Hello, this is Bill Cohen for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society. I am at the Goldmeier home on November 14, 2019 and we’re interviewing Dr. Robert Goldmeier.
Goldmeier: Maynard, Maynard.
Interviewer: Maynard Goldmeier. I apologize, Dr. Maynard Goldmeier.
Interviewer: Dr. Goldmeier let’s start with maybe your roots. How far back can you trace your family, to your grandparents or beyond?
Goldmeier: I was born in Germany in 1930 and emigrated to the United States in 1938, came to Columbus, Ohio. My mother’s sister was here. She got the papers together at that time that you needed to have an official emigration. My grandparents on my mother’s side also came over. They didn’t live that long after they came here. They’re both buried in the new Agudas Achim cemetery. My father’s father died in the 1920s and he sort of took over the responsibility of providing for the family. He had a brother who emigrated to Buenos Aires, Argentina and that brother got my grandmother, his mother, my father’s mother out before the war started. She died in Buenos Aires. I don’t know exactly when, in the 40s, early 1940s. So that’s some of my background.
Interviewer: So you were born in 1930 in Germany and you left Germany in 1938. What do you remember of those very early years in Germany. That was when the Nazis had taken over and were building up their power. Do you have memories of that?
Goldmeier: Yes, I remember once, I think we were visiting my grandmother on a Friday evening. We were going home and my father was carrying me and some of the Nazi youth came up to him and said to him, “You’re lucky your carrying your little boy, otherwise we would be beating you up.”
Interviewer: Because you were being carried by your dad, they said they decided not to beat him up?
Goldmeier: My brother was ice skating and they pushed him, tripped him, and he ended up breaking a leg. I remember that. I remember the school and my teacher. I met my teacher later on in New York in Washington Heights many years later.
Interviewer: You went to public school in Germany?
Goldmeier: No, I went to a Jewish Day School.
Interviewer: A Jewish Day School.
Goldmeier: It’s still there.
Interviewer: What town was that in again?
Goldmeier: Fulda, Germany and now that building is sort of a museum and a synagogue they made out of. We went back in the 1980s. The German communities invited, many have invited former inhabitants back and actually paid for the trip. We were there at the dedication of the new synagogue at that time.
Interviewer: So, what other memories do you have of Germany at that point? Was there violence against people in your community?
Goldmeier: Oh yeah. Our community was felt to be a little safer because the Catholic Bishop had his residence in Fulda and that made us somewhat safer in a relative sense.
Interviewer: Because the Nazis didn’t want to be violent in an area where the Catholic leaders were?
Goldmeier: I guess. When we went back in the 80s there was a big banner across the central part of the city with a Mogan David on it. It gave me a good feeling.
Interviewer: Were the Jews still a minority in that town?
Goldmeier: Oh yes, yeah, sure. I think there were about 1200 families, something like that and it happened to be a very Orthodox community, very Orthodox. There were no Reform in that community. At least there may be some people who weren’t as religious but there was no formal Reform synagogue or congregation or anything of that nature. Conservative actually was more of an American thing.
Interviewer: Did you have just Jewish friends when you were a child in Germany or did you have some non-Jewish friends?
Goldmeier: Just Jewish friends. I was only two years old when I came over here, three.
Interviewer: Let me understand. You were born in the year 1930 is that right?
Interviewer: I thought you came over here in 1938.
Interviewer: Okay, so you left Germany when you were eight years old?
Interviewer: Did your parents explain to you here’s why we’re leaving Germany? What did they say?
Goldmeier: I don’t remember but you knew what they said. When you were brought up, you were brought up not to say anything bad about Hitler. They told you what to say, what not to say.
Interviewer: Your parents told you not to say anything bad about Hitler, especially to non- Jewish Germans. You could get in trouble?
Goldmeier: Yes. I remember an incident after I came over here. My aunt took me, they lived on Bryden Road at the time, that’s where we lived. She took me to get ice cream on Main Street and I asked her if you could say anything bad about Hitler. She said, in German, “Hitler is far ricked, Hitler’s crazy.” I jumped up and put my hand in front of her mouth. That will give you some idea how it was.
Interviewer: You were scared that she would get in trouble for criticizing Hitler because you thought that rule still applied. You’re not allowed to criticize Hitler?
Goldmeier: Right, I was only eight years old.
Interviewer: You came here in 1938 and the United States was not in the war against Hitler until late 1940.
