Molly Lakin. I’m here at the Wexner House with Max Tennebaum. Today is
December 26, 2005. Yesterday was, Max’s birthday was…
Tennebaum: December 24th.
Interviewer: December 24, 2005. I’m here to interview Max on his birthday
and he’s going to tell us all about his life here in Columbus. Max was 94
years old on December 24th. Good morning Max.
Tennebaum: Good morning.
Interviewer: Good morning. Max, being 94 years old, like we were saying
before, it doesn’t seem like a long time does it?
Tennebaum: It certainly doesn’t.
Interviewer: Tell us all about your life here in Columbus.
Tennebaum: Well I was was born at Beck Street, 475 E. Beck Street, 1911. I’ve
lived here ’til 1931. I went up to Detroit and stayed there ’til after 1940
where I married this beautiful lady and we moved back to Columbus in 1941, I
believe it was the month of May, and here we are with three great children,
eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Two great-grandchildren on the
Interviewer: What a wonderful legacy on your ninety-fourth birthday. Max tell
us about your boyhood here in Columbus. You were born on Beck Street?
Tennebaum: Born on Beck Street. Went to Beck Street Elementary School.
Interviewer: Who were your parents?
Tennebaum: My father’s Jewish name was Chanya Tzok. Everybody knew
him as Max and when I went to Detroit, he stayed here with my two sisters and
Interviewer: Who were your sisters?
Tennebaum: I had three sisters. One lived in Detroit. One was married, Yetta
Levinson, and the other one was Fanny Melmed. My brother-in-law was a doctor in
Sharon Center, Ohio, and my younger sister was married to Jerry Bornheim where
she lived in Columbus for all the time. My younger sister’s name was Rose and
then she moved to California. So here I am, the only one of the Tennebaums left
Interviewer: You’re related to quite a few families here?
Tennebaum: I’m related to the Schlonsky family, the Dworkin family and the
Zirken family and the uh…the Smoler family. And they all had a lot, everybody had
children. So we had our own parties. Didn’t have to invite anybody because we
had our own family. What more can I say?
Interviewer: That’s beautiful.
Tennebaum: Is that all you wanted?
Interviewer: No I want to hear a lot more. I want to hear all about what you
did. What school did you go to Max?
Tennebaum: Well I went to Beck Street School. Then I went to Fulton Street
School. I went to Mound Street School. I went to South High. And I went about
two quarters to Ohio State University. From there I went to Detroit to live with
Interviewer: Oh your sister lived in Detroit?
(Blank space on tape.)
Interviewer: Sam Schlonsky.
Tennebaum: He was Clerk of Courts.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Tennebaum: Franklin County. And Label had his… business and pawn
business. Ted was a pharmacist.
Interviewer: And you worked for Morehouse-Fashion? How long did you work
Tennebaum: Oh a very short…no I…Morehouse belonged to the Morehouse
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Tennebaum: Fashion was right across the alley from them.
Interviewer: Oh. And then they became Morehouse-Fashion?
Tennebaum: Oh yeah. But I worked at the Fashion.
Interviewer: What did you do there?
Tennebaum: Sold shoes.
Interviewer: Uh huh. This was all before you were married?
Tennebaum: Oh yes, yeah.
Interviewer: Tell me when you got married.
Tennebaum: I got married in Detroit.
Interviewer: What brought you to Detroit?
Tennebaum: My sister was married and I wanted to get away so I went there.
They wanted me to come and I did.
Interviewer: You met Sylvia there?
Tennebaum: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: Tell me, when were you married?
Tennebaum: We were married in 1942, was it? In 1941 we were married.
Interviewer: Then did you live in Detroit?
Tennebaum: Yeah for about three months and then we came to Columbus.
Interviewer: And you’ve lived here ever since?
Tennebaum: Ever since.
Interviewer: Where did you live when you first came here?
Tennebaum: We lived, we rented a room from… Where did we move
to? What was her name? Mrs. Cohen wasn’t it? We were there for a couple of
weeks and then we rented, we had an apartment on Lilley. Then when the children
were coming we rented a house on Champion. And from there, we bought a house on
Rainbow Park. And that was a nice little place. We were very happy there.
Interviewer: You went into business then?
Tennebaum: I went into the scrap business in ’41 too when I came home.
Interviewer: You and who else?
