This is February 15, the year 2000, and we’re at 1175 College Avenue at the
Columbus Jewish Historical Society office and my name is Naomi Schottenstein and
I’m here this afternoon interviewing Gloria Ziskind White and I want to
welcome Gloria and thank her at the beginning for taking the time to talk to us
Interviewer: Gloria, what is your Jewish name?
White: Gittel Mendel.
Interviewer: Do you know who you were named after?
White: I was named after my paternal grandmother. She was Gittel and
the Mendel is for my grandfather John Katz’s mother.
Interviewer: Okay. Do you have a nickname? Were you called any other thing
White: I always wanted to be Gita but my cousin Ellen Mittelman, she was
named, her middle name was for the same grandmother and so she was always Ellen
Gita so I tried it in college, to be Gita, but it didn’t really stick. My one
friend would call me Glo and my brother called me Glor.
Interviewer: Oh okay.
White: But those were just intimate because those were just the particular
people. But just Gloria.
Interviewer: Okay. Well we know you as Gloria. Was your family name
originally Ziskind or do you know if it was changed? Do you know what the origin
White: Well I had always presumed that it was Ashinsky.
Interviewer: How would you spell that?
White: Well we never really tried to do that in English. But it turns out my
niece did some studying on it and the village was Ashinsky.
White: And I was just (Indistinct). There were already several children. They
thought that was a nice and sweet child and sounded (Indistinct)
Interviewer: That’s the Jewish interpretation isn’t it?
Interviewer: Yeah it does sound like it’s very kind and generous. I mean it’s
Interviewer: Do you know how your family came to Columbus?
White: Yes, on both sides.
White: My paternal grandparents, my grandfather, emigrated to Cincinnati with
his brothers in 1908 and they worked at the London Matzo Factory that was owned
Interviewer: Was that a family name, London?
White: London, uh huh. And there was a Rabbi London here and they were
relatives. They were from the Baker family and my grandmother, well, from the
Interviewer: You mean they actually…
White: They were bakers. Yes. And they had come here and then worked for, you
know, somebody who was already established here. And my grandmother came in
1910. My father was four or five years old. He had several older siblings.
Interviewer: Wait, before we go further, where did they come from?
White: From, it was in Lithuania, and the village was Balkovish.
White: I understand from talking to cousins, prior to coming here that they
actually, my grandmother and the children that she had with her, really six of
them, one a baby, actually escaped by building a raft and going across this
river. I guess, I don’t know what the river was because I haven’t been able
to look it up on a map, but apparently once they got to the other side of the
river, they were okay. But that was a pretty daring escape for a woman with six
Interviewer: And they couldn’t have been very old. The kids were probably
all very young?
White: Well a couple of them were teenagers but the rest of them were small.
And I guess they got across the river and then got over here. He’d sent money.
He’d saved money and sent money and she had, my Grandmother Gittel had
relatives in Columbus. Actually they both did because they were, they were
really some sort of vaguely related I think because there seems to be a lot of
interaction between the families although he was not from the same village. She
was the one I think that was from Balkovish. But she wanted to come to Columbus
to be with her family and he agreed. So he came with her to Columbus and they
settled here. And they lived, I know at least one of the houses was on Donaldson
Interviewer: Okay, we’ll touch on to that a little bit later.
Interviewer: So does that pretty much give us a picture of how your family
White: Yeah that side of the family.
White: And on the other side, my grandmother was born here. Sarah Sternberg
Katz was born here in the United States, in Cincinnati. Her father had been from
a fairly wealthy family and he decided to come and, I don’t know, I guess
things were, I think it was a political issue maybe as well as financial, that
they were kind of worried how things were where they were. The place that they
were from was Jacoma and he was given (Indistinct)
Interviewer: I’m thinking of the person that’s going to be doing the
transcribing might not come up with these names. But just so we pronounce them.
White: That one we actually found on the map.
Interviewer: We’ll just try to pronounce it as best we can.
White: I don’t know if it’s Dj or J.
Interviewer: Well we’ll just have it spelled phonetically.
White: But it you look on an older map, it’s on there. ‘Cause we found
White: No that’s in Russia.
Interviewer: In Russia?
White: In Russia.
White: I believe. I believe that that’s what that is. Maybe it isn’t now
but it was then.
White: So her parents came, my grandmother’s parents came and settled in
Cincinnati and one of their daughters married. She was having several children.
She was very lonely. So they came to Columbus from Cincinnati. And I think they
also briefly lived in Kentucky, whether it’s Florence, Kentucky, right across,
but they also used to talk about Louisville so I don’t know whether that was,
whether they had actually lived there or whether they had just shopped there,
gone there to buy goods for whatever. But then the family moved to Columbus and
stayed here. My mother’s father came here directly to Columbus. He was from
somewhere near Moscow. His family had had money at one time. I think, I don’t
know what the circumstances were. One of my mother’s parents’ families was
in the paisley business, paisley shawls. I think that was my grandmother’s
family but I can’t; I think my grandfather’s family, I think they were in
produce for the big hotels in Moscow.
Interviewer: So what business did he go into when he came here?
White: He became a peddler. He had family here. His mother’s sister had
moved here and he came to live with his aunt and his cousins. But he didn’t
live actually with them. He lived with a family named Rich.
White: Uh huh.
Interviewer: So to make as living (Indistinct).
White: He was a peddler. I know he used to peddle with a horse on the grounds
of Ohio State University.
Interviewer: What is now Ohio State?
White: Well it was Ohio State then. It was the University itself then. It
wasn’t paved. But I know the story from talking to the man who was the
President at the time.
Interviewer: What did he peddle?
White: I’m not actually sure although it may have been produce, it may have
been other things. I’m not absolutely sure.
Interviewer: That’s kind of interesting because so many of them came and
had to establish some kind of way to make a living and peddling seemed to be
White: And you got out there and learned the language.
White: My grandmother, she wanted to be a schoolteacher but there was a
family business to run and she was good with numbers and so forth and so she
dropped out of school after sixth grade and helped run the store and I have a
feeling that my great-grandfather was probably not real adept at the business,
that the kids were probably more in tune for how to run the business and how to
make a living. And when my grandparents decided to get married, my grandmother
said, “I will marry you if we open up a store.” And that’s what they
Interviewer: Kind of to establish some kind of security for the future?
Interviewer: What kind of a store did you…
White: It was a clothing, dry goods. It was on the property that is now COSI,
Central High School.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Do you know what it was called at that time?
White: I assume it was called Katz’s. I actually have one picture of my
grandfather standing in front of the store.
Interviewer: So that would be on West Broad Street?
White: On West Broad.
Interviewer: Just on the other side of the Scioto River?
Interviewer: Uh huh. Okay.
White: And they were married in 1909 and my mother was born in 1910.
Interviewer: Okay. Tell us about your mother as a young woman and your
father. Let’s try to develop that part of this picture, and how they met each
other and how their life started.
White: Well I think they really always knew each other because my great aunt
and great uncle, my grandmother’s family, lived next door to my father’s
family on Donaldson Street. I believe that it was on Donaldson Street. It may
have been earlier yet but I think that’s where it was. And my mother was an
only child. My father was one of eight. And his little sisters were kind of
jealous of my mother ’cause she always had pretty dresses. Her parents owned a
store. They only had one child to dote on. She always had the pretty dolls and
the pretty clothes. And my mother was one of, she was naturally neat, didn’t
get dirty, didn’t play in the mud. So she would be, my father used to say he
remembered her swinging on the gate of her aunt’s house, with her hair in
ribbons I suppose and this little fancy dress on. And his sisters were just
running all over the place.
Interviewer: I’ve got a great picture of your mother now just from your
description. That’s great.
White: But she went to normal school. Well he was enough older, five years
older, that he, I don’t think they had too much contact then for a number of
years. They recognized each other when they saw each other I suppose but they
didn’t have any contact.
Interviewer: Excuse me, you said your mother went to normal school?
White: Normal school. That was to prepare to be a teacher and she (Indistinct).
Interviewer: Was that public school?
White: That was, well what you did is you went two years to Ohio State and
then they really let you loose on the kids. And what my mother did was she
continued her education during the summers and she went, I think it was 12
summers, 12-13 summers, I think it was 12 summers to college. And they, the
Columbus School System paid for the schooling because they were in need of
teachers at the time. And teachers were paid so little. I know she told me that
she started out, she made $1,000 a year.
White: And then when the Depression hit it went down to $900. And she lived
with her parents so she was okay. But it really wasn’t enough to manage on if
you were single and living on your own. She said it took them the rest of the
year that she put in before she quit to have us, to make $2000 a year. But she
just put that away and then that went for part of the down payment on our house
Interviewer: Uh huh. Do you happen to know what school she went to before she
White: Well she went to Central. Now she was supposed to have gone to South
’cause at that time, when Central was going to be built, my grandparents were
forced to move and there was a lot of litigation regarding the property because
the man who had owned it passed away and then there was fighting among the
inheritors about what to do but they finally determined that they were going to
sell out to the school system. And that would have been 1924. So my mother was
14 and her parents were already 42 years old. They were going to establish a
store someplace else but my grandfather was not in real terrific health. Nothing
specific really but he was just kind of one of those soft people. And I think
his friends told him, you know you only have the one girl and they bought up
some property. So they bought a house that was on South High Street and it had a
little house in the back. And they rented out part of it and they lived in just
three rooms, four rooms. And they lived, they’d always lived in small quarters
so they didn’t think too much about that.
Interviewer: Now the store was on…
White: West Broad.
Interviewer: They lived there also?
White: They lived above it.
Interviewer: Right above it?
White: They lived on Broad Street originally and then they lived above the
White: And my grandmother used to run upstairs and stir the pot. A little
White: Well no, no. It was a plucked chicken.
Interviewer: Oh okay.
White: Then the chick showed up at the door and my grandfather let it in. I’m
the same way so. But we have cats so I don’t think I want to pluck chickens.
White: But, and they had some birds that my grandfather rescued. And the
horse that he had had when he was peddling was blind.
White: I know that. But he was very kind to animals. He was a soft-spoken
Interviewer: But the horse was still able to do the job?
White: The horse was still able to do the job. My grandfather probably wasn’t
in a great big hurry so he wasn’t that way himself, so.
Interviewer: Probably got it at a good price?
White: Probably did. And always a kind of gentle, soft person. So he, when
they had to give up the store, they just retired.
Interviewer: It was a pretty early age, wasn’t it?
White: She was 40, he was 42. They owned some property on Edward Street.
Interviewer: Was that in the south…
White: Well, Edward Street is still a street there, that property is right,
bordered by Columbus State now.
Interviewer: Columbus State College?
White: Uh huh. And as a matter of fact, the last piece my mother gave back to
my two children and my niece, and we negotiated a deal. We had to sell it
because it was the City that wanted it.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
White: And we negotiated it so the kids now have a piece of money out of that
Interviewer: Well that’s long-range planning.
White: That was, yeah. Most of their other property was not so wisely bought.
They bought cheap and during the Depression they had tenants on it and they didn’t
collect the rent from them. They just let them live there ’cause they couldn’t
stand the thought of somebody, you know, not having a roof over their head. So
they weren’t particularly astute as business people but they did okay. And
then my grandparents never drove a car. My mother never drove a car.
They lived near a car dealership right there where the Clarmont is. There was a
car dealership there.
Interviewer: On South High Street?
White: On South High Street. And that piece then had to be sold and it’s an
empty lot now. But my mother had that for a number of years in my childhood. But
they, she was teaching school, living at home. My father had…
Interviewer: Wait, now you said your mother had no siblings?
White: No siblings.
Interviewer: Did she have any cousins who were her…
White: Yeah. Well her closest friend/cousin was Miriam Polster, Miriam Berman
White: And Miriam had two sisters, Anabelle and Dorothy, who both just passed
away recently. Miriam married young so she, I don’t know, my mother spent a
lot of time singing. She took voice lessons, had tap. She taught school. She was
a teacher in the originally Tifereth Israel then Temple Israel then Agudas Achim
as a Sunday School teacher for 43 years in total.
Interviewer: Now you’re talking about different (Indistinct)
Interviewer: different houses of worship?
White: Yeah. She started out at Tifereth Israel. Taught there for a number of
years and she was Confirmation teacher.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
White: She didn’t look a whole, in some of the pictures she doesn’t look
a whole lot older than the kids.
White: And that would have been while she was teaching school and also going
to school during the summers.
Interviewer: And then she went to Temple Israel and then Agudas Achim?
Interviewer: Uh huh. What public school did she teach in?
White: I can remember later in life. I think it was around Lilley Avenue,
whatever that school was there. Whether that was (Indistinct). Well it eludes me now
but it was an elementary and I don’t, probably it’ll come to me, but I don’t
remember it off-hand.
Interviewer: Okay well we’ll catch it later. So that’s pretty much a
picture of your mother’s family?
Interviewer: You said your father came from a large family. Let’s see if we
can break that down. Tell me who his siblings were, starting with the oldest if
White: The oldest was Esther.
