This is Bill Cohen and the date is December 8, 2015 and we are at the Izeman home and we’re here with Shike Izeman, but I have a feeling that’s not his real name. So we’re going to put down the recorder here and we’re going to interview Shike Izeman.
Interviewer: Tell us, what is your born name?
Izeman: My born name on my birth certificate is Charlie Izeman.
Izeman: You’d never guess that. Shike is derived from my Jewish name which is Eshiah. I’ve been Shike ever since I was this high. That’s the only name I knew. When we went, when my mother took me to the first grade, in order to not embarrass my mother who was a broken English immigrant, she didn’t speak English well. I wanted to save her embarrassment. The teacher asked a question as to what’s the boy’s name. I popped up and said Shike. She says, no, no, no, the boy’s name is Saul. It’s the first time I heard it in my family.
Interviewer: Saul is your real name.
Izeman: Yes. Anyway I became Saul. When I went to Junior High School, on some of my test papers I wrote Saul and some of them I wrote Sol, whatever turned me on at the time. When it came to graduate to senior high, they called me in the office and I said why am I being called in the office? I didn’t do anything wrong. How do you want your Diploma, Saul or Sol? So I picked Saul and I’ve been Saul ever since.
Interviewer: You became known as Shike, S-h-i-k-e.
Izeman: Right, that’s derived from my Jewish name and has nothing to do with Saul or Charlie.
Interviewer: You just started using that name.
Izeman: Oh no.
Interviewer: How did that come about that people started calling you that?
Izeman: Shike, Shike’s been my name since I was able to walk.
Interviewer: That’s what people called you.
Izeman: Right, Shikey.
Interviewer: S h i k e y, the diminutive form of Shike.
Izeman: Right, I’ve been called Shikey too.
Interviewer: Let’s go back to your parents though. Can you tell us some background on your parents, where they’re from?
Izeman: Both my parents were born in Europe, in the Ukraine area, near Odessa. My father was from one village and my mother was from another village. My mother was the oldest of twelve and my father was the youngest of five. He was raised by a rabbi because his parents had died and he was an orphan. All five of them were raised by the village rabbi. It was a matched marriage, of course..
Interviewer: Your father’s name was?
Izeman: Shimon, that was his Jewish name. His name was Samuel.
Interviewer: Samuel was his first name.
Izeman: That’s right, Izeman.
Interviewer: Izeman, I z e m a n.
Izeman: Over there, it was Peragovsky. Over in Europe it was Peragovsky. Where they got the name Izeman, nobody knows for sure.
Interviewer: So, your father’s real name was Peragovsky. How would you spell that probably?
Izeman: Peragovsky, Per
Interviewer: You don’t know. Okay, something like Peragovsky.
Izeman: That’s close, something like that.
Interviewer: Peragovsky, but somewhere when he came to the United Sates, it became Izeman.
Izeman: He fought in the Russian Japanese War in 1899. He got out in 1905, couldn’t make a living in shoe repair, and he decided to come to America, being sponsored by a brother. He had a brother here, Uncle Max Izeman. He had the name Izeman so my father had to take the name Izeman, whether he liked it or not. He came here in 1911. He couldn’t get my mother and two children out of the country because of financial reasons, among others, and the war, First World War, until 1922 so they were separated for eleven years. When my mother came over, my sister was born, my brother was born, and I was born. I’m the only one born in a hospital out of five. I’m the baby. I’m the only one born in a hospital because my mother didn’t want to go because she couldn’t speak the language. She was strictly an immigrant, I mean from the word go. The doctor said for this baby and your age, you have to go to the hospital.
Interviewer: Your mother’s name was?
Interviewer: Rachel, and her maiden name, do you know that?
Izeman: Uh, uh.
Interviewer: Okay, so her name was Rachel Izeman and she became Rachel Izeman.
Izeman: That’s right.
Interviewer: And you were born in what city?
Izeman: In Columbus, Ohio, Grant Hospital.
Interviewer: And that was in what year?
Izeman: 1930, the height of the Depression.
Interviewer: The Depression had just hit. So what was that like growing up? What street did you live on?
Izeman: Wager Street.
Interviewer: The near south side of Columbus.
Interviewer: Wager, near?
Izeman: Near Livingston.
Interviewer: What is now Children’s Hospital, not too far.
Interviewer: So what was that like, growing up in that neighborhood when the Depression hit?
Izeman: Actually, everybody felt like they were in the same boat. Nobody felt any different. It was just a area where you took for granted, I mean like your neighbor. There was nobody that showed any difference, as far as financial, as far as money or how wealthy somebody was. Everybody was in the same boat. My father bought a house in 1924. We had neighbors that were friendly to us and neighbors that my mother could communicate with because they were also immigrants.
Interviewer: And some were from Russia?
Izeman: Yeah, it was just a comfort situation for me, being the baby. At that time, my oldest sister, which is 22 years older than me, married, a very, very nice fellow. He had a heart of gold. Her husband and her took me under their wing. I was born in 1930 so everyone thought that I was their child. He played with me. I never knew my father would play ball with me or anything like that but he did, my brother-in-law.
