Gutter: Mendel.

Interviewer: Mendel, Mendel Gutter?

Gutter: Yeah, Mendel Gutter.

Interviewer: What was the exact date that you were born?

Gutter: I was born May 8, 1904.

Interviewer: Okay. And what was the name of that town you were from?

Gutter: Porubka.

Interviewer: Parker? Wait a minute, that’s another one I haven’t heard.
How would you spell that in English?

Gutter: Well . . . . P-O-R-U-B,– because over there they’re using the K
not the C.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: It’s probably K-A.

Interviewer: K-A?

Gutter: Porubka.

Interviewer: And at that time it was Austria-Hungary, right?

Gutter: Yes.

Interviewer: Uh huh. What, what are the names of your brothers and sisters?

Gutter: Oh well, we got a big family . . . .

Interviewer: Twelve . . . .

Gutter: Well, there’s my oldest sister was Esther. She was, I guess, you
know, what the Germans destroyed, they destroyed. My brother Max, is Jack and .
. . .

Interviewer: How much older than you was your oldest sister?

Gutter: Oh I would say six, eight, . . . . eight years.

Interviewer: The second-oldest one? Go ahead.

Gutter: Uh huh. The second my oldest sister was brother Jack. He’s in
Detroit. He lives in Detroit.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: And after was sister Marian. She was in the old country too. She was
married. And after her was a brother Phil.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: His name was called Sam.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: And after Sam was Phil. After them, after Phil is a brother, Chofky.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: And after Chofky was me. After me was the one that, after me
was a sister Sheindleh and after Sheindleh was . . . .

Interviewer: Which is the one that’s in Israel now?

Gutter: Oh she is . . . .

Interviewer: Which one is that?

Gutter: Sarah.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: Sarah.

Interviewer: Uh huh?

Gutter: She’s in, you met her?

Interviewer: I never met her. I saw the article though that you, when she
came over here.

Gutter: Oh yeah in the Dispatch, yeah. Well she is . . . . I don’t
know. I have to figure on . . . .

Interviewer: Well anyway, there’s Julius, right?

Gutter: Oh Julius, he’s . . . .

Interviewer: Younger right?

Gutter: Oh he’s almost a baby because he was born in . . . .

Voice: . . . .

Gutter: No, he was born in 1913, came here, the youngest, well he doesn’t
remember my father . . . . He was just a baby . . . .

Interviewer: What’s the name of your other brother that’s here? Is there
one more brother here?

Gutter: Irvin.

Interviewer: Oh Irvin.

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: He’s also younger right?

Gutter: Well he’s younger from me ’cause he’s older from Julius.

Interviewer: Oh okay.

Interviewer: What was the name of your father and mother?

Gutter: Well my father’s name was, well you would call in English Louis ’cause
his name was Lazar.

Interviewer: Lazar?

Gutter: Yeah in Jewish.

Interviewer: What, how much, how old was he when he, how much older was he
then you?

Gutter: Oh my father, well he passed away he was I believe 41 or 42 years
old. He was, passed away in the beginning from the first World War, 19–, it
was, the war broke out in . . . .

Interviewer: 1914.

Gutter: ’14, well he died in, right, like to say at the beginning in 1915.

Interviewer: So say he was 42 then, then he would have been born about 1873.

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: He’s about the age of my grandfather?

Gutter: Yeah he would be.

Interviewer: Temporary.

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: Uh huh. What about your mother?

Gutter: Well my mother was born in the same town where Cantor Wasserstrom

Interviewer: Who?

Gutter: Cantor Wassserstrom.

Interviewer: Cantor?

Gutter: Yeah, Rose Wasserstrom.

Interviewer: Oh Rose Wasserstrom. Cantor.

Gutter: Yeah, Wasserstrom, Rose Wasserstrom.

Interviewer: What town was that?

Gutter: That was Orluch. His grandfather was living the same town where my
mother lived, born in.

Interviewer: What was your mother’s name?

Gutter: Goldie.

Interviewer: Goldie? What was her maiden name?

Gutter: It was Lilling?

Interviewer: Lilling?

Gutter: Yeah. Yeah that was my . . . .

Interviewer: Do you remember, do you have any other relatives there? Do you

Gutter: Oh.

Interviewer: I mean, say, do you remember you grandparents at all?

Gutter: Oh sure.

Interviewer: What were their names?

Gutter: Well my grandfather his name was, well I would say Shmuel. In
English I would say they would call him Sam.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: Shmuel. And my mother’s side, his name was Shimmen.

Interviewer: Oh you remember both your grandfathers?

Gutter: Of course Shimmen.

Interviewer: What about your grandmothers? Do you remember any . . . .

Gutter: Well I remember my grandmother from the mother’s side, ’cause I
remember well that grandmother from the father’s side.

Interviewer: What was her name?

Gutter: Rivkah.

Interviewer: Rivkah?

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: Um, let’s see. Do you remember . . . . on your father’s side
when your grandparents died and how old they were?

Gutter: Oh my, the parents on my father’s side, oh I would say the
grandfather died, he was in his, I would say . . . . a hundred years.

Interviewer: A hundred years?

Gutter: That’s right.

Interviewer: Wow. When was that?

Gutter: Well I don’t know, he, they didn’t have dates, the best that . .
. .

Interviewer: Do you remember about when he died though?

Gutter: Oh yeah, he died in 1929.

