Today is March 11th, 1985, we are interviewing Mrs. Jenny Roland
at her home on South Kellner. I am Art Levy and this is being recorded for the Columbus
Jewish Historical Society and the Oral History Project.
Interviewer: I have decided to start my interview with the most recent
happening, one of the most recent happenings, in Mrs. Roland’s life. That’s
her graduation from the Ohio State University. She received her degree at the
Interviewer: Eighty-three. Which is…I think its one of the most wonderful
things I’ve ever heard. What was your degree in?
Roland: It was a Bachelor of Arts. It was in American and Jewish History.
Because I went to school not to turn a profession so I could work, because it
was not necessary for me to do that. But I just wanted to learn things for my
own satisfaction. So both of these subjects were very important to me and
interesting and so that’s what I enrolled in. But while I was taking, while I
prepared my requirements for my electives, I ranged all over the field and took
any courses that I really was interested in. I took astronomy, physical
geography, women’s studies, there are so many others, anthropology and
archeology. Just anything that was interesting to me I studied.
And of course in my majors I took all the classes that were available that were interesting to me
in history and in Jewish history. Especially Jewish history I found out that
there is so much I didn’t know, that I should know and wanted to know. And
here was my opportunity to take all that in. And I found it very strange that in
all the history courses that they had, the history of Ohio is only given once a
year, in one quarter. And I wanted to take it badly because I know that when you
learn in the university its quite different, the stories are told quite differently,
and different things are mentioned when you are in school, in public school.
So I was not able to enroll in a class because in all the time I was at the
university, it was given at a time when I had to take another course, that was a
requirement. And now I am hoping to go back one of these days and take that
course at the time it was given. So I know what Ohio, what I can learn about
Ohio that I didn’t know before. Now I went to school because it seemed that
all my life I had it in my mind that I should graduate. As a matter of fact,
when I was born, as I was growing up, my father told that he had taken out an
insurance policy that would pay for my education at the gymnasium and the
university when I grow up. That was in Hungary.
And unfortunately we were not able to collect on that
because when I was eleven years old we came to America.
But that feeling of getting a higher education, of finishing a complete set of
studies was always in my mind. And after we came to America, of course at that
time it was out of the question, so I just waited until the opportunity came.
After my husband Fred died, I was at sort of loose ends. I didn’t know what to
do and I had plenty of leisure time, which I never had before because while Fred
was living we were a family and I felt it was my duty to take care of the home
and take care of my husband and of course our children.
Although they were grown up by that time, they came
home quite often, which was our pleasure. So after my
husband died, I didn’t have so much to do at home, so I decided…for a while
I traveled a lot, I just went everywhere where there was an opportunity that
would be interesting for me. But soon that failed. I got tired of that too! And
although I was busy with volunteer work, twenty six hours a day, it came a time
that it was not so confining anymore and so interesting to want to do it full
time. So since I had always wanted to go to school, so Alice, my younger daughter
was very urgent. She said, “Mother, you always wanted to go to school, why
don’t you enroll and go to school and study and learn the things that you
wanted to do.”
Well, I didn’t have the nerve to do that because I had not
graduated even high school when I went to school, I had to drop out when I was
in the ninth grade because my father opened a store in Akron and I had to help
him because we couldn’t afford to hire a clerk or anything. So I was very
hesitant about going to college but I felt that I knew enough and that… I had
always been a good student and so I felt that, well, I can study, I can learn
and I can hold my own with the other students in the class. However, I called
the Board of Education to find out what I would need to be able to enroll in the
university. As a matter of fact, I thought I would have to go to high school to
get a high school degree first. But the secretary, who happened to talk to me,
told me, “Well, why don’t you instead of enrolling in high school classes,
why don’t you take a proficiency test and then maybe you can get your high
school diploma so that you can enter college.”
So I thought, well, I didn’t have anything to lose
except a little bit of time. And so I did that. I went
down to the Board of Education, it as for a whole week, I had to take four
different exams – there was math and geography and English and history. So I
took one a day. And fortunately I received quite nice grades in that, so they
gave me my proficiency certificate. And so with that I went off to the
university to enroll. Now, when my children were enrolled at the university
their tuition cost us, starting at about forty five dollars per quarter when our
son Harvey enrolled. It was about seventy six dollars a quarter by the time
Alice our youngest enrolled. So when I went up to school and I went to school
because I didn’t want to go just on the Project Sixty, which I could have gone
for free. I wanted a degree. I felt if I’m going to study I want to have
something to show for it. And having that diploma was very, very important to
me. I felt my children had it, my grandchildren were getting it, and my brothers’
had it, and I felt I wanted it too. Cause it was just something that I wanted,
it was not everyday happening.
So when I went off to school, even so a friend of
mine came up with me, I didn’t want to go alone. So I talked to the person who
was enrolling and listed what I wanted to study. I said, “I don’t know.”
So he said, “Well, what are you interested in?” So I said,
“History.” So he said, “Fine, I’ll take history.” He said,
“Make that your major and what else?” And I said, “Well, I wasn’t
going to come up to the university just for one class of five hours.” So then I
decided I want Jewish Studies also. So I enrolled in a Hebrew language class and
something else, I don’t really even remember what, but it was three classes.
And when the man told me how much I have to pay, it was I think at that time it
was about over two hundred dollars for the three classes, close to three
So I almost fell off the chair! Because I was thinking, well, I was
feeling very generous that I wanted to pay for a class, but I didn’t expect to
have to pay that much. So then I decided that I’ll just take one class which
cost a hundred thirty five dollars, plus I think ten dollars enrollment. Then I
will see how I get along in class because I didn’t feel like laying out three
hundred dollars and then find out that I can’t do the work and loose all that
money. So I enrolled in just one class, American history. And I liked it. I was
fortunate for my first teacher I had a very good teacher. And so I enjoyed the
class thoroughly. So when the quarter was over there was no question anymore
whether I will go to school or not. I was going to go to school no matter what
So then I enrolled for three classes which was I think three hundred
or three hundred twenty five dollars per quarter. And I continued on that way.
It took me five years to graduate because when I was in school a year, I think,
Cheryl my granddaughter was getting married in Israel. She was marrying a Sabra
and of course the whole family went to the wedding. So for that quarter I just
took one class because I knew that if I took three classes I couldn’t possibly
catch up, we left the country for three weeks that time. But I took one class
because I did not want to drop out of school for fear that I would not want to
come back again, because it wasn’t so very easy even from the beginning.
So anyhow, we went to Israel and then we came back. I was able to catch up just we
had one class. And so I finished and after that I enrolled in three classes
every quarter. And price kept going up, three hundred twenty five dollars, then
three hundred eighty five dollars a quarter and then four hundred twenty five.
The last year I was in school I was paying five hundred and twenty five dollars
I think for one quarter.
So, but anyhow, I wanted my degree so money was no
object. And my children kept…when the children saw how much I enjoyed school they
definitely urged me to continue and they kept insisting mother; sometimes I
complained there is too much expense, but they said, “Mother, if you need
more money we will be glad to pay your tuition, but just go, don’t drop out
So I went and it happened two more times when I had enrolled in a
class and I had to drop out of it. One was, I enrolled in a music class which I
wanted very badly, beginner’s music class. It was not technical to play an
instrument but just music background about the composers and about the music.
Unfortunately that building, the class it was five days, one class everyday, but
three classes were held in a basement and the other two classes were held up on
the third floor. And at that time I developed arthritis and it settled in my
legs, in my knees. And I could not make those steps. Going downstairs to the
basement class wasn’t so bad because it was sort of like a half story. But
going up to the third floor where the other two classes were I just couldn’t
make it, I couldn’t.
So the teachers tried to help me, she said, “Well,” and
that, “the building had no elevator.” It was the Hughes Hall, and it had no elevator. It
had a service elevator, a big one but that one I was afraid to operate. I was
afraid I wouldn’t know how to operate it. So the teacher offered, she would
wait for me until I come to the building and she would operate it for me. But
that didn’t work because sometimes I was a little bit late and sometimes she
was late or I was early. And I didn’t feel I had a right to expect a teacher
to do that much for you, to wait for me for every class.
So I just dropped out of that class. I felt very bad
about it and the book cost me twenty four dollars
but I kept the book and one of these day I’m going to study it anyhow. Another
time I had to drop out of a class, I was enrolled for math. I had to have one
science class, at least one, this science class was math. So I was…the advisor
enrolled me in a computer class. I didn’t know anything about computers and I
certainly didn’t need it. But she said, “Well, you need that for your
credits so you have to take it.” So I took that and it was very enjoyable.
It wasn’t hard and I managed just fine. But this was a kind of a class that
you had to take two quarters of it. So the next quarter was advanced and I got
in a class and I was completely lost. There was so much memorizing and so much
remembering and so much to learn that I just couldn’t do it. And I didn’t
want to fail.
So after…at the last moment when I could drop out without getting
penalized for it, I dropped out. So for that reason it took me longer than four
years to get my degree. But in all the classes that I…another one that I had
to drop unfortunately was astronomy. I loved that class. I learned so much! And I
learned so much in there but there was a lot of mathematics in it. The distance
of the stars and the time of the stars maturing, I just couldn’t remember it.
And anyhow, I was not good in exams because as soon I had the exam paper in
front of me my mind froze and I couldn’t think of a thing! And in this class
it was a computer exam and all you had to do is mark the circles and I just
couldn’t do it. So I had to drop out of that class. However I did not drop out
that I didn’t go to school I just dropped out for the credit. But I continued
with the class until the end. In fact, the instructor was very surprised that I
would want to spend the time. So I told him, “Look I came here to learn and
I’m learning but I cannot memorize and remember all these mathematical
amounts.” But I did learn quite a lot in the class and I’m very glad that
I was in it. I kept that book too at least I can read what its all about and
maybe I’ll remember more.
So all in all I had…I was fortunate that most of
the time I had good teachers. One not astronomy, anthropology. She was not a
good teacher because many of the other students in the class said it too. She
had a habit of walking up and down in front of the class, from one end to the
other when she talked, and so most of the time her face was turned away from us.
I was not the only one who couldn’t hear her. As soon as the speaker’s face
was turned away from I could not hear. I was already wearing a hearing aid but
its not as comfortable as you hope it will be. So I had a hard time to hear her.
When we had the midterm I didn’t get a good grade, so I told her, and I had
told the teacher what my problem was. But she forgot, so she said, “Well,
remind me!” I couldn’t remind her in every class turn your face to me or
repeat, so I at the midterm, I had a failing grade. So I told her, “Look, I
don’t want to stay here and fail. I’m going to drop out of the class because
I can’t hear you and I can’t follow your class.”
