This is Carol Shkolnik from the Columbus Jewish Historical Society. Today is November 11, 2003 and I’m here interviewing Evelyn Nateman today for the Oral History Project. This is where I need to meet her because this is where she is when she’s not working. She’s here with her mother, Jennie Roland. I was wondering, Evelyn, I do know from your question- naire that you were born in Columbus. Could you tell me about that and your family as you were growing up?
Nateman: I was born in a house on Miller Avenue, just north of Livingston Avenue. It was 1925 and it was during the Depression.
Interviewer: Okay. You were born, you lived on Miller Avenue during the Depression?
Nateman: Uh huh. There wasn’t enough money to go to the hospital but when my brother had been born in a hospital and my father’s cousin was the doctor who delivered me and was our doctor for many years.
Interviewer: The name of that doctor was?
Nateman: That doctor was Morton Hages. He was a doctor in the Hungarian section of Columbus on Parsons Avenue. His wife was Mary, a Catholic, whom he had met in Austria and she was of a very exclusive family there, had been convent-raised and they married because he was not terribly happy to be Jewish and he wanted to be a doctor and this was a good way to do it. So they lived on Parsons Avenue and were a very important part of our life. They always came to us for Seder and I remember my Aunt Mary always took the biggest heaping of haroses to make up for what the Catholics had done to the Jews. That impressed me a great deal. Anyhow I was born on Miller Avenue. We lived there until I was probably two or three years old and then we moved to 18th Street, just south of Livingston in the Children’s Hospital area. My father had bought a double and half was rented to a family named Krosner who was related to almost half the people of Columbus and we lived in the other. There were four daughters in that family. The youngest was my best friend.
Interviewer: Who, and that was?
Nateman: Rosaline Krosner. I don’t know what her married name is. I lost track of her when we moved.
Interviewer: I think I know. I think it’s Zlatkin, I think.
Nateman: They are members of Tifereth Israel but they live, I think, in Florida most of the time. Her older sister Goldie is here at Heritage House. So we were very close friends. And there was a whole group of us on 18th Street. We were known as the “18th Street Gang” as opposed to the Gilbert Street Gang, the 22nd Street Gang, and we were really gangs. And there was a lot of rivalry between. It was almost like a Jewish West Side Story except we didn’t come to fisticuffs and . . . .
Interviewer: You didn’t have what?
Nateman: Fisticuffs, fighting.
Interviewer: Oh, okay.
Nateman: Fighting. As I look back I think it was rather an interesting childhood. We found it great fun. I suppose none of us had much money. In fact my father had the only automobile on the street. He was an insurance agent with the Metropolitan and needed it because he had to go around to homes to collect quarters and dimes and everything every week. So we were quite the elegant ones with the car. But it was a great life. We never felt deprived. Nobody had money and everybody was very happy.
Interviewer: Now you mentioned that you had a brother. What was your brother’s name?
Nateman: My brother, Harvey Roland, he was two and a half years older than I. Very, very brainy. He had all the brains in the family I always said. Skipped school. He was a very good friend of Eugene Borowitz who became one of the heads of the Reform movement. And he went into, he was in the war. He was a pilot. And after the war he never came back to Columbus. He went to Chicago and then to South Bend and then opened his own business. So he was my older brother.
Interviewer: Is he still living?
Nateman: Unfortunately he died just a year ago . . . .
Interviewer: I’m sorry.
Nateman: as a result of complications from surgery. It was a terrible thing and it’s still a big problem. I was not able to go. I had just had heart surgery at that time and couldn’t leave the city, plus I couldn’t take, I couldn’t go with Mother and I never did have any sort of closure on that, but that’s another problem.
Interviewer: I’m sorry to hear that.
Nateman: So I have just the one sister in Chicago and she comes out about every three months or so and stays the weekend and this is the way we sort of do it with Mother.
Interviewer: And what is your sister’s name?
Nateman: Alice, Alice Wiss, Alice Wiss.
Interviewer: All right, so I interrupted you, to tell a little bit about your family so keep going in the direction . . . .
Nateman: So from Miller Avenue, as I said, we moved to 18th Street and we were there through the war and aside from having a wonderful life as a child and not being aware of any problems of finances or anything else, when the war hit, World War II, my father spent hours and hours and hours every day trying to bring his relatives out from Europe. And he would be in contact with his two brothers, one in Chicago and one in Detroit, and between them they tried to bring these people out. But he never spoke of it to me. He never spoke of what he was trying to do and he sort of tried to shield me. ‘Cause at the time my brother was in the Air Force. He was stationed in England and he was flying bombing flights over Germany, which wasn’t the safest thing. I’m sure my parents were very, very nervous about that but never once did they express this to me or my sister. I was in Ohio State at the time and I was having a wonderful time there. And again, as I look back, I think, wow, I was really pretty stupid, you know. But they did insulate me. They wanted me to be happy and not have those problems.
Interviewer: Do you think naive maybe, not stupid?