Interviewer: So say if he was almost a hundred years, then he was born about
1830, huh?

Gutter: Well he remembered well the Russian-Hungarian War in 1848.

Interviewer: (Whistles)

Gutter: So he remembered, well he had to be I would say at least 12, maybe I
would say at least 12 years old.

Interviewer: So he was born sometime in the 1830s anyway?

Gutter: That’s right.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Wow, that’s pretty old. Did he have a lot of, did you,
do you remember stories from farther back that they told you?

Gutter: Well he was telling stories, you know the, the sickness was around
that time, you know. People were dying. Well they used to call like they have
now in Italy, they called cholera.

Interviewer: What’s that called?

Gutter: Cholera.

Interviewer: Oh cholera. Yeah, uh huh?

Gutter: Yeah like people were dying . . . .

Interviewer: Right.

Gutter: drink of water or food or something. They’d just die like flies.

Interviewer: Uh huh. But a hundred years old. That’s something.

Gutter: Yeah he died in 1929.

Interviewer: Oh 1929. Wow. Over there, right?

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: Oh I see. What about your grandmother? When did she die?

Gutter: Oh she died sooner. She died in, she died in 192-, I believe in ’24,
’23 or ’24.

Interviewer: She must have been pretty old too, then?

Gutter: Oh yeah.

Interviewer: Do you remember, you said that, I’m going to get, what was
your father’s occupation? What did he do?

Gutter: Well over there he was just, I would say that most of the Jewish
people over there were, they had . . . . and they had little business, like you
say like didn’t have bars like here. They used to call them little shvenk,
you know. You had a permit from the government to sell whiskey. You had little
grocery and you know those . . . . Like you say not like here. Just well people
. . . . over there were raising big families.

Interviewer: Is that what your grandfather did too?

Gutter: Oh yeah.

Interviewer: Was, what kind of education did you have over there?

Gutter: Well the education over there at the time I was growing, well I was
11 years old when the, born in 1904 and well I would say 10 years old when the
war broke out in 1914 you know. There was no schools till, till after the war
was over. You know everything was closed. So I had education like you say in, go
night school because I was a grown man and the father was dead and the mother
was left with children, you know, one after the other. So we was . . . .

Interviewer: Did you go to a cheder?

Gutter: Oh sure. I was going, I was in Hermana.

Interviewer: Hermana? Yeah I heard about that.

Gutter: Did you ever heard of it?

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: That was a bigger town, right?

Gutter: Oh yeah. It’s a big town over there. A big Jewish community. And I
was . . . . over by there by Julius . . . . Well he was, he was rich. He didn’t
have any children, nothing.

Interviewer: Who’s that?

Gutter: . . . .

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: And I had to watch when they’re milking the cows and deliver the
milk to the family . . . .

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: I used to get . . . .

Interviewer: Did you have any secular education too?

Gutter: Well I wouldn’t say too much. I had a little. And I was going to cheder,
I was going to public school over there, well usually mostly at night, certain
afternoons, you know, two-three days a week.

Interviewer: What subjects?

Gutter: Well over there is not like here subjects because over there you were
going to school, they put you like in a school to the eight or ten grade and
anybody could afford to go higher . . . .

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: you know, was, it was going, you know, just who could, well you
reached the eighth grade you were lucky and . . . .

Interviewer: What language did you study?

Gutter: Well the time I was going to school there were too many languages
over there. You know you had to study Hungarian, had well German I would say
because Austria-Hungaria was, mother language but German and Hungarian. Just . .
. .

Interviewer: . . . . I didn’t now that. It was German and Hungarian?

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: Just, we used to call like the state here, they used to call over
there the province, I mean like a Latin word. So they had languages over there
like you say Slavic where your grandfather was born, where I was born, you know,
they had a dozen languages, you know.

Interviewer: But what was your native language?

Gutter: Well consider the land like you say, like you say here in the United
States, I would say it was English. Till you got up in the Mexican border, you
know, they barely talking English over there. They’re talking Spanish.

Interviewer: What language did you speak?

Gutter: Well we were speaking the Slavic language . . . .

Interviewer: Uh huh. But did you know, you knew other languages too didn’t

Gutter: Oh yeah.

Interviewer: To a degree. Which ones did you know? You know Yiddish?

Gutter: Well I know Yiddish. I was in the army two years . . . .

Interviewer: You were?

Gutter: Sure I was in Czechoslovakia. Well there was . . . . there was . . .
. the first Worlds War.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: You know the, Austria-Hungaria, they tear it apart, you know there.
They had so many parts like, like to say the occupiers, like to say consider
like war, you know, like Galitzia. Galitzia was when Bismark won the war over
there, they dismembered at that time Poland. That was in the early 18– or the
late 1700s, you know.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: So they dismembered at that time Poland so Russia took half from
Poland and the other half to Poland was part to Germany and part to Austria-Hungaria.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: So you see Poland the whole was around, how you say, about 32 million
people and they were split up between the big powers that time.

Interviewer: Partitioned a lot?

Gutter: Yeah that’s right.

Interviewer: You said you fought in the first World War, is that right?

Gutter: No I was too young.

Interviewer: Oh you were too, no. You were too young? But you were in the . .
. .

Gutter: My brother was in the first . . . .

Interviewer: He was?

Gutter: Oh yeah.

Interviewer: He would have fought on the German side, right?

Gutter: No he was in Austria-Hungaria. Well sure they was . . . .

