Interview with Bruce & Terry Meyer on July, 21 2014 by Bill Cohen, as part of the Oral History program of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society.The interview is being recorded at 150 Ashbourne, Bexley.
INTERVIEWER: Ok. We are recording now. This is Bill Cohen and this is an interview for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society. We’re talking with Terry and Bruce Meyer, M-e-y-e-r, no “s” at the end and we’re going to interview them both at the same time. We are at Bruce’s house at 150 Ashbourne in Bexley and as we talk, hopefully, we’ll try to make it clear who’s doing the talking, Terry or Bruce. Hopefully, they’ll say who they are each time they give an answer or I’ll try to point that out just so it’s clear. So, let’s get started. The light goes off on the recorder and gives you a heart attack but they say it’s still working. You can edit out that last.
INTERVIEWER: Let’s just talk briefly about how did you get to Columbus which I guess is basically the story of well, it might be how did your parents get to Columbus or how did your grandparents get to Columbus. Terry you want to..
TERRY: Sure. This is Terry. Our dad was born in Erie, Pennsylvania and came to Columbus. He was living with his family in Cleveland, Ohio, came to Columbus to go to Ohio State University and then went on to Ohio State Medical School, graduating in 1935 and he met my mother here in Columbus who was born in Columbus, Ohio.
INTERVIEWER: And your dad’s name..
TERRY: …and my dad’s name was Paul David Meyer and my mother’s name was Bertha Ruth Goodman and they got married, I don’t remember what year, but it was while he was in med school and I was born in 1935, the year he graduated med school and he stayed in Columbus to do an internship at St. Anthony’s Hospital.
INTERVIEWER: St Francis.
TERRY: St. Francis Hospital, you’re right, which is now where Grant Hospital is and after an internship they moved with me before Bruce was born to Cleveland, Ohio and we lived in Cleveland, Ohio and you were born here in Columbus, no, in Cleveland, too. So, we didn’t move here until my dad got drafted into the military in 1941 and once he got drafted then we started moving all around the country until he basically left for the Fiji Islands in the South Pacific and then we lived with my grandmother, my grandparents, my grandmother and grandfather and we lived on South Ann street, right down the street off of Livingston Avenue from where Children’s Hospital is now. The Children’s Hospital was there then as a small hospital then, not like it is now and there were houses all around it and I spent a lot of time on Ann Street growing up with my grandparents and my mother and Bruce at that time was what two years old in ‘41 so he was three years old in ‘42. And I went to the first grade actually at Livingston Avenue School. I spent a lot of time on Livingston Avenue going to Leonard’s Drug Store which was on the corner of Parsons and Livingston. Then there was a string of offices and stores right from that area and my grandfather spent a lot of time at what was the Jewish gambling club called the 606 Club on Livingston Avenue right east of Parsons and at dinner time frequently I would have to go down to the 606 Club and knock on the – it was a cigar store as the front – and knock on the back door behind the counter of the cigar store and they’d open up a little peek hole and they’d see it was me and they’d yell back and say “Abe Goodman, your grandson’s here for you,” and the guy watching the store or watching the gambling was a distant relative of ours and there was Big Menash and Little Menash Goodman. I can’t even remember what their real name was, first name. I think both may have passed away now ‘cause they were both older than I was and that’s some of my recollections. I spent a lot of time, as I said, in Leonard’s Drug Store which was the old fashioned with the nice big soda counter and I would go in and have a chocolate phosphate which most places never heard of now but that was my favorite drink that I could get for, like, a nickel in those days.
INTERVIEWER: So, this was in what was then pretty much the heart of the Jewish community.
TERRY: …the Jewish community, exactly, exactly. Spent time with my mother going shopping at Sid Mendelman’s Meat market, Butcher Meat Market, Butcher market…
TERRY: …kosher market absolutely and I would walk sometimes with my grandfather down south and [?] street, I don’t know what their names now. There was a guy who raised chickens down there and was Jewish and that’s where the Jewish shochet, the guy that killed the chickens, so it was orthodoxy and kosher way of doing it and he had all these funnels that are lined up on a stand and he’d slit the neck and then he’d put the chicken in upside down to make it kosher so the blood would drain out and they had the rabbi’s blessing or the man from the Orthodox synagogue that said that this was kosher and they’d wrap the chicken up in paper and my grandfather and I would walk back to the house and then my grandmother would sit in the kitchen pluck all the feathers out of the chicken, put it over a fire burner and the whole house would smell from the burnt feathers she was getting off of the chicken to clean it.
INTERVIEWER: Wow. Let me ask you this. This butcher shop was on what street?
TERRY: On Livingston Avenue.
INTERVIEWER: It was on Livingston Avenue.
TERRY: The butcher shop, Mendelman’s was on Livingston. The guy with the chickens, G-d, what was his last name? His kids lived right across the street from the tennis courts.
INTERVIEWER: In other words, one business raised the chickens…
BRUCE: Well, he was selling regular chickens. No, he didn’t sell the chickens. The guy that had them down the street on Ann Street sold the chicken and had the guy there that killed them, that spilt the neck and Sid Mendelman was kosher meats.
INTERVIEWER: Bruce clarified, I’m sorry. I’m a little dense on this.
BRUCE: The butcher, Mendelman’s didn’t have anything to do with this. The chicken place was different than the meat market of Mendelman’s, which was right basically on the corner of Livingston and Ann, right within that block, the first block.
INTERVIEWER: So, the first place would have the live chicken and would kill it and would have it declared kosher and then the second place would be the place where you bought it?
TERRY: No, because we brought it right– this is Terry – we bought it from the guy who had the chickens down on Ann Street.
INTERVIEWER: Oh, you would, as the customer…
TERRY: As the customer.