Goldmeier: There wasn’t any war at that time. Kristallnacht was in November, 1938 and we left at Passover time, March or April, 1938.
Interviewer: Your parents were brilliant. They could foresee the future.
Goldmeier: My mother.
Interviewer: Your mother. How did you understand that it was your mother?
Goldmeier: That’s the type of woman she was. My father wasn’t really keen on leaving. He thought that this would, you realize nobody knew what was coming in the future. Hindsight is always better than foresight. He thought like the other people that it would blow over. My mother even had a Christian friend who told her she shouldn’t leave because he said the same thing, that this is temporary.
Interviewer: Your mother said?
Goldmeier: My mother said to my father. My father said, “You go and take me and I’ll stay with my older brother and maybe we’ll come later.” My mother said, “When I leave I’m going to have Maynard on one hand and Burt on the other hand and you can do whatever you want.” She was a strong lady, saved our lives.
Interviewer: You all came over together?
Goldmeier: Yes, and we even brought another, I don’t know if you remember the Forcheimers, Pete Forcheimer. He had a business, whatever. His parents sent him along with us to bring him over to this country.
Interviewer: So you brought somebody else who was not in your family over with you?
Goldmeier: That’s correct.
Interviewer: Do you have any understanding of how you were allowed to leave?
Goldmeier: There was no problem. My mother said and this is what she says so it’s second-hand information, that Hitler said, “You should leave now while you can. One of these days you may not be able to leave.” That’s what she said. I presumed it was so.
Interviewer: Those were the signals she got from Hitler?
Interviewer: Perhaps reading between the lines or perhaps not.
Goldmeier: Maybe that’s what he said.
Interviewer: Do you remember what it was like then, in the late 1930s and 40s? When the war did erupt and the word came out that Jews were being slaughtered? Do you remember that impacting you? Do you remember thinking about that? `
Goldmeier: The people really didn’t know about that at the time. I think some of the hierarchy probably knew but I think the average person didn’t know at first. We became aware of it actually, when I was young we didn’t have television but when you went to the movies they had a news reel and they showed pictures of the concentration camps and Eisenhower walking through them. I remember, it was in the Main Street Theatre, the people in the movie were shocked by their reaction to what they saw, verbally shocked. I don’t think the average person knew what was going on.
Interviewer: When you did find out, do you remember thinking to yourself, “Oh my God if I had stayed in Germany I would have been killed, my parents.”
Goldmeier: My brother and I, both. I didn’t. It’s already packed away, my granddaughter had to write a poem for school. She lives in Seattle and she wrote about my mother, about leaving Germany, etc. and the last line said something to the effect that that decision saved their lives. For some reason that impacted me so much, that poem.
Interviewer: It saved your lives and it made it possible for your granddaughter to be alive because she would never have been born.
Goldmeier: It made me realize that my mother not only brought us all over but she saved our lives. I never thought of it so much in those terms until I read that poem.
Interviewer: Many years later, decades later?
Interviewer: And it really hit home?
Interviewer: So you were a child here in Columbus, Ohio, and do you remember what elementary and junior high schools you went to?
Goldmeier: Absolutely. I started out at Fair Avenue. We lived in the district and fortunately the teacher that they put me with took German in college and we could speak because I didn’t speak English obviously. My mother took some English lessons in Germany. She talked a little bit, enough to get us from New York to Columbus, Ohio on the train, etc., knowing where to go, whatever. So that was good. Then I went to Camp Schonthal. Schonthal Center was the Jewish Center of the day, named after the gentleman who paid for everything. We had an away camp and they sent me there for, I think it was four weeks. Girls went four weeks, I think. Boys went four weeks for maybe six. I don’t remember exactly.
Interviewer: During the summer?
Goldmeier: During the summer. When I came home from camp, I could speak English.
Interviewer: In that short amount of time being surrounded by other children who spoke English, you picked it up?
Interviewer: Wow. Now how is it that you wound up in Columbus, Ohio? You came to New York City. Did you come to Ellis Island?
Goldmeier: No, we didn’t have to go through Ellis Island because we had papers, official immigration papers. We went like anybody would come now.
Interviewer: You just came to New York City. What then steered you to Columbus, Ohio?
