This interview for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society is being recorded on December 1, 1996, as part of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society Oral History Project. The interview is being recorded at 98 Bishop Square. My name is Jody Altschule and I am interviewing Polly Callif and Mickey Schoenbaum.
(Note:[——] indicates speaker is not identified.)
Interviewer: First of all, what are your first full names, and your maiden names and then your married names?
Callif: My name is Pollyanna, all one word, Friedman Callif.
Schoenbaum: My name is Mickey Schoenbaum, formerly Maxine Friedman Schoenbaum.
Interviewer: And where were you born?
Callif: I was born in Columbus, Ohio.
Schoenbaum: And I was born in Circleville, Ohio, at, what was that address?
Callif: Mill Street, Mill Street, Circleville, Ohio.
Interviewer: Okay. (laughs) And the years were?
Callif:… . you shouldn’t ask that but since you did, um, I’m Polly and I was born April 12, 1923.
Schoenbaum: And Mickey was born November 25, 1927.
Interviewer: Have you started to trace your family history at all?
Callif: Yes, I did …
Interviewer: And if you have, when did you start?
Callif: Yes, we did and we started I would say six to eight months ago and I went to Circleville and went to the Genealogy Society building and did get some information…that we had been looking for.
Interviewer: How long has your family been in the Central Ohio area?
Callif: Well, my grandfather came. He arrived in the United States June 7, 1872, and got his citizenship in August, 1875, and I imagine that he settled probably in Circleville around that time, 1875, or -6 or -7.
Interviewer: What happened, where did he come from and what did he leave where he was from?
Callif: He left Austria-Hungary in June, 1871, from Pest, P-e-s-t, and why he left we do not know. I do not know.
Interviewer: And he came by ship? Do not know?
Callif: We don’t know but I do know that he left from Pest July of 1871 and arrived in the United States June 2, 1872, so it took him a while to get to the United States.
Interviewer: What brought him, why did he stop in Circleville, Ohio?
Callif: Do you know, Mickey?
Schoenbaum: No I would, I have no, I don’t know…I have no idea other than he was a peddler in the, maybe the water, the boats might have stopped in Circleville. Because there was a canal there and he, many, many Jews …historical research …landed in Circleville, the Wasserstroms, the Topoloskys, Gordons and he was a peddler…around Pickaway County.
Callif: I do know that he went to Greenfield, Ohio, because a relative had a hoop skirt factory and the relative’s name was…
Schoenbaum: Was it Magaziner?
Callif: No, the relative’s name, Pauline Cahen’s grandfather-in-law, father.
Callif: Newman, Emanuel Newman. Emanuel Newman who had a ladies’ ready-to-wear store in Columbus with Newman and …
Callif: Bornheim and …
Interviewer: And they had a ready-to-wear but they also had a production facility making hoop skirts?
Callif: Hoop skirts. I don’t know who had the hoop skirt factory but it was one of the relatives in Greenfield, Ohio.
Interviewer: Greenfield is where?
Callif: Southern Ohio. I’m not sure exactly, but southern part of Ohio.
Interviewer: What are the other memories that you have of shopkeepers and other places of business in the Circleville area where you grew up and did you have any stories of when your parents in that area, of their early life there?
Schoenbaum: Mother and Daddy were really the only ones that we knew, the only ones that had children. All their friends were childless. So we had to sort of toe the mark because everyone looked upon Polly and Maxine as the perfect children, I mean the max. And we would really shop in Columbus, Ohio, at Lazarus. Mother would take us there for our shoes and our clothing and as far as the stores there, you know, there was always the candy store, Mr. Wittig. So we would go there for ice cream and it was 5 cents, with our daddy. Our daddy was a traveling salesman so he was really only home, he was gone Monday through Friday and Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening, you know, we visited. And as far as the stores, I can recollect shopping in very few. I used to work at Penney’s on Saturday when I was 16, from 9 to 9 for $3 an hour. I have my first pay check from …
Interviewer: That was in Columbus?
Schoenbaum: That was at Penney’s in Circleville.
Interviewer: In Circleville?
Schoenbaum: And we had, there was a men’s haberdashery called, what, can you remember Polly? Anyway, I have a book from this haberdashery and it has where the Friedman boys came in to buy gloves and underwear, clothing, and the price. They kept a ledger and when the store closed, we… Miller’s Haberdashery Store, which was right next to my grandparents’ ready-to-wear store. And I can remember a jewelry store there.
Interviewer: Your grandparents had a ready-to-wear store?
Schoenbaum: Uh huh.
Interviewer: And then …
Schoenbaum: After he was a peddler, then he came …
Interviewer: He settled there?
