This is the 15th of March, 2011. And Mollie, we are located in my apartment at 2200 Welcome Place which is Creekside. We’re your next-door neighbor. I’m Naomi Schottenstein and I’m recording this interview for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society and you are a resident of Wexner Heritage House and we’ll let you answer some interesting questions about your life.
Lakin: You go ahead.
Interviewer: Okay. Your fist question is, what is your full name?
Lakin: Mollie Monson Lakin.
Interviewer: Okay, spell your middle name.
Lakin: That’s my maiden name.
Interviewer: Maiden name, yeah.
Lakin: Yeah. M-O-N-S-O-N.
Interviewer: Monson, okay and your last name?
Lakin: Lakin, L-A-K-I-N.
Interviewer: Okay, thank you. Do you have a Jewish name?
Lakin: Uh huh.
Interviewer: Okay, do you know who you were named after?
Lakin: I think one of my mother’s aunts because the name was right throughout the whole family. Every one of my mother’s sisters had a Malka.
Interviewer: Oh so she must have been one of those favorite aunts.
Interviewer: That’s interesting. How far back can you trace your family, more than one generation do you think?
Lakin: That’s hard.
Interviewer: Grandparents? No?
Lakin: The family came over I think about the early 1900s, 1905 to 1908 and they settled in the area of Boston, Lynn, Massachusetts.
Interviewer: I think I’m going to ask you more questions about that as we go on.
Lakin: Go ahead.
Interviewer: Do you know any stories or legends which have been told or retold in your family, any things maybe about the past?
Lakin: Not too much. Mostly about their hardships in coming over here.
Interviewer: I don’t think it was terribly unusual from other people that I’ve talked to that they just don’t want to, they wanted to leave the past behind them and find a new future here.
Lakin: I think that was right, yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah. What was your mother’s full name?
Lakin: Rebecca Silverman Monson.
Interviewer: Monson, of course. And what was your mother’s maiden name?
Interviewer: Silverman, right. In what country was she born?
Lakin: Let me see. It sounded like Nurushka, whatever that meant, I don’t know.
Interviewer: New Russia?
Lakin: No, wait a minute, I can . . . .
Interviewer: But someplace in Russia?
Lakin: Strangely enough, she met some people here in Columbus that she knew when she was a little girl. Oh, the name of the town escapes me because she came here to visit me and accidentally met some of these women, Mrs. Berman and a Mrs. Shenker who were little girls in her town.
Interviewer: Martin Shenker do you think?
Lakin: No not Martin Shenker. Mrs. Berman’s sister.
Interviewer: Well let’s put that on the back burner until later.
Interviewer: Well I asked you about where she came from. In other words, maybe the other question is you don’t know exactly where she was born. When did she come to this country?
Lakin: It must have been when she was married in 1908 and I think she was here about a year before, probably 1907.
Interviewer: Do you know how she got here, you know, where she landed, where she came from? What port she left from and how, where she landed here?
Lakin: Don’t know where she left from but I guess she arrived in Ellis Island like everybody else.
Interviewer: Yeah, almost everybody, a lot of them went to . . . .
Interviewer: some other, a couple of other ports, but Ellis Island . . . .
Lakin: And she had brothers in Boston that she came to. That’s why she settled there.
Interviewer: She came because of relatives who were already here.
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: Let’s go back to your father. Tell us what your father’s full name.
Lakin: Ruben, Ruben . . . .
Interviewer: Ruben Monson. And do you know what country he was born in? Was he . . . .
Lakin: He was a Litvak I know. What country? I don’t know what country he was born in.
Interviewer: Was your mother a Litvak too?
Lakin: No my mother was Russian.
Interviewer: Russian, okay. Those countries changed a lot . . . .
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: because of pogroms so it was hard to keep track of . . . .
Interviewer: whether it was Poland, Russia or . . . .
Lakin: They weren’t concerned with telling us about where they came from, what they did. They were mainly concerned with coming to America and making a new life for themselves.
Interviewer: Right, right. Do you know how he came to this country, you know, what port he landed at or anything like that . . . .
Interviewer: Did he already have family in this country?
Lakin: He had family.
Interviewer: Who was the family and where were they?
Interviewer: Where did he come to though, who did he come to . . . .
Lakin: I don’t know, I don’t know. Must have landed . . . .
Interviewer: In Boston?
Lakin: in New York, Boston.
Interviewer: The east river. . . .
Lakin: . . . . and I never thought of asking.
Interviewer: Yeah. Well we didn’t have reason to keep thinking about that. If they didn’t talk about it, it was hard for us to talk about it.
Interviewer: Do you remember your parents, either of them, talking about when they were young, how their life was or is that . . . .
Lakin: Difficult. Mother grew up with, she was an orphan.
Lakin: And her mother raised eight children by herself. Her mother was, in Europe, her mother raised eight children by herself. And then some of them came to America, then her mother followed with the younger children.
Interviewer: So if she wasn’t orphaned, she probably just lost her father?
Lakin: Lost her father. Oh I’m . . . .
Interviewer: Yeah, that’s okay. Do you know, can you tell us the names of maybe your mother’s sisters or brothers?
Lakin: Oh I can name them all. There were eight of them.
Interviewer: Was your mother one of eight?
Lakin: One of eight. I was one of eight too.
Interviewer: Oh is that right? Well that number was a lucky number.
Lakin: Right, right. And I’m the only one left.
Interviewer: You’re the only one left? So I would say you’re the appointed matriarch.
Lakin: Right, right, right.
Interviewer: Can you tell us the names of your mother’s, it would be interesting to hear your mother’s sisters or brothers if you could rattle those off for us.
Lakin: Yeah well strangely enough, I’ve been getting letters, emails from different cousins inquiring about this and wanting to know the names of their aunts and uncles and all I know them by was their Jewish names, Uncle Baruch, Uncle Itschak, Uncle Shmulick, Uncle . . . .
Interviewer: Go slower ’cause we’re recording, so we can . . . .
Lakin: I mean.
Interviewer: Well they all went by their Yiddish names.
Lakin: Yeah just by, Feta Chaim, Feta Itschak, they only went by their Jewish names.
Interviewer: Okay, so far I think they were male names that you just rattled off.
Lakin: Minna Esther, Minna Rifa, these are, Minna Bayla, there was Minna Bayla.
Interviewer: Yeah those are all Yiddish names.
Lakin: All Yiddish names. That’s, well being as I spoke, at our house we, Mom spoke Yiddish. My father spoke English. My father came years before my mother and my mother tried to learn to speak English. She went to night school and I used to follow her to night school and oh, I can thank her for my knowledge of Yiddish because at home we would talk Yiddish to her even though she wanted to learn English so badly. She would, we would talk Yiddish to her and I had a Bubbe there.
Interviewer: That’s okay, go ahead.
Lakin: So that was how I learned how to talk Yiddish and I’m thankful for it now.
Interviewer: Oh yeah. You know what, I’m going to ask you to repeat those names of your mother’s families again.
Interviewer: Your mother’s siblings? The first word you said was . . . .
Lakin: Feta, Uncle Evera. Feta Itschak. Feta Chiam . . . ., only seven, three boys.
Interviewer: Well you’re probably the eighth.
Lakin: Oh you mean my siblings?
Interviewer: No I’m talking about your mother’s siblings.
Lakin: Oh well those are. . . .
Interviewer: Okay we got the three men.
Lakin: Three men. There was my mother Minna Baleh, then Esther, then Dora, and then Minna Rifa. . . . so there were seven.
Interviewer: Okay. And you’re number eight of that?
Lakin: No, no, no, no.
Interviewer: Oh, your mother’s, right. Okay, I’m sorry, I’m getting fermished. Okay what about your father’s siblings, can you tell us who they were?
Lakin: They were, let’s see, Uncle Isaac, Uncle Haskel, my father, Uncle Sam and Uncle Abe and Aunt Dora.
Interviewer: Tante Dora? I had a Tante Dora.
Lakin: There were five boys and one girl.
Interviewer: Oh wow! Can you tell us about some of the relatives that are still living, cousins apparently? Well you have cousins, yeah. You said you were in contact with some of your cousins?
Lakin: You know the most wonderful thing was when I got a computer, my cousins kept coming out of the wall. I never knew I had so many cousins, nieces that I never knew about, but cousins that I didn’t know about. And then so many cousins that I knew when I was a little girl, their children.
Interviewer: You kind of lost track but thank goodness for a computer, you were able to reconnect.
Lakin: Oh it’s amazing.
Interviewer: I know you’re really great with the computer.
Lakin: I’m not great, I do, the wonderful part about the computer, not, both of my children are out of town and this has been my lifeline.
Interviewer: Your lifeline, exactly.
Lakin: Keeping up with what they do and just talking to them.
Interviewer: Do you see any of your cousins or great-cousins, nieces, nephews?
