Albert Jacob Ullman, born in New York in 1923, discusses his family background. His father, Samuel Ullman, emigrated from Russia around 1912 and worked for a time in New York, before following landsmen, men from the same town in Europe, to Savannah, Georgia, where he met and married Freda Wolson in 1922. He brought his bride to New York, but they returned to Savannah about seven years later. Samuel soon took over a cousin’s Bluffton, South Carolina, business, Planter’s Mercantile Company, known locally as the Jew Store. Albert describes the store and growing up in Bluffton, where, in 1932, his father was elected mayor. The family moved to Ridgeland, South Carolina, in 1938, after Freda opened a second, more successful store in that town. In 1941 Albert attended The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. He recalls the local families who hosted Jewish cadets on Shabbat, and the appeal of the St. Philip Street neighborhood’s Yiddishkeit. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in December 1941, Albert volunteered for the army and served as a paratrooper and medic in the Pacific theater. When he returned from three years of active duty, he joined his parents in the Ridgeland store, and he met Harriet Birnbaum of Savannah, Georgia. Harriet had emigrated from Kobrin, Poland, in 1937, at the age of ten. Her mother, Chamke Birnbaum, widowed when Harriet was nine months old, agreed to marry Samuel Tenenbaum, who came from her hometown of Kolonie, Poland. Sam, himself a widower, had immigrated to Savannah with his family and established a scrap metal business. When he received word from a visiting landsman that Chamke had lost her husband, he returned to Poland, married her, and brought her and her two children to the United States. Harriet describes growing up in Kobrin and Savannah. The Tenenbaums were members of Agudath Achim, the Conservative synagogue in Savannah, co-founded by Samuel. Albert and Harriet married in 1947 and ran Ullman’s Department Store in Ridgeland, where they raised four boys, started a private kindergarten, and Albert served as mayor. Fifteen years later they moved to Savannah and, soon after, Harriet gave birth to a daughter. Among other topics discussed are Agudath Achim Congregation’s controversial vote to increase women’s direct involvement in the synagogue, and Albert’s experiences with the Ku Klux Klan and his work for the Anti-Defamation League.
Irving “Itchy” Sonenshine (Zonenschein), son of Polish immigrants, talks about growing up in the St. Philip Street neighborhood of Charleston, South Carolina, and recalls many of the Jewish families that operated stores on King Street. He discusses the two Orthodox synagogues, Beth Israel and Brith Sholom, his experiences in Hebrew school and at AZA (Aleph Zadik Aleph) functions, his service as a navigator on bombers in the Pacific theatre during World War II, his partnership with Arthur Kahn in the electronics business, and his wife, Mildred “Mickey” Breibart Sonenshine, also a native of Charleston. Sonenshine also mentions the synagogue his son Stanley attends, B’nai Torah, a “Conservadox” congregation in Atlanta. Note: a videotape of this interview is available for viewing in Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston.
Irving “Itchy” Sonenshine (Zonenschein), in this follow-up to his September 30, 1997 interview, describes growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1920s and ’30s, including stories about childhood playmates, his participation in AZA (Aleph Zadik Aleph), and local Jewish merchants, including those who closed their businesses on the Sabbath. He recalls the religious leaders and the merger of the two Orthodox synagogues, Brith Sholom and Beth Israel, and the split that occurred when Emanu-El, the Conservative congregation, was established. Among the topics discussed: Friendship Lodge; the Kalushiner Society; Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform practices; and the status of Charleston’s Orthodox community at the time of the interview.
Joseph Schafer, raised in Little Rock, South Carolina, was the grandson of Abraham Schafer, who emigrated from Germany around 1870. Abraham married Rebecca Iseman of Darlington, South Carolina, and established a dry goods store in Little Rock. Joseph describes his family history, race relations in Dillon County, and how his father, Sam, got started in the beer distribution business in the 1930s. He also discusses his children and his siblings, particularly his brother Alan, who was the founder of South of the Border, the all-inclusive rest stop for travelers on I-95 in Dillon.