The subject was interesting, we were studying about
a tribe of Aborigines in northern Brazil,
between Brazil and Venezuela. And it was quite interesting to me. I didn’t
realize how the Aborigines really lived. But I could not hear the teacher so I
couldn’t answer on the test. So she said, “All right I’ll give you
another test and you take it home and answer. And if you pass that test I’m
going to let you stay in class and I will pass you.” So I said, “Fine.”
So we did and I passed.
But outside of that I can’t remember another
teacher with whom I had…I had another teacher that was in science…
Biochemistry, we were learning about food. So that was in the fall and I had to
stay out for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. And he had the system that every
Friday he gave us a test. Well I had to miss two Fridays because our holiday
came on that day and I wasn’t going to just to get a grade I wasn’t going to
go to school. So I told him beforehand that I can’t come those days and if he
wants me to I’ll be very glad to…In fact I said, “I hope you will let
me make up the class.” Well he said he doesn’t allow anybody to make up a
class and if I miss it I miss it. So I said, “All right.”
So then I went to his office once to talk to him and I told him, “Look, you know it’s
my holiday and I don’t want to miss the class but I have no choice because for
such a thing I don’t feel justified in working on my holiday, on the most
important holiday of the year.” So he said, “Just stay in class and we’ll
see how you do later on.” So there I was able to catch and hold my own. In
fact he was very distant this teacher, he was an older man. In fact I think he
retired after my class (laughter) not that I pushed him into it! But anyhow we
became good friends. In fact one time he asked to come to his office and talk to
him. And so we talked and he knew quite a lot about the Kashrut, the uses
of the Jewish religion.
In fact, I told him…I don’t know why the subject of
fat came up, and I told him that I thought that goose fat was much harder to
digest, more dangerous to health than chicken fat. And he says, “No, it isn’t
so.” I was surprised that he knew the difference. But he said, “No,
it isn’t so.” He took a book off his shelf and he showed me. He says,
“They have the same amount of cholesterol.” And then one time it
happened maybe a half year or so later I was coming home on the bus. He was
sitting…he was coming on too, he was sitting there with his wife and I was glad
to see him. ‘Cause on the bus I’m always glad to somebody who I know. So I came
up to him, I put my hand out to shake hands because I just forgot, that’s my
natural way, and he has waited for a minute and then he shook hands and
introduced me to his wife. The thing is that…I…in class I was very forward with
the teachers until I…during the class I was forward just like any other
student, I did not take any advantage of being older. Most of the time I was
older than the teacher but I did not take any advantage of my age. I was a
student just like anybody else and I did not talk any different than the
students or do anything else or ask for special favors.
But when we were out of class I felt I was myself.
And so I acted like I knew him as friends. Anyhow,
this is just an incident. Eventually we became friends with very many of the
teachers because I did know a little bit more in some of the classes than the
students did. And I would start the discussion, usually the students were so
afraid in the class. They were afraid to say anything. And I would start the
discussion and after that they all woke up and we had lively discussions in
class which the teachers liked. Because we like it better if the students talk
up so that he can tell how we learned rather than to be quiet. So we became
pretty good friends with most of the teachers.
In fact, most of the Deans in the
schools knew me. I mean those who were in charge of the classes that I was
taking. Like if I took the English, the Dean of the English school knew me, and
the History Dean. They all knew me. So it was…I enjoyed class and if any of
the students as we were walking from the class, if any of the students greeted
me I was in seventh heaven to think that they took me as one of theirs. I did
not learn to know many of my classmates because I always sat in the front seat,
I couldn’t hear well and I couldn’t see well. So I sat in the front seat so
I should be sure not to miss anything. But that way I did not see the people who
sat in back of me.
So the students who sat on either side of me I knew and that
was it. But anyhow, later on about the last year when I was in school, it was so
nice. One of the students, I met him walking with a girl walking on the campus,
and so he introduced his fiancé to me. It was nice. Another time, this was in a
Hebrew class, I had a classmate who, she was blonde and she didn’t look
Jewish. And she said she was a French student so I thought maybe she was taking
our language during the summer to learn the comparison. So one time I was
talking to her, she found out I was Jewish, it was about the middle of the
class, middle of the term already. She said, “You know my grandmother lives
here and she is so lonesome she would like to know Jewish people. And maybe you
would call her up sometime and talk to her.
So I said, “Fine.”
Not only that I said, “Bring her down to our synagogue sometime for a
Shabbat service I will be glad to meet her and introduce her to other people
too.” And at that time I didn’t know that her parents lived here too. Her
father was something in the university, some kind of manager in some department.
And so the father and mother and the grandmother came down to services one
Saturday and I met them and we became sort of friends. Not only that, the
following year, the girl whose name was Allison Small was being married in our
synagogue and her parents sent me an invitation to her wedding. It was very
nice and I was very pleased.
So then I met her parents who were very nice people
and her grandmother I had known from before. As a matter of fact, when Allison
married a young man from Toledo and when the two of them graduated he got a
position in Texas as an instructor in the Hearing and Speech Department, that
was his field. And just now two weeks ago I received a letter from her that he
got a position, I forgot where its not important now, but anyhow that he has a
position and they have to move from Texas and she hoped that she’ll see us
soon again. She’s coming here again because her brothers are graduating now in
Spring quarter and so her parents who moved to New York state, in the meantime,
are coming back. And I’m looking forward to seeing them. These are the side
effects of school which are very pleasing to me. Not only that, since I
graduated I ran into two or three young girls who…they’re married now, and
they tell, “Well, I was in your class!” (Laughter)
Interviewer: We have touched on…I have noticed this Braille script here…page
here. What had prompted you to take Braille? And when and where?
Roland: I studied Braille right here in Columbus. When I was President of the
Sisterhood and that had to be…its about thirty two years ago. Thirty years ago I
was President of our Sisterhood. And I went to the National Convention and at
that convention the manager or the supervisor of the Hebrew Braille Institute
spoke and he said that they need Braillists who would transcribe Braille because
there are many sightless people who would be helped immensely.
So, I decided I wanted to do that. I found out
that you could learn it at home and at you could
learn it at your speed. And at that time, I was not in the habit of doing any
running around from home yet. The children were just growing up. I think Alice
was only about ten years old at that time. And I still felt that I had to be at
home if one of the children need me at home. I had to be home when they come
home from school and my husband used to come home for all three meals. And so I
had no time to be going to meetings or do something else. Although at that time
I always spent my one volunteer thing was just the Campfire the Sisterhood. So
anyhow I decided I’m going to learn, as you can see I like to learn. And that
was my chance which I could do at home.
So I decided I’m going to learn
Braille. First, it took us quite a long time to find somebody who could teach
us. Because the story is, you can get a book and you can practice and do a lesson
and then when we get that one lesson perfectly. We send it to the Library of
Congress and they correct it, or check it, and if they pass us then we can do
the next lesson. Well, that was a little bit too complicated. So at last, a
couple of the other women in our Sisterhood decided that they want to learn
Braille too. So they discovered that there was somebody, a professor at the
university, who was teaching a class of people to become teachers of exceptional
children. And so she was willing to work with us, to teach us the Braille. We
had to have a Braille machine, a special kind of a typewriter. And we were able
to borrow two machines for a little while from this professor. But some of the
women in our Sisterhood at that time were kind and we got together and we earned
money. As a matter of fact, the way we earned the money was we cooked dinner for
the Man’s Club, I think two of them. They gave us enough money to buy two
Braillers. So that I have one and one of the other women has one, Debbie Tallis.
That’s how earned our money for the machine cause we couldn’t take money
from the Sisterhood; we didn’t have money to pay for that. So then I had the
machine and I started to learn Braille. It was difficult but then I was young,
twenty-five years ago. Twenty-eight years ago I was young and my mind was still
alert. And even so, it was quite difficult because it takes a lot of memorizing.
So not only do you have to spend a lot of time at the machine practicing getting
your fingers. It’s a little bit like typing but you only have six keys and any
combination of the six keys does all the work. So when I used to go out for a
walk I would take a slip with me to try to memorize ten phrases or ten letters
or something, whatever.
Anyhow I learned and it was difficult. My husband used
to say, “Why do you want to do that? Why do you want to work so
hard?” As long as there was somebody here to listen to me I would express my
frustration once in awhile. So, but I said, “I want to do it!” So then
it happened that Alice was graduating from college. Yes and Fred has retired. So
we were planning to take a trip to Israel. This was in the spring of 1960. So
then I had to stop studying Braille. At that time we were gone for two whole
months. After I came back I couldn’t start right away because there wasn’t
anybody to teach me. The professor gave up, she retired and I think she went out
of town. I didn’t know anybody and I didn’t know where to look for anybody
so I just let things slide. And then Alice graduated from college and she went
to Albany to teach. And then I was waiting, I wasn’t doing anything. Soon she
got married and I was busy getting her wedding ready. This took about I think a
year or year and a half. And then I resumed studying Braille again. I wanted to
It seems to me that if I do start something I’ve got to finish it
even if it kills me. Sometimes some things almost did. But I finished it. So I
finished Braille. I found somebody, I found out that some women had a committee
in the Temple Israel who would do Braille. So one of the women was recommended
and she would be willing to help me. So I became acquainted with her and she
was very strict. She says, “Now I’ll work with you but you’ve got to be
perfect or else I will quit. I don’t want to spend time on you.” So I
told her I realize that and I appreciate her wanting to do it. So I studied and
of course we became good friends and after I finished this set of lessons then
it as necessary to write, to make a copy of a story or anything that is at least
fifty pages in Braille and you have to send it to the Library of Congress; and
if it is less than three mistakes then they will award your certificate, but
they would not allow on the fifty pages, they would not allow more than three
errors all together.
With the Braille if you see that paper it’s…you cannot…if
you skip a letter, if you forget that letter, there’s no place going to put it
in. Or if you don’t leave a space between two words you cannot correct it. So
the fifty pages I’m sure that I did that altogether, by the time I got fifty
pages correct I must have gotten two hundred pages. Each page I allow as I
figured it, each page you have to allow at least three quarters of an hour. You
can do a page when you’re a real expert at it in about twenty minutes but then
you have to proofread it. So anyhow, I finished the fifty pages and I sent it in
to Congress and they said it would take about two months to answer.