Schoenbaum: He settled there and my grandmother was the Women’s Libber of today. She had five sons and this ready-to-wear store and she was a milliner and it’s very exciting when people would say, “Oh are you Polly or Maxine?” when they’d see us in Columbus… today and they say, “I have a big… your grandmother gave me,” or “I have a pair of gloves your grandmother gave me,” or “I have something,” so it must have been the custom in the ready-to-wear store to, you sold something but also gave something away. But Pauline Friedman would have her children and they lived in a beautiful home in Circleville which is still, it’s an antique store now. And she had a laundress and someone to help her that lived there, so she would have her boys and then she would go to the store as soon as she was able which was very soon and my greatest recollection in my youth was that every Sunday we’d go to my grandparents’ house for lunch or brunch and my Uncle Milton was single and he lived there and Uncle Edgar lived in Lancaster with his two sons, Edgar Friedman. And Ben Friedman from Lancaster and Ted Friedman from Lancaster. And would all come, sit down, to Sunday lunch. And I maybe was six years old, eight years old, Polly was, or nine, whatever. But those, the …
Schoenbaum: The Friedman Bazaar was THE center of merchandising in Circleville.
Interviewer: So your father had four brothers?
Schoenbaum: Uh huh.
Interviewer: And your mother, was she, where did she grow up or where did she come from?
Schoenbaum: Lower East Side of New York City. And she met our father at his brother Leon Friedman’s wedding in New York City. And the picture in the historical album photo book is that night at the wedding, I mean that was when our mother met our father and his brothers… and Mother came then to Circleville and we often thought, “How did she ever adjust, to come from the Lower East Side of New York to Circleville, Ohio?” And I have been told, now whether this is correct or not, that her mother never came to visit her in Circleville. Her father did but she did not come because she thought that there were Indians in Circleville. Well Circleville is, was built in a circle, this… In the center was a fort and the streets went like the spokes of a wheel. And the reason it was built that way was so they could look over, look out to see if the Indians were coming. And that’s why it’s called Circleville. And now whether that story is true, but I always found it interesting that she thought there were still Indians.
Interviewer: So it sounded like your mother however, adjusted pretty well living in Circleville.
[——] She played a lot of bridge. Yeah, She did, she made…
Interviewer: What was the Jewish community like at that time in Circleville?
Callif: There were very few. There were the Gordons… I mean extremely, they were very Orthodox. And Ben Gordon became Mayor of Circleville and I don’t know how many terms he held that position. Then there were the Rothmans who also had a store and the Germain Josephs who has a store. And their great-grandson married my daughter, Susan, and her name is now Susan Callif Eisenman. And his relatives lived in Circleville. But the funny part, and I always thought this was strange. I stayed with my grandmother a lot. Well, I just did. And she would tell me, “Don’t talk to anybody. Don’t talk to any of these people.”
Callif: Just don’t. She was German. German, as were some of these other Jews that settled in Circleville were also German abstract. But, she would say, “And don’t talk to the Lutheran minister because he doesn’t like Jews.” So we, I had a time trying to decide if I could talk to someone.
Interviewer: What about religious school or any kind of religious education?
Callif: Well, I started going to the Presbyterian Sunday School… kinder…you know the earliest class they had. And my best friend was Catholic and then I would go with her to mass. But when I was about six or seven years old, Mother and Dad took us to Columbus to Bryden Road Temple every Sunday and then when Mickey was old enough, she went. But we had observed very few Jewish holidays. We were talking before you got here Jody, what was the one holiday we know, Jewish holiday?
Schoenbaum: We knew Yom Kippur but as I said, Daddy traveled. It really was a sacrifice for him to drive up every Sunday and he would drive us to Bryden Road Temple and I remember that Bea Roth was in my class and Bob Shamansky and the Schiff boys. And they were, it was fun. Mother and Dad would always stop at Hepp’s for take-home corned beef. And Daddy, I don’t know what he did from 9 or 10:00 ’till 12:00, what he did, and then we’d go back to Circleville. And when Polly was confirmed, Daddy got tired of coming back and forth so I was never confirmed. But I did go to the Presbyterian Church like Polly. And we found very little anti-Semitism in Circleville. I had wonderful, wonderful friends whom I still see today. And I always knew I was going to marry a Jewish boy but I dated, Polly dated, I was drum major of the high school band.
Callif: And she also was “Little Miss Pumpkin Show” (laughter). And listen to this, Jody. I will never forgive our mother. Mother put Mickey in a, what did she put you in Mickey?
Callif: Yeah…Pumpkin Show contest and in her carriage and dressed me as a nurse and I had to push her in this parade through the streets of Circleville. And when it came time to judge, my sister Maxine, who at the time was voted the most beautiful baby in the parade. Said nothing about me. (laughter) We have laughed about it.
Schoenbaum: Circleville was a great town to grow up in.
