This is Carol Shkolnik interviewing Harry Topolosky on October 29, 1996. This
is the continuation of an interview that we did on October 10th of this year and that tape
has already been turned over to the Historical Society. We’re continuing
because there’s a lot in Harry’s life that bears recording for posterity and
we didn’t have time the first time. So Harry graciously agreed to let me come
back and we thought we’d finish up talking a little bit more about his war
experience in that Harry would like to tell us about his medals.

Topolosky: I was in the ETO which is the European Theater of Operation and
three battle stars. Got a Combat Infantry Badge and the Purple Heart with two
clusters. And the Good Conduct Medal and the Expert Rifleman Badge. I have the
Presidential Unit Citation also and the Bronze Star and POW Medal.

Interviewer: Wow. For some of those named medals that the title is kind of
obvious, but for people like me and others, could you explain what some of those
mean other than Good Conduct which I think I know?

Topolosky: Well ETO is the European Theater of Operation. Three battle stars
is the three battles I was in coming up through Africa and Italy.

Interviewer: Okay. The battles were, could you say specifically where they
were in Africa?

Topolosky: Well we were in Northern Africa.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: And about northern part of Africa…where American troops
were and from there we went over to the toe of Italy and moved up in Salerno
near the toe of Italy and the Anzio Beachhead.

Interviewer: Was Salerno in Italy?

Topolosky: This is all Italy. All Italy.

Interviewer: And the last, in Salerno and the Anzio…

Topolosky: Anzio.

Interviewer: Anzio?

Topolosky: Anzio – A-N-Z-I-O, Anzio Beachhead.

Interviewer: Okay. And both of those are in the toe of Italy?

Topolosky: No those are up to the other section, before Rome and all that
other area.

Interviewer: I see. Okay.

Topolosky: Anzio is where I was captured.

Interviewer: And how did you earn the Bronze Star?

Topolosky: For combat in action.

Interviewer: Okay.

Topolosky: It’s given for valor.

Interviewer: Valor. Uh huh, uh huh.

Topolosky: And the way you acted in combat.

Interviewer: I see. And the Purple Heart?

Topolosky: The Purple Heart was given twice. And the Unit Citation was given
to the whole 45th Division.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: Therefore everyone that was in the 45th Division received the

Interviewer: I see.

Topolosky: Our outfit got other citations…at that time. I was not
aware of that because I was at…

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: The Combat Infantry Badge is given to those who served overseas in
combat, no matter what area they served in. Being in the Infantry, this was the
combat, showing that you were in combat overseas. Your weapons medals were given
to you on the firing line and where we used the items. And this was given more
or less while you were in training before you actually went into combat. The POW
medal was issued in 1947 or ’48 to all POWs in both operations of Japanese
Theater, Pacific Theater and wherever the combat was the…Medals.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: And were awarded to you, if you deserved them you got them. If you
didn’t, you didn’t. That’s the way it is.

Interviewer: Where are your medals now?

Topolosky: They’re on my uniform which was, the whole uniform with the
medals and all was in an exhibit that we had for the “Men in Military”
during Memorial this year. This year. It was there for almost two months and we
had equipment and uniforms, pictures of all those who served in the U. S. Armed
Forces during the Pacific Theater of Oprations, ETO, we had some Korean, we had
some, we had…

Interviewer: Where was this exhibit?

Topolosky: This was exhibited at the Yassenoff Jewish Center. It was part of
one of the exhibitions that was given by the Columbus Jewish Historical Society.
We tried to get different items in there every month. Sometimes they’re in a
little bit longer. And we try to keep up with everyone, different phases, such
as medical, dentistry, and medical businesses which we are working on at the
present time, which we want to try to get people interested and give us the
material to put in these cases.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Okay. We talked a little bit about, last time, when you
came home, when you got back after the war and could, where were you
hospitalized? Did I under- stand correctly you were not in the hospital when you
were first discharged?

Topolosky: When we first got discharged, we were in hospitals in France, in
Rhiems, France, before we were shipped back to the States. This was until they
received orders for us to ship out to be sent back to the United States. We
were, whatever…there was, I think there was, I forget how many
altogether. I think about 4500 alto- gether on the ship coming back home. We
came to Fort Dix. Through Ellis Island, they took us to Fort Dix where they give
us new uniforms and all and then they sent us home for 30 days, at which time we
received our orders and I reported to the Army in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where I
received treatment and at the time after I was there approximately three months,
we were supposed to be discharged from the service at that time but we weren’t
and they sent us to Fort Lawton. Some of us went to Fort Lawton, Washington, and
some of us went to Fort Lewis, Washington, and I was there for approximately
three months. And then we were, well they put us more or less in the
Transportation Corps but our job was, as the veterans came from the Japanese
Theater, we processed them through to be sent home. And eventually we got as far
as we possibly could and then I was shipped home.

