This interview for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society is being recorded on September 27, 2011 as part of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society’s Oral History Project. My name is Bette Young and I am with Marti Goorey and her two daughters, Sharon Goorey Starr and Susan Goorey Petrak. Marti is going to tell me her life story.
Interviewer: This is Bette Young and I am with Marti Goorey and her two daughters and it is September 27, 2011 and Marti is going to tell me her life story.
Interviewer: So, the first thing that I want to ask is “Were your grandparents born here?”
Marti: The answer is yes and no. My Martlin grandparents were born in the Ukraine. My Rosenfield grandfather was born in the Ukraine, but his wife, Mary (Dorotha Mary) was born in Cincinnati.
Interviewer: Ok and when did the ones who were born in the Ukraine come over?
Marti: Late 1880’s. We figured 1886, something like that, particularly for the Martlins.
Interviewer: And where did they settle?
Marti: Harry Rosenfield went to NY, worked in a sweatshop. Tried to get out of there, so he hopped a train and got as far as Cincinnati. And he got off at Cincinnati and never left.
Marti: Martlin, I don’t know how he got to Columbus, but he came over when he was just a teenager. He came with his father, named Harris Martlin. So Harris and teenage, Abe, came from the Ukraine and came to Columbus. As a matter of fact, that’s how we started all this is we saw a picture where they started the Agudas Achim congregation.
Back in the old country, Harris left Harris’ wife (named Molly) and Isaac, Jacob, Rob, Ada and Rosa, and they’re all born in the Ukraine. The only one that was born in America was Bessie. After they got here, Bessie was born here.
Interviewer: And what did your grandfather do here?
Marti: He was a tailor. He was Martlin the tailor.
Interviewer: And where did he live?
Marti: His main residence was 34 Miami Avenue. Two years ago we visited the house. And the man that lives there, very graciously opened the house and we got to see the old woodwork. It’s on the east side off of E. Broad St. on Miami Avenue.
At one time, Blanche Minitsky, who was my mother’s mother, my Martlin grandparents, Abe and Rosa, my father and mother (Dewey and Sylvia) and their child, Ralph, were all living at Miami Avenue at one time in the same house at the same time.
Susie: It’s near the old governor’s mansion, by the freeway. (Shows pictures from book that family created) That is a picture of the old house taken in 1920 and that is the house taken two years ago.
Marti: Oh gorgeous old woodwork, and flooring. Everything is the same as before.
Interviewer: So how did the two families know each other?
Marti: I don’t think they knew each other until Dewey and Sylvia (Dewey Rosenfield and Sylvia Martlin) married.
Interviewer: So how did they meet?
Marti: Sylvia went to high school at St. Mary’s of the Springs (the old Ohio Dominican) She went to high school there. My dad and my mother’s brother went to school together at East High School. My dad and her brothers were friends, and that’s how they met.
Apparently, if you wanted your child to have THE BEST education, you sent them to St. Mary’s of the Springs. And apparently, Abe Martlin asked a friend of his, where do you send your child to school and the answer was St. Mary’s of the Springs and that’s where my mother went! And, my mother was a live-in student there. She only went home on weekends.
They (Dewey and Sylvia) married in 1919.
My mother is Sylvia Minitsky Martlin Rosenfield. Her mother was a Minitsky and Minitsky married Martlin. And Sylvia Martlin married Dewey Rosenfield. My brother was born in 1920 and I was born in ’34. Nothing in between. We were both raised as only children.
Interviewer: And where did you live growing up?
Marti: 50 south Ardmore just down the street from the Roths. When I was in 4th grade, my family bought a house at 255 Chesterfield Rd, which was two streets on the Columbus side of the Bexley/Columbus border. So I couldn’t go to Bexley school anymore. So I went for just the 5th grade to Main Montrose. Then for 6, 7, 8th grade which was junior high they allowed me to come back to the Cassingham building. So I was k-4 at Cassingham, 5th at Main Montrose, 6-12 at Bexley. And we lived on Chesterfield Road.
And there was no Eastmoor or Fairmoor school. They allowed me to continue in Bexley and my dad paid tuition.
Lived at the corner of Chesterfield and Etna. Chesterfield only ran from Broad Street to Fair Avenue because it got stopped by St. Catherine’s’ church. So it was only from Broad to Fair, and we were at the corner of Etna and Chesterfield.
Right after high school, when I graduated in June of 1952, I went to University of Miami in Florida. At the same time I was pinned to Lou Goorey. So I only went one semester. (Ohio State was on quarters), So I finished one semester at University of Miami , came to Columbus, and had to wait until Spring Quarter in order to start Ohio State.
Interviewer: How did you meet Lou Goorey?
Marti: A blind date. (to Bette) Do you remember Bernie Speyer (*sp)? Bernie Speyer and Lou were fraternity brothers at Ohio State. In TEP (Tau Epsilon Psi). It was New Year’s Eve and Lou needed a date. So, Bernie fixed me up with Lou. And I was a junior in High School. High school girls didn’t date high school boys! High school girls dated the college boys!
Interviewer: So you two got married.
Marti: Yes, we got married in 1954. She (Susan Elaine) came in ’55 and she (Sharon Beth) in ’57.
Interviewer: And you were married for?
Marti: We were married until 1980, I think it was. We celebrated a 25th anniversary.
Interviewer: And then what did you do?
Marti: Well, I decided that there was a lot more to life than being the EX-Mrs. Goorey. And so we had often vacationed in Pt. St. Lucie Florida, and so I packed up and got a teaching job in pt. St. Lucie Florida. And have been there ever since. I have been there since August of 1979.
