This interview for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society is being recorded on Wednesday, April 2, 1997, as part of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society’s oral history project. The interview is being recorded at 2655 Mitzy Drive. My name is Hinda Riker and I am interviewing Leon Mark.
Interviewer: Hi, Leon.
Mark: Hi, Hinda.
Interviewer: Leon, let’s start out, whom were you named after?
Mark: Oh, I think it was my father’s uncle. I think he lived in
Youngstown, Ohio, and his name is Leon also.
Interviewer: Were you born in Columbus?
Mark: No, I was born in St. Paul, Minnesota; moved here when I was about
a year and a half old.
Interviewer: Can you trace some of your earliest recollections moving to
Columbus, and then we’ll get into some of your family history?
Mark: Well, of course, I don’t remember too much at a year and a half.
I remember we lived on a street that went north of Broad Street across from
Franklin Park. We had an apartment. I remember it was a two family and some
people named Pace lived above us; ended up later going to high school with Jimmy
Pace who had been our neighbor when we first moved here. After a couple of
years, Dad rented a house on Remington Road, 751 South Remington Road. It’s
still there, a big two story frame house, a nice porch and nice side yard where
we use to play ball a lot. All the kids in the neighborhood would come over and
we’d play ball in our side yard. We were just down the street from the Main
Montrose School and so I walked to school every day.
Interviewer: You were in the Bexley school system?
Mark: Yeah. We stayed there until I was in about the fourth grade and
then we moved to, Dad built a home on Fair Avenue and Stanwood, corner of Fair
Avenue and Stanwood. At that time Fair Avenue only went as far as Remington
Road; it didn’t go all the way to Stanwood.
Interviewer: Do you remember the year?
Mark: About 1937, 37? Yeah, 1937. Oh, I remember the Levys. Herb Levy
lived just west of us. I can remember that any time it rained people would park
on Remington and Fair Avenue and Dad would go out with boots and galoshes to
pick them up so they could trek through the mud to the house. Morris Skilken
built the home. It was the first home he built. He did a lot of building; he was
in the construction business and did a lot building of office buildings and the
like. And he built our home; Jack Schiff’s home and his own all on Fair
Avenue. I remember when they built the street through; the WPA I think it was at
the time did all the work. I used to go out and sell them lemonade. Mostly gave
Behind us was Bexley High School, so again we didn’t have far to go to
school. There was little a woods in behind us. I remember we had a little white
fox terrier and she would go back in the woods and catch rabbits and come home
choking on rabbit fur.
I remember another time when my grandfather, Zelafruhin, came to visit us and
I had to wear a yarmulke when he was a round. After he left I took off my
yarmulke and I was in the side yard playing ball with some other kids and
he came home and caught me without the yarmulke. But he was king with my
Interviewer: Let’s talk about your family background. Your mom was a
Mark: Mom was a Schiff.
Interviewer: When did they come here? And when did your Dad come here?
How did they meet? Go all into that.
Mark: Well, my dad was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. My mother came here when
she was five years old. They were related, they were cousins. Dad’s mother and
mom’s mother were sisters; Taus, Anna and Sarah Taus. They, of course, met in
Cincinnati and they were sweethearts all through high school, or school, and
they married in 1922, July the 4th. Mom told dad that she married him
in a cold day in July. And it turned out was a cold day in July.
Interviewer: Do you remember your grandparents?
Mark: Oh, yeah. Don’t remember my grandma Schiff too well. She was, I
guess, I was fairly young when she died. When she left for Israel, she died, and
she’s buried in the Mount of Olives. We visited her grave a couple of times;
the first time with my folks in ’72 and then when we went back there we found
it and put a stone on the grave.
Interviewer: Where did your grandparents come from?
Mark: Lithuania, not sure what city in Lithuania, but both of them. They
came over here; mom was five years old when she came over to the states. My
grandfather Schiff smuggled his brother out of Lithuania. He was old enough to
be conscripted into the military, so he came over as one of my grandfather’s
sons. They got him out and later were able to bring the other son out. He was
still under age, that was Robert Schiff. He later founded the Schiff Shoe
Company which turned into Gallenkamps and Shoe Corporation of America. His son
Herbert was head of Shoe Corporation.
Mark: CEO of Shoe Corp. The family was always very close; a lot of family
reunions and parties and everybody would be invited to all the parties.
Interviewer: What temple did you belong to?
