Good morning. This is July 9, 2003 and I’m Naomi Schottenstein, the interviewer. We’re at 1175, at the Jewish Federation Building, which also houses the Columbus Jewish Historical Society. I’m here this morning, to interview, Buzzy Kanter and, we’re going to start right off with the interview. Buzzy, I’m going to ask for your full name.
Kanter: Bernard Ely Kanter.
Interviewer: And spell your last name.
Interviewer: And, you do have a nickname, don’t you?
Kanter: Buzzy or Buzz.
Interviewer: Okay, how does that come about, how did you get that name?
Kanter: I don’t know myself, but I suppose when I was probably one or two
years old, I was buzzing around and I came to the name Buzz and then I
suppose three or four or five years old there was a Dr. Fry on the corner where
I was raised on Linwood and Livingston and his name was Dr. Fry and his nickname
was Buzzy too, so we kind of hit it off (laughs).
Interviewer: Oh, well you’re still buzzing around so…
Kanter: Yeah, I know it, thank G-d.
Interviewer: So that’s a good, good name for you. I thought it was great.
Do you know what your family’s original family name was and was it changed?
Kanter: This is an odd thing and I just found this out about a year and a
half ago. Uh, when my father graduated high school, the name was Kantrovitch.
Interviewer: Can, can you spell that, do you have any idea…
Kanter: I think K-a-n-t-r-o-v-i-c-h… v-i-t-c-h. Kantrovitch. However, about a year or two ago I was looking at a death certificate of my father’s father and there was a notation in my father’s handwriting, an asterisk, that actually the name was Lipman. I never knew it, my father never told me, nobody ever told us. And I saw on my Zaydie’s monument, it said in Hebrew “The son of something, uh what was his, a funny middle name, Lipman” and I thought which Lipman would they leave the last name off. Anyhow, I know that probably
the reason was Kantrovitch was my father’s grandfather, a well-known Cantor uh,
in Pinsk. And actually Rabbi Baker’s father-in-law…
Interviewer: This is Rabbi Baker from Columbus, used to live…
Kanter: Columbus, Rabbi Julius Baker said, and
if I remember, in fact, his father-in-law I think told me that he had studied
Chazonis with my father’s grandfather.
Interviewer: Oh, so he was actually…
Kanter: So he really was a Cantor. And I think my sister told me at one time that actually there was a write up about him in the Togue or the Morning Journal, I don’t know which
Interviewer: Uh huh, the Jewish newspaper.
Interviewer: It was really odd, I just found out.
Kanter: Uh huh, that’s interesting. There is a background to it. So often we have names and we don’t know where they come from.So uh, but you, you think your family’s name was originally Lipman. Yeah.
Kanter: p-m-a-n. His middle name was Yontif, that was the funny name of my father’s
Kanter: Y-o-n-t-i-f, it was in English, oh!
Interviewer: Like a, like a holiday.
Kanter: Yeah, yeah.
Interviewer: Well that’s interesting too. So all right, so tell us more
about how your family came to The States and uh…
Kanter: Uh, my uh, father was born in Minsk and he came over in 1908, and he
came with his parents and I don’t know if the sister, Goldie, was born here or
there. Either Abe Kanter or Goldie was born in this country, I don’t remember
which was the youngest. It’s awful, I don’t remember. Uh and at that time, the
reason they came to Columbus was they needed a, they had advertised for a Hebrew
teacher, and that’s how they ended up here. My mother was a…
Interviewer: So, wait a minute, was your father a Hebrew teacher?
Kanter: No, no, no, his father.
Interviewer: Oh, his father, okay.
Kanter: His father.
Interviewer: Okay. What was your grandfather’s name, Yontif?
Kanter: No his name was David.
Kanter: Israel. David Yisrael.
Interviewer: Okay, and um, and your father’s full name?
Kanter: Was Max Phillip. Now you want to hear about my mother? My mother was born in this country, was born in Columbus. And uh, her mother was from, I think, Sweden. Sweden or somewhere like that. And when they came here her fa, my mother’s grandfather was the first rabbi of Agudas Achim.
Interviewer: And what was his name?
Kanter: Kalman, his last name was Kalman. Uh wait, wait a minute, Kalman London. London, my grandmother was London. And they came here because, again, they said they needed a rabbi and I think a Shochet. I think he was a, I think he was a Shochet too. I’m pretty sure. In fact, there was another relative, wait a minute, my…
Interviewer: Do you think he was a shochet here in Columbus?
Kanter: Oh yeah, yeah. Now I’m just trying to think, ’cause I went to New
York years ago, to the grave site, I think it was my mother’s grandfather and
what had happened…
Interviewer: Give me, give me your mother’s name.
Kanter: Ruth, Ruth Weiner Kanter. And she had asked me to go, you know, to say a prayer or something. So I went and when I came back, I told her and then I said “Listen, what
happened to your father’s grand, well your mother’s grandfather?” and what
had happened she said, that one time he was doing schita here, he was
killing an animal and the knife went wrong or something, became very upset and
he couldn’t live with himself. He went back to New York, left the family high
and dry, and uh, and just studied, went back to Yeshiva. He just couldn’t cope,
Interviewer: You mean because of the intensity of that responsibility?
Kanter: Yeah, something, probably was lazy, I don’t know. But, anyhow, so…
Interviewer: I’ll go for the responsibility.
Kanter: My grandmother’s, my grandmother’s mother was like a lot of these
Jewish wives. She started selling from door-to-door, different things. And my
father’s mother had a grocery store, your family actually knows about it, Naomi. They had a grocery store on Stauring and, Stauring and
Donaldson for years and then they had a building built by uh, by Morris Skilken
at the corner of Fulton and Parsons.
Interviewer: That was the name of the grocery store?
Kanter: I don’t know, Kanter’s, I guess, I don’t… and there was about six
store rooms. There was a bar, there was a laundry, there was this, that, and the
other and uh…
Interviewer: Anything to make a buck from, huh? Yeah, they had to…
Kanter: Yeah, my grandmother told me, my father’s mother told me that really
the way she started it was her husband went somewhere on a train for an
interview about a job, and while he was gone she says she got somebody to make
some shelves in the living room and she went out, she said, “Buzzie, in the
streets and alleys” and asked for money to help her get money for an
inventory. And then she, she ended up with a store, they did uh, fairly well.
And I gotta tell you a story about her. Course she was, she was a very unusual
uh, woman. Actually, she was very close with your, your uh, husband’s family,
especially with Dora Abrams, and I’m trying to think who else, and Ike, of
course. But my, my father’s mother, she, she could read and speak about four or
five languages: Polish uh, uh Polish, Russian uh, Yiddish, English, and when a
lot of these women came to this country Greenhorns, single, or else left their
husbands and came here in search of green pastures, they couldn’t read any
Interviewer: Just explain what Greenhorn is.
Kanter: Greenhorns are foreigner.
Interviewer: Okay, good, ’cause…
Kanter: And, and they couldn’t read any language. So they would come into my
Bubbie’s store and my Bubbie would read it to ’em. And I’ll tell you one of the
persons that told me that story, Sylvia Schecter. Said “Buzzie, I remember
vividly that they would come in the store and sit around” and then my
Bubbie would write a letter back for them, they would tell her what to say…and she would write for ’em.
Interviewer: I know she was a very colorful person, because uh…
Kanter: Oh!! Tough person, but she was smart as hell!
Interviewer: Yeah. Miriam and Bernie Yenkin have told us stories about…
Kanter: Yeah, if fact, whenever I’d come, course she was always, always had
food and this and a kibbitz. But whenever I walked in the door, unless it was
with other people, she’d always say,”Zets ich avec un leyn daYiddishe paper.”
I don’t know what the word for paper is. So I would…
Interviewer: Give us a translation of that. We have a recording.
Kanter: She’d say,”Come and sit down. You have to read a block from the Yiddisha
paper, from the Jewish paper.” So normally what I would do is she’d take the paper out and I would read something from a column called “Men or Infroyin,” “Men or Women”. It’s like our Ann Landers. And you could, actually, if you want, you can go to the library and
there’s a number of books that actually have a lot of these columns in English
telling you what kind of stories were told in those days. So she was a riot
though, she was a neat woman. And of course, she had, she had a lady that stayed
with her for probably forty years at least, a black woman, Rosie. And this, the
two of them got along like a pea in, peas in a pod. Argued, but they got along
wonderful. It was long, I could tell you many stories about that, but you go
Interviewer: Maybe you could give us a few stories. Tell, what about her
husband. Tell us a little bit about your, your Zaydie.
Kanter: Oh, her husband, David he taught, see when, when he died, I was just ten, so I didn’t know a lot. I know one thing, he taught me
Hebrew. I started reading Hebrew, I must’ve been two. I know I read Hebrew
before I talked English, spoke English. And I’ll bet…
Interviewer: Hebrew or Yiddish? Hebrew?
Kanter: Hebrew, Hebrew.
Interviewer: What about Yiddish, did you speak in Yiddish?