Well, that was going to be an awfully long two months. But I received it back in about five
weeks. And when I saw that I passed, they had only found two mistakes in the
whole thing. I was so excited, I remember Alice was here and they were just
leaving to back home. And in the driveway I ran out and then I said, “Look
what I got! Look what I got!” So anyhow, that was my first sort of a
success that I did on my own. And then after that, I Brailled for the Board of
Education here. At that time they had one…as far as I know…they had one
Brailler who was employed and some of us volunteers were doing some class books
as they needed it. So I worked a science book. Another woman and I, with whom I
became acquainted who lived in Berwick, we did a science book for a little girl
who she’s of the Heer Printing family. So this little girl was deaf and about
twelve years old or fourteen, she was in junior high. So the two women…the two
of us, worked on that book and the book was a bit difficult. But anyhow we
finished it in about a year so she could use it the following year. So that was
what I did for the Board of Education.
In the meantime, I went up to their
office once and I found out what they do with the paper after they finish, what
they do to make a book out of it. So in Braille you try to have about sixty
pages in the very limit that they want in volume because its heavy. So I went up
there and I saw how they shellac the paper first so that when you read the dots
when you bear down to pass the sheet they shellac it and it lasts longer. And
then they punch it, they bind it in spiral because they last longer. Then they
assemble the pages so that you have right pages in the right place and then they
bind it. So at least I know how they do it.
Now after I became…and I did quite
a bit of Brailling in the Blind School. The manager there or one of the
publicity men, he was blind too, he needed some stuff so I did that. And then I
did…one time I received a call from Washington. A young man called me and he
said he needed some Brailling done and could I do it for him. So I said I would
be glad to do it for if you don’t give me a time limit. Because I cannot
promise because if I have something in the family that has to be done that comes
first. So he said, “Fine.” So I said, “Well, how did you get my
name?” At that time I did not know yet how things worked. And he said,
“Well, your name is listed in the Library of Congress.” And he needs
the work and would be grateful if I would do it. He said he is a lawyer and he
is blind and he just graduated from Harvard. He wanted…he was going to be a
Labor lawyer and so there was a book of cases of labor cases that were brought
to court; labor arguments between the laborer and the factories. So I said,
“I’ll be glad to do that for you.” So I did. And then his mother
wrote to me. In fact, she sent…when I Brailled a batch and sent it to her and
she proofread it. So that she took care of it for her son. That was about six
hundred pages, Braille pages. I used to put in eight hours a day Brailling. If
he didn’t pay me that much I wouldn’t do it.
Interviewer: Let’s go back to your childhood. You said you were born in Poland.
Roland: No, Hungary.
Interviewer: Pardon me! And you came here at the age of eleven. Where did you come to in this country?
Roland: We came to Akron.
Interviewer: You came through New York?
Roland: Yeah. We didn’t come to Ellis Island. We came as tourists because we
were lucky. My mother had a brother here living in Lorain, Ohio. And he was
already established. So when we came to America my father came out first because
my father had to come out, just sneak over the border. He couldn’t get a
passport anymore, it was before the First World War. In fact it was a year
before the war. But there were always war clouds and they didn’t allow people
who were of soldier age to come out. So my father came, he was able to pass
across the border. In fact, they didn’t stop him because he said he was a
salesman coming to Germany. Anyhow, my father came to my uncle.
Interviewer: He came over the border, where from Canada?
Roland:No, from Hungary to Germany. To America we were free to come. You
could come. So my father came of course to my uncle and then he moved then to
Cleveland to get a job. He couldn’t get anything in Akron so he went to
Cleveland. But anyhow, we followed my father by about four weeks or six weeks.
My mother had a chance to sell everything over there and get stuff packed up. So
we came here and I remember we left my two brothers and two sisters. At that
time we were two brothers and one sister and myself. We left Hungary on the 31st
of March. I remember that I was aware that we were leaving that day because
April Fool’s Day was a big thing children used to really hound you and harass
you, especially the boys harassed the girls. So I was glad I wasn’t there so
they can bother me that way.
But anyhow, when we got here we came to my uncle
and we stayed there about, I don’t remember, maybe four weeks until some of
our stuff came, like the linens and dishes and stuff like that. We couldn’t
bring furniture, but the clothing and the linens, the household things we had so
we couldn’t… we had to wait until it came. And we had to wait until my
father got a job. This job in Cleveland was just a part time. So one day it
happened somebody told him that he knows a man in Akron who would hire somebody
who could talk foreign languages. And my father could talk Hungarian and German
and Slavic. And so my father came to Akron and sure enough the man hired him for
twelve dollars a week. This was in 1913.
Interviewer: Of course that was a good salary in 1913.
Roland: Yeah, especially somebody who couldn’t talk English. But still there
were five of us to live on and it wasn’t easy. Anyhow, we were grateful that
my father had that. So we came to Akron. Of course my mother took in a boarder.
Another fellow was working with my father in the store so he used to come with
my father to have dinner everyday. So that helped a little bit with the income.
Then we were here in America about three years. In the meantime, my brothers
were selling newspapers on the corner. Now, boys that age, we don’t even let
them cross the street. And in those days, they were eight and nine years old and
they were selling newspapers on the corner and they brought the money home and
they gave it to my mother. My mother would keep up about fifteen cents a day
from that to help with our household expenses. The rest my father put in the
bank. So about three years later, we had two or three hundred dollars saved up.
I think after about a year my father had a raise, he got fourteen dollars. Then
he did on the side, Sundays he used to go and call on the Hungarian people.
Wherever there was a wedding and he would try to sell them a picture, an
enlargement, of the wedding picture. In a shadowbox, fixed up a wail and the
coronet, and that’s how he made some extra money. He used to take it to
Cleveland because there was some company who did that kind of work. For my
father it was good because it gave him a chance to live a little bit different
than just being a clerk in a store. And to be, you know, a change from his
everyday life. So that’s how he made a few dollars. In three years, my father
opened a store on the main street of Akron. My uncle from Lorain gave us a lot
of stuff. You know things that was on the shelf anyhow that wasn’t moving
anymore. We needed it anyhow just to fill the shelves. Because at that time my
father had no credits so all we had was just the money that we had to buy stuff
with. But anyhow, business started out to be pretty good. I dropped out of
school. My two brothers were very young yet so they couldn’t help anyhow.
So they went and I started work with my father. My mother used to come down on
Saturdays to work, to help in the store. She used to, if there was any
alteration to do, she would do it. Like shorten pants or make a waistband for a
woman bigger. So that’s how we managed and business was very good. So of
course then, the War started and America entered in World War I. I remember
somehow, in a store you had to order your merchandise a half year ahead; like in
the spring you order for the fall. Well, my father did big orders for the fall,
underwear and things, that were bulky and were expensive. And then the War came
and the men left for the army and we couldn’t sell the merchandise. That
winter was so hard for us. We almost lost the store because we couldn’t pay
our bills. We had the merchandise but nobody was buying it. So somehow we
managed. And then by the time America entered the War, because it ended soon
after; so luckily the men came back and everybody was working.
The women, that was the first time that women were having jobs too. He had contact most of it
just foreign women – Hungarians and Slavish. But they were working then
already so they had money and so business was very good. We bought a house! The
first thing we had a chance we bought a house. We furnished it, not really rich
but comfortable. But when I think back I still think how some people think. We
went to the store and we were, my mother and father, were able looking for
knick-knacks. I know they bought a set of china dishes imported from Japan to
have it. And one of the clerks told my father that, you know, in a cultured home
you have to books. Now see they were from Europe, my father was used to have
Hebrew books, Jewish books. But you have to have books.
So he sold and I was only seventeen years that time and I didn’t know too much about education at
that time anyhow because I only went as far as the ninth grade over here. So he
said we have to have books. So he sold us a set of Shakespeare and a set of, who
is the author, George Elliot. And I don’t know about four or five sets of
books that we had on our shelves. But you see, even then, we had books around us
already. And then after we settled in the house we started to take music lesson
too. Although I had to be in the store but for that I would come home and go to
the teacher to take music piano lessons. I took lessons and my sister. My other
sister, the youngest one, who died several years ago was too little yet. Really,
really when I was about…we lived there about three years and then I got
married. But while I was home, in all years we had a lot of fun.
We would play, my younger brother took violin lessons and my older brother Milt wanted a banjo.
I had never heard of a banjo before. He wanted a banjo and that’s what he
played. And I played the piano and my younger sister played the piano. So we
would all get together and my father liked to be with us so he bought a drum.
And he would keep time with the drum and we would play, Milt on the banjo and
the violin and four handed piano. So that’s how we lived. Then when I got
married right after that…
Interviewer: What year was it you were married?
Roland: I was married in 1921. Right after that, Akron fell in a hole. Akron
was a city that the rubber factories had been running. That’s all that was
available in the city. And then the rubber factories closed, which they
periodically did, and there was no business and all these people who were
working and they were floaters; they were called floaters, they came from West
Virginia and Kentucky and they would keep up the business because they were
working and so they could buy things.
So the factories closed right after we
were married. And we had… Fred had bought a grocery store because my parents
said we can’t get married until he has a business because he couldn’t get a
job, he didn’t any kind of a…yes, he had a job and when I met him he was
working in a saloon, he was the buyer and he, whatever you call it, he mixed the
alcohols for the different flavors and saw that they were bottled, he oversaw
the bottling of the alcohol. That was his job. He was working extra next door to
our store over two years and I never met him because I would never look in the
direction of the saloon. I was a teeter tailor way back!
Interviewer: Where was your husband from?
Roland: He comes from Austria, it was Hungary but in the part that was near
the Romanian border. See, I came from Northern Hungary, which was near Poland and
Czechoslovakia. We would never have met in Europe.
Interviewer: You can’t say that. This is basharitz, you know. Is that
Roland: That’s right.
Interviewer: You said you dropped out of school at an early age.
Roland: Yes, I was fifteen when I dropped out of school. But my father was
really so much for education that, although I couldn’t go to school because it
was all day, so he enrolled me in a commercial business college. So he had ideas
that we would have a big store and he needed a bookkeeper. So he wanted me to…
not only that, he didn’t know about any other school that you could just take
part time. All we knew was about the public school and I was a fifteen year old
child. But in the Business College we paid for tuition at that time already and
so they took me in. I was lucky that they had a very good teacher who’s a good
teacher. He taught such good…
Interviewer: Take some of the credit for yourself will you! If you look
back on you life that a lot of the credit.
Roland: I’ll admit that I learned easy and I was very good. I had ambition
to learn. I was willing to learn what they were willing to feed me.
Interviewer:Yes, but willing to learn is a good part of the answer.
Roland: Oh sure! Otherwise I would not have gone to school, I didn’t have
Interviewer: The first time or the second time, you wouldn’t have gone to
school? Can you talk some more about your family history?
Roland: I was born on November 24, 1901. That was about a year after my
parents were married. My mother had lived in a small village near Kosho, which
is now called Koshetze in Czechoslovakia, but that time it was Hungary. She had
two brothers and two sisters, three brothers and two sisters and they became
Wolfmans when my mother was sixteen. My mother’s parents lived when she was
fourteen and sixteen. So at sixteen she was the head of the household and she had
to take care of her brothers and sisters. When she was nineteen she was married.