INTERVIEWER: You would buy the live chicken…
TERRY: …and then they’d kill it for you and they’d kosher it for you by slitting the neck, letting all the blood drain out and having whatever the Orthodox guy was that would say it’s kosher that way and then we’d take it home and my mother, my grandmother would clean it, de-feather it and do everything to it. Now if we wanted lamb chops or steak or fish or something, then we went to Mendelman’s Meat market which was on Livingston Avenue and he sold kosher meats that were already prepared and all you’d do is go in and buy it like any kind of a meat market.
BRUCE: I’m, let me just expand a little bit on what Terry said ‘cause I’m not going to repeat it all – this is Bruce talking- but what I remember about that because I was a little younger than Terry so I don’t’ remember details but what I remember is the one time maybe more that I was there was after they cut the head of the chicken, the chicken would run around without a, that’s sort of why I think our grandfather took us because it was sort of a sight to behold.
INTERVIEWER: Bruce, what are your other memories of your first few years between one and ten or so? What do you remember, especially about the Jewish community?
BRUCE: Again, this is Bruce. Everything Terry has said is the basic things. What I remember, I was born, as Terry said, in Cleveland while our father was a family practitioner and it’s interesting because retrospectively, when I decided to go into pediatrics and I talked to my father about medicine – Terry had already been in medical school and our father which we can get into later, was now a radiologist, and I asked him what he thought about me going in to pediatrics and he said, “Well, actually when I was in Cleveland, if we could have afforded to go to school, back to school to train, I would have gone into pediatrics.” So we both kind of, the way I look at it we both kind of followed his footsteps. I think one of the other things as far as the family goes, neither our mother or father grew up with much materialistic feelings because they had no money. So, actually our father I think was the first person to go to college in his side of the family and then while he went to college and went to medical school, he helped put his brother through college and medical school. I have no idea where he got the money to help but they both went to medical school and then he had a younger brother. In our mother’s family, one of her brothers was the first one to go to college on their side of the family and then just to add a little bit more…
TERRY: I don’t think any of them graduated college.
BRUCE: No, they went to college, I’m not sure they graduated. Those were different days. I mean they had to go to work to support everybody. The other thing I remember about Ann Street is, as Terry said, we moved in when, I guess I was three, I can’t remember how old and Terry, you were in kindergarten, I believe, maybe first grade.
TERRY: Actually, I started kindergarten in Cleveland and then we moved to Columbus and I went to first grade at Livingston Avenue School.
INTERVIEWER: …and Bruce is that where you went, Livingston Avenue?
BRUCE: So, we moved to Ann Street when I was three and what I remember, a couple things just being on Ann Street is number one, in the house was usually our grandparents, our mother, the two of us, a cousin, no, I don’t think he was born quite yet, but later on when we moved again when our father just came back from the service we lived on Bid-a-wee Park which was right off of Livingston near Fairwood Avenue. We both went to Fairwood Avenue School, but I’m jumping ahead, but in that house was a characteristic inner-city Jewish Columbus family where the same people including a cousin and an uncle, Uncle Lou Goodman, with his son Ron Goodman so we all stayed in that house and often times, on weekends in particular we had cousins come over because our cousins are the Goodman Family and then the Schwartz Family, ‘cause my mother’s sister married a Schwartz, and that was family living. It made you very close.
INTERVIEWER: So you had three generations sometimes in the same house?
BRUCE: Yes, yes, yes, often and our father came back, Terry may remember the dates. Our father came back, when he came back from the military then we went to Cincinnati.
BRUCE: But I think when we came back to Columbus we went back to Bid-a-wee.
TERRY: We did.
BRUCE: …for a period of time for our father to work and make a little money and finally then moved in Bexley where I was in fourth grade and you must have been in eighth.
TERRY: I started the eighth grade.
INTERVIEWER: You moved to Bexley at that time and the year would have been approximately…
INTERVIEWER: 1948, post-War, at a time when a lot of the Jewish families were jumping from the Parsons, Bryden, German Village area over to Bexley.
TERRY: When we all lived…
INTERVIEWER: This is Terry talking.
TERRY: Terry talking. When we all lived in what we called the East Livingston, you know the Children’s Hospital…
INTERVIEWER: Children’s Hospital
TERRY: Well, that was even later, that area then before we moved to the Bid-a-wee area which was then Driving Park and it was a close knit Jewish community and we spent a lot of time with a lot of kids all around the Driving Park area and the nice thing about growing up at that time is like the Berliner Society which was an old Jewish society of some kind that my grandparents were involved in and they would have picnics on the weekend and you would get a hundred Jewish families all together at one of the parks like Livingston Avenue Park, Franklin Park and have a picnic and I used to see all the relatives and we had a big family because the Goodmans were a big family which was my mother’s side and we’d all get together on weekends so we were very close to all of our cousins growing up.
BRUCE: This is Bruce again, just to emphasize the closeness of the Jewish community besides our family, when I started at Fairwood Avenue School, we had moved back from Cincinnati which, I believe, is where I started school, and then from like second grade or mid-second grade to fourth grade we lived at Fairwood Avenue School and two of my classmates were people by the name of Stan Robbins and Bob Garek who I knew at that school who transferred also to Bexley within the next few years and remained friends til from ahava shalom they both died in the last few years. So, that kind of tells you, as Terry was saying, how we’d see families but we continued to grow up with those families even though we moved to Bexley.
INTERVIEWER: Do you recall most of your friends, were most of your friends Jewish or not Jewish or it was a mix or what do you recall there?