Goldmeier: My mother had a sister here who came in maybe 1934-35. That’s the reason we ended up here. You had to get papers at that time and I still have those papers where people of means had to vouch for you. It’s not like it is now. People had to vouch for you that, if you couldn’t make a living, they would subsidize you. They didn’t have to but that’s what you had to get.
Interviewer: To make sure you wouldn’t be a burden on anybody else except a relative or a friend?
Interviewer: Do you remember exactly what street and exactly what the address was you lived in?
Goldmeier: On Bryden Road we lived 1057 Bryden Road.
Interviewer: 1057 Bryden Road.
Goldmeier: It was between 22nd and Ohio on the south side of the street.
Interviewer: At that point, that was a very important Jewish neighborhood. You were surrounded by a lot of other Jews?
Interviewer: As a child, did you go to a synagogue?
Goldmeier: Oh yeah, Beth Jacob.
Interviewer: Beth Jacob then was located?
Goldmeier: Donaldson Avenue, went there every Saturday.
Interviewer: Do you have any memories of those early years at that synagogue?
Goldmeier: Oh yes, I remember everything. Rabbi Greenwald was the rabbi. Interestingly enough, the Yeshiva he attended was also a Yeshiva that the rabbi in Folda, Germany attended so they knew each other.
Interviewer:So that was an interesting link?
Goldmeier: Yes. Rabbi Greenwald got my father a job. First he worked for, there was a junk yard owned by Furman and then later on he got a job at David Davies which was a slaughterhouse, not there anymore, on West Mound.
Interviewer: Your father worked in a slaughterhouse?
Interviewer: Was this a kosher meat company, or not?
Goldmeier: It was not, but they slaughtered kosher one day a week.
Interviewer: And his job, your father’s job was? Do you know what it was?
Goldmeier: It had nothing to do with the kosher business. They just cut up meat and stuff.
Interviewer: So that was his main job to be a butcher?
Goldmeier: Yeah. Then in 1945 or 46 he opened up a kosher butcher store at Main and Ohio.
Interviewer: Your father owned the store and what was the name of that place?
Goldmeier: Goldmeier’s Delicatessen.
Interviewer: Goldmeier’s Delicatessen and could people sit down and eat a meal there?
Goldmeier: They could have sandwiches. We had three tables with some chairs and they could get deli sandwiches if they wanted. That didn’t turn out to be much of a volume thing so to speak.
Interviewer: Did the business last?
Goldmeier: Yeah, they lasted and they sold it. It don’t remember exactly when. I’m trying to remember. They sold it in the early 50s, maybe mid 50s.
Interviewer: So it lasted several years? Do you remember did you work at all at that delicatessen?
Goldmeier: Yeah. I worked after I graduated high school. I worked there for three years till I was drafted in the army in 1951.
Interviewer: What did you do at the delicatessen?
Goldmeier: I learned how to cut meat and I waited on customers, put out stock when we had to. At that time there were about, I think, five or six kosher butcher shops in Columbus. There was Martins, Harry Center. There was Katz which became Haas, Brier. What happened was the Briers had a butcher shop on Linwood and Livingston I think it was. It was on Livingston, maybe Oakwood, I don’t remember for sure. Mr. Brier passed away quite young so my father worked there on Thursdays. Thursday night was always a busy night because that’s when people bought meat for the weekend. He worked there Thursday night and I think Sunday. He worked there for a couple years and then he opened up his own butcher shop. Mendelman’s was there.
Interviewer: Mendelman’s was another deli?
Goldmeier: A butcher shop, they were not really (delis), deli was on the side.
Interviewer: Deli was on the side. The main thing was being a butcher. So there were enough Jews in Columbus, at least for a while, to support several kosher butchers?
Goldmeier: Yeah, I would say six maybe.
Interviewer: Wow. So you worked there and then you were drafted into the armed forces because of the Korean War. What happened?
Goldmeier: Well, there was an old very religious gentleman by the name of Suskin who used to buy at the store and I used to drive him home. I didn’t know how he got there, probably street car, whatever, and I would drive him home.
Interviewer: From the butcher shop?
Goldmeier: Yes. So when I went into the Service, he gave me a brucha and he said, “You will never have to go overseas.” That turned out that way.
Interviewer: He said a prayer for you and he predicted that you wouldn’t have to actually go to Korea to fight?
Goldmeier: Right. I was on stateside the whole two years in Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.
Interviewer: What did you do? What was your job?
