This interview for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society is being recorded on February 26th, 2007 as part of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society’s Oral History Project. The interview is being recorded at the home of Mr. Herb Topy which he will give us the address at a later time. My name is Peggy Kaplan and I am interviewing Herb Topy.
Interviewer: Herb, would you please give me your full name.
Topolosky: This Herb Topy name
is my second name. My first name is Herbert Lawrence Topolosky.
Interviewer: Okay and when did you shorten it to Topy?
Topolosky: Was for business reason in the type of work that I do or did.
Interviewer: Herb do you have a Jewish name?
Topolosky: It’s Hershel.
Interviewer: And do you know who you were named after?
Topolosky: I have no idea but I believe it would be on my dad’s relative.
Interviewer: How far back do you think you can trace your family?
Topolosky: Basically, I feel that we can go back about 1884.
Interviewer: Would that be your grandparents or great?
Topolosky: That would be my grandparents.
Interviewer: Okay, tell me your mother’s full name.
Topolosky: My mother’s full name was Etta Snyder.
Interviewer: Etta Snyder.
Interviewer: Okay now is Etta, E-T-T-A?
Interviewer: Okay. Okay. Etta Snyder and was she born in the United States?
Topolosky: Yes, my mother was born in Louisville, Kentucky.
Interviewer: And your father’s full name.
Topolosky: My father’s full name was Mose Topolosky.
Interviewer: Okay and where was he born?
Topolosky: We believe he was born in Russia and was brought to the United States as a very young infant.
Interviewer: He came with his parents?
Topolosky: Yes, he came with his parents.
Interviewer: And his parents names? Your grandparents?
Topolosky: Was ah, I think it was Jacob Topolosky. I’m not sure. Interesting that these names and family are lost in time.
Interviewer: Right. So your grandfather was Jacob and you grandmother was…?
Topolosky: I really…
Interviewer: Did you know your grandparents?
Topolosky: Only as a youngster. I must have been six, eight, ten years old.
Interviewer: So you just called your grandmother…
Interviewer: Okay. But they both came from somewhere in Russia?
Topolosky: We believe they’re from Russia or Poland. It could be either one but basically we think its Russia.
Interviewer: Were there any stories that were told about your grandparents and their old country or anything about them?
Topolosky: This is the interesting thing. No, I don’t have any information
about overseas. Evidently they both came over during a
period of time which so many immigrants came in, into the United States. I think
they were forced out of the country because of religious fears.
Interviewer: Do you know what port of entry your grandparents came through?
Topolosky: It’s my understanding they came through Boston, not New York. And the only part of the
story that I know about is that they may have been brought over by one of the
Jewish organizations. It could have been the B’nai B’rith at that time.
Interviewer: B’nai B’rith or perhaps H.A.I.S.?
Interviewer: So did they have other family in the United States to come to?
Topolosky: I have no…I don’t believe so.
Interviewer: Where did your grandparents settle after they arrived in Boston?
Topolosky: Evidently they got to a little town south of Columbus called Circleville, Ohio
and that’s where the family basically originates from.
Interviewer: Okay. Do you know what your father, your grandfather did for a living?
Topolosky: We believe he was in the scrap metal business and hide business. In other words, he
would go with horse and wagon to the countryside, to the farms, and pick up junk
or leather hides for to redistribution.
Interviewer: Did your father then join in that business?
Topolosky: Basically, my dad as far as I know, in his younger days he worked as a clerk in a grocery store. But then he
left Circleville and became evidently a bartender in a saloon.
Interviewer: In what city?
Topolosky: In Columbus.
Interviewer: In Columbus.
Topolosky: This will bring up a very interesting portion. Eventually, he
became a saloon liquor salesman or owner of a saloon which was on Broad Street
which now stands City Hall.
Interviewer: What was the name of the saloon?
Topolosky: He had a big…there’s a picture
available and I don’t have it now with the name M. J. Topolosky on the side of
the building. And this was a large area of, ah, at that period of time in
Columbus was probably around 1915, ’cause I was born in 1918.
Interviewer: Okay. What month were you born in 1918?
Topolosky: In April.
Topolosky: My birthday will be coming up soon.
Interviewer: And you’ll be how old, Herb?
Topolosky: Ninety years old.
Interviewer: Ninety years old, that’s…(voice in background: wrong!)…wonderful
(voice in background: wrong!) Pardon? (voice in background: He won’t be
ninety; he’ll only be eighty-nine!)
Interviewer: Okay. Alright.
Interviewer: You were born in 1918 so the year 2007 you will be eighty-nine.
Topolosky: Yeah, eighty-nine.
Interviewer: Mazol Tov. Wonderful. So your father came to Columbus as a young man.
Topolosky: That’s right.
Interviewer: Now how did he meet your mother?
Topolosky: That’s a question we never, I never
found out. But my mother is interesting that she was born in Louisville,
Kentucky under the name of Snyder but her father died before she was born so her
mother, my grandmother married a man from Columbus, Ohio who was a baker.
Interviewer: And his name was?
Topolosky: Weis was the family name. So she grew up in the family of five or six more siblings.
Interviewer: Was this man Weis, was he the grandfather image then for you?
Topolosky: Yes, basically he was, but, although I don’t think the connection with that part of
the family was kind of lost in time. We were, this brings up the period, the
depression of course, before the depression was World War I. From my
recollection from 1918 to 1925 would be that I was an infant so I don’t recall
too many instances. But my mother, my mother as a young lady worked for her
stepfather in the baking business which they had the contract for making bread
for the workhouse of Columbus or the penitentiary, I’m not sure.
Interviewer: Did the bakery sell baked goods to the public as well?
Topolosky: It is my understanding mother drove a horse and wagon to the market which was downtown and sold bread.
Interviewer: What was the name of the bakery?
Interviewer: The name of the bakery?
Topolosky: It was Weis bakery. I have no idea what they
called it. All I can remember is that it was one of these type bakeries where
the father, the grandfather placed the bread on a paddle of some sort like they
do pizza into this big round domed baking oven. And that was my only
recollection of the area. He had it like a compound of his children. He had my
mother’s brothers and sisters but he also had…he had developed a family of
his own brothers and sisters so they had quite a…
Interviewer: So your mother when she was born, her natural father was already deceased.
Topolosky: Does she have siblings, brothers and sisters, your mother? Do you have aunts and uncles? Not that I have knowledge of.
Interviewer: Do you have any other aunts and uncles on your father’s side?
Topolosky: Oh, yes. The Topolosky clan ended up in Columbus. There was seven brothers and a sister.
Interviewer: Do you know their names?
Topolosky: It’s hard to explain it but I’ve kind of lost track of all the names.
Interviewer: There’s so many Topoloskys in Columbus.
Interviewer: There’s so many Topoloskys in Columbus.
Topolosky: That’s right and the best connection I have about the names is my uncle or cousin Harry Topolosky which I’m
sure you know who he is. And I think he has a better knowledge of family. He may
have it either written or has more access to it than I do.
Interviewer: So your father and mother met in Columbus?
Topolosky: That’s correct.
Interviewer: And were married and how many children did they have, do you have brothers
Topolosky: Just my brother and myself.
Interviewer: And your brother’s name is?
Topolosky: Harry Topolosky. At one time there were three or four Harry’s in the family.
Interviewer: Yes. Now there was a Harry who was an attorney, married to Sarah Schwartz.
