Raymond Stern grew up in Andrews, South Carolina, where his father, the son of emigrants from Eastern Europe, established Stern’s Dry Goods in 1932. Raymond recalls Melvin Hornik, a Charleston wholesaler, and discusses his childhood friends and Jewish merchants in Andrews, Lane, and Kingstree, including his uncle Charlie Tucker, who was from Baltimore. Tucker was one of the first Jewish merchants to come to this rural region between the midlands and the coast. The Sterns were members of Congregation Beth Elohim in Georgetown and, later, Raymond’s parents also attended services at Kingstree’s Temple Beth Or. After he graduated from the University of South Carolina and served four years in the air force, Raymond returned home and joined his father in the family business. He assumed control of the store around 1965. At the time of this interview, it was still open. Raymond married Florence Harris, a school teacher, and they raised four children in Andrews, Georgetown, and Charleston. Note: audio quality is poor.
Meri Friedman Gergel and her sister Rae Friedman Berry discuss growing up with their two sisters, Ann and Rose, in Kingstree, South Carolina, where the Friedmans were one of just a few Jewish families. Their parents, Sam Friedman and Rebecca Dreiszek, immigrated to the United States from Poland as teens and met in Charleston, South Carolina, home to Rebecca’s sister, Jenny Cohen. In the mid-1920s Sam and Rebecca moved from Charleston to Eutawville, South Carolina, and then Kingstree, opening Friedman’s Department Store. Meri describes the layout of the store and its clientele. Both sisters recall a generally happy childhood, overshadowed, however, by Rose’s chronic health problems, later diagnosed as multiple sclerosis. The family moved to Columbia in 1947, to access better medical care for Rose, but she died the same year. Meri talks about the antisemitism she experienced growing up in Kingstree. Both sisters discuss their sense of Jewish identity; the foods their mother served; the family’s religious practices; and their college years and their children.