Bernard Warshaw discusses growing up in Walterboro, South Carolina, and the periods he spent in Charleston, first, from age nine to thirteen, when he was studying for his bar mitzvah and, later, while attending The Citadel. His parents, Murray and Dotty Bebergal Warshaw, emigrated as children from Poland in the early 1900s. They met in Charleston, where each had family, and moved to Walterboro after they married. Bernard talks about his family’s business, Warshaw’s, and Walterboro’s other Jewish merchants. He served in the army during World War II, and saved the photographs he took of the concentration camp in Dachau, which he visited the day after it was liberated. He married Ann Wagner of Boston and they raised three daughters in Walterboro. Among the topics discussed: intermarriage; the importance of religion and involvement in civic and political matters; the reason his children and grandchildren are more observant than he was as a child; and relations between Jews and African Americans. Note: See also Bernard Warshaw Holocaust atrocity photographs, Mss. 1065-027, Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston.
Frances Solomon Garfinkle, daughter of Morris and Rina Chachevski Solomon, relates her mother’s stories of life in Zabludow, Poland, before she immigrated to the United States. Frances, a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, recalls visiting relatives in Charleston, South Carolina, as a child. She married Nathan Garfinkle, son of Sam and Annie Garfinkel, emigrants from, respectively, Divin and Grozny, Russia. Nathan, who remembers living in Charleston’s East Side before moving to the St. Philip Street neighborhood, attended Beth Israel, one of two Orthodox synagogues, with his father. Frances and Nathan discuss Charleston’s Jewish merchants, particularly wholesaler Sam Solomon, whose Sullivan’s Island summer home was a gathering place for Jewish families on Sundays. They describe Charleston and Jewish food traditions, including African-American street vendors and Jewish-owned markets, and the prevalence of Yiddish speakers among members of the Jewish community in the first half of the twentieth century. Even some African Americans who worked for Jewish store owners spoke Yiddish. Louisa Simmons kept house for Sam and Annie Garfinkel, and later for Nathan and Frances, for a total of than more than fifty years. “She was one of the family . . . we loved her.” Note: Other family members spell the name Garfinkel. The interviewee has spelled his name Garfinkle since his military service during World War II, when a typographic error was made and never corrected.
Ben Stern, audio interview by Dale Rosengarten and Michael Samuel Grossman, 4 March 1997, Mss 1035-137, Special Collections, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA.;Ben Stern, the youngest of Chaim and Hadassah Stern’s four children, was born in Kielce, Poland, in 1924. For a decade beginning in 1930, the family lived in Lodz where, Ben recalls, antisemitism was rampant. The Sterns returned to Kielce in 1940, hoping conditions created in the wake of the German occupation of Poland the year before, would not be felt as harshly in a smaller community. For a time, that was true. Ben comments on Hitler’s strategy and the Germans’ willingness to take part in his plan. His sister Faye and their parents were transported to Treblinka in 1942; he never saw them again. Ben was put to work by the Germans in a number of jobs that required intense physical labor, before being sent to Auschwitz in 1944. He describes how he got to the concentration camp, what happened when he arrived, and the effects the dehumanizing conditions had on the behavior of the inmates. He was transferred to a number of different camps before being liberated by Americans. He was reunited with his sister Sophie after the war. She had been sent to the same camp in Pionki as their brother, Joel, who died in a death march the day before they were liberated. After the war Ben lived in an apartment in Munich, Germany, where he met and married his wife, Jadzia Szklarz, also a survivor. The couple, with their daughter Lilly, immigrated to Columbia, South Carolina, in 1949, sponsored by Ben’s uncle Gabriel Stern, who had left Lodz many years before to escape antisemitism. Ben talks about his first jobs in Columbia, his four children, and how his belief in God changed.
Abraham Stern, audio interview by Robert Buxton, 11 April 1999, Mss 1035-211, Special Collections, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA.;Abraham “Abe” Stern was ten years old in 1939 when the Germans invaded Poland. At the time his father owned a textile factory in Lodz and the family was well-off, but antisemitism, promoted by the government and the Catholic Church, was commonplace. Shortly after the German occupation, the Stern family was forced to move to the ghetto in Lodz, where they lived until 1944, when they were transported to Auschwitz. Abe describes the systematic approach to genocide practiced by the Germans, which began in the ghetto, included forced labor, and ended in death for many who never believed it would come to that. He recalls the degrading conditions in Auschwitz and the high death rate in the labor camp in Ahlem, Germany, where he was housed while working in Hannover. After liberation by the Americans, Abe and some buddies made their way to Bergen-Belsen in search of surviving family members. He recounts what they saw when they arrived. Abe caught up with his three sisters in Poland, and they returned with him to Marburg, Germany, where he worked in a kitchen for the American army while waiting to obtain permission to come to the United States. Abe lived in New York for a year before traveling to California, where a man associated with the Workman’s Circle introduced him to someone who gave him a job. A year or so later, in 1948, he joined the United States Air Force, which ultimately brought him to Sumter, South Carolina, where he met and married his wife, Rhea, and where they raised their three children. Abe discusses how he copes with his memories of the Holocaust, how he is bewildered by those who deny that it occurred, and his feelings about providing reparations for the victims.