She didn’t want to marry because she wanted to care of the family but she had
an old uncle and aunt who insisted that she has to get married or she’d stay
an old maid. She married at sixteen, at nineteen and unfortunately after my
parents were married they were not able to take care of the household of the
youngsters, my mother’s brothers and sisters. So they were short of this
My Uncle Armi Rose came to America because they had an uncle and aunt
living in Richmond, Ohio who came here to America before the turn of the century
even. They were established in Richmond, so my Uncle Armi Rose came to our
relatives. Their name was Miller. Anda sister of my mother’s, who was only
twelve years old was sent to America to stay with this uncle and aunt after my
Uncle Armi found a job. Now just imagine in those days, a (indistinct) country
sending a child, twelve year old child, to America to a strange place where she
didn’t know the language and she was just a village girl. So I asked my
mother, “How could they ever let her come?” She said, “Well,
there was no way, there was no place for her there. Nobody could keep them.”
My parents were very poor. In those days the Jewish young men, especially,
all they do, they were Bachurim, and they studied in Yeshivas but
they had no way of earning a living.
So this little girl came to America. She had
a tag hanging on her with her destination and people on the way had to look
after her. Just imagine coming here like that. Her name was Mina Rose. And she
came to this uncle in which we also came. These were kind people because they
raised her and she stayed there until she as married. But anyhow, my Uncle Armi
Rose he must have been about eighteen years old when he came to America. So he,
after he became older he established himself in Lorain. He opened a store, a
small department store that they had everything in the store, men’s and women’s
and children’s and household things. And he established himself there. And then
he took his sister Mina to come and work with him. So she earned her living
there. And then eventually an old man he came in Lorain. I don’t remember…
My Uncle Armi married a girl named Gizella Kyle. They lived in Lorain for many
years. My Aunt Mina married a young man named Neil Fagin and they also lived
there. Now, when we came to America in 1913 my father came first, he left home.
As a matter of fact, we children didn’t even know when he was leaving because
it had to be kept secret. My father had no passport because in Europe there was
always war clouds. So men who were of army age were never allowed to leave the
country. So my father left home, he was a sales man and he had to go to Germany
to sell some merchandise.
So he came out that way. He came to my Uncle Armi in
Lorain. And after he got to America my uncle helped him to borrow money to buy
the ship tickets to send for us so we can come to America. We followed with my
father in about six weeks. We came here and we stayed at my uncle’s for about
four weeks until whatever my mother was bringing from Europe arrived. She was
bringing a lot of households things, dishes and bedding and linens and things
like that, clothing. We had to stay there because we had nothing to start with.
So after our luggage arrived in Lorain, my father had been looking for job in
the meantime so that we could be on our own. So he found a job in Akron in a man’s
clothing store. That was a good place for him and was advantageous for the owner
of the store because Akron had a lot of foreign population, Hungarian, German,
Slavish. And father could speak those languages so he really was valuable to the
store. And so we moved to Akron and we settled there. My father worked in those
days it was long hours – from eight o’clock in the morning to about eight,
nine o’clock at night.
Anyhow, he used to come home for lunch, which was a big meal. There another
young man working the same store, so he asked my mother if she would, if he
could home with my father to have lunch together. So that was a big help to my
parents because the few pennies that she could earn above the cost of the lunch
was helpful. Everyday…that was twelve dollars a week that father earned at
that time. Then we were four of us children when we came to America. I was the
oldest and my brother after me was two and a half years younger than I was. The
other brother after him was fifteen months younger than he was. Then we have a
little sister who was eleven years, I was nine years older than she was, she was
born nine years after me. So we came to America there was a two year old baby
and my two brothers and myself. So when we came to Akron…we left Hungary on
the 31st of March, 1913 and we came and landed in Lorain and we
stayed with my uncle and aunt for about six weeks, I think. So that was about
Anyhow it was June when we came to Akron and we settled down there.
So then it was summer and my brothers were playing outside meeting little
children and so they learned a little bit of English. They learned to
communicate. I didn’t because I stayed home. First of all, I felt like a young
lady, already eleven years old, and I wasn’t at age were I should playing
anymore. Besides that I had to stay home and help my mother because it was hard
work in those days to take care of six people. So anyhow, in the fall in September we
didn’t know anything about going, where was the school was or anything. So one
day a man comes into our house with my two brothers. My brothers were playing out
on the street and in those days they had truant officers. So this man found my
two brothers and he asked them, “Why aren’t you in school?” They said
they don’t know anything about school. So he came home with them to my mother.
He said, “You have to go to school.”
My mother was glad because our
parents wanted us to go to school but they just didn’t know how or what or
when. So we went to school with this gentleman who took us. At the school the
principal talked to us. So she placed my two brothers in the first grade without
any questions – they were young enough. She thought that was the best for them
because that’s the way we learn the quickest. I couldn’t understand English.
She knew my age because the gentleman asked my parents. But I couldn’t
understand anything she asked me. I couldn’t answer at all. So the poor
principal in desperation gave me some arithmetic problems like division and
multiplication and subtraction. It so happened that those are international
symbols and so she gave me those problems and I worked them out. She gauged
about how old I was and about what grade I was to be in. At my age I should have been
in fifth grade anyhow.
So anyhow, she took a chance and she put me in fourth
grade. That was pretty hard for me because I had to start from scratch. I didn’t
know but I was lucky that I had good teachers all along. This teacher had to be,
I imagine she had to be very patient with me although I did learn fast because
it seems to me by the end of the term I was pretty well acclimated to the class.
I could understand and I could do my work. So I started in the fourth grade and
then from then on to finish the eighth grade it took me three years. As I
learned the language and as I could do the work I was skipped. So I ended up, in
about three years I ended up in the eighth grade. At that time we had classes,
terms, half unit terms, so there was A and B. B was the first beginning of the
class and A was the end of the class. So I ended up in eighth grade in June.
So at that time I was about fourteen and a half years old. I said I wanted to study
in ninth grade, it was high school. I said I wanted to study next fall because I
felt too young with the other class. So the teacher said, “Well, its
impossible. You can’t get into high school unless you finish your eighth
grade.” So I said, “All right. I would like to study during the
summer.” I didn’t know about summer school and I guess they didn’t have
any then. But I said, “All right I will study and they can give me the
examination and see if they can let me in.”So she said, &Well how
can you learn all the things that you have to learn so that you should be
eligible to get into the ninth grade?” Well I said, “I want to try!”
I didn’t know what I was getting into. I thought well, I want to do it
so I’m going to do it.
So she gave me…she was kind, she gave me the books
that I would have to study, math and geography and English. So I studied during
the summer. I did study pretty hard. But just imagine I had known no direction,
nobody to tell me anything, how to do it or somebody from whom I could ask
questions. How to do this or what to do this. I was just completely on my own.
And I studied all summer besides all the things that I had to do around the
house. And when September came and school opened I said I wanted to get tested.
And among other things which I still remember faithfully, for English we had to
diagram Shakespeare. Shakespeare such a hard thing to learn for young people or
a young person.
Anyhow, and imagine diagramming it. I didn’t even know the
language completely. So every time I would (indistinct) barely passed the test
because they allowed me to enter ninth grade. So now I was almost up to my own
age in a classroom because most of the young people were fourteen going on
fifteen. Well, I was fifteen. I took German for a second language, which was
good. I liked to study. I don’t even remember all the studies that we had but
I remember I know I liked it. That was in the fall, I went in the fall.
The following spring, my father was fortunate enough to be able to open a store of
his own. So I had to drop out of school so I could work with my father because in
beginning he didn’t have enough capital that he could have afforded a clerk.
So I had to drop out of school. I felt very bad about it at that time too. I
liked school and I didn’t want to stop but I realized that this is it. And my
brothers were too young so I couldn’t say let them do it. So then, the only
capital that we had to open the store was about three hundred dollars, as I
remember it, that my brothers had earned selling newspapers.
Interviewer: You told me that yesterday. And you’d gotten some merchandise
from an uncle that was laying on his shelves.
Roland: The anyhow, after we opened our store and it was lucky because it was
a good time. There was work and people were buying.
Interviewer: You had mentioned that too. That they were people from down South
and they working on the rubber mills. And then the War came on and your father
had a tough time.
Roland: Okay, so we bought our house and everything was going nicely. Then I
met my husband, Fred Roland. We were (indistinct) for about three years. I met him
when I was about seventeen. He was the buyer in the bar next door. But I never
saw him there because I didn’t like anything and anybody that was connected
with saloons. Anyhow, imagine when we met. When we met I can say for my children
that’s not very important to the story. But we were married in 1921. As a
matter of fact, my parents wouldn’t let us get married until my husband had a
Interviewer: He opened a grocery store you said.
Roland: There was a, what do you call it? When they were not able to sell
Roland: There was Prohibition at that time and my husband only knew handling
alcohol so he had no training, he couldn’t get a job. So anyhow,my parents
said he should open a business then we can get married. So he did and we got
married. Not even six months, about five months after we were married the
business got completely – the rubber factories were closed – and there was
no business. All the customers who had money to buy left town and he couldn’t
keep the store up. Luckily…It was very sad time for us because we would have
had to loose the store, we just couldn’t carry on; we couldn’t buy
merchandise and we couldn’t pay the bills that we had already. But luckily
somebody came along who gave us a thousand dollars for the store. We had…my
husband…he had invested over five thousand dollars. But we were lucky to get
that much out so that we could not have bankruptcy against us.
So then after that, my husband didn’t know what to do. So he traveled around in Ohio and in
different other towns, in Akron there was no place to get any kind of a job. So
he landed in Toledo, he went to Cincinnati and I don’t know where else. He
didn’t especially like these places and decided he didn’t know where to look
for a job. So he landed in Columbus at last. In Columbus as he was walking down
Fourth Street, he happened to talk to one of the men who was standing at the
door of his business. That was on Fourth Street, which was a pretty good
business street at that. This happened to be seventy years ago.
Interviewer: What year was it, do you know?
Roland: We came to Columbus in January 1922. We were married in ’21 and in
January 1922 we came to Columbus. He met Morris Polster. Do you remember him?
Roland: All right. He had a (indistinct) store.
Interviewer: Near Rich Street.
Roland: Yeah and it was beginning between…
Interviewer: Rich and Main I think.