Interviewer: The husband of your sister really became, in a way, your father.
Izeman: My father, truly he was like my father. They went on to have a child that became my nephew, my oldest nephew. It was like a brother, a younger brother because everything that he did, my sister wanted me to do with him.
Interviewer: What kinds of things did you do? What are your memories?
Izeman: Nothing really earth shattering, we played ball in the backyard. We climbed trees. We played with cars, thinking we were big wheels. It was nothing earth shattering, just kid’s things, but we were comfortable and we were happy.
Interviewer: How Jewish was the neighborhood?
Izeman: Very Jewish, my mother and father were from the old school. They were strictly, what’s the word?
Izeman: Very observant, my father refused to ride on Saturday, to shul. He didn’t observe every Saturday because when my mother approached him (And her father was like the shamas of the village. He had a horse and wagon and he would take the Rabbi to the funerals, to the weddings because he had the transportation.) In America, when she came over, she asked my father one day, why do you work on Saturday? You didn’t work on Saturday in Europe. He says: “Listen, in America if you don’t work on Saturday, you don’t live the rest of the week. So, financially, I have to work on Saturday.” So he did, he worked part Saturdays and part not.
Interviewer: His job, his main source of income was to?
Izeman: Shoe repair.
Interviewer: Shoe repair.
Izeman: He was a shoe repairman. In Europe, he actually made the shoe. Here, all he did was put on the soles.
Interviewer: He was in business for himself?
Izeman: For himself, for sixty years. He had a little shop on Main Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets.
Interviewer: Is he what we would call a cobbler?
Izeman: In today’s world, yes, because there are so few shoe repairs left.
Interviewer: Back then people needed their shoes repaired, they didn’t want to buy.
Izeman: That’s right, where he made a good deal of his money, such as it was, was during the war because, the rubber, people got their shoes repaired. They couldn’t afford to buy new shoes. So, he did alright there. My oldest brother worked with him, had a fifth grade education and was totally employed with my father.
Interviewer: Your brother’s name was?
Izeman: Harry. My oldest brother is Harry.
Interviewer: Harry Izeman.
Izeman: I had another brother, Ben.
Interviewer: You mentioned that your father wouldn’t drive on Sabbath to the synagogue. What synagogue did you go to?
Izeman: We were members of Ahavas Sholom, I was Bar Mitzvah at Ahavas Sholom, until it moved from Donaldson and Washington to Broad Street. He wouldn’t walk to shul. From Wager Street it was quite a walk and by that time he was getting a little older so he couldn’t walk and he didn’t want to drive so we joined Beth Jacob.
Interviewer: Which at that time was where?
Izeman: At that time it was on Bulen Avenue and we walked there when we went to shul.
Interviewer: So, were most of your friends, in your early childhood, were most of them Jewish, or what?
Izeman: Fifty/fifty, the gentile friends around my corner, immediate corner, but I had Jewish friends a block and a half away, down the street. I associated with them. They were older. They were rougher.
Interviewer: Who was rougher?
Izeman: The Jewish friends.
Interviewer: Your Jewish friends were rougher than your non-Jewish friends.
Izeman: Yeah, than my gentile friends.
Interviewer: When you say rougher, what do you mean?
Izeman: They were more physical. We played ball. We played ball in the street. We played ball in the field. With the gentile friends, they were into drinking a lot and smoking a lot. You didn’t want to do that all the time. I’m sorry, I just don’t feel it’s that important.
Interviewer: Are you talking about when you were a teenager when you say they were drinking and smoking?
Izeman: Yeah, when I was a teenager, just before…
Interviewer: Tell me, in that neighborhood were relations between Jews and non-Jews good or was there anti-Semitism?
Izeman: There was anti-Semitism to a certain degree but not rioting, no killing. You know, they would call you names but you overlooked it. Names don’t hurt.
Interviewer: When you say they would call you names, I assume you mean, not your friends but some other non-Jews.
Izeman: Yeah, they would call you Yid, dirty Jew, Kike. They made up names. It didn’t bother me. It was like off my back. It was nothing.
Interviewer: These were people that you really didn’t know?
Izeman: Didn’t know, didn’t care. I really didn’t care about them. I didn’t associate with them that much so it really didn’t bother me.
Interviewer: Did you mean other children at school would do that or who would be the people who would call you names?
Izeman: The children at school, sure. I mean there was a certain amount of anti-Semitism, even then, but it wasn’t serious. I mean sometimes they would throw stones at you. You didn’t take it to heart. You just didn’t take it serious.
Interviewer: What do you remember about your neighborhood in terms of Jewish stores or institutions? Were there any, was there a Kosher butcher nearby?
Izeman: We had butchers almost on every corner at that time. There were three of them: Mendelmans, we had Godofsky, we had Briers. I mean there were three. If we wanted to make the rounds, we would start in our back yard actually. At the corner was a grocery, Godofsky, Martin Godofsky, Martins. His father had a grocery store and we’d walk around to Mendelmans, which was on Livingston and then walk down to Briers which was on Livingston, a few blocks away.
