This is the afternoon of August 27, 2003, and I’m at the office of A. C.
Strip, S-T-R-I-P, at 575 S. Third. Third in Columbus. That’s in the German
Village area. Just walked into Ace’s office and see where there’s a
newspaper article that says, “A lawyer and a gentleman,” and so we’ll
make that the theme of this.
Strip: Most people see “a lawyer and a gentleman” will assume
automatically it’s two different people.
Interviewer: Well that’s you all wrapped up into one. Ace we’re going to
start by just telling us your full name.
Strip: My full name is Asriel, A-S-R-I-E-L, name’s the middle initial C,
stands for nothing, just an initial, last name Strip.
Interviewer: …Okay. And your Jewish name. Can you tell us anything
Strip: Well it’s Asriel.
Strip: Asriel is both the Hebrew and the English name.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: And Asriel ben Menachem, my father’s name being Menachem
and Strip originally was Stripounsky with a Y.
Interviewer: Can you spell that for us?
Strip: S-T-R-I-P-O-U-N-S-K-Y and emphasize the Y, of course, that’s
Russian. With an I, it’d be Polish.
Interviewer: Oh okay. That’s interesting. I know you have a lot of history
so let’s start with how you came to Columbus. How did all of this happen?
Where you were born and those kinds of background?
Strip: Where do I start?
Interviewer: Let’s start with where you were born.
Strip: I was born in Antwerp, Belgium. Sat out the first five nights of the
bombing being the beginning of World War II and found the situation as they say,
hazardous to our health and so we gathered up the family and we left for where
we felt someplace safe.
Interviewer: How many were in the group at that time?
Strip: Well we went with aunts and uncles. We didn’t all make it and
someplace safe that we had in mind was France which of course, didn’t turn out
to be totally safe after all. We went across the border at Dunkirk and went on
to France. We were all in cattle cars and trains.
Interviewer: Can you give us any dates?
Strip: This would have been May of 1940 when Belgium was invaded of course
and the invasion of Belgium was a matter of hours, not even days. Essentially we
went out the front door as the Germans were coming in the back door. We got to
the border and not all my family’s papers were in order. Even though there was
a war going on but the borders were still operational, guards and customs and
everything else. And about half the family did not have the papers in order,
aunts and uncles, cousins and they said, “You go ahead and cross the
border. We’ll go back. We’ll catch up with you, you know, get things
straightened out and we’ll cross tomorrow.” And they never made it. It
was that close a call. Didn’t know at the time. We went to France and they
went to the concentration camps.
Interviewer: How many of you were in the group that got to France?
Strip: My initial family, mother and father and my brother and me. My aunts
and uncles and cousins never made it.
Interviewer: You never heard from any of them?
Strip: Yes we did as a matter of fact. My cousins, well that becomes another
whole story, went into hiding during the war. My uncle was captured and shot by
the Underground. My aunts and other uncle were taken away from their store in
downtown Antwerp, which I have since found the exact site…
Interviewer: What kind of store was it?
Strip: They had a small sundry store, newspapers, tobacco, post cards. That
type of thing.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: Just before that happened, my cousin who is now my brother, my cousin
…had a teen-age tantrum and walked out of the store and my other young
cousin was a baby… being taken out to the park with his aunt, my aunt,
our aunt. She went away and on her way back to the house a neighbor caught up
with her and said, “You can’t go back ’cause the Gestapo’s there.
They have your husband, they have your sister- and brother-in-law.” So they
were all taken away never to be heard from again and my cousins were placed, one
was placed in a convent, one was placed with neighbors and moved around quite a
bit during the war, survived the war and then we eventually brought them over
after the war where we all grew up as brothers.
Interviewer: That’s why you referred to your consins as your brothers?
Interviewer: Uh huh. How many cousins? Two?
Strip: One’s a lawyer now in New Jersey and one has just retired from the
United Nations and is living in Canada.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Give us their names and a little bit about their
Strip: The oldest one is Eugene Sochor. His name was not Eugene but they were
both given rather Christian names to survive during the war.
Interviewer: His last name?
Strip: Sochor, S-O-C-H-O-R. He never really adjusted to this country. Came
over here late teens, never really adjusted. Went to college and got several
degrees. Got a job with the United Nations as a press officer in Paris. Worked
almost his whole career in Paris and then transferred at the end to a post in
Canada and has just remained in Canada where he lives although he’s an
American citizen. My other brother came over at a younger age of eight, never
really formally adopted, but we grew up together. And graduated college as we
all did and became a lawyer and is practicing in New Jersey.
Interviewer: Okay. Going back to France, did your parents come, did you come
to the States shortly after that?
