This interview with Norman Cohen took place at his home in Columbus in the
December 9, 1996, and is a part of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society Oral
History Project. Interviewed by Naomi Schottenstein.
Interviewer: Norman, I wanted to ask you who your parents were.
Let’s start there.
Cohen: It was Nathan and Lillian Cohen.
Interviewer: And where were your parents from Norman?
Cohen: My Father was from Russia. My Mother was born in Scranton,
Interviewer: Scranton, OK. Do you know when they were born? Do you happen to
Cohen: Not really . . . .
Interviewer: OK. When did they pass away?
Cohen: My Dad passed away when he was 79 and that’s been ten years ago.
Interviewer: In ’86?
Cohen: In ’86, yeah.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And your Mother?
Cohen: And my Mother passed away when I was 75. Or 65.
Interviewer: So it’s about 16 years ago?
Cohen: Sixteen years ago.
Interviewer: In 1980?
Interviewer: She passed away in 1980. Do you happen to know the names of your
grand- parents? Your Mother’s parents?
Cohen: The name was Shapiro. But I don’t know their first names or
Interviewer: And where were they from, do you know?
Cohen: From Russia.
Interviewer: What about your Dad’s family?
Cohen: That family was also in Russia . . . . lot of them came to the United
States, too. One was, Gussie Dworkin was a sister.
Interviewer: Was, is she, here in, what, did she live in Columbus?
Cohen: She lived in Columbus and she has passed away since then. And then his
brother was Sam Cohen who lived here and has also passed away.
Interviewer: Sam Cohen – who were his children?
Cohen: His children were Mazie . . . .
Interviewer: Mazie Cohen, Mazie Feinstein?
Cohen: Mazie Feinstein and Sylvia, that’s Sylvia Feinstein and Leo Cohen.
Interviewer: Sylvia Feinstein and Leo Cohen, yeah.
Interviewer: OK. What do you remember about your parents? What were some of
the things that stand out when you think about your parents?
Cohen: . . . . stand out. When my dad came to New York, he was a conductor on
the horse car. On Canal Street.
Interviewer: In New York City?
Cohen: In New York City. And then they moved here to Columbus and . . . .
Interviewer: Why did they move to Columbus?
Cohen: That is a good question. I have no idea.
Interviewer: You never knew what brought them here?
Interviewer: Were they married when they came to Columbus?
Cohen: No, they were married when they came here.
Interviewer: Do you know how your mother and father met?
Cohen: No, I don’t.
Interviewer: And what were some of the other occupations that your dad had?
Cohen: Well when he first came to Columbus here, he peddled house-to-house,
Interviewer: Dry goods, uh huh.
Cohen: And then we got into the news stand downtown at Broad and High.
Interviewer: The news stand?
Cohen: Yeah, at Broad and High.
Interviewer: When he peddled, did he go in a car or truck? Horse and buggy?
Cohen: In a Ford, in an old Ford.
Interviewer: Old Ford? Where there any other cars on the road in those days,
other than . . .
Cohen: Yeah there were. Yeah.
Interviewer: Do you remember the Ford?
Cohen: I sure do.
Interviewer: Okay. And then your dad continued in the news stand until he
passed away. Right?
Interviewer: Okay. I know you came from a large family. Can you start at the
top and tell me in order, who was born first, who your brothers and sisters are?
Cohen: Now you’re making it tough.
Interviewer: (laughs) Well, we’re testing you.
Cohen: Number one: I’m the oldest of ten. So you got my name. Next would have been Milton. Arthur. Gladys. I think Seymour. Helen. It was Helen in between him and Morton.
Interviewer: So Gladys is older than Helen?
Cohen: Yeah. And . . . .
Interviewer: One, two, three, four, five – we’re at seven.
Cohen: Who did I give you last?
Cohen: Helen and Gloria, Donny. I’m missing one, ain’t I?
Cohen: Erwin. Yeah. Erwin comes up there after Morton.
Interviewer: Erwin. Okay.
Cohen: Got ’em all?
Interviewer: Yeah it looks like I’ve got ten here.
Interviewer: Two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Okay. Let’s
start with the youngest one. Who’s the youngest one in the family?
Cohen: The youngest one is Gloria.
Interviewer: Okay. And was Gloria married? Tell me who she was married to and
who her children are.
Cohen: She was mar—-, she was married to Avron Edelman and her children,
she’s got four children. They live in Orange County, California. Do you want
to know their names too?
Interviewer: If you can think of them.
Cohen: I’ve got them right here. I just happened to get a card but I don’t
Interviewer: That’s Okay. Let’s . . . .
Interviewer: She now lives where?
Cohen: In Orange County, California.
Interviewer: Okay. And then who’s after Gloria? Who’s the next youngest
Interviewer: And Donny lives . . . .
Cohen: In Charleston, West Virginiua. He’s an optometrist.
Interviewer: And his wife?
Cohen: And his wife is Flora Lee and they have four children. Three of them
are married and one is not.
Interviewer: Okay, we’ve got to get them married off, huh?
Cohen: Oh yeah.Not in Charleston, we don’t.
Interviewer: (laughs) All right then. The third youngest after Donny. We’re
going at the other end of the trail here.