Larry Freudenberg relates the history of both sides of his family. His mothers forebears, the Triests, immigrated to Charleston, South Carolina, from Bavaria in the 1850s, opened a clothing store on King Street, and joined the Reform congregation, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. Larry's father, Henry Freudenberg, was a young boy when he escaped Nazi Germany in 1939 with his parents and grandparents. They eventually settled in Charleston. Larry discusses his experiences growing up in the 1960s and 70s, and feeling trapped between two cultures. Gentile children teased him for being Jewish, while Orthodox Jewish children accused him of being not Jewish enough. Larry runs the family's insurance business established in 1903 by his great-grandfather, Montague Triest.
Joe Engel, who was twelve years old when the Nazis occupied Poland in 1939, describes life in his home town of Zakroczym, Poland, before and after the invasion. His family fled to Warsaw and then Plonsk, the ghetto from which they were transported to concentration camps. Joe was imprisoned at Birkenau, Buna, and, Auschwitz. He made a daring escape from a train after surviving a death march. After the war ended, he immigrated to Charleston, South Carolina, where decades later his vision led to the construction of the Holocaust Memorial.
Sandra Garfinkel Shapiro grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1930s and 40s, the youngest of six children of Jewish immigrants from Divin, Russia. She recalls her childhood years, including her involvement with Young Judea, the African-American woman who worked for the Garfinkel family, and her fathers mattress business. She has donated her personal collection of genealogy books, photos, and ephemera to the Jewish Heritage Collection at the College of Charleston.
Philip Garfinkel, one of six children of Sam and Hannah Garfinkel, natives of Divin, Russia, grew up in the 1930s and ’40s in Charleston, South Carolina. Philip discusses his siblings, friends from the St. Philip Street neighborhood, and the family’s religious practices. He fondly recalls summers on Sullivan’s Island and afternoons at the Jewish Community Center on St. Philip Street.
Sisters Dorothea Dumas, Renée Frisch, and Jennie Ackerman recall their familys immigrant background and share memories of growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1920s and 30s. Their father, New Yorker Louis Shimel, an attorney who married Lillian Fechter of Charleston, served as the assistant district attorney for the Southeast and was the first president of the Jewish Community Center. The sisters also discuss the founding of Emanu-El, Charlestons Conservative synagogue.
Judith Glassman and Bernice Goldman, daughters of Hyman and Eunice Poliakoff Draisen, share memories of growing up in the 1950s in Anderson, South Carolina. Among the topics they discuss are the familys music business, their religious training, and the anti-Semitism they encountered. They also describe their careers and immediate families.
Karl Karesh, born in 1912, discusses growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, focusing on his neighborhood, the local merchants, his Hebrew school training, and his family and their adherence to Orthodox religious observances. He addresses the differences between the uptown and downtown Jews before World War II, and describes his clothing business, and other Jewish- and gentile-owned dry goods stores, in Charleston during the post-war years.