Nateman: I don’t know. I see it as stupidity because it was brought home long after the war. About four years ago I had a call out of the blue from a cousin who was one of the cousins that my father did bring out. She survived the Holocaust. She is my age and she heard about me through an article in the newspaper because of Hadassah Hospital, that my mother had given some money there and there was an article that ran in Chicago. She had a sister in Chicago. The sister sent the article to her in Detroit and she traced me down through Hadassah. And she called.
Interviewer: And you never met here before?
Nateman: Never met her, never heard of her. My father never spoke anything about her. And apparently when he did bring her out and she was at our house, I was already married and living in Dayton. So she introduced herself and the first time we spoke on the phone, we spoke for two hours.
Interviewer: Oh wow!
Nateman: Catching up on everything and that’s when I really began to feel worse than ever because she would tell me what she went through. At the time I was a coed at Ohio State and that made a very big impression. But we’ve become very dear friends since then and try to see one another whenever we can.
Interviewer: That’s wonderful.
Nateman: So we, my sister was 13 years younger than I so she had very little effect on my life. My mother never imposed on me to babysit. She took care of it herself. So after I graduated from Ohio State I worked, my senior year I worked at Wilmington College in Ohio in the Department of Physical Education and then I got a job at the Ohio State School for the Deaf and I worked there for a year and then I got married, so that ended my public school teaching.
Interviewer: I want to detour just a little bit. Can you tell me about your religious upbringing?
Nateman: When I was born we were members of the Beth Jacob because Rabbi Greenwald was related to my father’s mother in Europe and when she heard that he was here she said, “You have to belong to his shul. That’s all there is to it.” So we belonged there and my brother was Bar Mitzvahed from the Beth Jacob. And Rabbi Greenwald and my father were very good friends and my mother and Mrs. Greenwald were good friends. And we used to go over every Saturday and walk over, they lived several blocks from us, and my father and Rabbi Greenwald would sit and study because my father had been a yeshiva bocher in Hungary and they would sit and study and my mother and Mrs. Greenwald would talk and I sat there bored to death because they spoke Yiddish or Hungarian which I did not know. So I grew up there until my brother was Bar Mitzvahed and after that my mother said, “This is it. I can’t stand it any more.” She didn’t like the separation. She didn’t like the, what she felt was the crudeness of the women up in the balcony.
Nateman: And she said, “We’re going to go to Tifereth Israel to the Conservative synagogue.” And apparently they had been members of the Conservative synagogue when I was born for a short time. Because when they moved here Morris Polster who was one of the founders of the synagogue, befriended them and they became members there and I was named there.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Nateman: And then they immediately left and went to Beth Jacob.
Interviewer: How did your father feel about this?
Nateman: I have no idea.
Nateman: I have no idea how he felt about it. When he got to Tifereth Israel he became very active and he became Vice President in Charge of Religion. He was on the bima and ran the services for 35 years. And he was very active on the Board. So I guess, you know, I guess it was time and he found his niche. So I was brought up there. When we were members of the Beth Jacob I went to Hebrew School at Schonthal Center. That was, actually it was a Sunday School because many girls did not go to the Hebrew School which was right across the street. So I got no Hebrew education that way but my mother hired a melamed, Mr. Hurwitz, to come to the house for two years before my brother was Bar Mitzvahed and I sat in on the lessons and learned how to read at that time. We sat around the dining room table. My mother knitted or sewed or crocheted and we sat there and studied. So that’s where my beginning education was, that and Schonthal Center and when we went to Tifereth Israel I began Sunday School there, not Hebrew School which at that time met, I think, once a week or something. I’m really not sure. And we were confirmed at that time and there were quite a few people in my class who are still in Columbus and very active in the Jewish community and following that, I began teaching at Tifereth Israel.
Interviewer: I want to ask you another question before we go a little further. You mentioned that you grew up in the Depression.
Nateman: Uh huh.
Interviewer: How did you manage to go to college?
Nateman: Well the Depression was long over.
Nateman: But my parents met in Akron and as, after they were married, they moved to Columbus and one of the reasons they moved here aside from better job oppor- tunities, was they were determined that when they had children they wanted to be in the vicinity of a university so that the children would be sure to be able to go to the university financially. Because they never knew if they could afford to send, you know, kids away to school. So they moved here to be near Ohio State. So my brother went, I went, my sister went. There was just no question. And when I talk to parents now who go university shopping, college shopping. I think it’s wonderful because we never had any choice, I mean, we never thought about it. This is where we went. And every one of us had a good education and loved it.
Interviewer: Did you live at home?
Nateman: I lived at home, sure. Took the bus. Yeah. My sister already lived on campus. She was a sorority girl. Which is something I never, never would have thought of. Because I went into Physical Education and we were the plain fobs on campus I guess.
Nateman: But there was no question that we would all go to college. That was accepted. At that time it cost what, $30-$40 a quarter, which was big money I suppose. But there were no two of us in college at the same time. It was always one at a time.
Interviewer: That’s interesting. Okay. All right, so you met, what were the circumstances of, how did you and your husband meet?
