history interviews are the recollections of people as recorded on audio tape and then transcribed by other people. As such, oral histories are subject to errors in fact and interpretation. The CJHS makes no representation about fact or interpretation in these transcribed interviews.
Sokol: It’s Sokol Insurance Agency.
Interviewer: Okay. And how long have you been in this office?
Sokol: At this location? Oh I’d say about 20, since 1980. So it’s about 22 years.
Interviewer: And I know you operated from other places before that.
Sokol: We were downtown for another thirty years, twenty–, yeah thirty years. We were at 36 W. Gay Street and we moved to 40 W. Gay Street, for five years. Then we moved to 33 N. High Street. At the end of the five year term, we moved out here.
Interviewer: I see. So you’ve been in several locations? We’re going to come back to your family business in just a few minutes. I just wanted to establish, the reason that I felt the need to question you is that your family has been a long time in the insurance business and you’re well established in the community and we’ll show that as the questions go on. Let’s start with your name. What is your Jewish name?
Sokol: My Hebrew name is Shaul.
Interviewer: Do you remember who you’re named after?
Sokol: I think it’s someone on my mother’s side but I do not know.
Interviewer: Sometimes it kind of leads into a lot of family history, your names, where you came from. Do you know what your original family name was or is it, was it always Sokol? Was it changed?
Sokol: Yes it was changed.
Sokol: It was changed to Socoloff, S-O-C-O-L-O-F-F. Our family name is Sokol all the way back. But my dad wanted a Russian-sounding name because when he came to this country, he thought he’d go into the tea business and he wanted a good Russian-sounding name.
Sokol: So when we brothers came home from the army, we changed it back because it’s shorter.
Interviewer: It’s easier?
Sokol: Right. And all our relatives are Sokols.
Interviewer: Oh. So that was the original name?
Interviewer: That’s interesting because usually it’s the other way around.
Sokol: (Indistinct) The guy that could verify that would be Ed Stan who visits some of my relatives in Omaha, Nebraska.
Interviewer: Oh is that right? Ed Stan?
Interviewer: Well what was the reason for that? Why would…
Sokol: His daughter was going to school in Omaha and looked up my cousin.
Interviewer: Oh so he found out a little more about that, uh huh?
Sokol: Oh I’m sorry. The Canowitz family came from the same city that my dad did.
Interviewer: In Europe?
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Sokol: Grodno, Europe. Grodno, Poland. The Canowitz family would know the same thing.
Interviewer: So they were like landsleit?
Sokol: Very, very close.
Interviewer: I think people who came from the same community were as close as family and often thought of the same as family. How did your family come to Columbus? How did that happen?
Sokol: As I understand it, when my dad came to this country he lived in New York for a while.
Interviewer: Do you remember what year it might be? Had to be early 1900?
Sokol: Yes. I’m just guessing, 1911, 1912.
Interviewer: So it would be before World War I?
Sokol: Yes. Yes. I don’t have it. Okay.
Interviewer: All right. So that…
Sokol: Oh he was married in 1916.
Sokol: So it must have been a year or two before that.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And where did your mother come from? Was she already here or…
Sokol: No, no, she came… when she came here. Don’t know. Anyhow she came from Turka Amstry…
Interviewer: Is that T-u-r-k-a? And then A-m-s-t-r-y- and then Mala Polska?
Interviewer: Sounds like that would be Poland?
Sokol: Yeah. Right.
Interviewer: Galitzia. That’s where your mother came from?
Sokol: Yes. Now let me throw this in. Julius Margulies’ mother came from there also.
Sokol: And it was Julius who gave me this exact city.
Sokol: And let’s see, Julius Margulies and the Furman family was from there and the Roth family, I think.
Interviewer: Oh so it might have been a larger community that they all happened to come from that area?
Sokol: Yeah as I understand it, it might be a small farm city. I don’t know, I don’t know.
Interviewer: But do you know what brought your father to Columbus, Ohio?
Sokol: Oh, I was going to tell you, he came to New York first. Then he went to Cleveland and was settling there and I don’t know how long he was there. And then this guy, a friend, a boyhood friend by the name of Joe Canowitz, part of the Canowitzs, he said, “What are you doing in Cleveland? You might as well come to Columbus. You’ve got some friends here.”So he decided to come to Columbus.
Interviedwer: This Canowitz was already established in Columbus?
Sokol: Apparently so.
Interviewer: Had your mother and father met each other by then or do you think they might have met after?
Sokol: I think after my dad came to Columbus.
Interviewer: And where were you born?
Interviewer: Columbus, Ohio? What year were you born? Well I probably have all that written down here.
Sokol: Well I was born in 1920 but I was born, I wrote down the address here, you know, see if I can find it. I think it was 437 E. Livingston Avenue. Which is around Ninth Street and Livingston Avenue and it was in a little, across the street was the Ohio Soda Water Company which became Pepsi Cola which was owned by the Schottenstein family.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Sokol: One of the Schottenstein family.
Interviewer: Yeah. Do you remember what branch that was? What was his name?
Interviewer: That’s Janice Schottenstein’s father?
Sokol: No it was Harold Schottenstein…
Sokol: Harold married Regina Schottenstein…
Interviewer: Right. Herman was her brother.
Sokol:… brother and there’s…
Interviewer: Irv, Irv…
Sokol: Irv’s the… I think of. Yeah. There was Calvin and there was Alvin.
Interviewer: So with that family. Uh huh. And that business was across from your home there?
Sokol: Almost across the street…
Interviewer: Seemed to be the area where a lot of Jewish people settled and…
Sokol: Oh absolutely. That…
Interviewer: That’s where everything was.
Sokol: That’s where the European Jews settled. The Germans… Had already been there, of course.
Interviewer: Can you tell us something about how your family, what business your father was in originally and how you got to the insurance business that you’re in now?
Sokol: I really don’t know what my father did when he first came to Columbus. I think he was, he’s some sort of a salesman but I don’t know. But he got into the insurance business around 1925 or ’26 and he worked for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and he got a route or debit they called it.
Sokol: And he was friends with Mr. Luper I think. There were two Mr. Lupers.
Interviewer: One, Eve Luper’s husband was one. Now…
Sokol: It would be her father-in-law.
Interviewer: Oh, so it was another generation back?
Sokol: Yeah, but it was the other brother. The same thing. One had a bakery . . . . And I don’t know what the other one did.
Interviewer: So they your father into the insurance…
Sokol: Yeah. I think so. I can…
Interviewer: It sounds like. So your family pretty much were in Columbus the whole time. Is that right?
Sokol: Yes. The family. Yes.
Interviewer: Do you remember grandparents at all?
Sokol: I never met them. They were in Europe.
Interviewer: So they never came to this country?
Interviewer: Let’s talk about where you lived as a child, different homes that you might have lived in as you grew up. Do you remember some of the addresses or neighborhoods?
Sokol: Let’s see.
Interviewer: You have that written down? That’s great. It’s a good way to remember it. Okay.
Sokol: And I wrote down from 1920 when I was born… And we started to live there before. I think it was 437 E. Livingston Avenue not 449. Okay. And we were there, no I wrote this down. . . .
Interviewer: Until when? Until what year? How long did you live there?
Sokol: That’s what I’m trying to determine here. No I cannot tell you. Let’s see. I know we moved to Donaldson Street from there and I would say, let’s see. What year did I go to Fulton School? I started in 1925. I’ll say about 1923 or 1924. And I went to kindergarten in 1925 and in 1926, that was the first grade.
Interviewer: It’s a little unusual to go to kindergarten wasn’t it at that time or that was pretty much routine?
Sokol: I think it probably was.
Interviewer: And where did you go to kindergarten?
Sokol: Fulton Street School. And I was there ’till the second grade, no, kindergarten and first grade. And then I guess that my dad’s… Where are we? Are we still . . . .
Interviewer: Yeah it was your second home. It was 531 Donaldson…
Interviewer: Street. Yeah. Okay.
Sokol: Okay. So it was right, almost across the street from Agudas Achim Synagogue.
Interviewer: Oh that’s where it was?
Sokol: Yeah. And there used to be a butcher shop and we lived next to it, west of it, and, let’s see, east of it was the Sowalsky family. What’s his name? David Sowalsky. He had, they had three or four sons… daughters… I think. Okay.
Interviewer: So what was the name of the butcher shop? Do you remember that?
Sokol: Yeah, it was Sol Katz.
Interviewer: Oh yeah?
Sokol: S-O-L Katz. And then they moved to Livingston Avenue later on and a guy by the name of I. Brier stayed there. He moved in. And let’s see on Donaldson. Okay.
Interviewer: And then where was the next place you lived? Was that…
Sokol: 721 S. 17th Street.
Interviewer: In… Okay.
Sokol: That is near Livingston Avenue Park. It’s heading west. The next street is Ann Street, then Wager Street . . . .
Sokol: then Parsons. Going the other way 18th, then Carpenter, then Gilbert. I don’t know if you’ve come across…
Interviewer: Yeah, yeah I’ve heard of all of those…
Interviewer: I’ve heard of all those streets. That’s where everybody lived I think.
Interviewer: And about what year was that that you were on 17th?
Sokol: Let’s see. I went to school, I’ll say second grade. And I was there for second, third and fourth grades so we were there for three years. Now let’s see. What year was it? Let me see.
Interviewer: Was that ’27? Was that when…
Sokol:… was from 1927. So let’s go back two years to ’25.
Interviewer: Well what school did you go to then when you were in second grade? Was that…
Sokol: Second grade?
Interviewer: Well you were in kindergarten and first grade in the first school.
Sokol: Kindergarten and first grade at Fulton Street School. Okay. So then second, third and fourth, I was at Livingston Avenue School.
Sokol: Then we got poor again and we moved to 656 E. Fulton Street in 1930.
Sokol: And then I graduated from Fulton School.
Interviewer: Elementary school?