Interviewer: And then tell us a little about her family, each one of their
White: Okay. She was a pretty good sized girl when they came here.
Interviewer: You mean in terms of age.
White: Yeah in terms of age. She must have been early teenager maybe. She was
the only one that I recognized as ever having an accent. And she was the only
one that didn’t go to college.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Your father was one of eight children?
White: Eight surviving ones. I think there may have been as many as five
more, at least a couple of whom died, influenza.
Interviewer: And then what was her name? Tell me her name.
White: Esther Ziskind Weisman.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Who was her husband.?
White: I don’t know much about him. He was considered an N.G. in our
family, a no good.
Interviewer: Okay. Did she have children?
White: She had one son, Shumalazer, Larry, Lawrence. And I was talking
to him on the phone and he said that his aunt told him a story that when he was
a newborn, just home from the, well I guess he was probably born at home but
just a new baby, that she was carrying him around singing, “My sweet baby
Interviewer: Oh. He was destined at that moment, huh?
White: And he did become a physician.
Interviewer: Oh. It stayed with him?
Interviewer: Where does he live now?
White: He lives in Arizona now. He lived in Detroit for many years and he has
three sons and they’re all married and they all have children and (Indistinct).
Interviewer: So you’re in touch with him?
White: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: Great. Great. First cousins?
Interviewer: Let’s go to the next one.
White: The next one was Doc, Jacob, Alan Ziskind. He married his
cousin, first cousin I believe, Tillie Weiner. They were in love from the time
they were children. My father said that he always knew, I mean, they were going
to get married. There was no question and Tillie was part of their day-to-day
life even as a kid, being a cousin and being in and out of the house. So she was
always there. It was almost like she was another sister in some ways.
Interviewer: Tillie is part of that London family, isn’t she?
White: Yeah, yeah, true. Uh huh.
Interviewer: And is Alan, are you all done?
White: Tillie’s sisters are Eleanore and Helen Zelkowitz, Kiki (Indistinct),
Ruth I think was her real name.
White: Kanter. And then there was a brother.
Interviewer: A couple of brothers?
White: Elliott and Nate.
Interviewer: I didn’t want to get too far off track but (Indistinct)
White: I really would know that you have, I’ve got more connections than I
Interviewer: And Jacob’s children?
White: He just had one daughter. As a matter of fact, the story is a funny
one. He and Kay had been married 16 years and no offspring. And Tillie came to
him and he was a doctor. She said, “Doc, I think I’m pregnant,” and
he said, “You’re crazy”. But she was in fact pregnant and they had a
daughter and her name is Susan and she married Sam Portman. She lives in Israel
most of the time now. I don’t have any contact with her.
Interviewer: Uh huh. So she does spend a lot of time in Israel huh?
White: She lives there I think. She has a son here. I don’t know, I think
her other sons are there but I haven’t seen any of them in a long time.
Interviewer: Okay. And who’s next on the list here?
White: Next would be Bernard. When we were children we called him “Uncle
Rebbe” so it was Uncle Doc and Uncle Rebbe.
Interviewer: Well it fit with their occupation.
White: Yeah. That was so much them. Actually he looked just like Sir Alec
Guiness. He didn’t look like the others very much. There was kind of a short,
red face. Well Doc didn’t have a red face but a stockier build. But he was
kind of tall and thin and ministerial looking even. The story was that he was
playing pool and his fathers sent his brothers over to get him and they put him
right on the train to the yeshiva.
Interviewer: Oh, he was shipped off, huh?
White: He was, I didn’t, it worked out all right and his father wasn’t
wrong. But I think his father was afraid that he was, he was just kind of a soft
person and they were, he was afraid then that maybe he would get in with a bad
lot or something. I don’t think my uncle had that in him but…
Interviewer: But it worked out all right?
White: But it worked out all right and he ended up…
Interviewer: So Bernard became a…
White: a rabbi, a Conservative rabbi. And I guess from what I understand, he
was a leader in the Conservative movement at that time.
Interviewer: Who did he marry or did he marry?
White: Yes he married Minna Liebman. She is from the Massachusetts area where
they lived. And they had two children, Shulamith and Jonathan. Shulamith is
married, married once. Her husband died very young and she remarried and I see
her every once in a while at family functions, and she has two children. One of
them lives in Israel most of the time and the other one lives in Minnesota.
Interviewer: And the other child, Bernard’s other child?
White: Jonathan? He’s one of the two that carries the Ziskind name. He is a
professor of history in Louisville and his wife is an attorney. They both have
Ph.Ds. And they have one daughter whose name is Minna after her grandmother and
she is married to, oh he’s a history professor, I think it’s what he does
and I can’t think where they live. Philadelphia I believe.
Interviewer: Let me ask you, going back, when your grandfather shipped
Bernard off to the yeshiva, do you know where he went to school, where was that
White: East coast but I don’t know exactly where.
Interviewer: Where did he eventually settle?
White: In New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And he had a pulpit there then?
White: Yeah. For many, many years
Interviewer: Uh huh.
White: And his daughter still lives up there part of the year although she
has a place in Florida too.
Interviewer: Okay, and after Bernard?
White: Let’s see. Next one would be Priscilla. My father used to say that
he was older than Priscilla but he wasn’t. He was a couple of years younger
than Priscilla. Priscilla was the only one that never married. She always swore
it was because her English name was Priscilla.
Interviewer: Yeah that was a little unusual for a Jewish family at that time.
I mean there was never such Yiddish gezunter or Russian or whatever
White: Well it was Priscilla. The story went because somebody was reading
“The Courtship of Miles Standish” in school: Priscilla Alden. She
always swore that that’s why she never married but I don’t think that that
was it. She was always, when her older sister Esther, who had to work because,
she didn’t divorce her husband but she tossed him out. So she had to work for
a living and she was sick a lot, had pneumonia at least nine times. So whenever
it looked like maybe something was going to happen to Priscilla, she’d get
called home. She had to come home and help her sister. And she went. I mean she
never said, “No, I’m not coming. I’ve got something cooking here.”
She just went. And I figure when somebody does that, they do that ’cause that’s
really what they want to do. But…
Interviewer: Well there was a lot of duty to each other at that time. They
needed each other.
White: They lived together all the years ’till Esther died. Priscilla was
with her, Esther.
Interviewer: What did she do?
White: She was a school teacher at Columbus Public Schools, elementary
Interviewer: Uh huh.
White: And then there was Anne. We had (Indistinct) with my father. My father was
told at 17 that he wouldn’t live to be 18. And that was just exactly the way
it had been told to him. He went to the doctor with his little baby brother,
Mutty, with him. And the doctor said, “You’re going to die. You have a
rheumatic heart.” “(Indistinct) oh, I have rheumatic heart fever.” But his I
guess was a defect that somehow or another the doctor thought that he
wasn’t long for this world. So he graduated from high school and he went home
and waited to die and he didn’t die.
Interviewer: Well he didn’t just sit around. He probably (Indistinct)
White: No, he sat around for about a year.
Interviewer: No kidding? He expected that the doctor (Indistinct)
White: Yep. One statement. I guess that the story was that it was hard to get
home on the bus because he was just weak in the knees. And his little brother
here, you know, he didn’t know what’s going on. He was still in knickers.
But they just took it that that was the pronouncement. And after about a year, I
remember my father telling me that he was sitting on the porch and one of his
cousins, I think one of his Weiner cousins, said to him, “You have such a
nice smile. You aren’t going to die young.” And just from that statement,
he entered college.
Interviewer: That encouraged him to go ahead.
White: Yeah. He looked around and he said, “Well.” And he was of an
intellectual bent. That seemed like a good thing to do. He could handle going to
school, reading. He had limited vision. The (Indistinct) never developed in one eye
so he never really had great vision. But he could read fast, anything. I
remember sitting with him in an airport when I was going back to college and he
was, he picked up my copy of Ulysses (Indistinct) , didn’t have any
punctuation in it and he, I guess I’d never paid attention before how rapidly
he could read and retain.
Interviewer: He was probably a very bright man.
White: He was very bright. Doc had actually a photographic memory. My father’s
wasn’t quite that good but it was good. He could quote poetry.
Interviewer: Isn’t that interesting?
White: And he knew historical facts and just, you know.
Interviewer: So he went ahead with his education?
White: He went ahead with his education and he graduated from college in
Interviewer: At Ohio State?
White: At Ohio State with a degree in liberal arts in history, European
History and then, what are you going to do? Well he…
Interviewer: Before we go into your dad’s business ’cause I want to make
a whole, spend more time on that, let’s finish the picture of the rest of the
White: Oh okay. My sister Anne was a schoolteacher with the Columbus Public
Schools and she lived with Priscilla and Esther and she and Priscilla went for a
visit to their brother Bernard in Massachusetts. And he had been given a car by
the congregation and they knew how to drive but he didn’t. I guess his wife
didn’t either. So they were trying to teach him how to drive. No I guess what
happened was Priscilla bought the car but she needed help. She came back to
Columbus. Anne stayed there to teach him to drive the car. They had a little
accident. She wasn’t badly hurt but she had a little scar on her forehead I
remember. So she was staying there to rest up before she traveled back home. And
in the process, there was someone I think from a neighboring area, who had a
single son and got them together. And they got married and then she moved up
there. His name was Morris Vexler and we used to laugh that she was there about
a year and her accent was thicker than his. She loved it up there.
Interviewer: New England, uh huh.
White: Yeah. And she was close to her brother so she wasn’t really away
from her family entirely. They had no children. But…
Interviewer: What did he do?
White: He was, he was an engineer for I think the State. He worked for the
State at Massachusetts. Very nice man, very bright, very sweet. And then the
last two who were born in this country, Max, Mutty. Always called him Mutty.
Interviewer: How did he come to that nickname? Do you know?
Interviewer: Muttle. It was an abbreviation of his Yiddish name?
White: Yeah. And we all called each other that way. Priscilla was Peshke .
. . . Mutty was very bright and did very well in school. He was about 15-16
maybe when he graduated from high school. Maybe younger than that. They said he
was still in knickers and went to Ohio State and graduated and had to wait to
take the Bar Exam because he wasn’t old enough to take the Bar.
Interviewer: Did he work in the meantime?
White: I don’t know. I think they kind of helped their father out to help (Indistinct)
I don’t think things were, they didn’t have a career yet but there was
Interviewer: So who did he eventually marry?
White: He married Betty Zutkind. She was from Cleveland. She went to Ohio
State in Music. She had tried a radio show at some time. I don’t know whether
that was when she was in college or shortly thereafter. She could play, my Aunt
Betty could play anything on the piano. You could give her two bars of it and
she was off.
Interviewer: She still is a beautiful pianist.
White: I think so. I mean I haven’t heard her play in a while.
Interviewer: I haven’t heard her either for a while but I remember many
White: Golly she really was. I used to laugh. My mother could play and
accompany herself…But Betty could just pick up anything and….I know
every time they had something at Agudas Achim Sisterhood, she had to play. She
never got to sit down and eat her lunch.
Interviewer: … many times hearing Betty play. And she was always
very gracious about accepting that offer when somebody called to ask her.
White: And I think really she’s a little shy so that it was probably hard
for her to do it in a way but she knew she…
Interviewer: It was her way.
White: And looked beautiful. Both Tillie and Betty could entertain
beautifully. And my mother was a little jealous of that because her mother
couldn’t have done that because her mother was in the store and so she didn’t,
it was really hard for my mother. She could do it but she would be frazzled by
it and they seemed to do it with an ease that…
Interviewer: Came more naturally?
White: Yeah, yeah.
Interviewer: And Betty and Max had?
White: Two daughters.
Interviewer: Two daughters. Uh huh.
White: And Ellen who would have been born in ’43 and Marcia who’s…
so she was born in ’47. And they’re both married.
Interviewer: Live here?
White: Well I don’t know. I think Ellen just gave up her job. Something
that my brother told me that she’s now…
Interviewer: She’s widowed, isn’t she?
White: Yes, very young.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
White: And Bruce Siegel was her boyfriend from the time they were in junior
high I believe.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Interviewer: I think he passed away a number of, a few years ago.
White: It’s been a long time now.
Interviewer: And Marcia is…
White: Married to Bobby Hershfield. He’s a physician here in town.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Okay, does that cover, let’s see…
White: You want the youngest one?
White: Okay. Ruth, always referred to as Anshe.
Interviewer: How does that come about?
White: I guess that’s her Yiddish version of it.
White: She was the only one of the last seven who didn’t actually graduate
from college. She was one course short: Chemistry.
Interviewer: Oh goodness.
White: Never made it through that chemistry course. But she was interested in
somebody who was in the Chemistry course. She married kind of young I think. And
he was another M.D. And Nat was good too, often. And I don’t know how long
that marriage lasted but I know that my father was supposed to go try to work
things out and I guess it didn’t happen. Then she divorced him and I don’t
know anything further about him.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Did they have children?
