JULY 24, 1995
Interviewer: What was it like growing up in…
Interviewer: MacDonald, Pennsylvania?
Polster: Well we didn’t have toys.
Polster: We didn’t have bicycles. I had kittens.
Polster: Kittens that grew into cats. That was what we had. And we lived in a
big house and believe it or not, we had one bathroom.
Polster: And a toilet in the basement. You can imagine what baths were. It
was wonderful. And then my father had this little store in MacDonald and then
they decided to move to Bridgeville, Pennsylvania where I went when I was a
sophomore in high school and I graduated high school there. And my brother
Israel opened a grocery store there and after leaving my father’s store, I
went to work for my brother.
Interviewer: A grocery family, hey?
Polster: Can I tell you one little story about my mother?
Polster: She was very ill and she was bedfast. And a salesman came into our
store one day and said that he had a grocery store that wanted to hire me
because they had heard that I was a good clerk. And he told me to call them. Now
I was making $10 a week, giving $5 at home. And when I called them, they told me
they would give me $15 a week to start. And I said, “Well I’m making $15
now.” And I said, “That won’t be any advantage because I get a ride
to work and I would have to take a bus.” And they said, “Well we’ll
give you $18.” And I said, “No, that’ll take care of my bus fare but
what about my lunches? We all eat lunch here.” So they came back with a $20
My mother was bedfast and I went home and I said, “My brother told me to
take the job.” That was ten dollars a week more than I was making. And I went to
my mother and I said: “Mama, what should I do?” And she said, “Evelyn,
don’t take the job.” She said, “Your brother is being so good to us.
You bring home boxes of groceries and fruits and vegetables every week. Izzy
puts a five dollar bill in Papa’s pocket every week. And I don’t want you to
give that up because Izzy is too good to us.” And I never took the job.
But it just seems like that that you remember and you wonder if children
today appreciate what they have and how they got it.
Interviewer: Okay. Let’s move on. Where did you go to school?
Polster: Well I went to the school in MacDonald until my sophomore year. We
moved to Bridgeville and I graduated high school there. And then I went to
secretarial night school in Pittsburgh. But that’s all the schooling that I
had was a high school education-secretarial. And nobody in the family ever went
to college, none of us. There just wasn’t money.
Interviewer: Okay. After Pittsburgh and secretarial school?
Polster: After that they moved to Carnegie because there was a little shul
there. Inci- identally, when we lived in MacDonald and Bridgeville, came the
High Holydays, there was no synagogue. So we had a cousin in Pittsburgh who went
with her family to her mother’s home, and she and her husband gave us, the
whole family, and we lived at their house and went to the synagogue in
Pittsburgh. We moved in there with all the kosher and all the kids. Well by
then, I think my oldest sister was married. But it was quite an experience. But
as I said, my mother was very religious.
Interviewer: Did you work in Pittsburgh as a secretary?
Polster: That’s about it. And then my one brother was married to a girl
from Cleveland. And she had relatives in Columbus. And one of the cousins came
to visit them and I was working in my brother’s grocery store and she said,
“I’ve got a brother for you.” And several years later, my father and
I came to visit an aunt and uncle who lived in Lancaster, Ohio. And my brother
and his wife came to Columbus to visit the Polsters and Mrs. Polster invited my
father and I for Thanksgiving dinner. And because this was my brother and my
sister-in-law who was also her niece and nephew: my future mother-in-law.
Interviewer: Okay. Take a break?
Polster: Yeah. Do you think I can tell this, where I met Martin in his
Interviewer: (Laughs)… Absolutely.
Polster: Okay. People say, “Where did you meet Martin?” And I say,
“In his bedroom.” They can’t wait to hear.
Voice: So your niece, your sister-in-law was a niece of Mrs. Polster?
Polster: Mrs. Polster and my sister-in-law’s mother were sisters.
Voice: Okay. That’s how you got to Columbus.
Interviewer: That’s what I was trying to get to. We’re at Columbus now.
All right. Ready. And now we’re going to hear of now you met your husband.
Polster: My father and I came from Lancaster, Ohio to Columbus to have dinner
at the Polsters. And we walked in Polster’s home in Bexley and nobody was
there to greet us. And somebody upstairs said, “Come on up.” And I
walked up the steps and I turned to the left and walked right into Martin
Interviewer: That’s it?
Polster: This is how I met Martin Polster.
Interviewer: The first place you met him was in his bedroom?
Polster: Yes, be it known how we met. Then we had dinner and he took me
bicycling in Franklin Park.
Polster: And he said to me, “I’m going to marry you one day.” And
that was it.
Interviewer: How long was this courtship?
Polster: About three years.
Interviewer: Okay. Then you moved then to Columbus or how did you?
Polster: Well no. He was practicing law at the time, struggling. And he would
come to Carnegie to visit like for a weekend. And I would come here occasionally
when I was able to get a Saturday off, to come in for the weekend. And it was
three years. And then we decided we were going to get married. Oh no, let me go
back a bit.
Polster: My brother and sister-in-law had twins and Mr. and Mrs Polster came
to Carnegie for the bris. My mother was bedfast so she wasn’t able to
go to the bris. But the Polsters came to meet her. They met my father at
the bris but they met my mother at her bedside. And we became engaged
that day. And that was in December and we were married in February.