Cohen: That would be Seymour
Interviewer: Okay. And Seymour married . . . .
Cohen: He was married to Betty.
Interviewer: Is Seymour still living?
Interviewer: Okay. When, do you know when he passed away? Do you remember
what year or . . . .
Cohen: Eleven years ago so that would be . . . .
Interviewer: And he was married to?
Cohen: They lived in Atlanta, Georgia.
Interviewer: And how many children did they have?
Cohen: They had one, two, three.
Interviewer: Okay. What did Seymour do for a living?
Cohen: He had a television place. Appliances.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Okay. Then next youngest after Seymour? Helen? Is that .
Cohen: Yeah, Helen would be next.
Interviewer: And she’s married to?
Interviewer: Leonard – what’s her last name?
Interviewer: Carroll. And where do they live?
Cohen: They live here in Columbus.
Interviewer: And how many children do they have?
Cohen: She has two.One lives in Las Vegas and . . . . is a doctor.
Interviewer: Dr. Mark Carroll?
Cohen: Right . . . .
Interviewer: Okay. And then the next oldest after Helen, is that Gladys or
Cohen: Be Erwin.
Cohen: And Erwin’s married to Annette Cooper and owns Columbus Janitor
Supply and he has, I got to stop and think. He has two children.
Interviewer: Okay. It’s not easy to keep track of everybody, I know.
Cohen: No. My mother, may she rest in peace, she could say their birthdays
and everything and I . . . .
Interviewer: It’s hard to do that. OK, after Erwin, oldest. Is that Morton
Cohen: No, be Morton. And he’s at the Heritage House?
Interviewer: Was he ever married?
Interviewer: Okay. And Gladys?
Cohen: Gladys was married to Paul Herwald who had appliance, television and
Interviewer: And how many children did she have?
Cohen: I think four.
Interviewer: She had four children? And Gladys lives in Columbus?
Interviewer: Yeah. Okay. And then Arthur Cohen. He was in the, he was married
to Marian, oh what was her maiden name? But her name is Wissman now?
Cohen: No, it’s Wissman now.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Where was Miriam from?
Cohen: Richmond, Indiana.
Interviewer: What business was Arthur in?
Cohen: In the car business.
Interviewer: Sold new automobiles?
Cohen: Yeah, new cars.
Interviewer: Uh huh. When did Arthur pass away?
Voice: He passed away early.
Cohen: Yeah, he’s forty, forty-nine years old then.
Voice: He was young.
Interviewer: He was forty-nine when he passed away?
Interviewer: Number of years ago. I remember Arthur.
Interviewer: Okay. And then Milton.
Cohen: Milton was married to Babe, Miriam . . . . what’s her name?
Interviewer: Did Milton and Babe live in Columbus?
Cohen: No, Atlanta, Georgia. And he was an optometrist in Atlanta.
Interviewer: And is he deceased or still . . . .
Cohen: No, deceased.
Interviewer: Do you know how long ago he passed away?
Cohen: Oh, it was 20 years, I’d say.
Interviewer: Okay Norman. Now we’re to you.
Cohen: To me?
Interviewer: Okay, we’re going to talk about your family there a little bit later. So let’s wait for that. What about other relatives that you remember? Did you remember your family here in Columbus? Were there other cousins or aunts, uncles?
Cohen: Not here in Columbus.
Cohen: Most of our family was in New York City.
Interviewer: Most of them were in New York?
Interviewer: Uh huh. Where were you educated? Where did you go to elementary
school and . . . .
Cohen: Heyl Avenue School.
Interviewer: Heyl Avenue. I think it’s still there.
Cohen: Still there?
Interviewer: Do you remember anybody that’s still around in Columbus that you
maybe went to school with?
Interviewer: No classmates?
Cohen: No classmates.
Interviewer: What about any further education after elementary school?
Cohen: Well I went to Junior High at Roosevelt Junior High.
Interviewer: And is that still here too?
Cohen: And Sou— . . . .
Interviewer: No, it’s not.
Cohen: Yeah it’s . . . It’s not here? Roosevelt?
Voice: No, they took it down.
Interviewer: It’s no longer . . . .
Cohen: Then to South High School.
Interviewer: South High School?
Interviewer: Do you remember anybody from South High School that you might
have gone to school with?
Cohen: Yeah, I remember.
Interviewer: Do you have reunions?
Cohen: Yeah, we’ve had reunions, yeah.
Interviewer: Can you think of anbody that’s still around that . . . .
Interviewer: you went to school with?
Cohen: Doris, Doris Gallagher. and Dr. Gallagher, he just passed away not too long ago. Francis Gallagher.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Yeah. It’s kind of fun to go to reunions, isn’t it?
Cohen: Oh, we’ve had quite a few of them.
Interviewer: Okay. Do you remember, I know you come from a large family. Did
your family ever go on visits or vacations?
Cohen: Not too often.
Interviewer: No, I don’t . . . .I don’t think people at that stage were . . . .
Cohen: No back in those days, you didn’t go anyplace.
Interviewer: Usually went to visit other family members.
Cohen: That’s it. That’s all.