Lakin: Oh on the computer.
Interviewer: On the computer?
Interviewer: Where do they live?
Lakin: Let’s see, some cousins, the cousins have all gone, I mean there’s one cousin left.
Interviewer: Who is the cousin that’s left?
Lakin: Cousin Willy in Nantaskan, Massachusetts.
Interviewer: What’s his name?
Lakin: My cousin Willy.
Lakin: Willy, he was in the Navy.
Interviewer: What’s his last name?
Lakin: Willy Forman.
Interviewer: Willy Forman?
Lakin: Oh and one cousin, Esther Silverman.
Interviewer: Esther Silverman?
Lakin: In Brookline. And those are the only two of them left out of the whole mishpocha. And now I’m in touch with the children of these cousins.
Interviewer: And they’re probably scattered all over?
Lakin: All over, all over. You name it and . . . .
Interviewer: They’re probably thrilled that they have you as a contact?
Lakin: Yes, exactly. It’s been fun for me, fun and sometimes annoying because there are some people I don’t care to talk to. But meeting some of the new, just really recalling things that happened in many years of my youth . . . .
Interviewer: Well it’s a valuable contact for them.
Lakin: It’s wonderful.
Interviewer: History, history forges the way for the future.
Lakin: In fact, now I have a list on my Facebook, there’s a whole list of names of people asking me questions. So I have just, haven’t had time to answer. . . .
Interviewer: You have a full-time job being a matriarch, Molly.
Lakin: I love it.
Interviewer: That’s good, that’s good.
Lakin: Love it. I’m very grateful Naomi.
Interviewer: I know, I know you’ve been really, I always said you were the poster girl for Heritage Village, for sure. Let me just ask you, just to deviate just a little bit, do you know the names of your grandparents or your great-grandparents? You don’t know the names of them at all?
Interviewer: Okay and no pictures of them?
Lakin: Huh uh.
Interviewer: Did your parents ever tell you how they met?
Lakin: No. Oh wait a minute. No. ‘Cause my dad had been married before and he was a widower. And he met my mother in Boston and they were . . . .
Interviewer: Do you know what year they got married?
Lakin: They got married in 1908. In fact I have a wedding invitation, their wedding invitation.
Interviewer: Really? That’s cool.
Lakin: Uh huh.
Interviewer: That’s cool. That’s a valuable thing to have.
Lakin: I gave it to my daughter. She has it.
Interviewer: Well it’s in good hands.
Lakin: Uh huh.
Interviewer: Do you know what year your father came to this country?
Lakin: Probably, oh before 1905. Around that time.
Interviewer: Yeah there was a heavy influx of people coming from Europe at that time.
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: Do you know, can you tell me how your father earned a living when he was young or whatever you remember about your father’s livelihood.
Lakin: Well the things that I remember were bad times. We, went right to the Depression, then the war and oh, it’s all very vague to me ’cause I was a little girl.
Interviewer: It’s interesting, you mentioned bad times. I’m reading a book now. It tells about hard times and there was a difference. The early 1900s were the bad times.
Interviewer: And then during the Depression, it was the hard times. There was a big difference.
Lakin: Hard times, yeah.
Interviewer: And we just, we’re going through something called a Recession . . . .
Interviewer: and what they went through during the hard times was the Depression.
Interviewer: It was a full-fledged, I think it’s important for young folks to know the difference in that.
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: But you don’t remember how your father earned a living? Did your mother work?
Lakin: My mother worked.
Interviewer: She did work. What did she do?
Lakin: She worked with her brothers. Her brothers were all tailors.
Interviewer: Tailors, uh huh. So did you learn to do any seamstressing?
Lakin: No, I was a youngster then.
Interviewer: You were a youngster? Uh huh. Do you have brothers or sisters?
Lakin: Right now?
Interviewer: Did you have brothers or sisters?
Lakin: Oh yes, I had . . . .
Interviewer: Okay tell us about your siblings.
Lakin: Actually, oh gosh. There was my older sister then four boys. And then I came along. . . .. I mean after all she was the girl, she was the princess in the family.
Interviewer: Yeah the only girl and then . . . .
Lakin: She was only nine.
Interviewer: You knocked her off her pedestal?
Lakin: I knocked her off her pedestal. And then I had two younger sisters. So I was really . .
Interviewer: Give us the names of your siblings. Can you do that for me? Well do the best you can, you know.
Lakin: Okay, all right. My older sister was Rose. Oh I forgot to tell you, my dad did have a youngster, a little boy when he married my mother.
Interviewer: Okay so that was a half-brother then to you?
Interviewer: What was his name?
Lakin: And then there was. . . .
Interviewer: Okay let’s go to your brothers, your siblings.
Lakin: There was Nate and my sister Rose.
Interviewer: Rose? Okay.
Lakin: Sam, Leo.
Interviewer: Mollie, that’s you, okay.
Lakin: And Pearl.
Interviewer: And Pearl. Now they all had English names. Very interesting, huh?
Interviewer: Yeah well, ’cause a lot of people, a lot of siblings in your era also went by Yiddish names but you became Americanized.
Lakin: Right. Oh that was the important thing.
Interviewer: Are any of your siblings living?
Interviewer: None? You’re, that’s right, you told me you were the last one. Where did you live when you were growing up, starting from your earliest memories?
Lakin: Lynn, Massachusetts.
Interviewer: Lynn, Massachusetts?
Lakin: I was born in Lynn and lived there ’till I was about nine years old. Lynn was a great town but then there was this Jewish exodus to Boston and Dorchester.
Interviewer: Was Lynn close to Boston?
Lakin: Yeah. It was about 20 miles north of Boston. And then, and everybody started moving towards Brookline and Dorchester, Mattapan, and my mother’s sisters lived there so we followed them.
Interviewer: Oh so it was a good family community?
Lakin: Oh it was a great family community.
Interviewer: And probably better job possibilities?
Lakin: Yeah, well, yes and no.
Interviewer: Yes and no?
Lakin: I mean, it was a bad time. It was 1929.
Interviewer: Yeah that’s when it started hitting.
Lakin: Bad times, bad things. I . . . . I try not to remember. Let’s put it that way.
Interviewer: Well you want to get the bad things out of your mind?
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: And that’s, but you made the most out of your life so we’ll talk more about that as we go along. Do you remember what you were like, what your young years, what did you do, what was your first job, you know, anything like that?
Lakin: My dad had died in 1939.
Lakin: Right, yeah. Well before that I started working. My sister had a, even though she wasn’t educated, she had a good job with Sears Roebuck and Company.
Interviewer: Sears Roebuck? Yeah that was a big company.
Lakin: Big company at that time. And then I think when I was about 14 or 15 I used to work there during their Christmas . . . .
Interviewer: During Christmas?
Lakin: During Christmas. And then jobs like that followed until the time I graduated high school, just helping out at home.
Interviewer: You had to get, earn money for yourself and . . . .
Interviewer: often times just to help with the family too.
Interviewer: Do you remember how much you earned?
Lakin: At Sears Roebuck I don’t know but I do remember when I was out of high school I went to work for lawyer, a group of lawyers.
Lakin: Lawyers and they had to chip in, each one chipped in a dollar apiece so it was six dollars a week.
Interviewer: Oh really, they chipped in to pay your wages?
Interviewer: Six dollars a week? Well that probably bought a lot for you.
Lakin: Right. Well not only that. I saved a dollar out of that, gave Mom $4 out of it, maybe had a dollar for myself.
Interviewer: Yeah, that wasn’t unusual for . . . .
Interviewer: I remember . . . .
Lakin: And it bought the things I wanted.
Interviewer: Sure, gave you a little bit of freedom.
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: Where did you go to school?
Lakin: Let’s see. Well high school in Dorchester.
Interviewer: What about, let’s start with elementary? Do you remember?
Lakin: Oh George Washington School in Lynn, Massachusetts until I was ten years old.
Interviewer: You haven’t had to think about this for a while, have you?
Lakin: No. And Robert Creek Payne School in Dorchester.
Interviewer: Robert Payne?
Lakin: Creek Payne. I always remember that, that was when I was about ten. Then Solomon Lower School in Mattapan Junior High School and Jeremiah . . . . High in Roxbury which was an all-girl school. And after that, just took night courses whenever I could afford it.
Interviewer: After high school?
Lakin: After high school. Took different courses at Boston University for a couple of years at night. Worked during the day.
Interviewer: What was your training in, after high school? What was your night classes?
Lakin: What kind of work I did?
Interviewer: I mean what courses did you take, business courses?
Lakin: Business courses so I worked with different offices.
Interviewer: Do you remember some of the machines that you used when you worked?
Lakin: I didn’t use any. I didn’t use a typewriter.
Interviewer: Typewriter? Even that’s something of the past.