TERRY: This is Terry talking and my recollection is when we were growing up even after we moved to Bexley, 99% of our friends were Jewish. I don’t remember any non- Jewish friends when I lived on Ann Street. I don’t remember any non-Jewish friends when I went to Fairwood. They were all Jewish. When I spent one year at Roosevelt Junior High which is no longer in existence, they were all Jewish and when I moved to Bexley all my close friends were Jewish and as I got into high school then I started having a lot of non-Jewish friends, but even in those days, at Bexley High School we had a Jewish fraternity because we weren’t allowed to join the non-Jewish fraternity which Bexley High School had, which I don’t think any high schools have fraternities anymore. So, my friends that I really spent most of my time with were all Jewish even through all of Bexley High School where I went.
INTERVIEWER: What do you think was the reason for that?
TERRY: It was because of segregation just like when I was growing up Columbus Country Club did not allow Jews which is why Winding Hollow started. So, we belonged to Winding Hollow. When I got older we didn’t join Winding Hollow until I was sixteen, seventeen years old and I think that’s what it was, you just had to have your own.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think, Terry, that it was imposed by the non-Jews or did the Jews themselves say, well we feel more comfortable?
TERRY: I think it was both. I think it was a combination of both. You know, we didn’t feel comfortable. Whether it was true or not we had the feeling they didn’t’ want us and when it came to private clubs they definitely weren’t going to let you in. So if you were going to have a similar kind of situation you formed your own club. As you said, growing up I remember going to the Schoenthal Center which was the pre-center to the now Jewish Center and I can’t remember whether it was on Mound Street or one of those streets down there, because we belonged to Beth Jacob. My grandfather was the first president of Beth Jacob when it was on Donaldson Avenue, I believe, and the big shul which was Agudas Achim was down the street from it and it was on a corner and we used to walk from Ann Street, myself, my cousin Vic Goodman, Sig Munster, the three of us and Phil Foreman even was living down there in those days and we’d walk to Beth Jacob and on the way we would go past the original Hepps Delicatessen and you could go in there and for a penny you could get a dill pickle out of their pickle barrel that they had like Katzinger’s has now and I went to Hebrew School. The original Hebrew School was down there in that area and I don’t’ remember if it was on Mound Street ‘cause Mound Street’s not even there anymore when the freeway went through but we spent a lot of time at Hepps Delicatessen. I spent a lot of time in the Hebrew School even though I was not much of a Hebrew School student which my father never could understand why I had to spent three years in the same grade ‘cause I was so bad cause I hated getting picked up after regular school and then going to Hebrew School until 6 o’clock in the evening and then coming home and not being able to be out playing so there was myself, Phil Foreman and Sig Munster. We would time our watches and at a certain time we’d get excused ‘cause we were in different classes and we’d go to the men’s room or the boys room and it was on ground level and they had a window there. We would open the window, climb out and go out on the playground and play until Mr. Harrison who was the principal of the school would come out and grab us by our necks and drag us back into Hebrew School. Occasionally the bus would stop on the way to Hebrew School at Hepps Deli and let you run out and get something to eat and a lot of times Sig and I and, I can’t remember who the third was, anyway we would stay at Hepps’s and not get back on the bus until the bus would come back and pick us back up on the way home, which is why I spent all three years in the same class
INTERVIEWER: In the same Hebrew School class.
TERRY: In the same Hebrew School class, exactly, from Old Man Solomon who was a really nice guy and an excellent Hebrew teacher but I just didn’t want to be there.
INTERVIEWER: Bruce, let me ask you about, in terms of Jewish friends or not Jewish friends, what do you recall about that?
BRUCE: You know, I think the three and a half years between us made a little bit of a difference mainly because I came to Bexley at a younger age. I never felt any discrimination and anti-Semitism during my time in Bexley probably because I started younger but also, I maybe have a different feeling now. Later years, it’s interesting I’ve heard of other people’s perceptions of certain teachers in the school who were anti-Semitic which amazed me and when I talk to other friends, some people felt they were and some, for example a coach, the principal and so forth. Some of my friends were not Jewish but by far the majority were Jewish. We had fairly mixed group. I remember during grade school in particular, not so much high school, going to church to see what it was like and parents actually thought it was a good idea to see how other people lived. I remember taking Gentile friends to synagogue or having them over for holiday and such, but then again in later years I learned that some of their parents were absolutely anti-Semitic and my parents reminded me how there were certain homes of Gentile friends who I never went to their house so it works both ways. Another little interesting story is at one of our class reunions some girl who was not Jewish who I was very friendly with all through school, not as a girlfriend and she said, “Well, I remember your parents. They would never let you date any non-Jews,” and I said “That’s funny, I don’t remember ever being told that,” and I remember hanging out with a lot of the Gentile girls but my perceptions of their parents was anti-Semitic and their perception of our parents were…
TERRY: Let me then clarify something.
INTERVIEWER: This is Terry.
TERRY: This is Terry. Maybe I gave the wrong impression but I did not see any anti-Semitism in the Bexley School system even though, as I said, we had a spe.. we had a Jewish fraternity and there was also a Jewish sorority. There was a non-Jewish fraternity and a non-Jewish sorority but amongst all the kids in grade school, junior high school and high school, there was no anti-Semitism. The anti-Semitism was from some of their parents and I think they didn’t get it because we were all mixed in the high school, in Bexley High School. My year only had a hundred to 120 students in the class and so we were all very friendly and very close to each other so we never experienced it. The one teacher that Bruce is talking about, one coach at Bexley, it was sort of passed down that he was anti-Semitic, and it was basically when I first started high school if you were going to be a football player, he had a football camp and a Jewish football player did not get invited to his camp even though you went out for the football team, you didn’t get invited to his camp ‘cause you were Jewish.
INTERVIEWER: The head football coach at Bexley.