Interviewer: Do you remember any particular illnesses that maybe you had as
families? How they treated things like measles and. We were just talking about
this the other day – chicken pox and measles, whooping cough.
Cohen: Dr. Edelman was the family doctor at that time and he gave everybody
the shots that they needed and that was the story. Other than that, I don’t
Interviewer: So you all got through whatever childhood . . . .
Cohen: Yeah, whatever, and he was the doctor.
Interviewer: Do you have any uh, family reunions, get togethers?
Cohen: We had one in Atlanta. I’m trying to say how long ago. You ask me
dates, I don’t remember what I had for breakfast.
Interviewer: Is that the Cohen family?
Interviewer: Your, your brothers and sisters ?
Cohen: Yeah .Cohen The whole family, yeah . . . . a few years ago but I don’t remember dates.
Interviewer: Well probably for a special family event.
Cohen: Yeah, that’s all.
Interviewer: Yeah. Let’s talk a little bit about your synagogue
affiliation. Where did you belong to as a child? Where did your family belong to
and where did you grow up?
Cohen: On Elmwood Avenue, which is no longer there.
Interviewer: What was the synagogue there?
Cohen: Agudas Achim.
Interviewer: On Elmwood?
Cohen: No, it was on Washington and Donaldson.
Interviewer: Washington and Donaldson?
Interviewer: Okay. And I know you don’t belong to Agudas Achim now, do you?
Cohen: Yeah, I do.
Interviewer: You still belong to Agudas Achim?
Cohen: I don’t go but I belong there.
Interviewer: And what other synagogue do you belong to?
Cohen: Tifereth Israel.
Interviewer: And how long have you gone there?
Cohen: Well, Esther’s gone three and a half years. We were married there
fifty-six years. So I’ve been a member there about sixty-five years.
Interviewer: Oh that, you’re pretty, pretty secure there. What’s your
religious feeling in your home? Orthodox or Conservative?
Voice: Were your parents Orthodox?
Cohen: Yes. Not ultra.
Interviewer: Your parents were not. They’re Conservative also?
Cohen: Yeah in later years.
Interviewer: Yeah. Did you celebrate the holidays as a family?
Cohen: We sure did.
Interviewer: Did you have, were you, did you have a Kosher home? Was your . .
Interviewer: Your parents?
Cohen: Yeah, a Kosher home. My moth–, my mother made chala every Friday.
Interviewer: Did all the cooking. I forgot to ask you when we were talking
about your dad’s occupations. Did your mother work also or was she a
Cohen: Housewife and worked with Dad.
Interviewer: I see. Uh hum.
Cohen: With ten of us? Somebody had to be a housewife.
Interviewer: Somebody had to keep things going at home, huh? Did you have
responsibilities at home when you were a youngster?
Cohen: Had responsibilities and I still have responsibilities.
Interviewer: Well you do, you do. How did, how did you manage as a large
family? Did you all pitch in with taking care of each other or how . . . .
Cohen: Yeah, everybody pitched in. We got along real good. There was no
Voice: Where did you live?
Interviewer: Can you tell us about some of the places you’ve lived when you were . . .
Cohen: Well when we first came to Columbus, we lived on Elmwood Avenue. And
on Elmwood Avenue lived Sam Sherman. I don’t know if you remember Sam Sherman. Sid Levoff. The Garek Family, all lived on that one street. And Forman and on the corner was Abe Kanter. The doctor.
Interviewer: Dr. Abe Kanter. Yeah.
Cohen: On the corner. And then from there, we moved to Heyl Avenue. And we
lived on Heyl Avenue there for quite some time and then, and I think in ’36,
we moved on Ardmore Road.
Interviewer: Ardmore? Is that where your parents . . . .
Cohen: Yeah, that’s where the, yeah.
Interviewer: And what other houses did you live in since you were married?
Cohen: Since I was married? Well when we got married, we lived on Wilson and Whittier. And then we moved to Driving Park and we lived in Myron Trope’s apartments. In Driving Park.
Voice: That was where the circle is.
Cohen: Yeah, the circle. Right in the circle with Tanenbaum and Rosenbaum.
Interviewer: And then after Driving Park?
Cohen: I went into the Army.
Interviewer: So you lived on Uncle Sam for a while?
Cohen: I lived on there and then when I came out of the Army, I lived with
her, her mother.
Interviewer: Esther’s mother?
Cohen: Yeah, with . . . .
Interviewer: Who was Esther’s mother?
Cohen: Uh, Schlansky. Lena Schlansky. And her father was killed in the automobile accident.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Many years ago.
Interviewer: Where was that home?
Cohen: On Remington Road.
Interviewer: And from there?
Cohen: From there?
Interviewer: . . . . when you built this house?
Cohen: . . . . built this house.
Interviewer: This house.
Cohen: In 1958 . . . . (telephone interruption) Now where were we?
Interviewer: All right Norman. We stopped with where you were living, and you
were living with your mother-in-law and then you moved, you built this house.
Cohen: Yeah we built.
Interviewer: Built this house. You were telling us who you bought this lot
from. Who did you buy the lot from?
Cohen: Arthur Katz.
Interviewer: Arthur Katz? And then you and Esther built this house?
Interviewer: Did you enjoy building it?