Interviewer: Now you said you got treatment in Hot Springs. Were you on duty
at the same time or were you still recovering?

Topolosky: We are on duty but we had to report more or less three or four
hours a day for treatments, what treatment we had, medication, observation, and
the rest of the time we were on our own.

Interviewer: Did you see your family before you were shipped home after you
got back to the States?

Topolosky: When I come back to the States, I went home.

Interviewer: I see.

Topolosky: I got my orders at home to report.

Interviewer: I understand.

Topolosky: To Hot Springs. They sent the ticket and told us how to get there
and all that.

Interviewer: Okay, okay. Now how much weight did you gain before you even
came back? I’m just curious since you said you were down to 68 pounds.

Topolosky: Yes well when I come home, I weighed close to about a hundred and
ten. You know they put us on…ten or fifteen, which I gained a little
more when I was home…three meals a day more or less.

Interviewer: Sure.

Topolosky: But I finally got back to my weight about, within a couple months’
time, maybe. I forgot what I weighed at the time.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Wow. Okay. Last time I believe you told me you got back,
you ended up working as a butcher. You got married and started your family and I
think where we left it, you know, I said that there’s more about your
community involvement where we need to take it up.

Topolosky: That’s right.

Interviewer: What would you say was your first major community involvement
when you came back, beginning when you came back or whenever it started?

Topolosky: Well more or less, I joined the Jewish War Veterans and…
got interested in and started working with veterans. And I was active with the
Brotherhood at Agudas Achim. I worked up through the ranks and I was President.
I was one of the members who, along with Herman Schottenstein, Lou Berliner,
Alvin Schotten- stein and myself, Phil Waldman and there’s a few others, I
forget their names now, but we started the Minyanaire Program under Rabbi

Interviewer: Could we take the War Veterans first? Can you tell me for myself
and others who don’t know, what they do and what kind of involvement you had
with them and with their, you know, what kind of new activities that you brought

Topolosky: Well actually at the time when we first came home, they involved
themselves in helping the veterans to get loans to go back to school, helping
them in which way to get back to the regular way of life. We got very involved
in the Chillicothe Hospital at that time which was much more than it is at the
present time. There were quite a few Jewish boys there from all over that were
patients there. We were very active in helping to rebuilt the Chillicothe
Hospital there. And we used to go down almost every month or every two weeks or
something like that, down there and put on programs for them. We would bring
them back here to Columbus during the football season and used to take them to
football games on Saturday. Took them to basketball games. We took them on
outings. Of course, some of them weren’t able to go unless they had somebody
with them. They were in wheelchairs. Some blind. And we would more or less work
toward helping them to get settled back in the way of life that they had before.
One of the, my Uncle Joe, Joe Dulsky, there was quite a few. Morris Lessure.
These men, Maynard Pass, there was many of them that were very active in this
and we ranked Number One in the State of Ohio more or less in membership.

Interviewer: Wow! Which was how big at that time? Do you have any

Topolosky: Well when I was Commander in 1960, we had six hundred and some
members of Jewish War Veterans.

Interviewer: That’s incredible. In Columbus?

Topolosky: In Columbus alone.


Topolosky: We were very big. Cleveland even had three posts. Cincinnati had
one post. Dayton had one post. Youngstown had a post. The total Department of
Ohio which was all the Jewish cities that had a post and we also had, those
posts that were able to, they had women auxiliaries, the Jewish War Veterans
Auxiliaries, which was very active at the time and we would have our conventions
in Ohio and then yearly we had national conventions which as many as possible
would attend. Do with the dues and all subsidy or some money was given to those
who wanted to go and they would pay either for their registration charge, hotel
room. But the Commander and the Senior Vice Commander always were sent and they
brought back things that we could do. We worked all together in the hospitals
all through the state. We formed the Fifth Corps Area which was Ohio, Kentucky,
West Virginia, Indiana and Michigan and we had a convention of these and we had
our own officers of that but we still was subject to the By-Laws. Course we are
chartered by the National Jewish War Veterans and we are the oldest veretans’
organization in the United States.