Sokol: Elementary school. Okay. Then I went to Roosevelt Junior High School next. And from there I went to East High School which was a nice, long walk . . . .
Sokol: to school from our house to our school.
Interviewer: And you did walk? Everybody walked back and forth to school. Right?
Interviewer: And where were you living when you were at East High School and is this where you moved to?
Interviewer: Fulton? Still on 656 E. Fulton?
Sokol: Yes. When I got married, I moved to Northwest.
Interviewer: Okay. When you got married, you moved to 17…
Sokol: 1748 Northwest Boulevard.
Interviewer: Well that was up in the north area?
Sokol: Yeah, it was near King Avenue.
Interviewer: What year was that?
Interviewer: Did you go to, you graduated from East High School?
Interviewer: And then did you go to college after that or…
Sokol: I went to night school at Ohio State. But I have a bad right eye and it was too hard to read. Because there was always spots flying. But I went there about a year and a half and I took Journalism and English mostly.
Interviewer: Oh is that right? Were you interested in Journalism…
Interviewer: at that time? Did you ever work in Journalism?
Sokol: Yeah I sold papers downtown.
Interviewer: Oh that’s it. That’s pretty close.
Sokol: No. I always… And my corner was right in front of the Columbus Dispatch so that’s where…
Sokol:… for Journalism. And…
Interviewer: So did you enjoy writing…
Sokol: Yes, yes. I used to you know, I used to sell the Columbus Citizen and deliver it up to the Dispatch because they wanted to see the paper as soon as it came out.
Sokol: And that’s where I, I think that’s what, where I got my printer’s ink influence.
Interviewer: Did you actually work for the newspaper then as far as writing?
Sokol: Only when I was going to high school, I’d cover sports events for Louis Berliner.
Sokol: He had us so… but it was a part-time job and we got paid very nominally.
Interviewer: Where was the Dispatch located then?
Sokol: Right where it is right now.
Interviewer: On Third?
Sokol: 34 S. Third. At the same time, usually we’d cover high school sports and we’d go to the Ohio State Journal and write a story, then come back to the Dispatch and rewrite it as a feature story.
Interviewer: Oh, so it was the same information but changed around a little?
Interviewer: Were you interested in sports or just interested in writing about them mostly?
Sokol: No, I didn’t have any time for sports because after school, I sold papers downtown for –’till I was 17 I think.
Interviewer: I want to establish your family at this point. Can you tell us the names of your siblings and a little bit about each one of them: who they’re married to and if they have children and where they might be.
Sokol: You talking about my brothers, you talking about…
Interviewer: Your brothers, uh huh, and their families.
Sokol: Let’s see, I had an older brother that was killed by an automobile in Cleveland, Ohio in 1960.
Interviewer: How old was he when…
Sokol: I think he was about 40.
Interviewer: And his name?
Sokol: 1960. And he was born in 1917. Or maybe he was 42. Okay. I’m sorry.
Interviewer: What was his name?
Sokol: Joe. Joseph.
Interviewer: Was he married?
Interviewer: So he left a widow…
Sokol: And two children.
Interviewer: Two children. Uh huh. And where are they?
Sokol: I think his daughter is in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Interviewer: And what was her name, do you remember?
Sokol: I think it was Margulies but I can’t think of her first name.
Interviewer: Well it’s hard when you haven’t had constant contact with her.
Sokol: Right, right. And then she had a brother who’s an attorney in San Francisco. Who’s married to a gal who teaches Journalism in Berkeley, University of Berkeley.
Sokol: And her father was a professor there and she also writes for the New York Times. She’s their West Coast correspondent.
Interviewer: Well there goes your Journalism there. It comes back, huh? Okay. So that’s your oldest brother huh? That was your oldest brother? Okay. And then who’s next?
Sokol: I am the second.
Interviewer: Second, okay. Tell us about your family then at this point. You know, who you were married to, when, and your children.
Sokol: I’m married to Phyllis Davis Sokol.
Interviewer: Where was Phyllis from?
Sokol: Nelsonville, Ohio.
Interviewer: I know Nelsonville. There were several Jewish families there.
Sokol:… I forgot who, I think Snider, you know, who’s funeral director, Don Snider?
Interviewer: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: Is that right?
Sokol: And Dr. Edelman came from there.
Sokol: He used to be the Jewish doctor…
Interviewer: Yeah. The…
Sokol: Dr. Samuel Edelman.
Interviewer: Oh, okay. And where, you did tell me when you were married. Right? Was it 1950?
Interviewer: Okay. And your children?
Sokol: Jay. Jay Bradford Sokol…
Sokol: And Samara Sokol.
Interviewer: Okay. And they, do they have mates and children?
Sokol: Yes. Jay is married to Jackie who you met out there.
Interviewer: She works here in your office?
Interviewer: And do they have children?
Sokol: He has, he’s divorced and remarried her.And he has a son in Boca Raton and he’s about 20, 21 maybe. 21 I guess.
Interviewer: And his name?
Sokol: His name is Brandon Sokol. But she came with two children and their names are Brian Kleinman and Susan Kleinman.
Interviewer: And so Jay and his wife both work here in the office?
Sokol: Should I say that she used to work for the Jewish Center…
Sokol: As kitchen…
Interviewer: Director of Kitchen Operations?
Sokol: Yeah, right. She took Home Economics at Miami University.
Sokol: And I was going to say both of them in high school were in the marching band…
Interviewer: Oh that was nice.
Sokol: they both played the clarinet, they’re both left-handed and it’s a beautiful marriage.
Interviewer: Oh that’s nice. How long have they been married? Long time?
Sokol: Fifteen-sixteen years.
Sokol: At least. I’ll say 16-17 years.
Interviewer: And your daughter Samara?
Sokol: Samara. She was twice married too. I can’t think of the guy’s, first marriage. She has one child, one son by him and his name is Andrew. And he’s attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
Interviewer: Oh. That’s a very famous school.
Sokol: Yeah he wants to become a chef. And not an insurance person.
Interviewer: Oh. He knows that that’s not what he wants to be. Is his mother in the insurance business too?
Sokol: No, she’s a nurse and she works for I think it’s Sunrise Assisted Living.
Sokol: In Gahanna.
Interviewer: Oh yeah. Okay. So that pretty much covers your children and immediate family?
Interviewer: Well let’s…
Sokol: My daughter has, my daughter’s name is, did I give you her last name?
Interviewer: Oh, okay. Good. I’m glad you…
Sokol:… daughter named Neelee, N-E-E-L-E-E.
Interviewer: Oh that’s interesting. A little different.
Sokol: And she works at a doctor’s office up north. Some kind of gynecologist, something.
Interviewer: So she’s in Columbus as well? Uh huh. Okay, let’s get back to the rest of your siblings, your brothers and…
Sokol: Okay. My brother Jules follows me. He’s the one that owns the Tee Jaye’s chain of restaurants.
Interviewer: Oh okay. Tee Jaye’s is a famous chain of…
Sokol: Well it’s famous in Columbus.
Interviewer: Yeah. I like Tee Jaye’s. I like to eat there. And tell us about his wife and their children.
Sokol: His wife was Nita and she passed away around 1989, I think. And he has, and she came with a daughter. She was married before.And her daughter’s name was Sherry. I think it’s S-H-E-R-R-Y maybe. And then there was Beverlee Drive-Ins. There was Beverlee.
Interviewer: Their daughter’s name?
Sokol: Yes. And the drive-ins were named after her.
Sokol: Not the other way around.
Interviewer: Yeah. Beverlee Drive-Ins were real popular in the 50s.
Sokol: You know, it was the first time in Columbus.
Interviewer: Is that right? Where was that located?
Sokol: Oh they had about 15 locations. The first one was at Broad and James where there’s a Shell station there now. It would be on the northeast corner. And they had one on S. Parsons Avenue and they had one on Oakland Park Avenue, Hudson Street… But anyhow, the prettiest one I thought was Hamilton and Main. Do you remember that…
Interviewer: Right, yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah. So they had a chain of drive-ins? That…
Sokol: Fourteen or fifteen of them. And then he expanded so quickly and he ran out of money. So he had to, let’s see, he had to pull his horns in. I don’t think he went bankrupt but he came pretty close to it. And he was able to salvage two locations, the one on Parsons Avenue and the one on Oakland Park and Cleveland Avenue. And he asked the people on Parsons Avenue, “What kind of food do you like to eat?” and most of them said “hillbilly type of food,” so that’s what he opened up with and did very, very well.
Interviewer: So that’s what Tee Jaye’s became?
Interviewer: Hillbilly kind of food.
Sokol: Well yeah except it’s more of, more of a variety…You know like a “barn buster”…
Interviewer: Yeah, yeah. They have comfort foods, I’d say.
Sokol: That’s a good thing.
Interviewer: Comfort foods. Well that’s how I think of it.
Interviewer: And how many of those do they have?
Sokol: Now, about 10.
Interviewer: And all just in the Columbus area or…
Sokol: There’s one in Zanesville. Well yeah… in the Columbus area. Grove City is another place.
Interviewer: Well let’s see, let’s get back to his children. You told us about two of his children.
Sokol: Okay. Beverlee amd Mitchell Cohen.
Interviewer: And Sherry.
Sokol: There’s Dana and a son Randy. Randy J. which is where Tee Jaye’s comes from.
Sokol: And the youngest one is Ronnie.
Interviewer: And are they all in the business or how many…
Sokol: No, Beverlee’s not in the business and Dana and Randy run the business. And a daughter, the youngest daughter is Ronnie and she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Interviewer: So pretty much the two of them run the business?
Sokol: Right.With Jules.
Interviewer: With Jules.
Sokol: I would say they’re running him out of the business.
Interviewer: Well they’re taking over, huh?
Interviewer: That’s okay.
Sokol: I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding.
Interviewer: Yeah. That’s okay. They’re doing well, whatever…
Interviewer: however it works. Okay. And, so then after Jules who else do you have in your family?
