This interview with Helen Nutis for the Jewish Historical Society was
recorded on June 15, 1999 at 195 S. Harding Road, Columbus, Ohio, which is the
home of Helen Nutis. Hi Helen. I’m Hinda Riker and I’m doing the
Nutis: Hi, nice to have you here today.
Interviewer: Okay, Helen. The first thing I’d like to know is where were
Nutis: I was born in Columbus, Ohio.
Nutis: Several years ago.
Interviewer: Okay. Okay. That’s fine, that’s fine. Did your family always
live here? Where did they come from? Tell me something about your family.
Nutis: My mother came as a little girl from Lithuania. She was about 2 or 3
years old and she came to Burlington, Vermont.
Interviewer: To where?
Nutis: Burlington, Vermont. My father came either in 1905 or 1906. I was
going to check it out but I neglected to do so. He came from the Odessa region
of the Ukraine-Russia. He came to Burlington and we don’t know how he got to
Burlington, who in Burlington saw that he got there. That means, we never
bothered to ask because Dad didn’t want to discuss Russia at all. He left and
Interviewer: And that was the story. Then what brought them to Columbus from
Nutis: They were married in Burlington. My father went to school in Russia or
the Ukraine, that area, with the Lupers, with Louis and Abe Luper. And they were
corresponding with my father. When he first came to Burlington he worked for the
(his family in Russia were in the printing business) Burlington Free Press and he worked for them for six months. Then he opened up his
own printing shop. And he was corre-sponding with the Lupers and they kept
telling him about Columbus. He didn’t like, Dad didn’t like Burlington
because he said it was too cold and he said the people were even colder.
Interviewer: Oh wow!
Nutis: And they told him that there were no Jewish printers in Columbus so he
came down to Columbus. On the way down he stopped in Cleveland and he thought it
was too smoky of a city and he came on down here and he liked it and he went
back and he moved all his equipment here and . . . .
Interviewer: When was this?
Nutis: In 1913, just before the flood.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Can you tell us a little bit about the flood? He
Nutis: Oh I wasn’t here.
Interviewer: Do you remember stories about it though that your father had
Nutis: Well they didn’t discuss much because they were on the east side of
Columbus where the flood was on west of the river.
Interviewer: Oh, okay, okay. And your mom came here because they were
friendly with the Lupers? They came here, they had people here?
Interviewer: The Lupers?
Nutis: That I don’t know.
Interviewer: Uh huh. But they settled in Columbus?
Nutis: They were here and then Mother moved here then in 1913.
Interviewer: Did you move to the east side of town or south side? Whereabouts
did you move when you came personally? Where did they move?
Nutis: They moved I think on Main Street, not far from where the print shop
was, Main and Grant.
Interviewer: Oh Main and Grant.
Nutis: And they were near, they lived near Main and Parsons.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And that was another home of theirs?
Nutis: Yeah. And the only home that I remember is when they moved to
Interviewer: I see. That was your first home?
Interviewer: Uh huh. And then so you would have gone to . . . .
Nutis: I went to Livingston Elementary, Roosevelt Junior High and South High
Interviewer: Do you have any recollections of those times in going through
school, maybe high school times or anything?
Nutis: In high school I was on the school newspaper, the Optic and . .
Interviewer: Do you remember any of the people that were in your classes or
anything from . . . .
Nutis: You mean at South High?
Interviewer: At South High School, uh huh.
Nutis: In my classes, well she was Bea, well she was Bea Lopper. She’s now
Bea Cohen. We have maintained our friendship. Monroe Palestrant was in the
class. He was a doctor. Let me think. Manual Brant who married Cecilia Schallet,
they were in the class. Ruth Ziskind.
Interviewer: And some of those friendships you’ve kept up?
Nutis: Kept up. A long time.
Interviewer: A long time, that’s wonderful, that’s wonderful.
Nutis: In fact I was supposed to go to lunch with Bea today and I forgot.
When I talked to you I forgot to look at the calendar.
Interviewer: Well that’s good. Well after high school, what did you do
after you graduated?
Nutis: Went to Ohio State.
Interviewer: And you lived at home or did you live on campus?
Nutis: When I went to school you didn’t live on campus. You lived at home.
It was during the Depression.
Interviewer: Uh huh. You were lucky to be able to go to school or to college,
that’s true, that’s very true. And what did you take?
Nutis: I first started out in the College of Agriculture in the School of
Home Economics. And then I transferred to Education and I received my Bachelor’s
Degree in Elementary Education.
Interviewer: Did you ever teach?
Nutis: No, I decided I didn’t like it.
Interviewer: After you got your degree? Well your home on Carpenter Street,
that was the one in your growing-up years. Where else did you, what other homes
did you have in Columbus?
Nutis: From Carpenter Street we moved to 255 S. Cassady in Bexley and we
lived there for a long time. ‘Course Dad passed away when we were on Cassady
and then from Cassady we moved here to Harding and we’ve been here ever since.
Interviewer: You have one brother?
Nutis: I have one brother and an older sister.
Interviewer: You have an older sister too?
Nutis: She’s in Milwaukee.
Interviewer: Oh, uh huh. Uh huh. And what’s her name?
Nutis: Ethel and she’s married to Norman Gill.
Interviewer: Uh huh, uh huh. And your brother? Spell the name, G-I-L-L?
Nutis: G-I-double L.
Interviewer: And your brother is?
Interviewer: And he’s here in Columbus?
Interviewer: Uh huh. And you were in business with him, that, for a while?