Interviewer: The Jewish War Veterans?

Topolosky: The Jewish War Veterans.

Interviewer: I understand.

Topolosky: It started in 1896 as the Hebrew War Veterans.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: And it worked itself up like that. It was for all those Jews from
Jewish people that served in the actual service in the services. And this year
in 1996, we celebrated our hundredth anniversary.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: We have our National Convention at this time of November 5th to
November 12th in Washington, D.C.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: We’ve been asked, the Jewish War Veterans nationally, have been
asked to lay the wreath at the Unknown Soldier this year.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: So that is why quite a few of us are going in this year. And while
we’re there, we have certain places, we’re going to go to the Holocaust
Museum. The Jewish War Veterans have their own National Jewish War Veterans
Historical Museum in Washintgon also and there’s other sites that some members
have never seen and we have our meetings every day and then evenings we’ll be
free to do whatever we want.

Interviewer: How many people from Columbus are going?

Topolosky: So far there are eight of us going, four couples.

Interviewer: Do you know when the Columbus Chapter was started, or Columbus

Topolosky: The Columbus Post as far as we know got their charter in 1935.

Interviewer: So and you came back in the late 40s. Was it as active?

Topolosky: It was active and they got members and, I mean, by the time World
War II ended we had, all over the country, there was close to, I would imagine,
let me stop and get one of these brochures and I can give you some more (pause)
. . . .

Interviewer: Were they already doing things like putting the flags on the
veteran’s graves…

Topolosky: They were doing it initially but it got to the point where every
year it was more and more. There was approximately, in all the synagogues at the
present time, we put out close to 600 flags for Memorial Day.

Interviewer: That’s really something.

Topolosky: That’s people that, like for this year alone we lost 12.

Interviewer: Ohhhhh.

Topolosky: And we buy these markers, get them from D. C. and…

Interviewer: Right.

Topolosky: And then we, usually on Memorial Day, we go out as a team, about
six or seven of us guys…

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: Four go to Greenlawn Cemetery. There’s two to take care of
Forest Lawn. And the rest of us take care of the cemeteries on Refugee and on
Alum Creek.

Interviewer: Well as the daughter of a veteran, I certainly appreciate that.
And the grand- daughter of a veteran.

Topolosky: We’re trying to get people more involved to help us putting up
the flags. I mean we’re getting to the point we’re not getting any new
members due to the fact, eventually we hope there’s no such thing as war

Interviewer: That’s true.

Topolosky: And this is one of our goals but we know it’s not going to
happen in our time the way things are in the world today.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Topolosky: But we do whatever we can and there’s…brochures. This is
the last brochure that we got. There’s approximately, at the present time, we
have close to a hundred thousand veterans.

Interviewer: A person, that’s really impressive. A person to help you put
out the flags, they wouldn’t necessarily have to be a member, would they?

Topolosky: No we have asked the Boy Scouts in the past. We had a very nice
turnout this year of the Jewish, in fact there was some Gentile boy scouts also.
They came and we go, we more or less, us old timers know where they are and we
took a bunch with us and we told them what to do, how to put the flag down and
all that and we got…Some of the parents came with the kids and helped us
out. It was a little dreary afternoon this time. This year it was kind of bad on
account of the holiday and we had to do it Sunday morning.

Interviewer: Yeah I think you told me that. And then somebody has to go back
and pick them up, collect them.

Topolosky: No we leave them there all year. We’re supposed to go back and
collect them but we don’t. We leave them there and when they start getting
bad, the caretaker starts pulling them off, the ones that are bad. But he leaves
the markers there because we…

Interviewer: It’s easier to know where the flags go?

Topolosky: It’s easier to know where the flags go when each one is put on
there. Sometimes they get messed up. I’m there two-three times a year and I
march around there and see if they’re straightened out and this and that.
Every time I go to the cemetery more or less, I walk around to see that
everything’s, or somebody will call me up, I missed a flag. Or sometimes, you
know, they pass away during the year. We don’t know exactly where they are. We
give Kevin, the caretaker, the plaques which he puts on the grave even though
there’s no stone there at all.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: And when the stone is put, then we make sure that that is put
there by the stone and the flag is there when the stone is…

Interviewer: So you’re saying you put a new flag out…

Topolosky: Every year.

