This interview for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society Oral History Project with Dr.
Isador Cabakoff is taking place on November 12, 1996 at 7518 King George Drive in New
Albany, Ohio. The interviewer is Naomi Schottenstein.
Interviewer: Cabby, we all know you as Cabby so throughout this interview, I’ll
refer to you as Cabby. Forgive my informality. Let’s start with when you were born.
Your birth date – the year and date.
Cabakoff: September 30, 1912.
Interviewer: Where were you born?
Cabakoff: Columbus, Ohio.
Interviewer: Do you remember the first home that you lived in?
Cabakoff: Yes, I do.
Interviewer: Where was that?
Cabakoff: 444 Stauring Street.
Interviewer: We’ll come back to your house and some of the places that you lived.
Tell me the names of your parents.
Cabakoff: My father’s name was Herschel Cabakoff and my mother’s name was
Interviewer: Where were they born?
Interviewer: Do you remember what part of Russia?
Cabakoff: It was Minsky Gubernia.
Interviewer: Do you remember when they came to this country?
Cabakoff: My father came first, at the turn of the century.
Interviewer: So it was close to 1900. Were your parents married in Russia?
Cabakoff: Yes, they were married in Russia.
Interviewer: Were any of their children born in Russia?
Cabakoff: Yes, my two older sisters.
Interviewer: What were their names?
Cabakoff: Ida and Rebecca.
Interviewer: What brought your parents to the United States? Did they come directly to
Cabakoff: No. They came to New York first. My mother’s younger sister lived there.
Interviewer: In New York City? Then you were born in Columbus? What brought your father
Interviewer: Family? Probably for work, too. Do you remember what relatives were living
here at the time?
Cabakoff: The Lakins on my mother’s side.
Interviewer: Are they the ones your family was encouraged to come here for? The Lakins?
Interviewer: What was your father’s first occupation here?
Cabakoff: He was a cabinet maker.
Interviewer: Is that how he made a living throughout his life? You’re smiling. Is
there more to it than that?
Cabakoff: He made furniture for the czar.
Interviewer: Cabby, tell me a little about your siblings. You said two of your older
sisters were born in Europe. Starting with the oldest, tell me, was she eventually
Cabakoff: No. My oldest sister was Ida Cabakoff and she was lame due to a fall–a
Interviewer: I remember that she spent quite a bit of time at your house. What did she
do for a living?
Cabakoff: She went to school and took care of a household.
Interviewer: Who was the next sibling? After Ida?
Interviewer: Who did she marry?
Cabakoff: Ben Tolpen from Cincinnati.
Interviewer: Did she have children?
Cabakoff: Yes. One child – Helaine Zeldin
Interviewer: And Helaine has two daughters?
Cabakoff: Laura Sue and Beth.
Interviewer: Where do they live?
Interviewer: The older one lives in Florida?
Cabakoff: The older one is an attorney. She lives with her mother.
Interviewer: Here in Columbus? And the other one lives in Florida with her family? And
then after Rebecca? Who was your next sibling?
Cabakoff: Bella Wexner.
Interviewer: Who was her husband?
Cabakoff: Harry Wexner.
Interviewer: And they had how many children?
Interviewer: And their names?
Cabakoff: Leslie is the son and Susan is the daughter.
Interviewer: Are either of them married?
Cabakoff: The son is married.
Interviewer: Who is he married to?
Cabakoff: Abigail Koppel.
Interviewer: And they have how many children?
Cabakoff: Three. Two sons and a daughter.
Interviewer: And after Bella came Morris? Did Morris every marry?
Interviewer: What did Morris do for a living?
Cabakoff: He was a podiatrist.
Interviewer: And that brings us to you. You were the baby of the family, right?
Cabakoff: Yes. I am the youngest.
Interviewer: How many children do you have, Cabby?
Interviewer: What are your sons names?
Interviewer: Is Jerome married?
Interviewer: What is his wife’s name.
Interviewer: Where do they live?
Cabakoff: Los Angeles, California.
Interviewer: Do they have children?
Cabakoff: Yes. Three daughters.
Interviewer: And what are their names?
Cabakoff: Rachel and Aimee.
Interviewer: What are your other sons’ names?
Interviewer: Where does Steven live?
Cabakoff: He lives in Columbus.