Nateman: Through family. His family had moved from Youngstown to Columbus. One of the brothers came, the next one came, and finally the whole family were here and they all joined Tifereth Israel. And my parents and Nate’s, one of Nate’s brothers and sister-in-laws became very friendly. Nate is the youngest of the children so that his older brothers and sisters were as old as my parents.
Interviewer: Oh wow!
Nateman: So they became friendly and they had this brother who just got out of the Army and who was a troubleshooter for the, what was it, the Sons Bars and Grills, and they thought that he should meet me because they used to see me in shul. I would be sitting with my parents. And they kept trying to set up dates and I wasn’t in favor of it and finally they did and we met and at the first date, my husband, Nate, says, “I’m going to marry you”. I said, “You’re crazy”. And he was on the road all the time. So he would come in on weekends and we’d go out and we became engaged.
Interviewer: How long had you known each other when you became engaged?
Nateman: About five months. That’s all. We met at the High Holydays and we became engaged at the New Year’s party at Tifereth Israel and we were married the following September. So we were married a year after we met.
Interviewer: So you were married what year?
Nateman: The year that Israel was born, 1948.
Interviewer: I see. I see. So and when you got married, did you continue working?
Nateman: Well when we got married, I told my husband we were moving out of town. I would not live in Columbus with all of his brothers and sisters who were much older than me, already long married with children, who were telling me how to live my life. So we left town.
Interviewer: He had no problem?
Nateman: No problems at all. His job was troubleshooter for Sons so he was traveling on the road. So for the first year we traveled and at the end of the first year Sons settled us in Chillicothe for a while, which was very nice ’cause we could come in and out, and then he decided, okay, it’s time to start out on his own so he bought his own bar and grill in Columbus and we moved back to Columbus. And by that time we had three children. By the way, we lived in Dayton for three years and we had three children and we moved back to Columbus.
Interviewer: Now you said Sons. How are you spelling Sons?
Nateman: S-O-N-S. Because this company was the sons of Pop Sher. It was the Sher family.
Interviewer: I see.
Nateman: And it was Sons and Stones Bars and Grills. They were cousins and it was also, they had bars and grills all over Ohio.
Interviewer: So you came back to Columbus and how was Columbus different then, compared to when you left it in terms of what made you want to leave, family . . . .
Nateman: Well by the time we came back, having been married with three children, we were firmly established and I felt strong enough to be able to say, “No”. And there was no problem. They, after, you know, a few try-outs they realized, “Okay, leave them alone,” and we were very friendly. We had a very good life. Our kids had loads and loads of cousins and it was a lot of social interplay between all the families, my family and my husband’s family and it was a great time to come back. And I always felt Columbus was a great place to raise children. It didn’t have the tension and the constant changes that Dayton had and we lived at the east end about, you know, two miles from my parents. So we saw one another frequently and it was a great time to come back. And then I had another child so we ended up with four children. And that’s when I began, when I lived in Dayton I taught at the Sunday School there, the Beth Abraham for one year and then once I got pregnant that was it. I didn’t teach any more till we came back to Columbus. And then once I came back to Columbus I began teaching Sunday School again at Tifereth Israel and Nate was home with the children. And then I got a job at the Jewish Center. I was in charge of the women and children’s physical education because I could do that at night when Nate was home. And I then was teaching again at Tifereth Israel on Sundays and when Saul Wachs came in 1960 they observed all the teachers to see who they felt they could train to be better Jewish educators because most of us had no Jewish Education teaching training. We were brought up and that was about it. And I was one of the teachers that was chosen and asked if I would be willing to do it. And I said, “Sure”. My children were growing up. I was ready to teach in the afternoon school as well as Sunday in the future so I became one of the teachers in a pilot program to develop the Melton Bible material. And I traveled to New York and to Chicago studying with different teachers and went for the summer for a couple of weeks again to study and again, my husband was always there supporting me. He was always in favor of it. It was like heaven.
Interviewer: What, how common was it for Jewish women to be working when they had children in those days?
Nateman: I was totally unaware of what others were doing.
Nateman: I really was totally unaware. And my work was only when my husband was home. It was very, very part-time. I don’t think I knew of any woman who was working full time.
Interviewer: Well it sounds like a lot of hours anyway, but maybe not.
Nateman: Uh huh. Uh huh. It seemed to work out because I was . . . .
Interviewer: Obviously it did.
Nateman: I was always home when my children came home from school. They used to ask me to teach in the afternoon at Tifereth Israel and I said I would not do it as long as my children were that small. Once my children were in Hebrew School then I began. And even then when Saul Wachs came, I just taught Sunday but I did do the USY. I was the Advisor to USY because my children were in it. And I became his assistant so for eight of the ten years he was here, I was his assistant but I only worked during the day and when school started in the afternoon, I came home to be with my kids. And again it wasn’t until my children were in the senior high school that I began teaching in the afternoon. And by that time my older son was also teaching at Tifereth Israel part-time.
Interviewer: Can you tell us a little bit about your children?
Nateman: I’m very, very proud of my children. I have four children and I had them in four-and-a-half years. So they were like little monkeys in a barrel.