That’s not your brother.
Topolosky: No. My brother was Dr. Harry Topolosky.
Interviewer: Dr. Harry Topolosky. Very good. Okay.
Interviewer: So now where did you live growing up in Columbus?
Topolosky: In Columbus, I originated…the…it’s my understanding the birthplace was on Fulton Street but then they moved to a
double on Franklin Avenue. And the address is 976 Franklin.
Interviewer: So you remember living on Fulton Place. Now would that be like elementary years?
Topolosky: Yes that would be in the period of time I probably was three, four
years old then went to school in the area. The elementary school I went to was
called Douglas Elementary. It was a teaching school at that time and I graduated
from the sixth grade. And went to a two year high school which was Franklin
Junior High which was in the east end of Columbus and then going…went to East
High School in Columbus.
Interviewer: And during your elementary years when you went to Douglas, how did you get to school?
Topolosky: It was only two blocks away, two or three blocks away and I walked everyday.
Interviewer: Did you walk by yourself or with friends?
Topolosky: Mostly by myself, because at that time there weren’t too many children around basically and they were
spread out all over that particular area.
Interviewer: Where there a lot of Jewish kids?
Topolosky: Not too many. One of the unfortunate
things about my growing up but I was not around the Jewish population to often.
I ended up basically in the downtown area because my folks at that time had a
restaurant called The Java Lunch Room.
Interviewer: Would you repeat that…the name.
Topolosky: The restaurant name was The Java Lunch Room and it was on…at the same location originally that the saloon was on which
in turn turned up to be the City Hall today.
Interviewer: Did your mother work in the restaurant?
Topolosky: My mother was the top…I would say
she was the manager of the place. She was a tough, good woman. Tough lady. She’d
get up at five o’clock in the morning, open that restaurant up and then serve
at lunch. At that time this restaurant was in the vicinity of the construction
of the Lincoln-LeVecque Tower which was then known as the AIU Building and we
served mostly the working people that were building the Tower and the
construction…the beginning construction of City Hall. The building that my dad…
the restaurant was in not torn down immediately because we were serving all
these working people.
Interviewer: So when you say “we,” does that mean you were working in the
restaurant as well?
Topolosky: I…I was too young to in the beginning but I did work in
the restaurant and did everything but that was only because I was not in school
at the time. I basically was in either high school, or junior high school, high
school and college during that period of time.
Interviewer: So when you went to the junior high, Franklin, were there many Jewish kids there?
Topolosky: I would say it was a minimal amount of people. Most of the Jewish
population as I understand it went to South High School and that was mainly the
most of them.
Interviewer: Did you walk to junior high school as well?
Topolosky: Yes, walked to junior high school and senior high school and that was a pretty good walk.
Interviewer: How far?
Topolosky: Well, I had to…from 900 block on Franklin we has to pass the
park, the Franklin Park, that was for the high school but for Franklin Avenue
just was east on Franklin about a mile, maybe two miles.
Interviewer: So then you went to East High School.
Topolosky: East High.
Interviewer: Again, were there very many Jewish kids there?
Topolosky: Not too many.
Interviewer: Not too many. Do you remember…recall any particular friends from your high
Topolosky: I don’t have any pictures at that time.
Interviewer: So you were basically a loner through school.
Topolosky: Yes, as I said before, basically my growing up was in the downtown area where very few children were
located. My best friend was a youngster from…whose father was the manager of
the Neil House which was the large hotel of the period. And we grew up together
in…actually we were about the only two or three kids in the neighborhood.
Interviewer: And what was his name?
Topolosky: I can’t remember at this time.
Interviewer: It’s okay, it’s alright. What were your parents religiously involved in?
Topolosky: My dad was more or less religiously involved in the sense that he went to Agudas
Achim synagogue on High Holidays but basically because of the nature of the
restaurant being open from five o’clock in the morning seven, eight o’clock
and then later until eleven o’clock he was part of the…I would say religious…
Interviewer: So you didn’t grow up with tremendous Jewish traditions in the home?
Topolosky: No, we did not.
Interviewer: Did you have Shabbot? Did you have Shabbot dinner?
Interviewer: No because the restaurant was open.
Topolosky: The restaurant. In other words, the type of food that I was getting unfortunately could not be kosher.
Interviewer: Did you go to Sunday school? Or Hebrew school or?
Topolosky: Well my dad sent me to Hebrew school for a short period of time, but under that because…
I was in so much into other training in school I didn’t really appreciate the effort and there
were several things that happened in those originally Jewish schools which was
in the Schoenthal…
Interviewer: Schoenthal Center.
Topolosky: …Center. Across the street was the building which
evidently was an old house and they had a Hebrew school in the basement and when
the temperature was down to about 32 degrees in the basement of the building
that wasn’t too happy. It didn’t last too long. I was kind of frail anyway
and there was no sense of me getting sick going into a school.
Interviewer: So your religious training was miniscule.
Topolosky: It was until we moved over on Franklin Avenue of course and I was I went to Sunday School at the Bryden Road
Interviewer: Every Sunday.
Topolosky: Every Sunday and I graduated with confirmation class in 1932.
Interviewer: Okay. Did you have a Bar Mitzvah?
Topolosky: No, I was never Bar Mitzvahed.
Interviewer: But you were confirmed.
Topolosky: I was confirmed. In the Reform…
Interviewer: They didn’t do Bar Mitzvahs?
Interviewer: Okay. What was your first job where you actually made money?
Topolosky: When my dad…of course we had the saloon with…at the saloon we’d have liquor salesmen come
in and put up displays in the bars. In those days they decorated the whole bar
with paper mache type signs and things and so one of the salesmen got interested
in my photography that I was playing around with and he says…what…come along
with me and we’ll have you photograph these bars that are all designed with the
equipment. So originally I started out doing basically interiors of bars.
Interviewer: So you worked for you worked as a photographer for your first job. What were
Topolosky: It was probably two dollars a shot.
Interviewer: Two dollars a picture.
Topolosky: They would drive me to a location and take the pictures. And that’s one of things I originally…
Interviewer: So would you say that started you on your photography career?
Topolosky: Not really. It was the university that got me started.
Interviewer: We’ll get to that in just a moment.
Interviewer: During your school years, did you have a favorite teacher?
Topolosky: I had a Latin teacher. Her name I believe was Mayhew. I don’t know how to spell it.
She took a liking to me. She was a Latin teacher of the school which I did very
poorly in. But she kind of kept me going. Got me through it.
Interviewer: She took and interest in you and helped you along.
Topolosky: That’s right
Interviewer: Very good. Do you remember the Great Depression at all?
Topolosky: Very definitely.
Interviewer: Tell me about it.
Topolosky: The depression basically was from about 1932 to about
1938 I mean it lasted more than one year but most people think it was just a
short period of time. Being in the restaurant field in the downtown area a lot
of things happened that a lot of people may not remember such as the people on
the street selling apples. These are recollections that I have. The people that
were well dressed would be on the streets trying to make a few dollars, a nickel
an apple or whatever it was. And there were even ladies that went around to the
restaurants and sold flowers. One of the big recollections is there was a period
of time when the President had a program for young adults to go out and build…
to go areas and put trees into the ground. I can’t think of the word. WPA
might have been the name. We had a contract; my folks did, of feeding these
young people that would come by a truck load or bus load to the restaurant to
get their final meal before they went out to these farms and places where they
were going to put trees into the ground.
