I was born in January 1938, the second child of Rabbi Julius
L. and Sema Baker. My mother, Sema Yablok came to the United
States as a young girl, but returned with her mother to
Poland in 1929, in search of a suitably religious mate.
There she met and married my father in August of 1930.
Before immigrating to this country, my father’s name was
Yehudah Leib Piecarz.
My father’s arrival in the United States in 1932 during the
heart of the depression was cause for my parents to reside
with my grandparents in a small house at 558 E. Fulton St. In
1933 my older sister Hilda was born.
Although I was quite young when we lived on Fulton Street, I
have very vivid memories of that time in my life. The
residents of the neighborhood were mostly middle class black
families and immigrant Jews. Everyone got along well and
life was very peaceful. There were two Synagogues, three meat
markets and two bakeries all within walking distance. Doors
were unlocked, windows were open and a trolley ran down the
middle of the street.
As a very young child, not far beyond highchair age, I would
sit with my mother and grandmother at a large round oak
breakfast table were they would teach me introductory Hebrew.
If I was learning well, a penny would miraculously fall to
the table as if it had come from heaven. I always wondered
how it had penetrated the roof.
In 1941 the war broke out and, among other things, fuel for
automobiles was rationed. I recall that many of the door-to-
door merchants such as the milkman, bread man and fruit-
peddler drove a horse and wagon. After a while the horse
learned the route and knew when and where to stop. Many
people still had ice boxes that required regular blocks of
ice to maintain the temperature. Therefore, people had signs
in their windows indicating the amount of ice they required.
The ice man also arrived in an insulated wagon pulled by a
horse. I can recall riding on the horse drawn wagons with the
junk and fruit peddlers while going on their route. I also
can recall that during snowy and icy weather, I would grab
onto the back end of the trolley and ride a few blocks gliding
on the ice.
In 1942, my parents bought their first home at 675 Linwood
Avenue. It was like a palace compared to where we had lived
before. There were nine rooms and I had my own bedroom. I
had not previously known what it was like to sleep in a full-
size bed and not have to share the room. We had purchased the
house furnished so that everything was as it had been when
the previous owners had lived there. They had an elder uncle
or father who did not reside with them but came each day
through the unlocked door and took a nap on the couch in the
front parlor. For some time after we moved in, this
gentleman continued to come every afternoon and take a nap.
Although I was only five years old in 1943, the war was still
on and with the lack of qualified teachers, kindergartens
were not as prevalent as today. I entered the first grade at
Ohio Avenue School and was the youngest person in the class.
I also began Hebrew School which I did not like since it
required getting on a bus after school, and riding to other
schools to pick up students to be taken to the Hebrew School.
After about an hour’s bus ride, which left me with a queazy
stomach from the fumes, we were dropped at the Hebrew School
building. One of the teachers smoked Turkish cigarettes and
the building had a foul odor. Between the bus ride and the
cigarettes, I often became ill and did not begin to feel
better until school was out and I again had to resume the one
hour ride home.
In March of 1943, while getting off the Hebrew School bus, I
was struck by a bakery truck that had failed to stop for the
school bus. I was seriously hurt with a fractured skull and
other injuries. I was hospitalized and in a coma for a
period of time but eventually recovered and was able to
return to school. However, I never returned to Hebrew School
and continued my Jewish education with my father and other
teachers who would come to the house and give me private
Life on Linwood Avenue was very pleasant, although different
from that on Fulton Street. The Synagogues, meat markets and
bakeries were more remote as we had moved to what, in those
days, was considered the suburbs. Most of the neighbors were
nice enough but an undertone of anti-semitisim existed and
could be felt. I often had to defend myself against Christian
boys who were probably not much older then me but appeared to
be giants compared to me. I was quite small for my age. I
recall on more than one occasion being asked why I killed
Christ. I tried to explain to these boys that I wouldn’t even
step on an ant. But they would insist that their parents had
told them that the Jews killed Christ. I recall coming home
and telling my mother about this. Her response was that she
did not know him and besides he was dead before she was born.
Many Jewish families lived on my street or nearby. One
family moved much further East to what, at that time, seemed
like the country. I would visit them often and enjoyed
staying over in their very large house and playing football
on the oversized grounds.
In 1945 the war ended and life returned to normal for all
but those who had lost friends and relatives in the war. Of
course, the tragedy of the holocaust began to be known and
most of the Jewish families, including my family, who were
first generation Americans, lost many close relatives in the
Life for the balance of the 1940’s was quite pleasant for a
child with no particular cares. My father, among other things
was the Rabbi in Lancaster Ohio. Among his duties was to
teach the children from Lancaster and the surrounding
communities their Hebrew lessons and prepare the boys for Bar
Mitzvah. In the summer I would often go with him and,
therefore, I became acquainted with the families of
On May 15, 1948, the State of Israel was proclaimed and this
was cause for great celebration in our home. In his study my
father had a large wall size map of what was previously
called Palestine and we would regularly discuss every facet
of the country. I also had a dog that gave birth to a litter
of puppies the same morning that we awoke to find the
creation of the modern State of Israel.
In 1949 I graduated from the sixth grade at Ohio Avenue
School. I had no regrets about leaving this bastion of
Christianity. Thinking back to those years in elementary
school, I remember having only Jewish friends, some black
acquaintances, and old maid school teachers who carried yard-
sticks. At Christmas and Easter assembly when I would either
mouth or not sing their songs, the yard sticks would be used
to strike me across the knees.
Looking back on this period through the eyes of someone
living at the end of the twentieth century, this behavior by
a school system and school teachers seems archaic. However,
I’m not sure that we are not better for having lived through
this period when we fought for what was important rather then
have it handed to us by legislation.
I entered the seventh grade that fall at Roosevelt Junior
High School. The Christian boys were bigger, the girls were
more developed and life began to be a bit more difficult.
Whether it be interpersonal relationships or the
departmentalization of education, suddenly responsibilities
that I had not previously known began to confront me.
I made it through that year and when school let out it was
1950 and the third decade of my life, although I was only 12
years old. We drove to Florida that summer and a love affair
with Florida began that continues until this day. My parents
and I had decided that I would attend a Yeshiva School in
New York the following year.
That summer, while playing football, I broke my arm and due
to complications from a compound fracture, it required
surgery to set the breaks. When I left for Yeshiva in New
York that fall, I had a cast on my arm from below the wrist
to well above the elbow.
Life in New York was very different from anything I had ever
experienced. Besides having so much independence at such a
young age, the degree of religious observance was far
different from that, which had been observed in what I
thought was our very traditional orthodox home. The school
was also located in a Puerto Rican neighborhood and fights
broke out regularly between the local residents and the boys
from the Yeshiva. Although my arm cast became an excellent
defense weapon, it also required resetting each time I was in
a fight. When I came home in January of the following year
for my Bar Mitzvah I still had the cast. While at the
Yeshiva in New York that year, I required the services of
the orthopedic surgeon so often that, jokingly, I refer today
to having an orthopedic surgeon on retainer during my eighth
grade at Yeshiva.
The Williamsburg Bridge that connected the Williamsburg
section of Brooklyn to lower Manhattan was located near the
dormitory. These were the early days of television and not
many people had T.V.’s. Virtually none of the people of this
very Chasidic neighborhood would have had television in their
homes. Although there was not much to watch on T.V. in
those days, my home in Columbus had a T.V. I had a friend
from London, England in school who was as much a rogue as I
was. On Saturday afternoon, we would walk across the
Williamsburg Bridge to Lower Manhattan and watch a ball game
in the window of an appliance store.
During the week when we could find the time, we would take a
subway to Manhattan and go to the Horn and Hardart Cafeteria.
Food was dispensed through slots in the wall upon the
insertion of the proper change. I’m not sure what the thrill
was and it assuredly was not the quality of the food, but it
was only the thought of doing something wrong and getting
away with it. We would never eat anything that was knowingly
not Kosher but it certainly would have been forbidden by the
Yeshivah. Once we sat in a delicatessen and ate food that my
family would not have objected to. Our backs faced the door
made of glass, so we did not see who entered. As we sat
there we were suddenly lifted into the air by what seemed
like a hoist. We were spotted by one of the older students
who was quite large and strong. We were properly reprimanded
by the Rosh Ha Yeshiva (The principal). This was not the
first nor the last of such incidences.
On Friday nights, I was often invited to a home in
Williamsburg for Shabbat hospitality. Although it was a very
warm experience, for me it was generally a bit stifling.
These were mostly Chasidim from various right wing Chasidic
I also had the opportunity to spend many Sabbath’s with
relatives. I had two sets of uncles, aunts, and cousins in
New York. One, my father’s brother and his family lived in
the Bronx. They were religious and he is a Rabbi. The other
was my mother’s brother and his family who lived in The Coney
Island section of Brooklyn. They were not very religious.
When I went to the Bronx, I attended Shul and spent Shabbat
afternoon taking long walks and exploring the Bronx, Upper
Manhattan and once even crossing the George Washington Bridge
into New Jersey. This sojourn took longer then I thought and
left many concerned for my safety as I returned quite late.
When I went for Shabbat to Coney Island, it was spent at the
nearby beach, boardwalk and the concessions that were along
the boardwalk. Interestingly, both were memorable
experiences that helped to make me what I am today.
Summer arrived and although I had only attended the school
for one year, with no plans to return, graduation ceremonies
were held. Officially I am a graduate of the Junior High
program of Yeshiva Torah Vaadath along with such illustrious
persons as Alan Dershowitz.
While I was away at Yeshiva, my parents had purchased a home
in Bexley at 190 N. Roosevelt Avenue. I enrolled in my
freshman year at Bexley High School. It took some time before
I acclimated to the environment. Most of the kids had been
friends growing up in the Bexley school system. Although I
knew some of the Jewish kids, for the most part I was a
stranger. Bexley is an affluent community and I felt like an
outsider since I did not come to school in an expensive car
and I did not know what the “in” clothes were. However, it
did not take long for me to learn my way around and soon I
had my cadre of friends. Once I asked a girl on a date. She
asked me how many cashmere sweaters I owned. I told her that
if someone gives me a gift of a cashmere sweater I will have
a total of one. She informed me that she had thirty six
cashmere sweaters. She would not go out with me. I made it
through my freshman year of high school. Although I was not a
great student, I acquired the knowledge necessary to enter
the tenth grade. I was also socially ready to tackle the
affluent clique society of Bexley High School.
That summer, my sister Hilda and her fiancé Don Lytton were
married and she moved out of the house. My grandparents,
Osher and Rosa Yablok, with whom we had lived when I was a
small child, came to live with us as they were becoming
increasingly incapable of taking care of their own needs.
I had sometimes driven vehicles and cars and considered
myself an experienced unlicensed driver of fifteen. Feeling
extremely gutsy one night, a friend of mine and I pushed my
father’s car out of the garage and down the street out of ear
shot. We then started the engine and headed for Buckeye
Lake where we knew, in those days, that the action was. I
had a one-car accident and rolled the car in a ditch.
Although neither of us suffered serious injuries I thought
that my leg was broken and the emergency squad took me to the
hospital. When my father was called, he was surprised that
his car was not in the garage, that I knew how to drive and
that I was in the hospital and his car was destroyed. The
fact that I am still alive attests to the tolerance level
that my family had when it came to my mischief.
