This interview was conducted on December 14, 1998, at the home of
Julius Margulies for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society Oral History Project. Mr.
Margulies speaks about his interests and leadership positions in community activities which
included State of Israel Bonds, Ballet Met, the Columbus Jewish Historical Society, and the Columbus Jewish Federation.
Interviewer: This is Marvin Bonowitz. I’m interviewing Julius Margulies on December 14, 1998 at his home in Columbus. Julius, how long have you lived out here?
Margulies: About ten or eleven years…
Interviewer: Because you’ve lived in all the general Jewish
communities of the city, starting when the Jewish center of population
was down around Livingston Avenue and Parsons. Is that where your mother
settled? I think she was the first one to come to Columbus, wasn’t
Margulies: Well, I never knew who came when, where, but my father and
mother got married in what is now known as the German Village area. That’s
where my knowledge of my parents began. My father was Hungarian and he
came to Columbus, Ohio…
I didn’t know the circumstances, but apparently his father had come
before him and he came later with his sister, who was Sarah Carlstein.
My mother came to Columbus, Ohio, via Poland to be with her for a while.
Her brother – his name was Charles Furman – who was a very prominent
person in the Jewish community and in the secular community as well. My
mother was a very aggressive lady in terms of going right at it. My
earliest recollection – my mother, they had a little store that they
opened in their house, and in their store they sold things that my
mother manufactured for sale, like aprons and things of that nature and
my father at one time, I understand, had a horse and wagon and he
traveled the community selling things from a wagon of some sort, and he
prospered somewhat and years later they gave up that and opened up a
retail store out of their living room, and they increased that to
include their dining room and so forth and then they realized that
perhaps they had to do something more logical and my father continued
his selling things throughout certain parts of the community, especially
the South end and the North end.
And he was welcomed wherever he went because he was a very fine gentleman and he offered good things for the least amount of money, and offered people opportunities to buy things without having to pay for it all at one time. That grew because the
people who purchased from him would also tell their friends and relatives about Harry Margulies. He was a very fine gentleman and he
became a part of their household sometimes because they brought – loved him so much because he was just a fine guy who helped them out when they needed things – even carried with him medications in case somebody had a cold or whatever – he had it with him and gave it to them or whatever because he wanted to be sure everybody was comfortable.
Interviewer: Julius, you said your father was from Hungary? He was actually born in Hungary?
Margulies: My father was born in Hungary.
Interviewer: Do you know the name of the city? Did he ever speak
Margulies: I don’t know the name of the city in Hungary. I don’t
Interviewer: What about where your mother was born?
Margulies: My mother was born in Poland, and I do know where she came
from, ’cause I visited there with my brother and two sisters when my
mother went back in 1929. She had come probably more like the turn of
the century and she came from Poland and she stayed with her brother for
a while until she-
Interviewer: Her brother was here first?
Margulies: Her brother was here first and she worked in a factory
where they sewed uniforms for the military and for different
organizations and so forth. She was very good at it, she told me, and
she was very involved in this – she was a key person in the development.
Interviewer: What was the city in Poland?
Margulies: Poland? She wasn’t exactly in the city but in the
outskirts of a city. It was called Turka, T-U-R-K-A. Turka went back and
forth between Russia and Poland and right now, they were talking about –
Turka is now in Russia. Looking at the map it wasn’t too many miles from the border. I recall the household
because when we went back. I remember how the villagers who lived in the
back of their house, which was not a great home. It was sufficient to
accommodate four families but – so the Polish people lived like at the
base of a hill, and they went down a slope and crossed the road, which
was a dirt road, they had some cattle that grazed and so forth, and so
they sold eggs and whatever else you’d want to find.
Interviewer: Did it seem that there were a lot of Jews in that city?
Margulies: There was not a city. They lived on the outskirts of Turka.
People who we know now people named Sokolovs – a family named Sokolov
lived right across this dirt road. So I know exactly where they came from. In fact, the Sokols,
whose real name is a curtailment – it was really Sokolov – I had the privilege
of seeing that family as well. I’ve never forgotten about that. I’ve
been sort of an advocate for them. They’re thinking they’d like to
go back to where their families did come from to see what it was like
and I did tell them as much as I could. They were poor like everyone
else was poor, and they lived directly across from the Furman house, the
Furman home and now I think they may make a trip. I may go with them.
Interviewer: Very good. Your mother originally – how did she get to
Ohio? I know first she came to Gloucester with her brother, or where her
brother was. Gloucester, Ohio.
Margulies: How do you know about Gloucester? Who told you?
Interviewer: Well that’s in the Marc Rafael book – about the Jewish
community in Columbus – – a Midwestern Jewish community –
Margulies: Because her brother was probably doing – selling things in
that area. I’m trying to think how it was. My mother worked at the M.
