This interview for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society is being recorded on June 10, 1999 as part of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society Oral History Project The interview is being recorded at 5430 Nelsonia Place.
Interviewer: My name is Peggy Kaplan and I am interviewing Patti Schiff Hershorin. Patti would you please tell me your full name?
Hershorin: Patricia Schiff Hershorin.
Interviewer: Your date and place of birth?
Hershorin: September 21, 1943, Detroit, Michigan.
Interviewer: Your parents’ names.
Hershorin: Betty and Herbert Schiff.
Interviewer: Do you have siblings?
Hershorin: I have two sisters. I am the middle child. I have an older sister, Suzanne and we call her Sue and I have a younger sister, Jane.
Interviewer: Do you remember your grandparents?
Hershorin: I remember my grandfather and my step grandmother but I considered her my grandmother.
Interviewer: What were their names?
Hershorin: Robert and Ann Schiff.
Interviewer: You don’t remember your mother’s parents?
Hershorin: I remember my mother’s mother, Edna Topkis. But I don’t remember my grandfather because he died several months after I was born.
Interviewer: So you remember Robert Schiff and his second wife who would be your step grandmother and her name was Ann. Can you tell me a little about them, your relationship with them, as a youngster or as long as you can remember?
Hershorin: I have very fond memories of my grandfather and Ann. They always sort of took me under their wing and sort of spoiled me. I remember my grandfather singing little songs to me in the car when we would go to dinner or coming back from dinner. He always made sure one of the girls had a place of honor next to him which was very, very special. I also remember holidays at our home and they were always at our home and he was there. I remember taking him to the train station when they were going to New York or California or going to pick them up. There was always so much going on and I had so much to say. I was little and I didn’t understand it all but at the same time, it sounded so exciting. I also remember an old, big car that they had with a footboard that we used to get into it. It was black and I think it was a Cadillac. It wasn’t a limousine but it was big and they used them as limousine types of cars. We kept that car for quite a while because he was no longer driving but we really didn’t drive in it too much. It was a different kind of an era. My parents were very modern and at that time, when I was growing up, my grandparents were very modern. So I did not get that feeling from them of the “old country.” I really knew the U.S.A. and America as it was.
Interviewer: Did your grandfather ever talk about the old country? His experiences before he came here to this country?
Hershorin: No, he never did with us. I don’t remember anything from him. Everything I learned about my grandfather, I learned from Dad. No, he never spoke about those types of things. I think he was just very proud to be in this country. He didn’t remember when his birthday was so he picked up July 4 as his birthday. That I do remember.
Interviewer: Where did they live when you remember him the most?
Hershorin: They lived at the Royal York. They lived in the penthouse, I believe, in the middle building. It was a big apartment – as big as a house. They had a lot of help so that whenever I was there, they had a lot of time for me. I remember them just sitting and talking to me. We never played cards with them so to speak. We just spent time – they wanted to know what I was doing and they would talk to me very much on my level.
Interviewer: Was this one-on-one or were you the three girls together?
Hershorin: Sometimes it was one-on-one and sometimes it was the three girls together.
Interviewer: Did you ever take vacations with your grandparents?
Interviewer: He was a very busy businessman but he did make time for his grandchildren.
Hershorin: Yes, whenever they were in Columbus, we went out to dinner at least once a week. I remember going downtown to Marzetti’s but we went a lot of times into Bexley. Dad used to take turns with who would sit up front between him and grandpa. It was always very special to sit up front between the two men.
Interviewer: In the big car…
Hershorin: In the big car.
Interviewer: Tell me a little bit about your grandmother, Edna.
Hershorin: I remember grandma Edna very, very fondly. She was an unusual person. The thing I remember the most about her is how she loved to play the piano. I remember her a lot because of that. She had several favorite tunes and when I hear them today, I get teary eyed. She had her own agenda as well as anybody else because she was always privileged most of her life. She knew how to play golf and she walked and she played piano for the veterans during the day so she was always very busy when I went to visit her. But she would make me walk with her and she was stronger than I was. She could walk further than I could. I would get tired faster. She was pretty special. I remember her loving the grandchildren so much. She would sit us down at the piano with her to play or to sing. She would have the tunes because she didn’t play classical music – she would play the latest show tunes and we’d stand next to her and sing with her and even though I sang off key, she never minded.
Interviewer: Where did she live? She didn’t live in Columbus.
Hershorin: I remember her living in Philadelphia.
Interviewer: So you would travel… Would you stay with her?
Hershorin: I would stay with her for several days. She would make my favorite foods. I remember she’d ask me what I liked and I would tell her I liked tapioca pudding and I remember her burning it and I had to eat it anyway because I couldn’t tell her she had burned it and it wasn’t any good.
Interviewer: Did you ever take vacations with her?
Hershorin: No, we never took vacations with our grandparents on either side or our parents. I can’t say never – we used to go to Maine with them. In my senior year in high school, we went to Florida. Otherwise, we really very much didn’t. They sometimes took us to New York but it was never a vacation for Dad. Dad was always working so Mom would play with us and take us on tours. Mom took Sue and me to Washington, D.C. once. But I don’t remember having an annual vacation type of thing.
Interviewer: Tell me about your early / young relationship with your Dad. Was he at home a lot? Or was he working a lot? Did you develop an early childhood relationship with your father?
Hershorin: Dad was away a lot. When he worked, he would leave fairly early in the morning, not before anyone else. I think we left for school before he left. But he always came home late and we never knew what time he would come home. We used to wait and wait for him. It was always very special when he was in town, to have dinner with him even though sometimes dinner times were very difficult times, but it just seemed not right until he was home. But he was away a lot and Mom would go away with him a lot.
Interviewer: Someone took care of you at home. So you were born in Detroit. Do you remember moving to Columbus?
Hershorin: No, I was two years old.
Interviewer: Your memory as a child was in Columbus, Ohio. Do you remember where you lived?
Hershorin: We lived on Bryden Road. I do remember that.
Interviewer: Was that in the Bexley area?
Hershorin: Yes. We had what I thought was a big house but it was really a small house. We all shared one bathroom.
Interviewer: Three daughters and two parents? One bathroom?
Hershorin: Three daughters, two parents and a housekeeper. Rozella came to live with us at that time. I was two or three when she came along. It must have been a three bedroom house because Rozella had her own bedroom. Sue and I had a bedroom together.
Interviewer: Do you remember the next house you lived in after Bryden Road?
Hershorin: The next house after Bryden Road, we lived at 200 Ashbourne Road. We moved there when I was five years old so it must have been 1948, right before Jane was born and we stayed there until I graduated high school, which was 1961.
Interviewer: Where did you graduate from?
Hershorin: Columbus School for Girls.
Interviewer: Did you start in kindergarten or first grade? Or did you go into Columbus School for Girls later?
Hershorin: I started Columbus School for Girls in nursery school. I went to Columbus School for Girls for 14 years.
Interviewer: So you’re … what do they call it? A survivor?
Hershorin: I would imagine so. I started on Parsons Place and I remember wearing the uniforms from that year on. To this day, I hardly ever buy a jumper.
