This is June 24, 1998. I’m Naomi Schottenstein and on behalf of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society. I’m interviewing Iz Harris and we’re at his residence at 330 S. Roosevelt Avenue in Bexley and Iz, give us your full name.
Interviewer: Do you have a middle name?
Harris: Isadore Michael, but somehow or other when I went to Ohio State, they
had the name Milton accepted so on some of my important papers from the
University it’s Isadore Milton and my birth certificate says Isadore Michael.
Interviewer: So it’s Isadore M. for sure.
Harris: Right. So I’m, I usually shorten it by saying, “My name is I. M. Harris”.
Interviewer: I’ve seen that a lot. I. M. Harris. You use the initials, uh
huh. Well that’s kind of important looking too. What is your Jewish name?
Harris: I think it’s Itzchem Michel.
Interviewer: Michel?Well that’s Yiddish.
Harris: Itzchem Michel.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Do you know who you were named after? Well, wait . . . .
Harris: No wait a minute. No, I don’t because my grandparents on my mother’s
side was living when I was born and I had a chance in later life to see them and
talk to them. But on my father’s side, I’ve never seen any of my
grandparents. So I really don’t know.
Interviewer: Okay. They never really told you about that?
Interviewer: Well what usually happens then is parents know who they named
you after but they didn’t discuss it. Sometimes they just didn’t discuss it.
Interviewer: Where were you born?
Harris: Toledo, Ohio.
Interviewer: Toledo, Ohio?Can you tell us what year you were born?
Interviewer: 1908 and what’s your birthday?
Harris: November 25th.
Interviewer: Okay. So that makes you about 90 . . . .
Harris: 89 now.
Interviewer: 89. Okay. Can you tell us, well you mentioned your grandparents.
Can you tell us anything about your grandparents?
Harris: No, the only thing I know is they came over here, you know, when they
had a lot of the European Jews came over and, you know, time of the Ellis
Island. And they were very devout people.
Interviewer: You mean religiously devout?
Harris: Yes. And he was up in, my grandfather was up in years.
Interviewer: Was that on your father’s side or your mother’s?
Harris: Mother’s side.
Interviewer: Mother’s side.
Harris: And so was my grandmother. But they were, it was difficult to really
get acquainted with them because I think that my grandfather kind of regretted
that they came to this country because he didn’t have anything to do.
Interviewer: Couldn’t find work right away?
Harris: Well no, it wasn’t that. It was that he was up in years and you
know, he couldn’t speak the English language and he just, you know, the
atmosphere was so strange and foreign to him and he couldn’t cope with it and
. . . .
Interviewer: Kind of misplaced?
Interviewer: So your father, did your father come from Europe or . . . .
Harris: Yes. Came from Lithuania.
Interviewer: And what about your mother?
Harris: I think my mother came from Lithuania too.
Interviewer: Do you think they got married here in the United States?
Harris: No, they got married in Europe.
Interviewer: They got married in Europe?
Harris: Uh huh.
Interviewer: Okay. Did you have any of your siblings born in Europe or were
you all born here?
Harris: Born in the United States, Columbus as a matter of fact.
Interviewer: How many other people were in your family? How many brothers and
Harris: I had one brother and I had four sisters. There were two sets of
Interviewer: Two sets of twins?
Harris: They passed away really in infancy because at that time there was a
malady going around for babies and they didn’t know how to deal with it. And
so when one of them was close to a year old and the other was not, maybe six or
seven months old, it was . . . .
Interviewer: Well that was unusual wasn’t it?
Interviewer: Tell me your brother’s name.
Interviewer: Harold? And Harold is not living?
Interviewer: What year, when did he pass away?
Harris: I’m trying to think. About 20 years ago?
Interviewer: About 20 years ago? Uh huh. Yeah I remember Harold myself. We
were friends. And you said you were born in Toledo so you were older than
Harold. Is that, that’s correct?
Harris: Yeah about three and a half years older.
Interviewer: Uh huh. What was your father doing in Toledo at the time?
Harris: He was in the, worked in a bedding factory where they made mattresses
and beds, what do you call it, box springs and things of that nature.
Interviewer: So he worked for somebody else?
Harris: At that time, yeah.
Interviewer: And how long did your family live in Toledo?
Harris: Just trying to think. I’d say about 25 years.
Interviewer: Oh so you didn’t come to Columbus until you were about 25
years old, is that . . . . .
Harris: No they came to Columbus when I was (mumbling – 19–) when I was
about 22 years old.
Interviewer: So you were having . . . .
Harris: I was in school yet.
Interviewer: So did you come on your own or . . . .
Harris: I came on my own.
Interviewer: And then when did your family, the rest of the family,
Harris: I came here about, let’s see, 19–, I think I came here about 1934
Interviewer: So you came here to go to college, or is that right?
Interviewer: Was that unusual at that time for a young person to leave home
and go away to college?
Harris: No, if you could afford to go to school. Lot of people who couldn’t,
of course, stayed home. And I’ve been working since I’m eight years old.
Interviewer: Eight years old? Well we’re going to talk about that in a
little bit. We’ll talk about your . . . .
Harris: So, what I was going to tell you, that whatever money I earned I gave
my mother and she set up a bank account. She saved it all. So I was a little bit
financially better off than I would be if I didn’t have any money.
Interviewer: Well it sounds like you had a wise mother.
Interviewer: And a good working father.
Interviewer: I wanted to ask you, why did your family, your mother
and father finally come to Columbus?
Harris: Well it was at the depths of the Depression and Toledo was a highly
industrial city which counted on most of its business from Detroit. ‘Course,
they were what I always called it, a satellite city of Detroit. And it was
difficult to find jobs and the place that he worked had closed down. So he didn’t
have that kind of a job. So what he started to do was, this was before your time
so you wouldn’t know either, is that he went in the old gold business.
Interviewer: Old gold?
Harris: Old gold. People went from house to house and they asked anybody if
they had any old gold that they wanted to sell because they were desperate for
money and you couldn’t eat those gold rings or gold watches.
Interviewer: Sounds like kind of a house-to-house pawn shop in a way.
Harris: Well . . . .
Interviewer: Except you never got it back.
Harris: Well what they did was when they collected a certain amount of gold,
they sent it away to some kind of a refinery who would buy it at the going rate
and send you the money, see?
Interviewer: What constitutes old gold?
Harris: Any gold.
Interviewer: Like if you were to come to my house, what would I look for to
give you for old gold?
Harris: Any gold. When I say “old gold” I mean not in the sense that it has some esthetic, you know, approach to it. It’s people who had old rings or old . . . .
Harris: Jewelry that they didn’t want to use any more. They wanted to get
rid of it and they needed the money.
Interviewer: So it could be jewelry or coins maybe?
Harris: Yes. Anything, yeah.
Interviewer: Or even silverware?
Harris: . . . . because old gold had a market value. Any gold did.
Interviewer: So that’s what he did to . . . .
Harris: Yeah he was just trying to earn a living. Then he moved here. Then he
went into business here.
Interviewer: Well why did he pick Columbus?
Harris: ‘Cause I was here.
Interviewer: You were already here? Okay. Well that’s a good reason. Did
you have any other family in Columbus, any other relatives?
Harris: Yes we did. The last ones were, ‘course most of them, when I moved
I only had one relative there. That was a cousin.
Interviewer: Here in Columbus?
Harris: No, in Toledo.