Later that summer, a friend and I took a Greyhound bus to
Miami, Florida where we survived on the little bit of money
we had between us. While on the bus, I became acquainted
with a black Jamaican boy. This was 1953 and segregation was
prevalent in the South. The bus made a rest stop at a
restaurant in Macon, Georgia. We got off the bus and began to
go into the restaurant. This Jamaican boy, knowing the
segregated south better then I, proceeded to go to the rear
where the Black’s were served. I insisted that he come into
the front restaurant with me. We sat for awhile and were not
waited on. I called over someone who looked like he could be
the manager and asked why we were not being served. He
explained that blacks eat in the back. I protested that he
was a Jamaican not a southern black. He responded by looking
at this frightened boy and stated: “Go to the back and take
your Jew with you.” I did not realize at the time how
Semitic I must have appeared or if only Jews stood up for
In 1953, my father and uncle Herschel began to dabble in the
building business. My father, feeling somewhat experienced by
now, purchased a lot at 89 S. Broadleigh Rd. and began to
construct a house that was adequate for two families to
reside. Since my grandparents had come to live with us, the
house on Roosevelt was too small with too few bathrooms.
In 1954, I obtained my drivers license and for $100.00,
bought a 1938 Plymouth from my sister Hilda, who with her
husband Don, had purchased a new car. My history with cars is
that they don’t last long. So by the spring of 1954,
the Plymouth was gone and was replaced by a 1950 Ford.
By summer this was traded in on my first new car, a 1954
Studebaker, that cost before trade-in, $1800.00. This
pattern continues until this day but not quite as often.
Once I had transportation I was able to get a job. Among
other things, I worked Sundays at Schottenstein’s department
store on South Parsons Avenue. While in high school, I was
capable of earning enough money at this job to take care of
my weekly needs.
When working at Schottensteins, I also had the experience of
meeting many refugees from the camps of Europe who had
survived the Holocaust. This was an interesting experience as
most had the same tale to tell but with slightly different
variations. I heard from those who talked about what they
had and how good it had been. You knew instantly that there
was some untruth to what they were telling you. I had to
stifle my thoughts that, if things were so good, remember
that the boat goes both ways. Others were glad to be here,
did not talk of how good things had been but how good things
will be. The future proved my observance was correct as to
the degree that the various people succeeded and prospered.
In 1955, I graduated from high school and although I was far
from being at the top of the class, my father was the guest
speaker. My grade point average in high school was nothing
to brag about but I felt that I had gained a very well
rounded education and was prepared for college.
The first year of college ended with the same degree of
academic success as my high school years had concluded. I
felt that I had received knowledge but it did not translate
into a great grade point average. I joined A E Pi
Fraternity. While pledging the Fraternity, I was required to
eat lunch each day at the fraternity house. I kept Kosher and
found that most of the food was inedible for me. However, on
the table there was always white bread, peanut butter and
jelly. This became my regular lunch and I gained about 35
pounds that year. Since then, I have never eaten peanut
In 1956 I moved to campus and shared a very large half double
on 16th Avenue with two other fraternity brothers. It was a
three floor home and each of us had our own floor. Being
the youngest, I was relegated to the third floor. It really
worked out well since there was a side entrance to a back
stairway to the third floor. Therefore, for whatever reason
I did not want to pass through the rest of the house, when
entering or leaving I could do so without being detected.
Later that year, I met Alleen Marshall, an incoming freshman,
who in the future would become my wife. While she lived in a
dormitory that first year and had curfew hours established by
the University, we managed to spend a considerable amount of
In 1957, a few friends and I took advantage of an exchange
program that Ohio State University had with Mexico City
College, a small college at the southern border of Mexico
City. Although I was only there for about three months, the
experiences could be the text for another set of memoirs.
This also began a love affair with Mexico where I have
Three of us drove down in a late-model Ford convertible that
belonged to the boy from Cleveland. At the Mexican border we
met others that were heading for Mexico City College and
arrangements were made to meet there and possibly seek
housing together. In Nuevo Loredo, just across the border,
we stopped to purchase a gun, ten gallon hats, and take
typical Western photographs titled “On the Streets of
Loredo.” The gun did come in handy as we had a flat tire on
the road to Monterey. While changing the tire, a rattle
snake was about to attack but was neutralized by one shot of
the six-shooter. Monterey is 300 miles from the border, with
no gas stations along the road. Fortunately we had been
forewarned and took cans of gasoline in the trunk.
When we arrived in Mexico City, we registered at a hotel
where we met with two of the others from our border meeting.
We found a beautiful four bedroom apartment with two extra
rooms for maids quarters at Rio De La Plata, Viente Uno
(21). The apartment came well furnished, with telephone and
utilities included and one maid for cleaning, for $122.00 per
month. We hired an additional woman to cook for us for
$10.00 a month and living quarters. This was a first-class
elevator building with garage parking and its residents
included the family of the Mexican Ambassador to the United
The Ambassador had a daughter about our age. Among her
friends was the son of the British Ambassador to Mexico.
This allowed us poor “estudiantes” to rub shoulders with
dignitaries as these were very cordial and friendly people.
The winter of 1957 was the occasion of the wedding of
Elizabeth Taylor to Mike Todd, the movie producer. The
wedding was to take place at the Pierre Marquis Hotel on
Revolcadaro Beach in Acapulco. The Ambassador’s son had
several invitations for Embassy staff people who were unable
to attend. He asked if I would like to go to the wedding.
The idea thrilled me apart from a couple of problems: I had
very little money and the clothes that I had were
inappropriate for such an occasion. Our weekends in Acapulco
were usually spent sleeping in a hammock on the beach that
was available by bribing a guard one Peso (8c).
I did attend the wedding sleeping on the beach behind the
Pierre Marquis Hotel. I stored my overweight suit and other
sundry items on the end of the hammock, slipping the guard an
extra peso to watch my worldly possessions.
Having familiarized myself with the pool and deck area of
this elegant hotel, I slipped in off the beach the next day.
On this occasion I met one-time noted actress Denise Darcel
who was impressed with my underwater swimming ability.
Once while traveling by train from Mexico City to Vera Cruz
for Mardi Gras, the train was held up at an incline that
caused the train to slow so that bandits could board. When I
realized what was happening, I jumped off the train, and ran
to the highway. Hitchhiking, I was picked up by a car that
was being driven by the brother-in-law of Miguel Alemein who
was then the President of Mexico. He invited me to be his
guest in Vera Cruz which was terrific since, it being Mardi
Gras, I had no place to stay. As it happened, he had a
beautiful home, but he also had eyes for me. This was the
third time this type of thing had happened during my very
short stay in Mexico. I certainly would not view my
appearance as someone who would be interested in this type of
The group of us that lived together was reasonably cordial.
Somehow, we obtained a parrot that lived in the crystal
chandelier over a very large glass coffee table. The coffee
table, obviously, needed constant cleaning. Experiences,
that were not so pleasant included spending a night in a
Mexican jail before obtaining my release by bribery.
The school enrollment consisted of exchange students and many
on the G.I. Bill whose tuition and living expenses were
covered by the government because of their service in the
Korean War. The cost of living was very cheap and the dollar
went a very long way.
There was a set of twin girls who bleached their hair blond
because Mexican men could start a war over a blond. However,
swimming in a chlorinated pool turned their hair green. Even
though many of us spent weekends in Acapulco, most of us were
back by Monday or Tuesday. Once in a Mexican history class,
taught by a retired Mexican military officer named Colonel
Brezunza, he inquired about the Young twins (their last name
was Young) who weren’t in the class. When told that they were
last seen heading off into the hills above Acapulco with two
Mexican boys, Colonel Brezunza commented that for every girl
“schmuck” there is a boy “schmuck.”
I returned home the following spring by plane although I had
driven down with friends. The airline made a scheduled stop
in Havana, Cuba which gave me the opportunity to spend a
weekend in Havana just before the takeover by Castro.
Although much poverty existed, I only observed an atmosphere
of opulence that I had never seen before. Returning home in
the spring of 1957, I resumed my relationship with Alleen.
In 1958 I re-enrolled at O.S.U. but only remained for Fall
and Winter quarter. By Spring, although barely 20 years old
I had decided that I was interested in the real estate and
construction business and didn’t feel that my time at O.S.U.
in the college of commerce was doing me much good. The law,
however, required that a person be 21 years old to sell real
estate or, for that matter, to obtain financing in order to
construct real estate. I enrolled at Franklin University on a
part time basis taking courses in real estate.
With extra time on my hands, I began to observe certain
construction methods spending time at construction sites.
This of course did not pay my modest living expenses. I
continued to work Sundays at Schottensteins. I also sold
cars for Spooner Plymouth, home improvement for Brown
Brothers and women’s underwear door to door for Real Silk
Hosiery Mills. Although this job did not last long, it could
be the subject of an extensive set of memoirs. With the
exception of Schottensteins, these other business’s no longer
I began to work that summer for Ideal Furniture as a full
time furniture salesman. I had previously had a taste of
furniture sales and enjoyed it very much. This happened when
I applied for a job, was hired by the sales manager, worked
one day and was promptly fired by the owner when he arrived
and found that I had no experience. Incidentally, the sales
manager that hired me went on to develop a very large retail
furniture business. The owner that fired me eventually went
out of business. I continued to work at Ideal until my
twenty-first birthday in January of 1959. On that date I
took the examination for a real estate license that was given
at the Virginia Hotel. This was on the site of the later
Sheraton Hotel and now the Mark-Adams.
I began to sell real estate for Friedman and Deems Realtors
and also purchased three lots for homes that I intended to
construct and made plans with Alleen to get married that
summer. Alleen was in her junior year of college pursuing a
degree in Education. I felt confident of my ability to make
the money necessary so that we could live, she could continue
her education, and we could do the things that young couples
want to do and Jews uniquely find a responsibility to do.
Alleen and I planned to marry in a grand ceremony in Akron
Ohio, her home town, on June 28th, 1959. Unfortunately, a
tragic accident befell my mother the previous week and she
died on June 24th. The wedding was delayed the proper
period of Shiva time and we were married in a small ceremony
on July 5th, 1959. Due to the circumstances, we did not go on
a honeymoon but stayed for a day or two at the Lincoln Lodge
on West Broad Street. It so happens that I was building
three homes on my purchased lots in the neighborhood. I
therefore combined a mini honeymoon with an opportunity to be
at the construction sites. Lincoln Lodge no longer exists.
In 1959 Interstate 70 did not as yet exist so that daily
trips to the far West side were very time consuming.
We moved into a two-bedroom apartment at 784 S. Broadleigh
Rd. The building belonged to my father and Uncle Herschel.
Part of our wedding gift from my father was half of our rent.
Therefore our living expenses were very reasonable. In
addition, my father had given me the money to purchase
furniture for the apartment. I had used that money to buy
the three lots that became my first building venture. We
lived with cheaper furniture but we lived adequately. I used
the second bedroom as an office and often had meetings there
until midnight. At six in the morning I would meet with sub-
contractors or suppliers or just leave for the long trip to
the West side pre-rush hour and pre-interstate 70.
I was successful in my first year of the building business
and that winter we spent the holidays in Acapulco. Upon our
return I proceeded to buy lots in Berwick for the upcoming-
year’s construction. I had also accepted some homes on the
Hilltop in trade from my first building venture. I found the
marketing and resale to be another means of income. I began
to advertise in the newspaper: “Cash for your property”. I
bought homes cheap for cash, fixed them up a bit, resold them
on land contract, then discounted the land contract. It was
relatively easy, profitable and fun.
In 1960, we purchased a home at 3805 Gilroy in Berwick Manor.
I had been called for the draft which meant that I might have
to serve two years in the military. I had been too young for
the Korean war and the Viet Nam war had not yet flared up.
The draft, however was a reality. Alleen, in the meantime
had been to the doctor and discovered that she was pregnant.
This kept me from having to enroll in military service since
fathers were not taken during peaceful times. With a child
to be born, the apartment was too small. The house gave us
enough room for a nursery and a proper office for me.