Nutis: For a while. After, Dad passed away in ’45. And Frank was in the
Army and I took over the business to keep it going. We worked together until I
was there the summer of ’49. And then he decided, for personal reasons, to go
on his own.
Interviewer: Can you tell me something about your brother and sister, any
more? Were you close to your sister?
Nutis: We were all a close-knit family. It was an unwritten law that we had
to be home every night for dinner at 6:00. And if we weren’t home at 6:00, we
had to have a reason why.
Interviewer: Ummm, wow. And your sister moved to Milwaukee.
Nutis: She moved to, after she received her Bachelor’s in Education at Ohio
State, she secured a job with the Jewish Social Service Bureau in Cleveland. And
then she received her Master’s at Western Reserve which is now Case-Western
Reserve. And then when she was married she moved to Washington and Philadelphia
and then they finally settled back in Milwaukee which is his home town.
Interviewer: I see. And their children’s names, do you remember?
Nutis: You mean Ethel’s?
Interviewer: Uh huh, Ethel’s children.
Nutis: Roselyn who is a Clinical Psychologist in Boston. She has four
children. Barbara is a school teacher. She received her degree in Education from
a school in Evanston, Illinois, not Northwestern but a Teacher’s College in
Evanston. And she’s married and has two sons and her husband’s an Organic
Chemist with Abbott Laboratories in Deerfield. They live in Deerfield. The
Abbott Laboratory is in Abbott, Illinois, north of Chicago. And the younger
daughter Eileen is married to Howard Dubner who is a doctor in Milwaukee. They
have three sons and their youngest son is going to be entering Med School this
Interviewer: Got a wonderful family there. Your brother Frank has three, has
Nutis: Three children.
Interviewer: And what’s Frank’s wife’s name?
Nutis: Her real name is Thelma but nobody, in fact someone asked me the other
day what is her real name because they had never heard it. They have three
Interviewer: Ira is one.
Nutis: Ira is their son and then Sheila is the only daughter, living in
Scranton. She has four children. And Jodi is here in Columbus, married to Eddie
Karmea and they have three children, a little girl who was just three last week
and the little twin boys will be a year in the end of July.
Interviewer: Sounds like you’ve got a wonderful family.
Nutis: We’re very proud of them.
Interviewer: Very, very nice. Ira’s wife?
Nutis: Oh Ira’s wife is Laura. They have two sons and a daughter.
Interviewer: Okay. Well let’s go from there to, how about telling us a
little bit more about your business. When you started up in the business by
yourself. Then we’ll go to some of your other volunteer work. I know you’ve
been a great person to volunteer and stuff but let’s try your business first
and . . . .
Nutis: Well I didn’t know much about the printing business since we had, my
father had a loyal staff and his death was very sudden. And he had loyal
customers and everybody worked with me and to keep it going. And it was an
education in itself. Although at home I didn’t know much about the printing
business except that sometimes during the dinner conversation business was
discussed. But on the whole, I didn’t know much about it. But I, gradually I
Interviewer: And made quite a successful business out of it.
Interviewer: Yeah quite a successful business.
Nutis: We had some loyal customers.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And then how long ago did you retire from the business?
Nutis: I retired in ’77 and after I worked, because I had been mugged and I
thought that this was an opportunity to get out while I was alive and I sold it
to the Ink Well. And they were a customer of ours and finally I told them, was
talking to them one day and I convinced them that they should buy a larger
printing plant and they bought it and then they found out it was too much for
them so they sold it to two of their employees.
Interviewer: Oh wow! So they’ve taken over the business now?
Nutis: Uh huh.
Interviewer: Well it sounds very interesting. Did you do anything special for
fun? Did you do much traveling during that time or?
Nutis: I traveled a bit but I’ve traveled more lately than I was able to do
then. I did a lot of volunteer work, mainly writing publicity for organizations.
I was President of Junior Hadassah during the war, during World War II. And as
fund-raising we did plays at Bexley High School, mainly all girls because the
boys were all in the service. We gave the play “The Women” and there
was another play with nine girls and we raised money. Our patrons at that time I
think were, if it was $25 they were high.
Interviewer: Isn’t that wonderful?
Nutis: But we would fill up the Bexley Auditorium.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And that was sort of the beginning of your volunteerism,
with Junior Hadassah?
Nutis: Junior Hadassah, well we had been, it was Bud Hadassah but it didn’t,
that was for the young group but it didn’t last long. And Junior Hadassah, I
worked, well I was Fund Raising Vice-President. I was President for two years
and then I think it was about 1950, Junior Hadassah nationally gave up. Although
there is a Junior Hadassah Alumni and every once in a while I get a letter. And
I’ve been to several meetings when I was in New York.
Interviewer: Oh wow! And then you were very active with Hadassah also in
Interviewer: Going up the ranks from the group to the, I’m not sure even
how that works, the . . . .
Nutis: I was President of the Szold Group of Hadassah. I was President, I was
President of two groups. Szold was one and I can’t remember the name of the
other one. It was an evening group where Szold, at first the Szold and then it
changed the names and finally it was Elana and then it, at the end, I can’t
think of the group name that we had.
Interviewer: It had several. They had, and then you just raised money and you
Nutis: Well our group, the Elana group was the largest. We had membership
Interviewer: Wow, that’s a lot.
Nutis: But new people came in and Hadassah in Columbus is not like it used to
be, unfor- tunately.
Interviewer: Oh really? Huh!
Nutis: They’re catering to young people who have forgotten that there are
older people in the city and they’ve no meetings.