Interviewer: What was the uniform like when the school was on Parsons Avenue?
Hershorin: It was light blue, three pleats down the front and three pleats down the back and a sash. It was a jumper and the blouse that went underneath was white with a cap sleeve and a Peter Pan collar.
Interviewer: That uniform was carried over when they moved out East?
Interviewer: So you started in nursery school and graduated from Columbus School for Girls and then where did you go to school?
Hershorin: I went to school at the University of Wisconsin. I was at the University of Wisconsin for two years, however, I had a tough time in my first year because I developed mononucleosis and I was home part of the second semester. Then I went to Ohio State University that summer. I went back to the University of Wisconsin and I was not real happy there. I enjoyed being in Columbus and going to school. So I transferred back to Ohio State University. But I only did two quarters – the summer quarter and the fall quarter and then I got married.
Interviewer: When you were going to Ohio State University, did you live at home or on campus?
Hershorin: I lived at home but not really at home. Mom and Dad, at that time, were at 1620 East Broad Street and it was a very unusual apartment. When I shared a room with my sister, it was a disaster. So there was an empty apartment across the hall which was an efficiency. They fixed that up so I could have that for my room.
Interviewer: Tell me about your sisters.
Hershorin: We’re three girls. Sue and I were three years apart and Jane and I were 4 1/2 years apart. Mom and Dad treated us differently. Sue and I were treated one way and Jane was treated another. Jane was the last one. They were very disciplinary with the two of us. I had an unusual relationship because I was the one in the middle. The older one and the younger one used to gang up on me. I remember they used to play little tricks on me. One would run by my room and open the door, then the other one would run by my room and close the door while I was studying. I think we were normal sisters. We fought but we also did a lot of fun things together. We always were outside playing, always had a wonderful time doing that. We had a good neighborhood. We had a big yard, a tremendous yard because next door was an empty lot. Life was fun when we were carefree like that.
Interviewer: Do you remember any tricks that you three did or anything fun that you did when you were little?
Hershorin: We used to climb trees. We used to have a swing set and it was set in the back behind where a big, stone fireplace was for grilling so it had its own little fort type of place and we used to make a fort out of it. It backed up to Cassady but we never went onto Cassady. We were very careful. Rozella was very strict with us about that and we were very careful. We had our own little hide-a-way, so to speak and I thought that was always very neat. Sometimes we included Jane and sometimes Jane didn’t want to be with us. As I said, there was a big gap in age so it made a big difference.
Interviewer: Did both your sisters go to and graduate from Columbus School for Girls?
Interviewer: Did they both start in preschool?
Hershorin: I don’t know how long they went. I know that when I started, after my kindergarten year and I was going full-time, Dad would take Sue and me to school on his way to work and we took the bus home on Broad Street to Ashbourne. We’d get off the bus and walk home until Columbus School for Girls moved to the Drexel site and then we walked back and forth every day.
Interviewer: Have you been to the school recently?
Hershorin: I went by a few weeks ago and I was really surprised.
Interviewer: It’s quite different.
Hershorin: I have very ambivalent feelings about the school. I got a wonderful education and I was taught a lot of wonderful things that have been very helpful for me. I can’t knock it academically. It was difficult for me, however, because as I grew older, I became aware that I was Jewish. Not that I didn’t know, with the holidays and so forth and nobody else in my class was Jewish. So I always felt a little different at school. I thought it might be ok and the years have gone by and I went back several years ago for my alumni reunion and after a while, I still felt different. Nobody cared about what I was doing. They were talking about their churches and their life. My life centered around Jewish philanthropy at that time and they really did not know or care about it. It just wasn’t one of those things they wanted to hear more about.
Interviewer: When you were in school, who were some of your friends?
Hershorin: Debbie Hammond was my friend. She lived across the street from me. Marsha Ross was my friend. She lived down the street from me. I was in a very small class – there were only about 25 of us. I remember Ann Saxbe. Ann Kirsten was my friend. Ellen Larimer. There was a group of us.
Interviewer: Do you keep up any correspondence with those friends from high school?
Hershorin: No correspondence. But I have taken the time, when I’ve been in San Diego, to see Debbie because that’s her home now. But no, basically, no, yet I’ve had a couple surprises. The one, Tana Sue Sterrit, who lives in Vermont, had a connection with someone in Sarasota and she looked me up. That was kind of neat and we did enjoy their visit.
Interviewer: Do you think you’ll go back to the next reunion?
Hershorin: Probably not. I may go to my 50th -I don’t know.
Interviewer: Your sisters graduated. Were there more Jewish students in their classes?
Hershorin: They both had more Jewish students in their classes. I think Jane had about five and Sue had three or four.
Interviewer: Do you think they have the same feeling you have?
Hershorin: Jane’s gone back, I don’t know how many times because she lived here in Columbus. She may have gone back quite a few times at that point. No, I don’t think they do. They felt different because they had Jewish friends.
Interviewer: Did you go to Sunday school? Jewish Sunday school?
Interviewer: Where did you go?
Hershorin: I went to Temple Israel. I remember going -I can’t remember the name of the street where the old Temple Israel was.
Interviewer: Bryden Road.
Hershorin: Was it Bryden Road, too? It looked like it was an old church – it must have been years before that.
Interviewer: I don’t know. I believe it was built as a temple. They had a different location before that and I do believe they built that building for themselves. It’s not in existence anymore. Who was the rabbi when you went to Sunday school?
Hershorin: Rabbi Folkman.
Interviewer: What are your memories about Sunday school or going to Temple?
Hershorin: I have very fond and warm memories. I remember going to High Holidays. It was special, not because I had the day off but just because it felt warm and wonderful to be there. Even when I was in the children’s service and not in the adult service, I really enjoyed singing the hymns and I enjoyed being a part of it. I don’t know, it was just a warm and good feeling when I was at Temple and I made a lot of delightful friends while I was there. I think it shaped part of my thinking for later on in life. For years, I thought I wanted to be the first female rabbi. However, right before I went to Israel, I had to learn Hebrew and it was so tough for me. I just couldn’t get it. Even to this day, if I had to learn Hebrew, I could not do it. The letters looked ridiculous to me.
Interviewer: When did you go to Israel for the first time?
Hershorin: I was not quite 16. I was 15 that summer and was going to be 16 in September.
Interviewer: What was the occasion? Why did you go to Israel?
Hershorin: I went with NIFTY. I was one of the first groups that went with NIFTY. We went from all over the country.
Interviewer: For people who don’t know what NIFTY is, would you please tell us?
Hershorin: North American Federation of Temple Youth. It was a youth group affiliated with the Reform movement.
Interviewer: So you went to Israel. Do you remember how long you were gone? What did you do there?
Hershorin: I was gone for eight weeks. I remember flying to Ireland and from Ireland, we flew to Nice and from Nice, we got on a bus that took us to Marseilles and from there we got on a boat that took us to Haifa.
Interviewer: What an experience!
Hershorin: When I went, Israel was only ten years old.
Interviewer: It was 1958, right? When you got to Israel, what was your agenda?
Hershorin: We saw the country. We went with Rabbi Brickner.