Goldmeier: Well, I went to leadership school there and then the general in charge developed something. It was a course when the trainees were done they would go thru about 20 different stations and they would do different things that they’d learned. It would be sort of like a test you might say, practical. I was in charge of that.
Interviewer: You were in charge of giving the tests?
Interviewer: What were the tests about, about handling weapons or..?
Goldmeier: Yes, different things. That would be one thing. I don’t remember all the things anymore that they had to do.
Interviewer: Do you remember what your rank was?
Interviewer: This was the army?
Goldmeier: Army and then I got to the point where I had less than six months left and they didn’t really send you overseas if you had less than six months. They wanted me to join the Service for another few years. I said, “No, thanks.”
Interviewer: So you got out of the army?
Goldmeier: In 1953.
Interviewer: 1953. The Korean War was wrapping up. What happened then in your life?
Goldmeier: I went to Ohio State in 1953 and I took science courses. My brother was a pharmacist so I was thinking about a pharmacist.
Interviewer: I’m sorry, who had been a pharmacist?
Goldmeier: My brother.
Interviewer: Your brother?
Goldmeier: Yes and so I started to school in 1953. I got married in 1954, August of 1954, to that lady.
Interviewer: Tell us about your wife. How did you meet her?
Goldmeier: I met her, at the Jewish Center, on Sunday night, they had informal dances. They would have a juke box and we danced and she was there and I was there.
Interviewer: Was this the Schonthal Center?
Goldmeier: No, no, that was the JCC at that time.
Interviewer: The JCC, the Jewish Center and was it on College as it is now?
Goldmeier: Yeah, yeah, the Jewish Center. I think they opened up in 1948, I think, 48 or 49.
Interviewer: And her name was Miriam what?
Goldmeier: Hirsch. Her father’s name, the family name used to be Hirschkowitz but they shortened it, much easier, less letters.
Interviewer: So you married how long after you met?
Goldmeier: Fairly soon. I asked her, I think, to marry me shortly, a few weeks, and she had just broken up with someone. She wasn’t ready. I told her, “I’ll wait.” We got married in August, 1954.
Interviewer: So it was less than a year, wow. That was 1954. So you have been married 65 years? So what happened then?
Goldmeier: Sixty-five wonderful, happy years. She’s had 64. I’ve had one. (Laughs).
Interviewer: That’s a good line. So you got married in 1954. What happened then in our life?
Goldmeier: Well I applied for medical school. I got in on a three-year program. I started medical school, actually I got in on a three-year program. I went to school three summers which equal a year and I took a very heavy schedule so I got into medical school after two calendar years. I started medical school in 1955.
Interviewer: Let me go back just a few years because we didn’t touch on something. You went to South High School.
Goldmeier: Yes, oh yeah, and I went to Roosevelt Junior High. You asked me about the schools. I went to Fair Avenue, then we moved to Fulton Street between 18th and Carpenter and I went to Ohio Avenue school and then I went to Roosevelt Junior High. I was supposed to go to East High. All my friends were going, not all, most of my friends were going to South High so I went down to the Board of Education. At that time it was no big deal. I said I wanted to go to South High. Okay, go to South High. It wasn’t like it is now. So I went to South High and graduated from there in 1948.
Interviewer: What was it like in junior high and high school? Were all your friends Jewish or did you have some non-Jewish friends?
Goldmeier: No, I had non-Jewish friends.
Interviewer: You had both?
Goldmeier: Yes. I was also, I carried newspapers, the Columbus Citizen (Journal) and when I was 14 years old, because there was a shortage. It would be 1944. There was a shortage of older young men that would be station managers so at age 14 I became a station manager. That means I had like maybe 15 newsboys working for me. The station actually was on Rich Street very close to the Schonthal Center. It was between Washington and Grant across from Trowbridge Moving Company at that time. I had that job for four years.
Interviewer: So you mixed with, were the other newsboys who you supervised, were some of them Jewish and some were not?
Goldmeier: None of them were Jewish. They were mostly Black because it was a Black neighborhood I served. My territory went from Parsons to the Scioto and from Livingston Avenue to Broad Street. So, I would say most of the carriers were Blacks.
Interviewer: How did that work? How did you get along?
Goldmeier: No trouble. There was one thing. There was no, when we lived in Germany, there were no Blacks there. You didn’t grow up with any type of prejudice and that’s lasted my lifetime. Probably the only place you ever saw a Black person was the circus as it came throught the area.
