Today is Tuesday, February 6, 2001. This is Carol Shkolnik, volunteer oral
history interviewer for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society and I have the
pleasure tonight of interviewing Ron Robins. And this is evening and we’re
sitting in their family den on S. Merkle. Ron thank you very much for agreeing
to participate in the interview.

Robins: My pleasure. Truly it is.

Interviewer: Well good. I’m glad. I thought what we would do, since you
have a very long history in Columbus, when I say “you” I mean the
Robins family, to talk a little bit about your ancestors as far back as you know
and record for posterity, future family members, and people who aren’t
interested now but may be interested later, what you know about your ancestors
before they came here and what brought them here. And we’ll leave that
open-ended so just go ahead and talk away.

Robins: Okay, good enough. Unfortunately, I don’t know too, too much about
my grandparents’ ancestors. I know a little bit more about my grandmother
Robins’ side of the family. Most of those, in fact all of her family but one
sister remained in Russia and . . .

Interviewer: Could you speak up a little . . . softly and I’m finding you’re

Robins: Okay, yeah. And all of her family remained in Russia except for her
youngest sister and most of them perished in the Holocaust.

Interviewer: This is your grandmother?

Robins: My Grandma Robins. My grandfather came to this country and he had
only a sister and a brother and both of those came to this country with him so
far as we know. There were no direct siblings of my grandfather’s who remained
in Russia other than his parents. And they lived in a small town in the Ukraine
called Zhitomer and Zhitomer is sort of like a county seat of that, it was a
very significant Jewish town and it was somewhat close to Kiev and it was, from
what I understand, quite an interesting town. It’s today it is very close to
Chernobel. And it’s pretty off limits any more because of the nuclear
radiation thing. But my dad and my Uncle Lou were always thinking of going back
and reestablishing some contacts there and neither of them were able to do that.
But my cousin Stan went back to Russia on a trip and he actually met some of the
family that had remained in contact with my grandmother. She’s a pretty
amazing lady. She kept in contact with her brothers and sisters throughout the
first and second World War and I have a lot of memories of her getting letters,
from . . . I used to collect stamps and she used to always be getting mail,
especially from this one brother of hers. And I think Stan actually hooked up
with some of the cousins and an aunt. But my grandfather’s family, all I know
is that his family was all here.

Interviewer: Before we go further, Zhitomer I believe is spelled
Z-H-I-T-O-M-E-R. Is that . . . . .

Robins: Z-H, Z-H-I-T-O-M-E-R.

Interviewer: Okay. And that’s near Kiev. Now for the record, can you please
tell us your grandmother’s and grandfather’s names, the ones you’re
talking about?

Robins: Okay, surely, of course. My grandfather’s name was Harry and his
Yiddish name was Herschel and his Hebrew name was Zvi. Zvi
in Hebrew means “dear” and Hersch in German and Yiddish means
“dear” and so his Hebrew name was Zvi and his father’s name I
know was Yitzchak. I don’t know what his mother’s name was.

Interviewer: So your great-grandfather was named Yitzchak?

Robins: That is correct. My grandfather’s father was Yitzchak. And
my grandmother’s name was Bluma. And her maiden name was Pergamet.

Interviewer: And do you know how to spell that?

Robins: Pergamet? I’m assuming it’s P-E-R-G-A-M-E-T. And there again, if
you know German, pergamet I think is parchment, means “parchment”. So
it’s conceivable. Her father happened to be, I think a butcher. I’ll have to
ask my Aunt Gus. But I think her family was, he may have been a butcher or
something like that. And the Robins’ family name was Rabinowitz or Rabinovitz.
It all depends whether you

pronounced it according to the Poles or Russians and that was a fairly common
Jewish name at that time. And supposedly it had something to do with rabbi
because rabin and robin are . . . . But we don’t know of any
rabbis who were in the family but that was the family name, Robins.

Interviewer: So your grandparents, were they married in the old country?

Robins: Uh huh, yeah. My grandparents were married in the old country. My
father Max, my Aunt Gus and my Uncle Lou were all born in Zhitomer and then my
grandfather came to America and got a job as a barber and was working to get the
family out. As near as I can tell my dad was born in 1909 so they must have
gotten married in 1908 and my dad was born in 1909 and I think Gus was born
maybe three years later and then Lou was conceived and then my grandfather left.
My grandfather never actually saw Lou until he went back to Russia to pick up
the family. In 1914, the Russian Revolution broke out and so my grandfather
never was able to get back to pick the family up until 1920.

Interviewer: So your uncle then was 6 years old?

Robins: That’s correct. He was about six years old.

Interviewer: That’s really something.

Robins: And, yeah I guess that’s right. Gus must have been born in 1901?
That can’t be.

Interviewer: Yeah that would make her 99 or 100. ’11?

Robins: Yeah Gus was born in 1911 so my dad was born in 1907 and then I think
my grandmother lost a set of twins between my father and my Aunt Gus. There are
an awful lot of twins in our family. My grandmother I think had twin brothers.
She had twin uncles. She lost a set of twins herself. My Uncle Lou had twins and
Barbara and I ended up having twins.

Interviewer: That’s right. That is a lot of twins.

Robins: There’s a lot of twins in one family.

Interviewer: Yeah that really is. So how did they come originally? Did your
grandparents come originally to Columbus or someplace else?

Robins: He came to Columbus. I think he had some friends here and he actually
came to Columbus. Unfortunately, I don’t know whether he came through Ellis
Island or through Baltimore. I guess one of these days I’ll look it up. But he
came directly here. He had some friends here. And when he went back to Russia to
pick up the family, he actually brought Al Solove and his mom and brother back
with them. They all traveled together back here. And there was a lady by the
name of Ruth Mellman. Ruth Volk was her maiden name. Volk.

Interviewer: Can you spell that name, her last name?

Robins: Ruth V-O-L-K.

Interviewer: Volk. Okay.

Robins: And she’s reminded me several times that when she thinks back
there, she recalls my grandfather coming to their little city and bringing them
money from her dad and then shortly thereafter, she came to this country.

Interviewer: So do you understand that they came to Columbus because of
friends probably from Zhitomer?

Robins: Yeah. There were a lot of – my grandmother. There were two ladies
that I can think of especially that were close to her. One was Mrs. Sherman,
that was Sam Sherman’s mother. And one was Mrs. Berman which was Mrs. Sherman’s
sister. And as long as I can remember, my grandmother and Mrs. Sherman got
together on Saturday afternoon and kibbitzed the afternoon away. They
were close friends and that was from Russia.

Interviewer: Okay. Now you mentioned that your grandfather brought over Al
Solove. I know there two Al Soloves. One is still living and 1 is not. Which Al
Solove were you referring to?