Interviewer: I mean they were allied with Germany?

Gutter: With Germany, that’s right.

Interviewer: That’s interesting cause some said that in that war, there
were Jews fighting against Jews.

Gutter: No there was, well that wasn’t exactly that way. Just the Germans
and the Austrian Jews were considered more educated, more, you know, they had
more freedom to live, you see. The Russian Jews they had too much hardship
because they wasn’t allowed to live in certain parts of their cities, you
know. And they were more prosecuted by the government, you know and all of that.

Interviewer: Were there a lot of soldiers in your town during World War I,
coming through?

Gutter: Oh well was a war over that time, you know, sure.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: ‘Cause I was hiding in the, what was the land like in a . . . . I
was in the . . . . and they say, you know, neighbors stopped in, a lot of Jewish
people and not Jewish. You see in a case like that people not looking to . . . .
just to hide anybody you could. They like to stay, relatives, friends or
anybody. So we were laying, hidden out. Well over there you had the wall, you
know, from, like from storms built the houses at that time, you know. ‘Cause
after the war, when the war was over, the government was building, you know, for
the people houses to live, so. They wasn’t good enough to live, just, there
wasn’t barely like . . . . was building way back before the first World War
they were solid, stone, you know. You couldn’t go to, so we were laying on the
floor hidden. A bullet will never go through that wall because they were solid.

Interviewer: Was that in your own house?

Gutter: Oh yeah.

Interviewer: What kind of house was that? Was it stone?

Gutter: Stone.

Interviewer: Your family had built it or what?

Gutter: Oh there were God knows how many generations were there . . . .

Interviewer: Your family had lived there many generations?

Gutter: Yeah sure.

Interviewer: Uh huh. How big was, what was, can you tell me the name of that
town again? I forgot, Parsuma.

Gutter: Porubka.

Interviewer: Porubka. Hard to pronounce in English.

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: How big . . . .

Gutter: . . . . you met a girl, a Wasserstrom in Israel?

Interviewer: I met, well . . . .

Gutter: Sheindel.

Interviewer: Sheindel, yeah.

Gutter: Yeah. Her mother was a Gutter.

Interviewer: I know that, right. I think you told me that, yeah.

Gutter: Well her mother . . . .

Interviewer: What was her mother’s name, first name?

Gutter: Yeitah.

Interviewer: Etta Gutter.

Gutter: Etta Gutter, yeah.

Interviewer: How is she related to you?

Gutter: Well my grandfather and Sheindel . . . .

Interviewer: Which grandfather?

Gutter: Mine from the mother, from the father’s side.

Interviewer: His name was?

Gutter: Gutter.

Interviewer: I mean what was his first name?

Gutter: Shmuel.

Interviewer: Shmuel, the one that lived to be a hundred?

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gutter: And her grandfather, Sheindel, was Nathan . . . . Her
grandfather, they were brothers. My grandfather and her grandfather were

Interviewer: What was her grandfather’s name?

Gutter: Hershel.

Interviewer: Hershel Wasserstrom?

Gutter: No Gutter.

Interviewer: Oh, oh, oh, on her mother’s . . . .

Gutter: On her mother’s side.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Yeah. Hershel Gutter who was her grandfather and
your grandfather . . . .

Gutter: Yeah.

(Mixed voices.)

Interviewer: Shmuel Gutter and Hershel Gutter, okay.

Gutter: Were brothers.

Interviewer: Uh huh. And Hershel’s daughter was Etta . . . . .

Gutter: Etta . . . .

Interviewer: Gutter who then married Yitschak, was it Yitschak
Wasserstrom that she married?

Gutter: Yes, yes, Itsie, Itsie, Itsie.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gutter: And he died when he was young.

Interviewer: Young.

Gutter: Oh yes.

Interviewer: You wouldn’t have known him?

Gutter: No.

Interviewer: Uh huh. But you knew his, you knew her and you knew his, his . .
. .

Gutter: I know her mother well.

Interviewer: What town were they from?

Gutter: They were from Striner.

Interviewer: Striner, which was near your town?

Gutter: Not far, not far.

Interviewer: How many miles?

Gutter: Oh I would say, consider miles, I don’t know. I would say maybe, at
the most I would say 20 miles, 15 . . . . maybe 19.

Interviewer: That’s pretty far by foot or by horse, isn’t it?

Gutter: Well they had riding at that time horses and buggy, you know. There
wasn’t like you say highways like . . . .

Interviewer: Yeah, uh huh.

Gutter: You know?

Interviewer: But you knew them over there, right?

Gutter: Oh yes.

Interviewer: How well did you know them? Did you go visit . . . .

Gutter: Well we were, like to say, we practically was same on each other, I
would say in holidays we used to visit one each other, we. And besides that
through the week you know because over there was markets around, you know, and I
would say you could see one each other at least once a week, you know.

Interviewer: Were there any other Wasserstroms in that town of Striner?

Gutter: No.

Interviewer: Just their family?

Gutter: Just their family.

Interviewer: Uh huh. You said, well of course I told you that when I met them
over there, which was a kind of a miracle. I . . . . my name in the . . . . It
turned out that they were related because they had kept letters from here. Some
people used to send money over to them. They happened to have kept the envelope.

Gutter: Uh huh.

Interviewer: They had all sorts of people here, Polsters and Schlezingers and
Gutters. All those people knew that they were there at that time.

Gutter: . . . .