TERRY: At Bexley, yes. That, I think that changed shortly after I got in high school but before that some of the better football players if they were Jewish kids weren’t allowed to go to his camp. So, yes, there was a story that he was anti-Semitic. Whether it’s true or not, I don’t know. When I first got married my dad went to rent an apartment for us on Kenwick or, yeah, Kenwick it is, and he was told point blankly right forward to his face by the Ackley family who owned those apartments, “We do not rent to Jews.” Now the Ackley kids went to school with us and they were fine and they’re fine today, but the father was absolutely anti-Semitic and there were a couple other families, I don’t want to give names out, who the parents were very openly anti-Semitic, not only anti-Semitic, they were anti-Black. They were anti-anything that wasn’t White, you know, Anglo-Saxon.
INTERVIEWER: What are your memories of Bar Mitzvahs?
TERRY: I was bar mitzvahed at Beth Jacob. Beth Jacob was a very orthodox synagogue. They had no English in their service that I ever remember and there were two bimas I guess you’d call them, one in the middle of the synagogue and one at the far end of the synagogue and during most of the service, the rabbis sat up there, but most of the service in my bar mitzvah I did in the middle and then when I gave my speech I went up to the front end and gave the speech. The women all sat on the upstairs balcony surrounding the main floor where all the men sat. They had no Sunday school so later after we moved to Bexley in forty.. that was just after I, that was just about the time I was bar mitzvahed we went to Tifereth Israel because the Conservatives had Sunday school and that’s where I was confirmed from Sunday school was at Tifereth Israel.
INTERVIEWER: A bar mitzvah party?
TERRY: You know, I don’t remember a bar mitzvah party. Do you remember a bar mitzvah party?
BRUCE: I don’t remember a bar mitzvah party whatsoever.. I remember getting gifts, but I don’t remember having a bar mitzvah party. Maybe just a dinner with the family and that was it.
INTERVIEWER: Bruce, what are your memories of bar mitzvahs?
BRUCE: This is Bruce. It’s interesting because I just learned a few things that I didn’t remember. I thought that Terry was always bar mitzvahed at Tifereth because that’s where I was bar mitzvahed and that’s, sort of the background of that and it’s interesting because as Terry alluded to our grandfather was the first president of Beth Jacob but before I get to bar mitzvah what had happened is as people moved east so did the synagogues move east and, I’m sure this is in the history, but when they moved from Washingotn Avenue, Beth Jacob and Agudas Achim, Beth Jacob moved to Bulen which was still sort of Driving Park, and Agudas Achim, for whatever reason, made a decision to go to Bexley and we lived a block away from Agudas Achim, so our grandfather and his sons, our father wasn’t as religious as them nor was our family, decided well, they would go to Agudas Achim because being basically more in a more difficult area on Bulen and so our grandfather became the first or second president of Agudas Achim and our uncle Willy was like the fourth or fifth president of Agudas Achim and so, in spite of that though, I was bar mitzvahed at Tifereth Israel and I cannot answer the question as to why. Maybe Terry just told me why is because I went to Sunday school there. I didn’t realize that but I’ve never understood. As far as the party goes, I remember having a family party. I don’t remember having the kind of party they have here because I remember meeting family of our father’s relatives ‘cause none of them lived in Columbus and knowing people all of a sudden that I really didn’t know the previous part of my life.
INTERVIEWER: High School. What are your memories of high school? Terry mentioned, well, let’s ask Terry. Terry, you mentioned that Jewish fraternity. What was that, was that KTZ?
TERRY: KTZ, exactly.
INTERVIEWER: And tell us about that.
TERRY: It was all Jewish and you had to be invited to become a member and then you pledged your, I don’t think you really got in ‘til you were a sophomore if I remember right. They didn’t pledge you until you were a sophomore. The pledge length of time was maybe four or five months and then they had an initiation process and you became a member. We had a meeting, G-d, I’m trying to remember, maybe was it once a week, or maybe once a month, I don’t remember now, but we did have meetings and we did have social affairs. We had dances that we sponsored. We had a basketball team. We had a softball team. In fact, when I was there, not only did we have a softball and basketball team but the high school in Dayton, and I don’t’ remember which high school it was, also had a Jewish fraternity and we would play basketball games against them and we would play softball games against them. Our basketball team basically was in the Jewish Center Basketball League. By this time, the Jewish Center had moved to where it is now but it was on a much smaller scale and, in fact, I was the first president of what was called the Teenage Council and that goes back to whatever the year was it opened and it was while I was still in high school and they would have dances during the summer. We sponsored the Teenage Council and going back to something Bruce said, my parents never knew it, but one summer I dated for every dance I took out a non-Jewish girl. But I never told my parents although as Bruce said, my parents never said anything about not taking out non-Jewish people. I just had the impression from them they would frown on it if they knew that I was dating a non-Jewish girl and it was pretty much given to us in an indirect way without them actually ever saying, “We don’t want you to get serious with a non-Jewish girl or marry a non-Jewish girl.” And then I met my wife. I was a senior in high school and I was on Student Council and one of my jobs was to show new kids around the school and my wife moved to Bexley in her, starting her junior year of high school and so my assignment was to s how her around the school and I was a little shy with girls I didn’t know so I had one of my best friends, Jack Meyers, go with me while I showed her where the girls’ rooms, the bathroom was and where the gym was and where the different classes were and I had an argument with the girl who I was dating at that particular time which was Joyce Levison in those days, became Joyce Sacks and now she’s remarried and lives in Atlanta and we would fight all the time even though we still would go out. So, I broke that date and as my buddy Jack said, “You gotta’ have a date for the dance.” I said, “Well, maybe I’ll take this new girl.”
INTERVIEWER: What was her name?
