We are at the home of Carol and Fred Luper in Bexley and the date is September 10, and this is Bill Cohen, so let’s start our interview here for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society.
Interviewer: Carol, why don’t you just start… Tell us what you do know about your parents or your grandparents and how did they get you to Columbus. I don’t know if they were born here or elsewhere, just tell us a little family history.
Luper: My mother’s parents came from Lithuania and Russia. My mother’s mother was born in Lithuania. My mother’s father was born in a city called Cheripinka in Russia. They came to Buffalo, New York, settled in Buffalo, New York, and my grandfather opened a fruit stand and my grandmother and their three daughters, the oldest of whom was my mother, worked in the fruit store, and I was born. My parents – start with my mother, first generation American, was born in Buffalo, New York. She had two younger sisters, Vivian and Phyllis. My mother and Vivian are deceased. Phyllis at 83 is still alive
Interviewer: And your mother’s name?
Luper: My mother’s name was Evelyn Umansky. The family name was Umansky. My grandmother, born in Lithuania, came over and at 18 gave birth to my mother who was the biggest baby ever in Buffalo, New York at that time – a twelve-pound baby girl. That was my mother. She never stayed big, but was a record holder to her eighteen-year-old, at the time, mother, Celia Glick Umansky.
My grandfather ran his fruit stand for many years. It was well known. On Jefferson Avenue is where the fruit stand was. I don’t know much about their early lives, except that they settled in Buffalo, New York, and were married in Buffalo and, as I say, had three daughters.
My father’s parents both came from Poland and it was unusual that their name was Perlmuter with one ‘t’ – P-e-r -l-m- u-t -e-r – because that’s a German name. “Mother of Pearl,” it means. But my grandfather, Joseph Perlmutter came from Poland. My grandmother, Anna Finkelstein Perlmutter had four children, one of whom died at an early age. Their first child, Louis, their second child, Harry, was my father, their third child, Bertha, and they all settled in Buffalo, New York.
My grandfather worked at a steel plant called Buffalo Forge, and was very interesting. He was very old school. His father had been a rabbi in Poland, my grandfather’s father, but he, my grandfather went away from the faith. He did not go to Temple and he did not certainly believe that girls should be Bat Mitzvah, and that was a very interesting part of my young life, because although he believed that I should go to Yiddish school, which I did for a year, and learned nothing but that there was a hot fudge sundae shop next door, and we played pickup sticks a lot. I don’t remember any of the Yiddish education. I was also going to Hebrew school at the time, so I was Bat Mitzvah and my grandfather of course gave in and came, and it was a… Bat Mitzvah was a wonderful process in Buffalo, New York at Conservative Temple Emanuel. Our rabbi was Rabbi Isaac Klein who was very well-known, particularly made national headlines during the Sherri Finkbine case. She had taken Thalidomide and had to have an abortion and Rabbi Klein was quoted as saying, “The Bible says, ‘If thine eye offend thee, cut it out’” and he was pro [ approx. 4:15] of Sherri Finkbine. As a Conservative rabbi he made great headlines when I was a young person, but he was the rabbi who was my rabbi all through my growing up years and performed our marriage in Buffalo, New York.
Interviewer: Let’s talk a little about your, so you’re talking about, you were Bat Mitzvahed in Buffalo New York.
Luper: I was.
Interviewer: What year would that have been, approximately?
Luper: It would have been 1956.
Interviewer: 1956, a Bat Mitzvah. That sounds like it would have been pretty ahead of its time.
Luper: Very routine. Very routine. We were all Bat Mitzvah in Buffalo.
Luper: It was not anything unique or unusual. I was, our Bat Mitzvah class, we did it in tandem, so we were all Bat Mitzvahed two at a time, and it was very special. Now, we were Bat Mitzvah Friday night, which was the Conservative tradition for many years. In fact, here in Columbus, since both of my boys were Bar Mitzvah at Agudas Achim, and our daughter deserved the same privilege, we transferred and joined the Conservative Tifereth Israel where our daughter was allowed to be Bat Mitzvah on Saturday morning.
Interviewer: Just talk a little bit about this idea of, even though, look, our interview here is really aimed at the Columbus Jewish Community, it’s interesting a little bit to hear a little bit more about your upbringing in Buffalo. This idea that you went to Hebrew School as a child and at the same time you’re going to a Yiddish school?
Luper: But I remember very little, except that Mr. Sigalowski was the teacher. I remember very, very little about that experience. It was not something that my parents particularly cared about, for me to learn Yiddish, but they wanted to please my grandfather, and it wasn’t an experience that I recall very much. I remember my Hebrew school experience – don’t we all! I remember Mr. Vonn and Mrs. Vonn and Mr. Fuerer, who was the principal and ran all of our Bat Mitzvah lessons, but I don’t remember much about the Yiddish school other than I went to please my grandfather for a period of, I guess a year. I guess a year concurrent with Hebrew school, and Hebrew school was like all of our Hebrew school experiences. I really don’t remember much Hebrew, but I do remember that we… [it skips here – approx. 6:45] socially.
Interviewer: So how did Carol Luper come to be in Columbus, Ohio, and when was that?
