My name is Peggy Kaplan and I’m interviewing Evelyn Nyman for her Oral
History on behalf of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society. This is August 31,
1999, and we are at the Esther C. Melton Community Services Building at 1175
College Avenue, Columbus, Ohio.
Interviewer: Evelyn, please state your full name for me.
Nyman: Evelyn Nyman.
Interviewer: Do you have a middle name?
Interviewer: What was your maiden name?
Interviewer: Tell me the date and place of your birth.
Nyman: December 20, 1921, Detroit, Michigan.
Interviewer: Your parents’ names please?
Nyman: My mother’s name was Gussie Ender.
Interviewer: And your father?
Nyman: Samuel Levine, but he was born Julius Friedenberg. He
bought someone else’s passport to come to this country and he kept the name
that was on the passport.
Interviewer: Tell me his original name again.
Nyman: Julius Friedenberg. It means “Freedom of the Hills.”
Interviewer: Well, as long as you mentioned it, you said he bought someone else’s
passport. Tell me about that.
Nyman: He was too far back in line to come over to
this country. He found out about someone who changed their mind about coming
here, so he bought their passport for himself and my mother. He continued to use
the name Samuel Levine, that was on the passport.
Interviewer: Do you know how much he paid for that passport?
Nyman: I don’t have the vaguest idea.
Interviewer: Where was he coming from? Where was he living?
Nyman: They left Europe from Antwerp, Holland, and they landed in Philadelphia.
Interviewer: They left from Antwerp but where were they living?
Nyman: I don’t know the particulars about that. All I know is that they left from Antwerp.
Interviewer: So you don’t know where your father and his family actually lived in
Europe? What country?
Nyman: My father was born in Russia, and my mother in a town
called, I’ll have to spell it out.
Interviewer: Please do.
Nyman: Z-A-V-I-C-H-O-S-T R-U-T-I-M-E-R, Poland. It was a border town
between Germany and Poland. At one time she lived in Warsaw.
Interviewer: Your mother and father were married when they came to the United States?
Interviewer: Did they have any children when they came here?
Interviewer: So they left from Antwerp, and where did they go?
Interviewer: Why would they go to Philadelphia?
Nyman: That’s where their ship landed.
Nyman: I have the date that they left, which was in Antwerp, on August 17,
Interviewer: And when did they land in Philadelphia?
Nyman: They arrived in Philadelphia on November 12, 1901.
Interviewer: So they arrived in the city of Philadelphia. Did they then decide to stay in
Nyman: No, because we had family in Chicago and they went there.
Interviewer: So they had a sponsor that was in Chicago.
Interviewer: What did they start to do for a living?
Nyman: That I don’t know, but they did have my oldest sister in Chicago.
Interviewer: What was her name?
Nyman: Sadie Levine. You want her married name?
Interviewer: And is Sadie still living?
Interviewer: Do you know when she was born?
Nyman: Let’s see, she was 17 years older than me, I was born in 1921 and she in 1904.
Interviewer: So your sister was born in 1904, which was approximately three years after
they arrived in Chicago, right? Okay, how long did they stay in Chicago?
Nyman: It couldn’t have been too long, because my brother was born five years later, in 1909.
Interviewer: And not in Chicago?
Nyman: No, in Detroit.
Interviewer: Do you remember your grandparents at all?
Nyman: No, I never knew them. They
were in Europe, but I have their names.
Interviewer: So they did not leave Europe?
Interviewer:Tell me your mother’s parents’ names.
Nyman: My grandmother’s name was
Sima Raisel. And she married my grandfather, Elizer Ender, in a border town in
Poland/Russia. The name of the town was Krasnodar.
Interviewer: Okay, and then your father’s parents?
Nyman: My father’s parents. My grandfather’s name was Eber Friedenberg, and I know the first name but not the
last name of my grandmother. Her name was Rifka. And we don’t know where they
Interviewer: Do you recall as you were growing up any stories about your grandparents that
your parents would talk about or tell you?
Nyman: I remember my mother telling me
that my grandfather, her father, was a lighthouse keeper. And how she used to go
ice-skating in the winter time. It must have been near Warsaw, I’m not sure.
And so when I was real little, a lot of these stories went in and out. I should
have written them down.
Interviewer: None of us did.
Nyman: But I remember her saying that her father was in charge
of the lighthouse and that she used to go ice-skating and she loved dancing.
Interviewer: Did your father speak of his parents at all?
Interviewer: You said that you didn’t know what your father did for a living in Chicago.
But when they moved to Detroit, do you know what he did?
Nyman: Yes. He was a
proprietor of a portrait and picture-framing business. And he traveled while
Interviewer: Did your mother work?
Interviewer: So, she stayed at home.
Interviewer: So you have a sister Sadie, born in Chicago, and you have a brother. What was
Nyman: Lewis. Lavine.
Interviewer: He changed the spelling of Levine.
Nyman: Yes, for business reasons.
Interviewer: And now do you have any other siblings?
Nyman: And then 15 months after that, my sister Esther Covensky was born.
Interviewer: I didn’t ask you, is your brother still living?
Interviewer: And Esther, is she still living?
Nyman: And then I have another sister, Annette. She is eight years older
than me. Annette Horwitz. She’s still living.
Interviewer: And where does she live?
Nyman: Southfield, Michigan. And then, I had another sister, Mollie Kazdan. She is deceased. And then me.
Interviewer: Okay, so you have one sister remaining with you, and she’s eight years
older than you. Okay. Did your parents ever talk about how they met?
Nyman: No. If they did, then it went in one ear and out the other. It didn’t stay with me.
Interviewer: Did your father have a trade in the old country?
Nyman: I don’t know. I doubt it.
Interviewer: Okay. How did your family live when you were a young child? We have an idea
about how families live today, but we feel that early childhood growing up in a
large family as you had, was somewhat different than we have today. Are there
any fond memories that you have as a young child?
Nyman: On Fridays it was a pleasure to come home from school. The aromas in our house were absolutely
fantastic. With the bread baking, the cake baking, the pie baking, the chicken
soup, and the chicken. I could never figure out how one woman was able to do all
that and clean a big house, G-d only knows. But she did.
Interviewer: Did you and your sisters help?
Nyman: On Sundays. We each had chores and then
sometimes in the middle of the chores, my sister, Esther, was a piano teacher,
and she used to sit down at the piano and start playing, and then we would all
stop doing our work and would stand around the piano and start singing. My
mother would give a schrei and we’d start doing chores again.
Interviewer: So would you call your family a musical family?
Nyman: Yes, definitely. My father was into classical music. We had Chazon Rosenblatt’s records, we had
Caruso, he was strictly for the classics, my brother played the violin. When he
worked for the U.S. Rubber Company, they had an orchestra.
Interviewer: And where did they practice?
Nyman: At our house. So when the orchestra
practiced at our house, my sisters always had their girlfriends and boyfriends
over, and it was a party at our house. I was a little girl and I just watched
everybody dancing to live music in my house. And the neighbors used to stand
outside and just listen to the music.
Interviewer: Do those records still exist that were your father’s? No one in the family
Nyman: They got lost in one of the moves or something, we just don’t
have them. It’s a shame.
Interviewer: That’s too bad. So your mother was the person in the household that
prepared for Shabbat? And did you celebrate, observe Shabbat?
Nyman: It was strictly with the Challah, the wine, the candles, and we sang songs and it was
real togetherness on Shabbat.
Interviewer: Was your family a religious family?
Nyman: I couldn’t say. Years ago they would say it was Orthodox, I would say it was Conservative. When I was a little
girl, my dad would come home from Shul on Saturday and when I asked for money
for the movies, he would give me money. A nickel for the movies and a nickel for
spending. Those were in the olden days.
Interviewer: What did you spend your nickel on?
Nyman: Well, my girlfriend and I used to do
it together, one would buy the Pepsi and one would buy the potato chips. We
would share so we could have a little bit of both. So he did carry money. The
Shul was close enough to the house, so he walked to Shul. He never learned how
Interviewer: Your father never…
Nyman: We never had a car in the house until my brother was
old enough to work and buy a car. That was the first time we had a car in the
Interviewer: So what kind of food did your mother serve for Shabbat?
Nyman: Typical. Chopped liver, fish, chicken soup, matzah balls, or else she would make farfel to have
with the soup and roast chicken and all the vegetables, whatever any Yiddish mama would do.
Interviewer: Was your mother a good cook?
Nyman: Oh, fantastic.
Interviewer: Did you inherit her love of baking and cooking?
Nyman: Yes. All my sisters did.
Interviewer: All your sisters?
Nyman: Oh, except for one. My sister Esther. She did it out of necessity. We did it out of love.
Interviewer: Do you still have recipes that your mother used to use?
Nyman: No, and no one can make fried liver and onions like she did. Tried many, many times. She made
the best. And we had that every Thursday.
Interviewer: So, when you had your children, did you carry through a similar kind of
Shabbat that you grew up with?
Interviewer: And do your children now do that?
Interviewer: Very good.
Nyman: In fact, one time my daughter came home, when she lived in
Dayton. She was in the Air Force. That Friday I was lazy and put place mats on
the table and used my everyday dishes on the kitchen table. When she walked in
she was aghast. She said, “Since when don’t we have a tablecloth and the
good dishes and the crystal and the…etc?” I cleared off the table, went
into the dining room, set the table all over again, and we had Shabbat dinner in
the dining room.
Interviewer: How did you feel about that criticism?
Nyman: I was embarrassed. I just didn’t
feel like fussing around, but I did. Because she was absolutely right, she just
couldn’t understand it.
Interviewer: Interesting how the traditions travel from one generation to another.
Nyman: That’s right.
Interviewer: What kind of Jewish religious training did you have in school?
Interviewer: Did you go to a Sunday School?
Nyman: I started it, and didn’t like it. So my father gave in to me and let me quit.
Interviewer: What about your sisters and brother?
Nyman: My brother had a bar mitzvah. That was it.
Interviewer: Did your sisters have any formal Jewish education?
Nyman: Bat mitzvah, no.
Interviewer: So would you say that what you learned about being Jewish, you learned as a
member of a family?
Nyman: That’s right. To see what my mother did and how she
did it, and just picked up from there.