Robins: This Al is dead. There’s a Dick Solove. I didn’t know there was a
brother Al.

Interviewer: He has a brother named Al.

Robins: Dick has a brother Al?

Interviewer: Do you know Ron Solove?

Robins: Yeah.

Interviewer: His father is an Al.

Robins: Oh really?

Interviewer: I don’t know whether there is, if the first name is exactly
the same, the Al is the same. I don’t know whether it’s Alvin or something
else. But, yeah.

Robins: Obviously we’re named after . . . . But no this was Al. He was in
the plumbing or . . . .

Interviewer: Sort of kitchen remodeling.

Robins: Kitchen remodeleing. Yeah, yeah. And he had a daughter Bev and that
was . . . .

Interviewer: And a daughter Joy.

Robins: Joy. Yeah. Joy. That’s right. But that was the Solove. Then Dick
must be his nephew?

Interviewer: I don’t know. I think they’re cousins. I don’t know their

Robins: That could be. They could be cousins or something.

Interviewer: I don’t know the exact relationship.

Robins: They all came over together, the Soloves and the Robinses and then
like I said, he brought money to other families that were in the area.

Interviewer: Okay. I know this is hard because you’re telling this from
stories you remember that were told to you. What kinds of stories do you
remember about when they first came to Columbus with the family? What was their
life like here? What kinds of things did they tell you?

Robins: Well prior to that the one thing that I think made a big impression
on me as a kid I remember, my grandmother telling us how difficult it was during
the Russian Revolution. They suffered quite a bit during that time and it was a
typical kind of pogrom kind of stories that a lot of Jewish families remember.
They were subject to getting slapped around and all of the horror stories that
we all associate with pre-Holocaust times and she remembered that she – she was
hard of hearing in one year and that was because she had been slapped in the ear
by a Russian soldier or Communist. I don’t know which.

Interviewer: A Cossack or something.

Robins: Something, yeah, yeah. And I remember that and then when they lived
in Columbus, I imagine their life here was probably pretty much like all the
other Jewish immigrants. She never, I mean I don’t recall ever hearing those
kinds of stories. I know that initially when they came to this country, they
had, they were landsmen and landsleit and organizations and we
have a picture upstairs of one of these kinds of get-togethers of some old
country friends in Chicago. And you know she, they were observant Jews. And so
they were in the Mizrachi and they were involved in the Jewish community
at that time, in the Jewish religious community. Both of my grandparents were shomer
. And I remember one time Moe Mendel told me a funny story. My
grandfather actually died of tuberculosis. And you could not get into this
country if you had TB so they were very careful. So he did not have tuberculosis
when he came to America the first time but my Aunt Gus seems to think that he
may have gotten tuberculosis on the trip back. And so that would have been in
the 20s and he died in ’45 . So he suffered a bit between the 20s and the 40s
with tuberculosis. And Moe Mendel told me one time that he can remember being in
my grandfather’s barber shop and he used to hate to go because my grandfather
was a chain smoker and a bad cougher anyhow and he could remember getting his
hair cut and being so uncom- fortable that my grandfather was coughing on his
neck. But, and his first barber shop was on I think Washington and then later on
I think he had a barber shop on Livingston.

Interviewer: Could, I forget what year you were born. Could you have
remembered the barber shop or was he gone?

Robins: Yeah I was born. I remember him. I was 5 years old or 6 years old I
think when he died and the barber shop was closed by the time . . . . I’ve
only seen pictures of the barber shop on Livingston but it was closed by the
time I was old enough to remember.

Interviewer: Now if the first barber shop was on Washington, did your
grandparents live down in that old neighborhood off of Wager and around in

Robins: Oh sure. Even earlier than that. They lived around Fulton Street,
around Donaldson, Washington. That’s where the Agudas Achim was. That’s
where the Beth Jacob was on Washington and Donaldson. And that was a little bit
closer to town even. And then I think they sort of moved out on the other side
of Parsons. But that’s my recollection, that they lived there when they first
came to the country. In fact, my grandparents lived above the barber shop.

Interviewer: Really?

Robins: Uh huh. Uh huh. And then it was later on that they moved and the
house I remember is on South 18th near Children’s Hospital. That’s where my
grandmother lived when my grandfather died, on South 18th – or South 17th.

Interviewer: It could have been either one.

Robins: Yeah. I think it was 17th maybe. We lived there, my dad was drafted
in the service in 1942 or ’43 and so my mom didn’t especially want to live
alone so for a few years, we lived with my grandparents, the Eizmans, my
grandmother and grandfather, my maternal grandparents. And they lived on Fulton
Street and that was really, really in the middle of the Jewish section. And I
can remember Fulton Street and then shortly before my dad came home from service
after my grandfather died, we moved in with my grandmother on South 17th or
something like that.

Interviewer: So now correct me if I’m wrong, you said and we’re talking
your grandfather’s family first, but no siblings came over with him?

Robins: My grandfather, yeah.

Interviewer: Yeah they were?

Robins: Yeah, yeah, yeah. He had a brother whose name was William and William
came over. And he had a sister whose name was Sara Riva and her husband
died on the way over. He died at sea. And that was quite a traumatic experience
because he was buried at sea. And so she never got . . . . And then when she got
to this country, his sister, she remarried. She remarried a man by the name of

Interviewer: In Columbus?

Robins: In Columbus, yeah.

Interviewer: Which Schlonsky?

Robins: This is Harris. I forget. Again, I’ll have to ask my aunt. I know
one of his daughters was Nan Harris and her sister was, oh what was her name,
Esther Cohen?

Interviewer: I’m not . . . .

Robins: I think that he married, he married her for the second time. She died
on the day that my parents got married.

Interviewer: This is your . . . .

Robins: Grandfather’s sister.

Interviewer: Yeah, okay.

Robins: Sara Riva. And she died in 1935 and the brother moved out to
California and he had children and they all live in California and I think my
dad and my aunts and uncles sort of were, you know they knew of each other and
whenever they were out there, but I never really remembered them too, too much.
I think he was at my Bar Mitzvah, the brother, my grandfather’s brother
I think did make it to my Bar Mitzvah.

Interviewer: Did they ever, did your father ever talk about economic life,
you know what it was like when he was a kid? Did your grandfather do well? Was
it a hard life?

Robins: Oh sure. None of them had a bed of roses but actually, from the time
he got to Columbus ’till the time he went back to Russia, he was about the
only Jewish barber in town and he did quite well and obviously he did quite well
because he was able to pay for a trip back to Russia to pick up the family. And
I think that things must have been okay then. But by the time he got back to
this country which was in the 1920s, he had already contacted TB and they had a
pretty hard time from then on. I’m not sure he ever made all that much money
and of course the Depression came and I think like so many families, they must
have struggled desperately to keep things together. And then after he died,
there was no Social Security or retirement funds or something like that. And so
my grandmother had to work very hard and she actually did catering.