Luper: Neither of my parents graduated college. Both…neither of my parents went to college. My father ran a fruit store, a grocery store in Buffalo. My mom was a homemaker until my sister and I had gone to college. And then she became a secretary at the New York State Rehabilitation Center and they trained her and she became a rehabilitation counselor for many years with no college degree. As a high school student, and I have to say my four years in high school were probably four of my happiest years, although most of my years have been happy, I applied to Syracuse University, which I got in to, which I figured I was going to go to Syracuse. I was a B+ student. I was very active. I was president of everything and vice president of everything. I brought Robert [It skips here – approx. 7:30] to Buffalo and I met John F. Kennedy as a 17 year old because I had been writing him letters for many years. From the time he lost the Vice Presidential nomination to Estes Kefauver, when I was 13 years old, I had a correspondence with John F. Kennedy, but at any rate, I was a very active high school student and in the Jewish youth group at our Center. I was active and in our teenage Jewish Federation, United Jewish Fund, at the time, I was active in that as well as many…so I had a lot of extracurricular activities, but my dad said, ‘Apply to Cornell. What can it hurt? Apply to Cornell,” and I applied to Cornell and got in, lo and behold. I applied to the Industrial and Labor Relations School at Cornell and I wanted to be a labor lawyer. It was $55 a semester there because we were in-state students and it was a state school. I was there (It skips here – approx. 8:45) years.
At the beginning of my sophomore year, I met a young man from Columbus, Ohio who was a senior. My roommate’s boyfriend was editor of what they called the Freshman Register, which was pictures of all of the freshman, and as a sophomore we had to…it was like a year book, and we had to arrange the pictures, caption the pictures, get them all organized, and so we got to school early. So there I was, my sophomore year at Cornell and my roommate’s boyfriend’s roommate came in to work on this Freshman Register, and we took one look at each other and started talking. He says that he fell in love with me because I captioned the crew as ‘The Seven Dwarfs” and I was the only one in the room who knew the names of the Seven Dwarfs. He took me home, back to the dorm that night and said, “I’m trying out for a play tomorrow night for The Time of Your Life. Have you ever done theater?” I said, “Yeah. I performed all through high school,” and he said, “Well, come to tryouts with me.” He went back to his apartment room and said, “I met the girl I’m going to marry.” I went back to my roommate and said, “I met the guy I’m going to marry.” She said, “I don’t like him very well. I’ve known him and I don’t like him, but If you like him, okay, go out with him,” and we never went out with anybody else. I was eighteen and he was, twenty-one. He’s three years older than I am, and we went together for seven months at Cornell. We were both in the play. I had a one-line walk on. He was the lead. Our parents came to see it. His mother came to Ithaca and my parents came, so, we all met in November. We were two nice Jewish kids at Cornell. He was preparing to graduate. His dad had just passed away a couple of years before, and he wrote my parents a letter. We got pinned, in a pinning ceremony, which they did at Cornell, and he said, “I love your daughter, could she please transfer to Ohio State University so that we don’t have to be separated, I know we’re only pinned. I know I have three years of law school. She has another two years of college, but we love each other.” So, what parents now would allow their nineteen-year-old daughter to transfer from Cornell University. No one in the family had ever gone to college, no one had certainly ever gone away to college, and no one had ever gone to an Ivy League school. Where is Ohio State? Where is Columbus, Ohio? You know, the end of the world, and they said, “Yes.” So, I transferred here. I roomed on the third floor of a long walk up called “The Doll House” on Iuka, 1952 Iuka on Ohio State’s campus. My mother saw it and said, “I really would like to take you home. You’re going to sleep on the top bunk on the top floor of a rooming house.” I had a beautiful room at Cornell because my roommate was an RA on the campus, and we had a room with bay windows and it was wonderful at Cornell, so, this was a bit of culture shock. It was also the week that a coed, Mary Margaret Andrews, had been found dead in a garage, with a lot of blood. My mother said, “This is what I’m bringing you to and leaving you to.” I said, “I’ll be fine.” So, that’s how I got to Ohio State University and Fred of course was in law school, studying very hard. We rarely saw each other, but I would come in to the East side, he would bring me here for dinner. We had Shabbos dinner at his mother’s house every Friday night. I was at the dorm and of course there was never any thought of any cohabitation. You didn’t do that in 1963 and 1964. We were married and he had one year of law school left. I had graduated and gotten a job at the old Channel 6 on Harmon and Griggs. I was in marketing and promotion, and he was finishing law school. He finished law school and got a job for $90 a week in a law firm, and so that’s the love story that got me here. I went from Big Red to Scarlet and Grey.
Interviewer: So, you were married where?
Luper: We were married in Buffalo, New York, in, by Rabbi Isaac Klein, in 1964 – July 26, 1964. We’ve just celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary, so my parent’s decision to let me transfer to Ohio State took. It was a good one.
Interviewer: So, what do you remember about the 1960s in terms of the Jewish community, in terms of what you did with Jewish groups or…?
Luper: I became very active in this community, very quickly. I was working at Channel 6 until I was three months pregnant and at that time, pregnant women weren’t really working, so, in my 5th month they said, “You know, you’re welcome to come back if you want to,” which nobody ever did and I didn’t at that time, so, I left to have my three children, and I had three children: one in ’66; one in ’68 and one in ’72.