Interviewer: No afternoon meetings?
Interviewer: Everything is in the evening or . . . .
Nutis: There’s no meetings. They have different group activities. They have
forgotten the older members. And I’ll tell you what’s interesting. We used
to do, to raise money for JNF, we used to give a Blue Box Luncheon and one of
the girls called me one day and said to me, “Where do you get your Blue
Boxes to put your lunch in?” And I said, “What do you mean?” She
said, “Well isn’t, aren’t your lunches served in blue boxes?”
Interviewer: Oh my. (Laughter) Yes, tell us about the blue boxes.
Nutis: The Blue Box is a charity box that you put in coins in and Tzedekah
money and it’s used to buy land in Israel. And she didn’t realize at the
time . . . .
Interviewer: Oh wow!
Nutis: what a Blue Box was. She thought it was that lunches were served in
Interviewer: (Laughter) That is something, that is really something. I know
you’ve done a lot of other volunteer work with temples and other
Nutis: Growing up there was a, Agudas Achim had a youth group of girls and I’m
trying to think of, it was strictly 50 girls. I know I was confirmed at Agudas
Achim and there were 16 girls in our class. It was an all-girl class. Cece
Wasserstrom and Irene Krakoff were our Confirmation teachers. But then we had a,
Helen Nathan was, she had just gotten to Columbus and she was our advisor for
the, it was called the Junior Sisterhood.
Nutis: Agudas Achim. And we had a lot of social activities. We had picnics,
we had dances, I mean it was a nice group. And it lasted a few years until maybe
it was when the war hit and that was the end of that.
Interviewer: Were there any other organizations you were active in Agudas
Achim beside the Sisterhood? You went there every Saturday? Were you?
Nutis: No I never, I didn’t go to the. Mother would walk Frank. We lived on
Carpenter Street. Mother would walk Frank to shul on Saturday morning but
I never went.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Okay. Let me stop this for a minute. Okay I’m going to
ask you now about some of the holiday traditions that you remember with your
Nutis: Well Passover Seder, well the whole Passover holiday was a joy and we
always had people, outside people come into our home for Seders. Even Friday
night dinners, we always had people, company, especially when we went to Ohio
State. We always had someone from State for dinner on Friday night. And when it
came to Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur we always would walk. You never would drive
Interviewer: And what shul was that?
Nutis: Agudas Achim.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And where was that?
Nutis: It was on Washington and Donaldson. And the women sat upstairs and the
men down- stairs. And there was no place, the shul was so crowded there
was no place for children so they mainly were on the outside looking in.
Interviewer: That’s true. I remember that too. I remember that too. Your
dad was active in the synagogue?
Nutis: My father was active in the synagogue. He was Superintendent of the
Sunday School for years. And that was his pride and joy. And he belonged, being
in the printing business, he belonged to a lot of organizations. He belonged to
B’nai B’rith, the Zion Lodge. He belonged to the Voliner Society.
Interviewer: Do you remember anything about any of these societies?
Nutis: In those days, fund-raising was always a dinner where they sold, and
the dinners usually were held in the social hall of the Agudas Achim which was
on the lower level. And they would sell candles on a cake.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Sort of like what they do now for the Bat Mitzvahs,
only they don’t sell them, Bat Mitzvahs and Bar Mitzvahs when
they have the adults go up.
Nutis: Well they would sell the candles and they would raise a lot of, what
they thought in those days was a lot of money. Today we wouldn’t think of it,
think of it as a mere pittance. But the Agudas Achim Sisterhood usually had the
first dinner and then every Sunday night one of the organizations would have a
dinner. There was the Free Loan Society, there was the Voliner Society, there
Interviewer: Do you remember about any of these societies, what they did?
Nutis: Ivreeyoh was the women’s organization for the Hebrew School,
for the Columbus Hebrew School which was located on Rich Street across from the
Interviewer: Did you used to go to the Schonthal Center?
Nutis: No. Whether it was family pride or not but my parents didn’t. You
know the first time I walked into the Schonthal Center was when I went in for
USO. But as a youngster, we didn’t go. USO was the organization to, and became
the, the service men. And we would come in, especially on Sunday afternoon, they
would come into the Schonthal Center which was able, during the war, was a
social-gathering place. And also during the war we sold war stamps, I forget
what they, that’s not the correct title. But in the, at Lazarus on Town and
High, in the window they had different organizations that had different times to
come in and sell stamps to raise money.
Interviewer: What was the Free Loan Society? I remember you mentioning that.
Nutis: The Free Loan Society was also a women’s organization that they
raised money to loan out to needy people who in turn would pay back and probably
was done without interest.
Interviewer: Oh. That’s wonderful. You’ve been really quite a giving
person all of your life it sounds like, and wonderful.
Nutis: And then there was another organization called Ezras Noshen.
And Mrs. Abe Goldberg, Bob Goldberg’s grandmother, was President. She was
the only President of the organization. And that also was a charitable group.
And in the summertime they would, on different Sundays, they would have picnics
at Heimendale Grove.
Interviewer: Where was that?
Nutis: That was way in the south end of Columbus, way beyond, at the end of
Interviewer: Oh, uh huh. It’s not there today?
Nutis: That I don’t know. But they would sell tickets and different
organizations would have picnics during the summertime on a Sunday afternoon.
Interviewer: Okay. Tell us some more now about Hadassah that you’ve been so
Nutis: Senior Hadassah was one of the largest women’s groups here in the
city and their fund-raising was also a dinner but with a, they were able to have
it at either the Neil House or at the Deshler-Wallick Hotel which was on Broad
and High where the, both buildings are down now. But they would have their
doings on a Sunday evening and bring in a national speaker.