Interviewer: Did she?

Robins: Uh huh. Uh huh. And so . . . .

Interviewer: That’s pretty unusual back then?

Robins: Ladies usually didn’t work.

Interviewer: Yeah. Unless they had to.

Robins: Unless they had to and she did have to and then my aunts and uncles
and my parents helped her out as much as they could but they were all getting
themselves started too. So she had a rough time after he died but you know those
were sort of the typical things. I’m sure they had a lot of trouble during the
Depression and after making ends meet and they had a fairly modest lifestyle. I
mean I don’t think they took trips and had cars or anything like that.

Interviewer: Okay. All right. You mentioned that you grandparents were Shomer
and you mentioned some of the organizations they were involved in.
How did that affect your dads’ and your aunts’ and uncles’ childhoods? Did
they then have a fairly observant upbringing?

Robins: Yeah, yeah. They observed the Sabbath in the traditional way so they
didn’t use lights and they didn’t cook on Shabbos and my grandfather,
I think enjoyed singing and for, this I’d have to substantiate, but I can’t
remember who it was who told me, they were Beth Jacob people and somebody, I can’t
remember who it was so I would attribute it if I could, but somebody told me
that until he lost his voice and had TB, that he was actually the, he being my
grandfather, was the Chasan Shani. That means he was the second Cantor at
Beth Jacob and I can vaguely remember the old Beth Jacob on Donaldson Avenue. We
went there as kids. And I can remember the old Agudas Achim on Washington
because those were areas of town that I had grown up in.

Interviewer: I think I may vaguely remember the old Beth Jacob but it couldn’t
have been very much because I would have been pretty young but I vaguely
remember too. So could you talk a little bit about your dad’s brothers and
sisters, what their childhood and growing up was like and school and that kind
of stuff?

Robins: You know, we talked about this once when we all got together for Rosh
Hashonah, Lou and Gus and my dad for that matter. My dad was 12 years old
when he got to Columbus. They didn’t speak a word of English and they were
thrown into public schools and they had to quickly get in the swing of things
and I think my Aunt Gus told me they had friends, they had family, they had
other people in the neighborhood who had already learned English well enough to
help them out. And within a very short time, they were mainliners and they were
going to school and they were able to keep up with the class. They must have
gone to school in Russia. I mean they probably did, so I think some of the
teachers who spoke only English were probably surprised that they could add and
multiply and do those kinds of mathematical kinds of things but of course they
couldn’t read the language but, so they all went to school, probably the
Fulton Street School. And it was after they got to America that my Aunt Jean was
born. She was born here and of course she was American-born but they all had a
hard time because they did not have the language skills. But they caught on fast
and they all were able to get through high school. I think my dad was the only
one of the three of them who went on to higher education and at the time they
were living in Detroit. They didn’t live in Columbus all the time. They moved
to Detroit for economic reasons and my dad was working days to keep the family
together and help his parents out and was trying to make enough money to support
himself while he went through school and he was finally able to get out of
college and took the bar and passed that and began practicing I think in 1932,
1933, somewhere in there, 1934.

Interviewer: They lived in Detroit?

Robins: A short period of time.

Interviewer: Did they have family there or they went strictly for a job?

Robins: No they had family there. Actually my Grandmother Robins’ youngest
sister stayed in Detroit and married a man from Detroit and lived there and I
could be wrong about this but I think it was Morris Hackman, whose children are
Jerry and Ethel, and I think he lived in Detroit or was in Detroit for something
or another and he and my Granddad were friendly. And I think they went up to,
things might have been a little better economically in Detroit and they may have
gotten some work there.

Interviewer: So you don’t know what kind of work your grandfather did up

Robins: Well he was always a barber as far as I know.

Interviewer: Okay.

Robins: Yeah, as far as I know he was always a barber and I’ll check. I
never heard of him doing anything else but being a barber so he must have, maybe
there were some opportunities there that didn’t exist here, I don’t know.
But they did live in Detroit for a short time and that is where my Aunt Gus
actually met my Uncle Leo and he lived in Detroit and that’s where they met.

Interviewer: I see. Okay. So did your father work himself through school or
were his parents able to help him?

Robins: Oh no. He worked himself through school and not only did he put
himself through school. I think he was trying to help his parents out too
because they had, you know, those were tough times and he was working and I’m
sure as soon as they were able, Gus and Lou probably got jobs too to keep things
together. That was probably the deep part of the Depression.

Interviewer: Now I don’t remember, is your uncle Lou Sullivan?

Robins: Yes.

Interviewer: How did they get into the wine business? I mean that’s what I
know about that part.

Robins: Yeah. You know I, he could probably speak to this better than I can.
I think he, I don’t know, I know that at one time my Uncle Lou had a wine
store on, I thought it was on High Street. It was near the Southern Hotel and I
think I can remember that, and I don’t know how he got into the wine business
but he had probably like a package shop or something like that, a wine shop, and
I suppose from that he must have made some contacts in the business and
ultimately became a wholesaler as opposed to, this was a retail operation. And I
suppose through that, through those contacts, he must hve made some wholesale
contacts and ultimately became a wholesaler.

Interviewer: Did he own the business by himself in earlier days?

Robins: Gee I, I think he did.

Interviewer: Okay.

Robins: Yeah. No, no, no, no, no of course not. He ultimately, I think one of
the first people that I can remember that he was working with was Eugene Cohen
and but later on he and Al Rosen became partners and Al and my Uncle Lou were
partners in Excello Wine and then later on I think Al sold out to my Uncle Lou
and he became the sole owner. But Al was his partner and they were partners for
a real long time.

Interviewer: Okay. What about, could you say some more about religious
practices and were there changes over time and Hebrew School and that kind of
stuff in terms of your parents and your aunts and uncles?

Robins: I don’t know that my aunts ever went to Hebrew School. Surely my
dad did and my grandfather was yeshiva trained and so he was fairly
knowledgeable but my dad just went to Hebrew School here. Well, he probably
started cheder in Russia but went to Hebrew School here in Columbus. And
he was Bar Mitzvahed here. He probably too went to . . . .

Interviewer: At Beth Jacob Bar Mitzvahed, do you think?

Robins: Oh sure. Yeah. They were Beth. Uh huh. And he probably went to Hebrew
School here too, cheder, and that’s probably the old Columbus Hebrew
School and actually when I was living with my grandparents on Fulton Street, I
actually started the Hebrew School and at that time it was on Rich Street. That
was the old Hebrew School across the street from the Schonthal Center and I can
remember going there to begin with and as far as religious practices, my
grandparents always observed Kashrut and she, my grandmother, was on the Chevra
a Society at Beth Jacob and then later on at Agudas Achim. And I don’t
know about my grandfather, whether he was ever, you know, on the . . . .