The sixties were a time when I became active in the Columbus Jewish community. I was in the Brandeis Book Club, Brandeis Organization, which supported Brandeis. I became an officer in Women’s American Ort and brought in many, many people and we split up into many chapters at that time. I was a member of Hadassah. I was very active, having been a child in the Jewish Federation, very active in the Columbus Jewish Federation, which was called at that time, the United Jewish Fund, here in Columbus in the sixties. So as a young mother I had to give back. I was chairman of the young leadership program and we brought Abba Eban and a lot of speakers here to Columbus and had wonderful meetings, learning about Israel, learning about the Columbus Jewish Community. In fact, at age twenty-eight, I think I’m still the youngest who ever won the Kahn Young Leadership Award from the Columbus Jewish Federation, the United Jewish Fund. At age twenty-eight I was honored and that was a recognition of how active I had become in this community. People shook their heads, ‘She’s a young mother,’ but I was used to being busy and so I poured my energies into raising my family and being here in the community. I was also very active, at the time, in the Cornell Alumni Club.
Interviewer: You mentioned bringing Aba Iban here.
Luper: We did.
Interviewer: Was this around the time of the war? The Six-Day War?
Luper: I think it was just after. It was after the Six-Day War. I can tell you what home that meeting was in, but I don’t remember much of the substance. Well, now let me see. I was expecting Douglas, so, it would have been ’67, ’68, just prior to the Six-Day War.
Interviewer: Well since this is ‘67, the war was in ’67, June of ‘67
Luper: Yeah. So, it was right around that time and that’s why it was so important to have him here.
Interviewer: So, you felt a real part, you not only felt part of the Jewish Community, you helped lead the Jewish Community.
Luper: I hoped so. That was my, my purpose in being part of a community was to serve the community and I did until, when my youngest child was 3, and I had to record a public service announcement at an old radio station, WRFD, which at the time was a rock and roll and farm station, which is an interesting combination. They had the actual members of the organization record public service announcements, and so there I went. Now I had had my own radio program at WVVR at Cornell. I had my own radio show and I wrote a spot and brought it in and [It skips here – approx. 16:55] and the news director said, “Have you ever done anything,” and I said, “Well I had my own radio show and I took a broadcast course at Ohio State.”
“Well how would you like to work for us in the news department?” I said, “Well I’m a news junkie. I have three young children,” and they offered me $65 a week, and my husband said, “You know, tell ‘em you’ll go to work for free, but that really isn’t enough.” So, I turned down the job, and they hired somebody who shall remain nameless who is a well-known and beloved person in the broadcast community in Columbus, Ohio currently, but he couldn’t read. They called me back six weeks later and said, “The job us still open. We’ll pay you $70 a week, will you work?” I did news from noon to seven, five days a week at WRFD. Fred took care of the kids, three young children ages three, seven, and nine at the time. The boys were at the Columbus Academy and Betsy was at the Jewish Center Preschool, and I worked there for nine months and got a call from a fellow by the name of Roy Ditman, who was the news director at WBNS Radio at the time and said, “Mary Marshall, our morning co-anchor with me is leaving. I hear you on WRFD. Would you like to move downtown to WBNS?” I said, “Yes,” and so, I was on the radio there for a couple of years. Had an offer from Channel 4’s news director to go do television news, which I had no experience with at all, and told my news director at WBNS Radio, Roy Ditman, who said, “If you go to work in television, you’re going to work for our sister station, you’re not going over to Channel 4,” so, he had a conversation with General Manager Gene D’Angelo at Channel 10. Gene said, in Gene’s way, “Hey Babe, I can’t hire you, but I’ve just hired a new news director and he will hire you.” So, the news director who was there for a week, Larry Meizel hired me and I became a reporter, learning on-the-job training as I always seem to do, at Channel 10. I was there for 10 years, when a friend who had been there and left and came back as Channel 6’s news director said, “Hey Luper, I’m back in town. Let’s have dinner.” Lo and behold he brought his Channel 6 news director with him. I had been at 10 for ten years now, and said, “Come on, they’re not featuring you enough. Come over to Channel 6, we’ll give you the moon,” and I said, “Give me a few weeks” and I took a few weeks and I came to Channel 6 and I was there for almost 25 years, so that is my work history. In between doing that, I was less active in the community although I did some community things and I did things that were publicity oriented and getting people on the air and telling the story and retired September 13, almost exactly two years ago, of 2013.
Interviewer: So, your total broadcast career…
Luper: Almost 40 years.
Interviewer: Almost 40 years. Give us some memories you might have, whether they be from the ‘60s or ’70s or ‘80s or ‘90s or whenever. What are your memories of some of the Jewish institutions, I don’t know, Martin’s Kosher Foods or some of the synagogues, the Jewish Center…?
Luper: Oh, everybody, everybody shopped at Martin’s. Marty Godofsky was what, the mayor of Bexley and of course…
Luper: …so to speak. The mayor of Bexley for most of those years was David Madison. Bexley had a Jewish mayor and Marty Goofsky and Leah Godofsky were sort of surrogate parents to all of us young marrieds in town. Their daughter Joyce was a good friend. Fred, who grew up in Columbus, grew up with Joyce and Carol Singer still lives in town. Joyce is married to Larry Greenberg, a doctor in…they live in the Bethesda area and I know there is another, a brother Irvin who I think is out in California or was and the Godofkys ran Martin’s like a family store and it was and that’s where we shopped. Keeping kosher at the beginning of our marriage, of course, that’s where I got, and we only bought kosher meat even when we didn’t really keep kosher any longer. Martin’s was one place where we shopped. Hepps, Hepps Delicatessan, Dorothy Hepps ran Hepps Delicatessan.