TERRY: Nancy Weber at that time, a Jewish girl even with the name Weber, from Gastonia, North Carolina originally and that was the beginning and we dated constantly and got married after my freshman year of med school.
INTERVIEWER: And back to KTZ, it was all Jewish.
TERRY: All Jewish.
INTERVIEWER: And the reason was?
TERRY: And the reason, this is Terry, the reason was because of they had a non-Jewish fraternity and they would not allow any of us to be member of the non-Jewish fraternity so we started, actually started before my time they started KTZ and we had a basketball team, as I said, and a baseball team in the Jewish Center Leagues. The non-Jewish ones had a basketball team. I don’t remember ever playing softball against them but we played basketball against them and we did do some joint affairs together. I mean we were not antagonistic. We were not on non-speaking terms with them. We were very friendly. They were our fellow classmates and they did the same thing we did except that they did it separately and we did it separately as far as parties were concerned.
INTERVIEWER: The non-Jewish fraternity did not allow Jews in. Did the Jewish fraternity ever think about having non-Jews join or was that just understood that you were separate?
TERRY: In my time it was just understood we were separate. I don’t remember it ever being brought up. It was just no, there was no intention of ever having a non-Jewish person in KTZ.
INTERVIEWER: Bruce, do you have any memories of KTZ? Were you a member of that?
BRUCE: This is Bruce. Yes, I do. I just reflect on what Terry said. It’s interesting because I look back on it and think how naïve we were. We basically accepted that we were going to be separate and our Gentile friends who weren’t anti-Semitic as we said, I think accepted it too and we went forward and lived the life as it was. Another example of that in my own life is that I ended up going to Tulane undergraduate school and at the time, so that was 1957, the South was segregated. I look back at that and it still amazes me that I didn’t ever get more involved in the segregation… I
INTERVIEWER: You mean protesting segregation?
BRUCE: Well, not so much. I don’t think I’d have gone that far but I do remember many, many conversations with our Southern friends and fraternity brothers. We were in Jewish fraternity and it was all Jewish and definitely segregated by Jews and non-Jews in fraternity also in college. I remember getting in arguments how wrong it was and everything but it was an accepted life and I hate to tell this story but one time I’m a sophomore. I’m driving our house mother who’s Jewish home down the street, going down St. Charles, which is a beautiful street and a little African American boy runs out on the curb and jumps back and she says, “Kill the Nigger.” And I, that was the first time I finally said to myself, “Oh, my G-d, this is worse than just segregation.” So we grew up in a different time and retrospectively yeah, we probably should have done more than we did. Going back now to high school, yes, I was in KTZ. I don’t have much more to add. Terry, I think he remembers, for whatever reason, better than I do what we did. Again it was an accepted way of life. The worst part of it was that occasionally people weren’t accepted in the fraternity who wanted to be in fraternity. It made for difficult times for relationships with your peers when you wanted to join and you got in to that conflict within yourself do I want to stay with them or protect them or do I join the fraternity. I think that went on with college fraternities, too, and hopefully that doesn’t exist anymore.
TERRY: This is Terry. One quick comment that Bruce was talking about, I went my freshman year to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and also with me was and my roommate was Bob Roth who I grew up with here in Bexley. We both graduated Bexley High School together and we got down to Nashville and even though basically segregation was over, Nashville being a Southern city, still had the signs up: “This drinking fountain is for Blacks. This is for Whites,” and whenever we got on the bus to go from the university to downtown Nashville, it was just common that all the Blacks sat in the back and all the Whites sat in the front, so Bob and I would purposely get on the bus and go sit in the back and we would have all the people staring at us but nobody ever said anything. We were never confronted by the Whites or the Blacks.
INTERVIEWER: What memories do you have of specific Jewish institutions or groups in Columbus?
TERRY: This is Terry. Growing up, as I said, I went to Beth Jacob. I was very active in the Jewish Center. I went to Sunday school at Tifereth Israel. That was another segment of non-Orthodox Jews although Conservative. I was an active member of YFTL which was the youth group for Temple Israel and Temple Israel at that time was on Bryden Road and they had a lot of social affairs that I went to and was active in. It’s said, there wasn’t much difference whether you were Orthodox Jews. I don’t remember running around with anybody wearing a yarmulke all the time. There wasn’t anybody that I can remember at Bexley High School when I was there that was Orthodox that was wearing a yarmulke. They just weren’t there and it didn’t matter what synagogue you belonged to, we were all good friends and because the Orthodox and even the Conservative in those days didn’t have youth organizations like YFTL that Temple Israel had which was Reform, most of my friends all were active in YFTL even though we were members of Agudas Achim by this time.
INTERVIEWER: Bruce, do you have any specific memories of some Jewish groups or Jewish institutions?
BRUCE: This is Bruce. Yes, similar to Terry, prior to middle school or junior high, I went to Hebrew school, hated it just like, I think, everybody else did, actually had the same teachers with the same meanness. Interesting in one of our teachers, I think he was there when Terry was there too, was Sharom Riklis who ended up being a multi, multi-millionaire.
INTERVIEWER: Can you spell that name for us?
