I’m Bette Young and it is Wednesday, August 29, 1992, and I’m
interviewing Mayer Rosenfeld who was the Executive Director of the Jewish Center
from 1950 through 1977.
Interviewer: Well the first thing I would like to ask you is a little bit
about your beginning, your parents’ names and were they born in this country?
Rosenfeld: No, both my parents were born overseas. My mother was born in
Lithuania and moved to this country at the age of four. Her parents…
Interviewer: What was her name?
Rosenfeld: Her name was Lena Gordon. Her parents settled originally in
Huntington, West Virginia, and they were there for about two years, from 1890 to
1892. Then in 1892, they moved to Columbus, Ohio. So this year represents the
100th anniversary of my mother’s coming to this country. She had two brothers,
Ephraim Gordon was the eldest member of the children. He originally made his
living and helped the family by having a stand on market. His brother and my
mother’s brother, Dr. E. J. Gordon, also worked at the fruit stand on Fourth
Street. There used to be an open fruit stand on Fourth Street. Later as they
progressed, Ephraim became a member of the Columbus Police Force. In that
connection, he was assigned to the pawn shop surveillance on East Long Street
where a good many of the members of the Jewish community, including the
Schottensteins and, that was Jake Schottenstein, and Saul Ruben and…
Interviewer: Is that Lou Ruben’s father?
Rosenfeld: I believe, yes I believe that was Lou Ruben’s father, and David
Goldsmith, who later became the President of the Jewish Center.
Interviewer: Sam Weiner, didn’t he have, or whatever his name was?
Rosenfeld: Well I’m not sure about the whole pawn shop row, but virtually
the entire row from High Street to Third Street was filled pretty much with
Jewish pawn shop owners. Schottenstein, who was across the street, he really
wasn’t in the pawn shop business. He was in the cycle business and later
started the Columbus Cycle Company. That grew out of that operation. So it was
quite interesting. As a result of that assignment, Ephraim Gordon was pretty
well known to all members of the Jewish Community.
Interviewer: What did he actually do? I mean what was he looking for?
Rosenfeld: Well essentially, well even today, there’s a regular check on
the pawn shops. Police come in there looking for stolen property. They’re
looking to see whether or not all of the records were filled out correctly and
that kind of thing. There wasn’t anything particularly exciting that I ever
heard, either arrests or causing somebody to be pulled into line or whatever.
Interviewer: Now I need to ask you something. What was E. J. Gordon’s name?
What was the E. for?
Interviewer: Oh Elijah?
Rosenfeld: So he was known, really most of his friends called him “Lige,”
Lige Gordon. Later he went to Capital University. And then from there to medical
school. And at the time he graduated, he was one of the very few Jewish doctors
in Columbus. Dr. Kahn on East Rich Street, no relationship as far as I know to
the jewelry family, it was a different…
Interviewer: Was Dr. Edelman around then?
Rosenfeld: Dr. Edelman came in a little later. But at any rate, Dr. Gordon
originally set up general practice. I’ve heard a lot of people, when I was
Director of the Center, said my uncle delivered their children. Later he became
Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Ohio State University and Director of
their Out-Patient Clinics. At one time, he was acting Dean of the College of
Medicine while they were searching for a new Dean of the College. At any rate,
my family moved to Columbus. My mother married a man from Middletown, Ohio. They
met through an intermediary I think in Dayton, Ohio, half way between the two
cities. They were married and lived in Middletown for six years where all three
of my siblings and I were born. My brother Zalman, sister Rosalie, and sister
Dora, in addition to myself. We moved to Columbus in 1922. Basically, my father
who was president of the Orthodox synagogue in Middletown, Ohio, moved to
Columbus and settled at 600 East Rich Street. The reason he settled there was
that Pop Schonthal (Joseph Schonthal) had recently purchased the old Hoster
Brewery Mansion on East Rich Street and had given it to the Jewish Community to
serve as a community center. Primarily, the function was really a settlement
house. Primarily, the function at that time was to help in the integration of
the wave of immigrants coming from Eastern Europe, from Russia and Lithuania.
Interviewer: Why did your father want to move near there? I mean he just felt
that it was…
Rosenfeld: Because that would be, in Middletown, there were a total of about
100 Jewish families altogether. And he moved to Columbus where he felt that we
would have an opportunity to develop associations in the Jewish community. And
then, also right across the street from the Schonthal Center, was the Columbus
Hebrew School. So in a sense, and next door to the Schonthal Center was the
Jewish Infants’ Home. So that in a sense…
Interviewer: They were all on Rich Street?
Rosenfeld: All on Rich Street. In a sense, that was the beginning of the idea
of a Jewish campus, so to speak.
Interviewer: Yeah, really it was.
Rosenfeld: If you get right down to it.
Interviewer: Sure. It was. Now where was it, did you belong to Agudas Achim?
Rosenfeld: Yes we belonged to the Agudas Achim which was on South Washington
Avenue. As a matter of fact, there were four synagogues within a block of each
other at the corner of Donaldson and Washington Avenue, at that time. The Agudas
Achim was on the corner of Washington and Donaldson and it was the largest
Orthodox Synagogue. The secretary of the synagogue was my uncle Ephraim Gordon.
For many years he served as secretary of the Agudas Achim. He was apparently one
of the few members of the congregation at that time who was fluent in English
and in writing. So they made him secretary. Down the street on Donaldson, a
quarter of a block away was Beth Jacob Synagogue and around…
Rosenfeld: I’m not sure. Beth Jacob essentially was a synagogue founded
primarily by the Russian Jews. The Agudas Achim also was pretty much Russian
Jews. And on Parsons Avenue or close to Parsons Avenue, probably in your session
with Ed Schlezinger he probably gave you the history of the… but Tifereth
Israel was on Parsons Avenue and primarily it was the Hungarian and Rumanian
Jewish community. So it was like, I’d say in New York there are different
groups of society, it’s called… where people live who migrated to this
county, were essentially banded together and formed associations, synagogues and
places of worship together. Right next to Agudas Achim was Ahavas Shalom,
another Orthodox synagogue and at the time, Temple Israel was located at Bryden
Road at the old location on Bryden Road near Eighteenth Street.
Interviewer: That’s where I went.
Rosenfeld: And actually that was a move originally from a location at East
Main Street, at Main and Third, where the original Bryden Road, as it was known
for a good many years. Essentially, it was members of the Bryden Road Temple,
the German-Jewish community, that Pop Schonthal was a member of that community.
He was a successful business man in this country already and the Lazaruses, etc.
saw their responsibility to help newcomers to become established in the community. So they were responsible for setting up many of the social service
agencies in the community.
Rosenfeld: Another aspect of the development of the community, shortly after
we got here in 1922, it wasn’t too long after, I remember going to the
Schonthal Center as a young boy, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, the Boy Scout years. David
Goldsmith, well actually, Mr. Abe Wolman was a Boy Scout leader. He also served
as a volunteer visiting the Ohio State Penitentiary, which was located on Spring
Street, for Sabbath morning services for whatever Jewish inmates were there,
which were very few, fortunately. And next to the Schonthal Center was the
Jewish Infants Home. The Jewish Infants Home, shortly after we arrived in
Columbus, maybe 5 or 6 years, something like that, I’m not sure of the exact
year. On my way over to the Schonthal Center which was just a half a block from
my home, we occasionally used to stop and talk to some of the orphans that were
in the yard and talk with them. One of them was a young man who was later
adopted by Leo Yassenoff.
Leo at the time was dating the head nurse whom he
later married. And then the Jewish community of Columbus worked out an
arrangement with Bellefaire in Cleveland to handle any problems of handling
orphans or children that were either abandoned or whatever, due to health or
death in the family, that kind of thing. The feeling of the community was there
was no longer a need for healthy youngsters to be kept in an orphan’s home or
a Jewish Infants Home because there were people looking for adoptive children.
As a matter of fact when the home was abandoned, Leo, who married the head nurse
of the place, and they adopted one of the children. As a matter of fact, they
had one child, that was the only child they had. Later (indistinct) who actually died for
real. He died, I think in his fiftys. Sometime in the 1950s or 60s, this young
man that Leo adopted did pass away. There was some question in terms of the
adoption. Leo who was a very persuasive man, I think persuaded the mother to
part with the child even though at that time she was living in New York. He
persuaded her that adoption would be (indistinct)
Rosenfeld: Well that was typical of Leo. He was very, very much interested in
Interviewer: Now did the son have any children or…
Rosenfeld: I believe so, yeah.
Interviewer: I think Peggy Ginsburg is related somehow. Her mother was
Rosenfeld: Well, married one of the Yassenoffs, a cousin. But at any rate,
that’s kind of the story of the early beginnings of the Jewish community, the
organized Jewish community.
Interviewer: Now what did you… so you grew up Orthodox?
Rosenfeld: Yes. I wasn’t a very good student at the Columbus Hebrew School:
the attraction of playing street hockey. I used to go in (this is confession
time) the front door of my classroom and out the window to play with kids in the
Interviewer: I guess you were not the only one who did that.
Rosenfeld: Well there were a few that did that kind of thing; I’m not quite
Interviewer: Who was the principal at that time?
Rosenfeld: Mr. Metchnik was the Principal of the Hebrew School. Al Solove,
who was a newcomer himself from Russia, was one of the teachers. And Joe, Mr.
Metchnik’s son, later became a partner of Marty Godofsky. (Indistinct) That
was the set up and the arrangement there. And the Hebrew School remained on East
Rich Street until really well into the 50s when the new Center was established.
Well I’m getting ahead of myself.
In 1927, Joseph Schonthal bought some property in Union County, I believe,
near Delaware or Delaware County, and established what was known then in the
field as a “fresh air camp.” It was designed where there would be a
period of time when mothers with their young children could attend camp and sort
of have a vacation and experience with their children. The camp actually
continued in existence until 1950 so it had about a 23 year existence.
Interviewer: What was it called?
Rosenfeld: Camp Schonthal. I attended that camp in the first year they built
it in 1927. I didn’t really particularly, oh I had a good time.
Interviewer: Did you go with your brother?
Rosenfeld: Yes my brother and I both went to the camp.
Interviewer: Did your mother go?
Rosenfeld: No, They had only one week of the year… at that time. And
then they had a period for boys only and a period for girls only. Actually, Pop
Schonthal became interested in this location because he used to go regularly to
Magnetic Springs, which was a health spa which was very popular in those days.
It was about two miles away from the camp. Actually, the 25 acres that he
bought, by today’s standard would be woefully inadequate as far as acreage for
camps are concerned. Standards, I think would be at least an acre of ground for
per-person enrollment. So they should have had, according to standards even back
in the 30s, a hundred acres of ground.
Interviewer: What’s there now?
Rosenfeld: Well now, when it was sold I think it was bought by a church group
who use it for a church camp. It’s still too small. As I said, I attended the
first session of the camp in 1927. And then I didn’t go back. I went elsewhere
I think during that period. But in 1935 when I was a student at Ohio State
University, Ben Nepper who is now living in Cleveland, was head of the Red Cross
First Aid and Water Safety Division. I took life saving classes at the
University and then Nepper asked if I wanted to go to a national aquatic
institute and he sent me and Lee Funk to the National Aquatic Institute at
Culver Military Academy, where it was located at that time. We learned first
aid, life saving, canoeing, sailing, and so forth under top instructors from the
So I got my Water Safety Instructor’s Certificate from the Red
Cross in 1935. Then when Rose Sugarman who was the Executive Director of the old
Schonthal Center, the first one. She continued to be Executive Director until
from the early 20s until 1950, for about 30 years. She came from Atlanta,
Georgia. I’m not sure how she happened to get to Columbus. Somehow or other
Pop Schonthal was the one who got her here. She was Executive Director, not only
of the community center but also of the Jewish Family Service which was housed
in the Schonthal Center. She did a very efficient job in terms of budgeting. I
never agreed with her philosophically. Let me tell you why. It always seemed to
me when I was growing up that they were always short of money. Later I learned
that she had a reputation at the United Way of living so thoroughly within her
budget that she always turned money back to the United Way. I made up my mind
when I became Executive Director of the Jewish Center, the new Jewish Center in
1950, that I would never turn money back to the United Way if there was any need
whatsoever that our Center could address itself to.
Interviewer: I don’t think anybody today would… think we were crazy.
Rosenfeld: So at any rate, give her her due, she did a very efficient job of
running the center. Basically she devoted most of her time to the Jewish Family
Service. There are a lot of stories, give and take, on that. Leah Godofsky I
think was a case worker with her at one time and Ann Goldberg, whose family
still lives in Columbus, was a case worker. Nell Stetelman, who later married
Dr. Jerry Fisher. Nell was killed in a terrible accident at Roosevelt and
Livingston. Some woman driving east on Livingston Avenue with the morning sun
shining in her eyes, couldn’t see and went through the light as Nell was
crossing Livingston Avenue and crashed into her going at least 25 or 30 miles an
hour. She was killed instantly. At any rate, those people were people that I
remember that were case workers in the Schonthal Center and the Jewish Family
Interviewer: So it was kind of a settlement house kind of concept?
Rosenfeld: Yes essentially it was. Now in about 1939 or thereabouts, Dr.
Shusterman used to be director of physical education there while he was going
through dental school. And they had others that followed in that regard. But I
would say it was still pretty much a settlement house. But Schanfarber, E. J.
Schanfarber was President of the then the United Jewish Fund or Columbus Jewish
Welfare Federation. And my uncle, Dr. Gordon, was President of the Schonthal
Center. Then they didn’t have the practice of every two years of rotating
officials in office. So they stayed in office forever, it seemed like. But at
any rate, the Jewish community at that time was beginning to get organized as an
organized Jewish community. At that time I was going to school. I was majoring
in international trade and finance in the College of Commerce at Ohio State
University. Since I had been the waterfront director and active in the Boy Scout
troop under Abe Wolman, Rose Sugarman asked me to be waterfront director at the
Schonthal Center Camp.
I remember the one thing that I did that I thought was
good. The first year, I was not too successful in terms of the number of
children that qualified either as swimmers or as life savers. In consultation
with Ben Nepper, I said, “Ben you’ve got to help do something about
this.” This pool was a fill-and-draw pool. This means that you filled it
with water from a spring and that’s 52 degrees. Then it warmed up, by the sun
only, because it had no recirculation system. Thirdly, algae got into the pool
and you couldn’t see the bottom. I wrote a rather scathing report that it was
unconscionable to operate this kind of swimming pool because first of all, you
couldn’t teach kids how to swim in 50 and 60 degree water. And secondly, that
it was unsafe because if a child happened to go down with the water with algae
and so forth and so on in it, that you couldn’t see. It was hazardous. And so
I recommended with Nepper’s support from the Red Cross, that they abandon the
fill-and-draw system. In other words, when the water got warm enough for kids to
enjoy, they had to empty it because of the amount of algae and that kind of
thing that accumulated in it. So about every three weeks they were emptying the
pool and filling it again with 52 degree water. At any rate on the basis of that
report which was my first report to the organized Jewish community, the board
did act and they did put in a filtration system and water recirculation system.
The following year I was again waterfront director. We had the largest number of
swimmers qualified and junior life savers developed in the history of the camp.
Interviewer: How many kids went to the camp?
Rosenfeld: Abour a hundred, give or take, it could be up to 100. They had 12
cabins, there were 10 each; about 120 I guess. In 1949, in preparation for
building the new Jewish Center on College Avenue, they decided that the camp was
too small to meet standards so they sold that property and the money went
towards building the new Center. Also I might say that the Jewish Infants Home,
which was still in existence although it was operating in 1950 as the 57l Shop,
I’ll get back to that. When that building was later sold, the money from that
also, through the good offices of Troy Feibel, who handled the legal work in
that; there was a problem with an irrevocable trust to build a building. At any
rate, it couldn’t be, at that time it really couldn’t be used for any other
purposes except for Jewish communal purposes. Originally the need as an infant’s
home had disappeared all over the country, not just here in Columbus. There was
no problem finding adoptive parents for Jewish orphans. There was a problem with
children that had emotional or mental health problems and Bellefaire in
Cleveland was established as a regional agency to handle that kind of thing. It’s
still in operation. (Indistinct) It’s a treatment center for emotionally
disturbed children who may also be orphans. Maybe, I don’t know.
Interviewer: I went up there once. You know my father was on the board. I
spent a weekend up there.