Interviewer: every Memorial…

Topolosky: Right.

Interviewer: a new flag, okay.

Topolosky: We also donate flags to the shuls, to the Center, the
American flag. Ones at the Center, we donate all those.

Interviewer: I see.

Topolosky: These flags are flags that have been flown over the Capitol for
one day.

Interviewer: Ahhhhhh.

Topolosky: There’s a manuscript in there that these flags were put on the
Capitol such-and- such days for Capital Post 122, Jewish War Veterans.

Interviewer: Wow. Now you say you donate these to the shul or are
these for the burial?

Topolosky: For the burials, we get the, when the family notifies us, when we
hear, even if he isn’t a member, if they contact us if they want a military
funeral, we give them a military funeral. But we very, we’d like for them to
contact us but they’re entitled to a burial flag which is presented then by
one of the officers of the Post to the family.

Interviewer: How often would you say that’s done? I’ve never been at one.

Topolosky: Well at these, 12 this year.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: This is done…

Interviewer: Well that’s something.

Topolosky: These are 6X8 flags, 6X8 flags are folded and presented to the
family. Whatever the family wants to do, if they don’t want them they return
them to us but we try to give them to the grandchildren to know that their zayde

or bubbe was in the army. We’ve had quite a few women in the army…

Interviewer: I see.

Topolosky: And we feel it’s our job not to let them be forgotten.

Interviewer: Wow.

Topolosky: One thing that irritates us very much is to see when they burn
flags, stomp on flags, wearing flags on their tuchesses you might say and
things like this. This is very degrading and for a person who was in combat,
this is very degrading. And we went, in World War II we can say we wanted to,
not because of some had to, but we, a lot of us, wanted to.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: This is our country and we want it to be safe for everybody. And
it’s one of those things that we try to get bills in Congress that it’s a
crime to burn flags.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: And the fact of the matter is torn and tattered, we don’t tear
them up and throw them in the garbage. We don’t burn them. We bury them.

Interviewer: Uh huh. A couple of things I’m interested in and, like I say,
I think maybe if I’m curious maybe othere are too. Was there ever a need or
anything special done for widows or children of veterans who needed some special
. . . .

Topolosky: Yes. Number one, a veteran is allowed so much burial expense. If
he can’t afford a stone or something, you can contact I believe a discharge,
you can contact the Veterans Administration and they will see that they are
taken care of. Or we have a service officer for the State of Ohio and he’s in
Cleveland, works out of the Cleveland office and he comes here to Columbus once
a year, and anybody that has anything, they contact him and he sees what he can

Interviewer: Uh huh. I was just thinking, back in those days there could have
been situations where there were widows or children who had other needs and I
didn’t know if….

Topolosky: If the man was hurt in combat and disabled, he still received
funds from the Veterans Administration. As part of his pension or whatever, that
if he was disabled, they continue to give him…until they reach a certain

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: And this is all worked in with all the veterans, I mean the
American Legion, Jewish War Veterans, Disabled War Veterans, all, it’s all
into one that works out of the Veterans Administration.

Interviewer: Okay.

Topolosky: Yeah.

Interviewer: Is there ever, and probably was a long time ago, is there ever
anything done special to honor the memory of those who died during the war, who
were killed during the war?

Topolosky: Well this is the Memorial Day service. All the names are called of
everyone, of every man.

Interviewer: Regardless…

Topolosky: Every Jewish person whether they were just passed away or in
combat or killed in action.

Interviewer: Okay. Okay. Is there something else, tell me if there is
something else you feel should be included about the war veterans in general and
your activities..

Topolosky: Well we do a lot of community services.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: Like presenting flags. At one time we had, were in the school
system where we gave scholarships out.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: National does give scholarships out to members’ grandchildren,
children. All they have to do is apply for it, contact one of the officers from
the Jewish War Veterans and they will give them, it will be turned in for them.
The only thing is that they have to be a member of Jewish War Veterans.

Interviewer: Do they have to demonstrate financial need?

Topolosky: Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. But not necessary.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: This is open to children of veterans of their childrens’
children. Anybody that is a member of the Jewish War Veterans. They give it from
the National Headquarters of the Jewish War Veterans…First it goes to a
state scholarship and that scholarship in turn is turned into national. It’s
competing with all from all over the United States.

Interviewer: Uh huh…when you first joined, were there a lot of World
War I veterans who were active at that time?

