Interviewed by his daughter
November 11, 1992
Interviewer: These are the answers to questions presented to Julius
Question number 1, what year were you born?
Interviewer: What are the names of your brothers and sisters?
Gutter: Well, we were 12 in the family. I am the only survivor left in
the whole family.
Interviewer: Can you give me their names?
Gutter: My oldest brother was, name is Jack Gutter. He was in the United
States and the next brother was Sher, he would be like Sam, Sam Gutter. And
after that was Melvin Gutter, and then was Irving Gutter. One passed away before
I was born here; his name was Hochis. There was a brother then a sister Esther;
she was married too, her married name was Miller. The next one was Myan, and the
next one was Schandal. Then there was Pearl, then was Sarah and the younger one
Interviewer: Okay. Number 3, what are the names of your parents?
Gutter: Lazar Gutter, and my mother’s name was Golda Gutter.
Interviewer: Thank you. Number 4, what are the names of your
Gutter: Samuel Gutter and Rebecca Gutter.
Interviewer: Okay. Did you have grandparents on your mom’s side that
Gutter: Uh, not that I…they died in the First World War.
Interviewer: So you didn’t know them. What about the dates of the
births of your grandparents? Do you know that by any chance?
Gutter: Uh, yeah, I think in 1835.
Interviewer: Okay. Both your grandparents or…
Gutter: No, just my grandfather.
Interviewer: Your grandfather. What about your parents? Do you remember
the dates of births of them?
Gutter: My father was born in…
Woman’s voice: 1875.
Gutter: 1875, and my mother was born in, I don’t know her birth.
Interviewer: Okay. Number 5, could you describe your home town? How big
Gutter: It was a small town, small village.
Interviewer: Could you compare it something? Was it the size of something
near Columbus that you know of?
Gutter: Oh, I don’t think…
Interviewer: Was it smaller than Bexley? Was it bigger than Bexley?
Gutter: No, it was I think about 40, 45 houses.
Interviewer: So maybe it was between Livingston and Main Street, that
section of Bexley?
Gutter: Yeah, it was just like any street in Bexley, would be the size.
Interviewer: A street? Just one street? Not like between Livingston and
Main, a section of…
Gutter: No, there were maybe four houses or six houses…
Interviewer: On a street?
Gutter: On a street.
Gutter: And then there was a curve you go around to get to the next
street. But the village itself was very small.
Interviewer: Okay. Did you have a synagogue?
Gutter: No. They had minyan services every Saturday and all the holidays.
There were three villages that were coming to one place and that’s where they
had the services.
Interviewer: Was it, you had to walk?
Gutter: Yeah, you had to walk.
Interviewer: Was it far?
Gutter: It was in walking distance. I mean it was, like it may be a mile
or a mile and a half distance.
Interviewer: Okay. What were the occupations of your parents?
Gutter: They were farmers actually I mean. And then they were more or
less like merchants. To exist, you know, they had to go out and you were buying
stuff like you were peddling and then you were selling the same stuff, you know,
to live on.
Interviewer: Okay. Now was your mother a homemaker or was she also a
Gutter: Well, she was a homemaker. She had enough kids to take [laughing]
Interviewer: Okay. What about the description, Number 7, of the other
towns near you? Slava…
Interviewer: And Soka, Kastrina?
Gutter: Kastrina, yeah.
Interviewer: Can you describe any of these villages that you have listed?
Gutter: Well, all those villages are more or less alike. The homes, the
houses were built, you know, were all wooden houses.
Interviewer: Okay, about how big would you say? Would you have one
bedroom or two bedrooms, or how would you…with 12 kids how did you all fit in
Gutter: The average house, you know, had about two bedrooms; a big
kitchen with an oven in it and some how they managed.
Interviewer: Okay, so you had two bedrooms and a kitchen. Did you have a
[Interruption; tape off.]
Interviewer: So the houses, you had two bedrooms like and a kitchen. Did
you have a living room?