Tennebaum: Well my father had a little route to find scrap and he says,
“Come on home. You’ll do much better here in town.” So we did. We
came home… polished our shoes, put work clothes on and went to work.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Tennebaum: So then one summer, a couple of years later, about a year later,
we were someplace picking up scrap and my father said, “I just rented a
place for a scrap yard.” So we opened up there…
Interviewer: What was the name of your scrap yard?
Tennebaum: Joyce Iron and Metal Company.
Interviewer: That was…
Tennebaum: Well I had this route that my father had so we made, knew, we were
making a good living there.
Interviewer: Where, you picked up scrap?
Tennebaum: Yeah, from various places. And we opened up this place and from
there we grew with the help of my wife.
Interviewer: Well that’s beautiful. Was that a time when there was a lot of
building around Columbus?
Tennebaum: Oh yes. It’s always been the same with building, you know.
Interviewer: Were you in business…
Tennebaum: On Joyce Avenue, I bought some acreage across the street
a few years later and we started to build, I mean building up over a period of
time. But my wife wasn’t the kind that had to give everything. She knew that
some of the money we made had to go into the re-building of the business or
making it larger, buying more equipment. And for that I give her all the credit.
Interviewer: That was when Joyce Metal started?
Tennebaum: Joyce Metal grew and grew and grew.
Interviewer: And became what it is today, an outstanding business. And you were active in the business all the time?
Tennebaum: Yes but lately, in the last few years, I just go up there four
hours a day. My children own the business. My son didn’t want the business. He wanted to become a doctor.
Interviewer: Your son? Your older son? He was a twin?
Tennebaum: Only had one son.
Interviewer: He was a twin?
Tennebaum: And he wanted to be a doctor. And he graduated from Ohio State University Med School.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And where did he practice?
Tennebaum: He practiced in Minneapolis.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And your daughter?
Tennebaum: Barbara? Married into a typical Jewish family.
Interviewer: That’s beautiful.
Tennebaum: And Sandra married Paul Garett who operates the business now and
the children own the business.
Interviewer: That’s beautiful. What do you do with yourself now?
Tennebaum: I go into work every day, five days a week.
Interviewer: Kin ahora.
Tennebaum: I go in at 6:15 and I stay ’til 11:30. Then I come home.
Interviewer: Uh huh. I see. You help the kids with the business, just your
Tennebaum: My advice doesn’t mean anything any more.
Tennebaum: It’s way out of my hands. But anyhow, it’s like the rabbi said
Saturday: I have three things… I go to work, I come home at noon, I come
here to Heritage House, I stay here until 4:30, then I go to the synagogue. That’s
the three things in my life.
Interviewer: It keeps you active.
Tennebaum: Oh sure.
Interviewer: Now tell me, you remember a lot of stories about the men, your
Tennebaum: My friends my age are all gone.
Tennebaum: My friends, here?
Interviewer: Where did you live?
Tennebaum: On Fair Avenue.
Interviewer: (You raised your kids) on Fair Avenue. You brought them up in Bexley?
Tennebaum: From about the third grade.
Interviewer: Has Columbus changed very much?
Interviewer: Tell us in what ways.
Tennebaum: Well certainly more people live here. More residential areas. More
business sections. More plants here. It’s a whole new world here. Just like
the rabbi said to me tonight, today, he said, “Columbus is such a wonderful
city.” That’s Rabbi Zelermeyer.
Interviewer: He’s the new Rabbi at Agudas Achim?
Tennebaum: He loves it here but I don’t know if he’ll stay.
Interviewer: I hope he’ll stay.
Tennebaum: Oh he’s done tremendously.
Interviewer: How many, who was the rabbi when you were a youngster?
Tennebaum: That was Rabbi Werne at Agudas Achim. And it was, see I left and
came back in ’40 so there’s a ten-year lapse that I didn’t know too much
Interviewer: Well you were young.
Tennebaum: Right. And I don’t know who the rabbi was at Beth Jacob when I
Interviewer: Tell me, tell me.
Tennebaum: No Greenwald…I don’t know who the rabbi was.