Lakin: In fact, I’ll tell you a very funny, years later I had some work to do and I went into someone’s office and they had an electric typewriter. I looked at the electric typewriter and I cried because I couldn’t use the electric typewriter.
Interviewer: Well that was too modern?
Lakin: Too modern for me.
Interviewer: And look at you, you’re using a computer now.
Lakin: Can you imagine. . . .
Interviewer: Yeah, that’s how things go. That’s great.
Lakin: It’s, I just hope all my dear friends live to be my age and experience some of the things. I mean . . . .
Interviewer: We’ve gone through a lot of different eras.
Lakin: Yeah and it’s just beautiful today. It’s such a pretty world.
Interviewer: Well tell me, not, this is not a pretty world, this is a bad time. Do you remember some things that happened during the Depression, the Great Depression?
Lakin: Yes, like bringing food to my father at his work.
Interviewer: Bringing food to your father, you mean like bringing him lunch or something?
Lakin: I mean, I must have been all of ten years old, riding on the subway train.
Interviewer: And you were, your family was okay with you going on the subway at that, at ten years of age?
Interviewer: You didn’t worry about dangerous . . . .
Lakin: Nothing, nothing, didn’t worry. I would travel. No and I didn’t worry about anything.
Interviewer: A lot of freedom.
Lakin: Riding the subway train, walking distances.
Interviewer: Yeah, you wouldn’t do that now. Or you wouldn’t want your kids to do that.
Lakin: Wouldn’t want the kids outside at night.
Interviewer: What about during World War II? What were some of the memories of World War II?
Lakin: Well I had three brothers in the service. I wanted to go in the service too. I wanted to volunteer and I took a test ready to go to Officer’s Training School and my mother said “No” because I was the only one home.
Interviewer: The only daughter home?
Lakin: Only daughter. My younger sister went into the Army.
Interviewer: They did go to the Army?
Lakin: My younger sister went. And my mother wouldn’t let me go.
Interviewer: What did, do you remember what your younger sister did in the Army?
Lakin: She was stationed at Wright Field in Ohio.
Interviewer: Wright, oh right here in Ohio, not far from where we’re at now.
Lakin: And strangely enough, she used to write and ask me to come and visit her there and I said, “Ah, what am I going to do in Ohio? Ohio, that’s so far away, that’s another world.” And here I ended up in Ohio.
Interviewer: Yeah a lot of people from the east thought Ohio was at the end of the world.
Lakin: Oh it was.
Interviewer: The Indians lived here and . . . .
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: Well there were Indians that lived here at one time, so.
Lakin: That was before my time.
Interviewer: What about your brothers? Do you remember where they were stationed or did they go overseas?
Lakin: They were overseas.
Interviewer: Probably the European?
Lakin: European area. They were all in the European area, none were in the Pacific.
Interviewer: So were you, you were a volunteer did you say during the wartime? What kind of volunteer? What did you do?
Interviewer: USO? Tell us about the USO. What was the USO? You and I know but let’s tell the next generation . . . .
Lakin: Yeah, right. I do remember.
Interviewer: United Service Organization, something like that?
Lakin: Yeah, United Service Organization.
Interviewer: What was their purpose?
Lakin: Purpose, to entertain the boys when they came home. We had different USO clubs and provided food for them, provided entertainment for them.
Interviewer: Music, it was great.
Lakin: Music and discussion, talking. I made some wonderful friends there. In fact I was just . . . . I recall the Officer’s Club at, it was on Boyleston Street in Boston. I think regularly right after work I’d go. They’d have dinner over with the main officers.
Interviewer: I think, it seems to me like the attitude during World War II was like if you went into the service, you had a great deal of pride about it and . . . .
Interviewer: if you didn’t go into the service, if you were a sibling that was at home, you still had a lot of pride and so you did things that were somewhat service-related.
Lakin: Knitting, various volunteer . . . .
Interviewer: Everybody was involved in something.
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: All right, let’s go to another part of your adult life. Give us your husband’s full name.
Interviewer: Philip Lakin?
Interviewer: Okay. And how did you meet? Do you remember how you met?
Lakin: Very, very well.
Interviewer: Okay, let’s share that.
Lakin: I didn’t get married until most of my friends were married, all my sisters were married. I didn’t, I had a great job and I wasn’t interested in getting married. And I became involved in playing golf.
Interviewer: You were a golfer?
Lakin: I was a golfer and had occasion to go to Grossinger’s one summer.
Interviewer: Great old Grossinger’s . . . .
Lakin: Great old Grossinger’s.
Interviewer: in the Catskill Mountains.
Interviewer: That was a wonderful place. What year?
Lakin: It was 1951.
Interviewer: Fifty –one?
Lakin: And at that time I was playing a good game of golf and I tell the story, I was teamed up with the men instead of the women.
Interviewer: Well you must have been a great golfer.
Lakin: I was a good woman golfer and I played golf with them one day, two days, three days, and the fourth day a friend of, the fourth fellow in our foursome sand, “Mollie, hold your game back. This guy likes you.” I came here to play golf.
Interviewer: Yeah, seriousness of golf. Wow!
Lakin: And by the fifth day though . . . .
Interviewer: You were aside?
Lakin: I changed my mind.
Interviewer: You were psyched, okay.
Lakin: And on the sixth day he asked me to marry him.
Interviewer: Really? He didn’t waste too much time.
Lakin: And I went back to Boston and the following day I got a telephone call from him.
Interviewer: Where did he live then?
Lakin: He lived in Columbus.
Interviewer: He lived in Columbus, Ohio?
Lakin: Yeah, right. He was with his cousin Morrey Tarkov.
Interviewer: Morrey Tarkov?
Interviewer: Morrey was a friend of his?
Lakin: He was married to a cousin of his. Morrey’s wife Helen, who was a Gurevitz, was killed the year before and Morrey, they wanted Morrey to get away, just to . . . .
Interviewer: Just to get away?
Lakin: Just to get away so Phil just offered to go . . . .
Interviewer: So they took a break?
Lakin: They took a break and they went to Grossinger’s.
Interviewer: Yeah. Many people met at Grossinger’s. Yeah that was a beautiful place.
Lakin: It was a beautiful place and it was nice Jewish people, Jewish people. Oh I met some wonderful Jewish people there.
Interviewer: Yeah well that’s what it was for. It’s a good time and meet the right people.
Interviewer: How old were you when you got married?
Interviewer: Thirty-one, wow. Well you were old enough to get married, that’s for sure. What was the date of your wedding?
Lakin: December 9, 1951, its going to be sixty years this year
Interviewer: Oh yeah, yeah. Where were you married?
Lakin: The Empiriam Plaza in Roxbury, Massachusetts.
Interviewer: Wow! Was it a big wedding?
Lakin: Yeah. Only because I had worked and saved up a little bit of money and my other sisters didn’t have big weddings, they were married during wartime.
Interviewer: Yeah, nobody . . . .
Lakin: And I wanted my mother to have the joy of at least one of her daughter having a big wedding.
Interviewer: Yeah, was your father still living at that time? No?
Lakin: No just my mother.
Interviewer: Oh so you had a nice wedding?
Lakin: Yeah big wedding.
Interviewer: What did you and Phil, went on a honeymoon then?
Lakin: Right, came back to Columbus.
Interviewer: Where did you go?
Lakin: Florida, naturally.
Lakin: Where everybody else goes.
Interviewer: Yeah, well then they did. And now they go like all over the world.
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: Where was your first home after you were married?
Lakin: Oh I must tell you about this. When I met Phil, during a conversation and he was telling me that his family lived down on the south side where most all the Jewish people lived. And at that time, they were all making a grand exodus east . . . and . . .
Interviewer: . . . . do you remember any of the streets? You’ve mentioned “south side,” what were some of those streets?
Lakin: Well he lived on Ann Street.
Interviewer: Ann Street?
Lakin: Yeah. And most of the Jewish people lived down that way but just about that time, that era, everybody was dying to move east. So he was telling me about his mother and his sister moving to an apartment on Broad Street that . . . .
Interviewer: On Broad Street?
Lakin: on Hampton and these beautiful apartments were just being built there.
Lakin: Yeah . . . .
Interviewer: Oh Robinwood, yeah, those were very . . . .
Lakin: But they were just built and his family moved there and, “Can you imagine Molly, down the street, oh about a half mile away, they were building a shopping mall, the first shopping mall in the country.”
Interviewer: Sounds like Town and Country?
Lakin: Town and Country. And oh they were so impressed by it that they lived there and all the Jews, every–. His family lived on the corner of Hampton and Broad Street and all the young couples lived . . . .
Interviewer: In that area?
Lakin: All there . I can name couples who lived there. Then they all moved out. They were buying homes in Bexley. That’s when they were just dying to buy homes and build up Merkle Road and Roosevelt and all . . . .