Mark: Well, we belonged to Temple Israel and Beth Jacob. I went to Sunday
School at Temple Israel and we celebrated the High Holidays at Beth Jacob. Rabbi
Greenwald was the rabbi there. I remember a couple of times we walked there on Yom
Kippur. It was a long walk; they were down on Donaldson Avenue at the time.
Interviewer: You walked from Bexley?
Mark: From Bexley. Rabbi Greenwald kept interrogating me, questioning me,
“Did we really walk?” At least one year we did, my father and I. I
remember I was kind of bored most of the time. I didn’t understand the Hebrew;
I couldn’t read it. I didn’t understand it. I went to Hebrew school at
Tifereth Israel because they had a Hebrew school. We had to go in taxis and come
home in taxis, I remember. I didn’t really didn’t care for that a whole lot.
I went there one or two years and then when I got ready for my bar mitzvah,
I had a private tutor, a Mr. Horowitz.
Interviewer: When were you bar mitzvahed?
Mark: I was bar mitzvahed at Beth Jacob. I remember I had to read
out of the Torah. I gave a speech in Hebrew and then I translated into
English because fortunately I didn’t know the Hebrew except from the
translation. It all went well. I didn’t seem to have a problem with it. I had
a big party, in fact, a triple party. My two cousins, Leonard Schiff and Charles
Schiff were bar mitzvahed about two weeks before I was. Then they had
parties and then we had a big combined party. That was about 1940, I guess. We
were on Fair Avenue then. We had some movies of that and I have some movies of
the house on Fair Avenue being built. I was later confirmed, the high school
class, I guess it is, at Temple Israel. We went to both extremes, reform and to
most orthodox. I remember Rabbi Greenwald being a very nice man.
Interviewer: Was your home kosher?
Mark: Well, my mother did. The home was kosher.
Interviewer: What about the celebration of holidays?
Mark: We always had dinner at our house and mom would invite people over,
some relatives, some friends. I remember Passover and Yom Kippur and Rosh
Hashanah. She was a real good cook, real good food. Everybody, all the time
liked her brisket. Friday nights we always celebrated the Sabbath. Quite often
had fish and I’d have to eat the fish, or couldn’t have a treat, they called
it hash but it was Shepherd’s pie, ground beef in the middle and mashed
potatoes on top and bottom. I still like that and I can’t get my wife to make
it. We had all the traditional dishes; ate much too much and too well; too much
fatty foods and bad things.
Interviewer: You had one sister, Leon, tell me about her.
Mark: She was very much a tomboy when she was young. She liked to play
with the guys and play sports. She used to tease me a lot and get me in trouble.
When I retaliated she’d go running to mom and mom would take her side. I
remember once we got into a fight at, we were standing in line for a movie, down
at the Ohio Theatre, and we got into a fight. Dad was standing in-between us
trying to break it up and mom stood off to the side telling people, “Some
people just can’t control their children.” [Laughter]
Interviewer: Where does she live now?
Mark: She lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts.
Interviewer: And her children?
Mark: She has three children, son David, and two daughters, Susan and
Judy. They’re all married. Judy has two children, the youngest. They used to
go sailing all the time. In fact, they go sailing year. One year they went
sailing to Ireland, cross the Atlantic Ocean, 17 days across the open ocean. We
go up quite often now and sail with them for up to a week at a time along the
East Coast. We met them one year over at in Scotland, and sailed around Ireland
and Scotland; well, sailed around Scotland with them, and toured Scotland.
Interviewer: You forgot to tell me her name.
Mark: Her name is Elaine.
Interviewer: Elaine. And her married name?
Mark: Is Goldsmith.
Interviewer: We may be jumping a bit, but let’s go back to high school
and tell me about your high school teenage years and growing up and teachers and
all the good stuff from Bexley High School.
Mark: Okay. Well, before high school there was junior high school. I went
to Cassingham Road, right around the corner from Fair and Stanwood where I
lived. I remember in junior high we had Mr. Shafter was the math teacher; I
liked him very much. Learned a lot; I was more interested in the math and
sciences than English and literature and languages and things like that. In high
school there was Mr. Schott; he was the main math teacher; geometry I remember.
We didn’t have calculus when I was in high school which I found was drawback
when I got to college. I remember one summer I took off and took an aviation
course. I was always interested iin airplanes and model airplanes; I built model
airplanes and flew them. Wanted to be a pilot but I realized with my eyesight I’d
never be a pilot.