Interviewer: Then when it was time for you to graduate from high school and then how were you going to meet other Jewish …
Callif: That’s what my mother did. She came, Daddy was born in Circleville, his parents lived in Circleville. Two of his brothers, uh, Uncle Leon moved to New York and Uncle Edgar moved away and Uncle Milton remained there and …
Schoenbaum: And Uncle Ted certainly…Ted, you know, but when Polly graduated college and I graduated high school and my daddy was still a traveling salesman, they decided that they were going to move to Columbus so that we could meet Jewish men. And Daddy used to stop at Callif’s Produce on Town Street and he knew Paul. So once we came up and Polly was in the car I guess and Paul met Polly. And that was how they met. It was very hard moving to Columbus because it was during the war and housing was very difficult. So we stayed at the Lincoln Hotel.
Schoenbaum: For about a year.
Callif: Mother and Daddy did because I was in college.
Schoenbaum: Uh huh.
Callif: Mother and Daddy did and then we found an apartment in Driving Park owned by Mr. Broner whom Daddy knew, and we lived in Driving Park. And then.
Interviewer: Now what happened to his work and did he still travel?
[——] He retired.
Interviewer: He had retired by then?
[——] He had retired.
Interviewer: And the store?
Schoenbaum: He didn’t have a store. The store was sold.
Schoenbaum: Polly can tell that story. It became, came on hard times and Polly can …
Interviewer: In the 30s?
Schoenbaum: Probably. But Howard came… . . . my husband, Howard Schoenbaum, came to Columbus, I’d say like maybe in 1946. And a boy by the name of Benno Friedman came into the store. He opened the store called Southern Bowling and Billiard Supply. And Howard had met him in Virginia and he said, “Howard, are you dating?” and he said, “No, I just moved to Columbus and I really haven’t had any time.” So he said, “I think I have a nice girl for you to date.” And Benno I knew through Ohio State. So he, it was a blind date I had with Howard and that match worked very nicely too. So Mother and Daddy had their wishes honored because we both married Jewish boys and lived happily ever after.
But Polly if you want to talk about, we haven’t talked about vacations when we were little.
Interviewer: We’ll do that but…You were going to talk about what happened to the store.
Interviewer: It was called Friedman’s Bazaar?
Schoenbaum: Friedman’s Bazaar.
Callif: Okay. I do have a letter written by Uncle Ted, Ted Lewis, to my, our grandmother. And in the letter he said that she had worked long and hard enough and that he wanted her to close the store and any of the employees there would receive their check every single month. And that’s exactly what they did. And he told her that if she wanted, that she could move to New York and they had a room for her at the Majestic Apartments at 72nd and Central Park West and that they would see to it that she had her poker-playing friends. And I’ve saved, I have that letter and I really am very proud of it.
Interviewer: They sold the store?
Callif: But they owned the building. In fact, they owned the entire block where Penney’s was and the bakery and there was a dentist there and also the hat shop, Heddie Miller Hat Shop. I don’t know how many other businesses were in that block. And I thought starting a peddler and to end up owning part of a city block was pretty damn good. Pretty good.
Schoenbaum: Our father’s father was in Philadelphia…show…on a buying trip for the store, and he had a heart attack in Philadelphia so that’s why he…was not alive at this time, when they sold the store.
Interviewer: So it sounds like you had a very lovely childhood. Tell me a little bit about your vacations when you were children.
Schoenbaum: Well we had a swimming pool so we would go swimming. And then Adah and Ted Lewis had a home in Elberon, New Jersey, and this was a large home and it had a third floor dormitory and Aunt Adah was the finest woman I think Polly and I have ever met in our lives and she’d have all of the nieces and nephews come to Elberon, New Jersey, maybe there were 30 of them. Her nieces and nephews and Uncle Ted’s nieces and nephews. And they had a chauffeur and several housekeepers and so we would go there for a month and we’d stay in New Jersey and we went to a swimming pool called West End Casino and the… . . the chauffeur would take us all and they would pack us lunch or we would eat there. And they had swimming teams and diving teams and so forth and all the brothers and the sisters-in-law stayed there too. And everybody had their own room. The children stayed and next door there was a tennis court there. So those were wonderful, wonderful memories.
Interviewer: They had no children of their own?
Schoenbaum: No children of their own… . children. So it was good. Then when we got to be 16, we worked. We would take the bus from Circleville to Columbus and Polly worked at Peggy Ann and I worked at …
Callif: Sally’s Dress Shop.
Schoenbaum: Yeah. When she went to college, she worked on Saturday and my dad thought, you know, we should never not be busy (laughter) and making our own money.
You’re not idle, not for a minute. But we did have a lot of love and a lot of respect in Circleville.
Callif: I’ve often tought that when we say we didn’t feel any anti-Semitism in this little town, Circleville, I, I think I’ve figured it out. And I know this might sound a little strange but our uncle, Ted Lewis, his popularity started in 1826.