Strip: Oh no, that was an ordeal. That’s a whole other story and I don’t
think we need to get into it. The men were taken off the train to serve in the
French Army. My father and brother were later rejected because of age. In the
meantime my mother and I went on. Then the train tracks got bombed and we were
taken in by farmers for what was supposed to be overnight which lasted almost a
year. After our father and brother caught up with us (which is a whole other
story, would take hours, won’t even go into it), we stayed on the farm for
almost a year in hiding, playing Anne Frank, living in a little out-building
which had no running water and no heat, no electricity and that’s where we
sort of hid out in relative comfort. It was free, it was a farm. Until the
Germans caught up with us. The mayor of the town, a little village actually,
came and told us, “I’ve got orders to bring you in but it’s late in the
day so I’ll be back in the morning.” Of course he was tipping us off.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: We left that night on two bicycles and I don’t know how long it took
us but we pedalled to the Spanish border.
Interviewer: On two bicycles? And how many?
Strip: Four people.
Interviewer: Four people? Of course no belongings?
Strip: No. My father got us across the border with some kind of… visa
or something ’cause we really had no business otherwise. We were in there and
I think we received a very short 90-day visa and our time was running out so
they threw us out of Spain and we went to the next country which was Portugal.
Interviewer: How were you traveling all this time? You’re not still biking?
Strip: No no. I think in Portugal we went by train. But that’s not a very
long trip of course and in Portugal, that’s about the time that Hitler
announced the war was over and everybody should come back home and when that
famous speech of Lord Chamberlain with umbrella in hand was “peace is at
hand and peace in our time”… And my father said, “Well it’s
time to go back to Belgium,” and my mother said, “I’m not going back
’cause I don’t trust that man.” ‘Till the day she died, she didn’t
trust any male with a mustache after that…
Interviewer: The man of course was Hitler.
Strip: Yes. She wouldn’t even vote for Tom Dewey when he ran for President
because of the mustache…
Interviewer: I hate to bring it up but I notice you have a mustache.
Strip: My mother would not approve. My mother said, and she was very strong,
“I’m not going,” and my father said, “My job is there, our
apartment is there, our belongings are there,” and by the way I just
visited the apartment a few months ago.
Strip: Again. Because… my mother was very strong and the bottom line
was, to my father, “You want to go, you go, but the children and I are
staying.” So of course he relinquished. He wrote three letters, one to his
brother who was living in what was then Palestine who was also an electrical
engineer as was my father, one to business associates that he had worked for who
had emigrated to Johannesburg, South Africa, and one to some business people he
had worked with –an engineer who had emigrated to New York. And I need not
remind you that despite what the Statue of Liberty said, this was not an open
country. And the deal was the first place that took us, we go. So if… I
could have grown up in Palestine, now Israel. I could have been talking to you
with a South African accent. As it turned out the first acceptance we got was in
the U.S. because my father was working for a U. S. company in Belgium so they
sponsored him and we made it to the U.S. Now I’ll skip well ahead. I came to
Ohio because when it was time to come to college…
Interviewer: Let’s stop here just for a second. Tell us the date of your
Strip: 4/13/36. I’m going to be 67 in the Spring.
Interviewer: Okay. I’m just trying to put the date of your…happening, yeah.
Interviewer: Okay. So your mother and father and you and, who else came?
Strip: There was a brother.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: My older brother by the way was 13 years older. So when I was four at
the time he was around 17 and he chronicled all this in a day-to-day diary.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: Day-to-day, sometimes hour-by-hour, including maps of where we were
and everything else.
Interviewer: That’s interesting.
Strip: We’ve got a chronicle of this. If you want to skip ahead to how we
got to Columbus which you asked me…
Interviewer: Well not, you came to the United States and where did you first
Strip: We lived in New York for a matter of weeks until we got our feet on
the ground and my father’s company sponsored him as an engineer for the
American operation of the same company which was in Nutley, New Jersey. So we
settled in in Newark, New Jersey, and I grew up in Newark, New Jersey through
Interviewer: Through high school? Okay. And how did you come to Columbus? Did
you come to Columbus right from New Jersey?
Strip: Yes I did. But it was time to go to college and at that point, because
of family circumstances, the sole criteria was really cost. And Ohio State then
had quarterly tuition of $35 a quarter and my non-resident tuition was $85 a
quarter. That was about the second cheapest school in the country if I recall.
Interviewer: It’s got a few zeros on it now.
Strip: Yes, over $5,000 now which is still a bargain by the way compared to
other schools. So that brought me here strictly on the basis of affordability. I
worked my way all through college.
Interviewer: So you had no family here, no ties at all?
Strip: Never knew where Columbus, Ohio was and I wasn’t sure of the
difference between Ohio University and Ohio State University. I remember…
to get that untangled out and…
Interviewer: Took you a while to figure that out?
Strip: And I took a train from Newark, New Jersey, left my mother at the
platform crying because we had never been west of the Pennsylvania line and she
was convinced that I would be devoured by Indians here in Ohio.
Interviewer: Tell me your parents’ full names, mother and father.