BRUCE: R-i-k-l-i-s, I believe it is. He was an Israeli or South African, I’m not sure but an Orthodox Jew who came here and one of his jobs in the country, he had a thick accent, was teaching at the Hebrew School. He left the Hebrew school and we didn’t’ know it ‘til years later and he owned a company called Trans America, I can’t remember what the name of it, ended up marrying a basically, a singer-go-go dancer, her name I can’t remember, I mean she’s known nationally. He was one of our teachers with Mr. Solomon who was wonderful, Mr. Harrison who meant well but he was tough. I also remember with Hebrew school often getting out of Sunday School/ Hebrew school with my parents letting me go with my friends who went to Temple Israel because basically that’s all they did was play and so, we could get out of it by going there. I don’t’ remember much advancement. I do remember one other incident in Tifereth Israel Hebrew School was my teacher was Mrs. Swedlow who was a very bright lady but also I think, kind of was just there as a teacher and was naïve and we kind of took advantage of her and I felt badly years later because one of Terry’s friends who became one of my friends was her son as well as his brother who was a year younger than me in high school and I always felt badly how we treated her. Other Jewish organizations, Terry mentioned the Jewish Center. There was a Teenage Council. I’m glad you said that it. I forgot the name. One of the things I remember about that is our advisor was a young man who was at Ohio State as a graduate student or undergraduate student, teaching, probably learning social work, and his name was Tony Crisillo. Well, it turned out that he played on the Ohio State football team. Well, obviously, he got a lot of people to join and the only thing I remember about the Teenage Council is that he was our supervisor and we used to have a good time with him. The youth groups, belonged to also, I personally got involved with the Columbus Jewish Federation in high school and we did some programs then of soliciting $10 a year from the kids in high school and things like that so we were involved there. The Jewish Center was a, particularly when you weren’t playing a sport was a very active part of our lives because of the bowling alley was there, the basketball courts, baseball courts, softball courts and so forth so the Jewish Center, and actually when I think about it not too many of our Gentile members even though we had Gentile members would go there. That certainly changed after us where it became much more integrated.
INTERVIEWER: Bruce, let me ask you about Martin’s Kosher Foods.
INTERVIEWER: Before it moved to just east of Bexley, it was in the old Jewish neighborhood. Do you have memories of that at all?
BRUCE: I do and very fond memories. I grew up with Marty Godofsky’s daughter and so I also have, two daughters I know, his two daughters and so I remember it from those times either, but what I remember most about Martin’s is that my parents shopped there, but also for whatever reason whenever we would be out there during the day and particularly what I remember, I don’t know why, we used to go with our father to Ohio State football games and every game we’d always stop on the way back to Martin’s to buy our corned beef sandwiches or whatever that we would even have I guess for dinner or for lunch the next day and for some reason I remember frequently stopping at Martin’s for a few minutes just to pick up things.
INTERVIEWER: Was Martin’s on Livingston or Whittier?
BRUCE: It wasn’t on Whittier. I don’t remember if it was on Livingston. For some reason I think it was on Main.
INTERVIEWER: But at least it was in the old Jewish community.
BRUCE: It’s close to where all the freeways are now, near Parsons. It was not far from parsons on one of those east-west streets. I just don’t remember which one.
INTERVIEWER: Terry, do you have any particular memories of the old Martin’s?
TERRY: This is Terry. I don’t have that many memories of the old Martin’s ‘cause I spent most of my time at Hepps’ Delicatessen and I didn’t really start spending time at Martin’s until it moved out east and then I spent all my time at Martin’s.
INTERVIEWER: Doing what?
TERRY: Buying things, you know the corned beef and the rest, although Hepps also moved out east in its last years and I’m trying to remember was it on Broad Street? I’m trying to remember. I can’t remember exactly where it was located. I think it was on Broad because I was friendly with the Hepps family and even when I first got married I bought most of my stuff at Hepps’ and after they closed up we definitely went just to Martin’s.
BRUCE: This is Bruce, just to add to that, the Hepps’ I remember was on Broad because what I remember about it is one of the Kahn families took it over from the Hepps family and ran it, Ruthie Kahn and her husband Aaron, because the girl I dated lived next door to the Kahns and so I knew them well and it was a small, little store on Broad Street and I do remember going there frequently too.
TERRY: Martin’s was more esoteric. Martin’s was more of not just a deli but it also had groceries. It had lots of different stuff and Hepps’ was basically strictly a deli, more like what Katzinger’s is now.
INTERVIEWER: Education and Jews. You obviously both went on to higher, higher, higher education. Was there something in particular Jewish about that in your mind or was it just something expected and you didn’t even think about it or what?
TERRY: This is Terry and my experience and with all my friends that I ran around with who were Jewish, our parents, I think, different than a lot of cultures, stressed almost constantly the importance of an education and how important it was to get a good education, to do well in school, go to college and in my growing up days it was either you wanted to go and be a doctor or a lawyer or some profession different than nowadays and so it was really stressed that education was very important.
INTERVIEWER: You became a doctor.
INTERVIEWER: And how did that come about? Did you know that when you were age five or what happened?
TERRY: I, my recollection is I wanted to be a doctor ever since I can remember probably going all the way back to when I was four or five years old because our father was a doctor and he was in family practice in Cleveland and even at a young age he would take me to the office periodically, so, I was raised with medicine. I saw it constantly. When I was in high school I worked down at Grant Hospital where my dad was the head radiologist so when I was working I’d spend time down there. When I was in undergrad school I worked there, during the, you know, summers. Also I did work sometimes in the summer at Luckoff’s Department Store selling shoes. That was about the only job I had that didn’t pertain to medicine and when I was in med school I did what’s called an externship at Grant Hospital so again it was all medicine. So, it was basically all medicine.
INTERVIEWER: Bruce, what was your path to becoming a doctor?