Interviewer: Did you celebrate all of the holidays?
Nyman: Every one of them.
Interviewer: How about Passover?
Nyman: Well, we started late because my brother worked at a
shoe store and it was always around Easter, so we had to wait for him to come
home. My father didn’t miss a comma, a period, a semicolon, nothing. We read
every single word of the Hagadah. Then we sang all the songs, and everything.
There wasn’t a thing we didn’t do.
Interviewer: Was your Passover done in Hebrew or English?
Nyman: Hebrew. All Hebrew.
Interviewer: So you read Hebrew?
Nyman: No. Just the men read.
Interviewer: Just the men.
Nyman: Just the men. The women sat and sometimes we’d kind of
joke around a little bit, and then my father would give us the look, and when he
gave us the look, we stopped talking.
Interviewer: Did your sisters learn to read Hebrew?
Interviewer: Just your brother? Okay, why don’t you tell me a little bit about your mother?
Nyman: She was a short little woman. She was about 4′ ll”, 5′
tops. Nothing was too much for her to do. Nothing was too much for her to give
of herself. She was the sweetest, kindest woman and was everything that
everybody would like to be, but aren’t. I only have one sister who was almost
like her, my sister Mollie. And she was the closest one that came anywhere near
her. I didn’t have the patience. But Mom was a wonderful woman, and my father
had a horrible temper, but he was a pussycat inside.
Of course being the youngest of six, I got away with more murder than the rest of them. And as a
word aside, everybody in my family was born at home except me, I was the only
child born in a hospital. And that was because my mother was on in years. She
was going through the change of life when I was born.
Interviewer: How old was your mother when you were born?
Nyman: Forty-something odd years old.
Interviewer: In those days, that was old.
Nyman: She had white hair already. In order for my
Dad to pay for her stay in the hospital, she had to do housekeeping in the
hospital, make beds, clean up bedpans, and do work because they didn’t take
charity patients at that time, you had to pay or work. If you were there, you
had to work for it and whenever I think of it, it just kills me. That here she
had just given birth and she had to start cleaning the bedpans and making beds
and turning over other patients and she probably wasn’t that strong herself.
But that’s the way it was at that time.
Interviewer: It’s called survival.
Interviewer: Okay, well, tell me about your first day of school.
Nyman: The only thing I remember is that my sister Mollie took me, and she was still in the same
elementary school I was, and when she was going from one class to another, if
they walked by the kindergarten room she would wave to me and that made me feel
better that she did that. My sister Annette might have been there, but I don’t
remember Annette waving to me or being there. I just remember my sister Mollie
being there for me.
Interviewer: So you went to kindergarten, which is probably what, half a day?
Interviewer: What happened when you were finished, how did you get home?
Nyman: I probably walked home. Because my sister probably walked home for lunch so she took me
Interviewer: How long did it take you to walk? How close were you to the school?
Nyman: I would imagine a good half hour.
Interviewer: That’s a long way.
Nyman: Oh, and when I got a little older it was even further and I walked home for lunch, but all of us did. I mean, all my friends,
we were all together.
Interviewer:So when you walked to and from school, you were walking with friends?
Interviewer: Do you remember any of those friends?
Nyman: Sure. In fact, I just saw one of them this past weekend. Her name is Shirley Davis, now, who was Leibovitz, when
we were in school. And I saw another friend that I met in the 7th grade. Gladys Allen. Those are the two that I still keep in very, very close
touch with. And my kids still laugh about it, that it’s gone on for over 60 or 70 years.
Interviewer: What was the house like that you lived in as a young adult? Excuse me, as a
Nyman: It was beautiful. It was a three bedroom home, and it was so
large that the master bedroom, which was given to my three sisters and I. There
were two double beds, a dresser, a vanity, a chiffarobe, and ample space for
anything else. My brother had a friend that roomed with us, and had one bedroom,
and my mother and dad had the 3rd bedroom. One bathroom though.
Interviewer: You mentioned something that is probably unfamiliar to many of us. You said
Nyman: It is the dresser that men usually have, there’s no mirror,
and had six or seven drawers? It’s like a dresser, but it’s taller.
Interviewer: Do you hang clothes in it?
Nyman: No, no, no, no. That’s an armoire.
Interviewer: It’s just a tall dresser.
Interviewer: With drawers.
Nyman: I thought everyone knew what a chiffarobe was. And I don’t know
how to spell it.
Interviewer: Maybe not, and maybe so. But it’s not a common word that’s used today. So
your house was beautiful. Did it have a yard?
Interviewer: Did you have flowers?
Nyman: Yes, and there were always lilacs by the kitchen
windows so we would always have lilacs to smell. We lived downstairs and there
was another family that lived upstairs that had the exact room. It was a double.
And I don’t remember anything about a garage, because we didn’t have a car
at the time but it was a big, big house. Well, my oldest sister was married by
then, because she was married when I was three. I was her flower girl. I was an
aunt at four.
In fact, three days before my fourth birthday my niece was born. We did not
have the best of relationships, my niece and I. Because when she wasn’t
around, I was the one that was pampered and played with, and I was the baby. But
when the first grandchild came over, she took being the first niece. They didn’t
know psychology in those days. I was kind of left out.
Interviewer: So your place was threatened.
Nyman: I was old hat. And my sister came over
every week, and I hated it. And I’ll never forget, they had a cottage one
summer and she invited me there. I went and after a few days they had to take me
home because I hated that. I just did not like this niece because she took away
all my fun when she was around. But now we get along beautifully. We should. I’m
fairly close with all my nieces and nephews.
Interviewer: What was the neighborhood like, you had a beautiful home that was a double,
what was the other…?
Nyman: Typical Jewish neighborhood. All the houses were single or double.
Interviewer: Were they mostly doubles?
Nyman: Yes. Yes, in fact some of them were four-plexes. Everybody
got along beautifully. Everybody minded their
own business as far as I can remember. My mother would like to sit out on the
porch, sitting on the swing after she was through with the work in the kitchen.
In the evening we would sit on the steps while kids were playing. There was a
slew of boys and girls all the same age so we had a ball.
Interviewer: What did you play?
Nyman: Hopscotch. Roley-poley.
Interviewer: What’s Roley-poley?
Nyman: It’s something like hopscotch, only it’s with a
ball instead of throwing a piece of rock there. And then we would throw balls
against the house, and I don’t remember what that game was but it was fun…jacks,
and then the boys would take us for rides on their bikes, we would sit on the handle bars.
Interviewer: Did the girls have bikes? Or just the boys?
Nyman: Only one friend of mine had a bike and I never learned
how to ride a bike. I never had a bicycle, and still
don’t know how to ride a bike. Now I’m afraid to learn. We used to go
roller-skating, and there was a time we used to go ice-skating.
Interviewer: Roller-skating, that would be in a place, indoors?
Nyman: No, outside. On the street. There wasn’t roller
rinks when I was a kid. No, everything was
outdoors. You know, the four wheels with the key that you made it tighter on
your shoe so that it would stay on and the strap across the ankle. I’m talking
about the olden days, Peggy. Way back.
Interviewer: Did you have TV when you were growing up?
Nyman: Oh, come on now! We didn’t have TV till I had three children. TV wasn’t heard of in the twenties.
Interviewer: What did the family do for entertainment?
Nyman: Listen to the radio.
Interviewer: Radio. What did you listen to?
Nyman: The Green Hornet. My mother used to like
Myrt & Marge, which was a soap opera in the afternoon, Amos & Andy. My
father loved the fights. Especially when Joe Louis would fight. And then by the
time he got settled, the fight was over. And some music, my mother liked Guy
Lombardo, and Bing Crosby.
Interviewer: Did you play any games? Like sometimes you know our families would get
together and play Monopoly, or…
Nyman: They didn’t have Monopoly in those
days. We used to play rummy.
Interviewer: Is that a card game?
Nyman: Yes. There’s another one, and of course, Fish. And
another game that’s called Casino, and don’t ask me how to play it cause I
don’t remember. I just remember playing it.
Interviewer: Now, would this be with your sisters your brother?
Nyman: With my sister. My brother would go roller-skating with me.
Interviewer: Was that a big deal?
Interviewer: Oh, sure when my brother would condescend to be with his kid sister, oh, I
was a big shot. And then sometimes my sisters would go too. We would all go
together. And he was real tall, he was over six foot. I had to skate real fast
to keep up with him.
Interviewer: So you had a good relationship with your brother?
Nyman: We had. My siblings and I were extremely close. In fact, people still talk that they’ve never seen a
family like ours. I don’t know what my mother and dad did to instill that in
us. My parents were not educated people. They had to learn English, how to read
and write before they could become citizens and how hard it was going to night
school so they could become citizens. They did not only speak English. They
spoke Russian or Polish when they didn’t want us to know what they were
Interviewer: So when they came to this country, they didn’t know English? So they would
be speaking Polish?
Interviewer: They spoke Yiddish.
Interviewer: To the family?
Interviewer: So, did you learn Yiddish?
Nyman: I did then. I can still understand most of it. I can understand your husband somewhat.
Interviewer: But would you say that you spoke Yiddish in your home?
Nyman: No. My parents spoke Yiddish to us most of the time, and we answered in English. And that’s
how they learned English, and we picked up Yiddish, but I was never able to hold
a conversation in Yiddish.
Interviewer: Do you remember your parents getting their citizenship?
Nyman: I remember my mother…see, my dad died when I was 15. So, memories of him have become very,
very faded. But I remember when my mother got her papers and she was so excited.
She was so thrilled that she was an American.
Interviewer: So, your mother was relatively young when your father passed away. Young in
Nyman: She was about 55.
Interviewer: So what did she do as a widow?
Nyman: When my dad died, she and I went to live with my sister, Mollie, and her husband.
Interviewer: So, meaning when your dad died, you were the only sibling left in the house.
Nyman: No. I had one sibling but she got married just a few months after that.
Interviewer: So your mother and you went where?
Nyman: To my sister, Mollie, and her husband’s house to live.
Interviewer: And they were in Detroit?
Nyman: All my family were in Detroit.
Interviewer: How did that affect you, losing your father and moving out of your home?