Interviewer: And who paid your parents for that?
Topolosky: Evidently that was a government project of some sort.
Interviewer: Is that how your parents coped then during the depression?
Topolosky: That’s how they kept the restaurant going. That kept it going and later on, I’m
trying to think of which…that was on State. The restaurant, after the buildings
for the city hall was to be finished, they had to move and they moved the
restaurant to State Street which was near the new…at that time the new office
building for the State of Ohio. The one that, as a memory we had an experience
where the building had an explosion. Several people I think were killed in it.
And the explosion, this is a recollection, blew a few of the dishes in the
restaurant because of the proximity of the explosion. It was quite a thing.
Interviewer: So during the depression your parents kept the restaurant open but if people
didn’t have money to go out to a restaurant to eat how did your parents pay
the bills in the restaurant and how did they get food to serve? To whom?
Topolosky: Well let’s put it this way, to get a steak dinner at the restaurant you had to
put out thirty-five cents for a steak dinner which included possibly a drink,
and other things. Somewhere along the line I have one of the old menus which
eventually I’ll find.
Interviewer: If you ever find it we would certainly like to have it. So people could go
and buy a steak dinner for thirty-five cents?
Topolosky: A cup of coffee was a nickel.
Interviewer: Did the steak dinner come with anything like potatoes, vegetables?
Topolosky: Oh yes, it probably did. As I say I just recollect that. Mother served…basically a
the menu was a menu…in other words for heavy working people. It was very
interesting in order to pay the bill when you ate at the restaurant you’re
given a little ticket which said twenty-five cents, which generally speaking,
most of the meals were twenty-five cents. A bowl of soup was a dime. You wonder
how they made any money but they struggled with it and of course this was before
Prohibition was over. During the Prohibition period there wasn’t any liquor
involved in this. At one time when Dad…my folks retired from the restaurant in
moving some of the personal things he brought out a bushel basket that contained
these little tickets which people has not paid. In other words they were on
credit for a week until they got a paycheck. And the people didn’t make much money
in those days. The restaurant help as I understood it at that time was three
dollars a day was what they were paid.
Interviewer: Did your mother do all the cooking?
Topolosky: No we had a chef, they usually called
him a French Chef but he was very good. He could put up five or six gallons of
soups everyday like bean soup.
Topolosky: Hearty foods. Some of the meals…beef stew, things of that nature
was what they served. We’d have thirty or forty guys would come in at one time
to serve…to be served. They had to be back to work in thirty or forty minutes.
So everything was prepared. The silverware was out, the bread was cut. They had
a loaf of bread on each table. The restaurant had the capacity of about 175
Interviewer: That’s big.
Topolosky: Yeah but as I said they got off work…
Interviewer: So when you helped in the Restaurant what was your job?
Topolosky: Clean up, dishes.
Interviewer: Washing dishes?
Topolosky: Washing dishes, and I even yelled out the orders to
mother. People would could in and say they want beef stew, and I would yell “Beef stew!”
She would dish it out and in those days the food containers were up in the front
of building, not in the back.
Interviewer: So the restaurant was located and served the people who were building the AIU Tower.
Do you remember anything about the building, the awesomeness?
Topolosky: My mother took on to the…there was a time when the building was dedicated, I don’t remember
the date, 1927 or 29 something like that. And we went to the top. At that time
you could go to the top. They had some sort of a…
Topolosky: …observation area. Very interesting. Part of my. Later on I’ll
tell you about the tower itself which became part of my problem of photography.
Interviewer: Okay. So as a youngster they’re going to build this tall building in the
middle of the city, the tallest building you’d probably ever seen.
Topolosky: Yes, between Chicago and New York. That’s what they said.
Interviewer: So what was your feeling about looking up and seeing that.
Topolosky: Oh tremendous. That was big you know. Columbus was just a small country town but it was growing. It
was evolving into what you see today. Basically it was the Capitol and that was
it. Then they started building the expansion of the state building. They needed more space.
Interviewer: And when the restaurant moved from that location to State Street did it have the same name?
Interviewer: And it was called again?
Topolosky: The Java Lunch Room.
Interviewer: The Java Lunch Room.
Topolosky: And the reason was the Java is the…was for the
Interviewer: Do you recall any stories you heard at the Restaurant either your mother,
your father, the workers? Any funny stories?
Topolosky: Basically, yes when Prohibition was over it was 1933, 1933.
The Restaurant was located in a hotel building, a
small off street hotel which was near the large Neil House building and in the
smaller hotel, people there were kinda weird. They had the brothel type woman
there and Mother was the only woman in the restaurant. In those days there was
no such thing as waitresses so any time one of these women would come into the
restaurant and they didn’t act right, she tossed them out.
Interviewer: Okay, where did you go to college?
Topolosky: Ohio State University.
Interviewer: And when you went to Ohio State what was your goal?
Topolosky: Well at that time my
brother was just finishing up his medical care schooling and my mother, you
know, my parents wanted a professional…for me to go ahead and be a doctor too.
So I took pre-med and I started out in pre-med. I think in my second year, I
became allergic to animal hair because I was working in bacteriology and
chemistry and things like that so evidently being a little on the small size you
see in the picture I discovered I wasn’t built to be a medical person.
Interviewer: How much older was your brother, Harry?
Topolosky: Harry was seven years older to the day.
Interviewer: Same birthday.
Interviewer: So, in your second year of college you decided you were not made out to be a
doctor and what did you decide at that point?
Topolosky: I was starting…my photography
was being built up and I had a counselor at the university he found out I was
interested in photography and doing that and he suggested that I take some
course in photography at the Ohio State University. That was the only course
that was available as I recall in the engineering department. So it was a
different college but arrangements were made that I could take courses of
photography which I did and did well with it and at this point in time the
university had a year book that was put out called the “Makio” so they
needed photographers so I volunteered to do school pictures which I did. That
became part of my schooling so while I was in that college I had to come up with
some other programs that would graduate me from Ohio State. And so I had a
professor in the College of Education which had a psychology department which
the professor needed someone to take some pictures so I took courses in
experimental psychology which I between that and the university credits I was
able to graduate.
Interviewer: Very good. And when you graduated you had all this experience with
photography. What was your next decision as far as making an income?
Topolosky: I was out of school; remember this is still the 1940’s. The depression hadn’t…the
war…it wasn’t a depression so much now, the war was coming on. There’s no
jobs so I…while I was in college I teamed up with another fellow, I can’t
think, his name was Miller and we took pictures of dances and things that
happened on campus at the fraternity houses and we had books by taking the pictures
and a week later we’d deliver ’em a dollar a picture of couples dancing or
whatever and also these pictures, some of these pictures we gave to the yearbook
so I had an in to go to everyone of the fraternities and take a few pictures and
go from one and take a few here and take a few there. We made a couple of bucks.
Interviewer: What kind of camera did you use?
Topolosky: Originally we started out with my brother’s. I borrowed his little Argus camera which in those days was
purchased for about twelve and a half dollars and I would take his…
(End of tape side A)
Interviewer: Okay, let’s continue.