Topolosky: Yes. Very much. Quite a few. I would say there was, that I know
of, at least a couple hundred.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: You know, they, then as the younger ones come over, they turned it
over to the younger ones because there was, you know, we were a little bit more
active, we could get more done. There was a lot to do after world wars so after
World War II than there was after World War I.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: They tried to, National Headquarters trys every year to take, they
have a National Veterans Journey, not exactly a journey, but they take leaders
from all the organi- zations to Israel.

Interviewer: Uh huh

Topolosky:…to show them exactly what’s going on there and
everything else. And some of these, well it’s just like the businessmen here
in Columbus take some of their governmental officials to see if they can get
trade and stuff like that. And they take them to see, I mean, we have taught
them more or less there was a Holocaust. If they go, they make it a point to
take them to the Yad Vashem…and they do whatever they can to help
fighting anti-Semitism and all of that they do, you know. To make everybody live
peaceful with one another. You have this constantly in the world and we can’t

Interviewer: Uh huh. Another out-of-curiosity question, have there been, to
your knowledge, or were there ever any Jewish people who fought in the service
who were missing in action and never located from this area?

Topolosky: Most that we know of were either brought back or buried in
cemeteries in France.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: My own brother. He was killed in action.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: And he was buried in Cambridge, England. My father and mother took
it very bad and…the rabbi says…

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: And we have visited in Cambridge.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: And my sister lives there and some of the family have gone and
visited there. It’s a beautiful area and it overlooks a hill…and you
can just see row after row of those crosses, the stars, mogen David. In
the cemetery, religion doesn’t mean any- thing as far as what these men were.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: These men were actually killed on the combat field.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: And they were buried in the main section in stone on the big wall
there of all those and also the name is in the church there, Westminster Abbey.

Interviewer: Okay.

Topolosky: They have an area there and then a book is there of all Americans
that were killed in combat in England or that were stationed in England. And if
you go in there and talk to somebody, they’ll give you the exact dates and
exact time where you see a name.

Interviewer: Uh huh.


Interviewer: Wow.

Topolosky: And when they, at the cemetery in Cambridge, they take what they
call a silicon signing. They take that silicon and they take it out to the stone
and they rub that over the stone and the lettering on the stone is…I got
a picture of the cemetery I’ve got downstairs if you’d like to see it I’ll
be glad to show it to you.

Interviewer: Okay, when we’re done…

Topolosky: I’ll show it to you.


Topolosky: Another question I’m asked is how many received medals and all.
This is all in this little brochure. But it tells you the work that was done in
Israel and the work here and what we’re doing in the future. And approximately
how many members there is right now which is down, like all organizations, the
membership is down. But we have it more or less due to the fact the age is where
the, we’re getting older. Let’s put it that way.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: In here you’ll also find there is approximately…

Interviewer: You looking for the number of members?

Topolosky: Right. Approximately how many medals and all that. It’s all
written in here.

Interviewer: Okay.


Interviewer: Yeah I’m anxious to find out. I don’t remember…

Topolosky: In fact we had one of the Commanders receive the highest military
honor, the Distinguished Service Cross…We’re also active as in the
Chapel of the Four Chaplains. They just got through building a new building…We belong to that.

Interviewer: I see. Okay. Well you ready to move along and talk a little more
about the Brotherhood or do you feel, I mean, do you have more stories or
history on the Agudas Achim Brotherhood and the synagogue?

Topolosky: Well my father was one of the members for a long time. We always
belonged to the Agudas Achim, my Zayde and my father and our family,
until they started going astray, you know.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: And I’ve been active in Brotherhood and was on the Board of
Agudas Achim itself almost 25 years.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: And still very active in the synagogue and very active with
Brotherhood and am on committees for arranging different things and Minyanaires
is one of the best programs we have for the boys and the girls more or less.

Interviewer: You said you were active in starting that. Can you give us some
history on how that got started?