Interviewer: In Bexley?
Interviewer: So where did you end up living . . . .
Lakin: Well . . . .
Interviewer: I mean after the apartment? You were in an apartment for . . . .
Lakin: I lived in the apartment and then . . . .
Interviewer: How long were you there? Do you remember?
Lakin: Five years. And then I went to a home, Berwick was starting.
Lakin: Yeah. And all the friends I knew moved buying in Berwick. I didn’t want to go to Berwick. My mother-in-law lived right on Broad Street, walked to shul to the Ahavas Sholom on Broad Street. And I wanted her to be able to visit my children but I felt if I moved to Berwick, she wouldn’t be able to get there.
Interviewer: Too far, yeah.
Lakin: So this way I found a house on Harding Road.
Interviewer: It was already built?
Lakin: It was already built . . . .
Interviewer: Uh huh. What was the address on Harding Road?
Interviewer: 70 Harding Road?
Interviewer: South Harding Road?
Lakin: South Harding Road. And it was, Harding Road was a nice neighborhood. So this way she was able to walk from her home and halfway stop at my house and then go further on to Broad Street to the shul.
Interviewer: Well that was very considerate.
Lakin: It was, well she was a big, she was an important person in our lives.
Interviewer: We’re going to talk more about that.
Interviewer: Well why don’t we talk about it now? Why was your mother-in-law so important to you?
Lakin: Yes. I came to Columbus a complete stranger.
Interviewer: Did Phil have, did Phil have brothers and sisters?
Lakin: He had a sister.
Interviewer: And his sister’s name?
Lakin: Dobie Lakin.
Interviewer: She never married?
Lakin: Never married. And . . . .
Interviewer: Did she live with your mother-in-law?
Lakin: She lived with my mother-in-law and another interesting thing, my mother-in-law was a Gurevitz. Her maiden name was Gurevitz.
Interviewer: Can you spell that for us?
Lakin: And there were a lot of Gurevitzes in town at that time.
Interviewer: Yeah there are. Or there were.
Lakin: There were. Well her, she had a brother whose wife had passed away. I’m here, making, I’m making . . . .
Interviewer: Well that’s okay.
Lakin: a case in point.
Interviewer: What was her brother’s name?
Lakin: Max Gurevitz. Max’s wife had a baby, Norman Gurevitz, and then Max’s wife died and he came to live with my mother-in-law. So my mother-in-law practically brought up Norman Gurevitz. I tell you the story because he and my husband were more like brothers.
Interviewer: Very close?
Lakin: Very close. And to this day I’m like a surrogate grandmother to Norman’s grandchildren because Norman and his wife have passed away.
Interviewer: What was Norman’s wife’s name?
Interviewer: Norma and Norman? I sure remembered them. First of all . . . .
Lakin: Yeah I know you remember them.
Interviewer: I was impressed they both had almost the same kind of name and that was easy for me to remember.
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: And their children are . . . .
Lakin: Margie and Steve.
Interviewer: Margie and Steve Gurevitz?
Interviewer: Yeah, well I know you’re close to them.
Lakin: Yeah, oh I’m, Steve and Dick Gurevitz are the only relatives I have in town now. And so I’m very close with Steve.
Interviewer: And Steve has . . . .
Lakin: Two children.
Interviewer: Two children? What are their names?
Lakin: Nina and, named after Norma. Nina and Julia. Julia, J-U-L-I-A, Julia.
Interviewer: Oh two girls, two girls? Uh huh. Let’s just step back a little bit. When you first came to Columbus you weren’t that familiar with Columbus, coming from the east.
Lakin: Oh . . . .
Interviewer: What was your impression of Columbus? Did you fit right in?
Lakin: Well first of all when I told people I was coming to Columbus they thought I was crazy. Oh I meant that. But I was fortunate. I came into a ready-made family.
Interviewer: Ready-made family, I know what that’s like too.
Interviewer: That’s great.
Lakin: It was wonderful and . . . .
Interviewer: And you happened to love your mother-in-law and . . . .
Lakin: And a nice family and they accepted me. They were all so thrilled that Phil was getting married. Everybody loved him. So it made my life easier for me.
Interviewer: Sure it did. Did your family, relatives from the east, come to visit you?
Lakin: Oh my mother came, the first time she came my mother-in-law invited her to a luncheon at their shul on, when the Ahavas Sholom was down in the south side. What street was that?
Interviewer: Maybe Ohio or . . . .
Lakin: Well the originial place. When my mother walked in at a luncheon and Mrs. Shenker came to her and, her sister, what was her, Mrs. Berman . . . both stood up and recognized my mother. They were girlfriends in the old country.
Interviewer: No kidding, they just happened to meet?
Lakin: They hadn’t seen each other in fifty or so years. After that time we were all, every time she’d come to visit she would be . . . .
Interviewer: Well that, well your mother was probably thrilled about that.
Lakin: Oh she loved that.
Interviewer: So she was comfortable that her daughter was in good hands too?
Lakin: Yeah, right, right. I can say I was very fortunate moving in this family who were wonderful to me and Phil was a great guy.
Interviewer: Did you and Phil belong to Ahavas Sholom as well?
Lakin: We belonged to Ahavas Sholom and then we belonged to Agudas Achim.
Interviewer: Agudas Achim? Yeah I remember you through Agudas Achim years.
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: Ummm . . . .
Lakin: Well the reason we belonged to the shul was that most of our friends belonged there.
Interviewer: Well it was close by.
Lakin: It was close by.
Interviewer: Sure. Okay, tell us about your children, what their names are and when they were born.
Interviewer: Harriet was . . . .
Lakin: Born in ’52.
Lakin: Robert was born in December, 1957.
Interviewer: Okay. And first tell us about Harriet, all about her.
Lakin: All about her.
Interviewer: Yeah. They were both born in Columbus of course?
Lakin: Born in Columbus. Harriet was born when I lived on Broad Street and Robert was born six months, no two months after I moved into Harding Road. That’s when we moved there.
Interviewer: Yeah. So all right. Well tell us about Harriet. What kind of a little girl was she?
Lakin: Oh . . . .
Interviewer: Oh I know about her but let’s tell everybody else about her.
Lakin: Wonderful little girl until she was, ’till she started school, ’till she was five, seven or eight years, no, ’till she became a teenager. And then I would have given her away to anybody.
Interviewer: Anybody that would take her?
Lakin: Anybody would take her, I didn’t care.
Interviewer: Teenage years. They were not easy, huh?
Lakin: But now I wouldn’t . . . .
Interviewer: You wouldn’t give her away for anything?
Lakin: Give for anything. She’s very precious to me.
Interviewer: Yeah she is. She’s a wonderful person. I know she is.
Interviewer: What school did she go to? School she went to?
Interviewer: She went to Eastmoor?
Lakin: High School and the University of Cincinnati.
Interviewer: Okay and what was here interest in university studies? Teacher?
Lakin: Teaching and then she taught in Cincinnati. Met a young man in Cincinnati, married.
Interviewer: Who’s she married to?
Lakin: Jack Kraus.
Interviewer: Kraus, K?
Interviewer: Kraus? Okay.
Lakin: And lived in Cincinnati for a couple of years. Then came to Columbus and taught school here in Columbus.
Interviewer: Where did she teach?
Lakin: She taught Honors English at Bexley High School.
Interviewer: Bexley High?
Lakin: And to this day she’s in touch with her students.
Interviewer: Isn’t that interesting?
Lakin: It’s just won— . . . It’s a big feeling for her.
Interviewer: This is a special thing. I think a lot of Bexley kids kind of keep in touch with each other and with their teachers.
Lakin: Right. I think there’s a very close feeling.
Interviewer: That’s great. I know she had a lot of friends here too.
Interviewer: And how long did she live in Columbus then?
Lakin: She lived in Columbus, oh, she’s been gone here 15 years. They moved to, then Jack worked for Norman Gurevitz in the glass business. And then . . . .
Interviewer: What kind of glass business was that, automobile?
Lakin: Automobile glass. And then Norman was selling the business so Jack left the business and he went to, what do you call it, Champion. Oh and a friend of his from Cincinnati offered him a franchise here in Columbus with Champion Window Company and decided not to take it. So instead he went to St. Louis.
Interviewer: What was in St. Louis?
Lakin: And he started the Champion Auto Glass there.
Interviewer: So he started his own business there?
Lakin: He started his own business under the name Champion. The head company was Champion Auto Glass but he started his own business then.
Interviewer: Is he still operating that business?
Lakin: He’s, they’re retiring soon. He had a very successful business.
Interviewer: Well that’s nice, that’s good. St. Louis worked out okay for them?
Lakin: And then Harriet went there and with two little children, she decided she didn’t want to teach. She wanted to stay home with the children.
Interviewer: Tell us about the children, who . . . .