My father returned from a long world trip that he took to get
away after my mother’s untimely death. He met a fine lady
from a good family who had never before been married.
My Grandfather Yablok had passed away the January before my
mother’s death. Upon my mothers passing, my Grandmother
Yablok chose to live with my father. Only upon his departure
for the world trip did she go to live with her son, Uncle
Sam, in Marietta, Ohio. Grandmother Yablok, my fathers
Mother-In-Law, was very instrumental and encouraging in his
finding a new mate. She was actually partly responsible in
his meeting Rosalind Rosenberg.
In October of 1960, my father and Rosalind Rosenberg were
married in Chicago. She was soon pregnant and, in 1961
within a period of five months, my sister Hilda, my wife
Alleen and my stepmother Ros, all gave birth. It was a very
I built homes in Berwick and on Kenview Rd. in Berwyn,
adjacent to Berwick. We were desirous of a nicer home then
that in which we lived. We selected one of the new homes that
I had constructed in which to reside that was in Berwyn at
1629 Kenview Rd.
By now, I was becoming too busy in the building business to
devote any time to the brokerage business. I maintained my
relationship with Friedman and Deems Brokerage and we did
some buying, selling and building together, rather than
maintaining a Brokerage-Salesman relationship.
Since my son Stephen, Hilda’s daughter Amy and my fathers
Daughter Haya were all the same age they practically grew up
together. Stephen and Haya where especially close since they
lived near one another, had the same last name, attended the
same school and were in the same class during their early
I became more heavily involved in the real estate and
construction business in various partnerships and
corporations. In addition to residential development, I began
to construct apartment communities. My father and Uncle
Herschel also were building apartments. My Father joined me
in the first of several apartment construction ventures.
We had decent household help so, later that year, we decided
to take a driving trip to the west coast. On the way we
stopped in Las Vegas. I got lucky and won enough to pay for
the entire trip. Of course travel costs in those days were
reasonable and we did not travel in the most luxurious
fashion. Alleen began to miss the baby and returned from
California by plane leaving me to make the return trip from
the West coast alone. It turned out to be very interesting
as I visited places and got involved in situations that
Alleen may have not wanted to or would have protected me from
In the Summer of 1962, I was pretty secure and doing quite
well so Alleen and I planned a lengthy trip through Northern
Europe, going on to our first trip in Israel and then
returning through Southern Europe. It was a very exciting,
interesting, and educational experience which enhanced my
desire for travel and my love for Israel. This has continued
to such an extent that I cannot recall how often I have
returned. We had the chance to meet family that we had only
heard about. Some that were long-time Israelis and others
who were survivors of the Holocaust.
In 1963 we returned to Israel on the National United Jewish
Appeal Mission, and had the opportunity to view the land with
other Jews who were involved in Jewish causes. A memorable
highlight, was being hosted by then Foreign Minister Golda
Meir, in the living room of her home. I recall that she went
to the kitchen, made tea and served home made cookies.
When we returned, I began the first of several building
projects that I was to construct with Walter Katz. Walter
and I had been long time friends.
The previous year he asked me to build a four family
apartment building for him. After some thought he asked if
we could build it together. I agreed and we constructed this
building in a very short time and sold it for a good profit.
He left his full time job as an Accountant and we proceeded
to purchase a tract of land where we constructed a thirty two
home residential development. This also sold out quickly and
we were making money faster than we imagined it could be
made. Walter and I then built two apartment developments
that we maintained for investment for a time. Eventually
these were sold and our partnership dissolved. Walter
wanted to do contracting and by then I had been involved in
one contracting occurrence that had not been a pleasant
That year my father took on the responsibility of building
the new Ahavas Sholom Shul on E. Broad St. He therefore took
a leave from our business to contribute and concentrate his
efforts on building the Shul. We also had enough apartment
rentals to open an office. In March of 1963, My Uncle
Herschel and I opened Baker Rental Company at 765 S. James
Rd. Herschel had completed two apartment buildings at this
address that year and we occupied one apartment in the front.
He and I sat at opposite sides of a desk in what was a
bedroom and we had hired a woman who did everything that we
couldn’t do or have time to do. She had a desk in what was a
Winter holidays came and we drove to Florida with Stephen who
was less than three years old. We stopped along the way in
Tampa. That morning, the Tampa newspaper reported on the
Surgeon-Generals’ report that linked cigarette smoking to
cancer. The article further reported that Governor Collins,
then Governor of Florida, was quitting smoking after more
than forty years as an avid cigarette smoker. I was also
then a cigarette smoker, having started when I was in Yeshiva
in New York. I decided that if the Governor of Florida was
going to stop I also would. At that time, many Cuban Cigar
makers from Havana had settled in a section of Tampa known as
Ibor City. I wandered into Ibor City, toured the store-front
cigar makers and selected a cigar which brand I continued to
smoke for many years hence.
While in Florida, we sent Alleen’s parents, Jack and Eve
Marshall, for an anniversary gift, plane tickets to join us.
I did considerable business with a window company named
Keller Industries. It was owned by Hank Keller whom I became
acquainted with while in Florida. The company owned a very
large yacht and I had the privilege to use this fully-
equipped and staffed ocean going vessel for a day at sea.
Alleen, Stephen and I, the Marshall’s and another couple that
I knew from Columbus spent a day aboard a very luxurious
In 1964 we all became more heavily involved in our various
businesses either separately or collectively. As we built
more apartments the need to enlarge Baker Rental Company
became necessary. We began a process, that was to continue
for thirty years, of enlarging our office by occupying more
apartments at 765 S. James Rd. We also needed more
personnel such as bookkeepers, accountants, property
managers, receptionists and the necessary staff to operate an
expanding property management business.
During the past year, I had contracted to build an apartment
development for someone I thought I knew. As a result of
trust and naivety, I sustained a very large loss, this being
the unpleasant experience that I referred to earlier. When
the financial pressure became unbearable, I did what I did
best . . . I left for an around the world trip. Upon my
return, I found that things were not as bad as they had
appeared. I never undertook contracting again. I did not
want to work for someone else.
The around-the-world trip gave me the opportunity to visit
Egypt which was not at that time open for Jewish tourism.
Egypt was part of the United Arab Republic as was Syria.
However, Syria did not grant me permission to enter the
country. In the airport, I was questioned about being a Jew
and was immediately escorted to leave on the first plane out
of the country. I went for a one-day trip to Beirut, which
was then a wonderful city. Several days traveling in the
major cities of India left me with the feeling that the 20th
century had forgotten about this country. Except for an
electric light bulb or the sound of an occasional transistor
radio, life had not changed much in the last five hundred
years. Cattle were revered and monkeys had their own temple,
but human beings were expendable. I was in Viet-Nam before I
knew that the United States was involved in Viet-Nam to the
extent that it was. I was in Japan for the Olympics and
finally spent a few days in Hawaii and San Francisco before
returning home to unclog a left over problem with a much
Because of the previous trip to Israel on the U.J.A.
Mission, I became more involved in the Columbus Jewish
Federation. My capability to give more needed funds and my
ability to raise funds from other young affluent people gave
me, at a very young age, the job of being Young Men’s
In 1965 my father, having completed the Ahavas Sholom Shul,
decided to spend at least a year residing in Israel with his
new wife and young daughter, Haya. This move left me with one
less sorely missed building partner. My father in addition to
being a Rabbi, was very astute at learning the technical
parts of the construction business. With Friedman and Deems I
constructed an apartment development in the Worthington area.
This was the first of three such developments in the area
that I was to build over the next six years in three
In April of 1965, Samantha was born and as fate would have
it, our family was complete. In addition to various dogs,
cats, birds and other creatures, we had a pretty full life.
Alleen had worked for a short time at her profession as an
elementary school teacher but now was devoting her entire
time to raising a family. I was very involved in my various
building and real estate companies. I also became more
involved in Jewish communal activities.
In 1966, my desire for a more prestigious residence pushed me
to design a spacious home that I would construct at 268 S.
Harding Rd. At the time, it was one of the nicest new homes
being built in the city. At 28, I was proud of my
achievements and not being modest, had a desire to show off
what I had accomplished. Alleen did not share my thoughts
and this home became the first of many conflicts between us.
We decided to spend Passover of 1966 in Israel with my father
and his family who were still residing there. We made
reservations at the newly constructed Hilton Hotel in Tel
Aviv. Stephen stayed with his grandparents in their apartment
in Tel Aviv. Haya got the mumps, gave them to Stephen and
that took care of his first of many trips to Israel. It was
not a particularly pleasant time for Israel. Tension with
her Arab neighbors left a feeling of uncalm in the country.
Israel was, of course at that time, a nation of very narrow
boundaries where the population lived with a certain degree
of paranoia. Two wars had been fought, and another seemed
only a matter of time.
In the Fall of the year Stephen enrolled at Torah Academy,
the Jewish Day School. Classes were held in the educational
section of the Agudas Achim congregation and in some of the
basement rooms. The facility was fourth-rate, the education
was first-rate and the experience could not be compared nor
duplicated. The school was still in it’s infancy but doing
an outstanding job in educating Jewish children in a dual
curriculum within the confines of a single building. No
longer would children have to be transported on buses at
their least productive time of the day to antiquated
buildings with second rate teachers to obtain, what is
loosely called, Jewish Education. I immediately recognized
the important part that Columbus Torah Academy would play in
the future of Columbus and became involved in all facets of
While building our home on Harding Rd. I seriously sprained
my ankle while on the construction site. Several months
previously, I had received a jay-walking ticket while
crossing Long St. Thinking that this was not more serious
than a parking ticket, I ignored it. On Yom Kippur Morning,
1966, while preparing to go to services, a Columbus police
paddy-wagon came with a warrant for my arrest. I thought
they were joking, but they weren’t. I explained the
seriousness of the Holiday that I was about to begin. I
further explained that if they were going to arrest me they
would have to walk with me to the jail as I do not ride on
Yom Kippur. They agreed to wait 48 hours. Although I do not
normally travel by car on Yom Kippur, that year with a badly
sprained ankle, I was unable to walk to Shul. Fortunately
the police did not wait.
In 1967, I completed our home and we proceeded with the
decorations and moving. That year I was also building an
apartment development in Bowling Green, Ohio and would travel
there at least once or twice a week. On the morning of June
5, 1967, I turned on my car radio as I was traveling to
Bowling Green. The news of the War in Israel, that later
became known as the Six Day War, came over the air and there
were early reports that Tel Aviv and the rest of Israel were
ablaze. Immediately, as if by automation, my car turned
around, headed back to Columbus, and to the Columbus Jewish
Federation office which was then on S. Third St.
There, gathered that morning, were others that must have had
the same feelings. If the news were true, we wanted to be in
the company of our own. The phones were ringing and people
that we had never heard of, both Jewish and non-Jewish, were
calling in pledges. Everyone, it seems, wanted to help.
Although we had just completed the 1967 Annual Campaign, the
money raised that week more than doubled our regular annual
campaign achievement. We learned quickly that the news
reports were coming out of Egypt, were false, and that the
truth was that Israel had destroyed the combined Air Force of
all her neighbors.
We were all elated. That night, I recall, Abba Eban
eloquently addressed the United Nations and every person I
knew listened, gleamed and stood ten feet tall. My partner
in Bowling Green, a non-Jew, called that evening and
expressed to me that “tonight I wish I were Jewish.”