Interviewer: Where was that located?
Luper: It was in the shopping center where, oh, on East Main Street, there’s a kids’ play store there. There’s a Verizon store there now.
Luper: Yeah, yeah. It was in Bexley on East Main Street maybe twenty-five hundred numbers, across from the CVS. There’s a shopping center there now.
Interviewer: Hepps Delicatessan.
Luper: I think that’s where Hepps Delicatessan was if I remember correctly and I may be wrong. It may have been on Broad Street. It may have been on Broad Street where, well, where Ross Cleaners is or the shopping center…
Interviewer: …but definitely in the Bexley area.
Luper: …definitely in the Bexley area, absolutely, and Dorothy Hepps ran it…
Interviewer: And competed with Martin’s.
Luper: Yeah, and she was a cousin of our distant cousins, Ina and Wes Rosenthal so, we knew Dorothy and there was a fellow there by the name of Paul who worked there and gave you a little extra corned beef sometimes. So, I remember Hepps and I remember Martin’s very well. We were members of Agudas Achim for many years. Fred’s great great-grandfather brought a Torah from Russia which is still there which Fred read his bar mitzvah from and both of our boys read their bar mitzvahs from the Luper Torah. Because the temple has changed and is now Conservative and has gone through several rabbis, I don’t know if the Luper Torah is still there but his great great-grandfather brought it. The temple before my time was on Donaldson before it moved to the Roosevelt location. Fred’s father was president of Agudas Achim when Fred was in grade school and we have a picture. I have it on my phone. I don’t know where I got it or where it exists or whether somebody sent it to me of the men digging the first shovels of dirt for the new Agudas Achim on Roosevelt and Fred’s dad was president at the time. Um…
Interviewer: These are great historical tidbits.
Luper: Great historical tidbits.
Interviewer: The idea that the Torah was brought all the way…
Luper: The Torah was brought all the way from Russia and Fred’s dad, Samuel Luper, was a Columbus resident and he was, he was an amazing man. I never got to meet him. He was a brother of, he had three sisters. He went to law school, had to wait a year because he graduated college at a very early age and couldn’t take the bar exam until he was twenty-one. He graduated law school at twenty, Fred’s father, and had three sisters, Reva, Mollie, and Edith who married Abe Gertner who was a well-known lawyer here in Columbus and, of course, their son Mike is a lawyer here in Columbus. Mike did the dvar Torah two weeks ago at Agudas Achim and Mike still belongs to Agudas Achim, but I explained why we moved to Tifereth Israel. My memories of Agudas Achim are beautiful memories, memories of Rabbi Rubenstein and Cantor Baruch Shiffman and a choir, a male choir, of course at the Orthodox synagogue. There was no mechitzah when we were there. I think that was introduced shortly before the big move to the new temple and all of that on Main Street but we were members. Our children all went to the Jewish Community Center Rose Schwartz’s Preschool, Rose Schwartz’s Preschool which Fred went to Rose Schwartz’s Preschool.
Luper: … and they all remember Rose Schwartz very well with lots of love and her bosom that attracted and held and her hearing aids which squeaked always when you talked to, to Rose Swartz.
Interviewer: Let me understand. Fred, when he was a child, went to Rose Schwartz Preschool…
Interviewer: …at the Jewish Center…
Interviewer: That would have been in the forties or fifties.
Luper: That would have been in the forties.
Luper: He was born in 1940.
Interviewer: …and you say your children…
Luper: …My children went to what they called Rose Schwartz’s Preschool. I don’t remember when Rose left us but Barbara Weinberg was running it at the time, I think, when my three went through and they all benefitted greatly from their experience at the Jewish Center. I mean we did everything. We bowled there, we all went to parties there, we went to events there. When Fred and I were young marrieds we were very active in Gallery Players. I stage managed a show called The Zulu and the Zeyde. Fred was in Pajama Game as Prez. He was in a number of shows at the CC. He was also in a number of shows at various other venues. – Actors Summer Theater and Independent Players which used to put on shows at Vets Memorial on a stage, so we were active in Gallery Players and, of course, dedicated followers and fans of Harold Eisenstein who directed more plays and was involved in more than ninety shows in his forty years at the Jewish Community Center. Harold was, was an icon to the theater community in Columbus, Harold and Anita, his wonderful wife, who we just lost recently, but Harold came from New York, Director of the Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show at that time and he and Anita came to Columbus, Ohio of all places, raised three boys, and we have been very involved in remembering Harold in many ways and tributes to Harold, and of course, Harold is responsible for the singer Michael Feinstein who has created The American Songbook and is now conducting and singing and performing all over the country. Michael Feinstein is a beloved name and Michael was born and grew up here and was in theater, went to Eastmoor High School and oh, I think we met him when he was seventeen in a play called The Rothschilds at the Jewish Community Center and Harold created kind of a home for Michael because Michael was, Michael always felt he was [skips 28:37] his parents introduced him to song and dance and Michael loved Gershwin and the Gershwin music and the music of the theater in those days and the musical theater and that was Michael’s joy and, of course, Michael went out to California. Michael used to perform at the Dell here, I understand, and Michael went out to California. Michael is still a good friend of ours, and course met the Gershwins and chronicled Ira Gershwin’s life and has become The Michael Feinstein so…
Interviewer: …and Harold Eisenstein helped mentor…
Luper: Harold mentored and discovered and almost second-fathered Michael. He, he saw in Michael a talent that has certainly developed over the years and, of course, he is nationally and internationally known now, but Jewish Center memories include the bowling alley, Gallery Players, theater performances, and some great friendships and one can’t mention the Jewish community theater without mentioning Rose Schwartz’s Preschool and Harold Eisenstein and Gallery Players.