Strip: My father’s first name, although he didn’t use it very much was Menachem,
middle name Nathan so he used the initial M. Nathan Strip, Stripounsky for a
long time. And my mother is Regina, maiden name Gunzig, G-U-N-Z-I-G. When they
were naturalized as American citizens in 1946, my father said, “Well now I’m
American, I want to sound American.” So right then and there at the
natural- ization process which you can do, he changed his name or he shortened
the name to Strip.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Okay and now we’re at Ohio State and did you graduate
from Ohio State?
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: Got my undergraduate degree in Economics from Ohio State. Stayed for
Law School and got my graduate degree in Law from Ohio State. In the meantime I’d
met a young lady from Ohio, a Jewish gal from Fremont-Tiffin, Ohio, married her
and that basically caused us to stay here.
Interviewer: Can you give us her name?
Strip: Her name was Dorothy Danzinger and she was a niece of Abe Wolman, and
everybody in the Jewish community knows him in those days and she’s related to
the Englander Family, Manny and Eve Englander and all the Wolman clan so…
Interviewer: Yeah that is a, and still is a very well-known family.
Strip: A very prominent Jewish family.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: So they convinced me to stay here and I did.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Are you still in close touch with the Wolman family?
Strip: Yes I’m very close to Herbert and Benson. Of course the older
Wolmans have passed away, having lost Rose Wolman in the last year and a half.
Abe’s been gone a while but I’m still in close touch.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And some of the offshoots, Barry Wolman lives in
California, Susie Wolman. My son is very close friends with Mildred Wolman, Jack
Strip: Of course my wife passed away a number of years ago but I’ve stayed
in very close touch with the Wolmans.
Interviewer: When did your wife pass away?
Strip: My wife passed away in 1975 at age 38.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And you had children, did you?
Strip: I had three small children at the time.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Tell us about your children, let’s get into that.
Strip: The oldest is a, has a master’s degree and is now a stay-at-home mom
living in suburban Detroit in Farmington Hills, married to an engineer.
Interviewer: Give us her name?
Strip: Name is Wendy. Last name is Sittsamer, S-I-T-T-S-A-M-E-R.
Interviewer: And her husband’s name.
Strip: Murray. Murray’s dad is a Holocaust survivor having survived the
concentration camps actually in Poland, from Poland. It’s a Pittsburgh family.
My daughter lives, as I said, in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Has two little
Interviewer: When was she born? When was your daughter born? Do you remember
Strip: Well she’s 40 now.
Interviewer: Sixty-three. Yeah.
Strip: And… observant…Has a kosher home, etcetera.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: My son is 35…
Interviewer: …the two children, what are their names?
Strip: Their names are Lexie, L-E-X-I-E.
Interviewer: How old is she?
Strip: Lexie is 10 going on 19.
Interviewer: Yeah, well I know.
Strip: Aren’t they all. And the little gal who’s six is Eden, E-D-E.N.
Interviewer: Oh okay.
Strip: My son is 35, is single, lives in Chicago and is in the advertising
business and doing quite well.
Interviewer: And his name?
Strip: His name is Michael. Does creative advertising.
Interviewer: Okay. And you had a third child? Can you tell us her name?
Interviewer: No? I know she’s deceased and just give us her name and we won’t
need to go into any more. Let’s come back to that. When you lived here at Ohio
State did you live up on campus the whole time?
Strip: Yeah, I did. Lived in a fraternity house. Was a waiter for about five
or six years… waited tables and earned my meals waiting tables. Worked a
number of odd jobs, tutored French, sold photographs at fraternity and sorority
dances, parties and worked my way through school doing that.
Interviewer: You actually had to earn your own keep that way?
Strip: Yeah absolutely. Did well. And at the end of each quarter I usually
ended up with more money than I started each with.
Interviewer: Well you were an entrepreneur.
Strip: Going back, my daughter’s name, that was Lori. And we lost her at
Interviewer: That was a few years ago, wasn’t it?
Strip: Yes, was 1989 and she followed her mother in taking her own life, as
her mother did.
Interviewer: I kind of remember the story. Do you remember anything, can you
tell us anything about your, how your family was before the war. As a youngster,
relatives, grand- parents, your aunts and uncles…
Strip: All my grandparents…
Interviewer: what life was like.
Strip: All my grandparents were already deceased. My grandfather was an
Orthodox Rabbi which gives you some idea how I got a Hebrew name. They were all
deceased by the time I was born.
Interviewer: Your grandfather on your mother’s side or…
Strip: …aunts and uncles…probably a middle class Jewish family
in a very Catholic country. I don’t know of any problems we ever had and there
was nothing dramatic to go back to or to report. We lived in a modest apartment
and we lived a middle-class existence which wasn’t bad…a European
standard in those days.
Interviewer: Uh huh. What about Bar Mitzvah?
Strip: I was Bar Mitzvahed in Newark, New Jersey.