In 1968, I was honored with the coveted Columbus Jewish
Federation Young Leadership Award, known as the Terese Stern
Kahn Award. This benefaction, among other things, consisted
of paid attendance to the convention of the Council of Jewish
Federation and Welfare Funds that was held that year in
Atlanta. Alleen and I attended, found it fascinating and
educational and had the opportunity to meet similar people
from around the country. Some I still see from time-to-time
at other conventions or in Israel on United Jewish Appeal
I was then 30 years old and the youngest recipient of the
award. I believe that I am still the youngest person ever to
receive this award.
That year, two different partnerships were formed for further
development in the Worthington area. Worthington Terrace and
Worthington Gardens began construction. These were both large
apartment projects that took more than two years to complete.
I also began a second phase of the apartment development in
Bowling Green. These along with various other smaller
ventures kept me quite busy for these years.
Stephen and his Aunt Haya were both in the second grade at
Torah Academy. Haya’s Mother, Ros, would drive the children
to school and pick them up so they did not have to ride the
school bus. While getting out of his grandmother’s car
Stephen was struck by an on-coming vehicle, repeating my
childhood accident. He suffered many broken bones requiring
a nearly full body cast. Upon his release from the hospital,
he was transported in a station wagon bed like a load of
lumber. My father had constructed a cart on roller wheels
that Stephen could lie on and convey himself around the house
in a prone position. I humorously remember that he ate his
food on the floor next to the dog since he could not sit in a
chair. When Stephen was healed from his fractures, we
donated this expertly made cart to Children’s Hospital. I was
told some years later, that it was still in use.
A trip to Israel that year, at Purim, gave me the opportunity
to see, feel, and touch the new Israel. It was a country now
four times the size of the country that I had previously
visited. The loss of life in the war was tragic, but
minimal, and the increase in land, including all of Jerusalem
and the Western Wall was maximum. I traveled to areas and
saw things that I had only dreamed about. The Israeli’s were
so euphoric that laughter and singing literally filled the
streets. They couldn’t wait to take you to see something new.
My step-mother had a cousin, a seventh generation Israeli,
who spoke Arabic. I traveled with him to Arab cities now in
the hands of Israel. Dad and Ros were then also in Israel.
Dad and I arranged to join with an Army group and spent nine
days traveling in the Sinai. Our accommodations were jeeps,
Army barracks and oil field houses. We spent one night at
Santa Caterina, the sixth century Greek Orthodox Monastery
that is located at the base of what is thought to be Mt.
Sinai. In the morning, we arose early and climbed the
legendary Mt. Sinai. Upon my return home, I knew that it
would not be long before I returned as things were changing
During winter holiday 1968-1969, Al Friedman, my partner at
Friedman-Deems Realtors, a friend of his, and I went to
Acapulco for a week. While in school in Mexico in the middle
50’s I was in Acapulco often. But since then I had only been
back a few times. Although Mexico, in general, had not
changed much in those years, Mexico City had become
increasingly more densely populated and dirty and Acapulco
was more tourist oriented.
I continued that year to complete the Bowling Green, Ohio
project as well as Worthington Terrace. We were also moving
ahead with the development of Worthington Gardens. I had
given up house building completely by now as economically, it
did not fit in with my plans. My father built a few homes on
contract, mostly for friends that wanted his touch in the
construction of their home. Perhaps they wanted to be able
to tell their friends that their home had been built by an
In late Spring of 1970, I was in Las Vegas with some friends
and won a considerable amount of money. I called Alleen and
told her to bring the kids and fly out to Las Vegas.
When they arrived we rented a car and drove up to Lake Tahoe
and then to Yosemite National Park. Although it was Memorial
Day weekend and very warm in Las Vegas, I was not prepared
for the weather at Yosemite. It was snowing and the warmest
thing I had, was what I was wearing . . . . a short sleeve
shirt. We spent one night at the Park Inn and we were off to
the warmth of Las Vegas. I now have some first-hand
experience on the geographical and meteorological climatic
conditions in Nevada and California. We did have many laughs
and much fun. We returned to Las Vegas and, although I had
rooms in casino hotels, I obtained rooms in non-casino hotels
to try to shield the casino atmosphere from my young
Later that summer we had an opportunity to travel to Israel
with a United Jewish Appeal fact-finding mission. On this
trip we were taken to the Suez Canal to view the line of
bunkers that appeared to make the Canal virtually
impenetrable. We of course learned, three years later at the
time of the Yom Kippur War, that this was not so. We were
able to see the Egyptian soldiers on the other side of the
Canal. They were able to see us as well on the Israeli side.
Israel, falsely, was still in a state of elation since their
success of the Six-Day War just three years earlier. However,
a state of war still existed with her neighbors as a result
of the Arab countries unwillingness to settle boundary
disputes peacefully. The Arab countries solution was only war
Meanwhile In Columbus, The Torah Academy had moved to the
educational wing of Temple Israel. Agudas Achim, which had
been the home of the school since its inception, was
beginning an extensive remodeling program and did not have
the room to accommodate the school during this procedure.
The school had sought housing in several of the communities
facilities that could handle its needs. Only The Bexley
Methodist Church and Temple Israel were cordial enough to
offer us housing at reasonable terms.
Samantha began Torah Academy never having experienced
classes in basement rooms with leaky pipes over her head.
In spite of the inconveniences at the Agudas Achim, they had
been extremely cordial landlords. We never paid rent but
certainly added to the wear and tear of the building. That
was partially the cause of the extensive remodeling program
on which they were about to embark.
My father and his family had returned from Israel in the Fall
of 1966. Their daughter Haya was enrolled at Torah Academy
in the same class with Stephen. In 1971 my father made a
decision to make “Alihya” and move permanently to Israel.
When they had returned from Israel in 1966, Dad no longer
fully participated in my business. He only built a home for
himself. The Ahavas Sholom Shul asked if he would serve the
Congregation as it’s Rabbi. He agreed, was elected, and a
salary of $1.00 a year was to be paid to him for his
services. I do not believe that the salary was ever paid.
I trust their motivation to move to Israel was partially due
to the desire for a safer, more Jewish environment for their
daughter Haya. Being older parents, and grandparents to
children older than their daughter, they were more security-
minded than Alleen and me, who were much younger, carefree,
and less concerned.
Worthington Gardens was finally reaching completion. The
ownership was a three way partnership. The managing partners
were Leon Schottenstein, Al Friedman, and me. That year both
Leon and Al suddenly passed away and I become the managing
partner with two Estates. Eventually, the Schottenstein
family and I became the majority owners of the property,
buying out most of the interests of Friedman-Deems.
Scanning through the travel section of the New York Times one
Sunday in 1972, I came upon an interesting travel
opportunity. Aeroflot (Russian) Airlines had an inexpensive
package that included four cities in Russia and roundtrip
airfare New York-Moscow.
That Summer I boarded this primitive, ill equipped plane,
whose hostesses looked like line-backers for the Green Bay
Packers. I got my first taste of being a second class citizen
in a classless society. Vodka, caviar, and cigars were passed
to some passengers while the rest of us were served inedible
food that closely resembled garbage.
Despite the travel arrangements that were run as you might
expect they would be in a communist country, and the hotel
accommodations that lacked even the most minimum of comforts
that might be anticipated, it was one of the most interesting
trips that I had ever taken. For further information on this
product of my wanderlust, memoirs exist.
After my father and his family moved to Israel, I enjoyed the
opportunity to be there often. It was not unusual for me to
travel to Israel several times a year. For Passover 1973, we
decided to spend the holiday in Israel with family. We had a
wonderful stay enjoying Passover in Israel and traveling the
land to visit sites and relatives. The children were now old
enough to enjoy and understand the land of Israel and what it
We based ourselves at the Four Seasons Hotel in Netanya and
rented a large car so that we could all travel together.
This was the city that Dad had chosen to live in when he
decided to make Israel his permanent residence.
By now, the many trips that I had made to Israel familiarized
me with the land and the highway system. With the use of
road maps I was able to navigate myself and our family
through the myriad of traffic, bad drivers, and necessary
checkpoint roadblocks. We also always had room in the car
for one or two hitchhikers. These were usually soldiers,
with M 1s or Uzi sub machine guns. They would give us a
feeling of security as we traveled through Arab territories.
Can you imagine picking up a hitchhiker with a rifle in this
or any country?
The peace and tranquility that we had known at Passover was
to be shattered by the first rumor and then the confirmed
reports that reached our ears that fateful Yom Kippur day in
1973. At first we did not want to believe that Egypt would
attack on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.
By Sunday, the following day, we were briefed on the
devastating damage that had occurred and the loss of life.
The impenetrable Suez Canal had been penetrated. Israel was
caught off-guard and a terrible blow was inflicted. Israeli
citizens living in the United States as well as volunteers
were lining up at airports to either return or go to Israel.
Unlike the Six Day War, where the reports of damage to Israel
were highly exaggerated, in this case all the reports of
damage and loss of life were true. When I had the
opportunity to go to Israel later in the year, I witnessed
and observed a different country and a different people than
I had seen and been with the previous Passover.
My father and family survived well but his car was drafted
and he was taken along as a driver. He was mostly utilized
to transport active soldiers to the front. The stories were
heart-rending. Women stood along the road to the various
fronts with sandwiches and coffee to feed the soldiers as the
Yom Kippur Fast came to an end. In the midst of services,
soldiers were summoned immediately to report to their units.
It was many years before Israel overcame the damage done to
the emotional state of the nation.
That year, I also ventured into a variety of restaurant
operations. My partner from Bowling Green developed a
complex that had a market that is commonly referred to as a
food court. I opened and operated several restaurant
establishments within this complex. This was one of my
failing ventures. It convinced me to stick to what I know
and not try to operate as an absentee owner in any business.
In the Autumn of 1973, we decided to put our home up for
sale. We no longer had live-in help and this very large
house was more then Alleen wanted to handle. She and I had
many conflicts and the house was only one of them.
Recognizing that our marriage was beginning to fail, I did
not object to the sale of the house.
Our home at 268 S. Harding Rd. sold later that year and we
moved to a rented condominium at 403 Westland Ave. We had
become accustomed to living in a spacious home and this was
very small by comparison. This became the cause for more
strife between Alleen and me.
I began to stay away more and found excuses to travel and be
out of town. I spent more time on communal causes and found
myself at meetings almost nightly. I was in Israel four
times in 1974. Once I returned to Columbus from Israel on a
Friday and returned to Israel the following Tuesday for a two
day cash mobilization meeting for the United Jewish Appeal.
By 1975, our differences were irreconcilable. Alleen and I
had grown in different directions and the only thing that we
had in common was the love of our children. Even this we
viewed so differently that we thought each others motives
were destructive. I discovered some communication that
Alleen had with my family in Israel and I thought that it
might be misunderstood.
It was summer, Stephen had just graduated from the eighth
grade at Columbus Torah Academy and was about to enter
Columbus Academy. I decided to go to Israel and discuss my
apparent upcoming divorce with my family so that they would
know both sides of the situation.
In August of 1975 Stephen and I went to Israel for the
purpose of spending time with family as well as revisiting
the land. As I walked the streets of Israel with my young
son, I became painfully aware of how many young men, not much
older than Stephen, were physically and mentally handicapped
as a result of the Yom Kippur War of 1973. This experience
left a mark on me that I will never forget. This also left
an indelible mark on Israel and her leadership and
population. They now know that they are not indestructible.
Those that lived on miracles alone discovered that miracles
don’t always work. Those that live by might alone discovered
that they were not as mighty as they had given themselves
credit for being. The Yom Kippur War was ultimately won by
Israel, but at a tremendous loss of life and permanent injury
to many of the youth of the country.