Sokol: Mal. My brother Mal. Manuel.
Sokol: He sells insurance, mostly for senior citizens, Medicare supplements.
Interviewer: So he’s got his own business?
Sokol: Yeah, in fact, I’m using his desk right now.
Interviewer: Oh well here we are.
Sokol:… here. No he comes here in the afternoon and he uses it. But he has an office on Livingston Avenue… near Hamilton Road. Where Walnut Medical Center used to be.
Sokol: Walnut Ridge there, no…
Interviewer: On Livingston?
Sokol: Yeah, near Hamilton on the right-hand side, on the south side.
Interviewer: Oh yeah. There’s a medical center up there. And is he married?
Sokol: He is divorced now.
Interviewer: Who was he married to?
Sokol: Well he was married to a gal by the name of Shelley. Michele. They became divorced and he has two children by them. One is Laurie Bejar, B-E-J-A-R. She lives in Puerto Rico. She married a Jewish Cuban refugee.
Sokol: And he has a son named…
Interviewer: Is he in Columbus?
Sokol: No he’s in Florida, Miami, Florida. Brad.
Interviewer: Okay. Does that cover your family or did you have any sisters?
Sokol: No. But my mother tried like the devil.
Interviewer: She wanted a girl in there someplace. Well she ended up with daughters- in-law.
Sokol: Right. I have another brother Si.
Sokol: He lives north. And he’s an ins—, he has an insurance company is what he has.
Interviewer: So it’s separate altogether, huh?
Sokol: Yes. Yeah his is a company. We’re an agency.
Interviewer: Oh okay. What’s the difference?
Sokol: Well a company agents work for, represent various companies.
Sokol: They’re the ones that are on the risk. We’re an agency, we represent three or four different companies.
Interviewer: Oh I see. And he, how does he operate then?
Sokol: As a company.
Interviewer: As a company?
Interviewer: So he represents them?
Sokol: No he only has one company.
Interviewer: I see.
Sokol: Other agents would represent, I could represent my brother’s company, selling. He has a niche which is where, he does business mostly with banks.
Interviewer: Oh. Well that sounds like, everybody has a niche somewhere. Is he married?
Interviewer: His wife?
Sokol: Barbara Klass Sokol, K-L-A-S-S. She’s from Dayton. They have two, three children. John Sokol who now runs the company. It’s called Bank Insurance Corp.
Sokol: And Ohio Indebiting Company. He’s the President CEO. My brother Si is, what is he? The ex-CEO, as of a year or two ago. And he’s Chairman of the Board.
Interviewer: I was just going to say, “That sounds like Chairman of the Board.”
Interviewer: And that’s usually how it works.
Sokol: That’s right. And John runs it. Then the second brother is out in San Francisco and I don’t remember what he’s doing now.
Interviewer: What’s his name?
Sokol: You asked me too quick.
Interviewer: Well we’ll come back to that. And you said he has three children?
Sokol:… is a daughter. Her name is Karla.
Interviewer: And where is she?
Sokol: She’s in Columbus. She, she used to be with ESPN in New York and California. She would help advertisers select the programs. Then she decided she’d rather be in Columbus so she works for a, I think it’s called Executive Sports. They put on these great golfing tournaments like in Muirfield and… State.
Interviewer: That sounds like an interesting…
Sokol: Yeah she does that. She handles some of the sponsors, big sponsors that sponsor the tournament. She handles, a sponsor might bring in, I don’t know, maybe four or five hundred clients and she sees that they have housing and transportation and being fed and what not.
Interviewer: That’s a big responsibility.
Sokol: Yeah, she’s got a very responsible job.
Interviewer: And, let’s see, did you remember about her brother or the middle one, was that the middle child?
Interviewer: The middle child gets kind of pushed aside a little bit.
Sokol: I could think about… it’s just that my memory.
Interviewer: Oh that’s okay. That’s okay. Don’t worry about it. All right, let’s go back to talking about your parents. Can you, I’m just watching to see if we get to the end of the tape. Can you tell us about maybe how they met and stories they might have told you about their families? Did they talk a lot about their background?
Sokol: No, not too much. I had to dig it out of my dad and I had interviewed some of the other families living out of town to find out more about their dad. Surprisingly my parents must have had the same problems their parents did. They didn’t talk too much.
Interviewer: I don’t think that was unusual thought, Saul because we talk often about our parents too. I think they left, you know whatever they left behind, they just left behind. They didn’t want to talk about it any more. They wanted to start life all over again.
Sokol: But my dad’s family was, again their town was very renowned and everything else… My grandfather was, I wrote down the name Aaron Joseph Sokol. That’s his name. He was born in 1867; he died in 1918 at the age of 51. In Grodno.
Sokol: In Russia.
Interviewer: I don’t think you told me what your father’s name was.
Sokol: Nathan Sokol.
Interviewer: Okay. And your mother?
Interviewer: Uh huh. And her maiden name was Klyst, K-L-Y-S-T. He was very wealthy, he had an estate, my grandfather and any time there was trouble, any time there was a problem, a couple of Jews would come to him…
Interviewer: He’d work it out?
Sokol: Yeah and he, any time they needed a passport to go somewhere, he’d arrange that. I was interviewing one of my, she’d be my parents’… in Detroit… She says, “They were very snobbish,” and I could tell that they were because we’d be having lunch or dinner at the table and my dad would always say, “Boy at my father’s house we couldn’t do that.” I once came down wearing an undershirt, you know? He made me change into a shirt. He said, “In my dad’s house, you couldn’t have come down to eat dinner…”
Interviewer: So they were a lot more formal and aristocratic in a way?
Sokol: Right. In fact there was a number of; it was a large family. A number of them were killed by the Nazis. One uncle was, one of his brothers, was an architect in Poland, in Warsaw. He designed a cathedral, my aunt told me, and…
Interviewer: Was that one of your father’s…
Interviewer: brothers? Uh huh.
Sokol: And she says, I think she said his name is on it. It’s the only Jewish name…
Sokol: on a Catholic cathedral.
Interviewer: Catholic cathedral, huh? And where, would that be in Europe?
Sokol: Warsaw. Yeah.
Sokol: And then he designed the presidential palace or home for the president of Poland right after the war. You know, it was Russia, and then after World War I it became Poland.
Interviewer: Right, right.
Sokol: And the first president after the war was a guy who was a pianist named Paderewski. I don’t know if you ever heard of him.
Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah.
Sokol: Paderewski. Okay.
Sokol: He was the first president.
Interviewer: Oh well that’s interesting. I didn’t know about that.
Sokol: Then my Aunt Fran also said it was a very, very good looking family but your father was the ugliest.
Interviewer: Oh she did tell you that, huh?
Sokol: Yeah, she, oh is that thing recorded?
Sokol:… play it for you.
Sokol:… got it over here.
Interviewer: Oh. Yeah I got it. It was on. It’s here.
Interviewer: Oh you mean you recorded her telling you…
Interviewer: telling you that?
Sokol: And then…
Interviewer: Well she can’t even…
Sokol:… pictures of some of the relatives. They are good looking. Two of his sisters went to Paris and won beauty contests.
Interviewer: Oh? Yeah, yeah, that’s great.
Sokol: Now my grandmother’s name, his wife, was named Sima. I think it’s spelled S-I-M-A.
Interviewer: And her maiden name was Sophie Rabinowitz. She died in 1923. She died in Europe so you never got to meet her? Do you know how your parents actually met? Were they in Columbus?
Sokol: They were in Columbus.
Interviewer: Maybe somebody introduced them? Did your parents speak English when you were growing up or Yiddish?
Sokol: Mostly Yiddish as I recall. And then when we were going to school, I guess they’d try to speak English.
Interviewer: They wanted to become Americans, Americanized?
Sokol: That’s right.
Interviewer: Was your mother a housekeeper? She always worked at home taking care of family?
Interviewer: What about holidays and religious background in your family? Where did you go to services, which synagogue?
Sokol: We went to Agudas Achim and then they had a rabbi who, Rabbi Werne, and then I think they got in a fight, or the synagogue got in a fight with him so then he moved over to the Ahavas Sholom. So my dad liked Rabbi Werne so he moved over to the Ahavas Sholom.
Interviewer: Now where was Ahavas Sholom located?
Sokol: It was almost next door to the Agudas Achim on Washington. It was a field… It seems to me that the synagogue was right next door to the field.
Interviewer: So they both were on Washington?
Sokol: Between Donaldson and Fulton Street.
Interviewer: That was pretty much the hub of the Orthodox Jewish community.
Sokol: Right. Because down the street on Donaldson was the Beth Jacob Synagogue. Between Washington and Seventh Street or Grant Avenue, which is the same street.
Interviewer: Well let’s build up some information about that neighborhood. Some of the stores you might have remembered or people that lived in that area, people who ran stores.
Sokol: Yeah. ‘Course there was… one I think was Kroll’s Delicatessen store.
Interviewer: K-R —-?
Interviewer: Okay, Kroll.
Sokol: And it was on the northwest corner of Washington and Fulton Streets.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Interviewer: And that was a deli?
Sokol: Yeah, mostly a deli. I don’t think they sold meats, you know…
Interviewer: Not fresh meat but delicatessen kind of food: corned beef . . . .
Sokol: Salami and corned beef.
Sokol: And rolled beef.
Sokol: And then across the street was Center’s Delicatessen, Center’s Meat Market I guess.
Interviewer: A regular butcher shop?
Sokol: Right. Yeah, he sold everything, Mr. Center. Then there was right on the corner, catty-corner from Kroll’s was Bornstein’s Market where they sold groceries… And where, I don’t know if you know the Bornstein family…
Interviewer: Sure. They went into the restaurant food supply company.
Interviewer: The same, that’s the same family?
Interviewer: So they were in the grocery business there?
Sokol: Before they did it. I know the mother. I remember she used to wait on me and she used to say, “You know you have a very nice mother. She’s a very sweet lady.” She always told me that.