Marshall Stein, born in Allendale, South Carolina, in 1935 to Lena Young and Max Stein, recounts the Stein and Young family histories. Lena, a Beaufort, South Carolina, native, was a daughter of Russian immigrants Toby and Julius Young, who, having lived in a number of northern cities, including New York, moved to Beaufort to take advantage of the lower cost of living and the less populated, rural atmosphere. Besides opening dry goods and furniture stores in Beaufort, the Youngs ran lumber mills in neighboring Burton and in Allendale, about sixty miles inland. The interviewee relays anecdotes about Julius, who was fully accepted by his fellow businessmen in Beaufort, so much so, he had the dubious distinction of being invited to join the Ku Klux Klan. Max Stein was one of four sons of Lena (same name as her daughter-in-law) and Morris Stein of Indianapolis, Indiana. Morris ran a tannery and frequently went on the road to sell his hides. Julius Young was one of his customers, and Max met his future wife, Lena, after accompanying his father on a sales trip. Max and his new bride tried living in Indianapolis, but Lena didn't like it, so they moved to Allendale where Max opened a grocery store. The family relocated to Beaufort when Marshall was six years old; by then, he was a big brother to Bernard. Max joined the Young family in the lumber industry, which expanded to include a building supply and contracting business in Beaufort. Marshall describes growing up in the Lowcountry town with his brother, Bernie, and his sister, Leonora Lynn, born four years after the move. He shares fond memories of the Youngs, particularly his four cousins, who were like brothers, and his aunt Sanie, who married Ben Fox of Asheville, North Carolina; Ben ran Fox's Jewelers on Bay Street in Beaufort. The interviewee cherished the small-town atmosphere and the intimacy of services and gatherings at Beaufort's Orthodox synagogue, Beth Israel, led by Rabbi Spier. He recalls one or two "Germanic Jewish" families living in Beaufort who didn't attend Beth Israel; instead they traveled to the Reform synagogue in Savannah or Charleston. "Because of that they didn't fit in too well with the rest." Note: the transcript includes comments and corrections made by the interviewee and interviewer during proofing.
Hanna Pearlstine, audio interview by Dale Rosengarten and Marilyn Cohn Fine, 28 August 1996 and 29 August 1996, Mss 1035-088, Special Collections, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA.;Hanna Pearlstine, daughter of first cousins Shep and Sara Pearlstine, was born in 1903 in St. Matthews, South Carolina. She describes growing up in the small Midlands town where her father owned a grocery business and Puritan Farm, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. After attending Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Columbia College in New York City, Hanna taught history from 1928 to 1968 at Columbia High School in Columbia, South Carolina. She and her niece Marilyn Cohn Fine outline their family history, beginning with the emigration of Janetta (Jeanette) Karesh and Tanchum (Thomas) Pearlstine (Farber in the Old Country), Hanna’s great-grandparents, from Trzcianne, Russia, in the mid-1800s. Pearlstine relatives mentioned include the Hyams, Vineburg, Wolff, Jacobs, and Cohen families. Hanna also discusses her visit to Washington, D.C., as a guest of Senator Strom Thurmond, her membership in Tree of Life Congregation in Columbia, and relations between her family and the African Americans who worked for her parents in their home and their warehouse. Note: for several related collections, search for “Pearlstine” in Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston.
Ida Berry, one of four daughters of Bessie Freed and Samson Berry (Berazin), was born in 1923 and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. In this interview she discusses her family history and her experiences growing up in the capital city. Samson emigrated from Visnea, Russia, early in the 20th century, and found his way to Columbia where he opened a small dry goods store on Assembly Street. Bessie, also from Russia, followed her father and sister to New York City, and was visiting her uncle in Columbia in 1917 when she met Samson. Two months later David Karesh, the shochet, cantor, and rabbi for Columbia’s Orthodox Jews, presided over their marriage ceremony in the House of Peace Synagogue (later called Beth Shalom) on Park Street. Ida recalls Columbia’s Jewish merchants, how her family observed the holidays, and the traditional foods her mother prepared in her kosher kitchen. While growing up she felt that there was an atmosphere of mutual respect between Jews and non-Jews, and she remembers that the city’s gentiles, including the Ku Klux Klan member who lived next door to the Berrys, were friendly and helpful. Ida describes Beth Shalom Congregation’s gradual transition from Orthodox to Conservative practices, from families sitting together at the Marion Street location to women reading the Torah from the bimah in the suburban Trenholm Street synagogue. Note: the transcript contains additions and corrections made by the interviewee during proofing.
Longtime jazz director for Spoleto Festival U.S.A., Michael Grofsorean talks about his history at the festival since 1980. He relates anecdotes about past performers, including Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Sarah Vaughan and Ray Charles and describes the process that goes into selecting the artists for each festival. He discusses festival founder Gian Carlo Menotti's distaste for jazz, the rocky years of festival finances, the NAACP boycott of South Carolina that nearly derailed the 2000 jazz program and describes why the city of Charleston is the perfect venue for the festival. Audio with transcript.