Callif: 1926. Excuse me. Anyway, he was very popular, in fact one of the most famous entertainers in the world at that time. And he gave a lot to the city of Circleville. Like he gave a wing to the Berger Hospital for newborns and gave a park, the land and the equipment. And I remember one day, I said, “Uncle Ted, I’ve got a big back yard and I’d like to have a swimming pool like the one you gave in the park in Circleville.” And he said, “Honey, just think all those children will enjoy this pool and your children…they have swimming pools in Columbus.” But I think people sort of were especially nice to us because a lot of people are, fame is important to them. And I, I’m not expressing myself right. Except that we were well known in that little town, for good or for bad, that we were well known. They knew us.
Schoenbaum: I don’t know how our parents instilled Judaism in us because we didn’t celebrate Hanukkah. We didn’t celebrated Rosh Hashonah.
Callif: Yeah, we had yellow candles from Rabbi Gup. He gave us candles.
Schoenbaum: We didn’t have Passover. I didn’t know about…I think the first day maybe of Passover we didn’t have or maybe had one box of matzo in the house. But something our parents instilled in us, and I don’t know what it was, that we were Jewish, we were to marry Jewish, and our children were to be raised Jewish and that was it.
Interviewer: Were there any social groups that once you came to Columbus, that you were involved in with the other young people at that time? Or…
Schoenbaum: Temple. We went to Temple Israel and whatever they had.
Interviewer: They had, uh hum, youth groups.
Interviewer: At the University at all, was there any…
Callif: Went to Hillel. I remember Hillel had a link to a church for a Seder. I had never been to a Seder and I remember that. It’s so vivid in my mind that I went to a Seder. And what the heck is a Seder? I just didn’t know.
Interviewer: So that was your first…
Callif: That was my first experience of a Seder. I also want to say that I have gotten this information about our grandmother Pauline Frank Friedman, born in 1860. Died in 1938 and she was from Manaheim, Germany. And I did find this information in Circleville. Another I think interesting little point is when I went to Circleville and they looked up my grandfather Benjamin Friedman’s obituary, which was very long, a lot of things about him that this obituary told, but I think the most interesting thing was that he was a Hebrew and a member of Bryden Road Temple, Columbus, Ohio. And they thought of him as a Hebrew, not as a Jew. But as a Hebrew.
Schoenbaum: What relation was Pauline Cahen’s father Pop Newman, to…
Callif: Manuel Newman?
Callif: Well they went to his hoop…
Callif: skirt factory.
Callif: I don’t know…
Schoenbaum:… had very little family. Very little family, the Friedmans.
Interviewer: Well just the five sons.
Schoenbaum: Uh huh. And there were six nieces and nephews out of the five sons. Polly and I and four other cousins. And that’s it.
Interviewer: Where do they live, some of the other members of the family? All over the country?
Schoenbaum:…Friedman, Uncle Leon’s daughter, lives in New Jersey and her brother lives in Florida. And Ben Friedman lives in California and his brother Ted Friedman lives with Edgar’s two boys.
Callif: They live in California. Their mother just died at the age of 92, two weeks ago. and she is buried here in Columbus at the, what’s the cemetery on South High Street, that’s Saint Joseph’s Cemetery? Anyway.
Schoenbaum: She was a Catholic. She was an orphan and she raised her boys Jewish and their last years, she decided she wanted to be buried with her sister. She found out who her sister was and that she was Catholic. So she wanted to be buried in the Catholic… After all these years of rais—, living a really a Jewish life,…
Interviewer: How did it feel yourself being married to someone more Orthodox?…situation. I mean you must have had to go through a whole education at that point too?
Schoenbaum: I was active at Temple Israel when I came from Circleville. And after Dr. Folkman married us, and I said to Dr. Folkman, “I don’t know what to do.” And you have to, remember this was 46 years ago. He said, “Mickey, you belong with your husband.” But today they would not say that. But 46 years ago, they said, “You belong with your husband.” So I went to Agudas Achim and I didn’t like it but I did take a Hebrew class so when I sat at shul, I knew where they were. I couldn’t translate from Hebrew to English but at least I knew. And the prayers became more familiar. Then the Torah Academy opened and Howard wanted to send the children to Torah Academy. And that was not to my liking so Gail didn’t go. And then Diane and Kathy both attended Torah Academy from kindergarten through sixth grade. It was a fine school and you know, if you love enough, you’ll do anything to, then. Today’s woman, they are free and live a different kind of life. They would do what they really want to do and they, husbands and wives will do things separately. But it has worked out beautifully. Howard has taught my children…
Callif: He taught my children too.