Interviewer: Since you mixed with Jews and non-Jews, do you remember any anti-Semitism? Did you experience any anti-Semitism in the 40s when you were in school?
Goldmeier: Not overt, no.
Interviewer: You had some non-Jewish friends?
Interviewer: No problems with that?
Goldmeier: No. As a matter of fact, when we lived on Bryden Road, at that time already, between Bryden ond Main Street on 22nd, 21st, a whole contingency of Blacks and my friends there were Blacks. It’s interesting, I would go to their houses but they would never come to my place. I guess their parents told them not to do that. At the time I didn’t think about it. I thought about it later in life. Those people, I’ll tell you an aside, they became educated and one of them became Superintendent of Schools in Cleveland, Ohio and another boy was a teacher in London, Ohio that I used to play with. I met him much later in life. I’ll tell you the circumstance, kind of interesting. I don’t know if, did you know Danny Waitzman, pharmacist? He had a pharmacy at Main and Ohio right across from our store, catty corner. It was initially Sloan Drug that he bought. Sloan Drug initially had one on Whittier and Parsons and they had this one and he bought that from Sloan. Danny had a party of some kind at Agudas Achim, his birthday party, wasn’t it? He invited a lot of the Blacks because they were customers of his. There was a table next to us, all Blacks, and I said, “You know when I was young I was friendly with the Shark boy who became a teacher in London, Ohio.” This guy turns around, he says, “That’s me.”
Goldmeier: Yeah, it’s interesting. They still meet as a group from that area but it’s on Saturday. They invited me, but on Saturday, I don’t drive so it didn’t work out for me. Now I don’t know because this was maybe fifteen years ago or so, interesting side event.
Interviewer: Let’s go back now to where you were in, you applied for medical school and you got into a three-year program.
Goldmeier: The way that works is you get a degree after three years and let’s see how did they, I’m trying to remember the fourth year.
Interviewer: Did you have a residency afterwards?
Goldmeier: Oh yeah, an internship and residency at Ohio State.
Interviewer: Was there a specialty you had?
Goldmeier: Internal Medicine and then the last year of my residency was in Pulmonary. At that time it was mainly TB and I did TB work. I had four clinics in the state, one in Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ashland County, Belmont County and one was in Steubenville, Jefferson County.
Interviewer: So you had four clinics in these four different places?
Goldmeier: Out-patient clinics. That was, at that point in the history of medicine, so to speak, you used to put all the patients in sanitoriums. That was a change-over they started treating patients. Because we had good medicines, they started treating them as out-patients. The sanitoriums were going down. Out-patients were going up so to speak.
Interviewer: TB was still a threat and that’s why you could specialize in treating those people?
Goldmeier: Yeah and I still keep in touch with the secretary from Belmont County. Her mother-in-law was a nurse there who was head of the TB clinic and I still keep in touch with her.
Interviewer: You dealt with all these people who had TB and how did you protect yourself from getting the disease?
Goldmeier: Well when you worked in the hospital, you wore a mask and a gown. It was actually somewhat easier because you knew everybody had TB so, like in the general hospital, sometimes it was a while before a diagnosis was made so people exposed themselves before they knew that the patient had TB. Once the patient had TB and went into the TB hospital, and we had one in Columbus at that time. The one in Columbus was for counties that didn’t have their own TB hospital. Franklin County had their own TB hospital on Alum Creek Drive so they didn’t need the Ohio TB hospital but all the smaller counties around the state would send their patients that needed to be hospitalized to the Ohio TB Hospital. So you were careful because you knew everybody had TB, almost everybody.
Interviewer: So you started these clinics, around four clinics. In what year, approximately did you start that?
Goldmeier: In the early 60s.
Interviewer: You graduated Medical School?
Goldmeier: 1959 and then I had a year of internship, three years of residency. I got finished up in 1963 and it was shortly after that that they wanted me to work in the clinics.
Interviewer: These were your clinics?
Goldmeier: Well they were the county clinics but they didn’t have a clinician, in other words, they didn’t have a doctor.
Interviewer: I see, okay, you didn’t own them but you worked at them?
Interviewer: Did you like doing that? In other words, you could have stayed in Columbus and been a doctor.
Goldmeier: It was a part-time thing. I would go there one day a month, just one day a month in each. I went to Belmont and Jefferson one day, half a day in one and half a day in the other because they were close to each other and I went to Knox County and Ashland was one day.