Interviewer: In Toledo? Okay.
Harris: Were left.
Interviewer: Uh huh. So you really started new here in Columbus? What about
your mother? Did she have family in Columbus or . . . .
Interviewer: No, nobody.
Harris: Neither one of them . . . .
Interviewer: Okay. What was your mother’s maiden name?
Harris: Her maiden name was Shaw, Jennie Shaw.
Interviewer: S-H-A-W? Okay. And did your mother have any brothers and
Harris: Yes. Here she had one sister. She had three brothers.
Interviewer: And where were they?
Interviewer: Were they all in Youngstown?
Harris: Youngstown and one of them moved to Akron.
Interviewer: And what about your dad? Did he have brothers and sisters?
Harris: Yeah he had those. He had one brother in Baltimore.
Interviewer: What do you remember about, how did you feel when
you first came to Columbus. How did, what was your recollection of Columbus,
Harris: Well I worked in Akron for a little while and I learned something
about selling jewelry in the jewelry business because my mother’s brother, the
one that’s named Shaw who was in the jewelry business in the city of Akron,
and they had several stores around, and so the first thing I did was I wanted to
find a job. So I walked down High Street and I went in one side of the street
and on the other, finally went into Budd and Company, remember the old Budd and
Interviewer: Budd, Budd and Company?
Interviewer: B-U- . . . .
Interviewer: B-U-D-D-. No I don’t think I remember that. No, that might have been before my time.
Harris: It was about two or three doors away from the old Deshler Hotel.
Interviewer: Oh yeah?
Harris: Yeah, north of it.So I got a job there and I worked there and I worked through the
summer. I didn’t go back to Toledo because to me it was almost like a ghost
city at that time. Well to give you an idea of what it was like during the
Depression, if the Hunting- ton Bank and the National City Bank and the other
main, Fifth, say Fifth-Third Bank . . . .
Interviewer: You’re talking about today’s banks?
Harris: Today’s banks. If on a Monday morning they all closed down and they couldn’t do
any banking business there and they couldn’t put any money there or put it in
. . . .
Interviewer: Doesn’t sound good at all.
Harris: Sounds like a city panic. Well that’s exactly what happened when I
went to, when I was in Toledo.
Harris: So I says, “Well there’s nothing here anymore,” see, and I left Columbus. So I stayed there. And the funny part about it is that I worked in a jewelry store for a while in Toledo but the city didn’t have any money to operate the city so they had to issue what they called “script”, and he would try to buy up the claims of different people that had money in the banks, and they couldn’t get any. In other words, eventually I think they had
a lot of money but he would pay back 100% of their claim. So I said, “. . .
take the money”. So he did, and he paid me back see, so . . . . .
Interviewer: So is this script like a note, kind of like a note?
Harris: Yeah this paper, like an IOU. And that’s the way they could run the
city ’cause they couldn’t get any money.
Interviewer: So it was a tool that worked.
Harris: Yeah, right.
Interviewer: Well that’s interesting. Do you remember, while we’re
talking about downtown Columbus, can you tell us what the atmosphere was
downtown in terms of businesses. Do you remember some of the stores and some of
the business people there?
Harris: Yeah they, talking about the Jewish people, there were four jewelry
stores down- town which were owned by Jewish people.
Interviewer: Were there other jewelry stores as well or were they all owned
. . .
Harris: Yeah there was a couple of stores probably owned by somebody, by
non-Jews like the Harrington Jewelers and . . . .
Harris: Yeah. And I think there was one, a couple of others.
Interviewer: Was Argo and Lehne in business then?
Interviewer: Argo and Lehne?
Harris: Yeah they were in business. But the four jewelry stores I’m
thinking about extended credit and one of them was Ratner’s which was in the
Huntington Bank Building. I think they called themselves Rogers Jewelry.
Interviewer: And who was, what was Mr. Ratner’s first name?
Harris: I think Harry.
Interviewer: Harry Ratner? Okay.
Harris: And then there was at Broad and High was, what was his first name . .
. . I can’t think . . . .
Harris: No, Kahn’s came a little later.
Harris: Roy’s, Roy’s Jewelers.
Interviewer: Roy’s Jewelry. Right.
Harris: And I’m trying to think of his name. I know him real well but can’t
think of it right now.
Interviewer: Yeah that was a big corner there.
Harris: Yeah right. That was a jewelry store. And then there was Morrey’s Jewelers down there at Long and High. And then there was Budd and Company which was owned by Jewish people.
Interviewer: Who was Budd and Company owned by?
Harris: . . . . Gold– . . . . his name was Goldsmith. And it was owned by them.
Interviewer: What about Morrey’s?
Harris: Morrey’s . . . . was Morrey Greenstein, and then later on he sold
it to somebody else and . . . .
Interviewer: Morrey Green– . . . .
Harris: stein I think.
Interviewer: Greenstein? Yeah.
Harris: I think that was it.
Interviewer: Kind of interesting to get this background. It kind of paints a
picture of what the city was like then.
Harris: Yeah. And he had somebody working for him by the name of Ben Harris
and Ben opened up a jewelry store over on State Street near the Ohio Theater. He left there, yeah. And Morrey Jewelers was then bought or owned by Levison . . . . what was his first name? Joe Levison. And Joe Levison also had a jewelry store on the corner of Long and High.
Interviewer: Oh yeah, yeah. So it sounds like the action was down right in
the heart of Broad and High, or a couple blocks north and south of there.
Harris: Broad and High was the busiest corner you would find in many a
cities. And one of the reasons, of course, the whole city was divided at Broad
and High by its north, south, east and west directions, see? And . . . .
Interviewer: I remember in the sidewalk on Broad and High there was a heart
that said “The Center of Ohio” or “The Heart of Ohio”. I
guess that was the pulse there. What were some of the other stores, department
stores that you remember?
Harris: Well there was of course the Union by Levy’s and the Fashion by the
Gundersheimers. That’s on the site of the old, I mean on the site of the
present City Center.
Interviewer: City Center?
Harris: Yeah. And . . . .
Interviewer: That was the Union?
Harris: Union? No the Union originally was at Long and High.
Interviewer: Oh that’s right. A little further north. That’s right.
Harris: Owned by the Levy’s.
Interviewer: Right. Okay.
Harris: And the one that, Gundersheimer’s owned the Fashion. That’s down
where the City Center is now on High Street. And let’s see, oh the Boston Store which was owned by the Kobackers which was down between Long and Spring Street. And of course Madisons came along which was owned by Mayor Madison’s
Interviewer: That’s right.
Harris: See, and they were on High Street. And let’s see, what else?
Harris: Well I was going to leave that for the last, the Lazarus, F. & R.
Lazarus Company. And there was the H. L. Green Company which was a step ahead of
what they called the “five and ten cent store”. They were at Long and
High. And the Union of course was at Long and High.
Interviewer: Were there five and ten cent stores then too?
Harris: Yes, yeah.
Interviewer: What were the names of some of them?
Harris: Well there were Woolworths, Kresges to name two.
Interviewer: Tell us a little bit about a five and ten cent store. You know
this is old history as I don’t think your grandchildren, your
great-grandchildren will know what a five and ten cent store is.
Harris: Well when Woolworths and the Kresges opened their store, they felt
there was a need for some low-priced merchandise that people couldn’t afford
to buy anything of more expensive, that they could shop there, which they did.