Schoenbaum: A Jewish traditions and it has been wonderful. But I can’t say that it was easy. A cute story I, this was before history, our daughter, Kathy, when she was 44, and Howard goes to shul on Saturdays when he’s in town so he said…”Gail, would you like to go to shul with me tomorrow?” And Gail didn’t answer. And Howard got dressed for the synagogue and pretty soon Gail went upstairs and changed clothes and came down and went to the synagogue. And all morning long, I thought, “Oh isn’t that wonderful. Gail is in shul with her daddy and having such a good time.” And they came home yesterday and I said, “How was shul?” They had a mechitza (mechitza: curtain or other barrier separating men from women in Orthodox synagogues) yesterday so she couldn’t sit with her father so I said, “Mickey, you should call Rabbi Ciner ’cause he’s a very dear friend of mine and say, ‘Rabbi Ciner, really, I’m not Orthodox.'” But you know, if I want to make, if I want a…I should not belong to your synagogue. ‘Cause my daughter was sitting with her daddy and that isn’t religion. That’s just a feeling I have. But it was disappointing.
Interviewer: What memories do you have of the Depression and how did that affect your life at all in Circleville or in the retail business?
Callif: We discussed that earlier ’cause we went through the list of things. We really didn’t feel too much about it nor did we, were we denied very, anything. One thing I can remember is that our mother used to take us, as Mickey said before, to Columbus and we, she bought me a pair of blue shoes, my first high heel, medium, really medium-high-heel shoes. And they were something like $12 or $10. And when we went back to Circleville, I showed my father my new shoes and he said, “How much were they?” and I think my mother said, “Six dollars.” But if she would buy something that would be more than she thought that she should pay, she would lie a little bit and say they were less.
Schoenbaum: ‘Cause her father would send her money too.
Callif: Yeah, and, well her grandfather from New York would send her, you know, some money. So she felt that she had her own little bank account and, but it, I’m sure that it was very, very tough, very tough.
Schoenbaum: And Aunt Adah and Uncle Ted would always send us dresses for holidays, come Easter, we’ll say, or Passover, Christmas, and they, the packages were always toys, were always coming to the house.
Interviewer: Did you celebrate Christmas at all or…
Schoenbaum: Uh huh. Always had a tree. I can remember going upstairs and getting the, like you do Passover, you know, or Hanukkah decorations. We always went upstairs and in a clothes basket, a wicker clothes basket, were the Christmas ornaments, and there was never a star on the top. It was just “Peace on earth, good will toward men”. That was the type of holiday that was. And I would go to my friends’ houses and decorate their trees and people would say, I read the paper now that the ADL and so forth, people arguing that they should not have Hanukkah songs or Christmas songs in the school because the Jews can’t sing. But whatever, if you said “Jesus”, I just wouldn’t say the name “Jesus”…I think singing holiday songs was one of the happiest parts of my childhood. It was just beautiful. But it started when I was Jewish and it didn’t affect me, I don’t think, at all. Didn’t bother me.
I think our parents were wonderful and what they distilled, instilled in us and our not realizing it.
Interviewer: You talked a little bit about your job as a buyer and you worked also.
Callif: I sold dresses at a little store on South High Street called Peggy Ann.
Interviewer: Uh hum.
Callif: Same block as Lazarus and I did that and went all through, when I went to Ohio State University. Would work on Thursday night and Saturdays and it was wonderful and I enjoyed it.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Schoenbaum: Got your degree in Education.
Callif: And I got my degree in Education and went to Canton, Ohio, for a year and taught. Came back and met Paul Callif, got married and five kids later, that was it.
Interviewer: And with your job at Lazarus?
Schoenbaum: I went to school and I was in Retailing. And then after I left my summer job at Sally’s Dress Shop and I, you have to, every, my children, I want them to realize that getting up at 7 o’clock in the morning and taking the bus …
Callif: From Circleville?
Schoenbaum: From Circleville to Lazarus, to the bus station, and then going to Mill’s Cafeteria for breakfast and then working an eight-hour day and getting on the bus at 6 o’clock and getting back in Circleville at 7, like five days a week, and we didn’t think anything about it ’cause that’s what our Daddy said we should do and that’s what we did. (laugh) Then after going to Ohio State in Retailing, I started working at Lazarus and I was in my third year and started as Head of Stock and then an Assistant Buyer and then a Buyer and I didn’t graduate from college but I did love my years at Lazarus and I love the Lazarus people. And then when I got married, Howard let me work for about six months and then he wanted a housewife so that was the end of my working days. But I did, we talked about memories, and I was active at the pre-school, at JNF, Bonds for Israel, and Howard was active at the Center. So I think we’ve lived a full life.
Interviewer: This concludes the interview on Side A of this tape.
Interviewer: Did you ever go to Summer camp? Or anything…
Callif: I did. I went to Summer Camp. I went to Camp Kenjockety. My first experience away from home. And I wrote my mother and father a letter which I still have in my safe deposit box because my mother saved it. And it said as follows: “Camp is fine. I like everybody. Everything’s just fine. The food is great. The girls are wonderful. You will pick me up at 12 o’clock Saturday noon but I’m not staying here and I’m coming home.” And my mother was there at 12 o’clock Saturday, picked me up and took me home.
Interviewer: Where was that located?
Callif: In Ohio somewhere. It’s still in existence. It was a Girl Scout camp. I hated it. I didn’t like the outdoor latrines and I didn’t like sleeping on a bunk. And the food was rotten and all we had were hot dogs.