Rosenfeld: He was on the board of Bellefaire?
Interviewer: Yeah, uh huh. It was a really impressive place.
Rosenfeld: He was originally from Cleveland?
Rosenfeld: Yeah it was a very impressive place.
Interviewer: I don’t know how he got on the board. I think it had to do
something with B’nai B’rith or something, I don’t know.
Rosenfeld: Yeah, that’s right. I think B’nai B’rith. Bellefaire. Yeah,
Dick was on the board of Bellefaire.
Interviewer: And when I was at college one year, I was so interested. I was
going to be a social worker and I was so interested in it that he took me up
there when they had their annual meeting. And I’ll never forget, the kids put
on “Golden Boy,” the play. Incredible. They called it a treatment
center for happy children.
Dotty R.: Okay. It had changed what it was. When I was a kid, it was an
orphan home. An orphan home and a home for children where they were carrying
Interviewer: Yeah. I’m sure that’s what these kids were from too.
Dottie R.: Well, like we had friends who, the mother was very sick and in the
hospital and the father was unable to care for three children. So he put them in
Bellefaire until things got better. So you had that kind of environment also.
Interviewer: I was really impressed with it, I remember. I still remember it,
Rosenfeld: Let’s still remember it; it’s still doing a good job.
Dottie R.: Now they work with emotionally disturbed children.
Interviewer: Well that was who they were working with when I went up there.
It was a really impressive campus too.
Dottie R.: Yes, always was, very beautiful.
Rosenfeld: So at any rate at that time, I, while all of this was going on,
let’s say in the mid-30s, I graduated. It took me 7 years to get my first
degree from Ohio State because it was during the Depression. During that time, I
supported my fees and so forth with part-time jobs, one of which was to work for
the Tire and Auto Accessory Department at F&R Lazarus.
Interviewer: Oh really? I didn’t know that.
Rosenfeld: Well actually, I entered school, Ohio State, originally in 1932. I
attended one year and then I no longer had funds so I got a job with, I had been
working part-time with Montgomery Ward and Company on Third and Main Street, the
site of the original Temple Israel. That building of course was later torn down.
I had an offer to be department manager of the auto accessory department at
Springfield, Ohio, so I went to Springfield for a year and earned enough money
to pay for several years’ tuition. Tuition then was $25 a quarter. “The
good old days,” yeah. And so my experience was really during those times,
those seven years in which I was getting my undergraduate degree through various
part-time jobs. I would get up at 6 o’clock in the morning and take the street
cars. There were street cars on steel tracks.
Interviewer: I remember that.
Rosenfeld: Do you remember that?
Rosenfeld: Going up to the University, getting off at the High Street exit,
going into the Commerce Building, working until noon and then going to some kind
of a part-time job. Originally it was in the auto accessory field and then later
the Shoe Corporation. In 1935, the Shoe Corporation. By that time incidentally,
Mr. Schiff, the original founder of the Shoe Corporation, also came over from
Russia about the same time that my dad did. And my dad had a dry goods store in
Middletown, Ohio, from, oh I would say, from the early 1900s ’til we moved to
Interviewer: What did he do here?
Rosenfeld: Here he was also in the dry goods business. In 1927, he was hit in
Middletown, Ohio, by a woman driving a Model T Ford, driving with a baby in one
arm and steering with the other. Hit him pretty much head on. He spent three
months in the hospital with a fractured skull and a few other things, during
which time he had to close the business down. That was the beginning of the
Great Depression for us, 1927. And so it was rough going on from that period
until the time he came back to Columbus and had a variety of kinds of things
that he did. In the interim, when I graduated in 1939 with my degree in
International Trade and Finance, even though I had a good record with about a
3.9 average for the 7 years, there were no opportunities in the International
Fields. Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939 and the field of foreign trade
blew sky high.
Interviewer: Yeah. It wouldn’t have been very safe over there.
Rosenfeld: I decided at that time that I would shift to my avocational
interests. A good friend of mine, Morrie Ross from the Ross Cleaners family, got
a degree in social work and Ann Goldberg also were good friends of mine. While
we in the late 30s had Paul Lipson who was a student at the Hillel Foundation,
we used to go up to do part-time work in the old times in the Schonthal Center.
We used to go out for beer afterwards, up on the old Gloria Night Club, or
places like that in the campus area. I decided then to go into the field of
social work, social group work. Dr. Batchelor who had come to Ohio State from
Pittsburgh where he was Superintendent of Public Recreation there for a number
of years, came here as a Professor of Social Work.
Interviewer: I think he was there when I was there. When did he retire? I
Rosenfeld: Yeah he was there. I forget when he retired.
Interviewer: I think I might have taken a course with him.
Rosenfeld: Might very well have.
Interviewer: I had a year at Ohio State in social work.
Rosenfeld: He was a very interesting person. I became very, very close with
him. I got a Master’s Degree in Social Work in 1942 at which time I promptly
went into the army. I was one of the few students that had taken advanced ROTC
while I was a graduate student when I came back to school. On the basis of that,
I went into the army as a second lieutenant and I served four years.
Interviewer: Where were you?
Rosenfeld: I had a variety of assignments. My first assignment was for about
a year and a half or thereabouts, with the 46th Field Artillery Brigade in
Louisiana. It was an all black Field Artillery Brigade. It was all black
basically for political reasons under Roosevelt because the complaint was from
the blacks that very few blacks got into the more elite branches of the service.
They were generally drafted and put in transportation, labor battalions and
so-called service ends of… And this was established to give, for public
relations primarily, although the Field Artillery was one of the more elite
branches of the service.
Interviewer: Didn’t they have white officers?
Rosenfeld: Yeah, white officers for the first year that I was there, they
were all white officers. Every time that we would get a group through a training
cycle where they were ready to go overseas for combat, they would ship them all
out for transportation divisions or other places like that and not let them go
Rosenfeld: Well, again, I guess for political reasons. Then about a year and
a half after I was there, they began bringing in black officers who came in. And
that was the beginning of the transition. Later on the 46th Field Artillery did
go overseas and served with distinction in the European Theater. It was a very,
very interesting experience for me because there were signs on the roads of
small towns in the area, “Nigger, don’t let the sun set on your presence
in this community.” And one of my assignments was to be a trial judge
advocate with the court martials. That was common in those kind of assignments.
So occasionally I had to go out into the neighboring communities and pick up
some young black who was in jail for no reason at all other than he happened to
be there at the wrong time, and bring him back to the camp. So at any rate, from
there I went to an 8″ Howitzer group, a brand new group which was a new gun
that had just been developed.
Interviewer: Where was that?
Rosenfeld: At Camp Bowie in Texas, in the Fort Worth, Texas, area. I stayed
there only about four months when I got a call from the Field Artillery School
in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to be on the (indistinct) how I got it, I’m not quite sure.
It had to be from a recommendation from a major who was my superior at Camp
Bowie, that I had the qualification to serve as an instructor, teaching gunnery.
Now actually, of course, it’s really no accident. Let’s say that blacks were
not qualified for field artillery originally because it required pretty advanced
understanding of trigonometry and mathematics. You had to learn how to do
surveys to locate points from the map onto the ground, by picking up references.
So at any rate I went to Fort Sill where I taught gunnery classes for (indistinct) to
take on Japan and preparing for the invasion of Japan. I was at the Field
Artillery School at the time as a Gunnery Instructor teaching advanced classes
in Field Artillery Gunnery. They pulled back, the government pulled back, from
all the Pacific Ocean area where they had troops in the Philippines, on Samar
and places as far south as Borneo, odd places like that. They pulled out all of
the seasoned officers that had been doing field artillery work in that area and
they figured that the only replacements that they would get for them that would
be qualified to step in would be, let’s say, officers like me and others that
were at the Field Artillery School that were highly trained. I had been teaching
classes there in gunnery for a year as many of the officers were. They took us
out en mass. They emptied the entire Field Artillery instructions staff
out and brought back all of the seasoned officers who were in the Philippines to
serve at the Field Artillery School. The war in Europe by that time was over and
so it was just fair. I had been in the army for three years at that time and I
had never been shot at in anger.
Interviewer: So where did you go?
Rosenfeld: I went to the Philippines. While I was on the high seas, they
dropped the atomic bomb. And so instead of being, I was sent to Leyte in the
Philippines where the war was pretty much over. I was assigned as a Transient
Officer, quartered at the Ordinance Depot. And then, somebody again looking at
the personnel records, saw that I had a degree in International Trade and
Finance and said, “We have an opening for an officer to serve with the
Foreign Liquidation Commission in Manila, a branch of the State Department.
Would you be interested in taking that assignment?” I said, “Sure, I
would love it.” And so the job there with the Foreign Liquidation
Commission was to dispose of all surplus property, which was declared surplus at
various depots in the Pacific Ocean area. My assignment was I was in charge of
what they called the “Special Customers Branch.” These were nations
which were friendly, on our side, like French Government in Indochina, the
Netherlands, Indies and UNRRA for rehabilitating China.
Interviewer: Now what was the surplus? Was it military…
Rosenfeld: No, no, no military whatsoever. It was only those goods which had
a civilian use. There is one interesting story after I got back to Columbus. We
used to say, “You work one year for the Foreign Liquidation Commission, you’re
gonna have a life-time job explaining to Congress what you did and why.” In
the first year that I was Director of the Jewish Center here in Columbus, we got
a visit from an FBI agent. Dottie called me at the Center, all upset, thought
maybe they were going to draft me or something like that to serve in Korea or
thereabouts. What they wanted to know was did I know anything about the
Ordinance Depot on Leyte and about the so-called “mystery pile”? I
said, “Yeah, I know all about that. I was stationed at that place.” I
knew that my recommendation to my bosses at the FLC was not to declare that
surplus, or not to sell it except to a friendly government because there were
known ordinance materials in there. Like there were small arms, there was radar
equipment, which was still at that time secret, and a few other things that
ought not to have been declared surplus. Anyhow it was declared surplus. A
Lieutenant Colonel Byrd, who was from the China-Burma Theater, sold it. He sold
it to a (indistinct) and I had written a letter on a trip down to Leyte and to Samar
that it ought not to be declared surplus because (indistinct) a long letter and I
submitted this letter to my superiors. They wanted to know to whom did I submit
the letter. Was it Colonel Foster, who was my superior? Did Lieutenant Colonel
Byrd know about it? Yes, he knew about it. So now I know the reason. What
happened was he sold it anyhow. He sold it to a Chinese merchant of some kind,
an entrepreneur, and he arranged for shipping from the War Shipping Administration to try and ship it to Manila. In unloading it on the Manila docks, one
of the cargo nets broke and one of the crates fell out on the dock and broke
open and spilled out a bunch of rifles. And so they impounded the entire ship.
And so the Chinese fellow, who had paid for the shipment, was suing to either
recover his money or get delivery on it. That was the reason for the FBI.
Actually I got 2 visits from the FBI. I had taken a number of photos of this
particular area, black and white photos, which showed the whole thing. I had
written a report of my knowledge of what was in there. Those of us that were
around, I knew that there were GIs that were in a sense breaking open crates to
see if they could find binoculars or other things like that or carbines, which
would be illegal for sale in this country. Still are illegal since it’s a
semi-automatic piece of equipment. So that was that experience.
Interviewer: Really interesting for a young man, weren’t they?
Rosenfeld: Yeah. It was quite interesting. At any rate, when I got back to
the States; when I was still out in the Philippines I got a letter after I had
been out there around a year almost on this type of job, I had gotten a letter
from Dr. Batchelor. He said, “If you can get back in June, I’ve
undertaken to lead a transcontinental Youth Hostel bicycle trip.” It was
going by bicycle, a combination called a “rolling youth hostel” from
the east coast to the west coast, down the west coast and back to the east
coast. 9,000 miles by train and about 1,200 miles by bicycle. He said, “I
would like you to be my assistant on this trip.” And so I said, “Since
I have agreed to stay an extra year in Manila, they would fly me back.” So
I did get back. I also got two weeks leave to spend in Shanghai, which was an
interesting place, before I got back. On leave with the Foreign Liquidation
Commissioner, a man from Boston who was the equivalent civilian of a four-star
general, took a group of us up to Shanghai. While he was up there, I also
negotiated a hundred million dollar (indistinct) for a guy who, let us say, whose
experience was working at Dick Abel’s Auto Accessory Department in retail
sales, here I am negotiating a hundred million dollar sale to UNRRA for shipment
to China. What happened during that time, I was also negotiating a sale of
material with General MacArthur; he was a brilliant logistics man. He knew that
the Japanese would blow up all of the railroads from where he would land in (indistinct)
Gulf and then come down to Manila, that they would destroy the railroad
bridges and so forth. He had requested that about, I don’t know how many
millions of dollars, about $10,000,000 worth of railroad equipment, like ties
and bridges and so forth and so on. As fast as the Japanese destroyed it, he had
equipment ready to replace either broken spots in the rail system or replace a
bridge and so forth. Anyhow that $10,000,000 worth of railroad equipment was
declared surplus. I was trying, I was negotiating with the representatives of
the Philippine Government to buy the equipment. All we were trying to get out of
it was “fair market value” or sell it at cost-less depreciation for
whether it had been damaged or was used or whatever. Well the Philippine representative was stalling. It was about 2 months; I couldn’t get anywhere with
them. Finally I got a letter, the Commissioner got a letter from China that they
were expecting floods in China, which they had periodically on the Yellow River
and the other major rivers. That they needed rail equipment. They needed
earth-moving equipment. I said, “Oh we got all kinds of earth-moving
equipment, power shovels and…”
Interviewer: How old were you then, about 26?
Rosenfeld: I was, let’s say, that would be ’42. I was born in 1915 so
that would be about 27. Well let me say they had top brass in case I made
mistakes, that supervised…
Interviewer: But it was such good experience.
Rosenfeld: Yeah, it was a very interesting experience.
Interviewer: Really, oh yeah.
Rosenfeld: At any rate, we got a cable from General Marshall who was at that
time head of the rehabilitation programs for China. As a statesman, you know the
Marshall Plan. So he wrote, “We urgently need rail equipment in
China.” I confronted the Philippine representative and the next day he
signed the contract. I said, “Look, if you don’t want this stuff, we got
a letter from General Marshall to ship it out.” But that’s the way they
did. Similarly, let’s say doing business in the Far East, there was another
experience. In Shanghai when we were there, you see all these merchant ships out
there. Some of the old China hands that were there said that the way of doing
business is kumshaw. Kumchaw means bribery. Unless you provide a little kumshaw,
the cargoes on your ship, which all had to be transferred to shore by
lighters, a small craft, ’cause there were no dockside boats. You couldn’t
get a permit, you couldn’t get anybody to unload your ship unless you came
across with bribery money.
Interviewer: I wonder if they’re still doing it that way?
Rosenfeld: I would imagine. Well maybe yes, maybe no. That was the old
warlord way of doing it. Another interesting thing on that, on my leave in
Shanghai, I wandered around the city one day on a walking tour of places and I
found a textile factory. I walked into the factory. It was a huge factory during
the period. The Chinese had taken over, the government had taken over this
factory after the Japanese had been kicked out. It had been run by the Japanese.
Then it had been sold to Chinese entrepreneurs. Now it was sold to a family who
also owned the Bank of China, the Soong family from Madam Chiang’s relatives
there. Well as soon as they found out that the Soong family was bidding on this
textile factory, everybody else dropped out; they got it. How did they finance
the purchase of this factory? With a loan from the Bank of China. That’s the
way Chiang Kai-shek’s administration and Madam Chiang’s government did
business in those days. In terms of public works projects, if a road went by
your house, each landowner, whether it be a peasant who only owned one acre of
ground, was responsible for maintaining the frontage of that road on his
Interviewer: Did they do it?
Rosenfeld: Oh absolutely they did it. We also were given a tour while we were
there, by an old English China hand, of the surrounding area around Shanghai and
the canals. The same way we came into a little city where there were repairs
being made on the canals. Shanghai which is fairly flat around the whole area,
there was quite a transportation system of canals around. They had damned off a
section of this canal with some sort of culvert dams or wood plank dams and they
were cleaning out the mud or silt which had collected in this area. They were
just members of the village that had been conscripted to do this work.
Interviewer: Was this before the reds took over?
Rosenfeld: Yeah, before the communists took over, yeah. So there were all
kinds of work that was going on like that. So I could see that in my geography
classes in my World Trade courses when they talked about China, they talked
about the number one new land reform and other things and the whole systems.