Gutter: A living room.
Interviewer: A living room. And you had an outhouse, right? You didn’t
have what we know as a bathroom.
Interviewer: Okay, so they were very small. So you had like a boys’
room, a girls’ room and maybe your parents slept out in the living room?
Gutter: Well, I don’t remember my father so I don’t know if they were
sleeping…my mother had her own bed.
Gutter: Maybe she had a couple of girls sleeping with her.
Interviewer: But you actually had real beds, uh? You didn’t have to
sleep on the floor.
Gutter: Well, there were times they were sleeping on the floor.
Interviewer: Oh, okay. Did you know any Wasserstroms?
Gutter: Yeah, the one, the only Wasserstroms I know it was in Kastrina.
Interviewer: Okay. Did you know Yachesfeld?
Interviewer: Yeah, from Pastrina. Did you know those two?
Gutter: Yeah. They are in Israel.
Interviewer: Oh, they are in Israel now. Okay. Now did you go, where did
you go to school?
Gutter: Well, I went school in Humana.
Gutter: There was a…
Interviewer: You went to all school there? Did you go around to different
Gutter: Well, I went public schools over there and I also went to cheder,
to the Hebrew school. And I go bar mitzvah and after that I went to the yeshiva
Interviewer: Okay. And what was it like, what were the schools like over
Gutter: Well, there were school, I mean, you had to…
Interviewer: You had your reading, writing, and arithmetic?
Gutter: Yeah, yeah. You had to go to the regular school system.
Interviewer: Okay. Was it strict? Were your teachers strict with you?
Gutter: Yes, yes. They were difficult
Interviewer: Okay. A little different than what we have here today, huh?
Okay. Did your town have a rabbi?
Interviewer: Okay, what it was, was that you had to go to that one
synagogue that was between the three different villages?
Gutter: Yeah, but there was a rabbi, like he was a chief rabbi, I mean,
took care of…
Interviewer: Numerous little towns?
Gutter: Numerous little towns.
Interviewer: Okay. He was like a traveling rabbi.
Gutter: Just about.
Interviewer: Okay. Okay. Do you remember his name?
Gutter: He was a nice, good looking man with a nice beard and he was a
Interviewer: Okay. Do you remember if there was a rabbi in any of these
towns that are listed here?
Gutter: Visalia, Shicha.
Interviewer: Do you remember if there was a rabbi in any of these towns.
Gutter: No, no rabbi.
Interviewer: No in Pastino; that’s were you went to school though,
Interviewer: That wasn’t where you went to school?
Gutter: No, that was Wasserstroms.
Interviewer: Oh, that’s where they lived. That’s right.
Gutter: That’s where the Wasserstroms lived and they are in Israel now.
Interviewer: Okay. Do you remember, was there a Rabbi Haskel? Was he the
rabbi of Strovko?
Interviewer: Was he the rabbi there? Do you remember that?
Gutter: Well, what’s his name?
Interviewer: It looks like Haskel. Is that right? Haskel?
Gutter: No. there was a rabbi by the name of, they would call Mendele.
Now…no I don’t remember the names.
Interviewer: Where was the rabbi you just mentioned? Where was he?
Gutter: He was in Strovka.
Interviewer: The rabbi you just mentioned?
Interviewer: Oh, okay. You want to mention his name again?
Gutter: Reb Mendele.
Interviewer: Maybe that was his first name and that was his last name?
Gutter: No, no.
Interviewer: What were the relations like with…well, he has number 12,
with non-Christians, what I think he means is…
Gutter: With non-Jews.
Interviewer: With Christians. What I think he means is what were your
relations like with Christian people over there?
Gutter: Well, at that time the relationship with the Jewish and the
Christians was very good. The Christians were, the town was small, most people
didn’t know how to read or write, and they were anxious in knowing what was
going on in, outside their homes. Now who would know the best but the Jewish
people who lived in those towns and most of the Jewish people they were
merchants. And they had small corner store with rooms that…now we had in our
house, my grandfather had a license for tobacco, whiskey. Now anybody who wanted
to have those things came over to our house and a few neighbors and they would
have like a social hall.