Nyman: Well, at that time we were in an apartment already because so many of the
siblings were married that we didn’t need such a big home anymore, so we lived
in the apartment. We gave up the apartment, when my mother and I lived with
them. My mother and I shared a bedroom. My sister and brother-in-law had a
bedroom. She became pregnant at the time my dad died, she didn’t realize it
yet. And when they were born, they had a bedroom…she had twins, a boy and a
Interviewer: So, how long did this arrangement last?
Nyman: ‘Till I got married.
Interviewer: Well, what year was that?
Interviewer: How old were you when you got married?
Nyman: I was not quite 25.
Interviewer: So you actually lived with your sister and your mother for 10 years?
Nyman: Except for the two years when I was in service.
Interviewer: So you basically shared a bedroom with your mother for eight years? Well, how
did that arrangement work out?
Nyman: She was a very naive, bashful person. She’d
go into a closet to get dressed and undressed. Not me, she did.
Interviewer: How was the relationship with your mother, you, and your sister and
Nyman: We had a very good relationship, only because my sister was
as good as she was, my mother was the easiest-going person in the whole wide
world. Every so often my brother-in-law’s temper would rise. But after all, he
still had a sister-in-law and a mother-in-law there with his kids. It became
hairy every once in awhile, but on the whole…
Interviewer: So they just had the twins. Tell me a little bit about you young adult life,
and that would be from 15 to the time you went to the service. This would be
probably junior high school and high school times.
Nyman: Fifteen when my dad died.
Interviewer: What was it like going to high school?
Nyman: Very nondescript. I wasn’t active in any organizations.
Interviewer: Were you a shy person? Quiet?
Nyman: Yes. I was a typical wallflower.
Interviewer: Did you have dates?
Nyman: Not too many.
Interviewer: Was it not the thing to do?
Nyman: No. Well, we had a girls’ club and each
girl would take turns, once a month, to invite some fellas over. And so there
wasn’t “date…dates” that much when I was a teenager, it was mostly
getting together. Now, when I was with that group, I was fine, ’cause I knew
them real well, but put me in with a bunch of strangers, and if someone came up
to me and talked, fine. If they didn’t, then I sat in the corner.
Interviewer: Did the school have dances? Or any kind of recreational, fun picnics or
Nyman: If they did, I don’t remember, ’cause if they did I
probably didn’t go to them. The only thing I remember is my prom.
Interviewer: Tell me about your prom.
Nyman: I asked this fella who I liked and he accepted.
And there wasn’t any dinner before, and limos and all the stuff…oh yeah, I
did get a corsage.
Interviewer: What did you wear?
Nyman: A green, long dress. And my mother dyed the shoes
herself with some kind of dye so they would match. And that was one of the few
things that I got new, until I started to work full-time. Most of my clothes
Interviewer: Up until the time when you were a senior in high school?
Nyman: Well, in high school it wasn’t as much, but up until I was 14 or so, most of my clothes were
hand-me-downs. I got new stuff once in awhile.
Interviewer: How did you feel about all the hand-me-downs?
Nyman: I hated it. I hated it. And yet I did the same thing to my kids.
But I would see my niece come over in her
pretty clothes and her cute little things, and I would be dressed dumpy. I think
maybe that’s why I was so quiet. I didn’t like myself. I didn’t like the
way I looked, but there was nothing much I could do about it. And then when I
was about 16, somewhere along there, I’d started working on Saturdays at
Kresge’s from 9 to 9, for $2.00 a day.
Interviewer: And what did you do at Kresge’s?
Nyman: Sold. Whatever department they put me in.
Interviewer: What was Kresge’s?
Nyman: A five and ten cent store.
Interviewer: So you worked behind the counter?
Interviewer: And you sold?
Interviewer: And you worked 12 hours a day? Did you have a lunch time?
Nyman: I’m sure we did.
Interviewer: And you made $2.00 a day, for 12 hours.
Interviewer: Did you think you were making a lot of money?
Nyman: I didn’t think of it, I just knew that it was some money that I could have a few cents in my purse.
Interviewer: Back then, what would $2.00 buy you?
Nyman: Oh, God.
Interviewer: What did you spend your $2.00 on?
Nyman: Maybe to go to a movie. Prices started going up a little bit. And then it was my car fare, my lunch money.
Interviewer: What’s car fare?
Nyman: Fare to go on a street car or a bus.
Interviewer: Oh, streetcar.
Nyman: Yes, and I mainly took a streetcar cause that was six
cents and on payday when I’d start working more than one day. I would take a
bus, ’cause that was a dime and that made me feel rich. And then I used to do
babysitting for fifty cents a night.
Interviewer: Fifty cents a night?
Nyman: A night.
Interviewer: Not an hour, but a night.
Nyman: And that would mean feeding the kids dinner,
giving them a bath, sticking them in bed and staying there till they came home,
regardless of the hour.
Interviewer: Sounds like you really liked babysitting.
Nyman: Yeah. I’d like to do it now for my granddaughter. I told her so.
Interviewer: At fifty cents a night?
Nyman: No, no. I’d like to work…she makes thirty some odd dollars a night.
Interviewer: How does she do that, babysitting?
Nyman: Yeah. With tips and everything. Whoever heard of tips when I was babysitting, and occasionally if I had to sleep
over, they would give me a dollar.
Interviewer: A dollar. On top of the fifty cents a night?
Interviewer: So if you slept over you made a dollar fifty?
Nyman: That’s right.
Interviewer: Was that for one, two, three, four children?
Nyman: Just depended on how many kids they had.
Interviewer: So, in other words, if they had four kids you still got fifty cents a night?
Nyman: That’s right. It wasn’t an easy life.
Interviewer: So did you save your money for a purpose? Did you have a goal in mind? Or did
you spend it all.
Nyman: I don’t remember. I think I spent it. I don’t remember saving.
Interviewer: Did you spend it on clothing?
Nyman: When I started working full time. When I was in high school I didn’t buy my own clothes. My mother did or my brother,
or my sisters would all pitch in and get me some clothes.
Interviewer: So, you graduated at the age of 18.
Interviewer: Then what happened in your life?
Nyman: I graduated on Wednesday, and mother
said, you could have two days off, and then Monday you have to start looking for
a job. And, as it happens, my sister worked for Ford Motor Credit Company and
she got me a job as a typist working 40 hours a week.
Interviewer: And you learned typing in high school?
Nyman: Oh yes, typing and shorthand, bookkeeping. I took a complete commercial course.
Interviewer: So you were prepared when you graduated high school to be a secretary or work
in an office.
Interviewer: You had made that decision. That was a goal that you were working toward?
Nyman: I didn’t have any choice in the matter. I had to go to work. I had to take a
commercial course. I only had one friend that had the money to go to college.
All the rest of us went to work. Those were bad times.
Interviewer: So you worked for Ford Motor Credit Company?
Nyman: Ford Motor Credit Company.
Interviewer: As a secretary.
Nyman: A typist.
Interviewer: A typist, okay. And how long did you do that?
Nyman: Probably about a year or so. Then from there, after taking a civil service test, I got a job for the
Ordinance Department. With the War Department. I worked as a typist there. I was
working there when war broke out in ’41.
Interviewer: The second World War?
Nyman: Yeah. Did I say World War I?
Interviewer: No, you didn’t.
Nyman: Oh, I was wondering. WWII. That Sunday my girlfriend
and I were walking from my house to her house and we had just heard it on the
radio about Pearl Harbor and I was wondering, “My God, what will my job be
like?” We’d probably be working like crazy, working for the War
Department ’cause we typed up the contracts for different factories for
different machinery and whatever there was. But, then at that time I became more
independent where I was able to save a few dollars.
Interviewer: ‘Cause you were making more money and still living at home?
Nyman: I was making $25.00 a week! And I was living at home. I gave my brother-in-law and my
Mom money towards the telephone, room and board. So I was free to use the phone.
He had felt it wasn’t right that he paid the whole bill when I used the phone
almost as much as they did. As a teenager, it was normal. I had money, it’s
amazing how many things I was able to do. Of course not as much money was taken
out of our salaries at that time. So, $25.00 then was, like, God knows what
Interviewer: A lot more money than what we anticipate. So, now you’re working and the
war has started. What was the next event that happened in your life? Are you
dating anybody at this point?
Nyman: Nobody in particular. Then I did meet someone.
Met him at a party. And we started going around and then he was drafted ’cause in
’41…well, actually it was a little bit before. It was about 1940 when I met
him ’cause they were drafting fellas in 1940 and the early part of ’41. And
every time he came home on furlough he was the one I saw. But it was dragging on
and on and nothing ever came of it. But his family always referred to me as his
girlfriend, but I don’t think he did. And then in ’42, I changed jobs. I
went to work for a real estate office, ’cause they offered me more money and
was in the neighborhood. I could walk to and from work. And walk to and from for
lunch. And I didn’t have those expenses. And, while I was there, I decided I
wanted to go into the service. I enlisted in 1943.
Interviewer: What made you make that decision?
Nyman: Peggy, I cannot, for the life of me tell you what prompted
it, but I saw these pictures of these Marines, and there
was something…it was as though they were beckoning me to join. I was 21. I
went down, took my written test which I passed, took my physical, which I passed
of course, and then I told my mother. And my mother said, “I’m going to
go down to unlist you!” I said, “You can’t. I’m 21.” I told
my brother. He didn’t talk to me for over a month. How could I leave a nice
job…a good home.
What Jewish girl does that? I did. I think that’s when I
started to come out of my shell. That I finally did something that I really
wanted to do, on my own, without asking permission of anybody. I was 21 years
old. And my brother reconciled himself to it. ‘Cause, when I took the train to
go to boot camp, they gave me an upper berth on the train. He didn’t like what
his sister had. His sister had to have a lower berth so he paid the extra money
to get me a lower berth. And when I would come home, my mother was so proud of
me, she used to call me “The General.” She would call her friends and
drag me to her meetings to see me in my uniform.
Interviewer: Where was bootcamp?
Nyman: Camp LeJeune, North Carolina for boot camp. I was there for six weeks.
Interviewer: And that’s training?
Nyman: Yes. We did calisthenics, and learned how to spot
planes. We had to be able to identify planes in the air. And whatever else they
had to teach us ’cause we did not take the boot training like they do today
with guns and things, we never handled guns.
