Good afternoon, I’m Abbey Goldbaum and I am conducting an interview of Gideon Fraenkel of Upper Arlington, Ohio, with the assistance of Rose Luttinger. I am doing this for both the Beth Tikvah archives and the archives of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society. Today is Wednesday, February 22, 2017.
Interviewer: Gideon, I know we exchanged questions and you gave me some short answers which a lot of people do. It gives me a jumping-off point, as well as you, to flesh out the answers because you’ve led a very interesting life. I will start with the first question. What is your full name?
Fraenkel: Gideon August Fraenkel.
Interviewer: What is your Hebrew name and who were you named for?
Fraenkel: I don’t think I was named for anybody in particular. There clearly were Gideons in all of our families and some in my father’s family but I actually don’t know.
Interviewer: Could it have been that it was a G name because your father was Gottfried.
Fraenkel: Could be.
Interviewer: How far back can you trace your family?
Fraenkel: It depends how reliable you regard the information, probably sometime in the 1600s but its fragmentary. There are gaps here and there. There’s a whole bunch of stuff and then maybe only half a family. I had a second cousin in New York, very orthodox family. She had a whole lot of grandchildren and she used to write books about the family for them. One or another of those shows how far the Fraenkels go back and they go back to about 16 something or other in Czechoslovakia. More than that I don’t know but we have very complete records at least starting in the late 18th century. Actually, some of that is on line.
Interviewer: That’s excellent, we will send you a family tree form and you can fill it out to the best of your ability. There are two types of ways of recording family. One is called genealogy, names and the dates they were born, and they died and maybe a marriage certificate and that kind of thing to document your family. The other is called family history which is more a telling or re-telling. Some of it is family lore or legend and some is actual fact. There is a difference between the two and both are valuable, and they complement each other.
Fraenkel: In Munich there were three families that were very much connected. They inter-married and Knew each other. If they didn’t inter-marry, they knew each other. They were the Fraenkels. In Deutsch it’s Fraenkel. The ae replaced an (umlaut). The “a” with umlaut was an “e” sound. In America and England, it’s pronounced “Frankel.” The other two families were the Feuchtwangers and the Auerbachs. You may of heard of Feuchtwanger because Ludwig Feuchtwanger was the famous novelist. Feucht means damp. Actually, they were bankers. Bach means stream. Auer is a river in Germany. I suppose… there’s an Auerbach genealogy which I have. It includes many Fraenkels but it stops at a certain point. In my mother’s family, are the Sobols. Their genealogy is managed by a cousin, Yaron Sobol, a lawyer in Tel Aviv. He does technically-oriented military contracts. He must have thousands in his data base. From time to time he sends out reminders of birthdays and general anniversaries. There’s provision for sending a greeting. Actually, there are distant Sobol relatives in town (Columbus). Some used to be involved with the old Shoe Corp. of America. Interestingly enough, just about all my mother’s immediate relatives left Russia-Lithuania between 1900 and 1920. Most went to British Palestine and there are a whole lot who came to America. We met many of them after we came to the US. Laughingly, do you want to send them a greeting? All this reminds me I have a niece who lives in Manhattan. We were all at her apartment for Thanksgiving. Present were ALL my parents’ descendants. I was also reminded that her birthday was last week, so I sent her an e-mail and she sent me one on Facebook.
Interviewer: That’s a great way to keep in touch. That’s nice that technology can be used to such a pleasant purpose. Where in Israel does that relative live?
Fraenkel: Yaron is in Tel Aviv. When I couldn’t find my mother’s birthday, I just e-mailed him. Among other things, people of my mother’s background and era didn’t remember their birthdays. Her (my mother’s) sister had one idea which we used when we came to America, but I also found a travel document that my mother used when she was living in Palestine. I don’t remember the dates exactly. But it was in there. She knew she was only 22.
Interviewer: Approximately, when did the family go to Palestine?
Fraenkel: The Sobols must have gone to Palestine in the early 1920s. I know they were established there when my parents met and married there. That wasn’t till 1927. Mother claimed that when her family met my father, they didn’t think he was suitable because he didn’t make enough money, so they were already established. Those among them who didn’t go to Palestine went to America in the early part of the century. They first went to Grand Rapids, then Minneapolis and finally Los Angeles. When we came to America in 1948 I finally met my Sobol uncles and aunts. My uncle Ed in Los Angeles had a jewelry store. We drove there a couple of times from Urbana, Illinois where we were living. At that time there were no freeways. You went on Route 40 and then Route 36. In those days 36 was a washboard straight as an arrow cycling through the hilly terrain. It went up and down continually, especially in Kansas. We had an old Packard. In order to make the hills we had to speed down one side and step on the gas to make the other side.
Interviewer: About when was that?
Fraenkel: 1949 or 1950.
Interviewer: Going back, can you tell us about your grandparents, your father’s family in Munich and then your mother’s family?
Fraenkel: My (grand)father was Emil Fraenkel. He was a lawyer. My great grandfather had founded a wool brokering business, A. A. Fraenkel und Sohne. In fact, most of my great uncles were in that business. Emil opted to become a lawyer. He studied in Berlin. He was a Judstitzrat, a state legal title. They lived in Munich on the Prinzregent Strasse. The whole family lived in Munich. I know a lot about them. His wife was Flora. I don’t know their middle names. She was born Weil. That’s an Alsatian Jewish name. It’s probably the second most common name in Alsatia. They were in the cattle business. In fact, they had a cattle ranch outside Strasburg. The funny thing is, even children and grandchildren were also in the meat business. One of them was in frozen food from Argentina. Those were the Weils. I have a genealogy on them going back to my great, great grandfather Weil. Back to the Fraenkels, I have a photograph of a painting of my great, great Munich grandparents before they got married. They look quite modern. By about 1820 men started wearing suits and looked normal, you know, not in fancy dress. Those were my great, great grandparents.
Interviewer: Then your mother’s family, the Sobols, where they lived, where they were from, their names?