In August of 1975 Alleen and I separated. I moved into an
apartment that Baker Rental Company managed at 4159 Bay
Court. It was a three-bedroom apartment. I immediately took
Stephen and Samantha shopping for bedroom furniture for what
was going to be their rooms. I felt that they should feel as
much at home with me as if I were living with them
In December of 1975 our divorce was final. The terms were
neither cordial nor friendly but, with several setbacks, we
were able to resolve our differences to each others
In 1976 I worked very hard to put my business back together.
I had allowed it to come under financial pressure in
anticipation of the pending divorce. I dealt with the
numerous problems that I created and got things current and
fiscally in order.
In December of 1976 I was 38 years old. At home alone one
Sunday night, I felt an unusual chest pain. Not knowing what
it was, but concerned that it might be something serious, I
drove to Mt. Carmel Hospital. They kept me an entire night,
ran tests, and in the morning sent me home with a large
hospital bill and a small bottle of Maalox for an ulcer.
In the days that followed I nursed myself as if I’d had an
ulcer. The following Wednesday morning I was taken to Grant
Hospital were I suffered a heart attack. A quick change in
life style was necessary. Fortunately, I had some very good
friends who looked after me. It was an extremely cold winter
so, one morning a friend packed me up and took me to the
airport and put me on a plane to Florida.
I remained there for about a month and would imagine that
every pain was another heart attack. I charted the shortest
course to the nearest hospital and visited a nearby doctor on
several occasions who could find nothing wrong. I returned
home the first day that I felt well enough to travel.
I had, in fact, worried myself into a real ulcer, but
eventually overcome the anxiety, returned to a normal
lifestyle and no longer worried about having a heart attack.
Returning home late one night, in early Spring of 1977,
parked in front of my apartment was an old white Cadillac
convertible and sitting on the fender was a lady in a red
satin dress. In a scene and a dialect that was reminiscent
of “Tobacco Road,” I was addressed, “Good evening, Mr.
Baker.” I instantly knew that it was time to move.
Stephen was now in his sophomore year at Columbus Academy.
Although he was doing reasonably well, he wanted to transfer
to Bexley High School. His mother had purchased a home in
Columbus and therefore he could not attend the Bexley
In March of 1977, I moved to an apartment at 485 S. Parkview
Ave. Stephen officially lived with me and in the fall he
enrolled at Bexley High School in his junior year.
In the Summer, I met Arlyne Monroe. I knew of her but had
not met her. We began a relationship that lasted
romantically for ten years and remains as a friendship
through the date of this writing. She was then recently
separated and not yet divorced from her husband. Under the
circumstances, I would not see her alone but went many places
with her and a friend.
Arlyne’s parents owned an apartment in Marco Island, Florida.
That winter she was planning to spend some time there with
her parents. I decided also to rent an apartment in Marco
Island for a month. Winter break, my children and I drove
down. We returned for them to be in school. I then flew
back to stay the balance of the month. Arlyne was there part
of the time and our relationship advanced.
I continued to spend Winter holidays in Marco Island until
1986. Arlyne also continued to come and spend part of the
Winter break time there. Her parents purchased a larger
apartment and moved there permanently. I had the opportunity
on one occasion, to address the small Jewish community in her
parents spacious apartment for a fund raiser of the United
I was no longer doing any building and could take longer
holidays. My absence from Columbus created no special
problems. Baker Rental Company was well staffed as far as
the day-to-day operations were concerned. My only need to be
in Columbus regularly was for my children. Stephen was now
entering his senior year of High School and in the Fall would
be going away to college.
The Summer before we had taken a trip to Canada and then
through New England visiting Colleges and Universities.
Stephen decided he would like to go to Boston University. He
applied and was accepted.
That Summer my sister Haya returned from Israel to marry
Yossi Winiarz. His family then lived in Columbus and were
members of the Ahavas Sholom Shul. Yossi had attended school
in Israel when he met Haya. She had just graduated from High
School but felt ready to marry. The family gathered in
Columbus that summer for the marriage of my sister Haya at
the Ahavas Sholom Shul.
They moved to New York where Haya enrolled at Barnard
College and Yossi at Yeshiva University. Haya began to
collect degree’s from such prestigious schools as Barnard,
Columbia and Hebrew University. She also began to have
children. As of the time of this writing, Haya is 36 years
old and has six children ranging from 18 years old down to
less then one year old. After living various times in
Israel, New York and Cleveland, she and Yossi eventually
settled in Israel permanently.
That fall I drove Stephen to Boston University for his
freshman year at college. From Boston I went to New York to
see how my sister Haya and her husband Yossi had settled in.
With Stephen and Haya being the same age I viewed them as
more than just an aunt and nephew. She was also closer to me
than the half-sister that she really was.
My association with the Jewish community, and especially the
Columbus Torah Academy, continued to thrive. The Torah
Academy built a modern new state-of-the-art structure on a 30
acre site on Noe Bixby Rd. that was completed in 1975.
Stephen’s class was the first to graduate from the school
although they never really attended classes there. In 1975
Samantha’s fifth grade class was the first to enter the
In 1978 I was elected president of the school. When
Samantha’s class graduated in 1979, I was still president
and was asked to address the graduates. I was proud of what
we had built, I was proud of being President and I was proud
of my children. I was certain that whatever directions our
lives may take, Jewishness would continue in our family. At
a time when assimilation was rampant, those boys and girls
who attended day school, regardless of their religious
orientation or their family commitment, remained Jewish,
married Jewish, and raised Jewish children in an environment
that should guarantee the continuation of what we have worked
When Samantha entered Bexley High School, she chose to live
with me. Although the apartment was large with two complete
bathrooms, we still felt crowded. I had arranged to move into
a large three bedroom apartment in the newer building next
door. We selected floor covering and wallpaper and were
making arrangements for the move.
One Sunday we were driving on Dawson Avenue when we passed by
a small ranch house at 63 S. Dawson Avenue that was being
held open. We went through the house, made an offer that was
accepted and changed our plans about the apartment.
The house needed extensive remodeling and I was anxious to
begin the work. I was prepared to close immediately but it
was going to require about thirty days to prepare the
necessary documents because it was an estate sale. I knew
the Executor and he gave me the keys so that I could begin
the renovations. We lived for a few weeks without a kitchen.
This was not a problem since neither of us were at this time
very good cooks. Although it was only a two bedroom house,
we remodeled the basement and put a bedroom and bath in for
Stephen when he would be home in the Summers.
To this date, Stephen still has the reputation of being a
basement-dweller. I would visit him each year in Boston and,
compared to some of places in which he lived in Boston, this
During the Summers, while Stephen was in high school, he
spent time in Israel working and living on different
kibbutzim. Samantha, now in high school, wanted similar
experiences. She chose various travel options that were more
structured. One of these was with NCSY. Other girls from
Columbus also attended these programs.
For both Stephen and Samantha the benefit of having
grandparents residing in Israel gave them the added security
of someone to call in case of need. On several of their
summers in Israel, I also traveled there to visit with them.
I recall once arriving in Israel when my father and his
family were traveling outside of Israel. I rented a car at
the airport and went to Netanya to my father’s apartment.
When I arrived, I found Samantha and a friend about to leave
for the airport for their return flight to the United States.
I had no idea they were staying in his apartment but I had
the privilege of driving them to the airport.
On the way I asked how they gained access to the apartment.
Samantha replied that she knocked on various doors asking if
anyone had the key to Rabbi Baker’s apartment. One neighbor
did but wanted to know who wanted access. She replied that
she was his granddaughter and that her picture was on the
wall in the livingroom. I cannot believe that this could
have happened anywhere but in Israel.
High school for Samantha was as much a social event as an
educational experience. Parenting a teen-age daughter was
also an experience that kept me on my toes with new trials
each day. The adventure of having a sixteen year old that
begins to drive and wants a car was one that I had been
through with Stephen. The occurrence of the first accident
with the automobile, whether minor or not, is apparently one
that almost every teenager goes through and takes their
parents with them. Samantha was in a unique situation
because she had her father, with the major responsibilities
of her upbringing. Her reason for choosing to live with me
probably had something to do with me being the more
permissive of her two parents. We both survived and I
wouldn’t exchange the time I spent with my children while
they were in high school and resided with me for anything.
Stephen in the meantime, although he was out of sight, was
never out of mind. In addition to trying to get an
undergraduate degree and education in the Business School at
Boston University he had some money making schemes.
Fortunately none required large sums of money, therefore
large sums of money could not be lost. Time was another
factor. One idea required time away from the purpose of
going to college.
Arlyne was working in real estate rather unsuccessfully in
Columbus and really needed other sources of income. Her ex-
husband suddenly passed away in Orlando. He was operating a
Bingo business that had no recorded owner. I suggested that
she go to Orlando, walk in and take over the business as his
widow. With much encouragement, and my taking her by the
hand to Orlando, she did what I suggested. This was a great
move financially for Arlyne as this business was very
profitable. After a period of time commuting back and forth
from Columbus to Orlando, she eventually moved there
permanently. Although I was in Orlando often both to help in
the business and to see her, ultimately the long-distance
relationship would dissolve and within several years we went
our separate ways.
By 1982, I was 44 years old and my time was my own. I had my
interests in the management business, but I could get away
almost at will. In addition to being in Israel at least once
that year, Arlyne, two other couples and I chartered a large
sailboat out of Ft. Lauderdale and sailed the Bahamian
Islands. I have never been very interested in boating and
cruising but this was special. We had the opportunity to
pull into different harbors on various islands and stay as
long as we wanted. Arlyne received a Telex in Nassau and had
to return early to Orlando. We continued for a few days
before returning to Ft. Lauderdale. I’ve never done anything
like this since but probably could be convinced to try it
again somewhere interesting such as the Greek Isles.
Earlier that year I was in Israel with Arlyne and we visited
Dad and Ros. While at their apartment both Arlyne and I
recognized that Ros acted strangely. I discovered that she
was seeing a psychiatrist in Jerusalem. I even drove them to
Jerusalem one day when I had other business there and Ros had
an appointment. We later learned that she was suffering from
the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. As a result of this,
my father’s life would begin to take a different direction.
In 1983 Stephen graduated from Boston University. He did not
know what he wanted to do so he applied to several Law
Schools. He was accepted at the University of Miami in Coral
Gables, Florida. After spending four cold dark dreary
winters in Boston and jogging along the Charles River, Miami
and the warmth of the Atlantic Ocean seemed appealing. After
losing Arlyne to the lure of Florida I now was about to lose
the first of my prodigy to the seduction of warm winters.
By 1984 Ros’s illness had progressed to a point where
she would eventually have to be placed in a nursing facility.
Dad was dissatisfied with the quality of nursing homes in
Israel and their ability to deal with this type of illness.
After much consideration he decided to temporarily close his
home in Israel and move to Miami Beach, Florida.
By 1985 the burden as care-giver for an Alzheimer’s patient
became to much for my Father to handle. After much soul-
searching and encouragement, especially from my sister Hilda,
who could see how taxing this was on him, Dad decided to
place Ros in a nursing home.
After searching the Miami area, a facility was chosen. The
trauma on my father, I believe, was greater than that on Ros.
He would visit her daily and help feed her. I gave up my
visits to Marco Island by now and was making frequent trips
to the Miami area, as Dad needed the emotional support from
family. Stephen, while in law school, would visit as often
In 1986, as I had done previously, I made numerous trips to
Miami to be with Dad and to visit Ros. In the spring, Stephen
was to graduate from law school. One Friday evening, prior
to the upcoming Sunday graduation day, I was at my father’s
apartment awaiting Stephen’s arrival for Shabbat dinner. Dad
was a very good cook and we looked forward to Friday night
dinners. As we waited, Dad mentioned that, if he or Ros were
to pass away, they wanted to be buried in Jerusalem. He even
proceeded to tell me, as if he had a premonition, that he did
not want to be buried on the Mount of Olives, as this could
some day be back in Arab hands. He spoke of the Eretz Chaim
Cemetery in Bet Shemesh.