Interviewer: After you came here?
Strip: My parents had been in Europe somewhat more observant, had a kosher
home etcetera, sort of gave that up during the war and after the war. I’m not
observant for a lot of reasons.
Interviewer: But you did have a Bar Mitzvah?
Strip: Had a Bar Mitzvah. My father was a strong Zionist. Belonged to
a number of Zionist organizations… I don’t know if you remember that.
Read the Jewish Forward every night. Had a dream of emigrating to
Israel but never met his dream. He probably never had the courage to…
Interviewer: …you did settlement already in a foreign country.
Strip: I think…we got beat up pretty bad. I think that took a lot of
steam out of it and probably I think to some extent contributed to rather early
deaths for both of them. They were in their sixties when they died.
Interviewer: So they never had a chance to visit Israel or Palestine then?
Strip: Once before they died, my mother had a sister living in Israel. They
had emigrated long before the war. My father had…one brother living in
Israel and they did make a trip to Israel before both of them died. It was their
one and only trip to Israel so they got to see their brother, their sister and
to see Israel. I’ve been there four times. I’m sort of a traveler…
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: I think it’s much easier to travel now.
Interviewer: Well it is…
Strip: It was difficult for them.
Interviewer: I think people didn’t travel like we do in today’s world.
There’s a lot more available.
Strip: I’m a wanderer. Last year my wife and I went to Viet Nam as a
vacation, to Thailand, we just, we wandered through… without plans or
reservations anywhere. I’m… for doing that.
Interviewer: You’re curious and confident?
Strip: Yes. Just an adventurer.
Interviewer: That’s terrific. Tell us about your present wife.
Strip: Well Karen and I have been married oh just about four months now.
Dated four and a half years. She was a next-door-neighbor of a very good friend
of mine, Larry Samuels. Do you know Larry and Shelley Samuels?
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: And so Larry and Shelley more or less put us together on a date which
went very poorly…. And then several years later at their urging we went
out a second time and something clicked and… and we dated four years and
I thought how selfish of me to deprive this lady of the joy of being married.
Strip: So I succumbed.
Interviewer: Had Karen been married before?
Strip: Yes but she’d been single for about 20 years. I’d been single for
12 years by now.
Interviewer: Did she have children?
Strip: She had two grown children, one in California and one here in
Interviewer: Tell us about her children.
Strip: They’re good kids. Her son is with a management…
Interviewer: What’s his name?
Strip: Larry. And he’s in San Francisco and is management working for
Virgin Records Company.
Interviewer: Big company.
Strip: Big company. Retail.
Interviewer: Uh huh. What’s his last name?
Strip: Kurtz. You probably know Don Snider.
Interviewer: Yeah, sure.
Strip: Well Uncle Don Snider is Karen’s uncle. Her dad was Russell Snider.
Strip: And Russell’s brother is Don Snider. Don and Jeanette…
Strip: Of course I’ve known Don for, ironically, for probably 40 years. And
then she has a daughter Shelby who just got married about a month behind us.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: Good enough for her mother, it’s good enough for her.
Strip: And she too married a Jewish lawyer, Larry Levinson, and they just
bought a home and are living in New Albany.
Interviewer: Oh so they’re in this area.
Strip: And I have a daughter and waiting for more grandchildren.
Interviewer: Terrific, terrific. It’s the right time of your life to do
Strip: I guess.
Interviewer: So you probably weren’t involved with a lot of things we often
times ask people who are established and born in this country or in this city
like what do you remember about the neighborhood and things like that.
Strip: When I came here in 1954, it was a very much smaller city then. The
tallest building was the Lincoln Leveque Tower which people now are still
calling “The A.I.U. Tower,” American Insurance Union. And so on, you
know,… about the community then — I was of course on campus which is a
different community. By 1960 I was married to Dottie Danzinger and part of the
Wolman family and then attending Agudas Achim. Dottie’s family was one of the
founders of Agudas Achim a couple generations before that. It was a much smaller
Jewish community. Almost everybody seemed to know each other then. There’s
some exaggeration there of course but it was a much smaller Jewish community. It
think it was more like 3000 families, something like that. The Jewish Center had
a more important function than I think it does now. The B’nai B’rith had a
much more important function then that it did now and was a representative to a
large extent of the Jewish community. It was an educational tool. There were
1350 some members when I was, when I became friendly with B’nai B’rith
locally. Now it’s down to a couple hundred which is a shame. Totally inactive.
Interviewer: The need is still there.
Strip: Yes…it’s probably filled by some of the other organizations.
The need is there but it’s spread, it’s like needing groceries and now you
have ten different groceries to shop in. The need is still there but it’s ten
different places. Adult Jewish education is taken over maybe by the shuls.