Interviewer: Who was Rabbi Brickner?
Hershorin: His father was a very famous rabbi out of Cleveland. He went back to Cleveland and he still does a lot of things in the Reform movement.
Interviewer: So you traveled in a group.
Hershorin: We traveled as a group of youth and when we went to Israel, we stayed at youth hostels. We did not stay in hotels. Most of the time, the hostels were very plain and very sparse and very much like camp. But some were even less than that. I remember sleeping on straw mattresses when we went to Masada and we were down by the Dead Sea. We had straw pillows and just a blanket to go over us. It was a fascinating experience. We worked on a kibbutz for two weeks.
Interviewer: Do you remember which one?
Hershorin: Nachal Oz.
Interviewer: Where was it located?
Hershorin: Right next to the Gaza Strip. On the border, they had UN soldiers that were in Gaza at that time that used to sneak over at night and bring us Coca Colas. We picked potatoes the first week. However, I lost my antibiotics in the lining of my purse and I was sick that week from some of the water that I wasn’t used to. So I didn’t pick potatoes but I did pick carrots the second week. We went out in the field and helped them. And that was very important because we were helping the survival of Israel at that time and it was really a pioneering country. To this day, when I go back and we leave Tel Aviv and it’s still green, it amazes me because I remember leaving Tel Aviv and it was all brown. Nothing but sand all the way down. And we drove all the way down to Eilat, part of it. We got stopped in a sandstorm in the middle of a kibbutz which I don’t remember the name of that but it was Ben Gurion’s kibbutz. It was very interesting and very different and it really helped shape my life.
Interviewer: So you really were roughing it compared to the kind of life you lived here in Columbus.
Hershorin: Yes, but I was used to that by going to camp. That was not difficult. I didn’t feel that I was a spoiled child and I was unhappy with roughing it. That didn’t bother me at all. I was keeping a diary, taking pictures and was just fascinated by the whole thing.
Interviewer: Do you still have those pictures?
Hershorin: Yes, I do.
Interviewer: Do you share those with your children?
Hershorin: Years ago I did, but now I think they’d appreciate them more now that they’re older.
Interviewer: You mentioned camp. Did you go every summer to camp?
Hershorin: We went to camp starting at the age of seven; I believe is when I went. The first camp we went to was Camp Accomac in Maine. I believe Mom went there and that’s why we went there. Then later on, I went to another camp in Maine called Vega. That was Jane’s first year. Camp Accomac is no longer in existence.
Interviewer: Is Vega still in existence?
Hershorin: I believe so, yes.
Interviewer: So you went to camp from the age of seven until…
Interviewer: Richard is whom?
Hershorin: Richard is my husband and we were married in 1964. We didn’t waste any time, we had children immediately. In 1971, I became a member of the Women’s American ORT. I was living in Wilmington, Delaware at that time. I found ORT very fascinating because they were just developing this chapter. We were thrown in and told to learn about it. We did. We were a group of women together, we were all friends and we learned about it and we worked hard and I was made a national board member the following year. This trip to Israel came up for the national board. They didn’t have enough money to send me and I didn’t have enough money to go but when Dad heard about it, he said, “I’m sending you.” So I went over on this national board trip. I guess because I went to Columbus School for Girls and learned to be a loner, I don’t have to have a friend to tow along and go to a meeting with. I just go when I want to go to places. So I picked a trip that I thought was good for me and I went on it. It was a fascinating trip because I had a lot of national leadership on it with me and they took me under their wing and they kept saying, “Be good to her. She’s future leadership. Be good to her.”
It was unbelievable to see the difference and I saw it from a whole different light. I remember when I went, when I was 15, we’d get out of the bus and Rabbi Brickner would say to us, “Ok, we’re going to see another tel” and this was nothing but another hill. It hadn’t been dug out yet. Something had happened there but all we could see was a hill so it looked like nothing. In 1972, when I went back, all the tels had been excavated – not all but quite a few – at that point so there was a big difference. There were a lot of ancient sights to see that I hadn’t seen before. There were a lot of ORT schools that we went to which I found fascinating. I was very attracted by what ORT was doing. To me, it was making a difference for this country. Yad Vashem was so different. I had seen it when it was a one room place in a museum so to speak – almost a big house. To go to where it is today was completely different for me. And quite a moving experience. It was just a fabulous trip for me. I think part of the highlight of the trip was Golda Meir.
Interviewer: You met her?
Hershorin: I met Golda Meir. She spoke at our conference and I brought some friends who were there on a synagogue conference and I asked them to be my guests to hear her. I remember today what she had to say and I’ve quoted her many times.
Interviewer: That’s wonderful to have had that experience. She was quite a woman. Let me backtrack just a little bit, Patti. You and Richard were married, what year?
Hershorin: We were married here in Columbus, Ohio. Rabbi Jerome Folkman performed the ceremony and it was at the Maramor. It was very different and it was cold and icy but a wonderful wedding. Shortly after, I got pregnant immediately and my first child was born August 20, 1964. So I didn’t have time to be much of a newlywed. I was a mother right away.
Interviewer: Where did you live?
Hershorin: When we were married, Richard was in Wisconsin, working for Dad at SCOA Industries. Dad put him into the shoe factories and we were living in a small town in Wisconsin, called Wapon -which had a very small population. The biggest part of the population was either the prison or the insane asylum. And the shoe factory was there. Those were the three big things in that town. We were not far from Milwaukee and we went into Milwaukee often because it was very difficult for me at that time. A woman did not work and I couldn’t go to school anymore, there was no school there. And besides, I was pregnant. I was going to have a child. In March or April, we moved to Wilmington, Delaware and Richard went to work for staying with SCOA for the Wilmington Dry Goods that was there. We were there for five years when the Wilmington Dry Goods store moved him to Huntington, West Virginia for two years. My second child was born in Wilmington. David was born May 14, 1967 which is an unusual date (and he is an unusual child) because he is the third generation in our family to be born on May 14 and it was Mother’s Day that year. Mother’s brother was born on May 14 which happened to be Mother’s Day the year that he was born. And Jane was born May 14. So it was the third generation, the same date which was very interesting.
Interviewer: So now you’re in Huntington?
Hershorin: We packed up the two children and we moved to Huntington, West Virginia where Richard managed the store there and which was very different from what he was doing in Wilmington. We moved out of there two years later and back to Wilmington and I would say that was a good thing. Although I enjoyed Huntington and it was a good learning experience for me, in fact it was a wonderful learning experience for me because I got very involved in the Jewish community right away. That’s what I did. That’s what I did before I went to Huntington and that’s what I did in Huntington. You were considered young if you were under 55 and I always considered you were young when you were under 35 so it was a whole broadening for me. There was Hadassah and Sisterhood and there were only two temples there. When I did the Hadassah and Sisterhood thing, I was with 70 and 80 year old women. We were all equals and I learned it was very easy to be comfortable with people who were my parents and grandparents ages.
Interviewer: How did you and Richard meet?
Hershorin: Richard and I met through my roommate at college in Wisconsin. His best friend and my roommate were dating. We met that way. I got married to Richard and they never got married to each other. They each married different people.