Kanter: No, he never, I just, I just picked it up. I never learned it
anywhere. I can understand it quite well and I speak it a little bit, but uh, he
died, I was ten years old, but he had taught me how to read and pray and uh, in
fact, I’ll never forget, ’cause it’s indealt, indealt on my mind, We studied uh,
the Old Testament and we got as far as in Genesis, the portion that’s called “Lech
L ‘cha” when God says to Abraham,”Go for yourself.”
And I know almost from beginning to there, almost what they call,”oys vanik”,
” by heart.” Because when you studied with him, oh, I did do
Yiddish! We’d study, and we’d read from the Hebrew to Yiddish to English. You
know, that’s how we studied.
Interviewer: Oh, so you covered, covered the territory, that’s for sure.
Kanter: Yeah, that’s how we studied, yeah.
Interviewer: Now was this one-on-one?
Kanter: Yeah, oh, one-on-one, absolutely, at his house, yeah.
Interviewer: ‘Cause there were a lot of grandchildren?
Kanter: Yeah, but my sister studied with him too. I don’t know that my
brother did or not, but my sister did, I know that, yeah, yeah.
Interviewer: Uh huh, so you had, you had a lot of interesting stories about
your grandparents and you remember them, well your grandfather not as much, but
your Bubbie gave you some great memories.
Kanter: Yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah. I saw her. I’ll tell you what used to happen.
I almost saw her every day of my adult life, and I’m serious, ’cause
I would call her every day and I’d say,”Bubbie, vi vilstu?” “How you feeling?” She’d say,”Ich
shtarb avec!” (“I’m dying!”) I’d say uh, ” Bubble, iz imitzer gekumen?”(“Has somebody showed up today?”) She says,”Afilu nisht a meshuginer dog!” (“Not even a crazy
dog!”) So I’d say,”Bubbie, my tata ‘s geveyn?” (“Did my father come?”) She’d say, “Yeah.” I’d say, “Abe is geveyn?” (Did Abe-that’s her other son-come?”) She’d say,
“Yeah.” “Goldie’s geveyn?” (“Did Goldie come?”) “Yeah.” I’d say,”Whaddya mean, nobody showed up?” She’d say, “Obir du ich vil zehn!” (“Only you do I want to see!”)
Interviewer: Oh, you were special.
Kanter: She was, everybody was special.
Interviewer: Whoever, yeah, I know, she just zeroed in.
Kanter: In fact, when you’d come over on, especially like Friday. Friday was
the day, because she had gribbines for everybody, and she would
say,”Buzzie, yours is on the second shelf. Abe’s is on the first shelf,
Goldie’s is in the dining room. Your father’s is in the kitchen.”
Interviewer: That’s great, great, perfect.
Kanter: Yeah, we had a good time.
Interviewer: I, I know your mother uh, came from a family
of several women. Tell us about your mother’s family, because I remember vaguely
hearing stories about how the girls were with their mother.
Kanter: Uh, their, my mother’s mother was very, very observant. Her husband
wasn’t. Her husband had a pawn shop on the avenue called uh, Sam Weiner’s Loans.
Interviewer: What do you mean by “the avenue?”
Kanter: Mt. Vernon Avenue. And uh, but the mother was very religious. I mean you, I, you could walk in her house, she lived for many years at 599 Wilson Avenue, which isn’t
even in existence anymore, the freeways got it. And you could look at the floor
in the dining room and you could actually see where the floor went down a little
bit where she stood. She would hold on to the hutch or whatever it was in the
dining room and she’d pray probably three or four hours every day. She never
needed a book, she never answered the phone when she prayed, nothing, and she never, she never ate before she prayed. Her day was, you pray three or four hours, then she’d go feed the animals. She had a nice yard. She’d feed the squirrels and the birds and then
she’d start on her own breakfast with her coffee, see, but she was a late
person, she’d be up three, four, five o’clock in the morning.
Interviewer: But she took care of the animals, didn’t she?
Kanter: Oh yeah, oh and she wouldn’t kill nothing. If there was an ant in the
house and you were there, you’d have to put the ant on something and take it
Interviewer: Oh, isn’t that something.
Kanter: Yeah, she wouldn’t kill nothing.
Interviewer: Yeah, I remember Miriam telling us a story that when she and
Bernie were engaged, I guess your Bubbie fed the bird peanuts or some common
nuts, but when they were engaged she fed the birds cashews.
Kanter: Yeah, oh live it up, huh?
Interviewer: Uh huh, special, something special.
Kanter: Yeah, oh she was something else. And then, of course, my mother was
one of four sisters. And there was Tillie who married a Dr. Ziskind, and she’s
deceased, and my mother is deceased, and then still living are Eleanore Yenkin,
who lives in Columbus, and Helen Zelkowitz who lives in Mt. Vernon. In fact, we
just had them over Shabbas for dinner Friday night, Helen and Eleanore. And uh,
they both enjoyed being over. Thank G-d, both of their minds are good and Helen
runs like hell.
Interviewer: She does, she’s busy.
Kanter: Yeah, she still runs…
Interviewer: But I remember them going together on Friday afternoon, I
guess or some particular day and to spend with, with their mother, that they
were especially attentive.
Kanter: Well, I’ll tell you what used to happen. Friday night, they, it, it
was almost a ritual that they would come over to, to my mother’s mother’s uh, I
don’t remember going for dinner very often, but we only lived a block and a half away. The oldest sister, Tillie, lived two blocks away. At that time, Eleanore lived uh, on Bryden Road, when I was a kid, so she was a while away, but a lot of times, we’d see all of them over at my grandmother’s Friday night and normally what would happen is, Eleanore would play the piano, and somebody would sing, and somebody would dance it was a very, very enjoyable evening, and uh, and then years later, well there were, let’s see, how many? My grandmother, my mother’s mother also had three sons: Abe and Elliot and, and uh, Bernard. Bernard died when he was sixteen of influenza or something, G-d forbid, and so
I’m named after him, as well as Bernie Yenkin. And uh, Elliot uh, died not too long ago, in the last ten years, I’d say, but Elliot was not mentally well. He was not only slow, he was retarded, he had problems. And actually, he, he lived at home with my grandmother and
grandfather, it was my understanding, ’cause my grandfather died. I was one year
old, on that side. And my, the one who had the, was retarded, his father would
never let him go into an institution. But once his father died, that’s what my
grandmother did, put, institutionalized him, and she would always send him food,
and then every once in a while, we’d go out there to visit him and, you know,
and have a picnic with him or what have you, and then years and years later, my
Aunt Helen had him um, in a nursing home right across the alley from her and
then the last few years of his life, he spent at Heritage House, and uh… Now
Abe, Abe married out of his faith and my grandmother used to say Kaddish for
him. She would have nothing to do with him for, I would say, probably ten years.
Finally, they made peace, and he used to come over all the time. And he was the
real fun, ’cause when he’d come Friday night, he’d bang the hell out of the
piano, he was good.
Interviewer: Oh, he was good piano player.
Kanter: Oh yeah, he was good.
Interviewer: Eleanore, I’ve heard her just recently play piano.
Kanter: Oh yeah, she plays it, but Abe really played the piano. Abe really would
tickle the keys.
Interviewer: What, did they take lessons?
Kanter:I, no, I think she, they played the chords. You know, they didn’t… Just by
Interviewer: Yeah, just by ear, both of them. Was your grandmother, was your grandmother musical or?
Kanter:Not that I know of, I don’t think so. But she, but from pictures that I saw
she was a very, very pretty woman in her youth. You know, I don’t remember it,
Interviewer: Well she had some beautiful daughters, so…
Kanter: Yeah, oh, they were all pretty women, all of ’em were pretty women, yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah uh, you, you mentioned your uh, your aunts and uncles and let’s, let’s
go through that list again one at a time and tell us who their families are.
Kanter: Okay, so Tillie Ziskind, of blessed memory, married a Dr. Jacob Ziskind, and
actually, they were like second cousins, I think, when they married. A lot of my family they married, you know, lunatics, they married in, their relatives.
Interviewer: That wasn’t terribly unusual though, in that era.
Kanter: Yeah, right, yeah.
Interviewer: I mean, how are they going to find mates? You know, they were right there.
Kanter: So that’s who she married and she was ten years older than the next child,
and actually, my mother told me that, not only did Tillie help raise the kids,
Tillie worked in the pawn shop. Tillie did everything, she really did.
Interviewer: accepted responsibility.
Kanter: Oh, she really was! The one they said was treated like a princess was
Eleanore. Eleanore used to say,”I can’t do anything.” (Naomi laughs)
Her father said, “That’s fine.”
Interviewer: Everybody else will do it.
Kanter: Eleanore, of course, was gorgeous in her day. ‘course they all were
pretty, but Eleanore was gorgeous.
Interviewer: Well, let’s, let’s, let’s stay with Tillie. Okay, tell us who
her family, tell us about her family.