Interviewer: Okay. Did your family have any customs? For example, what
did they do for Shabbat?
Gutter: Well, they came home…they went to the synagogue, what they
called a synagogue, a private home. [Phone rings and tape is stopped.]
Interviewer: You were telling us about Shabbat at your house.
Gutter: Now, coming home from the services, wherever they were held, took
us about an hour maybe hour and a half to get home. We got to the house, there
some services like for the shabbos.
Interviewer: So you had services at home?
Gutter: I mean it was the Shabbat services were actually in the
synagogue. There was some kind of like custom, like when you come home from shul
you know there is some kind of songs so the family would get together at the
table and they would conduct those services.
Interviewer: Okay. You went to services on Friday night, and you went to
services first and then you came home and ate?
Gutter: No. We didn’t go Friday night.
Interviewer: Oh, you didn’t go Friday night. So you just had like a
family dinner at home. The whole family was always there, right?
Gutter: Yeah. Always there.
Interviewer: Said Kiddush and motzi and those things, right?
Interviewer: And Saturday morning you went to shul, and then when
you came home you probably had your big meal of the day, right?
Gutter: We had the cholent. And it was a nice social gathering.
The family was together. They were singing together and they were eating
together, and then after the whole Sabbath ceremony they would go for a walk,
and walk around some of the neighbors and would spend the Sabbath. But no
business, but no business conducted.
Interviewer: Right. The Sabbath was upheld. Very good. Okay, we already
went through what your house looked like. How about onto number 15… [Phone
rings and tape is stopped].
Okay. What town might have kept records like marriage certificates and deaths
and births and stuff like that?
Gutter: That was in Kronekopolyka.
Interviewer: That was like the main city?
Gutter: Yeah, that was the main place. There was a notary public there
and he was the one or instructive. Now for the, he put for something what would
be over here like a county. Now there would be where all the records is kept;
you would want to get information, you know, about somebody’s birth
Interviewer: Right. Now that was in Strovka or in that other city you
Gutter: Well, that would be in Strovka or Presha. There was, you know,
Strovka would be like the county and Presha would be more like a state.
Interviewer: Ah, okay. Okay. What language, number 16 is, what languages
did you speak there?
Gutter: In Slavish.
Interviewer: Did you speak Yiddish at all?
Gutter: Yiddish at home.
Interviewer: Yiddish at home but Slavic when you were in public.
Gutter: Slavish, yeah.
Interviewer: Okay. What year did you leave and why did you leave?
Gutter: Well, there was…I left in 1937. At that time the propaganda
that was going on in Germany was very high, and it was likea turning over from
day to night. You know, the people they were like their messiah is coming and
who was their scapegoat, the Jewish people.
Gutter: And foreseeing the future over there wasn’t good.
Interviewer: So you foresaw that. You made a wise decision, a wise
decision. Okay. Number 18, did you know Aaron Friedman of Sucha? How do you
Gutter: See, you have the two dots over top.
Interviewer: I know but I never took this language. Okay, Uncle Melvin
had, I guess, had mentioned him to Randy. Did you know him? This Aaron Friedman?
Interviewer: No. Okay. Did you go back, have you been back to
Czechoslovakia, and what was the trip like?
Gutter: Well, I was back to Czechoslovakia but I couldn’t make to the
hometown where I come from cause it was, we were on a tour from Columbus to
Israel and Romania and to Hungary and also to Czechoslovakia, but some how the
transportation wasn’t feasible or wasn’t…
Interviewer: But when you went it was still a communist country too.
Interviewer: So you had to be careful what you were doing.
Gutter: Yeah. Well, the transportation was bad and we were on a one visa
for the whole group, no, group of people.