Interviewer: Rather than the big department stores?
Harris: And you could buy a lot of things like a tube of toothpaste for 10
cents and maybe shoestrings and all kinds of articles that you normally wouldn’t
expect to find in a store like that. Anyway later on they progressed and carried merchandise of higher price but still lower than you would find in a regular department store.
Interviewer: So would you say that it kind of accommodated people who were in
dire straits from the Depression, pre-Depression?
Harris: Well they had . . . . people couldn’t afford to pay bigger prices
for the same kind of merchandise that they could buy there, see?
Interviewer: Sure. Can you think of any, can you give us any picture of
prices of anything that you might remember like jewelry or clothing or cars or
rent what you paid, or how much a house cost? Just kind of give us a picture of
what money value was at that, we’re talking about early 20s.
Harris: Yeah. Well during the 20s, I’m just trying to think of the prices.
Interviewer: Well do you remember any salaries that you got?
Harris: Oh I believe I was making about $25 or $30 a week. Was considered
just a fair salary but something I could survive on. See. We used to ride the busses for five cents in Columbus.
Interviewer: What kind of busses were they?
Harris: Just like we’ve got now.
Interviewer: You’re not talking about the electric street cars?
Harris: Well I don’t know whether they came later or before. Well I think
they were both. I think they had, I think they had both at the time, I’m not
sure. But we used to ride the street cars and I know for a while I lived out
east and when I was going with my wife Nan, I had to get out of her house by a
certain time because you got the midnight express. There wasn’t any
transportation after that.
Interviewer: Oh okay. So you had to, or else you’d end up walking?
Harris: Right. But I was trying to think of some of the commodity prices. I
know automobiles was a far cry, you could buy an automobile back then for
maybe $5- or $600 and, of course it wasn’t the best but the equivalent
of probably a $10,000 automobile today.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Well there aren’t many $10,000 automobiles now. Do you
remember your first automobile?
Harris: Yeah. I’ll tell you about this one. I went to school in Toledo at
the University of Toledo for a while and they were, the school was way, way out
on the outskirts of town in an abandoned government camp base. And so you had to
get a ride to go out there. And I bought a Ford T-14.
Interviewer: Model T?
Harris: Model T Ford for $25.
Interviewer: Wow! You can’t even buy a tire for $25 today.
Harris: But of course, you know, you couldn’t expect too much for $25 so it
was barely running so I spent a lot of time. At that time you were able to, I
was going to tell you this too, buy Ford automobile parts in the five and ten
Interviewer: Oh well that was helpful. Yeah.
Harris: And one day I’m driving down, just get a picture of this, like if,
the downtown area like on High Street, and the motor dropped out of that car and
fell in the street.
Interviewer: Fell out? Oh goodness.
Harris: Just dropped away from its supports. So you know that was an experience.
Interviewer: How did you get out of that?
Harris: Well you know, nobody got hurt or anything, had to call somebody to
have them move the motor so the traffic wouldn’t be affected.
Interviewer: But you remember it though?
Harris: Yeah I sure do. We had automobiles then which you don’t have today.
There was a car called Jewett, J-E-W-E-T-T, and one of the first cars that had
automatic shift was called a Reo.
Interviewer: A Reo?
Interviewer: R-E-O? Oh, uh huh.
Harris: Reo. And there was a car called a Hudson, and there was a car called
the Studebaker, and they used to refer to it as a Steady-breaker, always used
to have a lot of problems so.
Interviewer: They’re real collector’s items.
Harris: Yeah, right. Then a car called Geraffe. But they’re all gone.
Interviewer: Now when you were in college, did you work during your college
Interviewer: So when you came to Ohio State, what school, what college did
you . . . .
Harris: I went to the law school.
Interviewer: And when your father came here after the old gold
business, what did he do?
Harris: When he came here he first went out in the hide business, hide and
fur business. And he’d go to sources where they had hides and could sell, like
some of the rendering plants, and other businesses, like farmers would skin
their calves and their meat and they’d have skins and he’d buy them and then
he’d go to Columbus and there’d be hide and fur businesses here like, one of
them was Harry Schwartz’s father was in that business. And then Harry Schwartz
was in later.
Interviewer: What would they do with the hides?
Harris: Oh they’d sell them to tann–, buy them at tanners, sell them to
tanners. That’s why they’d make leather out of them.
Interviewer: So they would become shoes and purses and . . . .
Harris: Whatever you wanted?
Interviewer: Uh huh. Well that’s kind of interesting because there aren’t,
we’re not aware of businesses like that now.
Harris: Nobody’s got it. Very lucrative business, see.
Interviewer: Uh huh. So it was a good way to make a living?
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Harris: Then we had, you had to do what you could because you couldn’t get
a job. Nobody wanted to hire.
Interviewer: So you had to create your own business?
Harris: Right. Then later on they went into, my dad went into the bedding
manufacturing business and he bought a plant called, it used to be called Bella
Firestone Company and he retained the name, was in business for several years.
Interviewer: I don’t think I asked you back there what your father’s name
Harris: Harris, yeah.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And you did tell me your mother’s name was Jenny.
Harris: Yeah right.
Interviewer: Uh huh. So did your father stay in that business then until he
retired or quit?
Harris: Right. Yeah right.
Interviewer: Did you ever go into the business at all with him?
Interviewer: But your brother Harold did?
Harris: Yeah he went in a little bit.
Interviewer: Uh huh. So you went to law school and then when did you graduate
from Ohio State?
Interviewer: And did you go into the law practice?
Harris: Right away.
Interviewer: Right away? Did you work for somebody else or did you . . . .
Harris: No, never worked for anybody else . . . .
Interviewer: So you came right out of college and went into your own law
office, law practice?
Interviewer: And you’re still working. I know I had to catch you in between
Harris: Right. It’s been, well I’m just completing my 66th year.
Interviewer: Sixty-six years continuous! Wow, that’s fantastic. Have you
had partners during those years or associates?
Harris: Oh yeah I’ve had . . . but never practiced by myself. Always
associated with somebody else and then we had a, I had a firm a little while
back and that was, we called the Harris-Lias-Strip.
Harris: Lias, L-I-A-S
Interviewer: L-I-A-S, okay. And . . .
Interviewer: Uh huh. That’s A. C. Strip?
Harris: Yeah right. And we were located at Broad and High. I think it was 16,
I think we started out either at 8 or 16 East Broad.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Can you tell me approximately what year that might have
Harris: Tell you, let’s see, I’d say in the middle 60s.
Interviewer: Oh okay. But until then then you were . . . .
Harris: Yeah . . . .
Interviewer: by, on your own?
Harris: Well yeah. I was associated with a lot of people.
Interviewer: But this was your firm?
Harris: And stayed with the firm, and Mr. Lias was at a seminar up in Boston
and he had a heart attack and it left him permanently brain–, he had a lot of
brain damage. And that occurred, was either the second or third year of our
partnership, and he passed away. That was, his wife was Judge Lias, now in the
Domestic Relations Court of Franklin County.
Interviewer: Yeah I’ve seen that name in the newspaper.
Harris: Yeah right. And I sold out to the Strip, the rest of the partners
here seven years ago ’cause I thought I was going to retire but I didn’t.
Interviewer: Well it’s probably good for you that you didn’t. Keeps you
busy and thinking about what you have to do here.
Interviewer: Where’s your office now?