Interviewer: When you say you remember the bowling alley then, did you do smoking at the bowling alley? That was a big activity there.
Luper: No, no, no, yes, no, no. I just, I do remember bowling but I was never in a league of any kind. I know that the leagues go on, of course, now affiliated with the Jewish community but I do remember, and I was going through some things and I found a button 1982 The Last Dance at the JCC so, that was a big event at the Center in 1982 before the new building which we call the new building which is now getting a much needed, has gotten a much needed construction and getting a much needed parking lot refurbishing and we spend a lot of time there, Fred and I, still.
Interviewer: Let me ask you this. You’ve not only been active in the Jewish community but you’ve been active in the community in general, as a reporter and in so many other ways. In Columbus, Ohio, have you yourself experienced any examples of what you would call anti-Semitism?
Luper: I think about that a lot because it’s something that I am talking now to my grandchildren about. It’s not in their world right now. I remember, I remember specifically that Fred would not go to Bar Association meetings at the Athletic Club because they did not permit Blacks and, if I remember correctly, back in the sixties, perhaps, seventies, I don’t’ believe they had any Jewish members either. I think that that was, I don’t know that you call it anti-Semitism but it [skips -might be ‘certainly]’ indicated that Jews were not accepted in, totally accepted in the general community. I cannot think of any specific events or anything targeted to me. I am very aware of anti-Semitism. I am very knowledgeable and I have a grandson, who happens to be asleep upstairs who is living with us at the moment who is twenty and after graduating Isaqua High School in Seattle, Washington, decided that, he had made two trips to Israel, one with his temple and family and one as a student in the Alexander Muss program in his junior year, that he wasn’t ready for college so, he joined the IDF as a lone soldier and spent, has spent, Nate spent two years there and came home to interview for the new Microsoft store that opened here at Easton. His dad, worked, has worked for Microsoft for eleven years in Seattle and apparently, they interviewed two thousand…they had two thousand applications, interviewed two hundred and he was one of thirty-some hired so, I have a grandson who was an IDF soldier who we worried about desperately for two years who was in, you might call it the swat team where they would raid peoples’ homes where people saw that there were weapons and their team would go in and it was a frightening two years for us but he is safe and he is home and he still loves Israel and probably won’t make aliyah but will go back and visit. Met his girlfriend who is from White Plains, New York, who enlisted in the IDF the same time he did, same age and they are both going to be in Columbus and that’s a wonderful story, too. Hopefully they will wind up spending their lives together. It was a great meeting and she’s a wonderful young woman. She worked this summer at the JCC, so, every…you know, they say, six degrees of separation. I think in the Jewish community there’s no separation. We kind of all gravitate toward each other. In terms of going back, in terms of anti-Semitism, I would ask for the Jewish stories. I remember when there was a shooting at the JCC in California and I remember that the station wanted to talk to the JCC here and find out are they doing anything specific and I tended to say, “I don’t know that they’ll tell you any specifics. They want to be protected. They don’t want to be out there,“ so, I would sort of take it upon myself to [skips 34:25] be the Jewish reporter and when there were questions and …you know every Passover they wanted to tell the Passover story and Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur was kind of a “Okay Carol write us a piece.” Was it the Six Day War? I do remember standing outside Agudas Achim just before going in for Kol Nidre and reporting on something and it was a major story at the time and I said, “No, you can’t go it. It’s an Orthodox synagogue but, …until sundown we’re okay here, so I always sort of felt like the Jewish reporter but I always felt that I made that a positive. That was never a negative.
Interviewer: You’ve seen the Jewish community…when you arrived in the sixties, most Jews in Columbus lived in Bexley…
Interviewer: …or Eastmoor or Berwick.
Interviewer: Now, even though many or most still live in that eastern area, Jews are living in all areas…
Luper: Absolutely…and there’s a tremendous…
Interviewer: …of the county. What’s your take on that?