Fraenkel: Grandfather was Abraham Sobol, middle name I don’t remember. I don’t have their dates but Yaron Sobol probably does. She (his wife) was Sarah, born Licht. Interestingly, when we came to Urbana, Illinois where my father became a professor, we ran into a guy named Bernard Light. He was related, a member of the Licht family, of course, a graduate student in psychology. We became quite friendly, kept up with him and so on. Back to the Sobols, what did they do? They lived in a little stetl called Molatai (a town in north eastern Lithuania, a popular resort for the people of Vilnius), not far from Vilnius. My mother was sent to high school there. She lived with an aunt. Mother’s family had a factory that manufactured woolen stockings for peasants. It was run by non-Jewish peasant girls. I remember my mother telling me they would set up the machinery when it came in from Germany. I have a lovely photograph of the Sobol family handing out food to the poor a little bit before the first world war and my mother is in that picture. She was the prettiest of the lot. There were seven children. By 1922-23, I think, they had all left for Palestine or the US. They were the founders of Givat Brenner, one of the earlier kibbutzim. They lived all over Palestine. I had an uncle who was a contractor in Jerusalem. I had another one who was a lawyer. They were a real cross-section of Israeli society.
Interviewer: Were they Zionists? Is that how they happened to go to Palestine?
Fraenkel: Either they were Zionists, or they felt they better go there or else. The funny thing is, my brother or someone else asked me how did my mother know to go. She was in high school in Vilna and I think Zionism was just in the air among the teen agers and young people. It certainly was among my father’s friends in Munich. When he was in high school and university he belonged to a Jewish athletic group that competed against German groups, right-wing Nazi type people. He was a very good runner. In fact, he got a medal for running. So, I think among young people in Europe, altogether, including Eastern Europe, Zionism was very prevalent. In Eastern Europe they had very good reasons to go, just to get out of that part of the world. They were right, of course. The interesting thing is I don’t know anybody in my mother’s family who was caught up in the Holocaust. There were distant Auerbach relatives who perished. Most of the Auerbachs and Fraenkels, they went to Palestine.
Interviewer: At a good time when they could get in.
Fraenkel: My Fraenkel grandparents, great uncles, they left Germany in the early 1930s. They left with their professions, doctors, lawyers, not to mention the wool company, renamed Palestine Wool Company. The Sobol relatives did the same thing. There were more of them, come to think of it.
Interviewer: Where did you grow up?
Fraenkel: First, I was a baby in Germany for about a year. Then my father got a position in London, University College. This may not be part of the discourse. The British scientists sent a committee to Germany to bring out Jews, including many Jewish scientists. Julian Huxley, who was a grandson of Thomas Huxley. He knew dad’s work and was instrumental in getting dad a position at University College, London and later at Imperial College. He (my dad) was already semi well-known. We lived in London until the Blitz when his lab was moved to a little town called Slough, about 18 miles straight west of London.
Interviewer: What type of work did your father do? What was his name?
Fraenkel: He was Gottfried Samuel Fraenkel, one of the founders of the study of insect physiology. He discovered most of the insect hormones. He was the first person to detect the insect pupation hormone, eventually known as Ecdysone. It’s what allows a grub to change into a butterfly or adult insect. Among other things, he and a New Zealand crystallographer, Rudall, semi identified the compound using x-ray crystallography, but it wasn’t properly identified till much later. He was very interested in what insects ate and why they ate some plants and not others. He discovered that insects eat selectively because plants secrete different substances which attract some insects and repel others. That was an important finding, all derived from his interest in nutrition. In this way, he became an expert in human nutrition. When we were in England, he was on a committee that advised the government on how to run the rationing system. He told them that white bread was not nutritious and so they should cancel its production. They told him, “get together with a member in Parliament and write legislation.” They met at Little’s club in London where they wrote up the legislation. It was passed in a few days. So, for the rest of the war all of Britain had to eat a brown bread that had the wheat germ in it. I bring this up because there was a book written about white bread in the States, how white bread became to be described as something that was very pure, and desirable to eat and it was reviewed in the (New York) ‘Times.’ So, I wrote them a letter telling them about the white bread in Britain and they published it. It’s my only letter in the ‘Times.’ That was the story. Anyway, he was in that. Also, during the war, he was too old to be drafted and besides he was German until 1939 when we were naturalized. The government gave him a special pass so he could go to army bases and lecture the soldiers on what they should be eating. He was fairly good about it. The only mistake he made was he told them to eat potato peelings. The thing is the outside membrane of the potato is the part that has the chemicals that protect it against predators. You don’t want to eat that. That’s why it has a very bad taste.
Interviewer: How interesting. You say that a committee from Great Britain…
Fraenkel: It was the Beverage Committee.
Interview: Lord Beverage.
Fraenkel: That’s right. He was Sir William Beverage who became Lord Beverage who wrote the report that became the basis of the benefits legislation that was passed in 1945. He was widely credited as being the father of the welfare state. Also, together with the president of the Royal Society, he was involved in organizing the committee that was sent to Germany to bring out Jewish academics. That’s how Britain and the United States came to acquire so many academics with German names. Many became quite involved in winning the war against Hitler.
Interviewer: Right. Now was it difficult for your father before he got out? Was he working in Germany and then he was recruited by London and was it hard for him to get out?
Fraenkel: I don’t think so because he got out very early. Hitler came to power in 1933 and I know that somebody tried to push him under a car. I know the police came round looking for something we didn’t have. We left quite in the normal way, by train and boat. We didn’t have to walk across the border. We were lucky really. I even have a memory of London when I was three. I remember the furniture in the apartment. I must say the British were very welcoming to us. I mean in no time flat my parents had all sorts of connections. In a way this was lucky. H. G. Wells had a son who actually was on the faculty of the college and he became friendly with my father and I played with his little boy and so on. They (my parents) were always very active in Zionist affairs because they had this idea they would get back there sooner or later but they were also very busy with the Labor Party, actually so was I as a teenager. The intellectual wing of the Labor Party was the Fabian Society and dad wrote articles for them. They used to have a summer camp in a school in the West of England. Each summer my parents would go for two weeks and leave us with dad’s lab assistant who lived with us. The Americans never found out what he’d been up to. I think they might not have naturalized him.
Interviewer: Now what about your mom? You said your mother was also involved in Zionist activities.
Fraenkel: She had a rather mixed career when she was young. She moved to Palestine supposedly to grow strawberries on a Kibbutz.
Interviewer: Her name was?
Fraenkel: Rachel Leah Sobol. Unfortunately, she fell off a horse and broke her arm and they didn’t set it properly, so they sent her to England. She stayed in England for a few months and eventually had jobs writing for Jewish newspapers. Then she moved to Berlin for a bit and did the same thing. She said she acted but I don’t know any details. She was always very interested in theatre. She eventually went back to Palestine and met my father at a bus stop in Jerusalem and they got married in short order.
Interviewer: Where in Palestine?
Fraenkel: In Jerusalem. I left a lot out.
Interviewer: (Rose) Your parents went to Palestine and they met there and then they returned to Germany?