White: They had no children. Then by that time it was the war years and she
went to Texas where her brother Doc was taking care of babies, I think mostly
delivering babies down in Texas. And her little niece Susan would have been a
little girl then. And my Aunt Tillie was one of those people that if there was
somebody single, she was going to fix ’em up. So she…
Interviewer: She was a matchmaker?
White: She was a matchmaker. And she then, you know, there were a lot of
servicemen down there and my aunt would have been real cute looking with red
hair, her red hair. And so she, I think she actually met a couple of fellows. A
couple of them died, you know in the war.
Interviewer: In the war?
White: But then she met Joe Pearlman. He was a dentist from Minnesota and she
married him and he went off to Normandie and she must have gotten pregnant right
away within a few weeks there, because when he came back he had twin babies.
Interviewer: Oh immediately?
White: Yeah. So she came back to Columbus with the babies and lived with
Esther, Anne and Priscilla. The four of them lived together until he got out of
Interviewer: Uh huh. And who were her children?
White: Her children were Gail Pearlman Bloom. She actually lived in the
house, she lived in the house that I grew up in.
Interviewer: Oh family house?
White: Yeah. No. My mother sold it and then it got sold to her.
White: And she lived in it. And I remember, I was in the hospital giving
birth to my daughter and she called my mother up and said, “The house on
Roosevelt is for sale. Would you mind if I bought it? I have nice memories of
White: And my mother called me and said, “Do you care?” And I said,
“It doesn’t matter to me.” And so it was interesting going back in
Interviewer: Yeah. Uh huh.
White: as a guest.
Interviewer: Yeah that is interesting.
Interviewer: But still family member.
White: Yeah. And she lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, now. And her husband, her
first husband is in California now. This is the second husband. The children are
by the first husband whose name was Katz. And she has two daughters that are
married. One just had a baby, just last month. And then she’s been married to
Sanford Bloom for almost 20 years, I think just about 20 years. And he was from
here and he went to South High so his family is from here. And then her brother
Michael lives in Georgia. He’s single.
Interviewer: So that pretty much covers your dad’s family?
Interviewer: All right. Well we’re going to, let’s go back to you as a
child. What homes do you remember growing up in or homes you’ve ever lived in?
White: Okay. I was taken home from the hospital. My uncle delivered me at St.
Ann’s to an apartment on Lilley Avenue. My parents bought a house and I know I
wasn’t even a year old when we moved into the house on Roosevelt. So that’s
the only home I…
Interviewer: What was the address on Roosevelt?
Interviewer: Did your family built that house?
White: No. Huh uh. They bought it from Mark and, oh what was his name? I
should be able to know his last name. It was on the market for a while and
several people, I know the Zisenwines were interested in the house. But it had a
step down from the hall to the living room.
Interviewer: Which was really pretty much the way architecture was in that
age, in that era.
White: Yeah but for some reason, several people, including the Zisenwines
were afraid of that step.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
White: That somebody would fall down that step.
Interviewer: Huh. But it suited your family?
White: But it worked out. My father used to love to rest his head on that
step so it worked out fine.
Interviewer: Yeah it’s a great location. ‘Course when they lived there,
there weren’t as many families around. I mean the street got very developed.
White: Well most of the houses on Roosevelt were, there was the one lot
across the street that was empty in my childhood. There weren’t very many. And
the one behind us, immediately behind us, was empty. But there wasn’t very
much. It was mostly built up.
Interviewer: Who were some of the neighbors that you remember on Roosevelt?
White: Well our immediate neighbors on one side, their name was Meyer. He
owned a produce store, south end. And she had been a farm girl. Matter of fact
she, her family had owned a farm. I think her aunt and uncle had owned a farm
about where my house in Worthington is.
Interviewer: Oh, what a connection, huh?
White: Yes. She had daughters that were college age and I was a little kid.
So. And then they married and I used to play with her grandchildren when they
would come over all the time. They were very nice. Her house always smelled,
German household there, always smelled, wonderful cooking over at that house. I
mean you didn’t even have to open the door.
Interviewer: Flavors. Aromas.
White: Yeah. Always a good smell. But of course he was in the business so she
had the best to work with in the kitchen.
Interviewer: Sure. But those are fond memories.
Interviewer: Let me stop you at this point because (tape ends). We were
talking about your neighbors. Who else do you remember of your neighbors?
White: The people on the other side, on the Fair Avenue side, were not
friendly and I can’t even remember their name. But she was, she had been
married to one of the Wolfes and she thought we were slobs I know. I’m not
sure why. She just thought she was very upper class and…
Interviewer: Do you think it had anything to do with anti-Semitism?
White: Possibly it did but I don’t know that for sure.
Interviewer: Yeah. You said Wolfe like from the Dispatch family?
White: Yeah. She kicked him out and married somebody else. And I can’t…
Interviewer: Well there were a lot of Jewish people in the neighborhood too?
White: Yeah. Right across the street, the Meizlishes lived close by.
Interviewer: Which Meizlish?
White: Norman. That would be…
Interviewer: Norman and Connie. Uh huh.
White: And Judge Stern and his wife Tess. And they weren’t friendly either.
They thought that (Indistinct). Their son was older than my brother. Their daughter
was older than me so we didn’t have a lot of contact or connection. The people
immediately across the street built the house and their name was Cohen, David
and he had some sisters. And then they moved and the Palaces moved into that
house. Immediately behind us were the Shers, Lou Sher. And they had four
children, adopted children, that were stair steps, just a year apart in age:
Larry, Rickey, Linda and Nancy. And I used to play with the girls and Larry was
my brother’s best friend and I still have contact with him.
White: Moved to Arizona when he was still in high school. He was my first big
crush. He was so sweet and he still is a real sweet guy.
Interviewer: Yeah. Tell us now about your, you have a brother, do you?
White: Uh huh.
Interviewer: Just one brother?
White: One brother, four and a half years older.
Interviewer: And no sisters?
Interviewer: Okay. Tell us about your brother and his family.
White: Okay. Joel went to Ohio State instead of going to the yeshiva.
Interviewer: Your family (Indistinct).
White: Well, he thought my father wanted him to be a rabbi but my father in
fact thought that that was a very hard life and didn’t think that maybe that
was going to make things easy for him. My brother instead went to Ohio State. He
lived at home the first year. Then he lived in an apartment. He got his degree
in History although he had enough courses in English and Political Science to
have a degree in any of the three. I mean he had enough courses for a major in
any of the three. So he stayed here until I went to college. Once I got to
California he followed me out there. He established himself in an apartment. I
think he thought he was going to go maybe to law school. He wasn’t quite sure
what he was going to do but he wanted to get out from Columbus, get away. And it
turned out that he went into a bank to open up an account and he had grown a
beard. My father didn’t want him to grow a beard. But he grew a beard on the
way out there. We drove out there and he grew this beard. And he went into the
bank and this woman said, “We’re looking for young bankers and if you’d
be willing to shave, I bet you’d show up real well.” You know, you’d
interview real well. So he interviewed. So he interviewed and he always
worked in a men’s store ’cause he had done that a little bit when he was in
college. He never had any money. He always came out with a tie and a sport
jacket. But he decided he’d go and try the bank. And well once he got into it
he liked it. For one thing, you could wear a suit and a tie when you’re a
banker and he rose pretty quickly in the banking business so…
Interviewer: In California?
White: In California. In California, first in, where I was going to school
was in Oakland. He was in San Francisco. His department was in San Francisco.
And he was in Berkeley for a while and then around San Francisco. And then he
moved later, the opportunities were greater in Los Angeles and he moved to Los
Interviewer: And how long did he stay there?
White: He’s still there and I think close to retiring now.
Interviewer: I don’t think you told me your brother’s name.
White: Joel Alvin. (Indistinct) Avrom.
Interviewer: Did he marry?
White: Yes he married a Jewish girl from Montana.
White: She had graduated from college. But she’d gone to the same school I’d
gone to, Mills, which was in Oakland, California. She’s from Lewistown,
Montana. Her family had a business there. By the time Joel had met her, her
family had moved to Billings, which is a much bigger city, due to the death of a
relative. It had been a family business. They all liked the son, Jason, and it
was a men’s store with a store in Lewistown, a store in Billings and they
actually had a store in Louisville too. And she and her brother were the only
Jewish kids they knew, I mean sort of. I mean they knew others but there weren’t
in that community, even in Billings, there were only like seven Jewish families.
The rabbi was the rabbi for three states. He was from Columbus.
Interviewer: Who was that?
White: Okay. And he was the rabbi for Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho I guess.
Interviewer: I think somehow there was some kind of connection with
Rubenstein, Rabbi Rubenstein, in Montana. Do you remember any of those things?
Interviewer: Maybe I’m in the wrong state.
White: But Rabbi Horowitz, my mother, it was interesting. Rabbi Horowitz
performed my brother’s wedding ceremony and it was so funny ’cause there was
the one set of people there that my parents knew. My mother had had their
daughter in school.
Interviewer: Well isn’t that interesting how the circle of life goes
White: Yeah You know.
Interviewer: So did they have children, Joel and…
White: Joel and Elaine have one daughter Monica. She went to school in
Wisconsin and she went to New York. Did her Master’s degree. Her field is Art.
Not actually art, but developing resources to put on artistic showings. She
worked at the Met. Her young man who had been her only beau of any consequence,
wanted to go back to graduate school in California. My brother was delighted.
And so they both went back out to California and she worked at the Getty Museum
and he’s getting his Master’s and they’re getting married in August.
Interviewer: Great. That’s a nice ending to the story or start of another
story, start of another story.
White: Yeah. And so my brother’s hoping that they will remain out there.
‘Cause he’s very attached. And I understand that ’cause my kids are at
that age where they’re starting to consider the possibility of moving on and
it’s real hard not to say anything.
Interviewer: Yeah. Let’s get back to your family. Tell us about your
family, your marriage, your children.
White: My husband was born in Springfield, Illinois. He lived in Peoria most
of his life.
Interviewer: How did you meet and…
White: Well he came to work at Battelle. He had been, just real briefly, his
father died when he was 12 and he worked very, very hard. Worked always through
school and in the summers and two jobs and all that kind of thing. He graduated
from Purdue in Chemical Engineering and then after a year of working in
Pittsburgh for PPG, he went back to school, to Purdue, and got a Master’s in
Interviewer: Uh huh.
White: He married a girl that he had met from Mansfield, Ohio, when he was
doing work for PPG. That marriage lasted about 5-6 years and they divorced, no
children. He was living in Pittsburgh at the time and decided that maybe it
would be nice to make a change just for the sake of making a change. Things
weren’t, with the politics at PPG, it didn’t look like things were going to
work out for him. His mentor had been fired. These things happen and so…
Interviewer: Time to move on?
White: He interviewed. He decided he didn’t really want to go to New York
City. He thought Columbus would be a nice choice.
Interviewer: Did he know anybody in Columbus?
White: He didn’t know anybody in Columbus but within the first few days, it
wasn’t any time at all, he got a call from, golly, I should remember who that
person is. Somebody from the Federation called him. …should be able to
think…this moment, and said, you know, “Wouldn’t your wife like
to come to something?” He said, “Well I’m not married.” Well
they said, “OHHHH”. So he went to this party in the evening and my
cousin Ellen saw him, judged him to be younger than me. He isn’t. He’s five
years older but he looked very young. And tried to pass me off as a college
student to him. As a matter of fact, he almost thought I was too young. But he
called me up anyway and then I explained it, you know, I’m really out of
college. And so we went out and it was a couple of years before, a year and a
half before we got engaged. Two years, two years before we got engaged.
Obviously from his first experience, he…
Interviewer: Took it easy?
White: Took it easy but, yeah.
Interviewer: So when were you married?
White: We were married in July of 1977 at the Sheraton because they had a
Interviewer: Right. Right.
White: What other choice was there?
Interviewer: So he came from a Jewish family?
White: Yeah, yeah. But he hadn’t had the Jewish education that the
philosophy could mean a lot, but not the practice. Although his mother later
really spent a lot of time with people in the congregation in her town, in
Peoria. But she had been so busy. She had cared for her father. Her husband, my
husband’s father, had been left as an orphan at the age of 12 with a
10 year old sister and a whole lot of older brothers and sisters. And the older
brothers and sisters all worked and provided for these two little kids who were
left in their care. There wasn’t much time for anything besides work and, you
know, making ends meet. And my father-in-law was sick. He maybe, you know that’s
an interesting thing. He and my father were both sick a lot. We both grew up
with fathers who were just kind of not doing too well. I spent an awful lot of
time in the emergency room. His father was in a sanitarium when he was a baby so
he didn’t really know his father. He was sort of in and out of his life.
Interviewer: Probably just remembered him as a sickly person?
White: Well he said he was very bright. He was a lot of fun to be with…
’cause he knew that his time was short and he was really very worried,
having been a child who, you know, who was left. I think it must have frightened
him very much…but in the pictures that I’ve seen of him…his
real young pictures, he looked very stern and I think he was very worried.
Interviewer: Sure, uh huh.
White: But my mother-in-law was, she just took over. She worked hard.
Interviewer: She toughened up, huh?