Interviewer: So, built them instead.
Mark: There weren’t too many Jewish kids in school when I was in
grammar school or high school. I did run into very little anti-Semitism. I don’t
know, some other people complained about it but I remember once being bothered
by it. Mostly I guess I did pretty well in school. I was graduated about sixth
in my class; Edward Maitland was first, then there were four girls and then me.
Interviewer: Did you have any summer jobs while you were in high school?
Mark: Yeah, well summer and winter I worked part-time for a tailor at
Drexel and Main. Waited counter, delivered once I got my driver’s license, why
he let me drive his car and deliver clothes. That’s all in high school.
Summers I worked for the Schiff Company, up in the office, I remember one
summer; and a couple of summers in the warehouse. Shuffled around the heavy
cases of shoes, and filled orders. One summer, I remember, worked during the war
and they had several German refugees working in the warehouse. Mr. Alex Baum was
the supervisor; that was when it was still on Fourth Street. I was studying
Spanish. We had to take two years of Latin in high school and then we could
change. I wasn’t interested in language and Spanish was supposed to be the
easiest, so I took Spanish. I practiced with them, these people that had come
over from Europe and been in South America and so they knew Spanish, and
Yiddish. Mr. Baum fortunately knew Yiddish. So if we got hung up and couldn’t
communicate, talk to each other, I’d tell him in English and he’d translate
it into Yiddish and then they’d come back with the Spanish word I was supposed
to remember or they’d tell him in Yiddish. Anyway I’d practice my Spanish a
little bit that summer, I remember.
My last summer between my junior and senior years I went to summer school and
took the aviation course and my last semester of English so I wouldn’t have to
suffer through that at Bexley. I worked at the warehouse part-time too; pretty
busy summer. Graduated in 1945, the war was still on. I wanted to get into
school at MIT; applied to MIT and been accepted. I had done pretty well in math
and science when I was in high school and in fact I won the math cup in 1945.
Went back there several years later and my name was still on it but they had
turned it around and I had to get it turned back around so I could see it.
I got into MIT, went through the middle of my first semester and the war came
to an end. That was kind of interesting. Should I get into college?
Mark: Well, first of all, getting into MIT was kind of interesting. I was
playing ball in the Sunday morning league and we had the kids’ team and we’d
organized and played in a junior Sunday morning league for a couple of years
before. So, I remember we had a game the day I was supposed to leave. It had
rained the night before, so things were kind of muddy and I remember I ended up
playing barefoot; I played shortstop for our team. My dad played on the team we
were playing against, the Green Cabs. They had Kenny Kauffman, Ray Benjamin and
I forgot who the other guys were, three real hard, heavy hitters. So my dad
coached me a little bit; played at third base and Milton Farber, the third
baseman played right on the bag. They kept pulling the ball right down third
base area and so we did pretty well with them. But I had to leave before the end
of the game to catch a train to go to school.
It was interesting. I got up, I think it was the third or fourth of July, and
classes started the fifth, or at least indoctrination at least. It was pretty
rough going. I had to study hard. Five and half days a week; we had classes on
Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon we’d play ball, basketball or softball
and Saturday night we’d go downtown. We’d usually go to a movie early and
had dinner late so we’d miss the crowds at both of them. Several friends, some
from the Boston area, one fella from St. Louis. When we first started at school
there were several older guys there; didn’t seem to be going to classes. We
didn’t know what they were up to and then after atom bombs were dropped on
Hiroshima and Nagasaki why they felt free to tell us they were there working on
the atom bombs. Shortly after that they left and then all students were around.
I remember my freshman year second semester went in the summer and then in
the fall came around to Thanksgiving it was too far for me to go home. So I
stayed in school and so did a fellow from New York, don’t remember his name
now, but there were two Chinese boys in our dorm. They were upperclassmen,
Harmon Yow, and the other, Victor Chung. Victor had been in the Chinese navy and
Harmon’s father was a consular office in the western United States. So they
took us out; we went to, what would you call it, a show, a strip show. Sally
somebody or other, with tassels.
Interviewer: Sally Rand.
Mark: No, not Sally Rand. Out to dinner to a Chinese restaurant, but I
mean a real Chinese restaurant in Chinatown in Boston. The menu was in
Chinese, they had to read it to us and tell us what to order; chopsticks and
then the waiter took a look at us and brought us back forks for the other fellow
and myself. But they taught us how to use chopsticks a little. So it was fun,
Interviewer: You finished college then?