Harris: Office is at 601 South High.
Interviewer: 601 South High? And where were you before? Where was your office
before that when you were with your partners?
Harris: Oh we were, well we were at 575 South Third. South Third? Yeah. It was South Fifth. Uh huh. I believe it was Third.
Interviewer: Third. I think it was Third. I remember that office.
Interviewer: You said you worked from the time you were eight years old.
Harris: Uh huh.
Interviewer: What were your first ways of earning a living?
Harris: First job? Well I went to Andora’s Circus. The guy was making cotton candy and
he said to me, “You want to earn some money Bub?” I says, “Yeah
sure do”. So he says, “Well do you want to sell some cotton candy out
here?” I said, “Sure”. So I did sell cotton candy. I think I came
home with something like $4. My mother asked me where I stole the money.
Interviewer: Oh well that was a lot of money.
Interviewer: For a little guy.
Harris: So I did that, and then I worked as a bellhop for several years in a
Interviewer: Where was that?
Harris: That was up in Toledo. And then I worked in the jewelry business for several years.
Interviewer: Well it sounds like you were a wage earner.
Interviewer: And you had that security for a long time.
Harris: Yeah. You got to do what you got to do.
Interviewer: Yeah. What about activities as a youngster? Did you belong to
organizations? Did you socialize?
Harris: Well I was a member of the AZA. We had some kind of fraternity in
high school. Jewish guys got together. It was a club . . . fraternity.
Interviewer: Kind of a . . . .
Harris: That was about it. . . . you know, clubs and organizations . . . .
Interviewer: I think you were busy making a living at that time.
Harris: Yeah, working, yeah. Didn’t make any difference, we had a lot of
Interviewer: Were you ever in the military service?
Harris: Tried. Tried to get in but they didn’t want me.
Interviewer: What were your recollections of World War II?Well let’s go
back. What were your recollections of the Depression?
Harris: Well, fortunately, if I stayed in Columbus, you didn’t see some of
the real effects of it as you would in Toledo. I didn’t notice any bread lines
in Columbus. People, because of the labor force here which was entirely
different than it was in Toledo because when you’re a university and with the
State employees and the insurance companies, you had people that were on a
regular salary basis and you didn’t see those things.
Interviewer: There was a lot more security?
Harris: Right. See. . . . than you would find in Toledo. ‘Course when I
went to Toledo I didn’t see any, I wasn’t there for any great length of time
to be an observer, you know . . . .
Harris: who was looking for some of those effects. Because Toledo was in
really bad shape.
Interviewer: Well fortunately you were able to escape that part of . . . .
Harris: Yeah right.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And then what were your earliest recollections of
getting into World War I, World War II, I’m sorry.
Harris: Well I never had won anything of value, real value in any lottery or
where, you know, you would ask money. Where, you know, you buy a ticket and never won anything. Never won anything in a lottery. They didn’t bother me and I didn’t bother them. So we got along swell. But at that time I was married and I had two
children and I said to myself, “Well things don’t look too well you know,
as far as the war front’s concerned and maybe they’re getting close to me.
So,” I says, “rather than be drafted, I’ll try to enlist.” So I
said it’s for two reasons. One selfish reason is I think you make more money
if I can get an officer ship rather than a private.
Harris: Because the . . . . was $19 or $20 a month, whatever it was.
Harris: And I said, “A family couldn’t live on that,” so I said,
“I’ll try”. And so there are legal slots open in all divisions you
know, military service.
Interviewer: You mean for law?
Harris: For lawyers. And but when they’re filled, the only time you can
ever, you know, get in there is if there’s a vacancy. And I tried the Army and
that was full and the Navy was full. I mean the Air Force was full and the
Marines was full. So I tried the Navy. And the first thing you’ve got to do is
get recommendations, written recommendations, and I thought that I had some
pretty powerful people that recommended me. One of them was Mr. Lazarus, Simon
Lazarus from Lazarus Company. . . . . was a District Attorney here. . . . . was
a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and a few others that I know real
well. And then I was set up for it and I got a letter back a little bit later
telling me, thanking me for my interest and offer to belong to the service but
they can’t use me right now.
Interviewer: There wasn’t a place for you?
Harris: No, so that was it. Now I think I ought to tell you this. I had a
friend of mine, a Jewish man, that lived in Zanesville, who was in the Army
Reserves. He was an officer. And . . . . he liked real well. He says, “Well
let me try it.” So I tried it but had the same problem . . . . But I said
to myself, “Well, let me try the Navy”. He was in the Army. I said,
“I tried the Navy and they didn’t,” this was before I sent that
letter in to join. They sent me a letter I think less than two weeks after I made
inquiries and offered to, you know, go in there. And they said to me, “Yeah
we have an opening for you in Intelligence. Report to,” and I forget the
name, “Dr. Dodd in Upper Arlington for the physical examination.” That
quick, which led me to believe that the United States was aware of getting into
Interviewer: Can you tell me about what year that might have been?
Early 40s? Late 30s?
Harris: No I would say, I would say between the late 30s and early 40s. Yeah I would say right in there; someplace in there.
Interviewer: Things were starting to brew there?
Harris: Yeah but there’s no publicity about the United States getting in
and I’m quite sure there was talk in the proper circles. And so they sent back, they sent this to me and told me to report for examination and I said, “I want to know what this Intelligence
entails.” So I started inquiring because we had a Navy office here in town. And this one fellow said to me, “Well,” he says, “all I can tell you is there was somebody working side-by-side with me for the last four years and all of a sudden he was transferred to Intelligence. I haven’t heard hide nor hair of him since for over two years.”
Interviewer: Doesn’t sound good.
Harris: So I said . . . .
Interviewer: He disappeared, huh?
Harris: Yeah. So I said, “Oh well,” I says. “I got a family
and I want to know what’s happening.” So I didn’t go get the
Interviewer: But you had a choice.
Harris: I had a choice.
Interviewer: At that time, uh huh.
Harris: And we had one fellow here, one Jewish guy here, gosh you know . . .
. want to think real fast about it, I can’t remember his name.
Interviewer: Yeah that happens.
Harris: His father was a tailor at, he made suits to order and his office was
on Broad Street at 16 East Broad. Oh what was his name? His name was Lakin;
Louis Lakin; that was the father’s name. And the reason why I said him, anybody of importance that wore his clothes, well if you wore his clothes, they were made to order and he had them marked with . . .
Interviewer: Finish telling us about Mr. Lakin’s clothes.
Harris: He had some kind of sleeve decoration. And anybody who saw that knew
where the clothes came from.
Interviewer: So that was his mark?
Harris: Yeah. Now his son was in Intelligence. And he was also a lawyer.
Interviewer: What was his name?
Harris: I’m trying to think.
Interviewer: Was it Sy?
Harris: No. Sy Lakin wasn’t him. . . . .
Interviewer: Okay. That’s the only name . . . . Okay.
Harris: Wasn’t Seymour.
Interviewer: Okay. Well I don’t want to give the wrong information.
Harris: Anyway his son was in intelligence and he was one of the first Jewish
boys that suffered the tragedy of his enlistment. . . . . I think he enlisted.
They didn’t draft him. He was on a ship that was sunk.
Interviewer: Yeah I remember hearing about that.
Interviewer: I mean hearing about it much later.
Harris: But . . . .
Interviewer: Did you wear Mr. Lakin’s clothes?