Interviewer: All three of them were Kosher food stores?
Izeman: Yes, we had no trouble getting kosher meat. My mother wouldn’t serve anything else. We ate separately. The children ate first and then my father would eat by himself. He liked silence. He liked peace and he would eat at his whim. My father had three sets of false teeth, couldn’t get used to them. He had three sets. Whenever he ate, he took the teeth out and put them underneath the paper. My mother always had a table cloth and then on top of the table cloth was paper, newspaper, and he would tuck them so we wouldn’t see it, embarrass him, and so he ate.
Interviewer: It sounds like you were not that close to your father but you were closer to your sister and her husband.
Izeman: I was close to my mother more than my father. I was close to my brother-in-law and my sister and my other siblings. We had a very nice relationship with my siblings, very nice. You know, I don’t like to hear when somebody says I don’t talk to my sister or I don’t talk to my brother and I’ve heard that in recent times. We never had anything like that. I mean we would get mad at each other. I would probably throw things but it was never anything hardening or serious, disagreements, yes. We disagreed on what we listened to on the radio and called out in anger. My father used to say: “See, you took the wrong child. He’s light complicated and he’s angry. He’s always mad.” And I raise my voice because in my household, if you didn’t raise your voice, you weren’t heard. Everybody talked at the same time.
Interviewer: Did your father work long hours? Is that one reason that….?
Izeman: Well yes, he went to work at 7:00 in the morning and he didn’t get home till 7:00 at night. I mean it was hard to believe that that little shop did that much work but he kept busy. If he wasn’t busy, he stayed there anyway because that was like his sanctuary, his whole life was around that little shop.
Interviewer: Was that from walking distance to your house? Could he walk to work?
Izeman: He walked. He walked or he took a street car. There wasn’t buses in those days, there were street cars. We were half a block away from a street car line so he jumped on the line. Then he would get off the line downtown and walk to the shop.
Interviewer: Do you remember going downtown? Do you remember going to his store?
Izeman: Oh sure, I went there practically every Saturday when he worked. Every Saturday when I worked at Gilberts which was about three or four blocks away.
Interviewer: Gilbert Shoes?
Izeman: Gilbert Shoes, I worked there as a teenager and I would walk to the store and eat lunch with him.
Interviewer: So it wasn’t that you helped your father in his store, you worked nearby.
Izeman: My father didn’t want me to help him. He said: “You were born in America. You have to get an education. You don’t work behind the counter. I can get anybody to work behind the counter. Your older brother works behind the counter. He didn’t get to school.” See my older brother came over when he was 13, to America, and my father didn’t know how to treat him because when he left, my brother was six months old.
Interviewer: He hadn’t seen his son in more than a decade.
Izeman: Right, he didn’t know how to treat him. They could not get along. My brother only went to the fifth grade. They didn’t know what to do with him. They couldn’t put him in the first grade. He was 13 years old, almost. They didn’t know what to do with him. He went to the fifth grade and then they took him out of school. So he only had a fifth grade education. He was the one I felt sorry for and he was close to me, very close. He used to come to my business, to my office and I would give him money and take him out to lunch. He was like my adopted brother, you know, in effect. That’s the way we treated him. My sister, the same way. She treated him like he was off the street.
Interviewer: So your father told you, you have to get an education so you don’t have to do blue collar work.
Izeman: That’s right. He said I’ll pay for you as long as you are a doctor or a lawyer. But for an accountant, you have to do it yourself.
Interviewer: So you went to high school. You went to South high school. Tell us what that was like, being a Jewish student at South.
Izeman: Oh that was great. I really had a good time in high school. I was in the plays, all the plays. I enjoyed that. I took a commercial course meaning I took bookkeeping. I took accounting. I didn’t take Geometry or Trigonometry. I took a language. I took Spanish which got me into school. Those are the things that I couldn’t explain to my mother and father. They didn’t understand the curriculums. So I didn’t even bother. I just did what I had to do.
Interviewer: You were in the school plays.
Izeman: Oh I enjoyed the school plays. Yeah, The Human Colony. I was one of the doctors. Another one was …. I forget what the other one was, didn’t have a large part but I was in the play. I was in the chorus. I sang in the chorus. I did not refuse to sing Christmas carols. I sang them or I mouthed the words. In the meantime I enjoyed the chorus because I enjoyed the people. Even at the present time, I’m in a group that sings.
Interviewer: South high school, this was the 1940’s. What was the makeup there, Jews and non-Jews?
Izeman: We had a very large Jewish class, probably, 30% were Jewish in my class and we were friendly. I probably am friendly outside the school more than I was friendly in the school with the Jewish children.
Interviewer: You got along with everybody?
Izeman: Oh yeah, I had no problem in school, no problem. I wasn’t highly regarded in sports. I wasn’t built like a football player or basketball player but I did play basketball.
