Interview with Myron Trope on October 10, 1988 by David Papier. This
interview is a part of the Oral History program of the Columbus Jewish
Interviewer: Good afternoon Mr. Trope. Just relax and tell me a
little about your family; your parents, your early life in Columbus and
so forth. Then we’ll go on from there.
Trope: Good afternoon. My name is Myron Trope. I’m here to
interview about my past experience in Columbus, Ohio. First, I’ll
start with my dear parents who originated from Russia. Their feelings
here was unusual. My father told me it was severe punishment that he
made in traveling before he finally arrived in Columbus, Ohio. He went
through it with a horse and wagon with two wheels laying in straw for
many months before it was accomplished getting to the gate of where the
ship was boarded. Today, I’m relating some experiences of my history
of my father who explained to me what he went through.
First he got on ship and he arrived at Ellis Island. From there he
came through and was ushered in to Columbus, Ohio. From there on in, he
had a hard struggle for a man without any background of American
activity. So today, you’ll have to forgive me if I miss some of the
outstanding achievements of what my poor dad went through to accomplish
his great accomplishments in Columbus, Ohio.
The very first thing he did was buy a ticket for his mother to create
passage so she’d be able to come back after he himself founded. That
was one of his first ambitions that he had in Columbus, Ohio. However,
that was accomplished several years later but as he progressed in making
a greater livelihood for himself and the hard struggles, he finally
accomplished some very good points.
He went into the grocery business years ago and became very
successful in his operations and with a little saloon on the side. That
was his enterprise and first business transaction in Columbus, Ohio.
However, all those things were hard earned achievements which he finally
Interviewer: Would you tell us a little bit about the locations of
some of the other businesses you recall in that vicinity?
Trope: To my knowledge, he had a grocery store at Parsons and Fulton
Street which was at that time a Jewish neighborhood. He prospered fairly
well and in the grocery store, he had a little saloon on the side. In
the grocery lived a Jewish family by the name of Myers. The lady was a
good customer of my father’s store. She always came in to buy flour
because she was a great baker.
In those days, Jewish women did a lot of baking and my father and she
got to talking to each other and she mentioned her daughter, Sarah, who
I had no knowledge of at that time. By my working in my father’s
grocery store, I learned the background of what I was supposed to do. So
he gave me an order to deliver flour to the Myers family across the
street which was prearranged without my knowledge. And I got to meet
Sarah for the first time. From there, it blossomed into a wedding that
lasted 62 years and is still going strong.
During my accomplishments, we worked for 40 years at Kahn Jewelry
Stores, Sarah and I together. We finally retired. During my time in and
out of our vacations, I was very successful in traveling. I traveled
around the world three times which is an unusual accomplishment. I made
up my mind to visit where my parents originated from; Rega, Russia and
Odessa, Russia which I accomplished in my traveling experiences and was
one of my traveling ambitions. Therefore, I’m very thankful.
I went to Fulton Street Public School. In 1909, I entered Fulton
Street School and there I finished the seventh grade and went to junior
high at Mound Street School. At Mound Street, I participated in
athletics and was quite a good baseball player in my past
accomplishments. From there, I went to South High School where I
participated in baseball and football for three consecutive years as a
regular on the team. Then I attended Ohio State University for three
years. I was not able to graduate but I’m thankful in my past
accomplishments, I was successful so I have no complaint of my past
education. So today we’ve been retired for 20 years and my wife and I
are living a nice, quiet life. My wife is not in the best of health,
however, we manage to have our meals out. We go out for dinner and
rather than sit home, we go out and see everybody. Therefore, I feel my
past accomplishments as an individual…my mother and father were very
dear to me and I sincerely appreciate you bringing up my past. Are we
Interviewer: No, we’re not going to close yet. Myron, we’re first
going to talk a little bit more. Let’s go back to the time when your
father had his grocery store. Tell us a little bit about the community.
What was the community like when you were growing up in our father’s
Trope: The community was all Jewish at that time. And they were very
poor people. Their finances were very bad. And my dad used to weigh food
on a scale; a nickel’s worth of sugar, a nickel’s worth of…
everything in nickels and dimes. Those were the amounts of the
transactions because the average person who came into my father’s
store was in no position to buy large amounts. And that was a continuous
operation for quite a few years until we moved out. As the years went
by, my father had a robbery in the store and after that robbery, it was
the beginning of the end of my father’s business. He had finally given
up. So I took over where my father left off and continued the operation
the best I could as a young man before I got married. From then on, it
was a hard struggle because we went through the Depression. And going
through the Depression without much finances was even more difficult
than being financially able to carry that load. But we finally made it
through all these bad days and we’re still operating here after 62
Interviewer: Speaking of marriages, Myron, do you have any records of
your parents’ marriage and where they were married?
Trope: My father and mother were married in Columbus, Ohio in 1892 at
Shase Hall and they had 500 guests at their wedding. At that time,
Jewish weddings were a big thing and I remember him telling me how nice
and unusual a period that was at that time.