C. Lilley Company which is in a five-story building on Long Street and
my mother sewed uniforms, military uniforms and other kinds of things
for organizations and so forth, and she was so good they put her in a
special position as superintendent or whatever and she worked hard. She
walked to work from Livingston Avenue and Fifth Street to Long Street
and Sixth, which was quite a long distance. She didn’t take a
streetcar which was prevalent then because they cost five cents and it
was important for her to save that five cents. And anyway, eventually
the families of Margulies and the Bonowitz family secured possession of this
group of three five-story structures in which my mother did her job making uniforms and so
forth. They were sending uniforms to all over the world.
Interviewer: They made military regalia. It was a very large concern
and when they went bankrupt, your family and my family, the Bonowitzs
Margulies: They bought the real estate and I thought it was kind of
shameful to tear down some of those buildings. They had so much in
Interviewer: And your mother had worked there years and years before.
Margulies: My mother had worked there for many years, and I think
that your father had worked there. They also manufactured swords, come
to think of it, and those were also shipped for organizations and so
Interviewer: Your mother was a strong woman. She opened and ran a
store while your father was still peddling on a cart?
Margulies: My mother took her little house on Livingston near Fifth
Street and converted the first-her living room into a store. She sold…
made aprons to sell, and other things that they purchased other things
from a company called Jones-Witter and Company, which were wholesalers
and attracted a lot of people to them because the things they sold were
good and the prices were fair.
Interviewer: So you lived on Livingston Avenue.
Margulies: I lived on Livingston Avenue. I remember very well my
father getting on a stool to light gas lamps in the kitchen and
throughout the first floor. And people liked to come to that store and
from there my dad expanded his routes and he had a horse and wagon – and
outset. He was terrified of the horses – they were a challenge to him.
He was small and the horses were big, but he did. He needed to earn a
living for his family and he became so endeared to the people that he
called on that he was welcomed in as a family person. After a number of
years my father took a partnership with a half-brother of his and they
built a building at the corner of Fifth and Livingston.
Interviewer: Was that Charlie?
Margulies: Charlie Margulies, that’s right, and they built a
marvelous building with five apartments above it. They were always in
demand. There was hardly ever a time when the apartments were not in
Interviewer: Your father was Harry Margulies.
Margulies: My father was Harry Margulies, my mother was Lena
Interviewer: Since Charlie was his half-brother, did they both have
Louis Margulies and Pauline for parents? Or which –
Margulies: Pauline was Charlie’s mother and that was my father’s
step – mother. Harry Margulies’s father was Louis Margulies and my
father helped create a store on Fulton Street that might provide them
with a living, but I think my father more or less contributed most of
their ability to get along despite – even with that store it was
insufficient, so he helped them getting merchandise which used to come
from Jones – Witter & Company. It didn’t last a long time because
I don’t think they were merchandising properly and those days it wasn’t
quite like that. It wasn’t very scientific, but they were always
helping people out. They had to revise- whatever they sold, if it was
underwear or shirts or pants and so forth, it was very difficult for
them to sell on terms or whatever and re-buy but they did and
incidentally, they lived right across the street from Mr. Les Wexner
on Fulton Street. He was very poor. Mr. Wexner has referred to when he
lived on Fulton Street as how poor his family was, and I think he knows
about the Margulieses.
Interviewer: Bella started out a lot like your mother did – she sewed
dresses and sold them door – to – door. So Pauline was Louis’s second
wife and the mother of Charlie Margulies. What was your father’s
mother’s name. Pauline was Charlie’s mother and your father’s
Margulies: My father’s mother was Leah. I think it was Leah.
Interviewer: I think I have that in our family tree, which is on file
in the Jewish Historical Society archives.
Margulies: I never met her because she died and didn’t have the
opportunity to come to America.
Interviewer: So you lived on Livingston Avenue for a good while as
the store prospered then you moved to – your father bought a house on
Ohio Avenue across from Ohio Avenue School.
Margulies: They lived across the street in a yellow frame house.
There is now situated on that site a middle school – a public school.
Interviewer: Mohawk School. That’s on Livingston.
Margulies: With the house at the end there was a gasoline station – a
Sinclair station for many, many years, and then finally a public school
was constructed on that site…it was for the first eight grades…I’m
not positive about that.
Interviewer: So that’s at Livingston and Fifth…is where you
Margulies: A lot of our business then, we became a like a wonderful
junior department store and people just came there ’cause it was so
well set up and furnished. People were greeted so well it became a good
Interviewer: Definitely a family business.
Margulies: It was a family business.
Interviewer: People knew you and you knew everybody’s name. You
also extended credit to them before they had credit cards.