Mark: Yeah, in September ’48; in about three and a third years because
we started on an accelerated program; MIT went year round, three semesters
because the war was on. I had a choice of waiting until the following June to
graduate or going on in the summer and graduating in the fall. I wanted to get
out and get to work and doing something useful.
Interviewer: What was your first job?
Mark: First job was in Dayton. I remember the war was over a couple of
years and the defense industry was way down. My senior year we had interviewers
from Douglass Aircraft, Martin and I think that was about it. Got a turndown
from Douglass. Got an offer at least for an interview from Martin. They wanted
me to work in a wind tunnel. I didn’t want to work in a wind tunnel.
The summer before my last term I went over to Wright Field and applied there.
I told them I wanted to work in aircraft structures. I felt I knew that best.
They said, “Well, we need people in the wind tunnel. Why don’t you put
wind tunnel down as your second choice?” Okay. I graduated and there were
no job offers so I went to Wright Field and got a job there in the wind tunnel.
I learned my aerodynamics pretty much on the job. We got a pretty good
background in aero but I just felt much more comfortable in the structures. I
learned the aero and did wind tunnel testing. Used to work nights a lot, oh,
from four to twelve midnight. I drove the timekeepers crazy because I’d come
in there three or four hours ahead of time to get set up for that night’s
testing and forget to clock in when I was supposed to. You couldn’t clock in
early, that wasn’t allowed. And I stayed over late I had a real hard driver as
a boss and I remembered for years you could never satisfy him; no matter how
careful I took notes and how many hours I stayed over taking notes they were
never enough, never right. A hard driver; but it was all interesting work, a lot
of it was classified. In fact, I remember once we were doing a project for
convertible planes, planes that would take off vertically and convert to forward
flight. One of the projects was for Mcdonnell-Douglas, we were testing their
airplane and the people who invented the airplane came to witness the test. The
guard wouldn’t let them in because they were Germans. They weren’t
naturalized Americans yet. So we sneaked them in the back way. I mean they knew
what it was all about; they designed the blooming thing.
I still played ball a lot, softball in the summer and basketball in the
winter in various leagues there at Wright Field. Then about, what, it must have
been shortly after I graduated why I had broken up with a girl I had gone with
since high school. Went to Cincinnati and my cousin down there fixed me up with
a couple of blind dates.
Interviewer: And that’s how you met Bern?
Mark: That’s how I met Bern. She was a close friend of my cousin. We
hit it off right from the start. I kept coming down from Dayton to Cincinnati on
weekends. Stayed with my cousin Jerry Mark; that was my father’s brother’s
son. We went out for a while. Then we cooled it for a month or so, a couple of
months. Then I couldn’t hold out any longer, came back and we got engaged on
Valentine’s Day in ’49 or ’50, and got married June 25, 1950.
Went to New York and saw some shows for a honeymoon. I had my uncle, Sol
Schiff, was head of A.S. Beck Shoes, New York, and we met him for lunch on
Tuesday. He asked me what I thought of the Korean War, and I said, “What
war?” I didn’t know there was a war on, seen any newspapers or anything.
After four or five days in New York we went up to Shawanda Lodge in upstate
New York and finished our honeymoon there.
I went through school in aeronautical engineering. I got my degree in
Bachelor of Science in aeronautical engineering and went to work at Wright
Field, as I mentioned before, in the wind tunnels. Stayed there five years; it
was interesting, learned a lot but I didn’t want to keep testing other people’s
airplanes. I wanted to work all the way through on an airplane conception and
Interviewer: So after you got married and you had your honeymoon, did you
go back to Dayton?
Mark: Yeah, we lived in Dayton, Fairborn, near Wright Field, north of
Interviewer: How long did you live there?
Mark: Well, I lived altogether about five years; three years after we got
married. We had a small apartment. When our first daughter, Melanie, was born in
1952 we got a larger apartment. But still right in the same neighborhood.
Interviewer: Where did you go from Wright Pat? What was your next step?