Now my oldest brother Frank and his wife were married at my mother’s
bedside. It was very difficult; it took a terrible effect on her. And I knew
that I couldn’t do it because I was afraid of what it would do to her because
my brother and his wife were married Thanksgiving. So we decided that we were
just going to have the rabbi marry us. So my brother Curly, Alfred, came in and
my sister Helen, my younger sister, came. The Polster family went to Cleveland
for a wedding and we had this all planned. Martin’s brother Nate was here. His
sister Esther was here and her boyfriend, Harold Lolly from Cleveland, was here.
And they were present at our wedding.
Voice: But you were married in Columbus?
Polster: Wait. Morrie Mattlin was at our wedding and a cousin names Friedman,
I forget his first name. Rabbi Zelizer married us on the bima at Tifereth
Israel Temple. Now my brother was sort of a jokester and somewhere along the
line he found a cowbell. And he was ringing it during the ceremony. And Rabbi
Zelizer said, “Martin, do you know what you’re getting yourself
into?” But it was fun, it was nice. And then we drove back to, we went, oh,
Nate gave us his car and a hundred dollars. This was in February and we drove to
New York and had a honeymoon. So we stopped in Carnegie, Pennsylvania to see my
family on the way. My mother, so religious, was so thrilled for us but she never
went to the mikvah.
Interviewer: All right, next we’ll go into a little bit about your husband
and what the early years were like and then talk about the children and the
earliest memories of the synagogue. What do you remember of, what was your
earliest memory of your husband? When you met him, what was it that tickled you?
Polster: His shoes were polished and his fingernails were clean. That’s the
first thing I noticed about him. He was kind. He was thoughtful. He was pleasant
to be with and he was very bright. And we were married, as I told you, and we
lived in a little apartment on Seymour Avenue. $25 a month we paid rent. My
father-in-law owned the building and his sister Selma, Martin’s sister and her
husband, lived upstairs. And we lived there for two years and we had our first
child. And then we moved down the street to what they called a half-a-double.
And we lived there, let’s see, we were married in ’37 and we lived there
probably ’til ’40 or 1941, I’m not sure. And then we bought a home in
Bexley on North Ardmore Road. And we had had our daughter Lois and then three
years after she was born we had our son Sandor, Sandy. Sandy was premature and
very ill as a child. And Martin was a struggling lawyer and it came to where we
had to get Sandy away because he was very ill. So Martin drove the three of to
Arizona and I lived there for three months with the children. And thank G-d it
helped Sandy. And they both graduated from Bexley High School. And Lois went,
she attended Ohio State and then she graduated from a junior college in
Pennsylvania. I can’t even think of the city. Sandy graduated and went to Ohio
State and got his degree and then went to the University of Iowa for his masters
After North Ardmore where we lived, we moved to our home on Stanwood Road
which was a wonderful time because our children went to high school there and
our driveway and our garage were always full of floats and what- ever kids do
when they go to school. In fact, Sandy was a freshman and he was in the senior
play, “The Teahouse of the August Moon.” He was very little and they
had a goat in that and we had the goat in our yard. I remember a neighbor
calling and saying, “I take a drink now and then but I haven’t had any
today. Is that what I think it is in your yard?” I said, “Yes, it’s
a goat.” That was just one of the things that we had besides snakes and
birds and fish and dogs, but not a cat.
Interviewer: Not a cat?
Voice: Tell the history of the house.
Voice: Tell the history.
Polster: Now the interesting story. When we sold our house, now Martin was
Past Presi- dent of Tifereth Israel, and when we sold out house, we sold it to
Marvin and Susan Katz. Susan was Susan Polster before she married Marvin. They
had three daughters. They bought our house. Marvin, like Martin, was a Past
President of Tifereth Israel. When their daughters grew up and finished high
school, they sold the same house to Bob and Marcia Polster, Sue’s brother and
sister-in-law, and their three children. Bob is also a Past President of
Tifereth Israel. Now their children are grown: one daughter is married and the
other two are grown. But we have Jeff Polster who is now on the board of
Tifereth Israel and when I came back from Arizona and I heard he was on the
board, I went up to him and I said, “Jeff, I want to congratulate you on
being on the board of Tifereth Israel.” I said, “Remember our house on
Stanwood?” I said, “You know three Past Presidents have lived there.
Think about it.” And he said, “You know Aunt Evelyn, you’re
right.” He said, “Before Bob ever wants to sell it, tell him to
contact me.” Which I think is a nice story because he’s, Jeff is already
fifth generation that has been affiliated with Tifereth Israel. And being his
great-grandfather was one of the founders. it makes me very proud to know that
the family has kept up their feelings and their watch of the synagogue.
Interviewer: Tell us what the synagogue was like when you were married that
Polster: Well it wasn’t what it is today. It was turned around. There was a
school in back of it. Then the school was either closed or the Congregation
bought the property. I’m not real sure of all this. But the school was torn
down and the parking lot was made and then they started to enlarge the Temple.
That was when I was there. They didn’t have an educational building. And, what
do I remember? Well you knew everybody when you went to services, when the
children went to Sunday School, Hebrew School. Everybody worked very, very hard
as they do now. I don’t know what else to tell you.
Voice: Did you spend some hours in the kitchen there?
Polster: Well we worked in the kitchen, not only working, serving, and
keeping the kashruth and everything. We cleaned the cupboards on our
hands and knees. And when we had affairs, the Sisterhood had to do it all,
everybody did everything. We put on programs that was all local talent. I
remember being in a couple of, one dance thing and another play.
But I do remember when Martin and I were first married that Rabbi Zelizer was
the Rabbi, a young man deeply in love. And Martin and I married before he did.