White: She was, I think she was tough to start with. But she was a really
wonderful woman and it’s interesting. I have several beautiful watches. My
father had a pawn shop so I always had watches. I wear her watch. People always
ask me, you know, “Why do you wear that one?” I just sort of feel like
a sense of strength from her ’cause she really was something.
Interviewer: She meant a lot to you too? You got along with her?
White: Well we were both strong and so, you know, not always perfect.
Interviewer: Yeah but you respected her?
White: Yeah. Yeah. I respected her and I thought that she had done a
marvelous job of raising two sons who got education, they were good fathers.
They’re excellent fathers. And good husbands. And that was her doing.
Interviewer: Tell me about your children.
White: My daughter Shana is 20. She is a junior at OSU. She’s, her field is
Speech and Hearing Science and she seems to be really enjoying that now that she’s
kind of made her decision that that’s what she’s into. She’s five feet
tall, weighs 91 pounds. She’s a little teeny, she looks, she reminds me a lot
of my grandmother, my mother’s mother, who was little like that. Not quite as
much of a ball of fire but that’s okay ’cause my grandmother…that could
be a problem too. But my daughter talks very rapidly and she…not even
Interviewer: Does she live on campus?
White: She lives on campus during the week but comes home most of the time on
Interviewer: Which you don’t mind?
White: Which I don’t mind at all.
Interviewer: Where do you live now?
White: In Worthington. Lived in the same house for 22 years.
Interviewer: What’s your address there?
White: 6827 Rieber.
White: And it’s right across from the elementary school I used to, and the
bus comes to us. That was why we bought the house, ’cause of the school and
the bus. My mother didn’t drive. She lived out on the east end when we first
got married and she could take the bus. It only took her an hour and a half…
Interviewer: An hour and a half?
White: She didn’t care. She’d take the newspaper or a book, talk to the
bus driver, take the bus up to our house. And so I wanted to be on a bus line
because I wanted her to be able to get to me.
Interviewer: So she didn’t drive?
White: Never drove. After Shana was born, I’d been married a couple of
years, we found a house for her in the neighborhood and she lived two blocks
away. She said she didn’t want us facing each other when we came out our front
doors but she was two blocks away on the bus line and…
Interviewer: So she moved up there?
White: So she moved up there because only, she actually, a good bit of the
time, she would spend the night at my house. Her house was sort of a big closet
a lot of the time and she was with us most of the time.
Interviewer: Well that was nice for her.
White: She was close to both of my kids and she loved my husband and my
Interviewer: Well that’s nice, that’s lucky.
Interviewer: And you have another child?
White: Yes, he’s 18. He’s a senior at Worthington Linworth, the
alternative school. He has red hair, most of the way down his back. He sort of
looks like my dad a little bit. And the red hair, from the time he was a baby,
whenever the Ziskind family members saw that red head, they just freaked out
Interviewer: Brought back memories?
White: That brought back memories. And he’s a good student. He just
got his acceptance to OSU and Purdue in the last few days.
Interviewer: That’s a relief, a stepping stone to the next phase of life.
White: Yeah, he’s interested in Engineering, Biomedical Engineering. Right
now he’s on Walkabout, which is a thing they do at Linworth, where they
examine some aspect of the work world or craft or something. And so he’s
taking two classes, two honors classes, and it’s all running back and forth
that I had to negotiate earlier. It was about that. And he doesn’t drive.
Interviewer: Doesn’t want to drive?
White: He was supposed to get his temp again this afternoon. I’m hoping he
did. I don’t know why he doesn’t want to drive. He still wanted to drive
since he was about 4. If he could have reached the pedals, I think he would have
taken off. But he does a lot of art work, very creative, and a real good kid.
Interviewer: Well it’s nice to have them at home too. So you have both of
them at home, kind of at home, a lot of the time.
White: Yeah, he’s hard put to leave I think, especially when he sees that
his sister comes home you know, and has a break from the campus life. And I
wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up at Ohio State. And that they both end up
with their laundry and needs and chicken dinners to be filled up by mom, so that
they have…to kick back.
Interviewer: Sure. Well it sounds like they have a real nice relationship.
White: Yes, yes. With each other and with us. We’re very, very close as a
Interviewer: That’s nice, that’s beautiful…I don’t think you
talked very much about your education. Tell us where all you went to school.
White: Well I graduated from Bexley High School in ’66. Couldn’t wait to
Interviewer: Which means that you went to Bexley Elementary and…
White: Yeah, Cassingham.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Interviewer: That’s right.
White: All down the line. And that was again the reason I ended up with a
house across the street from the schools because I had grown up…
Interviewer: Right around the corner?
White: Right, you know, we used to go through the Sher’s yard and, you
know, just be right there. And I thought that was nice. I know, this is an
off-hand story. My daughter started kindergarten and the first day I walked her
to school. The second day she went off on her own. There was a crossing guard
there, only one street to cross. She doesn’t come home and I’m looking out
the front window to see why she hasn’t shown up. And I walk over to the school
and as I’m walking out my door, I see the kindergarten teacher walking her
home. She was mortified. The teacher didn’t realize that she could actually go
home. None of the other kindergarteners were coming home by themselves.
Interviewer: But she was able to do it on her own?
White: But she was able to do it. I was watching out the window.
Interviewer: You hadn’t abandoned her?
White: Well we only lived there and the crossing guard could see her
across the street and I said, “And I’m watching.” So after that it
was okay. But that’s why we bought that house. And we were only engaged
when we bought the house but I was thinking ahead about how my kids were going
to, I was going to be able to see them walk home.
Interviewer: It worked out well.
White: My mother used to stand at the window and watch too. If I wasn’t
there, she was watching for them.
Interviewer: So that’s good. So and then after Bexley where did you go?
White: I couldn’t wait to get away. I went to school in California. I had a
cousin who had gone to Mills College, a much older cousin.
Interviewer: Where is that located?
White: In Oakland, California.
White: It’s a girls’ school. That was not maybe the best choice for me.
Interviewer: Was that your choice then?
White: It was my choice ’cause my cousin Connie had gone there and she had
enjoyed it. And I didn’t know anybody west of the Mississippi and, well that’s
not quite true, but I hadn’t been west of the Mississippi. I had one cousin
in, you know, cousins in Minnesota and that was it. I didn’t know anyone out
there. Didn’t have any family members out there.
Interviewer: That was really far away.
White: I was lookin’ to get about as far away from my father as I could
get. He was the one that I saw as the one to avoid so…
Interviewer: Every teenager…
White: Yeah. Uh huh. And I went to school there two years and actually there
were some very nice aspects to it. Living in a dorm, making friends with girls:
the only time I really ever had done that. I didn’t have a lot of friends at
Bexley too but, not, you know, not to be part of the social system. And I was
there. But I got engaged my sophomore year to a law student. His father was a
doctor with the Piedmont. He looked great on paper. He really did look good on
paper. But he really wasn’t and got disengaged. And decided, it didn’t even
occur to me to come back here at the time. I was going to go to San Francisco
State and then I was in an automobile accident and that kind of took the wind
out of my sails. Just too many things had happened, emotional, physical. I wasn’t
terribly, terribly hurt but it was just enough to…
Interviewer: Put some realization into your…
White: Yeah. And things were hard. My brother had gotten married in the
meantime. He was married and settled and, being four and a half years older, he
was in the business world. I’m…and didn’t quite know what to do with
myself so my mother came with a whole bunch of empty suitcases. She packed
everything up and I came back to Columbus. And the next couple of months were
the worst months I’ve ever spent in my lifetime. To live in my parents’
house after I had been independent.
White: And living in my own apartment, cooking and cleaning, cleaning up
after my roommates who were slobs. I was in charge of my own life and it was
very difficult to go back. My mother would have been fine. I could have gotten
along with her. But my father was impossible. So I started off at Ohio State
after a couple of months. Entered Spring Quarter and lived in an apartment off
campus and it took me, well it took me a number of quarters to graduate, only
because, you know, the transfer problem, although most of what I’d taken
transferred. And didn’t quite know what I wanted to do but ended up with a
degree in Education, Secondary Education. And then I stayed in school for a
while in Graduate School, until I could get a job.
Interviewer: Was it hard to get a job.
White: Yes, at that time it was very difficult.
Interviewer: What was the year?
White: That would have been ’70-’71. There was just a glut of teachers
and a lot of the girls that I had gone to high school with who had graduated a
year before me because they had gone straight through, who hadn’t changed
schools, they ending up as bank tellers. And not junior, you know, executives
going into banking. They were tellers and that was all they were going to be in
Interviewer: They had to settle for that?
White: You had to settle and I didn’t. I figured I’d stay in school. My
parents were willing to do that. They were good sports about that. And so I just
stayed in school. And I got a teaching job and that was it…And I taught
first at Starling and then at Walnut Ridge. And while I was at Starling during
my first year of teaching, my father got ill.
Interviewer: What year was that?
White: That would have been ’73, no ’72.
Interviewer: I don’t know if you want to talk about the differences you had
with your dad…
White: Oh I don’t mind talking about it. As a matter of fact I think that
the whole thing about my not being contacted by Marvin Bonowitz is the result of
the fact that he really told his family everything.
Interviewer: Well for the record, explain the Marvin Bonowitz connection.
White: The information that came out in the Mt. Vernon Avenue book…
Interviewer: Which Marvin Bonowitz wrote.
White: Which Marvin Bonowitz wrote…was gleaned from my cousin. I believe
that my cousin Marcia Hershfield was the one who gave him the information and
maybe my Aunt Betty. It was wrong and it really up…I didn’t know that the
book had been published. When I found out I was just so upset because the
information was all incorrect. And it isn’t that it was negative exactly, it’s
just that it was wrong and my father was a history major, my brother was a
history major. Every time we had a question about a historical issue during the
middle of dinner, somebody would go up and get an encyclopedia. Back in those
days it was an encyclopedia. Now we’d get on the Internet. And historical
accuracy mattered deeply. And once something is published in a book…
Interviewer: It’s written in stone?
White: Then it’s like it was written in stone.
White: And that disturbed me very much. But I suspect that the reason that
Marsha (Indistinct) “Oh I’ll take care of it myself,” is that my father
used to come and talk about how disagreeable I was to his family. Now…
Interviewer: You were a youngster?
White: Youngster, as a teenager.
Interviewer: You probably had a lot of independent ability in your system and
maybe he didn’t…
White: He didn’t appreciate that.
White: Well there were some other issues, I, you had made the comment to me
when we were on the phone talking about this that people have different
memories, different recollections. But of course that’s so. And you can think
that you know what’s going on in someone else’s household, especially if you
hear one side of it. But there was a great deal that went on in my household
that I’m sure my cousins didn’t know about. I don’t think my uncle
processed the information or my aunt. For one thing, my grandparents lived with
us when I was little, my mother’s parents. And there had been a fight between
my father and my grandparents. I’m not even, at this point, it, just too many
people in one house really. A three bedroom house with, you know, four adults
and two children, it was, you know…
Interviewer: Quite uncomfortable?
White: Yeah. Children, one thing, you know, you can, “You don’t get
the candy if you aren’t nice to so-and-so.” You could do that. But with
adults it was just too much. But I always held my father responsible because my
grandfather was my favorite person. He always had favorites. Even if you don’t
think you’re going to have favorites, my grandmother just adored my brother.
Just for whatever reason. Maybe because he was a boy. But my grandfather, I
guess he, he’s thinking of me as a little girl and being like my mother, he
was very close to me. And so when, the altercation happened when I was five or
six, I held my father accountable for that. My grandparents moved to an
apartment and we used to see them all the time but it wasn’t the same as
having a lap to sit on when I came home from school.
White: My grandfather died four weeks after my brother’s Bar Mitzvah.
My brother’s Bar Mitzvah was the happiest time in my childhood. He was
the center of attention and I was happy for him.
Interviewer: So you weren’t jealous of your brother at that stage of your
White: I was jealous of the attention he got; it was, I basked in it too. And
everyone was happy.
Interviewer: Sure. You shared the joy?
White: I shared the joy in that. And all my cousins and aunts and uncles and
everybody was there. And my brother being one of only two Ziskinds in that, in
our generation, it was a big deal.
Interviwer: It was important.
White: It was a big deal. And there are wonderful stories about the Bar
Mitzvah itself and everything that are just too numerous to mention. But I
have a very, very clear recollection of that and the Monday after Mother’s
Day, my grandfather died. My mother came into my room and she looked at me and I
knew he was gone because the day before I had had this feeling when we were at
their apartment that I would never see him again. And I cried and cried and
cried and cried and my parents said, “What are you crying so hard?”
Interviewer: Was he sick?
White: Not, not really. I mean he had a weak heart. He’d retired 30 years
earlier because of the weak heart. But he was okay. He was doing all right but
Interviewer: Death was imminent at that point?
White: And I guess, you know, I think that we just had a connection there. I
mean I don’t just see it as anything eerie or, you know, but we just
had a connection there and once my grandfather died, my childhood was over. That’s
how I felt and my father didn’t have any idea.
Interviewer: How old were you at that time?