Topolosky: So I would take his camera when I had nothing
else to do I would go to the theaters downtown. It was my…actually that was my
school yard, the downtown area. I went there after school. For experience I
would go to the Ohio Theater, it cost a quarter and I could see a movie, a stage
show and a sing along with an orchestra and I would take my camera along and
take pictures outside the theaters not only the Ohio Theater but the RKO Palace
Theater which was in the Lincoln LeVeque Tower and usually it was on a Friday
afternoon if I recall when the stage shows would come on I would go out and take
Interviewer: Again using your brother’s camera?
Topolosky: Using my brother’s camera.
Interviewer: And a flashbulb.
Topolosky: That was a 35 mm camera. When we were doing the pictures
for the college I ended up with a Speed Graphic which was a 4 by 5 negative.
Interviewer: Okay the Speed Graphic camera was a 4 by 5 negative.
Topolosky: We would go out with
bagful of film and flashbulbs and fire these pictures of different events that
happened on campus and I capture anything the “Makio” wanted to do so
I became their photographer and I did that for two years by the way. It was two
different yearbooks and it was unusual usually new people came in every year but
there’s photography not too many people around taking pictures.
Interviewer: When you were doing photography how did you have the film developed?
Topolosky: We had a little lab in one of the fraternity houses. This fellow was a photographer
so he took a closet in a basement and built a little dark room and we…
(Interview briefly interrupted)
Interviewer: Okay, so let’s continue talking about you developed your own film and that
was how you were working with the Makio.
Interviewer: Okay now you graduate from college, how do you continue?
Topolosky: I graduated from college and evidently I’m trying to think of just how I did get started with
the other things. While I was doing these things with Miller, fella by the name
of Howard Miller, he left, evidently he had graduated from college and I started
doing believe it or not children’s pictures in the home.
Interviewer: Oh, really? Like portraits of children?
Topolosky: Portraits. In those days you
could take…you could go from house to house. In other words, word of mouth got
me started. And, for a short period of time I was doing children’s pictures in the home
and that led to some commercial work and I started doing some commercial pictures…
Interviewer: Are you still developing your own?
Topolosky: …and developing, so I had to have a
dark room. And so I’m trying to recall how I did it but I found a little dark
room on State Street downtown which I think it cost me $15 a month for the space
and I started doing some commercial photography.
Interviewer: Are you still living at home with your parents?
Topolosky: Yes. I hadn’t been married yet. Before that…oh, okay. I started…I think graduated college…
this I said I started with baby pictures. I also worked for the State of Ohio in
Natural Resources, the Department of Natural Resources with a photograph, his
name, he was one of my Dad’s customers and he found out I was interested in
photography and he needed a dark room man to take care of the films that he
takes for the Natural Resources and also to catalogue all his negatives believe
it or not and print them so that they have records for the Department. So I went
and acted as his dark room assistant and developed his prints and photographs,
took care of 16 mm and 35 mm films that were…that he had had over the years and
catalogued them and when they wanted the…so unique that people would ask for
Natural Resource photographs and movies they would send them out to these
different schools and so forth and when they came back I had to go through every
film and make sure it wasn’t broken and clean’em up and get them ready for
the next people that would want that particular thing.
Interviewer: So you were paid for that? Do you remember how much you were paid?
Topolosky: Yes, I think I was making $25 a week.
Interviewer: That was a lot of money.
Topolosky: That’s when I met Lillian, my first wife. Of
course, I dated Jewish girls. Eighteenth Street was a quite a collaboration of
Jewish people and…
Interviewer: How did you meet Lillian?
Topolosky: I probably met her on a date somehow, I really don’t remember.
Interviewer: Do you remember when you were married?
Topolosky: Yeah. The marriage, I believe was on Carpenter Street. In those days we had a lot of weddings that were done in the
home and this was one of those homes. Remember in those days, they didn’t have
any money to speak of. So the wedding took place at her mother’s and dad’s home.
Interviewer: On Carpenter Street.
Topolosky: Yes, on Carpenter Street.
Interviewer: Do you remember her maiden name?
Topolosky: Lillian. She is Lillian Berliner.
Interviewer: Okay, so you married Lillian Berliner, okay. And what year?
Topolosky: 1941, I believe.
Interviewer: Okay, 1941. And you had children?
Topolosky: Boys, I had two boys, Sheldon and Joel. Joel’s the oldest, then Sheldon.
Topolosky: We were married and she was working for the Shoe Corporation. She
worked there, she answered the telephone. While she was at the Shoe Corp I
somehow or other I got tied into with a fellow that was their publicist and I
started taking pictures for Shoe Corp.
Interviewer: Did Lillian have brothers or sisters?
Topolosky: Yes she has a sister still living, Ruth Stowe and I can’t think of the other name of her sister, Dr. Gurtner’s wife.
Interviewer: Okay, so Lillian was from Columbus?
Interviewer: Okay, so you got married and you had two children, Joel and Sheldon.
Interviewer: And how about grandchildren?
Topolosky: None yet, none yet.
Interviewer: Okay Herb, you do have grandchildren and they all live in Columbus?
Topolosky: The grandchildren, one’s in New York and one is in Colorado. She had three children.
Interviewer: You have five grandchildren. Do you know any of the names?
Topolosky: Okay, this is Brian, This is Sheldon’s kids. Brian, Lindsey, and Stacey.
Interviewer: Okay and Joel?
Topolosky: Joel’s is Lisa and Lauren. They just graduated
and I believe Lauren is with a company doing marketing. And Lisa is a paralegal
and I believe at the present time she is with Nationwide Insurance but I’m not
sure. And Brian is in Colorado and he’s at one of the ski resorts. He just
graduated and he just came back from, I think it was Thailand. So he’s been
seeing the country. He’s 20, about 23 so he’s doing his thing right now.
Interviewer: So when you were married you started to do some work for Shoe Corporation.
Topolosky: That was one of my jobs and we covered a lot of their activities through the years. I
can’t think of the man’s name but there was a publicist that did their
newsletter and things like that. That was quite an operation at one time. I don’t
believe they’re in business anymore.
Interviewer: Where did you live with a young family?
Topolosky: Originally, I started out with
Lillian and I, we finally got enough money together to buy a little house in
Bexley, but it was in the north end of Bexley try and think of the street. It
was two blocks south of the railroad tracks. It’s a little small block house
and I think in those days starting out with nothing so to speak this little
house, I think, cost $11,000 so that’s where I started the family. In the
meantime, I lost my job at the State because war broke out. Well, what do you do
then? They suggested, when you go in for the army, drafting…
Interviewer: You enlisted?
Topolosky: No I wasn’t because I didn’t pass the physical because
of allergies I had and so it was suggested because of my background and all to
go to work for Curtis-Wright. So I went into…was assigned…they had needed a
photographer for their moldloft which was part of their engineering department
and I had a little background in engineering. So I went out there and I had to
train to get this little job I was supposed to be doing. Eventually I was going
to have a camera to work with and all that. Well it never happened. They decided
to do it by printing method instead of photographing these parts so I went to
work in that department at 25 cents an hour. And that’s how we started out.
During what was called moldloft which is the taking the blueprints of the airplane
and putting them, making templates for manufacturing parts.
Interviewer: Would you explain that terminology?
Topolosky: Mold loft. I think it’s
m-o-l-d-l-o-f-t. I’m very hazy on. In any event, for three years I scribbled,
not really scribbled, we used metal, large sheets of metal which had paint on
them and we had to do the blue print and measurements on this sheets of metal
which were then cut down and then the templates for the parts could be made from
these templates which are like a pattern for a dress. So I was at Curtis-Wright
and on the side I was still taking some pictures. The war ended, I was out of a
job. That’s how it works so we started all over again.