Interviewer: Did you have more children? Or just the two?
Hershorin: We just have two children. A boy and a girl.
Interviewer: How long were you in Wilmington?
Hershorin: When we moved back to Wilmington, we stayed there until 1982. We moved back in 1971 so we were there another eleven years.
Interviewer: What happened after that?
Hershorin: We decided to move to Florida. It was by choice and it was a very difficult choice. We knew we wanted to be in Florida.
Interviewer: You were very young to move to Florida.
Hershorin: Yes, we like the wonderful weather. It felt good. Unfortunately, I had had some whiplash accidents and I didn’t hurt when I went to Florida. The weather was wonderful for me. So we decided this might be a very good move and we might lead a better life if we did that. We had never lived in the same city with Mom and Dad and we had a very unusual relationship with them during those years.
Interviewer: What did Richard do?
Hershorin: Richard stayed with SCOA Industries until 1977 when he went out on his own. He was a small businessman at that time and he was selling pantyhose to stores that discounted – off price pantyhose. We were the middleman but we were ticketing them and making sure they were ready to go on the shelves.
Interviewer: How did your father feel when Richard left SCOA Industries?
Hershorin: My father made it very, very difficult for Richard in SCOA Industries. I don’t know how he felt because Dad and I weren’t close during those years. Dad was always very tough on Richard during those years; in fact, he used to say outwardly, “I will not endorse any movement for Richard.” He used to say that to Richard’s bosses which made it harder for Richard because he had to work with them. But he didn’t want it to be thought of as nepotism.
Interviewer: Then the two of you decided Richard would do something else. So he was selling pantyhose and then you decided to move to Florida. Did he continue to be a salesperson?
Hershorin: We stayed with that business for a while and then he went into the restaurant business for a few years. That was tough on him and he’s had some physical problems and we thought that might not be the best thing for him. It was going to kill him so we decided to get out of it. Then he floundered for a few years, then he found this business that was a catalog selling to camps and schools and supplying them. When he was in business for himself, I started to help him and started working and I continued working off and on. I always said to him, “I’ll always help you until the business makes enough money so that you can hire someone to replace me.” But I never seemed to get out, I was always under. I never got out until a year ago.
Interviewer: Is Richard still doing the same business?
Hershorin: Richard is doing it but we sold the company a year ago with the understanding that I was going to leave. I stayed through the summer season and left the end of August, last year.
Interviewer: When you moved to Florida, you moved to Sarasota and that’s where your parents wintered?
Hershorin: Yes, and that was a difficult decision. We thought maybe we’d go somewhere else. We had never been in the same city with them and since we had such a conflict with Richard and Dad for so many years, that we thought maybe we would be better off in another city. But we just adored Sarasota and I knew that part of my life, I would put into Jewish philanthropy. I didn’t like the East coast at all. It was not my cup of tea. We were looking at the West coast. The Tampa area was too over populated and too big. Fort Myers seemed like I would be a pioneering Jew, I would be back in West Virginia again. I did not want that. So that’s why we went to Sarasota. It was a small community, very much like Wilmington, Delaware and it was very comfortable.
Interviewer: So you moved to Sarasota, what year, again?
Interviewer: Patti, would you tell me about your children and give me their birthdays?
Hershorin: Laura Lynn was born August 20, 1964. William David – we call him David -was born May 14, 1967.
Interviewer: Where are your children now? Are they in school? What are they doing?
Hershorin: Laura is living in a town called Chelmsford and is right outside of Lowell, Massachusetts. She is practicing as a family physician there and she is terrific.
Interviewer: Is she married?
Hershorin: Not married. That’s the only thing I still want.
Interviewer: So she’s a family physician. And David?
Hershorin: David is living in New Orleans and he was married four years ago on his birthday, May 14, 1995. He married a lovely gal named Jill Minkin and the two of them are very, very happy. He is my free spirit. He loves jazz and that’s why they’re living in New Orleans. He’s into whatever he can get into that has to do with jazz, production, etc. In fact, he just sent his grandparents a thank you note for his birthday present and in it he had a picture of himself interviewing Dave Brubeck. He’s just a free spirit.
Interviewer: Do they have children yet?
Hershorin: No children.
Interviewer: So you’re anxiously waiting.
Hershorin: It’s not going to be nine months. It might be longer.
Interviewer: I think that ORT is very important to you so I’d like to go back and discuss ORT. Tell me again, how you first got introduced to ORT and what it was like then and then how you accepted it and what you did for ORT.
Hershorin: When I moved back to Wilmington, Delaware, from Huntington, West Virginia, I was back a few weeks and I got a telephone call from one of my friends from before. They had just formed this ORT chapter and she was having coffee at her home and would I come? And I did go with many of my friends. And I joined that evening. Since it was so new – they had just formed a few months before – we were really putting a chapter together so I felt it was very exciting. I had been in Hadassah before because my aunt had taken me there and I was a member of Sisterhood and had things with the Sisterhood but I just really found the ORT program fascinating and we had to learn about it because we had to bring more members in. That was our task that year, to bring more members in and you can’t bring members in without telling them about the organization. So we really spent the year learning about it. It was fascinating to me.
Interviewer: What was the mission of ORT?
Hershorin: ORT has been in existence, it’ll be 120 years next year. It began with agricultural trades and has gotten larger and then did vocational trades. It started in Russia and has spread all over the world. It has over 800 installations. Do you want my ORT speech?
Hershorin: 262,000 students in the installations at this time with its biggest operation being Israel. But we are now back in the former Soviet Union where we began. And we are in the United States and we are growing in the United States because from vocational education, we’ve gone into technical education and as we all know, computers are our future and technology is our future. We are making a big difference and our schools are very much in demand. I think an interesting story about that is my sister-in-law on my husband’s side, met some friends in Israel and I met them when I was there in 1972 for the very first time. Every time I went back, they said to me. “Are you still so active in ORT?” And I’d say yes and they just said, “Eh!”
Interviewer: What does that mean?
Hershorin: They just felt that what I was doing wasn’t so important. Then one year, I went back and they said to me, “Our son, Ofer, is in an ORT school.” It was making a difference in their son’s life and they began to see what the difference was. I don’t believe Israel would be the economic country that it is today. All the free enterprise, etc. without the training that we have done, because it’s the technological thing that has made a difference to them.
Interviewer: So there are ORT schools in many cities in Israel?
Hershorin: In almost every city in Israel. They would love it to be in every city because it makes a difference for the school, it makes a difference for the child, whether he’s going to stay in technology when they’re doing it in the high school years or whether they’re just going into the army. It makes a big difference in the army. In fact, the army asks us, with some special students, to keep them another year and train them and then they go into the army because they’re better people for it.
Interviewer: So ORT schools were for all Israelis as well as immigrants who come into the country?
Hershorin: Everybody. They even have Arabs in some of the schools. ORT schools are open to all. ORT schools are not strictly ORT schools and strictly funded because many of them are government schools but it’s the extra ORT dollars that make them an ORT school and it’s the extra ORT expertise and training that’s given there that makes the difference for them.