Helen Goldman and Stephen Schein delivered this talk titled “The Jewish Community of Beaufort in 1905 and the Founding of Beth Israel Congregation” at the April 2005 meeting of the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina (JHSSC), held in Beaufort, South Carolina, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Beth Israel Congregation. Bernard Warshaw, president of the JHSSC, welcomes audience members and reads the governor’s proclamation honoring the anniversary, and Julian Levin introduces the speakers. Goldman and Schein discuss the history of the congregation and, more specifically, their grandfathers and founding members, David Schein and Morris Levin and their families.
Max Kirshstein relates the experiences of his father, Nathan, and uncle, Abe, natives of Kaluszyn, Poland, who immigrated to the United States in 1920 to avoid conscription into the Polish army. They followed their three sisters to Charleston, South Carolina. Nathan’s wife, Sarah Ingberman, and their two sons, Yankel and Max, both born in Sarah’s hometown of Laskarzew, Poland, joined him in Charleston a year later. Max credits Sam Rittenberg with helping newly-arrived immigrants and notes that Etta Gaeser was one of several teachers who provided instruction in English. Nathan, who peddled to support the family, which had grown to include three more children, died in 1930, when Max was only ten years old. After graduating from Murray Vocational School in 1936, Max took a job in Isadore and Dave Solomon’s pawn shop on King Street. Four years later, Ben Barkin offered him a position as an administrative assistant in Aleph Zadik Aleph’s (AZA) Washington office. Two and a half years at the national headquarters “changed the whole course of my life, my thinking, and everything else.” While serving in the navy during World War II, Max continued his association with AZA as an advisor for Virginia’s Tidewater chapters. After the war he returned to Charleston and, in addition to his advising duties, he became the first chairman of AZA’s southern region, and, later, helped to organize a new local chapter to accommodate the growing number of Baby Boomer teens. In 1946 Max opened Metropolitan Credit Company, which he renamed Metropolitan Furniture Company. A year later he married Sylvia Lazarus and together they raised three children. Max touches on the antisemitism he experienced growing up, the breakaway of a number of Brith Sholom members to form Emanu-El, Charleston’s Conservative synagogue, and the merger of the two Orthodox congregations, Brith Sholom and Beth Israel. Note: comments on the transcript made by Larry Iskow, the interviewee’s son-in-law, are in brackets with his initials.
“Oldtimers and Newcomers” is a panel discussion held in 2004 at the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina’s spring meeting convened in Georgetown in honor of Temple Beth Elohim’s centennial year. “Oldtimers” Philip Schneider and Meyer Rosen provide background on Georgetown’s Jewish history, noting former mayors, prominent members of the community, and their own family stories. “Newcomers” and New York natives Ariane Lieberman and Gene Vinik discuss how their experiences, growing up in New York among a large population of Jews, differ from the small-town, southern culture of Georgetown. Bari Heiden, born in Atlanta, Georgia, and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, joined the Georgetown congregation just six months before the panel met. She describes raising her children in Florence, South Carolina, where they were members of Beth Israel. Audience members contribute their memories of growing up in Georgetown and share their small-town stories.
Lilly Stern Filler was born in Munich, Germany, in 1947 to Holocaust survivors Jadzia Szklarz and Ben Stern. The Sterns immigrated two years later to Columbia, South Carolina, where Gabriel Stern, Ben’s uncle and immigration sponsor, lived. This interview opens with Lilly describing a Stern (Szterenzys) family photo taken, presumably, in Poland when Ben was a little boy. Ben met Jadzia after the war through Jadzia’s brother Ben Szklarz, who was his bunkmate in the concentration camps. Lilly recounts how her parents were reunited with their siblings after the war and talks about her aunts, uncle, and cousins. The oldest of four, she shares memories of and thoughts about growing up as a daughter of survivors. After encountering antisemitism when trying to join a high school social club, Lilly’s involvement with Jewish youth groups intensified. She elaborates on what Judaism means to her, and what it means to have a Jewish home. The interviewee recalls meeting her husband, Bruce Filler, a Rhode Island native, at Rusk Institute in New York City, where both were working as physical therapists. They married in 1972, moved to Massachusetts, earned graduate degrees, and in 1975 welcomed daughter Rachel before deciding to relocate to Columbia, where they opened their own practice, Columbia Rehabilitation Clinic. Sons Alex and Michael were born in 1978 and 1980. Four years later, Lilly, pursuing a long-held dream, started medical school at the University of South Carolina. She relates some of the issues she faced going to medical school and starting a new career as a woman in her thirties and forties, and as the mother of young children. She describes partnering with Richland Memorial Hospital to open Women Physicians Associates, an all-female OB-GYN practice. In 2000 Lilly followed up on an initiative her parents had started years before to erect a Holocaust Memorial in Columbia. She discusses how the project grew to include various members of the Columbia community, Jewish and non-Jewish. The monument, located in Memorial Park, was dedicated in 2001. The Columbia Holocaust Education Commission was established with surplus from the memorial fund and shared the same goals: “remember the six million . . . honor the survivors and the liberators . . . and educate South Carolinians about the Holocaust.”