Cohen: I certainly did.
Interviewer: What year was that?
Interviewer: Okay. Norman, let’s go back a few years. Do you remember very
much about the Great Depression? You’ve heard of the Great Depression?
Cohen: I’ve heard of it. But I don’t remember much about it.
Interviewer: You remember anything about how your family got through it? A
lot of people lost their businesses and lost their homes. Anything?
Interviewer: You got through it okay?
Cohen: We got through it okay.
Interviewer: Okay. You were, you told us about your high school. Okay. Did
you work when you were a youngster?
Cohen: I worked at the Palace Theater as an usher. Made $7.65 a week.
Interviewer: How often did you work there?
Cohen: Five days a week.
Interviewer: Is that right?
Interviewer: What was, what theater was that now?
Cohen: The Palace Theater.
Interviewer: And what was . . . .
Cohen: On West Broad Street.
Interviewer: What went on at that time at the Palace Theater? They didn’t
have stage shows . . . .
Cohen: At that time they had stage shows.
Interviewer: Was it also a movie theater?
Cohen: A movie theater and stage shows.
Interviewer: Now was that during high school or . . . .
Cohen: That was during high school.
Interviewer: So after school, then you would go to work.
Cohen: Yeah, right.
Interviewer: So, and then after that, what other jobs did, can you think of
any other jobs you might have had?
Cohen: No not, no other jobs oth–, other than that, we were down, had a news
stand at Broad and High.
Interviewer: You worked with your dad?
Interviewer: Some of the other kids in the family work with your dad as well?
Cohen: Yeah they, my brother Arthur worked with him at Broad and High. And
then, we were the only two.
Interviewer: Can you remember anything that you might have done in the summer
when you were a youngster? Did you go to camp? I don’t know if they had camps
Cohen: Who, me?
Interviewer: No, no, no luxury . . . .
Cohen: What I did when I was young? I went from here to California right
after I got out of school. I worked washing dishes there to eat. And I stayed in
California for a while and then I rode the freights back. I caught the freight
outside of San Francisco.
Interviewer: What was the idea of going to California? It was just, have a
change of scenery?
Cohen: Just to go. I got mad at something and I went to California.
Interviewer: How did your parents react to that?
Cohen: They didn’t like it.
Interviewer: Were you able to keep in touch with them?
Cohen: Oh yeah. I kept in touch. And on my way back, I caught the first
freight train out of San Francisco into the Sierra Nevadas and that time they
had the WPA camps so you slept with all the bums.
Interviewer: What’s the WPA camp? Can you tell us about it?
Cohen: That was during the Roosevelt administration where they had work for
the ones that couldn’t find a job.
Voice: Work Progress Administration.
Interviewer: Work Progress Administration? Sounds like we should have
something today, doesn’t it?
Interviewer: And then you came back to Columbus?
Cohen: I came back here and got married in 1937.
Interviewer: So you got that traveling out of your system, huh? Can you
remember anything else that, we talked about WPA. Anything else that maybe
reminds you of, that’s kind of the Depression era? Were jobs plentiful then or
did people have to struggle to work?
Cohen: I really don’t know.
Interviewer: Didn’t, didn’t bother you? Okay Norman, let’s get into the military service. I know you were in the military. Can you tell us a little bit about that? First tell us what war it was.
Cohen: World War II.
Interviewer: Okay. And give us the year, the year that you went into the service.
Interviewer: And where did you, tell me about your military career.
Cohen: Well, I went in at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana. And from there
to El Paso, Texas, on the Mexican border and we were with the Searchlight
Battalion at that time and were stationed out on the desert, right across from
the border of Juarez, Mexico. And we stayed there until time of embarcation. No.
We stayed there until we were shipped to Florida. Orlando, Florida, at the air
base in Florida. And from Florida, we went to San Francisco Point of Embarcation
and went to New Guinea . . . . Bay, New Guinea. And we stayed there until the
invasion of the Philippines. Then we went in . . . .
Interviewer: Do you remember the date of . . . .
Cohen: We went in . . . .
Interviewer: the time of that happening?
Cohen: Oh, it had to be about. Oh before we went in on the invasion of the
Philippines, we, they had us working on the docks unloading mail.
Interviewer: About 1944? Probably.
Cohen: It was earlier than that.
Interviewer: Well you went into the service in ’43 so . . . .
Cohen: Well yeah, ’44. But while we were in New Guinea, we were unloading mail from a ship and there were girl stewardesses, American girls. And after being in New Guinea six months, to see a white girl was something. So we got to talking to one of them and what she was doing aboard ship and so forth and so on and where you were from. And she said, “I think we have a war correspondent from Columbus, Ohio.”
Interviewer: Oh, you had a connection?
Cohen: So next thing I knew she was gone and here came a fellow who was
Managing Editor at the time of the Ohio State Journal. Name was Bob Harper. And we got together. We knew each other at Broad and High . . . .
Interviewer: And here you were in the Philippines?
Cohen: No, this was still in New Guinea.
Interviewer: New Guinea? Uh huh.
Cohen: And when he got back to the States, he wrote an article on the front
page of the Ohio State Journal, “Broad and High Reunion – New Guinea in the
Rain” and had a whole article on there. Looked like I was winning the war.