Fraenkel: That’s right. You see, after my father got his PhD, he worked on jelly fish actually, in the Bay of Naples. He got his degree in Munich and then was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to travel around the Middle East looking at locusts and other insects, ending up in Palestine where he went to the office of the Zoology Chair at Hebrew University and said he’d like a job. They gave him a job and so he was a lecturer. I have a picture of him somewhere sitting at a table and looking very young. That was, I guess, when he first did his original work. It was around that time when he met my mother and married. Their wedding party was in Arthur Koestler’s room in the boarding house where they lived. He stayed in Jerusalem until 1930. Then there was one of these academic fights you hear about so much and many people left. The bad man was called Bodenheimer, he stayed. He was the boss. Dad got a docent position in Frankfurt (Germany) and yet before long we had to leave Germany. Much later, by the fifties, many academics who had to leave Germany sued the German academic system for reparations. Holding the equivalent title to assistant professor they were all expected to be eventually offered full professorships in Germany. Eventually they won, and all received from day of departure from Germany the salary of a professor followed by pension according to the rules of the German academic system. This was very lucky for dad because, like many universities, the University of Illinois was pretty stingy in its compensation for faculty. He helped my kids with their college tuition and was generous to all of us. The funny thing is post war German academic bureaucracy for paying the Jewish academics, just kicked back into business. It’s as if the war had never happened. When it was 50 years after he got his PhD, Munich University sent him another degree. They do that in Germany. After he died, they asked me did I want something called ‘shterbgelt’? That’s money for the funeral. Shterben is to die and we didn’t need their money for that. I have a lot of his communications with his lawyers in Frankfurt when they were dealing with the reparations. He really was back in the system. They said they were sorry, paid him something.
Interviewer: That was very interesting.
Fraenkel: There are a lot of people who were involved in that. I don’t happen to know who any of them were. It’s been written up somewhere, I’m sure.
Interviewer: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Fraenkel: Dan, he lives in Brookline, Massachusetts. He’s retired from Harvard Medical School. He’s not a doctor. He started off as a bacteriologist and he became a molecular biologist, did a lot of work on saccharide, metabolism, etc. If you google Dan Fraenkel you’ll find more than you want to know, Dan Gabriel Fraenkel. Gabriel is his middle name.
Interviewer: See there’s the “G” name there too.
Fraenkel: There’s “G” again. You know, my father wanted to name him Wolfgang Amadeus, after Mozart. My mother objected violently so he became Dan Gabriel. They (Dan and his wife) had two children, by the way, one of whom is my niece in New York. She’s the Chief Economist in the Army Core of Engineers in Boston and New York.
Interviewer: What is her name?
Fraenkel: Her name is Naomi Rosalind Altschul. Jim Altschul is her husband. His mother was editor of the ‘Times’ business section for many years. She still gets very pissed off about what’s happening to the ‘Times.’ Dan’s wife is Margaret. She’s English, not Jewish. The second child was born much later and he’s Alex. He is in business, currently energy storage and solar energy installations. Right now, he has his own company.
Interviewer: That’s nice. So, he’s still in Florida?
Fraenkel: Actually, he’s also had a very interesting career. He was sent to a Jesuit private school because he wasn’t exactly working in the public school. Then he went to McGill where he became a champion speed step skater. He gave that up because of too much practice. He then spent at least five years in China doing energy business. He knows Chinese very well. Eventually he came back and worked for utilities, on his own now. Naomi has two little girls. My brother had to go to the elder girl’s school to talk about what moving to America was like. He showed the kids a bunch of photographs, things in England and then the boat we came on, the Mauretania and how we spent a week in New York.
Interviewer: (Rose) What was it like for you coming to America?
Fraenkel: It was rather a mixed bag. In the beginning I didn’t want to come because I was a teenager. I was tooling around London and going to the theatre with people. After the Blitz my father’s work was moved back to London. He’d commute from Slough. I joined a public school called Latymer Upper School when we lived in Slough. The reason I joined them was I was rather lazy in school and they thought I better be straightened out. When the work moved back to London, I would take the bus. If you know England at all, they had express busses called the Green Line. You could make it in about 40 minutes. I did my homework on the bus. It was quite nice. I would meet my father after school and we’d go do something, go to a concert or go out to eat so I really didn’t want to go to the US. On the other hand, I thought traveling to America would be a great adventure and we would see things like national parks. We spent a few days in Washington when we came. Also, I joined a high school that had girls. Latymer never had girls. These girls wore makeup. This was very exciting to an English teenager who had probably never had much to do with girls. That’s not true. I had a girl friend in England. It was a mixed business. I was very English and very snobbish, came from this fancy school and I thought I was better than everybody. That didn’t last too long. I went to the University High School in Urbana for a few months. I took their English classes, I hacked around in their chemistry lab actually. They let me do that. Then I joined the University of Illinois which in those days was an absolutely glorious place. I’m sure you are familiar with these American state universities that are sort of parked in the middle of nowhere. Ann Arbor isn’t like that, but Indiana is very much like that, also Penn State. To me, it sort of reminded me of a cruise ship in the middle of nowhere that was completely self sufficient. I mean the University of Illinois had a symphony orchestra, an art gallery, a movie house, and their own fire department. We lived in a square-mile area with all our friends. Everybody was there, doctor, lawyer, professors.
Needless to say, my parents started traveling again. They went to Israel to see the relatives. I must say I enjoyed the U. of I. I was a faculty brat. I lived at home. You don’t have many friends in school when you live at home, but I did make a few. I became a chem major, of course, I was already a teenage chemist. When I was in school in England, I had these marvelous chemistry teachers who would let us mix things up, blow things up. They had this sort of Parents’ Day. One of the teachers was making enormous soap bubbles out of gas and lighting them. I remember making chlorine in my friend’s mother’s coal cellar. It’s amazing that we didn’t hurt ourselves. Later, I joined the U. of I. It had a marvelous chemistry department, they still do. Eventually, I did research for a guy called E. J. Corey, from a Lebanese family. He was unfortunately a supporter of Eisenhower, but I forgave him for that. I used to work in his lab. They didn’t give me a key, so I climbed in the lab window at night. Then they found out and they said they fired somebody for doing that. I didn’t tell the chairman that he hadn’t hired me, so he couldn’t fire me. Actually, Corey and I published a paper on my senior research in 1952. That was my first, sort of original piece of work. One day last year I had an idea for a problem. One of my post docs said, “you did that as an undergraduate.” So, you’re asking me, I became quite Americanized. I eventually agreed to become an American, but not till after I got married. I thought I’d better become an American. It was an interesting experience.