But we were sitting on our front porch on the swing one evening and a car pulls
up and the Rabbi jumps out of the car and he yelled, “She said ‘Yes’,
She said ‘Yes’.” He had asked Florence to marry him and she said
And there were so many, oh, Martin and I were asked when new people came to
town, we went to visit them to ask them to join our Temple. What else?
Interviewer: You were like the whole membership committee?
Interviewer: You were like the whole membership committee?
Polster: Well the family was big and the Sunday School was growing. Rabbi
Zelizer went into the service and we had substitute rabbis and they were young
men and the children got really a wonderful education at the Temple. Sandy was Bar
Mitzvahed there. Both the children were confirmed there. Now both my
children are out of town. But my grandson Michael and his wife Melissa are
members of the Congregation. They were just married a little over a year ago.
And going to Temple today is completely different. There’s so many people you
don’t know. And when you do see, well so many of my contemporaries aren’t
here. But when you do see familiar faces, and since I do live in Arizona half
the year, and when I come back, and I make it my business to be here for the
holidays because it’s the only place I want to be. But when I look around and
see so many strange — but it’s good. It’s nice because you know that the
young people really want their religion and Tifereth Israel is known throughout
the whole country as well as the whole world for their wonderful education
system for the children. And that’s about it.
Interviewer: What do you remember of the High Holidays and being part of the
Polster: Well very interesting. My husband had the Levi aliyah on Yom
Kippur and his father before him had it. Then when he died, Martin received it.
Now that Martin is gone, my nephew Eugene Polster has the same aliyah and
his son goes to the bima on Yom Kippur for that particular honor.
Interviewer: What do you remember of holidays and were did you celebrate the
Polster: Well we celebrated holidays beautifully because Martin’s brother
Lawrence and his wife Evelyn, and Martin’s brother Nate and his wife Miriam,
and their families, we had holidays at each others’ homes. We had our tables,
our dining room tables were put into the living room with extensions and so
forth and it was wonderful. We would help each other. They were just beautiful
holidays. I don’t know what else to say about them. The services were always
beautiful. I’m happy to say that Yom Kippur I’m in Temple all day long and
enjoy every bit of it.
Interviewer: You were very active in the synagogue?
Polster: I was on the board of Sisterhood. I was never an officer. I don’t
think they would have wanted me. But I was on the board and yes, I think I was
Voice: Did Marty ever tell you stories of when his father and the founding of
the Congregation in the early days?
Polster: Well I do remember the burning of the mortgage.
Interviewer: Okay. Who was there? What happened?
Voice: It was 1943.
Polster: I’m going to tell you an interesting story but I don’t remember
whether it was the burning of the mortgage or if it was the Jubilee. I don’t
remember, but Rabbi Finkelstein from the Theological Seminary, the head of it,
came for one of these affairs. And the men had to have some sort of a meeting,
the board, with the rabbi. And I had the honor of spending about an hour with
Rabbi Finkelstein. And we were talking and I was frightened; I was in awe of
him. And I looked at him and I said, “Rabbi…
Interviewer: Why, because he looked…
Polster: Because he was next to G-d as far as I was concerned. He was the
head of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Interviewer: And you said he had a striking resemblance to someone?
Interviewer: Go ahead.
Polster: I’m sitting there talking to him and I said, “Rabbi
Finkelstain, do you mind if I say something to you?” And he said, “No,
go right ahead my dear, everybody else does.” I said, “You look just
like Jesus Christ.” He said, “I’ll tell you an interesting
story.” He said, “I was on board ship once and a young man came up to
me and he said, I can’t believe this. Would you pose for me as an apostle?'”
And he did it. And I thought that was sort of one of the highlights of my life,
Polster: And then I always held him in such high esteem. And then I read in
the paper or heard on the news from the Temple that Rabbi Finkelstein divorced
his wife and I was heart broken because I felt that he must have thought his
religion came before his wife. And I guess I, after that, I just didn’t get my
hopes up very high when I met influential people. (Laughter) You can cut any of
this you want. That’s all I got to say.
Interviewer: What were, about the synagogue and the services? What were
Polster: Oh, services. Okay. Rabbi Zelizer was wonderful except when he gave
his sermons, he always got off on a tangent and forgot what he was talking about
in the first place. But G-d love him, everybody loved him and he was a friend.
Then we had after Rabbi Zelizer, well as I say, Rabbi Zelizer went into the
service. And oh, I don’t even remember the names of the rabbis.
Voice: Moishe Goldblum.
Polster: Oh, Rabbi Goldblum. I remember him, a young man, but I don’t
remember too much because we were so close to Rabbi Zelizer and we knew that
this wasn’t going to be a permanent thing with the other rabbi. And then there
was Rabbi… .
Voice: There was a Rabbi Chanover.
Polster: Chanover, Chanover. And who else?
Voice: And then Zelizer came back.
Polster: Yeah. And then, what was, there was another one in between there.
Voice: Then came David Zisenwine.
Polster: David Zisenwine. A very nice, fine young man. In fact I saw him in
Temple last year during the holidays and it was so nice talking to him. He was
on a sabbatical for a year. Now Rabbi Berman, a brilliant young man. I think he’s
loved by everybody. I hear his name far and wide. I get the Chronicle in
Arizona and see everything he does. And our cantor to me is, oh, let’s go back
before I talk about Cantor Chomsky. We had Cantor Halpern and his wife. The
dearest, they had a tragic life, but the dearest couple. And I remember I used
to drive them around. I used to take her shopping and things like that. And then
she passed away. I think she passed away first. And then he was still in
Columbus. And see I don’t remember when he died. And then after Halpern . . .