Interviewer: Were you on the team?
Izeman: Junior High. In high school I didn’t make the team.
Interviewer: What was the Junior High you went to?
Izeman: Roosevelt junior high on Studer Avenue.
Interviewer: So you were the class of?
Interviewer: So you were in school. You entered high school just about the time World War II was ending. Let’s go back a few years into the World War II era. What was the feeling in the Jewish community?
Izeman: I was eleven years old. In 1941 I was eleven years old when Pearl Harbor was struck. The feeling was sadness, depressing that the Japanese were bombing Pearl Harbor and then we were going to war. The fellows that were graduating with me, we had to sign up for the draft. I remember walking to the Draft Board. There’s about five of us from high school walking to the Draft Board to sign up.
Interviewer: That would have been in 1948, after the war.
Izeman: Oh yeah, that was in 1948. I was drafted in 1951. I did not enlist, I was drafted.
Interviewer: Before we talk about 1951, let’s go back to the World War II era though, just for a little bit because I’m interested in finding out from you was there feeling in the Jewish community that Jews were being persecuted in Germany? Was there much of that or was it just a thought about the Japanese attacK?
Izeman: No, there was feelings of the persecution but the only time we really was aware of it was in the newspaper. My father, I used to get my father the Forward Jewish paper. In that you read all about the persecution. My father would read it in Jewish.
Interviewer: In Yiddish.
Izeman: In Yiddish and he read it totally. I mean I just looked at the pictures. He read the paper and he would fill us in on the persecutions that were slowly taking place in Poland and Russia. The irony of it is that when my father came over he had three brothers here, three. Two of them went back. They were killed during the war. The whole family was killed during the war but we were in America
Interviewer: Two of your father’s brothers ….
Izeman: Brothers went back to Europe.
Interviewer: When you say back to Europe. They were from Russia. Did they go back to Russia?
Interviewer: And they were killed.
Izeman: Well, with the war going on and the way the Germans were killing them. They were killed.
Interviewer: When the Germans fought the Russians in World War II, that’s when your two uncles were killed?
Izeman: Everybody was killed. I mean my grandfather probably died of old age but I didn’t know him. I didn’t know my grandparents.
Interviewer: Did you have any relatives that you knew that were in some way killed in concentration camps?
Izeman: No, if they were killed in concentration camps, we didn’t know it. As far as we were concerned the Germans dug big holes and stationed the Jews around the holes and shot them, fell into the hole. I mean they had crude ways of killing people.
Interviewer: When the United States got into World War II finally after the Japanese attack, did the Jewish community applaud that because now we were fighting the Nazis.
Izeman: I wouldn’t say they actually applauded it. They were stuck with it more or less. I mean that’s the way it was, that’s all. We were drafted, that’s all. Thing is, I was in school. If you dropped a course, if you weren’t carrying 15 hours, then you were subject to the draft. Well I happened to drop a course, Algebra to be exact. I figured I would beat it by the term, or the quarter as it was, but I didn’t. I mean they drafted me immediately.
Interviewer: Now that was in 1951 and that was when the Korean War was starting.
Izeman: That’s right. I was in the Korean War.
Interviewer: Tell us about that.
Izeman: Well, I was very fortunate. I went to school with a buddy. I had a friend that we grew up with, together. I mean we were friends since the fifth grade. He’s now in California. We were drafted together same time, same day, took our physicals together and we were stationed for three days together at Fort Meade, Maryland. Then they separated us. I went to Fort Knox. He went to Camp Breckenridge at the time. I took a leadership course. They wanted me to take a leadership course and become a Platoon officer, Platoon leader. I took the course and after that course they always threatened you and said you guys are going to go to Korea and be Platoon leaders. Well, I certainly didn’t want that so I signed up for leadership school, advanced. At the end of that course, they split the group right down the middle. A-M went to Germany.
Interviewer: Went to where?
Interviewer: Germany, if your last name was A-M you went to Germany.
Izeman: And if it was N-Z you went to Korea.
Interviewer: Your name was Izeman so you got to go to Germany.
Izeman: I got to go to Germany and that was a g-d send because when I landed in Germany, now remember I took basic training in a tank outfit, Fort Knox was tanks and I was going to be … I just didn’t want to get in a tank. I took basic training in a tank but I didn’t want to make that my career, so to speak. I landed at what they call (?) Germany, which is in the deep south of Germany and then they split you up. So I went to Mannheim, to the 57th Medium Tank Battalion. I got off the truck and as far as the eye could see was tents and tanks, tents and tanks, and I says this is not for me. As it was, one of the fellows that was the office clerk, battalion clerk, he says can anybody type? I raised my hand, whether I could type or not, I raised my hand. I was going to practice at night if I had to. Then I became battalion clerk. Then after about eight months I got a call from the battalion. They want me to go to headquarters which was in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, headquarters for the Second Armored Division, and I couldn’t figure out why. When I got there, they gave me a card to see the Administration Officer, Captain (Fazio?). I went into his office and he says I understand you’re an accountant. I says I was training for an accountant before I was drafted. He says I need some help. I says how do you mean? He says I’m the head of the Division Welfare Fund but I need somebody to handle it and I felt that you might be able to take care of that. So I ended up becoming non-commissioned officer in charge of the Division Welfare Fund. I distributed $60,000 a month to the lower echelons within the Division. I couldn’t sign the checks because I wasn’t an officer but I had to prepare the checks so he could sign them and then I would distribute them.