White: I was eight.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Okay. So you certainly remembered?
White: Yeah. Then not too long after, within a year or two, my grandmother
stayed at the apartment but she was at our house a lot. She tripped over
something, our dining room table, my brother’s briefcase, we weren’t ever
sure, and broke her hip. And when she broke her hip, she came back to live with
us after she was in the hospital. Moved, broke up her little apartment and it
caused a radical change of things in our house. Our dining room became
essentially a family room. They built in cabinets and stuff to accommodate her
furniture. And I, my brother was moved out of, when my grandparents left, my
brother got their bedroom and I had a bedroom to myself. I’d been in a crib
until I was five.
White: Yeah. My husband was too. I mean there’s some eerie things, some
very odd things about our childhood that are the same and one of them is that we
both slept in a crib and we were already in school.
Interviewer: Oh goodness. That is a long time.
White: But thank goodness we’re both small. So then I was put in a room
with my grandmother and that is not a very good situation. And she needed help.
And so I had to get up in the middle of the night and help her with the bedpan.
And I was 9-10 years old. And nobody saw this as anything peculiar. My sleep was
disrupted. I had obligations.
Interviewer: A lot of responsibility for a kid that age.
White: A lot of responsibility and never getting anything for it. I mean
there was no, I didn’t even hear, all I heard about was, you know, if I
complained I was told, you know, “What’s wrong with you, you can’t get
along with her?” Well she was an old lady. She was, you know, an okay old
lady, she was a nice old lady. She liked my brother better.
Interviewer: She didn’t give you that kind of feeling your grandfather did?
White: No, no. I think I could have, you know, I could have taken care of
Grandpa. I probably wouldn’t have minded. But Grandma liked Joel best. Joel
got a car when he was 16, supposedly to help ’cause my mother didn’t drive
and my father’s vision was poor and he went back and forth to work. My brother
got this nifty car and he didn’t have any obligation. He didn’t have to work
for money for gas. He didn’t have to do anything but he got the car. My
grandmother died right before my 16th birthday. I didn’t get a car. And I had
been caring for her. I mean the last couple of years she was sort of vegetative
and really at that point I didn’t have the responsibility on me any more. But
for a long time there, prior to her starting to get strokes and even after that,
I had to come home from school. My mother finally decided to go back to
teaching. When my mother went back to teaching, I had to run home from school to
keep an eye on Grandma ’cause the nurse would leave. So I had…
Interviewer: Big responsibility?
White: …and, you know, really didn’t have a childhood at all.
White: And nobody saw that. I mean my cousins think I’m a bad, you know, a
bad- tempered, nasty little bitch. And they didn’t know any of this was
happening. I mean they didn’t, even the adults didn’t put it together, what
my responsibilities were. And they were all cleaning out my mother’s house.
She moved over near me and the house, probably was about five years before we
got it emptied out ’cause we didn’t know what to do with all her stuff. And
the last of the garbage that we took out before we were going to rent the house
was this bedpan. And I threw it out. And I went back out to the garbage and I
got it out and I said, “I’ll never forget it and I’m keeping it.”
And that was the bedpan that I had used when I was a little girl to help my
grandmother. And I couldn’t part with it.
Interviewer: It was a memory?
White: It was a memory. Not a good one.
Interviewer: Not a good one. No I guess it’s not.
White: But it’s like that’s who I am, that’s where I’ve been, there’s
no denying it and it makes me want it.
Interviewer: Uh huh. So you connected with that. Not in a good way but it
recalled your growing up, an important part of your life?
White: Yeah. And it always seemed like my brother got…And I guess in
some ways, he still does, you know. I certainly…at the time my
mother died ’cause I cared for her.
Interviewer: But you have a good relationship with your brother?
White: Yeah, but there are times when I feel as though he just doesn’t get
it. But I think a lot of women end up in that position. That’s not uncommon.
Interviewer: So that’s probably where you get your resentment with your dad
the same way?
White: Oh yeah. And then he was one that he wanted, I mean I used to think it’s
funny. I wear my hair the way my maternal grandmother did, have for years and
years. I’m a stay-at-home mom. I get up, I make breakfast, lunch and dinner
for my husband now.
Interviewer: You’re a balabuste.
White: I really am. And I think he’d be real surprised that that’s who I
became. But that’s always who I was.
Interviewer: You’re a dependable person. You’re a strong, dependable
person. And you hair, by the way for the record, I’ll just say your hair’s
pulled up in a lovely knot on top of your head. It’s very becoming to you.
White: Thank you. But I’ve worn it this way for years and I don’t know
why, it kind of struck me, gee whiz, that’s part of your family you’re
talking. You know, I didn’t think about it so much when I was young, but as I’m
Interviewer: …because of that.
White: No not because of that.
Interviewer: But as you look back, it’s a connection?
White: Yeah, I mean, I was, when everybody else was wearing bouffants in high
school, back in ’65-’66, I had my hair long and I didn’t wear it exactly
like this but I had it long and people always called me Joan Baez. But I didn’t
have it that way because of Joan Baez. I just liked long hair. And I had it cut
once. I had my husband cut it once, just… three days. It was after my
son was born. I hadn’t had sleep for two and a half months. Actually I didn’t
sleep for two and a half years. He was…
Interviewer: He kept you going, huh?
White: Well…I say if I hadn’t cared for my grandmother all those
years and getting up in the middle of the night…when I had a kid that
didn’t sleep through the night for two and a half years, I was able to get up
Interviewer: You’d had your training already?
White: I had had my training for that. He such a cute kid but boy, his
babyhood was something else. But it is funny, I really am probably more
old fashioned in some ways although when I was a teenager, I was doing things
the college kids were doing. I was a little bit ahead on those things, but I
Interviewer: Your maturity, you became mature much earlier?
White: Yeah I think so.
Interviewer: …responsibility probably.
White: …patience was there whether I liked it or thought it or
anything else, it was there and I lived up to it.
Interviewer: A couple of things I want to cover and we can go to Tape 2. It’s
not a problem. But tell me a little about what you remember about Joel’s Bar
Mitzvah. I think it’s important for the record, first of all because of
your brother and second of all, I want to know, we go to a lot of Bar and
Bat Mitzvahs today, our family especially. It’s a huge family, and I’m
just curious how your brother’s Bar Mitzvah was celebrated. You recall
that with great memory?
White: Oh yeah. I remember my mother’s birthday. I remember, it had to do
with me. My mother brought six dresses home from Lazarus for me to try on. And I
(Indistinct) four of them. And I can even remember the ones that went back…
White: Yeah. And there was a Friday night dinner catered at our home. But we
had a lot of relatives come in from out of town.
Interviewer: But it was at your house?
White: The Friday night dinner was at our house. And then Saturday morning,
the service. I remember my father and my Uncle Mutty coaching my brother on his
Interviewer: And this was at Agudas Achim of course?
White: At Agudas Achim. And the speech talked about my grandparents and my
brother, they’d died in 1940 and 1942. My brother didn’t know them. But it
was just like you had to carry on that legacy.
Interviewer: Well that was your uncle’s and your father’s influence?
White: Yeah. That was, I mean that really was so essential even though my
brother had no recollection. I think at that point he’d never even seen a
picture of them.
Interviewer: But he was a Ziskind.
White: But he was a Ziskind and that was awfully important. And being one of
only two that were going to carry on the name, it was a dynastic attitude about
it. My brother thought this so hard so much. Buzzy Kanter was his teacher. He
didn’t go to Hebrew School. He used to get sick on the bus. So Buzzy Kanter
was his teacher. Buzzy was a cousin and he was our cousin Shimmy, Larry Weisman’s
best friend. And he used to come over and he gave Joel lessons and then they’d
shoot baskets. My brother didn’t mind at all. It was a pleasant
experience and he really enjoyed it and Buzzy was a wonderful teacher, patient
and kind. And he taught me what Hebrew I know today. I took lessons from him
too. I wish my children had had that nice an experience.
Interviewer: You know that’s unusual because a lot of kids hated their Bar
Mitzvah training or disliked it somewhat. But that was a good experience
then for Joel?
White: And he was quick at picking it up which, of course, nothing succeeds
like success. And he did a beautiful job. At the time most of the kids didn’t
do everything in Hebrew. I didn’t think exactly what it was. They did part in
Hebrew. Even at Agudas Achim they did part in Hebrew and they did part of it in
English. Well my brother did the whole thing in Hebrew so he got to show off.
And he did a beautiful job with his speech. He had this wonderful voice with a
lovely timbre to it and even when he was a skinny kid of 13, which he now no
longer is a skinny kid, he had a booming voice. And so it carried beautifully.
Interviewer: Uh huh. So he really came through didn’t he?
White: Oh he came through. And I know his butt must have been in a
knot before hand. He practiced so much that I could do it. He would do it aloud
in the house and I could do it with him. And I’m sure that sitting in the
front row there, I did. I was mouthing the words as he was doing it.
Interviewer: Now you didn’t have a Bat Mitzvah did you?
White: No the only, the first Bat Mitzvah in Columbus was Gerry Ann
Schottenstein. And the reason that she had a Bat Mitzvah was because my
cousins, Michael and Gail the twins in Minnesota, had a joint one. And they sang
it together. And she went to that event and I didn’t go. I didn’t go because
that was right after my grand-father died. I didn’t go. And my mother and my
grandmother and I stayed home. But Joel went with my dad and Gerry Ann and her
dad went. And when they came back, Gerry Ann talked her dad into it. She said,
you know, “Please, if Gail can do that, I can do that.” And I think
maybe Herman kind of knew he wasn’t going to live too long.
Interviewer: And her mother had already…
White: Her mother had already passed away, yeah. She died of lupus when Gerry
was about three.
Interviewer: Uh huh. So back to Joel’s Bar Mitzvah, was there a Kiddush
White: There was a Kiddush with the whole synagogue there. And then we
had a sit down dinner.
Interviewer: Saturday night?
White: Saturday night. And a dance.
Interviewer: Where was that?
White: At the synagogue. Because that’s all, where else were you going to
go? Where else were you going to have it but a kosher synagogue? And I remember
the white tablecloths and everything. And now everything is color coordinated
and I remember my kids had one where, you know, everything was a theme and all
this other stuff. Back then boy you did white tablecloths and flowers on the
table. You thought you were really doing something.
Interviewer: Yeah that was real special.
White: Yeah and the thing that was fun about it was the dance. Now a lot of
people at that time, there was a number of band leaders in town that did Bar
or Bat Mitzvahs or Bar Mitzvahs. And one of them was Bob Marvin.
Interviewer: Flippo the Clown.
White: Flippo the Clown. He moved out of my neighborhood. I run into him
every once in a while. But (Indistinct) a guy who had, I think it was Brown. I can’t
remember his first name. But he had, Norman Brown. Norman Brown had a band. He
was a black musician and he would pawn his instruments and his band’s
instruments with my father all the time. And I suppose sometimes my father would
let him have his instruments out to, you know, so that he could perform a gig so
that then he could pay my father and my father was a good sport about stuff like
that. And they played at my brother’s Bar Mitzvah. And they were
terrific. But the most fun part of it was one of the guys brought his girlfriend
along, a lovely, shapely black girl in a turquoise silk dress.
Interviewer: Yeah I remember reading that in your notes here.
White: And she was just sitting there waiting for them to get done. Well she
was kind of bored. She got up and…
Interviewer: We’re ending Side B, Tape l. We will now go to Tape 2. Thank
you. We’re on Side A of Tape 2 and we were just talking about your brother’s
Bar Mitzvah and the woman who came with the musician, the woman who
became the singer and the hit of the evening.
White: Yeah. She was really something. She’d sing blues and jazz, pops,
whatever was in at the time I suppose. And she was just a vision in that hot
turquoise silk dress. It was just, I could see that as clearly as if I was
Interviewer: That part was spontaneous, wasn’t it?
White: Yeah that was spontaneous and it was a lot of fun and I know the kids
were really wowed by her and I suppose the adults were too. And it was just, it
was a wonderful occasion. I know my father who had a tendency, he was happiest
when he was with his family and so he was having a real good time. So,
and then, you know, I can remember my mother and my grandmother sporting their
mink stoles that my grandfather had got them as a gift for the occasion. And
even their coordinating outfits that they wore in the morning, I can remember
exactly what they had on.
Interviewer: Great. That’s great.
White: I mean, just in my dresses, I mean it’s all so clear and it must
have been, it must have been very impressive to me because I can remember all
that so very clearly.
Interviewer: Were there pictures taken?
White: There were pictures taken. Black and whites back then and they were,
Herb Topy took them and because my grandfather died right after, when the proofs
came back, we never had pictures made from them. But I have the proofs. I still
have the proofs.
Interviewer: And they still never were made?
White: They still were never made.
Interviewer: So it’s just like time stopped?
White: Time stopped. And I know from my mother that it had to be really hard
because she was so attached to her dad.
Interviewer: Well at least you had that special time together and there are
recordings now of some kind, the pictures and…
White: Eventually those will be done.