Interviewer: And what else did Hadassah do for, to raise money?
Nutis: Hadassah during the summer would have a garden party at . . . .
Interviewer: Somebody’s home?
Nutis: somebody’s home on Stanwood Avenue, Rhea Ornstein’s, Louise
Ornstein was her mother. And it was at Rhea’s . . . .
Nutis: Yeah Rhea Kaplan was her daughter. But Mrs. Ornstein would have it at
her home on North Stanwood.
Interviewer: And you’ve done a lot of work for Hadassah . . . .
Interviewer: I know a lot of work. And been very rewarding to you?
Nutis: In a sense, yes.
Interviewer: And tell us some of the other things. I know you have a thing in
memory of your mom at Heritage.
Nutis: Right. Heritage House was originally on Woodland Avenue. A group of
women, Mrs. Speisman, Mrs. Finkelstein, . . . .
Interviewer: And tell us what Heritage House is, tell us about Heritage
Nutis: Heritage House was originally started on Woodland Avenue. They had I
think 10 or 12 residents. They had a cook and I can remember Mrs. Speisman would
go down to the dime store on Main Street, buy pots and pans and bring them to me
at the office and then I would, on my way home I would drop them off at the home
because it was too much for her to carry.
Interviewer: Were they all Jewish residents?
Interviewer: Were they all Jewish residents?
Nutis: Yeah they were all Jewish residents. There was, my mother would
interview and one day she came home and she says, “I’m all through
interviewing”. And I said, “Why?” And she said, “Mr. Skilken,”
Morris Skilken’s father, Lee Skilken’s grandfather, in the course of the
interview said to her, “Mrs. Nutis how are you getting along?” So my
mother felt that she wasn’t the person to do interviews and that threw her.
And they did get a professional who came in. He came from Indianapolis and he
was here for several years. He was even here when they opened up the new home.
Interviewer: Which is where?
Nutis: It’s on College Avenue and the name was, they had a contest to see
who would select the name and Mrs. Taxon, I don’t know whether she received a
prize for it but it was, she was the one that selected the name of
Interviewer: What was her first name, Edith?
Nutis: It was Edith Taxon. Her husband was a rabbi. She was originally a
Interviewer: Now was it called Heritage when it was on Woodland Avenue?
Interviewer: What was it called then do you remember?
Nutis: The Columbus Jewish Home for the Aged., which is the original name and
also the corporate name.
Interviewer: It’s still the corporate name?
Nutis: It’s still the corporate name today, Columbus Jewish Home for the
Aged. Heritage House is the name of the building but the corporate name is
Columbus Jewish Home for the Aged.
Interviewer: And you did something special for your mom. Tell us about that,
how that came about.
Nutis: Well they used to buy the linens and it was getting rather expensive
and one day Dora Abrams called me and said they wanted to have linens and do
their own laundry. Would we be able to finance the program and they would call
it the Mollie Nutis Linen Shower. And so I told her I would confer with Frank
and my sister Ethel and we would see what we could do. So we did it. We
established the Linen Shower in her name and . . . .
Interviewer: How long ago has that been?
Nutis: Mother passed away in ’69. I would say probably ’70 or ’71. And
when they were on Woodland Avenue they would have garden parties to raise money.
And at that time also there was, we were a group of about 20 girls. We were
connected with a Link of, we were connected with Children’s Hospital and we
decided since we would do all Jewish, and that the home needed help, we became
Link No. 1 and we raised enough money so when they moved into the new home on
College, we furnished the barber shop and the beauty shop. And whether the
plaque is still there or not I don’t know. And then afterwards when they came
into Heritage House and there was a larger Auxiliary, the Link disbanded.
There was also another Link, Link No. 2 but I don’t know what, from the home on
Woodland, but I don’t know what they did but they would have garden parties.
The Auxiliary would have garden parties on the lawn of the home on Woodland. And
they drew a nice crowd. They wanted help from the community when they first
started and there was a Community Council, the Jewish Community Council, and
they were meeting at the Jewish Center and Mother and Abe Wolman went and I
remember I was waiting for Mother to come out of the meeting and finally they
came out and Abe Wolman was crying because the Community Council turned him
down, turned down the support of the home. They wanted people to go to the home
Interviewer: Oh wow! So you went ahead and raised money anyway?
Nutis: They raised money anyway. But those were the days that, until
President Kennedy came in when the need for homes for the elderly were the
popular thing, that’s when the Columbus Jewish community took the lead and saw
to it that we had a better facility.
Interviewer: Were you instrumental in helping with, I know you were, the new
Heritage House on College?
Nutis: Yes. I was active in the Auxiliary. Charlotte Mentser was President of
the Auxiliary and I was Life Membership Chairman and we secured a lot of, I
think we had over 100 life members, probably closer to 200 life members at the
time. And every year the home would, when the Mollie Nutis Linen Shower was
established, they would have, and Jerry Cohn was there as the Executive
Director, they would invite my brother and my sister and myself, of course, to
come and have lunch and then they would have a program for the Linen Shower. At
first people were giving linens and then they decided to have a, I remember the
first invitation that went out when they didn’t, they wanted money, they sent
a tea bag, have your tea bag at home and send money but things have changed and
they’re still raising money through the Linen Shower but we give a lot of
money as our family.
Interviewer: And did they ever bring linens per se or do they
just . . . .