Anti-Defamation League sort of spun off from B’nai B’rith. It’s no longer
B’nai B’rith. It’s The Anti Defamation League. Hillel has spun off. It
used to be B’nai B’rith Hillel. Now it’s Hillel. So all the needs are
there. I think they’re being met differently.
Interviewer: Were you active in Hillel when you were on campus?
Strip: Moderately. I attended some of the services occasionally and we did
some things with Hillel. Yeah. Uh huh.
Interviewer: Are you affiliated with a synagogue now?
Strip: Yes…. how do you say, converted.
Strip: To Reform because of being married to Karen.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: Who’s been Reform all her life.
Interviewer: Well that’s…I think that…
Interviewer: I understand. Temple Israel I’ve noticed in these last few
years has become a lot more traditional, I feel.
Strip: I see a swing over the last few years. I’ve been going to services
with Karen now for four years and I see, plus there is a new rabbi coming in so
that will determine something. I’ve seen a swing to more traditional, sort of
moving more closely to Conservative.
Strip: There’s more Hebrew in the service, more tradition in the service. I’ve
seen a bit of a swing. As I said, I’m relatively non-observant.
Interviewer: But you’re comfortable at Temple Israel?
Strip: I’d be more comfortable in my workshop at home frankly.
Interviewer: Tell us about your workshop at home.
Interviewer: You do have a workshop?
Strip: I have a workshop at home and I like to woodwork and I build models
and if you look… up there, you’ll see a picture of a model ship. I do a
little bit of that.
Interviewer: You still doing that?
Strip: I do a little bit of that, yeah. And I enjoy puttering in the
Interviewer: That’s a gift. It’s a gift where you can relax and you…
Strip: Yeah it’s…
Strip: it’s therapeutic to go down there and…
Interviewer: Keeps you out of trouble.
Strip: And I putter around the house and am the proud owner of two chain
saws. You know, I may come back as the first Jewish mountain man possibly.
Interviewer: Well there are not a lot of Jewish men that I’ve known through
the years that owned chain saws, that’s for sure.
Strip: With a chain saw, I could be maybe Jeremiah Strip or something like
Interviewer: Where do you live now?
Strip: We live in Dublin. Been up in Dublin just shy of 20 years.
Interviewer: In the same house?
Strip: No, I moved once and I jokingly say I’m one of the few people who
single- handedly doubled the Jewish population in the city.
Interviewer: Is that right? Dublin still has that…
Strip: Well when I got up there I think there was one and I became Number
Two. Kenny Kauffman I think was the first.
Interviewer: Yeah I remember when he moved up there.
Strip: And I think I was the second. I’m the only elected Jew to city
government in Dublin.
Interviewer: Oh. What was your position at?
Strip: I was on City Council for eight years. Narrowly missed being Mayor.
Interviewer: Oh. Would you like to have been the Mayor?
Strip: Yeah I wanted to be the Jewish Mayor of…
Interviewer: Dublin, that’s it.
Strip: Dublin… There was a Jewish Mayor of Dublin, Ireland…
Strip: I missed by 58 votes but such is life. But I really love Dublin. I’m
very active in the community. There’s a couple of plaques here and there…of Dublin.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: And I work hard for the community and I’m very happy up there. Karen
joined me in Dublin. I think there was some sense of reluctance on her part
having grown up… and spending her whole life in Bexley, never stepping
out of it. Maybe two blocks from where she was born.
Interviewer: The shtetl.
Strip: That’s right. But in the four months she’s been there she’s made
some friends up there. She starting to, I can see her slowly sort of energizing,
well… energizing her. She’s talking about joining a ladies’ club and
she’s starting to integrate, so to speak and we’re having fun. I mean I love
my community up there.
Interviewer: Are you a golfer?
Strip: No just, a hacker.
Interviewer: A hacker?
Strip: Karen and I golf. We play for the fun of it, not seriously.
Interviewer: Yeah. It gets you outdoors a little bit. I know you’ve been
involved in a lot of community activities and…
Interviewer: Do you want to elaborate some of them with us?
Strip: Well being terribly humble precludes me from saying too much but I . .
. . what have I done? I was President of the Columbus Public Library and my last
function before serving out my term was to kick off the addition to the Columbus
Library downtown and if you’ve been there, you know, the last half dozen
years, you know it’s a phenomenal… building. We shaped the policies, we
being a couple of us that served on the board – I was appointed by Mayor Moody
because the Library was in big financial trouble. Over…I’ve lost
track, a half dozen of years we sort of shaped the policy of the future of the
Library. It is now year after year recognized as one of the top two or three or
four libraries in the nation. Any person who graduates from Library School wants
a job with Columbus Metropolitan Library. It’s a far reaching, far advanced
library over any other library in the country, truly.
Interviewer: I’m glad you’re telling us that because I enjoy going there.
Strip: It’s a phenomenal library.
Interviewer: Also, you know, they have a lot of art there and it’s like an
Strip: They have everything in there.