Interviewer: So you came back here and came back to Columbus?
Rosenfeld: Came back, yeah. I did this transcontinental trip with Dr.
Batchelor, except that the popularity of that trip had grown so much that they
had to have three sections of it. They asked me to lead one section. He would
start out three days ahead of me and we had trains which were like Pullman cars,
except that the occupants made up their… it had a kitchen in the thing.
You did your own cooking in it. You made up your own Pullman beds, you did your
own work and you handled the loading of our bicycles in and out of the train.
When we got to places like the Canadian Rockies, we unloaded our stuff and ten
days later met the train down in Calgary.
Interviewer: What a wonderful trip.
Rosenfeld: So it was a marvelous trip. So at any rate, based on that trip and
also on my experience with him in classes, he offered me a job as a Social Work
instructor at Ohio State University. I taught classes there for two years. Now
the reason I took that job primarily was I was 34 years old at that time and
single and unmarried. I figured a good place to be would be Ohio State
University since the Ohio State University was populated at that time largely by
Interviewer: When was this now, ’46?
Rosenfeld: That was ’46, yeah.
Interviewer: Dottie was one of your students?
Rosenfeld: Dottie was one of my students.
Interviewer: Oh my word.
Rosenfeld: Then in 1948, now wait a second… ’46 and ’47, I was
offered a job with the Jewish Center of Kansas City as Director of Group Work
and Dr. Batchelor advised me to take it; well originally he wanted me to stay.
If I had done that, I’d probably have gone on for my Ph.D. at Ohio State or
elsewhere. So at any rate I took the job in Kansas City. Dottie was one of my
Interviewer: Oh in Kansas City you met her?
Rosenfeld: No in Columbus. An interesting story was Dr. Batchelor, and I
subscribed to this idea, instead of giving final examinations, I gave them an
alternative either to undertaking a special project: One, a three day canoe trip in which they had to plan the logistics, plan the
route, plan the food, the menus and so forth, write that up and carry out that
trip or two, a bicycle trip if they wanted to do that. They had to choose the
location, they had to scout out the location…
The canoe trip group decided they wanted to come down the Olentangy. Dottie
came up to me after class and said, “Mr. Rosenfeld, I’d like to go on the
canoe trip but I don’t know how to swim.” I said, “Well one of the canoes
is going to be an 18-foot old-time canoe,” which I owned. “I’ll put
you in the canoe and I can, since I’m a the water safety instructor, I should
be able to handle the situation.” At any rate, so she went on the trip. Now
shortly before the trip started, Dr. Batchelor got a call from the Dean of
Women’s Office inquiring about Mr. Rosenfeld who was going to lead this trip.
Is he married? No, he’s not married. Well, we’ve got to have a chaperone on
the trip. Incidentally, that was, I don’t know whether you ever heard of the
Dr. Snook murder case.
Rosenfeld: This was a professor at Ohio State University in Veterinary
Medicine I think. Dr. Snook murdered a graduate student. Anyhow the Citizen-Journal
newspaper, they were responsible for leads that finally uncovered him as the
guilty person but since this was a professor and this was a graduate student,
they adopted the policy that all trips, special projects like this, had to have
married instructors or married couples going along on the trip. Anyhow the Dr.
Snook case, first of all it was sex related and where he had…
Interviewer: Were they on a trip when it happened?
Rosenfeld: No the murder occurred on Lane Avenue, across the street where the
University Farms are now.
Interviewer: Oh I know exactly where that is. How awful.
Rosenfeld: And it was a pretty sordid affair. He had hit her over the head
with a tire iron or something like that. Apparently she was involved in oral sex
or something like that and he hit her over the head. It was a very flagrant . .
. . So we got a graduate couple. Dr. Batchelor got Dick Pontius who later became
UA Director over United Fund Raising in Newark, Ohio, who was in my canoe. So
the Pontiuses were in my canoe and Dottie was in my canoe and they alternated. I
paddled stern. Anyhow for the two weeks prior to the start of the canoe trip, we
had rain like we had now. Constant rain. That may have been one of the rainiest
periods up to that time. The river was pretty much at flood stage a good period
of the time during that. Dottie’s friends in her dormitory were persuading
her, “You don’t want to go on that trip.” “I’m going to go.
Mr. Rosenfeld says it’s okay.”
Interviewer: She had her eye on you?
Rosenfeld: I was unaware of that, but I had my eye on her. At any rate, she
went on the trip. We started, they planned the trip to come down the Olentangy.
There was an article in the Lantern about the intrepid social workers
doing this practical canoe trip and so on down the line. That’s when the Dean
of Women got involved. She read this article in the Lantern and she
wanted to know about this trip. It was a three day camping trip, in a sense: two
overnights… arrived back at the school. So at any rate, Dottie went on
the trip. We launched the canoes at Stratford above where Route 23 crosses…Well, actually some of us went up to about where Eckles Lake is and put the
canoes in there and came over a low dam and then caught the rest of the group at
Stratford. Then we went down. The first night we camped overnight probably in
the vicinity of Highbanks Metropolitan Park. It was raining and miserable. They
said, “Well the next night.” I said, “Well the next night, don’t
worry about this.” It was kind of drizzling, we survived that night okay.
They had to plan let’s say the route, the stopping places, the food, the menus
for the trip, go out and buy the food and plan the whole thing. It was a great
practical experience for them. The next day I said, “Well there are…
camps somewhere near here, we’ll camp somewhere near Route 161, Dublin-
Granville Road,” which is very much built up now. Then it wasn’t. The
Antrim Farm was still the Antrim Farm but now it’s the Antrim Park. There was,
right on the corner of Olentangy River Road and 161, there was a farm there and
there was a farmer with a group of barns. So I said, “We’ll see if we can
get permission to,” so I sent a couple of the girls over to the farmer and
he said, “Well we don’t have, we can’t stay overnight in this barn, but
across the road, about a quarter of a mile down the road, you have my permission
to use that barn.” So we did. We walked to the barn, the kids looked the
place over and said, “Oh this is great.” The barn floor, the atrium of
it or whatever, was covered with fresh straw, so it was terrific. So we fixed
our dinner and had a good meal. Then we spread our ponchos, since we’d paddled
about twelve miles down the river that day, and went to sleep. Finally, about 1
o’clock in the morning, I heard somebody say, “There’s millions of
them!” I woke up and said, “Millions of what?” She said, “I
don’t know what they are.” I got a flashlight down and there were maggots
all over the…
Interviewer: Oh. Where did they come from?
Rosenfeld: Well it so happened that the barn droppings had been covered with
this fresh straw and they had not bothered to check what was underneath the
fresh straw. They just spread their ponchos and their sleeping clothes on that.
I said, “Don’t worry about it.” I said, “You know in medicine
they use these for cleaning out wounds so they’re all sterile; they won’t
hurt you.” So I went back to sleep. Some of them went up in the loft.
Interviewer: How many people were there?
Rosenfeld: We had on the trip, there were about 12. Generally we had two…
Interviewer: Nice group.
Rosenfeld: Nice group. Because of my relationship with the Red Cross, they
lent me six canoes and my own 18-footer. We had enough to accommodate the group,
the leadership group in mine and the leadership group brings up the rear on any
(indistinct). Always, because you always catch whatever trouble is ahead of you.
During the night, anyhow, while we were there, there was a torrential rain. When
we got down to, we had pulled our canoes up on the bank. The bank was about 6 to
8 feet above the river level. When we got down there, the water was within a
foot of the top of that bank. Like flood stage going down. So at any rate,
everybody of course had life preservers on. We all had that. So we headed down
toward the campus. There were two low-level dams that we had to portage around.
So they had that experience. They knew where those were when they got to it. We
made the trip all right and landed right where Drake Union is now. Came all the
way down from Delaware, down to Drake Union.
Interviewer: Drake Union?
Rosenfeld: That’s where they have the theater program now, right near the
Interviewer: Oh there, yeah. Okay.
Rosenfeld: That’s the new Student Union.
Interviewer: Oh I haven’t seen it, the new one. I’m still thinking about
the old one.
Rosenfeld: Well it’s not so new. You know the old one that was near High
Rosenfeld: Well the new one is where they have the Theater Department.
Interviewer: I didn’t even know that.
Interviewer: I didn’t know it had moved.
Rosenfeld: Yeah. It’s been there at least for twenty years now. I guess
whenever you got back to campus working on your Ph.D. you had your nose to the
Interviewer: You’re dating me. I was at Michigan. I did my work at
Rosenfeld: Oh that’s where you were.
Interviewer: I spent a lot of time there at the Library at Ohio State.
Rosenfeld: So at any rate, that was that story.
Interviewer: It’s a story, what happened? You and Dottie…
Rosenfeld: Well then I took this job in Kansas City and we communicated.
Dottie had taken a job in Cleveland.
Interviewer: Is she from Cleveland?
Rosenfeld: Yeah she’s from Cleveland originally with the Jewish Community
Center there, at that time headed by Sandy Solender who was later the…
Interviewer: Oh sure.
Rosenfeld: Director of the National Jewish Welfare Board. One of the bright
stars in the Jewish communal service field, who later became Director of the
Jewish Federation in New York, the National Federation. At any rate, Sandy was
Director of the Cleveland Jewish Center at that time. She asked him if she could
go to a Midwest Jewish Welfare Board Conference in Chicago. He said, “Well
first of all, that’s a Board Member’s Conference; we don’t take staff, few
staff go, only supervisory staff.” So she pleaded her case and he gave her
permission to go at her expense.
Interviewer: And you were there?
Rosenfeld: She called me; we had been communicating. She said, “Well I’ve
got this permission to go to Chicago. How about you?” Well so I got
assigned by my Director, Iz Mayerfeld, to go to that and that’s where we got
engaged. Ruth Schildhouse was assigned for field work to me in Kansas City. I
had taught Ruth Schildhouse how to swim when she was six years old and I was a
Day Camp Counselor for the Jewish Center in Columbus. So I had known Ruth all
these years. At any rate, now to get back to the Jewish Center field.
Interviewer: Wait a minute. I have to find out when you got married.
Rosenfeld: I got married in 1948.
Interviewer: Then you moved back to Columbus?
Rosenfeld: I moved back to Columbus because I was offered the job of
Executive Director of the Columbus Jewish Center.
Interviewer: Was it built by then?
Rosenfeld: No it was… I tell you, they were, the Jewish Welfare Board
Personnel Department was referring candidates to the Board here in Columbus,
the Board of the new Center, to consider as new Executive Director. The people
that were available at that time, they were trying to palm off some of their own
field workers that weren’t (indistinct) the field representatives, one of them had a
drinking problem, whose name shall remain anonymous, and a couple of others who
were not suitable. Finally they did refer a very qualified candidate, Leon Beck,
who was head of a settlement in, a Jewish settlement house in St. Louis. Well
Leon was a highly qualified professional worker who had a number of years’
experience directing this agency. And then the two agencies, the YMHA and the
settlement house merged and Leon was offered the job as Assistant to Gilbert
Harris, who was Executive Director and had seniority down at the YMHA in St.
Louis. And so he had all kinds of questions. Came down for one visit interview
and had a series of questions. He wrote up all these questions. Requested
another meeting with the Board. He had another meeting then came back to
Columbus and had another meeting with the Board. Then went back. He wrote out
another series of questions. He still had some unanswered questions. The Board
at that time, they had never operated a new full service community center. So
they really didn’t know the answers to a lot of the questions. The only
experience they had was the old Schonthal Center operation, operated by Rose
Sugarman. And so by the time they got to the third request for another
interview, they broke off. The Columbus Board says, “Look, let him go
somewhere else.” He wound up in Houston as Executive of the Houston Jewish
Center a number of years later. So it didn’t hurt him, except it had hurt our
community with all of these uncertain visits and so on along the line. Well Iz
Garek at that time was President of the Board for the new Center. I came back to
Columbus for a short time, for vacation and to visit my parents; this was 1949
and the Center was under construction. They were going through this interview
process and I came out for a visit and Iz took me out to see the Center and
asked me about the operation in Kansas City, how did it operate, how did it
function, how did it budget and so on down the line. The fact that I had a major
in Accounting in my Foreign Commerce Degree didn’t hurt and in addition had my
Social Work Degree and experience in Kansas City Youth Center. The National
Jewish Welfare Board tried to talk me out of going in for the interview.
Rosenfeld: Yeah they said you haven’t really been in the Jewish Center
field long enough.
Interviewer: All your life.
Rosenfeld: Well no I’ve never been, well I’d been around it but I never
had any responsibilities. So I suppose from their standpoint they were right.
Anyhow I went in for the interviewer and they offered me the job and I took it.
Beck went his way and later I guess had a number of visits to Houston before
they answered all of his questions. He was later killed in a tragic automobile
accident. So that’s pretty much what happened. Anyhow, at that time I was
Director of Group Work at the Kansas City Jewish Center. Dottie came out after
we were married and became in charge of the children’s program. We had in
Kansas City, Saturday afternoon programs called Satur Day Camp. You know it had
been worked out with the synagogues and they had opposed it, but anyhow the
Center Board was strong enough to say we see this as a need and we’re going to
do it. They had already been going on for a number of years. A person by the
name of Climan who was highly trained in Jewish education was the Director of
the Saturday Camp. But they ran it like, pretty much a normal day camp program,
a one day program on Saturday afternoon. Well Dottie then was assigned work in
the Children’s Department and she handled that end of it. And we were very
happy in Kansas City. It’s a marvelous community.
Interviewer: Yeah, it sounds like it is.
Interviewer: I just met somebody from there.
Rosenfeld: Yeah it was, really we were very happy there and like I say in
terms of progression, we knew that if I wanted to advance and eventually
become Executive Director of a Jewish Center that this was the way to go to get
a couple of good years of experience and go on. At that time, that I got the
call to come to Columbus for the interview, I was in the midst of organizing an
outdoor country camp for the Jewish Center. I had leased, arranged for the
lease, of a camp at Roaring River State Park in the Shepard of the Hills Country
of Southern Missouri, about 200 miles south of Kansas City. And we were taking
registrations for that, pretty much in the beginning of that, when I got his
offer to come in for the interview. So I had a meeting with the Board and they
offered me the job. Now my uncle, Dr. Gordon, says, “Don’t take it.”
He says the first… he’d been at a number of meetings, he said,
“Don’t take it.” He advised me again, says, “The first
Executive Director of this new Jewish Center, 50,000 square foot center, which
the community has never had, he’s going to have so many problems that he’ll
only last a year.” So I took it anyhow.
Interviewer: That made you want it all the more.
Rosenfeld: Well I don’t know, it seemed to me it was a challenge and I
thought I could handle it.
Interviewer: But he was, I could see where he was coming from, couldn’t
Rosenfeld: Yeah I could.
Interviewer: A bunch of people not knowing what they were doing and you’re
supposed to be…
Rosenfeld: Yeah so I came to the Jewish Center in May of that year of 1949
and Dottie was also on my staff out in Kansas City. Of course when we left
Kansas City they had a farewell party for us. We left behind a good many close
friends that we really enjoyed. But coming back here…
Interviewer: Did she work for the Center here?
Rosenfeld: No. We decided we wanted to have a family. Since I was 36 years
old, my biological clock…
Interviewer: You still had a little bit of time.
Rosenfeld: So yeah, well men don’t generally have the same problem…
a longer time span. But anyhow, we decided we wanted to come back to Columbus,
take the job, take the challenge, and see where we went. So I got here in 1949
and retired in 1977. Now one of the reasons I retired at that time, I guess, let
me say, it took us, your dad was great in terms of helping us develop the Family
Campus. When we moved into the new Jewish Center…
Interviewer: The Family Campus?
Rosenfeld: The Jewish community campus.
Interviewer: Oh yeah.
Rosenfeld: You know, that we have, a hundred acres of ground. I’ll tell you
how that happened. Your dad was responsible.
Interviewer: Was he President after Garek? I’ve sort of lost track.
Rosenfeld: Well, yeah, he’s listed in the Board Room. They’re listed in
pretty much sequence. I think he was after Abe Yenkin.
Interviewer: Yeah that sounds right.
Rosenfeld: After Abe Yenkin. At any rate, we had 25 acres of which 10 acres
was arable or virgin ground and 15 acres was tin cans, was covered with tin
cans, ashes, bottles and so forth to a depth of God knows what. For 25 years it
had been a city trash dump. Not garbage dump but a trash dump. Okay.