Interviewer: You did not? Now is that “we,” meaning only women?
Nyman: When I got out of boot camp I got my private first-class stripe,
which is the first one after being a buck-private. I was sent to Washington,
D.C. We worked in the Naval Annex, which is in Arlington, Virginia. And our
barracks were right by the cemetery, also in Arlington. We used to see all the
tombstones from our window.
Interviewer: Arlington Cemetery?
Nyman: Yes. It was a temporary facility, just for WWII. I
was in Washington, D.C. Recently I went there and everything is still there.
Interviewer: The barracks are still there?
Nyman: The barracks are still there. I was shocked that they were still there, the Naval Annex is still there.
Interviewer: Are they still in use?
Nyman: I don’t know. But years ago when my kids were
much younger, Saul and I took them to Washington, and when I told the guard I
used to live there during WWII, when I was in service, he let me take my
children into the barracks so they could see.
Interviewer: Oh my goodness. So what job were you doing when you were there?
Nyman: Pounding a typewriter. And the department I was in was the discharge facility. When
someone was discharged out of service, we typed their discharges.
Interviewer: And is that what you did?
Nyman: That was my daily work. Typing.
Interviewer: And how long did you do that?
Nyman: Up until the time I decided I wanted to better myself and I applied to a school that taught the finer arts of taking
Interviewer: In the service.
Nyman: In the service. I went to the school for six weeks, coming out as a Sergeant, and being transferred to Parris Island, North
Interviewer: You mentioned Parris Island. So you left Arlington, went to Parris Island.
Where’s Parris Island?
Nyman: South Carolina.
Interviewer: What did you do in Parris Island?
Nyman: Every month, we would make the rounds of the PX’s taking inventory, which included the NCO Club, which is the
Non-commission Officers, and the Officer’s Club.
Interviewer: What’s a PX?
Nyman: Where you go shopping for underwear, cigarettes, candy, any kind of nosh.
Interviewer: Sort of a General Store?
Nyman: Yes, I was able to buy sheets and pillowcases which I sent home. You could do just about any kind of shopping there. At least,
that’s the way it was, during the war. But what the PX’s are like now, I have no idea.
Interviewer: Okay, so you upgraded your job by going to school, and doing this inventory.
Did you continue to do that throughout the rest of your service time?
Nyman: Yes, and I don’t know whether it’s of any interest, the high point of taking
inventory at the Officer’s Club, was while we were eating lunch (and we were
always served at the Officer’s Club). They had fellas in service, but that was
their job, to serve. They wore white gloves and the whole bit. While eating one
time we looked up and here walks in this most gorgeous looking person in the
whole world, Tyrone Power, the movie star, who was also in the Marines. He had
flown in on some business and came to the Officer’s Club for a bite to eat.
That took care of our appetite. No one was hungry anymore. And he came over to
our table and introduced himself and had us give him our names. And, oh, excuse
me, I have another high point that I overlooked completely. When I was in boot
camp, we had our first year anniversary. And we had a celebration. We were
introduced to Eleanor Roosevelt. Each one of us shook hands with her. We had to
march, and it was a cold miserable day, to where she was at, but what an honor
to shake hands with Eleanor Roosevelt! And I forgot completely about it, and I
feel that’s important enough to know.
Interviewer: Excellent. So that was two of your highlights of your life.
Nyman: Two highlights, one with Tyrone Power and one Eleanor Roosevelt. I can’t begin to
tell you how wonderful it was. I was shaking like this, when it was my turn. She
Interviewer: How long were you in the service?
Nyman: Two years.
Interviewer: Two years. So what year did you get out?
Interviewer: And now what happens to you?
Nyman: And then I looked for a job.
Interviewer: Did you go back to Detroit?
Nyman: Yes. And I went to work for the Jewish
Community Council. My boss was Isaac Franck who Ben knew very, very well.
Interviewer: Ben Mandelkorn?
Interviewer: Okay now, are you going back to live with your mother, your sister and
Nyman: That’s right. I lived with them until I got married.
Interviewer: Okay, so what did you do at the Council?
Nyman: I was his secretary.
Interviewer: Mr. Franck’s secretary.
Interviewer: Was he the director?
Nyman: Yes, he was the Executive Director.
Interviewer: Would that be considered the predecessor to United Jewish Fund?
Nyman: No, it was the Community Council. I had the Jewish calendar for the community. It had
nothing to do with the Federation.
Interviewer: What did it do? What was its purpose?
Nyman: It was more community work. It was
more or less a liaison. Between the non-Jewish community and the Jewish
community and keeping the calendar so there would be no conflict. We even had it
in conjunction with some of the non-Jewish organizations so they would not
conflict with us and vice versa. It was strictly a non-religious organization
for the community.
Interviewer: The Relations Council?
Nyman: That’s right.
Interviewer: Like we have here which is a department of the Federation today. Do you
suppose it was funded by the Federation?
Nyman: It might have been, I don’t know.
Interviewer: Or whatever the Federation was called.
Nyman: I think it was called the Jewish
Federation. I don’t remember. But that’s where I worked.
Interviewer: How long did you work there?
Nyman: I worked there till I got married. Then I
became pregnant with my first daughter and stopped working.
Interviewer: Okay, well let’s get you married first.
Nyman: All right.
Interviewer: Tell me about meeting your husband.
Nyman: All right. There was a Jewish War
Veteran dance, and my girlfriend’s date had a fella that didn’t have a date
and he wanted to be fixed up. Well, he fixed him up with me. And I fell in love
with his dancing.
Interviewer: Who was this fella?
Nyman: Saul Nyman. My beloved husband for 47 years.
Interviewer: So you fell in love with his dancing?
Nyman: I fell in love with him but mainly,
at the time, his dancing.
Interviewer: Would that be love at first sight?
Nyman: Three months later we were engaged. We
got married six months later. But, we never dated anybody else besides each
other from that time. There was one girl in Chicago that he had to call off once
we met and he went to Chicago, I told him it’s either she or me, make up your
mind. And that was it.
Interviewer: Suddenly you weren’t shy anymore.
Nyman: Suddenly I wasn’t shy anymore. I
caught my man.
Interviewer: Okay, so you got married.
Nyman: I meant I worked until I got
married and then when I became pregnant I was about in my third or fourth month
when I quit work.
Interviewer: How old were you when you got married?
Interviewer: Twenty-four. And what did Saul do for a living?
Nyman: He worked for a sporting goods company. He was a salesman.
Interviewer: So you moved out of your sister’s house.
Nyman: Yes, when I got married. We got our own apartment.
Interviewer: And you were working and Saul was working?
Interviewer: Then you got pregnant, your first child. And stopped working?
Interviewer: And who was your first child?
Interviewer: And she was born when?
Nyman: September 26, 1947.
Interviewer: And, did you go back to work after she was born?
Nyman: No, no. And then two and a half years after that, Judith was born. And when she was little, I hired help
and went back to work. And that’s when I went to work for the Federation.
Interviewer: In Detroit.
Nyman: The Jewish Federation in Detroit.
Interviewer: Do you remember the Executive Director then?
Nyman: Isador Sobeloff. And the assistant director was Ben M. Mandelkorn.
Interviewer: He was the assistant to the director?
Nyman: Right. I did not know him personally. I knew him from just seeing him in the building ’cause my
immediate boss was Ingram Bander.
Interviewer: You were the typist/secretary?
Nyman: I was his personal secretary.
Interviewer: So you knew of Ben, but you didn’t really know him.
Nyman: Right. And I worked there for a couple of years and then I found that it just wasn’t working out
having somebody else with my kids, so I quit work and I stayed at home for the rest of the time that we lived in Detroit.
Interviewer: Now you had Suzanne and Judi.
Nyman: I’m sorry, I had Debra also.
Interviewer: And when was Debra born?
Nyman: In 1955.
Interviewer: Okay, several years after Judi.
Nyman: Five years after Judi.
Interviewer: Five years.
Nyman: Judi was born in 1950.
Interviewer: So you decided to stop work, stay home, and be a mom.
Interviewer: And then what happened in your life?
Nyman: And then in 1959 my husband went into business, and it created the move to Columbus, Ohio.
Interviewer: What was the business?
Nyman: We opened up an automotive warehouse over on Green Avenue on the west side.
Interviewer: Green Avenue?
Nyman: Yeah. About a block and a half off of West Broad.
Interviewer: How did that come about?
Nyman: We met some people through business and, because
he wasn’t in sporting goods anymore, he was selling power and hand tools, and
they decided that Columbus did not have an automotive warehouse, and that would
be great, but they didn’t have anyone from…
Interviewer: Parts for automobiles?
Nyman: Yes. And they didn’t have anybody to move to
Columbus, but my husband said he would, if they would give him a partnership. He
would be the working partner. They would be the money people. So we moved in
I had to leave a house of Shiva…my mother had passed away. My Rabbi gave me
permission to leave the house of Shiva so I could get to Columbus, so my kids
could start school on time. I was at home with the kids until Deb was old enough
to go to school all day. And then Suzie by that time was old enough to care for
her until I got home.
Interviewer: Where were you living now, when you came to Columbus?
Nyman: Our first apartment was on Livingston between Bulen and Fairwood.. There was a half circle of
Nyman: Right. And everybody there was Jewish I think, except for
one couple. We had a ball. That’s where I met Cantor Schrier, who was the
Cantor of Tifereth Israel. His wife’s name was Zelda. We were supposed to have
joined Temple Israel, but Rabbi Folkman never got around to calling on us, even
though my Rabbi in Detroit wrote and called him that a recently bereaved
daughter was moving into town and a very active person as both Saul and I
volunteered at the temple in Detroit. But that’s when they were moving to
Broad Street and probably the letter got lost in the shuffle and he never called
on me and Cantor Schrier; living right there, said you’ve got to go somewhere,
it’s almost Rosh Hashanah. we said okay, we will join the Conservative. And
that’s how come we joined Tifereth Israel.
Interviewer: And you’re still a member there?
Nyman: Still a member there.
Interviewer: Do you remember the other neighbors besides Cantor Schrier?