Schoenbaum: And I loved camp.
Callif: She loved camp. So that’s the difference.
Interviewer: And you went to the same camp?
Schoenbaum: I think I went to a Camp Fire Girls Camp. But I can’t remember the name of it. But I was not a…athlete…
Callif: We just had a quiet life… not too exciting.
Interviewer: No it is. It is.
Schoenbaum: No, I think it was wonderful.
Interviewer: Tell me a little bit about your husbands. Served in the military at all? And their experiences.
Callif: My husband, Paul Callif, did not. He was rejected two or three times. And that was something that he did, of course, regret. And uh, it was one of those things. No he did not, but Howard Schoenbaum certainly did. Go ahead, Mickey.
Schoenbaum: Howard was raised in Huntington, West Virginia, and was born in St. Petersburg, Virginia, Petersburg, Virginia. Anyway, after he graduated high school, he went one year I think to Mercersburg and then he got an appointment to Annapolis and he graduated from the Naval Academy. And he just spent four years I think in the Navy and then you know…
Interviewer: Where did he serve? I mean, I know…
Schoenbaum: On ships…
Schoenbaum: Just ships. No…
Interviewer: During not…
Interviewer: Not during the…
Schoenbaum: Yeah, during the war.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Schoenbaum: He was mostly on battleships. But his training, if…you know, during his training…like…Naval Academy. Everyone said, “What’s a nice Jewish boy doing in the Naval Academy?” But his parents didn’t have money and this was another way of getting an education.
Interviewer: An appointment. He got an appointment? Very good. Where did you live when you first were married? Where in Columbus did you live and then continue, you know, if you moved from there?
Callif: We had an apartment on Broad Street, 3441 East Broad, where Block’s is today on East Broad. There were four buildings, four families each and, in a building. And then we moved to North Cassingham and then we moved to 28 South Roosevelt and raised my family there. And then on Bishop Square. And I’ve loved every single home I’ve been in.
Schoenbaum: Mother and Daddy lived at 1444 Forest Street and we found an apartment across the street at 969 Lilley and then we moved to Robinsville where I met most of my friends of today because so many of the Jewish young couples lived in Robinsville.
Interviewer: Robinsville is…
Schoenbaum: On Hampton Road…
Callif: And Broad Street.
Schoenbaum: and Broad Street in those apartments. And I can’t tell you how many Jewish families lived there. Then we moved to 57 N. Merkle Road in a three-bedroom and then we moved into our dream house at Fair Avenue, 2808 Fair Avenue, and the child—, we had a wonderful, wonderful time there and the children always brought their friends over and the front yard all summer long was filled with people. And the kids had great parties and we had great parties and fun. And then after our children moved, we didn’t need a five-bedroom house so we moved to Trouville. And we miss the home terribly too but that’s really the right place for us to be. And in the winters, we go to Palm Beach, Florida, and it’s fine. Howard is retired and at this stage, he’s 79 years old, and he’s a great sculptor. Does a lot of that, so for retired people, it’s really a nice place to be.
Interviewer: Let’s talk a little about your children and your children. They’re born, their interests, when they were born and where. Well obviously it must be here but their interests and occupations.
Callif: I had five children. Bill, my oldest son, who is deceased and Michael, who runs the Callif Foods, a produce business. And he’s a fine golfer and he’s just a wonderful young man.
Schoenbaum: He has four children.
Callif: He has four children and of course, they’re beautiful. And they’re my grand- children. He has a wonderful wife, Connie, who is very talented and very artistic and she has us all for Thanksgiving and her tables are something that should have been in House and Gardens, or Gourmet, or something; it was a vision. Each table was more gorgeous than the next. And then there’s my daughter Patty who is married to Mark Chodish. They live in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and they have two sons, I think six and nine or ten. I’m not sure. And Patty does a lot of singing and she is also President of Hadassah and they have over 500 young women in that chapter. And she is organized and beautiful and wonderful. And then there is Kim and she is married to Farrel Golden who is wonderful too. And he is President of Beth Jacob Synagogue. This is his third term. They have two adorable children: Eva, who is named after our mother Eva, and their son, Ben, and of course, I think they’re only the best. And then there is Susan who is my youngest, married to Mike Eisenman, who is a podiatrist. And they have a little boy called Billy, named after my son, and I think they’re just, I just am very lucky, that’s all I can say is they’re wonderful and they’re healthy, thank God, and I’m just the luckiest lady to have three children living in Columbus and,what else? That’s, that’s all I can say.
Schoenbaum: And Howard and Mickey have three children. Gail who is 44 at this date and lives in Northport, New York, and she is an Occupational Therapist and she graduated from Michigan and NYU. And she is very big on holistic healing and has taken many, many courses in healing and what Gail talked about ten years ago, I pooh-poohed. And now today, it’s in all the magazines and all the books: alternative medicine. And she does have hands of gold and I, she comes home, everybody wants her to heal their aches and pains through her healing. And she is active in the Northport community and…
Interviewer: Where is Northport?