Roland:It was north of it, it was closer to Town Street. Anyhow, they started
to talk and recognized each other as Jewish people and they talked. Of course
Mr. Polster asked my husband, “What are you doing here and who are
you?” He ended up as Mr. Polster’s office, my husband. He said, “This
is a good city to live in. It’s a nice, clean town and with a nice Jewish
community. You should like it over here. “And in fact he recommended,
“I know a place in the next block that is for sale and maybe you could buy
it and buy it and settled down over here.” So sure enough my husband saw
this place was a stag bar; they served no alcohol, they just served the soft
drinks that was allowed at that time. I don’t know. I never was in the store
to know what’s it all about because it was a stag bar, my husband wouldn’t
even let me come in. I didn’t feel comfortable there anyhow.
Anyhow, he served breakfast and lunch to the farmers who
came in for the open air market was there
on Rich Street. There was stalls driving on our store too. So they had a big
business in serving breakfast and lunch. The people and there were a lot of
transient on the street too who came down to buy. And also, we were lucky, my
husband was lucky, he had a good cook who prepared good food. So the reputation
spread that he has good food and its very reasonable. So a lot of the doctors at
Grant Hospital, too, a lot of the doctors came for lunch there. So business was
going pretty well, I think for about half a year, maybe nine months. And then
for our luck, the city decided to pave, repave Fourth Street. And so they had to
close the street so that the open air market could not be held there and
transients couldn’t come to the street and there were no customers to come to
the restaurant. And our restaurant fell apart. I remember what a sad thing
happened to us on Rosh Hashanah. By that time our baby was about three months
old, two months old, born in August.
So on Rosh Hashana we had kept the store
closed. Fred wanted to keep it open the second day already, he didn’t want to
close it because he said we can’t afford to loose the little bit of money that
was coming. I said, “No, we can’t do it. We have always kept two days of
Rosh Hashanah and that’s what we’re going to do.” So on the second day
of Rosh Hashanah, we were in the synagogue. Incidentally we had joined the
Tifereth Israel Synagogue as soon as we came to Columbus. So we were in the
synagogue and somebody kindly came to tell us there in services that our store
was padlocked because my husband paid down all the money that he had when he had
the store. And he signed the notes for the rest that he would pay every month.
Well he must have been behind, not more than one month, because I know that he
wouldn’t have allowed it. When we owned it was a (indistinct) we couldn’t stand
being in debt, we wanted to pay on time.
Anyhow, that time he must have been one
month behind and this man padlocked our store. He wanted it back. And we were so
broke that we didn’t even have five dollars at home at that time because
whatever… There wasn’t much money circulating in the family and even
whatever change there was my husband left it in the store. So we didn’t have
anything! So some how we had to live through that. Luckily, my husband had one
good friend from whom we used to buy. A man named Glockner. From him we used to
buy the wad from which the people made the…what kind of brew?
Roland: Whatever it was. It was legal. They made the beer that was not
alcoholic. So, this man was a Catholic and he was nice. He said, “Now, you
know what I will do? I will buy off your store and whatever I give it will be
what you owe me and I’ll give it back to you.”
Interviewer: That was nice!
Roland: Very nice. Not even Jewish! No Jewish person offered to do this. You
know, now that I look back I think about it and I think, we were strangers after
all and you don’t go out of your way to help a stranger if you can help it.
All the Jewish people had a reputation… We didn’t meet the right people at
that time. The Polsters, maybe the Polster family but they didn’t do that. So
we…this man sold…bought off the store when it was sold on auction. In the
meantime, for about three weeks we had to live on nothing somehow. I don’t
remember how we managed.
Anyhow, there was about three hundred left that he gave
back to my husband, which I felt was very nice. Then my husband looked for a job
and he couldn’t find any. So he at last found a job to be a manager for the
A&P. That was fine because it wasn’t much money but it was a paycheck
every week. So he worked there I think for about…I don’t know, I don’t
remember how long. It had to be at least a couple of years; maybe almost three
years or more. The store that was given to him was on South Parsons Avenue and
it was in the building that Meyer Schottenstein had his store. We became
acquainted with his family and we were friends. As a matter of fact, we stayed
friends with them until now.
Interviewer: That was furniture store, I think, wasn’t it?
Roland: It was furniture, but I think he had…See I’m talking back sixty
years. I don’t think he had so much furniture at that time. It was more
clothing; they had furniture too, I don’t know. I used to go down Saturdays
sometimes to help out in the grocery. They were kind enough…They had baby the
same age as my baby was, Harvey. So we used to feed them together. So we became
friends with them. Mrs. Schottenstein’s name was Libby and she had a sister, a
younger sister, whose name was Dora, and she was single. So we were one time
joking and told my husband, “Why don’t you find a husband for me!”
And we knew, well, this didn’t happen over night.
In a couple of years
because after the store on South Parsons, there was an opening on Miller Avenue
– Miller and Livingston. At that time we had bought a house because after we
sold that store in Akron, my husband gave me two hundred and fifty dollars that
should be my own and he’s not going to touch it. And so we put that in the
bank and then we came to Columbus. We lived in an apartment because we couldn’t
even know where to look for a house right away. Anyhow, we lived in an apartment
for two months.
Interviewer: Where was it?
Roland: That was on Oak Street, on the corner of, I think, Seventeenth. It was
an nice building, it was an old nice building remodeled into two apartments. So
the owner lived downstairs and we lived upstairs in two bedrooms there. So that’s
where we lived when my baby was born. After our baby was born my parents said
that, “You can’t live up the steps. How am I going to carry the baby up
and down the stairs?” So there was a half of a double for rent in the same
block and it was six or seven rooms, half a double. But anyhow, my parents said,
“You’ll take that and at least you’ll be comfortable.” Well that
building was owned by Fine. I forget the last name but their children are…One,
Dora married Sam Fine and Max Fine married an Annette girl. Those boys of course
(indistinct) died but the women are still alive. Their daughter, one daughter
stayed single. Esther Fine, she was the buyer for Lazarus. So that’s where we
lived. We lived there I think for about a year.
Roland: Mrs. Fine used to come in to see what I’m doing because I was really very young and
very naíve and very inexperienced. She would come in to see what I’m doing
and how I’m keeping the house. She wanted to make sure that the house was kept
nice and clean after all. But she would talk to me and I tried to answer in
English, she didn’t understand. And I was hesitant about talking German
because I thought that German would sound too, oh how do you say, as if I felt
above her. So she used to say, “A Yiddishe maidle ze kenish raiden
Yiddish.” So eventually I learned. I learned the words and I could talk
to her. It sounded Yiddish. I felt uncomfortable because I also felt that I was…
I didn’t know if I was talking Yiddish or German. But anyhow, we communicated.
And as much in Yiddish as I know now, I ought to learn from her. I get along, I
can manage to be understood when I talk to people who only understand Yiddish.
Then soon after that, our good friends Polsters, Morris Polster, moved just a
block away from us on Kimble Place. And so they heard of a place for sale on
Miller Avenue. It was owned by a lumber man who was selling it. The house had
been vacant for quite a while, it was run down. But anyhow, we could buy it for
our two hundred fifty dollars, which I still had because my husband wouldn’t
touch it no matter what.
So we took that two hundred fifty dollars and made a
down payment on the house. And, and we had to buy it on a land contract of
course. The man wanted to say that he will have his money. We were impressed
very strongly that if we don’t pay within three days after the first, they can
throw us out right away, without any legal procedure. So, and we had to pay fifty
dollars a month.
Interviewer: That was a lot of money in those days.
Roland: Oh yes it was. I don’t know, Fred was making about, I think his pay was
twenty-eight dollars in commission over the sales. So his pay used to be about
thirty-four, thirty-five dollars, that was his pay already. Anyhow, and we had a
little baby. Our baby was about a year old I think. So we were living in our
home. Then the job at the A&P begin to sour because the supervisor…the
Columbus supervisor, was a nice person and appreciated the fact that my husband
was doing good work. Another one was sent in from…sent in from somewhere,
Detroit or someplace. And he made it very tough for Fred because he was Jewish.
There was no other reason because the sales were good and the store was kept
nice. But he just found fault with everything to try to push Fred out. He couldn’t
find any reason just to fire him so he made it very uncomfortable for Fred and
Fred decided that he will quit because he didn’t want to stay there until he
would be fired.
So he quit and then he was without a job again. At that time we
didn’t have any money saved up. As a matter of fact, before he quit, the
manager of the Metropolitan Insurance Company office came down to talk to him.
One of the agents told the manager that he was a good man, he would be a good
man to be an agent. So the manager himself came down to talk to my husband and
he said, “I want you to come and work for us in the office.” So my
husband said, “Fine.”
So then my husband quit the A&P thinking
that he will have an opening right away there. Well, unfortunately there was no
opening and he had to wait several months. And then we were really living from
hand to mouth. He did all kinds…he even sold pencils, but not on the street
(Laughter). He was…somebody, some acquaintance of ours told him to take his
pencils and take them to stores on consignment. So he would have to sell the
pencils to the owner of the store that the store should be willing to take it on
consignment and pay after he sold it. Well, it was just enough to keep us from
starving and that had to go on for about four or five months. So Fred also got a
job with the…What’s that hotel that’s on the corner of Broad and Grant? It
was a good hotel at that time.
Interviewer: That was the Charmenelle. I can’t remember the name.
Roland: No, not the Charmenelle. It was on Grant. They have some offices there now. So he
got a job there as a waiter to serve for dinners. So that was fine because he
had a chance to get a good meal and he was working just on poor tips, I think.
And he…someone…so that he could bring it home and we had enough to buy food, we
didn’t have to starve. And this went on over the winter. In the spring there
was still no opening at the Metropolitan. But by that time, he had a very good
friend named Kellerman, Helen and Harry Kellerman. We became friendly because
they live in Mt. Gilead and they came in to Columbus over the holidays, Rosh
Hashana and Yom Kippur. And so Harry Kellerman asked in the Shul on Erev
Rosh Hashanah that evening, “Does there somebody who lives within walking
distance of the synagogue who would put us up for the night?” So we had that
big house with seven bedrooms, with three bedrooms. So my husband said, “I’ll…
we’ll be glad to have you.”
So they came and they stayed with us for Rosh
Hashanah and Yom Kippur and we became friends. They were very nice people too.
So we became friends and we stayed friends with them as long as they lived. From
Mt. Gilead they moved. They were…Helen Kellerman was Bill Velber’s sister.
He had a Gold Circle carpet store downtown a long time ago. Anyhow. He moved to
South Bend, he bought up a big department store there. So he and his son and his
brother were running it. Soon after the Kellermans moved there too because this
way he had a chance to work in a store too. He didn’t have to worry about a
job and it was…it had not the Jewish community in Mt. Gilead, no Jews. But we
stayed friendly until they died.