BRUCE: This is Bruce. Similar to Terry, I don’t think, oh, I do remember when I was in grade school I wanted to be a dentist. My parents never understood that, I remember, and would say well tell us why and I, of course didn’t know why but I agree with Terry, I think that, well, I know that we were basically ingrained that you need to get an education to get, to go forward in life and choose what you want. I think there’s two other little things that went on. Number one we saw how happy our father was so, our father being a radiologist and that was kind of the beginning as your father was, the beginning of radiology. They were the first generation of true radiologists and I remember watching my father make rounds at the end of the day seeing some of the families he had seen during the day and that impressed me and other physicians would tell me, gee, you know your father’s a radiologist but he gets to know our patients also and for some reason that always set with me that he really enjoyed seeing people and helping people. I think one of the other things is which was reminded to me by my wife, as our kids were growing up, my wife said, “You guys are really lucky.” We had boys. “You guys are really like because your father has a profession. No business for you so, you’ve got to make a decision and you’ve got to get a good education because you’ve got to go forward with whatever you want and be successful and happy in life and if you want to go in to medicine that’s fine but there’s nothing here for you to live into.” So, I think that was helpful, too.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have any analysis of how the Columbus Jewish community has changed from when you were a child, now looking back on it?
BRUCE: This is Bruce again. I think it’s much more integrated. As we’ve gone through over and over again there was a lot of separation. I don’t think it was really segregation as much as separation so, it is much more integrated now. It’s obviously, much, much larger. I remember it’s probably fifteen, twenty years ago when the Jewish Federation did that report on where Jewish people live in the city and I think most of us who grew up here were totally amazed as to how many were up north and then all of a sudden you started looking around and I’ve always been on the faculty of the University and so all of sudden it started to dawn on me, oh this person’s Jewish, that person’s Jewish up at Ohio State, but they didn’t live east where we lived and I wasn’t familiar with them and then more and more conversation was oh yeah, well, they belong to Beth Shalom and there was much more of a diverse crowd. Obviously there’s a huge amount more inter- marriage than there was during those days. It’s much more accepted. I don’t remember anybody converting in those days, male or female to Judaism. Now it seems to be a very routine kind of things. Synagogues are much larger. To me in my perspective it’s interesting even though when we were little Beth Jacob and Agudas Achim were Orthodox and Temple Israel was Reform and that was it. Oh, and Tifereth Israel was, it’s Conservative. And now you’ve got more Orthodox temples. You’ve got more people, and Terry alluded to it before, wearing yarmulkes, and being devout and observing much more of the Sabbath than we ever did even when we were Orthodox. So, I think there has been major changes.
INTERVIEWER: Terry, what’s your take on how things have changed or not changed?
TERRY: It’s pretty much the same as, this is Terry, it’s pretty much the same as Bruce said. When I was growing up in Columbus, the Jewish community was small. It was confined basically to the east side, well, almost basically, exclusively to the east side of Columbus, mostly in the Near East and in the Driving Park area. Now the Jewish community is all over Columbus. The Jewish community was a very, when I was a kid, was not in an affluent community except for a few families. It was a basically white collar working community, high on education and now it’s all over Columbus. There was, as Bruce said, basically I think maybe four congregations between the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. Now there’s more than I can even name and they are all over the Central Ohio area. There was almost no inter-marriage. It was strictly that you stayed in your own religion. Now inter-marriage is pretty common. In fact I think like most of my friends, as long as their kid is gonna’ be happy whether he marries Jewish, I mean they would prefer he marries Jewish but if he doesn’t as long as they’re happy, that’s the important thing and that sure wasn’t the feelings amongst the old Jewish families at all. So, I think that’s been some of the big changes.
INTERVIEWER: Is there anything else? I want to give you both a chance to say anything else you want. Perhaps I haven’t asked all the questions that need to be asked. Is there anything else..?
TERRY: Just one other thing with the Jewish community, it’s more assimilated into everything that goes on in Columbus and when I was growing up it wasn’t that way. My recollection is, my first recollections in those days was there were only one or two Jewish law firms and the other firms didn’t’ have Jewish attorneys in them and it was just like you asked about the fraternities and the sororities. It was the same kind of thing that Jewish lawyers if they graduated law school weren’t going to get in the big non-Jewish law firms and so you started to have your own small Jewish law firms. Now they are all integrated just like all the country clubs are now integrated. All the fraternities and sororities are integrated so that’s been a big change since the forties or since the Second World War when it started happening after that.
INTERVIEWER: Bruce, is there anything else that you want to add on any topic or open up a new topic here?
BRUCE: Well, this is Bruce. When I think about just the Jewishness and what we’ve gone through, by being Jewish and I think we’ve said it over and over again we didn’t’ feel different and so forth, but it’s interesting when you look back now at my age of 75 and I think about just the things Terry’s brought up some of the institutions around here, whether it’s the Columbus Club, the Athletic Club, the Country Club, Scioto, Columbus, Country Club and so forth, I mean there was never thought that a Jew would get in there and I think the people there who never thought of getting them a Jew in. One of the sad things is, is we said that Jewish institutions or the Jewish Center which I think, I don’t’ remember if it was exclusively Jewish when it moved to College or whether it was already integrated, but I know at least the bowling alley and the leagues were open, but then when you think about Winding Hollow was started, as Terry said, by a couple of prominent Jewish families in the city mainly because they couldn’t join other country clubs, but when you think about it then while Terry and I became leaders at Winding Hollow we tried to integrate it and we couldn’t get our Jewish friends to allow a Gentile to join until finally when they got into financial trouble so there’s mixed feelings there. We were any better than them in being exclusive? I don’t know but those are some of the memories when I think about it. It’s so different now.
TERRY: Let me hone in on that before I forget it. This is Terry, talking about Winding Hollow Country Club. Winding Hollow Country Club was formed because we couldn’t get in to the non-Jewish country clubs but it was formed by the affluent Reform Jews in Columbus and they wouldn’t, even in the early days, they wouldn’t even allow a non-Reform Jew to become a member. When my dad joined Winding Hollow in 1952 maybe, something like that because I was already, I was a senior in high school or just out of high school when he joined, he was the first non-Reform Jew to become a member of Winding Hollow.