Interviewer: And this was money that would go …?
Izeman: By the government, by the government to the Division for their welfare funds, their pool rooms, their pop machines, their table tennis and that’s what they did. There was about four echelons like artillery group, tank group, I don’t know what else, rifle group, the infantry, and I distributed $60,000 a month to them.
Interviewer: Basically when people say what did you do in the Korean War, you say I was an accountant.
Izeman: Well I was a non-commissioned officer for the Division Welfare Fund. It’s a big title. It didn’t mean a lot but it was good. It saved me from going to Korea.
Interviewer: And it used your skill as an accountant.
Izeman: Yes, it used my skill. I didn’t do payroll. I didn’t do taxes but I did distribution, strictly administrative. I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed it. I got an excellence. I asked my colonel. My officer was a Colonel in the Chemical Section. He was in chemical warfare. He was a Lieutenant Colonel. I went to him before I was discharged and I said give me a recommendation. He wrote me out a beautiful recommendation. I used it I think once or twice. It was quite complimentary and I was proud of it. We had a good connection.
Interviewer: So you were in Germany in 1951.
Izeman: To 1953.
Interviewer: In 1953 did you come back to Columbus?
Izeman: I came back to Columbus and re-entered school and finished my schooling under the GI Bill.
Interviewer: And where was that at, Ohio State?
Izeman: I went to Ohio State for two years and I went to Franklin University and graduated. At that time it was in the YMCA building downtown.
Interviewer: Franklin University was in the YMCA building downtown.
Izeman: Long Street, 40 West Long.
Interviewer: Still there today. So you finally got your accounting degree. So what did you do?
Izeman: What did I do? I went to work for a company because they were paying more than the CPAs were paying. I went to work for a company and I stayed there nine years, that company, as an accountant.
Interviewer: What company was that?
Izeman: That was called Bell Sound Equipment, stereophonic sound equipment. What they did, they manufactured the electronic units and they stuck them in cabinets and then sold them retail like Sun TV. You could buy the TV in a cabinet or the stereo in a cabinet. They had a factory on Marion Road. I stayed there nine years and then the company was being sold. They were being merged with one of the other divisions. We were a division of Thompson, Ramo, Wooldridge at that time.
Interviewer: Say that again, Thompson….
Izeman: Thompson, Ramo, Wooldridge (now TRW). They had another division in Michigan City, Indiana, Dage Television. We were the only retail outfit. They were sort of a manufacturing outfit. Anyway they merged and they asked me what I was going to do and I says I’m going to go into business for myself at that time. I was doing taxes on the side at that time. I decided to open up an office and I did and fortunately, I built it up and kept it until 2010.
Interviewer: So you began your own business in the 1960’s, approximately what year would that have been?
Interviewer: The name of that business was?
Izeman: Saul C. Izeman Public Accountant. Then I became certified by taking a test and I became Saul C. Izeman, CPA. The rest is history.
Interviewer: This company was basically you, yourself, or did you have other people also?
Izeman: I eventually had other people but originally it started out with me, myself and I. When computers became popular I needed somebody who was pretty up on the computer which I wasn’t and I hired a fellow and he did everything. He did everything. He knew the computer backwards and forwards. He could have made a fortune if he worked for somebody else but he worked for me and he felt very good working for me because I put no pressure on him. I asked him for something and waited patiently until I got it. Usually it was five to ten minutes. He was very good, extremely good and I had a secretary who was with me 35 years. So I must have been nice to somebody.
Interviewer: Where was your company located?
Izeman: Originally it was located downtown on Park Street. That’s where we opened up, a store front window. Park Street is near the Greek Orthodox Church.
Interviewer: In what is now called the Short North.
Izeman: Yeah, what is now called the Short North, exactly. Then I moved to South High Street because a client of mine gave me free rent. I couldn’t say no so I moved to South High Street. Then I moved to Reynoldsburg. Then I moved to Livingston Avenue and I ended up at Livingston Avenue.
Interviewer: Where was your office on Livingston?
Izeman: 3505 East Livingston Avenue.
Interviewer: Whitehall, close to Whitehall. Somewhere there you got married. Tell us about that.
Izeman: In 1957 I got married. She was only 20 years old at that time and I was 27.
Interviewer: Her name was?