Interviewer: You were on a tour.
Gutter: On a tour. So…
Interviewer: So you had to stick with your group.
Gutter: Yeah. Actually wanted to go to my hometown and I also wanted to
go to the cemetery where my father is buried. I didn’t make it.
Interviewer: Okay. Are there cemeteries in any of the towns of the
Wasserstroms? That would be these towns here. Do you know if there are any
cemeteries in any of these towns here?
Gutter: Vislava, Sichra, no, no, there would be no cemeteries over there.
Interviewer: Where were the cemeteries located then? One general area?
Gutter: Yeah, one general area; it would be in Ladimar.
Interviewer: Were they located near the synagogues at all?
Gutter: No, no, no.
Interviewer: So in other words, you’d take a few towns and they would
have one common cemetery.
Gutter: One common cemetery.
Interviewer: Okay. Did your family tell you what life was like in the
Gutter: It was before I was born. They used to tell me how good it was
under Franz Josef, and there was King Franz Josef and he was very liberal and he
was for the Jews, and there was no discrimination. You could travel and go
places and do what you want. It was…
Interviewer: It was a freer world.
Gutter: A free country. And then after 1918 whenCzechoslovakia became a
country, when President Masaryk became president; it was also a democracy, a
Interviewer: How far back did your family live in Hungary? I mean was it…
Gutter: My grandfather was born in…
Interviewer: In Hungary?
Gutter: Yeah. There was Austria-Hungary.
Interviewer: Do you know if anyone before him, did you hear of your
Gutter: Well, they are buried down there so they must have lived there
Interviewer: Do you know any stories of things that happened when your
family lived in Austria-Hungary?
Gutter: No. No.
Interviewer: No. Just that it was a good Life?
Gutter: Was a good normal life.
Interviewer: Okay. Number 22, do you have any idea when the Gutters came
to Hungary? Probably not if you can’t remember that far back.
Gutter: No. No.
Interviewer: What about the Wasserstroms? Do you have any idea?
Gutter: I would imagine that would be about the same thing, people
immigrated, although I mean, uh, the border between the Czechoslovakia and the
Polish or the Austria-Hungarian, you know that Poland was also under the empire
of Franz Joseph so there was more or less autonomy between the Austrian and the
Hungarians. I would say that in the 1800s or maybe before that in, there was a
big influx of Jewish people coming in to Czechoslovakia from Poland after the
First World War. And they become big successful business people.
Interviewer: Okay. Are there any friends or acquaintances still living in
Slovakia? And if so do you know where they are and their names?
Gutter: Well, there was, Czechoslovakia had 800,000 Jews, maybe a
Interviewer: I mean,Do you personally have any friends that, you know,
you found still living over there?
Gutter: Uh, well, there was, no, no. See in Kasha where we had the
bakery, you know, there was about 800 or 1,000 Jewish people living there.
Interviewer: But you don’t know if any of those people are living
Interviewer: You said you had a bakery and said your parents were
farmers, so how did you get into the bakery business?
Gutter: Well, [laughs] that’s a story by itself.
Interviewer: Well, let’s hear it.
Gutter: I was 17 years old. I quit the yeshiva, quit school and I
had to do something. So I got acquainted with a non-Jew; he was a, he owned his
own drug store. In Europe they call it an apothecate. And, uh, it was in
a hotel, he wanted to play pool and I was sitting there reading the paper on the
want ads, you know, to see if there would be anything there that appealed to me.
So he came over to me and asked me if I would want to shoot a game of pool with
him which I never had an idea brought up what a pool room looked like. So I told
him I’ll tried but I didn’t know too much about the game. He said, “Never
mind, just all you have to do is hit the ball, you aim at it and shoot.” So I
played a couple of games and got to know the guy a little bit, and I told him
what I’m up against. I’m in the city all by myself and don’t know anybody
and I have to get into something to make a living. So he had a flour mill about
35 miles away from the city. He told me he would give a letter to go down to the
town where the flour mill was and they’ll find something for me.