Interviewer: Did you girls still live with your mom?
Susie: No, we were married and out of college.
Marti: So, I have been in Pt. St. Lucie ever since. I retired from teaching in1994-95 school year.
Interviewer: What are you doing in your spare time?
Marti: Well, that is what I was about to say… I have been the busiest retiree you ever saw. I had a lot of good friends that were teachers at MorningSide Elementary, and so I went back and volunteered 3 days a week for my teacher friends. And I got active with Girl Scouts, active with Humane Society, and the superintendent of the local humane society and I would take puppies and kittens around to elementary schools and teach responsible pet owning. So we did that for several years.
Then in summer of 2004, the hurricane struck… wiped me out…. So I quit volunteering because I had to be home for my house to be rebuilt. And I no sooner got back to be volunteering, that my brother took sick. And my sister-in-law took sick (and they lived across the street from me) so I quit volunteering, because I was volunteering with them.
So, and that brings us to here.
Interviewer: Let’s go back to your father.
Marti: My father was Dewey Rosenfield.
Interviewer: And he was….
Marti: He was a “jack of all trades”. I tell you, what we’ve got in here (the family book) for Dewey Rosenfield!! He was an entrepreneur, who was just really a visionary.
Susie: He was always on the cutting edge of everything. Of technology, or of the newest…
Marti: He was selling refrigerators before there were refrigerators!
He was selling tires before they were the galvanized, you know, tire thing. I mean, really, he was an entrepreneur that was just ahead of everything.
He was a twin… identical . His identical twin was Sampson. (dog barking in background is Rascal) He’s Dewey, and his twin is Sampson. And they were named after the two admirals. They were born in 1899. Admiral Dewey and Admiral Sampson were the military heroes of the time. And so their mother named them after the admirals.
Interviewer: Let’s talk about the samovar.
Interviewer: Sharon (Goorey) Starr is Marti’s daughter and she is the (now) owner of the family samovar.
Sharon: The samovar, and actually Mom probably knows more of the story of it, but it was MY grandmother’s forever! I mean every time we walked into Grandma’s house there was a beautiful brass samovar on a brass plate. And you can actually see the markings on it from where it was stamped to go through customs and the story that my grandmother told me is that HER grandmother gave her the samovar. And her name was Minitsky. So her grandmother gave it to her, and she gave it to me. Minitsky brought it from the Ukraine?
Interviewer: How Tall?
Sharon: It’s probably about 2 feet tall… 18 inches to 2 feet, maybe?
Interviewer: And she carried it?
Sharon: Somebody carried it. (joking) It must have had vodka in it! There’s no way they would have carried it for the coffee! (laughter) No, I don’t know that.
Marti: People would bring in candlesticks and that sort of thing.
Interviewer: Oh I know, but candlesticks you can put into whatever bag you are bringing.
Sharon: No, this is too big … It’s not particularly heavy. But it is big… it’s clunky to carry.
Interviewer: I didn’t realize people brought things like samovars.
Sharon: Well it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL… and she (Grandma) used to keep it polished and it would just sparkle as you walked in the door. And I remember as a little kid, turning on and off the faucet.
Marti: There was nothing in it.
Sharon: There was nothing in it, of course but.. I remember being eye level to it as it sat up on the table. And turning on and off the faucet. And when she moved into the Heritage House, and broke up her apartment, that’s when she gave it to me.
Interviewer: Oh, it’s yours…
Sharon: Yes… it’s mine!
Marti: Problem is now, we have no granddaughters! We only have grandsons!
Sharon: Now wait… we (Susie and Sharon) only have sons …. (to Susie) YOU have no granddaughters, yet… but I don’t have ANY grandchildren yet! So, it’s mine to give to the grandchildren… hopefully I’ll have a granddaughter somewhere along the way, but I don’t even have a daughter-in-law, yet.
Interviewer: How old are all of your (Susie and Sharon) children.
Sharon: Michael was born in 1984 and Matthew in 1988.
Susie: Aaron was born in 78, he’s 33. David in 80, and he’s 31. And then I have a son Alex from a different marriage and he will be 18 on Mom’s birthday this year, so he is 17 now.
Marti: And Aaron and Hanni …
Susie: Have a new baby (7 weeks old) Maceo Miles and they live in Cleveland. Maceo is Spanish for Matthew…it’s in the Matthew family. And my middle son, David Siegel and his wife Kat(Katherine) are expecting a baby April 2. And we’lll find out October 18th whether it’s a boy or girl… so we are thinking pink.
Sharon: So, Susie MAY have a granddaughter. And if I don’t have a granddaughter… her kids are my kids… the samovar will go to a granddaughter.
Interviewer: Did she bring over anything else that is like an heirloom?
Susie: Well we don’t know about Minitsky, but we know that Mary Martlin brought over a pin and a vase. And a cousin, who we didn’t even know until we were working on this, who lives in Chicago, Sharon Lieberman, she has those.
Interviewer: How did you discover that she was your cousin?
Susie: I read your oral history, and she mentioned that she was the great grand-daughter of Harris Martlin.
Marti: The Bessie that I said was the only Martlin born in America, .. that was her mother. (Correction by Sharon Lieberman – her maternal grandmother 11/23/21)
Susie: But for some reason our grandmother, mom’s mother (Sylvia Rosenfield) never mentioned that these kids were ever here.
Marti: Now I knew that there was a brother named Isaac, and I knew that there was a sister named Bessie. And that my grandfather was Abraham. Never knew that there was a Jacob, a Sam, a Rob (who died early) , or an Ada, or a Rosa.
Interviewer: How many children were there in all?