Lakin: Oh this is funny with Harriet. And then, she’s an exercise fanatic. Her friends always wanted her to help them so she decided after teaching, helping her friends for a while, she might as well make a living at it. So she got her license in physical training and now she’s in physical fitness.
Interviewer: No kidding? Well that’s terrific.
Lakin: And she writes for the newspaper and she has numerous clients. In fact, she’s very happy.
Interviewer: Well she was a dynamic personality here and she took that dynamism with her.
Lakin: Yeah, good kid, good kid.
Interviewer: Yeah, who are their children?
Lakin: Harriet has loads of friends but she still has friends here in Columbus. Her children, David and Lauren?
Interviewer: David and Lauren?
Lakin: David, he’s 25 now.
Interviewer: And what is he doing?
Lakin: He’s in Chicago right now. Graduated Indiana and is now in training for, I don’t know what kind of company it is.
Interviewer: But he likes Chicago?
Lakin: He loves Chicago . . . .
Interviewer: Chicago is a fun city.
Lakin: Good city.
Interviewer: You were just telling us about David and now . . .
Lakin: David’s very happy in Chicago. Let’s see, we lived at, on Harding Road until the kids went to college and Phil got sick. Phil had to retire.
Interviewer: Well wait a minute. Let’s finish with the grandchildren. Then we’re going to go back.
Interviewer: You told us about David. Now tell us about the second grandchild.
Lakin: Lauren is in . . . .
Lakin: She’s at home in St. Louis working.
Interviewer: Yeah, she’s working with children?
Lakin: With children at the Jewish Center there. And also doing party planning.
Interviewer: Party planning. Well that’s an interesting job to have. Okay, you started to tell us about when you lived on Harding Road. Phil became ill?
Interviewer: What year was that? Can you tell us?
Lakin: Well he retired in about 1972.
Interviewer: He retired in ’72? Well now we didn’t talk about what Phil’s occupation was.
Lakin: He was an optometrist.
Lakin: Uh huh. And he had his offices downtown with Kahn’s Jewelry.
Interviewer: Kahn’s Jewelry? What street, where was that located?
Lakin: On North High Street.
Interviewer: North High?
Interviewer: Kahn’s Jewelry. That was a very well-known place.
Interviewer: Was it in the Kahn’s Jewelry store?
Lakin: What had happened during the war years, he was, was called up for service but then due to some illnesses, he had a practice in, what town outside of Cincinnati? Well when he first started practice, he practiced down there. And then during the war, he was called up for service and so he closed his office down there.
Interviewer: Where did he go to college?
Lakin: Ohio State.
Interviewer: Ohio State?
Lakin: So then he came back to Columbus and he stored his equipment at Kahn’s Jewelers. They were his cousins. So when he was called up for service, for some reason he didn’t go in the service so he had to go back to the office. Rather than go back to his former office, he opened an office in Kahn’s and stayed there.
Interviewer: Now he was in the service, is that what . . . .
Lakin: No he didn’t go.
Interviewer: Oh he didn’t?
Lakin: No. He had some kind of a skin ailment that he couldn’t . . . .
Interviewer: Okay. But he was able to go into his profession?
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And then how long did he stay at Kahn’s? How long did that last?
Lakin: He was there until ’70–, about ’72.
Interviewer: And then he retired?
Lakin: He retired. But in his retirement, let’s see, he stayed retired for a couple of years and then he got restless and so he’d go in and help some friends of his. And when Steve Tuckerman started, he went with Steve Tuckerman for a couple of hours . . . .
Interviewer: Just to keep busy?
Lakin: just to keep busy. So he was that way for a couple of years until he got sick. He ended up with Parkinson’s Disease.
Interviewer: He had Parkinson’s?
Interviewer: And how many years?
Lakin: We were living in, on Harding Road.
Interviewer: You’re still on Harding?
Lakin: Uh huh, and it got to be too much for us because we both couldn’t climb the stairs. So I happened to run into Abe Schechter in Martin’s and I told him my story and he said, “. . . . . Mollie, I’m going to see if I can get an apartment for you on a one-floor and afterwards I’ll sell your house for you.”
Interviewer: Was he a realtor? Was he in the real estate . . . .
Lakin: Abe Schechter was a realtor.
Lakin: Schechter, yeah.
Interviewer: Oh Schechter, yeah.
Lakin: Isn’t that his name, Schechter? And he sold the house within a week and he found the apartment in Park Towers.
Interviewer: Park Towers?
Lakin: It was just . . . .
Interviewer: That was real popular then too.
Lakin: And it was all on one level so we were able to keep it ’till then, and after a year it got to be too much for me. I couldn’t handle it any more.
Interviewer: What year was that?
Lakin: That was in, let’s see, Phil died in 1995. It was in ’94.
Lakin: And so we came to the Heritage House.
Interviewer: Oh you both came to Heritage House?
Lakin: No he came. Phil came to Heritage House. He was in the hospital and then came to the Heritage House. And I was with him every day for, ’till he died, about a year.
Interviewer: Oh so he was there for about a year?
Lakin: Yeah. And Heritage House became a home for me then.
Interviewer: Yeah it sure did and it still is. We’ll talk more about Heritage House but I want to go back to your children because I kind of left you up in the air. You started, you got us pretty well situated with Harriet’s family. Tell us about Robert and his family. Robert also went to school at Eastmoor didn’t he?
Lakin: Well I’m going to tell you something interesting. When Torah Academy was being built, Robert was a youngster and I enrolled him at Torah Academy.
Interviewer: At Torah Academy?
Lakin: And then I kept hearing remarks from all different kids-friends, “Oh you’re ridiculous.” . . . . “. . . . . Orthodox with paes and. . . .” I mean I got so many comments . . . .
Interviewer: About Orthodox Judaism for a kid?
Lakin: Even though it pleased my mother-in-law, I mean, I listened to so many of my other friends and I withdrew the application.
Interviewer: And you went through it anyhow?
Lakin: Huh? And he didn’t go to, that was the year, couple, two years later Torah Academy started up. Then Robert didn’t go. He went to the Eastmoor Schools.
Interviewer: But he never did go to Torah Academy?
Lakin: No. But the strange thing is, he was the one that ended up in Israel.
Interviewer: Oh wow! Well we’ll get to that part then. Okay, so he went to school at . . . .
Interviewer: Eastmoor and graduated from?
Lakin: Eastmoor and then graduated from Northwestern a couple of years and then came to Ohio State.
Interviewer: What was his interest, what did he graduate in?
Interviewer: Journalism? And so what was, what were his jobs after he got out of college?
Lakin: Then he came out of college and he worked for a number of banks in Washington. And then he was transferred to Cleveland and that’s where they settled, he and his wife. They became very interested in the Orthodox shul there.
Interviewer: In Cleveland?
Lakin: Green Street, yeah.
Interviewer: Oh yeah we just talked about Green Street yesterday.
Lakin: Uh huh.
Interviewer: And is she from Cleveland?
Lakin: No she’s from Chicago, non-Orthodox family but she became interested in Orthodox when they were in Washington. They were in Washington for a year.
Interviewer: Give me her name first.
Lakin: Pamela Braverman.
Interviewer: Pamela Braverman?
Interviewer: Uh huh. Okay. Do you remember what year they were married? How many years do you think?
Lakin: Let’s see, Harriet was married in ’79. Isn’t that awful?
Interviewer: So he was married after that?
Lakin: Probably, it’s twenty— . . . . isn’t that terrible?
Interviewer: Well he was married a few years after Harriet.
Interviewer: Yeah. Where were they married then, in Chicago?
Lakin: In Florida.
Interviewer: In Florida?
Lakin: Uh huh.
Interviewer: Okay. And so they lived in Cleveland?
Lakin: They lived in Cleveland.
Interviewer: And then?
Lakin: Then he was transferred to Washington.
Interviewer: Where were their children born?
Lakin: No they lived in Washington first and then moved to Cleveland.
Interviewer: Oh, okay, Washington first and then Cleveland.
Lakin: Then Cleveland. And the children were born in Cleveland.
Interviewer: In Cleveland?
Lakin: Yeah. And went to the Orthodox schools.
Interviewer: So they did go to the Jewish day school?
Lakin: Jewish day schools in Cleveland.
Interviewer: How many children do they have?
Interviewer: Three. What are their names?
Lakin: Ruth, Miriam, and Jonah.
Interviewer: All good Biblical names, Ruth, Miriam and Johan. Okay. Do you know how old they are now?
Lakin: Ruth is going to be 21. Miriam is going to be 18 and Jonah is going to be Bar Mitzvah this year.
Interviewer: Oh great. Where will his Bar Mitzvah be?
Lakin: Well he’s going to have one Bar Mitzvah in Camp Stone in Cleveland. They continue it. And now the girls are both advisers at the camps. They’ve been going there for years.