Interviewer: I’ll bet your grandmother knew my grandmother ’cause my
grandmother was on the Chevra Kadisha at Beth Jacob.

Robins: At Beth Jacob too? Yeah that was . . . .

Interviewer: I’m sure they did.

Robins: I’m sure they did. I’m sure they did. That was a small community
at that time. The immigrant community was not all that large and most of those
old timers all knew each other or were related in some way or another.

Interviewer: Whether by blood or marriage.

Robins: Yeah, yeah.

Interviewer: Did your parents ever tell you how they met?

Robins: Yep. My mom and dad met shortly after my dad came to this country. My
mom lived on, I think at the time they lived on Cherry Alley, on Cherry Street,
and the Robinses lived on Donaldson and they met and they were sweethearts from
then on.

Interviewer: So they were in high school then?

Robins: No they were in grade school.

Interviewer: Grade school? Okay.

Robins: They were in grade school. No my dad got here when he was about 12
years old and they were friends. By the time he was 13, my grandfather gave him,
I guess it was a pretty common gift to give at those times, he gave him a gold
ring with his initials on it and he gave it to my mother. That was very sweet
but my grandfather was not amused and my father had to go get the ring back but
they had been sweethearts from that time on. And then the families all knew each
other and my Aunt Gus and my mom were close and they all lived in close
proximity. So that is how they met. They somehow or another met either at school
or in the neighborhood or something like that and they had dated at least since
the time that he was Bar Mitzvahed and I think they got married in 1935.

Interviewer: So how old was your . . . .

Robins: My mom. Hmmm. She’s 91 now. She must have been, I think she was 30
years old when she had me and they had no children so she must have been about
25. He was 26.

Interviewer: So you’re the oldest?

Robins: I’m the oldest. And then I have a brother Jerry, and a brother Mike
and a brother Steve.

Interviewer: Oh okay. I think I know Jerry. I don’t know the others.

Robins: Mike and Steve are younger.

Interviewer: What kind of memories do you have about the family when you were
growing up, either your own or the extended family? It must have been pretty

Robins: Yes ’cause our family, well they were all very close and my mom’s
best friends always included my two aunts and uncles.

Interviewer: Meaning your father’s brothers and sisters?

Robins: Yeah. Gus and Leo and my parents were, we lived across the street
from each other and they were close. And my Aunt Jean and Uncle Dave lived down
the street from us so they usually, they had other friends of course but they
were a very close-knit family. And when we were very, very young, we would be
together at holiday time at my grandmother’s house. But I can only remember
one big Seder at her house when she lived on South 18th Street and then from
then on I think we had those kinds of holidays separately. We had Seder at our
house. I don’t remember those kinds of get-togethers but we saw a lot of our
aunts and uncles because we lived fairly very close together but as far as
holiday time, I think they must have celebrated the holidays separately after
’46 or ’47.

Interviewer: Is that when your grandmother passed away?

Robins: No she didn’t die until much later.

Interviewer: Oh really?

Robins: Yeah she didn’t die until, hummm, my dad died in 1984 and I think
she died in ’83 or ’82. She was about 92 when she died and she remarried and
she married a man by the name of Mendel Paine and I remember one time after she
and Mendel got married, that she had the entire family over, our family and the
Paines. That was an incredibly large number of people. They lived on Fairwood
Avenue and she made blintzes for Shabbos and she had the whole family

Interviewer: Must have been a lot of blintzes?

Robins: Oh, several hundred. I can’t remember what she said she made but .
. . .

Interviewer: And they weren’t cold and frozen huh?

Robins: No they were not. She was a very, very good cook. My Aunt Gus was a
real good cook too. And my Grandma Robins was, as I said, we lived with her for
a couple of years ’till my dad got home. And we built the house in Bexley and
we lived with her until that was all done and so I had a chance to sample her
cooking and she was a very, very good cook. So I think I can remember some of
her delicacies, as she made them.

Interviewer: Can you think of any family legends or special family stories
that haven’t come up so far that might be good to include for this taping?

Robins: Hmmm.

Interviewer: We talked about how a great uncle I believe died en route,
on the boat.

Robins: His name was Beryl and my cousin Barry Turner is named after
him. And, no I don’t remember, I’m probably ill-prepared. I suppose if I sat
and thunk, if I thought about it for a while. I don’t remember any legends or
anything like that.

Interviewer: What about your aunts, your dad’s sisters? Did they work for a
long time or did they get married young?

Robins: Both of them were married fairly young and for a while my Aunt Gus
lived in Detroit and then probably, I don’t know whether she was here before
the second World War started or not, but I remember that by the time the second
World War started, they were living in Coumbus and actually my Aunt Gus was
living with my grandmother before we moved in and the only reason she moved out
was because Dr. Edelman, I don’t know who, I imagine it was Dr. Edelman, he
was almost everybody’s pediatrician at that time, said to her that he thought
that it was terrible that she was living in the house with somebody who had TB.
And so then she moved out and moved in with, we had a cousin, his name was Nate

Interviewer: How was he your cousin?

Robins: His father and my grandfather were brothers.

Interviewer: What was Nate’s father’s name?

Robins: William.

Interviewer: William. That’s the William . . . .

Robins: Yeah. William. And so my Aunt Gus lived with him for a while and then
I think she found an apartment on Berkeley to live in and moved out and Nate’s
wife, her name was Rose, and Rose was either a Levine. Yeah she was a Levine.
There was a Levine’s Fish Market and that was Rose’s family. And my Aunt Gus
at one time worked for my Uncle Lou. She always, I don’t know that my Aunt
Jean ever had a job. She was really only 18 I think when she got married so she
was very young and I don’t know whether she ever, but my Aunt Gus did have at
least one job with my Uncle Lou to help things out.

Interviewer: Now I’m trying to be historical here. Did you tell me that
your dad was the oldest of the siblings?

Robins: My dad is the oldest.

Interviewer: And then who was next?

Robins: And then Gus is second. Lou is third. And Jean Handler is fourth.

Interviewer: Okay. Now . . . . after Gus, can you say who her children are?

Robins: Gus had two children. One was Barry and Barry lives here in Columbus
and her daughter’s name is Francine. And Francine lives in the east. Then of
course Lou had three children, Stan and Gary and Greg and then my Aunt Gus, I’m
sorry, my Aunt Jean had four: Diane and Harvey, Rick and Joanie. Rick has since
passed away and Joanie lives in Cleveland. But almost our entire family still
live in Columbus.