Interviewer: Why did you, why did we buy it?
Rosenfeld: Well originally…
Interviewer: We were at buying the land, why you bought the dump.
Rosenfeld: Yeah. Why did the Jewish Center locate at College and Livingston?
Rosenfeld: Well originally there was a strong group that preferred the
location between Merkle and Gould Road. But Weiler apparently had developed
other interests in it and Abe Yenkin at the time was on the committee, the Site
Committee, to select, Eddie Schlezinger was on that committee and I’m not sure
who else. That was before my arrival here and they thought that about half the
community still lived west of Alum Creek and half the community lived east. So
they felt that was half way between and very accessible. And at that time, it
was accessible by major streets such as Main Street and Nelson Road and College
Avenue and so forth. And it had a lot going for it. And then it was entirely
open territory. Despite that there was a huge sign, billboard, advertising the
home sites in Berwick, “Berwick a carefully restricted community.”
Interviewer: You’re kidding!
Rosenfeld: Oh yes, oh yes. This was before…
Interviewer: Before we got there?
Rosenfeld: Yeah, before we got there and so forth. Anyhow they bought the
land anyway and so there were a number of things that came up. At any rate,
during the early years, during 1949, one of my jobs was to empty out the old
Schonthal Center. And in the process of emptying out the old Schonthal Center, a
number of valuable things were lost for which I feel partly responsible although
that was still sort of an… kind of thing. Rose Sugarman was still around
and she was still connected to the Family Service. But I guess being around age
70, really was not up to the task of emptying out a building that she had helped
fill with artifacts and things like that and so there were a lot of things that
were really lost in the shuffle too. I never saw them including the records of
the old Schonthal Center Board minutes and stuff like that.
Interviewer: Ohhh. That’s tragic.
Rosenfeld: So I really don’t know what happened to those.
Interviewer: Somebody went…
Rosenfeld: No, no. They were there in one of her file cabinets which was in
her office and so on down the line. But at any rate, that happened. So because
of the unavailability of the Merkle Road Property, due to a little reluctance on
Weiler’s part that he wanted to sell it, they chose this location at
Livingston and College Avenue and I remember in the early years, so when I
walked into that place, it became available to me to set up an office in
December of 1949, and…
Interviewer: The building was finished?
Rosenfeld: Yeah the building was finished. Was it December of ’49 or
December of 1950, I forget which…
Interviewer: I think it had to have been ’49 because…
Rosenfeld: Yeah. ’49, yeah. December of ’49. 1950 was our first operating
year. So I had at that time during the five months that I had been in town prior
to that time of meeting the board and getting ideas, drawing up a chart of
organization for staff, going to the National Jewish Welfare Board Annual
Meetings or the NAJCW, the National Association of Jewish Center Workers…
service with to interview candidates for different positions which we had. I was
lucky enough at that time to interview Sam Stellman who became our first
Director of Health and Physical Education and Sam also was the first member of
our staff to go on for a Ph.D. at Ohio State which he got and shortly after that
took a job at the University of Wisconsin where he retired just last year. So
he left about in 1959 after 9 years and he’d gotten his Ph.D. and he’d done
a fantastic job of organizing our health and recreational services program . . .
. And then the first Executive Director or Assistant Executive Director, or as
we called them at that time, Adult Activities Director, also a graduate social
worker, Mike Schwartz. Mike Schwartz came to us in 1959. He had a degree from
the University of Pittsburgh in drama and he was very much interested in the
Interviewer: I vaguely remember him. Who was in charge of the kids?
Rosenfeld: Well we had Marvin Josolowitz.
Interviewer: That’s who I remember.
Rosenfeld: Marvin Josolowitz was with us for a couple of years and then later
went home to go in business with his father in Boston with the Reading Institute
of Boston. Got his Ph.D. and I think they still have a good time. May still be
the Executive Director of the Reading Institute of Boston which is a remedial
reading… (indistinct) Yeah, he worked with the teens and the children.
Interviewer: See I was on the teen-age council. Boy that was a great thing.
Did you know that?
Rosenfeld: Yes I do but you know the origin of that occurred during the later
years of the Schonthal Center about in ’39 or thereabouts, when the Assistant
Director of the Northern United Jewish Fund took on a more prominent role and
they hired a professional person who worked with teens or who got the idea of
organizing a youth council representing all of the…youth groups: AZA,
BBG, and that was, Ann Schanfarber and Leon Friedman were the two people who
were involved in leading that organizational group and I remember talking and
working with Ann…
Interviewer: When she was in high school?
Rosenfeld: No (indistinct) possibly while she was still in high school or in
the early years of college when she and Leon were involved in setting up this
Junior Jewish Community Council.
Interviewer: Do you remember Stunt Night?
Rosenfeld: Yeah. Stunt Night. We have pictures. I’ve got a lot of, I
probably ought to turn over a lot of my photo slides that I still have
here. I did turn over a lot of them to Rose Schwartz.
Interviewer: Oh did you?
Rosenfeld: And offered some of them to the person, Bob Shackett, that took my
place when I retired. I still have, I have about 4,000 slides, not all of that
are related to the Center but probably at least 1,000 Kodachrome slides of
things like the Tar Hollow Family Camp and the Young Adult Program and the
Teen-Age Council and the Pre-School and the Day Camp.
Interviewer: You know what I think… Jewish Center was from the
standpoint of a kid at the bowling alley.
Rosenfeld: Well there was a…
Rosenfeld: Maybe I ought not to go on the record but I guess you got on the
record as Howard Schoenbaum who at the time was the President of the Jewish
Center in later years. Well at the time that they were talking about building
the present Center he had already been President of the Jewish Center and he
owned Southern Bowling and Billiard Supply. He was a bowling expert. And his
judgment was that with the advent of the pin spotters, you know, the automatic
pin spotters, the toughest thing in the first two years of operating the Jewish
Center was getting pin boys. There are a lot of members of the Jewish community
who remember the fact that they were once pin boys, like Marshall Harris, the
son of Iz Harris, who at the time was President of B’nai B’rith. Marshall
Harris was a pin boy and that was a good way for some of the young teenagers to
make money and earn extra money. But I felt that the Center at that time of the
bowling alleys, we had 12 alleys, and because of the Jewish purposes of the
Center, were closed down Friday evening which is a prime week night and we were
closed all day Saturday which was a prime time for a recreational time during
the day, and the judgment, Howard’s judgment, was from his experience in
working with bowling alleys throughout West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, was
that we could not sustain a bowling alley at a profit basis.
In other words, the
feeling was that operating a bowling alley and catering largely to non-Jewish
leagues, since there were only a certain small number of Jewish leagues, that we
couldn’t operate it, it wouldn’t justify the cost of building let’s say a
24 lane bowling alley on the grounds of the new Jewish Center since they needed
100,000 square feet for the growing activities of the teen and youth activities
and the adult activities and theater programs and physical education, and then
Howard’s point of view was that there was even at the time of the construction
planning for the new Jewish Center, that because of automatic pin spotters, the
bowling industry was being over-built in the Columbus area and a number of them
gone bankrupt or closed down.
Interviewer: Yeah but I don’t remember…
Interviewer: It was a special, terrific place to socialize, I mean…
Interviewer: I mean that’s why we went there, you know, not to bowl.
Rosenfeld: That was another activity to socialize. But the other thing was,
stop to think, we ran into a big discussion of “What is the purpose of the
Interviewer: Yeah, right, sure.
Rosenfeld: The purpose of the Jewish Center is to serve the Jewish community.
The purpose of the Jewish Center is to enrich family values and family lives.
And a lot of things, when you think of activities that the whole family can
enjoy together, bowling is one of those activities.
Rosenfeld: So then we had family bowling, family activities where mother and
daughter, father and son, participated and we provided the socialization and the
fun linkage. Still there are, the B’nai B’rith League is still going strong.
Rosenfeld: But Howard’s point of view was they could still do that in some
of the new lanes…
Interviewer: They didn’t have to do it in the Jewish Center.
Rosenfeld: Didn’t have to go to the Jewish Center to do that. Well there
was a big controversy involved but basically it boiled down to dollars and
cents. There was a very good case made that it did enhance family life and there
was nothing particularly Jewish; you didn’t keep score with Hebrew letters. Or
whatever, that the value of it was that it did enhance Jewish association in the
various Jewish leagues that were organized and that it did provide…
Interviewer: I think it did. I think it definitely; I mean I don’t belong
to any of those leagues but I’m a horrible bowler but I think it’s
definitely got a place, definitely.
Rosenfeld: At any rate, that was the decision. Now one of the things…
Interviewer: I thought that building was a wonderful building.
Rosenfeld: Well it had a lot of problems.
Interviewer: It did?
Rosenfeld: Ohhhhh yes, one of which, Leo Yassenoff who built the building, at
the time let’s say there was a big argument with the National Jewish Welfare
Interviewer: Leo Yassenoff built the first one?
Interviewer: Oh I didn’t know that.
Rosenfeld: Yeah. He built them. Basically he builds universal apartment
projects for… and this was the first community center Leo had built. The
advice of the National Jewish Welfare Board, they had a Building Department that
offered… advice on construction and so on down the line. And when the
Center here submitted what they thought their needs were, which were for
activity meeting rooms for club and activities and activity centers, arts and
crafts and theater and things like that. Leo who owned and operated a theater
said: “I can build you, I can build a room with a multi-purpose to provide
for mass meetings with the B’nai B’rith and the Council of Jewish Women and
Hadassah and in addition, provide a stage for theater activities and so forth.”
The National Jewish Welfare Board said in order to build a building under proper
standards and so forth, would cost a dollar or two dollars a square foot. I
forget what the figure was exactly. Leo said, “If you will give me the
contract for doing it, I will do it at my cost. I don’t want to make a penny
on it,” and he was that kind of a generous person. “Do it at my cost
and I can do it for 50 cents a square foot.” Well so they gave him the
contract and… he did come in under projected costs and actually did build
it for about 50 cents a square foot. And toward the end when he was… he
said, “Look, this thing is coming in under what I budgeted for. If you will
pay for the filtration plant for an outdoor pool, I’ll build you an outdoor
pool for free and not charge anything for it.”
Rosenfeld: So anyhow, he built the building and they opened it up in 1950.
That was the first year of operation. Now with regard to the building, there
were a number of difficulties with the building. Every ceiling in that
building was blown-on asbestos.
Interviewer: Oh dear.
Rosenfeld: Now that posed a variety of problems, including the gymnasium. He
thought he’d reduce the sound with…
Rosenfeld: Not then, no. So the first thing, we had a number of problems with
the building during the early operating years. The very first day on our opening
night in the building, there was a little room off the lobby. It was supposed to
be a lounge. It was open, completely open off the first floor lobby and it had a
ceiling. The next morning while we were examining, a big (indistinct) came to the
opening dedication facilities and so on down the line, we discovered footprints
going across. Some teen-age kid had taken his shoes off and got on the shoulders
of another kid and made footprints walking from one corner to the other. They
thought it was funny. So already we had a repair that had to be made in that
particular room. And then as they began playing in the gym at volleyball where
you hit the ball back… and sometimes the ball goes up and hits the
Interviewer: Wasn’t the gym off the multi-purpose room?
Interviewer: Oh no, no, it wasn’t.
Rosenfeld: There was one down…
Interviewer: There was the room and then there was the gym. I remember.
Rosenfeld: Yeah. There was a room downstairs when Lori Nesson was murdered, a
teen-ager, one of the active teen-agers…
Interviewer: Lori Nesson?
Rosenfeld: Lori Nesson, N-E-S-S-O-N. This was a daughter of Joyce Schlang,
S-C-H-L-A-N-G. Her brother was blind.
Interviewer: Neil Schlang?
Rosenfeld: Yeah Neil Schlang.
Interviewer: Yeah I heard of him.
Rosenfeld: Anyhow…sister…Joy was now in her…
Interviewer: Neil was my age.
Rosenfeld: No, Neil has got to be a nephew of Joy.
Interviewer: Neil Schlang is in his 50s.
Rosenfeld: Yeah but Joy was older than that. I think she’s in her 60s. She
owns an art shop in German Village.
Interviewer: Now who was Lori?
Rosenfeld: Lori was her daughter and she was found murdered in a field
somewhere. Never did find the murderer. Anyhow, she was very active and
popular in the Youth Council and they furnished that room in her honor, at the
time it was sort of bare with a pool table and ping pong table and a few chairs
that could be cleared out; it could be used for meetings, a multi-purpose room.
So they renamed it the Teen-Age Lounge and… by the teen community to buy
furniture for it and dedicated it in her memory.
Rosenfeld: Well that was probably around 1960. So at any rate, when they were
playing volleyball or pass the ball or other active activities in the gym, they
began to hit the ceiling, particularly volleyball…somebody would try and
show off and try to…the ceiling and so forth, here comes streamers of
asbestos coming down. We still didn’t know, let me say, about the difficulty.
But anyhow, the ceiling got so damaged that we had scaffolds in there and our
maintenance to scale the loft down to the wire mesh. Now any ball that still hit
up there, there still came from above that because blown-on asbestos, it was
asbestos above the mesh as well as below the mesh that holds. Finally one of the
teen-agers who did some research on it gave it to Goldie Mayer who is an
attorney. Her son who was kind of a nerd, still is…
Interviewer: He was kind of weird.
Rosenfeld: That’s okay.
Interviewer: Do they live here?
Interviewer: Do they live in Columbus?
Rosenfeld: Yeah he lives in Columbus.
Interviewer: Oh dear.
Rosenfeld: That’s all right ’cause he did a very constructive thing, He
was a guy, along with Steve Stellman, Sam Stellman’s son, he was a very good
friend of Sam and Steve. Steve graduated with the most high school credits at
the time he graduated. He took courses during the summer and so on down the
Interviewer: What did he end up doing?
Rosenfeld: He ended up getting a Ph.D. and he became Vice-President in Charge
of Research for the National Cancer Society.
Interviewer: Oh my word.
Rosenfeld: And he has a world-wide reputation in his field.
Interviewer:… David Mayer…
Rosenfeld: David Mayer is still in Columbus I believe but he is probably a
computer whiz and so on down the line. He’s very, very bright along with Steve
who was a straight A student and so forth. Very poor athletic coordination but
at any rate, he did use the gym and so when he discovered in the research which
was coming out about asbestos, the fact that it was a carcinogen, he wrote a
letter to the board and said, “This has got to be corrected,” and…
Interviewer: Good for him.
Rosenfeld: So he was responsible. We did correct whatever we could. We put
dropped ceilings over the asbestos to where it could not leak down into the
Adult Lounge area, that room down at the end of the hallway, and also the Board
Room and all of the Hebrew School classrooms on the second floor, we covered all
of those up. If we had tried to remove it, it would have been an enormously
expensive, there was just no…
Interviewer: Well now let me ask you something.
Rosenfeld: And then we were getting to the place that by the time it came
around, this was about l5, it was about 12 years ago. So we corrected whatever
we could correct.
Interviewer: What happened to the building? I wasn’t in Columbus when you
built the present building. What happened? Where was the old building was one
place and… the other one?
Rosenfeld: Yeah, I’ll give you that in a moment. So much has happened in
the process. At any rate, this young man, David Mayer, was responsible really
for alerting the board to this problem and the importance of correcting the
problem and certainly in building the new building that we would not, of course
we couldn’t make mistakes then because the Building Code…
Rosenfeld: So some of the other things that happened during the start of the
(indistinct) program…because the first membership campaign provided
for both family memberships and individual memberships. And then the first big
question that we had was whether to permit non-Jewish people to join the Center
and we had the largest board meeting, one of the largest board meetings, there
were 80 people attending that meeting. And there were pros and cons but
ultimately the board voted to have an open membership…United Way Agency
that while we could restrict membership, and there were centers in the country
that limited their membership to Jewish members only, that it was quite within
the realm of having a…membership, they felt that it was important to
be good neighbors and to open the membership. Well we opened the membership to
families. Most of the Jewish community joined as families and we had a family
membership. Most of the non-Jewish members took out individual memberships for
whatever members of their family that wanted to use the Center, whether it was
the health club or whether it was the swimming. We had about a thousand children
at that time were using the outdoor pool. This is the only outdoor pool in that
particular area and so that was a very, very popular activity. So after two
years, I think it was in 1952, we had an overall membership in terms of
individuals, adults and individuals including the individuals in family
memberships and individuals with memberships only, of over 7,000 men, women and
children. Incidentally, that’s as many as the…building Jewish Center
services. The membership statistics…had a membership which had grown to
over 7,000. Well in reviewing the membership policies of the Center, they still
felt that family membership was our basic purpose. Our basic purpose was to
strengthen family relationships and to provide activities in which the whole
family could participate such as our bowling alleys and our swimming and our
baseball leagues and… happened that we ought to require family
memberships only. That would include children. And so that, in the transition
period, any child or any member who had taken out an individual membership would
be allowed to continue. We also found that there was quite a turnover in the
non-Jewish community. They would join, let’s say, for the summer swimming
program primarily… for a program or whatever, and as soon as their
particular needs were met, they dropped their membership. So we had quite a bit
of turnover in the non-Jewish community. So a compulsory family membership was
set up somewhere in the early 50s. Again, now that I’m getting into the past
years, my memory for dates somewhat escapes me.