So then it was spring and my husband had a
thousand dollar insurance policy and we didn’t have money to pay for it. So
one time, the Kellermans were at our house and Fred and I were cleaning the
wall. It was paper in those days, you used to clean it with that…that sponge or
rubber or whatever. We were cleaning the wall and the two men were talking. And
as Fred mentioned, “I have to pay my insurance and I don’t have any money
for it and I don’t know where to ask for it.” So Harry said, “I’ll
lend you the money.” We were so surprised because at that time we just knew
him for…just from Rosh Hashanah, which was about a half year or so. So we
were very grateful for that and soon after that an opening was in the office in
Metropolitan. My husband started to work.
So after that we had no, well we had
problems, but I mean we were satisfied with what he made and we got along very
well. He didn’t look at what our neighbors had and what the other people in
the congregation had. He managed on what he had. And then as soon as we had the
money we repaid it. Another time, that was before this time I think, we were
very hard up. We had to have some money and we didn’t know…well there was a
(indistinct) Bank at that time which was popularly used. They lent money, small
amounts, to people if they had a co-signer who was…who’d risk it. We didn’t
have anything like that. Polster never offered.
One time were desperate so I
said to Fred I had a lot of beautiful diamond ring engagement that he acquired
before we were married. So I said, “Look we’ll have to pawn the ring so
we can pay. We can’t live like this.” And I still remember how angry my
husband was because I said that we should pawn that ring. Well, I said,
“What are we going to do otherwise?” So, and we couldn’t ask my
parents for help because by this time they were hard up. After we had another
one of these low times and they were very hard up themselves; they were just
holding on by a thread. They couldn’t help. We had nobody else to ask. So at
last Fred had to give in. So he took my ring, my ring was almost two carats. And
he went to Morris Polster. Oh, he asked Morris Polster, “Would you lend
me,” I don’t know, “a hundred dollars?” And this was really a
So he says, “Have you got any security?” Of course,
that hurt us because we thought he’s such a good friend and he owned a house
already. So we thought he should trust us but he didn’t. So Fred had to take
my ring and gave it to him. And I think it took us about a year to save up
enough money to get it back. We had sad times. So then as Fred worked with the
Metropolitan group, I mean he became a very good salesman. In fact he was the
best in the office for many, many, many years. He was the first one in Columbus
who sold a hundred thousand dollars worth of insurance in one year. And the
Metropolitan was a very good company but they paid the lowest amount of
commission to the agents because they felt they’re such a good company they
can afford to pay less, and they did.
But Fred wasn’t going to change to go to
another company and move, because the thing is when you work in a company for
three or four years and you develop clientele and also you develop some
residue. Because when people paid, they paid their premium, so one percent
commission all along is paid to the agent. So my husband was counting on the one
percents to add up to his income. And so he stayed with the company, I think,
forty or forty-two years. But it was…he never…as much as he was a real top
salesman, he didn’t make very much because they just didn’t pay much.
I remember the first time he sold a five thousand dollar policy. By that time as
we were living on Miller Avenue in the house, the land contract, so then that
was right near, one short block north of Livingston. And then we were living
there I think until about 1929, something like that. I remember that Harvey
started to school there in kindergarten. Yeah, in about 1929. So then in about
’29 or ’30 Fred’s mother wanted to come to America. She said she wants to
see her children here, she had five children. I forgot to mention that after we
married he brought out a brother and two sisters…I talked about that yesterday…
to America because there was nothing for them to do in Europe in a small
village. It happened to be near the Romanian border so that the peasants in the
village were mostly Romanians.
So then Fred brought them to America so that they’d
work here and send money back to help the others who stayed there. Because
after he brought these three out…they were single, and so they had the mother
living there and one brother and three sisters living in Europe yet. So the two
sisters were already married and the brother was married. That brother never
seemed to have made a living, as far as I remember, because from the time we
were married we always had to help him. He would start a business; Like one time
he bought a car, he was going to be a taxi driver, drive people from one street
to the other. So the car broke down, he couldn’t get it fixed. So there went
Another time, I don’t know what he did, but anyhow, he got into
businesses with American money. Fred had a brother in Chicago, his name was Joe
Rosenfield. And these two men kept the family up in Europe. So anyhow there were
these people there who had to helped so then the three who came out here… When
we were married, Fred wanted to bring all three of them they should live with
us. That’s the one time when I opposed my husband. And I said, “I don’t
want them to live with us, we have to get used to each other and I don’t want
them around.” Of course that was only temporary because eventually it
happened that they did come to live with us, here or there or for this long or
that long. But anyhow, I didn’t want that…I so angry at that time, I told my
husband I’d rather break the engagement than to have them live with us. At
least he didn’t bring them to live with us right away when we were married.
But those are things too that maybe now things don’t have to happen like that.
But in those days you were desperate. You didn’t know what to do. You had to
have clothes for people.
So anyhow, he…my husband was working for the
Metropolitan already and we were set. We were a settled family, good citizens
and able to carry our own weight. So then in ’29 or ’30, I don’t remember,
my mother-in-law…my husband’s father died during the war, First World War.
We didn’t even know about it until after the War was over and they would
communicate. So then now, my mother-in-law wanted to come to America to see her
children over here. So she came and she had to stay with us because our house
was the only one that was kosher. Her other daughter-in-law and my brother-in-law
in Chicago, his wife didn’t keep kosher so my mother-in-law wouldn’t stay
there. And the girls, they were working and they didn’t homes of their own.
Neither…so we while we had the business, Fred’s brother…younger brother, we
brought back from Europe. His name was Adolph. He stayed with us and he worked
when he had the saloon. And when our saloon was closed he went to Chicago; he
worked for his brother…their brother. My older sister-in-law worked for
Carson Perry Scott.
So, but whenever she was laid off or whenever she had a
vacation so she came to us. And she was very bossy! She was a little bit older
than I was and she was very bossy. I didn’t know how to stand up to her. I
just took it and hurt inside because I wanted to keep the family safe, I didn’t
want to have any arguments and I didn’t want to have any fights. So then my
mother-in-law stayed here in America, I don’t know, for about six or seven
years. So she stayed with us for a couple of years, I think. And then my brother-in-law
happened to have…his income was pretty good…he had a junk yard and he
was factory representative for brand new machine tools. So he was doing very
well and he wanted his mother near him. So he furnished an apartment for his
mother and my older sister-in-law. They lived together…my sister-in-law would
look after her mother.
In the meantime, the younger sister married too. So then
my mother-in-law stayed here in the apartment, I don’t know, about a year or
two years. And then she got homesick and wanted to move back home to Europe.
Perhaps she wanted to be buried with her husband. All this trip now when she
came to America. So my brother-in-law and my husband had to put the money
together to send her sister to Europe and to bring the mother back. So that was
three trips. I couldn’t buy a pair of shoes at that time but we had to have
money for that trip. That was all right because it was his mother.
So then when
they came here as far as the food, we never counted but we always had food in
the house. So we and they ate too. But I mean food was no problem with us. So
then when their mother, my mother-in-law, decided she wants to go back home and
she wants to go back. Why she was here? She kept after the two brothers
constantly – send one into…go to Europe because they help and they did. And
then she decided that she wants to go home. Of course her children from Europe
miss you and I wished you would come home.
So she wanted to go home. So then the
two brothers again had to put together the two fares. Then my older sister in
law, she was very good to her mother. She loved her mother and was very kind to
her. So they went home and they went home. So then it turned out that the house
where they lived in was very broken down already and it has to be rebuilt. So
the two brothers had to send money to rebuild. I’m sure they didn’t build a
fancy house because it happened that the land that they had was belonged to the
family somehow. I don’t know yet how. But when Fred had earned money and sent
it home that so they should buy off the land, so it should be theirs. So the
land was theirs. Then the two brothers sent money to build a house. So they
built a small house and they lived there. Then my mother-in-law died in about
’38. After that Hitler started to move.
So Fred… In the meantime, my sister-in-law married in Europe,
she married a young man. And so he was living with
them too, he helped take care of the house and I don’t know what else he did.
But anyhow, after my mother-in-law died, Fred wrote my sister, my sister-in-law,
that she should come back to America because she’d be lost if she doesn’t.
So she didn’t want to come back because she didn’t want to leave her husband
and she couldn’t have had time to it legal, you couldn’t bring your husband
yet. He was, you know, my sister-in-law was an American citizen because when she
came here so she became an American citizen. She couldn’t bring her husband,
so she didn’t want to come at first. But then she decided that Fred was pretty
urgent with things looking bad, you’d better come. So we sent her the money
and she came and it was just in time. Soon after the Nazis came into their
village and they collected everybody and took them to concentration camps. So
that’s the story at that time. And then there was something else I wanted to
say. But I can’t think about this.
Interviewer: Let’s see. What did you do for your social life? Dances were,
movies were, picnics were, ice cream socials?
Roland: When I was a girl I had no social life. This is something that hurt me
very much. I made myself a promise that when I will have children I will see to
it that we not move around, we’ll stay in one place so my children can develop
friendships. You know, if you move different times. When we lived in Europe I
had one girlfriend who was…with whom we were very good friends. Her father, she
was an orphan, she just had her father, no mother. Her father was some kind of a
high officer in the army. We were very good friends. In fact, we promised to
correspond with each other when I came to America. But I had a memory book that
my mother bought me…a real pretty memory book with red velvet covers and brass
trimmings. I had her address in that and on the ship somebody stole that book.
It was a pretty book and it had a lot of lace patterns, hand laced patterns,
that I was going to keep. So it was stolen, so I lost the address of the girl
and then the War came and we couldn’t communicate anyhow.
After the War, I
tried once but she was…I didn’t get an answer. I don’t know what happened
to her so I didn’t have my any girlfriends. Here in America…in school, you
know, you develop your friends in school. I couldn’t make friends because I
was in a different class every year. I didn’t stay in one class long enough to
make friends and I couldn’t talk English so well so that I could easily blend
in. So I didn’t have school friends and after I stopped going school I didn’t
have time to develop friends again because I was busy in the store all week long
and Sunday I was tired. So I like to read a lot and I read. I shouldn’t have…
Interviewer: I mean here in Columbus.
Roland: After Columbus, after we were married, we used to get down to the
Interviewer: Stage shows, Vaudeville.
Roland: Vaudeville for many years. We used to go regularly, once a week to the
Palace. And when the children were big enough we used to take. We didn’t go to
the Palace before the children were big enough to be to taken because I didn’t
know about babysitters. I never had a babysitter.
Interviewer: I don’t think they had babysitters in those days.