Interviewer: Do you have a copy of that article?
Cohen: I’ve got a copy of the article. It’s at the office. I meant to
bring it and so, I got it laminated.
Interviewer: We need to have a copy of that for our file . . . . Maybe you
Cohen: I’ve got a copy someplace. I don’t know just where it is. But I’ve got . . . .
Interviewer: Well we’re going to talk about that, we’ll get. . . .
Interviewer: We’ll get some of that. Okay, let’s continue abour your
Cohen: Well, we went in on the invasion of the Philippines and from there we
stayed until the war was over. We were in a place called Dualan over the
mountains when you used to fly into Clark Field in Manila. And when the war was
over, we couldn’t get back to the States so we stayed in Manila and we went up
to the capital of Manila, which was Baguio. And we stayed there until we were
able to get back to the States.
Interviewer: Have you had any reunions with any of the . . . .
Cohen: Yeah, we’ve had some reunions.
Interviewer: So you’ve met some of the people that you were in the service
Interviewer: Uh huh. What’s your involvement, I know you’re involved here
with the . . . .
Cohen: Jewish War Veterans?
Cohen: I was Commander in ’64 and ’65. I was Commander in the last two
years, in ’94 and ’95. And I’m still active in it.
Interviewer: Tell us how long the Jewish War Veterans have been established
here in Columbus.
Cohen: Well, the Jewish War Veterans is the oldest organization of veterans
in the country.
Interviewer: You just celebrated a special anniversary?
Cohen: Yeah, the hundredth anniversary of the Jewish War Veterans.Which is older than American Legion and all the other organizations. And here, we’ve been active I would say for about seventy years.
Interviewer: So that winds up your military involvement?
Cohen: That about does it.
Interviewer: Tell us about some of the other organizations that you might
belong to and how you’re involved.
Cohen: Well really the only other one is the American Red Cross and at the
Jewish Center with blood donor which we have four times a year now.
Interviewer: Are you still involved with that?
Cohen: Still involved with it. Work all day.
Interviewer: What do you do?
Cohen: Feed everybody.
Interviewer: So you work on the . . . .
Cohen: I’m the food and beverage manager.
Interviewer: Okay. I know I’ve worked with you Norman. The pay isn’t
terrific, but I’ve worked with you. Let’s see, we’ve talked about some of
the places you’ve worked. Let’s talk about how you’ve made a living since
you’ve been married.
Cohen: We went, after I came out of the war, with my dad, we bought the gift
shop at Broad and High. At one time, it was called Younger’s. I don’t know
if you remember the name. It was right next door. The Adam Hat Store was on the
corner and we were there for quite a number of years.
Interviewer: Now was that, that wasn’t the n—, was that the news stand?
Cohen: Yeah. The news stand and gift shop.At that time. And while we were there, I got into the advertising specialty business on a small scale. And then I really got into it full time. And that was where I made a living all these years.
Interviewer: So about when did that start? That was . . . .
Interviewer: 1950. What do you mean by career special—, specialties?
Cohen: Ball point pens. Calendars. Anything with an imprint.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And you still . . . .
Cohen: Promotional items.
Interviewer: Okay. Are you still working in that?
Cohen: I’m still working. Not hard but I’m working.
Interviewer: Hardly working, huh?
Cohen: Well, something like that.
Interviewer: Uh huh. So you’re kind of semi-retired?
Cohen: Yeah, I would say.
Interviewer: What happened to your business? Who else is involved in your
Cohen: I turned the business over to my son and he’s running it and I help
him out as much as I can.
Interviewer: You still . . . .
Cohen: Without pay.
Interviewer: Without pay? Well, he’s got a good deal.
Cohen: Got a good deal.
Interviewer: A real good deal. Uh huh. You still enjoy it though, Norman?
Cohen: I do. I go to Temple in the morning at 6 o’clock. After I come from minyan,
I go to the office. I empty the waste paper baskets. I put the coffee on . . . .
Interviewer: . . . . got to do it.
Cohen: And if there’s a few calls, then I make the calls and I’m through
by 12, 1 oclock.
Interviewer: You said you go to the minyan. How often do you do that?
Cohen: Every day but Sunday.
Interviewer: OK. You really enjoy that, don’t you?
Cohen: I’ve done that for the last six years.
Interviewer: Norman, let’s skip back a little bit and talk about how people socialized when you were a youngster, or say when you were a teenager. Was there a center that you all met? Did you belong to organizations then? How did you meet other young people?
Cohen: We were at the Schonthal Center which was on Rich Street, right across
the street from the Hebrew School at that time. We used to go to dances.
Belonged to the, what’s the B’nai B’rith youth organizations?
Voice: . . . .
Cohen: B.B.Y.O. Belonged to that. We went to Dayton. We had a lot of . . . .
conventions. And this is how we met everybody.
Interviewer: Were you involved in any sports activities?
Cohen: No nothing. I wasn’t a sportsman.
Interviewer: Okay. How did you meet your wife?
Cohen: That was in school. We knew each other.
Interviewer: You were in school . . . .
Cohen: In school. Yeah. And she lived right across the street from the Agudas
Achim on Washington and Donaldson.