Kanter: So Tillie had just one child, Susan, who’s married to Dr. Portman.
That’s the only child she ever had.
Interviewer: Sam, Sam Portman, Dr. Sam Portman.
Interviewer: And she has how many children? Susan has…
Kanter: Susan, you know, I’m not very close with any of those people, but uh,
David, Michael… David, Michael, and the other one, I can’t even think, I can
see his face.There are two of them in Columbus, David and Michael, and there’s a third one
who’s an attorney in Israel. And, and uh, that’s her children.
Interviewer: Okay, so that pretty much covers Tillie’s family.
Kanter: Right. Okay.
Interviewer: And then Eleanore…
Kanter: Was the second oldest? Let’s, let’s go…
Interviewer: No.. Let’s go in uh, rotation.
Kanter: My mother was, my mother was born in 1908, so today she would be nine-two…
Kanter: Ninety-five, so my mother was the next of the girls. So that’s my mother, Ruth.
Interviewer: And tell us about her family.
Kanter: So there were, she, there are three siblings: myself, my brother
Samuel, and my sister Leah. My brother Samuel lives in Bexley. He never married.
Interviewer: What was, what’s his occupation?
Kanter: Huh? He’s also an attorney. My sister uh, was married and has two
children. She’s widowed. Her husband, G-d forbid, was a doctor and got killed
trying to help somebody when he was crossing a street.
Interviewer: Yeah, I remember that story. So that’s Leah.
Kanter: Yeah, that’s Leah, Leah Salis.
Interviewer: What’s her nickname? I know she has…
Interviewer: Sweetie, okay.
Kanter: And, and she has two children uh, Esther, who lives in fact, in my
house in Bexley. They bought my house on Sherwood and Cassady. And then there’s
Interviewer: And she’s married to?
Interviewer: Who’s she married to?
Kanter: Gary Gillett. He’s an attorney from Dayton. And then uh…
Interviewer: And they have…
Kanter: They have two children.
Interviewer: Two children, okay.
Kanter: And then uh, Sweetie’s other child is David Salis, and he’s married,
he married a girl from Johannesburg, South Africa. And of all things, and
I probably, I don’t know what year it was, but I would venture to say
seven or eight years ago, Helen Zelkowitz and Eleanore Yenkin went to
the wedding in Johannesburg, South Africa at age of probably eighty-five…
Interviewer: I remember when they went. That was quite an expedition there.
Kanter: Yeah, yeah, and then David has two children. He’s a computer
programmer and he loves being there.
Interviewer: Excuse me, their last name is spelled S…
Kanter: a-l-i-s. My sister visits quite frequently, but one thing she, on behalf of
Hadassah, I think it’s Hadassah, she goes every January for two months and she
teaches uh, English in a, in, in a school in uh, Netanya. And she’s been doing
that and staying at the same hotel for probably five, six, seven years. And then
she’ll go two, three other times during the year.
Interviewer: Is that right? I didn’t know she went that often.
Kanter: Yeah, yeah.
Interviewer: So they probably don’t get here very much.
Kanter: No, I think he, he, well he was, they were here about two years ago and this
time on their vacation, they’re going to Johannesburg to stay with her people.
Interviewer: Uh huh, how many children does David have?
Kanter: David has a little boy and a little girl. Little boy must be probably,
Interviewer: I’m just guessing, four and the little girl’s one. Uh huh, so they’re little.
Interviewer: That’s fun, okay.
Kanter: Go on to the next one? So the next one is uh, I can’t remember if Eleanore, I think
Eleanore’s older. I’m pretty sure. ‘Course Eleanore was married to Abe Yenkin
and uh, and I’m trying to think if they were related?
Interviewer: Abe and Eleanore?
Kanter: Eleanore. Tillie was and Helen was, I don’t think Eleanore
was. Anyhow, she was uh, she married and Abe Yenkin, you know better than me,
was in the paint business and his son Bernie’s in the paint business now. And
uh, they had uh, other children. They had two daughters, Sandra and uh…
Kanter: And Linda. And Sandra lives in, lives in Boston and Bernie’s here.
Interviewer: And uh, tell us about Bernie’s family.
Kanter: Bernie’s family, I don’t know much about. You know more than me.
Interviewer: Okay, all right. He’s married to Miriam.
Interviewer: Schottenstein Yenkin.
Kanter: Yeah, they have uh, I don’t know, does she, they must have, I think, four
Interviewer: They have three daughters and a son.
Kanter: Son, yeah, four kids, well you know better than me.
Interviewer: Okay, we got that covered. And then Sandra has two, two children.
Kanter: Sandra has uh, two children. Uh, the girl I’ve only seen a few times. The boy I’ve seen many more times than that. But I haven’t seen either one of them for a number of
years. The boy lives in California. The girl, I guess she’s in Boston, I don’t
know. Do you know, Naomi?
Interviewer: No, I, I don’t.
Kanter: I haven’t seen her for years.
Interviewer: Well, when a family gets big and older you do lose, kind of lose track. It’s
not terribly unusual.
Kanter: But Sandra is in Boston. Her husband’s a physician. In fact, her husband’s
father was uh, President Nixon’s personal physician.
Interviewer: Oh, is that right? That’s…
Interviewer: And what’s his last name? What’s his name? Give us his name.
Kanter: Levine, yeah. I should know it, I’ve been talking…
Interviewer: Yeah, I don’t remember his first name.
Kanter: Yeah, Herb.
Interviewer: Herb. Herb Levine.
Kanter: Herb Levine, yeah.
Kanter: Yeah. So that’s…
Interviewer: I’m glad I can fill in with these spaces here.
Kanter: Yeah and then there’s Helen. Helen got married in 1929 or ’30. And
she married a cousin, Charles Zelkowitz. They ended up in Mt. Vernon and never
left, or never moved from there. Charlie bought a, he was an attorney, very
bright, and he bought an attorney’s practice who died, for fifty dollars. And Helen told me that, I think, he never took in a nickel for like six months and his first fee was either a nickel or a dime…As a notary republic, as a notary public on some
document or something. But he ended up, you know, he was from a small town, and
I guess it’s a lot easier to be a big fish in a little pond. And he did very well, and then, I don’t know when it was, I’m guessing in the fifties, I might be wrong, they started a radio station, and originally, I think it was done to just do something for the community. Got a
few families together, put up some money, and I don’t think it was a winner. And
then uh, they got into cable and this, that, and the other and it was very
lucrative. And Helen had a program on the radio for probably thirty years called
“Coffee with Helen” or something from nine to ten every day. She
interviewed from governors to mayors to policemen to educators, and
Helen was, used to keep up with this stuff. And she did that probably till
maybe ten, twelve years ago.
Interviewer: Well, I know she’s much beloved in Mt. Vernon.
Kanter: Oh yeah. In Mt. Vernon, if I meet someone from Mt. Vernon, I’ll say,
“Do you happen to know my Aunt Helen Zelkowitz?” “You mean
Helen?” They don’t know from a last name. They know this woman but she’s
been in everything: their blue, red cross, the city council, Republican party,
the hospit… you name it, she’s been in it. And uh, she still goes to meetings
and she’s ninety-one.
Interviewer: Where does she live now?
Kanter: Now she’s still in Mt. Vernon.
Interviewer: Uh huh, but she does come to Columbus a whole lot?
Kanter: Oh yeah, she just was here for ten days.
Interviewer: Tell me she’s not driving anymore.
Kanter: She thinks she can drive, but she doesn’t drive much. She’s cheating,
though. She drives a little bit.
Interviewer: And she had a son?
Kanter: She had one son, Steven. He passed away, I forget what she told me,
how long it’s been, probably ten, twelve years ago. And, and Steven was, was
married. Married a woman by the name of Donna (yawns) Ricken and she lives now
in Las Vegas and the poor soul’s got MS, doesn’t get around very well. And she has two children, Jonathan, who’s in California and, isn’t that awful, I just saw her last month.
Interviewer: Is Jonathan married?
Kanter: Jonathan’s divorced. And his sister just got married about two, three
years ago. And uh, she lives, she works in Washington, D.C. and she had the
promise of another job somewhere, I don’t know what happened to it. And she’s
married and this fellow either converted or is in the process of converting to Judaism. Um, she’s a real live wire. She was very active in girls’ groups here, Bnai Brith Girls, and this, that, and the other. The boy I didn’t know very well, Jonathan. Then, then I had, then there was, the brother, Abe Weiner, and Abe went to work with his dad in the pawn shop and that’s where he stayed his whole life, in the pawn shop. And I’ll never forget, when I was
about sixteen or seventeen I went to work for Abe in the pawn shop, and I
learned a whole different side of the world from those people. And he was a
riot, they all liked him, but uh, it was a riot working in that kind of setting
and um, and then he passed away a good while ago, I don’t know when. He, he was
married to Martha Weiner uh, she’s still alive. She lives in um, St. Paul, in a
nursing home. Her daughter, Sharon, married somebody (yawns) who’s from there
and in fact, we just had lunch with them just uh, about a month ago. They were
Interviewer: Is Sharon married?