Interviewer: Oh. Well she probably meant it too. She was a friend and…
Interviewer: they meant a lot to each other.
Sokol: By the way, across the street from us there was a grocery store. Nacdimen’s, you know…
Interviewer: Oh Zell.
Sokol: Yeah, Zell.
Interviewer: Zee Nacdimen. Uh huh.
Sokol: Yeah. Her parents…
Interviewer: I never, I haven’t heard that one mentioned. What about bakery? Any bakeries?
Sokol: Yeah I remember Fulton Street Bakery and Schwartz Bakery.
Interviewer: Who operated Fulton Street Bakery?
Sokol: I remember a family by the name of Rubin and it seems to me there was a Jeanette Rubin…
Interviewer: That sounds familiar.
Sokol: that was my age. And I guess they moved out of town at an early age.
Interviewer: And then Schwartz Bakery was well known for years. Dave Schwartz. His father.
Sokol: Very nice man. Very nice parents.
Interviewer: Saul, I’m going to stop at this point because our tape is almost at the end. This is Side A of Tape l so I’ll stop and turn it over.
Sokol: Okay. Okay, we’re on Side B of Tape 1 and we’re talking about the neighborhood and some of the stores that you remember. What about things that you did as a kid? You know, where did you play? Do you remember some of your buddies in the neighborhood? What you did after school? You know, tell us about that part of your life.
Sokol: At what stage?
Interviewer: Well, as early as you can remember.
Sokol: Well let’s see. I don’t remember whether it was kindergarten or first grade, a very nice friend was a guy by the name of Dave Handler who passed away… You know Jean’s…
Interviewer: First husband. Uh huh. He was a friend of yours?
Sokol: Yeah. We went to Fulton School together in the company with Sol Stein, who moved to Atlanta and I haven’t seen him for a long time although his sister was married to a Handler that lived in Columbus but moved to Dayton. I think his name was David Handler.
Sokol: They were cousins.
Interviewer: Cousins. Probably named after the same family members. That happened a lot too. So…
Sokol: So that was at Fulton School. Then went to Livingston Avenue School and in my class was Harry Topolosky for the most part. Oh, Butch Levy and Dutch Geichman.
Interviewer: Oh yeah.
Sokol: It was a…
Interviewer: That was a fun group.
Sokol: Yes. Then, let’s see, then I left them because I went back to Fulton Street School. And then when I graduated, I went to Roosevelt Junior High School but so did those guys, Dutch and Butch and Joe Douglas and Zeldins and… the whole group.
Interviewer: What about after school? Did you guys play ball or take piano lessons or work… .
Sokol: We worked. We all sold papers. We were so poor. So we all sold papers downtown. Like I told you, my corner early on was in front of the Columbus Dispatch.
Interviewer: You mentioned that you were poor. That comes up a lot too. I know in our family we talked about that but when our family gets together, we say that we were poor. But we didn’t know we were poor.
Sokol: That’s true because there’s always food on the table.
Sokol: You know you’re…
Interviewer: And everybody was in the same boat. You know you all were pretty much on the same level.
Interviewer: What did poor mean? You didn’t have things that maybe somebody on the other side of the tracks had?
Sokol: Well poor means you didn’t have a bicycle to ride to school or I remember my dad used to give us 15 cents for lunch. You know I was going to Roosevelt. I remember you used to get; the confec- tionery in back of Roosevelt Junior High School. And you’d buy a, called a long john; it was a donut. It was chocolate on top and cream in the middle…
Interviewer: Oh. Well that was a special treat.
Sokol: Yeah. And, in fact my face broke out with pimples from eating so may of…
Iterviewer: Too many sweets, huh?
Sokol: With chocolate milk and then sometimes we’d go to, Kroger’s was near there, about a block away. We’d buy cheese…
Interviewer: Was it Kroger’s?
Sokol: Yes, it was Kroger’s.
Sokol: The same Kroger’s.
Interviewer: Is that right?
Sokol: Yes, it was on Lockbourne Avenue near Whittier. And we’d buy some, what do you call those buns, “hot cross buns” and we’d…
Interviewer: There are hot cross buns.
Sokol: Okay. And we’d split it and the manager would sell us that and sell us some cheese, slice us some cheese, so we’d make our own cheese sandwiches and… chocolate milk.
Interviewer: Uh huh. So that was your treat?
Sokol: And then, even though I was going to Roosevelt, I was selling papers and we’d get out at 1—, 45 minutes earlier than the rest if we worked. So we’d catch the street car and it would take us downtown.
Interviewer: Do you remember how much the street car cost?
Sokol: Yeah it was a nickel, no it was 6 cents or five tickets for a quarter.
Interviewer: Oh. So…
Sokol: We were, I forgot under what age it was 3 cents if you were a child under 10 or 12, whatever.
Interviewer: So it was actually a street car? It was operated by electric or?
Sokol: Yeah. You know, overhead lines and the trolley pole.
Sokol: So, I really enjoyed, I used to sell papers on all the corners downtown, big corners and I really enjoyed selling them.
Interviewer: So you had happy recollections of your youth and…
Sokol: I did.
Interviewer: you had friends and your family was secure and whatever house you were in, you had a roof over your head and…
Interviewer: Did your dad have a car?
Sokol: Yeah, late–, yes he did have a, he had a Ford sedan. I am trying to picture the 1927 license plate on it.
Interviewer: Oh. Wish you had that car now, huh?
Sokol:… seven years old. Yeah, right.
Interviewer: That was a big deal.
Sokol: Yeah. His debit was on Mt. Vernon so some of his customers were like Sam Goldman, Irv… , Bonowitz from the tailor shop…
Interviewer: Sure, sure.
Sokol: I think Bonowitz came, their parents came, Mr. Bonowitz came from Grodno. Oh they’re related to Canowitz, that’s right.
Interviewer: Oh they are? That’s right. Uh huh.
Sokol: And… Krakoff, you know the department store there…
Interviewer: Well you mentioned Mt. Vernon Avenue. What do you recall about Mt. Vernon Avenue? Do you remember, there were a lot of Jewish businesses around there?
Sokol: Well you know, what’s his name, Marvin Bonowitz wrote a little . . . .
Interviewer: Yeah, he wrote a history of it.
Sokol: He remembers my dad when he used to come around and collect for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.
Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah I remember Fred Roland too…
Interviewer: was in the insurance business.
Sokol: Metropolitan. I remember him.
Interviewer: Yeah I know our family, my father-in-law I think had insurance policies with them. Maybe you can remember, the memory’s just jogging for me, that my parents paid a very nominal amount of money regularly for their insurance policy.
Interviewer: I mean it was like cents.
Sokol: Yeah, a nickel or a dime.
Sokol: A quarter, yeah.
Interviewer: And built up a policy that maybe our kids, you know, their kids would some day come into so it was a total of a few thousand dollars maybe.
Interviewer: But it was important to them to establish that financial strength.
Sokol: Yeah we would, my dad, when the depression came, a lot of people dropped those nickel and dime policies. So my father started selling automobile insurance and home insurance and his customers was your father-in-law, what was your father—, Meyer…
Interviewer: Meyer and he had a twin brother Harry.
Sokol: Yeah. So I remember my dad used to take the street car all the way down Parsons Avenue from Fulton and Parsons…
Interviewer: To collect from them?
Sokol: On a Sunday. They were, let’s see, I think they were open on Sunday.
Interviewer: Yeah, yeah they were. They were in the same block. Yeah, uh huh. On South Parsons Avenue.
Sokol: They remained good friends many years.
Sokol: They belonged to the Ahavas Sholom too.
Interviewer: Yeah they did. Well I remember Ohio Avenue.
Interviewer: Is that where Ahavas Sholom moved to from…
Sokol: Yes. They weren’t there too long. ‘Course the neighborhood deteriorated.
Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah it did.
Sokol:… They once tried to merge with the Beth Jacob.
Interviewer: Is that right?
Sokol: But they couldn’t get together.
Interviewer: Well sounds familiar. I think we’re going through some of those struggles today too. What do you remember about your Bar Mitzvah?
Sokol: I remember, I don’t remember my speech.
Interviewer: No, that’s okay. I can understand that.
Sokol: I’ll tell you…
Interviewer: It wasn’t a big deal like they have now.
Sokol: No, of course not. What’s his name, Rabbi Werne… wrote the speech for me to memorize. You know, thanking everybody.
Interviewer: Right. And then my maftir, I went to Hebrew School of course like every other kid. And…
Interviewer: Who were your Hebrew teachers? Do you remember?
Sokol: Yeah, Mr. Leavitt, Sol Leavitt.
Sokol: Does that name…
Interviewer: Yeah it sounds familiar.
Sokol: And I had Mr. Metchnik. He was the principal.
Sokol: He… to teach me. He taught the Bar Mitzvah class. And there was a Mr. Yablock.
Interviewer: Were the memories of your Hebrew School teachers, pleasant memories or were they forceful periods of time for you?
Sokol: No I liked Mr. Leavitt because he would tell us a story, every Sunday. And it was great. You know, Bible stories.
Interviewer: Oh yeah?
Sokol: And several of… really rough.
Interviewer: Yeah, I get a lot of those kinds of stories and I guess the kids kind of hated Hebrew School.
Sokol: Well… teacher had a ruler in his hand and if you didn’t behave…
Interviewer: They pounded you. Yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah. You couldn’t do that today, I’ll tell you that. You can’t touch kids.
Sokol: In my class was Janice Schottenstein’s sisters, Helen and June.
Interviewer: Right. Yeah, they’re both deceased.
Interviewer: Yeah they were good people.
Sokol: Oh yes. But my Bar Mitzvah. You know I was still selling papers during my Bar Mitzvah so I couldn’t…
Interviewer: Couldn’t take too much time, huh?
Sokol: Right. And then I remember when I could I’d go across the street to the grocery store owned by Mr. Kanter, father of Dr. Kanter, grandfather of Sam Kanter.