Tennebaum: But then there was Werne and then Rubenstein came in I think about
1950 and he was the Rabbi until a few, left a couple of years ago. No, it was 10
or 12 years ago. Ciner was here. But Columbus has grown. Ahavas Sholom moved
over to Broad Street. Agudas Achim opened up on East Broad Street and Tifereth
Israel moved on Broad Street. The three synagogues moved and of course the
Reform, Temple Israel moved, everybody, all four moved there.
Tennebaum: Since then there’s been some, a lot of other synagogues.
Interviewer: The grand exodus from the south side.
Interviewer: I said there’s a grand exodus of the Jewish people from the
Tennebaum: From the south and east. A few went north, not many.
Tennebaum: Since then there’s, well you have Heritage House that’s become
an asset to the city and they have their own synagogue here.
Interviewer: Now when you were a young kid, you went to school on…
Tennebaum: Beck Street School when I was real young, up until the time I…
Interviewer: What school?
Tennebaum: Beck Street School from the time I was, I think, eight or nine.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Tennebaum: Harry Berlin was a friend of mine. He lived a couple of blocks
down. Sanford Tuckerman and there was a family of Bierbaum. They moved away. And
the Rudins lived on that street with us. The rest were all, not our people.
Interviewer: It wasn’t strictly a Jewish area?
Tennebaum: Oh no. Godofsky had a kosher butcher shop on Parsons Avenue right
near Beck Street.
Tennebaum: Godofsky, Martin’s father.
Interviewer: Martin Godofsky?
Tennebaum: Yeah. He had a kosher butcher, a regular grocery and a butcher
Interviewer: Where at?
Tennebaum: On Parsons Avenue right near Beck Street.
Interviewer: Was that the beginning of Martins?
Tennebaum: Oh no. He was there a long time and then they moved over, when
Martin took over, he moved over on, opened up on Livingston Avenue near Kelton.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And how long, they stayed there for a while?
Tennebaum: Oh yes, he was there for a long time.
Interviewer: Was that the center of the Jewish community?
Tennebaum: Well a lot of Jewish people lived around there. But they were
Interviewer: And then the Jewish people started moving east?
Tennebaum: …I think he did. Yes he did. He lived over, he moved over
on Broad Street too.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Tennebaum: Had a big store there, big grocery store.
Interviewer: Marty? Now his first grocery store, where…
Tennebaum: It was in Columbus on East Broad Street.
Tennebaum: First one when Martin took over was on Livingston Avenue. Then he
opened on East Broad.
Interviewer: Yeah on East Broad. Then he moved over to another East Broad…
Tennebaum: I don’t remember that.
Interviewer: Yeah. He originally had a…great Jewish community.
Tennebaum: Yes it was…good to us. We didn’t sit on our backside. We
worked to make money.
Tennebaum: Anything you like to do is not hard.
Interviewer: That’s wonderful to tell people nowadays. If you like
something, you don’t find it hard to do.
Tennebaum: That’s right.
Interviewer: You tell people…their grandfather and their grandmother.
Tennebaum: They are. I got a letter from my grandson in San Francisco. It was
great…I’m going to make some copies and send it to my other two
Interviewer: Oh it made you happy?
Tennebaum: Oh certainly. But they’re all doing well.
Interviewer: All because of you.
Tennebaum: They did it themselves.
Interviewer: You were a charm. You made.
Tennebaum: They’re all doing well themself in their own special way.
Interviewer: But they had to have something behind them, their parent’s
advice, their parent’s help…
Tennebaum: This has been a good town.
Interviewer: Yeah I just hope…
Tennebaum: And I think we’ve been good to Columbus.
Interviewer: That’s what we want to hear
Tennebaum: No my friends were Phil Katz, Hal Topy, Ruby Levine. Let’s see,
there’s Martin Godofsky. All gone. Sanford Tuckerman. Harry Berlin…
Harry Berlin, I just saw him here. He’s a resident here. Sanford Tuckerman’s
gone…in Detroit, I met some men around my age. They’re gone.
Interviewer: Not many men live to be ninety or a hundred.
Interviewer: Thank goodness you’re here…
Tennebaum: They’re all gone, the ones I met in Detroit. And they were good
Tennebaum: Good, they were special. I had Sam Brown. I worked for his brother
and Sam and I were important friends.
Interviewer: Uh huh. I’m sure a lot of good people.
Tennebaum: We got some now.
Interviewer: If you think of anything else, you know…
End of interview
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Transcribed by Honey Abramson