Nateman: And I really wanted this because I did not look forward to PTA meetings and I knew we would have to be involved and this way I got them out, all done in one time. They were all in the same school at the same time. David is my oldest and he was born in 1950 and charming little boy. My parents took care of him, baby-sat him whenever they could come into Dayton and we would bring him in here. And he got very used to being with my parents. My daughter Leslie was born a year-and-a-half after him and she was always a very sweet, very quiet little girl. We found out when she was about three or four years old that there was something mentally wrong with her, that she didn’t develop like the rest of them as far as speaking, as far as walking or anything. But she seemed to be very normal like everybody else. And then I had Barry one year after her . . . .
Nateman: so there wasn’t too much time to worry about Leslie. And then when we moved to Columbus I had Cheryl and she was two years after Barry. So it’s four-and-a-half years top to bottom. And the kids got along very well. As I look back I remember being busy. I remember no tremendous fights. I don’t remember horrible things. All I remember is fun. So that’s great. And the children are very close even though they’re scattered. And while David, who has children, says, “I don’t know how you did it”. He has two. He says, “I don’t know how you did it with four. Two are driving me crazy,” you know. He said, “You must have done something right because,” he says, “all I remember is fun”.
Interviewer: Oh that’s nice.
Nateman: So that’s good. So David is, he’s a Ph.D. in Art Education and lives in North Carolina. He is the Director of the North Carolina Maritime Museum. And he has two children, Ari and Zoey. Ari is now 16. Zoey is 10.
Leslie has had mental problems all of her life. She lives in Columbus. She is the only one that lives here and she’s been working with a counseling program out of Westerville for many years and they’re doing a wonderful job. She’s been on her own for many years and she’s developed a pretty good life. But it’s very difficult for her. Barry my Number 3 is Director of Human Resources at a large hospital in Jamestown, New York. He is married. They have no children. And Cheryl, Number 4, has lived in Israel for 25 years, has four sons and is Director of Human Resources and Administrative Tourism and has been in government work for a long time. So they all scattered but they’re always in contact with one another through E-mail, through telephone. The children come for Passover and Thanksgiving. But Cheryl comes when she can. And up until the time when my mother became ill, I used to go to Israel for the summer and I would spend two to three months every year there.
Nateman: And I studied at Hebrew University while I was there and I was real, I was able to be a grandma to the boys and it was a wonderful time.
Interviewer: That’s nice.
Nateman: Actually in the, where we live, when I would come, the neighbors knew summer was here and when I left they knew summer was over.
Interviewer: I see.
Nateman: So I was sort of the bird of summer.
Interviewer: Now your daughter Leslie, is she able to work?
Nateman: She has not worked for many years because part of the problem is that she becomes very nervous in situations that she finds uncomfortable. She cannot take pressure and whenever she got a job she did very well at it and people thought, well we can give her more responsibility, and she couldn’t take them and each time she just ran away. That’s how she handled it, by running away. So now she gets Medicaid and she’s supported that way through Social Security.
Interviewer: And she lives totally independently?
Nateman: She’s totally independent. She’s in this counseling program that has a group of apartments in an apartment complex and they have what they call “their spot” where they meet, their club house in the complex and they have a lot of social activities and they have a lot of therapy groups and so forth and so on and that’s how she keeps busy.
Interviewer: I see. Would you have rather she be able to get some services from Jewish Family Services?
Nateman: We tried. Jewish Family service killed us and killed her.
Nateman: They used her to help form Shalom House and it’s still something that I still don’t forgive them for. But nobody remembers the incident.
Interviewer: Well that’s too bad.
Nateman: Yes it is.
Interviewer: You mean they said, “This is the kind of person who will live at Shalom”?
Nateman: When they began to form, when they were talking about forming Shalom House, they needed to show that it was a need, that there were people that needed it. They contacted me and said, “We’re going to interview her. We want her to apply for it.” And I said, “You tell me more about Shalom House because if there’s a chance that she doesn’t qualify for whatever your standards are, I don’t want her to go through that because she’s had too many disappointments”. And, “Oh no”. They checked everything out. “She seems like the ideal candidate. She’s able to work. She’s able to function. She’s able to do this, that and the other thing.” So we went through the whole process of reinterviewing, remedical and psychological and everything and it was very expensive. We paid for it. Very expensive and at the end we heard nothing. Then we read in the paper that Shalom House was being formed and the first group of people are being in and everything. So I called I think it was David Small who was in charge at the time. I called and said, “What’s the matter?” And he said, “Oh she’s too highly functioning to qualify”. And I said, “You knew that when you went through her papers. This is what I was afraid of.”
Interviewer: It’s hard.
Nateman: And he didn’t even say, “I’m sorry”. “Well,” he said, “that’s the way it is”. So it was, I have very little . . . . We did try counseling before this with Jewish Family Service and she was always assigned students at Ohio State and it’s just, I think they just, I felt that they didn’t know what they were doing and they were using clients to further whatever they wanted to do there. So now we have had nothing to do with them since then.