Interviewer: Oh yeah.
Sokol: Their name used to be Kanterovich.
Interviewer: Well they changed, they shortened it.
Sokol: Yes. I used to call Mr. Kanter… you know, I’d call him Kanter. That was his name. The kids changed it; he didn’t change it.
Sokol: Kanterovich. But he would, he helped me with my maftir. He was great.
Interviewer: What about, how did your family celebrate your Bar Mitzvah? I mean, was there a Kiddush in shul or, you don’t remember?
Sokol: I really don’t remember.
Interviewer: It was not a big deal then, I mean…
Sokol: They probably did.
Sokol: I just think if I had to go back and sell papers…
Interviewer: The same day?
Sokol: I don’t remember.
Interviewer: Did you sell papers on Saturday at your…
Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah, it was another work day?
Sokol: Yeah. The only day off was on Sunday although when I was older selling papers, probably 15, yeah I was about 15-16. I sold papers at Gay and High. That turned out to be my long-time corner where the bank is.
Interviewer: Uh huh. That’s downtown then?
Sokol: Oh yes.
Interviewer: A busy place?
Sokol: Right. Well I sold papers in front of the Deshler. There was a good corner too. But anyhow, I, especially during the football season – sold papers, you sold papers until about 6:30 or 7:00 with the football extras and what not. And then I would go home and eat, take a nap, and go back to the paper at 10 o’clock or 10:30. They’d come out with a Sunday paper…
Interviewer: At night?
Sokol: Yes. So I sold in front of the Deshler and in front of Mills Buffet and I’d sell ’till about 3 or 3:30.
Interviewer: Goodness. In the morning?
Sokol: In the morning. And then a manager would invite me in when the restaurant cleared out, he’d invite me in and give me eggs…
Interviewer: Oh so you had a meal?
Sokol: and a glass of milk.
Interviewer: He treated you?
Sokol: He wanted company.
Interviewer: How about that? That’s the… Do you remember what papers were selling for?
Sokol: Yeah, the big Dispatch was one cent, the Columbus Citizen two cents, the Ohio State Journal three cents.
Interviewer: Goodness. You had to sell a lot of papers then to… Did you get tips too?
Sokol: Yes. Well, I’d develop routes wherever I went. When I worked across on the DISPATCH, I developed a route in the State House so I sold papers to some of those guys, not to the Governor but to the Attorney General. Bricker was the Attorney General in those days. You know the Law Libraries and then at the, what you call it, at Gay and High, I used to deliver papers in the bank building and also at the City Hall. I remember the Mayor was Mayor Worley, W-O-R-L-E-Y.
Interviewer: Huh. Just to give us an idea of what, sounds like you were really in a business there, you know, how much would you make in a week? How much did, what did things cost? How far did your money go? I mean you’re talking about newspapers that sold for 1, 2, and 3 cents.
Sokol: Yeah. But I always sold. . . . when I sold the Citizen, it was 2 cents. When I sold the Dispatch, it was one cent. I didn’t… together . . . .
Interviewer: Right, right. I understand that.
Sokol: But the Citizen paid you 50% commission and then he’d give you sometimes a quarter extra. The Citizen, you made three-fourths of a cent.
Sokol: The Dispatch would give you half, you know 50%. You made, every two papers you sold, you made a penny.
Interviewer: Well that would. Did you accumulate your money? Did you put it in a savings account or did you just put it…
Sokol: No, we turned our money over to my dad.
Interviewer: There you go. There you go.
Sokol: I couldn’t…
Interviewer: Help supplement, help supplement the family income?
Sokol: Yeah. I didn’t start saving until I…
Interviewer: How about your brothers? Did they sell…
Sokol: Yeah, we all…
Interviewer: So then, that wasn’t unusual though for kids to help with the family…
Interviewer: Income. Do you remember things that you might have bought for yourself and what the value of items was at that time? Well you told us about the treats that you bought. Did you buy records or magazines or anything for yourself? No? Well when you were working, you didn’t have time to do that kind of stuff.
Sokol: No we just had… When I sold papers downtown, my mother gave us, made sandwiches like egg salad sandwiches. And I remember at Passover, she’d make matzo, salami and matzo sandwiches.
Interviewer: Oh yeah?
Sokol: Salami on top of matzos.
Interviewer: Right. Yeah.
Sokol: I’d go back there, back of the Deshler-Wallick, that alley between the Palace Theater, and sit on the curb and eat my sandwich.
Sokol: Not on the corner.
Interviewer: Especially matzo and, gets messy?
Sokol: But then after a while we found out that you could go to the Clock Restaurant. And they had a battery of malted milk shakers.
Intewrviewer: Oh yeah.
Sokol: And so for a dime you could buy a big shaker of milk and they gave you a big high glass plus a little bit more. Malted milk.
Interviewer: Well that was rich, uh huh?
Sokol: It was so good. And then we had these buns on the table in a basket so, and they were free.
Sokol: So for a dime, you got filled up.
Interviewer: Sure, sure. And that was especially good. Wow.
Interviewer: Yeah. Did you go to movies?
Sokol: Yes. Sundays. We went, early on we went to the Victor Theater. Well that’s when we lived on Donaldson.
Interviewer: Where was the Victor Theater?
Sokol: On Donaldson. It was, where was that? It was on Livingston Avenue close to maybe Fifth and Livingston.
Sokol: Not Fourth and Livingston. It was before you get to Mohawk, I know. . . .
Interviewer: But on Livingston? Yeah.
Sokol: Yeah. And then we went to the New Theater it was called on Main Street.
Interviewer: The Main Street Theater? Is that what…
Sokol: It was called the New.
Interviewer: Oh the New?
Interviewer: That’s the name of the theater?
Interviewer: Oh. I don’t remember that one.
Sokol: You do?
Interviewer: I don’t remember that name.
Sokol: Jerry Knight would remember it because he supplied the films.
Interviewer: I just saw Jerry. He was visiting at the hospital. Yeah.
Sokol: Ask him about the New. His dad…
Sokol: Yeah. It was between Washington and Seventh and his dad owned a theater called the Royal Theater closer to High Street, maybe Third.
Interviewer: Oh. Yeah. I haven’t heard about all those… Do you remember what it might have cost to go to the movies?
Sokol: I think a dime.
Interviewer: Uh huh. But you could sit there and watch a couple of films too, couldn’t you?
Sokol: Or the same film over again.
Interviewer: Over again, yeah. And the news. I remember the news was a big deal at the movie theater too.
Sokol: There were comedies…
Sokol: Little silent comedies.
Sokol:… the talkies came out.
Interviewer: Do you remember, the first car maybe that you bought.
Sokol: I know we all chipped in and bought a car…
Interviewer: Your brothers?
Sokol: Yeah. We bought it from Mr. Bornstein when we came home from the army.
Sokol: Although my brother had a car. I didn’t buy… I got married, so.
Interviewer: I was just trying to establish prices of cars.
Sokol: Oh. Well I would imagine it would be about $2,000 for a new car. I remember buying an Oldsmobile for $3,000 from Key Olds or whatever it was named before Key Olds came in. It was at Hubbard on High Street. Do you remember that?
Interviewer: No, I don’t remember that one. But it was an Olds? Huh. A new car? It was a new car?
Sokol: Yeah. Now it would cost you probably $25,000-$30,000.
Interviewer: At least. Yeah. You know, let’s talk about, you did go into the service didn’t you after high school?
Interviewer: Okay. Tell us about that.
Interviewer: Were you drafted or…
Sokol: Yeah you might say that. Let me say this, I worked for Schiff Shoes in the warehouse by the way, some time after high school. And then I got a draft notice. So I quit the job to take the exam and when you quit your job, they give you a week’s extra pay…
Sokol: to go to the army.
Interviewer: To go to the army.
Interviewer: Who was it you worked for?
Sokol: Schiff’s. They’re SCOA today. SCOA.
Sokol: Yeah. They had a warehouse where a bunch of us guys…
Interviewer: What was Mr. Schiff’s name, that Schiff that you worked for?
Sokol: Well they all, the brothers were in business together.
Interviewer: Oh, the whole family?
Sokol: Yeah Robert Schiff I think was the President. And his sons, or was it his brothers?
Interviewer: So that was a warehouse kind of operation?
Sokol: Yeah. So anyhow, I went to the draft and I got turned down because of my eye. I told you I got a bad eye. They put me in 1B. So I was ashamed to go back which is silly. So anyhow, I got a job working at the Wright Patterson Field in Dayton or Fairborn it was called.
Sokol: And I think I was there six months or maybe longer. Maybe close to a year. I don’t remember. And then my brother Jules got drafted or got the call. And they were calling up 1Bs so I said, “Jules, I’ll go in with you.” So we went in together but I was considered draft, draftee. So we went together to Fort Hayes where we passed our exams.
Interviewer: Right here in Columbus?
Sokol: Yes. And we were together one day and he went one way and I went the other way and we didn’t see each other until after the war was over.
Interviewer: Where did he go?
Sokol: He ended up in Arizona for a long time in some Air Force place.
Interviewer: And you?
Sokol: Oh I had it great for a while. I went to Fort Benjamin Harrison for basic training. Came back to Columbus and I worked in the Post Office Building recruiting.
Sokol: And I was there maybe a month. Not too long. They sent me up to Cleveland to recruit. And I was there for six months. I lived off the base in a cheap, like a boarding house or whatever. Y.M.C.A. type of thing. So anyhow, and then we recruited some WACs, so many WACs they took our places and I got sent down to Florida to a radar school and I worked at Battalion Headquarters in their Payroll Division. And then I got sent to a place, Port… was the Signal Corps. Radar was Signal Corps. And so I went to a camp for some basic on-the-job training for I’d say about three months or so. And then they sent me overseas to England and to France. And by the time I got to France, the war was almost over I think. It was March or April. And the war ended in May.
Interviewer: So you were just overseas for a short time then?