Marti: There were ____ Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sam and Rob were the boys Rosa, Bessie and Ada – the girls. There were 8 kids.
Interviewer: And you never knew about these children?
Marti: Only IB- (Isaac and Bessie) were the only two that I knew growing up.
Susie and Sharon: And we never knew any of them. They never talked about them and when we read your oral history, we contacted Sharon Lieberman, who was the granddaughter of Bessie, because she was in your oral history. And she filled us in on some of the other things (all in the book).
Marti: Oh, this has been a journey!
Sharon: And we found out that Bessie and Grandma Sylvia, who we always called Grandma Silbo, were actually in Heritage House together at the same time… and died within 6 months of each other. And we never knew that.
Susie: We never knew that and we went to visit her for years at the Heritage House
There must have been something, some bad blood or something,…. Water under that bridge we will never know about.
Marti: Now, my mother and Bessie were (well I can’t say friends,) but were acquaintances of each other… when my father’s father (a Rosenfield) was widowed and he was brought to Columbus….. he hated Columbus “take me back to California, where I live”, they hired Bessie Gitlin, hired “Aunt Bessie” to escort him back and to be his housekeeper.
Interviewer: Oh for heaven’s sake!
Susie: So Bessie, stayed in California for quite a while. Got married, had children and it was not until her later days when she got sick that they brought her back here. So we never really knew her. (Correction by Sharon Lieberman – Bessie did remarry in California at a late age, but had no children from that marriage – 11/13/21)
Interviewer: Well who lived here? Did her children live here?
Sharon: No, Sharon (Lieberman) lives in Chicago.
Susie: But they did bring her back to stay with someone, but I forget who that was. It’s in the book…
Sharon: Oh… wait, it was Gitlin- you have the oral history … she was a Gitlin.
Interviewer: There was a Sonny Gitlin. I wonder if that was her husband.
Marti: No, she was a Gitlin and married (this Sharon) .. no Bessie was a Gitlin (she was a widow of Gitlin).
Susie: And her sister married another Gitlin.
Interviewer: This is such an inspiration for me to get going on my family.
Susie: When we started this book, we thought we could go back as far as mom’s grandfather Abe Martlin.
Marti: And my father’s mother and father.
Susie: When we did our first genealogy chart, they were the top of the page, because we didn’t think we could go back any further. Our grandmother Sylvia kept a scrapbook, and there was an article in there about her father Abe, with HIS father Harris starting the Agudas Achim synagogue. It was a news article “of they were being honored after 50 years” or something like that. And that’s how we discovered Harris Martlin. Then from Harris and we were able to do oral histories. Toby Brief was able to connect us to resources.
Sharon: Toby Brief is amazing.
Interviewer: She used to be my cousin when I was married to Bob Roth.
Susie: She was incredible. She pointed us in the right directions and she found some photographs like those two right there.
Marti: This is what started it all (pointing to the photographs) My mother had this in a scrapbook.
Susie: So we saw that, then mom and I (mom was in town for my son, David’s wedding) and we were going back into her old stomping grounds. We decided to take that article into Agudas Achim, which is right near there.
Marti: It’s across the street.
Susie: The librarian was doing the event they had a couple of years ago (Legacy). They were working on that and this was like, 6 months before that.
And she said “oh, I don’t really need this, but I’m going to give it to somebody who might care.” She gave it to Toby. Toby contacted us. Toby found these pictures and that’s where we discovered that (next page over, mom).
Marti: This is my grandfather’s father. So he’s my great grandfather. So this is Harris and his wife molly.
Susie: And it said that they came from Bogoslov, Russia, which was Ukraine. And from there we found all kinds of things. And we never knew we had any of these relatives. And the other really incredible thing (and mom just pointed to a photo) is fortunately they all lived in Columbus and most were buried in Columbus. We went to the cemetery and found them. When we were there the first time, we saw a Rob Martlin and we saw a few other relatives. We had no idea that they were relatives. Including this Mary Martlin.
Marti: This is the beginning in Ohio. Mary and Abraham were Harris’ mother and father.
Sharon: And it’s the oldest gravestone in Columbus.
Marti: Yes, you can see the dates.
Interviewer: Wait a minute! It says that she was born in 17??
Marti: Right. Right. She was 90 some years old. The story is, when my grandfather Abe and his father Harris, left to come to America, we are assuming that Abraham was gone. And they brought Mary with them.
Susie: Well they didn’t bring them with them.
Marti: But when they called for Molly and the children, they brought Mary.
Interviewer: Wait… oh it says she died in 1884.
Marti and Susie: Right- so they came here with her. She must not have made the trip very well. But she made the trip with them. And she is the oldest grave in that cemetery. In the OLD old Agudas Achim cemetery.
Interviewer: Where is that cemetery?
Susie: It’s off of Alum Creek. It’s not even used anymore. It’s a tiny little, you would never know you had missed it plot.
Marti: Tifereth Israel, Agudas Achim, Beth Jachim – a whole bunch of the congregations had the same tiny little cemetery. So you go from one congregational cemetery to the other and never even realize that you are not in the same.
Susie: We have more relatives at Greenlawn, but these were at the OLD Agudas Achim cemetery. And Toby put us in touch with the caretaker there, and he actually (when we went back in November for mom’s birthday- with a whole limo full of our family) he had marked all of the Martlin graves.
Marti: My 75th birthday present from the kids was a ride down memory lane. And we stopped at all of the houses that I ever lived in, all of the schools that I went to and we ended up at the cemetery (and I said, oh the kids aren’t going to want to do this) The kids were FASCINATED!