Interviewer: I’m very sorry to hear that.
Nateman: I am too. I am too.
Interviewer: I suspected that there was some dissatisfaction ’cause I would think, you know, that if they had what you needed you would have wanted to use the . . . . services there.
Nateman: Of course. I’m all, I mean definitely I would have wanted her in the Jewish community. She would have wanted to be in the Jewish community. She’s totally isolated from the Jewish community now because she lives on Morse and Cleveland. That’s way far north. And at this point she doesn’t feel comfortable with Tifereth Israel any more because she hasn’t been there and she doesn’t know the people and this is not her comfort zone any more. But at one time it was very important and the Jewish Center was very important. But she’s been completely alienated by this. And there’s nothing I can do, I mean. All I can hope is that she’s doing okay as a person where she is. And she seems to be.
Interviewer: Good. That’s good. Yeah that sounds like a big disappointment in your life.
Nateman: It is. I mean, my parents were always strong supporters of the Jewish community. I have always supported. I do not support the Federation with money. I will say it frankly, because I think too much of the money does not go to where it should be going and where we want it to go. And we don’t have that much money that we can afford to support the administration to that extent. So we give our money directly to the places we want, mainly to Israel. And even there we sent it to my daughter in Israel and she takes it directly where we want it so it doesn’t have to be spent for administrative use. We just don’t have enough money to support that. So, but no, it’s really very sad.
Interviewer: Well let’s see, can you tell me, and this I don’t know the answer to, so I’m just looking for it, you were involved with Tifereth Israel in terms of education as a teacher. Is there more that you and Nate and maybe some of your children were more involved with?
Nateman: Well at Tifereth Israel or community?
Interviewer: Yeah, at Tifereth Israel.
Nateman: My brother organized the first library at Tifereth Israel . . . .
Interviewer: He did?
Nateman: when he was yet a youth and it was in Rabbi Zelizer’s office.
Nateman: He organized it. Then of course he went off to the war. My sister was more involved with the social life of the Columbus community. She was the only Jewish, the only Columbus girl in the Jewish sorority in Dayton.
Nateman: She always went that way, the sorority type and the same thing in college. At Tifereth Israel, as I said, my father was Education Vice President for 35 years and on the Board and I remember he was very, very compassionate on the committee that established what you paid because he always said, “You cannot tell by how a person lives what he can really afford. Sometimes a person has to have a facade in order to make a living and they don’t make a tremendous living.” And he was always very strong on not charging if a person had a new car every year. So charge them the most you can. He was very good that way, very compassionate. My mother was Sisterhood president. She also taught at Tifereth Israel. She was almost a volunteer teacher and some of the people who are grown and who are, I think, grandparents now, remember her as their teacher. My sister, as I said, never taught there. My children, my two sons were both USY presidents. My one son was a national officer. Both sons were regional officers. My daughter Leslie was a regional officer and my daughter Cheryl. Leslie went through Hebrew School but did not get Bat Mitzvahed at 13. I felt that the pressure of that would just be too much. And she was also not in USY because I believed that it would really constrain my other children and she was not emotionally ready for anything like that. She was very active in Camp Fire Girls and she loved it and she did well and I was one of the leaders, so it made her comfortable. The other children of course got Bar and Bat Mitzvahed at 13. Leslie was Bat Mitzvahed when she was 29. She decided in her 20s she wanted to be a Bat Mitzvah. So we worked with her and Sherrill Shapiro worked with her.
Interviewer: I remember him.
Nateman: He was very good with children with problems. He worked with her and we had her Bat Mitzvah on Thanksgiving when our entire family would always come in for my mother’s birthday and we held it in the Chapel. We invited only very close friends in Columbus and of course the family. And word got around and when we went into the Chapel which at the time seated about 80 people, there were so many people that it practically filled the Atrium spilling into the center. They wanted to come. And she did very well. When she gave her speech, she mentioned Cheryl who was already in Israel and married and could not come in for it. And she began crying as she talked about Cheryl, how she misses her. Everybody was crying with her.
Nateman: I remember that very, very clearly. But she did have her Bat Mitzvah.
Interviewer: It must have been really . . . .
Nateman: It was a very, very emotional thing, a very emotional thing. So, and I said, both Cheryl and Barry and David all taught at Tifereth Israel on and off.
Interviewer: Very interesting. So your, through your teaching and your USY . . . .
Nateman: And dance group.
The Israeli Dance Group there was a very, very important thing. We began that, some of the kids in USY, well my daughter had just started ninth grade, they said, “We would like to dance”. Well I had always been a dancer. At Ohio State I was in Dance Group which was, Orchesis. Now it’s called “Dance,” I think, “The Dance Group,” I don’t know. And I used to go down to Camp Bluestar to study Israeli dance. So they said, “Why don’t we start a dance group?” You know, it’s like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, “Hey kids, let’s put on a show”. So ten girls got together, USY, and we started. And I told them if we do it, we have to meet three times a week, Sunday and both days before Hebrew High which used to meet Monday and Wednesday night, and we would perform. So we started and we began performing to other Conservative synagogues. The group grew. Within two years we had both boys and girls. At one time we reached 25 members. Usually our group was about 15 to 18 and it was boys and girls and again three times a week they rehearsed. We had costumes. We went all over. My husband drove a van and we just went everywhere dancing. It was a glorious thing. Parents were supportive and some of them still say, “You know, that was some of the best years of our lives”. And I have to agree. It was fun.