Interviewer: Did your parents approve of the match?
Cohen: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: And her parents.?
Cohen: Her m—, her parents didn’t. Her mother didn’t particulary like
it ’cause I wasn’t a professional man.
Interviewer: Well, okay.
Cohen: But they got the, they worked out.
Interviewer: They got used to you huh?
Interviewer: Did Esther ever work with you in the business?
Cohen: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: She helped out?
Cohen: She sure did. When we got started.
Interviewer: How old were you when you got married?
Interviewer: Let’s see. Now I think you’ve told us the homes that you
lived in. Did you have a big wedding when you were married to Esther?
Cohen: Capacity house at the Tifereth Israel.
Interviewer: So you had a big deal, huh?
Cohen: Big, big deal.
Interviewer: So were you making a living then when you got married?
Cohen: I was making thirty-five dollars a week and was able to save money and
buy a car.
Interviewer: Well, that sounds pretty good. Sounds pretty good. We need to
use . . . .
Cohen: Back in those days.
Interviewer: Yeah. Well I know Esther has passed away. How, when did that,
when did she pass away?
Interviewer: And . . . .
Cohen: June 17th.
Interviewer: And now you’re remarried to, tell us who you’re married to.
Cohen: I got to tell you, Sarita Carmea.
Interviewer: Sarita Carmea. Ok, and you and Sarita have been married how
Cohen: Well at least several months already.
Interviewer: And it’s still, still . . . .
Cohen: . . . . Yeah.
Interviewer: Okay. Norman, tell me who your children are and when they were,
how old they are and where they live. Can you tell us a little bit about their
Cohen: Yeah. Have a son Stanley that’s a doctor in Atlanta, Georgia,
specializing in Krohn’s and colitis. Has two, has three children. One has
already graduated from Emory, one is getting ready to graduate from Rice and one
is getting ready to go in to college.
Interviewer: Now tell us their names. Let’s start with the older one. . . .
Cohen: . . . . The oldest one is David . . . .
Interviewer: And he’s where now in school?
Cohen: They, he graduated from Emory and is now in New York working with the
thea—, theatrical production. And Adam . . . . is going to graduate from Rice University this June. And Lauren is graduating from high school and getting ready to go to college.
Interviewer: So she’s kind of looking at colleges now?
Interviewer: Uh hum. All right. Who is, who is Stanley married to?
Cohen: To Judy Adler.
Interviewer: Adler was her maiden name?
Cohen: Was her maiden name and going through a divorce at the present time.
Interviewer: And Judy is from Columbus, isn’t she?
Cohen: No, from New York.
Interviewer: Oh from New York? Okay. And your second son?
Interviewer: And he’s married to?
Cohen: Pamela . . . .
Interviewer: And how many children do they have?
Cohen: They’ve got two. They got a son Josh going to the University of
Cincinnati and a daughter Melissa that’s still in high school.
Interviewer: And they live here in Columbus?
Cohen: Here in Columbus.
Interviewer: And Ron’s in the business with you. You work with Ron now?
Cohen: . . . . Yeah, I think that’s where he works.
Interviewer: Okay. Do you see a big difference in raising your children and
the way your parents raised your, your family, your siblings? Is there a big
Cohen: There is a difference I would say.
Interviewer: Do you have any comments about it? Do you want to talk about
that at all? Or just let it go?
Cohen: No, no comments. Just let it, just let it go.
Interviewer: Okay we’ll let it rest then.
Cohen: You can fill in the blank spaces.
Interviewer: Okay. What about when your children were young? Did you and
Esther take them on trips?
Cohen: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: On vacations?
Cohen: Took them on vacations. They ate in restaurants when they were two
years old. They were brought up right. And . . . .
Interviewer: What kind of vacations did you go on? Where did you travel?
Cohen: Up the mountains in New York. We’ve been to Florida. And that’s
about the only two places.
Interviewer: Well that’s not bad with having a business to take care of.
Okay. You enjoy eating out now too, don’t you? Well you eat out because of
necessity. I know how that works. But I know you enjoy home cooking too. Let’s
see how that works. What are some of the events in your life that kind of stand
out? Happy events, pleasant memories? Can you tell us about some of the
get-togethers maybe you’ve had with family? I know you have a large family and
you do get together a lot.
Cohen: We get together a lot and we’re close as a family. I talk to my
brothers and sisters almost every day and we’ve had reunions and one of the
big affairs was when we had our 50th anniversary. And everybody came in from out of town, from wherever.
Interviewer: All of your siblings?
Cohen: The entire family and all friends.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Well that was a real special time.
Interviewer: And then when you and Sarita were married, I know there was a
lot of family here then.
Cohen: Yeah. The entire, the whole family came in.
Interviewer: What about holidays? Do you get together on holidays as a family
or do you just get together with your children? How does that work?
Cohen: We just get together with the children on the holidays.
Interviewer: Okay. Do you have any other memories, you know, pleasant events
that you can recall? Any special things? Well all right. Let’s go on to, do
you remember any particular illnesses or those kinds of problems in your family?
Cohen: Particular illnesses?
Interviewer: Well I know you dealt with Esther’s illness.