Interviewer: I don’t think we talked about your children’s education and Bar
and Bat Mitzvahs.
White: Ah. We joined Beth Tikvah when Shana, prior to Shana’s starting
religious school. I guess that was uncommon at Beth Tikvah, but we did. And my
mother went with us. We, I have always hoped, and here I’m putting this on
tape and I don’t mind, that Rabbi Huber sort of reminded me of Ozzy Nelson. I’m
not quite sure what he does for a living. Ozzy Nelson was always wandering
around in that sweater. What was he doing? Well Rabbi Huber, I know what he’s
doing. He’s studying Hittite. But he is very helpful in anything that has to
do with the reality of people. He’s a good speaker. But when it came to
difficulties with my kids in religious school or in Hebrew school, he was very
disappointing. And so my kids had to do this. I made it very clear to them that
if they went, which was essentially three days a week to get an education, I
mean to get the religious education they needed to get the Bar and Bat
Mitzvah, that they could have whatever they wanted for their Bar and Bat
Mitzvah. And they did. I think they chose wisely even in what they had. But
they were miserable, my daughter especially. The Rabbi at one time said,
“Well I can’t make people act right.” And I thought, a word from
you. You know, you don’t have to talk to God, you just have to talk to this
woman, you know, who has this nasty kid. I ended up having to deal with it
myself and it was ugly. And it continued to be ugly ’till she was out of there
and my daughter who has a good deal of spirit said, “I’m going to be
confirmed.” And I said, “You know you don’t have to.” And she
said, “No,” she said, “I’m not going to let them think that
they forced me out of this by being nasty to me.” And she was confirmed.
Interviewer: Well she sounds like a tough woman. That’s great. That’s
great. I like that kind of spirit.
White: Yeah. Good for her. My son, he was offered, you know he asked me, he
said, “Do I have to go after my, do I have to continue my religious
education after my Bar Mitzvah?” And I said, “No”. He didn’t
believe me. He came to me and said, “I don’t want to go.” I said,
“Fine. I won’t send in the check.” And I think he just thought,
“Well gee whiz. Mom kept her word.” He had actually got even more out
of his religious education than his sister did. But I feel badly. And I kept
thinking to myself, I only wish for Buzzy Kanter.
Interviewer: Yeah I was thinking of that as you’re telling me this. Uh huh.
But at least you got them through that and…
White: Yeah. Oh they can read Hebrew. They just, it’s just, there wasn’t
the feeling about it. And I mean part of it comes from home. And I light, I don’t
light Shabbos candles because my cats tend to get their whiskers in them.
Terrible, a flaming cat is a bad thing. We can’t have it. But I make Friday
night dinner. Chicken soup and chicken.
Interviewer: So they know it’s a special…
White: Yeah. Sabbath challah.
Interviewer: time. Do the holidays?
White: Holidays. Do the holidays. All the major holidays.
Interviewer: So do you still go to Beth Tikvah?
White: No. Following Jeff’s Bar Mitzvah, right after Jeff’s Bar
Mitzvah, my mother passed away. And Rabbi Huber came over and we told him
what to say. My mother was an easy person to talk about because she was so
wonderful. She just was such a nice person, a kind person. And he did a nice
job. And we continued throughout that year because Shana was in Confirmation.
And then we dropped out. And people don’t understand about that but I just
said, “If I continue to support it, to send the money, it’s like it’s
okay with me whether I go or not.” And it’s not okay with me. I don’t
like how he acts. And his son happens to be in my son’s graduating class from
high school. And they go to the same real small school. There are only 180
students in that little facility. It’s an alternative school. And then they go
to classes at the other schools too. But he wants to be a rabbi and I said,
“Jeff, you know”. And he sees that as an easy life style. His father
doesn’t work very hard. He doesn’t go visit people in the hospital. He doesn’t
do a lot of those other things that I associate (Indistinct) and his wife, I’ve
never even seen her face. I’ve only seen her back end leaving in front of me
going out of the synagogue. Not that I expect that modern women are supposed to
be, you know, rebbetzens, you know, put up with that. But she couldn’t
Interviewer: I think you and I probably are still thinking of the synagogues
like they used to be in your relationship, the great respect that you had for
your rabbi at that time and…
White: My father thought that Rubenstein was pathetic but he’d go every
time to the Brotherhood meetings and defend him, ” because,” he said,
“he’s the rabbi”.
White: And my father wasn’t, you know, he wasn’t the kind to deify
people. But he just felt that a rabbi deserved some kind of little distinction,
even though he hated Mrs. Rubenstein.
Interviewer: Well I think…
White: I don’t care. She knows I don’t like her.
Interviewer: A lot of us go through these changes in life and we want to, you
know, be enriched by our Judaism and rather than have distaste, we just go on
with our Judaism and accept it in our way. Whatever way. Instead of belonging to
something that’s terribly distasteful and getting further away from it. And
hopefully you’ll reconnect in some way.
White: Well my daughter has a sign on her dormitory door: “Looking for a
nice Jewish girl? Nice Jewish guys can apply here.”
Interviewer: Well she’s on the right track there.
White: Yeah she’s actually had some people write some little notes to her.
Interviewer: Well okay then. She’s got it in her head and she’s working
White: I hope that my kids choose to marry Jews. But I have to admit that
from both my own limited experience and their limited experience, there’s a
lot to overcome.
Interviewer: Yeah. I think it’s much harder. I know when we grew up we just
accepted what was fed to us in terms of our religion and our attachment to
Judaism. I think probably family had a lot to do with our attachment to Judaism.
So, let’s go turn the clock way back and tell us about your father’s
occupation and then give us the picture of Mt. Vernon Avenue and that whole part
of your life.
White: Well my father graduated from college in 1929 and I don’t really
know what he did until the early 40s. He dated my mother for two years and nine
months prior to their getting married so sometime in that time period I guess
there was some question about whether he would go to serve in World War II. He
had one brother, a rabbi in Italy. Another brother was then in Texas, mostly
delivering babies I think. But and he, you know, they checked in the house and
he wasn’t at death’s door but he wasn’t in good enough shape to serve in
the military. But he talked to a doctor and the doctor said, “Well getting
married would be okay. It would be safe. It could probably prolong your
Interviewer: It won’t kill you?
White: It won’t kill you. And my mother felt that she had the support of
her parents. She wasn’t too, she wasn’t particularly afraid of being widowed
or anything and raising children on her own. She had a career. She figured she’d
be able to manage with her parents’ help. So I don’t think she was
particularly frightened. But they didn’t know how sick he was. I don’t even
think he, he didn’t really have any coronary incidents until after they were
married. But they knew he wasn’t in great health. But at this point he decided
that he’d better open a store and it was very much a store similar to what my
grandparents had had. And his brothers owned a building at 994 Mt. Vernon and he
opened a pawn shop. Now I had always assumed that my grandfather had been in
that business but all my indications are that he really hadn’t. That he had
maybe sold clothes. That he was maybe kind of a, sold clothes to stores, like a
line of clothes. But we weren’t, even my older cousins don’t seem to have a
real good grasp on exactly what he did. He was, he ran some kind of business but
I’m not sure what. So my father probably had a little instinct toward this. He
had, prior to this, he had thought about going to school. Back in ’29 he
thought about going to school and he got an opportunity to be a teaching
assistant in Athens, Ohio. But they thought that was too far away to send him.
So that ended that academic career right there. And like I say, I don’t know
what he did in the meantime. But he opened a store and many of the people in the
neighborhood were relatives, friends, people that he knew from the Jewish
Interviewer: Who were some of these people?
White: Well his cousin Abe Weiner had a pawn shop. Abe Weiner’s father. His
name was Sam. He had a pawn shop there for many years prior to this. Mutty’s
law office, brother Max’s law office and his brother Doc’s medical office
were on the street too, which is probably how they happened to buy that
building. And he just set up shop. My mother continued to teach starting that
next school year. And then she was pregnant almost immediately and she quit
mid-year. So, you know, he was the sole support for the family and seemed to do
okay. The pawn business was a good business back then.
Interviewer: I would leave your train of thought but a thought just occurred
to me that, did we talk about your father’s name? I don’t remember.
White: Oh, Corpl Lave.
Interviewer: But his English name was (Indistinct)
White: I guess the kids got, chose what they wanted if they were old enough
to know. He used Courtney as his middle name ’cause it sounded British.
Interviewer: Your grandparents certainly didn’t give him that name?
White: I don’t think so. Louis Courtney Ziskind. It was Corple Lave
and as an abbreviation or a version of Corpl, it was Coffee.
Interviewer: Uh huh. I remembered your father as Coffee and I thought that
was important to get that in the record.
White: Okay. And everybody called him Coffee except my mother. She called him
Interviewer: Oh okay. Well that was her special…
White: Yeah, that was her, yeah, yeah.
Interviewer: Okay. We’re back on Mt. Vernon now. You were telling us about
the neighbors. Okay.
White: His, on one side was Bill’s Bar. We were always scared to walk past
Bill’s Bar because it was a scary place. We used to understand there were
stabbings in there all the time. I don’t know whether there really were but it
certainly was a great story. It may have been a bubbe meiseh. It may have
been just a story to tell kids.
White: Yeah. There were, there was stuff going on in there that we weren’t
supposed to know about. I assume gambling too, as well as drinking. And on the
other side was Mrs. Lee’s Restaurant. And I don’t know what the name of it
was, whether it was just Mrs. Lee’s, but it was a Chinese restaurant. She was
the most lovely woman. She and her husband, I don’t remember him at all. But
she and her husband came to this country with their son and somebody stuck a
baby girl in her arms when she was getting on the boat. A little girl with
White: And she brought her here and I guess put her, from what I understand
it sounds like torture but I suppose it was the best thing they could do: put
her legs on boards when she slept, to straighten out her legs. And I, she was a
lot older than me and I remember she was just beautiful. Just beautiful and
Interviewer: So her legs were not distorted then by…
White: No, Mrs. Lee did whatever she had to to straighten out her legs. And
Mrs. Lee’s son became an engineer and he went back to China for a bride and I
remember I had the measles and I didn’t get to see her. They were downstairs
and I was upstairs and I had to stay away ’cause they had already had this
little baby. And I wanted to peek down the stairs and I was scared. I didn’t
want to get the baby sick.
Interviewer: Well I think maybe at this point we’ll just kind of mention
that when you had the measles you were in quarantine.
White: Well yeah, yeah.
Interviewer: You don’t do that today ’cause they don’t have…
White: Darkened room and…
Interviewer: Separated from the rest of the world.
White: And but she was so kind. She was very kind to my father. And he, I
guess she thought he was somewhat of a protector. He tried to be. And she would
send over little goodies for him. Not meat products ’cause we kept kosher. But
fruit and, you know, drinks and so forth. And she was kind of watching out for
him. And he used to marvel because her mother was still alive in China and her
mother was over a hundred years old. And he would say to her, “How
marvelous your mother’s alive and, you know, to be over a hundred.” And
she’d say, “Oh no, too long, too long to live, too long.” And she’s,
last time I saw her was after my father passed away. She must have been close to
Interviewer: So longevity was in that family?
White: Yeah, yeah. Li, unfortunately they tried to match her up with, they
had opened the Kahiki and they tried to match her up with the chef at the
Kahiki. He was somewhat older than she and she wasn’t interested. They were
married but it didn’t last and she ran off with her boyfriend who was from the
neighborhood who was black and that was a real disappointment to Mrs. Lee I know
because she really did want her to marry Chinese. She’d gone to all the
trouble of sending her son back to China for a bride, but just didn’t work
out. But Mrs. Lee, because she felt responsible, went to live with the man who
had a son from a prior marriage and she spent her old age taking care of him and
his child. And raising Chinese vegetables in the basement.
Interviewer: Is that right?
White: Yeah. She must have been about 90 at the time.
Interviewer: So you were in touch with her for a long time?
White: Up to the time my father had died. She came to the funeral if I
Interviewer: Uh huh. So she was an important part of his life, too?
White: Yes. Very kind. Lovely person. I really feel one of the nice things of
my growing up, having grown up in Bexley which is very, you know, I mean, when
you consider differences. The differences were between being Jewish, Catholic
and Protestant, from the way I saw it. You didn’t, there was only one black
boy in the high school and he was there because his mother was a maid in one of
the houses where the kids went to CSG and Academy.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
White: We had, there were a few in my junior high. They shipped a few in. But
they were, they must have been scared to death, you know.
Interviewer: It was a very protective environment.
White: Very protective environment. And to even know anybody that was
oriental, or know anybody that was black to talk to was not something that was
common in our neighborhood. It just, you didn’t see them, you didn’t, hardly
knew they existed.
Interviewer: Yeah. I can appreciate that having grown up in a kind of a
ghettoized environment, I guess that’s what it is. But I think that’s
important to have on the record ’cause I don’t think, you know, a lot of
kids today go through that. There’s so many diversified opportunities and so
many interactions with so many different cultures. Especially now with people
coming in from all over the world and settling in Columbus, Ohio, as well as
every place in our country.