Kanter: Sharon’s married. And in fact, the kids, there might be one left in
high school. They’ve, the other two have a fine education. I forget, one, not an
M.D. but, they have a degree now, and I forget what it’s called, one of my
daughters was interested in it. And um, you can um, like you give injections,
you’re just a, somewhat above a nurse, but you’re not a doctor. Grant Hospital
has them and I forget what they’re called, doctor’s assistants or medical, I
don’t know what they’re called. That’s what one daughter is. I don’t know what
the son does. I have no idea. And then there was Elliot, who I told you was, you
know, mentally retarded, he never…
Interviewer: Now wait a minute, the Weiners had more than…
Kanter: Oh they had a son, Sam.
Interviewer: A son also, okay.
Kanter: Uh, and Sam’s an attorney uh, very active in the uh,
legal profession. And uh, has handled a number of profile cases uh, you know, in
his practice of law.
Interviewer: And he’s married to?
Kanter: He’s married to a girl from Cleveland and uh, I don’t see him hardly
at all. I don’t, I don’t know why, I’m not mad at him, but you know, some
relatives you see, some you don’t, you know.
Interviewer: Now they never had children, did they?
Kanter: No, no, no children.
Interviewer: And, and what’s his wife’s name?
Kanter: I can see her face, I can’t think of her name. Frances! !
Interviewer: Frances, okay.
Kanter: Yeah, yeah.
Interviewer: Okay, I run into them every now and then.
Interviewer: Okay, who else is there now?
Kanter: That’s it! What else do you want? How many you need?
Interviewer: Okay, that covers the whole story, huh?
Kanter: That’s it.
Interviewer: Um, okay we already talked a little bit about a steadier, the
family business and um, I think you have great memories of that. That was really
the heart of the Jewish community, wasn’t it, in that area, Mt. Vernon Avenue,
Long Street? I hear a lot of stories about…
Kanter: In fact, Dr. Ziskind, Tillie’s husband, had his medical office either
one door or two doors from the pawn shop for a good number of years. That’s
where his place was.
Interviewer: It was really a family…
Kanter: Yeah, there were a lot of, when I was a kid there were an awful lot
of Jewish businesses and I saw Marvin Bonowitz had something about that, I mean,
but I remember that stuff too. In fact, a very good friend of mine had a
business there, Norm uh, Krause. He had a, a general store right across from Uncle’s pawn shop. And poor Norman, may his soul rest in peace, he was raised in a Cleveland orphanage and so when he came town, and he opened the store some way, he used
to come over and kibbitz with my Uncle Abe Weiner all the time, there wasn’t
much business, he’d come over…
Interviewer: Well, Norman was a great kibittzer…
Kanter: Oh yeah, oh yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah, we, they were friends of ours when…
Kanter: Yeah, yeah, good person, good soul, good soul, yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah, uh huh, um, so what are some of the other stories you
remember about the businesses in that area? Do you remember, how about uh, people your age who, who worked in some of their family businesses? Would, did that happen very often?
Kanter: Well, course you know, I had another cousin that had a pawn shop down
the street. That was Coffee Ziskind. And Coffee, Coffee was a college graduate
and, of course, he had a fine mind and then to end up with a pawn shop, what a,
what a , what a waste of a mind. But I’ll never forget, one time I, I, I think I
was walking for lunch or something to just say hello to him. I walk in there and
he fell asleep in the (laughs) he had an attack right there in the seat or
something. He didn’t care about business, you understand. He was there, he’d
read, he didn’t care about…
Interviewer: What about holidays? What happened with all those Jewish
businesses, did they close on holidays?
Kanter: Well, I can’t, I’m not privy to that really. Uh, I don’t remember,
but I, I, I would just imagine they must’ve, cause those people sure went to shul.
Interviewer: Yeah, yeah when I think about it, I think of those people,
most of them being involved in shul business too.
Kanter: Absolutely. Absolutely, yeah. I, I remember um, and you know this guy
better than me, Rosenthal was his name and his son was in radio, I forget.
Harry! I think it was Harry Rosenthal. He had a uh, a grocery store there,
on the corner there, someone named Spicer Furniture was there and, course
Sonny Romanoff ended up being there and…
Interviewer: And still is there.
Kanter: And still is there, Mort Rising was there. He just closed up a couple
years ago. And uh…
Interviewer: It certainly was a uh, colorful area.
Kanter: Oh, absolutely!
Interviewer: So your family…
Kanter: All of them were Jews and blacks.
Interviewer: Jews and blacks, uh huh.
Kanter: Yeah, always got along good.
Interviewer: Uh, well very recently uh, there was an excellent exhibition
at the uh, Columbus Museum of Art by Aminah Robinson. And uh, she focuses a lot
on Mt. Vernon, ’cause she grew up in that area, she um, African American woman.
And uh, so she puts a lot of those businesses in her artwork uh, with names of
stores and so forth. So that’s, that’s kind of uh, interesting. Um, did, did
your grandparents tell you stories about their life in Europe?
Kanter: I never heard a word.
Interviewer: Well, that wasn’t unusual.
Kanter: I never, I never heard a word. The only thing that I knew, was just,
just a few things, but not stories as such. My, my uh, father’s mother was
related to uh, to the Zisenwines. That’s the only thing I knew from somewhere.
Interviewer: Harry Zisenwine?
Kanter: Huh? Yeah, Harry Zisenwine. My dad once in a while would say
something about that. They, they never talked about it.
Interviewer: Well, they left a life that they wanted to get away from. I guess they left it behind, you know, it wasn’t a big deal, you know.
Kanter: Wasn’t anything so pleasant.
Interviewer: Uh huh, and they were involved in their life here. Getting things started.
Kanter: I mean, especially on, I mean, on both sides my families were
involved in everything. My father was president of the Hebrew School for years,
president of Agudas Achim for years. He, he used to teach at the medical school.
For years he had an assistant uh, professorship uh, and, and Abe uh, was
president of Ahavas Shalom and Agudas Achim and Goldie was very active in
Hadassah, this, that, and the other. And, and to be real frank with you, my
father’s side of the family, his brother and sister, they always tried to help
the, the person that was low. Uh, I mean I remember, first of all, I practiced
law with my aunt from 1956 to ’79. and sometimes I’d say to her, “Now
Goldie.” She’d ring me on the intercom, she’d say, “Buzzie, want you
to interview this guy here. He’ll, he’ll, he’s here in my office. Want you to
handle the case.” I’d say, “Goldie, did, did he uh, pay a
retainer fee?” She’d say, “Don’t ask for money.” And
we didn’t. I mean, third of our practice, at least, was for free.
Interviewer: Welfare stuff.
Kanter: Yeah, my father said he never sent a bill. If they paid, they paid,
if they didn’t, they didn’t. That’s the way the business was. He never sent a
bill. Now, when workmen’s comp came into being and social security and all that
crap, then he, the girl would fill out a form. But to send a bill to somebody’s
Interviewer: You went by good will, they went by good will.
Kanter: We earned a good nothing, nothing. I mean, one time my father told me
a man had a venereal disease. And uh, my father said, “now listen, you’ve
got to fill this prescription.” He says, “Doctor, you keep the
prescription.” He said “What do you mean, I, I don’t need it.”
He says, “Doctor, I don’t have any money.” So now not only did my
father treat him for free, gave him money for the prescripotion , and that’s
what people did you know. I don’t, they would, sure wouldn’t do it today,
Interviewer: For sure, for sure. I know, well you worked with Goldie and I
know she was really quite a, a character and uh, there, I, I nev, I want you to
tell us a little bit about Goldie.
Kanter: Well, first of all…
Interviewer: Give us her name and, and about her family.
Kanter: She had uh, she had two children, David and Miriam, thank G-d,
they’re both alive. She was married to a man that, in fact, had worked with
Maury Portman, who just died. Her, her hus, former husband had worked with Maury
Portman in the newspaper business. Well, they got married, he was a good looking
man, and Goldie put him through law school. And so he became an attorney. They
ended up getting a divorce. He was running around with somebody, they got
divorced. And uh, but Goldie was very active in a number of things, very active
with the Republican party, very active in, in Hadassah, go to meetings, this,
that, and the other. She was…
Interviewer: She was a live wire.
Kanter: Live wire and always…
Interviewer: Did you enjoy your years working with her?
Kanter: Well, you know, working with the public isn’t all pleasant, you know.
Interviewer: Little bit of a challenge, yeah, little bit of a challenge.
Kanter: But uh… (laughs) I’ll never, I shouldn’t say this on the tape, but
I’ll never forget…
Interviewer: Well, just, just talk about what you’re comfortable with.
Kanter: I’m comfortable with anything. After I was with her
for a little while, she says, “Buzzie, now listen, law is a jealous
mistress.” I says, “Goldie, I’m really enjoying the practice, but if
that’s all there is to eat and sleep and excrete, I’m jumping out the window,
you know.” (both laugh) that she used to kid me about it, you know. But, basically, we got along good, we
really did. We did a lot of cases together. She uh (coughs)…
Interviewer: She was respected, though.