Nyman: One of the neighbors, I don’t remember her last name, was Renee, but I remember she was
related to the Schriers, ’cause her mother worked at Jack and Benny’s and she
used to do sewing. And there was another couple from New York, I don’t
remember their names. The Schriers became very, very good friends. And they were
the ones we knew best.
Interviewer: And where did your children go to school?
Interviewer: Fairwood Avenue?
Nyman: Yes. And Suzie went to Roosevelt Junior High. And then
about a year and a half, two years later, we bought a house in Berwick. Don’t
ask me the street ’cause I don’t remember.
Interviewer: That must have been a relatively new area to live at.
Nyman: It was. Well, Suzie didn’t want us to buy in Bexley ’cause she said only snobs were there. So we
bought where she could go to Johnson Park. My darling daughter.
Interviewer: So what street did you live on in Berwick?
Nyman: Don’t remember.
Nyman: I know it was near Scottwood. Right around in that area.
Interviewer: How long did you live there?
Nyman: We moved from there in 1968-69. We went to live in an apartments in 1969.
Interviewer: So you sold your house in Berwick and you moved to?
Nyman: Wyandot East.
Interviewer: Okay, any children living with you now?
Nyman: When we moved to Wyandot East, Debra and Judi lived with us.
Suzie got married in ’68. Then, in ’69 Judi got married, so we just had Deb at home.
Interviewer: Is she in school still?
Nyman: Yes, she went to Walnut Ridge.
Interviewer: And your husband is still in the automotive parts business?
Nyman: No, by that time they stopped sending money from Detroit, they didn’t want to send any
more. And at that time there were no small business loans, so we had to go out
of it. Then he worked for different companies selling automotive tools and
stuff. And that was about it. ‘Cause in ’71 we moved to Louisville.
Interviewer: Oh, so you left Columbus.
Interviewer:And what prompted that move?
Nyman: One of the men that he did business with
heard of this excellent job in Louisville and asked Saul if he would be
interested. Saul vacillated because he had heard of one in Portsmouth, Ohio,
also. So he said he would try Portsmouth before making any decisions. He worked
in Portsmouth for about a year and decided that wouldn’t be for us ’cause
there were not very many Jewish families.
Interviewer: Did you stay in Columbus?
Nyman: I stayed in Columbus. We thought it was better
to have him try it out. He had an apartment there. And I went there several
weekends but he came home most weekends. But having a teenager we thought that
wouldn’t be a good place for her so we went to Louisville. They still happened
to have a job open as a buyer.
Interviewer: For what kind of company?
Nyman: Hardware, power tools, hand tools, automotive
parts, everything like that. They were one of the biggest companies, one other
starts with a “B” and I can’t remember it. And he stayed there. And
Deb graduated high school in Louisville. And she no sooner graduated and she
decided she hated it more every day, and she moved back to Columbus and we didn’t
mind because she had her two sisters here.
Interviewer: So did she move into an apartment by herself?
Nyman: She got a job at Blue Cross and she moved by herself and we were empty nesters. And then I decided to do
part-time work and I went to work for the Federation.
Interviewer: In Louisville.
Nyman: In Louisville. And my boss was Clarence Judah, who used to
be the Executive Director here in Columbus. So I’ve been tied up with
Federations as you can see. And then after a while, I went to work for a
synagogue. And I stayed there for five years.
Interviewer: In Louisville.
Nyman: In Louisville. Adath Jeshurun. I was Rabbi Simcha Kling’s secretary for five years.
Interviewer: So you lived in Louisvile for a long time.
Nyman: Fourteen years. Loved it. And then my husband took a civil service test, and he started working for the Corps
of Engineers and that was his best job. He loved every minute…he was right on the river.
Interviewer: The Ohio River.
Nyman: Yes. Then I decided I didn’t want to work in Jewish
communal work anymore. I went to work for an interior designer. Furniture…
what do you call it? Like David Franklin. Interior Decorator. And I worked there
for a couple of years. I didn’t like my boss, so I went to work for a fella
that had a Firestone franchise.
Interviewer: What’s Firestone?
Nyman: Firestone Tire. I had worked for him as a temp, and
then when the temp was over with, I forgot all about him, and then about six
months later he called me up and wanted to know if I wanted permanent work, that
his secretary had left. And, I’m trying to think. And then I worked for Dean
Witter for a while, and that’s when I quit to move back to Columbus, because
my husband was getting very, very sick at the time.
Interviewer: So, he was still working, but not well.
Nyman: He worked until he was forced to retire.
Interviewer: How old was he when he was forced to retire?
Interviewer: So he had a heart condition?
Nyman: Yes, he had a heart condition. He had the mitral valve surgery. They couldn’t do the bypass because he was hemorrhaging
and they were afraid they would lose him.
Interviewer: So why did you choose to come back to Columbus?
Nyman: Because my three children were here and they felt it would be easier for me to move back to Columbus than
for them to run to Louisville every time he was in the hospital.
Interviewer: So, you stopped working and…
Nyman: And stayed with him.
Interviewer: And you lived where?
Nyman: Washington Square Apartments. One day I saw an ad in the paper, that ADL was looking for a secretary. I went to their office and
filled out an application. While I was there, I went to see Ben Mandelkorn.
Interviewer: So you knew Ben.
Nyman: Yes. I worked for him. We skipped the time I worked for him.
Interviewer: Right, well, let’s go back a little bit because you had said you knew Ben
in Detroit, but only as to see him passing through the building. Let’s talk
about how you became acquainted with Ben Mandelkorn.
Nyman: When Deb went to school full-time (first grade), I decided to go back to work. Someone at the
Jewish Center told me that Lazar Brenner, who was the Director of Heritage
House, was looking for a secretary. Their offices were at 40 South Third Street,
with the Federation. This was in 1960.
Interviewer: Is this Columbus or Detroit?
Interviewer: Okay, so this would be after you left Detroit, you still don’t know Ben, you know of him…
Nyman: The face was familiar. Not the name. I sent him my
resume. I got a telephone call from Laz, saying he said he couldn’t use
anybody, but he though an associate of his, the Executive Director of the United
Jewish Fund and Council, by the name of Ben Mandelkorn, might be looking for
someone. Why don’t I come down, and he’ll make an appointment for me. I came
down, and Ben read my resume. When I met him he said, “I know you.”
And I said, “Well, you look familiar to me too.” Well, anyway, he knew
my ex-boss, Ingram Bander. Well to make a long story short, I was hired. I
worked for him, off and on. Every time I wanted a raise, and he didn’t want to
give me one, I would quit and then a few months later he would call me back and
give me my raise.
Interviewer: And this was when the office was located where?
Nyman: 40 South Third. I never worked in the College Avenue building until recently.
Interviewer: Okay, so you worked off and on?
Nyman: Off and on for many years.
Interviewer: Two years? Which was when you were…
Nyman: In…well, I’m getting myself mixed up.
Interviewer: Okay, so you started working for Ben about 1960. And approximately how long
did that last?
Nyman: Off and on until I moved to Louisville.
Interviewer: Okay, but there were other jobs in between.
Interviewer: Okay, so tell me about that.
Nyman: I worked for Ben and Tommy Lurie.
Interviewer: They’re in the building business.
Nyman: Right. They were downtown also, in the old Kresge Building on State and High. I worked for Sweny Cartwright, they
were stockbrokers in the Huntington Building. When I left them, it was to move to Louisville.
Interviewer: Okay, so periodically you would get another job and then you would go back to
working with Ben and then you would get another and go back with Ben.
Nyman: And the highpoints of working for…being the only secretary, he took me to all
the Parlor meetings.
Nyman: Ben. And that’s where I met people that spoke at the Parlor
meetings from Israel and from all over the world.
Interviewer: Guest speakers.
Nyman: Guest speakers and it was a thrill, naturally, to be able
to meet all these people and learning what I learned from him was fantastic.
Bill Kahn was president of the Federation when I came to work for him. That’s
when his wife Theresa passed away. And I forgot who succeeded him, but that’s
how I got to know Bill Kahn, Herb Schiff, Troy Feibel, Robert Schiff, Aaron
Zacks, Herman Katz, Sam Melton. The women I met were Esther Melton, Florence
Zacks, Felice Schiffman, and Judie Swedlow. Some of the men I met were in the
Young Professional and Women’s Group, like Les Wexner, and Vic Goodman, and so
many more. These men and women are now the Matriarchs and Patriarchs of the
Interviewer: So, you became acquainted with those people because they were leaders in the
Federation and they would come into the building.
Nyman: They’d come into our building for meetings.
Interviewer: And that’s how you became acquainted.
Nyman: And I became very friendly with Jean Schottenstein
because she was president of the Women’s Group. At the time, Beverly
Schottenstein was also active at the time. It was, like a family in
those years. It wasn’t a big business organization. You could relate to
something like that.
Interviewer: So in other words, you think that it’s a big business organization today?
Nyman: Yes, because I don’t think people are friends like they were then. Whenever I was
at a function, they would ask Saul and I to sit with them. Annual meetings, it
was just dessert , and it was held at the Old Winding Hollow Country Club. No
one had assigned seats then. Jeanne always saved seats, and Ben always let me
bring Saul to the meeting. And Martha Walke, the bookkeeper, would be there.
Interviewer:Who was Martha Walke? [Note: This last name is unclear]
Nyman: She was the head bookkeeper of the Federation. In fact, that’s all who worked at the Federation
at that time. It was she, myself, and Ben. And whenever he had an assistant,
like Paul Levine, and Arman Cohn. They were his assistants during the time I
worked there. And of course Jewish Family Services were in our offices with
Murray Dannenhirsch as the Executive Director. So, I would meet people from
their groups because I was right in the front office. No one got in that I didn’t
Interviewer: What was your impression of Ben Mandelkorn while you worked for him?
Nyman: He was the most wonderful teacher that I’ve ever had. There were times that I
could have strangled him. But I’m sure that is not unusual. He had a temper,
but he was always a gentleman. And whenever you did something that was over and
above, or that he hadn’t thought of, and you thought of it first, he couldn’t
praise you enough that you did. And, he was always there to help with the
mimeographing, collating, no matter what. If there was a big mailing to get out
with licking the envelopes, and the stamps or using sponges, he was always,
always, always, always there. He never asked you to put in any more hours than
he did. He never asked you to work harder than he did. And, you always made sure
that your desk was just as clean as he did whenever you left that desk. Because,
if you didn’t, he’d let you know. I learned…I had a complete education
working for Ben Mandelkorn.