This is where it gets a
little hazy because I don’t remember I must’ve been doing weddings or
something on the side. I do know that when we lived, Lillian and I and the two
children lived in the apartment in Driving Park which became a large Jewish
population lived there for a long time and I had to do something so I started
taking pictures of bowling, oh this brings me up to the newspaper business.
There was a fellow by the name of Fisher that was a publicist who started the
Bowling News of Columbus.
And I latched on to him and I decided there’s a good
way to make some money by taking bowling pictures. So I would go to the
different bowling allies of the period and take a few pictures every night the
different ones, the following week I’d go back with a batch of pictures and
get about a buck apiece for them. And that’s how I made a living for a while.
Interviewer: And you’re still doing your own developing. Do you still have your lab
and dark room on State Street?
Topolosky: At that time I had it the basement of this
apartment. They had a basement so I closed all the windows down and developed a
print for a short period of time. And then evidently at that point I found this
place downtown where I could develop a print which was next door everything…which
was next door to United Appeals operation. Well they needed photography to take
pictures of…I went to all these different organizations and photographed so
I not only did the United Appeals, but then the other organizations needed a
photographer so I would a little pictures here and a little pictures there for
the lung association, for tuberculosis, for heart, for Easter Seals, I did them
Interviewer: When did you then open your first Topy business?
Topolosky: The Topy Photo. In this place on State Street which we originally…which I originally did I got I had a
fellow by the name of certain names I discarded in my thinking, anyway a fellow
that came out of the army, Jewish boy, and he needed a job so I was getting
busier and I needed somebody to develop my pictures while I was out taking
pictures. I needed somebody to stay in the office and so we started out doing
these organizational pictures and that increased, went into some of the
commercial people and one thing leads to another and so we started the business
Before, before that, I had worked for other photography companies-House
of Portraits up on campus, had a contract to go out to schools to take pictures
of the groups, the yearbook pictures, yearbook pictures. So I would go would
with camera and film to some small country town or small college or small school
graduating kids twenty or thirty of them, take their pictures and that’s how
they got their yearbooks. One of them I did for a couple years was Grandview
High School. In other words, I was spread out all over.
Interviewer: Did you have a studio in your office building or your offices?
Topolosky: At that time, no. I don’t think so. I had another place up on campus, not on campus,
Olentangy Village area. I had an office, I had a dark room up there for a short
period of time and I started doing commercial pictures there. One thing led to another.
Interviewer: So did you have a studio where people would come?
Topolosky: No. Not in the beginning. When I got over to State Street I started doing portraiture work in
this building that I had. It was a second floor set up and we expanded and we
got a little larger and a little larger and I hired another man who was with me
for fifteen or twenty years, you know these names, I was never good at it. So I
started getting people working with me and that basically, I’m trying to
think, yeah that was on State Street. So we got bigger and bigger and I needed
more space and they were going to tear the building down which I was in so we
found this building over on Rich Street across from the Lazarus parking garages.
For some reason or other, I can’t connect, I started working, doing pictures
for Lazarus. And I did their fashion pictures and their publicity pictures and
working with, all these names just disappeared, working with her, woman from
Lazarus, her husband also was a publicist for the radio station WBNS. So I
would, again, that’s my job, was to go out and take pictures of personalities
and they used them then of course in their publications or newspapers or
whatever. At the same time I was doing pictures at, for the Chronicle.
Interviewer: How did that start? Going back to the Chronicle days.
Topolosky: That was with Mr…
Topolosky: …Mr. Neustadt. We started doing pictures for them but the
unusual part about that story is in order to get a picture into the Chronicle
you had to have an engraving. An engraving was a metal piece on a block of wood
that then was given to the printer and so when I take the picture I had to
personally take it to the engraver to have this little one column or two column
picture made and then deliver it to the newspaper.
Topolosky: It was quite different than it does today.
Interviewer: Did the Chronicle pay you to do the pictures?
Interviewer: No. In other words you went out and did the picture of like an organization?
Topolosky: That’s right.
Interviewer: The organization wanted it in the Chronicle, you had to make the engraving,
you provided the service but the organization paid to have the picture in the Chronicle?
Topolosky: As far as I can remember, that’s how it worked. It’s so interesting now
with the use of color in the Chronicle it’s beautiful; it’s a whole new
concept or printing and everything. They’re getting much better quality than
when we started out with this little; I think he put out an eight page newspaper
for years and years that struggled.
Interviewer: Struggled, right. You said earlier that you wanted to tell me a story about
your photography and the AIU Building, Tower the LeVeque Tower.
Topolosky: Oh, yes, as I was going through the development of my own work, television came into the
pattern, was about 1950 and I was doing work for the different organizations and
publicity and promotions. I had met a fellow by the name of Cy Landy, was a
promoter and I would be doing many of his pictures in fact that station, WTVN,
which was a new television station, came into existence. They were located in
the Lincoln-LeVeque Tower and it took some office.
The point was that the
equipment in those days was so obsolete and unique in a sense that in order to
take a picture in the studio you had to go out into aisle, open the door and put
the camera there so you could take a picture inside, as I remembered, but what
my job was, the advertising section where Cy Landy would order a picture of say
for, I’m trying to think of some of the accounts. What was the restaurant,
Interviewer: Burger King?
Topolosky: No. It was before Burger King.
Topolosky: Yeah, Jewish fellow that had it?
Interviewer: That’s okay.
Topolosky: Anyway, I would make a slide either with the written
information for location and so forth and a slide had to be made to be put into
a projector at the station. Well, the station had several floors to it and they,
the first elevator in the Lincoln-LeVeque Tower took you to the main studio, but
the second elevator took you to the tower where the transmission equipment was
located, a small room. So my job was to get this slide, after I photographed
them, printed them, mount them, take them to the station, and then up all these
elevators to get it to the slide to the projectionist that’s how…
Interviewer: To get it on TV?
Topolosky: To get it on TV. So that’s between that and the
station which as I said was very primitive at that time, that’s the beginning
Interviewer: As you were growing your business, were there any other Jewish photographers?
Topolosky: Yes, in fact there was. In fact a good friend of mine was Walter Neuron.
Walter had come over from Germany. He was one of the fortunate people and we had
quite a lot of discussions about his getting started and so forth.
Interviewer: He was more or less a portrait photographer?
Topolosky: Yeah. He did children.
Interviewer: He didn’t go out and do like you did?
Topolosky: He didn’t do commercial as much as I did.
Interviewer: He had a studio.
Topolosky: Then there was George Volk.
Interviewer: George Volk? That’s V-O-L-K.
Topolosky: V-O-L-K. He was in the portrait business and he started
getting into weddings so I ended up doing his weddings for a year or so.
Interviewer: How come?
Topolosky: Because he couldn’t handle them all.
Interviewer: He was so busy?
Topolosky: He got busy, so I was the one that was taking them on
Saturday, Sunday, the Jewish weddings I had on my own, then I had his weddings.
I had Catholics, Greeks, and all kinds of religions. That’s where I was out on
the road a lot and so that’s how I made a living on that. I got a percentage
of his, every time I went out and did one I made so much money.