Kanter: Oh yeah, and I don’t know, she had a way in the courtroom that was
amazing. She could try a case and there’d be other, two or three other attorneys getting paid good dollars, their client might be
convicted and her client was set free. Court would say afterward, “I don’t
understand, Goldie, your client was more involved.” All these jurors
thought from what I was able to determine from the bailiffs, ’cause I didn’t try
many cases with her, we did our own thing. They just thought if you convict
Goldie’s client, you’re convicting Goldie, and how you convict a little woman,
Interviewer: Oh, yeah, she was little of stature, but…
Kanter: Yeah, yeah, and big of mouth.
Interviewer: Big of mouth.
Kanter: Big of mouth.
Interviewer: That’s okay. I remember once she was walking in the dark in
Bexley or something, taking a walk and I don’t remember where I heard the story,
but uh, she, her answer, whoever it was said, “Goldie, you shouldn’t be
walking in the dark by yourself.” And her answer was, “I have nothing
to worry about.” Who’s going to attack her? You know they, they had a lot
of respect for her.
Kanter: Yeah, oh yeah. Well, when I was a kid, you know, I remember going
with my father at night for house calls, and we’d literally be in alleys, and my
father would have a big pocketful of money, not millions, but he’d have probably
a hundred dollars with him. He never worried about hitting over the head or
hitting on the neck or somebody steal, nobody worried about, you know it too,
our houses were unlocked. I never even had a key when my kids were growing up. I
never had a key to my house on Sherwood. I wouldn’t know where to find it.
Interviewer: Yeah, well life is different now.
Kanter: Yeah, you’re telling me.
Interviewer: Can’t, you can’t drive down the street now without being
cautious. All right, well tell us about places, homes that you lived in as a
child. Where was your, where were your family homes?
Kanter: Well, when, I just remember, my mother had us moving so much when we
were little. We were renting and I know we lived on Lockbourne Road, just south
of uh, Livingston uh, near the Tennenbaums for, for a while and that was a
while. Then we moved to a place…
Interviewer: Which Tennenbaums were they?
Kanter: Uh, Harold Tennenbaum, Sy Tennenbaum and his family. And…I remember then, I’ll never forget, I was always an early riser, and the milkman would come, I don’t know, five, five-thirty, and I must’ve been two or three and my mother used to let me go out the door and the milkman would take me down the street with him, it was a horse and buggy, not a car or something. And then when they came back on the other side, he’d drop me off.
Then we lived on Oakwood Avenue and I still see that house, that was near
Forest. It had so many doors, I don’t think there were rooms. (Naomi laughs) and
then finally, in nineteen…
Interviewer: Well wait a minute, do you remember any of your neighbors on
Kanter: Oakwood, I, I really don’t, I, I think, I think I remember, I’m
looking at his face now… Ronnie, aw, isn’t that awful, my mother was such good
friends with these people. He’s an optometrist, Ronnie, what’s his name? He’s
about seventy-five now. Ronnie, isn’t that awful. His father was a pharmacist
and his parents and my parents were like this, were very,very close and I can’t
think of their last name. There was a daughter too.
Interviewer: Well, maybe it’ll pop in.
Kanter: But I don’t know, yeah, Ronnie…
Interviewer: That was, so that was on Oakwood?
Kanter: That was on Oakwood. And then in nineteen, roughly thirty-nine, we
moved to Linwood Avenue, 735. And Abe Wolman lived next door, Joe Modes across
the street, Sillmans down the street, Rabbi Julius Baker down the street, the
Krakowitz’s down the street uh, I mean, an awful lot of Jews, the Jewish neighborhood was also a big Catholic neighborhood because a church was over at Ohio and Newton. So it was a, you know, a lot of uh, of Catholics there. And uh, I mean we, we were friendly with everybody, Jew, Catholic, or whatever it was.
Interviewer: It was a great family neighborhood. Everybody knew each other.
Kanter: Yeah I, well I, I went there with uh, with Rosalie Schottenstein the
other day, my wife and I.
Interviewer: Yeah, my sister-in-law.
Kanter: They had a garden tour.
Interviewer: I couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe…
Kanter: And, and, it’s unbelievable, what the, the neighborhood has come
back, and, and the gardens, it’s gorgeous.
Interviewer: I, I can’t believe that was the same neighborhood. Uh, Buzzie,
I’m going to stop you just a second so I can turn this tape over. We’re at the
end of A side, tape one. I’m going to just turn this over… Okay, we’re on side
B, still tape one. And we’re on Linwood Avenue, okay. So, you had fond memories
Kanter: Sure, very fond, and of course, like I told you before, my mother’s
mother lived at 599 Wilson, which is like a block and a half away. My mother’s
sister, Tillie, lived on Linwood Avenue, just uh, north of Main Street, which is
four blocks away or five and so uh, you know we had relatives uh…
Interviewer: And, and walking from one place to another was quite common.
Kanter: Oh yeah, first of all, when I was, when I was a kid, and none of our
family rode on the Sabbath but my father, so we would walk every Friday night in
the decent weather, when they had services and then ‘course always on Saturday
Interviewer: Where did you go for services?
Kanter: Uh, when I was real little, I went to Ahavas Shalom on Ohio Avenue
and it’s a church now. It’s on Ohio near Forest. And of course, my father’s
mother lived two blocks from there, on 22nd. And, and then we went to Agudas Achim, which is at Washington and Donaldson. And, you know, we went
Interviewer: Um, and then, ‘course Agudas Achim moved and they’re on East
Broad Street, where they are now. Um, okay, let’s see, let’s um, how about your
father’s relatives, can you, can you give us some lowdown uh, on…
Kanter: I know as much about them as you do. I know so little. I remember
some things that stand out, but they’re not many. My father’s father had a
brother that came to visit from London, England. I think I only saw him once.
There was a, and I don’t remember names at all, I don’t know, my sister might,
and I doubt it. Then another relative came and his, oh wait a minute, his name
was Nimitz. We had a, my, my father’s mother had a lot of family in Washington
D.C. Those people I knew when I was a kid. I haven’t seen ’em for so long, it’s
awful. But uh, those people we were close to, we’d go to weddings, we’d go to
Bar Mitzvahs. You know, this, I’m talking about forty, fifty years ago. But
My father had a relative, my, my, my father’s father had a relative
that was in the movie business, a producer. My sister probably remembers his
name. Then I had a cousin come from London, England, that she plays in the
London Sym, uh, Philharmonic. And she was here, I don’t know, a few days or
something and then a number of years later, her son came back. He was studying
music at some university in, I think, West Virginia or Kentucky or Tennessee. I
saw him a couple times. That’s all I ever saw of those people. Then my father
had a brother who was in Milwaukee and I saw him a few times and uh…
Interviewer: What was his name?
Kanter: His name was Velvul, Velvul. I never knew anything else, Velvul. And
uh, he uh, composed melodies for this synagogue. They had a, a big choir, and so
he was the Cantor and he composed melodies for the, for the choir and so forth.
Then there was a sister. This is a story I mean, out of sight, I probably shouldn’t tell it, but I will. Apparently, my father’s mother
didn’t like, didn’t get along with her husband’s sister. She lived in Milwaukee.
So I don’t know, about, about two, three years before my father died, about
then, I hear him talking, he’s going to go visit his aunt in Milwaukee. I said,
“What do you mean, you’re going to go visit your aunt in Milwaukee? I never
heard of her.” So anyhow, he went, they had a wonderful time. I was
supposed to go and I got the flu or pneumonia, I had a flight ticket, I didn’t
go. So I never saw that one, but my father after that, every Friday night, he’d
call her for Shabbas, you know. Now her daughter came to Columbus and my sister
and I had lunch or dinner a couple days with her. My sister, I think, still
corresponds. And that’s all I know of that side of the family. Um, of my, that’s
my father’s father’s side. My father’s mother’s side, like I said, were the
Nimitz’s in Washington D.C. and that’s all I remember. There was an Aaron and a
Blanche. Blanche is still alive. They were both doctors. He passed away years
ago, Aaron. And their son is a physician and one, two of my cousin are there
now. Lou Kanter’s kid, daughters, and they’re friendly with them. Um, so that’s
on my father’s side. On my mother’s side I know nothing.
Interviewer: Let me ask you this uh, Buzzie. When you were little, when you
were growing up, did your family ever take vacations together? Did you go on
Kanter: It, it, it was seldom, I can tell you. I remember, I’ll never forget
it (laughs), I don’t know how old I was, but we were going to Florida. We stayed
at a place in Miami, I think it was called the New Orleans. Well my mother
packed the car with all their pots and dishes, I mean, we wouldn’t use somebody
Interviewer: Like she was going to Europe, huh?
Kanter: That’s right.
Interviewer: Or she was coming from Europe.