Roland: Well, as a matter fact, I had one girl who was a neighbor girl and I
had her come in once or twice when I had to go out and do some shopping
downtown. But all at once I noticed that all my…I had all my trousseau and
(indistinct) machine and all my fancy handkerchiefs. All at once, I noticed that
I can’t find any of those things and so I just didn’t have a babysitter
anymore. But after the children were big enough that we could take them, they
enjoyed the Vaudeville too. So we used to take them every week. In fact, I
remember when Alice was only three or four years old, we would come home and she
would try to jump around to imitate the dancers that she saw. So that went on
for probably as long as Vaudeville was. And then as a matter of fact, when the
children were teenagers, that time we used to have a programs already, concerts
and singers and we used to have season tickets. In those days they sold season
tickets for five or six dollars for the six performances.
So at that time we
were well enough off that we could afford to buy the tickets for all the four of
us for a couple of years. We used to go to that together. Whatever we did we
usually, we always did together as a family. Another nice thing that happened to
us Lena Polster used to have those season tickets. In those days people who had
the season tickets were given tickets by the Women’s Music Club, who used to
give concerts once a month for their own pleasure, for their own practice.
Lena gave me her two tickets for the afternoon concerts which were free. And so
I used to bring at that time…Harvey was school in already, Evelyn was four
years and so I used to bring her to those concerts. Sometimes she enjoyed them
and she was quiet most of the time. But if she became restless I would walk out
because I didn’t allow my children to disturb people. So I would walk and stay
in the hall and so eventually the women here in Columbus noticed us because
which other woman took time to take her child to a concert. But, so they noticed
us. But this was the only recreation at that time. Then they got, Alice got
about five or six years older and them we could go to the Vaudeville and we were
the family together. Then later on we went also to these concerts to which we
bought tickets already. Well even so for four people it cost twenty-four
Interviewer: That was a lot of money.
Roland: Yeah it was a lot of money but we were willing to spend for that. We
saved on clothes. The children had…I started to learn to make clothes and I
didn’t have to spend much money on that, except for Harvey. He was chubby and
we had to pay high price for his clothes. Once in several years, once a year we
bought dark blue suit for him. I remember the Union was the only one who sold
chubby sizes. In those days, when he was eight, nine years old, we had to pay
twenty-five dollars for a suit for him. That was a lot of money, I don’t think
Fred paid that much! Then when the children became eight years old…Harvey
became eight years old and Evelyn was six, so we got a music teacher. Oh yes,
Harvey went to the Cheder, the Hebrew school.
Interviewer: On Rich Street.
Roland: Yes. And Mr. Metchnick, the principal.
Interviewer: Mr. Metchnick…I’ll put this in…was Marty Godofsky’s father-in-law of Martin’s Grocery.
Roland: But anyhow, he went there for a couple of years. One time…I’m sure
that Harvey was no angel, I don’t know if he was any worse than the other
boys, but I know he was no angel either. So one time we…(Tape ends abruptly)
Roland: Okay, now so we were so angry when Harvey was
put down on the street because he was a young kid and he must have been only
about eight or nine years old. And we didn’t want him to be left alone in the
snow in the dark. So after that we took him out of the Hebrew school and we
found a teacher to come to the house. The teacher’s name was Mr. Horwitz. He
was a Hebrew teacher, Melamed, he was real gentleman and we treated him
like a gentleman when he came to our house. He came, I think, two times a week
or three times a week and he taught all two children, Harvey and Evelyn sat
down at the table to study with him and I sat down too.
Interviewer: Which Horwitz was he? Pardon me, which Horwitz was he?
Roland: I don’t remember, Morris Horwitz. You know Newman? Rachel and Alvin,
she used to live on Broad but she died.
Interviewer: Morris Horwitz, there was a Morris Horwitz that was the Sexton
of the Agudas Achim years ago. I’ve forgotten what the Hebrew Yiddish name
Roland:I don’t think this was just a teacher. Now see I’m talking about,
well, over fifty years.
Interviewer: Was he a short man? Lived on Eighteenth Street?
Roland: No, he was a Hebrew teacher. He went…he had other students too. And
he used to come to our house and we’d sit down and my children were respectful
of him and did not to get fresh with him. We had nice discussions. I think I
must have been the first one who talked to him…the fact that we want to know
about time elements too, about the distance of time. So I used to ask him,
“How long ago did this happen? How long ago did that.”
In those days
all that we knew about Jewish Studies was to…learned in the…to learn to read
the Hebrew and for the boys to learn the Torah so that they know the Hav
Torah. Well, we started to learn real…real Jewish history. And that was very
enjoyable and I’m sure my children liked it too because we continued with that
until the children were eighteen years old. Even after Harvey was Bar Mitzvahed
we kept the teacher and he came to us until he went to college and he didn’t
have time to study anymore. I remember I used to pay the gentleman every time he
came. I figured I knew how badly we needed this, I figured that he could use it too. That way he
doesn’t have to worry that we forgot; that maybe I didn’t want, or that I
should forget and didn’t make it clear. So…would pay him every…
Now Harvey was born on August 11, 1922. On March 1, 1925 Evy was born, our first daughter.
And when she was born we were very poor that time, Fred was working at the
A&P. So we had to name the baby and the Board at the Tifereth Israel said
they cannot get a Minyan during the week, it would have to be on a
Saturday, on Shabbos. Well, on the Shabbos Fred would not go to services because
he was working in the A&P and he couldn’t possibly leave the store or to
open it late. So we had to go and find another synagogue where they services
during the week. So we found, we went to the Beth Jacob and they named Evelyn
After services, the Rabbi started to talk to Fred and they found out
they were Landsman, that they come from same community, and Rabbi
Greenwald was the Rabbi at that time. He was a very erudite person, very well
versed in Hebrew. Do you remember him? And so he found out that he comes from the
same neighborhood as Fred does. Not only that, later on we became good friends
and found out that Mrs. Greenwald’s mother and Fred’s mother were in school
together. They were that far advanced already that they went to the Public
school in Hungary. So we really were very good friends. So Rabbi Greenwald said,
“Well, you must join my Congregation especially since we named the baby
So we did but we couldn’t…There the dues were only twelve
dollars a year. And Tifereth Israel was more than that even then. But anyhow, we
couldn’t afford to keep up to pay dues in two Congregations, we were glad
enough to be able to pay one. So because of Rabbi Greenwald we joined the
Congregation there and we dropped out of the Tifereth Israel for a while. But I
never liked it there because first of all you had to climb up the stairs and
women sit in the balcony and then some of the women were very primitive in their
habits. Well I couldn’t stand it, it made me sick. And then on Simchas
Torah people would get really rowdy at services. I didn’t like that, I
couldn’t stand it. So I only went to service on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
for the few years that we belonged there.
And then when we moved to…Then
another thing we have to bring up was when my mother-in-law…Oh, I forgot to
say that when my mother-in-law was coming to Columbus to live with…we had to
sell our house and find one that you can walk in distance of a Shul, of an
Orthodox Shul, because she would not drive on Shabbos. So we found a house on
Eighteenth Street just a little bit south of Livingston, about a block and a
half south of Livingston. So we moved there. We stayed with the Beth Jacob
Congregation as long as my mother-in-law stayed with us. Then, when the children
were big enough and we could have gone for services, I just couldn’t stand it,
so we rejoined the Tifereth Israel. We always felt that we belonged there, the
other was just a hiatus in between.
So by the time Alice…even before Alice was
born, I think our children went to the Sunday school at the Schonthal Center for
a while. They had good teachers because there was Miss Sugarman there who was
the manager of Schonthal Home. We had some good teachers there. So Evelyn was
little, so I enrolled at the synagogue at Tifereth Israel. But Harvey liked the
teachers and so he stayed in Schonthal. He was very friendly with the teachers
there. He became Confirmed, he became Bar Mitzvahed at the Beth Jacob. Although
we had the ceremony in the Shul but we did have a party…a family party and a
party for our friends on Sunday after the Bar Mitzvah. I remember it was very
nice and it was summer and so we had colored lights thrown in our yard.
time we were, we lived on Eighteenth Street, yes. We had a nice time the family
came, my parents were here in town that time and my Uncle Armi and my Aunt
Gazella and their children came, and Aunt Dina. That’s all there was. My
father had no contact with his relatives, he didn’t have any here. He had two
or three brothers in New York who came to America before he was born. He just
didn’t…they had no contact.
When we came to America, I think my father
stopped there and got acquainted with them, he just stayed a few hours. Then
after that, they corresponded and my father, during my father’s lifetime, he
went to visit then two or three times all together. But, it just…They were
strangers because when my father was born after they had been here in America
and so they just didn’t have any close contact. But my mother’s family came
and it was a real nice affair at that time.
So then, then later on Harvey became
Confirmed at the Schonthal Center. One of his teachers was a young man named
Brandt, who married one of the Schalit girls. Harvey and he stayed good friends
for a long time because during the War he was working the Tennessee Valley
Project, this Brandt. He was a chemical scientist or something and Harvey and he
corresponded. After the War, he read once or heard that they moved to Detroit.
Interviewer: That’s Matte Brandt, they live two three doors away from us. His
brother is the father of Dr. Brandt over here and then they have a sister, Etta
Brandt, she’s in the Heritage House temporarily, she never married. And there
is another brother, no that’s the same one. It was the father of that brother.
Roland: These Brandts, one of the Brandts was married for the first time.
Interviewer: That’s Dr. Brandt’s mother, Dorothy Kerstein.
Roland: Oh I see, they’re in the family. Anyhow, Harvey made good friends
there. After he became Confirmed then he came with us to Tifereth Israel
Synagogue. In fact, he was sort of active in the Youth Group there. But I
remember that for a couple of summers he and the Rosenthal boy, I don’t know
which Rosenthal it is, but they, the Rabbi asked Harvey that he should set up a
library for the synagogue.
At that time, we didn’t have any library, he had
few books…the Rabbi had and a few books in his office. So Harvey got this
Rosenthal boy to work with him and they spent the whole summer cataloging the
books that the synagogue had. Then the Rabbi showed them where they could use a
part of a room for the library so the two boys designed the shelves, and I think
the Wasserstroms made it, or somebody did anyhow. Then the boys put the books on
the shelving and they established a library as volunteers.
Interviewer: I would imagine the Wasserstroms did it because they make restaurant goods.
Roland: I know that but I think they were working with (indistinct). So
anyhow, I feel good that our son was able to do that much for the synagogue. Of
course when he went to college he was busy and he worked part-time too. He used
to help in the Hillel when they put on plays. When Harvey was in school he met
Interviewer: Paul Lipson, Fiddler on the Roof fan!
Roland: So he put on plays and Harvey worked with him as stage manager.
Interviewer: Lipton lived at the Hillel because I don’t think he had enough
money to live away. He lived there when he was going to school.