Izeman: Her name was Roberta Dworkin. I felt comfortable with Roberta because we frankly grew up in the same neighborhood and I felt that she wouldn’t claim any priorities. She wasn’t out for the best of everything, you know, and so I felt comfortable with her because I felt I could afford it. Whether I could later on was another story but at that time I felt comfortable with her. I brought her to my house to meet my parents. Of course my parents being elderly, my mother was older than her grandmother. My mother would speak to me in Yiddish. We only spoke Yiddish in the house. I can speak fluent Yiddish. After I took her home and came back home, my mother says you’re going to get married, you’re going to marry this girl? I says, yeah, I’m thinking about marrying her. She’s a nice girl. Ze ret nischt, she doesn’t speak, she doesn’t talk. She was very quiet.
Interviewer: Your mother said that Roberta, your girlfriend was…
Izeman: Very quiet, she doesn’t talk. In Yiddish, ze ret nischt. I says she’ll ret, she’ll talk. She’ll be alright. Roberta didn’t even know how to write a check. when I married her. She knows very well now, after all these years.
Interviewer: So you’re saying she came out of her shell.
Izeman: She came out of her shell. I don’t think my folks were crazy about her because they didn’t understand her nor did she understand them. I don’t think my brother was crazy about her. They argued back and forth all the time but I married her anyway.
Interviewer: You’ve been married since 1957? That’s 50 or 60 years.
Izeman: 1957. Well, 58 maybe.
Interviewer: Where did you live when you got married?
Izeman: Well our first place was in the apartments called Beverly Manor which was on Maryland and James Road, right near the government depot.
Interviewer: Near the Defense Construction Supply Center.
Izeman: You got it. We stayed there 18 months and my oldest was born and we moved to a small house.
Interviewer: And your oldest, the name was?
Izeman: Mindy. That’s her family there in the blue. She now has three children and lives in Louisville. Eighteen months after that Brad was born and we were in the house at that time.
Interviewer: You moved from Beverly apartments to a house.
Izeman: Zettler Road, there was a small house, three bedrooms, large living room, no dining room, dining area and a kitchen.
Interviewer: Zettler Road south of Livingston.
Izeman: Oh yeah, south of Hartley school.
Interviewer: Near the Hartley high school.
Izeman: Yeah, from there we built a house in Berwick. Berwick Road South it was called. We overlooked the freeway. We were in the last group of houses, we overlooked the freeway.
Interviewer: Interstate 70?
Izeman: Yeah and then we bought a house in Bexley, sold that and bought a house in Bexley.
Interviewer: Where did you live in Bexley?
Izeman: South(?) Cassady Avenue.
Interviewer: Do you remember the address?
Izeman: Yes, 343. We just moved out of there three, four years ago.
Interviewer: 343 North Cassady.
Izeman: North Cassady, it was a split level, 17 years old at the time we bought it. The only reason I can see about moving, even there, because I became very complacent and very comfortable in that house. It had four levels but it had steps and I’m having walking problems so I had to eliminate as much as possible. We put up rails, we did everything else. I wasn’t interested in moving. Moving is a chore and I wasn’t looking forward to it so I tried to put it off as long as I could. She wanted to move earlier, five years earlier. I didn’t care to move.
Interviewer: You lived on North Cassady. That’s not far from where something called the Excelsior Club used to be.
Izeman: That’s right. That’s absolutely right, down the street.
Interviewer: Do you remember the Excelsior Club?
Izeman: Well vaguely. I was never a member but I remember it vaguely. I remember it existed. I remember the swimming pool. I remember some of the kids that were there because their parents were members.
Interviewer: Do you remember that that was created in some way because Jews couldn’t get into other places?
Izeman: Well it was an outlet for the Jews. They didn’t have a golf course. They only had a swimming pool. Everybody went there. It was like Sunday at Glengary Pool. Do you remember anything about Glengary Pool, on Cleveland Avenue and Westerville Road?
Izeman: Well, it was a gathering place on a Sunday for all the Jewish people and the Excelsior Club was the same thing.
Interviewer: Since that was a time in the 50’s and 60’s when there were Jewish social buildings and places that had been created because Jews were not allowed to get into some other gentile places. Were you aware of that back then? Did that weigh on peoples’ minds at all or did they care at all?
Izeman: Well kids didn’t care. The parents may have cared and they may have expressed their care or their objection. The kids didn’t care. I mean it didn’t really matter to them. They didn’t use it much. The parents did.
Interviewer: When you came back from Korea in the 1950’s…
Izeman: I wasn’t in Korea.
Interviewer: I’m sorry. When you came back from Germany while the Korean War was going on in the 1950’s, did you get a sense of much anti-Semitism then? Had things changed from when you were growing up and had stones thrown at you?
Izeman: I didn’t have a problem with anti-Semitism in Europe or at home. I didn’t have a problem with it. I got along with everybody. I remember one time I got a client and he called me into his office . The client said I want you to know Mr. Izeman, he says, I’m gay. He was probably 6ft. 7 inches and he kept going straight up. I says I don’t care if you’re polka dot as long as you pay your bill. We got along real well.
Interviewer: So that’s your philosophy?