Kanter: So I, I remember going there for a couple weeks and to be frank with you, I
do not recall, oh, I know what else we did. When I was very young, I think
before I was even in elementary school, my Aunt Tillie, my mother’s sister, had
a place out in Buckeye Lake and so we used to go, I don’t know if it was for one
summer, two summers, three summers, you know, the more you think of it, you
embellish it, the story gets better. And uh, we had a little cottage there and
uh, we’d go for couple weeks and they had swimming and this, that, and the
other. But I remember one thing, we always had to go out and go down the street
to pump water, so we had water to drink…
Interviewer: Oh, you didn’t have running water.
Kanter: No, we didn’t have a toilet in the house, even. We went outside, you
understand, that was it.
Interviewer: Yeah, yeah, you had an outhouse, probably.
Kanter: An outhouse, yeah. And I don’t, I…
Interviewer: But it was a vacation. It was fun.
Kanter: Yeah right, what did we know?
Interviewer: It was fun.
Kanter: Yeah, we didn’t know from nothing. And, and I don’t remember really
any, now my parents would go away sometimes, you know. Uh, especially uh, once
we were teenagers, they went a lot more. They used to love to go down to Beverly
Hills outside of Cincinnati. They weren’t gamblers, but they loved to go to, for
the music and the dancing and the performers and uh, uh, they had good fish
dinner. They never, my parents never ate meat out, but they would eat fish out.
Interviewer: Uh huh, yeah Beverly Hills was a very popular spot to…
Kanter: Oh yeah, they loved it, they loved it. And they’d go other places,
they went to Canada, they went here and so forth. I don’t, I don’t remember many
Interviewer: I don’t think we needed them then. I think that we had a lot
of family to visit…
Kanter: Well, we didn’t have them, I know that! You know,what you don’t have,
you don’t, we didn’t have, nobody else in our neighborhood went anywhere, what
the hell did we know?
Interviewer: So, so you weren’t missing anything.
Kanter: No, if we did, nobody knew it. You know.
Interviewer: Uh huh, yeah, it’s fun, well you had a lot of fun growing up
Kanter: Yeah, oh I have fond memories, I really do, really do, yeah.
Interviewer: What about businesses uh, other than uh, Mt. Vernon Avenue,
like grocery stores, butcher shops?
Kanter: In our neighborhood?
Interviewer: Well, the Jewish people, your family,uh…
Kanter: Of course, our family you know, you know they were, you know, my
father’s side, they were all professional people, you know. And like I said, you
know, Abe Yenkin was in the paint business and so forth.
Interviewer: But do you remember…
Kanter: But in our neighborhood, though…
Interviewer: like uh, delis, and you just mentioned…
Kanter: No, I was just going to tell you…
Interviewer: “Why didn’t I bring a corned beef sandwich?” Well,
if Hepp’s was open, I would’ve.
Kanter: Right, of course, I wish they were. (Naomi laughs) Uh, right on
Livingston Avenue at Wilson was Brier’s. And, and Mrs. Brier was a widow so a
lot of people used to buy from her even though her prices were higher, due to
the fact that she was a widow. Then a block from her on Oakwood and Livingston
was Sam Stolmack, he had a drug store. And then Katz’s was between Champion and
Ohio and that became Haas.
Interviewer: Uh huh, was it, that was a deli?
Kanter: That was, well, it was a meat market.
Interviewer: Meat market.
Kanter: A meat market. I mean, you buy, in fact, I worked for Haas.
Interviewer: Butcher shop.
Kanter: A butcher shop, yeah I mean I worked for him when I was a teenager. And
Brier’s was a butcher shop. And then down at about 18th was uh,
Mendelman’s. They had a kosher butcher shop. And then going the other way at
Ellsworth was Martin Godofsky. He had a kosher, there were so many butcher,
kosher butcher shops. Now you can’t find even a…nothing.
Interviewer: Got one, that’s a half, maybe.
Kanter: You’re lucky you got one, huh? And Dr. Seligson was on Livingston uh, next to Haas, in a little brick building there I see, you still see it.
Interviewer: You mentioned you worked for one of the uh, one of these
stores. Do you remember any other jobs that you had as a kid?
Kanter: Honey, I worked all the time. I worked for Mrs. Brier, I worked
mostly at Schottenstein’s. I went to work, I think I was fourteen.
Interviewer: In the department store?
Kanter: Yeah, on Parsons. And I remember…
Interviewer: As a clerk or a…
Kanter: Yeah, yeah sure. We could sell anything in the men’s department. You
had your own cash register. You could sell a sock up to a suit. Same, same
person, work clothes, anything. And a, a lot of the Jewish boys worked there on
Sundays and then we’d work holidays: Easter, Christmas, and, and I worked in the
summer uh, sometimes there.
Interviewer: Uh huh, even, how ’bout when you went to college, when you
were going to college?
Kanter: When I went to college I was still working at Schottenstein’s.
Interviewer: Do you remember anything about how much you got paid per hour
for any of these jobs, just to give us a sense of what things were like.
Kanter: I, well I had so many different jobs. Schottenstein’s was a
commission. That was a good job. But I remember when I was, I had finished high school and I went to work for, what a job, for uh, Ohio, not Ohio Bell, what
was it called? The installation division of, of the telephone company, I forget
what it was called. Anyhow, I was making ninety cents an hour, and you’ll, what
my job was, to lay on my back all day, up about twenty feet high, not an
air-conditioned building, and I was sewing cable, so when they put lines, more
lines in, they needed the cable, cables and they needed them to adhere to the
others. So I worked about a week or two doing that I, I used to come home
drained. I mean, I don’t know how anybody lived, like an animal. And the fellow
says to me, who was in charge, “Listen, would you mind being in charge of
all the equipment going in and out?” Because if certain jobs were being
done, they needed certain equipment, they might ship it to Akron, Milwaukee, and
so, whatever it is, so I had a nice, then I had a nice soft job. I also worked
in high school for my Uncle Abe Yenkin. I don’t know what I got paid, but I’ll
tell you a story about it. They were, he was very nice to me. I worked in the
lab. And we used to check the color and we, and the flow, the viscosity of
paints and other things.
Interviewer: How old were you at that time?
Kanter: Probably fifteen or sixteen. And I’ll never forget, (laughs) I said,
I walked into my Uncle Abe Yenkin’s office one day, I said, “Now listen,
Uncle Abe, you know, you got men out here that aren’t working very hard. I don’t
know why you’re paying them.” You know I’d see men I, to me I thought, even
at, at age fourteen, if you, somebody’s paying you, it means you do your best.
In fact, I used to tell my children, when they wanted to, said they didn’t like
working so they’re going to slow down a little bit, I said, “Do yourself a
favor, quit. You can’t do your best quit, that’s all. Don’t, don’t bother with
Anyhow, I said, “You know, these men are leaning against the wall smoking cigarettes. They’re not doing anything.” It was like a conveyer belt that, they should’ve been doing something. He said, “Buzzie, that’s how the business is.”
Interviewer: Just lay low.
Kanter: I learned fairly young that plenty of people loaf, you know. So I,
and I worked, I told you, for my Uncle Abe Weiner in his pawn shop one summer.
I, I did so many things, it was unbelievable. I always worked. I always liked
working, you know. One summer, I did this, I’ll never forget. It was about 1940, I don’t
know forty-six, seven, something uh, uh, gas lawn mowers just came on the
market. So a friend of mine and I, I asked my father, would he front for the
money for a mower and we’d pay him back from getting lawns. Yes, okay. Oh I know
how old I was, I was fourteen or older, ’cause I was driving my mother’s car. I,
I drove when I was fourteen. You could get a license. So anyhow, we go out to
Bexley and we get a bunch of lawns lined up. So much money, this and that.
Interviewer: You said, “We” who, who else?
Kanter: Jerry Delwin, I’ll never forget it. And uh, we never could get the
lawn mower to work right. We’d work it for three hours, take it back to the
shop. It was a new item, you know. I don’t, I don’t know what ever happened. But
I always worked …
Interviewer: But you went out of that business?
Kanter: Yeah, but I always liked working. It was, you know.
Interviewer: It wasn’t unusual though, I mean all, all young people had to
work. Kanter: Oh sure, they weren‘t out to…
Interviewer: There wasn’t any question about it.
Kanter: No the only camp I went to was a boy scout camp. Jess
Foreman handled it. It was on Lee, on Morris Skilken’s property in Buckeye Lake.
It was seven dollars a week. We’d go for two weeks. I think I went one or two
summers. We put up tents, built a, dug a latrine, just Foreman and Cook, and
we’d play games, we’d learn, we used to walk, I don’t know, for maybe a half hour, an hour down to the lake and swim every day, you know.
Interviewer: That was a good time too.
Kanter: Yeah, I forgot that yeah, well I didn’t forget it, but forgot…
Interviewer: What about um, the Jewish Center at that time? Schonthal
Kanter: Okay Schonthal Center, it was right across the street from the Hebrew
School. And uh, I, I, I spent time there, but I remember the basketball court
wasn’t high enough to throw, throw a basket. That’s the one thing I remember. I
don’t think it was eight feet high. (Naomi laughs) I mean…
Interviewer: But that’s all they had?