Roland: Well, I don’t remember if it was Levenger at that time or was It
Rabbi Kaplan?I know the first Mrs. Kaplan told me that they always used to have
students living up in the attics who couldn’t afford to pay for board. So then
Harvey didn’t know what he wanted to study in school. Fred wanted him to be a
doctor because Fred would have liked to be a doctor but he never got a chance!
So he wanted Harvey and he could have gotten Harvey in at that time because we
had a lot of friends…doctors, both Gentiles and Jewish, and they would be glad
to recommend him. But Harvey didn’t have any part of medicine, said he can’t
stand the sight of blood…to be a doctor.
So then Fred said, “Well, how
about a lawyer?” Fred wanted the children to be professionals so they
shouldn’t have to work as hard as he did to make a living. So Harvey would
have been willing to be a lawyer and I think he would have made a good one too
because he’s very precise and very methodical and he has a good memory. But
that was depression time in the 1930s and poor lawyers and other people too
really had to struggle, they had to sell apples on the street. He said, “I’m
going to go to college for that?” You know, when things are hard, it is so
hard to visualize that yes things will change and things will be better! You
think this is it and your stuck with that.
So anyhow, they settled and Harvey
enrolled in accounting, which he also liked, he was very good with figures. So
he enrolled in accounting. He was a good student most of the time. One year he
had a girlfriend so that quarter wasn’t so good. But he, in fact he graduated
even earlier because at that time when he was Junior was in 1941. He was
supposed to graduate in 1941…So he was supposed to graduate in June 1942. The
following June he was just…So he almost had two years, over a year and a half
before graduating; and so when he was enrolled in the sophomore year in the
following September he went to volunteer in the Air Force. He wanted to become a
pilot. He made the Air Force so he and Max Schalit drove to Cincinnati to
register, there was no place over here where they could register so they had to
go through Cincinnati.
It so happened, I don’t know what happened with Max he
did not enlist that time. I don’t know whether he came to enlist and just went
with Harvey for the ride, or what. But Harvey was rejected there because he was
overweight, about twenty pounds overweight. So they told him that if he didn’t
go loose the twenty pounds and he was short, he was five feet eight, and that was short for the
pilot. Anyhow, the said they can’t take him in the Navy but if he will loose
twenty pounds they will take him in the Army Air Force. He came home and in six
months he lost the twenty pounds. So he enlisted in the Army Air Force and they
accepted him. He was too young, he was not even twenty one years old at that
time. We had to sign for him that we allowed him to…Could you imagine that? It
wasn’t very funny!
Interviewer: What part of Texas did he end up in? Where did he go with the Air
Roland: He was in Texas, he was in Randall. First he was in basic in Texas.
Interviewer: Where do you know?
Roland: I think it was San Antonio. I don’t think it was Randall. Randall
was the last. He was in San Antonio first and then from there they sent him to
Colorado at the university, that’s where they studied. And then from there he
Roland: Yeah because I remember when he was in…then we went to visit to
him. He said now this is about as close as I will get to Columbus so come and
visit. That was when he was in the Air Force for about six months already. He
passed the basic and passed the school work in Colorado in the university and
then he was at …So we went to visit him, Fred and I and Alice. Alice was about
five years old that time, not quit five. So we went and we had to travel all
night long. We couldn’t afford Pullman.
So we traveled all night to get there
and I remember it was a Saturday, we came for the weekend. So when he came to
meet us and he says, “I just had my first solo flight that morning.”
And he says, “I was so scared that if I get injured and you would
come here you wouldn’t be able to see me.” So anyhow, we spent Saturday
and Sunday with him. Sunday we came back home and we had to drive standing up
all night because the trains were very crowded that time.
Interviewer: I enlisted and I was stationed in Texas and I had to stand up
many a time too, back and forth.
Roland: Well I don’t know about the soldiers. I thought that the soldiers
when they were sent from one place to the other that they moved more
Interviewer: Don’t believe it! We slept on the floor, in between seats. The
fellows that would crowd themselves up in the luggage racks and they used to
have one train that they fed us from and it had big fifty five gallon drums and
we had to take our mess kits to the other end of the train and then come back
and they would feed us. From here to Texas it will take us sometimes two days,
sometimes three days, sometimes we’re traveling north, south, east, west, we
just went all over.
But, now you mentioned your son was confirmed at Schonthal
Center. Let me just make this note. Schonthal Center was on East Rich Street,
across from the Cheder, the Hebrew School. Schonthal Center was a
brownstone that Pop Schonthal bought, it was at 555 East Rich Street. It was a
community center that he put up.
Roland: Oh yes. They had activities for youngsters. In fact, the boy scout
troupe met there. Dave Goldsmith was their leader.
Interviewer: Dave Goldsmith was the father of my daughter-in-law, Jody.
Roland: I know.
Interviewer: We played basketball in what was the coach house. And it was just
big enough to get a basketball court in and they had to put up mats around the
walls because there wasn’t any room for us if we stepped a foot outside of the
court, we were against the wall. That was Miss Sugarman there.
Roland: It was good that we had that. We had…There was a Ms. Golder, I feel
its Golder, she played the piano and there was a girl from Cincinnati who had
only one hand and she had dancing lessons, ten cents a person. That’s where I
took my two children, Harvey and Evy, for dancing school every Friday afternoon.
She was teaching tap dancing mostly and Harvey would finish his dance before the
rest of the class was half way through. And I think her name was Franklin. I
remember she worked all summer long and she had the patience and she didn’t
throw Harvey out of the class. I used to go with the children because in those
days we had a taxi cab for fifteen cents from my house to the Schonthal Center
and fifteen cents back, and that was the only way you could get there, we didn’t
have time to walk. So I used to take the two children there for the lessons. I
don’t remember if I…I might have because I remember giving and setting
exercises. Anyhow, it was ten cents. So I’m thinking her name was Golden, she
married Doctor Goldberg.
Interviewer: Her name was Berman, I believe. Doctor Goldberg, the eye ear nose
and throat doctor, he’s a cousin. My mother-in-law and he were cousins. Her
sister was Berman and married a Berman and my son’s had her at Fairmoor
Elementary School, the sister. So I think her maiden name was Berman and I can’t
remember her first name.
Roland: I remember before she was married she played the piano with the
dancers. It was good because that was, it was adding some interest to a child’s
life, which we could not have afforded any other way at that time. Later on,
Harvey of course didn’t take any more dancing lessons, but when Evy became
eight years old when Harvey was ten, we had a music teacher come to the house
and all three of us – Harvey, Evy and I – took music piano lessons from the
teacher. Our first teacher was Joe Weisburg.
Interviewer: Yes Joe, I think he’s still living. He had an orchestra and he
taught at Lazarus at the studio.
Roland: That was before. We were his first students. He just graduated from
Capital University. Of course, Fred knew his parents, you know so that’s we
knew about him. So he came to our house and he gave three lessons every week. I
think we paid, I don’t know, three dollars I think for the three of us.
Interviewer: You pretty much covered…without my guiding…you pretty much
covered my outline except for one thing. First let me say, Schonthal Center
during the War…I understand, I wasn’t here, I was in the Air Force…they had
USO there. All the Jewish girls used to go there.
Roland: Oh yes! You know Mrs. Florence Melton, at that time she was Florence
Zacks, she and I used to go down every Sunday afternoon And cook dinner and
serve it to all the servicemen who came there. Every Sunday night! She was very
nice to me, we would work together, she would pick me up, I didn’t drive at
that time, she would pick me up and we’d go down and do dinner. I used to be
so angry because very often the wives came down with the soldiers too, they ate
too and they never offered to help us clean up. You know, we didn’t have the
nerve to tell them. We figured that they have enough to worry about and we don’t
want to make it any worse for them. But we used to serve and clean up and go
Interviewer: I went to Sunday school there. I can remember my father pulling
me on a sled, we lived about a twenty minute walk from there. They also had
things like, they had a radio room where you worked on radios. They had a
printing room where they had a printing press and I don’t remember what other
activities they had there but if you were interested there was always something
to do there.
Roland: I know. They were quite active. They also used to have meetings
that took…I remember one time I used belong to the Ivreeyah of course, cause
that was like a PTA for the Hebrew School. But I belonged even when my son didn’t
go there to the Hebrew School. I remember that the one year we gave a
performance. I was in it, I wasn’t left out!
Interviewer: I think we’ve covered everything but except your grandchildren.
I’ll give you a little nachas. What do you have in the way of grandchildren?
Roland: I have three grandchildren, my own children Harvey, who is now, this
is 1985, who is now sixty-two, sixty-three years this coming summer. And Evelyn
was born in March 1, 1925, so it’s impossible that she should be sixty years old.
Interviewer: Time flies, doesn’t it?
Roland: Alice was born like our second family, she was born in 1938, when the
two other children were teenagers. Alice was a real joy because by the time she
was born we were comfortably set and I could afford to have help in the house
for the first time in my life. I had a very hard delivery with the other
children and I had a hard time to raise them, I was sick and they were sick. But
when Alice was born, well the fact that I could have help helped an awful lot,
and besides that she was a very good child.
She was…I was very lucky at first,
she was not ill and it was easy to raise her. And on top of that, I wasn’t as
confined as I was with the other children because I had built in babysitters.
And while the older children were somehow ambiguous about having a new baby in
the family. After the baby was born they loved her very much. Not only that,
Harvey told us one of the classes he took was child psychology, so he should
know how to manage with the baby. It was fine, she was fine and she didn’t
give us much trouble. Of course I’m sure that she had a happier childhood, too,
than the others. For which I feel guilty for the other children because we had
things easier, she could have more things and we had more patience with them
too. Although, when Alice was seven years old, and so a Camp Fire group was
organized in the school and so I undertook to be the leader because I felt that
the leader who wanted to be wasn’t very strong.
So I said, “All right, I’ll help you.” So we worked together
and the two of us developed a very nice…a
very, very competent group of Camp Fire Girls. We did all kinds of things in the
city and I taught them needle work. And so every year we had the State Fair, we
had there, big displays that the girls did themselves and many of them won
prizes, which of course pleased them very much.
In fact, even now some of my old
Camp Fire Girls come to me and say “You remember Mrs. Roland? You taught me to
do this or we did that together!” They used to stay in, we used to appear
at the State Fair the whole week and give demonstrations in weaving and
embroidery and other things.
We kept that up for quite a few years, even after
our girls got big enough that they were not in Camp Fire anymore. I had stayed on
the board, they elected me to the Board of Directors and I was on the board when
I was Vice President for several years until I was not able to attend when
transportation was too hard. But I kept my activation up for quite a long time.
In fact now that I graduated, since I got the publicity…
Tape ends abruptly.