Izeman: Yeah, that was my comment and that was the truth. I didn’t care. That’s his belief. That’s his problem or his life, as they say.
Interviewer: You talked earlier about how once in a while you were called names when you were in elementary school. When you came back from Europe in the 1950’s, did you notice any anti-Semitism at all or had things changed?
Izeman: Things changed. I didn’t notice it at all and what there was is what I read about and I didn’t really let it bother me because I thought that was a sign of the times, that’s all.
Interviewer: What other institutions do you remember in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in the Jewish community? Did you go to Martins Kosher Foods?
Izeman: Oh yeah, went to Martins periodically, every Sunday probably, went to Godofsky as long as they were near me, near the house. I was a witness, I can’t use that word actually, but I watched the Jewish Center grow, plays at the Jewish Center, Fidler on the Roof and
Interviewer: Gallery Players?
Izeman: That’s right and I went to the bowling alley. That’s where I met Bobbie, at the bowling alley and at the Center and yeah I went there. I liked the movies. We went to the movies, me and a friend. We walked everywhere. I didn’t have a car so we walked everywhere. It was just a carefree time for me. I really didn’t have any care about anything really except school and …
Interviewer: You’re talking about when you were a child and a high school student.
Interviewer: In more modern times have you been a member of a synagogue?
Izeman: Oh, I’ve been a member of a synagogue all the way. Bobbie didn’t understand Ahavas Sholom because men sit separately from women and she didn’t understand the Jewish traits anyway because she was not as religious as I was so we decided to join Agudas Achim where we could sit together and I explained things to her as we went along. Then, because of the Hebrew School schedule, and the kids starting Hebrew School, Tifereth Israel had better arrangements so we switched to Tifereth Israel and we’ve been there ever since. When we started there, I knew everybody. I knew everybody but the whole system has changed. I know absolutely a handful of people because they’re dying off.
Interviewer: Your cohorts?
Izeman: Yeah, the young people are coming in and you don’t know them. You’re the old guy. They’ll make room for you but it’s not the same.
Interviewer: You might know these young people’s grandparents but you don’t know them.
Izeman: Exactly. We switched there when Rabbi Zelizer was the rabbi.
Interviewer: Would that have been in the 1950’s or 60’s. Was that when you might have joined?
Izeman: Probably 1960’s. I have a problem today. You’re going to laugh but I have a problem today. I tend to feel nauseous at certain times because of medication.
Interviewer: Gum, would you like a piece?
Izeman: Sure. Anyway I think it’s because of medication. My wife wants me to call the doctor to see whether I should stay on it or not.
Interviewer: How old are you now?
Izeman: I am 85.
Interviewer: When you were young, in the 1930’s, did you envision living to be 85?
Izeman: No, don’t ask me why. To me, if you were 60, you were too old at that time but here I am and I hope for a long life. I don’t think…you don’t know from one day to the next, you just hope and pray. You know, it’s not entirely in your hands. I mean, I know over the years I’ve been down with certain illnesses. I have a new hip.I have a pacemaker. I didn’t think I would make it. I didn’t do anything harmful. I mean I wasn’t…. I quit smoking after the war. After I got out of the Service, I gave it up and never missed it. Here I am and I hope and pray I live a long life. Some people don’t think in terms of living. Some people think they could live too long. I don’t agree with that. I don’t agree with giving up as long as you’re well. If I could move from this chair to that room and sit down in another chair, I’m happy. I’m thrilled. Even using the walker, I’m thrilled. I have a cane in there too and I use the cane periodically, not for long distances. I should have done this, don’t tell my wife, I should have done this five years earlier like she wanted. This was ideal for me and after the steps of a four level split level.
Interviewer: When you say you should have done this five years ago, you mean moving to this?
Izeman: Yes, moving to a one floor situation here where I don’t have to climb steps and I don’t have to walk long distances. The farthest I walk is from here to the mailbox.
Interviewer: Where you’re living now which is close to New Albany, it’s different than when you were growing up and you
were on Wager Street where it was a very close-knit Jewish community. Now the Jews of Columbus have moved.
Izeman: They’re spread out.
Interviewer: I wonder what’s your feeling about that?
Izeman: Can’t stop progress. They’re free to move out. I don’t have any strong feelings. I never thought I would be moving out this far because to me this was country and it still is in certain ways. I describe where I live to my friends and they say you live in the country. I says, well, it used to be because there’s everything. We have everything here, drugstores, filing stations, whatever you need. I’m not driving anymore so I put the burden on her to drive. I mean where do I go? I go to a drugstore. I go to a bank. I go to a post office. I don’t go anywhere. My children come to see me. We haven’t gone to see the children lately. Two of the children we drive to see. The other one, we have to fly. Flying is out of sorts any more. I don’t prefer flying anymore. The children want to see me, they can come. They call me on the phone all day long because I’m here and I’m happy being here. I’m satisfied being here. My wife likes to be on the run. G-d bless her, let her run because, kin a hore, let her run if she wants to run. She’s fine, let her run. As my father-in-law used to say: “She likes to go to open houses at filing stations,” which is alright. I don’t mind, don’t drag me. I don’t choose to go. I don’t want to go shopping. She says: “A lot of husbands go shopping with their wives.” I’m not one of them.