Kanter: Yeah, and, and of course, they had different clubs, and I remember
going. And, and of course uh , the boy scouts met there, uh…
Interviewer: Were you a boy scout?
Kanter: Oh sure! BBG met there, AZA met there uh, I remember something else
that was big at Temple Israel on Bryden Road, and that was YFTL, Young Folks’
Temple League. And they used to meet Sunday night. I don’t know if it was all
year or so many, every week, or every other week or something, but the kids from
all the synagogues, or most of them, would go there Sunday night for dances. Oh,
it was a big time.
Interviewer: That was at Temple Israel?
Kanter: That was at Temple Israel…
Interviewer: Which was on Bryden Road at that time.
Kanter: Bryden Road, yeah, yeah.
Interviewer: Okay, well we have some great uh, conversations about the
past. Let’s bring us up to date now with your family. Tell us about your
children and your grandchildren.
Kanter: Okay, uh, I have uh, three daughters, one just left yesterday. She
was here for six days. She has two sons, one’s six and four.
Interviewer: And tell us her name now.
Kanter: Rebecca, Becky.
Interviewer: And she’s from where?
Kanter: Well she lives in New Mexico now, in Carlsbad. In draird affen
deck (In hell on a shelf), I call it. Anyhow uh, she’s divorced and thank G-d , she went back to school, and she’s, she just has to do her student teaching and she’ll finish. She has a
major, I think it’s in science. So thank G-d she’s well on her way and she seems
like a, a happy girl now, for the most part. She’s got some problems, everybody
Interviewer: Yeah, and the children, how about the grandchildren?
Kanter: She had two children, one six and one four, they’re fine, good kids,
good, well, good-mannered children.
Interviewer: What are their names?
Kanter: Uh, Christopher and Aaron. And uh, good kids, good…
Interviewer: So was, she was here with the children?
Kanter: Yeah, yeah, yeah. She had her tenth high school class reunion from
Bexley. So a number of her friends came in. It was a nice thing.
Interviewer: It’s a fun time for the kids, I know they all look forward to
that. Kanter: Oh she had a ball.
Kanter: Then I have a, a one who’s in Germany. She married a fellow who’s
career army. He’s up for Major and he does very well, he likes it.
Interviewer: Now which daughter is this now?
Kanter: Uh, Debbie. And uh, she’s in Germany and she has a boy eleven (yawns) one six…
Interviewer: Now how old, what’s his name?
Kanter: and one I think four, huh?
Interviewer: Tell, how, what’s his name, the eleven?
Kanter: The eleven is Zach, and, and the middle one is Matthew, and the
little one is Anthony.And her husband’s over in Iraq now, he went July 1st
or June 1st, why’d I say July? No he went, no he went about May 1st. Oh yeah, right after they said it’s over, that’s when he went.
Interviewer: It wasn’t over.
Kanter: Yeah yeah, it’s never over, yeah. So I talk, I talk to all of them
almost every day, you know. I have now a phone service, I can talk twenty-four
hours a day, seven days a week, it’s the same cost long-distance.
Interviewer: You really need it now with well, the way children…
Kanter: Germany you wouldn’t want to have to pay overseas. Then the other one, I just talked to her last night. Her name is Kimberly, uh, and she has uh, one son who’s three, he’s adorable, gorgeous. And she’s pregnant with the first girl. So now it’ll be six grandsons
and one granddaughter if, thank G-d, she’s lucky.
Interviewer: Oh finally, uh huh, where does she live?
Kanter: They live in um, in Colorado in um…
Interviewer: What brings them to Colorado?
Kanter: Well, what happened was, she went out to college there at Boulder,
and she was interested in going to college like I’m interested in going to the
moon. She was having a hell of a time. Finally I said, “Kimmy, guess what?
I’m not shelling out my money for you to do not a damn thing.” I really got
disgusted. She met this awfully nice fellow, he’s a college graduate, uh none of
mine married in the Jewish faith, I can tell you. One of them is back to the
Jewish faith, the one that was just here, Becky. I’ll tell you a story about her
in a minute. Uh, she married a fellow by the name of Jeff Morrisette, from very
fine people. And uh, he’s got a wonderful job. He’s, he’s working for a
construction company. He manages a couple crews, and they build these places up
there. You’d think money was nothing, you know uh, two million dollar homes, two, four million
dollar homes, a half, three quarter million dollars, just little apartments, I
mean it’s crazy! It’s crazy.
Interviewer: Yeah, different sense there, money.
Kanter: Where does she live? Isn’t that awful? Oh Gramby, g-r-a-m-b-y, Gramby.
It’s a little town up in, northwest of Denver, about an hour and a half. We’re
going next month for a week.
Interviewer: Do you get to visit any of your children very much?
Kanter: Oh sure I do. Yeah they come here and I visit them, yeah. You know,
I try. I was at uh, I was at Becky’s for Christmas. Now Germany, I don’t know
what I’m going to do. She might come next month to Charlotte and, and I’ll just
fly there for a while to see her. I was planning, with God’s help uh, to go next
spring to Germany for a couple weeks if you know, my health holds up.
Interviewer: Have you ever been there?
Kanter: No, I’ve been to Europe, but I never wanted to go to Germany. I’d really not,
I don’t really want to go to Germany.
Interviewer: Yeah, yeah we, we, we went through that too, but uh, it wasn’t as bad as I
thought it might be, for Bernie, especially.
Kanter: I gotta tell you about Becky, though, ’cause this is kind of cute. She, she’s
been in Carlsbad about a year, a year and a half And a few months after she
moved there they uh, started a Jewish Reform temple, they dedicated it. And
she’s been active, so her mother, my former wife, will send me pictures. What
they do is they’ll, her husband’s good in, in cameras, photography, and stuff,
so they’ll take a movie picture and like two weeks ago she led the whole
service. One, this guy, they don’t have a professional rabbi, one’s a doctor,
one’s a lawyer, they were both out of town, so she ran the service.
Interviewer: Well that’s interesting.
Kanter: In fact, I showed it to Helen Friday night.
Interviewer: Oh that’s interesting. I bet you were pleased with that.
Kanter: Oh yeah. I’m glad, I’m glad. And uh, in fact she went to shul with me
Saturday. I said, “Whenever you want to go.” She said, “Daddy, I
can sit all morning, I don’t get to go often.” You know.
Interviewer: Oh yeah, so it was a treat.
Interviewer: So you did go?
Kanter: Oh yeah, sure, sure.
Interviewer: Um, tell us about, tell us about their mother. Just give me…
Kanter: I’m divorced from their mother. We got divorced about nineteen, well
I raised the kids, they all stayed with me.
Interviewer: What was her name?
Kanter: Well it was eighteen years ago, seventeen years ago. Carol was her
name, and uh, I met her, we went together two, three years. She converted
through Rabbi Rubenstein. And it just, really it was, it was not a good
Interviewer: and now you’re remarried to…
Interviewer: To, tell us who your present wife is.
Kanter: I, I, I married a girl from Pittsburgh and we’ve, we’ve known each
other about ten years. And, and we got married just three years, another two
weeks ago. Susie, her maiden name is Hohenstein. She was married to an Oberman,
he passed away after they got divorced. She has uh, three children, two
daughters here in town (yawns). Stacey and Pauli and she has a son, Eric who
lives in Portland, Oregan. He’s married again, out of the faith, and uh…
Interviewer: Does he have children?
Kanter: Has uh, two boys. In fact, my wife was just out there last month.
Interviewer: How about the girls, are they married?
Kanter: No, they’re both single. They’re both single. One uh, works for Milenthal in advertising. She’s very capable. The other one works for Mt. Carmel West. She does something out there, I don’t know what she does.
Interviewer: So between you, you a have quite a family.
Kanter: Yeah, a lot of people, lot of action.
Interviewer: Yeah, that’s nice, it’s nice. Um, okay, let’s see a lot of
these things, what are, do you remember anything about, we’re pretty much
winding up. Tell us about how you celebrated holidays as a youngster. Were they
real special events and…
Kanter: I can remember a few. We never, to my knowledge, shouldn’t say never,
we very seldom celebrated a holiday in my mother’s mother’s house. Now when I
was little I remember going over to my father’s parents’ house for especially
seder, I remember, you know? And uh, not for many years, but I remember Abe
being there, and Goldie. We’re all there in the little dining room, twenty of us
or some… oh I think the kids, we were in the kitchen. But uh…
Interviewer: The kids, you mean the kids were in the kitchen?
Kanter: Yeah I think so. We did it maybe for two or three years. And you
know, my grandfather passed away and so, so that was it, you know.