Interviewer: It sounds like it. How many years did that last?
Nateman: The group lasted for 13 years.
Nateman: Long after my children were out I kept going. We finally got kids that had known about the Dance Group and they saw what they did but they began to be lazy. They didn’t want put all the time in for rehearsal. And I would not put them on stage unless they were good. So, you know, we just phased it out. That was it.
Interviewer: Well . . . .
Nateman: I had the costumes for years and years and finally about three years ago I called up the Jewish Center and took Gallery Players a lot of the costumes and I took one of the Columbus dance groups a bunch of costumes.
Interviewer: Wow! I’m impressed that you’re still teaching.
Interviewer: I really am.
Nateman: The fact that it’s a very short time each day. Tifereth Israel has changed what they do. They no longer meet four days a week at Tifereth Israel. It’s two days at Tifereth Israel and two days out in New Albany or Gahanna or someplace. So . . . .
Interviewer: And where is it in New Albany or Gahanna?
Nateman: The same school. What they’re doing, instead of, we used to have second, third and fourth grade meet Monday-Wednesday and fifth, sixth, seventh grade meet Tuesday-Thursday. So what they are doing now, all grades are meeting Monday-Wednesday at Tifereth Israel. All grades meet Tuesday-Thursday in Gahanna. It’s at the Day School so I’m not sure if it’s Gahanna or New Albany. And all the classes meet Sunday at Tifereth Israel.
Interviewer: Well what is going on in New Albany that isn’t being done at Tifereth Israel?
Nateman: Nothing is going on in New Albany that isn’t being done. The question is what is going on at Tifereth Israel that isn’t being done in New Albany? New Albany has no connection with the synagogue. It is a school that they are using space in another school.
Nateman: So they do not have a chapel. They do not have a sanctuary. They do not have the whole ambiance of Tifereth Israel. So this was just changed this year and when the veteran teachers were asked, “Will you go out there?” most of us said, “No”. And we, I’m definitely, I told her I would never go out there. I have put my time in when we were redoing Tifereth Israel and there was a school where I taught everywhere in the city and we were, you know, we were the wandering Jews. And I put my time in. I didn’t want to do it any more. So I’m, I didn’t like losing all that time but the fact that I’m free now two afternoons a week with Mother here, is a blessing. It’s an absolute blessing. I, it just cut down on the different classes I could teach.
Interviewer: I see.
Nateman: And I just, I, well anyhow, so that’s what’s happened.
Interviewer: Well you know, I don’t remember if you were a teacher or principal but I grew up in Beth Jacob but we joined Tifereth Israel and belonged for two years and I was confirmed there and I was probably confirmed in 1961. I know you were here. I just don’t remember in what capacity.
Nateman: I was Assistant to Saul Wachs at that time.
Interviewer: You were in ’62 probably.
Nateman: Yeah. And in 1970 when he left, I took over interim as the Principal. And I was the interim for ten years . . . .
Nateman: because they never found anybody else. And I kept working with the Melton Center at the Seminary and traveling back and forth to New York and carrying on what Saul started. Yeah. And I also started to go to Camp Ramah on staff as Head of Dance and my children, my oldest son was on staff at Camp Ramah and Barry, the younger one, went through Camp Ramah as a camper and on staff. So we were very involved in all of that. But mainly our life was around, and still is, around Tifereth Israel. My husband never taught but is the usher. He ushers every Sunday and . . . .
Interviewer: You mean Saturday?
Interviewer: You mean Saturday?
Nateman: Every Saturday. I’m sorry, yeah. And I, we’ve been told by many people that his welcoming is what caused people to join after having come as guests or something.
Interviewer: Yes, his hand shaking and the chocolate kiss.
Nateman: The candy, the candy.
Nateman: He thoroughly enjoys and he’s involved that way.
Interviewer: Well it means a lot to people and when he’s not there, we know it.
Nateman: Yes it does.
Interviewer: Yeah when he’s not there we know it.
Nateman: Well he did this for many, many years, quite a while ago and then some new person on the board, a new member who was put on the board or something, was there one day and he made a derogatory remark to Nate about ushering isn’t so important and, you know, “I don’t think it’s really that important”. So he was really insulted and he stopped, he stopped ushering for a couple of years and finally he came back. But it was just a very cruel thing to say by someone who didn’t know what it meant. I mean, now as you can see they’re trying even more with people at the door, and people all over the place to welcome people . . . .
Interviewer: It’s gotten to be a really large shul.
Nateman: It’s the largest in Columbus. It’s very large, yeah.
Interviewer: I know you said you felt that Columbus was a good place to raise children. Do you have any other perspectives on Columbus, maybe even historical changes you’ve seen through the years?