Voice: Cantor Shreier.
Polster: But I don’t remember much about, what’s his name? Shreier?
Polster: Shreier. Oh I remember the name but I don’t remember too much
about him. I don’t know why.
Voice: And then Burstein and…
Polster: I don’t remember too much about him either. He wasn’t with us
very long I don’t think, was he?
Voice: Over six years.
Polster: He was? Well I sort of, I just don’t remember as lot about him.
Voice: And Sterling.
Polster: Sterling? I just don’t remember him.
Polster: They all come back.
Interviewer: What was your favorite holiday at the Temple would you say?
Polster: The High Holydays.
Interviewer: Simchas Torah?
Polster: Oh I remember everythng. We took the children to Simchas Torah. We
took them for Succos. And we took them, you know, and every holiday we were
there. Not that it was so easy getting our son there but we got there. And our
children were very active in USY. My daughter reminded me of all the crinoline
petticoats in the house when all the kids came for USY conclaves in Columbus
with the synagogue. We always had children at our home. The Temple was, because
of Martin, because of the Polsters, because of my mother. There we go again with
my mother but it was and is still probably one of the things I love the most
here in Columbus. You don’t say “love” to a Temple but you enjoy and
you want and you need and…
Voice: How about Marty’s years as President?
Polster: Okay. They were hectic. Now it was really only one year and I think
it was, I feel bad. They wanted him longer but I felt that he was, he was the
youngest President of Tifereth Israel. I don’t know if there have been younger
ones since then, but at the time, he had been the youngest President. And when
it came to going in for the second year, I don’t know whether his health had
been bad. There was something there that I felt he shouldn’t take the
presidency because it was tiring him physically. And so he came home from a
board meeting and he told me that when he told the board that he was not going
to take a second term and they argued this. And he said, “Do you want me to
sit in the audience and only you, Rabbi, and the officers see me sleep? Or do
you want me to be the president, and sit on the bima and have the whole
Congregation see me sleep?” He…
Interviewer: What was difficult about it?
Polster: Well physically. He had arthritis quite bad. Well he was young then
though and he gave up his law practice so we could eat. And he went into the
Voice: When was that?
Polster: A long time ago. I can’t remember.
Voice: Was it before the kids were born or…
Polster: Oh no. He was practicing law, I diapered Lois on his desk. He
practiced with Judge Sweet.
Interviewer: Delivered Lois on his desk?
Polster: Uh huh, when she was a baby.
Voice: No, diapered.
Interviewer: Oh, okay.
Polster: Diapered. I diapered her on Martin’s law desk when he practiced
Interviewer: Okay. So he was practicing law well into…
Polster: He practiced until we decided, I’ll tell you what, we paid more
doctor bills for Sandy than he took in in a year practicing law. This is when he
gave up his law practice and went into the family business. But he still was
very close to the Temple. After his presidency, he became Treasurer after Joe
Gutter died, who had been Treasurer for as many years as I can remember. And
then he was President of the Men’s Club. But he was Temple first and then it
came to anything else. Outside of these activities such as bowling. And after he
became ill and had arthritis so badly, he couldn’t bowl any more. So he took
up golf. And he loved it and he died on the golf course.
Interviewer: So Sandy was how old? He was sick when he was a young boy?
Polster: He was premature.
Interviewer: Okay, so? This was all before the war?
Polster: Well he was born in ’42. Martin was very embarrassed because all
of his friends had gone off to war and he was embarrassed not being in the
service. And he went down to the Naval Station one day and, “I want to take
the examination because if there’s anything I can do, I want to do it.”
So they said, “Okay, well what’s the worst part of you?” He said,
“My eyes.” They said, “All right, let’s do the eye exam.”
And so they said, “Read those letters.” And he said, “What
letters?” And they said, “Well walk up there until you can see.”
And he was right up to the picture without glasses. And they said, “Go
Voice: What kind of community involvement did the both of you get into?
Polster: Us? Martin? Me?
Polster: Martin – Temple first. His bowling, his golf. Going to Camp Willson
once a year for a week. It was the greatest thing. He loved it. The men went
after the boys came back from Camp Willson. His family was very close. He was a
wonderful father. He took the children, we took the children, taking children
and he took his grandson on many trips. He was a good father and a helpful
father. The one thing that, I miss him terribly, but the thing that I miss a lot
is that there were so many things I didn’t understand and he would explain
things to me in a way that a parent would a child, and he never made fun of me
for asking these questions. And today, even today, ten years later, I miss that
terribly. He, there was just something about him, but he very seldom lost his
temper. I did but he never did. He was also very fair. Oh yes. He was a fair,
oh, I came home one day and I said, “Martin,” I came home one day and
I said, “Martin, I heard the juciest gossip.” And he said,
“So?” And I told him and he said, “I heard that weeks ago.”
And I said, “Well why didn’t you tell me?” He said, “I didn’t
think it was worth repeating.” He was, he was a very fair man. And when he
died and Rabbi Berman gave his eulogy and then my son, who is a journalist said
some words about his father. And I remember what he said. “One thing,”
he said, “all due respect to, the man from Oklahoma, there was never a man
I didn’t like.”
Voice: Will Rogers.