Interviewer: Okay. I think I’m going to stop and turn this tape over before
it actually runs out.

Robins: Okay.

Interviewer: Okay. Maybe can we switch to your mother’s side of the family
for a bit?

Robins: Sure.

Interviewer: Okay. Why don’t you, I know you said something about your
mother but they met here. What do you know about her ancestors? And what was
your mother’s maiden name?

Robins: My mother’s maiden name was Eizman?

Interviewer: Was that I-Z-E?

Robins: They all spelled it differently but I think my grandfather spelled it
E-I-Z-M-A-N. And they actually came from the Ukraine also but they came from, my
grandmother grew up in Odessa and my grandparents originated I think in a city
called Tulchin and . . . . .

Interviewer: Do you have any idea how that’s spelled?

Robins: T-U-L-C-H-I-N.

Interviewer: Uh huh. I think I’ve heard of it.

Robins: Tulchin and that was very close to Odessa. And you know Odessa was at
that time a very cosmopolitan city and she too, my Grandmother Eizman, her
maiden name was Dechter.

Interviewer: D-E-C- . . . .

Robins: D-E-C-H-T-E-R. And she had several brothers and sisters. All of them
I think ended up living in America. I don’t know whether she left any brothers
and sisters in Europe. My grandfather actually had a brother, his Yiddish name
was Shimon and he was a cobbler and my grandfather was a blacksmith. They
actually had some friends in Zanesville so my grandfather Eizman first came to
Zanesville and somehow or another moved to Columbus after they, but at that time
Zanesville was a fairly thriving Jewish community. And it was Art Zwelling’s
family that was friendly with him and so initially he stayed with the Zwellings
when he came to America and, this is something I haven’t had a chance to check
into, his family name was Piatogorsky.

Interviewer: Okay, your maternal grandfather, MATernal grandfather.

Robins: My maternal grandfather, yeah. My grandfather, yeah. So their name
was Eizman but they changed that and it was Piatogorsky.

Interviewer: They changed it from Piatogorsky?

Robins: Piatogorsky to Eizman. I don’t know why but that’s what they
changed it to.

Interviewer: I’m going to put in a plug. I think I told you when we talked
that the Genealogy Group is having a meeting tomorrow and Jules is talking about
the cemetery project. I know there is somebody Piatogorsky buried in the old
Jewish cemetery. I suppose that’s a relative.

Robins: Yeah it is. And that Piatogorsky had a son by the name of Henry
Piatt. Henry Piatt. And Henry Piatt and my grandfather were related and there
are two famous Piatogorskys, Igor and I think Gregor Piatogorsky who I think . .
. .

Interviewer: Gregor Piatagorski is a cellist.

Robins: Cellist, yeah. And so I don’t know if there’s any, and they did
come from Odessa and so I don’t know whether there’s any kind of
relationship there or not. He had 2 older brothers, my grandfather and Shimon
had 2 older brothers who came to this country and whereas the Robinses were sort
of Mizrachi Jews, they were sort of religious Jews. The Eizmans were more
Socialists and they belonged to the Bund and to the Workman’s Circle and his 2
older brothers went back to Russia after the Russian Revolution began and I have
no idea whatever happened to them. Maybe Sonnie knows, I don’t know. But they
did have 2 other brothers who were here and then went back right before the
second World War and like I said, other than this one brother, I don’t know of
any other family that my Grandfather Eizman had here in town. And, but my
grandmother had, this gets very complicated. She had a sister who married
somebody by the name of Robins and they were not at all related to the other

Interviewer: Related to your Robinses?

Robins: Yeah they were not at all related and so there was an A. W. Robins,
J. C. Robins, and these were all nephews of my grandmother. She had a sister Rivkah
and she, I forget what her other sister’s name was.

Interviewer: Your grandmother had a sister named Rivkah?

Robins: Uh huh.

Interviewer: Did she live here?

Robins: Yeah she was the one who married a Robins and she had A. W. Robins,
J. C. Robins and there was a Harry Robins who became a judge in Albuquerque and
I don’t know, I think that was it for them. And she had another sister who
lived in Detroit and she had 2 brothers here.

Interviewer: And just for the record, we’re still talking about your
maternal grandmother, right?

Robins: Right, the Eizmans, Dechters. And she had a brother Sam and his
Yiddish name was Sholom and she had a brother Labe. It was a
good-sized family.

Interviewer: And were any of them here in Columbus?

Robins: All of them were here.

Interviewer: Okay because you mentioned one of them in Albuquerque.

Robins: No, no, no. Albuquerque was the child, it was the brother of A. W.
Robins and J. C. Robins and he moved to Albuquerque. A. W. was very, very active
at one time. He was a avid letter writer. He was constantly writing letters to
the editor and he was very vociferous and a real “speaker-upper” for
the Jewish community and . . . . .

Interviewer: What do you mean, “He spoke up for the Jewish
community”? In what way? Say more?

Robins: Well I believe that during the war, I don’t recall any of his
articles because all I know of A. W. is that he wrote my Bar Mitzvah
speech for me. But he was very vociferous in Jewish causes so anything that had
to do with Palestine, the Jews, there was no Israel then, the Jewish community
in Columbus, he would speak up loudly and vociferously.

Interviewer: So it sounds like he had strong opinions and . . . . in a good
way about Jewish politics and maybe Jewish social . . . .

Robins: He was a Jewish activist and at that time, you know, a lot of Jews
thought it was maybe a good idea to sort of not stick out too much. But he was
very vociferous. And he had a son whose name is William and William is still
here in Columbus. And at one time, William was married to an Israeli girl. They
came from Palestine then and actually her name was Shoshona and they got
divorced, she went back to Israel and it was her father-in-law who actually
discovered the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls. His name was . . . .

Interviewer: Her new father-in-law you mean?

Robins: Yeah her second, yeah, when she remarried. And his name was Sukenic
and he actually in ’46 and ’47 was the gentleman who purchased the Dead Sea
Scrolls from the Bedoins and it was his two children who changed their name from
Sukenic to Yadin and one was Moshe Dayan, who was the, no Yudel,Yudel Yadin
who was the Israeli general and the other one was Yosef who was
married to William’s ex-wife who was active in the Hebrew theater.

Interviewer: Let’s pause just for a second. I want to play . . . .

Robins: Go ahead, yeah.

Interviewer: Yeah, well, I have to say for the record, it doesn’t have to
be on the record, but I’m impressed by how much you know about family. Some of
it was passed down to you, not from your own memories but you remembering what
people told you and I think it’s real impressive you know a lot about the
history. I think it’s pretty neat.

Robins: Thank you. I think that’s why my aunts made me do this.

