- Rosa From Poliakoff was born in Union, South Carolina, in 1914, to Israel and Bertha From, who emigrated from Ponevezys, Lithuania, around the turn of the twentieth century. The Froms settled in Union in 1905 and, two years later, Israel, who initially was a peddler, opened I. From Dry Goods & Notions. Rosa reports that they were the only Jewish family in Union. The Froms acquired a Torah and hosted services in their home for Jews who lived in nearby towns. Eventually, they joined Spartanburg’s B’nai Israel and donated their Torah to that congregation. Rosa notes that her mother was very observant and both parents stressed the importance of education and their Jewish identity. Rosa graduated from Agnes Scott College in Atlanta and taught in that city for three years before marrying Myer Poliakoff. She recalls how she met her future husband at a Yudedum Club dance in Columbia. They raised their three children in Abbeville, South Carolina, where they ran the D. Poliakoff Department Store, established in 1900 by Myer’s father, David. Rosa describes a From family car trip to Worcester, Massachusetts, to visit Israel’s family, the effects of the Great Depression on local Jewish merchants, and how the Poliakoffs came to settle in Abbeville. The transcript includes comments inserted by the interviewee during proofreading.
- Hannah Prystowsky Rubin, born in Charleston in 1916, recounts the story of her grandparents’ immigration to the United States from Zabludow, Poland, circa 1890. Ezra and Mollie Prystowsky followed the Jacobs family, also from Zabludow, to Charleston, South Carolina, where Ezra repaired shoes for a living before opening a men’s clothing store. Hannah’s father, Mike Prystowsky, was a tailor and worked with his brothers in the family’s King Street store, “E. Prystowsky & Sons, Mike-Sam-Jake.” She describes growing up on St. Philip Street, surrounded by extended family, and recalls members of two branches of the Mazo family—the Uptown Mazos and the Downtown Mazos—who operated delicatessens above and below Calhoun Street. In 1938 Hannah married Samuel Rubin of Columbia, son of wholesaler Joseph Rubin and Bessie Peskin Rubin. Within five years they had three small children. Hannah discusses Sam’s two-year stint in the army during World War II, and how she helped two German Jewish families, who survived the war, become acclimated to life in America after settling in Columbia.