Interviewer: So you actually helped Walter Neuron establish his photography business?
Topolosky: I didn’t help him, I discussed things with him. We didn’t interfere with
each other. It was a beginning. And finally he got doing very well. I don’t
know what happened to him. He went west. That’s the last I heard.
Interviewer: He was into skiing a lot.
Interviewer: So then your business developed and you have your business down on Rich Street?
Topolosky: Now the man name Greenberg was the fella that was my right hand man for
fifteen or twenty years.
Interviewer: What was his first name?
Topolosky: I can’t remember.
Interviewer: That’s okay.
Topolosky: Last name’s Greenberg.
Interviewer: So he was your right hand man, he did the developing?
Interviewer: Did you have like a place where people could bring film to be developed?
Topolosky: No, not at that time. We didn’t get into the photo finishing until I got over on
Rich Street. I moved from the one location because I was doing so much fashion
work and worked for Lazarus I liked to be close to them. So we found this
building which had been furriers for people. He’d passed away and the guy was
stuck with the building. And so I went there and put a studio in, a real studio.
And I had a place where I could handle pretty good large situations, portraits,
weddings, group pictures.
Interviewer: They’d come to you in the studio?
Topolosky: In the studio. And the publicity
pictures. In fact, off the top of my head, I was doing work for the golf course,
golf club Scioto Country Club. I was doing their publicity pictures and in fact
one of the pictures you’ll find in the studio, hopefully you’ll find it, is
the golfer, Nicklaus.
Interviewer: Jack Nicklaus?
Topolosky: It’s an original, first life-time card for the Scioto
Country Club. It sounds silly now, but this is what we did.
Interviewer: Do you have any funny stories about being a photographer in the community?
Topolosky: Well, being with a lot of these characters, I’m trying to think of, when I was doing
pictures for WBNS, the comedian, what was his name?
Interviewer: Harry Jarky?
Topolosky: No. Oh shoot!
Interviewer: Was he a local comedian?
Topolosky: Television, the whole works. I can’t remember his name right now.
Interviewer: It’s okay.
Topolosky: Anyway, he was a Santa Claus, believe it or not, for Lazarus
on the WBNS television and he went on from there to national, I’ll think of
the name. But that’s one thing. But that’s one thing. The other thing for
Lazarus. These things are just revolving where the publicity…they called the
studio and said, “Herb, get over here quick. We got a picture that has to
be taken.” So I get over to the place. They have a beautiful cat, feeding
it milk and says, “This cat just took a six month, six week tour.” It
had gotten into a package that Lazarus was sending out to a customer and he took
Interviewer: And survived.
Topolosky: And survived. And they brought the cat back.
Interviewer: And you took a picture.
Topolosky: And took a picture. That went into the Dispatch
at that time. That was just an interesting thing. Oh, some of the things that
happen with these publicity people for the radio station doing the tricks, doing
stunts, paddling in the Scioto River, taking pictures of these guys doing
publicity stunts. The publicity stunt, one where a woman at the Deshler at the
They had a character that would swing back and forth. They brought her from
New York or San Francisco or some place where they were opening up this new bar
so she was hanging out of the Deshler window at Broad and High Street and I had
to get out in the middle of the street because…these are some of the crazy
things, they weren’t so crazy, for instance, during these commercial pictures
were labor, had a labor thing with Westinghouse. Westinghouse had a factory that
built refrigerators and things on the west side and they had a strike going. So
they needed pictures to show the legal side so I was working that time
for Westinghouse and that was a little exciting because they were shooting.
Interviewer: Shooting guns?
Topolosky: Yeah. So that was one thing. Again, I’m rambling a
little. In the labor situation, the Neil House having a meeting with the
Governor on this labor situation and they were having a strike with the people
that worked at the bar and the restaurants and the people that…the housekeepers
and all that. Found out later that the Governor had gone and I took a couple
pictures. Later on they found there was a bomb located in the Neil House. And
things like this don’t make sense.
Interviewer: Go ahead.
Topolosky: It reminded me of doing these Christmas holiday pictures that I
did for Lazarus. I did the official photography for Lazarus many years of all
the Christmas parades. So one year they decided not to have a parade. One year they
would bring Santa Claus in a whirlybird. So naturally they needed a
Interviewer: So they’re going to not have a parade?
Topolosky: So we’re going to do a helicopter with Santa Claus. Well they needed a photographer with Santa Claus so
I was in the helicopter being the navigator. So we take off.
Interviewer: You were in the helicopter?
Topolosky: In the helicopter with Santa Claus.
Topolosky: Santa Claus sat on one side and the pilot on the other and I was in
the middle. And so we took off from the airport and it went to different
sections of the city, at different schools and auditoriums, stadiums. The people
would go North High School, West High School, East and the helicopter would come
in and circle and wave to the people and go to the next one. And that’s how
they did it. But they ended up downtown. The helicopter landed on top of the
Lazarus parking garage and the meantime, that’s how we got out of the thing.
And of course, I’m carrying the camera and all that, and it’s icy and snowy
and everything else. So that was one instance of the helicopter, whirlybird
business. But the point was that after all this was done, the gal says to me,
“You know Herb, we had you insured just in case.”
Interviewer: What was your favorite kind of photography? What was your favorite?
Topolosky: Basically the I liked to do the personality pictures. I did the…for instance the
start of Vaudevillities, for the group in Upper Arlington, the Memorial building
downtown, that was a big one. The personalities that I met at WBNS with Johnson,
who by the way was my French teacher at Ohio State University and he flunked me
but we became very good friends and I did all his photography. So every time
they had a personality come in I’d photograph them, continuously. These
little things kept me running all the time. The fact of the matter was I had to
have a radio…
Interviewer: You had your radio, go ahead.
Topolosky: I had radio in my car to keep in touch with
the office because I’d get from one job to the other without even going back
to the office. The timing was very difficult including the Jewish organizations.
Always had a meeting and at the wrong time then in those days. They’d say be
there at one o’clock and at two o’clock they were taking the picture. You had
to wait, and wait and this, that and the other. That was parts of the time.
Interviewer: Okay, Herb, I want to back up just a little bit. How long were you married to
Lillian? How many years?
Topolosky: Twenty-three I believe.
Interviewer: And she passed away?
Topolosky: She passed away and uh, there was a period of time
of mourning and I didn’t meet Bernice until two or three years later. I’d
been keeping busy working. The kids were fourteen to eighteen, something like that.
Interviewer: So they were young when their mother passed away?
Interviewer: Anyway, so when Lillian passed away your children were young, you said
fourteen, fifteen. So how did you handle business and being a father and
taking care of them?
Topolosky: By this time we had gone into the photo finishing area
and at that time I may have had eight or ten people working for me. I had a
photo finishing lab and a portrait lab we did…
Interviewer: You told me that when you were growing up your parents didn’t instill a
great deal of Jewish tradition. When you became a father did you try to do a
little more in the Jewish tradition for your children? Did they go to Hebrew
school, Sunday school?
Topolosky: Yeah, in fact the grandchildren. Joel…Joel was a
kind of a problem for me. He wasn’t a school person.
Interviewer: Did you and Lillian have Jewish traditional meals or Jewish celebrations in the home?
Topolosky: Not really, the candle lighting she did. Of course she was brought
up in a very religious family, originally.