Mark: The next step was to go to Columbus. As I said I wanted to get into
building airplanes, and North American had opened a plant in Columbus, North
American Aviation. So, I left Wright Field and came to Columbus. Right before I
left the advisor they had brought out of Germany, East Germany; they had rescued
him. He acted as consultant or advisor in our wind tunnel group. He let me know
that I was vulnerable to the draft. I said, “They want me, they’ll come
and get me.” I had, I guess in 1950 shortly after we got married I had
enlisted in the Air Force and they turned me down because of my eyesight. It
made me a little unhappy; I was going to have to settle for a second lieutenant
commission and we had one guy in our group who got a captain’s commission to
stay there at Wright Field and work. I remember he couldn’t make it up two
flights of stairs; he’d have to stop on the landing and catch his breath. I
was playing ball three nights a week and in much better shape, but my eyes weren’t
good enough. They wouldn’t take me and if that was the case they could draft
We moved to Columbus, and started working overtime on the FJ-4. It’s a
single engine, derivative of the Sabre jet, North American Sabre jet; a Navy
version flying over carriers. Worked on that for several years; used to go out
to California for wind tunnel tests, almost all of the time; spent most of my
time traveling the first couple of years. Then later I was promoted up to
supervision and worked on the Vigilante, the A3J, and RA5C.
Interviewer: These are all planes?
Mark: These are all airplanes, carrier-based planes, jet airplanes. Let’s
see, then about 1965, I guess it was, ’66, I was made chief of aero-sciences.
I had the whole air group and wind tunnels. We later built the air tunnel in
Columbus. Was responsible for that as well and the model shop to build the wind
tunnel models that were tested. Then they had a little shake-up in the
organization about 1969 and brought a bunch of people from California and I kind
of got shuttled off to the side. So I started looking to further my career
I had interviewed at Mcdonnell-Douglas in St. Louis; Lane Timken in Dallas. I
didn’t like Dallas, it was too hot. St. Louis wasn’t too nice either but
also went to Gates Lear Jet. Got a job offer there as a chief aeronautics. Went
there, let’s see, it was October ’69. Left my wife back in Columbus to sell
the house and found a house out there.
Interviewer: This was where?
Mark: Wichita, Wichita, Kansas, working for Gates Lear Jet. She moved out
in, what was it, June after Melanie our oldest daughter graduated high school
and the other kids finished their year at school. Worked out there for a year
and then things went to heck in general aviation as well. I remember my sister
and her family came out to visit at Thanksgiving and the day before
Thanksgiving, well, my boss had been laid off, his boss’ boss, the vice
president of engineering had been laid off and I thought I had survived it all.
We were down to just 50 people left in engineering from 300. I found out they
had one more cut. I was informed the day before Thanksgiving to clear my office
out, that I was out. We had an interesting, you’d say, Thanksgiving. It was
fun; it was nice.
I called my friends back in Columbus and they told me they were thinking
about closing up the plant the first of the year. I didn’t know where we were
going. That following Monday morning after Thanksgiving I got a call from the
chief engineer back in Columbus that they decided over the weekend to keep it
open and could I come in for an interview. So we did and ended up moving back to
Columbus and finished my career with by that time Rockwell International North
American aircraft division. I worked on several interesting projects; first of
all, a derivative RA5C, Navy Vigilante, and then later on an oblique wing
airplane; the wing, one wing swept forward and the other back instead of both
sweeping back; and a vertical takeoff airplane. And then in 1986 they moved us,
consolidated the whole operation out with the west coast operation, North
American Aircraft. So several of us went out there and transferred our projects
to the people out there who had been working on them, and came back here and
retired in February of ’86. Couple of us got together and formed a little
consulting company and worked on that ever since.
Interviewer: You’re retired but not retired.
Mark: Yeah, retired but working.
Interviewer: Leon, let’s go back to your family. Tell us about the
Mark: I have three lovely daughters. Melanie was the first born; I think
I mentioned that earlier. She was born in 1952, September 28th, was
it erev Rosh Hashanah?
Mrs. Mark: Yom Kippur.
Mark: Erev Yom Kippur. She was about two weeks late. I remember we
were supposed to go to the Purdue football game. I was listening to it on the
radio and about halftime; she informed me that Melanie was on her way. So we
rushed into Dayton; she went to a hospital in Dayton. Melanie was born in
Dayton. She was born four something in the morning. The doctor had sent me home
and I got a call that she was going into delivery and I rushed back down there.
She was born early that morning.
In ’53, about October ’53 we moved back to Columbus and lived in an
apartment on Maryland Court. It was at the end of Harding Road; right off the
end of Harding Road, Virginia Lee Apartments. Two years later Marcy was born.