Interviewer: You’ve done pretty well.
Rosenfeld: But this turned out to be a good transition. We ran into no
city-wide community relations problems as a result of it and we continued to
serve as members anybody that wanted to join for whatever activity, whether it
was for their children, they were required to join as a family the same as
Interviewer: They just switched that policy this year, didn’t they?
Rosenfeld: They did but not for children.
Interviewer: Oh, just for adults?
Rosenfeld: For adults. For adults.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Rosenfeld: They went back to, still anybody of school age has to join as part
of a family. So that was our second membership policy that was decided. And
there’s a lot of differences let’s say between the way the Center program is
now and the way it was back in the days when you were a member, and so forth.
Interviewer: When I was a kid?
Rosenfeld: When you were a kid, yeah. We hired, for example…
Interviewer: I don’t think kids use it the same way we did, do you?
Interviewer: I mean we lived there. We really lived there. I can remember
Rosenfeld: There is no children’s activities program during the week.
After-school program has virtually disappeared. Teen-age program has
(indistinct) B.B.Y.O., Temple Youth Groups and Young Judea groups. And they have
a single staff member that currently provides… But the Saturday…
Rosenfeld: Provides leadership or organizational time for these activities.
These groups that we have the most, that we have now…
Interviewer: B.B.Y.O. shouldn’t…
Rosenfeld:… let me say the biggest activity is the children’s
services. We have for example in day camp, 650 children that are in day camp…we only had capacity for about 125.
Interviewer: That right? And also day care, pre-school and day care, isn’t
Rosenfeld: Yeah. Now again in the early stages of the early Center, there
were a couple of policies that were very important. There was a policy for
example, and this came out of the Jewish Community Council and the United Jewish
Fund. The Hebrew School had kind of outgrown its location across from the old
Center at 560 E. Rich Street and they wanted permission to have their classes in
the Jewish Center building. And that decision was made before I became Director.
I probably would have gone along with that although I had a very, very tough
problem when I was a… executive. I got an empty building. They said,
“Your responsibilities are working out an equipment list for every room in
the Center, purchasing them and installing them.”
Interviewer: Was money no object? It sounds like you…
Rosenfeld: Well, no. Well they knew that they had to budget a certain amount
to buy equipment so that was… And Leo, since he did come in under
budget and he built a swimming pool for cost, the original cost of that
50,000 square foot building was $569,000, something like that. The new building
was $10 million plus.
Rosenfeld: So at any rate, Leo did take some short cuts in certain materials
and specifications but he built a very usable building and we got very, very
good use out of it for forty years or thereabouts before the new building was
Interviewer: When was the new building built?
Rosenfeld: The new building is celebrating its tenth anniversary so it was
built in, 1993, so it was built in 1983 so that the old building was operated
for 33 years, 27 years of which I operated it and 6 years in which Bob Schachter
who was a Pittsburgh native. Then he came and he said he would see the process
through the construction of the new building and the opening of it and so
forth with only one condition: if he were ever offered the job of, he would
commit himself to staying in Columbus until that was done, unless he were
offered the job of Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Jewish Centers, which
operated 3 or 4 different centers, a huge operation.
Interviewer: You know I worked at the Jewish Center in Detroit. Did you know
Rosenfeld: No I didn’t know that.
Interviewer: Yeah. I did two things there. I worked under Jack Warren
Plotnick. Do you remember him?
Rosenfeld: Yeah, sure.
Interviewer: He was a great… I liked him a lot. But anyhow I ran the
library there. They had a library.
Interviewer: And I ran it and I also ran, they had a secular Jewish Sunday
School. They had 150 kids. I did that too.
Rosenfeld: Well that goes back. When the old Schonthal Center was opened, the
Schonthal Center operated a Sabbath School. And really it was the Sunday School
of Temple Israel from… It was run under the auspices but under the
leadership were key people from Temple Israel.
Interviewer: No kidding?
Interviewer: But did Temple Israel have a Sunday School?
Rosenfeld: I’m not sure whether they did or didn’t. But if they did, they
still operated the Sunday School at the old Schonthal Center.
Interviewer: I used to get into such arguments with Mort about this whole
thing about the membership. I could… I just couldn’t go along with
their closed membership policy at the Jewish Center. In fact, before he offered
me that job, I had belonged to the Jewish Center and quit over that policy and…they offered me the job.
Rosenfeld: Well in the old Schonthal Center, they had a Sunday School for the
members. There are some pictures that are in the display cases in the lobby of
the current Center that show some of those classes.
Rosenfeld: And the board members of the leadership… but there was…
Interviewer: Was it a religious school or a Sunday, I mean…
Rosenfeld: It was a Sunday School, a regular religious Sunday School.
Rosenfeld: Yeah it was a Sunday School. Well they did that on… Also
they had a Sunday program. They did a… school.
Interviewer: No it was school. It was run by parents and had mothers. The
only… I worked for the Jewish Center, I was paid by the Jewish Center,
but my bosses were the people who ran the school. It was weird. I mean it had
some parents running it and…
Rosenfeld: Well so it was a leased department then in a sense.
Interviewer: Yeah, yeah.
Rosenfeld: Well I get back to…
Interviewer: But I was paid through the Jewish Center. And I had all the
perks of the Jewish Center. I mean I was a member of the staff. I used to go to
staff meetings and I loved it.
Rosenfeld: Well incidentally, one of the early decisions that we had to make
at the old Jewish Center in 1950 was, Rose Schwartz at that time was conducting
self-development pre-school, a self-development school. Harry Gilbert was active
on the board on that and he was active on the board of the new Jewish Center.
This is Ivan’s father.
Rosenfeld: And two things came up. One is that they wanted to lease space in
the Center to run the self-development school. And I said, “No way.” I said the other way to come in here is that if they become a department
under the supervision and direct auspices of the Jewish Center. And we had a big
meeting on it. And Herman Katz, and Eddie Schlezinger was President and this
became a very, very controversial item because some members of the
self-development school, at that time they ran two classes of public school-age
children. Reva Gordon among others felt that the bulwark, the mainstay of our
American system was our public education system and that the Center ought not to
get into any program in competition with the public school program. Well the
board members of the self-development school had envisioned carrying it on on
the pre-school level and then adding grade l, then adding grade 2, and then
adding grade 3; that was their objective. Well so that came up at a board
meeting and we had a huge board meeting at that time also and there was quite a
decision. Well Eddie Schlezinger who was President of the Center said, and his
favorite expression… “When the game got a little rough, you move to
the sidelines and look things over from a different perspective.” So he
appointed Herman Katz to serve as a negotiating member with the self-development
school and then it came into the Center. They turned over their equipment. They
had a bus or two and whatever material that they had in terms of supplies and
Rose Schwartz would be a… member of the Center staff. She would be under
the supervision of the Executive Director and that the school would be limited
to those ages which were not public school… And when Rose came in, she
came very reluctantly. She had been her own boss for a number of years. And she
came in with a lot of trepidation. She didn’t know how she… We became
very good friends.
Interviewer: She was a terrific lady.
Rosenfeld: She was a terrific lady and she felt that it was really one of the
best things that happened to her. It relieved her of a lot of administrative
responsibilities and she no longer had to worry about bus routes and she no
longer had to worry about equipment.
Interviewer: Would you like to get a drink of water?
Rosenfeld: Yes, let me… At any rate, the operation of the pre-school
was so successful that it grew in size. But the board members of the old
pre-school were very unhappy. Harry Gilbert particularly had a vision of what is
currently the Torah Academy. That’s really what he had a name for the Jewish
Center. So finally they got around to the place where they went on a building
campaign and acquired the site on Noe-Bixby Road, which was land which was owned
by, I think the Columbus Jewish Federation owned that land, the site.
Interviewer: They did?
Rosenfeld: Yeah, oh yeah. They bought it.
Interviewer: For that?
Rosenfeld: No, no. They bought it for ultimate community planning so actually
the site of Temple Israel was…
Interviewer: I thought Jack Resler owned that.
Rosenfeld: Jack Resler owned it but he turned it over to…
Rosenfeld: So, well actually…
Interviewer: Not too far along?
Rosenfeld: Not too far along. As a matter of fact, with the current
demographic study, that’s…
Interviewer:… New Albany.
Rosenfeld: That’s a terrific location.
Interviewer: And that’s New Albany; that’s the way to get onto New
Albany. So Harry Gilbert is the one who started the Torah Academy?
Rosenfeld: Yeah. The original purchase of land which we were talking about
started in the late 40s and when the Center opened, the Center had a campus of
25 acres next door to the Center, immediately south. There were three very old,
dilapidated frame houses and shortly after that, they became available. They
were empty. For a while they were used for temporary housing. They became empty
and Dick Abel who was active on the Center Board and also with the Federation,
and I talked about it. Dick was primarily concerned with expanding the Center
campus for other uses. Originally we thought it might be for expanding Center
use but the Federation decided this would be a great location for the activities
of the Federation including community relations and perhaps the Jewish Family
Service which had been associated with the Federation for a few years. So the
land was bought. The houses were torn down and ultimately Mr. Milton Cobey’s
building was built to house the Federation and…
Interviewer: When was that? Do you remember?
Rosenfeld: I’m not sure just what the year was. Ben Mandelkorn, if you ever
get him on tape, would probably remember the exact date but it strikes me that
it was in the mid-50s somewhere. After that, there was, or not after, I think it
was slightly before that, we got three acres of ground which were owned by the
City of Bexley. This we got on a dollar-a-year lease basis. The recommendation
Interviewer: Is that property in Bexley?
Interviewer: Oh, they just…
Rosenfeld: No. Bexley generally tries to take care of its disposal problems
on somebody else’s property.
Rosenfeld: And so at one time that was the Bexley Sewage Disposal Plant and
there were some abandoned sewer lines that made it possible for the Center to
improve its back yard, so to speak. In the very beginning, we had 25 acres but
there were 15 of those 25 that were unusable because they were covered with the
remains of years of tin cans, ashes, bundles and so forth. And so we then got a
request from the City of Bexley, would we permit a landfill program on the 15
acres which had just been acquired. And so the Federation agreed to that and the
Center agreed to that although we didn’t like…
Interviewer: Why did they agree to it?
Rosenfeld: Well they agreed to it out of self-interest I would say because it
would be a temporary proposition. There was a ravine down near Alum Creek
which they used for a couple of years for landfill and that was filling up. We
graded it off and…
Interviewer: Oh I see. It was a way of cleaning it up?
Rosenfeld: Yeah it was a way of saving that and then when that ran off, in
the 15 acres that had just been acquired sometime in the mid-50s I believe, they
wanted to know if they could continue the landfill program and that they would
take good care of it and that in exchange, they would cede to the Center the
three acres which they had used for the sewage disposal plant which had long
since been abandoned. At any rate, looking over old maps, we discovered that
there was a major sewer line going north and south across the Center property
and that this would make a good way of draining the back 15 acres and by that
time, we had leveled off, every time I saw any construction going on which was
quite extensive during the 50s, particularly in Berwick when they began to
develop Berwick, any time I saw a truck full of dirt going by, I hailed down the
driver to find out who it was that arranged for them to dump the dirt on the
back part of the Center property and along with help from the teen-agers and
from our own board, we got the back 15 acres graded off. So what the back 15
acres looks like of course is that there’s a nice green field out there now.
There’s 6 inches of dirt on top of 12 feet of not garbage but trash. In other
words, it was not a garbage landfill. And similarly, the 15 acres which were
filled up, well it’s only about 5 acres added to the section used for landfill
by Bexley and that was filled up and graded off. It became available for
construction site. When the Heritage House was built, I guess that was around
the early 60s, late 50s, when they dug in for the foundations they uncovered a
lot of the garbage in the fill so it did turn out to be a problem for the
construction people when that happened. So they had to go down a little bit
deeper for footers for the building and so forth. But it all turned out…
Interviewer: Was that the first building, the first…
Rosenfeld: Yeah the very first building for the Heritage… yeah, it was
called Heritage House. Yeah, very much so.
Interviewer: That first little building?
Rosenfeld: Well it was called The Jewish Home for the Aged originally but
they had a contest or a conference on what the name should be and finally they
decided on Heritage House. So after that, they turned some land acquisition.
There was a park called Deckard’s Woods owned by a pharmacist on E. Livingston
Avenue who had his home there and between his home and the Center there was 5 or
7 acres of wooded ground which also was some swamp ground.
Interviewer: Was it College Avenue? Yeah, it was there or not?
Rosenfeld: Yeah, still on the College Avenue site but it was down around Alum
Creek. It didn’t border on College Avenue. It was back of College Avenue. And
so that became available. Deckard was interested in selling it and so the
Federation purchased it. Primarily, the Center’s interest in it, we had
urged its purchase because we were using it for some day camp activities and we
urged that they acquire the property because Heritage House by that time had
begun to cause a little congestion in the 40 acres which the community now
owned. Along about this time, I believe, there was a proposal from the
Federation that all of the property, instead of having a variety of ownership,
part Federation and part Heritage House, part Center, the title be turned over
to the Federation as the overall community planning organization to be held in
trust and that there would be no change in the original use. At that time, we
had at the Center the 25 acres and there would be no change in usage without the
Center’s approval. In other word they had complete control even though the
Federation held the title now to the 25 acres. I think it was a good move.
Interviewer: Did you have to pay rent to them?
Rosenfeld: Oh no, we didn’t pay rent to the Federation. Also, a lot of
people looking out over the back field of the Center, thought that the ground
all sloped toward the creek. Actually the creek banks were 9 feet higher than
home plate of baseball diamond #1. So we had a major problem at the very
beginning that we had to find some solution for and the solution that we found
was through this abandoned sewer line which was an 18 inch sewer line going
north to south midway between the 25 acres. And when it got to the edge of the
Center property there was a manhole there and it abruptly made a right-angle
turn and went down to the creek. One of the other problems was we had no way in
the beginning of controlling water that fell in that big sycamore grove
immediately behind at that time, Burger Boy. It’s a fast food restaurant now,
Wendy’s. It occupies that location. During 1959, that part of Livingston
Avenue was under water and the Burger Boy was almost completely flooded out and
the grove of trees…
Interviewer: I remember that flood.
Rosenfeld: Yeah. Yeah, there was three feet of standing water on home plate
of baseball diamond #1. But before that, the reason it drained off very quickly
was using that abandoned sewer line before we built the baseball diamonds. We
were able to drain off the properties very quickly. One of the things that
helped us in that, one of the people that helped us in that was Ben Eisner who
was an engineer with, well I’m not sure who he was with at the time. But he
came to Columbus from Detroit. He was a Sunday School teacher at Temple Israel.
And my wife was Superintendent of the Sunday School…
Interviewer: I didn’t realize that she was.
Rosenfeld: Yeah she was Superintendent of the Sunday School for a couple of
Interviewer: After Mackie Papurt?
Rosenfeld: One of the things, and Phyllis Greene was the lay Chairman of the
Committee and when the Committee met, Dottie had indicated that, well it was
pretty much on a volunteer basis. They didn’t pay the Sunday School teachers
at that time.
Interviewer: They didn’t?
Rosenfeld: No. And Phyllis thought that it would be appropriate to begin a
pay scale even though it was on a very modest basis for Sunday School teachers.