Interviewer: What was your wife’s maiden name?
Trope: My wife’s maiden name was Myers. Her parents were Mr. and
Mrs. Peter Myers. My mother’s maiden name was Finkelstein. It kept me
on the go, keeping up with the two of them but I managed.
Interviewer: Your parents spent the remainder of their lives in
Trope: Yes. My father was not a traveler. He remained steadily
through his business because in those days, as an operator, competition
was very bad and profits were very small and he waited until the late
hours of every night for a little bit of business which was a little
unusual but in those days, you had to do that to survive.
Interviewer: Do you recall the names of any of the other business
people in the neighborhood?
Trope: Nothing special. Mr. Margulies had a dry goods store which was
very popular at that time. Their son, Charlie and I became very good
friends because he lived in the neighborhood and it gave us a chance to
make a good friendship between us. My Solove was also a neighbor in the
area. Mr. Sokol of the Sokol Insurance was also a good neighbor in the
area. Those became very prominent in the business circles as the years
Interviewer: Do you recall the names of your butcher? The baker? Dry
cleaner? Anyone else in the neighborhood?
Trope: Mr. Schwartz ran our bakery. He and I became very good friends
because it was all in the Jewish neighborhood and you had a chance to
communicate with all the different individuals. It was a closed circuit
so you didn’t have to go too far to talk to each other. Therefore, I
am very satisfied with Columbus, Ohio.
Interviewer: Tell me, Myron, about your life during the Depression
and the late 20s and 30s.
Trope: Nobody will ever know the circumstances we endured as a young
married couple during the time of the Depression. If I recall correctly,
we were working, at that time, for Morrie’s Jewelry Store on High
Street. I recall that many times, he was unable to pay us our salary but
I didn’t want to give up the job so we stuck it out without being
paid. Not only me, but he couldn’t pay anybody. We used to eat a lot
of our lunches in the ten cent store because we weren’t able to eat a
regular good meal. So we stuck it out and finally made it to the best of
our advantage. It was an awful struggle. Nobody will ever know, only
those who went through it and survived. I will never forget what I saw
in those days in the early days of the Depression. 1930-1933 was very
Interviewer: Do you recall any big event in your early life such as
your Bar Mitzvah? Any other important things you can recall around that
period of age thirteen or fourteen?
Trope: My father was a good member of Agudas Achim Synagogue and I
carried on his membership after he was was deceased. Of course, I was
Bar Mitzvah in the Big Shul, Agudas Achim, at that time. I still carry
on the traditions and I’m still an active member. I’ve been a 50
year member of B’nai Brith, which was quite an accomplishment that I
achieved and I’m very proud of. As an individual, as a good citizen of
the country, I managed to carry out my fundamentals as good as possible.
Interviewer: Speaking of Agudas Achim, I notice that you have a
beautiful picture of the old Agudas Achim.
Trope: Original. That’s the original.
Interviewer: Tell me a little bit about that.
Trope: That’s a very good deal. I’m so glad that question was
brought up. If I recall correctly, my father was one of the ten original
members from the old Agudas Achim shul. It was on Main and Fifth
Streets, years ago until they finally settled at Washington and
Donaldson Street and that’s when they built this shul and I have the
possession of the original picture of the shul which I had made up in
color and it came out as an exact reproduction of the shul. I treasure
that deeply; hanging on the wall in my home as a good and positive reminder of
my belonging to the congregation.
Interviewer: Let’s talk a little about your hobbies. I see that you’re
interested in collecting all sorts of things from your various trips.
Could you tell us a little bit about your hobbies?
Trope: As a background to my hobbies, that was one of
my traditions in my traveling. I always managed to pick
up things from around the world, especially from China
and all the far places I’ve been including Russia. I
am very thankful of my accomplishments as a world
traveler. Being around the world three times, my wife
and I…we were on the Queen Elizabeth for eighty days
around the world. That was an accomplishment I shall
treasure forever. I picked as many interesting as I could
on that trip.
Interviewer: Are there any interesting pieces that stick in your mind
that you can describe?
Trope: As individuals, we had Mr. Firestone as a passenger on the
ship. Another passenger was Mrs. Reynolds from Reynolds Tobacco Company.
It was made up of unusual characters that traditionwise is living in my
mind as an unusual background. I treasure that ship and trip very
highly. The treasures that I picked up from that trip are unbelievable.
Being a collector of all those different items, I accumulated an unusual
mass of things in my home and created a museum out of it. I kind of
overdid it but that’s my hobby and naturally, I enjoy the outstanding
Interviewer: Getting back to your early married life, how did young
people get to know each other? How did they get to meet? Were there any
organizations for young, single people to get together to meet?
Trope: To my knowledge, I wasn’t too good on that because I was
always tied up in the grocery store and traveling was done mostly by
streetcars. Everything was by streetcars. There was no such thing as
automobiles for the average individuals in those days. The average
individual did not own a car. The neighborhood was very slow moving
because people didn’t prosper like they should have but they stayed
normal and made the best of it in their locality. Other than that, I
have no objections of my past. I worked hard and I tried to lead an
honest life. My wife, Sarah and I got along very nicely. We made nice
friends and we entertained. As the years went by, when you reach the age
of 85, it’s time to slow down. My wife is 81, and therefore, I think
we accomplished a satisfactory life.