Marcy was born February 7, 1955. I think we had just moved into a new home on
Ashby Road, in Eastmoor South it was called, a development of new small Ritchie
Homes, in a cul-de-sac area, so it was real nice.
In ’58, February 10th of ’58 Mindy was born. She was the runt
of the litter. She was just a skinny wiry little thing. The other two were big
healthy girls; both of them tall, ended up being about 5’8″.
All different. Melanie was very much the older sister and solid and trustful
one. Marcy was a free spirit; whatever came out of her mouth, whatever she
thought came out of her mouth. She was a very happy-go-lucky kid. Mindy was, she
was the tough one I remember. The other kids in the neighborhood were bigger
than her. They would go off and play and she’d push them and they’d fall
down. They thought it was cute but she thought she was tougher than all of them.
They were all good kids. We found out years later they got into a few things
they shouldn’t have but they somehow kept it from us.
Interviewer: Tell me about the married names and the grandchildren.
Mark: Melanie married Allan Altman; he’s a rabbi. They met on a trip to
Israel. When we went over there Mindy was studying in Israel. She was going to
the School of Jewish Studies, I’m sorry, Hebrew Union College, and she took
one year in Israel. We went to visit her at Passover time. The second night of
Passover some of her friends had a Seder and so we went over there with
Melanie and Marcy. We brought them too over there for this tour. This Allan
Atlman, a young up-and-coming rabbi, a rabbinical student I should say, took a
liking to Melanie. He was following us all over Israel on our tour and they hit
it off and when we came back to the states he managed to get transferred to the
Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati to finish his studies. They dated and finally
got married and moved down to Cincinnati. Melanie has gone through school as a
librarian and worked in Columbus as a librarian before then; got her master’s
at Ohio State in Library Science. Melanie went to Miami University in Oxford.
Mark: She has two children, Laura who is 12 ‘ going on 21, and Noah who
is eight. They’re both real good kids. Laura is the boss and the organizer and
Noah in the last couple of years has gotten real heavy into sports, all kinds of
Interviewer: Takes after his grandfather.
Mark: Mindy was the next one married; she’s the youngest. She finished
her schooling in Los Angeles, Hebrew Union College; she graduated from Indiana
Phi Beta Kappa, then went on to get a degree in Jewish education and community
service, it was a dual degree. She got married several years ago, at least 10,
12 years, 1985, to Neal Schifberg. His parents were survivors of the Holocaust.
They were into apartment buildings in Los Angeles. Neal managed the apartment
buildings; he also worked as a computer scientist; he got his degree in computer
science. He worked for several companies out in Los Angeles.
Interviewer: And they have how many children?
Mark: They have three little boys, Matthew, Jeremy and Benjamin. Shortly
after Matthew was born they decided Los Angeles was not a good place to raise
kids and they moved to Eugene, Oregon where Neal’s sister lived. They have
since gotten into the management business; they have several apartments of their
own now and managing them plus he manages his mother’s apartments.
Mark: Marcy just was married this past summer, in August of ’96 to a
young man Warren Taylor. They live in Cincinnati in a nice home and she has two
cats and he had a dog, they have a real menagerie over there.
Interviewer: Let’s hear about some of your family vacations when the
kids were growing up.
Mark: The kids were growing up we got a nine passenger station wagon and
we’d take trips every summer. We went to New York for the World’s Fair and
stayed with some friends of my folks who lived not far away from the Fair so we
could get there on a short bus ride.
On year we went to Washington. I remember we had an air conditioned station
wagon and we ended up getting a tour guide who rode around in our station wagon.
Right in the middle I got a call and had to go into work at the Navy Department.
They went to the FBI, I think, that day. So I never did get a tour through the
FBI but the girls they did all right on the tours, but they wanted to get back
to the motel so they could swim in the motel pool. It was pretty hot. We did
make it one day I remember they weren’t allowed in because they didn’t have
bathing caps. The boys could go in without bathing caps but not the girls. They
were very upset about that being discriminated against.
Trying to think, where else did we go on vacation?
Mrs. Mark: Colonial Williamsburg.
Mark: Colonial Williamsburg one year. I’ve got some pictures of our
little Mindy in the stockade; she could barely reach up into it.
Mrs. Mark: The World’s Fair.
Mark: I mentioned the World’s Fair.