Sokol: No, not so short. Overseas for a short time before the war ended but . . . . stay over…
Interviewer: Oh after?
Sokol: Yeah, I didn’t get home until March, I was there about a year and a quarter maybe. And then I was sent to… They had a space depot.
Interviewer: Is that the name of the community? Where were you sent to?
Sokol: It was Toul, T-O-U-L, France.
Interviewer: France, oh.
Interviewer: Oh yeah.
Sokol: Toul, during World War, was the place where the 94th Aero Squadron, that the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant is named after.
Interviewer: Oh right here at Port Columbus?
Interviewer: Oh I see.
Sokol: Well when the 84th, no 94th…
Sokol: Rickenbacker was there. That’s where he was stationed.
Interviewer: Captain Eddie Rickenbacker?
Sokol: Yeah. During World War I. Anyhow, then they were going to redeploy us to the Pacific so I forgot, when we went to a place called Arles, France.
Interviewer: A-R-L-E-S. Uh huh. That’s…
Sokol: And I was the only guy I think in the whole damn camp that appreciated the fact that Vincent Van Gogh spent a little time there…
Interviewer: That’s right.
Sokol: And when I was in high school I think I read a book called “Lust for Life.”
Interviewer: It was a great book.
Interviewer: Absolutely. I read that. Uh huh.
Sokol: Did you read it too?
Interviewer: Yes, yes.
Sokol: And I was just so thrilled to be there.
Interviewer: Yeah. It was so special. We visited there several years ago.
Interviewer: Yes. I have a poster as a matter of fact with Arles, France on it. I ought to give it to you. It’s framed and everything.
Sokol: Okay. I…
Interviewer: So you were stationed there?
Sokol: Yeah. And we went to Avignon, “Sur la pont d’Avignon”, and we went to Nimes on week-ends when we got away from the camp.
Interviewer: It’s a beautiful part of France.
Sokol: Were you there? Did you see it?
Interviewer: Yeah. Well I don’t remember Nimes, but Avignon, we were there. Southern France. Uh huh. It was nice.
Sokol: And then I saw a…
Interviewer: And the war was over then?
Sokol: Yes, it was over. So… But we were busy. We were waiting to be deployed and I was, at that time, I was the company clerk so they had me working.
Interviewer: So you thought you were going over to…
Sokol: Pacific, yeah.
Interviewer: Pacific then?
Sokol: They had a raffle and I won a trip to Nice. Our company had a little raffle and they gave, you know, trips to Switzerland and what not. So I got a trip to Nice and while I was there, our country dropped the bomb on Japan.
Interviewer: Oh. So that ended that part of the war?
Sokol: In August. I forgot the exact date.
Interviewer: Yeah. You’re right.
Sokol: I remember the headline in the paper, yeah. “Atomic, atomic.” No, what did it say, bomb? I forgot. Big headline in the local paper.
Interviewer: Well that’s how we got our news. The newspapers, headlines.
Interviewer: Extra, extra.
Sokol: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: Okay. We were talking about your service and the war was ending and then what happened? You came back from Europe?
Interviewer: And what did you do when you came back from the service?
Sokol: I went into the insurance business. It seems to me I went to school and took some insurance courses. At the YMCA, that’s right.
Interviewer: To take courses?
Sokol: I took a course on general insurance.
Interviewer: But your father was already in the insurance business? Uh huh.
Sokol: Yeah. I should tell you about my other brothers because they were in the service.
Interviewer: Okay. Yeah, that’s good. Tell us.
Sokol: There were four of us. And one of my brothers, the oldest brother was in the Battle of the Bulge and he got a Bronze Star for bravery. My brother Mal was in the 84th Infantry. Early on in the war, he developed Trench Foot. He was pinned down in a fox hole by the Germans for four days and he didn’t change his socks and he developed Trench Foot. His… and so did most of the troops of that division.
Interviewer: So that’s like an infection of skin and…
Sokol: Yeah, only “gangrous”.
Sokol: So they turn black. They sent him to England, flew him over to England to amputate his leg but…
Interviewer: Oh gosh.
Sokol: they didn’t. And luckily he…
Interviewer: Got through it, huh?
Sokol: Right. So he got a Purple Heart too. Jules never left the country so he was there and…
Interviewer: You mean he was in the States?
Sokol: In the States only.
Interviewer: But in the service?
Sokol: Right. And I got a ribbon but it was a typewriter ribbon.
Interviewer: Oh, that’s all you (laughter). . . . Well you were lucky that you were able to get through it. So your mother and dad had four sons in the service at one time?
Interviewer: They used to hang up a flag with…
Sokol: That’s right.
Interviewer: Stars on it and put it in the window with great pride. But I’m sure that they had a lot of fearful moments.
Sokol: Of course. I seldom saw my dad cry but when he took me to Union Station, I saw tears coming out of his eyes.
Interviewer: I’m sure.
Sokol: I said, “Dad,” I said, “I’ll be all right. Don’t worry.”
Interviewer: Yeah. But who knew? They didn’t know what they were sending you into.
Sokol: Well, yeah but I was 1B so I was behind the lines. I was 50 miles behind the lines.
Interviewer: But you were going away and that was a scary time. So when you came back, how did you, you readjusted and got in…
Sokol: My brother Jules got back and my brother Mal got back before I did so they said they were going to try the insurance business. My dad had always told us that we brothers stick together and go into the insurance business, we’d do well.
Interviewer: There was strength in numbers?
Interviewer: So that’s what happened is it? You were able to work together?
Sokol: I told, no… , no I wanted to become a journalist so I…
Sokol: Sort of to appease or please my dad, I said, “I’ll try it for six months. If I like it, I’ll stay in the insurance business.” And I tried it for six months and I liked the freedom that came with it. You know, come and go as you please and so I stuck with it and that’s how I stayed there.
Interviewer: Well that worked…
Sokol: So altogether and… one day left… Me.
Interviewer: So you stayed? You pretty much stayed with your dad’s…
Sokol: And so did my brother Mal. He started selling other stuff.
Interviewer: Well in the end though, it worked out for all of you?
Sokol: Right. And we’re still pretty close. We get together every Saturday afternoon.
Interviewer: You do? All the brothers…
Sokol: A 2 o’clock at Tee Jaye’s on Parsons Avenue. You’re more than welcome to join us.
Interviewer: What a deal. What a deal. How nice though that you do get together regularly.
Sokol: We call it therapy sessions.
Interviewer: That’s terrific. You settle the affairs of the world then?
Sokol: Yeah, right.
Interviewer: That’s nice. I’ll bet you all look forward to it then?
Sokol: Oh no. Yeah, we…
Interviewer: That’s very…
Sokol: About the only time we see my brother Si who lives up north you know.
Interviewer: Sure. But he does join you?
Sokol: Yes. He’s there religiously. The only time we don’t is when two of the four are out of town or something.
Interviewer: Well that sounds great. I’ll have to tell my husband about that.
Interviewer: Tell him to get his brothers together. That’d be fun. That’s really nice.
Sokol: Oh yeah. That way…
Interviewer: I’m sure.
Sokol: You know Bernie and Lenny and…
Interviewer: Yeah. And keep knowing each other and unfortunately, as families get older, the kids start losing track of each other. We were talking about family reunions and you kind of alluded to the fact that maybe you’d try to get a family reunion together.
Interviewer: Yeah. I really encourage you to do that. It’s…
Sokol: I’m sure. Yeah. I told my older brothers I’d write something up on the family.
Interviewer: Well just getting together and learning to know who you are…
Interviewer: Learning where your connections are. That’s fun to do.
Sokol:… more about my grandparents and their… My one aunt told me they had a big estate and they also had an orchard and they had fruit.
Interviewer: So they were well established?
Sokol: Yeah they were pretty well.
Interviewer: Do you have cousins or, you don’t have any more aunts and uncles do you that are…
Sokol: No, I have cousins. We’re closer to the one in Detroit and the one in Omaha whose brother lives in Atlanta. They call us every so often.
Interviewer: Well you could gather them all together. Let me ask you about, how did your family celebrate? Were you religious? Would you consider that you were observant or religious in any way at your home, your family’s home?
Sokol:… when we were kids we were religious. And I used to go to the Agudas Achim what do they call it? Not pre-school but they had a Junior Congregation…
Interviewer: Okay. Yeah. Do you still belong? Where do you belong now?
Sokol: I belong to Agudas Achim and I belong to Temple Israel. Why?
Interviewer: Two separate, two separate… Why, I’m asking? (laughter) Two completely separate directions?
Sokol: Well I get most of my inspiration from the Jewish music. I love cantorial music. That Cantor Shifman is great.
Interviewer: Yes, he is.
Sokol:… But I go to the High Holidays and I belong to Temple Israel because they’re short and sweet.
Interviewer: Right to the point.
Sokol: Right to the point and half in English and it’s becoming more Orthodox than ever before.
Interviewer: Still they do have a lot more traditionalism in their service. Uh huh.
Sokol: Yes. And because I usher at the Temple.
Interviewer: Oh do you?
Interviewer: For High Holidays?
Sokol:… I think it’s about seven or eight times through the year. I hate to tell you but it’s the only time I go.
Interviewer: Well, I think…
Sokol: Except when they have some, you know, speaker or something.
Interviewer: I think a lot of us have kind of put that on the…
Sokol: Back burner.
Interviewer: Back burner.
Sokol: Are you that way?
Interviewer: I’m afraid so. Yeah.
Interviewer: Religious. Well we go for certain events, certain events.
Sokol: Meyer would kill you.
Interviewer: Yeah. Well he was pretty…
Sokol: He was very…
Interviewer: Very Orthodox. Yeah. The kids had to sneak out a lot and…
Sokol: Oh really?
Interviewer: They learned how to do that, skirt around dad.
Sokol: Oh I didn’t know that!
Interviewer: Yeah, right. I think we all did.
Sokol:… the other stuff?