Interviewer: It’s so surprising to me that now, that no one knew now, that
they were over there and I had to discover them. But they’re very hospitable
people. I liked them very much.

Gutter: Oh yes. I know them well. Chosky, you know, he was my age. Chosky
maybe, I don’t know, he may be a year older from me, something like that.

Interviewer: Yeah. Well Yitschak was . . . .

Gutter: Well Yitschak was a young boy. When I left Europe in 1929 and
he was, you know, he was . . . . by his sister, Sheindel.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: You know, they lived in a small town and they had a little, like you
say, a shoe repair shop.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: And Itsick was . . . . with a sister from the husband.

Interviewer: Uh huh. What she was married already then?

Gutter: Oh yeah. She got married oh, she got married I would say in the late
20s . . . .

Interviewer: Is that the same husband she has over here now, in Israel now?

Gutter: Yes.

Interviewer: Her name is Mrs. Sigmund Weiss.

Gutter: Weiss, that’s right.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: Sigmund Weiss.

Interviewer: How big was that town of Striner that they lived in?

Gutter: Well the town was, oh I would say could be maybe 60 families, maybe
more, maybe less you know . . . .

Interviewer: Did it have a synagogue?

Gutter: No. You see they had, over there was no synagogues. Over there was
just like you say one year they had the minyan in like you say, on
Saturday a lot they would had like the same Striner. Next year they would move
the Sefer Torah to another town and people go another, you know, they,
not because it was not a big community, you know. They would just gather in
neighborhoods, small towns, you know. So certain towns they had two Jewish
families, three Jewish families in, and . . . .

Interviewer: That was like Joseph Schlezinger then? I talked to him the other

Gutter: They just . . . .

Interviewer: Very small.

Gutter: Yeah the towns where Joe come from. And . . . .

Interviewer: Can you give me an idea of the relative location of all these
towns as compared to where Strovkov is. Strovkov was the biggest . . . .

Gutter: Well Strovkov was a big community . . . . Strovkov was oh I would say
like considered, a comparison here, well I wouldn’t say it was big, just had a
nice Jewish community. They had a rabbi over there . . . .

Interviewer: A synagogue in Strovkov?

Gutter: Oh yeah, they had a synagogue.

Interviewer: Do you happen to remember what the name of the rabbi was then in

Gutter: Oh his name was, in mine days, you know, the, I don’t know, maybe
at the time your grandfather was over there maybe was a different rabbi because
in mine days, the name was Chasky, Reb Chasky . . . .

Interviewer: Reb Chasky, that was the first name, right?

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: Do you know the last name?

Gutter: I never could . . . . you never heard, you heard the rabbi, you know,
Reb Chasky you know . . . .

Interviewer: How religious was your family . . . .

Gutter: Well the people over there was say religiously they were too fanatic.

Interviewer: Too fanatic?

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: Why is that?

Gutter: Because, well talking back, the old tradition, you know, like you say
the generation what I was growing, you know, we had a little bit more education.
We had a little bit more understanding in people and with people, you know.
People like you say would consider, you know, the really Orthodox Jews, you
know, because everybody was in the same category.

Interviewer: I mean compared to what we are here?

Gutter: Well that’s right. Not with here, just less . . . . over there too.
Like you say the generation when I was grown like you say you see a lot in
Israel, is a lots of changes to . . . . First the people, they were living over
there. They worked hard. They raised big families.

Interviewer: Was that considered a good thing to raise big families . . . .

Gutter: Well that was the style. That was the style for that time, okay, to
raise big families and the people liked to say was . . . . They had poor life
and I would say the life was . . . . over there. I remember well in mine days,
you know, I don’t care it was in Streamer or was in where Schlezinger comes or
from where I come, or anybody had the same problems.

Interviewer: What, do you happen to remember the name of the town my
grandfather came from, his, I think it was called something like Sicha?

Gutter: Sicha, yeah.

Interviewer: That’s right?

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: Was that still there when you were there?

Gutter: Oh yeah. I used to know well the . . . .

Interviewer: Did you ever go there?

Gutter: Plenty times. You know, Sicha over there used to live a Jewish
fellow. Well he was, I don’t know, he was born late over there till I guess .
. . . and the Wasserstrom family, because his father was a Friedman.

Interviewer: Who is this . . . .

Gutter: By Sicha.

Interviewer: But what was the man’s name you’re talking about?

Gutter: Oh his name was Aaron.

Interviewer: Aaron Friedman?

Gutter: That’s right. So his father’s daughter married in the Wasserstrom
family and . . . .

Interviewer: I don’t understand.

Gutter: Like to say you’re a Wasserstrom . . . .

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: And somebody would married your sister, she wouldn’t be a
Wasserstrom, the kinder, the children . . . .

Interviewer: Oh you mean his father’s mother, his mother was a, maiden name
was a Wasserstrom.

Gutter: A Wasserstrom.

Interviewer: Is that what you mean?

Gutter: That’s right, it was the relation to Wasserstrom.

Interviewer: Who was she?

Gutter: I don’t, they . . . . They, all the people they were, you know, the
. . . .

Interviewer: I just want to change it to the other side. Just a minute. Okay,
here’s the . . . . on the second side, okay.

Gutter: So I used to know him, you know, ’cause he was the only one living
over there and yet . . . . two or three daughters . . . .

Interviewer: This man Aaron Friedman?