I did not give this conversation a second thought as Dad was
76 years old and in reasonably good health. I had in fact a
few weeks previously, convinced him not to purchase a large
insurance policy. I explained to him that the actuarial
tables indicate that, if a male lives to be 74, chances are
he will live to be 86 years old. If he were to fund the
premiums for a large policy yearly until he were 86, the cash
value would be a great deal more than the principal of the
Arlyne came down to Miami to attend Stephen’s upcoming
graduation. On Saturday night we were having dinner in Bal
Harbour and I called Dad to tell him that we would not be
home. We were planning a cocktail party for Stephen in a
suite at the Sea-View Hotel and we decided that we would stay
at the Sea-View that evening. I told Dad that the graduation
was at 1:00 the next day and that I would pick him up at
noon. My father was a very punctual person and he had the
utmost respect for time. When I arrived at his apartment and
he was not waiting for me I knew immediately that something
was wrong. My father was also an early riser and went for a
morning walk. When the doorman informed me that he had not
seen Rabbi Baker that morning my fears were further
confirmed. I entered his apartment to find him semi-
conscious having suffered a massive stroke. After two days of
unsuccessful treatment in the hospital Dad passed away. With
his passing I lost my father, my Rabbi, my partner and my
In accordance with his wishes, we proceeded to make the
arrangements for a Thursday morning burial at Eretz Chaim
Cemetery in Bet Shemesh just outside of Jerusalem. Haya, who
was then six months pregnant with a son that would be named
for Dad, joined Hilda, Don, and me on the plane to Israel
which also carried the casket. We landed early on Thursday
morning, and proceeded immediately to the cemetery. As is
the custom in Israel, a short but meaningful service is held
in a small chapel on the cemetery grounds. This is followed
by the instant internment and prayers at the gravesite.
We sat Shiva at our Uncle Leizer’s home. Shiva was
abbreviated by the beginning of Shavuoth the later part of
the following week. Haya stayed at Uncle Leizers but Hilda
and I stayed at the Sheraton Plaza Hotel in Jerusalem. I
would rise early and be at Uncle Leizers by 6:00 AM for the
During this period of time, it being prior to the Intifada,
many of the cab drivers were Arabs. One morning when riding
in the cab to Telz Stone, Uncle Leizer’s community outside of
Jerusalem, the driver inquired as to my reason for being in
Israel. I did not know whether he would understand what I
referred to by sitting Shiva for a departed parent. Not only
did this Arab cab driver understand what I was talking about,
he proceeded to turn off the radio. He understood and
reiterated to me that I was not supposed to be listening to
music during the Shiva period.
Another custom in Israel, is to unveil the headstone at
sheloshim (the end of the thirty days of mourning following
the funeral). Although we had returned to the United States
after Shiva, we came back to Israel for the unveiling.
A week or so later, Hilda and Don were being honored by the
Laniado Hospital in Netanya where they had contributed a
substantial gift. We did not want to remain in Israel for
this length of time so we planned a trip to Egypt. This was
to be my first time back to Egypt since I had been there
twenty two years earlier as an illegal tourist. The biggest
change I saw was the burgeoning population. The Pyramids
that had been in the desert outside of Cairo were now in the
backyard of what appeared to be a municipal housing
development in a suburb of Cairo.
On my prior trip to Egypt, I had only stealthily remained in
Cairo. On this visit I had the opportunity to travel
throughout all of Egypt. At one point I came upon a new town
that was named the City of the October 6th Victory. How easy
it is to revise history.
Although there was substantial one way tourism from Israel to
Egypt, it was not publicly announced in Egypt. The plane was
an El Al, but unmarked. When flying from Ben Gurion Airport,
instead of going directly south across the Sinai and the
Suez Canal into Cairo, the flight went west out into the
Mediterranean then U-turned coming in over Alexandria and
then on to Cairo. If someone were tracking the flight, it
would not appear to have originated in Israel.
Upon the return to Israel, not only was the plane unmarked,
but there was no notice in the Cairo airport of this flight’s
departure either by voice or by notice board. If you did not
know where to go and at what time, you would very easily miss
The return to Israel may have been my most enjoyable since my
first time there. Although at this time a fragile peace was
in existence between Egypt and Israel, I still could feel the
tension wherever I traveled.
To this date many Israelis have traveled to Egypt, but very
few Egyptians have come to Israel. Though it is relatively
inexpensive to travel through Egypt compared to Israel, this
is not the main reason for this lopsided tourism. The
negative press and government anti-Israel propaganda is not
indicative of two nations that have signed a peace agreement.
The following week we were wined and dined by the Laniado
Hospital due to Hilda and Don’s donation of the main lobby in
memory of their parents. This privately operated health
facility has grown into a huge regional hospital complex due
to the generosity of people like Hilda and Don. Most of the
hospitals in Israel are government controlled or government
run. There is no such facility in the region of Netanya
that encompasses the fourth largest population in Israel.
Therefore the Laniado Hospital is a necessity.
We gifted other projects in Israel in memory of Dad. I built
a Bes Hamedresh (study hall) at the Agudas Achim Synagogue in
Netanya. I endowed a study day at the Bes Hamedresh of the
Lomza Yeshivah in Petach Tikvah and Hilda and Don developed a
garden and landscaping at the Lomza Yeshiva. Hilda and Don
continue to contribute annually for the maintenance of
gardens at the Yeshivah. Dad was a graduate of the original
Lomza yeshiva when it was located in Lomza, Poland.
Prior to Dad’s passing, I had planned a trip with Arlyne to
China and Hong Kong. I asked Uncle Leizer what he thought
about the appropriateness of such a trip under these
circumstances. He replied: “What would your father have
wanted you to do?” This answered my question. My father
would have told me to go, as he had about the same amount of
wanderlust as I did.
It was difficult during these seventeen days of travel to say
Kaddish but I did what I could. The trip turned out to be
one of the best travel adventures of my life. For those that
are interested, photos, videotape and a diary are available.
During my many trips to Orlando I become involved in several
real estate ventures. I considered purchasing an apartment
in Orlando as it appeared I would be spending a great deal of
time there. I put a deposit on a downtown condominium that
overlooked Lake Eola. I dragged my feet and realized that I
really did not have to be in Orlando that much. In a word, I
disliked Orlando. The traffic is horrible, the weather is not
that pleasant in either winter or summer and the culture is
geared to Disney world and its visitors. I eventually withdrew
my offer, had my deposit returned and gave up the idea of
owning an apartment in Orlando.
Stephen continued at the University of Miami to obtain an
advanced degree in Tax Law known as an LLM degree. I had
given up the apartment in Marco Island as I had not planned
to return once Dad had moved to Miami. Neither Hilda, Haya,
nor I were interested in Dad’s apartment. I was the only one
that enjoyed being in Florida but if I am in Florida I want
to be on the beach. Although the apartment was close to the
beach it did not fulfill all my needs. I proceeded to sell
the apartment as it was part of the estate.
Wanting to spend part of the winter in Florida I asked
Stephen to find a seasonal rental for me on the beach. He
located a two bedroom ocean-front condo at 9211 Collins
Avenue, in Surfside. This was a direct ocean front apartment
with a view that went forever.
Arlyne’s birthday was mid-November coinciding with the
convention of the Council Of Jewish Federations and Welfare
Funds. For the previous several years we had attended, and I
had treated her to the trip as a birthday gift. This year,
1987, it was being held in Miami. We came to Miami and stayed
at my newly-leased apartment. Circumstances being what they
were, we decided on this trip that our relationship had run
it’s course. We ceased to be a couple romantically.
I came back to Columbus with the anticipation of returning to
Florida in a few weeks for the Winter holidays. I planned to
commute back and forth between Columbus and Miami over the
next six months, the period of my lease.
The previous Yom Kippur, while sitting in services, I
suddenly had the experience of a blind coming down over my
right eye. The sight returned but I was concerned. I made an
appointment with an Ophthalmologist who told me that nothing
was wrong with my eyes but I should see an Internist. I
ignored this suggestion until I was about to leave for an
extended period of time. My physician sent me to the Ohio
State University Hospital for tests. It was determined that
I required immediate carotid artery surgery. I did not leave
the hospital until after the surgery and did not need any
post surgery therapy, so I went to Florida within a week of
While I enjoyed the partial winters that I had spent in Marco
Island on the Gulf of Mexico, it was not the Atlantic Ocean.
As a child in New York I saw the Atlantic Ocean for the first
time and decided that someday I would live on the ocean. My
dream was now almost fulfilled. I was a temporary resident
of an apartment on the Atlantic Ocean.
Wanting a more permanent relationship with my childhood
dream, I proceeded to look for an ocean-front unit to
purchase in the building in which I was renting. The prices
were a little more than I wanted to spend. A few blocks
south at 9225 Collins Avenue there was a condo that was
referred to as this building’s sister building. There were
several ocean-front units for sale. I made offers on all the
units available, attempting to buy one at my price. I was
successful in purchasing the exact unit in that building that
I was renting in the present building.
I completed the purchase by mid-March of 1988 and proceeded
to decorate over the next two months. After numerous trips
back to Florida during these months the job was finished.
The lease at Surfside Tower, 9511 Collins Avenue ended on
June 1, 1988. I spent that night at my new apartment at the
Four Winds, 9225 Collins Avenue, closed the apartment the
next day and didn’t return until the next season.
My dreams at the time were complete. I owned an ocean-front
apartment where my clothes were hung, my furniture was placed
and my paintings in sight on the wall. I could come and go
as I pleased and did not have to clean out the closets.
Stephen had finished his LLM in Tax Law and was working with
a small firm in South Miami. It was pleasant having him
close by during the Winter months. We usually had dinner
together at least once a week and he came always for Shabbat
I was not a regular Shul attendee and did not go with Dad to
services in Miami when he was alive and I visited him. While
in Florida the year following his death and wanting a place
to say Kaddish I began to attend the Shul that he associated
with while residing in Miami. To this date, I am a member,
supporter and attendee when I am in Miami.
It was discovered that I had knowledge about apartment
management and was asked to run for the Board of Directors of
the Condominium Association. Being only a part time
resident, I was hesitant. I was, however, encouraged,
because of the valuable service I could be while in
residence. I accepted the nomination and was elected. I
have served several terms and am presently on the Board.
In the summer of 1988, I met Marcia Gurevitz. She was
recently divorced, but I was not aware of it at the time.
Although I knew her, and her husband as a couple since the
early sixty’s, we were not in the same social circle. Years
would go by and our paths did not cross.
In the fall of 1988, I joined the United Jewish Appeal
Presidents Mission to Hungary and Israel. Because this was my
first time in Hungary, I was very interested how Judaism
could survive in this Communist Country and wither in the
remainder of Eastern Europe. Today, of course, Communism is
no longer a ruling faction in Eastern Europe and Judaism as
well as other religions are free to practice as they see fit.
However, Hungary remains the only country with a sense of
When I returned from this trip, the relationship with Marcia
began to become more serious. We enjoyed each others company
yet did not interfere with each others life style.
In 1989 the Columbus Jewish Federation was sponsoring a fact
finding Mission to Israel that included a stop in Rome and a
trip to Ladispoli. This suburb of Rome had become a transit
camp for the Russian refugees who were waiting for visa’s to
enter the United States. Marcia did not have the opportunity
to travel much during her first marriage. She had never
before been to Israel nor Italy. She accompanied me and it
was a great experience for both of us.