And Dottie agreed to that. She thought it was a very good idea and it was
presented to the board and passed. Rabbi Folkman at that time had a conference
with Dottie (indistinct) indicated or said that he felt that was the greatest insult
or harm to him in his entire experience in the rabbinate. He felt it was counter
to what he wanted. He wanted an all-volunteer school. At any rate, it didn’t
affect our friendship with the Rabbi.
Rosenfeld: No he got over it.
Interviewer: Yeah, I’m sure. I’m sure that wasn’t the only thing that
Rosenfeld: I’m not sure that Dottie ever got over it.
Rosenfeld:… At any rate, that was one of the things that shortly, oh I
guess about a year or so after that, about two years, our children were getting
a little older and she resigned as Superintendent of the Sunday School and I
forget who took her place. At any rate…
Interviewer: Joan Folpe?
Rosenfeld: Yeah, Joan Folpe.
Interviewer: Uh huh. She was there a long time.
Rosenfeld: Yeah, she was there quite a long time and did a fine job.
Interviewer: Yeah. I wouldn’t wish that job on…
Interviewer: I taught there for three years.
Rosenfeld: Oh did you? Our Temple is again I guess having some problems.
Interviewer: So I understand.
Rosenfeld: Yeah. Not quite a repeat of the Kiner tenure but…
Rosenfeld: I think both parties, both the rabbis and the board learned
something from that experience and in the latest letter that we got from the
Temple indicating that the rabbi’s contract had been extended for two years,
and he wrote a letter and the board wrote a letter indicating that he was in the
process of looking for something that was more in accordance with his ideals and
his needs. So at least this was a fairly peaceful termination.
Rosenfeld: But at any rate, getting back to land acquisition, Deckard’s
Woods was acquired and with the acquisition of that, we had about 50 acres of
ground on this side of Alum Creek. Then when the freeway began construction
before 1959, they were considering some property from holders closer to
Livingston Avenue, Joyce Shoe Company and particular head of our 5 acres of
ground, what was to be abandoned between the freeway and Alum Creek. They
offered that ground as a gift to the Jewish Center which we accepted. Then there
was a narrow strip of ground going down to Livingston Avenue and some of that
was offered on the same basis. I think I mentioned the fact that the City also
ceded to the Center about 15-20 acres of ground going down almost to where the
DeVry Institute is and on that ground with the help of Mel Rackoff who was the
civil engineer designing that particular section of the freeway, we got a link,
2 links actually built by the freeway contractor…
Interviewer: Are they still being used?
Rosenfeld: Yeah, so that expanded our property then to about 75 acres. That
property was ceded to the Jewish Center and of the property where we had deeds
outright, that was turned over to the Federation. Deckard’s Woods was acquired
as I say because the growing activities of Heritage House required more land and
became too congested for some of our day camp operations and so…
Interviewer: Was the Heritage House the new Heritage House by then?
Rosenfeld: No still the old one. And then after that, they also acquired a
house for congregate living south of the Heritage House location. The Esther
Melton building was already built so we began to have a real grown-up, …covered, landscaped campus…
Interviewer: Campus, yeah.
Rosenfeld: which now was designed for the land use both of the Center
property and the property across the creek between the freeway and the creek.
And land use primarily for the Center as to what we should be doing with that
land. My old Professor, Dr. Batchelor at Ohio State University, did our first
site plan development use with the building with the swimming pool and then all
other recommended outdoor activity use, the location of the three baseball
diamonds, the location for tennis courts, locations for nature trails and day
camp site development on the west side of Alum Creek.
Interviewer:… the original group.
Rosenfeld: And I’ll get to that in a minute. We had no way of getting to
it. Recommended that a bridge be put over there and I have in my papers
downstairs if you’d be interested in seeing it, Dr. Batchelor’s overall
plan. Now then that included let’s say an additional 25 acres which the County
…between the freeway and Alum Creek and we approached the County and they
leased that land, 25 acres. They felt since it was land-locked and there was no
way of getting to it, that the Center was the most appropriate owner for that
land as well so that increased our total land west of Alum Creek to 50 acres
which together with the 50 acres east of Alum Creek, we have 100 acres, plus or
minus let’s say a few acres in addition to that. Then the problem came of how
are we going to get to this and use it ’cause you couldn’t wade Alum Creek.
As a matter of fact, we used to do that actually ’till let’s say my daughter
got meningitis from that water. We couldn’t figure, so we cut that. We built
a, well she…
Interviewer: Is that where she got it from?
Rosenfeld: Yeah. It’s the only place we could figure. So we immediately cut
down, we used to have a barrel bridge with a series of barrels across the creek
and the planks on top of that. So we cut that out and confined our use to east
of Alum Creek until we could somehow or other get a bridge. Well to get a
bridge, Mel Rackoff again as a contribution to the overall Center operation,
designed a bridge for us with… . specifications and Paul Sharpman, an
engineer who had come to Columbus to build the Main Post Office which was being
built over on Three Rivers confluence, he became available after that building
had been completed and he did the construction of the bridge on a no-profit
basis, in other words, on a cost-only-basis. So by that time we had figured that
we needed about $25,000. We had the plans that Rackoff drew up, we had a
contractor in place who was willing to do it since he apparently was between
major construction jobs, between the old Post Office and then going down to do
the Lucasville Penitentiary, and so he was from the east somewhere, New York or
thereabouts. He’s still in Columbus.
Rosenfeld: Yeah, still a member of the Center, still very active with us.
Interviewer: Are you talking about Paul Sharpman?
Rosenfeld: Yeah, Paul Sharpman. At any rate, I wrote a grant proposal to the
Jeffrey Foundation. Nancy Jeffrey who lived down here on Stanwood Road on the
other side of Maryland and who now lives on Ashbourne, her children…
Rosenfeld: No. I’m not sure who it was… could be Terry. At any rate,
we submitted the proposal to the Jeffrey Foundation and they came up with
$25,000 to build that bridge across Alum Creek and Sharpman built it and the
bridge still stands some 25 or 30 years later…
Interviewer: The Jeffrey Bridge?
Rosenfeld: Yeah, the Jeffrey Bridge. At any rate so that opened up the use of
the lakes. Now one of the things that I had hoped, we did music for day camp
later on. Although when you consider that we now owned or had control of 50
acres on the other side of the ground from Livingston Avenue to where the
freeway crosses out the Creek, that’s roughly, I measured it off with my
odometer on the freeway and it’s a little over a mile. So we have a mile of
freeway frontage and probably a mile and a quarter of Alum Creek frontage for
this property. Well one of the things, of course when they dug out the gravel
pits, in other words they were looking for fill dirt to put the freeway, elevate
the freeway across Livingston Avenue. Well the freeway contractor, the complete
general construction company, did the work. They requested permission to do the
(indistinct) and I think I talked about that previously here. We gave them
permission provided they would construct a lake with safe shore lines…
Interviewer: No you didn’t talk about that.
Rosenfeld: Well at any rate, they did the excavation for the freeway and they
hit a very rich vein of what we call I-22 gravel, very fine gravel that they use
for the berm or the edge of the freeway. Normally the contractor would have had
to pay 2 cents a cubic yard for that material. As it is, the City, well we had
the use of the land but the City still held title to it, and they said, “If
you want to dig this, you’ll have to get permission from the Center.” So
the cost of the gravel went up to 5 cents a cubic yard, the same as the rest of
the… digging out from that construction. So the contractor saved money,
the City saved money and got some cash money in exchange for all of the
thousands of cubic yards that they took out of there, and the Center had a nice
thousand foot long lake which we could use for canoe instruction and for day
camp use and that kind of thing.
Interviewer: I never knew…
Rosenfeld: Yeah. I’ll have to take you over some time and show it to you.
Interviewer: Yeah, that’s interesting. I didn’t know any of that stuff
Rosenfeld: One of my interests now that I’m retired, I’ve started a
nature group called “Outdoors Ohio,” a nature hiking group…
one of my interests.
Interviewer: No kidding? For what age group?
Rosenfeld: Basically adults. We’ve had 18 or 20 people that are in the
group at the present time, range in age I’d judge from about the 30s,
somewhere in the 30s, to my age since I hike along with them…
Interviewer: Where do you go? I mean…
Rosenfeld: Basically the way I’ve planned it out, I planned that we would
visit all of the Metropolitan Parks and other places of interest including state
parks and they range anywhere from Old Man’s Cave on up to Mohican State
Forest. This coming Sunday we’re going to be going out to Glen Haven at
Antioch College. That is a fabulously beautiful nature center down there. Early
in, oh I guess about 25 years ago, Ewell Gibbons, do you remember?
Rosenfeld: The guy who wrote the book (indistinct) Asparagus conducted a
three day outdoor education institute at the Antioch College in Glen Haven and
Dottie and I took our two girls and we went down there for this experience. It
was a marvelous experience and of course, we’ve been going down pretty much
ever since then, right before and after…
Interviewer: Have you ever thought of doing this for Elder Hostel?
Interviewer: We’ve gone on their…
Rosenfeld: Oh have you?
Interviewer: Yeah we went to, well Mike’s 56, you know…
Interviewer: He’s eligible. I go along. But we went there, we went to
Toronto for a week and we went to Paris. The trips are, they’re wonderful. But
they do things like this.
Rosenfeld: Yeah I belong to, I get the Elder Hostel publications.
Interviewer: Do you? Because they do this kind of thing. You could probably
lead a group. Really. Stay at Antioch…
Interviewer:… and lead a group around.
Rosenfeld: Well generally they, well Antioch has a staff and they would
Interviewer: They’d lead it…
Rosenfeld: If they ever had it, they would, yeah. Generally, they’re
programmed mostly through universities, colleges, and so forth and institutions
of that sort…
Rosenfeld: that have dormitory facilities although for the National Youth
Hostel organization. When I graduated from the army in 1946, I think I told you
that I was with the State Department during my final year there before I started
working at the Abel Corporation, that I went on a National Youth Hostel trip, a
60 day trip starting in Northfield, Massachusetts, and going up to Montreal by
train. This was a combination, a 10,000 mile trip, combination train and
bicycle trip. We cycled about 1200 miles and about 9,000 miles by train. We
went, across Canada, we went in what they call a colonist’s car which was like
a Pullman car except you lowered your own bunk and made up your own bed and they
had a galley in it where we cooked our own food and we did that on a dollar and
a half per person per day…
Rosenfeld: on that which is the Youth Hostel pattern, in other words, that
you do all of your own walking and cycling and so forth. And at the time I was
in the Philippines and Dr. Batchelor wrote me a letter saying that he would like
if I could get back to the States by June, that he would like me to be an
assistant to him on leading this trip. Well it turned out that the enrollment
with the Americal Youth Hostel, the national organization for the trip, turned
out to be about 90 young people that wanted to go on the trip so they divided it
into 3 different groups and so instead of going along ith Dr. Batchelor as his
assistant, I had a group of my own of 30 high school and college people. I had
the most interesting group of the bunch.
Interviewer: Did you?
Rosenfeld: Oh yeah. Dr. Batchelor had the adolescents, the 14 to 16 group,
and I had the high school graduating seniors and college group primarily. I had
two assistants who went along with me on that group also. So when we did that
trip there was one young lady who was working on her Ph.D. in nuclear physics
and other people of outstanding abilities. A very interesting group and very
easy to work with and Dr. Batchelor was working with adolescents of course but
with his skill, perfectly capable of handling and controlling them but he didn’t
have the fun that I did.
Interviewer: Now this, to get back to this one, I don’t know whether we
should keep talking about this but this one that you do now, do you do it with
an organization or is it just something…
Rosenfeld: Well it’s a program of the Jewish Center.
Rosenfeld: I volunteer for the Jewish Center to do it and…
Interviewer: Is Marla… the one you work with?
Rosenfeld: No, with Harry Comberg.
Interviewer: Oh right, right.
Rosenfeld: Well I guess it’s under Marla…
Interviewer: Yeah right, it’s Harry, yeah. Uh huh.
Rosenfeld: So there’s one of the things that I’ve become aware of as I’ve
become involved in this group, there’s another group that I’m involved in at
the Center. There’s a vast difference between the staffing plan that they have
with the Center now and what we had during the 27 years that I operated the
Center. Primarily it’s because of the change in the field of Social Work. I
was on a national committee of the National Jewish Welfare Board which is our
national association on a personnel committee to study the staffing plan or
organizational plans, of Jewish centers. This was in the early or mid-60s. And
we became aware of the fact that during that time, during the Johnson
administration and the number of social programs that developed at that time,
the most attractive job opportunities for new people coming out in the field of
Social Work were with the Federal Government and they were in various programs
which the government started. As a result, we were considering in the center
field different staffing possibilities. And that also resulted in social workers
moving toward, let’s say particularly in Ohio, towards licensing for, you know
like we do engineers, like we do doctors and so forth and so on. You pass a
state test and you become a licensed social worker. And one of the things that’s
happened since then is that many of the social workers have gone into private
Rosenfeld: And so with that, it became extremely difficult to staff your
agency with professional social workers. And now I take the position, my feeling
is that I don’t think colleges of social work, a degree in social work no
longer prepares a person for a success in fields like a Jewish center or being a
group worker. And as a matter of fact, even though the M.S.W.s as part of the
field of social work, still is a goal of many group workers, there are not many
schools that are successfully training. When I retired from the Center in 1977,
I taught at the University for a couple of years and the School of Social Work.
I didn’t feel… comfortable in that.
Interviewer: Right. Well now, you know I applied for that job that Harry
Rosenfeld: Oh really?
Interviewer: Yeah, and…
Rosenfeld: Well that’s apparent, she doesn’t.
Rosenfeld: So there is an entirely different philosophy.
Interviewer: Yeah, yeah. I don’t know exactly what it is but it is
Rosenfeld: Is your, your doctorate’s in what field?
Interviewer: American Studies with a major in American Jewish Studies.
Rosenfeld: And your master’s degree also in that…
Interviewer: Same thing.
Rosenfeld: Same thing.
Interviewer: It wasn’t designed, I never, I’m going to turn this off; I
don’t want this on the tape. Well anyway we were on the difference in social
Rosenfeld: Yeah. So the social work field, each of us that were on the
committee were a group of executives of Jewish centers around the country, we
were on this committee. And we began exploring all the models that came to
contingent, that is we were going to continue to use social group work as a
basic professional… of our staff, that we had to figure out a way of
preserving their time and that we ought to consider hiring other kinds of
Rosenfeld: What I think now, let’s say, I think the field of social work
just is becoming entirely therapeutically oriented and Jewish centers’ primary
clientele are a broad, normal cross-section of the community so the need for
therapy, that’s the field for the Jewish Family Service and the Jewish center
has got to find people that are qualified to organize and work with groups. But
there still is a need in working with those groups to have a sensitivity in
terms of personality development and that kind of thing. So there’s a radical
difference now between the Jewish Center of today and the Jewish Center of the
Interviewer: You know there’s certainly been a big turnover in the staffing
of the Jewish Center.
Rosenfeld: Oh yes, yes. Well part of that is due let’s say I think to
looking for opportunities elsewhere but then I think that there is still
consistent professional staffing of the centers. On that basis, when you take a
look now, back when the Center first started in 1950, was our first year. I came
there in 1950, in June of 1950 while we were still completing the construction
and we opened it up in December of 1950, was our first membership campaign. And
we set out to secure membership on a family basis for all who wanted to belong
to the Center. I remember taking a group of the Council of Jewish Women on a
tour of the Center at the time and I remember…
Interviewer: We met there. Council has met there.
Rosenfeld: Yeah, oh yeah. I remember Amy Lazarus saying, “This is going
to be the biggest white elephant that this community ever built.”
Rosenfeld: Yeah. Later she became an avid bowler and participated in and she
changed her mind…. philosophy, the transition from the settlement house
to a modern Jewish center with swimming pools, gymnasiums, properties…
Interviewer: So then you had…
Rosenfeld: I might also say with regard to our conversation from land
development, we thought that the early site selection committee made a good
choice even though there were 15 acres of trash on the back part of it…
Rosenfeld: in terms of location. But beyond that, there was no center which
had acreage on which to develop activities adjacent to the Center, for day camps
and so forth and so on. So the fact that we had 25 acres and the fact that we
had one of the top site development experts in the country, Dr. Batchelor, who
did this as a consultant for, he did it actually out of friendship… but
had done it for centers all over the country and for city recreation departments
all over the country. After he designed the one for us, he began to get requests
on the report of our activities from Centers from St. Louis, from Detroit.