Gutter: Yeah. So how the thing was I couldn’t tell you because he’s not
my, like you say, I couldn’t know . . . . I used to talk to his grandfather a
lot of times, you know . . . . And he used to tell me a lot if he had time, you
know, once in a while . . . .

Interviewer: There weren’t any other Wasserstroms when you were there

Gutter: No.

Interviewer: They had all left by then?

Gutter: No they wouldn’t left. They were, they were just changed, you know
. . . . your father, your grandfather came to United States.

Interviewer: That’s what I mean. They had left Sicha by the time . . . .

Gutter: And all . . . .

Interviewer: Right?

Gutter: That’s right. And what happened, you know, I, the only one, the way
they made it to the, was with the Wasserstrom . . . .

Interviewer: Uh huh. How big was that town of Sicha when you were there?

Gutter: Oh a small town.

Interviewer: Another small town?

Gutter: Oh yeah.

Interviewer: How big was it?

Gutter: Oh I would say they had 25 houses to the most. It was small.

Interviewer: Was that mostly Jewish?

Gutter: No, gentiles. There was just one Jewish family only.

Interviewer: The Friedmans, huh? Why was it that the Jews ended up in small
towns like that?

Gutter: Well they had like you say, they was going from generation to
generation . . . . My grand-grandfather from where, from which part the world he
came I don’t know.

Interviewer: But he wasn’t from eastern Europe?

Gutter: Just he was making a home brews.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: making home brews.

Interviewer: Home brews?

Gutter: Yeah. And over there at that time, I don’t know, there was
permission with the government or what, I don’t know just, we had the section
over where the tillers and everything around was like a deep-drilled stills.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: And over there they, I said, they used to call it, even the section,
they used to call this distillery.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: But how . . . . it was, I don’t know from where my
grand-grandfather . . . .

Interviewer: Well someone like, I would have thought that possibly someone
like your grandfather, that one who died when he was so old, might have told you
some stories about how Jews ended up in those small towns.

Gutter: Well he, like you say, it’s possible they had discussions that they
got together just, I was possible too young to realize anything was too
important to know some like that.

Interviewer: I know that the name . . . .

Gutter: I used to know, you see, for instance my grandfather’s brother, you
know. He was much older from my grandfather.

Interviewer: What was his name?

Gutter: I mean Herschel, I mean Sheindel’s father, Sheindel’s
grandfather. You know the Wasserstrom . . . .

Interviewer: Herschel Gutter?

Gutter: Herschel, yeah.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: And he was much older from my grandfather.

Interviewer: How much older?

Gutter: Oh I would say at least, I don’t know, maybe 10, maybe 15 years
difference in age.

Interviewer: You never saw him did you?

Gutter: Who Herschel?

Interviewer: Herschel?

Gutter: Oh sure.

Interviewer: You did? Well he must have been very old then?

Gutter: Well like I told you, people were living over there . . . . just
strong and the air was keeping them healthy or what, they were living. You never
heard anybody to die over there before 90 or 100 . . . .

Interviewer: Really?

Gutter: Because people didn’t know how old they were because, you know,
they didn’t have like today, you know, babies get born they write . . . . and
they got a birth certificate. Over there they didn’t have nothing . . . .

Interviewer: How far . . . .

Gutter: In mine days, you know, they already had birth certificates.

Interviewer: You did?

Gutter: Oh yeah.

Interviewer: You did?

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: How far was your town from, your town, could you pronounce that
one more time?

Gutter: Yes, Porubka.

Interviewer: Porubka? Porubka, is that right?

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: How far was that from Sicha?

Gutter: Oh was not far because see over there was just hills, like you say
from Striner to Sicha it just was over the hill, you know, just a hill.

Interviewer: And how far was Sicha from Porubka?

Gutter: Sicha from Porubka? Well was not a big dis—, not too far out. Sicha
. . . . .

Interviewer: Which direction was Porubka from Sicha, north or south?

Gutter: South.

Interviewer: South?

Gutter: Yeah ’cause Sicha, from Sicha, up Striner, or . . . . from where
Joe is, was the same time.

Interviewer: Was Sicha and Porubka within your, the Polish border, is that

Gutter: Well the Polish border was not too far from Sicha. It was just, not
from . . . .

Interviewer: So Polish might have been another language that you might have
heard every once in a while?

Gutter: Oh yeah.

Interviewer: And how far were you from the Russian border?

Gutter: Oh Russia is far.

Interviewer: Far?

Gutter: Sure. You know the Russia border is very, very . . . . at least I
would say a couple thousand miles away you know . . . . from border we came
just, just Polish, you know, is like, like the borderline.

Interviewer: Was Budapest the capital of . . . .

Gutter: Well that was, you see, the time in Austria-Hungaria so every, every
state had their own capital. Like here is just the federal government was like
you say, they used to call Kaiser um King.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: You see, so in, the capital was in Vienna, you know, so the capital
was on the Parliament like you say was in Hungaria, Budapest, you know, the
house here Hungarian. Because the king was Austrian and the queen was Hungarian.

Interviewer: Hungarian?

Gutter: Yeah, so they used to have the, you know, . . . .

Interviewer: Uh huh. And . . . .

Gutter: . . . .

Interviewer: What about Prague? Was that . . . .

Gutter: Prague was Czechoslovakia. That was the town . . . .

Interviewer: Oh but that was, but wait. Czechoslovakia was, oh not till after
the . . . .