Topolosky: Well we started with showing boys soon to be Bar Mitzvahed how
to put on the tefillin and they already knew how to daven and all
but we had a Junior Congre- gation which started when I was a young kid yet in
the old Agudas Achim and it just continued as the years went by. We taught some
of the kids, they got through Bar Mitzvah, they put the tefillin

aside and that was it. But we tried, you know, we tried to get them back into
the fold. We showed them, we reshowed them how to lay tefillin. The
services were run by the different, they had their own officers, in other words
it was like a…to show itself and their own officers. And maybe once in a
while, one of them, Rabbi Rubenstein would work with them and they would give a
speech on the Sunday and afterwards the Brotherhood would serve them a
breakfast, which we usually had anywhere from 150 to 200 kids every Sunday
morning. The services started at eight and they were over by nine and allowed
the kids to go to the Sunday School afterwards. We served them breakfast every
Sunday. We’d start with eggs and bagel. Each Sunday was something different,
you know. The kids looked forward to it. In fact when it stopped, why some of
the kids missed it very much.

Interviewer: When did it stop? I didn’t think it did. I wasn’t aware it

Topolosky: It stopped…

Interviewer: Okay, so you’re still pretty involved…

Topolosky: Yeah I’m still involved…I’m active with the Jewish
Historical Society. I’m on the board and…

Interviewer: Okay. What specifically, is there something special about your
involvement with the Historical Society you’d like to mention? What were your
interests, your particular interests?

Topolosky: Well at the time that I was, I’m interested in everything the
Historical Society does, the genealogy and everything. At the time they
approached me, would I like to serve on the board as a liaison between the
veterans and the Historical Society, which I consented to do and when they first
started with Marc Raphael, we turned a lot of stuff over to the Historical

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: In the beginning there when he was in charge of it, to the Ohio
Historical, which is still at the…

Interviewer: It’s there.

Topolosky: It’s there now. And I sort of got involved in it and when they,
you know, they approached me about Memorial Day and I put on this and that. At
that time I approached the Jewish War Veterans and we went along with it. We
turned all of our paraphernalia and pictures. I helped Bobby Shore, what was her
name, her assistant at that time, we spent a lot of time putting those cases up
and then taking them down.

Interviewer: Sure. Is there, does someone maintain a list of the veterans
that are buried in our cemeteries in Columbus?

Topolosky: This is what Jules Duga is doing. Yeah, the shuls itself
have but Jules right now is going through all the cemeteries, all the shuls
to get an idea. We know those that we buried and that are buried in our time.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: And when we, before there was no flags and no markers or anything
like that. I used to go out and put flags on and somebody’s come by and take
them off and this and that thing. But now we buy these permanent, they’re
plastic of course….

Interviewer: Right.

Topolosky: But we had metal one time but they were all brass and they cost
$25-$35 a piece and you know, you can’t be replacing them. These others cost
money too but we put those down. When a veteran dies, we notify the families
that we put up a plate. If they want to make a contribution, it’s fine. If
they don’t, fine.

Interviewer: Now I know about what Jules is doing but, so that is how the
listing will be done? There’s no separate list?

Topolosky: No. When the list is called Memorial Day, it’s a list of all the
veterans, no matter what cemetery they are in.

Interviewer: Right, right. Okay.

Topolosky: See?

Interviewer: Right.

Topolosky: But eventually, what’s going to happen is Jules is going to
Greenlawn Cemetery and he’ll know. He’s going to, I told him I would work
with him at the time and get some of the rest of the names that he may not know
or stuff like that. Because I keep a record every year of those who die. I just
add them to the list and we print up a new list with the names to be called at
the cemetery. Just get five or six guys and each one of them will call so many
names and then we go to the next guy and then they can start back all over. And
it takes a half hour to read all those names.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: And there’s some that, we put the names on the list even though
they weren’t members of the Jewish War Veterans, but being a war veteran, he’s
entitled to this…

Interviewer: Well I think that’s a nice thing to do.

Topolosky: And we inform the family and I would say 50% answer back with a
donation. We don’t care if they donate or not. It’s the idea we’re telling
them that’s what we’re doing.

Interviewer: Yeah they should know. Okay. That’s very nice. I’m impressed
with what the organization does. Did you talk a a lot with your family about war
veterans or your experience at all? Especially when your children were young,
did they ask you questions?

Topolosky: They were asking me questions and I told them but the fact that my
grandson has my helmet yet.

Interviewer: Awwwww. Was your son in the service at all?

Topolosky: Yes…He was called in when he graduated from Med School…
At the time when they graduated they had to either enlist or be…He
asked me what to do. “Well I can’t tell you what to do. I know what I
would do.” So he enlisted….his internship in the military…
those guys that didn’t sign up they took right away.

Interviewer: Drafted?