Interviewer: Well there’s a lot of set of rules still well established and, but we all have strong feelings about Judaism. Do you belong to the Jewish Center?
Interviewer: Are you active in activities there at all?
Sokol: I used to be very active like at B’nai B’rith. AZA and that.
Interviewer: I want you to tell me about some of the… I knew you were involved in organizational activities and want you to tell me about that.
Sokol: Well when I became president of… I used to go to Schonthal Center. That’s where our AZA meetings were. Before that, I was a member of the Boy Scouts and what I liked was they taught us to try to perform one good deed a day. And that… always stuck with me.
Sokol: Believe it or not.
Interviewer: Yeah, it’s a great idea. Why not? Yeah.
Sokol: So we were all in organizations, working for organizations. Jules and Mal and my brother, older brother. And…
Interviewer: When you mentioned the Boy Scouts, was that at Schonthal Center too?
Sokol: Yes. Troop 126.
Interviewer: There you go.
Sokol: (Sings) “We love you best. Troop of all the other.” I forgot the words.
Interviewer: Well, we got started.
Sokol: Anyhow, I was active in a lot of activities at the Center at the time, at the Schonthal Center. And we had a Journalism class there as a matter of fact. We had a guy there named Chessy Zoussmer who worked for the COLUMBUS CITIZEN.
Sokol: He was a reporter.
Interviewer: I never heard that name.
Sokol:… I think it was Z-O-U-S-S-M-E-R. And he became a right-hand man for what’s the guy that was on the first… smoked a cigarette and died of cancer.
Interviewer: On his broadcaster?
Sokol: Yes. A TV broadcaster. And he was over in Europe during the war. He broadcast from London, England, during the bombing or… Oh you know . . . .
Interviewer: So he wasn’t a local person? Was he local?
Sokol: No, he was CBS I think. He had this, he’d visit a person’s home and show, telecast of the guy’s house… You remember that?
Interviewer: Hummmm. Just doesn’t sound…
Sokol: Big name. I just…
Interviewer: Well maybe it will come to you while we’re talking.
Sokol: Or it’ll come to me at midnight or…
Interviewer: Call me. Call me up. I’ll give you my number. (laughter) So you have great recollections then of being a part of Schonthal activities, Schonthal Center?
Sokol: Right. And then I was active for a little while at the Jewish Center. And then I became…
Interviewer: The Jewish Center that is now on…
Interviewer: College Avenue?
Sokol: Right. And…
Interviewer: Active in what way?
Sokol: I’d go there a lot. Well I bowled there for example. But mostly B’nai B’rith activity. And also I did some work with the Blood Drive.
Interviewer: The Red Cross Blood Drive?
Sokol: The Red Cross. And also with the Jewish Federation but it was called something else. Was it Jewish United Way or, whatever.
Interviewer: Yeah I remember. I’m just so used to the Federation as we know it now.
Sokol: And I worked for the Red Cross and the United Way and…
Interviewer: The United Way?
Sokol: All at the same time. And then I got burned out really and I and I told Mandelkorn, “I’m just so burned out, I just don’t feel like doing, like sitting on a phone and calling and asking for contributions.”
Interviewer: Yeah. Well it does get tiresome. It does.
Sokol:… you do too much at one time. You’re better off if you work with one group.
Interviewer: Are you involved any more in any of the organizational?
Sokol: I still did some calls. I used to call five people for the Federation. And then I think they all died now.
Interviewer: Oh, oh.
Sokol: Like Dr. Canowitz.
Interviewer: We got to get you five new names then.
Sokol:… No but I worked with some gentile, I worked for a group called Sentaxes Youth Homes. I don’t know if you ever…
Interviewer: Oh yeah. Yeah.
Sokol: I used to put on a nice Christmas…
Interviewer: They still do.
Interviewer: On Thom—-, aren’t they the ones that are on Thompson and uh . . . .
Interviewer: Somewhere out near the New Albany area?
Interviewer: Yeah. I think they still do that.
Sokol: I’m on the board. I’m on their board.
Interviewer: Oh really?
Sokol: And we moved to New Albany… Real Estate bought their workshop with some of their homes there.
Interviewer: Oh. Well then maybe I’m thinking of another place.
Sokol: No, you’re thinking of the right one.
Interviewer: Yeah, they have very colorful Christmas displays…
Sokol: Yeah, right. A million lights. They’re…
Interviewer: Yeah, yeah.
Sokol: Yeah. But because they had to move from there, we still had the lights in their warehouse and it was such a pain in the ass to start in October to . . . .
Interviewer: To put things together.
Interviewer: What was their function? What was the purpose of that…
Sokol: To take care of wayward kids assigned by the Franklin County Childrens’ Services. We’ve got some very bad people that we tried to put ’em in a setting and living in apartments so we had about four or five…
Interviewer: Try to get them adjusted to a normal way?
Sokol: Yeah, and then we work with the Whitehall School System. A lot of them got their GEDs through us. We try to save… Some we could; some we couldn’t. Then we got them from other counties in Ohio.
Interviewer: Well that’s a great activity to be involved in.
Sokol: And then I worked, I’m on the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army. And well you know, they do such good work. And I got on that board because I was President of the Columbus Underwriters Association.
Interviewer: Underwriters Association?
Sokol: Yeah, it… 800 people belonged to it at one time when I was President. But anyhow, then I was a friend of one of the guys at the Columbus Dispatch who was advertising… So he was a Rotarian and he said: “I need about four or five guys to work the downtown corners you know for a day on a Saturday during Christmas.”
Interviewer: Now that’s not Charity Newsies or anything like that? That’s a whole separate…
Sokol:… place down there, ringing bells. So I says, “Four or five guys? I can get you twenty, thirty guys.” So he says, “Boy you’d be doing us a favor.” So I said to him, “You know, downtown is dead. I’ll round up the guys and I’ll put them in front of shopping centers.” Which I did. And they appreciated it so much they asked me if I’d be on the board. So I told them I’m honored and Robert Glick was on the board or came on later. And what’s his name, Lynn Skilken, what’s his first name?
Sokol: Lee. . . . Well anyhow, Lee was on the board and Bob Greene, Robert Greene, Phyllis’ husband. He came on the board too. So I felt at home… And I enjoyed that very much… They want to make that Emeritus Adviser. So I said, “Well, but I want to still do some work,” and they said, “You can, you can. We’re giving you an honor.”
Interviewer: Sure, take it, take it while you can.
Sokol:… such a terrific guy. His name is Guy Klaminsky. He’s so terrific and he, what, historical – he sparkles – he effervesces -… You got to meet him.
Interviewer: Well it sounds like you’re doing a lot of good work then. You’ve accomplished a lot. Do you belong to the Jewish War Veterans?
Sokol: Yes. Well you’re there.
Interviewer: Yeah we were there just not too long ago, the installation. I just got Bernie to join that a few years ago. He’s not that much of a…
Sokol: Your brother-in-law was there.
Interviewer: Leonard. Leonard was there.
Sokol: Okay. Was Irv there?
Interviewer: No. No . Would you tell us a little bit about politics that you remember through the years, presidents and different ways that your life or the life of your family or the country has been affected by different kinds of politics. Maybe as a Jewish person, how you fit into the community.
Sokol: Well that reminds me when I was a kid, I saw Herbert Hoover speak on the north side of the State House.
Interviewer: Well that was a memory.
Sokol: Yeah I, like most of my friends, I’m a Democrat. I’ve got a lot of Republican friends that I vote for, but on a national scale, the Republicans, especially this last term (year 2000), turned me off.
Interviewer: As I remember through the years, most Jewish people that were immigrants in the 20s and so forth were Democrats and I think as life became more affluent we knew more Republicans as years went on.
Sokol: I think my dad was a Republican for a long time. And we talk about it . . . .
Interviewer: You taught him a few things huh?
Sokol: And he taught us a few things. He was a great teacher.
Interviewer: When did your father pass away?
Sokol: Oh, 1962. He passed away, January 16, 1962, and my uncle that lived as a furrier in New York, passed away January 16, 1948. My mother passed away January 16, 1978. All on January 16. So when that date rolls around… I cross my fingers.
Interviewer: Yeah. You have a lot of yahrzeits on that time.
Sokol: Well yeah but all different dates.
Interviewer: Yeah that’s right and it comes out because of the year.
Sokol: Yeah, right.
Interviewer: Well that’s interesting. You remember that, huh. Well, we were talking about politics… We’re coming to the end of Side B of Tape l and I’m going to stop at this point and start using Tape 2. Okay. We’re on Tape 2, Side A. We just finished talking about January 16 and we’re going to go on to some other memories. Well we talked about your professional activities, your organizational activities. And you are still working full time Saul?
Sokol: No, part time.
Interviewer: Just part time?
Sokol: I come in every afternoon.
Interviewer: Oh, okay. So you’re easing up a little bit, huh?
Sokol: I tell you, when you retire, there’s more work to do than when you’re working.
Sokol: Tell me, why.
Interviewer: Doing something wrong, huh? But you’re enjoying it, aren’t you?
Sokol: Yes. Well I’m busy trying to put away a lot of stuff I’ve been saving. I’ve been saving, you know, since I was writing those articles. I save things for reference, you know. Now I’ve got to get rid of all that jazz.
Interviewer: I just have to describe your offices. We’re sitting here. Everyplace that my eyes take me there are stacks of books and papers, but organized. They’re not messy. They’re organized. I have to give you credit for that. And I’m sure that you can put your hands on whatever you’re looking for so it sounds like you got it in order.
Sokol: Well you ought to see, did you notice the wall, that framed newspaper thing?
Interviewer: No, I didn’t.
Sokol: Want to take a quick look?
Interviewer: Well wait until we finish here and let’s see; I’m just trying to get a little more picture in here. Let’s talk a little bit about socializing when you were younger. How did you meet friends? How did you meet your wife? And about your wedding. Tell us about that.