Interviewer: What a fabulous idea. I have to tell my kids to do that!
Sharon: It helped that there was food and beverages in the limo. The kids loved it! It really was very fun. We were all in the same limo together… and it was for a GOOD event. The limo ride was kind of a party in itself.
Marti: The Martlins and the Rosenfields have been in this area for a LONG time.
Susie: And they (the old headstones) had never been discovered. And when you read the very very beginning, is because we (all three of us) were reading Mitch Alboms’ book, “Have a Little Faith”, and he talks about “dying the second death”. And to die a second death is when you are no longer remembered. And all of these people have been lying in this cemetery for a hundred and some years, 200 years, and they must have thought they had died a second death. We didn’t know they were there. And it was incredible to discover them again.
Marti: That is the “mission statement”, if you will.
Interviewer: It’s an honor to talk with you guys.
Marti: We are REALLY deep into Columbus history, Columbus Jewish history.
Susie: We didn’t even know it. I mean, we are all Jewish, but we aren’t regular attendees at synagogue. We go… Sharon goes to the one in Mansfield. I’m a member at Beth Tikvah. Our kids were all Bar Mitzvahed. But none of us go to Agudas Achim. We aren’t orthodox. So this was good! Really really good!
Marti: Well there are no more Martlins. There were 3 Martlin children. Sam and Maurice. And they married, but never had children. And my mother, of course had children, but she changed her name to Rosenfield when she got married. So there are no more Martlins.
Sharon: But the book was really driven by Mom. We all started this one weekend. Martin Luther King weekend. It started because of Aunt Lynn (Goorey Ganz) book.
Susie: And then Sharon and I decided that we wanted to do a scrapbook. And mom said, “well, ok, I’ll do it with you. But I’m not scrapbooking. I’ll help you with the information.
Marti: I am a historian by heart. I missed my calling.
Sharon: So mom did, I would say ALL of it.
Marti: The TEXT, just the TEXT.
Marti: But all of the scrapbooking and the pictures and everything, the girls did.
Sharon: She (Marti) was also a slave-driver. I want that on record. My mother is a slave driver!! (laughter) She made sure we got the book DONE!
Marti: When we started the book, my brother was still alive. And he was 90. My cousin, Perc. Jr. IS still alive, and he’s 92. My cousin, Billie Heller is still alive and she is 87. And we just HAD to get it done so that THOSE people could be contributors. And see a finished product.
Sharon: And the fact that we (Susie and I) had LIVES up here was inexcusable! (laughter)
Interviewer: But it’s a good thing. Now that it’s done. I want to tell you something. Steve Weiler is maybe 47, and we were sitting there at the board meeting and they passed the book around. and it was Michael Nessler? The president, Bob Shapiro, Robbie Wasserstrom, me and Steve kept saying to me, “look at this!, look at that! Look at how she looks!” I mean he was so fascinated with that book! He was just….
Marti: Well this is Volume 1! (laughter) this only goes to my generation. Volume 2 is going to have to be their generation.
Susie: But what we realized is is if we hadn’t gotten this NOW, I don’t think anyone in a generation would have been able to. We couldn’t know enough about any of the names of relatives.
Sharon: Ralph Sr. (Marti’s brother) who passed away last august, was SHARP. He was dead-on with addresses and with names. Mom always said, “he couldn’t tell you what he had for breakfast, but he could come up with an address, and where the store was, and what kind of job that person had. And he was smack on the money!
Susie: Because they were 15 years apart, mom didn’t remember a lot of what he remembered from the “old times”. But then she was helpful toward the newer times and now we have it down. Now, generations after this can see it.
Interviewer: Which congregation did you belong to as a child?
Marti: We were members of Temple Israel. The Bryden Road temple. I didn’t go, because I was in charge of temple house. Remember Maxine Pappert? Maxine put me in charge of Temple house.
Interviewer: What is temple house?
Marti: The nursery school that was the little house that was right next to the synagogue.
Interviewer: Ah, I didn’t realize that. I went there.
Marti: Did you go to kindergarten or anything at Bryden road? A BIG old house! So we would have.
Interviewer: How old were you?
Marti: 19-20. Early married.
Interviewer: But as a child, where did you go?
Marti: No, as a child, never went to temple. My mother and father were members of Bryden Road temple. My mother’s father (Abe Martlin) belonged to Tiffereth Israel. Rosa Martlin, the grandmother died, and my father went to Rabbi Gupp? And said, “I’d like you to perform the service.” And Gupp said, “no, I won’t do it” and my father resigned from Bryden Road temple and joined Tiffereth Israel and didn’t really attend services, but he considered himself Tiffereth Israel with Rabbi Zellitzer ??. Because he got mad at Rabbi Gupp. So I never went to any Sunday school.
Interviewer: I did.
Susie: We did too.
Marti: But I was in charge of the Sunday school at Bryden road temple. And I belonged to Temple Israel.
Susie: We went to Temple Israel. And now I belong to Beth Tikvah.
Interviewer: I was with temple Israel. I ran the confirmation class. 1986? Maybe?
Susie: We were (Sharon and I) in like 71. I graduated high school in 1973, so it was somewhere around there.
Sharon: I would have said that I was confirmed in 71 or 72. And I graduated high school in 1975.
Interviewer: You girls are my kids’ ages. (high school graduate- 76 and 81), I think. What a story. This book is fabulous. I hope they take it to the genealogy society when it meets again. The International Genealogy Society. They just went and Toby won the award.
Susie: We had dinner with her right after that.
Sharon: Oh right… with Gil Bardige. Toby and …
Marti: Well, Toby has a copy of this book.