Nutis: Not any more. Now they just get money.
Interviewer: That’s very good.
Nutis: My mother was President of the Ivreeyoh Society. I don’t know
if I mentioned it before or not, which was from the Hebrew School.
Interviewer: Spell it.
Nutis: I-V-R-E-E-Y-O-H. That was also a women’s organization. There
may have been a few men who contributed but it was mainly a women’s group and
she was active in Hadassah. She was Treasurer of Hadassah. She belonged to B’nai
B’rith Women. In those days practically everybody belonged to every
organization. The sisterhoods would, B’nai B’rith would meet on one day, the
sisterhood on one Tuesday of the month, the sisterhoods on another Tuesday.
Everybody had their date assigned so there was no meeting conflicts.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And now you have the . . . .
Nutis: The Community Calendar that still doesn’t work.
Schottenstein: You’re talking about the Community Calendar.
Nutis: And now organizations meet whenever they decide. There’s no set
meeting date like a meeting day or date like they used to have. But Mother was
Interviewer: And you’ve followed in her footsteps?
Nutis: We all followed in our parents’ footsteps, for Tzedekah and
for service to the community.
Interviewer: Are you active in the Jewish Center?
Nutis: The Jewish Center as it is now on College Avenue was started in
probably 1949 or 1950. I remember they called me to come to a meeting which was
at Simon Lazarus’ home and Bea Roth, I don’t know whether she brought me or
whether she took me home but we were both there and we walked into the house and
Simon Lazarus was sitting in his library and we were escorted down the lower
level to the rec room and he never bothered to come to the meeting. But he gave
his home and we planned various activities for the new Jewish Center. And I’ve
been on the Board of the Center, I think an absence of two years, every, once
every two-year period, ever since.
Interviewer: And watched it grow and . . . .
Interviewer: and become what it is today. Can you tell us any more about any
Nutis: When my parents moved here from Burlington, she left brothers and
sisters at home, I mean to say she left brothers and sisters back in Burlington
and as they graduated high school they moved here and they managed somehow to
move in and live with us until they got established and then finally their
mother had passed away. There was Esther who married Milton Hirsch and Dorothy
who married Abe Kohn. They were the twins. There was Rae Amdur.
Interviewer: Those were all relatives?
Nutis: Those were all Mother’s sisters. One sister still remained in
Burlington, the oldest sister. She was married and had a family. But then the
boys, there was Louis Block; Mose who had a shoe store in Circleville; Alex who
was in the furniture business, Block Furniture. There were 10 living children
altogether. My mother’s mother had 14 children, two sets of twins.
Interviewer: Wow! That’s some family.
Nutis: It was a big family. My grandfather, Mother’s father, moved here. He
lived on, when he moved here he bought a home on South Parsons near Stewart. And
if his children weren’t married, then they moved back to his house. But
otherwise, but they were not active in the Jewish community. They were more
Interviewer: Okay. I’m trying to think now where else we would like to take
Nutis: My grandfather had, I think there was around 36 grandchildren. Most of
them were here in Columbus. There was like Ann Pollock who came here after she
graduated high school and she lived with us until her family moved here. And
then her brothers Herbie and Macy, after they graduated high school here and I
think they served in the Army I’m sure in the World War, especially Herbie.
They opened up Sun TV and they did . . . .
Interviewer: These are cousins of yours?
Nutis: First cousins. Their father and my mother were sister and brother.
Then there was David Block who is the son of Moses who lived in Circleville and
he worked with his father in the shoe store and when his father passed away, he
took over. He passed away a couple of years, maybe four or five years ago and he
left a huge sum of money. He had never married and he didn’t believe in
travel. He worked in the store and that was it. He left around $8,000,000 to
Heritage House, to Beth Jacob Congregation and Torah Academy. And also money to
the hospitals in Circleville.
Interviewer: Isn’t that something? Always stayed in Circleville, never
lived in Columbus?
Nutis: No he lived in Circleville and his nephew is working, is running the
Interviewer: Oh it’s still in existence?
Nutis: The store is still in existence. His nephew, his sister’s son, is
running the store. The sister lives in Warren, Ohio.
Interviewer: That’s very interesting, very interesting family. I didn’t
realize it was that extensive. Well let’s stop for a sec. Okay. Tell us about
the rest of your relatives now. This is Side B we’re starting.
Nutis: My father’s sister who lived in Columbus moved to Los Angeles.
Interviewer: What was her name?
Nutis: Leah Kauffman. She had two children, Sylvia and Irving. Sylvia is
working on the family history and when I talked to her a few weeks ago she was
to mail me everything so I could carry on with the Nutis side of the history of
the family and I’m still waiting for her, for the letter.
Interviewer: Have you gotten together with family reunions very much or . . .
Nutis: The only reunion that we actually had on the Block side was when my
Aunt Dorothy was 90 and that was probably about five or six years ago, Dorothy
Interviewer: That’s the one that was married to Abe?
Nutis: Right, she was married to Abe Kohn who was an optometrist. We had, Abe
was gone already. But we had a party here and all my, most of my cousins came.
Mike came from Florida and so did his sister Lillie who passed away about two
weeks ago at the age of 90. Mike is 92. When he came to Columbus he lived with
us ’cause our house was the stop-off point and Carol Hirsch came from New
York. Most of my cousins came in. My sister was here. We had a party here at the
house and she was amazed. David was here, Arthur. They were, practically all the
cousins came in.