In fact, I know of an organization now that if I
were to open up my mouth, they would want me to do volunteer work for
fundraising. And I won’t do it. Because I know exactly how Ben would have done
it, and that’s exactly what I would do, and then that organization would be
put on the map. In fact, Harvey and I were talking about it over the weekend,
but I won’t do it. Because it would take up too much of my time. Ben was a
friend, as well as a boss. And I’ll never forget when my husband died, he came
to services, and came to Shiva. I was not working for him at the time. In fact I
was not working for anybody at the time. He said when I was ready to go back to
work, to let him know. There would always be a job for me. A month later, there
was a job for me.
Interviewer: So you worked for Ben, you worked for several other people, then you moved to
Louisville, then you lived there…
Nyman: From ’71 to ’85.
Interviewer: Then you came to Columbus, because your husband was ill. Okay, and when did
your husband pass away?
Nyman: December 26, 1988.
Interviewer: Did he work during those three years of his illness?
Interviewer: He did not work. He was retired, and you basically took care of him?
Interviewer: And you were living in an apartment in Washington Square.
Interviewer: Okay, and now you’re back in Columbus, your husband passed away, and Ben came to see
you, and offered you a job.
Interviewer: And a month after that, you decided to go to work.
Nyman: That was what I needed.
Interviewer:And that was what year again?
Nyman: That was ’89.
Nyman: Okay. And did that begin the last stage of your career, working
in the Esther C. Melton Community Service Building?
Nyman: Well that’s the first time I started working in the Esther Melton Building. I had never worked in the
Interviewer: So that was the beginning of your working…
Nyman: That was…he was the Executive Director for AJCOP.
Interviewer: Oh, it wasn’t the Federation. It was AJCOP?
Nyman: AJCOP and the Foundation. AJCOP is short for Association of Jewish Community Organizations Personnel.
Interviewer: Very good. And Ben was the Director?
Interviewer: Meaning, he had already retired as Director of the Federation.
Nyman: But he was the Director of the Foundation.
Interviewer: Oh, so he was the Director of AJCOP and the Columbus Jewish Foundation.
Nyman: Allan Gill was The Federation Executive Director. I was secretary for AJCOP and then
Ben had someone else for Foundation.
Interviewer: How long did AJCOP last as far as being employed through Ben for AJCOP?
Nyman: Up until the time I think he retired and then I started working for the
Interviewer: Okay, so we’ve clarified our dates just a little bit. You came to
work for Ben, and he was the Director of AJCOP and you were his secretary and
that was probably several months until his tenure as Director of AJCOP and Allan
Gill became the next AJCOP President. At that point, Ben continued on as
Director of the Columbus Jewish Foundation and you continued to work with Ben as
his secretary for the Foundation. That’s all correct. Good. So let’s go on
from there. Tell me about your relationship with Ben the second time around.
Nyman: It was the same. It was always the same.
Interviewer: Was he the same person? Now, he’s a few years older?
Nyman: He mellowed somewhat. Except if you did something stupid. Then he wasn’t mellow. But as I
said, he was always a gentleman. He treated me like a human being. And with
respect. And true, he lost his temper sometimes when I did something stupid, but
he was the first one to admit when he did something stupid. But that didn’t
happen too often. But, I have nothing but good to say about that man. I really
mean it. Because even when he yelled at me, it was because he had just reason
to, because I did something stupid. And I couldn’t even get angry at him, even
though I wanted to. But as I said, as many times as he would make a correction,
that’s how many times he had a compliment. And he always did…as I said
before, if you did something that you thought of, something that he thought was
so great, he couldn’t stop thanking you, what a wonderful thought that was,
how good that was that you did this and did that. He was always good with thank
you’s. He was a nice man. And a nice friend. A good friend.
Interviewer: Good friend. During your time that you were associated with Ben, did
you become acquainted with his family?
Nyman: Yes. I knew Bobby and Judy when they
were real little. Bobby was confirmed at Tifereth Israel with my daughter,
Suzanne. Judy was confirmed with my daughter Judi also, and I knew Rose. At one
time they had Hanukkah parties at their house where they invited the whole staff
and everybody came to their house for Hanukkah parties.
Interviewer: Would that be Federation staff or Foundation staff?
Nyman: That was in the old days, that was the Federation.
Interviewer: So he had Hanukkah parties at his house?
Interviewer: Were they special? What were they?
Nyman: They were just very warm
parties. They were a wonderful host and hostess. You were always made more than
welcome and everybody was just as special as the one before. We had good times.
We never saw each other socially, as couples, we were never that kind of
friends, we were strictly friends as far as the office was concerned.
Interviewer: So then Ben retired as the Foundation Director about 1990?
Nyman: Whenever Jackie came here.
Interviewer: And you continued to work for the Foundation when the new Director, Jackie
Jacobs, came aboard.
Interviewer: And you worked then until what year?
Nyman: Well I retired, July 15, 1999.
Interviewer: Which is our current year.
Interviewer: And so you are just recently retired.
Interviewer: And what are you plans now?
Nyman: I am volunteering, starting a week from
today. On Tuesdays at the Gift Shop at Heritage House. I’ve called Mount
Carmel to see if they need any volunteers there. And I am waiting for
information from Capital University to see if there’s any courses I would like
Interviewer: What do you mean, courses you would like to audit?
Nyman: Senior Citizens can
take certain courses and not be charged. The only thing they have to pay for
would be books, so if there’s something that I’m really interested in, I
might take a course. But I don’t want to tie myself up any more than that,
because I want to have some free time. If I’m going to tie myself full time, I
might as well go back to work full time. But I figure three days, or two days a
week. Then if I decide to go back to playing bridge on Mondays, I might forget
about Capital University, so we’ll see.
Interviewer:We didn’t discuss your children. Let’s go back and talk a little
bit about their lives and their careers or and/or spouses, and of course your
Nyman: Okay, Suzanne works for Congregation Beth Tikvah, she is the
Executive Director. She is married to David Parr, who is associated with WSYX.
It used to be WTVN. He does sales for advertising at the station. They have one
daughter who was just bat mitzvahed, Molly. And she is in middle school, very
active in all kinds of sports, she was in the Maccabi Games, and she plays the
piano, plays the oboe, plays volleyball, basketball, active in ice skating,
roller skating, she’s just a very active, sports minded and keeps a 4.0
Interviewer: And you get along well with her?
Nyman: Very well. And she doesn’t get away
with murder with me. Judith just left the Jewish National Fund, and now works
for the Board of Education. She works at Southgate Elementary School, which is
in German Village. Yesterday it was her first day.
Interviewer: As a secretary?
Nyman: She works in the office in the afternoon and the mornings
she works in the library. Gary does home improvement, Gary Cooper.
Interviewer: That’s her husband.
Nyman: Yes. Their oldest daughter is 25 and she going to
start Northwestern University next week, for her master’s in Advertising and
Journalism. And their younger daughter, who is 23, Julie, is working for the
Franklin County Children Services. And Debra works for Ohio Dominican. She is
secretary to one of the professors, I think he’s a professor, and she’s
married to Michael Hirsch, who works for a restaurant supply company. Deb works
part time. They don’t have children, but they do have two Labradors, Max and
Shadow. My children all live in Columbus. Don’t see each other every week, but
talk to them about once a week. Judy is the co-President of Sisterhood of Temple
Israel, and Gary is President of Brotherhood for Temple Israel, and that’s
about it, about my children.
Interviewer:Okay, Evelyn, let’s continue on.
I’d like to ask you a question
you mentioned at another time when we were discussing this interview,
that you had started to do some research on your family tree. Your family roots.
And many of us, who begin to research, do come up with some surprises, things
that we didn’t know about our family. You mentioned something about your
mother’s sister. Can you tell me a little bit about what you discovered? First
of all, her name, and why you tried to find her.
Nyman: I was doing my background work for my Genealogy. I was told to contact this organization, Avotenu. And
that they would hopefully be able to help me. I have a letter they sent me, that
they received from an Egon and Freda Wolf, who were the contributing editors
from Brazil and they gave me my aunt’s name, Rachel Rosa Ender, born in
Chodel, Poland, in 1873. She died a spinster on or about October 17 or 19, 1917.
They saw the tombstone more than 10 years ago and it was in quite bad condition.
No further details are available. This letter was dated 1989 so they probably
saw it in 1979.
When I was a little girl, I know that my mother and dad had an
attorney, because they were notified of her death. They were told she left a
large estate. But our attorney was never able to get through to Brazil, for any
part of the estate. I have a picture of her, and she has diamonds on all ten
fingers. I mean, diamonds. And jewelry on her shoes. What she did to acquire
such wealth, I don’t know, but Brazil did a good number on it. And none of us
ever saw any part of the estate. None of my mother’s siblings ever saw a
Interviewer:This was your mother’s sister?
Interviewer:And you tried to find out if she were alive, or deceased, or…
Nyman: Just whatever I could.
Interviewer:You started making an inquiry. And you feel that the estate wasn’t…
Nyman: Cousins in Toronto told me about our cousin Meirr Ender. When I was in Tel
Aviv, I looked him up. I had written to him before I left the states for
Israel, to let him know when I would be in Tel Aviv so that we could meet. He
and his wife came to the hotel where I was staying.
Interviewer: You met for the first time, your cousins?
Interviewer: So you didn’t know about this cousin?
Interviewer: Until you met the cousins in Toronto that you didn’t know?
Interviewer: So you spent some time in Toronto with these cousins?
Interviewer: And also with your cousin in Tel Aviv?
Interviewer: That’s very good. Now, have you documented this so that your
children will know this?
Nyman: Here it is.
Interviewer: So you made some sort of a documented family tree and you included all their
names? That’s very good.
Nyman: It needs a lot of updating because the
family has increased since then, this is as far as we got.
Interviewer: Do you plan to continue updating the family tree?
Nyman: I don’t know. I really don’t know, I think I need help.
Interviewer: Evelyn, during your time in Columbus you were a member of several Jewish
organizations. Did you hold an office or responsibility in any of these
agencies or organizations?