Polster: “All due respect to Will Rogers,” he said, “there was
never a man that I didn’t like and,” he said, “I’ll say this about
my father. I don’t think there was ever a man that didn’t like him.”
And that just sort of puts everything together as far as Martin’s concerned.
Voice: Let’s get back to your involvement, your volunteer work.
Polster: Okay. I was President of the Jewish Community Blood Council. I
worked with blood donors for years and years and years. And I worked with Sylvia
Schecter and Betty Tallis and Sandy Stern and oh, there were so many. And
members of our Temple that were involved and I still am involved with this when
I come back to town in the Summer. I belonged to a group and we were called
“Club 18.” We did volunteer work, Ethel Siegel and I fed polio
patients at Children’s Hospital when polio was very prevalent. I worked with
Sisterhood. We entertained when the new Heritage House opened. Sylvia Schecter
and I put the dish shelf together. I worked, I volunteered at Heritage House. I
fed patients. I worked with Pearl Polster with the gardening. I worked with
residents in the kitchen and helped with the baking. I have done a lot of
things. I don’t even remember what they are any more.
Interviewer: What were some of the early Sisterhood activities?
Polster: On the board, being in a couple of their shows, cooking in the
kitchen, cleaning in the kitchen.
Voice: You must have counted sales tax stamps.
Polster: See this sign? What did you say about sales tax?
Voice: You must have counted sales tax stamps.
Polster: Oh God.
Interviewer: Sales tax stamps?
Voice: Oh yeah.
Polster: Sales tax stamps.
(Undecipherable conversation between voice and interviewer)
Polster: This is Bell’s Palsy that makes my eye run, I hope you know that.
What else did we do in the Sisterhood Betty? I know I baked.
Voice:… We polished our silver, washed dishes.
Polster: Did what?
Voice: I think we did some cleaning and polishing of silver and…
Polster: I found an American flag while cleaning the kitchen downstairs when
the Social Hall was downstairs. We didn’t call it, we didn’t have an Atrium
at the time and…
Interviewer: The stamps?
Polster: Oh we counted the sales tax stamps wasn’t it? Because we turned
them in. We got money for that. That was one of our ways of raising money.
Voice: Used to be the State of Ohio gave you a paper stamp when you paid your
sales tax. If you saved those, they would redeem them for a minute percentage.
So when we got the entire Congregation saving sales tax stamps…
Polster: Turn that off a minute. Let me see those two sheets. There might be
a couple things there that might be important too.
Polster: Oh Martin was President incidentally, during the Jubilee year,
Voice: And I want to think about if he told you any stories of what his
father might have told him about… and other times.
Polster: Another interesting thing. One other thing that was interesting is
that Rabbi Zelizer married Martin and me in 1937. Thirty-three years later,
Rabbi Zelizer’s son, Rabbi Jerry Zelizer, married our son Sandy and his wife
Rhea in New York City.
Polster: Oh, getting back to our home life, I had a dinner at our home for
the board and I remember we took the dining room table in the living room again
and Bobby Cohen Lieberman was the Secretary and she came. She never lets me
forget having had dinner with the board in our home. Well you do know that
Martin’s father and his Uncle Morris, both Polsters were co-founders of the
Temple and I told you about Jeff Polster.
Interviewer: What do you remember about…
Polster: About what?
Interviewer: About them?
Polster: About who?
Interviewer: About his…
Polster: Louis Polster and Morris Polster?
Polster: Well Louis Polster was a wonderful man. He was hard to know. And I
think the first thing I remembered about him was that he acted stern and you
were almost afraid of him. He would buy a case of oranges and bring them home
and divide them evenly for all the children, the married children. We each got
our oranges and apples. And this is how he did it with the family. He became
quite ill. He had the Lou Gehrig Disease. I don’t know what it’s called
today. And he loved to take a ride in the car and when Martin practiced law, he
used to take an hour every afternoon and take his father for a ride in the car
and then after Martin got into the business, he took him every day for a ride in
the car and he was a wonderful provider to his children. And then they were
going to take him to a doctor in the East and he drove his father and I couldn’t
go because I was pregnant with one of our children, I don’t remember. Well it
had to be Sandy because Lois was born a week before he died, or a week after he
died. He died in January, the end of January and she was born in February, the
6th of February. He was a good man but he was a hard man to know. And he…
Interviewer: Was there a soft side to him that you came…
Polster: Oh yes, if you knew how. And I was a schmeisler I guess and I
got along fine with him. I really did. And Mrs. Polster was a beautiful lady,
beautiful. Martin took after her. She was fair and she never took sides and she
was a wonderful mother, wonderful grandmother and her home was open just like
our home. And she was a lovely, beautiful lady. She really was. And my parents,
incidentally, I was married in February, Martin and I were married in February,
and my mother died the following December and my father died thirty days later.
And that was very difficult and so Mother Polster really, and that’s what I
called her, she was just wonderful to me.
Interviewer: The other Polster, the founder, his uncle?
Polster: Yes I was very friendly with Uncle Morris and Aunt Lena and their
children. Martin and I were both very friendly. We visited them often and we
were invited to their home for dinner. I don’t know that I ever had them at
our house for dinner but they were at our house for dinner for occasions, you
know. But he was a very strong-willed man too. My father-in-law was a
strong-willed man but they were good people.
Interviewer: Okay. Another story?
Polster: Oh my sister-in-law Jenny Polster was a Past President of our
Sisterhood. I mean, keeping the Polsters into the Temple. Evelyn Senior was on
Voice: Do you any remember any specific stories with the Rabbi when Marty was
President, when he was so involved?