Topolosky: Drafted right away. He was in the Navy for two years. He was
stationed at Norfolk, Virginia. He had one year of land duty and he had one year
at ship, at sea duty. He was in the Sixth Fleet at…

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Topolosky: He was the only surgeon for 35,000 men.

Interviewer: Ooohhh.

Topolosky: But he enjoyed it and it helped him. He saw, you know, things that
maybe he wouldn’t have seen. And he…he served his two years and he
continued on…. grandchildren.

Interviewer: You must be pretty proud of him?

Topolosky: I am. I am. The grandchildren, why they sit down and ask me
questions and I tell them. Like I got some of the stuff that I had and I give it
to them, you know, so that they have it.

Interviewer: I think that’s wonderful.

Topolosky: I got the battle…and the Purple Heart and one of the girls
wants that and I had it made into a necklace for her.

Interviewer: Awww.

Topolosky:…Things like that you know.

Interviewer: I was just going to ask you, what do you think you’d like to
say about your family? You know, you’ve raised your family, you have some

Topolosky: Well everybody’s got to care for everyone else in their family.
You can’t love one more than another. You have to give them all the same love.
You got to respect their wishes and they got to respect your wishes. We try to
be very close, as close as we can possibly get. Sometimes teenagers are very
impossible. You know when they get a certain age.

Interviewer: Tell me about it.

Topolosky: You know. You’ve been there.

Interviewer: Yeah. What kinds of things have you done with your grandchildren
in the past and what do you do now with them that they’re teenagers?

Topolosky: Well when they were small we used to take them on outside trips
like Cincinnati and…when they were younger. We took them to places like
Washington and Niagara Falls…When the kids were small we used to take
them to different places, Olentangy Caverns, Old Man’s Cave. We took them on a
train ride…This summer we took them to up around the Amish country, up
around Danville and Sugar Creek. We took the train ride from Sugar Creek all
around Amish country and, you know, different areas. We try to take them
someplace every summer.

Interviewer: Do you get together for Jewish holidays often?

Topolosky: Yeah, when the…(tape ends)

Interviewer: Okay, this is Carol Shkolnik continuing the interviewing with
Harry Topolosky on Side 2 of the first tape for tonight. You were saying about
what you do with the families and how you rotate stuff.

Topolosky: We try to have a couple of Shabboses a month. Holidays we
try to spend together. And I can still Yiddishkeit it to the kids too.
And I’m very active in the synagogue.

Interviewer: Which is?

Topolosky: Tifereth Israel right now. And my granddaughter is very active in
USY and she likes it very well. And my oldest grandson, he went to college…
My son’s oldest daughter just started the University of Illinois at
Champaign this year and they’re very active in their community in Champaign,
the Jewish community. And they try to raise the family the same way…see
this a lot of times lacking in some families, respect and love. It’s taken for
granted and…That’s the way I look at it…have to be done…to do it, do it. That’s it.

Interviewer: What do you and your wife do for fun other than family?

Topolosky: Well we take trips. We enjoy the Gallery Players. We go to the
Broadway Series and we like music and we try to keep ourselves very busy.

Interviewer: Sounds like it.

Topolosky: Instead of getting old, we try to get younger.

Interviewer: Hey, I think that’s fascinating. Well I can’t think of
anything else specific to ask. Is there something else you would like to be on
this recording?

Topolosky: No, it just that we hope the future is as well as what has been in
the past. Maybe better and I think people should take more interest in helping
their community and the future can be made okay maybe by listening to some of
the things that are on these tapes, not only from me but from other people that
graciously consented to give these interviews. I know a lot of our grandparents
didn’t like to talk about what they’d done in the past and what they’ve
done while we were living. And this is, thank God, it’s not a lost cause and
by some, we can go back and look, by renting some of these tapes from the
Historical Society or asking to anybody. ‘Cause all the tapes are marked, the
names are on these tapes and people should feel free to talk about the past so
that Jewish life in Columbus will be continued happily and joyously and let
other people know what makes up the Columbus Jewish community here in Columbus.

Interviewer: Well I and many others I know appreciate your contribution to
that and your giving your time to share.

Topolosky: I know I gave some parts of my life and then somebody may be
interested, some- body may not. But some of these things I’ve talked about, I
hope to have on one of the tapes myself so I can give it to my kids.

Interviewer: I’ll remind them that you’re waiting for your copy. Thank
you very much.

Topolosky: Thank you.

Interviewer: Thank you.

* * *

Transcribed by Honey Abramson