Interviewer: Did you belong to a synagogue?
Fraenkel: They wanted to do that. My father had issues with them. He didn’t like their attitude. When Dan was going to be Bar Mitzvah, the local schul (Reform?) turned us down. It was all done at Hillel. That’s where we went. We went there for Services. My parents were always friendly with the Hillel Rabbi. These guys turned out to be scholars. The one who was there at first was called Saperstein. He or his son became head of the whole Hillel organization in the US. There were others. They were always in our house. We knew them very well. I carried that on when I was at Harvard. The Harvard Hillel was, if anything, a little bit more interesting than the one at Illinois.
Interviewer: Did you go to Harvard for your graduate work?
Fraenkel: Yes, I got my PhD with a man called Paul Bartlett. He had been a student of James B. Conant who was later president of Harvard when I was there. I once saw him in the distance, in the Yard, and we looked at each other. I knew who he was. Conant had been Bartlett’s advisor and I sort of vaguely thought should I say hello. I didn’t know what to say. He was one of the founders of physical organic chemistry, worked on mechanisms. He was ambassador in Germany after the war. He had some interesting political ideas. He thought we should use the Atomic Bomb on the Russians. Fortunately, other people prevailed. At that time, it was the golden age for scientific research. Scientists had a critical role in winning the war. They were using professors in those days for everything.
Interviewer: Did your father ever have any contact with the people who worked on the Manhattan project?
Fraenkel: Yes and no because we had friends from England and Urbana, the Goldhabers. Maurice Goldhaber was professor at the Physics Department of the U of I, later director of Brookhaven National Laboratory. Dad knew his wife Trudi (Scharf) Goldhaber, a theoretical physicist when she was still at Imperial College (London). In the late thirties Trudi went to America to marry Maurice Goldhaber. He tried to get his wife a job at the U of I. Those were the days when academic positions just weren’t available to women. For a long time, she had sort of a research position. She did become professor, actually she was in the National Academy. Once she came here (OSU) to talk to the women scientists. We were taken to dinner at a Chinese restaurant on 161 in Worthington with several Chinese graduate students and faculty members and let me tell you they knew how to order. They knew what to say to the waiter. That was Trudi Goldhaber. She became quite famous with theory. Her husband, he was involved in the Manhattan Project and then he was director of Brookhaven. He was like 100 when he died. We were neighbors of theirs in Urbana.
Interviewer: When you and your brother and your parents lived in England, weren’t you involved in a synagogue there?
Fraenkel: Yes, we were. We went to the local Conservative synagogue, big place, hundreds of people.
Interviewer: It was in Golders Green?
Fraenkel: We lived in Hampstead Garden Suburb which was between Golders Green and Hampstead itself. I even remember the address.
Interviewer: Tell us about your Bar Mitzvah.
Fraenkel: It was actually quite exciting. First, I didn’t want to do it. My father who already knew the whole Torah by heart just taught me. It’s the sections about the Golden Calf. In the end they didn’t want me to do the whole thing because it’s very long. We had two parties for friends, one in Slough and one in London. I did the Bar Mitzvah itself in London, North London Synagogue. If you’ve been in London, you’ve seen it. It’s a glorious place. I wasn’t actually in the main part. I think they only use it on holidays. We were in what I would have called the chapel. In England they read a whole sermon about you, how you are joining the Councils of Men, all this sort of thing. I got a lot of presents which I think I wasted. They were book tokens. I bought books about engineering. It was sort of ridiculous, but I still have serious books from my Bar Mitzvah time, Fisher’s History of Europe, the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. That is worth owning if you want to think of something clever to say. The Oxford Dictionary of Music, marvelous and still properly bound. Of course, somebody gave me a fountain pen. One can always use one of those. It was interesting. I was taught an amount of Hebrew by a man called Mr. Baker, in Windsor. He tried to teach me and his daughter. I think we weren’t very good students. We decided it was too complicated, incredibly complicated. I have to tell you, in Slough there really wasn’t a congregation but the Jews got together, and they rented a hall on Saturdays, every Saturday and, of course, for holidays. The rabbi lived, he was an ancient, must have been old as the hills I think, white beard. He was a fire and brimstone rabbi. He threatened to send us all to hell. His name was Jacobovitz. There was a Chief Rabbi of England not too long ago who was also Jacobovitz and I wondered if that was a grandson. That would have been interesting. I also belonged to Habonim. My mother organized it, she would of course. You know what Habonim was? It was Zionist boy and girl scouts. I had a special shirt. A young woman came from London every week to supervise us and do things with us. After we had the meeting, she would come to our house and we would feed her supper. My mother was very active. She was also on the Education Committee of the Jewish community in Britain. I don’t know how my parents always managed to get into politics wherever they went.
Interviewer: (Rose) What was Habonim. What was its purpose?
Fraenkel: They were sort of like the scouts, I suppose. It was a Jewish Zionist group. I went to their camp for a year. We slept in water-logged tents, had to use the bathroom in what was just a big trench.
Interviewer: When did you first go to Israel?
Fraenkel: Not till about 1990, something like that. My parents went all the time. My father, had former students who worked with him at a sort of Entomology Institute in the desert whose name will come to me (Ness Ziona). He used to go there summers. They both had many relatives in Israel. My mother spent many summers in Italy, in Perugia, working with a sculptor which was why she learned Italian. She must have known about six languages by the time she died. Perugia is in thes Tuscan Hills. Along the road that ends in Florence there’s Assisi, Siena, Perugia and others. She spoke Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, German, English and Italian. I don’t think her French was very good, but her German, Hebrew and English were perfect. She would write stuff. In her later years, after Dan and I left first for college and then graduate school, she claims I was the one who suggested she do sculpture. I think she had made things for us out of clay when we were little. She did stone and she did wood, became semi well-known. Because of my father’s fame, she was sort of in the shadow. I remember, after she died, my father would say he never really realized how good she was. There was a funny event. After I left Cal Tech, I left Harvard and went to Cal Tech, I got a post card from my former room mate. He said, “Is Rachel Fraenkel your mother? Did she exhibit at the Boston Garden Show?” The answer, of course, was yes, yes. So, she was sending stuff to exhibitions. One of her pieces was bought by a friend for $500 and then it was stolen. My mother was very upset, and I told her, “You should be proud your stuff is being stolen.” Anyhow that’s what she did in her later years.
Interviewer: Going back a little bit, we skipped over some things. What activities were you involved in during your high school years, like when you were at Latymer, etc.?
