- Robert Altamont Moses, the fourth of seven children of Charlotte Virginia Emanuel and Henry Phillips Moses, was born in 1921 in Sumter, South Carolina, where his great-grandfather Montgomery Moses had settled around 1832. In describing the house and the property on Church Street where he and his siblings grew up, he notes that "looking back on it, I would say that it was a near-perfect childhood." The Moses family was Jewish, but celebrated both Jewish and Christian holidays. Robert discusses the deaths of his two oldest siblings due to polio; learning from his mother how to cure mullet roe and make haw jelly, "a Sumter specialty;" the 1950 death of his brother Vivian while flying for the United States Marines; and the life of his uncle Herbert "Unc" Moses, who partnered with Robert's father, Henry, in the Henry P. Moses Company, an insurance and real estate business. Robert attended The Citadel and, in the interview, recalls the difficulty of surviving freshman year. While serving stateside in the U.S. Army in the mid-1940s, he met and married Harriett Pace of Kansas City, Missouri, who was on the road playing violin with a band. They settled in Sumter and raised five daughters. Because Harriett was Catholic, they had to pledge to raise their children in the Catholic Church. Robert kept his promise, but states that it was "a bitter pill to try to swallow, to see your children raised Catholic and forbidden to be Jewish." Ironically, Harriett was not particularly observant after they married, and she later became a member of Temple Sinai's sisterhood. Robert and his youngest daughter, Elizabeth, who is an interviewer, discuss the various religious paths the five Moses daughters chose as adults. Note: see also a follow-up interview with Robert Moses dated August 17, 2013. For related information see the August 7, 1999 interview with Robert's brother Richard Moses and August 19, 2013 interview with Robert's sister Mary Octavia Moses Mahon. Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston, is the repository for Moses family photographs and papers.
- In this follow-up to his August 16, 2013 interview, Robert Altamont Moses shares his memories of Temple Sinai in his hometown of Sumter, South Carolina. He recalls some of the rabbis who served the Reform congregation, such as Samuel Shillman, Avshalom Magidovitch, J. Aaron Levy, Milton Schlager, and Robert Seigel. Although Temple Sinai is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in South Carolina, Moses worries about what will happen to the building, the stained glass windows in particular, when the congregation is no longer viable. He discusses the windows in the sanctuary; the renovations that took place in the 1960s; activities of the sisterhood in past decades; and the decline in the number of members over the last fifteen to twenty years. Robert believes intermarriage is partly responsible for the decrease in the size of the congregation. He notes that Sumter Jews have been fully accepted and have largely assimilated into mainstream society. Jewish family names mentioned during the interview are Strauss, Moise, Lyon, and Kaye. Ira Kaye and his wife, Sumter native Ruth Barnett Kaye (see their interviews dated June 14 and 15, 1996), were close friends of the Moses family. Ira's work as a lawyer on civils rights issues in Sumter in the 1950s and '60s alienated many of Ira's colleagues and fellow Jews. Wanting to overcome society's "stone wall of inbred discrimination," Robert and his first wife, Harriett Pace, tried to lead their children by example in treating black people as they would white. Elizabeth, his youngest daughter and co-interviewer, was raised, like her siblings, in the Catholic Church, Harriett's chosen religion. Robert reveals his feelings about raising the children in the Catholic Church and Elizabeth's conversion to Judaism as an adult. Following Harriett's death, Robert married Clara Gayness - also present for the interview - who, like Harriett, converted to Catholicism. For related information see the August 7, 1999 interview with Robert's brother Richard Moses and August 19, 2013 interview with Robert's sister Mary Octavia Moses Mahon. Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston, is the repository for Moses family photographs and papers.