Rome was interesting and romantic. Ladispoli was a new
experience for both of us. But showing someone Israel is not
only the thrill of the first-timer, but also the experience
of a veteran like myself seeing Israel through the eyes of a
first-timer. The trip in 1989 was only the first of many
trips to Israel that Marcia and I would take.
The previous winter Marcia had spent some time with me in
Florida. This required my severing all female relationships
both in Florida and Columbus. I had no regrets. I had been
single for nearly 15 years. On my 50th birthday the previous
winter I attended the funeral of a friend who was seven years
younger than me. While there I came to the realization that
my life was incomplete and deserved a change. The direction
that my life was now taking seemed like the obvious change.
Marcia and I decided that we would be married the following
June. Samantha had been seeing Theo Sumkin for a few years,
and they decided to marry the following November. Theo had
resided in Columbus following graduation from Ohio State
University. He had recently taken a job in Miami, Florida.
It appeared that I was about to lose the last of my children
to the salt, sea, sun and tropical climate of Miami. This
would be great when I was in Florida for the Winters but
lonely in Columbus during the balance of the year.
Following our marriage in June of 1990, Marcia and I went on
a honeymoon. We had been invited to the wedding of my
cousin’s daughter in Seattle. We combined this occasion with
the opportunity to visit Seattle as well as Victoria and
Vancouver, British Columbia. In Vancouver, we stayed at a
small charming hotel named the Wedgewood. The travel agent
had arranged with the hotel that we be given the Honeymoon
Suite. Upon checking in, they thought there was some
mistake. They didn’t expect new honeymooners with old faces.
From there, we boarded a ship that sailed the inner passage
to Alaska. The scenery was breathtaking but I was
unaccustomed to seeing so much ice in July unless it was at
the bottom of a martini glass.
After about a week, we boarded a train to the Yukon territory
of Canada and stayed for two days in Whitehorse, Yukon. Since
it was July and very far North, the sun never set. It was
light outside at midnight. We returned to Vancouver where,
after an overnight stay, we boarded our plane to Columbus and
renewed our life, as it would now be, as a married couple.
Samantha and Theo were married the following November in a
joyous ceremony that left me very nostalgic. After their
honeymoon, they settled in Coconut Grove. Marcia and I spent
a great deal of time in Florida that Winter. With both my
children now living in the Miami area, we saw them often.
Friday nights were wonderful with my whole family gathered
together. We also would join each other during the week when
it was convenient.
From the time Stephen was about to graduate from the eighth
grade at Torah Academy, I had a dream of a Torah Academy High
School. This was 1975 and the idea did not receive much
enthusiasm and I feared that it would be doomed to fail. In
1991 the atmosphere was different. Parents of students in
upcoming grades liked the idea. They were committed to the
idea of their children receiving a Jewish education in a High
School. If one were not available in Columbus, they would
resettle or send their children to school out of town.
The eagerness of the parents and the willingness of the
school administration encouraged me to move for an upcoming
High School. If at least five students would commit to
attending a ninth grade class, I would pledge to underwrite
the cost of the class. I further pledged to underwrite the
first five years of the school if it were to succeed.
As of this writing, there are 70 students enrolled in the
school for the upcoming year. Twelve students graduated this
year, the third class to graduate from the school. These
students have been accepted to the finest universities in the
country. The school today is housed in an unequaled facility.
Libraries that are exceptional, computer labs with
international access to other computers, science labs that
were built on university science lab specifications and a
gymnasium that would be the pride of any private high school,
make this a success beyond my wildest imagination.
In the summer of 1991, I was reading an article entitled
“Roots to Roots” by a person who was known as the foremost
Jewish genealogist in the country. She described how to
research Polish and Russian records for family history on
people whose parents and grandparents came from these Eastern
European countries. The idea fascinated me because I had
always wondered as to the ages of my mother and Uncle Sam
Yablok, her brother. In my possession was a picture of the
entire family when my mother was a young girl. In that
picture she appears to be younger than my Uncle Sam. Uncle
Sam, however, who is still alive, claims that my mother was
the older of the two.
I contacted Miriam Weiner, the genealogist, and asked when
she would be taking the next trip to Poland. She told me
that she was going with a small group in October. I asked if
she had room for one more and she agreed.
I travelled to Poland and hired a car and driver to take me
to my ancestral towns. I did not discover what I had come
for because I had the mistaken idea that the town in which
the Yablok family had lived was the same town in which they
were born. I was wrong. While searching records, I did
discover my parents wedding certificate. For the rest of the
details of this trip that are quite extensive, refer to my
writings, articles, and videotape.
In 1992, Columbus had what was referred to, as a Mega-Mission
to Israel. We organized over 250 people from Columbus to
make the trip. Many were first timers. With this many people
traveling from one city, El Al agreed to send a plane to
Columbus, along with security personnel, for pre-boarding
check-in. By this time I was missioned-out but the thrill of
boarding an El Al plane in Columbus was an experience that I
was not about to miss. Marcia and I made this trip and as
always, we were not disappointed. It was first rate, first
class and fun.
Theo had an offer in Pittsburgh, in his field of sales, and
Samantha and Theo moved to Pittsburgh. Theo had family there
and he was very familiar with the Pittsburgh area. Of course
I was somewhat disappointed, from a selfish point of view,
since I would not have them with me in Florida the following
Winter. I’ve used the expression, many times, that you give
your children wings and they fly away. I therefore, had to
adhere to my own philosophy and let them make their own plans
Baker Rental Company had begun to outgrow its office
facilities. The space we had been occupying was both
inadequate and undesirable. It became increasingly more
difficult to attract office personnel in a tight labor
market. We had looked at a number of buildings but focused
on one in particular although the price was more than we
wanted to pay. One night at a party I met with the owner of
this building that had been vacant now for several years.
Upon inquiring what he was going to do with the building, he
came up with a very agreeable price if the closing could take
place almost immediately. Two days later we owned 3319 E.
Livingston Avenue at our price and we were about to move our
offices of more than 30 years at 765 S. James Road. After
remodeling and decorating, we proceeded to move our operation
and management company.
The same year, 1993, Marcia and I decided that we wanted a
larger home. We purchased and proceeded to decorate and
remodel 2808 Fair Avenue. This was a home with a pedigree.
Bexley homes that are extensive and have had a single owner
for many years are known as homes with a pedigree. In other
words this is the so-and-so home. So-and-so being the name
of this long time owner. We purchased and lived in the
Schoenbaum home. No matter how long we will live here it
will always be the Schoenbaum home.
That Summer we also planned a family trip or mission to
Israel. Neither Theo nor Marcia’s sons had ever been there.
With the help of a travel agent that had experience planning
this type of trip, Marcia and I, Stephen, Samantha and Theo,
Michael and Andrew Gurevitz and my niece Susan Lytton went to
Israel. We hired a guide and a large ten passenger van and
traveled the length and width of the land.
This memorable trip, that I hope will have a lasting effect
especially for the first timers to Israel, was a great
experience for all of us. We had the opportunity to spend
time together and get to know each other better.
When we returned, the Ahavas Sholom Congregation called and
asked if I would agree to be honored at their Annual Dinner.
This honor certainly did not have to do exclusively with
service to the Shul as I was not very active in the
congregation. Primarily, it was a combination of interests
in and out of the community that prompted them to want to
honor me. Perhaps they also figured that I might be somewhat
of a draw. This would derive more profits for the Shul from
the Dinner. I agreed only if it were to be a first class
affair held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, this hotel being the
only one in the city to have Kosher catering facilities. In
prior years, the Shul dinners were held in the outdated
social hall of the Congregation. They agreed to my wishes, I
was properly honored, and the Ahavas Sholom made more money
that year from the proceeds of the dinner and ad book than
they had ever made before. Since that year all dinners are
now held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
When Marcia and I were in Alaska we met a female friend of
mine from past years who was working in Skagway, Alaska for
the Summer. She had lived in Columbus for many years but now
resided in Phoenix, Arizona. She had a business idea that
sounded interesting to me. It was a marketing concept that
seemed like something that Theo could understand and possibly
be interested in pursuing.
We stayed in contact and developed the idea to where I set up
a meeting between this friend and Theo. He liked the idea, I
agreed to front the operation and my friend and Theo and, of
course, Samantha made another move and settled in Columbus.
They opened and equipped an office in order to pursue this
venture. Although they tried to make a very good idea work
they were unable to generate the profits necessary for both
to earn the living that they desired. Eventually, they
closed the business, The friend moved back to Phoenix and
Theo pursued a career in promotion and advertising from which
he had come. To my delight, after three moves, Samantha and
Theo were back in Columbus.
In 1994, Stephen had a business idea that was related to the
Law field. He thought that it had a better chance to succeed
in Columbus than in Miami. He returned to Columbus after
fifteen years of living in Boston and mostly in Miami. For a
variety of reasons, the idea did not work. He also had
forgotten how the Winters in Columbus are different from what
he had become accustomed to.
While in Columbus, Stephen was also doing legal work for me
as he also had successfully passed the Ohio Bar. He was in
Orlando, Florida for me on a deposition when he heard of a
position in St. Petersburg, Florida. He went there for an
interview, got the position, returned to being a Floridian
and, as of this writing, is still there.
In April of 1994, terrorists exploded bombs at a bus stop in
Afula, Israel. Until then, these towns had been immune to
the terrorist activities of Jerusalem and the border
communities. A group of us in Columbus, along with others
from across the country, hurriedly got together, chartered an
El Al plane and flew directly into an air base outside of
Afula, to make a “Shiva call.”
Afula is a medium-size community in the Galilee. The
terrorist bombing affected every resident of the town. These
communities had felt insulated from this type of attack.
They learned differently with this episode. Everyone knew
someone that had suffered a loss. I have friends in Afula and
I had a moment to spend some time with them even if it was
only standing on the sidewalk. Going to homes of people to
express our condolences was very difficult. Although the
people were deeply moved by our presence and the fact that
we had traveled from the United States to express sympathy,
the senseless loss of life was theirs alone to suffer and
sustain. Words alone could not express what we all felt but
we felt better for being there and trying.
We left Columbus on Sunday, and this all took place on
Monday. Monday night we spent in Jerusalem at our Hotel.
Tuesday night, we flew out and were back in Columbus on
Wednesday morning. A very fast, effective and tiring trip.
In the Fall of 1994, I joined another Presidents Mission of
the National United Jewish Appeal. This time they were taking
a pre-mission trip to Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia had a
very ancient Jewish history. In Prague, the oldest existing
Synagogue in Europe was still in use from the 13th century.
The Jewish community was small, rather uninvolved and the
Synagogue was more of a Museum than a Synagogue. A resource
person who had lived in Eastern Europe for the past 15 years
traveled with us. She had written a book about the
resurgence of Judaism in Eastern Europe. Her motives are
good but I believe that her optimism is unrealistic.
With the exception of Hungary, there are not enough Jews
remaining in these countries to form a nucleus of a viable
people. There are more Jews in Columbus than in all of
Czechoslovakia. Here, we have rampant intermarriage despite
highly cultivated educational programs. They only have a
dream. My advice to all of those in Eastern Europe is that
if they wish to remain Jewish, they need to leave and go to
live in Israel.
At the graduation of Torah Academy in 1995, I was presented
with the first Annual Leadership Award. I suppose that it has
something to do with the fact that I am still an interested
supporter of a school despite the fact that I have not had a
child in the school for at least 20 years, and probably will
never have any grand-children attending. To me, my interest
is no mystery as I have expressed my beliefs often. I do not
think that a Jewish community can exist without a strong
viable Day School.