Interviewer: Well your Aunt Jean said, “Ron knows everything,” so
thank you to Aunt Jean. So let’s see, what other kinds of things. We’re
talking about your mother’s side. You referred in passing, go ahead . . . .

Robins: And Shoshona actually had another Columbus connection. She had an
aunt that lived with them at the time and that aunt was married to a man by the
name of Cohen and his brother was William Cohen who was Herb Minkin’s
grandfather and the other brother was Sylvia Schecter’s father.

Interviewer: Which Sylvia Schecter?

Robins: The one that was active at the Heritage House. She’s married to

Interviewer: Right.

Robins: Her maiden name was Cohen and this aunt of Shoshona’s was related
to these folks in Columbus. Her father was an engineer and was studying at Ohio
State at the time. That’s how they ended up in . . . .

Interviewer: . . . .

Robins: No, Shoshona.

Interviewer: Okay. . . . .

Robins: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Shoshona’s father and that’s where she
met, that’s how she got to Columbus, that’s how she met William and that’s
how her aunt got married to Sylvia Schecter’s uncle and Herb Minkin’s uncle.

Interviewer: That’s very interesting. I’m not sure, I’ll have to check
my transcription of my Aunt Lee Goldberg tape, but I think your relative Rose
Robins was a good friend of Aunt Lee.

Robins: Rose and Nate had a place down at market . . . .

Interviewer: That would be . . . .

Robins: Yeah Nate had a place at market and I can remember going down to the
old market which was, I forget, Third Street, Fourth Street, Main, that area.
Yeah. And Nate had a place there and one of Rose’s sisters is Eve, oh she’s
still at Heritage House now. She was, I forget. Getting mental blocks. She’s
married to Harry Munster the second time so her name is Eve Munster now but I
forget who her first husband was.

Interviewer: Well for a man of your generation, you know a lot I think about
the history of some of the families here and that’s pretty neat. That’s
pretty neat. Was there more you want to say about this in-law Shoshona?

Robins: No, no, no. Well she was very nice to me actually and she never
really knew me. She had a vague recollection of my family but she really didn’t
know me and when I was in Israel in 1958, she was just great and since her
brother-in-law was a pretty famous archaeologist in addition to being a general,
she introduced us and I was able to do nothing significant, just grunt labor, on
the Masada dig. That’s when Yadin was doing the Masada dig. And so it was a
neat entree for me. She was a nice lady. She really was.

Interviewer: That’s neat. Are there any things you haven’t talked about,
about anybody in your family’s involvement in the community that you’d like
to mention that people might want to know about?

Robins: Yeah, my Grandma Robins was very active at the beginning of the
founding of Heritage House. She and Mrs. Speisman and Mrs. Nutis and several of
the other ladies who were of an Orthodox bent, were the ladies who got together
and actually were responsible for getting the, it was called the Jewish Old Age
Home at that time and I believe it was on Woodland Avenue. It was on Woodland
Avenue, yeah. And initially my grandmother, because she did do catering and
stuff like that, she was, I don’t know whether she was the only cook but I
remember that she cooked there for a long time and it’s interesting because
then later on, my Uncle Lou became the President of Heritage House so he had a
long association with Heritage House. And that was something she was very
instrumental in and then he, too, became very instrumental in it and now Gary
and Greg and Stan have just given money to found the, what’s it called, the
Robins, oh shoot . . . .

Interviewer: Pavillion or something?

Robins: Yeah, yeah, yeah. For the Federation.

Interviewer: . . . .

Robins: No, no, no. This is for Federation.

Interviewer: Oh I’m sorry.

Robins: For Federation and Lou and Stan and Gary and Greg have been very,
very active in Federation and there was probably partially because of my Grandma
Robins. She was active in Jewish organization life and she was active at Beth
Jacob and she was active with Mizrachi and those kinds of groups.

Interviewer: Wasn’t she active at Agudas Achim too? I vaguely remember
hearing Mendel Paine . . . .

Robins: Yeah right, exactly right. Because after both Mendel and she were
Beth Jacob but since they were observant and they moved after they got married
to Bexley and so when they moved to Bexley, they actually bought a house on
South Roosevelt almost across the street from Agudas Achim.

Interviewer: I remember that.

Robins: And that’s when they joined Agudas Achim and she became active at
Agudas Achim and Mendel did too. He would, you know, they went there. And that’s
how it happened that she happened to be on the Chevra Kadisha of two
congregations. And, what was I talking about? Oh, I think my close family has
been the most active in Jewish organizations. And you know Lou and the boys have
been quite generous in their giving and in their support of Jewish charities and
they probably more than anybody else in the family are in the forefront there.

Interviewer: I want to check about your own family of origin now. I mean I
know you have what, 4 or 5 children?

Robins: Four.

Interviewer: Okay. Do you have a story about how you and Barbara met?

Robins: Yeah, as a matter of fact.

Interviewer: Those are always pretty interesting and people always like to
know those.

Robins: We were fixed up. It’s funny: Barbara’s family was a
German-Jewish family and at that time when Barbara and I were growing up, the
Russian-Jewish families all knew each other and the German-Jewish families all
tended to know each other and so even though Barbara and I both worked in
Columbus all of our lives, we actually didn’t have that much in common and I
didn’t know any of Barbara’s parents’ friends and Barbara’s parents didn’t
know any of my parents’ friends. We belonged to the Excelsior Club and they
belonged to Winding Hollow and you know, we just ran in different circles and so
we were not even hardly aware of each other. And I think that we were fixed up.
Susan Meyer Byer was a friend of Barbara’s and a schoolmate of mine and I
think we were about 16 or 17 years old. We were in high school and she fixed us
up at, there was a party and Barbara and I were fixed up and we started dating
when we were in high school.

Interviewer: Did you go to the same high school?

Robins: No Barb went to CSG and I went to Bexley and like I said, we came
from very different backgrounds and our early experiences were totally
different. I never met anybody who didn’t have Yiddish-speaking grandparents
or who didn’t speak English with a thick accent and Barbara didn’t know
anybody who spoke Yiddish or had a strong accent. Her entire family were born in
this country and several generations even had been born in this country and so
we really had a very different kind of background. So it was sort of
interesting. In a lot of respects it was like an intermarriage because their
holiday celebrations, the food that they ate even was different than what we ate
and I’ll never forget the first time that Barbara and her brother Don were at
my mother’s house. My mom decided to make a rather traditional Friday night
dinner so we started out with gefilte fish and chopped liver and we had
chicken soup and at that time, you could still get the unborn eggs so the little
eggs were swimming around in the chicken soup and we had traditional kinds of
stuff like kishke and stuff like that and Barbara and Don were eating and
they kept asking me, “What is this, what is this?” They had never had
food like that before and I recall my grandmother was sitting at the table and
she was just very quiet sitting there watching and listening and she spoke
Yiddish and she said to my mother in Yiddish, she said, “What kind of Jews
are these?” She had never met anybody either who didn’t know what kishke
was or helzel was or any of these kinds of dishes so it was sort of
interesting. But we did, we dated since we were in high school.