Harris: No, they were too expensive for me.
Interviewer: Over your head, huh?
Interviewer: Izz, we’re almost at the end of this one tape, yeah we’re
almost at the end of the tape so I’m going to stop at this point and turn the
tape over and continue. (Pause) Okay, we’re on Side 2 now and as I was just
saying, you’ve really given us some great information and painted quite a
picture for us. But I need to get into information about your family. Tell us
about your wife. How did you and Nan meet and when did you get married and what
was Nan’s maiden name?
Harris: Nan’s maiden name was Schlansky.
Interviewer: Schlansky, okay?
Harris: There were three different spellings of the same name in their
immediate, not their immediate family, but in their families.
Interviewer: What were the other spellings?
Harris: Well Dr. Schlonsky is S-C-H-L-O-N-S-K-Y. And another one was S-H-L-A-N-S-K-Y. And she had quite a family here in Columbus. Now . . . .
Interviewer: What about her sisters and brothers?
Harris: She had two sisters and she had a brother that passed away when he
was a youngster by an accidental, by accidentally went, as I understand, her
mother was washing some clothes and at that time the wash machines were a rare
thing. So she had boiling water and he had tipped this kind of vessel, whatever
contained this water, on him and he got scalded to death. He was a youngster and
was three or four years old.
Interviewer: Oh my goodness. And tell me who her sisters are.
Harris: Her sisters are, well Nan was the oldest. And the next one is Ida
Schlansky and she was married to a man named Robert Marks who passed away here
about 15 years ago, something like that. And the younger sister was Esther
Schlansky who married a Norman Cohen. And she passed away about three or four
Interviewer: Okay. Now take us back to how you met Nan.
Harris: Okay. There used to be a center in Columbus for Jewish people called
the Schonthal Center on Rich Street. And there they were having some kind of a
play there and I went there with Sam Luper who was a life-long resident of
Columbus. And I saw her in a group well I figure, I said, “Who is that
person there?” So he told me and I said, “I’d like to meet her”.
Interviewer: She just stood out?
Harris: Just like that. And I met her and from then on why we went around together.
Interviewer: So it was kind of love at first sight?
Harris: Well I don’t know what you’d call it. It lasted a while.
Interviewer: It sure did. How long were you married?
Harris: Sixty-four years.
Interviewer: Sixty-four . . . .
Harris: And if she would have been living, on July 4th would have been our
Interviewer: When did she pass away?
Harris: August 24, 1997.
Interviewer: So it’s just almost a year?
Interviewer: I know you were a devoted couple, a beautiful couple. A lot of people really looked at you with great respect. Tell us about your children.
Harris: Well my oldest boy is Marshall Harris and he was named after my
grandfather on my mother’s side. And . . . .
Interviewer: And who is he married to?
Harris: He’s married to Annette, oh what was her name, I’ll think of it
in a minute. They have two children. They live in Reynoldsburg now. And they have
a daughter named Karla and she’s married to a man by the name of let’s see,
Barry, isn’t it funny, I can’t think of his last name . . . .
Interviewer: Do they have children?
Harris: They got one child who is a, not because he’s my great-grandson,
but he’s got, he’s brilliant. And . . . .
Interviewer: What’s his name?
Harris: His name is Jonathan Skaggs, S-K-A-G-G-S. That’s who she’s married to. And . . . .
Interviewer: How old is Jonathan now?
Harris: Jonathan is, I think he’s going to be, he’s 11 now. He’s going
to be 12 in November. And he was selected from a group of boys to be a student at Boy’s
Interviewer: Is that right?
Harris: . . . .
Interviewer: Well that’s terrific. Columbus, Columbus School for Boys?
Interviewer: Columbus Academy?
Harris: Academy . . . .
Interviewer: Columbus Academy.
Harris: And the other gal is Jennie and her last name is Radin. And she’s
married to an Ed Radin.
Interviewer: Ed? Radin?
Interviewer: How do you spell that?
Harris: R-A-D-I-N. And he’s, they live in Pickerington.
Interviewer: Pickerington? Do they have children?
Harris: They don’t have any children.
Interviewer: What does he do?
Harris: Right now he’s with a company that makes tee shirts with insignias
Interviewer: And Marshall, what is Marshall’s profession?
Harris: Marshall is an accountant. And he spent thirty-some years with the
Blue Cross Blue Shield which was later called Central Benefits. And he left that company, I think it’s been about three or four years ago, and is now with a company that has four day-care centers, one of which is located in the Heritage House but they only lease space. They are not connected with the Heritage center. He’s the auditor for their four companies.
Interviewer: I see. That’s interesting. And your other son is . . . .
Harris: He’s with . . . .
Interviewer: Tell us his name.
Harris: Value City. Larry.
Interviewer: Larry Harris?
Harris: Yeah. Lawrence.
Interviewer: Lawrence? Okay.
Harris: He doesn’t like to be called Larry.
Interviewer: Well he’s Larry. He’s good old Larry.
Harris: Yeah Larry Harris.
Interviewer: And he’s with Value City?
Harris: He’s with Value City now.
Interviewer: Okay. And his wife?
Harris: His wife’s name is Betty. Betty Kinsberg was her maiden name.
Interviewer: Where is Betty from?
Harris: Betty’s from West Virginia. It’s, can’t think, it’s a small
town in West Virginia.
Interviewer: What about Annette? Where is she from originally?
Interviewer: Columbus? Zelko. Was that her maiden name? Zelkowitz?
Harris: No. I’ll tell you. It will come to me.
Interviewer: Okay. Alright. Let’s see, I forgot to ask you, how old were
you when you got married?
Harris: I was, I think 25.
Interviewer: And did you and Nan always live in Columbus?
Harris: Always been, yes.
Interviewer: Did you have a big wedding when you got married?
Interviewer: Big wedding, huh?
Harris: Yes. My wife’s parents, and that was all of the Schlanskys who were
members of Beth Jacob Synagogue. And because of the condition of the synagogue didn’t lend itself very well to having the wedding both size-wise and also as to the aesthetics
that would surround the wedding. So Winding Hollow had what they called the
Excelsior Club on a corner of Parsons and Bryden Road. And they used to rent it out for weddings. And that’s where we had our wedding. But because we wanted it to be a strictly Orthodox wedding . . . . that’s what her parents wanted. And the rabbi, Rabbi Greenwald, of
sainted memory, was the Rabbi.
Interviewer: Rabbi Greenwald?
Harris: Yeah. And he wouldn’t come to any other temple or synagogue so we had to
have it there. So back in those days, it’s surprising, most of the Jewish people,
caterers was a thing that was never unheard of. But there were several Jewish
women in town who used to cook for large-attended events and the women, the
close-relative women, used to help.
Interviewer: They just pitched in.
Harris: . . . . they did . . . .
Interviewer: So you had a regular dinner?
Harris: A regular dinner.
Harris: Dancing and we had the regular chupa, you know that they have,
the canopy, chupa . . . .
Interviewer: Sure. All the traditional things?
Interviewer: Where was your first home?
Harris: Was on Wilson Avenue. 1143 Wilson Avenue . . . .
Interviewer: Did you rent that house or . . . .
Harris: It was an apartment. It was a town house.
Interviewer: Town house, uh huh.
Harris: And back at that time it was a very nice section of town. It was
south of Whittier Street and this was a four family. It had four family and
brick and it was a very good neighborhood.