Susie: Now, we do have a correction. And we want to make sure that it gets in there.
Marti: (laughter) Oh yes!
Susie: I’ll send it in.
Marti: This (picture) is my brother Ralph.
Interviewer: Oh my, gosh, stunning!
Sharon: I know, isn’t it an amazing picture? I was actually working on those pages when mom called and said that he had died. I was in the middle of the Ralph chapter.
Interviewer: So what’s the correction?
Susie: Clifford Levin wa .
Interviewer: LEV in?
Marti: No, they always pronounced it “le VIN”.
Susie: But it’s spelled the same. When mom and I went to the cemetery two years ago, November, we were told by the people at Greenlawn, in the original book there, we even have the certificate, we were told that his unmarked grave- we were told that it was an unmarked grave- that temple Israel had paid to have him (at least) buried at the foot of his parents graves. So that is what is in the book. But later, this year….
Sharon: A month or so ago. (I don’t do cemeteries) I’m really funny about cemeteries, but it was a pretty day.
Marti: And I wanted to go to pay respects to the family. I’m in town and I wanted to pay respects to the family that’s there.
Interviewer: Ok. How was he related to you?
Marti: My father had several siblings. Ruth Rosenfield married Sam Levin and this is their oldest child.
Interviewer: And was he ever married?
Marti: Yes, he married Robert Schiffs’ daughter Freddie.
Interviewer: And his daughter Nancy, was a very good friend of mine. She lived down the street from my aunt Gladys Abel. On Bryden road. And she went to camp with us.
Marti: She wouldn’t talk with us.
Susie: The family got very upset (and understandably so) when there was a nasty divorce with her parents. She didn’t want anything to do with this book.
Susie: If you can contact her to contact us we would love to talk to her.
Interviewer: Well I’ll try. She was a very good friend of mine.
Susie: It’s Nancy Retzloff, now.
Interviewer: And she lives in Wisconsin.
Susie and Marti: Yes… and here’s her number.
Marti: We tried to contact her .
Susie: I called her. And she is a psychic .
Marti: So she knew why we were calling her (laughter).
Susie: And she was in the middle of recreating a web page. And she said that she would call us back sometime. But she was not at all interested in reconnecting with this side of the family and we told her we were doing this. I had never heard of her, she had never heard of me. But she never called back. At any rate, I feel very badly, because what we were told was that her father was in an unmarked grave. And we FOUND the unmarked gravestone at the foot of his parents’ grave!
Sharon: An unmarked stone!
Susie: However when Sharon and mom (Marti) went back 2 years later, now it was a month ago, they were wandering around in the same places that we had walked 2 years earlier, we walked that entire area.. we paced it off! And they FOUND Clifford!!! And we have a picture of Clifford’s gravestone that we will send with a new explanation that SOMEONE (and we don’t know who- but maybe Nancy knows who) because Greenlawn does not record who puts headstones there. But someone has now placed a headstone that says, “Clifford Levin” and the date of his birth and death, there. There are 4 low to the ground headstones near here (pointing to picture) near a family named Skuller. The three other headstones are the same age as far as when they died, but the three other headstones (of this four) are MUCH older than Clifford’s.
Sharon: The 4 death dates are all similar 1960s -1970s, but these 3 are very weathered and his stone is not.
Susie: It was NOT there two years ago.. And if it was there two years ago, they hadn’t told the Greenlawn people that it was there.
Sharon: However, when we asked, the Greenlawn people said, “no it was put there in 1969”.
Susie: It wasn’t.
Interviewer: Let me just say that she did not have a happy childhood. She has a brother.
Marti: Her brother’s name is Jon. We tried to find him, but there are dozens of Jon Levins. And we heard that he was a financial advisor or real estate broker or something…
Susie: Yes, there were just too many to find.
Sharon: And it wasn’t just us looking, it was the Halbersteins. It was their cousins that were looking. I mean, somebody closer in the family.
Susie: We would love to talk to them, to meet her. And we have nothing but understanding and respect for her, And her family. We want to get more of the story. We wouldn’t put anything ugly or bad in there. We have pictures of them when they were kids.
Interviewer: Yes, I do too.
Susie: No- not of Nancy. We don’t have a picture of Nancy. So, send it to us. We will add her to the book. All we knew were her parents. And we knew of her, but never met her. We don’t have anything to represent their family.
Sharon: And if you read the book, you will see that there’s no dirt. We didn’t write about the dirt. That’s not fair.
Susie: It’s not for that. Now the change makes us want to get this to her.
Marti: When Susie and I went, we were told in the office of Greenlawn that we had to go to Sam and Ruth’s headstone, and at the foot of Sam and Ruth’s headstone we would find an unmarked grave and that was Clifford. And sure enough!!! There’s an unmarked something! And see this road here? (pointing to picture) as you are looking at the road from the unmarked grave it is off to the left.
Sharon: Yes- if you stand on that unmarked grave and look to the road, it’s just off to the left. There’s a tree.
Marti: And it’s a low to the ground headstone, not a big headstone like that
Sharon: And I think the name was Skuller. I think it’s by the Skuller family.
Susie: So we need to do a correction and we will. Because I hate that it’s in there like that. We found him …. That’s what we were told at the time and we believed it.
Marti: (laughing) We FOUND him!!
Interviewer: I didn’t realize that he was from Columbus.
Sharon: Marion. Wasn’t he from Marion?
Marti: No, Clifford was born and raised in Springfield and graduated from Springfield high school. And married Freddie Schiff. And started at the bottom of Shoecorp and worked his way up to vice president.
Interviewer: Yes… and she was an artist.