INTERVIEWER: It was started by Reform Jews who wanted it only for Reform Jews.
TERRY: Basically, that may not have been in writing but that’s what it was. When I became president of Winding Hollow I was the first non-Reform Jew to be president of Winding Hollow and then when I tried to get one of my radiology associate partners to become a member, and I wasn’t going to bring it up because they had a voting system and I don’t know if the country clubs are still doing that, but it was the thing if you got black-balled at the board meeting you didn’t get in, and there were some Jewish people that got black-balled and didn’t get in so before I was going to bring up a non-Jewish person to join because some of the non-Jewish clubs were starting to take Jewish members, I brought it at a board meeting just for discussion. Well, even though it should have been kept in the board meeting, it got, the word got out and I got some phone calls, believe it or not, at ten o’clock, eleven o’clock at night saying, “What are you doing? They won’t allow us in their place. We don’t want them in our place.” And I said, “This is like Gentleman’s Agreement in reverse, the movie.” I said, “All of a sudden we’ve been fighting segregation all these years, anti-Semitism, and now I have a guy who most, and they all said, they know him, “he’s a very nice guy,” and I said, “Yeah, you all know him, you all do business with him, and you all like him, but you won’t let him in just because he’s not Jewish?” I said, “I think that’s wrong,” but I didn’t want to embarrass him so I didn’t bring him up for a membership, and then as Bruce said, when we got in to financial straits, even though we had tried, not just me but some other people, to integrate with non-Jewish members and they wouldn’t allow us, now all of a sudden because they are in financial desperate straits now they’re willing to let ‘em come in.
INTERVIEWER: So, finally non-Jews did…
INTERVIEWER: …become members of Winding Hollow and approximately what year was this controversy taking place so we can understand?
TERRY: When I wanted to have somebody join?
INTERVIEWER: Yes, when you wanted to have someone join.
TERRY: I was president of Winding Hollow in 1978-1980 so it goes back to that period of time.
INTERVIEWER: So, it was the late 1970’s when still, when still Winding Hollow said…
TERRY: …early 1980’s. No non-Jews.
INTERVIEWER: …we don’t want non-Jews in.
TERRY: In fact, the year before we moved, and I’m trying to remember what year we moved from where we were to way out east, we had a general meeting ‘cause we were gonna’ invite, we were gonna’ have non-Jews join. By this time we had a couple integrated families whose kids had married non-Jews who were members and we had one member and I won’t mention his name. It was an open meeting and we were going to discuss not only moving but integrating the membership so we could have more members to support the club and this one fella’ who was a prominent attorney in town got up and said, “We don’t want those people here.” You know, “They’re not Jewish and we don’t want ‘em.” And we had some of our people who were married to non-Jewish people in the audience at the time. Within two days they all resigned. They said, “If that’s the way you feel, we’re not going to be members.”
BRUCE: This is Bruce. It’s interesting but since we’re talking about history and Jewish history here, getting off that but a similar type subject, when the original Winding Hollow was started we said that it was by Reform Jews, there was actually some discrimination I am told between Eastern European Jews and Western European Jews so, that’s what I understand was the big thing that it wasn’t just Reform and Orthodox because the Easterns were more Orthodox and so forth. So, I hate to put that blight on our history, but we were discriminatory even within our own race, as we all know, and I didn’t realize that, interestingly, until one of my children married a young lady who’s still his wife and my daughter-in-law and they came from another town and when we went to a party for the kids when they were engaged in this other town, basically the grandmother told me that same story in their own city saying, “Well, I don’t know them because they’re Eastern Jews.” That was the first time I’d ever heard it in my life and here I was twenty-five years old and I didn’t even know that discrimination, but I think, you know, since this is historical people ought to realize that there was that discrimination. It did exist.
INTERVIEWER: As we end this interview I thought maybe I’d just let you say, how do you want people to remember the thirties, forties, fifties, sixties of the Jewish community in Columbus? How would you describe it? What adjectives might you use? What do you want people to take away from that era when you were younger here in Columbus?
BRUCE: This is Bruce. I think it was very tight. It was much smaller. I think everybody respected each other. There were some jealousies obviously within the community. I think we worked together to build the community. I think the synagogues at those times were fairly supportive of each other, worked together. One of the concerns I have now is we have too many synagogues and financially they’re probably struggling because of that and I think we need to continue to work more as a community together. We’re just so much bigger I think it’s harder to work together. I think in my youth and growing up and adult life it’s been a wonderful place to grow up, to mature, to work and I think it’s been a fabulous opportunity for my kids to grow up in this kind of an environment and see how life can be very happy.
INTERVIEWER: And Terry, your final thoughts? How do you want people to remember that era of several decades ago in the Columbus Jewish community?
TERRY: This is Terry. I remember it as being a very happy time. It was prosperous time. It was peace. It was, there weren’t any guns. There weren’t any drugs so, we didn’t have those kinds of problems. As Bruce said, it was a close-knit small community and we all got along and it was good prosperous times. The fifties, the sixties, were just wonderful times growing up in Columbus. I think it was great city and still is a great city to raise a family. I think it’s a very open city for Jewish people to come and do well. I don’t think there’s any open anti-Semitism really around Columbus. I think you can succeed as long as you try as a Jewish person here in Columbus. I think the Jewish people that I grew up with have all done extremely well both financially, socially, health-wise. It’s just a great community.
INTERVIEWER: And with that we’ll conclude our interview with Terry Meyer and his brother Bruce. The date is August 21st, 2014.
BRUCE: If they call us and tell us it didn’t record, don’t expect us to repeat this (laughter.)