Interviewer: At Camp Stone?
Lakin: Camp Stone.
Interviewer: So they spend the summer in the United States?
Lakin: They spend the summers. And Jonah is going to be Bar Mitzvah.
Interviewer: At Camp Stone?
Interviewer: Will you be able to go there?
Interviewer: Hopefully. Well I hope so.
Lakin: I hope so too. I’m not counting it out. I’m taking it one day at a time.
Interviewer: Have the girls been in the service in Israel?
Interviewer: They both . . . .
Lakin: The older girl just finished her year in service. Now she’s at the Yeshiva University.
Interviewer: Yeshiva University? In the United States?
Lakin: No in Israel. And the second girl is graduating high school this year and she’d going into the service for a year.
Interviewer: Uh huh. I know one of them is an accomplished pianist. I heard her play last year when she came to visit you at Heritage House.
Lakin: That’s Miriam.
Interviewer: Miriam, the second one?
Lakin: Second one, precious kid.
Interviewer: Yeah, well when I heard music playing at Heritage House and I followed the music . . . .
Lakin: Did you really?
Interviewer: Yeah I did, I followed the music and there sitting at the piano was your granddaughter.
Lakin: Thank you . . . .
Interviewer: And you beaming right next to her so I knew who it was. That’s cool, that’s real cool.
Lakin: Now that was the piano I bought for Harriet when Harriet was ten years old.
Interviewer: And it stays at Heritage House?
Lakin: Well I had it in my apartment, I kept, well after three years of lessons when Harriet was ten years old, she said , “Mother,” she said, “if not for the lessons you and I could be friends.” that’s when we gave up the piano lessons.
Interviewer: That wasn’t for her?
Lakin: That wasn’t for her. So I kept the piano all these years and then when I moved, the kids didn’t want the piano and I just didn’t want to sell it, I mean, so I donated it to the Heritage House.
Interviewer: That’s the best thing you could have done. And look at, to your granddaughter’s playing . . . .
Lakin: And my grand– . . . .
Interviewer: Isn’t that beautiful? That’s terrific. I love that story.
Interviewer: That’s great. Well I know you’re not . . . .
Lakin: It’s not much of a piano, I mean, it’s just a little spinet but . . . .
Interviewer: No, it’s, but she plays beautiful music on it.
Lakin: I get a lot, still get a lot of pleasure out of it.
Interviewer: You got your money’s worth out of it, that’s for sure. I know there were a lot of special things about your kids that you remember and I think you’ve kind of touched on some of them but I know Robert, I remember Robert as a kid and he was a little bit ornery if I remember.
Interviewer: A little bit.
Lakin: Well . . . .
Interviewer: The personality kid.
Lakin: Well what happened was Robert was born December 30. He was the youngest in his class. But most of the kids, you know, were about a year older. And at that time the kids, that’s when Berwick, as I said was opened, and the kids from Berwick came to Eastmoor High School so there was a conflict between the kids from Eastmoor and the kids that live in Berwick. And so he, he had just a few friends, Johnny Weisberg and Billy Blazer and, these were his friends.
Interviewer: Yeah. Billy Blazer lived on Harding too, didn’t he?
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: Harding Road was a great road. I know because I lived there too.
Lakin: I know. I loved it from the moment . . . .
Interviewer: There were a lot of Jewish families. And interestingly there are still a lot of Jewish families that stayed there all those years.
Interviewer: That was real special.
Lakin: And it was a pretty street . . . .
Interviewer: Still is, yeah. Well that was . . . .
Lakin: And it was convenient to everything. Martin’s, convenient to Martin’s . . . .
Interviewer: How about this? The recorder lived on North Harding.
Lakin: Did you really?
Interviewer: The other side of the tracks.
Lakin: Did you really?
Interviewer: Yeah, how about that?
Lakin: Well did you know the Stone family?
Zarate: I was very, very young so I . . . .
Lakin: Well Danny Stone and his family lived up north there.
Interviewer: Yeah he probably was in another era of that
Zarate: This was in the 70s. The early 70s
Interviewer: These kids were a little bit older. Well yeah I remember with great fondness your kids growing up on Harding and that was, it was cool. There were a lot of kids their ages . . . .
Lakin: Right. As you looked in my backyard, Mrs. Meizlish lived right behind me, vertically behind me and then there was a vacant spot right behind, directly in back of my house. Well she finally, she built a smaller house and her children, her son and daughter-in-law built, took over the house on Virginia Lee.
Interviewer: Okay Mrs. Meizlish built another house next to hers?
Lakin: Next, and she moved into the smaller house and Marcie and Artie took the bigger house.
Interviewer: Well Marcia and Art are special to me too because their daughter married my son.
Lakin: I know they are.
Interviewer: So here we got a little bit more of history in that too.
Lakin: They’re more like family to me. So all the yards, they were open, the back yards.
Interviewer: Yes they were.
Lakin: So we were all like family. It was a wonderful way to raise children. I loved it.
Interviewer: Very comfortable.
Lakin: A very wonderful way to raise children.
Interviewer: And there were a lot of kids on Virginia Lee too . . . .
Lakin: Yeah, right, right.
Interviewer: that they could play with. That was really . . . .
Lakin: So my house was open, back yard was open to the Meizlish family and their house was open to my children.
Interviewer: I know whenever we’re together and somebody mentions “Mollie”, you know, there’s a great deal of warmth when they talk about you. So I know that was really special.
Lakin: Uh huh.
Interviewer: What about, when your kids were young did you go on vacations with them?
Lakin: We, well, toured Boston, visit family. And when Phil and I went on vacation we were golfers so naturally our vacations were golf vacations.
Interviewer: So Phil was a golfer too?
Lakin: Phil was a golfer.
Interviewer: Where did you golf in Columbus?
Lakin: Well when I first came here we golfed at the Ohio State Golf Course. And then we went to Walnut Hills. Walnut Hills just opened up. And from there the, what’s the name, Benny Newpoff’s course. What was the name of it?
Interviewer: On Main Street.
Lakin: Not Main . . . .
Interviewer: Yeah I know, further out.
Lakin: Isn’t that awful. Well so we played golf out there . . . .
Interviewer: 256? On 256?
Lakin: Yeah, right, 256, Reynoldsburg.
Interviewer: Yeah that was a nice golf course and a country club.
Lakin: The country, it was beautiful and it was a lot of fun and great golfing there. And most of my friends belonged . . . . belonged to Winding Hollow and I wasn’t interested in going to Winding Hollow at the time. I was more of a new bride in Columbus. I was just finding my way in Columbus.
Interviewer: Well you still found your way, I mean, you played a great golf course and . . . . good time.
Lakin: I had a good time. I . . . .
Interviewer: All right, tell, all right you told us about your grandchildren. Can you tell us about, yeah you told us about both of your grandchildren, all the grandchildren from both of the kids. What do you like to do when the kids are with you, when your grandchildren come? Is there, are there special things that you like to do with Harriet’s kids, or special things you like to be with Robert’s kids? Just be with them?
Lakin: Just be with them.
Interviewer: Are there special places you go out to eat or visit?
Lakin: Well of course Rubino’s.
Lakin: Rubino’s is part of . . . . when he comes back from Israel, the first place is Rubino’s.
Interviewer: Isn’t that funny? Rubino’s Pizza on Main Street?
Interviewer: Well, that’s special. And they don’t have the best pizza . . . .
Lakin: No but . . . .
Interviewer: …but they have the best memories in the world.
Lakin: All the kids, that is wonderful. Robert tells the story, . . . . in Tel Aviv one day and some guy next to him was talking about Rubino’s Pizza.
Interviewer: Rubino’s Pizza way over in Israel?
Interviewer: See it’s world-wide known!
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: Wouldn’t that be nice if he opened a Rubino’s Pizza in Tel Aviv?
Lakin: Right. Oh that . . . .
Interviewer: It would be a big hit.
Lakin: Right. And it’s still going. Oh and the funniest thing, when Robert was here this summer and naturally we went out to dinner. Where did we go? Went to Rubino’s. When we walked into Rubino’s and the place was mobbed. The reason it was mobbed, Ernie Stern’s son-in-law’s birthday.
Interviewer: Who’s that?
Lakin: Ernie Stern’s son-in-law.
Interviewer: Frankie Kass?
Lakin: Frankie Kass.
Interviewer: Ernie Stern lives here at Creekside.
Lakin: I know. I know it. It was Frankie Katz’s birthday.
Interviewer: And he was celebrating at Rubino’s?
Lakin: At Rubino’s, yeah. All his friends come to Rubino’s.
Interviewer: That’s interesting ’cause I know that Frankie Kass is especially fond of Italian food. But I don’t think of him as, I think of him as Giuseppe’s.
Lakin: Yeah, well now it’s Giuseppe’s but he had all his friends come in like his big family . . . . treated everybody to Rubino’s.