Fraenkel: I was a basement chemist. I was in Habonim and so on. I had two friends and we would do experiments and blow things up, mix up nitrates and white phosphorus and push it around with a stick and make it blow up. That’s what we did.
Interviewer: You wrote some articles for a newsletter, didn’t you?
Fraenkel: I was the editor of the Latymer Gazette. I don’t know why we founded this, the boys in my class. There wasn’t a school newspaper in those days. That was just a school where you went and took subjects. Aside from sports, there were activities. There was the theatre business. Basically, I typed the entire Gazette and various friends in my class wrote on different subjects. One of them wrote about politics. My brother wrote about music. As I said, I typed the whole thing. My spelling was atrocious, and it showed. White-out hadn’t yet been invented so you can’t easily correct typescript. The funny thing was the teachers thought it was a good idea. They gave me six pence to read it. I set the front page. We had five or six issues. I wrote the editorial about the escape of the Grand Mufti from Jerusalem.
Interviewer: That was interesting, you sent it to some of us, because that’s in the history books, some history books.
Fraenkel: That was my first record of publication.
Interviewer: Did you ever do any sports?
Fraenkel: Yes and no. I had astigmatism and I wasn’t very good for most sports although they let us do something called ‘running around the river.’ That is, you ran two miles along one bank of the Thames, then crossed the bridge and ran back. I and a few friends would do this. Eventually we noticed that no one was watching so we walked. We had this marvelous four-mile walk every week. That was the sports I did. I did play ping-pong with a girl friend for a while. I wouldn’t say either of us was very good at it.
Interviewer: When did you move to Columbus, Ohio and what brought you to Columbus?
Fraenkel: I got an offer from the Chemistry department, an assistant professorship. That was 1960.
Interviewer: When did you get married and how did you meet Alice?
Fraenkel: That’s an interesting story. A second cousin of mine had a friend. This was the second cousin who’s living in New York, working for Zionist organizations. She had a friend. They belonged to an Orthodox Jewish Women’s group. The friend had a niece who turned out to be Alice. She thought I should meet Alice. That’s how all that happened. My cousin was Rachel Fraenkel, married Bloch. She was married to the under secretary for Economic Affairs of the UN or two and a half or three years. That turned out to be a big mistake. I stayed in touch with her for years and years. She must have been 98 when she died. I called up Alice, made some excuse, and told her I had to go to a dinner and would she like to come along because I thought it would be boring. She had flu or something. There was a very bad flu going around that year. She said, “Well, just come over.” So, I went and knocked on the door and she opened the door. She told me years afterward, “She looked at me and she thought to herself, I’d like to have one of those.” She’d actually been married before, rather briefly, someone she’d been bullied into. Her mother had decided. He was a resident in OBGYN at Yale. It was all supposed to be very respectable and he wanted her to do that. It didn’t last. She had had a number of, shall we say to her parents, unsuitable boyfriends. One wasn’t Jewish. Everybody was something. So, when I came along, they were incredibly relieved. In fact, when we announced it to her mother, her mother turned around and said, “Alice, you finally found someone you liked.”
I think, somehow, she picked me. I think it was so strange. We had a rather rocky engagement. I used to go every month or so to see her. We’d do things and it was great fun. At some point, she got mad at me and didn’t like various things. She said, “I didn’t really know how to express my feelings and I covered it up with clever conversation.” She told me I sounded like a character in an Aldous Huxley novel. I said, “I’ll take the clever.” I remember thinking, yeah, I was reading all those when I was at Cal Tech and didn’t know anybody. I never told her. She said she thought it might have been “Point, Counterpoint.” She was right. He (Aldous Huxley) did special exercises that did not improve his eyesight. He also wrote a novel about somebody who employed doctors to keep him alive forever. I remember things like this. There was a Dr. Obispo in that. He was the doctor of the Rockefeller-like character and he was, of course, unable to keep him alive. The older Rockefeller, he did live for a long time. The Huxleys are a very interesting family, scientists. There’s one, he probably died by now, at least one or two of them got Nobel prizes. They were scientists, authors, one of everything. Sometimes professions run in families. In our family, immediate family, it’s all science, academia.
Interviewer: Do you have children?
Fraenkel: Peter and Emily.
Interviewer: Where do they live and how old are they?
Fraenkel: They’re both in Manhattan. Emily must be 52 (spoken in ’16) by now. Emily was born in 1964. I think she’s 52 or so. Peter is 54. After Peter had his 50th birthday party, he tweeted on Facebook, “Thank you for the party. I shall now go back to being 49.”
Interviewer: Are they both married and with children?
Fraenkel: Yes, both with kids.
Interviewer: Peter’s married to?
Fraenkel: Peter is married to Stephanie who used to work for Criterion Records. That’s the outfit that renovates old recordings of films. They did the Bergman films. You can buy them (the Bergman films) from them for a lot of money. Stephanie isn’t working currently. Peter worked for a whole bunch of different financial firms. He got his degree in Physics at Cornell and then he got interested in software of finance. He was on the ground floor of all that field, one of the first. He had quite nice jobs in a number of these banks. He was at Morgan Stanley for about 20 years. At some point these places have an internal revolution of some sort. People come, and people go so he left there and went to another one. He was at UBS, the Swiss company for a while and then basically got bored and left. He’s on his own now. The funny thing is, after having sort of left Morgan Stanley, he has office space there and he consults for them. They like him on the premises so that’s what he does. I told him he has the best of both worlds. They live on the Upper West Side.
Interviewer: Is that in an apartment building?
Fraenkel: It’s in a brownstone actually. They have the bottom two floors. They have two little girls, six and eight, Vivian and Nanette. Nanette is named after her seven-times great grandmother. Nanette draws very nicely. In fact, she draws well enough that she’s been teaching her friends how to draw. Vivian writes poetry. That’s Peter’s family. Emily has three and the oldest one, Patrick, is going to college in the Fall. He’s going to Hamilton, in New York. Then there’s Anna who is a champion skater, very beautiful and quite bright. She’s going into her teenagedom. She’s a good kid. At least she’s nice to me. Then there’s Lilly, nine or ten, very outgoing. She’s the aggressive one, so you pay attention to her. Next Thursday, I’m going to her school to talk about what it was like coming to America. The funny thing is my brother did it for his granddaughter, Jeanie, in a private school in New York. He did it last week, so I’ve got his pictures from England. They’re on line now. On my birthday, on Facebook, Emily posted a bunch of pictures of me and Dan and our mother at different times in England and people made comments. When we had Alice’s memorial, Emily posted some pictures during the reception. When Alice was in the nursing home we posted a frame of pictures of her from different eras.