Interviewer: You know, I . . . .
Harris: And wait a minute. I want to tell you this.
Interviewer: Okay. Go ahead.
Harris: And our rent at that time was $35 a month.
Interviewer: Wow. That’s really, that’s great. It gives us kind of a
perspective of what the values were then. I’m going to come back to you, to
the homes you lived in but I need to finish with Larry’s family. We’ve got
Betty and Larry. Who are their children?
Harris: Oh their children? Well the oldest one is Seth. (Other conversation.)
Interviewer: Let’s see, you were telling me about Seth. He’s the oldest
of Larry’s and Betty’s children.
Harris: Yeah. He’s married to a woman called Laurie Gregory.
Interviewer: And they have a child?
Harris: Yeah, right up there.
Interviewer: That cutie up there on the refridge?
Interviewer: Yeah, with her little girl?
Interviewer: What’s her name?
Harris: Her name. This will slay you. Kodie, K-O-D-I-E, Magnolia Harris.
Interviewer: Well it’s pretty colorful.
Interviewer: What does Seth do? He has an interesting . . . .
Harris: Seth, I don’t know what you call him but he does a a lot of
interiors for commercial businesses like sometimes restaurants. He did the . .
Harris: Cameron’s and what else did he do?
Interviewer: Cameron’s on Main Street?
Harris: Yeah and he did what’s the name of that, Cap City. And he did some
others and he’s done a lot of murals. That’s what they do mostly. And he
now, he’s done some work in the Hotel New York New York in Las Vegas and right
now he’s doing some work for the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas. He’s doing the
whole first floor for them.
Interviewer: Well so you’ve got a big push in there.
Harris: Yeah he’s doing a big job there. If it turns out all right, it’ll
Interviewer: Uh huh. So is he in business by himself or does he have
Harris: He’s in business by himself. He used to be partners in Ex-Design but he’s withdrawn out of that now and he started, he and his cousin started that so he’d rather do what he’s doing now, so . . . . .
Interviewer: Well he’s doing okay.
Interviewer: Okay let’s go to the next child.
Harris: And the next one is Karen. And she’s, what do you call her now,
something to do with X-ray. X-ray technician.
Interviewer: Is Karen married?
Harris: No. She’s an X-ray technician. And she’s with Riverside Hospital.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And then the third child?
Harris: The third child is . . . .
Harris: Yeah, I’m just trying to think. Yeah Julie and her last, and her
husband’s name is Barry and their last, their name is Daroe, D-A-R-O-E. And he’s with, her husband’s with the Police and Firemen’s Benefit Society. I don’t know, he’s got something to do with them. They take care of retirement pensions and stuff like that.
Interviewer: Well these professions get a little complicated.
Harris: Yeah. He’s a nice kid.
Interviewer: So we’ve got, let’s see, I want to be sure to get your, all
that family in. Okay. So now you were telling us that your first house was on
Wilson, first apartment. And then where did you live after that?
Harris: Lived at, on Montrose, 981 Montrose.
Interviewer: Did you live there for a long time?
Harris: Yeah we lived there for almost 13 years.
Interviewer: And then after Montrose?
Harris: Right here at 330 South Roosevelt.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Did you build this house?
Interviewer: You did build it?
Harris: Yeah. Jack Cooperstein built it.
Interviewer: Yeah. Jack Cooperstein. He built a lot of Bexley houses didn’t
Harris: Yeah, right. Just . . . . a way of note, this was the last lot that
the Johnson family, oh, laid out Bexley at . . . .
Interviewer: Oh is that right, the whole thing of Bexley, they were the ones
who . . . .
Harris: Yeah they laid it out.
Interviewer: Laid it out you mean . . . .
Harris: They went and sold it and developed it and so . . . .
Interviewer: Huh. Well that’s interesting. So that’s where Bexley comes
Harris: Yeah right. Their house is over on Fair Avenue, Fair and Remington
right on the corner.
Interviewer: The Johnson family?
Harris: Yeah. I don’t know whether she’s living any more. She’s a wonderful person, Mrs. Johnson.
Interviewer: Let’s talk, I know that you’ve been real active in the
community. Let’s first talk about your religious belonging, what synagogue you
Harris: Belong to Agudas Achim. I used to belong to Tifereth Israel and Beth
Jacob and Temple Israel.
Interviewer: All at the same time or at different times?
Harris: No. Well some of them were at the same time. But I was a member of
each one of those.
Interviewer: And your affiliation now is with?
Harris: Agudas Achim.
Interviewer: Agudas Achim? How long have you been involved with Agudas Achim?
Harris: Since they moved here. I don’t know when they moved here.
Interviewer: In the, probably 35 years ago at least.
Harris: At least that.
Interviewer: 40, maybe 40 years ago.
Harris: They moved here.
Interviewer: What was your involvement other than attending services? You
probably were involved in the organizational part of the synagogue as well.
Harris: I was the first secretary of the synagogue, in this synagogue,
elected in this synagogue. And served on several committees there and eventually,
they, I went to the Vice-Presidency and Presidency of the synagogue.
Interviewer: Have you seen a lot of changes over there through the years?
Harris: I sure have.
Interviewer: Some better than others?
Harris: Yeah. Some I don’t want to put on tape.
Interviewer: I can understand. Okay. Let’s go on to other organizations
that you’ve been involved in.
Harris: Well I’m a Past President of the B’nai B’rith Zion Lodge which
was an interesting thing when I ran for office there because mostly people of
German-Jewish descent were quite active and probably had a lot of clout with the
running of the organization. And it seemed that somebody outside of that area
had a difficult time running, getting involved . . . . Although someone did like
Justin Sillman and Iz Garek. So when I ran for office, my opponent was a member
of Temple Israel.
Interviewer: That was . . . . opponent.
Harris: Yeah when I ran for office. And back in those days an election isn’t
like an election is today. I mean you can’t even get people to accept the
nominations today. Over there, I mean in that era, I mean it was a big political
thing and you worked hard and . . . .
Interviewer: You wanted to do it?
Harris: You solicited people for their votes and everything else and we had a
large attendance. I mean, B’nai B’rith, when I was President, we had close
to 1200 members.
Interviewer: Tell us what B’nai B’rith, what their function is.
Harris: Well they have a multitude of, I wish I had all that in front of me.
One of the things they have, they maintain the two hospitals, one in Hot
Springs, Arkansas, and the other was in Denver, Colorado. And it was the type of
hospital where you didn’t have to pay back then to get in. In other words, one
of the hospitals had a sign, “None may pay who enter and none may enter who
Interviewer: Oh well that tells it all.
Harris: And was supported by, they also I think they had this orphanage, I
think there was an orphanage they maintained in Cleveland. I’m not sure about
that though. They had one there. There was a Jewish orphanage there. I’m not
sure that it was run by B’nai B’rith. And they . . . .
Interviewer: How long were you President of B’nai B’rith?
Harris: One year.
Interviewer: One year. Are you still actively involved?
Harris: Not as much as I used to be ’cause they, there was another lodge
that was formed here and they recently joined with the Zion Lodge. That was the
name of their lodge. And then they became one lodge but they still don’t have
the same interest from the public as they did before, from . . . . the Jewish
people in the city as they did before. But B’nai B’rith also had the
Anti-Defamation League which done a terrific job trying to quell anti-Semitic
moments in the city.
Interviewer: Yeah they’re still very active and . . . .