Margulies: Unfortunately we had to extend credit to most people
because they never had enough money really, to buy things all at one
time and our family was very happy to do so and most of the time we got
our money back – not all the time, but they brought other families so
even today we’re talking about in the ’90s, we run into people who
say, “We will never forget the Margulieses.” And several times
we ran into police officers who are doing private duties and so forth,
and they see me and my brother, Leon, and they talk to us about the days
when they used to go with their parents or grandparents to the Margulies
Department Store and buy their things or shoes. There’s one of those
police officers who said to me, “We never could have gone to school
without the Margulieses.” And they were very flattering wanting to
know how my family was doing. We made sure people had what they needed
and if they didn’t have it we made sure they got it.
Interviewer: Who were some of the other people that worked there?
Margulies: Oh. Well, my brother Leon would drop in now and then
(laughter.) He loved to work in the store but not for long periods of
time. When I’d find him I’d bring him back into the building and go
on from there. We merged from the kinds of things we were doing. By the
way, our store was so well – fixtured, it was considered very elegant
and it was also considered the most beautiful small department store in
the whole community. It was a place to come to.
Interviewer: It’s still a nice building. It’s a very handsome
building. The stained glass is still there, the show windows – it’s at
231 E. Livingston on the corner of Fifth Street. It’s now a record
store of some kind.
Margulies: It’s one of those where they sell…rent videos, and so
Interviewer: Let’s see now. Ann worked in your store.
Margulies: Ann Rubin worked as a bookkeeper. When an emergency arose
Ann was there to help out, too, ’cause like I said, everybody knew
everyone who came in.
Interviewer: How about Miss Buchsieb?
Margulies: Oh, my God! She was from the nineties, in a way. That’s
not for this, but we can do it if you want. She was really sort of an
old – fashioned lady who sort of let modernity pass by. She was a very
nice lady who knew what she was doing, but she was not the salesperson
that might have made a better store for ourselves. We never fired
anybody – we always made sure that they did well. We helped them and so
forth. And we had a man named Mr. Paul Shaw who was with us for many,
many years. He had worked at The Boston Store and he was a manager. The
Boston Store was a sort of low-end store on High Street and we
certainly welcomed him and his family. He certainly earned his keep – an
honest individual – did so many nice things.
Interviewer: I remember that your store was the place for phonographs
and electrical appliances of all kinds, television sets.
Margulies: Well that came later. We became- we continued our
department store, we also thought we’d try out the appliance business
which was just coming into existence, actually. People wanted to buy a
radio, or – I can’t – I’m having a hard time.
*Tape paused *
Margulies: …with things I’ve been involved with.
Interviewer: Well you’ve been involved with a lot of things,
Julius. As a matter of fact, I was going through this – sitting in your
home, here, and I’m going through this book that your friends and
children gave you on the occasion of your eightieth birthday and year
and a half ago. In the first place it’s bound in a very special –
Margulies: Isn’t it, though? I don’t let anybody – except you- I
don’t let them go through that book themselves. Cheryl (Cheryl Simon,
his daughter) would kill me. She paid a fortune for each sheet of paper
there. Because everything – she went to Chicago for it. Would you
Interviewer: Your daughter-in-law, Mary, Greg’s wife, painted the cover of it to represent scenes from your life. I’m looking at –
one is -these are whimsical caricatures when you were someplace in a sailor suit as a boy, and then it has a picture of you in front of your department store, but it’s not a picture, it’s a characterization in Mary’s good humor and here’s a picture of you in your army uniform, and Roselyn. I remember that blue 1940 Buick convertible up here.
Margulies: I wish I had that beautiful convertible. It would be worth
$100,000 but I had no way to hold on to it.
Interviewer: Here’s a picture of you with five little children on
your shoulders…and a picture.
Margulies: Marvin, I used to take five kids up the stairs at our
house on Bexley Park by myself. What did I tell them? I used to say
something to them and they’d come running. All five of them. And how I
did that? Listen -I’ve been in the army, I had strength, I was a
baseball player, I mean those things -I carried them all – ask Roselyn.
Cheryl – all five of them.
Interviewer: I know! You were never a big guy, but you got those kids
upstairs. You had a lot of fun with your children. Who are these people?
I see the letters J.C.C. I know you played baseball in the A. K. League at the Jewish Center.
Margulies: Arthur Levy was…I don’t know. Where am I looking? Oh,
yeah, the Jewish Center. I gotta tell you this. It’s not appropriate,
but I’m going to tell you, I was a damn good player. I really was.
Margulies: Whenever I had a chance, I played if we had a day off or
a couple hours.
Interviewer: Well, I’m going to take a photograph of this. That
should be in a file in the Jewish Center, the Historical Society
Archives because this is something special.
Margulies: It’s very beautiful.