Susie: We have one picture of Clifford I think.
Marti: I thought we had a picture of Freddie.
Sharon: But her cousins would be the Halbersteins.
Interviewer: Oh I’ve never heard of them.
Sharon: Elinor Halberstein was Clifford’s sister.
Susie: Oh, here’s a picture of Clifford and Elinor.
Marti: But I thought we had a picture that had Freddie in it.
Marti and Susie: Looking at………………………………………………….-
Susie: Here’s where they say…
Marti: Oh there are all kinds of mistakes in here…. Oh there’s Freddie!
Interviewer: She was Herb Schiff’s sister.
Interviewer: They were very good friends of my family’s.
Susie: We would love to meet Nancy.
Interviewer: I’ll try. I’ll call my cousin. She might even be in touch with her. They were very close.
Sharon: We also have this book electronically.
Marti: Toby has that also.
Sharon: I mean if Nancy Retzloff wanted to see a copy of this book, we have an electronic copy of it. It’s just a CD.
Interviewer: You should put this on a Facebook page. Put it on the internet.
Sharon: Well, I think we could publish it, but it’s too big for Facebook.
Interviewer: We should put it on the historical society web page, actually.
Sharon: As far as Columbus Judaic history goes, this really is!
How Sharon Lieberman’s story and the Gitlin story kind of dovetailed into our family. Ours may do the same! I’m sure they would love to know some of this.
Interviewer: Just remarkable.
Sharon: We had a LOT of help from Grandma Silbo (Sylvia Rosenfield) who left a basket full of photographs and well marked.
Marti: Susie is the one who contacted Sharon Lieberman.
Sharon: There are some errors in that. It says that Sharon Lieberman was here for her 35th or 50th reunion… some big number.
Susie: And she said, “oh no, it was my 15th!”
Interviewer: How old is she? 50?
Susie: She’s just older than me, I think. So 50something
Marti: Well you were asking what else would be interesting. I think that the importance of the Jewish Center when we were teenagers is interesting.
Interviewer: Absolutely. I wrote an article about that for the chronicle.
Marti: We (teens at the time) really weren’t boyfriend /girlfriend. We were a bunch of boys and a bunch of girls.
Marti: And we hung out at the Jewish Center. And it was an important part because it was a place for us to go.
Interviewer: And do you remember Stunt Night?
Marti: Oh yeah! See, I was in the High School Sorority.
Interviewer: Oh STOP.
Marti: So we did Stunt night every year.
Interviewer: Oh, yea, I know! And you guys always won! I was in Councilettes.
Marti: Councilettes, BBG, KTZ.
Sharon: for the translation you should say what all of that stands for.
Marti: BBG=Bnai Brith girls, Councilettes = council of Jewish women girls, KTZ was a fraternity- kappa tau zeta, and STP was sigma theta pi. That’s what I was.
Interviewer: And they were HIGH SCHOOL sororities and they had these wonderful dance and we all got dressed up.
Marti: Cotillions… and …
Interviewer: I couldn’t be in a sorority because I went to CSG (Columbus School for Girls) we weren’t allowed to be in a sorority.
Marti: Oh.. our members were not ALL Bexley.. some were South High.
Sharon: Did you have debutante balls?
Marti and Interviewer: There was a Mrs. Simon and a Mrs. Stevens
Marti: And they had dance lessons. Where they taught boys and taught girls to dance and then there was a cotillion at the end of the year.
Interviewer: And they had little junior and big junior. Little junior when we were in middle school. And I went to bexley through the seventh grade. And then, big junior , you had to have a date, and you had a dance card. You had to get it filled.
Marti: Well, this was society at those days! You wore formals.
Interviewer: I have pictures of my formals.
Sharon: I bet it’s all in the Jewish Chronicles.
Interviewer: Oh yes!. No, not about big junior, little junior. Because it was mostly Christian. It was Bexley, CSG and the Academy. Those 3 schools.
Marti: But the Jewish Center was a BIG part of Jewish life! They had outdoor swimming pool, indoor swimming pool, bowling alley, but the second floor was one gigantic, huge room with those accordion doors that came across and made smaller rooms. And there was a juke box (it didn’t cost you anything) and a soda machine. And a vending machine for potato chips and stuff. And you were invited just to go up to this 2nd floor and hang out!
Interviewer: And they had basketball. Remember that?
Marti: Yes there was basketball courts! And a big auditorium with a stage and…
Interviewer: I wrote in my article that after the war, because so many people were lost, last people just clung to their children, and that Jewish Center was built for US! Really! Wasn’t it?
Marti: Yes! But you didn’t go as boyfriend and girlfriend; you just went there and hung out. As a matter of fact, Mort Melman went to South High School. He had strawberry blonde hair and freckles all over his face. It was the Korean War! And he said, “I’m not worried about the Korean War, my mother won’t let me go!” and he didn’t go! But it was Mort Mellman and Bernie Spire, and my sorority sisters Adelaide Melman and Evelyn Bloom, Phyllis Katz, Harriet Shusterman, we just WENT!
Interviewer: I also said in my article, because people were still living on the south side. We all got to know one another. It brought all people together.
Marti: Jerri Stein. She was from the South side. Jerri Stein and Ilene Macklis. Ilene Macklis married a friend of dad’s….um, can’t think a fraternity brother of dad’s Lou Goorey. And they were extremely religious. They had the Christian next door come in and turn on the lights . they were extremely religious, so they never did anything on Friday nights with us.
Marti: But things were held after sundown on Saturday.
Interviewer: Yes, and Friday night football games.
Marti: Friday night football games, at Bexley.
Interviewer: I went to every one of them.