Luper: Well, and there’s a tremendous amount of outreach. The Jewish Community Center has a north branch. There’s a temple on Olentangy River Road up north. Beth Tikvah is up there serving all communities, but serving that community so, the outreach is interesting to me as an observer. I have a son who lives in Bexley and a daughter who lives in New Albany and there’s a temple that the New Albany young people belong to Beth Shalom. It is burgeoning. It is just, I don’t think they can hold, I mean I think they are probably going to have, you know, six or seven High Holy Day services because they have an incredible amount of interest from the young people in this community so, I have seen much of the Jewish community, particularly the young Jewish community move out to New Albany and, of course, Leslie Wexner is responsible I say single handedly for New Albany. He had a vision and lo and behold he lives there and there it is and I think it’s a healthy thing or this community to spread out. I think that there are, I mean, there are Jewish people in this community who serve both Jewish and general communities in activities and, and I certainly have been participating as well in the general community. I think that, I think it’s a healthy community. You would never apply the word “ghetto” to Bexley Berwick and Eastmoor because people really chose that. When we were first married, we lived way east, just east of Hamilton Road but, I think, and I think that at one time in my lifetime, there were communities that did not welcome Jews. I think you still don’t see a lot of Jewish people in Upper Arlington and in Dublin, whether that’s by choice, whether that’s by location if you’re tied to a synagogue and you’re tied to a, the Jewish Community Center, Jewish Day School – all of that happens to be on the east side so perhaps it’s by choice, but I have seen that residential movement if you call it that in my life here and I think it’s healthy. When we talked to our rabbi about our daughter and her husband leaving Tifereth Israel to go to Beth Shalom and we said, “We will miss them. You know we see them here at temple. We will miss having our grand-children bat and bar mitzvah here,” and Rabbi Berman said, “Be glad and happy that they’ve joined a temple,” which, you know, there’s not really much more to say. That is exactly right and we enjoy their mitzvot with them there, their confirmation and so forth and it’s a good feeling to know that there is Jewish community outreach in this central Ohio area.
Interviewer: Your children, did they get involved with, oh, the Jewish, I don’t know if they’re called sororities and fraternities, probably not, they’re called…
Interviewer: …more the AZA’s and so forth.
Luper: Yes, none of my children was particularly active in any of the Jewish organizations growing up. The boys started at the Columbus Academy and then both in high school transferred to Bexley. My middle son, Douglas, played basketball and football for Bexley. My daughter went to SCG and was a theater person, very active. She was in every CSG and Academy all through school and they were really not particularly, although they were bar and bat mitzvah and they were not, now I guess it skips a generation because my son and daughter -in-law in Seattle are very active in their temple. She is, she is, Brenda is part of many of the groups of the temple, the welcoming group and…and she and Steve go almost every morning, go to temple almost every morning. Their kids teach and taught in the Sunday school as young people, as teenagers, they were in the, and Jesse is very, very, very much involved in USY. She travels all over the country. She is sixteen and she is a major USYer so maybe it skips a generation. I don’t know. Betsy is a board member of Beth Shalom and they are all aware of being Jewish, aware of being active members of the Jewish community, but none of my children particularly, other than Steve in Seattle, is active in the temple as is Betsy here in Beth Shalom, so, that’s my family and their connections.
Interviewer: Do you see this a lot, the idea of, that Jews in Columbus are active within the Jewish community and but then don’t just stay within the Jewish community but they also are outward looking? Do you see that?
Luper: I think that’s right. I think that’s right. There is, there is some representation of the Jewish community in all of the arts organizations, which I am active in, and I think that, I think that that’s right, certainly United Way, there have been a number of Jewish leaders involved in United Way. I think that there is a very good record of people in the Jewish community reaching out and I have always tried to do that. At the moment, I am involved in some not particularly Jewish organizations. I am a docent at the Pizzuti Collection. I was an inaugural docent at the Pizzuti Art Collection because my life had always been centered about reporting on stories of fact and politics and what’s going on in the world and death and destruction and fires. Arts and creativity were not particularly a part of my daily life so, I have gone off the deep end and I’m a docent in an art museum. I am also now a board member of the Columbus Metropolitan Club which was started by a group of thirteen women including Jewish women. Mary Lazarus and …Greene and anyway Bob Greene’s mom. Her name escapes me at the moment. Anyway, they started a group because they were not permitted into the men’s organization and so, these women, including Jewish women, started the Metropolitan, the Columbus Metropolitan Club which was open to everybody and which has expanded now to eleven hundred members.
Interviewer: And the Metropolitan Club ironically or maybe ironically isn’t the right word, meets often at the Columbus Athletic Club…
Interviewer: …which you mentioned earlier
Luper: Yes, and, and it, it, they seem to be welcoming everybody. We have certainly there are people of color, certainly Jewish people, so, so, hopefully eyes have opened and prejudices have gone by the wayside at least publicly and openly. Columbus Metropolitan Club for me has been eye-opening. I’m learning about things that I never knew about. Every week the speakers from Cameron Mitchell talking about his restaurants to David Milenthal talking about his public relations firm and his time being a PR person for the governor, to politics, to yesterday’s forum which was Supreme Court Justice Judy French, and Micah Berman, who is the rabbi’s son, who is an assistant professor at Ohio State, and Tom Weeks, Public Defender, talking about poverty and how poor people don’t get enough representation in the courts and in the medical fields. It’s, it’s a huge learning experience for me and now I’m thrilled to be on the board and on the program committee helping to, to select the programs. It’s just a very eye-opening, community-serving organization although not Jewish-serving organization, and, and the things that I’m doing, I’m, I’m lecturing the staffs of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, teaching them how to deal with the news media. I’m doing an event for the Parkinson’s Association in a couple of weeks. I moderated gubernatorial debates so, I’m, I’m no longer the Jewish reporter but, I certainly share my love of the Jewish community and activities on Facebook and have a pretty good following on Facebook.
Interviewer: We’ve already talked about how in your time in your fifty, fifty-some years here in Columbus, you’ve seen the Jewish community geographically spread out. Any other changes that come to mind as you view the Jewish community in Columbus over the past half century?