Interviewer: That’s great that you get together. Had you done it previous
Nutis: No that was the first time that we had done it and last night I was
thinking it’d be nice if, when Herbie passed away his children and Maxine, his
wife . . . .
Interviewer: This is Block, Herb Block you’re talking about?
Nutis: Herbie passed away from cancer and they developed this Herbert Block
Cancer Golf Tournament and it’s coming up, the next one will be here next
Monday, the 21st, at Winding Hollow. And they have raised a lot of
money for the Ohio State James Cancer Fund. So I was thinking last night, it
would be nice if we could get together as a family and have a Block Family
Reunion. But the only thing is if I started it, all the responsibil- ity would
be on my shoulders and I don’t know whether I’m capable of doing it all.
Interviewer: At this time, huh? It’s a lot of work.
Nutis: It’s a lot of work but it would be nice getting together. You
probably would have over a hundred people coming because there’s children and
there’s grandchildren and there’s great-grandchildren.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Very good. Okay, now let’s see what else we, Helen can
you tell us something about shopping in Columbus where you shopped and when you
shopped? Did you shop downtown or out in centers?
Nutis: As we were growing, when we were growing up, there was no suburbs, no
suburban stores. You, there was Lazarus on Town and High. They had an excellent
children’s department and teenage department. There was the Union. There was
Morehouse-Martens and then across the alley from Morehouse-Martens was the
Fashion. And they later joined and they built an, over the alley they built a
pathway and it became Morehouse-Fashion. That was, the Fashion was owned by
Gundersheimer and the Union by Levy. Clothes in those days, if you paid $25 for
a dress, it was rather expensive. That was for a child’s dress. I got most of
my shoes at Lazarus even though my uncles were in the shoe business but Mother
felt that quality shoes, and I had a hard foot to fit, so that I got my shoes at
We would do our shopping on Saturday afternoon and if we didn’t do
any shopping on Saturday afternoon, we went to the movies and there was, in high
school, I was able to do things with my friends and one of the girls wouldn’t
ride on Shabbos so we would walk downtown to the Ohio Theater and I think
admission was either 25 or 35 cents. We would see the play, the stage show, we
would see the movie, and then we would stay to see the second stage show and
after it was dark so we could ride home on the streetcar. That was during junior
and senior high school. We would also go to the Public Library on Grant Avenue.
We went to concerts at Memorial Hall which is now where COSI is. But we had a
very good all-around life.
Interviewer: Did a lot of different things. That’s great. You were saying,
Nutis: At one time I wrote publicity for practically all the women’s
organizations in the city. There was Council of Jewish Women, B’nai B’rith
Women and Hadassah. B’nai B’rith Women had a national, at the National
Convention they awarded prizes for the best Bulletin in the District and I
received that award for five years. I have trophies in the other room that you
can look at. I wrote the Council Bulletin. Council of Jewish Women used to have
what they called, as a fund-raiser, Angel Luncheons and that was held at the
Interviewer: Also tell us about the Maramor.
Nutis: The Maramor was a delightful restaurant on East Broad Street between
Third and Fourth and in that area was Eugene Grey, Montaldo’s . . .
Interviewer: Those were all dress shops now you’re talking?
Nutis: Right. Those were dress shops. But they would, Council would have
their Angel Lunch-eon and they, I don’t remember exactly how they arrived at,
but the person who did the most work for the Council, which was a good civic
volunteer group, she was the Angel of the Day and she just, it was a lovely
affair and it drew a lot of people and it raised a lot of money for Council. I
mentioned before, Hadassah would have their dinners at the hotel and B’nai B’rith
Women would have, their major fund raising was a dance at Valley Dale.
Interviewer: Tell us about Valley Dale.
Nutis: Valley Dale was a dance hall on Sunbury Road and it’s still in
existence but I don’t know that it’s as active a place as it was in the 40s
Interviewer: That was their big fund raiser?
Nutis: That was their big fund raiser. B’nai B’rith Men one year, it was
in the mid-50s, had a dance at I think it was Fort Hayes Hotel and they also,
they sold 100 raffle tickets at $100 a ticket and they were to award either
$4,000 or a Cadillac. Abe Wolman approached me in Dave Levinson’s Pawn Shop
one day and he gave me a ticket and I said $100 is too much to spend but I would
get nine other girls from B’nai B’rith Women and we would buy one ticket. As
they were put in, so when I sent the check in for the $100, I put all the girls’
names on the back of the ticket. When they came to deposit the tickets that
night at the dance, they couldn’t find our ticket so they put a ticket in
“Helen Nutis and Company”. We won the Cadillac.
Interviewer: Oh wow! What year was this Helen?
Nutis: It was in I think 1956, around there. We had decided beforehand should
we win the Cadillac, we would take the cash. Along with the $4,000, they gave
$300 to the person who sold the winning ticket. So each of us got $430. They
asked me that night if I would take, they wanted to give me a check that night
and I said, “No, I’ll send you all the names,” because I didn’t
want a tax problem. And also they wanted me to know if we were giving any money
back to the organization. So I said, “Well it’s up to the individual
girls,” but I gave the $30 back. I thought they were entitled to a little
compen- sation for seeing that we got $4,000. I used my $400 to buy a silver tea
service so I would have something to remember it by.
Interviewer: Do you remember what it was or anything like that . . . . in the
50s? Was it a $400 set?
Nutis: At that time I bought it through Lou Ruben who had a jewelry store on,
Shaw’s Jewelry across from Lazarus on Town and High and I don’t remember how
much I paid for it but it was probably close to $400.