Harris: Yeah but it’s not B’nai B’rith. It isn’t run by B’nai B’rith
Interviewer: Separate organization now? Uh huh.
Harris: They also have the youth organizations. They had what they called the
AZA which stands for Aleph Zadek Aleph.
Interviewer: Okay. So you’re telling us about AZA. Were you, I mean the
youth group, were you involved in that in some way?
Harris: Yeah I was with that group in Toledo for a short time.
Interviewer: As a youngster you belonged to AZA?
Harris: Yeah right. It was well thought of then.
Interviewer: I think it still is.
Harris: And, well there’s several other things. I just can’t bring them
to mind. There’s a whole printed list of what B’nai B’rith does. And then,
first of all, it’s the world’s largest Jewish service organization. And it’s
too bad that most people, you know, don’t take an interest in it. And it’s .
. . . they’re suffering the same sickness that a lot of our organizations have
right now, no interest.
Interviewer: I think that’s just the general picture now with . . . .
Harris: Yeah, everybody.
Interviewer: Yeah. I know what you’re talking about because we’ve all
been active in a lot of things. Kind of hard to get anybody to do the work anymore.
Harris: . . . . take care, like the Sisterhood at Agudas Achim. You know when
the women used to put on an affair, they did their own cooking and they took a,
really a kind of an interest that you couldn’t buy for money. Nothing like a
caterer. They got a kick out of it. I know for instance Sadie Cooperstein, every
Saturday would go down and take care of the Kiddush at Agudas Achim and if they
didn’t give her any help, she would call some of the women and ask them if
they would please come and help her. You don’t find that now.
Interviewer: No, no. I was a part of that movement too where you just went
because you knew that you wanted to.
Harris: And you felt you were doing something good for somebody.
Interviewer: What about Brotherhood? You were . . . .
Harris: Brotherhood? Here? Well, no I wasn’t too active in the Brotherhood. I do a lot of
their, well I got an award for being their man of the year but, what do they
Interviewer: Flowers for the Living?
Harris: Flowers for the Living. And I also got an award, I was active in
there, just recently in later years . . . .Because, you know, when you get to the point where you get wrapped up
in these things, you don’t have any time for your family any more.
Interviewer: It does take a lot of time when you’re really serious about
Harris: I remember, you know I was active once and at the Center, I had three
meetings all the same night almost the same time. How you gonna – I went from
one room to another.
Interviewer: What were the, do you know what . . . .
Harris: No I don’t remember . . . .
Interviewer: Were you ever active in the Jewish Center organization?
Interviewer: What did you do there?
Harris: Well I was Chairman of the Bowling Committee when they had bowling
there. And I was Chairman of the Health club one year. But I didn’t, and then
I was on, was I on the board down there? Might have been on the Board. I don’t
Interviewer: Do you go to the Jewish Center now?
Harris: I did. I did up until Nan passed away and then, I’ll be back again
Interviewer: In what capacity? What do you do at the Center? What would you
Harris: Oh I go for the exercise.
Interviewer: Health Club?
Harris: Health Club.
Interviewer: Little bit of kibbitzing?
Interviewer: Little bit of kibbitzing too?
Harris: Well I don’t do too much of that.
Interviewer: We’re going to continue our interview here. It’s a few days
later. But we had several interruptions and we’re back here at Izz’s home.
This is Naomi again and I’m interviewing Izz here. Izz, there are a few
questions that I needed to wrap up and I thought this might be the time to kind
of get the rest of the information. We were talking about your daughter-in-law
Annette married to Marshall. Do you remember what Annette’s maiden name was?
Harris: Lustig, L-U-S-T-I-G.
Interviewer: Okay. Lustig. Were they Columbus people?
Interviewer: Uh huh. So she was from Columbus? Okay and we were talking about
your brother Harold kind of at the beginning of the interviewer and I neglected
to get Harold’s wife’s name and his children. Can you tell me, fill in with
Harris: Yeah Harold’s wife’s name is Margie.
Interviewer: Okay. And where was she from?
Harris: Margie is from Cleveland. Margaret. But they call her Margie.
Interviewer: Margaret? And her maiden name was?
Interviewer: Klein. Okay. And who were their children, Margie’s and Harold’s?
Harris: They had a son and a daughter. Daughter was Janice. And son’s name was Howard. Howard passed away here in October of 1997.
Interviewer: And where does Janice live now?
Harris: Janice lives in Columbus now.
Interviewer: Okay. Janice is not married. Is that correct? Okay.
Interviewer: Okay. And Howard was married and is divorced. And he has also .
. . .
Harris: Janice was also married and divorced.
Interviewer: That’s true, yeah. But she didn’t have children?
Interviewer: Okay. And who are Howard’s children? Howard?
Harris: Yeah. He had three children, a daughter and two sons. I can’t
recall all their names right now.
Interviewer: Yeah they live out of town I think. Yeah. Okay. And we mentioned
your brother-in-law Norman’s wife. She was a sister to Nan, your wife.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And I don’t know if we had her name in here or not but
let’s make sure. What was . . . .
Harris: Esther, Esther Schlansky married to a Norman Cohen.
Interviewer: Okay. Okay we got that cleared up. You were starting to tell me
something about the Center and I thought that might be an interesting little
anecdote to add to your . . . .
Harris: Well I think I mentioned before the old expression is what comes
around goes around.
Interviewer: Yeah we’ve heard that.
Harris: And suspenders were a common form of dress for men. How many years
ago? Well it’s hard to tell but there was nothing unusual about it. And it was
not only from down on the standpoint of just taking care of your
properly-pressed clothes, see. And then when the, what should I call it, the era of, let’s see,
what should I call a dress, where the men wore sloppy clothes and over-length
Interviewer: Was that in the 60s?
Interviewer: Late 60s, yeah.
Harris: And there was no need to hold their pants up to show proper dress.
Interviewer: For sure.
Harris: It was a casual type of dress, which existed for several years. And even today in 1997 there’s quite a few men that would do that too.
Interviewer: Very casual.
Interviewer: Kind of loose. Yeah it’s kind of, sometimes disheartening
though, isn’t it?
Interviewer: Yeah. How do you feel about the way kids are dressing now?
Harris: Oh I don’t approve of it.
Interviewer: What do you think it shows when a kid has, you know, dresses
sloppy and doesn’t have very much concern about the way they look?
Harris: Well you have to go with the times and if it’s say that type of
dress code and all the kids are doing it and even the young people, young adults
are dressed that way, you don’t have any comment. That’s it whether you like
it or not. You know it’s a way of life. When I was growing up, the first thing, change from the ordinary, was we had a, well when we first started out in the days of Valentino, when they
wore bell- bottom pants and long sideburns.
Interviewer: Who was Valentino? Let’s fill in here.
Harris: He was Rudolph Valentino. He was a very popular movie actor back in
let’s say, the middle 20s. And that sort of caught on and all the young men
were dressed that way with these, if you, a lot of people don’t know what
bell-bottom pants are but if you are a student of the dance, you’ll find that
those men who danced the tango wore those kind of pants.
Interviewer: I guess there might have been a reason for it. Do you think
there might have been a reason?
Harris: No, just a dress code. Well I suppose to imitate that European touch.
That’s what it was. Primarily Spanish.