Luper: I think that it’s, it’s a negative change, something that has been written about a lot lately and that is disaffiliation, un-affiliation, whereas I’m seeing that some young people are coming back to synagogue affiliation, many have left, many who feel that they are not being served, have gone away from temple membership and temple’s attendance. I believe that there has been a change in the focus of the Jewish Community Center to where the youth are still being served big-time in terms of preschool, after school and Maccabi Games are coming back to the JCC, the summer camp is full, so, its mission to provide for the young people in the Jewish community, and incidentally, I’m hearing that the Jewish Community Center membership is a little less than half non-Jewish, so, the Jewish Community Center is affiliating with others, is serving others in the community. A major change there, I believe, there is the immigrant population who are being served both by the Jewish Community Center and the Jewish Family Service, and the elderly who get meals, who get transportation, who have activities at the Jewish Community Center. I think that has, has burgeoned as our population ages so, that is certainly a change, and I also believe that there is a growing young Orthodox community here in the City of Columbus which I find interesting and hope for the Jewish community in the future.
Interviewer: Did you have one or two or three people that you’ve kind of considered your mentors after you came to Columbus in terms of being members of the Jewish community? Anybody stick out in your mind?
Luper: There was a wonderful woman, may she rest in peace, Sarah Schwartz, and Sarah Schwartz was a lawyer. Sarah Schwartz was my mother-in-law’s generation and Sarah and Harry, her husband Harry Schwartz was also a lawyer and he practiced up until I think two or three days before he passed away, Sarah taught a class at the Federation in Speakers. Sarah had a Speakers Bureau which we, we who were young women what we called at that time the Young Matrons Division, took Sarah’s course and that was wonderful and helpful and I had always been a speaker – one other little vignette I will remember to tell you – but Sarah was a very, very active member of the community and a respected member of the community and I had adored her and hoped to follow in her foot-steps. My mother-in-law, Eva Luper, was very active. She was very active in Hadassah. She was a tremendous leader. She was, I think, the first woman member of the Million Dollar Club for the Board of Realtors. When her husband, Fred’s dad, passed away, she was alone and hadn’t worked outside the home during her marriage but became a real estate agent and a very successful real estate agents so she was also one of my… I would say she was one of my mentors. She passed away early in our marriage. She was very young. She passed away in ’71 and, but, but I respected her so much and so, those were the two Jewish women mentors. I think Ben Mandelkorn at the Federation was somebody who, in his own inimitable way, got things done and I so respected his, his, he just got it done. He brought people to the Federation and raised more and more money every year. He was not particularly a mentor. Oh, there were, there were very many people who I loved and respected and who may have given me a hand along the way, really, too many to mention. I want to go back to my high school years. I was very active in the theater and our theater teacher, Daniel Kublitz decided that I should be on the debate team.
Interviewer: What was his last name?
Luper: Kublitz, Dan Kublitz. A wonderful Jewish man.
Interviewer: How do you spell that?
Luper: K-u-b-l-i-t-z, and he decided that I should be on the debate team my senior year an so we practiced and he said, “Not only am I putting you in to be on the debate team but I’m putting you in as an extemporaneous competitor. So, “Okay.” The competition was at Canisius High School which was a catholic High School in Buffalo, New York, so, there I am and the bishop and the priest were our judges and we had to pick a topic out of a hat and talk for three minutes extemporaneously and I picked out a stu..I mean I remember this, I was sixteen?… a study of the classics, and I talked for three minutes about why it’s important to learn Shakespeare and to learn all about the Greek lit, Greek literature and I won and I have a plaque from Bishop Berens of the speaking competition. Jewish girl wins, I mean I was a headline in the Buffalo evening news that week.
Interviewer: Did it say, “Jewish girl wins..
Luper: “Jewish girl, a speaker of quality” so, and my mother has all of that. I have her scrapbooks, from Buffalo, but I have again, personally, I have really never felt anti-Semitism although I am very aware of it from various institutions and I’m…another idol of mine was Marvin Hamlisch who became a very good friend. His wife Terry is from here and she worked at WTVN Television Channel 6. She was a weather girl here in the late seventies.
Interviewer: Terry Blair.
Luper: She was Terry Blair. Terry Blair and she moved to New York, and long love story and they met behind closed doors after having talked on the phone for many, many months. Their cleaning ladies fixed them up on the phone. She was on the west coast. He was in New York. As I say there’s a long story. It’s detailed in his book The Way I Was. Exhibition that I helped to bring here, a photography exhibition about Marvin just closed, but, at the Columbus Museum of Art, but, there is a wonderful tribute concert being done by the New Albany Symphony October 3rd and 4th here, some of his dear friends who performed with him including his wife, Terry. Anyway, they were married for twenty-three years. We were, she and I had known each other through broadcasting here. We re-met in New York and when he was doing concerts here. Fred and I traveled all over the country to see his concerts and to be with Marvin and Terry and his example of kindness and tzedakah and anonymous charity. People knew what he gave. People knew what he did, but he never said, “no,” and he spoke at temple groups and he donated, and nobody ever knew that. They just knew he was the genius Jewish composer. He, we met them, I think, in 1990. He has always been an inspiration to me for someone who can reach the heights of fame, the heights of wealth and just be a down-to-earth regular person. I mean, I still get thrilled, like last night, people kept coming up to me at a reception where we were, “Oh, I miss you on television,” “Oh, I loved seeing you on television.” Yesterday, yeah, yesterday at the Metropolitan Club, afterward a young man came up to me and said “I want to have my picture taken with you.” ‘Fine.’ I always say ‘yes.’ “I was a reporter in Chillicothe and Washington Courthouse and one of my news bosses made us watch you every day.”