Interviewer: Yeah. I’m not sure a lot of people in the community don’t
really appreciate the value of it.
Strip: It takes a grant and ironically it’s one of the few forms of…
government where you can get back ten-fold what you put in. Your library taxes
are probably ten or twelve dollars a year. You borrow one hard-backed book, you’re
ahead of the game. Then I served on the board of the national association and
over my objection I became President of the National. I was on the speech
circuit making speeches north and south and east and west, I mean from Maine to
Florida, from California to New York.
Interviewer: You were?
Strip: Library President.
Interviewer: Library President, uh huh.
Strip: And I visited a zillion libraries. There on the bottom there’s a
plaque from Florida. And I got to see other libraries and we were so far ahead
and all our other libraries in the country, Columbus people really should be
proud of what they have here. And…that’s…accomplishments. And
I also was President of Columbus Legal Aid Public Defenders Society. President
of Sertoma Club.
Interviewer: Tell us a little bit about the Sertoma Club. I haven’t
interviewed very many Sertoma members. What’s their purpose?
Strip: Sertoma is, it’s a…it’s very much like Kiwanis, Rotary,
Lions, some of the others. It’s a do-gooder organization and they’ve
sponsored different things. Lions sponsor eyes as you probably know and the
Shriners, their hospital. Sertoma we did, in Columbus we sponsored the
Heinzerling Foundation… uneducable children. So it was a good cause.
Interviewer: I think we have a whole history here on the wall.
Strip:… President of B’nai B’rith. Meantime I’d served my
country in an aviation unit and re-enlisted a couple of times giving eight years
of active reserve after my active duty.
Interviewer: This was after you got out of college?
Strip: Yes. Never left Fort Knox. The gold was very safe (joking).
Interviewer: Yeah and somebody had to do it.
Strip: And I did a few other things around town but that’s the best of it.
Interviewer: Do you do Master of Ceremonies kind of things?
Strip: I do a few introductions. I do some public speaking and I do a fair
amount of public speaking dealing with Holocaust and first-hand experience.
Interviewer: Were you actively involved in the Holocaust group in Columbus?
Strip: No I’m not. I sort of just try to keep that to myself I guess. But I
do some active speaking. So I figure it’s education that has to be shared. I
also did a Holocaust session with the Junior High School in Dublin year after
year after year…as an eye-opener. Some of the kids have never even heard
Interviewer: Well I can appreciate that part of it.
Strip:… in public schools by the way so you got to give the school
system credit. I had nothing to do with that. They made it a mandatory unit. I
do a lot of public speaking as… I spoke to a Kiwanis Club in Worthington
and next week or so I’m speaking to another service club in… I can’t
remember which one. I hate doing it. It tears me up the day before and, you
know, the day after.
Interviewer: Is this all regarding the Holocaust?
Strip: Yeah pretty much, you know, my own experiences with family. And it’s
Interviewer: I can understand that. But you realize the importance of
Strip: And right now on my last civic duty in Columbus. And I said to myself,
“This is it.” I’m President of the Dublin Counseling Center which is
a mental health, alcohol and drug abuse counseling center. After that, that’s
Interviewer: And then?
Strip: I close up shop.
Interviewer:… and travel?
Strip: And travel.
Interviewer: Tell us a little bit about your travels. It sounds like you’ve
done a lot through the years.
Strip: I’m a wanderer… I’ve sort of adopted… it would just
be to get two plane tickets someplace and… by way of France for two
weeks. We just did, my longest trip I’ve ever done, which was sort of a
honeymoon, and we took 30 days in Europe. We landed in Brussels. I was…
back to Belgium of course. And for 30 days we just wandered. Had no
reservations. We would get up in the morning and sometimes we couldn’t even
tell you what country we’d be in that night.
Interviewer: Did you travel by car then?
Strip: Uh huh. I like to drive. By car, we stop in the small towns which I
much prefer, mingle with the people and see the local sights and…
Interviewer: Do you still speak French?
Strip: I still speak French.
Interviewer: Any other languages?
Strip: No. Lost my Flemish which is what people speak in Antwerp, which is
where I’m from.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: Belgium you know speaks two languages. But I get by pretty well with
French until I go of course someplace like… or Spain, where it does me no
good. . . .
Interviewer:… are American-speaking people all over the world I think.
Strip:… Last year we went to Thailand and Laos and Burma and Viet Nam
for three weeks.
Interviewer: To all those countries in three weeks?
Strip: Yeah. But we just touched… Laos for a short visit, about two
weeks in Thailand and another week in Viet Nam.
Interviewer: How did you find those countries, how did you feel about them?
Strip: Well I was, I don’t know if you expect to be welcomed of course by
the Vietnamese after so many years of war and I wasn’t even sure I’d be
comfortable and I wasn’t even sure it was the right thing to do. I had some
level of discomfort having lost some friends, you know, some of my friends in my
unit. We were… . surprised. Half the people in the country were born
after the war which was now 26 years ago and they, we have no anguish from them,
no discontent from them. We were accepted warmly.