Interviewer: Do you recall the first trip you ever took away from
Trope: The first trip I made away from Columbus was to Atlantic City
on our honeymoon. That was something I treasure very deeply. They
wheeled us on the boardwalk in a wheelchair and we got to see all the
beautiful scenery. That was in 1926. I have a picture of that and I
treasure that as one of my mementoes of the beginning of my traveling.
From then on in, I started traveling and I didn’t want to miss any
opportunity that came up. I took advantage of all the days from 1926
clear up to my last trip on the Queen Elizabeth which was just several
Interviewer: I understand, Myron, that you don’t care to travel by
plane. Why is that?
Trope: Well, my wife was a little bit on the opposite side of plane
traveling so the result was, I followed her instructions and rather than
go against my wife, we decided to go by ship. The only time we traveled
by plane was when we wanted to transfer locations to get to a
destination we had to be at. Other than that, it was strictly by ship.
We were on three different ships around the world.
Interviewer: Do you recall the names of those ships?
Trope: The Queen Elizabeth was one and the other ship was the Coronia
which was a very big ship and we enjoyed that very much. Another trip I
made was on a ship that was on a maiden voyage which was very unusual.
That was an outstanding trip but I can’t recall the name of it today.
When you go on a maiden voyage, they lay out the red carpet for you. We
went to India on that ship.
Interviewer: What were some of your experiences in India? Do you
Trope: My experience in India was very disturbing. The poverty was
very, very bad. Naturally, it got the best of me and I wasn’t used to
that kind of living so I absorbed it from the experience of going
through seeing what we did. It’s unbelievable what we saw.
Interviewer: Did you by any chance meet any Jewish families while you
were in India?
Trope: No, I didn’t meet any Jewish families in India. I did meet
some Jewish families in Japan. When I was in Japan, I went into the
synagogue on a holiday and they put me up in front and let me talk. I
met a Jewish boy there who married a Japanese girl. His children
followed him into the synagogue which was unusual.
Interviewer: Your trip to China. Did you find any Jewish people in
Trope: Not to my knowledge. The place I went to a synagogue was in
Leningrad, Russia. That was a trip I’ll never forget. I’m so glad
you brought that question up. While we were on the ship, the captain
ordered us not to go to a synagogue while in Russia because it was too
dangerous. However, I told the captain that since we were so far away
from home, that regardless, I would like to go to a Jewish synagogue on
Friday night. We got two Jewish ladies to join us, we rented a cab
through the Russian tourist office and converted our American money into
Russian ruples which paid for our cab fare. By going to the Russian
tourist office, they found out we were going to the Jewish synagogue and
in the back, were 25 KG men; Russian officers, watching every move we
made, which I didn’t have any knowledge of at the time.
I was instructed by the captain since I wanted to go on this particular trip,
“Don’t give anybody anything. Keep still and mind your own
business.” It’s a good thing I was instructed by the captain to
carry out his orders because not knowing there were 25 KG men in the
back of the synagogue, watching every move I made. It was the most
dangerous mission of all and I’m thankful I did what the captain told
me, otherwise I probably would have gotten in trouble, innocently.
Interviewer: Do you recall what year that was or how many years ago?
Trope: About 15 years ago. Things were bad in Russia at that time. Of
course, they’ve calmed down. I went to the subways in Russia.
Unbelievable beauty. All marble and everything was immaculate and clean.
We went to the synagogue and the museum in Leningrad. Very outstanding
information picked up by my travels in Russia.
I was in County Cork, Ireland and kissed the Blarney Stone. That was
unusual. I had an audience with the Pope which was very unusual for a
Jewish man. I mean, not in the audience with 200,000 people, we were on
a private balcony with him and 25 other people who were able to attend.
I arranged that through the Catholic Priest in Columbus, Ohio who made
the arrangements and got me acquainted with the priest in Italy and
through their connections, I was able to make my connections to meet the
Pope. It was very unusual for a Jewish person. I brought rosaries and
brought them back and gave them to my customers at Kahn’s Jewelry
Interviewer: In closing, do you have anything you would like to leave
in terms of your philosophy or advice to younger people that you would
like to pass on?
Trope: Advice to younger people: Try to see the world before you get
too old. Enjoy life because everyday counts and time flies so fast and
before you know it, your traveling days are over. I recommend anybody
with good reading ability to take advantage of travel. It doesn’t hurt
anybody and the experience is wonderful. I enjoyed every minute of my
travels around the world. I’m so glad I did what I did when I did it
because today is too late. I’m thankful that I accomplished everything
that I had my mind set on, the day I got married.
Interviewer: Thank you, Myron, for sharing your personal life
experiences with the Columbus Jewish Historical Society.
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