Interviewer: Do the students live on the campuses, so to speak, or are they day students?
Hershorin: ORT is an unusual organization. Yes, we have some dormitory schools. That’s not the prevailing point of it, however, the big, beautiful, brand new college… Yes, there are dormitories but there are day students there as well. But that’s a college.
Interviewer: About ORT in the United States. Is that something new? Or has that been?
Hershorin: ORT started in the United States many, many years ago in the garment district and it was training people in the garment district. That school became one room in an office building because it was over and done for those years. But then technology came to be and then some of the Russians were coming, the Iranians were coming, the Syrians were coming. We got quite a few different Jews coming to this country. So in New York, we developed a school and very sadly, we haven’t just had a school and said, “Well, let’s see what subjects we can put out.” We always surveyed the areas to see where the jobs are. And those are the subjects that have been taught. So we were able to make a difference in a lot of immigrants’ lives in New York. Then the immigrants began to go to California and Chicago – the big cities. So we started installations there.
Interviewer: Do you have to be Jewish to go to an ORT school?
Hershorin: No. You don’t have to be Jewish to go to an ORT school. But one of the other things that happened was the Jewish Day Schools in Miami became very savvy and they decided they wanted to have a computer course there. They applied to ORT and ORT came in and began with a computer course there. Now we are in the day schools in Cleveland, we are hi the day schools in Atlanta, we are about to go into Detroit and not in the day schools but in the Jewish Community Center. It’s a very unique kind of set-up but it’s going to make a difference for a lot of adults in Detroit. As interesting as it is, when the cities are hearing about it, I know in Sarasota, when they heard about Detroit, they said, “We want a school.” They don’t even have a Jewish day school much less ready to have an ORT school but they feel like that would make the difference. We’re bringing a Jewish day school that has just begun and they’re adding grade upon grade but even then, it’s not meeting up to the ORT specs because they’re very tight specs and there’s only one hour a week devoted to Jewish education and all ORT schools are devoted to Jewish education. There are at least five hours a week of Jewish education and there’s Hebrew in many of the ORT schools.
Interviewer: So you’re still very active in the ORT organization?
Hershorin: Last year about the time that we were selling our business, I received a letter from a national nominating committee, asking me to be a member of the National Board of Directors to which I was very flattered but I knew that was something I couldn’t do if I was working. We sold the business and I took the job on the National Board of Directors. Women’s American ORT has taken a whole new approach to its organization and has trimmed it down so that I feel very special. I am one of the 34 women across the country that are on the National Board of Directors. I have been a National Board of Directors member before but there were several hundred of us that were National Board of Directors members and they were appointed either from the area that you were working from the area… if I was in the district, I was appointed as a district person. But I had never been asked to be national and I didn’t think I ever would because I always felt they were very brilliant women and I wasn’t quite up to their task. I found it a challenge this past year, very much a challenge and a learning experience because they’ve taken a whole new direction and I’ve had to move and think in that direction. It’s been interesting because I’ve taken a… not a complete back seat but I sort of stepped out a few years before that and not been involved organizationally as much as I have in just fund raising.
Interviewer: That’s quite an honor to be where you are.
Hershorin: And I’m enjoying it.
Interviewer: That’s the best part. So living in Sarasota, you joined the temple / synagogue and you became active in the Jewish community?
Interviewer: Did you learn this from your parents?
Hershorin: I guess so. I just knew that that’s what you do. I have to tell you, I have memories of being young – I can’t remember how young – and going to the Federation. I don’t know what they were called back then in the early 50s – meetings that were at Ilonka’s and seeing films about the Holocaust. I was very young to do it but my parents felt that it was important that I learn what was going on in the Jewish world and be a part of it. I always was very active in the youth groups with the Reform temple. But that was all I was active in. But I remember mother also taking me to the National Council of Jewish Women meetings and we used to do “ship-a-box” where we used to bring clothing and put together the boxes that were shipped overseas. So I was really very much into it and I knew that was what you do in life. So that’s what I did.
Interviewer: So you’re still very active philanthropically in Sarasota?
Hershorin: I took a position this year on the Foundation board. I found that very interesting and also a learning experience. I had been on the Federation board and had to step out because I knew I couldn’t go any further while I was working with business at the same time. I prefer doing things, I believe, outside the temple. I started because of the temple. When we moved, David was in confirmation class and there were only six children hi that confirmation class and I just took an active role, making sure that it was a good confirmation in the spring, for them. I was in the kitchen doing things. That’s what I like to do. I’ve been a cook, I think, longer than Mom’s been a cook. So I like doing that and I like to joke and say I joined ORT because I can pour coffee. I’ve always felt that there is a place for me and I could be as active as I want to be.
Interviewer: You enjoy the Foundation work? That is the Jewish Foundation in Sarasota?
Hershorin: Yes. They call it the Jewish Community Foundation in Sarasota. I enjoy it very much. I am on the Scholarship Committee which I find very interesting. It’s not really the Scholarship Committee – it’s called SKIP – Send a Kid to Israel Program – which is the thrust of what to do to help our children be involved and a part of Jewish identity. So it’s been interesting to learn about the children because I’ve stepped back and I don’t know a lot of these children. To be able to have the opportunity to find the money to send these kids to Israel. I was told this past year that Dad had set up money to go into the SKIP fund and that it had never been used. It had accumulated to a nice piece of change and could make quite a difference for quite a few children. But we needed to make a contract out of it and make it formal so they could use it because it had never been done. They have collected the money and just put it aside. I think Sarasota, in its own way, has been a pioneering community. Therefore, people have had a lot of energy but a lot of things have not been followed through. So the Foundation is becoming a much more professional organization is one way to put it and tying up all the loose ends that were left behind in the very beginning of it. I convinced Dad to do this and we made arrangements that we could release a certain amount of money. So he is sending the Schiff Scholars from a temple youth group and they are going to Israel. He’s not underwriting their whole trips but partial trips because that’s what SKIP does. They become partners with…
Interviewer: How many students will be going to Israel this summer?
Hershorin: This summer, 21 students will go to Israel and 11 of them will be Dad’s, Last summer, three students went to Israel. It will grow and grow and our mission will be to get more money into these funds.
Interviewer: Can I go, please? (laughter)
Hershorin: No, neither you nor I can go. We’re too old (more laughter).
Interviewer: That is wonderful that there are people, you for one, your father, involved with sending students to Israel. It is true. It’s how we’re going to keep our kids Jewish. Tell me how did you begin working, professionally, businesswise, with your father? How did it all come about?
Hershorin: When I moved to Sarasota in 1982, it was very difficult for Dad to accept that his children were there. It was nice that we were not next door, so to speak and that we were really 30-45 minutes away. Mom always loved it but this way Mom couldn’t stop in so easily. It took Dad awhile to adjust to the idea that his children were there and that his children were going to be part of this community. But once we proved ourselves as part of the community, Dad began to accept us. I said to Dad, when he was going back and forth to Columbus – he would commute down on Wednesday or Thursday and go back every Sunday to Columbus – “We don’t know each other and we ought to get to know each other. Let’s have lunch.” We had lunch once and he said, “This is good. Let’s have lunch again.” And he used to call me from the office and ask me to go to lunch the first few years. Then it became a standing date – he and I went to lunch on Thursdays – I would do everything I could not to have an appointment on Thursday. Sometimes it was difficult if there was a tremendously big luncheon coming up that I had to have my face there. And sometimes I had to be out of town, but most of the time, I was there and Dad was there.