Interviewer: Were you both out of college when you got married?

Robins: Just. I think we graduated on Friday and we got married on Monday and
so we were just out of college and got married just shortly thereafter and I
think that summer I went to summer school and started, I was in Law School at
the time and I think I started that fall. So . . . .

Interviewer: That’s interesting too. I was wondering because that’s the
most recent that I’ve heard stories of the Russian and the German differences
and separateness in the community. I was wondering how Barbara’s family
received you.

Robins: Well I have to say that I’ve never had one cross word with my
mother-in-law which is I think pretty unusual. I never, never, never, never had
a cross word with her or my father-in-law as well so I think we were fairly
accepting. By that time historically, things were breaking down. By the time the
guys were coming back from the second World War, all of a sudden men like my
father and Uncle Lou, who were Beth Jacob kinds of people, were starting to join
Tifereth Israel and the Winding Hollow was no longer just German Jews. They were
starting to take in a more diverse folks and those folks were starting to join
Temple Israel at that time so things were sort of breaking down. So there wasn’t
that real, real, real distinction now between Russian Jews and German Jews but
it was interesting. They did have a whole different social group than my parents
did and you know, it’s, there’s all kinds of books written about the . . . .

Interviewer: Oh yeah. Mark Raphael talked about that.

Robins: Yeah, yeah.

Interviewer: I see his book on your shelf even from over here.

Robins: Mark is a good friend actually. Yeah, yeah, and we see Mark quite a
bit. I think I told you Mark was very helpful in getting me on the Board of the
Jewish Historical Society, the American Jewish Historical Society. Yeah. So I
see quite a bit of Mark but yeah that was the beginning of it but our personal
family situation is very typical of that sort of melding of German Jews and
Russian Jews.

Interviewer: So your younger brother is Jerry?

Robins: Right.

Interviewer: And he’s married to . . .

Robins: Jerry’s married to Suzanne . . . .

Interviewer: Whose maiden name was?

Robins: Novak and they have 2 children, Missy and Amy. And Missy’s married
and lives here in Columbus. Amy is in New York. And then I have a brother Mike
who never married and a brother Steve who’s been married twice. His first wife
was Barbara Kanter’s sister and they had 2 children, Jamie and Jody. And then
when he and Karen got divorced, he later remarried and now he lives out in the
State of Washington.

Interviewer: So just is Jerry your only brother here or is, okay?

Robins: Mike I think lives in Columbus too. I don’t see too much of Mike
but . . . .

Interviewer: Mike your brother?

Robins: Uh huh. He lives in Columbus as well. And like I said, my Aunt Jean
had 2 now living here in Columbus, Harvey Handler and Diane Lowy.

Interviewer: Right, I know her children, at least I know of them.

Robins: Yeah, Lorrie and Sam. And her first husband was Steve Leavitt and her
second husband was Louis Lowy.

Interviewer: So you said that you started out in law school. How did those
plans change?

Robins: Oh yeah I understand. I just didn’t, law school just wasn’t for
me. My dad was an attorney and I guess I hadn’t given too, too much thought to
not becoming an attorney and when I actually got into law school and saw what
being an attorney was all about, it just wasn’t something I was interested in
doing so I think after about a year or so, I dropped out of law school.

Interviewer: And how did your parents react to that?

Robins: I think my Dad was always a little upset about that. I think he had
visions of my going into practice with him. He had a nice firm going at the time
and it would have been very nice to have gone into that firm so I think he was
genuinely disappointed and I hope I didn’t disappoint them too, too often but
I know that was a disappointment to him. I don’t think it probably made as
much difference to my mother as it did to him.

Interviewer: Okay. So I was looking at your interview sheet for something.
Did you immediately go into becoming a realtor or what was the transition?

Robins: You’re right. After I got out of law school I really needed to do
something and I wasn’t sure what it was I wanted to do and so I think as I
recall Barbara’s dad suggested that he thought it would be a good idea to get
some experience in retail, meeting and working with people, which is something
that up until then I had no experience with. And Barbara’s folks were friendly
with Herb and Annette Levy and they owned the Union Department Store and I think
that’s how I got a job at the department store. And I enjoyed working with
people and I enjoyed the give-and-take of salesmanship but I didn’t like
working in the retail establishment, being in the building and having set times
etc. and I happened to remember that there was a realtor in Bexley at that time
and his name was Brad Salt and I knew Brad and I happened to see him someplace
and he asked what I was doing and I told him and he said, “Well why don’t
you become a realtor?” And I said, “Well I don’t know, I just never
thought about that.” And he said, “Well I think you should think about
it. Why don’t you come and talk to me some day?” So I was getting uptight
with the Christmas rush of retailing and being at the store so long. I think
after Christmas that year I saw Brad Salt and decided to go into real estate.
That was over 30 years. I don’t recall when it was but it was 30-some years
ago that I did that and it’s been a good move. I enjoy doing real estate and
it’s worked out.

Interviewer: So working at the Union was a short stint for you?

Robins: I think it was like maybe – that was the only job I ever had before I
got into real estate and that’s maybe a year and a half, maybe a year, year
and a half I think. Maybe one Christmastime.

Interviewer: One Christmas time?

Robins: One Christmas season and . . . .

Interviewer: That was enough.

Robins: That was enough to know that I liked retail but not that kind of, you
know, I didn’t like that so.

(Phone rings.)

Interviewer: She got it.

Robins: She’s pretty good about that, yeah.

Interviewer: Yeah. That’s good. So that’s pretty amazing to start out in
law school, go into retail and immediately gravitate into something that ended
up being “it”.

Robins: Yeah, yeah.

Interviewer: ‘Cause some people, you know . . . .

Robins: Don’t find . . . . I was very fortunate I suppose . I was really
very, it clicked.

Interviewer: So are any of the children interested in or in real estate?

Robins: Not at this particular point. We have a son and 3 daughters. Our son
is in law and our daughter, she is in social work.

Interviewer: Why don’t you say their names and mention then what they do.

Robins: Okay, fine. My son, Rocky, who is actually Ronald, Jr., is an
attorney. And my daughter Lisa who just recently got married, is a social

Interviewer: And who is Lisa’s husband?

Robins: Lisa’s husband is Mark Ziegler and Mark Ziegler has an interesting
job for somebody in our family. He is a scout for the Baltimore Orioles. He’s
a jock and we’ve enjoyed getting to know him. They’ve only been married a
short period of time. They got married in November and so she’s in social

Interviewer: Working for whom?