Polster: I remember, one thing about Rabbi Zelizer, he was never in a clique.
He was Rabbi first. And there were times when we used to think that he asked
questions that he shouldn’t have asked. And things like that. But he really
loved the synagogue and I remember that Martin and I, Martin being President and
Martin being Master of Ceremonies at many affairs. And Rabbi Zelizer always had
his jokes. And we visited with the Rabbi and his wife but there was nothing with
anybody where he became overly close to. It was a nice relationship with the
Rabbi with his Congregation, I think. Some people didn’t like him because
there were different things that we shouldn’t even talk about.
Interviewer: I want to go back a little bit though, ’cause I imagine Sandy’s
Bar Mitzvah was a big event.
Interviewer: What was that like?
Polster: Well Sandy’s Bar Mitzvah was something else.
Interviewer: All right.
Polster: We had an open house. You were there.
Polster: There was a lady who did the cooking for the synagogue or for
different affairs, and she cooked all of our food at the Temple and brought it
to our house. We had an open house. Now this was an open house, no invitations.
And the synagogue, he was real little, Sandy was very small. His illness and
everything, it just seemed to, I don’t know, until seven years old, Sandy was
just a little, little tyke. And he had his Bar Mitzvah and he did all
right. Not like the kids today because he was never one… something else
on his Confirmation. He decided that he wanted to have a reception at home
because we had a recreation room downstairs with a bar and he felt that if we
had it at home, he could help the bartender. And his friends were invited and
then we had a party later for his friends. We had 350 people at our home for his
Bar Mitzvah reception. Another thing I must tell you: Dr. Joseph Ridgeway
operated on my back six months before his Bar Mitzvah and I said,
“Doctor, how can I have the operation?” He said, “You’ll be
fine.” Which I was. And he and his wife were very good friends of ours and
they came to the Bar Mitzvah and they came to the reception. Well when
you have 350 people come to your house, you know that the kid gets a lot of
gifts. And they were all in his bedroom. Dr. Ridgeway walks toward the back of
the house and he takes a look and he says, “Oh my.” And he calls to
his wife, “Marge, come here.” He said, “Look what we Catholics
are missing out on.” (You’re not going to put all this in there? I mean
you you never can think about these things.) Now wait, I’m not through. And
then I had a black velvet dress on and it was cut down in the back and at the
end of the evening, after six months later, I was tired, from a severe back
operation. And he comes and he stands, and I’m going to take my dress off to
put another dress on. And I said, “What are you looking at? You’ve seen
every part of my body.” He said, “Yeah but I’ve never seen you take
off a black velvet dress before.” Oh he was adorable. Anyhow, so that’s
another one of those little things you remember.
Voice: Confirmation, you said you remember?
Polster: Oh, well Lois was confirmed and Sandy was confirmed and right before
Sandy was supposed to get up to give his little speech, he became ill and had to
leave the pulpit and disappeared. He was so nervous. So that was that. Our
grandson Michael was Bar Mitzvah at Tifereth Israel. I don’t remember
if he was confirmed. I don’t remember.
Voice: I don’t think they had confirmations by then.
Polster: They still have confirmations, don’t they?
Polster: Michael’s only 29.
Voice:… high school graduation.
Polster: Well, but he was Bar Mitzvah at the Temple.
Interviewer: And your other granddaughter?
Polster: Rebecca is my other grauddaughter who will be 16. And my daughter
moved to Phoenix, Arizona and she heads a volunteer group called “Art
Reach” and they contact every theater in the city and get free tickets for
every show where they have an excess amount of tickets left over, give them to
social services. And they give tens of thousands of tickets away every year.
This is volunteer and she’s done very well and she got an award for it and
things like that. And she lived in Phoenix. Lois has been divorced for many
years. And Sandy is a journalist. And he was in New York, worked for one of the
newspapers and then went to work for Walter Cronkite and then Dan Rather. Worked
for them fifteen years. And then he worked at NBC with Tom Brokaw as writer and
then Editor of the nightly news show. And he retired two years ago at the age of
51. He and Rhea and Rebecca live in Maine and Rhea is getting her second Master’s
at the University of Maine and Rebecca will be a junior in high school.
Incidentally, Rebecca this week was asked to go to Bates College to represent
and do creative writing. And she just came back from Europe. Her Latin class
went and they were gone for nine days, London, Paris, Rome, Florence, Pisa, just
like I did when I was a child. Remember, with my kittins? Okay?
Interviewer: I want to ask you just a couple of last questions about the
synagogue and then, more general than anything else. But what do you think
distinguishes Tifereth Israel?
Interviewer: What distinguishes Tifereth Israel from the other synagogues in
Polster: I’m not really one to say because I haven’t had any contact with
the other synagogues outside of having friends and being friendly with the
rabbis in the other, Agudas Achim, Rabbi and Dr. Rubenstein. Martin and I went
to Israel with them with a group and it was wonderful. They’ve been very nice
people to know and to be with. Temple Israel, we had a lot of friends, but the
only time we ever went there was maybe for a wedding or a confirmation or
something like that.
Interviewer: What would you like others to remember most about Tifereth
Polster: It’s pretty hard for one person to say what other people would
Interviewer: What do you think are the important characteristics?