Interviewer: Let’s continue to talk about the developing business relationship between you and your father.
Hershorin: Dad and I had lunch every Thursday for six months and we got to know each other. About four or five years ago, Mom and Dad were taking a look at their wills. Dad decided that there would be no real secrets within the family at that point. Up until then, nobody really knew anything because Mom and Dad had always been very private about their own affairs. So I said to Dad, “What are you going to do if there comes a time when you are alive but you can’t handle your own affairs?” He told me that was never going to happen because, he said to me, he would commit suicide first. I said, “Oh? Really?” and I didn’t bring it up all the time to him but I brought it up off and on for several years.
About two or two and a half years ago, he began to take me seriously. Maybe he realized he was beginning to forget some things. I don’t know. So he made arrangements for me to be his person to take care of his affairs during that period if he couldn’t handle them. He felt that was one thing and the other thing was for me to be thrown into it without knowing anything would be terrible. He wanted me to have an education, so he asked me to come to Columbus – I came to Columbus three or four times that year when things were happening. He opened his people to me, introduced them to me. He told me I could call them anytime and they felt that way, too. They would send me papers all the time, all year long. And I would become part of what was going on. I asked a lot of questions but I really sat quietly the first year. The second year I began to have more of a feel of it and began to be able to ask questions and assert myself a little bit. So Dad made me a part of his life at that time.
It’s interesting, because years ago, when I was growing up, we learned to take the bus very early. We used to take the bus after school and go downtown and go shopping at Lazarus. Dad taught us all to be very thrifty by putting us on a clothing allowance. We had so much a month that we were allowed to spend. So we liked to go shopping here and there, as most women do. We would go shopping after school and we had to find ourselves at Dad’s office around 5 or 5:15 p.m. so we could come home with him. We could have taken the bus home but it was terribly crowded. I used to wait for Dad in his outer office while he was having meetings at that 5 or 6 o’clock hour. I’d sit out there and I never got to hear what was going on but I heard loud voices and I heard disagreements. I heard all sorts of things. I saw magazines but I used to play on the typewriter or do homework, or whatever. It was an introduction to business. Dad told all of us when we went to college, that we were there for our “MRS.” degrees and all of us believed him and none of us finished college. Sue did go back to school later in her married life and got a degree. I never did. I did go back to school to see if I could do it and I did it. Got an “A” in the course – it was statistics and everybody said, “Why are you taking that awful course?” But I never found time because when I would look at the course matter, I would say, “But I’m going to be out of town here and there and it wasn’t a good course to take if I was going to be away.”
So none of us were trained in business and people used to ask, “Why didn’t your Dad train one of you girls?” But he was very much a chauvinist all those years and his girls were not meant to be in the business with him. So this was quite a coup with Dad, to have him trust one of his girls, so to speak and put her in a position where she knows everything. I find it very interesting and I really learned more about him the last two years, than I ever did before that. I thought I knew about him but I can’t believe what he does in philanthropy. It’s very interesting that he has such a heart and such deep feelings and probably gives away much more than he should. But he says he has to look at himself in the mirror and I think about that every day. I know I have to look at myself in the mirror so I guess that’s why I do what I do. It’s part of me, it’s ingrained in me.
Dad is just phenomenal and he’s very smart businesswise, too. I like that he set up his affairs for today and not one person is in charge of everything. That he has different pockets that sort of fit together, more like a jigsaw puzzle. It’s good. It’s difficult for me but it’s good. I like being given the chance to think some problems out now that Dad can’t think them out completely and work with his assistant and say what I have to say. Then she tells me what Dad would have to say. Having the opportunity to think about the two things and think about what’s right and then go on from there. It’s interesting. I have an open mind about a lot of things. I’m easy to work with, people say. I’ve tried to always be that way. Sometimes I have to put my foot down but I try not to. I try to be very open and very fair. I think Dad was that way. He tried to be very open and fair in his dealings. A lot of people might not say that because a lot of people had a lot of rough times with him. But in his heart, he tried to be open and fair. I think he was open and fair to us as we were growing up.
Interviewer: What do you think your sisters feel about you being selected as the one to work with your father businesswise?
Hershorin: I never worried about that when this happened because I knew he had to select one. I was the one that had the relationship with him and I was the one that could handle him and do with him. So I think they’re delighted in this day and age that that’s what I’m doing. I’ve always been fairly open with them. Of course, I’m not going to divulge everything because I don’t think Dad wants me to but at the same time, that which is important, I let them know. I’m the one that makes the final decision but I let them know. And I listen to their advice. I think the thing I’ve learned in ORT is the more heads that are together; sometimes you come up with the best solution. So it’s good to hear other points of view.
Interviewer: So you have an open relationship with your sisters.
Hershorin: Fortunately, now I do.
Interviewer: Did that take a while to achieve?
Hershorin: I think that because we were so far apart, age-wise and you were so slotted into your age groups, as we were growing up, we didn’t have that special closeness that usually is there. It looked that way on the surface but it was never really there until later in life. I think in the early 70s, one time we were all in Florida together. We did a lot of family vacations then, the whole family. My parents used to bring all of us down there. One time, we went into one of the bedrooms and shut the door – the three girls – and we were talking. We realized that we were all terrific in Mom’s eyes and in Dad’s eyes but they never told us that. They would tell us about the other two but never say that we were terrific or that what we were doing was important. But I would hear how wonderful Jane was and what she was doing and how wonderful Sue was and what she was doing. And they would say the same things about me. So I think that took a while. And then, unfortunately, I had some problems with my daughter shortly after we moved to Sarasota and my sister, Jane, intercepted later on to the point that I didn’t feel she belonged there.
Almost like she was being Dad and I didn’t feel that that was her place. It was such that it was so hurtful that I had to stop relationships with her. There was a ten year period where she and I did not speak. It’s just been a year now that we’ve been speaking again.
Interviewer: That’s very good. That’s wonderful so you worked very hard to bring that back.
Hershorin: Yes, but it was something that I had to settle between my husband and my daughter and myself before we could move on. Unfortunately, my daughter was in the middle of it which was very difficult.
Interviewer: But that’s all fixed now?
Hershorin: She’s terrific. She’s doing terrific.
Interviewer: That’s wonderful. What do you think the future holds for you and the Schiff Company?
Hershorin: The Schiff Company, of course, is not what it used to be. It’s Dad’s company and it’s Dad’s name and it’s basically an office for Dad to do his philanthropy and for him to take care of his own affairs. I think I will be a big part of it. It’s hard to tell how many years someone is going to live. Mother thinks Dad is going to live a long, long time. So then the Schiff Company will continue to operate the way it does but when Dad is gone, he’s divided his will in such a way that there will be philanthropy but it won’t be from the Schiff Company, so to speak, although the Schiff Company will probably always exist because we’ll need a base to keep things together.