Robins: I think Franklin County, for Franklin County.

Interviewer: Children’s Services?

Robins: Children’s Services, yeah. She was in Intake for a long time but
now she’s doing something else with foster families. And she seems to like
that very much. Our daughter Patty is married and has one child whose name is
Emily. And Patty’s husband is Troy; his last name is Markham and he’s an
editor for scientific textbooks and Patty works at the Boys’ Ranch. She’s .
. . .

Interviewer: Buckeye Boys’ Ranch?

Robins: Uh huh. Well it’s Buckeye Ranch now. They don’t call it the Boys’
Ranch any more ’cause they have girls and boys there now. And Patty does the
P.R. work for them. And Debbie who I think maybe would become interested in real
estate at some point is working at the Jewish Center and she’s a pre-school
teacher. And she has 2 children, Gregory and Derra. And she enjoys working with
kids and she’s very good at it. She’s really is very, very good.

Interviewer: She seems like . . . .

Robins: And all the people we know who have children at kindergarten there
all tell us that they’ve enjoyed having her. But she enjoys looking at houses
and I could see that maybe some day she might do something with real estate once
the kids maybe get a little bit older and she has a little more free time.

Interviewer: Okay. As you look back, and you’re not looking as far back as
many of the other people we interview, what are your observations, and I know
this is kind of vague and that’s okay, but what are your observations or
feelings about your family’s tenure, you know, history here in this community.

Robins: Roots. For a family that really only came in the early 1900s and what
have you, it’s sort of a typical American dream where the children and then
the grand- children, now even the great grandchildren of immigrant parents and
immigrant grandparents were able to carve a niche in the city and within a very
short period of time become successful and were able to put down roots and make
a significant difference in the life of the community. It’s an amazing thing
and it’s so typical of all of those families that came here as immigrants.
They didn’t have any language skills or anything like that and they carved out
a life for themselves and we as a family are very deeply rooted here in
Columbus. It’s really been a, you know, like I said, I think only two of my
first cousins don’t live in Columbus and very few of my cousins’ children,
that’s the third generation, very few of them don’t live here. It’s been a
good community. It’s been a nice place to live and I think that’s my only
thoughts about it.

Interviewer: Well I think that’s pretty good. Well there’s no good or
bad. It’s very complimentary to the community. And actually that would be a
really good place to end except that other than anything else you may want to
say, I wanted to ask you who changed the name Rabinowitz to Robins and when and
why? Do you know that?

Robins: You know I don’t actually know and unfortunately, I think we had
this conversation before. At the time that I could have gotten these questions
answered, I wasn’t interested in knowing those kinds of things. And now that I’m
interested in knowing about the genealogy and history of the family, what have
you, those people aren’t around. But my guess is, my guess is that when my
grandfather went to immigration, that they must have just changed it at that
time from an obviously Russian-sounding name to a more English-sounding name. I
think I recall that he said something, or the family story was that Rabinowitz
in America is Robins. That’s what the guy at, you know, and so that’s how I
think it got changed. And several Robinses started out as Rabinowitzes or
Robinovitzes or something like that. Rabin was also Rabinowitz and he changed it
to Rabin and so . . . .

Interviewer: Well if you’re interested, and I won’t talk about it on the
tape, but if you’re interested, I have some ideas on how you can find that

Robins: Yeah I am interested. I think it would be interesting. But again, it
would only be circumstantial. We have no way of knowing why our grandfather did
what he did. But . . . .

Interviewer: That’s true. You cannot know why.

Robins: Yeah. Probably it was, it was probably easier to be Robins in America
than Rabinowitz or something obviously Jewish and that . . . .

Interviewer: Go ahead, go ahead. Tell me.

Robins: I once worked with a client whose name was Ryan and they told me that
they wanted to move to the east end of town because they wanted to be with other
Jews and I met with these people and the Ryans now belong to Beth Jacob. And so
when I became more comfortable knowing them I said to them, “Now were you a
convert to our faith or was your wife a convert to our faith?” And they
both laughed. And they were both born Jewish and it was a mean, mean trick that
the guy at Ellis Island told on his grandfather but whatever name the guy gave
them, he gave them the name Ryan and these were Jewish Jews and he said it was a
terrible handicap. In fact he was thinking about changing the name to something
more Jewish because he was a career navy fellow or something like that and when
he would ask off for the Jewish holidays, they would give him such static that
you know, they just thought he was. So there’s a lot of stories about people
who had their names changed at Ellis Island in immigration but I’m assuming
that’s what happened with Robins and what have you.

Interviewer: Okay, okay. So anything else you would like to say for the

Robins: I don’t know. I think I’ve been going on and on and on.

Interviewer: Well we’re near the end of the tape so I wanted to give that
opportunity and if you have a lot more to say, we can get together again.

Robins: Well I do but I can tell you, but you’ve probably got all this
information from people who are older than me but I did grow up on Fulton
Street, Donaldson and Washington and I can remember Kroll’s Delicatessen.

Interviewer: How do you spell that?

Robins: K-R-O-L-L-‘-S Delicatessen. And there was a meat market on our
street by the name of Center’s and that was a guy by, the butcher’s name was
Harry Center. And can remember where my grandmother, my grandmother bought live
poultry and I can remember going with my grandmother to the shochet’s
and having the chickens you now, the chickens killed according to sh’chita
and so I remember that neighborhood very well. That was the Fulton and
Washington Street area of Beth Jacob. I can remember being at Beth Jacob when
Rabbi Greenwald was still there and I just remember that neighborhood quite

Interviewer: That’s pretty neat.

Robins: It’s interesting. Yeah, yeah.

Interviewer: Okay. Anything else?

Robins: No.

Interviewer: No, I want to give you the opportunity. You can say as much as
you want.

Robins: I can’t say, I can’t tell you any–. I can remember those places
and some of these old-timers who lived in those neighborhoods whose families are
still here in town. I think on the corner of our street, the Bornstein brothers
who started their business on the corner of Fulton and Washington, they had a
restaurant and food supply there then and I can’t, you know, I can’t think
of too, too much more except that . . . .

Interviewer: Well that’s pretty good.

Robins: Yeah, yeah.

Interviewer: Okay. Well why don’t we stop here unless you have something
else. This concludes the interview of Ronald Robins by Carol Shkolnik on
February 5, 2001.


Page 2 – Zvi in Hebrew actually translates to the name of the animal,

Page 5 – Mizrachi – Hebrew for “people from the east”, a
national organization of Orthodox women.

Page 9 – Shomer Shabbos – sabbath observers

* * *

Transcribed by Honey Abramson