- Leona Novit Siegel, joined by her son, Paul, discusses her relatives, the Zalins, the Novits, and the Bogoslows, and identifies the subjects of family photos during the interview. She was born and raised in Walterboro, South Carolina, where her father, Albert Novit, ran a general merchandise store before opening the Lady Lafayette Hotel, popular with honeymooners and tourists driving between New York and Florida. Albert, who was president of the Walterboro Chamber of Commerce, was known for his enthusiastic promotion of his adopted hometown as a great place to visit and to live. He persuaded traveler Arthur Bauer to put down roots and open the Lady Lafayette Grill, a restaurant to complement his hotel. He also convinced Leona’s husband, Sam Siegel, to move to Walterboro from Anderson, South Carolina. Leona’s maternal grandparents, Hyman and Anna Barth Zalin, emigrated from Russia and settled in Walterboro where they established a dry goods business. Anna’s sister, who had married a Bogoslow, followed. The Novits also emigrated from Eastern Europe, but made Charleston, South Carolina, their home. Leona describes how she met and married Sam, and recounts how she received news of the injuries Sam sustained in the Battle of the Bulge. Note: the transcript contains corrections made by Leona’s daughter Gale Messerman.
- Sam Siegel, born in Anderson, South Carolina, in 1915, describes the hometown of his boyhood as “a very hard town . . . mean, nasty, completely controlled by the Klan.” Sam’s parents, Bess Silverman and Max Siegel (Shul) emigrated from Latvia in the early 1900s and settled in Anderson where Max worked as a peddler before going into livestock sales and slaughtering. The family did not keep kosher, and the Siegel children had little Jewish education. Sam’s playmates were Christian. “I had my friends, but it wasn’t comfortable.” Sam talks about his seven siblings, in particular, his brother Reuben, known as “Jew Boy Siegel,” a star boxer and football player for Clemson. As the number of Jewish residents in Anderson increased in the early 1900s, they began to meet in a large hall over a store for High Holy Day services. Sam remembers teaching Sunday school there as well. He mentions some of the Jewish residents of the 1930s and ’40s, who pooled their resources to build a temple for the growing community. Sam describes helping to place nearly a dozen Jewish refugees in Anderson, including one young man, Kurt Sax, whom he helped get his start in his own small business. Sam married Leona Novit of Walterboro, South Carolina. When he visited Walterboro, he “fell in love” with the town, which was a popular stopping point for travelers driving between New York and Florida. Walterboro, Sam says, “has always been a very liberal town. It’s made up of people from up north and out west.” Sam and Leona moved from Anderson to Walterboro, where they raised their four children and Sam ran a dry goods store. He discusses a number of other topics including intermarriage, Camp Blue Star, the journal in which he has made daily entries since 1932, and the Walterboro congregation and how it acquired a Jewish section in the local cemetery. He also describes his service in the army during World War II and his role in the Battle of the Bulge, in which he lost a leg in an attempt to rescue two American soldiers. Note: the transcript contains corrections made by Sam’s daughter Gale Messerman.