Interviewer: That’s what he said.
Luper: That’s what he said to me. ‘Really? okay.’ I still get recognized and it’s been two years. I still get what my husband would call kavod. I still gets lots of joy and pleasure from being known in this community and hopefully doing a good, fair job of reporting in this community but, and I take with me…my co-workers unbeknownst to me did a thirteen-minute video about for my retirement party which is on You Tube which I shared on Facebook today because it’s two years. The people who you respect and admire through life add something to your life and I would like to be known as somebody who added something to theirs.
Interviewer: And you’ve added to the general community and to the Jewish community.
Luper: I certainly hope so, I certainly hope so. I’m just, you know, I’m just from a lower middle class family with a dad who ran a fruit market, Harry’s Fruit Market. Everybody knew him. Everybody knew Harry. He had some very serious surgery and left the Fruit Market to become a paper salesman, a paper goods salesman at the last years of his life he…loved and beloved. And known to everybody. Everybody knew Harry. You could go to Buffalo, New York and ask anybody his age. Everybody knew Harry Perlmutter and he was always my shining example. He always believed in me, you know? “Apply to Cornell University. You’ll get in.” “Dad, come on.” I got in. “Well, how are we going to afford it?” “We’ll get you there,” and my mother says, “We’ll dress you and you’ll be as well dressed as any co-ed on campus,” and so, my parents, of course, were my first inspiration and they often scratch their heads at [skips] became so active and so interested and so outgoing and so interested in things. I was certainly not…you know, I was in a high school sorority but I was certainly not one of what you called the popular girls, nor was I one of the intellectual students but, I was pretty well-rounded and had an awful lot of fun in high school. They called me “the goody-goody.” They called me “Goody Two-Shoes.” I never did anything bad to get in trouble for. To this day, I keep my nose clean, don’t get speeding tickets, not going to say which side of this whole marijuana debate I’m on but I have pretty strong opinions, but I also have a very nice relationship with a famous columnist who is exactly on the opposite side of everything I believe in, Cal Thomas who I met through Marvin Hamlisch. He introduced us to some wonderful, wonderful people, Cal Thomas being…I don’t’ know if he’s so wonderful but he’s certainly famous and he’s certainly opinionated and he says, “My opinions don’t’ effect my friendships,” and he and Marvin were on the other sides but they were good friends and he, of course, certainly respected.
Interviewer: As we wrap up this interview let me ask you, are you…the future of the Columbus Jewish community, are you pessimistic? Are you hopeful? What’s your take?
Luper: It will certainly not resemble the Columbus Jewish community of thirty years ago, of twenty years ago. It’s a different make-up. It’s spread out and the Jewish institutions, well, Temple Israel, the bedrock of the German Jewish community who settled her, who were the Jewish community in, in the eighteen hundred’s and up until my memory of… I remember when they had to have two services on the High Holidays because their membership filled the temple. Things have changed. Memberships have changed. Interests have changed. The world has changed. We learn things from so many different news platforms now – twenty-four-hour news cycle. Our, as our world has changed, so, has our community changed. In terms of the future of the Jewish community I certainly hope that my children and grandchildren add and contribute and respect and practice their Judaism. [skips] speak for us and my hope is that as the institutions change they maintain the link with us and the Diaspora and, of course, the fate of Israel and the Iran Treaty certainly should bring us together and not divide us. I have hope but I am the eternal optimist.
Interviewer: Is there anything we haven’t talked about that you want to talk about? Anything, any points you want to make, especially about the Columbus Jewish community and your role in it?
Luper: The memories that I have of Agudas Achim, Rabbi Rubenstein, the Schottenstein Family, Mel Schottenstein, the major contributions that they have made to the Jewish and general community, Rabbi Harold Berman, who I just adore… he always says and does the right thing and I am proud to say I am a member of his synagogue. Rabbi Ungar is doing a terrific job. [phone call] Sorry. You still rolling?
Interviewer: You said Rabbi Rubenstein and Berman…
Luper: Rabbi Rubenstein and Rabbi Berman were just…although they may not know it or have known it, they were influences on my life. There are so many people in this community who are such givers, who have given so much. The dean of The Ohio State Law School, Alan Michaels is Jewish. I don’t know that people know that. He is…
Interviewer: Sorry, say that again.
Luper: Alan Michaels is the dean.
Interviewer: Alan Michaels?
Luper: …is the dean of the Law School at the Ohio State University. A dear friend of ours Donald Harris, was the dean of the College of Arts at Ohio State University. He’s a composer. He’s in his middle eighties and is suffering health issues but what a treasure he is for Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State University has now taken all of his archives and they have a Donald Harris Room at the Music School. The…Jewish people who we know about who have contributed but there are others who are here who are active who are giving and who I hope get recognition in this community. [skips 103:32] Bexley has been a wonderful place to raise my children and my grandchildren and I’m very grateful and thankful to be a member of the Columbus Jewish community.
Interviewer: Okay, with that we’ll end our interview with Carol Luper here at her home in Bexley for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society.
Transcribed in part by Molly Crabill and completed by Linda Kalette Schottenstein