Interviewer: Another characterization has you selling Israel Bonds, another one shows what’s going on at Ballet Met. Those are some of
your special interests. But as I open this book, Julius, that was presented to you on your birthday (when his family hosted a brunch for family and friends at the Winding Hollow Country Club), I see that Mayor Greg Lashutka has put in a Certificate of Recognition presented to you on April 24, your eightieth birthday, and with a very special inscription and the mayor’s seal, followed by a very nice letter from the president of Israel Bonds International, congratulating you on your birthday. And then David Nixon, the Artistic Director of Ballet Met, has put in a proclamation referring to your techniques of selling Ballet Met subscriptions on the golf course.
Margulies: Do you know what he’s talking about? I’ll tell you
what he’s talking about. What they’re talking about. Whenever I sell
something, it doesn’t matter. Have you been to the Ballet? You see,
this is what I can do. I can get you the best seats. Just tell me what
you want and I’ll get it for you. I’ll talk to my daughter or
whatever. And that’s the way it happens. And some of these people who
did go – there are so many women that I got to go to the ballet and just
for them to tell their friends, I got special seats – special
arrangements. It’s very important to them. They would tell other
people. I said, “Look, I really don’t want to bother
you.” I said, “Bother me?” I mean, I’m happy to do it.
I’m happy to find these great seats for them and have them enjoy it
and go on and tell other people I’ve sent you the best…and tell
others. I’ve done that.
Interviewer: David Nixon also referred here to a time when you were
in the hospital, it says, “Whereas Mr. Margulies has even on at
least on one occasion bared his belly (en route to the operating room-
M.B.) emblazoned with an ad imploring the astonished doctors in
attendance to purchase Ballet Met subscriptions…”
Margulies: I did, Marvin. I did.
Interviewer: As they wheeled you into the operating room you had –
Margulies: I was scared to death. They pulled down – whatever they
pulled up – they did, Marvin. I had to do that. I was there. I was
scared to death. I’m sure I must have been. (Julius had used a marker
on his abdomen to write a blurb for Ballet Met for the operating room
staff to see….M.B.)
Interviewer: Ballet Met and to Bonds for Israel.
Margulies: Bonds for Israel. Fifty years, Marvin, I was involved. I
don’t remember whether it was the fifty-first year or the forty-ninth
year, I just know it was very early on. You may remember the director;
a tall, handsome guy, he’s dead. He’s a very young guy. I checked
on him several years ago I went and talked to him. I’ve had many
directors (sigh/sob). I didn’t know I was using that. What do you
want to talk about this time?
Interviewer: I know you have a lot to say about the ballet, and you’ve
been very important to them, and also to Bonds for Israel. You’ve been
a member of Winding Hollow Country Club – and I can also say that you
have a fortieth anniversary medal from Bonds for Israel and that’s a
special – wait a minute! We’re plugged in with that. Are you going to
tell me to look in the other room with that? ( Interviewer is looking at
many various medals and awards.) I saw that. And the Board of Trustees
of Ballet Met has given you a citation and also you’ve got all these
medals and awards.
Margulies: Not too many.
Interviewer: You’ve got a picture here of David Derrow presenting
you with this plaque from the Board of Trustees of the Columbus Jewish
Historical Society, for your outstanding leadership and years of
service, and a photograph of David Derrow presenting it to you at their
Margulies: Was that at the annual meeting?
Interviewer: …the annual meeting. “…And your dedication and
devotion to further the aims of the society have been exemplary and a
model for others.” It says, “You represent with distinction
volunteerism at its best.”
Margulies: That’s very nice. I didn’t know that.
Interviewer: Also I remember when Congregation Tifereth Israel and
the Jewish Theological Seminary honored you and Roselyn at a special
meeting (at the home of Ben and Cressa Goodman. They presented you with
a large plaque.) You’re an asset to the community! What is that – that
Margulies: This little thing here? I don’t know, let me see. United
Jewish Fund campaign. I…
Interviewer: That’s for your work with the Federation.
Margulies: …Federation. I chaired many years of The Federation in
the Pacesetters group to – Goddamn I can’t think here, Marvin, you
need to cut it off. I had the pleasure of being the director of many,
many campaigns for the United Jewish Fund through the Federation and it
was a pleasure for me to be able to do this for many, many years. We
were very successful, and I was very proud of the people who I had
selected to help in the campaigns. I always thought they were really
doing their very, very best. I had good guys and whatever, and I know
our campaigns were very successful and I did it for so many years – and
I mean at least ten years – for that kind of thing, and anyway, I don’t
do it any more. They haven’t asked me recently, but nevertheless. I
think they’ve made other arrangements.
Interviewer: I think there’s a feeling that you’ve made your
Margulies: I would think so, too. I can’t do the same things I did
then. We had campaign lunches, very special lunches at Winding Hollow
because I had a very good friend who’s the manager and he really did a
great job. Everything was very deluxe.