White: Yeah. I mean my kids were commenting when we were talking about this
that they really hadn’t known very many black kids. But they did know some.
Worked on projects with them. Kids were at our house. At my daughter’s
birthday party I remember. Didn’t really see them as different different.
Oriental kids. Indian. One of my son’s best buddies when he was, one year or
two in elementary, was Indian. And didn’t think much about that. But I didn’t
really, I mean, coming from my neighborhood I wouldn’t have been exposed to
that until I went to college, if my father hadn’t had the business he had.
Interviewer: Sure. So that opened those opportunities for you as a youngster?
Interviewer: Uh huh. So did you ever help your dad in the store?
White: I never did. We really weren’t encouraged to go over there. My
brother did occasionally. I remember Joel…an attempt to steal a ring
one time. This guy dumped it in the inkwell and my brother saw him do it and
fished it out. The guy came back later looking for the ring in the inkwell and
it wasn’t there because Joel was on to that. My father was mostly in the store
by himself. He did have somebody help him for a little while but that didn’t
work out very well. And occasionally early years, my grandfather John Katz who
had had a store on West Broad, and he would go over and help out, especially on
Fridays because Friday was a busy day, Fridays and Saturdays.
Interviewer: So your dad was open on Saturday?
White: He had to be. Just hated it. He would much rather have been at shul
but it wasn’t, you know…
Interviewer: Not that kind of business?
White: Not that kind of business.
Interviewer: So nobody else ever worked for him except when your brother, a
little bit your brother helped out?
White: Yeah. Joel I don’t think was over there more than a few times a year
Interviewer: So your dad pretty much carried it himself?
White: Carried it himself in order to be able to make a living and support
his family. It was a decent living. We lived very well really and, you know,
there were, I certainly knew people who had a lot more than us or lived a lot
higher than us. Sometimes my parents would point out that maybe they didn’t
have so much more. They just lived like they did. And my parents couldn’t
understand that having lived through the Depression, they just couldn’t, if
they couldn’t afford it they didn’t even want it. I mean it didn’t even
occur to them and my grandparents the same way. And my parents, neither one of
them really suffered during the Depression in the sense that there wasn’t
food on the table. They said they never went hungry. Maybe my, you know, my
mother I know that they were okay. They were already, her parents had already
Interviewer: Probably in some way, like having its alterations, because
everybody was somewhat affected.
Interviewer: Because everybody was in the same boat. You know, it’s not
like you were suffering by yourself.
White: I mean, it wasn’t like, I mean there’s a difference between being
short of cash and maybe not being able to buy new clothing. But the wants were
so much smaller. And so, okay so you couldn’t afford steak so you’d eat
hamburger. And you knew your neighbor was doing the same thing so maybe that’s
part of it. But neither one of them had ever indicated anything to me about
really suffering. They saw other people, and I know my grandparents let the
rents pile up and never got the money out of the people. But they wouldn’t
throw them out of their apartments…
Interviewer: Well that happened with a lot of people. In this little business
that you wrote, you know, that helps us a little bit with some record of your
life or your dad’s life or your family life, you mentioned several people.
One, let’s talk about Henry Smith and Willy Anderson.
White: Okay. Henry Smith actually worked for a judge here in town who, it was
my understanding, was a judge in the Nuremburg Trial. Henry was very timid,
mild mannered. He was used to saying, “Sir”. And the judge, he did
everything for the judge and the judge had promised him a legacy. But when the
judge died there was nothing there for Henry. And that was too bad. And we all
were very angry about that. He used to help out. He’d help my mother if we had
a party or if we had Passover with 25-30 people. He’d always help with that. I
remember him cleaning the wallpaper with the stuff that I’ll never forget that
smell. Strange smell.
Interviewer: Wallpaper cleaner.
White: It was wallpaper cleaner. That was weird but I, he was, he didn’t
seem to move very fast but he didn’t stop. He just continuously worked until
he was done. He really, I don’t know whether he was really from the South but
he seemed to have that kind of “don’t notice me” attitude that I
would associate with blacks from the South. He just seemed to kind of fade into
the woodwork. But he was very kind, very efficient and it was very nice. There
were times that we really needed him ’cause there wasn’t anybody else to do
the hard stuff. My father couldn’t do it.
Interviewer: Uh huh. I’m going to stop you just a minute. I want to make
sure that (tape shuts off for a moment) Okay here we are again. Funny little
tape problem but I think we’re recording okay. Let’s, we’re going to go
back a little bit and you were talking at this point I think about Kelly.
White: Well Willy first and then Kelly.
White: Willy, I don’t know where he was from originally but he’d been in
the service and he was always trying to fix my brother’s car with a snake and
a wrench so I assume he had some plumbing ability but I don’t think that would
work on a carburetor. He did chase a bat out of the garage with a swinging
broom. He clearly, you know, was, anything that my father’d ask him to do, he’d
try to accomplish it. But, and I’m going to move on to Kelly. Kelly was very,
very bright. He had been injured, had internal injuries from World War II. I don’t
know exactly what but he spent a lot of time going down to Dayton to the
rehabilitation place down there. He drank heavily, smoked a lot. He was so
bright he just, it used to bother us so much because we recognized that with his
intelligence and abilities, that had he been white he would have been a very
successful man. But because he was black, the opportunities weren’t there for
him. He could easily have gotten through college, I mean, even with a few drinks
in him he was more lucid and more cogent than most people and it just, it used
to bother us all the time. I know it bothered my father a lot and he, if Kelly
came home for dinner, came to our house for dinner, ’cause we knew he wasn’t
eating right, but it distressed him. All these men came to our house to eat.
They sat down at the table with us and it didn’t occur to me until years later
this is the first time they’d even sat at a table with white people. Even when
they were in the service they probably were in black units. They really didn’t
have any interaction with white people on a social level. And most of the people
on the avenue, although he did use the same restaurants there or eat in a
restaurant there, it wasn’t the same as coming to someone’s house and eating
at their table.
Interviewer: But your parents treated him as a family member?
White: Yeah. Everyone, and you know, they were, their likes and dislikes were
questioned and then, “What would you like to drink?” “What would
you,” you know, “would you like this rather than this?” In my
mother’s house the food was always plentiful and there were always options
available to somebody too. I realized that they must have thought that that’s
what all white people ate was, you know, brisket and potato pancakes.
Interviewer: Chicken soup?
White: Chicken soup.
Interviewer: Yeah. And good kosher food?
White: Good kosher food.
Interviewer: You mentioned some other people on the street, Ben Rosenberg,
Herbie Romanoff, Norman Katz.
White: On the avenue. Excuse me. That was known as the avenue, the avenue.
White: Ben Rosenberg was married to a Gilbert on my father’s side of the
family. Herbie Romanoff was married to Dorothy Berman who was my mother’s
first cousin and her sister Annabelle, Dorothy’s sister Annabelle was married
to Norman Katz who I think had a laundromat. And Herbie had a clothing store.
His older son Sonny bought my father’s business and he’s still running it
today. Not in the same location but…
Interviewer: Now your father’s business when he owned it was called Ziskind
White: Ziskind Loans.
Interviewer: And now it’s called Sonny’s. Is that correct?
Interviewer: Okay. Another person you mentioned was Hoggy Stewart.
White: Hoggy Stewart. I didn’t know until I read the information that, in
the Mt. Vernon book, from, the information from Sam Weiner, that his father’s
name was Piggy. ‘Cause I know that I called Hoggy “Piggy” on more
than one occasion when I was a little girl because to me it was the same thing.
I wasn’t quite sure. I remember he’d thrown me up and down in the store.
White: Playfully, yes. And it was, my father could never do that and my
uncles didn’t do that and my grandfather didn’t do that. Hoggy was the only
person I ever remember throwing me up.
Interviewer: And you loved that?
White: Oh it was very exciting. And he was tall. I remember he kept an eye on
my father and occasionally, one time when he and some other gentleman were
having a fight in the store, my father tried to get between them and Hoggy said,
“Don’t you ever do that. Don’t you risk your well being because it’s
not worth it. We’ll take care of it, we’ll settle it between
Interviewer: So they knew that your father was not in the best of health . .
White: They knew he wasn’t.
Interviewer: and they protected him?
White: And they did. And they, yes, I really feel that, you know, they
checked in on him. He was watching out for them and their welfare and they were
doing the same for him. It was almost, even though he didn’t have anybody
working for him in the store, I don’t think he was alone in the store very
much. I think there were frequently one or two or three guys sitting near the
front of the store and they talked to him and, you know, they’d shoot the
breeze and I don’t think he ever felt nervous that if something happened to
him there, that he couldn’t get help. I mean he wasn’t afraid. I don’t
know if he wasn’t afraid ’cause he wasn’t a very fearful person.
Interviewer: Well he was very trusting?
White: But he also knew that if somebody came in and there was something
wrong, he could get help.
Interviewer: Tell us about the incident of August 12, 1965.
White: Well we got a phone call at home, my brother was home from campus, and
my mother got a phone call from St. Anthony’s Emergency Room that my father
had been shot in the head. We left immediately with my brother driving. As it
turned out, he had not been shot. He had been hit by a gun probably in the head.
He had been knocked down. He wasn’t particularly afraid or even badly hurt. He
was shaken up.
Interviewer: This happened in the store?
White: In the store. He had been robbed many times. They’d cut through the
glass, they’d gone through the back, but they had never held him at gun point
before. And my mother was frightened. He wasn’t. He was thrilled because he
had fallen, when they hit him, he had fallen on his wallet which is where he
kept all his money. And so they got away with a few things but they didn’t get
Interviewer: So he was laying on it?
White: He was laying on it. It was in his back pocket. So he was just sort of
delighted with himself that it hadn’t been any worse than it was. But my
mother got very scared. She said, you know, “It’s dangerous for
you,” and the truth is that that much excitement would easily have caused a
heart attack had he been at home.
White: So she wanted him to sell out.
Interviewer: So that was the breaking point then?
White: Yeah. And at that point, even though my brother was in college and I
was about ready to go off to college, the economics didn’t seem to worry them
too much. They were going to be okay sending us to school.
Interviewer: Rather than your father risking any more of his life?
White: Uh huh. And my mother was teaching. And so…
Interviewer: Another person that you mentioned something about, well I guess
this has to do with some of your family travels, you mentioned Rolly Harris.
White: Rolly Harris. Because my father’s health was poor and he couldn’t
see very well, we hadn’t taken very many family trips. And this was shortly
after my grandfather died and my brother was only 13 years old. I was eight, I’m
trying to think, or nine…
Interviewer: Do you remember the year?
White: Well it would have been, let’s see, my brother’s Bar Mitzvah
would have been in fifty…
Interviewer: I think you said ’57.
Interviewer: Summer of ’57.
White: Yeah, summer of ’57. And my grandmother, she just didn’t…
was with us. My parents and Gerry Ann Schottenstein who was just along for the
trip. She was a year younger than Joel and I was very close to her and it was a
fun idea for her to come with us. Seven of us in a Buick. Rolly was doing the
driving. I don’t know whether he really had anything specific to do there or
whether he just; he was a driver for the Harlem Globetrotters and occasionally I
guess he did fill in for them. He was, he said he was 7 foot, 2. I guess he was
probably about 6’5″. He sure looked enormous to me and his brother Dezzy
Harris was a policeman on the avenue and that’s how we knew him. Anyway we all
piled in the car, all seven of us, and started on our way. We were going to New
York and Atlantic City and Washington, D.C. And the car broke down in
Hagerstown, Maryland. I don’t remember what the problem was. But we had to
spend the night there. And we didn’t, I don’t remember that there was any
trouble getting a hotel room. Rolly and my brother and my father were in one
room. And my mother and my grandmother and Gerry Ann and I were in another
room. And we got up the next morning and went over to the coffee shop and they
refused to serve Rolly. Well there really wasn’t anywhere else to go and my
father wasn’t the kind to back down anyway. So he started to tell the woman
off, you know, this was his friend, that he was going to be served. And she
backed down. I don’t know whether she was more scared of my father’s face
which turned about red enough to explode or, you know, whether Rolly’s
imposing stature was part of it or whether, you know, she was just embarrassed
because there were seven of us standing there.
Interviewer: Sounds like she got a little intimidated by the whole scene,
White: Whatever it was, she was intimidated and we sat down and, my brother
and my father and Rolly sat at the counter and the four of us women sat at a
table. We ate breakfast and we got out of Hagerstown, Maryland. The rest of the
trip, we were in, we stayed in New York, a hotel. We stayed in Washington, D.C.
in a real nice, in a Sheraton in Washington. I remember that. And in Atlantic
City. And I don’t remember there being any difficulty anywhere else. And
matter of fact, it was interesting. In Washington where we were staying at the
Sheraton, apparently there are a lot of embassies near there and there were
foreign dignitaries and there were some people who were black and as tall as
Rolly and I thought, “Well here you just don’t stand out. You’re just
one of the guys. And if you were dressed like they were, you know, you’d be
treated like a dignitary.” And that was very interesting to watch that, to
see how that, you know, that situation. Yeah. I mean being Jewish and growing up
there were kids who were mean or people who said mean things. My mother
remembered being called a “Christ Killer” and having rocks thrown at
her. Growing up in Bexley it wasn’t that pointed but there were kids that were
mean about the fact that I was Jewish, chased me down the street, stuff like
that. But to see, you know, to be refused a meal in a restaurant. We always
thought about that later and just shortly thereafter was the Rosa Parks incident
and these other things came about and we always reflected that we’d been in
the middle of that on our own in our own little way. And here we had been
traveling, you know, a little old lady and a middle aged couple and three kids
and this big, tall black gentleman who was doing the driving. We couldn’t have
taken the trip without him.