Cohen: Yeah. . . . . did that for four years with her.
Interviewer: What was her illness? She . . . .
Cohen: It was hardened kidney.
Interviewer: And that was a lot to deal with?
Cohen: It got to a point where she had to be in a wheelchair. And then with me, just open heart surgery. That’s all.
Interviewer: Well it hasn’t kept you down, thank goodness.
Cohen: I fell off of a tree. I fell out of a tree when . . . .
Interviewer: You fell out of a tree?
Cohen: Oh sure.
Interviewer: When was that?
Cohen: Right after I had my heart surgery. About a year after that I fell out
of a tree. I was trimming a tree on a ten-foot ladder.
Interviewer: Well I know you enjoy working around the house. What are some of
the things you like to do Norman?
Cohen: Who, me?
Cohen: I can do everything around a house. Can wash the floor on my hands and
knees and the windows. Trim the bushes.
Interviewer: Well you’re . . . .
Cohen: Whatever has to be done . . . . done most of my life.
Interviewer: Good person to have around then, huh. Norman, can you talk at
all about differences in politics from well, just kind of attitudes and, and
things that have changed a lot?
Cohen: In politics? I’m not too familiar with politics. Whatever the politics have been, it never affected me in any way one way or another.
Interviewer: How about changes in the way people socialize in the Jewish
community? Have you seen any changes in that?
Cohen: Oh yeah, I’ve seen some changes in that.
Interviewer: Do you think people are closer or not as close?
Cohen: Well it depends where you’re at . . . . (blank space on tape)
Interviewer: Yeah, well those kinds of changes, family changes . . . .
Cohen: . . . . changes that people, that they thought maybe weren’t good
enough for you. Now all of a sudden, when we’re seen with somebody …it makes a difference.
Interviewer: Uh huh. What about changes in mechanical things? Have you seen
changes in, like cars, your household equipment, stuff like that?
Cohen: Yeah, I can see the changes in the household equipment right now.
Interviewer: Like what?
Cohen: Humph, like remodeling, and the difference in appliances and . . . .
Interviewer: So were you, when you were married fifty some years ago, you
didn’t have an automatic dishwasher, microwave? You didn’t have those kinds
of . . . .
Cohen: Well we didn’t have microwave. We had a dishwasher and the . . . .
Interviewer: When you built this house?
Interviewer: Yeah. Do you have any messages, Norman that you might want to
leave with your children, grandchildren?
Cohen: The only . . . .
Interviewer: A philosophy of life?
Cohen: Well . . . the only . . . .
Interviewer: Do you have a great philosophy?
Cohen: (laughs) I’d like to leave with them that if they followed my way of
living, it’d be a different, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Wouldn’t be a bad
way to follow.
Interviewer: I think I have to agree with that.
Voice: . . . . What is your way of living?
Interviewer: What is your way of living? How do you feel about life?
Cohen: I feel . . . .
Interviewer: I mean, you have good attitude.
Cohen: I’ve got a good attitude about it. I like people. I don’t dislike
anyone. I just live one day at a time and I enjoy it.
Interviewer: And get as much out of it as you can?
Cohen: I get as much as I can.
Voice: Where did that come from? From your mother, from your father, where
did you develop that . . . .
Cohen: Well it came from both of my parents.
Interviewer: Norman, I remember your parents and I think it might be nice to
put this on record. I just remember that every social event that I was at that I
saw your parents, they were the ones who were on the dance floor.
Cohen: . . . . on the dance floor!
Interviewer: They were outstanding . . . .
Cohen: They always liked to dance. They’ve been all over the world.
Interviewer: They travelled?
Cohen: They travelled.
Interviewer: They enjoyed life?
Cohen: . . . . They enjoyed life. And I did the same thing.
Interviewer: That’s right.
Cohen: . . . . even Esther, when she was alive, we did a lot of traveling. We went all over.
Interviewer: I know you and Sarita have travelled a lot. Can you tell us
about some of the, tell us about what you’re doing this year, Norman. It’s
hard for us to keep track of you.
Cohen: This year. Well, this year we started out, we’re going to Las Vegas
of course.At the end of the year. Coming January, we’re going back to Israel on the 19th for two months.
Interviewer: What do you do when you go to Israel?
Cohen: I will be, I think I will go back and work in the Army and Sarita will
work in the school, teaching a little, some English.
Interviewer: These are volun—, you’re volunteer?
Cohen: Yeah, volunteer. We work five hours a day. It’s very hard to get
accustomed to the living conditions there ’cause we live in a hotel facing the
Mediterranean . . . .
Interviewer: That’s hard to get used to?
Cohen: Yeah, very hard to get used to. And we got three meals a day and we do
a lot of sight-seeing and everything.
Interviewer: Sounds pretty easy.
Cohen: And after we come back from Israel, we’re going to go to California
for a Bat Mitzvah. And then after that, we go to Rice for graduation of my
grandson. Then we finish up there and we go to Atlanta for graduation for my
granddaughter. And July 15, we go back to Europe.
Interviewer: For how long?
Cohen: For almost a month.
Interviewer: Sounds like you and Sarita are traveling a lot.
Cohen: We’re doing pretty good.