Interviewer: Emily is married to?
Fraenkel: Emily is married to Andy. Andy is a partner in Skadden, Arps, etc. He’s a lawyer. He bundles debt. They’re one of these firms that invented mergers and acquisitions. I think the money he makes goes into Emily’s nefarious dance activities. She has a small dance group of her own which could, in fact is called Emily Faulkner Dance. They performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She teaches something called The Alexander Technique which is a mixture of dance and exercise. Physically she’s in marvelous shape. I think it’s because of all the dancing. She also teaches basketball players how to stand and move. It turns out that coaches recognize, or believe, that learning dance helps athletes to move and protects them from getting hurt. She’s been helping high school basketball players.
Interviewer: I discovered that when I took fencing in high school.
Fraenkel: So did I. You know, it’s a very Jewish subject, fencing.
Interviewer: Tennis also involves footwork, but basketball is new to me.
Fraenkel: Emily is also very busy raising three children. She travels a lot with them all over the place. They have a farm, two hours North and West of New York City, nine miles from the Delaware River. It’s in what used to be the “Borscht Belt.” There are many little synagogues along, NY 17, the strangest denominations you ever heard of. Emily’s family have 85 acres, rolling country. The house was somewhat broken down, but they fixed it good enough to live in during the summer. They go there in the Summer. She built a nice pool. We used to go for about a week, hang out. There’s no TV, no internet. There is the internet from the phone if you want it. They grow vegetables and they look after other people’s goats for the Summer. The children look after the goats.
Interviewer: Where did Emily go to school?
Fraenkel: She went to Wesleyan, in Connecticut.
Interviewer: Did she major in dance?
Fraenkel: Eventually she did. She was a pre-med first and then she switched to dance. I don’t think she really liked Wesleyan. It reminds me of a prep school actually, lots of children from wealthy families. I really wanted them to go to Michigan because I thought it was a good school, good academics, but they were anxious to get out of the Mid West. I’ll tell you why, really, because in those days the Upper Arlington schools were not what they are now. They were very sports oriented and money oriented. Everybody in those days was very right wing. Peter was one of the original nerds when it wasn’t that fashionable. Eventually, he acquired a coterie of other original nerds. They would go to school early in the morning to play with the computer. Then they would play Dungeons and Dragons in someone’s basement. We never had to worry where they were. My kids were never problems in the sense of getting into drugs or misbehaving because they weren’t active socially. They had fun in college. They got away. After college Emily went to Europe for about nine months thinking she’d find dance teachers. She had many adventures and hung out with families we knew. She eventually came back and lived in New York basically dancing and working part-time. Eventually she met Andy and they got together.
Interviewer: Are the children’s spouses Jewish?
Fraenkel: Andy isn’t so they really don’t do anything. Although the children know they are half Jewish, biologically Jewish of course. Stephanie is Jewish. They observe here and there. There is always a Seder going on somewhere. Naomi and Jim are Jewish. In 2017 the Seder was at their apartment. The grandchildren know they are Jewish, but they are not getting a Jewish education.
Interviewer: They know their holidays. Holidays are important.
Fraenkel: Oh yes, absolutely. In our household they would be the event of the year, especially the food, of course. In those days in England, if you wanted to have a chicken for Passover, you had to know a farmer. Our cleaning woman sent us to a farmer who sold us a chicken. That was how it worked. He didn’t overcharge. It was just that chickens were not sold in stores.
Interviewer: Back to your family, what was the occupation of your spouse?
Fraenkel: Alice was a history major at Barnard, where by the way, her senior thesis was “The Historical Version of Christ,” the historical Jesus. Her rabbi grandfather thought that was pretty funny. He was Orthodox. Before she married, she got a fellowship to study Russian because the Eisenhower administration had money to encourage people to learn Russian, so she became part of the Russian program. She’d been at Barnard, she graduated from Barnard. After that she taught school for a bit. I think that was while she was married. Then she got this fellowship and she was in Russian studies at Columbia where they taught her Russian. In fact, I went to a couple of her classes with her after we met. After she came here, she took some math classes but eventually got a PhD in Molecular Biology at Ohio State. It was the Molecular Genetics lab run by a couple of guys both, Bill Birke and Phil Pearlman. She couldn’t get a job doing that. In fact, the university was very slow in getting started in the Molecular Biology business, now they do it on a large scale. She eventually went to law school and then had jobs from that. I think she got her PhD around 1975 and it might be four years later when she got the LLD. Around, 1980-1981 we went on Sabbatical to Boston, Alice, at the Harvard School of Public Health, and I to MIT writing papers and traveling. Alice’s program was Science and Law in the Public Interest. They brought all sorts of big shots who had interests in that field. I would mention somebody, and Alice would say, “Oh yes, he used to come to the meetings.” That was funny. After Harvard Alice worked at Pfizer for a year or so. That was why I got used to living alone in the house. I didn’t really mind. She had an apartment on West End Avenue behind Zabars and I would fly in from time to time. They had very cheap flights. It was called People Express, $40, marvelous. You could just go and pay on the plane. After that, she was here for a bit. Then she got a job in Washington at the National Research Council. She chaired a study of alcoholism. That was for maybe a year or two, a lot of politics there, you wouldn’t believe. I would fly back and forth. We would rent a car and enjoy ourselves. It was quite fun.
Interviewer: Now the children were born by then, weren’t they?
Fraenkel: The children were born in the early 1960s, 1962 and 1964. By the time we went on sabbatical to Boston, Peter went to college. Peter went to Haverford actually and two years later, Emily went to Wesleyan. Emily finished high school in Brookline. We lived in Brookline. They lived there for two years. They stayed on for a year, so Emily could graduate from high school. It was actually a rather nice year in Boston. I got to know it, got to drive like a Boston driver. I was at MIT. It’s amazing how many people came through. You could sit here in Columbus and not see anybody other than people you know here. There, there were always people on their way from somewhere else. They would come through and stay with us. At MIT, all the buildings are connected. It’s a hierarchy, it’s who you know and what they’re doing. Maybe it’s not as bad as it used to be. I learned that from Harvard days also. It’s interesting, who you know not how much money you have. It’s connections. When I went to Harvard, the tuition was $600 a year. Now I think it’s something like $40,000. I could almost live off my TA (teaching assistantship), almost, if you’re ultra careful with your money. We had an apartment, three or four room mates, cooked and all that. That’s where I learned to cook.
Interviewer: Do you enjoy cooking?