Interviewer: And the rest of the working days you stayed in Columbus and treated people here?
Goldmeier: Well I didn’t do TB work. I was in general internal medicine and I had an office on East Livingston. Then I also, in 1965, the doctor at Western Electric on East Broad asked me if I would work there half a day. Before that, I worked a half a day at the Student Health Service at Ohio State because when you go, you know when you’re done, you felt like you needed to have a job to make some money and build up a practice. Then what happened is I always thought, as my practice got built up, that I would get rid of the part-time job for full-time practice but that actually never happened. I stayed at half-time practice and I stayed at Western Electric for 25 years at half a day.
Interviewer: Were you friendly with other doctors in Columbus?
Goldmeier: Yeah, some.
Interviewer: Were most of them Jewish or not Jewish?
Goldmeier: Well when I worked at the Student Health Service, those were not Jewish. When I went into practice, I was more, you know, the people I consulted with like Dr. Cohen.
Interviewer: When you were a child you were a member of Beth Jacob?
Goldmeier: Still a member.
Interviewer: Still, for decades Beth Jacob has been your synagogue?
Goldmeier: Yeah. They moved to Bulen Avenue and we lived in Driving Park at that time and then they moved to where they are now.
Interviewer: So you lived in Driving Park?
Goldmeier: I think we moved there my senior in high school, maybe when I was 17.
Interviewer: What street would that have been?
Goldmeier: Lilley Avenue, on the corner of Lilley and Columbus.
Interviewer: Lilley and Columbus, south of Livingston. What point did you move from there? When you got married where were you living then?
Goldmeier: When we got married, we lived on Lilley Avenue. What happened is my parents bought a house on Fairwood and Kossuth and they moved out and I stayed in the apartment.
Interviewer: You stayed on Lilley. Do you remember what the address was?
Interviewer: 1027 Lilley.
Goldmeier: On Fulton it was 867.
Interviewer: You have a good memory.
Goldmeier: To some degree, yeah.
Interviewer: So tell us what do you remember about life in Columbus in the 60s, 70s, around that time?
Goldmeier: Well, you know, we started to have children. My oldest was born in 1958, another one in 1960, another in 1962, another in 1966, had a birthday yesterday. It was a good time in other words. I always said I sort of split my life up into three parts. First third was for myself. Second was for my family, devoted my energies to my family. The third I thought would be to my wife and I again, that I would travel, and so forth. That worked out a little bit but not that much. One thing I didn’t figure on is I lost my zest for traveling. I enjoyed just being at home. In the summer we’d be in the driveway having coffee in the morning. We’d sit and watch people go by. We’d wave at them. They’d wave at us and we had coffee in the driveway every morning.
Interviewer: You just enjoyed being home?
Interviewer: And enjoyed the neighborhood?
Interviewer: Now you’re here in Berwick. When did you move here?
Interviewer: 1965, so that is 54 years ago. You moved in here in this house on Berwick Boulevard.
Interviewer: Now one thing I wanted to ask you about is in 1965 almost all the Jews in the Columbus area lived here in Berwick or Bexley or Eastmoor but now there are Jews living in places that they never considered living before, Gahanna, Worthington.
Interviewer: Dublin, Arlington and even New Albany. You’ve seen that happen during your lifetime. What do you make of that?
Goldmeier: Well, I suspect there was a time when Jews weren’t welcome in Arlington and Grandview, in those areas. Gahanna I don’t think was ever a problem. Part of this started, I think, when there were more and more Jewish professors at the university and they started their own congregation. They were the first ones up north and they started out in a church on Indianola and then I think they built their own building.
Interviewer: Congregation Beth Tikvah.
Goldmeier: Yeah. I think we used to be more clannish probably, I don’t know maybe that wouldn’t mean so much anymore. I know that they did a study quite a few years ago and I was amazed when they said 50% of the Jewish population is north of Fifth Avenue. That really surprised me.
Interviewer: In other words, a good portion of the Jewish community now lived outside of Bexley and Berwick and Eastmoor.
Interviewer: You like being right here in the heart of what we would call the older Jewish community?
Goldmeier: Yes, and with the new rabbi we got a few years ago, he’s bringing a lot of Orthodox Jewish couples into this area. So it’s really nice.
Interviewer: You’re just a few blocks away from your synagogue?