Interviewer: Did you take any vacations with your family, your children?
Topolosky: We would, this makes another interesting story.
Topolosky: During my antics around, I became also a Santa Claus photographer
at the mall up on the University, what was the name of it?
Interviewer: Up on the campus area?
Topolosky: Yes, yes I guess so.
Interviewer: University? I’m not sure
Topolosky: Anyway, we they decided they needed a Santa
Claus and a little thing for the period time for Christmas so in order to
compete with everybody else you had to have a Santa Claus. So in order to have a Santa Claus you had to
take pictures so the people could come in and see Santa Claus. So we set up a
Santa Claus deal. I had a couple of women I gave them a camera, we set it the
camera and we had Santa Claus furnished by the mall itself and the room was
furnished and decorated and all I had to do was come in with the camera, take
the pictures, collect the money and deliver the prints.
Interviewer: So you took pictures of children sitting on Santa Claus’s knee?
Topolosky: Sold out. We did that for several years, evidentally and the money that I made on the
Santa Claus pictures got my family to Miami, Florida.
Interviewer: Ho, ho. Okay. How did you go? Did you drive?
Topolosky: No, originally we drove and it was a two day trip if I remember and we ended up in Miami Beach at
that strip where they have all the motels and we stayed there a week or so. And
then we started. Lillian wasn’t feeling too well so we, airplane, we were able
to take an airplane from Columbus. One three hour trip and you’re in Miami and
that’s how we got to Miami for several years.
The money from the…that was my
own special little deal. It had nothing to do with the business. The only thing
that had to do with the business is every night I’d pick up the negatives, the
film of the cameras, develop and have them taken in to get developed at my
place. And by that time, I had equipped the studio with some very fast ways of
doing developing and printing. I had automatic equipment, which nobody else in
Columbus for a long time had. The only people that could develop faster than me
was the newspaper. They had the same piece of equipment or there was four
machines like that. One was the Curtis-Wright and one was at University.
Interviewer: How long after Bernice passed, excuse me, how long after Lillian passed away
did you meet Bernice?
Topolosky: Just a couple of years.
Interviewer: Then it was approximately five years and then you and Bernice got married.
Topolosky: Yeah, we had some friends that said she needed a date or I needed a date and we
got together and Shidduch was made. It was her friends, kinda worked me over and like
Interviewer: Right and Bernice’s maiden name when you married her was…
Topolosky: Her name was Beckman.
Interviewer: Beckman. Bernice Beckman?
Topolosky: Yeah, Bernice Beckman.
Interviewer: And do you know Bernice’s maiden name?
Interviewer: Sherr. How is that spelled?
Interviewer: Okay. Did Bernice have children when you got married.
Topolosky: Yes, she did. She had two girls and a boy.
Interviewer: And were they still in school or were they grown?
Topolosky: I think they were out of school by that time.
Interviewer: Okay. And now where are you and Bernice going to live? Where are you living?
Topolosky: I had sold my house. At that time Lill and I had built this house in what do you
Interviewer: In Bexley?
Topolosky: Berwick. We sold…interesting thing, the house that we had sold,
the little $10,000 house was the basis of building a new one and we moved over
to Eastmoor, not Eastmoor…
Interviewer: In the Berwick area?
Topolosky: …Berwick area. A golf course, I can’t think…
Interviewer: There was a golf course in Berwick.
Topolosky: Yeah, it originally was a golf course
almost across the street from the Jewish Center. So I sold my house after…oh, I
didn’t need it and I moved in with Bernice over on…in Driving, not Driving
Park, in the Berwick area. And that’s where…
Interviewer: That’s where you lived?
Topolosky: Yeah, the boys had already been gone by that time. So I was left…I was by myself then.
Interviewer: Did you have any, you were so busy as a photographer, did you have any other hobbies?
Topolosky: Not really, I was so tied up with what I was doing, I didn’t have time.
Interviewer: Other than your travels to Miami Beach with your family, have you traveled any other places?
Topolosky: Not really, Lillian was not up to it at the time and so
that was about our basic…we’d go maybe up to Cedar Point during the summer,
the boys. We’d take a week off and go up there. That was the old park. I can’t
think of the name of it.
Interviewer: Cedar Point.
Topolosky: Cedar Point.
Interviewer: Did you stay at the Breaker’s Hotel?
Topolosky: We stayed at the Breaker’s Hotel
and all that sand. But that was before…that was the old one. My
sons have been up there and they say it’s gorgeous what they have there now.
Interviewer: How ’bout you and Bernice? Have you traveled?
Topolosky: Bernice and I, we really made the rounds from New York to San Francisco and in between. We covered the…
Interviewer: United States?
Topolosky: …United States pretty well and partly due to the fact we
were in the antique business. It was a method of going to all these different
towns and areas and see if we could find something that we could sell in Columbus.
Interviewer: So were you still a photographer when you got into the antiques business?
Interviewer: You had retired?
Topolosky: Retired. We’d come down to Florida and a place called
Covered Bridge. We ended up in the area iof Lake Worth. We built a condo there.
Interviewer: When you retired from the photography business did you then move down there
permanently or just like a snow bird?
Topolosky: We moved down permanently. We sold everything. The boys took over the business and I left.
Interviewer: So did they continue to run Topy photography, Herb Topy photography?
Topolosky: By then they were more into the photo finishing, transferred from photography
basically to the finishing area.
Interviewer: I see.
Topolosky: ‘Cause things change. The publicity people change. The fellow
that I did so much work with was John Barcroft. And many of the negatives may
have his name on them which pertains to some of the personalities which we
photographed for them.
Interviewer: His name was John Bar…
Topolosky: John Barcroft. B-A-R-C-R-O-F-T
Topolosky: He was the publicist for the Ohio Theater. One of the personalities.
In fact I have two books down here with the pictures of the interior of the
thearters. I did so much work in the threatrical sections for John. He was the
publicist for the theaters in Columbus.
Interviewer: So you retired as a photographer and how did you then get into the antique
business? Did you have store that you sold….?
Topolosky: No, originally we…oh, how
we got started was very unusual. We had nothing to do. Bernice was getting
fidgettity so we went down to a flea market in Del Rey, which is no longer there
by the way. She liked the idea she’d like a store so we were making the rounds
and we ran into this place that was for sale. It was a little building which was
originally a garage, which they had taken this area and made a little flea
market and antique area. And what we thought were antiques. So they had the
place up for sale, so Bernice said , “How much do you want for it?”
What do you call? Anyway, as is. She says, “Let’s buy it.” So we
bought it. The stuff in there was junk. But in the meantime, it gave us the opportunity to take some of the material
we had, put it in there, selling it, buy some more, making the rounds, get more,
that’s how you start a business, start up a business.
Interviewer: So you would travel the county looking for things to sell in this little store
Interviewer: So you got to travel around the United States.
Interviewer: What’s your favorite area?
Topolosky: It’s hard to say now since we’ve been in Florida.
Interviewer: But as a traveler, as a visitor?
Topolosky: As traveling we were not impressed with, it was exciting but not impressable. San Francisco, the western states, didn’t
really impress us. Las Vegas, didn’t. We enjoyed it but that was it.
Interviewer: A one time experience was enough?
Interviewer: Have you traveled out of the country?
Topolosky: Bernice and I have made a trip to Ireland and that’s the extent of our being out of the country.