Interviewer: Let me ask you about this? When you grew up, you grew up in a kosher household and you went to synagogue and you had a lot of Jewish friends but you also found a way, as you grew up, to be not just in the Jewish world but in the non-Jewish general world. I just wondered did that feel comfortable to you, the balance that you struck between being Jewish…?
Izeman: At the time it did. I got along with them guys. I didn’t agree with them all the time but I got along with them. I didn’t have to do what they did. I did what I wanted to do. If they wanted me to go along with them to a movie or something, I went with them. Yeah, I treated them good. I remember one family around the neighborhood; they had five or six children. I got along with every one of them. I don’t eat oatmeal. There’s a reason. I walked in their house. They had six children at a table bigger than this. Oatmeal was everywhere, on the ceiling, on the table, on the walls, and so it made me sick to a certain degree and I don’t eat oatmeal at all because that’s what they fed these six children. He wasn’t a rich man. I mean they ate very economically. I’ll have cold cereal. Oatmeal doesn’t faze me or farina.
Interviewer: The Jewish community in Columbus, how do you feel about it? Has it been nurturing to you or has it been a problem? What has it been like for you, being a member of the Jewish community?
Izeman: Being a member of the Jewish community hasn’t bothered me at all but there is one trait that I feel is worth mentioning. The Jewish community seems to be on a can you top this sort of level. In other words, they’re out to do, they’re in constant competition. In other words, if your wife is doing something and my wife would like to do that, so there’s a certain amount of jealousy in the Jewish community, particularly with the women, not so much with the men, but with the women. That is objectionable to me because my mother always taught us never be jealous of the other person. You don’t know what they’re made of. You don’t know what’s inside of them. It’s never that good behind the green door, as they say. I mean she had a philosophy. She was good on philosophy. My mother and dad were the kind of people that, they didn’t have an education, they were not book learned at all, it was strictly common sense. Their whole life was strictly common sense but they had a wonderful, wonderful philosophy. Some of that is ingrained in the children, me particularly. I remember some things that my mother used to say to me in growing up. She was absolutely right in every case. She used to say don’t look behind the green door and don’t be jealous of somebody else’s ownership, wealth, something about the green lawn. The grass is greener on the other side.
Interviewer: It looks greener.
Izeman: It looks greener on the other side. My mother would express that philosophy. Where did she get it, not from books, not from reading. She couldn’t read.
Interviewer: You’re telling me that one point she made was: even though the grass may seem greener on the other side, it might not really be that green so don’t envy somebody else.
Izeman: Yes, exactly, that’s right, exactly. That’s what I object to primarily in the Jewish community, not the Jewish people certainly, but the constant bickering maybe, jealousy maybe, envious, the kind of attitude there, can you top this. If they’ve got a Volkswagon, you’ve got to have a Mercedes. That’s what I object to. I mean if you went to movie and saw a movie, you’ve got to see that movie. You’ve got to see that movie. What makes it so interesting to them is not necessarily interesting to you but you don’t think of that. You only think, particularly the women, I take this out on the women because they’re in constant competition. I mean they go to maybe a workout room, oh they come home and say oh they have workout outfits, the women are just dressed like they’re formals, like they’re going to a party but they’re working out. Am I wrong?
Interviewer: Looking back on your life, you feel pretty good?
Izeman: I feel pretty good?
Interviewer: Looking back on your life.
Izeman: In a lot of ways, yeah. I had a happy childhood. I was not disappointed. My father was not the kind of guy that got down on the floor and played with me, my brother-in-law was. He was still my father and I still respected him. It was not objectionable. We got along even though I had a temper because I was the only light-headed one in the family, born in a hospital. You took the wrong baby, that’s what my father said.
Interviewer: That’s what your father said to your mother.
Izeman: Yeah, my father said you took the wrong baby.
Interviewer: You were born in 1930, right as the Depression was hitting. You made mention earlier that everybody felt like they were in the same boat. Did you feel you were poor?
Izeman: No, but I didn’t feel rich either.
Interviewer: Even though times were tough, you didn’t say to yourself, oh we’re really poor?
Izeman: Never, no never, never. I don’t think the people on my street said anything different either. We didn’t know what poor was. There was no rate, there was no restriction, there was no limit. Everybody was poor or everybody was rich, one of the two. We didn’t think in those terms then. They do now, but they didn’t then.
Interviewer: Is there anything else you want to leave people with as we end this interview, any point you want to make about the community, what you remember, anything you want people to take away from this interview?
Izeman: I can’t think of anything. Bring up some points and maybe I can.
Interviewer: I think we’ve covered a lot of things so let’s conclude this interview with Shike Izeman, at his house near New Albany on December 8, 2015. This interview is for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society.
Transcribed by Rose Luttinger