Interviewer: Wow! Back in the 50s, that’s great, that’s great. Well how
about now telling us some- thing of your travels. I understand that lately you’ve
done a lot of traveling. And you’re a golfer.
Nutis: As a member of the Jewish Center, they had, they used to have a Travel
Department with Marlene Raiz in charge and Marlene would plan trips for members
of the Jewish Center and her husband would go along with us and it was a, we
would have delightful places. We went to Alaska. We went to New Orleans. We went
to Italy, to Venice and Florence and Rome. We even took a trip a few years ago
to the Greek Islands and we were spent, Ray would spend one day in Jerusalem
which was a teaser. But lately the group has, Marlene has resigned from the
Center and I think she works part-time but the adult program isn’t, the travel
program isn’t there any more which is a shame because there are a lot of
things that we would like to do but we need somebody to plan it.
Interviewer: I thought there was a trip that they were planning, I remember
they’re planning sometime this summer.
Nutis: They were supposed to go to Alaska again this year but this is the
third time they’ve gone and once you’ve gone, you don’t feel like going
back again. But I don’t know whether the trip fell through. I haven’t heard
any more about it.
Interviewer: Sounds like you’ve done a lot of traveling.
Nutis: I’ve been to Israel on two other occasions. I went with Hadassah one
year for, they had a National Convention, that was in 1982 and then in ’87 I
went with the Jewish Center Board. And both trips were extensive trips and
Interviewer: Learned a lot?
Interviewer: Learned a lot there. Wonderful country. Which was, do you have a
favorite country with all the travel?
Nutis: I don’t know whether, Jerusalem to me was, I want to go back . . . .
As I said before, it was the one day there which was a teaser because there’s
so much activity, so much building that. And it has historical value that I want
to go back.
Interviewer: Is that the only one time you’ve been to Israel?
Nutis: No I’ve been to Israel then twice, once in ’82 and ’87.
Interviewer: That’s what I thought you said. Uh huh. Okay. Okay Helen I
think we’ll wind it up now. If there’s anything else you’d like to tell
us, how you’ve seen the growth of the city or changes that have been made.
Nutis: A lot of changes have been made in the city. We don’t, where people
are more spread out than when we were growing up. We have, everybody’s moving
to suburbia. We have the various malls. Lazarus isn’t like it used to be. They
don’t have the quality of merchandise that we normally would have had when we
were growing up. Now you order things from catalogs which in those days you didn’t
do. Life is easier today than it was then, at least it seems that way.
Interviewer: And you’re enjoying it to the fullest?
Nutis: I’m enjoying it. I play bridge. I’m playing, I’m doing things
now that I wasn’t able to do when I was working because most of my life
depended upon the business and business contacts and writing the publicity and
going to the various groups, plus just a small amount of social activity. Now I’m
able to play bridge. I play golf and I’m even doing water aerobics.
Interviewer: That’s great. Where do you do water aerobics? At Wyandotte?
Nutis: I’m at Wyandotte doing water aerobics because the time element is
easier for me to take a 2:00 class than it is to get up and take an 8:00 class
in the morning. I’m a night person, not a day person, not a morning person.
But things are enjoyable and I just hope that everything is going along. I was
one of the Charter Members of the Historical Society and . . . .
Interviewer: Well we’re so glad you were.
Nutis: and everything is fine.
Interviewer: Great. We want to thank you very much Helen.
Nutis: And thank you for coming to my home this afternoon. It was a pleasure
talking and I just hope that in years forward people will realize what Columbus
Jewry was like in the early years of Columbus.
Interviewer: Thank you again, Helen. I enjoyed this interview very much.
* * *
Interviewer: There’s a few things that Helen would like to add to her story
and we’d like for her to tell us the few things that we forgot in our
beginning interview. Helen.
Nutis: I was active in the Jewish Center. When the second Jewish Center was
built, they forgot to include a Gift Shop. But lo and behold, someone was very
generous and gave money and they built a Gift Shop within the lobby of the
Center to be run by volunteers. I was in charge as a volunteer of buying
merchandise and seeing the volunteers came in to the Center and we tried to keep
the Gift Shop open as many hours as possible during the week. When it came
holiday time, we were practically open 12 hours a day.
We had a group of volunteers who were very keen and willing to work.
It was, we raised a lot of
money for the Center because our only actual expense was after we bought the
merchandise, was the freight and that was a minor element. I’m sure that I was
in charge of the Gift Shop for over 10 years and then right now, it is run by
two private individuals as a art studio. And many people . . . .
Interviewer: Did they buy it from the . . . .
Nutis: The people now . . . .
Interviewer: How did they . . . .
Nutis: They’re renting the space.
Interviewer: Oh, interesting.
Nutis: They’re paying I think, what I was told, is $500 a month rent which
is $6,000 a year and which is less than we raised as profit for the Center but
the Center feels that it was hard to get volunteers and the they don’t have to
worry about the items for the Gift Shop. I also was active in Women’s American
ORT which had a Columbus chapter and also Bonds for Israel. I had neglected to
mention those. I’m a life member of ORT, of Brandeis, which was Brandeis Women
which raised money for the Library at Brandeis. It was started in Columbus but
unfortunately they couldn’t find a president and the group had to disband. I’m
also a life member of Hadassah, B’nai B’rith Women, I think every
organization that has, and also Heritage House Auxiliary. Every organization
that had a life membership idea, I was always considered to be a life member.
I don’t know whether I can, Bonds was quite active in Columbus and still is
raising money by selling Bonds for Israel.
Interviewer: Are you on their board?