Nateman: Columbus is totally different than it was when I was a child and when I was growing up. When I was growing up it was a farm city and the general economy had no effect on Columbus because people always needed food and that’s what we were. We didn’t have, we had Jeffrey Manufacturing and we had one aircraft company I think. That was it. So the general . . . .
Nateman: Rockwell I think. They were out at the airport. So it was calm, it was very peaceful. There was no problem. Was it anti-Semitic? I think it was. I mean definitely no Jews or dogs allowed in different places in Columbus.
Interviewer: Like where maybe?
Nateman: Like here. This area was . . . .
Interviewer: On the east side?
Nateman: Yeah, Berwick.
Interviewer: Oh Berwick.
Nateman: Berwick. No, Bexley always had some Jews of course. The east end was where the Jews lived. But mainly the Jews lived around Children’s Hospital. And then they moved east to Driving Park and then east, more and more east. But there were no Jews in this area, no Jews in Worthington, Arlington. I mean absolutely not. I had a, my mother’s cousin who grew up in Delaware and had almost no Jewish education and really wasn’t involved in the Jewish community at all, was a teacher at West High School and he lived in Upper Arlington. And we used to go visit him. And I always felt very uncomfortable going in the area. It was just, you know, off limits to us that I felt. Now of course when I talk to my students about it they can’t believe it because we have Jews everywhere.
Interviewer: In case someone wants to use this tape some day to draw a family tree, what was the name of this cousin in Delaware you were referring to, your mother’s cousin?
Nateman: My mother’s cousin who still lives in Delaware is Harry Frank.
Interviewer: The name’s familiar.
Nateman: They belonged to Temple Israel and, you know, it’s terrible, I can’t remember her cousin’s name who was the teacher and he was a very, very dear person. He actually taught woodwork at West High and he taught woodwork at the old Jewish, at the old Schonthal Center.
Nateman: Yeah. And I can’t remember his name. It’s right, gone . . . .
Interviewer: I see. That happens, that happens. Has anyone done a family tree on either side of your family?
Nateman: On my mother’s side, we ran across a man, my mother’s mother’s name was Gross. And we ran across a man named Gross who again heard about us who lives in Cleveland. That’s where most of the family lived, Cleveland, Toledo and Detroit. And he was doing a huge family tree based on two brothers who came to Canada. One of the brothers became my mother’s great-great-something and the other brother became this man’s great-great-grandfather. And he should have put the two trees, the two limbs together and I had a copy of that. I, these people, I didn’t even, you know, never heard of them or anything. But we didn’t do my father’s. Nothing from my father.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Wow! That’s an interest of mine and I know some people will work to . . . .
Nateman: It’s very complicated. I understand there’s a Gross who’s related somehow who is a professor at Ohio State. Never heard of him, never met him.
Interviewer: You were talking about the anti-Semitism. When did you see that starting to change where Jews could go more places, live more places and why do you think that happened?
Nateman: I saw it was different when we came back after we were married where Jews were just everywhere.
Interviewer: So that was in 1950?
Nateman: We came back in 1950, yeah. I never felt the anti-Semitism but my father certainly did. And that’s why he wanted to protect us so much. But I didn’t move in an area, in a community, with friends that were Gentile. It was mainly Jewish. Until I went to Ohio State. When I was a Physical Education major I was the only Jew in the whole place. And I didn’t advertise it and it didn’t come up and I did my thing and, you know, I was just a Physical Ed major among many others.
Interviewer: Where did you go to high school?
Nateman: South High School. Roosevelt and South. Roosevelt no longer exists.
Interviewer: I know.
Nateman: South is, it has another name, South Academy or something.
Interviewer: Yeah. I understand there were a lot of Jewish students at South during those years.
Nateman: Yes we went to South or East. The division was Livingston Avenue. And everybody south went to South.
Interviewer: Were you involved in, you or either your brother or sister involved in school activities?
Nateman: I really don’t know much about what my brother was doing because I was too busy having my own life and I was in junior high when he was in senior high. But when I was in senior high I was very active in the Drama Department. I was very active in the Physical Ed Department, those two things. Extra-curricular.
Interviewer: I’m going to stop and turn this tape over ’cause it’s almost done anyway.
Nateman: Uh huh.
Interviewer: This is Side 2 of the interview of Evelyn Nateman by Carol Shkolnik. And we’re going to continue and see what else she has to tell us.
Nateman: As a kid I was very active in Camp Fire Girls. And the Camp Fire Girls met first at a school and then we met at a Lutheran church. Again I was the only Jewish kid in it. And my closest friends were in the Camp Fire group. The Jewish kids that I grew up with were very active in Junior Hadassah. But I was not. That was not my thing.
Interviewer: Can you explain why?
Nateman: I was just having such a great time in Camp Fire Girls and I got my Judaism at home. I didn’t need organizations. I didn’t need anything like that because my family life was so very strong Jewishly, that I knew who I was. I didn’t have to do any of this other stuff. I was able to do what I enjoyed and what most Jewish kids did not. I mean there was a Girl Scout group at Tifereth Israel. In fact my mother was the leader. But I was never a part of it. I was a Camp Fire Girl.
