Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Klyde Robinson

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Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Klyde Robinson
Rosengarten, Dale, 1948–
Robinson, Klyde, 1922–
Klyde Robinson continues his account of growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, begun in his first interview on August 26, 1997. His father’s business was a bicycle and toy store on the corner of King and Ann Streets, and everyone in the family worked there. Even as a U.S. district attorney and circuit court judge, Klyde helped out at Christmastime when sales peaked for the year. The Robinsons lived in the Hampton Park and upper King Street neighborhoods, and summered on Folly Beach and, later, on Sullivan’s Island where, Klyde recalls, a number of Jewish families had houses beginning in the 1930s. Emma Brown, the African-American woman who worked for the family for nearly 50 years, was well-versed in keeping kosher. Klyde attended The Citadel and at the end of his junior year, he and some of his classmates joined the army to fight in World War II. Despite near-blindness in one eye, Klyde was allowed to serve; ultimately, he went to Europe with the 141st Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion. He notes that while he was aware of the existence of the concentration camps before he left the States, German townspeople claimed to know nothing about them. When he was discharged from the army, almost three years after signing up, he returned to The Citadel to complete his undergraduate education. While attending Harvard Law School, he met Claire Zuckernik of Boston, Massachusetts. In 1949 he graduated from Harvard and was admitted to the South Carolina Bar. He and Claire married in 1950 and she joined him in Charleston, where they raised their children and he started a law practice. Klyde describes his career, including how he acquired his positions as Charleston County’s attorney, assistant U.S. attorney, and circuit court judge. Among the other topics discussed: the social barriers among the Jewish community in the first half of the 20th century; the establishment of the Conservative synagogue, Emanu-El, in 1947; the merger, referred to by the interviewee as an amalgamation, of Charleston’s two Orthodox synagogues, Brith Sholom and Beth Israel, in 1954; joining the Masonic lodge, Friendship Lodge, No. 9; and the debate about whether to open the Jewish Community Center on the Sabbath and High Holidays. Also mentioned are Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch, leader of the congregation at the newly merged Brith Sholom Beth Israel from 1955 to 1963, and Bill Ackerman, developer of the South Windermere neighborhood who ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for mayor of Charleston in 1971. Note: see transcript for corrections made by interviewee during proofing. See Mss. 1035-165 for the preceding interview on August 26, 1997. See the Klyde Robinson Collection, Mss. 1024, in Special Collections at the College of Charleston Library for related material.
Jewish Heritage Collection Oral Histories
Contributing Institution:
College of Charleston Libraries
Media Type:
Oral Histories
Personal or Corporate Subject:
Robinson, Klyde, 1922–, Robinson family, Zuckernik family, Beth Israel (Charleston, S.C.), Brith Sholom (Charleston, S.C.), Brith Sholom Beth Israel (Charleston, S.C.), Emanu-El (Charleston, S.C.), Jewish Community Center (Charleston, S.C.), Freemasons. Friendship Lodge
Topical Subject:
Jews--South Carolina--Interviews, Jews--South Carolina--Charleston--History, Jews--South Carolina--Charleston--Social life and customs, Jews--South Carolina--Politics and government, Jews--South Carolina--Sullivan’s Island--History, Jewish merchants--South Carolina--Charleston--History, Jewish sects--South Carolina--Charleston--History, African Americans--Relations with Jews, World War, 1939--1945--Personal narratives, Jewish
Geographic Subject:
Shelving Locator:
MSS 1035-166
Internet Media Type:
audio/mpeg; application/pdf
Digitization Specifications:
Mp3 derivative audio created with Audacity software. Archival masters are wav files.
Copyright Status Statement:
Digital resource copyright 2012, The College of Charleston. All rights reserved. For more information contact The College of Charleston Library, Charleston, SC 29424.