Interviewer: He’s a big help to you, isn’t he?
Cabakoff: He certainly is.
Interviewer: I know that you have another son. Let’s get that on the tape.
Cabakoff: Howard is my other son.
Interviewer: Let go on with your schooling. Do you remember what schools you went to as
Cabakoff: I went to Fulton Elementary School. Then Roosevelt Junior High and I
graduated from South High School in 1929. I entered college at Ohio State University.
Interviewer: Did you graduate from Ohio State University?
Cabakoff: Yes, I did, in 1937.
Interviewer: In dentistry?
Interviewer: Do you remember any kids from high school or elementary school who you
might still know or who might be in Columbus?
Cabakoff: No. They’re all gone except a few.
Interviewer: Were there a lot of Jewish kids when you were in school?
Cabakoff: Yes. There were a lot of Jewish kids at that time.
Interviewer: What area was that in?
Cabakoff: South side.
Interviewer: Was that the house you were born in?
Interviewer: Do you remember anything about the neighborhood you were born in?
Cabakoff: Yes. There were mostly all Jewish people that I recall. I called it the
Ghetto at that time.
Interviewer: Do you remember any of your neighbors specifically?
Interviewer: What were some of their names?
Cabakoff: Sara Horwitz, an attorney.
Interviewer: What was Sara’s last name when she got married?
Interviewer: She was married to Harry Schwartz?
Interviewer: So that Horwitz family was a neighbor of your family.
Cabakoff: There was another family. Their name was Cooperstein.
Interviewer: Who were some of the Cooperstein children? Were they the Cohen family?
Cabakoff: That’s right. Sadie, Yetta (Minkin) and Minnie (Minkin.) When I was a
young child, I used to watch them. Harry Kahn was a good friend.
Interviewer: Were there more horses than cars on the street at that time?
Cabakoff: We’d race down the Street.
Interviewer: What about transportation? How did you get around when you were a
Cabakoff: We had a Model T Ford.
Interviewer: Was that the family car?
Cabakoff: No. It was used for business. It was a truck.
Interviewer: Were you able to drive it when you were younger? Or was it your
Cabakoff: No. I never drove it. My brother drove it.
Interviewer: How did you get to school, Cabby?
Cabakoff: I walked five miles to school, carrying books in my arms.
Interviewer: Did you walk to school by yourself? Or were there a bunch of kids?
Cabakoff: By myself. When I could afford it, I used the streetcar. The Parsons Avenue
Interviewer: Do you remember how much the streetcar cost to ride?
Cabakoff: Five cents.
Interviewer: One way?
Cabakoff: You could get a special – six rides for a quarter.
Interviewer: So weather didn’t hold you back from going to school? Even when it
was blistering cold?
Interviewer: When you went to Ohio State University, did you live on campus?
Cabakoff: No. I lived at home. At that time, I couldn’t afford to live on campus.
Interviewer: So you went everyday to Ohio State University by streetcar?
Cabakoff: Yes. Streetcar.
Interviewer: Do you remember any other Jewish students at Ohio State University? In
Dentistry? While you were there?
Interviewer: Do you remember their names?
Cabakoff: The Wasserstrom kids.
Interviewer: Was that Stanley and Leonard?
Interviewer: Was it unusual for a young Jewish dentist getting ready to open a
Interviewer: This was during the Depression years. Can you tell us a little about the
Depression years? Did you feel like you were without anything?
Cabakoff: I always managed.
Interviewer: And you were able to get into college?
Cabakoff: I was accepted.
Interviewer: That wasn’t a scholarship, was it?
Interviewer: What did you do for recreation?
Cabakoff: We went to Schonthal Center on Rich Street.
Interviewer: What kinds of activities did you participate in at the Schonthal Home?
Cabakoff: I used to sing. Which reminds me, I went to New York as a ____________.
Interviewer: Is that what Major Bowes was? A radio show? So you were on radio for one
Interviewer: That must have been a real honor. What kind of music did you sing?
Cabakoff: Classical. I sang “The Twenty-third Psalm,” by _________. I thought
it was appropriate for a memorial every night, and I won a contest.
Interviewer: What was the award?
Cabakoff: A trip to New York – all expenses paid. CBS _____. I happened to draw straws,
and I was the first to ___________. Major Bowes sat on one side of the stage, not near me.