Interviewer: I see.
Nateman: And then my mother became very active in Camp Fire and made the Governing Board.
Nateman: Yeah. And . . . .
Interviewer: Now is it fair to assume that your family kept kosher?
Nateman: My family always kept kosher and, the thing we didn’t even think about it. Of course you did.
Interviewer: Uh huh. No I’m thinking of what your mother said about Beth Jacob and I know plenty of people at Tifereth Israel do and probably have kept kosher but just curious as to how far . . . .
Nateman: We were always very traditional, very traditional.
Interviewer: I see. Very traditional.
Nateman: Conservative Judaism preaches a traditional line but leaves it open to individual choice. And we always kept kosher. That’s all there is to it. And my house is kosher. My brother’s is not. My sister’s house is kosher ’cause she married a survivor from a Hassidic background. So . . . .
Nateman: definitely, yeah.
Interviewer: Now you said one thing that interested me.
Nateman: We were talking about kashruth.
Interviewer: Kashruth and traditional . . . .
Nateman: Yeah. My father was never, you know, he didn’t, he wasn’t . . . . about kashruth but we always kept it so, as I said, my house is kosher. My brother’s was not. My son, my oldest son, because he’s always lived in places where there was no kosher food available, is, does not have kosher meat. I mean he doesn’t eat ham, pork, any of that stuff, but his house has trafe meat in it. My daughter in Israel, of course, is kosher.
Nateman: My son in New York, their house, they have two sets of dishes and they again, because they have also been in places where you couldn’t get kosher meat, they bring non-kosher meat in the house but they don’t mix. I mean, my house, of course they know exactly.
Interviewer: You said something before that I thought might be interesting to people who might be listening to this or reading this interview at some point, it was about your father’s activities to try to get some family out of Europe. When was this, before World War II?
Nateman: It started before and it was all the way through and after. Yeah. ‘Cause during the . . . .
Interviewer: Did you know how many or who . . . .
Nateman: during the war he couldn’t do much of anything even though he bugged people. But after the war he was in contact with the Red Cross, he was in contact with everything. I know he brought my one cousin Susan out. He got a couple of relatives to Israel. The rest died, the rest died.
Interviewer: Did the Red Cross contact him for help or did he contact them?
Nateman: He contacted them. And in fact he never did find Susan, the one that did finally come out and when I talked to her she told me that she had been sent to a children’s camp after the war and after sort of beating around and trying to get to the United States and not getting anywhere, she said she finally remembered that she had an uncle in a place called “Ohoho” (laughter) so she went to the Red Cross and she said, “I have an uncle in Ohoho”. (laughter) And she remembered his name and of course they figured out Ohoho was Ohio and they contacted him. They found, and he brought her out.
Interviewer: And so she came to this country?
Nateman: Came to this country.
Interviewer: Yeah that’s wonderful.
Interviewer: Very wonderful story. I think you probably have had more to say than you thought and I’m wondering what other kinds of things would you like to talk about for the purpose of this interview?
Nateman: Well I can’t think of any.
Nateman: My children still feel happy coming home to Columbus, which is good. None of them would ever, because of their jobs, think of coming back to live because they are more uncomfortable in every other place where they are but it’s still home when they come home. And we’re still in the same house they grew up in.
Interviewer: Where did they go to school?
Nateman: My kids went to Pinecrest, Sherwood and Walnut Ridge. And they all went to Ohio State.
Interviewer: And you mentioned your husband was in the bar business?
Nateman: Yeah. He, because his brother, Ray Nateman, was one of the Vice Presidents of Sons Bars and Grills, he married one of the Sher girls and that’s how they got the Sons name, S-O-N. And he, when Nate got out of the war, he was hired by his brother to work at the company.
Interviewer: Nate was in which war, World War II?
Nateman: World War II.
Interviewer: World War II?
Nateman: He graduated with an accounting degree I guess from Youngstown University and he went into that. Coming out of the Army and he looked around and this was offered to him so he took it.
Interviewer: What did he do during the war?
Nateman: He was stationed down in Texas and New Orleans, those two places mainly and he was in with the Judge Advocate’s office. He did. He isn’t a lawyer but he did, he got guys out of scrapes when they got in scrapes on leave and he worked with soldiers like that.
Interviewer: That’s interesting.
Nateman: He had very bad feet and they would have deferred him but he signed a paper to, that the Army was not responsible for physical problems dealing from that and he went in,
Interviewer: How many years was he in the service?
Nateman: He went in in 1942 I think and stayed throughout the war.
Interviewer: Wow . . . . Well if there is anything else you would like to tell us, I have lots of tape and more tapes. But I appreciate the fact that you have shared this information with us and I know there will be some people who will enjoy reading it and maybe in time family members, you never know.
Nateman: You never know. Thank you.
Interviewer: You never know. So I want to thank you again. This concludes the interview of Evelyn Nateman by Carol Shkolnik on November 11, 2003.
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