I remember a lot of people who were doing the solicitations and so
forth who came to this luncheon to get the information and so forth, and
they were hollering, “How are we going to pay for all this? Who’s
paying for all this?” They thought it was going to be The
Federation and I said, “I don’t think so, I think I’m taking
care of all this,” and I put them at ease, because they thought we
*Tape paused *
Interviewer: Julius, you’ve grown up in Columbus – you’ve lived
in the inner city on Ohio Avenue, then you moved when the (Jewish)
population moved out to Driving Park you lived there, then you moved to
Grandon Avenue. What was the address on Grandon Avenue. Do you remember
Margulies: 1047 Grandon. I think that was after the – wasn’t that
after the war?
Interviewer: That was after the war.
Margulies: There was a period before the war. I think it was 1943
when I went into the military service and I was in the military for two
and a half years and came out as a sergeant. I didn’t need the degree
“sergeant,” but that’s what it was, and I didn’t have any…
Interviewer: I was going to say that the record of your military
service is on another tape and anybody listening to this tape or reading
this transcription should be aware that there is another tape with your
military service on it also in the library of the Jewish Historical
Society. They should refer to that because it’s interesting from the
aspect of how you were sent overseas and inducted when your first child
Margulies: That same day.
Interviewer: …same day. And then you were shipped out on the very day
your second child was born.
Margulies: I never knew where I was going – until I got there! Here
you are in the Phillipines.
Interviewer: In the meantime, Roselyn was living with her parents and
we were taking care of the first two children. And when you came back
you moved to Grandon Avenue in a very small house and I think it’s
interesting for people to drive by 1047 Grandon Avenue and see where you lived with…how many children then?
Margulies: I think there were four, then we lived in a larger house.
I enjoyed living in that house because I could sit in a table or
whatever and I was right there with the kids. We had Bingo, the dog, a
beautiful dog, and so it was fun for me – I would notice all the beds –
the four beds, and, gosh, I went around and I could put my arms around
all of ’em at the same time, and that was a great pleasure for us.
Interviewer: But you really outgrew that house and moved to 2671
Bexley Park Road.
Margulies: It was something that probably has never happened in the
history of people buying a house, but – and I’m not saying this
because I want an accolade for it or boast about what I did – but I had
visited this particular house and it had just been vacated by a family
who had lost one of the parents, and someone came to see me about the
house, ’cause, as I said, I couldn’t afford the house the way it
was, the price they were asking for it; but my wife, Roselyn, was out
playing Mah Jong or one of those games, probably Mah Jong, and the real estate agent
came to my door and I knew him – for other reasons, but anyway, I
admitted him and he told me that he had a better price for me on the
house when and if I would consider the house. I don’t think this has
ever happened in history, but probably this has. I said to him, “I’ll
buy it, but I want to pay a thousand more than they were asking”
and that is a fact, and this man he probably should have, probably would
have fallen apart hearing this, but I said, “I can’t go into that
house where someone had died and they had to leave the house.” And
it made me feel better.
So anyway the doorbell rang a few hours later, and Roselyn was at the
door, and I admitted her and I said, “Roselyn, we just bought a
house.” She says, “Where?” I said, “Well, it’s on Bexley Park,” and I said,
“the same one we looked at we couldn’t afford to buy.” I was
really afraid to tell her that I really offered a thousand dollars more.
But I did, Marvin.
Interviewer: Do you remember any of those name?
Margulies: Roselyn might know. I can’t remember that. I did
remember it once.
Interviewer: So after you moved there you had your fifth child.
Margulies: That was Harry!
Interviewer: At least you had two and a half baths in that house. You
had a bathroom downstairs, you had a recreation room, a family room so
that gave you a little more space and you lived there for many years.
Margulies: It sure did. I tell you. When it was time for bedtime, I
was able to carry five kids.
What did I use to say, I’m trying to remember now. I said, “I
want to see five little (I didn’t say kids – I’m can’t think of
what I said, but-) I said, “Hop on.” I used to carry five kids
on my back up to their bedrooms. That was fun for me. I was strong then.
And I couldn’t carry one of them the same size now. That was a great
time. We loved the house and we stayed there for a very long time, ’til
we didn’t need a house that large, so about 1990 we moved into a one –
floor house on the east side of Columbus.
Interviewer: It was a little hard for Roselyn to walk up those stairs
in Bexley, so you have a one floor plan now. Well, Julius, that brings
me back to this book that I’m looking at, because the next part of this book is a tribute from your
children, which I have never seen anything like this and probably nobody
else can boast of having a tribute like this, because each child has
given you some special pictures and some special poetry, and some
special tributes that really needs to be…it can’t be appreciated
unless you see it, but that’s quite a tribute to you, Julius, and I
know you’re very proud of it. And that was quite a party that you had
at the Winding Hollow Country Club. Let me ask you, because you know
that you’re in high esteem by your not only by your children but by
leaders in the community. Who were your personal heroes? What people do
you admire and what kind of – what do you think some of the needs are in
the community? But let me first ask you, what people are your heroes?