Interviewer: You feel you will carry on, more or less, in your father’s footsteps, philanthropy-wise, concerning the Schiff Company?
Interviewer: In other words, you feel you’re being trained now to carry on later.
Hershorin: I feel that my priorities may be a little different than Dad’s priorities but I think Dad has said something to me that has been very interesting. He told me that when he pushed his father out of the company, his father said to him, “You’ll do it the way I’m doing it.” And he said, “No, Dad. I’ll do it the way I want to do it.” Well, I know Herbert Schiff very well and if I turned around and said that to my father, I would have nothing but problems until it was time for me to do it. So I can’t say that to him but at the same time, I think I will always have in the back of my mind what’s important to him so maybe I will feel something relates but he didn’t feel it related. It’s a new time and we have to eject on our own. Times change, priorities change. Just look at the Federations today and what their priorities are compared to what their priorities were. So that makes a difference and I’m not sure he understands those priorities today yet if he did, that would be his priority because Jewish identity and Jewish heritage are very, very important to him and have always been important to him. Resettling refugees has always been important to him. He doesn’t quite understand what’s going on now in the former Soviet Union. Now is our opportunity. Who knows when the doors are going to close again.
Interviewer: They could close very quickly. We just never know – in any of those countries. So you feel that your father trusts you to make these decisions?
Interviewer: And that makes you feel really good?
Hershorin: It gives me ambivalent feelings. It’s a huge responsibility. Yes, in some ways I feel good that he trusts me. I’m proud that I have achieved that in life but I don’t feel that I’m anything special. I feel that I’m doing what needs to be done. I feel that that’s how I’ve led my life. You do what needs to be done. You do it with charity; you do it as you lead your life. If the dishwasher needs to be emptied, it gets emptied. I don’t leave it there for the next person. If something has to be done, I do it. I’ve always been a doer. I feel that way about taking care of Dad’s responsibilities. It’s a different position being a female than being a male.
I have not had the good fortune to be as wealthy as Mom and Dad. So I have done a lot of my household chores, although I might have a cleaning man, I still do a lot of the little things. So when I come home, I’m not the queen who sits there and is fed the meal. I sometimes come home and make the meal after I’ve worked a hard day. We brought the office down to Sarasota this year and it was wonderful but I work a hard day with him. I get him there and spend all my time with him. On my way home, I stop at three stores and pick up the dry cleaning and the food and then I come home and prepare the food. Then after dinner, I take care of some of my own affairs. So it’s a very different kind of life. I don’t have a secretary to do these things for me. But I’m enjoying it and I’m enjoying learning the computer. I had to learn it for business. I enjoy doing it. I have an organized mind and that’s part of me so I can organize this as well. I don’t have time for all the reading that I’d like to have. Dad gets huge stacks of papers – very interesting things. Everything that I read is very interesting but if I spent all my time reading his things, I wouldn’t have time for some of my things. So I know that I have to prioritize but I think if he were sitting in my shoes, he would be doing it the same way. I don’t feel that I’m short-changing him; I’m giving him the best that I can. If he only knew the time and energy that was spent on him, talking about him, trying to problem-solve so life would be good for him, because that’s what I want. I want him to have his last years as comfortable as possible and as dignified as possible. As long as he can go into that office and as long as he can sign checks, that’s where I want him. And I think that’s where the family wants him.
Interviewer: You’re playing a very important role, Patti, to see to it that these things are going to happen. And that’s very important. Do you have anything else you would like to talk about? We haven’t talked very much about your mother; we talked a lot about your Dad. Would you like to talk about your mother at all?
Hershorin: My Mom is very special. I just want to go back for a minute before I talk about my Mom because you said something to me before we started that was very interesting to me and I wanted to comment on it. How the death of his mother influenced Dad’s life. I think, as I got older and had children of my own, when they were in grade school, I was able to look at my parents in a different light than as just my parents. They were people. I told you about when I was in Huntington, West Virginia, and how I began to be able to relate to older people. My sisters and I sat down and we realized that it was Dad’s early life that influenced the way he was today. I think about that often. It made Dad and Mom’s relationship an unusual relationship because Dad didn’t have that wonderful, loving household all those years so he didn’t have those role models, so to speak. So our home life was unusual.
Now to get back to Mom, it made Mom, where Dad left off and couldn’t give us all those hugs and kisses and love, it made Mom’s role very interesting. As warm as she is outwardly, she was not a huggy, kissy person. She didn’t take us upstairs and tuck us into bed. We would kiss her good-night and then we would go upstairs and put ourselves to bed. So we became independent people very early but we had some of that loving spirit from Mom. And she was always very giving. She wanted to buy us things when we got married and always wanted to make sure we had certain comforts even though we couldn’t afford them. She would always make up for them.
When we were growing up, Mom loved her golf game. She didn’t play Bridge as much then but she loved her golf game and that was number one. It seemed like we were number two but I don’t think so, in her mind. But it always seemed that way when we were growing up because we had a housekeeper, too, so she could leave us. But I realize the obstacles that Mom had to live with, with Dad and his very busy life and the way that he was. She had to be “Mrs. Schiff”, so to speak, and lead a certain role. She traveled a great deal with my father on his business trips. Mom had a role she had to fulfill if she wanted to keep her marriage together. And she did. We may have resented it when we were growing up but I can see it today and I admire her for it. I think my Mom is a very strong lady because of all of this. She had to find her place and yet, still be that wife, so to speak, and play that role and be second person. Yet there were many hours that she had alone so she had to be her own person at that time and she found a role – a beautiful role.
Mom was a very good and giving mother. I recall with special fondness the morning that I got married. I was living across the hall in my little apartment and I got up and did my bathroom routine and went into the kitchen to get my breakfast. She took a look at me and she said, “What are you doing up?” And I said, “I came in here for some breakfast.” She said, “I will bring you breakfast. Get back into bed.” She brought me breakfast on a silver tray with the best silver and crystal and she made me feel very special.
Interviewer: That’s so nice. It’s interesting how children, when they get older, can sit back and analyze why their parents were the way they were. I think you’re right, the death of your Dad’s mother at his early age definitely influenced his life and therefore, that influenced your life. But it’s excellent that you’ve been able to analyze and come to terms with that.
Hershorin: I think if I hadn’t, I probably would have ended up on a psychiatric couch, which I didn’t have to do. I decided that some of the things our parents did were right but some of the things were really wrong. I always tucked my children in at night. In the morning, no one ever told me, when I went off to school, to have a good day. I always told my children “Have a good day. Be a good girl/boy. Remember, I love you.” I wanted them to take that with them for the day because I felt that was important. I didn’t have that.
Interviewer: Something you missed and wanted to have for your children.
Hershorin: I find it very interesting that my daughter and I have started to e-mail now. She e-mails me and she e-mails her father. We have two different e-mail addresses. She began with the first one in the morning and told me to “Have a good day and be a good Mom and remember that I love you.” And she wanted me to write that back to her and I did but I told her to “Be a good daughter…” because I didn’t think she was a girl anymore. I thought that she is a grown-up woman and leading a very important life, influencing a lot of different lives and bringing lives into the world. She didn’t like that. She said, “Mom, I don’t know what it is and I can’t explain it but you have to write it like you always did.”