Nutis: I was on the Board at one time but not any more. The only board I’m
on now is the Jewish Center Board.
Interviewer: I see.
Nutis: And that, I think I’m a permanent fixture.
Interviewer: Helen, if you didn’t go to supermarkets, tell me some of the
places that you went to, where you did your shopping in Columbus in the
Nutis: In Columbus at the beginning there were quite a few grocery stores but
they were strictly grocery stores. There was Kroger’s, there was Albers came
in later. But as far as the Jewish stores, there was delicatessens, Hepp’s on
Washington and Main, Kroll’s on Washington and Fulton and Harry Center also on
Fulton Street near Washington. There was Martin’s, originally started by his
father on South Parsons and then Martin opened up his store. I think it was near
Lockbourne and Livingston.
Interviewer: That’s Martin Godofsky?
Nutis: That’s Martin Godofsky. There was Mendelman’s on Livingston Avenue
just east of Parsons. There was Briar’s at Wilson. There was Katz’s on Ohio
Interviewer: What was Katz’s? I don’t remember that.
Nutis: Katz’s was a butcher shop. And . . . .
Interviewer: Do you remember which Katz that was? I don’t remember that.
Nutis: Well it was, I think his father was Saul Katz and Herman, who was
active in the Jewish community was a son. That’s Renee Levine’s grandfather
was Saul Katz. And then . . . .
Interviewer: And then some of the other stores, there was Schwartz’s
Nutis: Yeah Schwartz’s Bakery and there was Luper’s Bakery but I think
Schwartz’s bought them out. But that was on Mound and Washington.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Then there was Ruben’s on Fulton Street.
Nutis: There was Fulton Bakery owned by a family by the name of Ruben. And
the fish markets, there was Lake Erie Fish Market on Washington Avenue and also
there was another fish market. I can’t think of the name but there was a, the shochet
that I can remember as a little girl was, he was also a cantor at Agudas Achim.
His daughter. The shochet in the early days was named Silverman. He was
killed walking home from shul on one of the holidays on Washington and
Interviewer: What about some of the other stores? You’ve, I think you
mentioned before that the Gundersheimer’s owned one place and Lazarus and . .
Nutis: Gundersheimers owned the Fashion and Levys owned the Union. They were
both good stores.
Interviewer: So the Jewish community was well represented by Jewish people
all . . . . in every . . . .
Nutis: And at one time you knew practically every Jewish person in Columbus
but you can’t say that today because there’s so many new people have come
into the city.
Interviewer: That’s very true.
Nutis: Which is good.
Nutis: After I graduated Ohio State I was asked to teach Sunday School at
Temple Israel and I believe it was Rabbi Gup was the Rabbi at Temple at that
time. And I taught for about two or three years and then when my father passed
away I had to give it up because Sunday morning was more important for other
activities than going and teaching Sunday School. But the salary for a teacher
at that time may have been $2 or $3 for a Sunday. Among the other teachers there
was Mrs. Levinger was there.
Interviewer: Do you remember her first name?
Nutis: No I can’t think of her first name. Her husband was the Rabbi at
Hillel at the time. And then, speaking of Hillel, Rabbi Kaplan came and when I
was in school and I was on the Hillel Board at that time as representative of
the Student Body. One of the active organi- zations was a Avukah which
was a student Zionist organization. I don’t think it’s in existence any
Interviewer: What did they do?
Nutis: It was strictly a Zionist organization to study and attract the Jewish
students to Palestine.
Interviewer: You wanted to tell me about one other person in your life that
you worked with. That was Ben?
Nutis: Ben Mandelkorn. Let me go back before Ben got here, got to Columbus.
The United Jewish Fund was organized and the office was in E. J. Schanfarber’s
law office and Leah Rosenfeld, not related to Mayer, was the secretary. When Ben
Mandelkorn came to Columbus it became a more city-wide fund-raising activity and
Ben made the Federation what it is today.
Interviewer: Did the people from Columbus bring him here for that specific
Nutis: He was brought to Columbus to reorganize the Fund. And he did a good
job and he was a good teacher. Part of my training for solicitation I owe a debt
of gratitude to Ben because he helped me and then later on after I retired, I
received a call from the Columbus Symphony to work in their Development
Department and I was able to use my skills that Ben had taught to raise money
for the Columbus Symphony. I worked for the Symphony for over five years until I
got tired but I’m still recognized and I’ve worked for the Bexley unit of
the symphony today to help further the activities of the Symphony.
Interviewer: That’s great.
Nutis: Another one of my activities since my retirement is that we organized
an investment club. There were 20 women, mostly, we started out as golf members
from Winding Hollow and through the years we lost a few members but now we’re
19. We’ve been in existence since 1986 and we’re doing very well learning
and investing and we’re trying to reap the harvest.
Interviewer: In today’s economy, that’s wonderful.
Nutis: In today’s economy it’s good. I’ve been treasurer of the
investment club ever since we were organized and I was able to put everything on
my computer so sending the monthly reports is a snap compared to having to
figure everything by hand with an adding machine.
Interviewer: Well Helen, if that’s . . . . I just want to thank you again
for making this contribution. It is just fascinating listening to you talk. I
just have enjoyed it so much and I know every- body from the Historical Society
will also. Thank you again for your contribution to the Society.
Nutis: Thank you for letting me do this. It’s a pleasure and I just hope
that when people read this they won’t, pardon me, not read it but listen to
it, they won’t laugh because life has been very pleasant. So thank you again.
Interviewer: Thank you.
* * * *