Gutter: Just till . . . .

Interviewer: But not before World War I?

Gutter: Just had like the state, it was, you know, they had the provincial
capital like you say, Bochen, you know, we used to call that at that time, you
know. They didn’t call Czechoslovakia, they used to call them . . . .

Interviewer: So there were three big cities in Austria-Hungary? There was
Vienna, Prague and Budapest?

Gutter: Oh Budapest. Now Slovakia had Dresbuk, like you say.

Interviewer: But wait, it wasn’t Slovakia though when you, before the war?

Gutter: Now it’s just . . .

Interviewer: What was it?

Gutter: Just at that time Slovakia had like you say a state.

Interviewer: But what, before, I’m talking about before the war?

Gutter: Before the war?

Interviewer: Was it called Slovakia still?

Gutter: Sure, sure was Slovakia just . . . .

Interviewer: Where you lived, right?

Gutter: Yeah, they used to call the Carpathia.

Interviewer: Carpathia?

Gutter: Yeah, Carpathia.

Interviewer: How far were you from those mountains, those big Carpathian

Gutter: Carpathian Mountains, well I was in those there. We was practically
born and raised over there in those Carpathian Mountains.

Interviewer: I’m interested in . . . .

Gutter: Carpathian Mountains is the beginning from the borderline, I would
say, with Poland from the Romanian border goes right to the almost to the
Hungarian border close to, I don’t know, you heard about the big mountains
called the . . . .

Interviewer: Uh huh . . . .

Gutter: You know where that is? And I was over there just like I’m looking
. . . . and it got smaller all the year around . . . .

Interviewer: That’s right, yeah. Was there another area called Rutania?

Gutter: Rutania, that is on the Romanian border. We used to go . . . .

Interviewer: How far was that from where you lived?

Gutter: Oh, you see the Rutanian section they used to call like they’re
calling, well here like to say, on the Alusian Way, you know.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: They used to call . . . . , you know, they used to call like you say
here that they call . . . .

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: And after that come the Catholics just in the part, the Carpathian
over there is . . . . called . . . . The whole section was called Rutania.

Interviewer: Oh, uh huh. Do you remember any, what your grandfather, any
stories he told about that, that war in 1848?

Gutter: Yeah he used to tell me people were dying or was . . . . how he
escaped and how like you say was left alive, he didn’t know . . . . He could
see people in one hour and an hour later they didn’t know, like you say they
just disappeared . . . . and the federal government used to give some kind of
stuff, you know, not spread around the disease, you know. And they used to call
that something like hot cement, or they calling that here, you know. And that
time over there I don’t thinks they even know what cement meant . . . . Just
the government was protecting, try to protect the people, you know, what they
were living their days.

Interviewer: When you were born, who was the president or the king or the
head of the state at that time?

Gutter: Well when I was born it was Kaiser Franz Joseph.

Interviewer: Franz Joseph? So he was the same one who, who was at the
beginning of World War I, right?

Gutter: Yes, he really didn’t want the war . . . .

Interviewer: What happened to him during World War I?

Gutter: Well he died, he died I believe in 19– . . . .

Interviewer: That was a monarchy then before World War I, right?

Gutter: Oh yeah it was a monarchy. He was a very good man. He died in, I
believe, in 1916 or something like that, or ’17 and his son took over.

Interviewer: Who was, who was that?

Gutter: Karl, Vince Karl I believe. I don’t know, the . . . .

Interviewer: Who was the . . . .

Gutter: The one that got killed? Ferdinand. He was the one . . . .

Interviewer: That was in Serbia though . . . .

Gutter: Serbia, yeah.

Interviewer: Who was the head of state in 1848 when your grandfather . . . .

Gutter: Was that time, was a queen like the day in England, like you say the
queen was . . . .

Interviewer: I do remember, I just remembered something . . . .

Gutter: They used to call Maria Theresa.

Interviewer: Yeah I remember there was a famous man who, who led those
revolutions in 1848 in Hungary. What was, I was in, ’cause I was in Buda—- .
. . .

Gutter: Tisa.

Interviewer: What?

Gutter: Tisa.

Interviewer: Tisa? I don’t think, I can’t remember, I don’t think that’s
it. I can’t remember the guy’s name. There are big statues of him though in

Gutter: Budapest, yeah.

Interviewer: I don’t remember his name. Well, I’ll think of it some time.
You know . . . .

Gutter: You know they had a lots, like you say, they making like songs, they
used to call Stefan . . . . you know, like they say Steve and they made like you
say sense from the guys there, the big leaders that time. You know they had a
day, a holiday after them when . . . .

Interviewer: But the official languages were both German and Hungarian,

Gutter: Hungarian.

Interviewer: It’s interesting that, I think, I know Wasserstrom is a German
name. What about, is Gutter also German? Is that German originally?

Gutter: Well usually it comes from, you know, from where they worked, that
family come, I don’t know just sounds more, I would like, like to say, in the
Austrian name is mostly all the time, like you say is different like the Polish.
The Polish they got Sraginsky, Shemensky and all of the names different and ours
were very common, you know, Wasserstrom or the Gutters, the Schlezinger, you

Interviewer: What does the word “Gutter” mean, huh?

Gutter: Well considering the like you say in the, I don’t know how to
explain to you just to say in German language, they say they are good man, good,
you know, . . . ., gutter. You see over there they would call . . . .
like . . . .