Nyman: I belonged to B’nai B’rith. I was Vice
President in charge of fundraising. When I was a member of ORT I did not hold an
office, but did fundraising. The name of the chapters, I’m sorry, I don’t
remember. I was also on the Board of Trustees and did fundraising for Sisterhood
of Congregation Tifereth Israel, and those were the only organizations I
Interviewer: What do you suppose was the reason you were put into fundraising area of all
three organizations that you belonged to?
Nyman: Cause I love to schnorr.
Interviewer: How did they know that?
Nyman: I told them. And…
Interviewer:What does the word “schnorr” mean and how do you spell it?
Nyman: S-C-H-N-O-R-R, I think. And then as I started working with Ben Mandelkorn, he
taught me things about fundraising. That made my work that much easier cause I
knew what I was doing.
Interviewer: Evelyn, if you could, in a couple of words, what would be the most important
thing to remember in fundraising?
Nyman: Going with a positive attitude and in the back of your mind, don’t take no for an answer.
Interviewer: Very good. Excellent. Do you still fundraise?
Interviewer: OK. Are you still a member of the B’Nai B’rith, ORT and Sisterhood?
Interviewer: And what sisterhood was that?
Nyman: Tifereth Israel.
Interviewer:Tifereth Israel. So you’re no longer active in these organizations?
Interviewer: Evelyn, you have done some extensive traveling in your lifetime, I believe it’s
been mostly in your later years. Could you tell us about your travels and
why did you wait so long to start traveling?
Nyman: Well, my first trip overseas
was to London, England with my husband. That was when we lived in Louisville,
but the trip originated in Columbus by some quirk, and then I did not travel
again till my husband passed away. Because when we could afford to travel he was
sick and when we couldn’t afford to travel he was well and things worked out
that we were not able to. My first trip I took was with Carole Tennebaum to
Israel and that was in 1990. I took that trip for both my husband and I because
there was nothing more that he wanted to do than to go to Israel. So in the back
of my mind I kept telling him everything I saw on that trip. One of the men made
a video of one trip and on his Yahrzeit I play the trip to Israel.
After that I went to Hawaii in 1992. Shortly after that I heard of a contest where they
wanted people to send in letters to tell them why they would like to have a
makeover. I was eating dinner and I jotted down the address and just on a quirk
I sent the letter to Channel 10 in Columbus. You had to send in a picture, and I
sent in one of the pictures that had been taken of me in Hawaii. Lo and behold,
I got a call and I won! So then I had to call my boss, Jackie, to see if he
would let me have the two days off, one to get ready for the taping and one for
the actual taping of the program. That was the beginning of the second phase of
my life, according to my friend, Peggy Kaplan, because she always said I was
reborn as of the day of my makeover. It was an absolute thrill and something
that I will never forget.
Interviewer:Makeover. Tell me what that was about.
Nyman: They took me to Jacob Neal Salon
and he yanked my hair, they couldn’t stand the teasing that I had in my hair.
I swore up and down I would never tease my hair again. They colored it different
shades, they put on all kinds of makeup, then they took me to Jacobson’s.
Jacobson’s and Jacob Neal cosponsored the entire makeover. Jacob was the
hairdresser and makeup artist. Actually, it was a transformation. I then went to
Jacobson’s and modeled different types of clothes, till they found the dress
that they felt would suit me on television. I was then interviewed on television
by Andrea Cambern and Dave Kaylor. I always watch them and so it’s still a
thrill when I see them on T.V. When I look at the tape every once in a while, I
want to see how beautiful I looked for one day, and that was another day in my
life that I won’t forget.
Interviewer: Do you think that was like Cinderella?
Nyman: More than that. I was queen for a day. It was wonderful.
Interviewer: And you think that makeover truly changed your life?
Nyman: I never thought so until I talked to Peggy. She swears up and down that that was the start of a new
life for me, and then from that incident, I took a trip to Spain, which I
absolutely adored. Not knowing the language, my friend, Madeline Fields, and I
were very lucky to meet a girl who was an American, but she came from a Spanish
family, so she knew Spanish. She was a big, big, help to us. Then my next trip
was to Eluthera, which is an island in the Bahamas. My friend, Harvey Levine,
and I stayed with my niece and nephew who have a home there. Then my next trip
was to Italy, which I fell in love with, and my pictures of Venice and of…oh,
where the Statue of David in Florence. Those are my two favorite cities, which
I would love to go back to. And other than that, we’ve gone to Elderhostels
and to jazz festivals in New Orleans, Baltimore, Savannah, San Francisco,
Richmond, Sand Diego, and that ends or brings you up to date of my travels.
Interviewer: Where’s your next trip?
Nyman: I’m going to San Diego in February for two
weeks. I was invited there by a friend to stay for two weeks and then in the
summer, another friend of ours is asking us for two weeks to go to the Cape Cod.
That will be sometime this summer. Other than that, unless a surprise should
come up, I have no other future plans.
Interviewer: So you’ve been to several countries in Europe. Is there a place in
Europe you would like to go?
Nyman: Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, almost
anywhere that you could mention. France and Germany are the only places I do not
care to go to.
Interviewer: Well, it seems you have had quite an interesting travel life in the past nine
years. Evelyn, you have been working for the Jewish Community for a
number of years, and you have come in contact with a number of the Jewish
leadership, the leaders of the community, and I know that your time serving in
the work world, the Jewish community, you’ve come in contact with two or
sometimes three generations of these people. And, I know that these people
played an important role in your life because you became acquainted with them,
and I’d like you to talk a little bit about some of these people that you
remember and their children or grandchildren that you have also come in contact
Nyman: Well, the first name that comes to mind is the Weiler Family. I knew
Robert Weiler when I first came to work for the Columbus Jewish Federation back
in 1960. He was on our Board of Trustees. And then after the years went on, I
worked with his son Alan, who at the time of Robert’s stay, was with the
junior group. We worked closely together. We became very friendly and lo and
behold, a few years ago, who comes into the picture, but Alan’s son, Steve. I
worked with him and it was so wonderful reminiscing with both Alan and Steve
about the old days.
I worked with Aaron Zacks, because he was on our Board of
Trustees, his charming wife, Florence Zacks Melton, and of course, Gordie. There’s
one thing that Gordie and I always laugh about. Whenever there was a blood bank
at the Jewish Center, for some reason or another, our beds were always placed
side by side when we were giving blood. He would be telling me jokes and we
would be laughing. We still talk about giving blood together. And then, there
was Gus Bowman and Jimmy Bowman. Not Jimmy…
Interviewer: Jimmy is Gus’s son.
Nyman: The one that works at Paine Webber. I don’t
remember Junior too well, but I remember his father. He was a handsome man, and
a very nice man. And of course, Jimmy and I worked very closely with him being
in the same building as I was in the downtown area, and of course Troy Feibel.
He was a very important part in my life because he was active and I had things
that I had to do for him and with him and then I became acquainted with his son,
Jimmy, who is a wonderful, wonderful person who I think very, very highly of.
Um, there was… I’m trying to think.
Interviewer: Were you involved at all with any of the Lazarus Family?
Nyman: Amy, more than any of the others.
Interviewer: Was she active in the women’s division?
Nyman: She was very active in the
women’s division. And so I had my contact with her. I did not have contact
with any of her offspring, I don’t know who they are, but she was a lovely
lady to work with. Dorothy Blank-Kahn was another charming person to work with.
Felice Schiffman, Judie Swedlow, who I have worked with more or less all the
time I’ve been with the Federation/Foundation because she was always a part
Interviewer: The Levy Family?
Nyman: No. I knew who Herb Levy was, but I did not work with him or for him. Schanfarber, no.
Interviewer: How about Shinbach?
Nyman: Oh yes, Sam Shinbach and his two sons-in-laws.
Interviewer: And their names are?
Nyman: Bill Moser, and I forget the other son-in-laws name. I
only know Bill Moser because there is a slight relationship in the family with
him and my husband, but it didn’t go any further than, “how do you
do.” I really don’t know why.
Interviewer: How about the Schiff Family?
Nyman: Oh, Robert and Herb Schiff. I knew Robert,
of course, and Herb has been a very dear friend. A very, very dear friend. He’s
been very good to me. He used to laugh a lot when he was president and when he
would come in for a meeting. He used to stop at my desk all the time, just to
chat for a few minutes and then when I started working at The Foundation’s
downtown office there was not a day that he did not stop by to say “hello,
how are you, everything going okay?” and I would say the same to him. And,
of course Betty would always stop by, that of course is his wife, and his
daughter Patti always stopped by when she came into town.
Interviewer:Did you know Herb Schiff’s other children?
Nyman: No. I knew his ex-brother-in-law, Cliff Levin, and his wife Kathy Levin. Kathy and I were
friendly when we belonged to ORT together. It was many years later that I met Jane and Suzanne.
Interviewer: What about the Glick Family, Robert or Billy?
Nyman: I worked with them, with Bill more than Robert. I worked with him straight through the old days. Ed
Schlezinger is another one from the old days. I’m trying to give names that are more or less a continuation from when I first started until the time I
Interviewer: How about the Lurie Family?
Nyman: Oh yes, I used to work for Ben Lurie. I worked for him for several months, and of course Tommy was there, that’s when
they were developing Olde Orchard.
Interviewer: Did you work as a secretary?
Nyman: Yes. And in fact one time I had to call up Tommy about a meeting for the Foundation. It was the first time I had talked to
him in many, many years. I asked him if he remembered me and he was very kind and said that he did, and we start reminiscing about when Olde Orchard was first
starting, and I knew his wife, Nancy.
Interviewer: How about Meizlish?
Nyman: Do I dare tell how they used to yell, he and Ben?
Nyman: I used to see Jack Resler. When he would come into the office, Ben
would always call him in for his pledge for the year. It was a contest of who
would win, Ben or Jack. And they would batter back and forth, and if I’m not
mistaken, I think Ben always won. And then of course I knew Johnny through his
coming into the office.
Interviewer: Eleanor Resler?
Nyman: Eleanor I did not know as well until I came back and
started working for The Foundation. And Eleanor Yenkin I knew from the old days
and up until recently her wonderful husband, Abe. He always told me if ever I
needed a job, whether there was one open or not, at Majestic Point, there would
be a job for me.