Later that Summer Marcia and I were looking for someplace to
go. We located an interesting package via Sabena Airlines to
Brussels, Belgium. From there we traveled by train to
Amsterdam, flew to Paris, on to London and then back to
Brussels for our flight to the United States. Marcia and I
put in as many miles by foot as we did by plane. Or at least
it felt like it. Marcia had never been to any of these cities
and I had not been to Brussels. We had an enjoyable trip and
met with family of Marcia’s in Paris. These were very
hospitable people who picked us up and took us to their home
in the outskirts of Paris. There on a Sunday they had a
cookout that was attended by their family and friends.
This was a great way to complete an enjoyable trip to Paris.
That Winter our plans to leave for Florida were delayed. We
were usually in Miami by December 15th. This year, Samantha
was expecting her first child and we were waiting. We also
did not know whether there would be a Bris. If she knew the
gender of the baby she was not telling anyone. On January 4,
1995, Julia Sumkin was born. Our first grandchild was as
beautiful as her parents.
We left for Florida within a few days but commuted more than
usual that Winter to see Julia. Later that Winter a
suspicious fire destroyed our new office. Many business
records and numerous personal files and mementos were damaged
or destroyed. In my absence, the office continued to operate
temporarily with cellular phones. We fortunately had some
vacant office space at 4207 E. Broad St. This had been a
medical office but we made it work. I returned to find my
office in a very small examining room with a sink. The sink
actually came in handy. Those files that had been salvaged
were so covered with soot, that I was constantly washing my
In the fall of 1996 with problems minimized and our office
being rebuilt. Marcia and I made plans to go to Australia and
New Zealand. Although this is perhaps as far as you can go on
a single flight, it was worth it. These are both fascinating
countries. They are the same in many ways but very different
in others. During our trip of more than two weeks, we figured
out that we had been on sixteen planes, thirty-eight buses,
ten cabs, three trains, two loughs and one hot-air balloon.
Australia reminds one of the modernity of Western Canada
while New Zealand is more reminiscent of the quaintness and
beauty of Ireland or Scotland. Although it was our Autumn,
there it was Spring. The area is so vast that there are, as
here, different climates. New Zealand’s two Islands have
distinctly different weather conditions. The South Island
was much cooler than the North Island.
We had lost a day traveling to Sidney and crossing the
International Dateline. Upon our return from Auckland, we
lunched in the city, went to the airport and boarded our
flight to Los Angeles. Crossing the dateline the other way we
picked up the day that we had lost. We arrived in Los Angeles
the same day in time for pre-dinner cocktails. We retell
this story often, even to our own amazement.
This was not my first time crossing the International
Dateline but the thought of arriving somewhere before you
left, or losing an entire day is still an experience that
comes with repeated stories. In 1964, I left Tokyo on
November 3rd. and arrived in Honolulu on November 2nd.
That December, we were, once again, delayed in leaving for
Florida because of another upcoming birth to Samantha. She
was expecting around mid-December and we did not know the
gender. If it were to be a boy we would remain in Columbus
for the Bris. On December 16th, Madeline Sumkin was born and
although we did not have to remain for a Bris, we did stay to
enjoy our second grandchild.
That Winter, we again commuted back and forth to Columbus to
enjoy our two granddaughters. The office was nearing
completion and plans were made to return Baker Rental Company
to its Livingston Avenue location.
Haya’s son Yitzchak, was celebrating his Bar Mitzvah in
Israel at the Kotel (Western Wall) that October. When we
made plans to attend, we decided also to plan a Greek Isle
cruise following the Bar Mitzvah. The week in Israel was
enjoyable, as we visited with Haya and her family, attended
the Bar Mitzvah and all the festivities and visited others in
the family. The weather in October is usually very pleasant
and we were prepared with Summer clothes. It turned out to be
unusually cool and the rainy season began early.
Greece and the Greek Isles were no better. There were days
that it rained so hard it was difficult to leave the ship at
the various islands. Although it was very interesting and
enjoyable and certainly worth a return, I would take this
trip a few weeks earlier to ensure better weather. Besides
the Greek and Turkish Isles, we were in Istanbul and Athens,
these being major cities with great histories.
Following this adventure we made no major trips. It is now
1998 and we have stayed in the United States so far this
year. In addition to many visits to Florida and Las Vegas,
we were in New York on two occasions. Marcia’s son, Andrew,
resides in New York and we visited with him and also attended
an honorary dinner for Uncle Leizer.
Earlier in the year, Theo had an opportunity that he did not
want to pass up. A position with a company in Ft. Lauderdale
meant that, once again, they would be relocating to Florida
and, again, both of my children and my two grand-daughters
would be residing in Florida. In eight years of marriage,
they have come full circle. They began after their wedding
in Coconut Grove and now they are back residing nearby in Ft.
I am now sixty years old and in the sixty-first year of my
life. I believe that I still have a lot of living to do, as
the song goes, but I will stop writing these memoirs. Perhaps
my offspring will find something to add to this manuscript.
I do not have immediate plans for any new business ventures
and for the time being it appears that no new grandchildren
are being planned. My empirical dreams will have to be
fulfilled by my heirs, if it should be their desire, by
either the use of my assets or their future inheritance.
When I began in business, I was 21 years old. I planned to be
a millionaire at 25 and to retire at thirty. A million
dollars was a lot of money in those days. I accomplished the
first but was broke at thirty. I successfully rebuilt my
plan only to self-destruct at the onset of my pending divorce
in 1975. I, once again, successfully rebuilt but without the
same exuberance and determination that had brought me to the
point of my original accomplishments.
As I complete this manuscript, the Director of Israel Bonds
entered my office with a beautiful plaque that was created by
an Israeli artist. It will adorn the walls of my office
with the other honors and plaques that I am proud of having
received. I believe that I have done a small part in “Tikun
Olam,” in repairing the world. I hope that I am not finished.
I am planning a regular monthly off-season visit to Florida
to see my granddaughters. I have also recently put a deposit
on a new condominium in Ft. Lauderdale that will begin
construction in September. In October, Marcia and I are
going to Israel to visit relatives and friends and to see our
new nephew who was born last December. At the time of his
birth, I wanted to go to Israel for his Bris but the travel
arrangements were not convenient.
Finally, the advice I give to my heirs and those that have
cared for me and care about me is to remember who you are and
what you are. Keep in mind that life should not only be a
time to pass through but life also should be a place in which
each individual can and should make a difference. If you
will keep in mind that each of us has an obligation to leave
this world better than we find it, then each generation will
make life better for the next.
The recorded world began with a single man and a single
woman. The beginning of Judaism started the same. If, in our
family the chain is not broken, we will succeed and survive
to be a meaningful influence on the future of the world.
This can only happen with a constant stress on education.
You would not expect to succeed in the secular world without
a good quality secular education. So you cannot expect to
survive in the Jewish world without good meaningful quality
I thought That I would not write more memoirs for this
transcript, but leave this effort for others as they wished.
It is now the end of 1999, just before the new millennium.
As a child I thought about living until the year 2000. It
was a very extended time and I wondered If I would live that
long. Now it appears a very short time and I still feel no
different physically or mentally than the person I was when I
originally had these thoughts.
During this past year, Marcia and I realized that we are not
invincible. We decided that if we are going to make a
difference in this world, that difference must survive us.
We therefore created a one million dollar charitable
foundation that is funded by insurance. The proceeds will be
placed in a Philanthropic fund, and the interest income will
be distributed to those institutions in similar amounts that
we have supported these organizations in life.
During the summer of 1999, my sister Haya and husband Yossi
and five of their six children made a trip to the United
states and Canada to tour and visit family. Haya’s oldest
child, Esther is now in the Israeli army and obviously could
not make the trip. They had not been here as a family for
many years and it was a pleasure to host them while they were
In September, just before Rosh Hashana, Haya’s son Yehuda,
named for our father, was to be Bar Mitzvah in Israel. I
traveled alone to Israel to attend this special event.
Marcia was undergoing medical treatment and was unable to
make the trip. I spent an enjoyable week visiting relatives,
touring the institutions that we endow, and of course
spending Shabbat with my nephew and his family on the joyous
occasion of his Bar mitzvah.
Upon completion of my original memoirs, I was blessed with
two granddaughters without any prospects of additional
progeny. This year however, has been a blessed year in many
ways. Samantha had assured me that she was not planning any
additional children, but on September 28th, Gabrielle Rose
was born and I now needed to find space to hang more
Stephen had been dating Vicki Adelman for several years and
had decided that this was to be his mate for life. They were
married on October 17th in St. Petersburg, Florida where the
wedding was attended by our family and friends.
As the millennium draws to an end, our plans are only to
spend part of the winter in our Florida residence. This will
provide us the opportunity to spend time with our children
and grandchildren as this century ends and the next, begins.
My sister Haya stated that as each of her children was to
leave home to serve in the Israeli army, she would like to
have an additional child. Already being the mother of six
children, no one took her serious, including her husband.
However, in May she gave birth to number seven, the fourth
daughter, named after Haya’s mother Rosalind.
We had not planned an Israeli trip this year, having been
there numerous times in the past several years. We are
planning to go to Scandinavia and Russia later in the summer
and perhaps we will make a side trip to Israel to see our new
Hopefully the last entry in this addendum is the news that
Vicky and Stephen are expecting their first child this, the
autumn of 2001. The cycle joyously continues.
The joy was soon tempered by the unfortunate news that Vicky
had a mid-term miscarriage. We were saddened by the news but
felt especially bad for Vicky and of course Stephen.
That Thanksgiving holiday, Ester Winiarz finished her service
in the Israeli army, made her rite of passage trip to the
United States, and visited us in Florida. We had a very
enjoyable few days with her and she with us.
As fate would have it, Vicky was soon pregnant again and on
July 26, 2002, Carly Baker was born. I now had a fourth
granddaughter that I was looking forward to enjoy and spoil.
I had no opportunity to be in Israel in 2002, so in November
I found the time and made a short trip only to visit family.
As always it renewed my faith in the people of Israel and the
survival of the State of Israel.
That winter in Florida Vicky and Stephen announced that Vicky
is expecting again and this time they know that it will be a
boy. This will be the first grandchild that will carry on
the last name. In my thinking, this is really unimportant as
our name is a made up name, being a loose translation from
the original Polish. The significance is that she will have
two children almost within one year.
In late May of 2003 I made another trip to Israel. This time
for the specific purpose to attend the wedding of my niece
Ester to a young man by the name of Benjamin Golbert. They
were married on June 3rd. and are planning to come to the
United States for college. She is enrolled in Hunter and he
at Yeshiva University, were he has received a basketball
On August 6th of 2003 Maxwell Jeffrey was born to Stephen and
Vicky and of course we were there for the birth and the
Briss. This could complete all the grandchildren that I will
have. It certainly completes my writings and addendum to
date. This may be the end of my writing unless something
significant should occur.
Having the opportunity to submit or re-submit this manuscript
to the Columbus Jewish Historical Society, I will attempt to
update and complete this segment of my life. Bar Ilan University
is one of the largest Schools of its type in Israel. I became
impressed with the work that they were doing and the student
product that was emerging from the University. Among other
things, we endowed scholarships at the University for deserving
students. I made several trips to Bar Ilan to meet with students
and staff, but in 2005, planning for their Jubilee celebration
caused me to plan a specific trip. Unfortunately a last minute
health issue prevented my attending the 50th anniversary
celebration of Bar Ilan.
My granddaughter Madeline, aged nine, has asked on several occasions
if I would take her with me to Israel on my next trip.
The next trip was this past June 2006. Marcia, Madeline and
myself went to Israel. We had the opportunity to see the country
through the eyes of a nine year old and it was wonderful.
With this entry, I stop my memoirs. My family knows that I
will never stop living, never stop working and never stop
writing what is on my mind. For now this is complete.