The music started to play. It was two concert grand pianos, and I was alone in the center
of the stage.
Interviewer: Was it a thrill or was it frightening?
Interviewer: Let’s go on a little further. We were talking about Schonthal Center.
Was that the major place where everyone got together?
Interviewer: Do you remember who was the director of Schonthal Center at that time? Was
it someone by the name of Sugarman?
Cabakoff: Yes. She was in charge of Schonthal Center.
Interviewer: Were there organizational meetings at the Schonthal Center? Did you belong
Cabakoff: I belonged to B’nai B’rith ___________.
Interviewer: So that was an important part of the community back then? Cabby, you
started to tell us about your singing career. I know you had a colorful career further on.
Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Cabakoff: I started when I was in Cincinnati when I was pretty young.
Interviewer: Was it like a talent show?
Interviewer: Where was that held? Different places?
Interviewer: Did you ever have professional training for your music?
Interviewer: What was some of your professional training?
Cabakoff: I sang all over Columbus.
Interviewer: Were you in some stage shows? Operettas? Operas?
Cabakoff: Yes. I was. I was a member of ______________.
Interviewer: Saturday Music Club?
Interviewer: What about the Jewish Center Theater? Were you ever in any of those
Cabakoff: Each year they’d have a show and every year, I sang a song that Jan
Pierce sang, The Bluebird of Happiness. I sounded very much like Jan
Pierce. And I did poetry.
Interviewer: It must have been done very well because you were asked to sing each year.
Cabakoff: I sang all over – charitable organizations.
Interviewer: Was that always as a volunteer, Cabby?
Interviewer: Did you ever sing and get paid for it?
Interviewer:Never any pay? So you had to make a living as a dentist?
Interviewer: You had other entertaining talents as well.
Cabakoff: All kinds of talent. That’s right.
Interviewer: Were you a dancer?
Cabakoff: Oh, yes.
Interviewer: Was that part of your career?
Cabakoff: Not career. Just an avocation.
Interviewer: You did that on a voluntary basis?
Cabakoff: All voluntary. I never turned down any organization.
Interviewer: We’re still talking about the 1930s, right?
Interviewer: Let’s talk a little about your family. You told me that your father
was a cabinet maker. He must have been wonderful with his hands to do that kind of craft
work. Did your family also supplement that income by going to market? Was there a Central
Market at that time?
Cabakoff: Yes, then we branched out and went to East Market which was in the Mt. Vernon
Avenue area. We did well. We all worked together – it was during the Depression.
Interviewer: What did you sell?
Cabakoff: Fruits and vegetables.
Interviewer: Did your mother participate?
Cabakoff: Yes. She was the mainstay. Morris and I helped out.
Interviewer: What period in your life did you go into the army?
Cabakoff: I was one of the first ones to go into the military.
Interviewer: Was it actually the army?
Cabakoff: I practiced dentistry in the artillery when the war came along. I was _______
Interviewer: You had already been in practice here in Columbus?
Cabakoff: A couple years. I tried to get out of it.
Interviewer: Where were you first sent to?
Cabakoff: Fort Hayes, Columbus, Ohio.
Interviewer: How long were you there?
Cabakoff: I wasn’t there very long. I was shiopped out to Fort Knox. When I was at
Fort Hayes, I met Bill Glick–a surprise.
Interviewer: Was he in the service, too?
Interviewer: What business was his family in?
Cabakoff: Furniture business.
Interviewer: Did you just see Bill in passing?
Interviewer: How long were you there?
Cabakoff: Just a short time.
Interviewer: And then were you shipped back?
Cabakoff: No. We went to another assignment.
Interviewer: Still assigned as a dentist?
Interviewer: Eventually you were shipped overseas. Do you remember what year that might
Interviewer: Was the war at the peak then?
Cabakoff: We didn’t know.
Interviewer: So you didn’t really know what you were getting into, did you?
Interviewer: Did you actually see fighting?
Interviewer: Were you on the front line?
Cabakoff: No I was _________________________.
Interviewer: How long were you stationed in Europe?
Interviewer: Were you stationed in England?
Cabakoff: That’s when we were stationed __________________.
Interviewer: Were you in England the whole time?
Cabakoff: No. We crossed the Channel.
Interviewer: How did you cross the Channel?