Sokol: Well it was a shotgun wedding. She was pregnant and…
Interviewer: I don’t think so. I don’t think so Saul. Just tell us the truth now. (laughter) No, we’re going to leave that on the tape.
Sokol: Being active in AZA, we had like proms throughout the year, or what do you call it, May Prom. And we had affairs we’d go to and that’s where, we’d double date a lot to go to Valley Dale and at one time they had these big bands come to Valley Dale.
Interviewer: Valley Dale is still in operation.
Sokol: Yeah I know.
Interviewer: The famous dance hall.
Sokol: Yes. So that’s how we all got together more or less. And we got dates for the various functions.
Interviewer: Were a lot of the events held at the Schonthal Center or Jewish Center?
Sokol: Some of the events, the big events were at the hotel like the Deshler or the…
Interviewer: Downtown hotel?
Sokol: Yeah. Our proms where we had a pretty good band play, like Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman… You believe that?
Interviewer: Well the sound, the sound of those bands, they’re still popular.
Sokol: Well we had local bands, but you know, ten guys in a band.
Interviewer: Well you’re kidding but just two weeks ago we went to hear the Glenn Miller band.
Sokol: Yeah we did too.
Interviewer: At the Columbus Jazz. It was, well it was at the Ohio Theater. That was fun.
Sokol: I enjoyed it and my son got to see it. He said he didn’t like that kind of music.
Interviewer: Doesn’t like? Yeah, ’cause it wasn’t loud enough. So . . . .
Sokol:… You know, when you’re in the army…
Interviewer: Yeah, that’s what I remember. So tell us about your wedding. You met your wife and…
Sokol: I used to bowl with the B’nai B’rith Bowling League and we had an affair coming up. At the end of bowling season they threw a big affair so I needed a date. And Leon Handler, you know Leon Handler? Label?
Interviewer: Sure. Label. We were friends of theirs years ago.
Sokol: Yeah, that’s right.
Interviewer: Natalie and…
Sokol: Anyhow, Natalie approached the subject and she said, “Hey, have I got a good date for you,” and she told me who it was. I said, “I don’t know the gal.” She said, “You’ll like her.” So I said, “Okay.” So she arranged it. I took her out in the middle of the week and then she looked all right to me.
Interviewer: Oh you were testing the water, huh? We don’t want to get involved before the big event?
Sokol: And it worked the same way with her.
Interviewer: Now did she live in Nelsonville at that time?
Sokol: No, she lived in Columbus.
Interviewer: She was working here, was she?
Sokol: Yes. No, no, she didn’t have to work. So we hit it off okay and we got married I’d say six, seven or eight months later.
Interviewer: Did you have a big wedding or…
Sokol: No, no. Went to Cleveland and got married. And she had some relatives up there.
Interviewer: Well it worked okay.
Interviewer: Do you travel very much now? Do you go on trips?
Sokol: I haven’t the last couple of years. I used to go to New Orleans a lot because my insurance company’s headquarters is down there and that turned out to be one of my favorite cities. But I like cruises. We take those; I’ve taken about three or four of those.
Interviewer: Is that right? They’re pretty easy. Everything’s right there.
Sokol: You don’t have to unpack or anything. And I attended, I did a lot of traveling. I used to go with companies because they had beautiful conventions all over the country and in Italy and everywhere.
Interviewer: So those were great opportunities then for…
Sokol: I remember Naomi, for $300 more, we could spend two more weeks on a tour of Europe so we had a convention in Italy so a week before and a week after we spent over in Italy.
Interviewer: Oh so that was a good deal. In Europe.
Sokol: Yeah, Germany and Switzerland, Italy, France.
Interviewer: So that was a good deal and a great opportunity then. But I think as you get older, it’s just easier not to travel quite as much.
Sokol: Well we have certain… we’ve got to see certain doctors at certain times and that…
Interviewer: Yeah, yeah. You get involved in other stuff. You know, maybe starting to think of winding up a little. Unless you can think of any other events through the years that were so memorable. If not, how do you feel about life in the future? How do you feel, your philosophy of life now and how the world is now?
Sokol: How the world is now in view of 9/11?
Interviewer: Well that might be, that was a big turning point wasn’t it?
Sokol: I don’t know. I like people and we haven’t socialized too much but I grew up with people, a lot of people…
Interviewer: Especially the business you’re in and the community that you’ve always lived in.
Sokol: Right. And I don’t know, I’ve enjoyed life. I really have.
Interviewer: Do you have any intentions of retiring altogether or you’re pretty, you really think you would do that?
Sokol: Yeah, it might be real soon too. It might be within six months or a year. But although I get mail, people call me and I try to help them.
Interviewer: Clients that you’ve been in touch with?
Sokol: Still want to do business with me. And that’s what I like. An account retires who still wants to ask me a bunch of questions and help them do things.
Interviewer: Sure but you enjoy that?
Interviewer: Well it’s good to keep in touch with the outside world.
Interviewer: What would you do if you retired?
Sokol: I’d be doing a lot of writing I think.
Interviewer: That’s something you’ve always had in your… Yeah. Well that would be great. Maybe you can write memoirs of your life and life in general.
Sokol: That I doubt. No, there’s some newspaper experiences I’ve had. I should write them down…You know, when I was 17, I had a bout with my appendix and it ended up I had peritonitis. The appendix broke and in those days, it was 1937 and I was in the 11th greade. When that happens, you usually die. And I survived and Dr. Canowitz was my doctor, should I tell you of one event?
Sokol: I remember the first night. Oh I had a bad eye and they operated on it to try to clear that. It was bulging out, it was red, and the doctors thought they had to take it out. But anyhow…
Interviewer: Take your eye out?
Interviewer: How did the eye get bad originally?
Sokol: Oh it was from the sock, I got a sock in the eye by some guys at a Boy Scout meeting. And I saw spots and it was very cloudy. I used to take hot compresses and towels on it. And it didn’t help. Anyhow, later I guess it became infected and many years later…
Interviewer: So it actually affected your vision then too, didn’t it?
Sokol: Right. And let’s see, they operated on it but it didn’t do any good and they thought some fever would do it. So they gave me a shot of thyphoid fever, I remember in the hospital. And I remember I felt very cold. I got the chills and they put blankets on me, then I started to sweat like mad and then they sent me home the next day with a bandage on my eye and…
Interviewer: So this is how they were treating your bad eye?
Sokol: Yeah. Then I developed like an ache, but no sharp pain and they had trouble diagnosing it so finally they just thought maybe I had a pelvic bland infection so they operated exploratory, examination and then it got on…
Interviewer: Bursted appendix?
Sokol: Yeah. And then I remember that night they came in because my parents had called. And I said to the doctor, “What are you doing here so late at night?” and he said, “I have a patient at Grant Hospital which is located around the corner from St. Francis and,” he said, “while I was there I thought I’d come over and see you.” So I heard him tell the nurse as he was leaving, “Cover his body from head to toe with ice packs to get the fever down.”
Interviewer: Sure. What was this doctor, what was his…
Sokol: I don’t know. I don’t want to mention any names – and Dr. Canowitz was my doctor. But anyhow… it seems to me… for about three days. I don’t remember, I was…
Interviewer: Pretty much in a coma?
Sokol: Yeah. So, let’s see, then I started feeling a little better I guess and I was in a ward with four or five other people and these guys had been there a long time I think and they were always joking around and pretty soon I felt myself laughing and I think that’s what really saved my life. I think laughter is the best medicine.
Interviewer: Healer? Well you probably were the youngest one.
Sokol: Oh yeah. I was only 17 and I remember two guys came to, I remember Art Levy came to see me. You know Art Levy don’t you?
Interviewer: He lives across the hall from me.
Sokol: Oh is that where you live?
Interviewer: Parkview. Uh huh. 505 S. Parkview. He’s right across the hall from me.
Sokol: Oh, okay. He may remember it, I don’t know.
Interviewer: His memory is not too great now.
Sokol:… when he sees me at the Center – he goes there for lunch – . . . . been there for months.
Sokol: He does, “Shrilly.” Oh that’s what he calls me for some reason or other, Shrilly.
Interviewer: Oh is that a nickname?
Sokol: No, maybe it’s a Yiddish name, I don’t know.
Interviewer: I don’t know. I don’t know. It doesn’t sound familiar.
Sokol: Anyhow, I was in the hospital almost two months believe it or not. I mean it drained out. . . . they had… drain out.
Interviewer: Yeah, it was a pretty critical time though?
Sokol: Yeah, right. So why did I tell you that?
Interviewer: Well, it was an experience. It was not a good experience but you lived through it and here you are talking about it and that’s okay.
Sokol: In fact, I went into… and when I got home, I couldn’t go to school until about the second week of school in September. Anyhow…
Interviewer: But you made up for it? Were you a decent student in school?
Sokol: Yeah, A, B, and C. I was, you know my dad and our mother would get on our butt if…
Interviewer: You had to do well?
Sokol:… bad grades.
Sokol: You know, it was “read a book,” “read a book,” “read a book.”
Interviewer: Try to encourage you? Yeah. I think they still do that kind of thing.
Sokol: And my daughter says, “Daddy, I’m reading some,” what do you call these books, not pornographic but sexy books, not dirty books and I told her, I said, “I don’t care what you read as long as you read because you’re going to come across some good books that will make…”
Interviewer: If you read enough. Sure.
Interviewer: Sure, reading is the best thing. Really great.
Sokol: Okay. How we doing now?
Interviewer: We’re doing great. We’re doing really great. I think, I really appreciate your taking the time to do this and I’ve enjoyed talking with you.
Sokol: Well you’re great. You always did great. I always liked you.
Interviewer: Okay. That’s in there. I’m not erasing that one. But we really appreciate your furnishing for the archives of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society and this will be on record and something that your family will enjoy.
Sokol: You gotta make me a copy so…
Interviewer: Yeah we will. And we’re going to wind up at this point and we’re going to cut off now. Thank you Saul.
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Transcribed by Honey Abramson