Interviewer: Any other family traditions or expressions you always use
that are just for your family alone?
Mark: I don’t think we had any expressions. But for years we had
Thanksgiving with Seyman and Sadie Stern and their family and the kids would put
on a little show. Melanie would orchestrate it and they were very creative. They
would all pitch in and everybody would take part. Since then the kids have all
grown up. Now we go to visit my sister in Marblehead for Thanksgiving every
year; bring our kids. Melanie lives close and she drives. Marcy and her husband
come up from Cincinnati. Mindy brings one of her children each year for
Interviewer: How have you seen the city growing and changing over the
last years you’ve been here?
Mark: Course it started out as a relatively small town, 250,000 people.
It’s now over a million, but it’s pretty much a small town atmosphere,
college town. I remember we were never able to support a night club when they
were popular a number of years ago. It has changed a lot. Downtown has changed.
The AIU or Lincoln Leveque Tower used to be the only tall building in town. Now
there’s a lot of buildings around but it’s still a landmark.
Downtown has changed quite a bit. When my dad and uncles worked with the
Schiff Company, they were on Fourth Street just north of Broad, 35 North Fourth,
I remember. They used to go down on Saturdays; I used to go down a lot and visit
any way. On Saturdays during football season we’d go down there and go around
the corner to the nice little restaurant called Marzetti’s on Gay Street; it
was on Gay Street at the time. They’d have lunch there all the time. We’d
meet Dad for lunch and go out to Ohio State for the football games. I started
seeing football in the days of Frances Schmidt and what, Scott Langhurst and
Straussbaugh. It was really thrilling, exciting football.
As I grew up I started working and didn’t get to too many games. Of course,
when I was away at school I’d only see one a year. But they won every one I
watched. I was bringing them pretty good luck.
Later I know Marzetti’s moved to up on Broad Street near High. Dad used to
take us and the kids when they were growing up and living in Columbus to
Marzetti’s. Mrs. Brown would always give them treats, chewing gum or
something. They always dressed up nice, very darling there.
I went to the football games for many years. After we got married, of course
it was 1950, I took my wife, and my cousin’s fiancee, Sylvia Mellman, her
fiance Carl drove us to the football game one Saturday against Michigan in 1950
and we had quite a snow storm that day. I remember we were sitting in A deck
right around the 50-yard line. So we had real good seats. I remember at the end
of the first quarter the girls went down under the stadium because it was too
cold and windy up there; the snow blowing. I remember Janowitz punted from our
own end zone and I saw the safety man from Michigan was right in front of us and
he couldn’t even, he ducked and the ball went over his head cause he couldn’t
see it until the last minute. I said, “Heck with it, if he can’t see it,
I can’t see it and there’s no point in staying here.” So we left and
got back to the car and found that Carl had left his headlights on and the
battery was dead; brand new car. We had to go get a battery; found one at a
filling station; had to carry it back. Jumped the car and got it started and
finally got home and were stranded in Columbus for three days, I think, until
Tuesday afterwards until we made it back to Fairborn.
Interviewer: Leon, is there anything else you’d like to add to this
interview this afternoon? It’s been just wonderful.
Mark: Well, thank you. Yeah, I think maybe we didn’t dwell too much on
the temple affiliations.
We started out when we first moved to Columbus in 1953 with Temple Israel. My
parents belonged there and we felt more comfortable with Temple Israel. But they
didn’t have a religious school leading up to bat mitzvah and we didn’t
want our girls not to be bat mitzvahed. So we switched our affiliation to
Tifereth Israel and we’ve been there ever since. We got them in the religious
school. In fact, Melanie was a charter member of the Melton School when they
started that at Tifereth Israel. She, of course, has gone on and married a
rabbi. He is heading, teaching throughout New England. He just recently had
articles in the Boston Globe and the New York Times about work he does teaching
Torah throughout New England to adults, not only Jewish but non-Jewish people.
He’s very highly regarded in that area.
Mindy went through the Hebrew Union College and has been teaching at, up at
Oregon. In fact, that’s their final thing they got when she got a job teaching
at the temple in Eugene, Oregon; that’s when they moved up there. She was the
principal of the school. She still does some teaching there. She’s busy with
the three little boys chasing around. That’s about it.
Interviewer: On behalf of the Society I want to thank you for this
interview today, it’s been just wonderful. Thank you very much.
Transcribed by Toba Feldman.