Marti: Uh huh, me too!… (to Bette) Well, I knew you and your sister. But we were kind of in different circles.
Interviewer: Well we were 4 years different in age.
Sharon: 4 years difference is huge at that age.
Interviewer: I graduated in “54 and you graduated in …
Interviewer: So it’s 2 years difference… but that’s enough of a difference, then. Because I didn’t know Connie (Bash Freundlich) at all, and now we’re the closest of friends. .. I mean, I knew her.
Marti: Well, Connie Bash and Joni Levy were the two who were in our group but they never joined sorority. And it wasn’t until we had dinner with Connie that I finally had a question answered. She and Joni never joined sorority because they went to the Christian sorority rush. And, of course, they weren’t taken by the Christian sorority, but because of that the Jewish sorority said we don’t want you as a member.
Interviewer: I didn’t know that.
Marti: I have, so often wondered, why those two girls who were very popular never joined sorority. Joni was our homecoming queen.
Sharon: I met Connie up in Mansfield, sitting at a swim meet. And she said she was from Bexley. And I said, “Oh my mom is from Bexley”. And she said, “oh who’s your mom?” I told her. She said that was her dear friend!” I had to get mom on speed dial and say, “you are not going to believe this!” …At a swim meet in Mansfield. I didn’t know that her son was Tom Freundlich, who were our close friends up in Mansfield.
Interviewer: And her husband’s father was a member of that temple before it merged.
Marti: Are you talking about Connie?
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Marti: Her father was Louis, the dentist.
Interviewer: Yes … her husband’s father. Ed Freundlich’s father. … all these connections. You know, we always say, “the good old days”? Those were the good old days, weren’t they?
Interviewer: I mean it was fabulous growing up in Bexley.
Marti: There was drinking as far as Beer goes, but there really wasn’t that much concerning alcohol. And NO drugs.
Interviewer: No, we didn’t even know what drugs were!
Marti: No drugs at all and no alcohol as far as hard liquor was concerned. There was beer, a lot of beer.
Interviewer: I don’t remember drinking until I got to college.
Marti: I never did drink. The other thing that I wanted to record (because Toby brought it up) is the importance of Miami Beach to the Jewish community here. I mean there was a mass exodus every winter to go down to Miami Beach. And my mother and father and I were part of that mass exodus. And I would convince my folks to stay in town for Halloween. So we would leave NOVEMBER 1st. And we would stay … there were 3 race tracks in Miami and Hialeah was .. no, wait…. Hialeah was the middle one… one was January, Hialeah was February, and whatever the other one was March. And so as soon as that third one closed, then my family would come home.
Interviewer: What did you do about school?
Marti: I went to private school down in Miami. And private school consisted of a table like this with an umbrella and I brought my school books with me. And can you believe in those days, teachers would write out lessons for the next 3 or 4 months.
Sharon: Yes, that wouldn’t fly today! (Laugh)
Marti: And, I graduated with honors and everything else. So….
Interviewer: That’s interesting, where did you stay?
Marti: The Tudor hotel. Last year at Martin Luther King Day when the girls came down, we went down to South Beach at the corner of 11th and Collins on South Beach is the Tudor Hotel. It hasn’t changed a BIT. And that’s where we used to stay. My father had a friend named Jack Gillman. And Jack Gillman managed the Tudor hotel. And so we would go down. And we had two rooms, adjoining suites. My mother and father in one, and I was in the other. And we lived separate lives. I went to school at the Mannheimer school, which was across the street and then one street down. And I got myself breakfast, lunch and dinner at a neighborhood little restaurant. And I did my thing, and they came and went. They went to jai Alai, dog track, horse racing track and we just lived separate lives for that time. And then when the last race track closed, we came back to Ohio.
Interviewer: Did your family go anywhere in the summer?
Marti: Well every OTHER summer, my father’s twin and their parents lived in Los Angeles, California. And every other summer we would go to California and the other summer, they would come to Ohio. So that was summer.
Susie: But your grandparents, I mean your parents went to Buckeye Lake.
Marti: Oh yes, as young. Early marrieds. That was the place for the early marrieds.
Interviewer: Well we used to go there. Remember?
Marti: Oh yea… I must have had 10,000 skeeball tickets. Never did cash them in .(laughter)
Interviewer: Buckeye Lake now, I guess is fabulous!
Marti: Really? My aunt Esther and Uncle Barney (Maurice Martlin) that was my mother’s brother and his wife had a cottage on Buckeye Lake. And it was RUSTIC! To put it nicely, it was rustic! (Laughter) but I went up with my Aunt Esther at the beginning of the summer and stayed all summer long, and went to the park. You’d just walk. You were in shorts and t-shirt and bare feet and you’d just walk to the park. …well, That big old rickety roller coaster. I saw somebody fall off of it and die. I saw them fall off of the roller coaster and die. And I haven’t been on a roller coaster since. I can (still) close my eyes and for a flash … just a flash … I can see that thing go around the bend and the body come down. I can still see it. And it’s just a flash. But I saw somebody die on that roller coaster and I haven’t been on one since. And I was a kid!
Marti: But the cottage had no indoor plumbing. We had a rain barrel and the a, uh, the “rose room” just down the path. (Laughter). At Buckeye Lake.
Susie: We have a lot of pictures of them at buckeye lake (looking at book) Abe and Rosa, grandma and grandpa.
Marti: (Looking at letters in book) Those letters are priceless. Those are from my grandfather, Abe. And they are priceless.
Interviewer: Because our family is a Brenner family and we’ve done a lot of genealogy. We might be related.
Sharon: We might be.