Polster: Well I think first of all that our children got a wonderful
education, thanks to Sam and Esther Melton and Florence Melton. I think it’s
an honor and a privilege for children to be able to go to our synagogue, to our
Temple, because of the wonderful education system. I don’t know of anywhere in
the country that they, except that many, I’ve been in many cities where they
use the Melton Education System and I think we of Columbus and members of, other
members, other people should be very proud of our Temple because it’s, I think
they’ve gone far beyond any of the other synagogues in this town. I was very
friendly with Rabbi Greenwald from, where was he when he was alive?
Voice: Greenwald? Agudas Achim?
Polster: No. What’s the one down here on…
Voice: Beth Jacob?
Voice: Ahavas Sholom.
Polster: Beth Jacob or Ahavas Sholom, one or the other. I had back surgery
and he used to come to the hospital to visit me. This is off the record. And he
was wonderful. We sat and talked by the hour. And one day he came in and there’s
a jar of dill pickles on the window sill and he says to me, “What are those
pickles doing there?” I said, “My doctor.” And he said,
“Huh, your doctor you give pickles, me you don’t.” I said, “You
would eat pickles from my house?” He said, “You’re kosher aren’t
you?” I said, “Yes.” “Sure.” So when I went home he
came to visit me. He said, “What about my pickles?” I had a maid, I
sent her downstairs, she brings up. He says, “Huh, the doctor you give a
half a gallon; me you give a quart.” I really had some cute answers in my
lifetime too. But he and I really became; he taught me a lot. Sandy came in to
see me. He was a little kid, six years old. And he put him up on his lap and he
said, “What’s your name?” He said, “Sandy.” He said,
“Sandy?” He said, “That’s not your real name.” He said,
“My name is Sandor.” He said, “Do you know where Sandor comes
from?” He says, “No.” He says, “Alexander,” and he gives
him the whole history of Alexander in the Bible. And then came the kid’s Bar
Mitzvah and I was in the hospital again with back trouble. And he says,
“You didn’t send me an invitation.” I said, “You wouldn’t
come.” He said, “I’ll come to your house.” I said, “I’ve
got nothing…” (side of tape ends)
Polster: Eugene Polster…
Interviewer: Whoa, whoa, whoa, I’m not ready. Okay.
Polster: Eugene Polster had the largest Bar Mitzvah in the history of
Polster: It was on Yom Kippur and they didn’t even serve a Kiddish. No that’s
Interviewer: I’m enjoying this.
Polster: Okay. When Martin was through as President, a committee came to me
and said, “We’d like to give Martin a gift. What would you suggest?”
I said, “You know, I’ve always wanted a silver lazy susan.” And they
gave him a watch. Anyhow he wore the watch and the watch is still in the safety
deposit box. Let’s see. And the one last thing. The Board Meetings were always
held in the Library and there was one chair that was always reserved for Martin
Polster. He’s the only one that ever sat in that chair.
Voice: Behind the desk.
Polster: And after Martin died, the chair was left empty for a long time and
then Dick Lieberman finally sat in the chair and I was glad to see that the
chair wasn’t empty. Unfortunately, Dick Lieberman isn’t there any more
either. Anything else?
Voice: No I think…
Polster: That was true though, wasn’t it?
Voice: Yes it was.
Polster: Betty, you could put a lot of more (turn it off), you can put a lot
of things in about the Temple that Martin and I can’t. You were on the board
with him. I wasn’t.
Voice: Well I wasn’t…
Polster: He didn’t always come home and tell me…
Voice: That was Temple business. What I was trying to get was what he might
have told you. My side was…you know, I fought with Marty.
Polster: I know. Martin fought with everything because Martin didn’t want
to spend money unless they had the money to pay for it.
Voice: But I always remembered Marty because, as I said, because he was so
fair. My memory of Marty on the board was, even when he disagreed with me, if he
didn’t think that I was presenting it properly, he would present it, hoping to
get some support but he’d go down fighting me.
Voice: But he was always fair enough to present it.
Polster: See these are things that, I wasn’t there.
Interviewer: No you weren’t there.
Polster: But there were a lot of things about the Temple. One thing about
Interviewer: Can I turn this on?
Polster: No joke, people came to him, I’m sorry, go ahead. People came to
Martin to talk about family problems, business problems. I always walked out of
the room. I never asked him and he never told me. These were things, like I told
you about the story I heard two weeks ago. “I didn’t think it was
important enough to repeat.” This was the way Martin was.
Voice: So he didn’t come home from Board Meetings and discuss the meeting
Polster: Maybe if something he thought I might be interested in but it was
nothing that I could bring up now. Martin, just like I say, he just wasn’t a
gossip, he wasn’t a vicious person, he wasn’t a person who, if he didn’t
like you, stay away from him. I mean, and I’m the same way. But the idea is
that he was, like Betty said, fair. And he was fair with everybody and
everything really. Honest. What else can I say? There were many nights, he never
went to bed without saying “Good-night,” and kissing me. There were many
nights that I went to bed and I didn’t say “Good-night,” and I didn’t
kiss him. That was the difference between our personalities. And then when he
died, he was playing golf This is the end of the story. And I got a call from
Mt. Carmel Hospital, “Mrs. Polster?” “Yes,” “We’re
calling from Mt. Carmel East. We have your husband here.” I said,
“What’s wrong? What happened?” She said, “He had a heart
attack.” And I said, “How bad is this?” because he had had one
before. She said, “Very bad, he died.” And that’s how I found out my
husband was dead. And we were married 48 1/2 years and they were good, they were
good years. We had our ups, we had our downs. But we were always up. And then
after he retired, we started to go out West and the first year we went for two
weeks. And he liked it so much, we went for, well when I lived there with the
children, Lois, our daughter, fell in love with it. She said, “One day I’m
going to live here.” And she did. She moved there. But then we stayed a
month, and then two months, and then three months and now I go back and I’m
there six months and I’m here six months.