Interviewer: What a, what about uh, your Bar Mitzvah, what do you remember
Kanter: I remember it was in June. I remember I worked like
hell, in fact, I just last week read the portion in shul on Thursday, and my
wife gave me a party, I was seventy. And uh, uh…
Interviewer: Tell us when you were, give us your birth date, while I’m
thinking of it.
Kanter: June 21, ’33.
Interviewer: Okay, I know you wrote it down but I don’t know if I asked you
Kanter: And she wanted to throw me a birthday party. I said, “I don’t
want to hear about it.” I said, “You want to do something? I like
going to shul during the week. Let them have a breakfast.” So that’s what
they did. And I called about a dozen guys and they showed up…
Interviewer: So you had like a kiddush.
Kanter: It was nice, yeah. And I read from the Torah, that I
did, when I did, you know was Bar Mitzvahed. I was bar mitzvahed, it was in the
summer. And, of course at that time, a lot of the fellows did, you know, they
did everything. We read the Torah, we did the service, this and that. But
I’ll never forget, we had the uh, party, a reception, whatever you call it,
at our house and it was chicken and so forth. And they had tables out, this that
and the other, it was so damn hot you could die, and here we are eating chicken.
Interviewer: Did your mother do the preparation?
Kanter: No, no, no. We ordered from somebody. I don’t remember who. Don’t
forget, my father was a doctor, we were millionaires. We had a car (laughs).
Interviewer: Oh, you had a car? What do you remember about the car? We were
just talking about cars, family cars.
Kanter: About cars? I remem, well I remember for sure, my father bought a
1939 Pontiac. In 1939 paid about six hundred dollars. Now before that I remember
another car. I don’t know what kind it was. I think it was a Studebaker, with
like two big wheels on the side. And then for a while we had one that had a
rumble seat in the back.
Interviewer: Oh yeah, I remember the rumble seats.
Kanter: But the ’39 he kept. You could hardly get a car during the war, in
the Second World War. I think some people bought them, but we didn’t do it. And
my father then in ’47, he bought an Oldsmobile. And then in 1949 he bought two
new cars. Bought my mother a new Oldsmobile. You’d have thought that uh, we
owned the bank, you know what I mean?
Interviewer: There weren’t too many of those around.
Kanter: No, no I think each car was, I think, twenty-five hundred dollars,
yeah. My mother drove hers, I think for thirty years, at least, yeah.
Interviewer: Goodness, well, how far did she go?
Kanter: Yeah right, she went to the corner to mail a letter and went to
Brier’s. Interviewer: Uh huh, and family, family visits.
Interviewer: How about bikes, did you have bikes as a kid?
Kanter: Oh sure we had bikes, and I’ll tell you something. Uh, we had bikes
and I remember going down to a relative of ours on Long Street, Schottenstein’s
uh, Bicycle Store.
Interviewer: Jake, Max.
Kanter: Yeah, Jake was his, Max’s father. And that was Alan’s grandfather.
And so we got bikes there but, one time I remember, I don’t think he could get
bikes and my father got us bikes called Hartfords. They were made in
Massachusetts, and I don’t know how he got ’em, through some friend or
something, ’cause it was during the war. Then again, those kind of things were
difficult to come by, you know. So uh…
Interviewer: Um, you mentioned World War. What, what do you remember about
World War II?
Kanter: Well, of course, I was little you know, when the war started in ’41.
at was I, eight years old? But, what I used to, what I remember is a few things
are vivid. One, my father used to love to go down to the movie theatre and watch
what was called The Eyes and Ears of the World. So he’d go to the movies, just
maybe twenty minutes, to see the news.
Interviewer: Just to get the news.
Kanter: Just to get the news.
Interviewer: Well we didn’t have uh, television then.
Kanter: Right, and so, and, and every day my father used to put on tefillin
and while he was davening he used to have the radio on listening to the news,
Interviewer: At the same time.
Kanter: Oh yeah, every, all the action. And of course I remember, you know,
we used to, almost every week you’d hear the newspaper boy come down,
“Extra, extra, read all about it” do, do, do whatever it was, you
know? And we used to go down, I mean, I’ll bet you three, four nights a week, my
father and I, maybe my brother, mostly me, we’d go down to Broad and High, we
dealt with the same newspaper guy and he’d get what was called The Night Green.
And the top of the paper was light green. And, and, and so, we’d get the, more
news, you understand? Yeah, up to the hour, you know. So he loved that. Of course, my
father didn’t serve in the army. Now uh, Tillie’s husband did, Doc Ziskind, as a
physician. He was stationed I think, in Texas. My Uncle Abe Weiner was in the
army. Uh, but not, I don’t remember any other relatives being in the army, and
of course, you know, I was little.
Interviewer: Yeah, yeah that was a different era too. What about movies, do
you remember uh, movies that you went to, theatres that you went to?
Kanter: Oh I’m, I’m the worst, because uh, when we were kids, if you went to
Agudas Achim, Harry Maybruck ran the, the Saturday morning Junior Congregation.
And he might have not been religious, and he might not have read Hebrew well, I
was just talking to his son, Stanley the other day, but he knew how to bring
kids. If you showed up you got a candy bar. Like if you showed up twice in a row
or something, you got a ticket to the Champion Theatre. So we’d go to the movies, I guarantee ya’, and I’m sure my parents gave me money, but I don’t remember much about movies. My wife knows every actor and actress. I wouldn’t know one, Elizabeth Taylor I know. And a few others.
Interviewer: Do you remember what it cost to go to the movie at that time? Yeah, a dime.
It was a dime and if you went downtown, ’cause
Kanter: I remember if I had a date when I was like fourteen or fifteen I started
going out, we’d take a streetcar downtown. Wasn’t allowed to drive. I drove, I got a license at fourteen, but it was only restricted, so we’d take a streetcar and you’d go to The Palace for fifty cents. Talking about
movies, I’ll tell you something and then I’ll quit bothering you, ’cause I gotta
get out of here too, but my mother’s mother loved movies, Grandma Weiner. She
would go, never scared, she’d take a streetcar, she never wanted to bother
anybody, she’d like go to The Grand which was on State Street, see a double
feature, get a bite to eat or a cup of coffee or something, go four doors away
to The Ohio, see another double feature and then come home.
Then she’d go down another day, go over to Broad Street and there was
The Palace and the uh, and The Grand, and The Ohio, and The Palace, and the
Loew’s Broad, maybe The Lowes Broad, maybe. And so then she’d go to those two
theatres. She was a, she was a movie goer.
Interviewer: That was very unusual for somebody at that time.
Kanter: Right, I mean I don’t think anybody went, any older people.
Interviewer: I mean, she was a Balabusta…
Kanter: Right, yeah,
Interviewer: …a Bubbie.
Kanter: I don’t know how she ever got into that. And then when they, some of
these movie actors and actresses started getting divorced, she wouldn’t go.
She’d say, “I’m not going to see him. He’s lousy. He left his wife.”
Interviewer: Oh she was mad at him, yeah.
Kanter: Like that’s going to affect his acting.
Interviewer: That was no good anymore.
Kanter: Right, no good, “I’m not watching him. I’m not spending my
Interviewer: That’s cute, she did a lot of cute things. Um, well,
Buzzie, I think we’ve done, done very well and…
Kanter: I appreciate it.
Interviewer: Unless you can think of anything else you want to share with
us. You’ve been great about telling us uh, some interesting…
Kanter: I know plenty stories, you know. I know, my father’s mother, she’s
the one that either founded something, either the Ivreeyoh Society or one of
these things where they raise money, I can’t, my father, I was going to say
“My father would tell you.” I’m in real good shape. Uh, my sister
would probably know. But she started one of these things, you know, and she was
never bashful to ask people for money. No, she’d go down the street, she
wouldn’t say, you know, “I’m collecting… You’ll have to give.”
Interviewer: Yeah, no question about it.
Kanter: Right, yeah, you had to give.
Interviewer: We’re going to have to pin Leah down and get her in here.
Kanter: Yeah, she knows, she knows a lot more than me, I can tell you that.
Interviewer: Yeah, yeah, I know she’s very much in touch with the whole
Kanter: Yeah, and she would be happy to, to, to talk, I’m sure.
Interviewer: Well, we’ll, we’ll get her and uh…
Kanter: She won’t tell you some of the things I’ve told ’cause she doesn’t
want to say anything.
Interviewer: Well, but I love the way, I love the way you tell stories and,
and it’s true, you know…
Kanter: My Bubbie used to say, oh not my Bubbie, Tillie, “Tachlis
offen tish.” That means “tell it the way it is.”
Interviewer: Tell it the way it is, yeah. I, I love your Yiddish
expressions. I understand ’em perfectly.
Kanter: I know you do.
Interviewer: I just ask to translate, ’cause there’s somebody who does the
transcribing. Kanter: I understand, I understand.
Interviewer: So uh, but I appreciate the time that you’ve given us.
Kanter: Well I’m glad that you called me and I really enjoyed it.
Interviewer: On behalf of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society, we all
thank you and uh, keep on having good stories.
Transcribed by Susie Stan Appelbaum