Interviewer: Well it was somewhat historical in more ways than one. Do you
remember any other holidays, any other family trips?
White: We didn’t go very often. That was the first time we ever went
anywhere and I was already eight years old. We went to New York again. I
remember going and visiting relatives. I had a fall down a storage cellar in New
York City. It was truly an amazing story all by itself. My relatives, a whole
bunch of us converged on New York City. My cousin Jonathan was going to Columbia
at the time and we, I don’t know, we had been to plays and we’d done a
couple things and somehow or another, things got screwed up. I think my brother
wanted to go see the Fantastics and my father said, “Oh it’s an
off-Broadway. It’s been going on forever. We’ll be able to get
tickets.” We couldn’t afford it because it ran, what, 15 years or 20
years on Broadway, off-Broadway. So we, Jonathan and my cousins Michael and Gail
and my brother was with somebody else and wasn’t with us. And I guess it was
just the four of us, Jonathan, Michael Gail and I. And we went to see a movie.
We went to see “The Mouse That Roared”. And we were going to meet my
father at a kosher Chinese restaurant called Shmulka Bernstein’s on the lower
Interviewer: I think it’s still in existence.
White: Is it? And I remember it was cold. I remember I had a wool sweater on
I had just made. I had just finished knitting it and I took it with me on the
trip. And we ate in the restaurant and we start out the door to get to the
subway to go back to the hotel where all these other family members were and I
walked, I kept walking and there was this hole in the ground and I fell in.
There was a set of stairs and I grabbed onto the stairs and I climbed out. I
wasn’t hurt. I had lost my shoes and my purse. And my father sat down on the
curb and said, “My daughter’s been swallowed by the earth,” and had
a heart attack right on the street.
Interviewer: Oh goodness. You were right there?
White: Right on the spot. And Michael and Gail, they were intimidated by
this. Jonathan had already been living in New York for a while so he wasn’t so
scared. He sent Michael down to get my shoes and my purse. And somebody chased
Michael off with a hatchet or some kind of weapon. The guy was the super of the
building and he’d gotten drunk. He’d gone down there and although it was
cool outside that night, apparently it was hot down there and he had opened up
the thing so that he could get a breath of fresh air. He didn’t think about
the fact that there were no lights or anything to let me know that it was unsafe
to walk there. And we got back to the restaurant. We walked back to the
Interviewer: Was your father okay?
White: My father was not okay and I could, Jonathan and I recognized that he
was definitely not okay.
Interviewer: You weren’t that injured apparently?
White: I wasn’t that badly hurt. I was pretty shaken up and poor Michael,
he was probably in the worst shape of all ’cause he’d been attacked.
White: He hadn’t been hit or anything, he scrambled back out. But…
Interviewer: He was scared.
White: he was scared. And…
Interviewer: But your dad was able to continue…
White: We called the emergency squad. My father didn’t want to but the
people in the restaurant convinced him to do it. And they took me in the
ambulance to the hospital. And my father. Both of us. And my cousins got there.
They followed us or maybe they let them ride in the vehicle. And when we got to
the hospital they put me in one cubicle and they put him in the next. Well I had
some wounds and I’m sure I wasn’t thrilled about having to be stitched up.
They stitched up my lip, I had a few stitches, and bandaged me up and I’d bled
but fortunately the sweater that I’d just finished was red so it didn’t
show. And I still have it.
Interviewer: It was the right color, huh?
White: But my father, I could see he was in some distress and they didn’t
want to let him go. They wanted him to stay and he refused. And I remember that
was a very strange thing. Whenever I see these shows about emergency rooms, the
people that were working on me, it was just so surrealistic and it was like a
Saturday night and I guess Beekman Downtown Hospital was used to knife wounds
and much more serious things than I had wrong with me. But it was just a very
strange experience. And my father insisted that he wanted to go home, back to
the hotel. And we were trying to figure out how to get back into the hotel and
say something to somebody and let them know that we’d had a difficulty,
without frightening them. And I was sort of leaning on the doorway.
Interviewer: With the rest of the family?
White: Yeah with the rest of the family and I was sort of leaning on the
Interviewer: I’m going to stop you just a minute while I turn the tape
over. This is the end of Side A, Tape 2. Here we are on Side B, Tape 2. We’re
in New York trying to convince the rest of the family, or trying to keep the
rest of the family from knowing what all you went through.
White: And I sort of leaned on the door, knocked on the door and my mother
came to the door and I said, “You’ll never guess what happened to
me.” And she was okay. She was cool with it. But my aunt took one look at
me and passed out.
Interviewer: Oh my goodness. She actually…
White: Got weak in the knees, yeah. And my father, in spite of the fact that,
you know, he’d certainly had a coronary event, we continued on with our trip.
He was accustomed to such things and to him, you know, he was having a good
time, he didn’t want to, you know.
Interviewer: He felt okay?
White: He felt okay. You know, he had a lot of bad, he had angina a lot and I
guess really he knew, he knew what he could take, what he could tolerate
probably better than anyone. But we were all real worried.
Interviewer: So you drove back?
White: We actually went from there to Massachusetts and I remember that my
father bought my mother a silver tea set, coffee and tea set. Stuck it in the
back of the car with me and I was very sore. I looked pretty bad but I was also
very sore. And I remember thinking, “Why did he buy that? Why did he buy
that and put that back here with me where I can’t move?”
Interviewer: You did a lot of traveling and that’s pretty heavy?
White: Well yeah. I don’t know why. He just saw it in this place in
Worcester, Mass., and my mother had to have that then. It has never had coffee
in it. It has never had tea in it. It is in my house.
Interviewer: And you still have it?
White: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: That’s a memory too?
White: Yeah. And every time I look at it I think of that trip and…
Interviewer: You get a few aches?
Interviewer: Well it’s yours now?
White: Yeah it’s mine now.
Interviewer: So that was pretty much your travels, huh?
White: Yeah. And we only went to New York because, first of all, that was the
only place you could get a meal.
White: Yeah a kosher, yeah. I mean if you didn’t go to Mickie Siegel’s
or, you know, one or two other places that you could go even in New York then
so, and what was the point of going someplace if you’re going to eat fish,
like even O’Koon’s. I mean what was the point of that?
Interviewer: There was good food there too and entertainment.
White: Yes and we went to the plays. I remember going, the first thing I went
to see in New York was the closing night of “Li’l Abner”. It was
there on Broadway. And we went and saw “Music Man” and we saw a lot of
plays on Broadway and theater was important to me and my brother and my mother,
and dad liked (Indistinct)
Interviewer: Well that’s good, that’s good family (Indistinct). Let’s just
talk a little bit about recollections of how your family celebrated holidays.
White: Okay. We got bread from Willy Schwartz. Sometimes it didn’t have
salt and we’d always look at each other, “What’s with the salt this
Interviewer: That’s Schwartz’s Bakery?
White: Schwartz’s Bakery. And that would come via Herman Bender who had a
vegetable, fruit and vegetable produce truck. My mother didn’t drive so Herman
would bring, he brought bread from the bakery, he brought fruit and vegetables
and soda pop. That really made it possible for my mother to function throughout
the week because he would come, I don’t know whether he came once or twice a
week. But between that and the fact that we had a milkman who delivered, you
could negotiate without a car and still keep the kitchen stocked. And then my
father would take her to Martin’s on the weekend. But Friday night, I think
actually when I was little I’d sort of dress up for dinner. I sort of vaguely
remember. I’d keep on my school clothes and we’d have dinner in the dining
room when I was little. Shabbos candles. Bread and wine. We’d take a drink,
soda pop I guess. But we had little wine glasses. My mother couldn’t handle
the wine. She’d get weak in the knees from it. Just the smell of it almost
would do it to her. She really never could drink. But we had chicken soup and
with those little eggs from the chicken.
Interviewer: We were just talking about that the other day that, I mean
everybody has such wonderful memories of those delicious unfertilized eggs or
whatever they were. And you can’t buy them anymore.
White: No you can’t get those. I mean I haven’t seen those in , my
brother would get those a lot of the time. They were always trying to build him
up. He had had a tonsillectomy that had gone badly when he was five and he was a
skinny kid. And my mother’d feed him steak all the time and he got as much ice
cream as he could eat, I mean he just (Indistinct). And they were always telling me,
well not my mother but my father, “Don’t eat that. You had enough mashed
Interviewer: Telling him up and telling you down?
White: Yeah, yeah. He got heavy. He hasn’t seen me in a while and I’ve
lost some weight and I’m hoping when his daughter gets married that I will
have lost a little more. And I haven’t told him this but am hoping to surprise
him with a somewhat smaller baby sister when I go out there but I don’t (Indistinct).
Interviewer: You’re going to feel real great about it and I’m sure he’ll
be happy to see you.
White: Yeah, yeah. But it’s a funny thing ’cause there was always kind of
a joke between us.
Interviewer: The balance?
Interviewer: What about special holidays like Rosh Hashonah, Yom Kippur? Did
you get together with other family members?
White: Usually we had holidays pretty much on our own although everybody was
at Agudas Achim. If you went to Agudas Achim the cousins were all there. Everybody was there.
I remember fasting pretty early on. When my brother got to the
point where he could fast, and he was car sick. I remember when we would go for Yontif,
I remember especially at Passover where you’re supposed to fast that day
before, he would always get car sick after he had to fast. But I had a little
more fat on me so as soon as he was old enough to fast, I started to fast too.
Interviewer: You wanted to, that part of being grown up? Uh huh.
White: Yeah, me too. And I was able to do that. I don’t know if I should
tell this but it’s such a good story. I mean one of the things that my mother
did that was really funny, we were, I was already an adult, being an adult. Had
to be shortly before my father passed away. My mother and I were sitting in the
little secondary chapel at Agudas Achim. It was almost time for us to go home to
get a meal ready. And my father had to drive ’cause he couldn’t walk. But we
were going to walk down the street and it wasn’t very far, a few blocks. And
my mother looks at me and she says, “I’ve been praying so hard.” And
I knew she had a tight girdle on. That was the other thing. She said, “I’ve
been praying so hard all day, I was a good girl.” She said to me, “I’ve
been a good girl. I really prayed a lot.” I started to laugh behind my
hand. It was, I think she hadn’t thought about it, you know. In other words,
“Some of these other people, they need to pray this long.”
Interviewer: She wanted to kind of get out of there?
White: Well she, you know, we’d stuck it out. I mean it just, it had never
occurred to her except at that moment that she didn’t need to pray that hard.
She had really not done anything intentional to anybody that was mean and
therefore she didn’t have to ask forgiveness for.
Interviewer: Right, right. That’s cute. Well that’s a good story to
White: Passover. The first night was always Aunt Tilly’s night. There were
always between 25 and 30 people. Second night my mother did it until her mother
became ill and then my Aunt Betty took over doing it. And again, 25 or 30
people. there were always extras. Any college kids that needed a meal even if
you really didn’t even know them, they came. You know, you invited them and
they came. When I was in college, I invited a couple of people too. They weren’t
very polite afterwards I didn’t think. But I invited them ’cause that’s
what you did.
Interviewer: Take care of everybody?
White: Take care of everybody. And there’s always enough no matter what.
Interviewer: It’s interesting how meals expand. I go through that all the
time when I’m preparing Shabbos meal. I put a little more stuff in. I’m
White: Somebody will eat the leftovers.
Interviewer: Yeah right.
White: And I still do that. And my mother used to, when she went back to
teaching, she’d have to make dinner on Thursday night. The soup and the
chicken and then, you know, kind of get it all together Friday. And she was
exhausted, I remember that. Hard. And my brother and I were supposed to do the
dishes but I could wash them and he’d have two of them dry and I’d just
finish drying them because he was so slow.
Interviewer: You just kind of helped take over?
White: Yeah. But only, I mean we didn’t do that much on Friday nights.
That was before dishwashers.
Interviewer: Yeah, thank God for dishwashers.
White: On yeah.
Interviewer: And air conditioning and all the other conveniences.
Interviewer: Well I think we’ve covered a lot of territory and I thoroughly
enjoyed listening to your stories and it’s been real enlightening to me and on
behalf of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society, I want to thank you for the
time that you’ve given us this afternoon and hope your life continues in a
good fashion. Good luck to you and your husband and children.
White: Thank you and I’ve enjoyed working with you Naomi.
Interviewer: Thank you.
White: It was fun.
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Transcribed by Honey Abramson