Interviewer: So you were comfortable?
Strip: Yeah, we bombed the heck out of them and they seem to not be troubled
by it now 25 years later. But they’re still mad at the French because the
French exploited them and in their mind there’s some difference. But we had,
no…was thrown our way at all…with open arms and…Interesting country. Most people, even though when you go over there and see it
…We would never have defeated them.
Interviewer: Wow. So that was a tough battle that never concluded.
Interviewer: Useless, yeah. And a lot of lives lost.
Interviewer: Hmmm. Interesting. You mentioned your 30-day trip to Europe but
you’ve probably been to Europe how many, any…
Strip:… by myself, just get in an airplane and go… I think it
was about 35 countries…
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: About another hundred to go.
Interviewer: There are a few left, yeah. What about, you, I guess you
mentioned that you went back to the apartment where your family…
Strip:… a few times. Just curiosity.
Interviewer: Were there any people that you met that remembered your family?
Strip: No they were all gone… we left in 1940. It’s been over sixty
years. Somehow… I do have one cousin which, we are quite close… He
lives in Brussels. I lived in Antwerp. He lived in Brussels which was 30 minutes
away. And so we spent some time together and he’s my age. He’s a college
professor. Has my genes and the same silly sense of humor. We had a lot of fun
together so we always spend some time together.
Interviewer: Has he been here to visit you?
Strip: No not for a long time but we’re trying to talk him into coming to
our next family reunion which is next year.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: Maybe he will.
Interviewer: Tell us about your family reunions. What is this? The whole
Strip: We are a small number — a bunch of grandchildren etcetera but we get
about 25 people together and we have it every other year. And we’ve had one in
Dublin… . one year.
Interviewer: Dublin, Ohio?
Strip: Uh huh. And next year it’s in my nephew’s home town which is
Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Interviewer: Uh huh. That’s a nice place to visit.
Strip: We’re back in Jersey, New Jersey a couple of times. Hershey,
Pennsylvania. This past one was, where was this last one? It was in Beach Haven,
Interviewer: It’s a great way for the next two generations to get to know
Strip: It’s important that families stay in touch.
Strip: We’re small and we got beat up pretty good so it’s important that
those of us who are here stay in touch.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: We’re a close family.
Interviewer: Well do you feel like maybe you’re the patriarch?
Strip: No. My older brother who turned 80 and his wife are the official
patriarch and matriarch of the clan.
Strip: And we refer to him…
Interviewer: Do it? I’m sure he doesn’t mind that at all.
Strip: I’m sort of the glue that bonds the family together and keeps in
touch and sends out E-mails and photographs and stuff like that but they are the
Interviewer: Well I think every family needs that glue to keep them all
together. They all think about it but somebody’s got to do it.
Interviewer: So you’re kind of the instigator?
Strip: Sort of.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Tell us a little bit about your practice, whatever you
can tell us about it.
Strip: There’s ten of us here…I started the firm another law school
with a partner and a classmate with whom I was very, very close, Greek…
died very untimely at age 37 of a heart attack, which hit me very hard.
Interviewer: His name?
Strip: His name was George Lias, L-I-A-S. You’ve been around Columbus for a
long time so you might remember his father-in-law who was Nick Pappas that had
Interviewer: Oh yes, sure
Strip:… George and I were very close, went all through school together
and worked together seven days a week. Unless we had to do something Saturday
night, it was…
Strip: And we were together seven days a week and he died very young at 37
and…it took a terrible toll on me and just about the time I think I was
recovering from that was when I lost my wife. So it was a very bad time in my
life… The firm I was…a few of us had been together 35 years and…two have retired now. One was Dean Schulman and he retired and so John
Hoppers and I were two who had been together now going on 40 years. I went into
practice in 1960. Our practice was… business work and I do a heavy dose
of insolvency. We do a lot of work with sick companies and try to turn them
around or Chapter 11 reor- ganization, things like that. . . .
Interviewer: You have a lovely spot down here. Have you always been in the
German Village area?
Strip: No I was at Broad and High for 19 years and then we got this building
and totally rehabbed it and we’ve been here now for about 22 years and are
very comfortable here and I like it.
Interviewer: Yeah. It’s close to downtown, the Courthouse.
Strip: And we hve a parking lot…
Interviewer: Yes you do. I parked there.
Strip:… a number of good eating places in the Village and we own the
building so it’s part of our retirement.
Interviewer: Do you want to take a break?
Strip: Let me just check.
Interviewer: We’re going to stop. This is the end of Side A…
Strip:… takes place at the…
Interviewer: Okay, we’re on Side B of the first tape and we’re just going
to continue a little bit longer here. I wanted to ask about your political
attitudes. Do you have any philosophy of politics that you can share with us?