Interviewer: Gutter, yeah.

Gutter: Gutter and Gutter, you know, is, that is good.

Interviewer: Uh huh. What about the “er” though? Gut is

Gutter: Uh huh.

Interviewer: “Er”, what does “er” mean?

Gutter: Uh huh. Well is lots of, a lots of things. Well around in, like you
say, the Jewish faith in the time Kaiser Franz Joseph I would say there were
more educated, I would say they had more in the, they had more in the, the
government had more faith in the Jewish faith like the others because the . . .

Interviewer: I understand what you’re . . . .

Gutter: because they had, in any office, government office you got in like a
Jewish person over there because they were more educated, they know more . . . .

Interviewer: Oh yeah, right.

Gutter: They had more, most like you say, civilized, you know, and you got to
be army a captain, a general, a major, you know, doctors were Jewish. They didn’t
do you favors, just the time I was drafted, inside there was a Jewish doctor.
Just they didn’t have any more sympathy for me so they asked me or not to
draft me like nudges, you know.

Interviewer: How old were you when you were drafted?

Gutter: Oh I was 19-20 years.

Interviewer: 1924?

Gutter: Well in 1924 I was enlisted . . . . I was just 20 years in the . . .

Interviewer: What did you have to do when you were in the army?

Gutter: Oh, exercises day and night.

Interviewer: Oh yeah.

Gutter: . . . .

Interviewer: Did you have to, you had to leave your home town didn’t you?

Gutter: Oh yeah.

Interviewer: Where did you go?

Gutter: I was stationed close to capital, or close from Prague, I don’t
know where, oh I don’t know, I would say with the . . . . that is close to
Prague there, about 20, I would say about 20-25 miles from outside Prague. And
we were stationed where, you know, our regiment, you know where I was inducted,
was stationed over there just the regiment was divided. They had one battalion
in the capital, in Prague, one battalion was in Budaweiss, you know they call .
. . . the beer, Budweiser beer?

Interviewer: Yeah, uh huh.

Gutter: There was a Czech . . . .

Interviewer: Name?

Gutter: Yeah that’s right. I was over there so they were switching around.
We had to go to the . . . . you know in . . . . Is we had to go for . . . . over
there for four weeks in the year, you know.

Interviewer: . . . . You were in Prague for this?

Gutter: Yeah . . . .

Interviewer: I was recently in Prague.

Gutter: Were you?

Interviewer: In 1972.

Gutter: Uh huh.

Interviewer: On my way back from Israel I stopped in Budapest and then in
Vienna and then in Prague.

Gutter: You go to stations over there from, from the station, from
Marseilles, like you say railroad station?

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: To the . . . . , you know the . . . .

Interviewer: I came in, I came in by tr—, no, I came in by car.

Gutter: Oh you came by car?

Interviewer: Yeah. Um, I walked around Prague a bit.

Gutter: Uh huh. How are they, beautiful?

Interviewer: Nice city.

Gutter: Oh yeah.

Interviewer: I walked up, you probably remember that there’s a river . . .

(Mixed voices)

Interviewer: And there’s a famous, I don’t know if you remember this, but
there’s a famous clock there . . . .

Gutter: Clock . . . .

Interviewer: with the Hebrew letters?

Gutter: Right.

Interviewer: It’s still there.

Gutter: Sure.

Interviewer: And there’s an old Jewish cemetery. I don’t know if you
remember. That is still there.

Gutter: Sure. I know where it is. See I was stationed in . . . . for a month.
And after the month we was, you know, we came, army routine, they ship you
around from, we were going to the German borders over there. We went to Poland,
we was, in . . . . we was supposed to meet another, you know, corps and we was .
. . . over there in the hills. And we . . . . We were going to the railroad
tracks to German towns and the station would belong to Czechoslovakia.

Interviewer: Oh yeah. Why is that?

Gutter: And you just, well actually, well that was way back belonged to
Austria Empire out to Hungaria . . . . It was, you know . . . . Austria-Hungaria
after the first World War, you know so we did like you say it, around to
somebody . . . . you know. It’s just, they had agreement, government agreement
and they wouldn’t stop you not to go through and they wouldn’t, like you
say, allow you or anything because you had to be a pull for both sided
government you know to ship ammunition or anything like you say consider
endangered . . . . rules, like you say, government against government, you know.
Just considered peacetime you know so we didn’t see any distinction except the
roofs on the houses, you know, they were painted on the side the German, had the
German color, and the side the Czechoslovakia . . . .

Interviewer: Around your home town, Porubka . . . . what were some of the
other big things? There was a . . . . is that right?

Gutter: Well . . . . was, oh there was a big town. . . . . was considered at
that time, in mine days, like the capital on the state.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: Like here Columbus for the State of Ohio.

Interviewer: So it was the capital of Slovakia?

Gutter: No that was the capital from the . . . .

Interviewer: What state?

Gutter: the state from where your grandfather come, from where I come from .
. . .

Interviewer: What was the name of that state?

Gutter: The state they used to call Zuppa. Zuppa means, they used to call in
that time like you say the state.

Interviewer: The state was Zuppa?

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: Never heard that before.

Gutter: Yeah I think it’s Czech, in Czecho´┐Ż

Interviewer: That’s not still today true is it?

Gutter: Nah.

Interviewer: When, up to what time?