Interviewer: That’s beautiful. I really like that. Is there anything else you would like to record for future…
Hershorin: I have very fond memories of Dad teaching me to drive.
Interviewer: That’s unusual.
Hershorin: That’s something we all three craved when we were 15 years old. We couldn’t wait until we were 16. I was always allowed to take the car keys when I was 15 and practice in the long driveway we had, going up and down and turning around and going back and forth, which was wonderful. On Sundays, Dad would take us over to the Town and Country parking lot and let us do whatever we wanted to do and basically, teach us how to drive.
I remember as a little girl, him giving us all a sense of direction. We’d go out for dinner and then he’d put one of us in the front seat – this was without the grandparents – and then he’d say, “Tell me how to go home.” If we told him to turn right and it was wrong, he would turn right and then he’d make us figure out how to get out of it so we knew a sense of direction. Of course, living in Bexley, with the streets going east, west, north and south, it was not too difficult. But it was really important that we learned and had a sense of direction. Dad gave that to us. I guess, in his own way, he wanted to teach us to be independent and he did teach us to be independent. He always allowed us to drive a rental car so that we could drive any car there was. It was certain things that he would do that maybe didn’t mean anything at that time but they do make a difference. At first, when I was married and we would go somewhere and we’d rent a car, my husband would say, “You can’t drive this car. You don’t know how to drive this car.” And I’d say, “I do. I can drive any car. My father taught me.” He just was really very good.
He taught us how to manage money. I remember when I was growing up, getting $30 a month to spend on my clothes and all my extras – movies, candy, whatever I wanted. And that was it. He didn’t give us the $30 in cash so we had a lot of cash. He had a wonderful way of doing it. His secretary kept a notebook in the office. When we needed cash, it was no problem. We’d write a receipt to him and he’d give us the cash and they would subtract that receipt from the cash we had. Every month, they would put the $30 into the account and add it up for us so we could accumulate it anyway we wanted or spend it anyway we wanted. That way we had money for charity and for many things.
Dad taught us a sense of being able to be on our own which was very good. When. I got married, my husband said, “The checkbook is yours.” And it has been mine ever since. I worry if something happened to me, what he would do. But I think he could pick it up and do it. These are just some wonderful things that Dad did for us and that I felt I needed to do for my children in return. But I think the biggest thing was teaching me philanthropy, the way he did. It is amazing to me what he does behind the scenes and it gives me a real sense of pride to see that I come from such wonderful heritage.
Interviewer: That’s a great role model to follow. Did your father have a nickname for you? Did he call you, Patti?
Hershorin: Patsy, sometimes. Almost always, I was Patti but I was always Patti with a “y”. My rebellion in life was to change the “y” to an “i”. That was big stuff. Dad was good with me. I remember rough times but I remember good times. I remember him being very proud of what he was doing in the shoe business. If we walked around the house without shoes, he’d get mad but it was almost ok if we just had socks on. But we almost always had to have shoes on. Even to this day, I don’t walk barefoot except when I exercise. If we had a sock with a hole in it, he would not allow us to wear it and if he caught us wearing it, he would tear if off our feet and say, “This will not do for my children. I can afford to buy you shoes and socks and you will not walk with holes in your clothing.” It was very interesting how he felt about certain things that I still remember today.
Even though we had a housekeeper, we had certain chores we had to do. We learned to make our beds. We learned to set the table and set it properly. We learned that you do not put a bottle on the table – even ketchup. That goes in a little container. We were really taught many things.
Interviewer: That’s interesting because many households that have help, the children don’t learn to do those things. They just come to the table, eat and leave, don’t clear the table, don’t empty the dishwasher, don’t make beds, whatever. So it’s very interesting that your parents were able to give you that kind of education as well.
Hershorin: They felt we would have to be on our own someday and they wanted us to be able to know it all. Now, when I come, they call me “Mrs. White Gloves, the cleaning lady’s coming.” I don’t really clean but I do straighten. Mom is a real pack rat and keeps things but Mom has got a sense of joie de vivre that is absolutely fantastic. She’d rather go on to the next exciting thing than to take time to straighten up papers. So I’ve just sort of taken my role to go through a bunch of things with her. Yet I saw her a few weeks ago, cleaning out her desk and she said, “Just take that pile and throw it away.” And I said, “No, Mother.” She said, “Come on. Just take it and throw it away.” And I said, “No, I’ve got to go through it, Mom.” There were deposit slips and old stuff but in it were a couple letters from her mother from 1961 that had to be very nostalgic because her mother died in 1962. So I’m glad that I didn’t listen to her and did it my way and that she has that today.
Interviewer: So many things like that get thrown out that shouldn’t be thrown out.
Hershorin: It’s been interesting going through some of her things. What I’d love to go through, but I’ll probably do that with my sisters, is all the old pictures. I will find that very fascinating and when we’re all together at home, that’s usually one of our favorite activities.
Interviewer: Be sure to identify them and date them when you can. That’s very, very important for the future, so that people afterwards can look back and say, “Ok, that’s who that is…” Anything else you’d like to tell me?
Hershorin: I’m trying to think if there’s anything else special that I want to add.
Interviewer: You’ve done a fantastic job.
Hershorin: Well, you asked me about the piano lessons. I really thought that might be interesting. We all took piano lessons but none of us play today.
Interviewer: Did you hate it?
Hershorin: We had the most wonderful teacher and she came to the house, I think all through Sue’s years but she said she was going to stop coming to the house.
Interviewer: What was her name?
Hershorin: I can’t remember her name. But mother would have to bring us to her house. And Mom said, “No,” because Mom had a life and Mom did not drive car pools, so to speak and did not have to take her children. She didn’t do it from the beginning. So she gave me another teacher that I walked to. This teacher was very strict and very difficult and everything that I was relaxed at and very comfortable with, she just undid with her taking my fingers and pounding them and so forth. So I never went back to it. My daughter always wanted to have piano lessons and I was going to do it when she was home one summer. I wanted her to want them, not be forced down her like they were forced down me. I felt if she wanted them, then she would do something with it. Just as we were about to do it was when we moved to Sarasota but she’ll do all right in life and she can get a piano and have lessons if she feels that’s a priority for her.
Interviewer: A lot of adults do.
Hershorin: So it’s interesting that that was one thing I rebelled against. I don’t know if my sisters ever gave any of their children piano lessons either.
Interviewer: Did you do recitals and stuff?
Hershorin: Yes. Yes, I remember that.
Interviewer: Did your parents come to the recitals?
Hershorin: Yes, they did come to the recitals. At least mother always came. If Dad was in town, he would come, too. I had fond years at Temple and Temple Youth Group, being a part of that and going to conclaves and meeting kids from other cities.
Interviewer: Our tape is coming to an end and I want to thank you, Patti, for sharing your personal life experiences with the Columbus Jewish Historical Society.