Interviewer: Yeah. They did allow for easy movement too, just kind of more
Harris: Yeah. And then I was going to say, later on we had the college-type
of dress where you wore . . . . sports coats came into being and then they had
two different types of garment, one for your coat and one for your trousers and
they weren’t of the same cloth, matching or anything. And that was quite
common. And they wore . . . .
Interviewer: You mean rather than a suit?
Harris: Yeah rather than suits.
Interviewer: Was that pretty daring to dress like that with a sport coat and
. . . . slacks?
Harris: Well it was a deviation from the whole suit type of wear. And it was,
had more of a casual look. And I remember the caps we wore. They looked like beanies with a visor on them.
Interviewer: Yeah, yeah. It was pretty ordinary dress stuff.
Harris: Yeah right.
Interviewer: You probably thought it was really cool to wear that kind of
Harris: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: Well kids are back in caps now so it’s, you know, I guess
trends come back but a little different.
Harris: And we had an era also where men wore hats.
Interviewer: What kind of hats? You’re not talking about caps, you’re
talking about regular hats.
Harris: . . . . hats, . . . . hats. And you’ve seen that in movies where
particularly these gangster types of movies where all these, the manner in which
they wore their hats indicated that they might have belonged to that type of an
individual . . . .the gangster.
Interviewer: Pretty, it was like a signature again?
Harris: Yeah right. But then came the era where you didn’t wear any hats and that’s
been going on now for almost 15-20 years.
Interviewer: That’s true. There aren’t many hat stores, are there now?
Harris: No. . . . . one.
Interviewer: Well there’s one on Main Street, that shoe store that sells
Harris: Yeah there’s one, one . . . .
Interviewer: Hat and Sole I think it’s called.
Interviewer: Hat and Sole on East Main Street.
Harris: Yeah they, I think an Israeli owns that. And . . . .
Interviewer: But I’m not aware of any other stores.
Harris: But that’s not, that’s . . . .
Interviewer: There goes your phone. (pause)
Harris: . . . . not what you would call a regular hat store. I think he’s
got, he caters to a certain class of people, particularly, I call them the
“black hats,” the ultra-orthodox people who you will see wear these
hats. And even the children wear them.
Interviewer: Yeah. Well at least they have a place here to buy them.
Otherwise they’d probably have to go to New York or someplace.
Harris: Well they used to, Schottenstein used to carry some hats but they don’t
carry it any more I don’t, I haven’t seen them . . . . there.
Interviewer: Yeah talking about hats, I remember many years ago how important
it was for women to buy hats for holidays. It was a big deal to go to the Union
or Lazarus. I know with the women. I guess the man bought new hats every so
often too . . . .
Harris: Yeah. Now that you mention this, I want to show you something in
today’s paper. It was . . . . around here.
Interviewer: While I’m interviewing Izz, the fellow and the doorbell keeps
ringing but Izz is a very active working man and it’s nice to see somebody who’s
past 50 years of age still working and producing and doing a lot of interesting
things to keep his life going.
Harris: Well I don’t see it here but I guess I saw it on TV where women’s
hats are coming back.
Interviewer: Are they, dressy hats?
Harris: And somebody, one of the hatters, designed and made a hat that a
woman can roll up and put in her purse.
Interviewer: Well that sounds practical doesn’t it?
Interviewer: You travel with it.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Yeah that sounds good. Izz, in looking back through your
life, you and Nan, did you guys go on family trips, vacation trips with your
children or did you and Nan travel?
Harris: Yeah we, I’m just trying to think where we were. We did, we took
some trips with the kids and not lengthy ones. I think we went to Washington,
D.C. one year and we went to, I was just trying to think whether we went to New
York together or not, but we went to cities. The kids were kept quite busy
during the Summertime. And we didn’t take too many lengthy trips because the
children were interested in swimming and we belonged to the old Excelsior Club
and when we got up, as soon as they got up in the morning, we had to take them
to the pool and they stayed there the whole day long, day in and day out.
Interviewer: Tell us a little bit about the Excelsior Club. Where was it
Harris: The Excelsior Club was located on North Cassady Avenue and it was
just south of the railroad tracks. And oh the, the Excelsior Club was formed by some Jewish people who couldn’t or didn’t or wasn’t invited to join the Winding Hollow Country
Club at that time which was the only other country club we had. And so it was
kind of a social club and they used to meet over on East Rich Street right off
of town, there was a house there, can’t remember what it was, where they used
to meet. They used to have little parties there.
Interviewer: You’re not talking about Schonthal are you?
Interviewer: No, another place?
Harris: Another place.
Interviewer: Well this was before the Excelsior Club.
Harris: No they, yeah, it was called the Excelsior Club then, see.
Interviewer: It wasn’t a swim club was that, a social gathering place?
Harris: No just a social gathering place. And then when the swimming pool location was available for purchase, a group of the Jewish people got together and they bought the club and then they sold memberships and primarily, I would say it was almost 100% Jewish. And because of the location and the proximity that people living in the east, there was a very, very fine membership.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Yeah that was interesting to hear a little more about
the Excelsior Club. Izz, in wrapping up, we’re kind of getting to the end of
our tape, let’s talk about a couple of other things and try to get on with it,
with political changes. Have you seen very, I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of
Harris: Yeah, the Franklin County was a noted Republican affiliation and when
President Roosevelt was elected President of the United States, then there was a
surge of Democrats and they were able to get responsible positions, political
positions, in this county, if they were a Democrat. But since then it’s been
Interviewer: Back to Republican?
Harris: And most of our judges are Republican and I think most of the county
offices are filled by Republicans.
Interviewer: You mentioned President Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt . . . .
Interviewer: How did people feel about Franklin D. Roosevelt when he
was in office?
Harris: Well they thought he was a friend of the people. When I say “the
people,” I’m talking about, if you want to call them that, the common
man. And he was trying to get everybody some jobs, put them to work, and
the bread- lines disappeared.
Interviewer: The what? The breadlines?
Harris: Breadlines disappeared. People were gradually getting back to work
and they were getting a feeling of independence which they had lost when the
Depression first came on. And so generally speaking, I think they were delighted
to have somebody of his caliber in office.
Interviewer: What about his activity with World War II? How did you feel that
he handled that?
Harris: Well I don’t know. But as far as I hear all kinds of stories about
President Roosevelt ordered the ships to return when they, when Hitler took
control of the European cities which had many Jewish residents . . .And they were trying to escape the era of, the Hitler era, the government, and he turned back the ships when they were ready to embark here in the United States. And I guess he influenced other countries to do the same. So . . . .
Interviewer: now when we . . . .
Harris: so his feelings about . . . .
Interviewer: Yeah but when he was in office, I think everybody felt
comfortable about it, after it was all over with though.
Harris: And the other thing is a lot of Jewish people became affiliated in
government through appointments, responsible appointments, by President
Interviewer: Uh huh. Izz, we’re just about at the end of the tape and do
you have any particular message about philosophy of life or any messages that
might help your grand- children when they someday, you know, hopefully soon will
be listening to the tape and talking to you about different things?
Harris: Well the only thing I can tell you is that when I read this, so it
isn’t my thoughts entirely but I never realized it. Generations change. And
instead of not accepting what young people, you know, want to do, would be
disastrous because we were young once and our thoughts and ideas about things,
you know, were different than what our parents and other elders would think
Harris: And because of that is the reason why we have so many advancements in
scientific and in other (tape ends)
* * *
Transcribed by Honey Abramson