Marti: Looking through pictures…..my father was such an entrepreneur.
Sharon: (Referring to photos) And Grandma had all of these in a basket. We didn’t have to go FIND these, they were in a basket and many were labeled.
Sharon: I thought you were going to talk about the Excelsior Club.
Interviewer: Oh, the Excelsior Club!
Susie: (Looking at pictures) That’s Miami Beach. Or this one is Buckeye Lake.
Marti: No, that one is Cedar Point. This big basket that she is talking about. We had “the help” named Nellie. And Nellie would come down to stay with me, once I was married, and divorced and moved to Florida, Nellie would come down the month of August. So, I thought a good thing to keep Nellie busy would be this big basket of photos. So I said, “Nellie, do you know who these people are?” and she said, “yes, that’s Susie and that’s Sharon”. (laughter) well… that’s my dad and that’s his twin. So I decided that Nellie wasn’t going to be much help! (laughter)
Sharon: So the Excelsior Club, I have VAGUE memories of it. It must have closed in the early 60s.
Interviewer: We belonged to Winding Hollow, but all of my friends belonged to the Excelsior Club. So, I lived at the Excelsior Club.
Marti: My father… well, the Excelsior Club started somewhere on the South side. I’m not exactly sure where. Somewhere like Rich St. or Parsons Avenue, I’m not sure where. There was a big old building that was the Excelsior Club and it was for MEN only. And then, I guess enough of the wives said, “hey, you have your poker and gin games, that’s fine, but we want a place where we can be”. So at the corner of Cassidy and 5th avenue they bought the building. And the wives and children were welcome to anything on the ground floor. It was ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN for a wife or a kid to be on the second floor. Upstairs. And so every Wednesday night and Saturday night everybody went to the Excelsior Club. But I was bicycle distance on Ardmore Road. I was bicycle distance so I got there at 9 in the morning and left at 9 at night.
Interviewer: I know. What else would you like talk about?
Sharon: Do you want to talk about the card games? That your mom played?
Marti: The Tuesday afternoon girls that played on Wednesday. They were Ethel Wasserstrom, Jenny Wasserstrom, Eleanor Yenkin, Inez Feitlinger, Flo Marks,
Susie: (Re: pictures) These are the girls who played canasta. And these are the Tuesday afternoon girls that played on Wednesday.
Marti: They started as young matrons. All early married. And they said, all the kids would go to whoever was having the canasta game. Well, first it started as Mah Jongg. And then when canasta came in, it became canasta. But whoever.
Sharon: Actually, I have that too. I have grandma’s mah jong set. Don’t i? or is that yours?
Marti: Yes, it was mine after grandma gave it to me. Grandma gave it to me, and I gave it to you.
Sharon: No, you gave it to Bobbie (Rosenfield Gemeiner- Ralph sr. wife) . because I got it from Bobbie.
Marti: Right… I gave it to Bobbie, and Bobbie gave it to you. Anyway, we kids all grew up together.
Interviewer: So you know Margie and Barbara?
Marti: Margie and Barbara Wasserstrom.
Interviewer: They lived right in back of me. We were very close. Still are.
Marti: Yes, and then, the wives, one by one were losing husbands and they would come back from the cemetery, the food was always done by these girls. One of the “Tuesday afternoon girls that play on Wednesday”. Oh, I know who the other one was… Gertner! Um, Pearl Gertner! Pearl and ….. Mark and Bonnie were the kids,. Pearl and …..
Interviewer: Mark is a wonderful guy.
Marti: And in the high school sorority was Elaine Marx, (Flo’s daughter) and …. Oh I can’t think of names, anyhow there was a whole bunch of girls that we knew each other forever. I grew up with.
Interviewer and Marti: (Chit chat….)
Marti: And not particularly friends of mine, but in with the group that I was with were the Madison girls.
Interviewer: Betsy and Joyce. They were older than you. David was more your age.
Marti: We weren’t particularly friends.
Interviewer: I just saw David.
Susie: Wasn’t he mayor?
Interviewer: He looks great! And I just saw Joyce. She’s a beautiful woman who doesn’t seem to age. I haven’t seen Betsy.
Marti: Betsy was a scatterbrain.
Sharon: I don’t think we should say that on tape!
Marti: She would tell you that she’s a scatterbrain!
Interviewer: oh, she was so much fun!
Sharon: I’m being very protective of this tape!
Interviewer: I’m going to have to transcribe it. I ‘m going to have to have them tell me how to do that.
Marti: She was! She would come up with the silliest things, and you’d say “what was she thinking that she would say that! You know, but that was just Betsy!
Interviewer: And she still wears real short skirts! She’s 80! Still wears short skirts and boots! She’s a character! I worked at Madison’s in High School.
Marti: I worked next door to Madison’s at Bradford Hush.
Susie: I used to LOVE Madison’s . they had great clothes.
Sharon: I went to school with Andy Madison. Confirmation. I’m sure he wouldn’t know who I was. I was the girl who never showed up!
Susie: Because we grew up in Worthington.
Marti: Well, I don’t know what else to record.
Interviewer: This has been an amazing story.
Marti: Well we are deep rooted in Columbus, that’s for sure.
Interviewer: My father didn’t’ move to Columbus until 1933. They became very active in the community. He and my mother. That’s why I tell people when they say, “why should I join the historical society, I wasn’t’ born here” I want to say, “my parents weren’t born here either and they grew to be leaders in the community.” Once you’re here, you’re here! Leave your mark! All you have to do is be willing to work and someone will sign you up!
Transcribed by Sharon Starr, past transcriptions by Phyllis Komerofsky.