Fraenkel: Quite well. It doesn’t take too long. I usually make recipes that are short. I do a lot of sort of braised meat in spices. I think the best of the lot is chicken braised in a mixture of all sorts of spices and a little soy and ginger. It comes out remarkably well. You can always throw in vegetables. There’s a version of that for beef. You add vinegar to that and it has to cook longer. That was originally in the New York Times International Cook Book. I had post doc whose wife made another version and that was really a better recipe.It doesn’t always come out the same because the quality and the character of the meat varies. I just use chicken thighs and each one is good for a meal and they cook evenly. I pick things that are simple to do. My brother is also into cooking.
Interviewer: Is he younger or older?
Fraenkel: He’s younger by five years. He was born in 1937. I was born in 1932.
Interviewer: Back to some of these questions, did you ever serve in the military?
Fraenkel: I was turned down. I was sent to Chicago for draft examination. I thought this is the end. They’re sending me to Korea and I’ll die. There, I went in this government building that was full of naked men and also the first place I ever saw where they hired a lot of black people. That was the government, you see. I was sent to the guy who looked at your eyes and he noticed I had astigmatism. It shouldn’t really excuse you from serving. Then he started talking to me. “What do you want to do?” I said, “Well, you know they let me in to Harvard Graduate School. I’d really like to go there.” So, he made me 4F and I think he did it as a favor, I really do. He wrote something saying psychological result of severe astigmatism, so I was 4F. After I got married, Alice thought this was terribly funny because from time to time I would get another notice from my draft board. The last one I got was something like 12Z and she said that’s when the Chinese are coming down the road. I got draft notices for years and years.
Interviewer: Back to Judaism. What has been your volunteer involvement and affiliation with Jewish organizations?
Fraenkel: I was affiliated with Hillel where ever I was. We went to their things. I can’t say that I joined a lot of activities. I would go over there and meet people and make friends. Here, we were rather slow in joining anything, but we were in the Northside Jewish Community Association. It pre-dated Beth Tikvah. We were in that, especially on holidays. Whenever they had an event, we were there. When Alice came back from Washington, we then joined Beth Tikvah. About that time, we got the call from Manny (Luttinger) about the Havurah. Since then we have been in Beth Tikvah, many years with Rabbi Gary Huber. Rabbi Kellner is very social. He thinks of things to do, he invents things and he’s very good with kids.
Interviewer: He was an education director before he was an associate rabbi. Let’s see, you mentioned BREAD, the BREAD organization.
Fraenkel: We go to the big meeting (the Nehemiah Action). We have gone to little meetings. They often have different people.
Interviewer: You run into us at BREAD. I have something for you. I have a BREAD button to give you and you can wear it when you come to BREAD.
Fraenkel: They do good work. It does remind me of the Christian Evangelists. You have all these Christian churches. It’s the way they do business.
Interviewer: I think also, the Jewish congregations who feel that we need to make the world a better place, not just the Jewish world a better place, but the general world a better place. Those congregations, including Beth Tikvah, really feel a commonality and an affinity with the social action churches.
Fraenkel: It should be for all religious organizations. The Jews and the Catholics were the first ones to sort of invent welfare, originally, I believe, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and Catholic Family Services. In the beginning they really did for their own kind, but I know the one in New York reaches out to everybody.
Interviewer: The one here does too.
Fraenkel: Especially now, with Trump, we should all be out there.
Interviewer: BREAD is Beth Tikvah’s social justice connection. What are your hobbies and interests?
Fraenkel: Well, I still have my work which, of course, I don’t have to do but it keeps my attention. There are always things one wonders about. Doing writing. I help other people and I consult. There’s a kind of spectroscopy, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. The medical application is MRI. It was first demonstrated post war by a couple of American physics professors, of course. It’s a way of studying organic compounds, getting signals from carbons and hydrogens. I had a friend, Gerald Kaplan. He died, unfortunately, at age 84. We wrote a book on the theory that explains how to do the calculations, so I help people with that. It’s a way of studying chemical reactions that are already in equilibrium. If you look at them it seems there’s nothing happening but, in fact, there’s a reaction or some molecular organization that’s going back and forth at the same rates and fast. I pioneered in that, got in on the ground floor. I tell younger scientists the way to build a reputation is to do something new. There’s always a risk. It could be a dead end. I had support from NSF for over 50 years. Then they decided I didn’t explain why my proposal work would revolutionize chemistry. I was also quite old, 80 by then. They made an excuse. I’m still active in the NMR business. After Harvard I went to Caltech (California Institute of Technology) to do enzyme kinetics. Instead I found out they had an NMR instrument. They let me use it and in no time flat I used it to solve a couple of old problems in organic chemistry. So, the Department let me work on what I liked and gave me fellowships. I have to say that Caltech is just the most marvelous place to do research. I’ve been involved with politics ever since I was 13. In Slough we had the famous election of 1945, I was 13. Our local candidate for Parliament was Ben Levy, a playwright before the war. During the war he was in intelligence in the United States. He had many connections in the theatre world which he used in aid of the war effort. I worked on his campaign. That was my beginning. When I was 10, I was reading newspapers, following the war. I still have an interest in politics. I was going from house to house, not the last election, maybe the one before. I send letters to the newspapers. I read a lot. When you’re on your own you listen to NPR a lot. It’s a good friend.
Interviewer: Has there been a difference in the sense of community where and when you grew up compared to the Columbus community during your time here? What would you say are some differences?
Fraenkel: Part of the difference is I was different. When I lived in England I was a child and a teenager and did whatever children do. There was somebody talking on NPR the other day. He said he was very glad he wasn’t a child anymore because then he was basically locked up in his family and they would tell him what to do, “Now it’s time to go to bed, no you don’t want to do that.” He was very glad he was not a kid anymore. When you’re a child you don’t really decide anything for yourself. On the other hand, you can be sort of irresponsible because, in case you are, somebody will tell you and you can stop. Life was entirely different growing up in Britain. We lived in a little town outside London called Slough, two miles from Windsor. I used to take visitors to our house to Windsor, show them around Windsor Castle. It was always open during the war, after the war. There was a Jewish community in Slough. One didn’t travel much because the military were using the rolling stock. After the war we started traveling again. When we came to America it was a nirvana. All of a sudden you could buy as many eggs as you wanted, butter, extraordinary. We stayed in a hotel in Washington and they fed us eggs and bacon and potatoes, etc. The social life was entirely different because I went to a school that had girls, girls in makeup. You never had that in London. Then I became a university student. It would have been hard to compare that life with the life in England. I lived at home and so in a way was still very much part of the family. Moving to Cambridge was really the first time I was away from home and I can assure you not in the least homesick. It was great fun. I stayed in a dorm at Harvard the rooms of which were basically a bare floor, a couple of beds and some chairs. They never heard of any other kind of furniture. A lot of people in my class were in that building. We used to compare our physical chemistry homework the night before it was due because we were all in the same building. Of course, being in school is different. I was away from the family and being in the bustling Cambridge area was great fun to live and there were absolutely hundreds of thousands of young people there because there were so many universities and colleges.