Interviewer: That’s nice. How about the Skilken Family?
Nyman: I knew Marilyn and Morris and Lee, casually.
Interviewer: Evelyn, of all the people you have worked with you seemed to have developed a
special friendship with Herb Schiff. Do you want to elaborate on that a
Nyman: When I started working downtown for the Foundation, his office was
in the same building. As I said before, he always stopped by to chat for a few
minutes, and there was never a time if I were ill, when I was in a automobile
accident, or for any special occasion that I didn’t get a dozen long stemmed
roses from him. In fact when I had my automobile accident I was out of work for
four weeks, he sent me two dozen roses, once every two weeks, so that I would
always have fresh flowers. He was always there for me. Before I retired, he made
sure that we went out for lunch so that we would see each other. I made a
promise to Betty, when Herb was at Wexner Heritage House, that I would visit
Herb. But unfortunately I have not kept it too well. I did go up to see him
Thursday, ’cause I’m having lunch with Sue Norris, Herb’s former
assistant, and I will make it a point to see Herb on Tuesdays when I am at
Wexner Heritage House.
Interviewer: Very good. While you were talking about Herb, you mentioned downtown
for the Foundation. Do you want to tell us what you mean?
Nyman: Well, in 1992, I was getting packed to go on my cruise to Hawaii. It was a Friday afternoon, and
I got a telephone call from Jackie Jacobs, the Executive Director of the
Foundation. After we chatted a couple of minutes and I’m still trying to get
my packing done he asked me if I’d like to work downtown and be in charge of
the downtown office.
Interviewer:Was that a new office?
Nyman: It was a new office, this was something new that
the Board had approved of, and they needed help to man the office. I asked if it
could wait till I come back from Hawaii, I was so pressed to pack, and he kept
talking and talking to me and God Bless him, he finally broke me down and I said
“yes.” I said yes with a little bit of trepidation, but I
prefaced, and said, “I’m saying yes now, but give me the two weeks
I’ll be on my trip, and then I will give you my final answer,” which I
did. I accepted the position to be the Office Manager at the downtown office,
which was in the Huntington building, and I loved it. It was the most wonderful
decision I have ever made in my life. Ben and Peggy are the two people who knew that I was quite leery about the whole thing, but
it turned out to be that I’m a downtown person. I loved every minute of it,
and every chance I get to go downtown, I go to that building, I don’t care if
I see anything else, than I feel better, and that’s my life.
Interviewer: So you were a one-person office?
Nyman: A one-person office, except the times
when Jackie would come down or if we had a meeting. Generally the small meetings
were in our conference room. The Executive Committee was one, and some of the
smaller committees, that I can’t remember the names, but the Executive
Committee was always there.
Interviewer: So, you were working for The Foundation, at the College Avenue location, and
they opened a satellite office downtown, in the Huntington building, and you
were the person who went to manage that office. And you did that from
1992 until retirement…
Nyman: July, 1999.
Interviewer: And that was your retirement from The Foundation.
Interviewer: Very good. So now you’re retired, Evelyn.
Interviewer: What are your future goals?
Nyman: Well, right now I work every Tuesday at
Heritage House in the Gift Shop. And I’m enjoying it very much, and I feel
that I’m doing some good. And I am putting in an application to work, not to
volunteer, in either the library or the office at the Whitehall school system,
which is why I have to go get a TB test and be fingerprinted today. In fact, as
long as I’m doing that I just might apply to all the schools in the area like
Bexley, and Columbus, and Gahanna. I don’t want to tie myself down every day
in the week, but maybe two or three days a week. One day to volunteer, a couple
days to get paid, and I’ll have some extra pin money.
Interviewer:Very good. So what else would you like to do during your retirement?
Nyman: Travel. Travel is my love. And as much as I can do, I am going to try to do.
Interviewer:And tell me about some of your best friends.
Well, I’ve got one
gentleman friend, who has been very good to me, we have been going together for
six and a half years. It started out as a platonic friendship. I see him three
days a week, and we take trips together. It is enough that it gives both of us a
chance to be with others. We enjoy dancing and jazz. It is a relationship that
you can’t have with another woman, or a man with another man. And as far as my
female friends, Madeline Fields happens to be the closest to a sibling I have
here in the city. And she’s an only child, so it’s vice versa. When we are
troubled sometimes we’ll talk. Nine, ten times in one day. But we always talk
at least once a day to see that everything is all right. We always check up on
each other to make sure everything’s going on the way it’s supposed to and
we feel good. I have a lot of acquaintances. I have one friend who I love to go
eat lobster with. Her name is Peggy Kaplan. I enjoy her company, not only to eat
lobster, but for her friendship. We have a friendship as far as couples, but our
main friendship is just the two of us where we just sit and talk and eat
lobster. And that’s about it.
Interviewer: That’s great. Evelyn, as you look back over your life, is there
anything that you would have changed?
As a mother, I don’t think I would have been as strict as I was. In retrospect, I realize I was extremely strict.
And, not that it did my children any harm, thank God I got three wonderful
children, three wonderful sons-in-law, and my three granddaughters, but as I
think back, I think I could have eased up a little on a lot of things. But, I
can’t do it over again, and…
Interviewer: Do you think that was maybe because of your military training?
Nyman: I don’t know.
Interviewer: Or being raised by your family?
Nyman: I think it was military and living with my sister and brother-in-law. He was very strict. I was only a teenager when I
started living with him, but he was as strict with me as he was with his kids.
So, I thought that’s the way you raise children. So that’s what I did.
Interviewer: You told me that you found a cousin recently.
Nyman: When I was in Israel, I found a cousin in Tel Aviv, who was the only survivor of the Holocaust. I found
him, when I was doing a little bit of my family tree. I also found cousins in
Toronto. They told me about him. They had his address, and I wrote to him. And
wrote again when I knew I was going to Israel I told him when I would be in Tel
Aviv. We met and talked for several hours. It was very difficult, because he
could not understand English. So I had to speak English to his wife, his wife
had to speak either Hebrew or Russian to him, and then he would answer her, and
she would answer me in English.
Interviewer: He didn’t speak Yiddish?
Nyman: But I don’t.
Interviewer: You understand it, but you don’t…
Nyman: I used to understand it a lot
better than I do, and with him having maybe an Israeli accent, or a Russian
accent, I might not have been able to do so. We thought this would be the best
way to do it. And it was very difficult, a three-way conversation like that, but
it was wonderful, seeing and knowing I had a cousin in Israel. And he would not
dwell about what happened during the Holocaust, I tried asking him a couple of
questions, and that was absolutely “forboten.” That was a chapter of
his life, the less he talked about the better he liked it.
Interviewer: And your cousins in Toronto, did you know about them?
Nyman: I heard about them through my mother, because it was on her side. I had met a couple of her nieces
many, many years ago, but the cousins I met when I was there, I had never met
before. That’s where I found where blonde hair and blue eyes come into the
family. Every one of them has blonde hair and blue eyes. They were charming and
I’ve got some wonderful pictures.
One of the couples came to Louisville to
visit us. They also came to visit us in Columbus. Unfortunately they had passed
away since. But it was great and I had fun. One of the cousins’ daughters I
call up maybe once a year or so, just to keep a little bit in touch. If I ever
went to Toronto again, which I hope to, I certainly will look them up.
Interviewer:Very good. I think we’ve covered quite a bit of your life, Evelyn,
is there anything else that you would like to include on this tape and record
for the future.
Nyman: To go back a little bit, after I met my husband, and we were
engaged, I was working…
Nyman: No. Jewish Community Council in Detroit. I worked for the
Executive Director. Whose name was Isaac Franck.
Interviewer: And that was in Detroit?
Yes, and a woman from Washington, D.C. came to
speak to the women and men of the Council. There was extra work to be done. My
boss asked me if I would stay overtime and do the work that she required, which
I did, and then when she left she came up to me and remarked that she heard I
was getting married, and as a token of her appreciation for what I did, she
presented me with a wedding gift. The name of the woman was Frances Perkins, who
was the Secretary of Labor under Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
I was astounded.
Interviewer: Do you remember what the gift was?
Nyman: A wine bottle and eight glasses.
Interviewer: Do you still have it?
Nyman: No. After almost 60 years, it went kaput. But the memory is there. And my kids all remember seeing it.
Interviewer: Any other stories to include on the tape?
Nyman: Did I tell you that I was chosen for the position of the Adjutant of the War. The Jewish War Veterans?
Interviewer: No, let’s talk about it.
Nyman: Okay. This is all mixed up. When I joined…started working for the
Jewish War Veterans I not only belonged to a Jewish War
Veteran post, I worked in the office. I was secretary to the State Department
Commander, Harry Madison. At their first election, they elected me as State
Department Adjutant and from what I understand, I was the first Jewish woman to
be elected as the Adjutant of a post in the United States.
Interviewer: In other words, first Jewish woman…
Nyman: First Jewish woman to be elected State Department Adjutant of a Jewish War Veteran post.
Interviewer: In the United States.
Nyman: In the United States. I had written to Washington
where our national archives are. So far they haven’t been able to find my
records of this. Of course this goes back to the 40’s. They are still looking
to see if they can find it so it could be documented.
Interviewer:Was that here in Columbus?
Interviewer: Detroit. And Detroit wouldn’t have those records?
Nyman: No, that was all sent…’cause that was State Department…that was all sent to Washington.
Interviewer:Wow. Those are very impressive things, Evelyn.
Interviewer: Do you have any more?
Nyman: I’m looking, I have three kids.
Interviewer: Evelyn, I think you have one more thing that you would like to put on the
tape as we begin to conclude.
Nyman: To conclude Peggy, I want to tell you and tell
everybody concerned how honored I was that a special proclamation was made in my
honor for my years of service and that funds were given to the Columbus Jewish
Historical Society to document my life. I’m sorry, it still catches me, so
that my recollection of my service to Columbus and in a small way, Detroit could
be put down for posterity. I hope everybody enjoys a life of work in an
organization as I did for this organization.
Interviewer: Very good. Evelyn, on behalf of the Columbus Jewish Historical
Society, I want to thank you for contributing to the Oral History project and
this will conclude our interview. Thank you.
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