Interviewer: Well that’s why Giuseppe’s, I mean, that’s why . . . .
Interviewer: Rubino’s is still open.
Lakin: Right, that’s right.
Interviewer: That’s cool, it’s really cool. I know because my kids are the same way.
Lakin: Um hum.
Interviewer: I know people who come from out of town, they take them back to wherever they lived.
Interviewer: Well there goes Rubino’s. It was really . . . .
Lakin: Right. It was part of . . . .
Interviewer: They still have, does Robert still have a lot of friends here in Columbus?
Lakin: Oh yeah, yeah, Johnny Weisberg. Well Johnny lives in Massachusetts now. They’re still very close friends.
Interviewer: Yeah Johnny grew up on Harding Road too.
Lakin: Yes, yes he did.
Interviewer: Yeah. How about you? Do you, I know you have an interest in community work. Can you tell us something about that? I know you’re a volunteer with a lot of things.
Lakin: Let me put it this way. I love community work. I love doing things. I love helping people. But I never wanted to take on any responsibilities. When I was asked to chair a committee, I mean, I refused because I didn’t want to give all my time to it. I wanted to do, I did as much work as I possibly could.
Interviewer: As a volunteer?
Lakin: As a volunteer. For my mother-in-law at the Ahavas Sholom shul, I’d help her out with a lot of things there. At the Agudas Achim I would help out.
Interviewer: Let’s just touch upon that a little bit Mollie ’cause I think it’s interesting. If I remember correctly, I don’t know about you, but during that era when you were first married there was a lot of cooking done right at the synagogue . . . .
Interviewer: instead of catering.
Interviewer: And you didn’t go to . . . .
Lakin: All that, my mother-in-law and Mrs. Rising and Mrs.Press, oh just passed away.
Interviewer: Part of the fun of belonging to synagogues was getting together and . . . .
Lakin: Getting together . . . .
Interviewer: doing the preparations.
Lakin: Preparing for meetings or parties.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And you all pitched in.
Lakin: The women would . . . Even volunteering, work was great, it was, well but very few of the women worked. Very few of us worked.
Interviewer: Can you mention some of the friends, yours or your mother-in-law’s that worked with you at shul or at the old synagogue?
Lakin: There’s a, well Rabbi Baker was there. He . . . .
Interviewer: Rabbi Baker was at Ahavas Sholom.
Lakin: When he started, when he moved the shul from Forest Street, was it, from the south side . . . .and they built on Broad Street.
Interviewer: Broad Street, uh huh.
Lakin: And there was just an old house there.
Interviewer: That’s right, an old brick house.
Lakin: Yeah an old brick house. The women, Mrs. Rising, my mother-in-law, Thea Press, that’s some of the names I remember.
Interviewer: Yeah, Thea Press and Mrs. Rising. I remember those names from way back.
Lakin: Yeah they were wonderful people.
Interviewer: What about some of your friends? Did they work . . . .
Lakin: My friends weren’t interested in the Ahavas Sholom.
Interviewer: Weren’t in the Orthodox . . . .
Lakin: A lot of my friends were interested in the Agudas Achim or Temple Israel. I had a mixture of friends.
Interviewer: Well yeah that was good, you were versatile.
Interviewer: Did you do some volunteer work at Agudas Achim as well?
Lakin: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: Who knows, we might have cooked in the kitchen together?
Lakin: Cooked . . . .
Interviewer: We did our own baking and everything..
Lakin: Or worked in the gift shops or . . . .
Interviewer: Yeah the gift shop.
Interviewer: They had a great gift shop.
Lakin: Yeah and a wonderful Sisterhoods.
Interviewer: What about other, outside of the Jewish community? Did you do any other community volunteering?
Lakin: I know I did at the schools and the Girl Scouts and took care of the Girl Scout craft groups when Harriet was in them. And then I worked with the Boy Scouts.
Interviewer: So you’re . . . .
Lakin: I was Mother Scout Center.
Interviewer: You were interested in what your kids were doing?
Lakin: Right, right. That’s why I didn’t want to get tied up with, in the organizations, in meetings ’cause I wanted my time free for . . . .
Interviewer: Well your times with the children were precious.
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: And it was a good investment for you.
Lakin: Well the reason was this: most of my friends were married ten years before and their children were ten years older. So I became friends with women that were ten years younger than I was, and their children.
Interviewer: Oh so you became connected in another era?
Lakin: In another era, right, right.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Well and you had the young spirit too.
Interviewer: So that worked out. Were you still golfing when the kids were in school?
Lakin: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: How long, when did you stop golfing?
Lakin: Let’s see, when I, when Phil got sick and I, he couldn’t play and I was playing well and I didn’t want to beat him, I mean I didn’t want to hurt him by . . . .
Interviewer: Yeah, being a better golfer.
Lakin: Yeah. I mean I knew he was struggling and . . . .
Interviewer: Yeah, sure.
Lakin: . . . . it wasn’t important to me.
Interviewer: Sure. Well and you wanted to spend your time with him.
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: So did you have, well of course you were involved with Phil and . . . . for some years.
Interviewer: Where did you live during that time when Phil was at . . . .
Lakin: Heritage House. At Park Towers.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Park Towers was on East Broad Street.
Lakin: On East Broad Street. And then after he died I stayed there and I lived there until I had a stroke in . . . .
Interviewer: Early 90s?
Lakin: Yeah, 2001.
Interviewer: Oh wow! Well that, yeah . . . .
Lakin: Because, what made me remember the date, Harriet came to visit me at the hospital, at the Heritage House, and we turned on television and there was the . . . .
Zarate: World Trade Center?
Lakin: World’s Trade Center . . . . and we sat on the bed there.
Interviewer: You were shocked?
Lakin: Shocked, absolutely shocked. Harriet had come in by plane the morning before and she wanted to get back home to the children. She couldn’t, took my car and she drove all the way back . . . .
Interviewer: Is that right?
Lakin: Uh huh.
Interviewer: You know I . . . .
Lakin: That’s where my car stayed. That was the end of my driving.
Interviewer: So she took the car?
Lakin: Took the car and it stayed there. And after I, I stayed at the Heritage House for I’d say about four or five months. Then I went back to the apartment. And had somebody living, coming in, until I fell down and broke my hip. Came back to Heritage House.
Interviewer: On wow! So you had an accident while you were still at the apartment?
Lakin: Yeah. Well, and broke my hip . . . . And then after I recovered, I went back to my apartment and then a year later Robert decided that he was going to move to Israel, wanted me to go and I said, “Uh uh”. And Harriet . . . .
Interviewer: So that was two thousand what?
Lakin: 2000 and, what was the year I came here to . . . .
Interviewer: Couple of years after?
Lakin: I think it’s six years now I’ve been here at the Heritage House.
Lakin: 2005, yeah. But Robert wanted me to go to Israel with him and I said, “Uh uh”. And Harriet wanted me to go to St. Louis. I said, “No, I’ve got all my friends here in Columbus”.
Interviewer: You moved into Heritage House at that time?
Lakin: Yeah and I can say it’s been wonderful for me. I’ve met so many, many people that I never would have met before.
Interviewer: Yeah. And I have to just add my own opinion that I don’t think I ever knew anybody that blended in so perfectly there. I mean, I know that you take advantage of whatever you can over there and . . . .
Lakin: Because I volunteered there from the beginning. My friends are here in Columbus . .
Interviewer: Sure so you were able to maintain . . . .
Lakin: Right, right. And fortunately, I’m able to get around. I still have my mind, I think.
Interviewer: Well thank God you do, you do have your mind. What do you do at Heritage House? What are some of your interests there? You play cards? Let’s start at the beginning.
Lakin: Well first of all I was there for about a year or so and they asked me to take over the President of the Resident Council. Well then at that time they had quite a few people there and I didn’t want to ’cause I didn’t want to take any responsibility.
Interviewer: You mean they wanted you to be President of the Auxiliary?
Lakin: No, no the Resident Council.
Interviewer: The Resident Council? Oh, okay.
Lakin: And after the second year they asked me again. Then I decided I’ll be. Well I have enjoyed it because I’ve met more people and done more things and meeting the children of the patients there has been a wonderful, wonderful experience for me.
Interviewer: Yeah. And it’s reassuring to them too.
Lakin: Yeah. And it’s been a great experience for me knowing these people and I still maintain a lot of friendships.
Interviewer: What are some of the hobbies that you are involved in?
Lakin: Knitting, playing cards.
Interviewer: What cards do you play, Canasta, Bridge?
Lakin: Canasta, Bridge, Maj. Name it.
Interviewer: You’re versatile. Bingo?
Lakin: Bingo, yeah.
Interviewer: Big time?
Lakin: You know they play Bingo there every day . . . .
Interviewer: And you enjoy, I know you enjoy it and I see you do get around.