Cabakoff: On _____________boats.
Interviewer: Do you remember where you landed? What part of Europe?
Cabakoff: France. Cherbourg.
Interviewer: And then where were you taken to? Were you stationed in France? Or did you
go to Germany?
Interviewer: So you traveled a lot. They kept you on the move.
Cabakoff: Always moving.
Interviewer: Do you remember where you were last stationed in Europe?
Cabakoff: After the war, we were stationed ___________ which was seventy kilometers.
Interviewer: So, Cabby, your experience in Europe was harrowing, wasn’t it?
Cabakoff: I wouldn’t call it harrowing. I took care of 1,900 soldiers, doing
dentistry. I did about a million dollars worth of dentistry.
Interviewer: Maybe there were some advantages having that professional ground.
Cabakoff: I took care of their teeth. Can you imagine a soldier having a toothache?
Interviewer: So they kept you pretty busy?
Cabakoff: I was glad to do it.
Interviewer: Everyone had to do something during the war.
Cabakoff: After the war, _________________ .
Interviewer: What year did you come out of the service?
Interviewer: So you were in the service five years? When you came back, did you
re-establish your practice?
Cabakoff: Yes, I did. I was across the street from what is now Grant Hospital.
Interviewer: Was this by yourself?
Cabakoff: I tried to do everything that was good for the patient.
Interviewer: You had a long, successful career in dentistry, didn’t you?
Cabakoff: Yes. On State Street. On the corner of State and Fourth Streets.
Interviewer: Then where did you go?
Cabakoff: Back into the service. I was twenty-eight.
Interviewer: You went back into the service?
Cabakoff: Yes. They called me.
Interviewer: That was a recall.
Cabakoff: I was supposed to go to Korea.
Interviewer: You were lucky to have gotten yourself established. Cabby, let’s move
on to when you married Florence. Do you remember what year that was?
Interviewer: And you lived in Columbus? Where was Florence from?
Cabakoff: Cleveland, Ohio.
Interviewer: How did you meet Florence all the way from Cleveland?
Cabakoff: Florence was a patient of mine.
Interviewer: So you and Florence have been married since 1952. That’s a long time
together. Cabby, I know that you had a lot of success with your profession. Were there any
organizations that you belonged to through your profession? Were you able to travel being
a dentist? Did you go to conventions and so forth?
Cabakoff: I had a few friends in Cleveland and we used to take seminars all over the
country. I spoke at seminars.
Interviewer: Those were your vacations as well, weren’t they?
Cabakoff: That’s right.
Interviewer: But you did meet other dentists there?
Interviewer: Is that a local dental society?
Cabakoff: It’s a Jewish dental society.
Interviewer: As a dental society, did they offer help to less fortunate people? Other
Cabakoff: Since I am a dentist, I would help my own people. Especially ______________.
Interviewer: Where were some of the homes that you and Florence lived in together? What
were some of the areas?
Cabakoff: On Roosevelt. A complex.
Interviewer: Do you remember any Jewish families?
Interviewer: That was north of Maryland Avenue, right?
Interviewer: A lot of young Jewish couples lived there. You were lucky to get an
apartment there, weren’t you? It was after the war…
Cabakoff: We found one that was available. We fixed it up ______________ .
Interviewer: Where did you move to from there?
Cabakoff: We moved to Elbern.
Interviewer: You lived there most of your married life, didn’t you?
Interviewer: You just moved from Elbern three years ago, didn’t you?
Cabakoff: No. Two years ago.
Interviewer: And now you’re living in New Albany. Tell us about your winters.
Where have you been going during the winter months?
Cabakoff: We’ve been going to Fort Lauderdale for about thirteen years.
Interviewer: Are you enjoying the winter in Columbus so far, this year?
Cabakoff: No. It’s too cold.
Interviewer: Yes. It is rather cold. As a youngster, do you remember going on any
Interviewer: Did you ever go out of town to visit family?
Cabakoff: We’d go for two days to a health spa. It had special water.
Interviewer: It was a very popular place, wasn’t it?
Interviewer: We’re now on side B of the tape and we’re going to start winding
this tape up. On behalf of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society, I want to thank you,
Cabby, for contributing your interview today. I know sometimes it’s difficult to get
through and remember times that have gone by many years ago.