Interviewer: Well thank you for giving us this opportunity. What are some of
the greatest things you’ve seen, the greatest changes from when you were a
little girl into what your grandchildren see?
Polster: The greatest thing was when I took my children to Czechoslovakia to
find my roots. And as I told you, when I was a child, my mother dictated letters
to my grandfather and I vowed that one day I was going to find where those
letters went. Because the one cousin, the only survivor of the Holocaust who
lives in Israel, joined us with one of his sons and we found my mother’s birth
certificate in Czechoslovakia and we found my grandfather’s grave which was
knocked over and broken and the mayor of the little shtetl up in the
Carpathian Mountains of Czechoslovakia and I mean, “Fiddler on the
Roof” is where we were and we asked the mayor to have the stone uprighted
and put together and we left money for him, with him. And then we went to
another town and we had a van, we had a guide, we had a driver and all of our
children. And unfortunately, Martin wasn’t alive to be with us, and we went to
this other little town and found a man. My cousin spoke Czech and Hebrew and
English. The guide spoke Czech and English. We found two men who found a man who
knew where the Jewish cemetery was and it hadn’t been visited since 1929 when
my grandmother died and was buried there. I have pictures of all of that and I
have a picture of my grandfather standing at my grandmother’s grave and now I
have a picture of my cousin and I standing at the same grave and I have a
picture of all the children and my cousin and his son at the grave of our
grandfather and grandmother. And that to me was the highlight of my life because
I felt I did this for my mother and also one other thing. She was so good to
everybody and did so many wonderful things. Black, white, poor, rich; her
chicken soup was given all over to everybody and she always wanted to go to
Israel. And my first trip to Israel, I… and I said, “This is for you
Mama.” I’m going to do this same thing for my children and it’s going
to be called, “I remember my mama,” because I’ve got so many stories
about her that I want to tell. Not that my father wasn’t great, but she was so
much stronger person and he was just a quiet, little man who went about his own
business and made a little living. Made a living for us, raised all the
children. But it was Mama who was really, I guess the love of my life next to
Martin and my children.
Voice: What was the biggest change that you remember or that you saw in your
lifetime? What was the biggest advance?
Polster: Biggest event?
Voice: Advance. What was the biggest thing like…
Interviewer: Radio, television.
Polster: I don’t know. I just take things as they come. I, really Betty,
don’t think I’m a person who ever gets so excited. The only thing that ever
excited me was my trip to Czechoslovakia.
Voice: And in retrospect, you’ve seen changes in transportation, in
communication, in medicine.
Polster: I’ll tell you what the greatest change to me is computers. My mind
is boggled with computers. I went to visit my son and daughter-in-law and
granddaughter. They each have their own computers, each have their own office
with a computer in it. I’m not good with electronics. As Betty can tell you, I
didn’t know how to put coffee in a coffee maker that I’ve never used. But to
me, this is a computer world. Unfortunately though, I feel, and I’m not one to
be able to tell this, but some of the people that are feeding these computers
are ruining everything as far as I’m concerned. The mistakes that are being
made all because of the computer. I know this is the way the world’s going to
be and it’s going to be a lot more advanced as I leave this earth. But
personally, it boggles my mind when I see children at these computers day in and
day out, day in, day out. What’s the answer for me?
Voice: Learn the computer.
Interviewer: That’s right. If you went to secretarial school, you can type.
Polster: My children gave me an electric typewriter. It ran away with me. I
gave it back to them. I use my old typewriter.
Interviewer: Okay. It’s just a fancy typewriter. It just remembers what it
types, that’s the only thing.
Polster: I know. I think, you know, airplanes came. First I remember, I don’t
remember the horse and wagon but I remember my father telling us about, oh, when
we were children, we went on a picnic, we went on a horse and wagon and then we
got our first truck and we all piled in the truck and went on, and where were
our picnics? In the cemetery in this little town. They had like a picnic ground
and this is where our family went for picnics. I mean children today, they have
everything but they’ve missed so much. They’ve really missed a lot.
Voice: They’ll remember different things.
Polster: This is why I am so sorry that we didn’t ask questions. Ask your
parents questions, whoever you are. Get any information you can because going
back in history I found, now is absolutely remarkable. And I can’t tell you a
thing about my father except that he had a sister and three brothers and he came
from Poland. I can’t tell you anything else. And it’s, I, that makes me
pretty sad. The only way I knew about looking for my mother-in-law was because
my mother and my future mother-in-law met and they found my mother’s maiden
name was Friedman. My mother-in-law to be’s mother’s name was Hibschman but
her mother’s name was Friedman. They came from the same shtetl. They
must have been related, so…
Voice: Evelyn, I want to thank you for doing this. You did a wonderful job.
Polster: I don’t know how wonderful it was.
Voice: Yes you did.
Interviewer: You did.
Polster: It’s, it’s all, I wish, I want a copy of this. I want it for my
Polster: And I’ll pay for the copy, the whole thing I mean because this is
something I want as long as I did it. I probably rambled a lot and I…
Interviewer: No it’s all right.
Voice: Well done.
Interviewer: Well thank you very much and…
Polster: Turn out the lights and…
Interviewer: We’ll turn out the lights…
* * *