Lakin: I do. And I’m fortunate. I’ve got friends that take me out to lunch or pick me up to go out to dinner and . . . .
Interviewer: Well you did say that Robert’s family, Robert and his wife, do they spend the summer in the United States too or just their kids?
Lakin: The kids come here and Pam comes and stays with some friends in Cleveland. Then Robert comes the latter part of August.
Interviewer: So you get to see that family . . . .
Interviewer: in the summer?
Interviewer: Uh huh. And what about Harriet’s family? Do you get to see them very much?
Lakin: Oh I go there about twice a year and I talk to them every day. And Harriet comes here every other month or so just to replenish my needs.
Interviewer: Yeah. I know I just saw Harriet here.
Interviewer: Do you go to visit? Do you go there?
Lakin: I go there.
Interviewer: And what about Israel? Do you go, have you been to Israel very many times?
Lakin: Let’s see, oh I’ve been every year ever since Robert’s been there. Last year is the first time I haven’t been there. I didn’t go.
Interviewer: Uh huh. It gets harder to travel, doesn’t it?
Lakin: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Interviewer: I can understand that. Have you traveled to any other places in the world on vacation? Have you gone to Europe and or . . . .
Lakin: No, no.
Interviewer: Well what about this country? Have you traveled very much other than Florida or New York?
Lakin: Florida, California. Iowa, I have family in Iowa.
Lakin: Yeah. And . . . .
Interviewer: What part of Iowa?
Lakin: Fort Dodge. My older brother, when he grew up he worked for a shoe company in Lynn and then he transferred to Michigan and then transferred to Iowa, lived there.
Interviewer: That was really like on the other side of the world.
Lakin: That was cornfields.
Interviewer: Cornfields, huh?
Interviewer: Well. Huh. What organizations do you belong to now? Do you still belong to synagogues?
Lakin: Yeah well I still belong to Agudas Achim . . . .
Lakin: Hadassah, B’nai B’rith. There’s no more B’nai B’rith?
Interviewer: No, B’nai B’rith is dissolved..
Lakin: Yeah. And the Symphony. I did belong to the Symphony for a while and Jewish Center.
Interviewer: Sure. Do you go to any activities at the Jewish Center?
Interviewer: You do? What do you do over at the Jewish Center?
Lakin: Well they have this wonderful aerobic program there.
Interviewer: Aerobic? Yeah what’s it called?
Lakin: Senior Aerobics and Water . . . .
Interviewer: Water Aerobics?
Lakin: which is wonderful.
Interviewer: That’s terrific.
Lakin: And . . . .
Interviewer: Water aerobics is very healthy.
Lakin: their theater program. And mostly exhibitions, the art exhibitions they have there.
Interviewer: Well that’s good, you do get interest in that too.
Interviewer: What about holidays? How did you celebrate holidays?
Interviewer: Well as your family was growing?
Lakin: Oh as they were growing up. Let’s see. My mother-in-law while she was alive, she’d have all, she’d do all the major holidays and then after she passed away I took over and Norma Gurevitz, Norman and my husband were like brothers so our families were very close.
Interviewer: And you still celebrate some holidays with Norman’s kids, don’t you?
Lakin: Oh Norman, with Steve Gurevitz, I’m there at every holiday, they include me in every holiday.
Interviewer: Was Steve the only child that Norma and Norman had?
Lakin: Yeah? Oh no, they had Margie.
Interviewer: And where is Margie?
Lakin: Margie’s in California. But Steve lives here.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Do you see Margie at all very much?
Lakin: Well she comes in for the holidays.
Interviewer: Oh, okay. So you get to see her too?
Lakin: Oh one nice thing. Many, many years ago, my mother-in-laws family in Russia always celebrated Hanukkah. It was when the boys came home from the war . . . . So the family always celebrated with candles. So when the grandmother came to this country she would gather all her kids, all the family, they would celebrate Hanukkah together on the fifth night.
Interviewer: On the fifth night?
Lakin: And my mother-in-law did that with her family.
Interviewer: Well it’s an interesting tradition.
Lakin: And after she passed away I did it with my family and Norman’s family.
Interviewer: Oh that’s . . . .
Lakin: And we did. And the kids still celebrate. We have pictures of the families on Hanukkah. There are albums of pictures. We all celebrated. Give each other gifts, the kids grew up in this.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And it was the fifth candle? That was an . . . .
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: interesting philosophy, something special with your family. Who are some of the people that had a great influence on you when you were growing up?
Lakin: Not too many people growing up. I think as I went to high school I started enjoying my life, I mean when I came to Columbus. And I sort of found myself. Although I did a lot of interesting things when I was in Boston, things that I did by myself.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Well you were old enough and wise enough and . . . .
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: you’d had enough experience.
Lakin: Well most of my friends were married so I was used to being on my own. Found different interests.
Interviewer: Did you visit Boston a lot after . . . .
Lakin: Oh yeah, I went back every year. And the family would come here.
Interviewer: How do you feel about the difference in the way your grandchildren are growing up and the way your children grew up?
Lakin: My grandchildren are . . . .
Interviewer: I think, when I think of your kids, they grew up in their little nest on Harding Road . . . .
Lakin: Right, right.
Interviewer: and they maintain those old-time friendships from way back.
Lakin: Right, right., well . . . .
Interviewer: With both of your kids, they had a profound change in their life.
Lakin: Well my kids still main–, it’s wonderful when they come to town. They’ve got so many friends here that they had many years ago and everybody speaks well of them and it’s just, they’re all good friends and they’re glad to see one another.
Interviewer: It must be comforting to your grandchildren too.
Lakin: Well as far as the grandchildren, Harriet’s children were quite young when they left Columbus. They still have a few friends but most of their teenage friends are in St. Louis. And then Robert’s children’s friends are in Cleveland, they grew up there.
Interviewer: Sure, sure. Well I’m really very pleased that I had this opportunity to interview you. I have to tell you that people have asked me through the last few years, “Why don’t you interview Mollie Lakin?” and somehow my life kind of went through some changes and I never got around to it. And here I am; I’m your next-door neighbor again, we’re on the same street practically.
Interviewer: The circle of life.
Lakin: You know, I did a number of interviews for the Historical Society and I . . . . never thought my life was interest—, I mean I just did things for my own enjoyment.
Interviewer: Are there any messages that as a wise woman with lots of years of experience, that you can share with your grandchildren in terms of philosophy of life?
Lakin: Just to live life and enjoy life.
Interviewer: That’s perfect.
Lakin: Enjoy life and just be grateful for it.
Interviewer: Yeah, that’s perfect.
Lakin: And you know, being here at the Heritage House, there was a time I couldn’t eat.
Interviewer: Couldn’t eat?
Lakin: I mean, I was bedfast. And I, I’ll tell you the story. I lost about 35 pounds so that one of the nurses called my Robert and said, “Your mother’s not eating. We don’t know what to do with her.” And she said, “She won’t eat the liquid – thick food.” So he said, “Well what happened if she drank water, if she drank liquid.” “She might die.” This was ten years ago. He said, “Well you know something? Feed her water. If she dies at least she’ll die happy.”
Interviewer: Good message, good message.
Lakin: And you know . . . .
Interviewer: Well I went through that too?
Lakin: Did you?
Interviewer: Yeah with Bernie.
Interviewer: Yeah. But he hated it.
Lakin: Yeah. Oh it’s . . . .
Interviewer: . . . . so I understand that.
Lakin: Well I lost 35 pounds at that time.
Interviewer: It didn’t hurt . . . .
Lakin: Didn’t. And here I am ten years later, I’m still . . . .
Interviewer: Well good for Robert. I . . . .
Lakin: still hanging.
Interviewer: Yeah you’re still here huh?
Interviewer: Without that thick food. Without that stinkin’ food.
Lakin: Without that. I’m so grateful that I’m at the Heritage House. I mean they have been so wonderful to me. I mean . . . .
Interviewer: But you’re a good resident too so it works both ways.
Lakin: Well, I’m happy there.
Interviewer: Well you know what, we’ve had a nice afternoon and I have to say that on behalf of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society we appreciate your time and your sharing all your good memories. And thank you.
Lakin: Just being here with you is so pleasant.
Interviewer: There you go. We’re still neighbors.
Lakin: We’re still neighbors. Isn’t that funny?
Interviewer: That’s good.
Lakin: How strange this world is. And you know when, I meet so many people at the Heritage House. In talking to them, talking, I mean there’s so many connections.
Lakin: the world is small.
Interviewer: It is. You have all the roots . . . Your roots really are in Columbus.
Lakin: Oh yeah. I, it’ll be 60 years this year.
Lakin: So that’s the better part of my life.
Interviewer: That’s right. For sure.
* * *
Transcribed by Honey Abramson
Corrected by Mollie Lakin