Who do you admire? And why?
Interviewer: Julius, tell me about Israel Bonds. Israel Bonds wouldn’t
have an office in Columbus if it weren’t for your efforts.
Margulies: I forgot about that.
Interviewer: They moved out of here and you prevailed upon the
Cleveland office to open up again here. You forgot about that.
Margulies: Yeah. Just a minute here – let me clear out my times.
Approximately fifty years ago the State of Israel was formed and during
that period of time from 1949 forward, Israel was facing a tremendous
number of people coming into Israel – they were the remnants of what was
left of the European Jews. There were a lot of those left but there were
six million who died; and as they were coming they had no funds to build
factories for them or create opportunities for them to earn a living and
so forth and they had to be able to – these people had to have homes and
so forth. So they decided – it was decided that they would try to sell
bonds and to borrow money on the bonds. Before I go further it is
important to know that Israel is only one of two countries in the world
that has never reneged on a bond – they paid all of their debts. And
there is only one other country, it might be Holland. I’m not
positive about that.
Interviewer: It might be Finland.
Margulies: It could be Finland; one of those countries, but Israel
is the only one. I got involved with the Columbus community as…in the
selling of Israel Bonds. And I worked with a gentleman, who is now deceased and I cannot think of
his name, I knew him well, he used to live in a small room, very small
room, I think it was in the Deshler Hotel. That was his office and that
was the place where he slept.
He would set up a telephone arrangement and a number of us would make
telephone calls to Jewish community people in the community to buy
bonds. And if we sold on the telephone a one hundred dollar bond, that
was a pretty good sale. So about $500 we received adulations. But Israel
Bonds graduated from that small beginning to a very important role in
the development of the State of Israel and there are Israel Bond offices
now throughout the United States and I’m sure through European
countries and perhaps in South America as well. And it is very important
that this is where it is going, and Israel today, in 1998 is a very
important figure in the development of many different things – medicine,
universities. And there is no unemployment in the State of Israel. If
you’re not working it’s because you aren’t looking for a good job.
And I’m very proud to be part of Israel Bonds and fifty years later I
realize that I’m still involved in State of Israel Bonds! But it’s
on a little different basis now. Individuals do buy the bonds because
they want to help Israel. Israel is now fifty years old, and has done so
well. The needs still go on for various reasons.
They can’t do some things on their own and can’t develop or grow
things that they need, so they have to look elsewhere, so the Jews and
others around the world, there are people who are non Jewish who are
also buying Bonds, ’cause they are a good investment. In Columbus,
Ohio, today, every major bank buys at least one million dollars in
Israel Bonds. There was a time when we didn’t sell a million dollars
worth in three years, but every one of those major banks purchases that…
the State of Ohio, which is unusual, is not permitted to buy foreign
securities and believe it or not, they buy five million dollars worth of
Israel Bonds every year. I’m sure there are states around the country
today who are doing the same thing and thereby Israel is able to
continue being the kind of a country it is today. This country really
shines in the world.
Interviewer: Well, you have a right to be proud of what they’ve
done and what you’ve done in developing certain aspects of the Jewish
community and the greater community, too. I know you’re very proud of
your family. They’ve all accomplished a lot of good things for the
community and for each other. I think that you’ve reached the goals
that you’ve set for yourself years ago at the encouragement of two
great parents, Harry and Lena Margulies.
Margulies: My father and my mother would tell me, “There are
people out there who need help. Don’t forget them.”
Interviewer: I think that your oldest daughter is Cheryl Simon and
she was interested in theater and dancing and that’s where she had her
college training, too, with a degree from Northwestern, but she’s
always maintained that interest and she was on the Board of Ballet Met.
And as I recall, Julius, she prevailed upon you to bring your expertise
to the Board when they were developing.
Margulies: Well, that’s not the way I got involved. One afternoon
in my retail store on Livingston Avenue towards evening, two rather
tall, beautiful young ladies came into the office, into the store and
told me they were coming to see me relative to Ballet Met. Ballet Met is
a ballet dance company in Columbus, Ohio, and they were just formulating
their ability to get a ballet company that would have money and people
who would help them get started and so forth, and they came to approach
me relative to getting involved with Ballet Met. I had no idea of where
they were or what they were. I knew it was a dance company but I had no
idea of what I could possibly do.
Interviewer: You’re not a ballet fan.