Schoenbaum: Near Huntington on Long Island. She was just home for this Thanksgiving. Shared it at Connie’s, and Diane is 42 and she lives in Los Angeles and she sells insurance and she’s married to Gary Ballen who’s in the entertainment business and she has two children, David and Shane, and she, David and Jeremy, excuse me, and they’re like 4 and 1. And seems to be very happy and they’re active in the Jewish community in Los Angeles. And Kathy is 41 and she was a buyer at the Limited and she married Randy Cooper. And he graduated Ohio State University in Med School and is doing his residency in San Antonio because he had joined the Air Force to get an education. His father died the year he graduated in medicine, so going to Med School, Pre-Med, and so they’re spending three years in San Antonio, Texas…have two children, Jacob and Shane. And Jacob is four and Jeremy is one. Not Jeremy, Shane is one. I get them all mixed up.
Callif: Oh, I even left one…Connie’s kids out.
Schoenbaum: Okay. Anyway, they seem to…you’re supposed to raise your children and let them go. And we’ve tried and I think they’re doing fine.
Callif: I forgot to mention that Michael and Connie have four children. (laughter) Katie, who is a sophomore at the University of Toledo and Ethan who graduated from Bexley this year, who’s been a football star. And Joey who also plays football and I think they’re all adorable and then there’s Chelsea, the youngest, and I think she’s just the most beautiful.
Schoenbaum: And Andy.
Callif: And Andy Callif is Bill’s son and he was here the other night. He was home from the University of Oregon and he’s tall and handsome and he’s very happy and I think they’ll be just fine.
Interviewer: Great. What kind of family vacations did you take with your children?
Callif: We discussed that too. I went to Florida with our kids. Put them all in a van or a station wagon. We went to Florida because my mother-in-law lived in Florida and we would not have gone to Florida if we didn’t have someone to see there. Later we would go to, we went to Europe, three or four times. With Ohio State Alumni, which was a wonderful way to go. But we didn’t take many vacations because my husband just could not leave the office, could not leave the produce business. And that’s all I can say about vacations. Not very much.
Schoenbaum: We went to state parks like Wheeling and two or three of the Ohio State Parks…
Callif: We did that too.
Schoenbaum: and we did, when the children were married went to the Canadian Rockies as a family together to celebrate our 60th and 70th birthdays. And Howard and I, through his Southern Bowling, traveled all over the United States at conventions, and so that’s the way we got to see…conventions. And we went to Israel two or three times. And Italy. I don’t know. We’ve done some traveling. Not a lot, but this Summer we went to the Greek Islands. And we enjoyed as much time as we can. We enjoyed doing what we did.
Callif: I think one of the funniest things I can remember about going to Ohio State University. When we, when we grew up in Circleville, if we wanted to make a phone call, we’d pick up the receiver and we would say…then we’d hear, “Number please,” and it was the operator. We’d give her the phone number that we wanted her to reach and that was how we made a phone call. Well, when I went to Ohio State University and lived at Neil Hall, my mother said, “Now the first week you’re there, you must call Aunt Pauline.” Pauline Cahen, who is really our cousin. So I go out in the hall and there are a couple of phones. And I sit down and I look at this phone and it’s the kind that you sort of dial.
Callif: Rotary. Thank you. And I picked up the receiver but there wasn’t an operator on the other end. And I looked at the phone and I sat there and I sat there. Finally, somebody walked by and I said, “I’m having a problem getting this number. Would you help me please?” So she dialed the number and I thought, “Oh, my, things are different here.” So the first time I called Israel where my daughter Patty was living, I picked up the phone and I poked in the numbers for the foreign exchange, and then I called Greece many times and I just punched in the numbers. I looked at that telephone and I thought to myself, “Baby, you’ve come a long way.” I mean, that, not knowing how to dial a telephone was so traumatic for me. I just, I was devastated at how dumb I was.
Interviewer: They didn’t have that in Circleville?
Callif: No, no. I just felt like I was a country something, a stupid hick. But I learned.
Interviewer: So a lot has happened in those years? The technology and…
Callif: Right, right.
Interviewer: Such a big difference?
Callif: Right. But it is very strange to come from a little town and, and not know the most basic, simple things, and evidently I didn’t know ‘em. The phone had something to do with the memory. At Ohio State, I realized that I was alone and was responsible for myself for the first time, when you go to college and …
Interviewer: Oh yeah.
[——] Sundays you ate out. You didn’t eat at Baker Hall. And you had to make that choice of where were you going to eat and all the choices that you had to make, that I was very excited. I didn’t have to call my mother and tell her where I was. That was my first taste of college and that was an impressive moment.