Interviewer: Very nice. Now when you said that you quit the yeshiva,
how long did you go to school, I mean how long did children go to school there?
Is it like here through twelfth grade or do you go beyond that?
Gutter: Some of them go beyond that.
Interviewer: I mean do they have separation like what we do like where
you have elementary,
Interviewer: High school.
Gutter: Well, high school, you know they call it a gymnasium.
Interviewer: Really? Well, that’s interesting considering we consider a
gymnasium some place where you play sports. That’s what they call high school?
Interviewer: Okay, and then beyond that what was the next step beyond
high school or beyond gymnasium?
Gutter: Well, university.
Interviewer: Oh, they did have university?
Gutter: Oh, yeah.
Interviewer: So, did you know any people that went to the university over
Gutter: Oh, yeah. Oh, quite a few of them.
Interviewer: Oh that’s interesting.
Gutter: Some of them became lawyers; some of them became doctors and some
of them became druggists, and in business.
Interviewer: Okay. Number 24, who were other Jewish families who lived in
your town or in any of the three towns listed here? You can say the name,
Gutter: Pastina. Were there other Jewish families living in town?
Gutter: No. There was another family of the Gutters.
Interviewer: Oh, is that the one that related to the one in Columbus, the
other Gutter family?
Gutter: Yeah, yeah. No not them, the ones from Agudas Achim?
Male Voice: He died.
Gutter: No. He, no, he came, when he came to Columbus, you know, I
thought he was somebody from my family but he came from Warsaw, Poland.
Interviewer: But there were other Gutters living in your town that weren’t
related to you?
Gutter: No, they were related.
Interviewer: They were related?
Gutter: See, there were two brothers, my grandfather and his brother.
Gutter: They lived, you know, across the street to see each other, and
just like you are…
Interviewer: On Stouder Avenue.
Gutter: On Stouder Avenue and now you remember we were talking about the
times Lou Gutter, and he was in California. His grandfather and my grandfather
were two brothers. So one had a little farm on one side and the other had a
little farm on the other side.
Interviewer: Ah, well, it’s a family that sticks together, huh? You don’t
know any other Jewish families that lived in any of these cities here, huh?
Gutter: No, no.
Interviewer: Okay. Number 25, what other occupations did Jews have? I
know you listed a few; if you could list them again for us.
Gutter: Well, most of them were traders. They were just like you have
around here, markets, flea markets, uh, they were in livestock.
Gutter: Cattle and sheep and horses. And they would have market, markets
maybe once a month or once every two months, you know.
Interviewer: What about the farmers? They would go out and market their
Interviewer: Whatever they would raise? So would you say that those
families that you grew up with, the parents for example, your parents were
farmers, they were merchants but the next generation maybe the generation you
were in, they were educated, they went to university, so those were the ones
started to become the lawyers and doctors and…
Interviewer: Okay. Okay. What other, oh we already did that. Were Jews
religious and what kind of customs did they keep?
Interviewer: I guess you have to define what religious is, huh?
Gutter: Well, they didn’t have much but they were always happy.
Interviewer: Okay. They were happy Jews, huh? Were they, I guess it a
better way of saying that was, were Jews observant?
Gutter: Uh, to a certain extent. I mean they didn’t work on the
Sabbath, and they observed the holidays. The younger generation did not, I mean,
did not grow beards or they were not going around with the long payes. But
Interviewer: But they observed?
Gutter: But they were of the more modern, modern type.
Interviewer: Okay, they were like the start of the modern Jew?
Interviewer: That’s what you’re saying?
Interviewer: Okay. Okay, I guess those answered all of his questions. I
had fun doing this. Again, Randy, if you need any other questions, let my father
know and I wish you luck on this. Someday if you ever publish any of this I’d
like to have one. I’m Julius’ daughter. Thank you.
End of interview.
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