At any rate, what I find now in terms of staffing through Jewish centers in
my own field based on my experience… When I retired, I went up to the
University and I taught some courses in the School of Social Work. But it was, I
couldn’t find anybody in that school that was interested in anything except
therapy and I couldn’t find any courses which they were offering that I really
felt comfortable in teaching unless it grew out of my business experience and
…of financial management of social institutions. But at any rate, I got a
call from Dr. Charles Manning who was head of the Health, Physical Education and
Recreation curriculum of the University…
Interviewer: I took a course in social work from Dr. Batchelor.
Rosenfeld: Did you?
Interviewer: And we had a book called Planned Recreation and Leisure…that book?
Interviewer:… social work?
Rosenfeld: No, he was part and parcel of the School of Social Work.
Interviewer: No the one that you’re talking about, Dr. Manning.
Rosenfeld: Oh yeah. His office is down in the Physical Education Building,
part of his office and some of his staff are in Pomerene Hall. At any rate, as I
began looking through the reading lists in the thing, I found that I was much
more comfortable with books that they were using and the philosophy which they
were following was pretty much the group work philosophy that for years had been
prevailing in schools like Western Reserve and Pittsburgh and the New York
School of Social Work, although the New York School generally tended to train a
lot more of case workers, that being more in demand in New York than let’s say
here in Ohio. So after two years I taught courses in that department. They had
courses in camping and (indistinct) the kind of things that you could…
connecting… use of in operating a Jewish Center. Now of course, what I
want to get down to in terms of staffing, when we first started the Center and
enrolled a broad cross section of family members of the Jewish community, within
2 years we had 7,000 people participating in (indistinct). That’s as many as we
have today. We’ve got maybe 7,200 today.
Interviewer: I never…
Rosenfeld: So when you take a look at that bulletin board and at all of the
people that are listed on the staff of the…
Interviewer: It’s not that many people.
Rosenfeld: You mean on the Center staff now?
Interviewer: One of the things that centers are notorious for, I know when I
worked at one, is that you’re underpaid and overworked.
Rosenfeld: I heard that… Well that’s true from the beginning.
Interviewer: Yeah to have the amazingly high energy level.
Rosenfeld: That’s something that I learned in Kansas City.
Rosenfeld: Now in Kansas City for example, when I was in charge of group work
for them, they were always understaffed with regard to maintenance people. So if
you had a meeting, you put your own chairs up. You couldn’t always depend on
the… of the maintenance staff… ’cause they were understaffed
with regard to maintenance. They were understaffed with regard to
professionals also. So you generally got people in the groups and said,
“Come on, let’s get these chairs up,” so you worked with the groups
on that basis.
Interviewer: What about… volunteers? Do you see a change in that?
Rosenfeld: Oh let’s say, I would say there’s always been a use for
volunteers and a rationale for the use of volunteers. For example, I got
interested in this… originally when Rose Sugarman asked me to teach
swimming classes at the old Schonthal Center as a volunteer. So I taught
swimming classes and people like Ruth Schaffer and Larry Schaffer got swimming
lessons from me back in those days.
Interviewer: Where did you do it?
Rosenfeld: Where did I do it? Swimming lessons? Out at Glengarry Pool…
Interviewer: Oh sure.
Rosenfeld: They didn’t have a swimming pool there and we had to use
whatever swimming pools we could lease or borrow or whatever. And it was not
very satisfying as far as I was concerned because you’re always jumping around
to different places. But yeah, I still think there is a place for volunteers. I
think for example, take our day camp staff that includes our volunteers and…When we hire swimming instructors. We have to… W.S.I. or Senior
Lifesaving and they are volunteers because they’re Red Cross trained.
Interviewer: They don’t get paid?
Rosenfeld: They get paid. I did 9 years of volunteer work at Ohio State
University and I taught all of the Freshman Life Saving classes there. I took
Life Saving during my Freshman years and Ben Nepper who was a Director of the
Red Cross sent me to, asked me if I would like to go to a Red Cross Aquatic
Institute over at Culver, Indiana, and I went there for two years and then I
went again to the one in Chautauqua, New York. So I had three years of
training at National Red Cross Aquatic Institutes. Well when I staffed my
swimming pool… Center which was a 60-foot pool and 20-feet wide, I at
that time was doing volunteer work for the Red Cross, conducting training
classes for… Mittendorf who was then the Director of the Red Cross First
Aid and Aquatic Services, were training Water Safety instructors and one of the
students in my class was Peggy Pierce. She got her Water Safety Instructor…
Interviewer: Peggy Pierce?
Rosenfeld: Yeah. She was for about 20-25 years our Aquatics Director at the
Rosenfeld: And she taught everything from beginning swimming to Life Saving,
Sailing, Canoeing, and so on.
Interviewer: Now let me ask you something. What did, I don’t remember
belonging to the Jewish Center when I was in high school but I’m sure I did,
but I remember spending a lot of time at the Excelsior Club which I didn’t
belong to. So that went out of business and then…
Rosenfeld: Came over to the Jewish Center. Well a lot of them had dual
memberships all along.
Interviewer: Did they?
Rosenfeld: Yeah, oh yeah. But then basically that was a poker club. Poker and
dining club but they had that outdoor pool.
Interviewer: Which everybody I knew went to that pool.
Interviewer: I mean, nobody went to Winding Hollow.
Rosenfeld: Well that was too far out.
Interviewer: Nobody belonged there. I mean when I was growing up, nobody
belonged to that pool. I could count on two hands the kids my age who belonged
Rosenfeld: Well essentially I would say the fact that we had an organized
program of instruction in every aspect of aquatics, our program just moved
from strength to strength. We not only had the indoor pool but we also had an
outdoor pool. The outdoor pool which Leo Yassenoff said, “I’m coming in
under my bid price and if you’ll provide the filtration plant, I’ll build
you an outdoor pool at no cost to the Center,” so that’s what we were
able to get the outdoor pool. So our program under Peggy’s supervision, she
hired all of the guards and this was in a sense the way teen-agers and young
adults at the University got part-time jobs for the summer and so forth.
Essentially that’s working with a volunteer group almost. They were paid but
not overpaid. That was…
Interviewer: The only thing that I was thinking is that you…
Rosenfeld: But that is…
Interviewer:… situation. I noticed that when I came back to Columbus,
when I lived here before and I was active in the Federation, we did everything.
The volunteers did absolutely everything. Now I mean, they do it all for you.
You know what I’m saying?
Rosenfeld: Yeah there’s a difference but they still make a tremendous
amount of use of volunteers, the Federation.
Interviewer: It’s just that they have different expectations… say 30
Rosenfeld: Yeah but I would say for example that I was with the Center here,
I was drafted as a volunteer to, that was part of my job, to be in charge of the
Social Work Division of the United Jewish Fund Campaign.
Interviewer: Oh yeah.
Rosenfeld: And so all of the other staff members in my field would be the
prospects which I had for making contributions to… and we had pretty high
expectations… for a number of years in charge of that rotated around
among all of the… on the committee. So, but there is a difference and I
think the difference has to do with the growth of two working members of the
family. Now if you get a family in which the expectations of that family have to
depend on income from both heads of the household, they don’t have much time
for volunteers and it also increases the need for programs that will provide
worthwhile experiences for their children. In other words, we will take care of
Interviewer: Right, exactly.
Rosenfeld: So when we went through, I talked previously about how the Jewish
Center pre-school came about to be here and the difficult time that we had
agreeing on the way in which it would come in to the Center, first that it would
be an integral part of the Center and second that the age group that it would
serve would be pre-school, pre-public school. In other words, there was a
feeling then and I still have, I’m not so sure the same feeling prevails
today, particularly where we have a president who wants to have a voucher system
for public education and I believe that our public education system is the
greatest… in our lives… and then to backslide from that would
destroy the public education system. And our board felt that way and that was
the reason why we limited the pre-school to, we didn’t want to do anything
that would affect public school education. So as a consequence, our pre-school
developed and under Rose Schwartz’ leadership and her supervision; she had
very high standards. She was a very strict supervisor and…
Interviewer: My sister… Did you know that?
Rosenfeld: No I didn’t realize that.
Interviewer: She loved her.
Interviewer: And then the next summer she was planning to… and the
next summer they opened up their own little day camp in our backyard.
Rosenfeld: Yeah, a lot of that went on from time to time. At any rate, but
unfortunately, the growth of the pre-school in the old building was quite
limited because first of all, the rooms were used also by the Columbus Hebrew
School, also by the teen-age activities. So the pre-school was set up in the
morning as originally, we set up, we had built certain kinds of furniture where
we could nest the chairs and put it in there and it would serve as…
seating for let’s say a club meeting or something like that. Or it would
permit other seating for the Columbus Hebrew School. Well there was no growth
other than, let’s say, maybe a 10% growth over the years it started out when
they plotted this out. Our maximum capacity in the old building was about 100
children to meet State standards and to meet… ’cause they agreed that
we wanted to meet State standards. We would not permit over crowding and that
while we offered some things that other pre-schools didn’t have, we had
swimming lessons under Peggy Pierce’s supervision with the teachers. She using
the teachers as assistants in the… where every child not only got pre-
school education but also got the benefit of learning how to swim. So at any
rate, the pre-school drew only from 80 kids which were there during the first
year to about 100, which was the maximum number that we could accommodate…occasionally if there came a special need for some child that Rose would do it
sub rosa. (laughter) “This kid needs to be in school and I’m going
to take him. I’m going to take him while…”
Interviewer: She was there a long time wasn’t she?
Rosenfeld: She was there until she reached the age of 65 and then she had a,
developed a health problem and her son, Herschel Schwartz, whom you may or may
Rosenfeld: Herschel developed a very, along with George, Dick’s former
partner; what was his name?
Rosenfeld: Yeah, George Swerdlow, when he left the Abel Corporation, went out
to California and started an automotive chain…
Interviewer: The Big Wheel, yeah.
Rosenfeld: And Herschel just got out of the army, was 19 years old, and
George took him under a wing and he grew in that field, became a Vice-President
when George retired.
Interviewer: I didn’t know that.
Rosenfeld: Yeah. And Herschel bought out the business or started his own
business and was very successful. Now he has a business in which he runs trade
shows. That’s his business now. But anyhow…
Interviewer: Is he still out there?
Rosenfeld: Yeah he’s still out there in San Diego. And so when his mother
became ill, he persuaded his parents to sell their house and move out there and
to buy a house in San Diego, which they did, and which we feel was a big, big
mistake for his parents, for Rose and Al Schwartz. Al is 92 years old now. Rose
died when she was about 84 or something like that. But Al, his mind is still
clear. For a number of years when they first went out there, Herschel gave him a
job working in his office one way or another. He had a degree in journalism and
…there was public relations and writing. And he found a home out there.
But Rose never did. She was hard of hearing so it was difficult for her to
communicate and make friends with new members and so on down the line and then
ultimately she developed Alzheimer’s. The last couple of years were very
difficult for her. But Herschel is still out there and I’m not sure… is
still living or not.
Rosenfeld: Yeah, but… retired. San Diego is a good place to live in
Interviewer: Oh we loved it out there.
Rosenfeld: And so, yeah he was a smart boy. And…
Interviewer: You know my father was such a… in a way my father…
Rosenfeld: Well yeah.
Interviewer:… and I think it was very hard for him… Like Bob,
you know, my ex-husband, just could not work for him. He just couldn’t. He
worked there for five years and then he said, “That’s it.”
Rosenfeld: Forget about it, huh?
Interviewer: And my father was heartbroken and he kept saying, “Don’t
you think he should come back?” and I kept saying, “No Daddy, I don’t.”
And we had some really rough, struggling years because of it but he’s just a
hard guy so…
Interviewer: George was so dominant himself that the two of them were
Rosenfeld: Well the other thing, when I worked for your dad at the Lazarus
store, I remember when I told him this, but… he’s the one that
developed the first successful approach to tire and auto accessory departments
in department stores, before Western Auto, Sears Roebuck and… they had a
monopoly on that kind of service. But at any rate, the tires that he had, he
used tires that he bought from the Ferris Tire Company in Newark, New Jersey,
the world’s worst tires…
Interviewer: Oh really? I didn’t know that.
Rosenfeld: Oh they were terrible.
Interviewer: See, I thought he bought from Firestone.
Rosenfeld: Oh, yeah. By the time you were around, then he was… them.
So I said to Dick when I got a tire specimen, I said, “Mr. Abel, I can’t
sell these tires.” First of all they were worthless. “They’re no
good and your guarantees, maybe you’ll live up to your guarantees. Lazarus
always stands behind everything that they do. But you’re going to have more
trouble with adjustments than you have selling these things.” He said,
“Any time you get a tire customer,” he said, “turn him over
either to me or to Arnold.” I said, “Okay.” I can handle
the… tires for your dad. But those were good days and we had fun days and
actually that was before he had any branches. That was, you know, his only
department was the leased department at Lazarus’ store and the success in that
leased department and particularly let’s say during when word got around that
Federated Stores… when he… a couple of more departments, and then
he got a request from… in Pittsburgh to open another department and then
from there on it developed and then finally let’s say when they built the
Lazarus garage down at Town and Front Street, had a department there where they
did their own installation, had their own mechanics and so forth, then it became
a model for… and other communities. And now I don’t know whether
Lazarus has a tire and auto accessory department.
Interviewer: I don’t either…
Rosenfeld: Changes… come about.
Interviewer: Yeah, right.
Rosenfeld: Where were we? We were talking about land and land development and
policies which… and talking about let’s say the method of operation,
service operation, professional staffing. Now my feeling was, I think there’s
let’s say, the two working members of the families now, double income, has
changed for example, and this is a natural lead-in from pre-school into what has
happened to the current family program. The first expansion in the pre-school
programming that we had was where it said, “Look you’re running…
You have a highly successful program, we do, in the grade school area. We think
we ought to expand that. We ought to have a pre-school division of the day
camp.” So Camp Murah was started so that kids that were in the year-round
pre-school or the regular pre-school now had a summer program six to eight
weeks. That started on that kind of a basis. So that was the first expansion. So
the first expansion let me say of our program was in the field of early
childhood services. Now the Jewish Center, I mean the new Jewish Center, when
they built it, they built a special wing based on the success of Rose’s
program and the need in the community for early childhood education and the need
for working mothers. The enrollment now in the early childhood services is 650
so that’s been the largest increase in any department in the Center. Well that
gives you a tip as to why.
Interviewer: And that’s an all-day program?
Rosenfeld: Yeah, we had both morning classes…
Rosenfeld: Well we have day care all day. Have day care program now all day.
We have pre-school, morning classes and pre-school afternoon classes…
Rosenfeld: No, separate proposition.
Interviewer: Now what if you have a child who you want to go like my nephew .
. . . my great nephew. . . .
Rosenfeld: I’m not sure how it. But anyhow…
Interviewer:… extended care…
Rosenfeld: Yeah, extended care. Well we have that. There are kids let’s say
that are in pre-school for, who spend all day. When the pre-school classes are
dismissed, they pay an add-on fee for day care until 6:00 or 6:30. There is also
a difference in special care, special needs children. They have a group now that
are mentally retarded.
Interviewer: Is there?
Rosenfeld: Oh yeah. We got special funding for that and there is a big group
of 12 or 15 mentally retarded…
Rosenfeld: children. Well these are more school-age kids who can’t go to
school. They’re not capable of going to public school so we have this kind of
a program that…
Interviewer: Where is that?
Rosenfeld: Also at the main building.
Interviewer: I know but where? Is it in with the nursery? Where would it be?
Rosenfeld: They use the nursery building. They use other facilities. As
usual, that saved the Center… spaces that used to be for, there no longer
is a teen lounge. This is one of the things that’s happened with the Center.
It happened to the Center because I think of staffing problems. We used to have
social group workers that used to work with these, now how to work with them.
All we have now is BBYO and maybe Young Judea if they still have a group.
Interviewer: There is no Councilettes.
Rosenfeld: There is no Councilettes any more. Junior Hadassah. There is a
Young Judea group.
Interviewer: Is there?
Interviewer: BBYO is…
Rosenfeld: Every Temple now has a very active youth group. Now we used to
work with the teen-age council. That included Temple groups and the Center
groups. And we… the BBYO and Councilettes, were all…
Interviewer: I find it pretty hard to, I can’t remember Junior Hadassah.