Interviewer: Well, we hope you’re, everybody stays well and . . . .
Cohen: That’s . . . .
Interviewer: continues to enjoy that life.
Cohen: That’s the main thing.
Interviewer: Yeah. Norman, I’m going to conclude this tape and I want to
thank you on behalf of the Jewish Historical Society of Columbus for taking this
time and sharing your thoughts and your interests with us.
Cohen: You clean some of that up, don’t you?
Interviewer: Not very much. Oh, my brother-in-law Morris Schottenstein is
here and he’d like to ask Norman a question.
Schottenstein: Norman, from a historical point of view, can you describe
Bexley in 1936, what it looked like. You said you moved on Ardmore Road in 1936,
your parents. What was Bexley like? Could, give me your impressions. Were there
many Jewish people in Bexley when your parents moved here?
Cohen: There were still, there were still a lot of Jewish families here that
moved in Bexley. We lived on North Ardmore Road and I don’t know how many
Jewish families there were but there were quite a number of them.
Schottenstein: There was no synagogue in Bexley in 1936?
Cohen: We went to Tifereth Israel at that time.
Schottenstein: On Bryden Road?
Cohen: Yeah, Bryden. No, Bryden Road was Temple Israel.
Schottenstein: Oh you were on Broad Street?
Cohen: Yeah, we were at Tifereth Israel.
Schottenstein: Were all the streets paved in Bexley?
Cohen: Yeah, they were all paved at that time.
Schottenstein: Were there empty lots north of Broad Street?
Cohen: Yeah, there were empty lots at that time. Even when I came out of
service. We had looked at lots on Merkle and there was only one or two houses.
Schottenstein: What was the average price of a lot in Bexley at that time?
Cohen: Back in those days, I really don’t know.
Schottenstein: Uh huh.
Cohen: I know when we bought this lot, I think, we must have paid around
$8000 for it at that time.
Schottenstein: $8000. What did Main Street look like in 1936 in Bexley? Do
you remember? I think your business is on Main Street.
Cohen: Yeah, it’s on Main Street.
Schottenstein: What were your impressions of Main Street?
Cohen: Well we weren’t in business on Main Street at that time. If . . . .
Schottenstein: But what was Bexley like at that time on Main Street? What …
Cohen: You didn’t have all the shops that you have now. But it was a paved street and everything was as normal.
Schottenstein: Was there a street car?
Cohen: Oh yeah, street car. We even had a Jewish motorman.
Schottenstein: A Jewish . . . .
Interviewer: Do you know who it was?
Cohen: Yes, the name was Cohen.
Schottenstein: His name was Cohen?
Cohen: Yeah, Cohen. And uh, we even had a Jewish fireman at that time.
Schottenstein: What was the Jewish fireman’s name?
Cohen: Ben Cowall.
Schottenstein: Oh, Ben Cowall. He was a fireman?
Cohen: Yeah, before . . . . Then he became a promoter.
Schottenstein: A promoter?
Cohen: After that.
Schottenstein: Uh huh. Norman, is there such a thing as the good old days?
Cohen: There certainly is. I still believe in the good old days.
Schottenstein: Why is that? That’s my last question.
(Provided by Erwin Cohen in consultation with the rest of the family.)
Father: Nathan C. Cohen b. 9/25/1892 d. 6/7/1971
Mother: Lillian Julia Cohen b. 3/4/1896 d. 12/17/1979
Nathan’s additional occupation: violinist
Moved to Columbus from New York in December, 1920.
Nathan and Lillian married November 18, 1913, in New York City. Nathan met
Lillian in the ocean at Coney Island and he started talking to her and the rest is history.
In Columbus, Nathan and Lillian had a produce stand on Central Market located
around Fourth and Main Streets. Other Columbus relatives, Nathan’s
brother-in-law Saul Dworkin, wife Gussie, children Abe, Jean, Leo and Roberta.
Nathan retired and sold his gift shop in 1968, about three years before he
|Children in chronological order:|
|Place of Birth||Married||From||Children|
|Norman||New York City||Esther Schlansky||Columbus||Ronald, Stanley|
|Milton||New York City||Miriam Gurin||Atlanta, Ga.||Darryl, Rodney, Barton|
|Arthur||New York City||Marian Jaffe||Richmond, In.||Jacqueline, Terrence|
The following siblings were all born in Columbus:
Gladys Paul Herwald Cleveland, Oh. Lawrence, Gary, David, Barbara,
Helen, Leonard, Carroll, Columbus, Marcy, Marc, Morton (never married)
Seymour Bette Randman Birmingham, Al. Steven, Lawrence, Janet Sue
Erwin Annette Cooper Columbus Susan, Howard
Donald Flora Lee Hark Charleston, WV Brad, Leslie, Zoe, Betsy
Gloria Avron Edelman Montgomery, Al. Anna Lynn, Karen, Sondra, Jonathan
Remarried to Jim Winer
Arthur November, 1968
Milton July, 1979
Seymour February, 1987
Morton May, 1999
Last family reunion was in Columbus in 1992 to celerate what would have been
Nathan’s 100th birthday. He always loved a family party.
Nathan and Lillian were always members of Agudas Achim Congregation and could
be described as Conservadox.