Gutter: Well in mine days you used to call first, in Hungarian they used to
call . . . . . and there was Hungarian. And after the Hungarian lost, they used
to call the Czechoslovakia. Just Czechoslovakia the capital was from Slovakia
and Bratislau.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: And Bratislau was the capital like you say and . . . . was divided
from the capital of Slovakia, was divided small like you say states.

Interviewer: Do you remember a town near Vienna called Bruno?

Gutter: Bruno, Bren.

Interviewer: Yeah. I was around near there on a point driving through

Gutter: Sure, sure.

Interviewer: I drove from Vienna to Prague.

Gutter: From Vienna, from Vienna you go, you see you go from Budapest, you
get to Prazburg, you know, you . . . .

Interviewer: Where is Prazburg?

Gutter: Bratislavia. You went through over there when you was in Budapest,
you had to go through to get to . . . .

Interviewer: I went from Budapest to Vienna.

Gutter: Oh you went the other way?

Interviewer: Yeah, uh huh.

Gutter: So you got from Vienna . . . .

Interviewer: Then to Prague.

Gutter: To Prague. So you had to go by the borderline, I tell you exactly
where you’re going. You’re going from Vienna, Lindt and after you have given
my house, my house, and from my house you were coming down to . . . .

Interviewer: Yeah. That was an interesting drive. Let’s see. Do you, did
you, I want to mention a few things about . . . . talking Sheindel again.

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: Do you happen to remember receiving money that they possibly
received or that your family received from America? I know they had all sorts of
letters of money they received from America at that time. Do you remem- ber
there being a lot of rel–, you having a lot of relatives over in America when
you were born?

Gutter: Well she was receiving most the time in the old lady . . . .

Interviewer: What old lady?

Gutter: Ed Schlezinger’s mother.

Interviewer: Yeah. What was her name?

Gutter: Pearl.

Interviewer: Pearl Schlezinger. I think she was a Polster, wasn’t that

Gutter: Yeah her maiden name was Polster.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: She was a relation of Morris Polster . . . .

Interviewer: You mean she sent a lot of the money over to Etta, Etta

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: Uh huh. I know my grandfather sent some money over there.

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: They had his name and Max Polster did.

Gutter: Max Polster, yeah.

Interviewer: Did you know any Polsters, Schlezingers in Europe, that were
still in Europe when you . . . .

Gutter: You see the Polsters came to America, you see Morris’ father died,
with his little kids. Morris’ mother was a sister to my grandfather and we . .
. .

Interviewer: Say that again? I didn’t catch that right.

Gutter: Uh huh.

Interviewer: Say that again? Morris’ father was . . . .

Gutter: Killed.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gutter: Well he died I would say, he died in some accidentally thing

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gutter: How happened, I don’t know.

Interviewer: Yeah but what was, how was he related to your grandmother?

Gutter: Grandfather?

Interviewer: To your grandfather?

Gutter: Yeah. Morris Polster or Max Polster or Louis Polster, what Polsters
that got the store, you know, I mean their father had, you know, because Louis
was the oldest.

Interviewer: What was that relationship that you mentioned there, the . . . .

Gutter: Their mother.

Interviewer: Oh their mother?

Gutter: Their mother was a sister to my grandfather.

Interviewer: Okay, I understand that. What was their mother’s name?

Gutter: Hannah.

Interviewer: Hannah Polster? Okay. You didn’t know any Polsters over in

Gutter: Well we, oh yeah . . . .

Interviewer: When you were in Europe did you know any Polsters or

Gutter: Oh yeah.

Interviewer: You did know some?

Gutter: Uh huh.

Interviewer: In what town?

Gutter: The Polsters was stretched out a big family. It was just, they’re
not all . . . . . related to each other.

Interviewer: What town?

Gutter: Oh there were lots of Polsters like you say in . . . . and lots of
Polsters, I knew some Polsters in Cleveland. They’re not related.

Interviewer: No I mean in just in Europe I’m talking about.

Gutter: Well there was a lots of Polsters in Chavez, you know lots of
Polsters in the part from where I came and a lots of Polsters in Cleveland I
used to know him from the old country. Just immigrated. The same thing like the
guy Gutter. He’s in the Agudas Achim.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Not related.

Gutter: He’s not related to. Be possible maybe way, way back just, we don’t
know when each other related . . . .

Interviewer: Okay. The tape’s almost to the end but I have to ask you a few
quick questions.

Gutter: Yeah.

Interviewer: Were there, do you think there’s any cemeteries, Jewish
cemeteries still standing over there?

Gutter: Well the part of where I came was they supposed to be because my
sister . . . . in Czechoslovakia, she used to go the cemeteries.

Interviewer: She did?

Gutter: Yeah. You know where our parents were . . . . my father and my grand-
father and my grandmother.

Interviewer: Okay, the last thing I want to ask you about, just you might
have some time, I wanted to ask you about your own leaving, you know, why you
left Europe, when you left Europe and the whole story about how you came to
America. If you could do it in about, about the two minutes of tape we have

Gutter: Oh yeah. Well when I was in army there . . . . from Hitler was
already going around.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gutter: ’24 and ’26 and ’29. In ’28 late I had to make . . . .
because I tried to leave Europe right when I got home from the army. Just, I saw
what was going on just I couldn’t leave because they wouldn’t give me the
passport. I had to make

(Tape ends)

* * * *

Transcribed by Honey Abramson

Proofread by Marvin Bonowitz

Edited by Peggy Kaplan