Coming to America seemed to be different. For example, in England we had a very nice house in the suburbs outside Slough, almost in the country, enormous yard half of which had been a tennis court and the other half a vegetable garden with dozens of fruit trees. You could almost live off it. We grew vegetables during the war. That was certainly different from London. It was different from where we lived afterward. In England we didn’t have a car, so I have vivid memories of waiting near my school for a bus in pouring rain wearing a short raincoat and short pants. That’s why I really enjoy the idea the car is in the garage and I can go anywhere in Columbus and park and not have to wait in the rain. Unless you lived in a big city and didn’t have a car you wouldn’t notice that. So, the life was really quite different. Also, I told you, the University of Illinois was completely self sufficient, their own symphony orchestra, resident string quartet (Walden Quartet), own fire department, theater and they made their own liquid nitrogen, also many concerts and movies. In Urbana there was a movie house and a few stores. Serious shoppers took the train to Chicago. There were two trains, the City of New Orleans and the Panama Limited. You could make it to Chicago in about three hours. I took Alice there after we got married and we stayed in some place and she took me to Brooks Brothers and made me buy a winter coat. Alice was very big on fashion, coming from New York. She was also big on hair cuts. She claimed you could never get a hair cut here. Yes, it was different, but it wasn’t really comparable, that’s the thing. Then I came here, we got married. I was a father and a bread winner; part of the university and I’d never done that before. Ohio State, I can tell you, is a very old-fashioned sort of place but they had a lot more respect for faculty in those days compared to nowadays. In those days, when a professor died, the flag went to half mast and the Dean went to the funeral. There was nothing more important than a professor. Now we’re basically minions, just employees. It’s their own dam fault (the professors), they didn’t stand up for themselves. I was on committees, I stood up. I was a thorn in the side of the locals, let me tell you.
Interviewer: Good for you. What kinds of life messages and wisdom do you wish to give to your children and grandchildren?
Fraenkel: It’s very hard to say. It’s a little bit pretentious to tell other people what to do. I would hope that they would have just learned by watching me. What can I say, I tried to do, I mean I didn’t take money away from other people, I was active politically. My kids did alright, so I figured they must have learned it from us. I’m sure you are aware of this, that children love to blame everything on their parents, but I remind them of the fact that you are now doing this and that was because you grew up in an environment that was supportive, and they don’t argue. They like to bring up the things they have concerns about. I don’t know what to tell people. I mean you want to be fair. You want to help people. Of course, I would love to get rid of Mr. Trump. I personally felt that the Obama administration was a little bit too conservative to my liking. I think the Republicans were always in the way and wouldn’t let him do anything. My feeling is that in a country you have to share the wealth. What do I believe in? I believe that healthcare, education, housing, and a living wage should be a right and not just something people have to scramble for. I think that should be society’s priority and that the economy has to be adjusted to take care of that and that unlimited greed is not a sacred right. The Democrats, the Progressives, you can say it to people and they will say, “Yes I agree but I’ve never heard anybody saying that.” I’ll give you another example. They’re worried about the Obamacare, they want it repealed, maybe it won’t really, not quite yet. The discussion always focuses on what will happen to these poor 20 million who will not have healthcare. The idea is they will suffer. It is never explained they will get sicker, it will cost more to look after them. They won’t have the preventive care. They will have stress. They will get divorced. They will send their children to school sick. They will pass their diseases on to the rest of us, their infectious diseases. In other words, their troubles will impact the economy. They won’t have enough money to buy stuff from the business of the wealthy people who refuse to pay taxes to help them out, thus reducing profits. The taxes would have paid for the benefit which would have allowed the previously insured to spend money. It goes on and on.
Interviewer: So, it affects everybody.
Fraenkel: Last night on Charlie Rose somebody actually pointed out that, if they really repeal without adjusting anything, it’s going to play havoc with the whole economics of healthcare, the hospitals, the doctors, nurses, research and so on. The poor, they will go to Emergency Room. It will just be incredibly inconvenient and inefficient. That’s the immediate thing. Upending the healthcare system will seep into the whole economy. You know something, if you look at IRS data from 2013, 45 per cent of tax returns list incomes of less than $30,000. You can’t live on that. Those people are getting handouts. They are living miserable lives. You can’t have a proper economy if 45 per cent of tax returners can’t manage. It has to impact. What are the super rich doing? They’re making excess profits and they’re exporting the money. It’s not being reinvested in the economy. It’s as if you took blood out of your body and put it in the fridge and wondered why you didn’t feel well. Money has to cycle through the economy. I don’t know how much it is, but I read somewhere 20 trillion is parked offshore, some is not ours. I feel there has to be a priority. There are certain rights, not just life, liberty, and so on. You can’t have life, you can’t have liberty, if you can’t afford to go to the doctor or feed your children. You know this business of keeping people poor also makes sure we don’t have a trained work force. If they’re poor and sick, they are the people the rich like to look down on.
Interviewer: Back to the present, do you possess any historical records or items that you would consider donating to the Columbus Jewish Historical Society?
Fraenkel: I don’t know what to give. I can copy documents, a lot of that. We have my grandmother’s Pesachadic china. We have my great grandmother’s silverware, tablecloths. Does that count?
Interviewer: It all depends. Documents and photos are the most important. The other things. It’s up to the individual discretion.
Fraenkel: My children have digitized a lot of photographs. Emily actually hired a young woman to do all this. I have drawers full of these things. Most of the pictures really go back to the grandparents but there’s a lot of stuff written up. There’s a German marriage contract, written in old German. You can’t read what it says. I certainly don’t mind copying any of this. In New York there’s something called the Leo Beck Institute. They collect stuff from German Jewish families. I’ll ask Peter. He keeps very good records. Emily took thousands of pictures, some on regular film.
Interviewer: I’d like to thank you so much for giving this interview. It’s been an interesting story and interesting journey. Although Rose and I have known you for years, we certainly learned a lot about you today. On behalf of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society and Beth Tikvah, I thank you very much for giving this interview and this concludes our interview.