Strip: Well I live in Delaware County which of course almost automatically
makes me a Republican, you know. There’s no percentage of being a Democrat in
Interviewer: That’s right.
Strip: Although my voting crosses party lines very easily. I vote for the
candidate, not for the party. Other than that, I tend to be a little on the
conservative side and probably… I would call judicially convservative. I
sort of tend to follow the letter of the law. Partly my attitude and partly my
profession. But I think the political system with all its faults is still the
best thing America has to offer.
Interviewer: Well we can appreciate this country for sure.
Strip: Well, like so many other immigrants, I love my country fiercely,
defend it fiercely from criticism, etcetera. And the mere fact that we can
criticize it itself is a joy, that freedom we get. But I guess I’ll be very
grateful for what is has offered me.
Interviewer: Sure. Do you intend to keep practicing for a while?
Strip: Yeah I have no retirement plans. I’m 67. My classmates are retiring
left and right. In fact I think I’m in the minority of… we have dinners
occasionally and most of our classmates are retired and, or semi-retired. I work
pretty hard still, a little too hard frankly. I carefully say I work half days,
7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Interviewer: Oh yeah? That’s a half a day. But you love your work and…
Strip: For the most part, sure. It’s a little too stressful but it’s all
I know and I’ve still got a fair amount of, in my opinion, a fair amount of
vigor so I’ll still do what’s called for.
Interviewer: Do you have a lot of travel plans in your mind that you want to
complete within a short time?
Strip: No specific locations. I just do things on a whim. Like the last trip
I described to you, I was going through a travel magazine. Karen kids me because
I subscribe to all of them. I get, you know, Time and Leisure
and I get Conde Nast and I get all those things. And I was going
through magazines and there was an ad for “Come visit Viet Nam” and
dial 1-800-something-or-other, so I dialed 1-800 and said, “Okay, I’ll
Interviewer: Well it works. It worked for you.
Strip: Why not?
Interviewer: Is Karen working?
Strip: Karen is retired. She was involved in marketing in long-term health
care. She works one day a week, one day per week at Kobacker Hospice, but she
does that for no pay as a volunteer.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Strip: I admire her ability to work there.
Interviewer: Uh huh. It takes a very special kind of person to do that. Okay,
I’m trying to think of something. We’ve really covered a lot of quick territory…
Strip: I remember a couple of years ago I was on the Internet and they
announced a special to Iceland so the next thing I did is I went to Iceland. You
know what I did there? I froze on my tush. That’s what I did.
Interviewer: …What time of year did you go?
Strip: It was October. Boy was it cold. I remember that.
Interviewer: We were there in February.
Strip: Did you like it?
Interviewer: Yeah I found it very interesting.
Strip: There isn’t too much there.
Interviewer: Yeah. I had a cousin there believe it or not that was stationed
in the Navy.
Interviewer: Uh huh. We just flew in overnight.
Strip: Not much to see. You land in Keflavik and you cross to Reykjavic and
it has all the charm of downtown Chillicothe…
Interviewer: Just about. Just about.
Strip: But it was fun just to say you’ve done it.
Interviewer: Are you interested in cooking at all or…
Strip:… my fortitude is baking.
Strip: I’m a dessert maker. I bake.
Interviewer: You’re that kind of pereson.
Strip: Pies and cakes and things.
Interviewer: There aren’t a lot of men that want to do that kind of thing.
Strip: Yes and I vacuum. (Here, okay thanks.)
Interviewer: Okay well I think we’re going to kind of start wrapping it up.
Do you have any messages that you want to record here for your children, your
grandchildren? Some day they’ll be listening to all this. We need some words
of wisdom. You’ve had a lot of life experience.
Strip: I don’t know how much wisdom I’ve imparted on this tape or
otherwise on my life experiences. As many bad ones perhaps as good ones. About
the only thought that I keep having is that shalom is a great word that
we use to say hello and goodbye and mostly “peace.”
Interviewer: That’s for sure.
Strip: What I want is peace.
Interviewer: For sure. There’s a lot of lack of it in the country.
Strip:… if we have that and some good luck and health, but that’s
just a matter of winning the lottery with our good health.
Interviewer: Sure, sure.
Strip: Then I think you’re 90% of the way home.
Interviewer: All those people like you that help spread good work and good
feeling and hop- fully some day those will lead to a life of peace.
Strip: You never know. You never know what the future holds.
Interviewer: Yeah. We all have to do what we can now to make it happen. Okay,
well on behalf of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society I want to thank you and
I’m not sure that I gave my name at the beginning but I am Naomi Schottenstein
and I really appreciate the time you’ve given us to do this interview this
Strip: …Naomi I admire your volunteering of this time as well and . .
Interviewer: And we’ll meet in the community it looks like.
Strip: We’ll surely cross paths this year.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
* * *
Transcribed by Honey Abramson