Callif: I have told all my grandchildren about how I went to Ohio State. My mother took my… and I put my two little bags in the car and she drove to Columbus and went to Neil Hall. And there was a man on the porch waiting to help the girls with their luggage, and he came to the car and took out my two or three little pieces of luggage and mother sat in the car and I said, “Mother, are you going to park the car and come up or what are you going to, you know? Well, here’s my room number.” And she just turned around and she said, “You’ll do just fine, Honey. I’ll talk to you in a week or so.” And she started the car and she, (laughter) she left me on the curb. (laughter) I mean, that was the end of it; I had to fend for myself. And when I tell that to my grandchildren who go away to college, they just can’t believe it. They think that’s the silliest. ‘Cause their mothers and fathers go and make their beds and help them get situated, but I was on my own.
Schoenbaum: This generation. Polly’s generation and my generation and before that, families were so important. The aunts and the uncles and the cousins and one took care of, you know, another. I don’t know if it will be that, you know, for your generation. But that was the beauty, I think and the love like we have for parents and our aunts and uncles. And our uncle died at Heritage House and he had no children, Milton Friedman. He was a jeweler in town. There wasn’t a day that went by that Polly didn’t go over, I didn’t go over, Polly’s kids didn’t go over, my kids didn’t go over. And I think that makes you a stronger person. But I don’t know if today…
Interviewer: The commitment to the…
Schoenbaum: The commitment to the family. And even in today’s town, there are so many because of money, have broken their relationships with one another and I think it’s sad.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Callif: We were at Heritage House every day for six years. I mean, there was just no question. One of us went or both of us went.
Schoenbaum: Or the kids went.
Callif: Or our children went and I still go today and so does Mickey and, it’s just a habit. And…
Interviewer: So that’s one of the volunteer…
Interviewer: opportunities that you take?
Callif: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: The Heritage House?
Callif: Uh huh.
Interviewer: Involved there?
Schoenbaum: I’m not involved so much. Howard was very active at the Center, you know, and we were active in JNF and… Bonds for Israel, but when you’re gone for six months… I don’t know, I’m in charge of the Volunteer Luncheon for Heritage House every year. And I try to do little things. But you can’t make a commitment for a year ’cause you’re not here for a year. Polly did a lot at the Jewish Center. The Federation probably and…
[——] Oh yeah.
(Garbled) little things, little things. I think…big things. You know if you would call me, Jody, and say, “Can you come and make phone calls Tuesday night?” or something else. If I can, I’d be there. Other than that, no.
Schoenbaum: You’ve paid your dues, Honey…
Interviewer: How do you think you did, make a point about the difference between our generation, my generation – the younger generation that grew up in the 50s, 60s and 70s, and then the generations that came before? Besides the fact that the families played less of an important part, how do you think your upbringing differed from their, your children’s upbringing?…
Callif: I never lived, after I got married, more than a block away from our parents. One block. And when she moved to Heritage Towers and then Heritage House, it was more than one block from 28 S. Roosevelt. But it was pretty darn close. And we just were, just knew that we had to see that our mother was okay. And we wanted to. It isn’t that we had to. I just think that every generation, as I said earlier, I think that each one will say, like our father said, you know, “You’re going to hell and back.” I, they’re all going to be okay.
Schoenbaum: Polly, we’ve discussed and laughed so many times. We don’t remember birthday presents, we don’t remember birthday parties and today each grandchild has 20 at the birthday. Everybody gets a gift. Every Haukkah, every, everything, our, I think our children were raised with, you know, lots more money and lots more monetary…
Schoenbaum: Yes, and you know, they did go to fine camps and they have a lot more oppor- tunities than we did as children. And we wonder (laughter)…
Callif: Yeah, where was our birthday party? We never, I can’t remember ever having a birthday present from our parents. Or a birthday party. What happened to them? You know. Where were they? We didn’t know any better and we never thought anything about it. Just never entered our minds. Never, never, never, never, never, never. So well whatever, it was fun.
Schoenbaum: There is a difference in today’s youth and…
Even going to a restaurant. I see children ordering lobster. You know eight-year-olds, nine-year-olds. An $18.95 dinner. We didn’t have the money but I just, it’s just amazing. You know, my children, they always look at the price of things on the menu. But a lot of children, they never do. And that’s all right. Just the difference.
Interviewer: Well thank you very much for the interview.
Callif: Uh, Jody, before you turn it off, I want…
Interviewer: Before we turn it off…
Callif: Before we turn it off, I want to say that my sister, Mickey Schoenbaum, is the most wonderful and her husband, Howard Schoenbaum, is the most wonderful and they have helped me raise my children and have been mother and father to them and I will be grateful forever and ever and ever. And I just love them both very much. And that’s it.
Interviewer: Thank you very much.
[——] And that makes me cry.
Interviewer: This is the end of our interview.
Callif: The end, the end, the end.
* * *
Transcribed by Honey Abramson