Margulies: I wasn’t even aware of what ballet was – I had an idea
of what it was, but how meaningful it would be didn’t mean anything to
me because I never knew a guy there that went to see a ballet. But they
told me, “Your daughter, Cheryl, suggested” they call on me to
see if I would help out. I said I didn’t know anything about ballet,
and these were two nice ladies, and I said if I could do anything I’d
be glad to help you and so they said, “Well we can’t put you on
the Board, you know, but we’d like to have you on a board with us. So
I got involved to the extent that I got interested in the ballet. I had
no idea it could be so wonderful. I was doing things for them, I was
securing funds for them, and getting some people interested that I would
know. I was just one of many who were helping get Ballet Met into a
situation where they could really afford to have enough ballet dancers
and costumes and they had none of that. They didn’t have a place…
Interviewer: Julius Margulies’s Oral History for the Columbus Jewish Historical
Society on December 14, 1998, in Julius’s home, and he is speaking
about his position on the Board of Ballet Met.
Margulies: Not just myself, but my daughter, Cheryl, who is quite
interested in the arts and so forth. She was an actress prior to coming
Margulies: – Ballet Met and hire more and better dancers. And get
costumes. By the way, all the costumes that are worn in the ballet
scenes are made right there in the facility of their own.
Interviewer: Julius Margulies’s oral history for the Columbus
Jewish Historical Society on December 14, 1998, at Julius’s home, and
he is speaking about his position on the Board of Ballet Met.
Margulies: Not just myself, but my daughter, Cheryl, who is quite
interested in the arts and so forth. She was an actress prior to coming
into the Ballet Met situation where she was really quite an important
person, and we served on the board for many, many years together and
more than I ever thought I would be involved in it and I really enjoyed
being on the Ballet Met Board. I’ve met so many wonderful, wonderful
people who cared about the community and I understood very well what was
expecting of myself, and so on, and I was one of these persons who would
make phone calls to send women – some of them were widows – and let them
know that I was available to help them get proper seating that was not
available to them. I made a phone call and I did that and my reputation
spread – that if you want to go to the ballet and want good seats, call
Julius. And it was my pleasure, really, to bother my granddaughter who
is in the box office, selling the ballet tickets.
Interviewer: Allison Simon Savage is now the director of the box
Margulies: So we now have one of the finest ballet companies in the
Interviewer: And your name is right there in the lobby, on a brick!
Margulies: And Marvin Bonowitz made sure that my name was on that
brick and quite prominently displayed. I thank you for it. I go there
quite often and I’m received very well and as one of the original
members of Ballet Met. I still love ballet.
I’ve introduced a lot of men to ballet who said, “Well, we won’t
go to see dancers and costumes and that sort of thing.” But they’re
going and they really have a great time.
Interviewer: Well, Columbus’ Ballet Met has found a place for
itself in a growing community here, because Columbus isn’t the way it
used to be. We’ve grown and it’s become acculturated, so the time –
it was a good time for Ballet Met to grow and to add to the culture of
Margulies: Right. What else do you want to know?
Interviewer: Go ahead.
Margulies: Well, (laughs,) more about the Israel Bond organization,
and how much it’s grown. Everybody is quite aware in Columbus, Ohio and
everywhere about Israel Bonds and they all want to help Israel.
Especially today, it’s observing its fiftieth birthday, the fiftieth
anniversary and there have been difficulties down the way. We’ve had
some marvelous younger men who’ve been interested in helping Israel
and they’ve become directors of Columbus, Ohio, and other major
countries…cities, rather, of Israel Bonds. So the latest, the most
recent, I have employed…asked a young man named Michael Broidy if he
would take the position of Director of Israel Bonds. I knew him through
the Columbus Jewish Federation.
I did work with him at that point and he turned out to be a fantastic
person regarding Israel Bonds. And after ten years he had the
opportunity to expand his own life and do something differently and
something that would perhaps reward him monetarily to a greater degree.
So then, I said, who are we going to get now?
This guy’s wonderful. So I talked to a member of our board, the
Israel Bond Board and said, “I have an idea. You and I are going to
visit the Schottensteins.” Jerome Schottenstein and he has a son
named Jay Schottenstein and I am going to ask Jerome Schottenstein if he
would consider becoming the chairman of Israel Bonds. And I said to my
friend who went with me, “He’s going to say, ‘Jay, what about
So we went to visit Jerome Schottenstein. We told him what our
mission was, we needed help and we wanted someone to take charge of
Israel Bonds. I asked him if he would consider becoming the director of Israel
Bonds in this area of the city and the community, and he said well – and
he called Jay in, and Jay came in and sat with his father and his father
said and he asked, “Well, they need someone to take care of Israel
Bonds. Would you like to do that, Jay?”
And Jay had a very shy look on his face. I knew that he wanted to do
it then, and I said, “Jay, you are now the Chairman of Israel Bonds
for Central Ohio,” and I know that Jay Schottenstein has really
taken Israel Bonds in the Central Ohio area way beyond where it had
been, and I’m very proud of the fact that I thought that this guy, if
he would do it, would be Mr. Israel Bonds like forever.