Rosenfeld: Well Junior Hadassah was a young adult group. Junior Hadassah . .
. . in Columbus.
Interviewer: Councilettes was the biggest group… BBYO… AZA, a
lot of boys belonged.
Rosenfeld: Yeah. Well AZA started…
Interviewer: Wasn’t AZA part of BBYO?
Rosenfeld: BBYO, yeah.
Rosenfeld: Yeah. AZA is BBYO.
Rosenfeld: And the B’nai B’rith groups, youth groups, BBG… But
there are 3 BBG groups or there were a group of them.
Rosenfeld: Well at any rate, one of the things that I’m getting to look
into, I’m not just sure what happened to it, but I think it is due to the
family structure, the growth of the community and I also think it’s due to the
kind of staffing which the Center now has. I don’t think the Center has a
staff person that has the training… and the interest in working with
youth groups. But we have somebody that’s working with the B’nai B’rith
youth groups, BBYO. But that’s…
Interviewer: That’s not somebody… with the kind of…
Rosenfeld: Well yeah.
Interviewer: It is?
Rosenfeld: Yeah there office is at the Center and it’s a joint program in a
sense. Because even in the old days we always worked with… and provided
information. But in a sense it’s not, the other thing which… the
Center, when I mentioned the fact that in the first 2 years we had grown to
7,000 people that were members of the Center. While we’ve had a family
membership for the Jewish community… when we first started out. We also
had a membership for individuals so that a kid could join for $7.50 or $10 or
whatever it was. So consequently, all of the neighborhood kids of Berwick and
Interviewer: Jewish and non-Jewish?
Rosenfeld: Jewish and non-Jewish joined the Center. We had about a thousand
non-Jewish kids that belonged to the Center at that particular time and they
joined primarily for summer swimming. Well board members examined this and the
board finally decided… that we were subsidizing the general community on
this beyond our capacity…
Interviewer: Well did you have a grant from the United Way?
(Blank space on tape from 473 to end)
Rosenfeld:… as a carry over and they had to apply for this from the
United Way. It was $22,000 and that was for a settlement house… The first
year of operation of the Center, that’s what we got from the United Way,
$22,000. So we had to really build up our membership and build up a strong
membership source and those things. We didn’t charge any additional fees for
swimming instruction. We didn’t charge any additional fees for participation
in Little League… But we then decided, I think it was about 1952,
thereabouts, the Membership Committee met and decided that participation in the
Center would be only through family memberships and the family membership, two
and three children through high school age, could belong to the Center. But that
those individual members who had joined on an individual basis beforehand could
continue their membership as long as they wanted.
Interviewer: This is for Jewish and non-Jewish?
Rosenfeld: Both, yeah.
Interviewer: And you didn’t have any quota?
Rosenfeld: We had no quota. And then when we adopted that was a compulsory
family membership for anybody to join the Center, we then had the problem of
interpreting like I say, our reason. We had in the beginning, there were no
blacks that had applied for membership in the Center. And then after three or
four years, blacks were guaranteed… and so we had a, there was a big
question of whether blacks would be permitted to join the Center. I would have
to say that again adopting an open membership policy, we emphasized that and
then in our interpretation for membership, since we were such a minority group
in the total community, there might be a danger of the loss of the Jewish
purposes at the Center. So that we adopted a policy that with every membership
application, that we would give full interpretation of the purposes of the
Center and leave it up to the individual applying whether this met their needs.
There was one family, I forget what their names are, a black family of the
Driving Park district, who felt that this was still discriminatory. I think they
felt that the interpretation of the Jewish purposes of the Center was just a
means to screen out black families. But nevertheless, the black membership did
continue to grow and finally… when the new Center was built a completely
open membership applied but the… would limit the membership let’s say
to 7,000 people and that was what applied thereafter…
Interviewer: 7,000 families or people? Families? People?
Rosenfeld: People, 7,000 total membership,7,000 people…
Interviewer:… the Jewish community
Rosenfeld: But and that priority would be given to… Now once you
reached let’s say the limit… membership, you go on a waiting list. So
for several years into the operation of the new Center, there was a waiting
Interviewer: Yeah, is there one now?
Rosenfeld: No, now they began to, after 8 or 10 years, you get a turnover of
membership and it dropped below 7,000.
Interviewer: How many, what’s the, do they know what percentage are
Rosenfeld: Well I’ll tell you, they’re thinking, well let’s say when a
campaign for the new Jewish Center, the one they built a membership campaign and
so on down the line to enroll ’cause the rates were higher and things were
higher, the waiting list was established on a first-come, first-served basis.
You went on a waiting list. But that Jewish members always had priority in
joining let’s say with regard, over non-Jewish members. In order to achieve
the Jewish purposes of the Center, we had to have a membership which was
basically Jewish, predominantly Jewish. Now when the old Center, the last years
that I was there, I did an analysis of membership, approximately 19% of our
membership was non-Jewish.
Interviewer: That’s a large percentage.
Rosenfeld: Oh yeah, that’s a very large percentage.
Interviewer: They joined for…
Rosenfeld: They joined for a variety of… reasons primarily and some of
them were the health club, for that and for the sports program, basketball,
baseball, Little League, etc. And the board came to feel, the Jewish community
came to feel that it was from the standpoint of the Jewish purposes of the
Center, since we had a community relations department, that Berwick which,
originally there was a big billboard across the street from the Jewish Center:
“Berwick, a carefully restricted community.”
Interviewer: Yeah the time…
Rosenfeld: Yeah. Well that’s… Jews trying to get Jews in. That was
Interviewer: I thought…
Rosenfeld: Was it? Well when we decided to build a new building, to go on a
campaign to build a new building finally… there was a big meeting that
was held at the Center as to location. And Millard Cummins and a few others in
that, Millard was going to be the campaign chairman. And Mel Schottenstein and a
couple of others who felt from a community planning, that it would be better to
move out in the McNaughten Road area.
Interviewer: Good thing we didn’t…
Rosenfeld: Well I don’t know.
Rosenfeld: I don’t know whether… or not. There was a hundred-acre
site available, a prime wooded area that would have been marvelous for camping.
It’s still there.
Rosenfeld: Right across from the Smith Farms.
Interviewer: Oh yeah. My sister’s back yard backs up into that so that’s
. . . .
Interviewer: Yeah. Uh huh.
Interviewer: Somebody was telling me that they had some kind of a meeting and
that they were talking about maybe going out there or… I don’t…
Rosenfeld: Well another bit of land that we acquired is the Hoover Camp Site
on Hoover Lake which was ideal and the way we came to acquire that land was
through my association and Dr. Batchelor’s association with Bob Verbeck who
had a summer camp when they built the new reservoir.
Rosenfeld: And he had a couple of hundred acres. Well the reservoir took most
of his property. There was 28 acres of property that was left and he continued
to run (indistinct) his barn, sort of a recreation program/square dance center. He
was a square dance caller, and family picnics and industrial picnics and so
forth. But he was getting older and tired of running that thing and he called me
and he said, “Mayer,” he says, “I want to sell my property up
here and I want, I’ve had a lot of requests from people who want to build
housing there and I don’t want it to go for housing. I want the property there
that’s adjacent to the lake to be used for community and recreational
purposes. Would the Center be interested in acquiring it?”
Interviewer: Where is that exactly on the…
Rosenfeld: Well it’s on the east side of the lake. It’s about right
opposite, upstream from the dam about a mile, it’s about right on the other
side of… right directly opposite. And about halfway between the dam and
the Walnut Street Bridge… facing…So…
Interviewer: Where was that that you did that?
Rosenfeld: Well we acquired that land, I think it was somewhere around 1960
or thereabouts. I’m not sure. My memory fades on… But anyhow, Millard
Cummins agreed to buy, we got it at a very, I think it was about $25,000 for 28
acres, something like that and Bob Verbeck said, “Look, you know if cash
flow is a problem, I’ll finance it at 3 1/2%.” (indistinct) could have paid
for it… had the resources at that time. Paid it out on this 3 1/2%.
Rosenfeld: He bought the land and gave it to the Center.
Interviewer: I see. That was very nice.
Rosenfeld: So because the day camp program expanded to where the Center
grounds could no longer handle it, we established a tween camp which was held
out at the Hoover Camp site.
Interviewer: Were people living out there…
Rosenfeld: …taking a bus, busing the kids out there and running the
program based on that.
Interviewer: How many kids were out there?
Rosenfeld: Oh the tween camp only had about…
Interviewer: What does tween camp mean?
Rosenfeld: Tween camp means junior high school age.
Interviewer: Oh okay.
Rosenfeld: We started tween camp originally to meet the needs of that
particular age group. They didn’t, you know, when you get to be in junior high
you no longer want to be in joint activities with grade school kids or
pre-school kids. We started a program called Tween Travel Camp in which we took
kids on trips up into Canada and other places and we also did some trailer
travel camping. Dotty and I led one weekend group of…Loaded the canoe
on top of our car and got a couple of other cars and we had an entourage that…
Interviewer: A caravan?
Rosenfeld: Caravan. Yeah. So that’s why we acquired the Hoover Camp site…not to say the rest of…surrounded entirely by city owned land.
Interviewer: Oh really?
Rosenfeld: Yeah, the rest of the land. The only privately owned land there is
owned by Marvin Katz.
Interviewer: Yeah where does he live now? I know he lived over there.
Rosenfeld: Right adjacent to the Jewish Center camp.
Interviewer: Oh really? On that side of the lake?
Rosenfeld: Marvin became interested in sailing and he learned how to sail in
our sailing program. He finally got interested in that area out there and
he bought a small cement block fisherman’s cottage or fishing shack or
whatever you want to call it. He bought that for overnight fishing expeditions
or running around…sailing or fishing. And then he built, he applied for
a building permit as an addition to that cement block and built probably a
$300,000 building attached…in addition to…
Rosenfeld: Yeah, that’s Walnut Street.
Rosenfeld: Yeah Walnut Street was abandoned because it was covered up by the
water . . . . the dam.
Interviewer: Oh, I see.
Rosenfeld: Yeah and there’s the bridge. And that was taken over. That was
another thing . . . . .
Interviewer: Well how did you get over there?
Rosenfeld: Well you get over, you go to College Station…
Interviewer: Oh all the way over there?
Rosenfeld: and cut over and no, it’s…
Interviewer: Oh, that’s right, yeah.
Rosenfeld: You take the outer belt, 270 to get off at Route 161, take Sunbury
Road out to College Station or wherever the Deaf School is…
Interviewer: Central College.
Rosenfeld: Central College. Yeah. Central College. Turn right on Central
College, go over to the next street, turn left and that puts you right directly
at the Jewish Center Hoover Camp Site.
Interviewer: I see.
Rosenfeld: And now, Marvin, since he became so interested, he’s quite
interested, he not only let me say ultimately built his own house out there but
he persuaded two uncles of his to leave, I don’t know whether it was a $4- or
$500,000 endowment, for the development of the Hoover Camp site.
Interviewer: How wonderful.
Rosenfeld: So we’re still working on it because we wanted to use that as
sort of a conference center.
Interviewer: Wonderful. That would be wonderful.
Rosenfeld: So they did build decent sanitary facilities over there, then
built a new swimming pool and shelter facilities and so on down the line.
Interviewer: Boy that’s wonderful.
Rosenfeld: Yeah this is a great community.
Interviewer: It is, isn’t it?
Interviewer: I was just thinking that when you were…It’s always
been such a really, such a giving community. Unusually so.
Rosenfeld: As a matter of fact, when my brother operated the Rosenfeld
Liquidating . . . .
Interviewer: Oh is that your brother? I’ve seen that…
Rosenfeld: Yeah that was my brother.
Interviewer: Still on Main Street?
Rosenfeld: Still on Main Street. It’s owned by Stanley Yenkin now. He owned
three pieces of property there.
Rosenfeld: Two or three.
Interviewer: Who did, your brother?
Rosenfeld: My brother. Yeah, he owned them outright.
Interviewer: Where is that, Main and Fourth?
Rosenfeld: Yeah he was, when we were talking about it, he said, “Well
when I pass on, I want these two properties to be for the benefit of the
Center.” He was probably the most active user of the Center. He was there
Interviewer: Oh really?
Rosenfeld: He was our guardian of the 50 acres on the other side of the
Interviewer: Now tell me what his name was again.
Rosenfeld: Zalman. Everybody knows him as Zal. And so at any rate, when he
passed away that property became…business became…I ran it for a
couple of years after he passed away.
Interviewer: Oh did you?
Rosenfeld: After I got discouraged with the University providing some
part-time work for me and I didn’t feel really…He said, “Why don’t
you quit fooling around with those kids and help me down in the store.” So
I agreed to work with it for about four hours a day, usually in the afternoon
from noon ’till about 4:00. And so when he passed away, he died without
leaving a will.
Interviewer: Oh dear.
Rosenfeld: But he had…
Interviewer: Was he married?
Rosenfeld: He had been married but his wife died. He married a woman that had
Interviewer: I see.
Rosenfeld: So he had two step-children. And so he wanted the proceeds of
those two buildings to be given for the benefit of the Jewish Center and so when
we went to, I had my next-door neighbor, George Cory, handle the disposal of the
Rosenfeld: Dick Goldman.
Interviewer: Oh Dick Goldman. Yeah.
Rosenfeld: Dick Goldman and it was just 2 years ago that they turned over the
title of it, or was it 2? No it was longer than that. When Stanley bought it
which was about 4 years ago, the title was turned over, we did that almost
immediately after his death with the condition that it be turned over to the
Columbus Jewish Foundation for the benefit of the Jewish Center.
Interviewer: That was very smart.
Rosenfeld: It was to set up a philanthropic fund. So that was done. So the
Zalman Rosenfeld Philanthropic Fund was set up on that basis. The first thing
that came out of it was the Center requested, they needed a day camp pavillion.
So down there at the creek there is a pavillion now called “The Rosenfeld
Pavillion” that is used by the day camp and for general community…
Interviewer: What is, tell me exactly what a pavillion is.
Rosenfeld: Well it’s like a huge shelter.
Interviewer: Oh it’s a shelter?
Rosenfeld: Yeah. It’s covered. And it’s about 120 feet long and about 60
feet wide so it accommodates several hundred kids at a time or a picnic or
probably 2- or 300 people or whatever, square dancing probably. For a variety of
activities. They haven’t really gotten around to using it except for day camp
yet or for some picnics or the baseball program and that kind of thing. So this
is just the second year that it’s been used so that’s the way…
Interviewer: Would the Jewish Center…Is it big enough? Is it?
Rosenfeld: Well it’s becoming one of the things, let’s say even though
there was a wing that was built for the early childhood services, it was built
upon, like you say, in expectation of what the pre-school would expand to and
they saved that for accommodating maybe 150-200 children. Now we’ve got 600
Interviewer: Well how do they do that?
Rosenfeld: Well first of all they have a morning class. They have an
afternoon class so there’s part of it. It goes on on that basis. But there are
certain rooms which were downstairs like the Youth Lounge which was not being
used, like the Arts and Crafts, which they decided it would be more meeting
community needs rather than a few of the people interested in arts and crafts,
to use it for early childhood and for some office staff and so on down the line.
So the double use, by scheduled use of the early childhood wing, which was
exclusively for the early childhood services in the summer, down another floor,
which Rose Schwartz always had to contend with having the early childhood wing
on the second floor and I wondered but I was amazed at how she accepted the
blind child in that program when we were in the old Center that had to climb the
stairs to get to the classroom and then to worry about that child being the
pre-school but it worked out. She worked it out. And so she was a remarkable
Interviewer: Do you think that…
Rosenfeld: The staffing?
Interviewer: No, the planning?
Rosenfeld: Oh the facilities?
Rosenfeld: Well one of the things that I talked about previously…in
the old building was 50,000 square feet but there was probably 15,000 square
feet of it which was in the bowling alley and so they decided not to have the
bowling alley in the new building and we still get complaints about that. People
feel that it was a great activity…
Interviewer: I thought it was. too. I…
Rosenfeld: And I felt that… when you talk about activities which the
whole family could enjoy, swimming is one, what else?
Interviewer: There isn’t…
Rosenfeld: Bowling was another. It was the whole family. So if (indistinct) were
interested in let me say not only preserving the family, that it still had a
place in the new building. At any rate, the decision was made not to have it.
(Blank space on tape from 323 to end.)