Goldmeier: Yes, walking distance for sure. My wife wants me to tell you that we go to Florida now for six months in the winter time. You see the suitcases out there. We’re going to leave on Tuesday. That’s been something that just, I’m so thankful that I can do that. I never in my life thought that I would be in Florida for six months out of my existence. In the mornings when we have coffee on the porch we say how lucky we are to be here, no snow, no ice. It was good, we had a reminder. In a way it was good that it snowed maybe because we walk so daintily on the ice. I’m so afraid. I don’t want to fall and break a hip. It reminded me again of how lucky we are to be able to do that.
Interviewer: You became a physician in the late 1950s. When did you retire?
Goldmeier: 1999, I’ve been retired for twenty years.
Interviewer: You were a physician for forty years. You mentioned Beth Jacob, as your synagogue, and you mentioned the Schonthal Center and the current Jewish Center on College Avenue. Were there any other Jewish institutions or stores or businesses that had an impact on you or that you remember?
Goldmeier: I remember Jewish stores but I don’t know that they had an impact on me, like Lazarus. I did go, I should mention, across from the Schonthal Center was a Hebrew School. There was a house converted into classrooms. Martins, I think, his father-in-law was in charge. Mr. Metchnick, was his wife’s father, I think. Anyway, I went there until I was Bar Mitzvah’ed and then I didn’t go any longer.
Interviewer: You went to the Hebrew School until you were Bar Mitzvah’ed and then that was the end of that?
Goldmeier: Later on the Hebrew School moved to the Jewish Center. When it opened up, they moved. They sold the Schonthal Center I think to a Union. I can’t remember which one. I think they’re still there.
Interviewer: Do you remember much about your Jewish education, Sunday School or Hebrew School?
Goldmeier: I didn’t go to Sunday School. As a matter of fact, when I was young there wasn’t any Sunday School at Beth Jacob. Agudas Achim had a Sunday School. I guess it probably had a Sunday School. The Hebrew School, that was my Jewish education and my father. I mentioned the community we came from in Germany was very Orthodox so when my father came here he was one of maybe the few Jews who would not work on Shabbas at that time when it was not common. In those days it was a six-day work week, first of all, and most of the people just had to work on Shabbas. I never felt critical of that because that’s what they had to do. To not work on Shabbas was not easy but it was doable. My father never worked on Shabbas and so a lot of my sort of quasi teaching came from him by example. There was a time in my life when I was younger like I carried newspapers. I had to work on Saturday, had to collect money on Saturday and I was station manager but once I got old enough, in the 20s, I got to the point where I quit driving on Shabbas mostly and then finally quit driving on holidays. When we got married, we lived on Lilley but then we moved out on Pierce Avenue which is close to Hamilton Road.
Interviewer: In Whitehall?
Goldmeier: Well where we lived in Columbus. If you went further north, Mound Street, you were in Whitehall. Like on the Jewish holidays we, on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we walked from there to Beth Jacob on Bulen Avenue. It was a long walk but not on Shabbas. I still drove on Shabbas until 1965 when we moved here. I didn’t have to drive anymore on Shabbas.
Interviewer: Let me understand this. Your saying you walked from near Hamilton Road all the way back toward downtown to Bulen?
Interviewer: We’ll have to measure that to see how far that is but that’s got to be at least five or six miles, maybe more. You would walk there.
Goldmeier: That was just on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Interviewer: A very nice tradition.
Goldmeier: There was a time we used to stay at my parents’ house on Fairwood and Kossuth and bring all the kids. Then it got to be such a drag to bring all the kids and stay there. We said we’d rather walk. We got a baby sitter to stay with the kids.
Interviewer: Could you tell people what meaning Judaism has for you in your life?
Goldmeier: It is very important for me. I gives me faith and I feel like I’ve had so many miracles, so to speak, happening in my life that I think were orchestrated by Ha Shem. I got out of Germany, got accepted to Medical School, finished up, got into medical school after two years and everything that’s happened, met my wife and married her. I’ve had a great existence. I feel it was directed by somebody above. People ask me sometimes, “To what do you attribute your longevity?” I’m 89 going on 90. I said, “I don’t know, I think it’s up there.”
Interviewer: Well with that let’s end our interview with Maynard Goldmeier here on November 14, 2019, and we’ve been talking to Maynard Goldmeier about his life for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society. I’m Bill Cohen and thank you so much.