The first few times that there were meetings of Israel Bonds and the
fact there once a early on after that, and at the first meeting he –
there was an Israeli who came to speak at someone’s home, and the
first thing that Jay Schottenstein said was, “I want everyone to
know that Julius Margulies, single – handedly, brought Israel Bonds back
to Columbus.” I’d never thought about it that way, but I guess I
did. I’m very proud of it, because we do very well. We sell every
bank, and I said this before, I think, every bank in Columbus buys a
million dollar bond every year and the State of Ohio buys five million
dollars and it happened because of the fact that I knew Mr.
Schottenstein would have a little more influence than I would have and
it has worked out very well for us.
Interviewer: You said Mitch Orlik left for greener pastures actually
working with the Schottenstein Department Stores.
Margulies: That’s Michael Broidy.
Interviewer: Who’d I say?
Margulies: Mitch Orlik.
Interviewer: Okay. So now who’s running the office?
Margulies: We have a fellow named Ari Pfeffer. He came here from the
Baltimore area – tall, good looking guy. And the girls come to all the
meetings (laughs). It’s true. You ought to have seen the first
Interviewer: Is he a single guy?
Margulies: Yes, I’m telling you – tall, dark and handsome. I’m
serious. When he first applied for the job I had Michael with me and we
went to a restaurant. It was over on…Jimmy Corrova’s restaurant…the
T A T – he has a tall, blond daughter. He and I and Michael were
sitting in the booth, and this girl was walking
back and forth – I swear to God – you could see what she was doing. He
has all this black hair, and she just walked back and forth. She didn’t
have to, nothing ever happened. It was really quite interesting. A
couple of weeks later we decided this was going to be the fellow who was
going to come to Columbus, Ohio, and we hired him and he’s doing a
fantastic job and he hasn’t succumbed to any of the wishes of some of
the girls who are involved with Israel Bonds. I did so many things,
Michael, I mean Marvin, some cute things, whatever that I had the
opportunity to do.
Interviewer: I have to mention that you were the first person to
introduce me to the Jewish Historical Society, too, and I know that you
were active in getting that going in the early days when they had a very
limited staff and a very limited budget, of course they still do, but
they’ve grown in their accomplishments and their ambitions. How do you
feel about the importance of the Jewish Family Service, I mean the
Jewish Historical Society?
Margulies: I think it’s a very, very important facet of our
community. I think we have to leave behind what happened to the Jews in
the Columbus area – this generation and the previous generation before
that and we like to know what the Jews in Columbus were. Who were they?
And we’re doing a great job. We’re in the process now of developing
a facility that will permit us to bring things necessary regarding the
Holocaust and so forth and the people who were affected by it and to
help encourage the people who escaped the horrors of the European
People in so many ways and friends in every area. Someone came to
visit me the other day from the Historical Society and he came to visit
me and I told him I was having some physical problems or whatever and he
came to talk to me about Torah Academy or whatever, and when he left.
The next day he came to my house and brought with me recommendations of
how I could feel better and so forth. I just felt aglow that somebody
would really go out of their way to do this.
I really appreciated it and he’s a good friend. I’ve known him
for a long time. We don’t go out together and none of that sort of
thing but we of the Jewish community of Columbus if you have any
concerns at all, people here, people here take care of each other. I
thrive out here. Well, I should. Temple Israel. His father had a
Interviewer: That’s Milt Pinsky?
Margulies: Milt Pinsky.
Interviewer: Okay, you’re thinking of…
Margulies: Temple Israel.
Margulies: Neustadt. Yeah, I know him but I can’t think of it. I’m
losing it some way, but he did. He even recognized it. Medicine. A
certain medicine. He said, “It’s what I’m taking, take
it.” I said I had some medicine to take but I’m not taking it
because I don’t know what it’s going to do to me. I do have it. I’ve
had a lot of things. I’m afraid to take it.
Interviewer: Well, Julius, I think that one thing that this tape will
demonstrate is your concern for your community and your fellow Jews and your fellow people that
reside in Columbus. You’ve been active in the Federation, in the
Jewish Historical Society, in Jewish Education, in Congregation Tifereth
Israel and Winding Hollow Country Club.
Everybody knows you and Roselyn. You have thousands and thousands of
friends, a wonderful family, and I’m happy to get you on this tape for
the Columbus Jewish Historical Society Oral History Project which is
another one of your interests, and may you continue to be an asset and a
friend to all of these wonderful institutions for many years yet.
Margulies: I’ll do my best.
Interviewer: And your family is – you’re a hit!
This concludes this interview for the Columbus Jewish Historical
Society Oral History Project.