Interviewer: How did you choose Ireland?
Topolosky: It was friends of ours in the antique
business, became very friendly and they were going to Ireland and wanted to know
if we wanted to go. She said yeah. So on the spur of the moment, we took off
and went to Ireland for a week and this is the place were Waterford is made,
which is the glassware people, where Lennox, not Lennox, the other glass…
Topolosky: Belleek. We actually went to the Belleek factory. An experience
at that time was very exciting because we had to go through check points from
one section of Ireland to the next because they had a little fighting going on
and they checked you out before you could cross the border even in the same country.
So we got to Belleek, very exciting, bought some things there naturally, and
then went to see how they manufactured glassware and it was quite exciting,
colder than hell.
Interviewer: Did you take your camera?
Topolosky: I took a few pictures, yeah. In fact, an
incident that happened there because of this checkpoint thing at the Belleek
factory, Bernice tells the story all the time of…ah, I was taking a picture of
the building which was a far distance from this little motel that we were in and
I was up against a tree taking a picture and a soldier came up and says,
“You gotta move, that’s my spot.” A sentry. Things like that
happened. That was a little exciting because they were checking out everything.
Interviewer: That was heavy duty security. You wanted to tell me something interesting
about Ireland. What did they do with the water? Your experiences that you had in Ireland.
Topolosky: Some of the experiences in Ireland some were very humorous some
were a little distracting, especially when you go to bed at night and they tell
you that the electric’s gonna be off and the water’s gonna be off. And it’s
chilly in Ireland.
Interviewer: So it means the heat’s gonna be off too.
Topolosky: The heat will be off too. And
these were so-called bed and breakfast places. They didn’t have too many hotels
in Ireland, at that time. It was interesting from that standpoint. People were
very, very nice people. The amazing thing is seeing the old country as it was
maybe a couple hundred years ago.
Interviewer: Very primitive?
Topolosky: Right, primitive.
Interviewer: So on your trip to Ireland, did you buy antiques to bring back?
Topolosky: We brought back some Belleek.
Interviewer: That was for personal use?
Topolosky: That was personal things.
Interviewer: But not things to sell in the store?
Topolosky: Nothing really, because what we
learned from the antiques is the age of some of the products over the period of
time which became valuable, in fact it is valuable.
Interviewer: Is the antique store, are you still in the business?
Topolosky: No. We’ve been out of it for some time. What we did, like everything else, businesses change and we
went into a type of antique mall where you purchased, rented rather a section of
cases which you put your merchandise in and the people would sell it for you. In fact…
Topolosky: Consignment. We learned a lot from that business. We worked
with several companies, in fact one in Lake Worth we had a mall that we would
run for these people for a couple of weeks at a time and up in Jupiter we had a
mall that we had cases in. We did okay with that but it changed too. So we got
out of the so-called business basically.
Interviewer: So now both of you are completely retired?
Interviewer: Herb, in Columbus, were you a member of a synagogue?
Topolosky: Broad Street Temple.
Topolosky: Yeah I was there for several years, especially at the time of
Lillian’s. It’s been twenty-five years since I’ve been in Columbus, so we
lost our membership so to speak.
Interviewer: And when you and Bernice got married, who married you? Were you married by a
Topolosky: Yeah, Bernice, the Rabbi just started at Broad Street Temple. We were married at the Broad Street Temple.
Interviewer: Rabbi Berman?
Interviewer: Harold Berman?
Topolosky: I’m pretty sure. He just arrived on the scene.
Interviewer: So you were one of his first weddings?
Topolosky: Zelizar, I think was still in charge.
Interviewer: Growing up, Herb, who had the greatest influence on your life? Would you say
a family member, or a friend, or a teacher?
Topolosky: I’m trying to think, the names. I lost all names.
Interviewer: So a friend, perhaps had the greatest…
Topolosky: No, I think university professor that took me under tow in the psychology department.
Interviewer: The name is irrelevant, that’s okay, but one of your professors you feel is who
had the greatest influence on your life.
Topolosky: Oh yes. Of course he gave me…evidentally I was in a period of time, not depression I don’t think.
Interviewer: He encouraged you, encouraged you, your self confidence.
Topolosky: Yeah. In fact I was a fairly shy person all my life and that may have been one of the problems.
Interviewer: During your life you’ve probably have had some difficult times, who did you
turn to? Who helped you the most during difficult times?
Topolosky: Well, I really didn’t have much, that’s a good question. No one, no one. My brother was helpful but not…
Interviewer: Was he a confidant?
Topolosky: No not really.
Interviewer: Because he was older.
Topolosky: Seven years apart. That made a big difference in
the family. Outside of that, professors, the influence of the people I worked
with. Of course, it’s really hard to say.
Interviewer: You relied on yourself mostly.
Topolosky: Uh huh.
Interviewer: And Herb, if you could give a message about life and love to your children
and grandchildren, what would that be?
Topolosky: One of the most important things is
keeping in touch with each other and make sure that you don’t go in to
antagonistic family problems. It’s hard to say without really musing over, you have to have love for each
other. You should always work to do something for the best, for the betterment,
than be on a controversial attitude all the time. It’s difficult to lose your
values of family. I think family is very important to maintain. And my own life
line, my marriages that I’ve had have been toward the method of keeping things
on an even keel. I really haven’t given it much thought before.
Interviewer: Looking back over your life, are there any changes that you would have made?
Topolosky: Not really. I set my own goals. I tried to keep in touch with my abilities to
not over do things, which I have done and try to keep the outlook, an honest
outlook on life. You never know how long you’re going to be here and you play
it with degree self. As I say, it’s really hard, I really don’t know.
Interviewer: Herb, there was one thing that I forgot to ask you way, way back in the beginning
of the interview. Will you give me your current address here, where we are today?
Topolosky: Okay, it’s…we live at the what is called Pines of Barwood.
Interviewer: Pines of..wait just a second. Pines of Barwood is the name of the community.
Topolosky: And we built. The address is 23345 Carolwood Lane, Boca Raton.
Interviewer: Boca Raton. Okay, I wanted to be sure to get that. Herb, we’re about to
conclude the interview and before we do so are there any other stories that you
would like to repeat? About your personal life, about your business, your
children, your grandchildren?
Topolosky: I’m trying to decide.
Interviewer: Anything that I haven’t touched upon?
Topolosky: Not really.
Interviewer: Okay, okay. Well this has been a very good interview and I’m glad of that.
Herb, as a side note to this interview it’s important to say that the
entire collection , your entire collection of photographs negatives have been
donated to the Columbus Jewish Historical Society and they are now in the
process of being recorded on CDs and stored in the Archives of the Society and
also in the works is a project of publishing a book that will contain a number
of your Topy photographs along with a brief history of a lifetime of a
professional community photographer.
And these photographs will be used in the
future for publicity and exhibits along with being made available for research
and family genealogy and if there’s nothing else Herb, then we are going to
conclude. Are we okay? Is there anything else?
Topolosky: I think so. I’ll show you some other things.
Interviewer: Okay and if you have any documents, photographs or anything that you would
like to turn over to the Historical Society, either now…
Topolosky: I’m going to getting you some more things.
Interviewer: …either now or later would be most appreciated.
And then on behalf of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society, I want to
thank you for contributing to the Oral History project and this concludes the
interview. Thank you very much Herb.
Topolosky: Thank you.
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