Conie Spigel Ferguson was born and raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the daughter of Geneva Fulk and Julian Spigel. She talks about her great-uncle Joel Spigel and her grandfather David Manuel Spigel of Prussia, who immigrated to the United States in the late 1800s. The brothers, who were jewelers, lived for a time in the Newberry-Columbia area, where David met and married Theresa “Daisy” Mittle. The Spigels, Joel included, moved to Spartanburg in 1903, where they opened a jewelry store. Conie’s father, Julian Spigel, was pushed to go to medical school by his parents. He met Geneva at a hospital in North Carolina where she was working as a nurse. Geneva came from a family of Moravians and was expected to leave school before completing her education to work on the family farm. However, she left home, took a job and a room with another family, graduated from high school, and earned a nursing degree. She married Julian in 1941, and they moved to Texas where Julian, an M.D., worked at a hospital before being called home to Spartanburg by his father in 1947, shortly after Conie’s brother, Joel David, was born. Julian helped out with the family jewelry business and took over after David Spigel’s death in 1949. He did not work again in medicine. Although Geneva did not convert to Judaism, she raised Joel and Conie in a Jewish household, insofar as they observed all the holidays. The children attended Sunday school, and Geneva was active in the B’nai Israel Sisterhood and B’nai B’rith. As the daughter of a gentile mother, Conie discusses how she was received by the rabbi and members of the temple. She recalls Rabbi Max Stauber who was hired in 1955 and served the congregation for nearly 30 years, noting that he was “like a second father” to her. The interviewee describes her devotion to Jewish religious observance and what she values in a rabbi. She relates incidences of antisemitism she experienced while in secondary school and at Spartanburg Junior College (now Spartanburg Methodist College). Conie responds to questions about race relations in Spartanburg, and reports that she never witnessed any conflicts between black and white students in her high school.
Isidore Denemark was born in 1910 in Mayesville, South Carolina, the son of Eastern European immigrants Sara Lee “Lizzie” Siegel and Jacob Denemark. Jacob arrived in New York and, at some point, moved to Georgetown, South Carolina, where he worked for the Fogel Brothers in their general merchandise store. Isidore doesn’t know when or where his parents married. He describes a number of moves the family made after Jacob left Georgetown. They ran stores in Mayesville, South Carolina, Sumter, South Carolina, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. They returned to Sumter around 1935 where Jacob went into business with Sara’s brother Harry Siegel on Main Street and Sara opened the Smart Shop, which sold dresses. Isidore recalls his father packing up his merchandise and following the tobacco workers around during harvest season in the Carolinas and Tennessee. The interviewee talks about his family’s religious observances as Orthodox Jews when he was growing up and his practices as an adult. He and interviewer Robert Moses are members of Sumter’s Temple Sinai, a small Reform congregation. Both men express frustration and concern about the lack of attendance at Sabbath services by members of the younger generations. They contemplate the reasons for the low levels of participation and compare the Jewish community of Sumter to the large and vibrant one in Charleston, South Carolina. Isidore earned an accounting degree at New York University and returned to Sumter in 1936 to work for Boyle Construction Company as a CPA. He was joined by his first wife, Gladys “Jimmy” Goldsmith, and they raised two children, Bennett and Adele. He talks about how he met Jimmy, who died in 1966. He married Rae Nussbaum Addlestone, originally from Charleston, who was present at this interview. Isidore was one of six or so people who put up money for a new summer camp for Jewish children. They bought more than two hundred acres in Cleveland, GA, and named it Camp Coleman, for the man who made the largest donation. Isidore and Robert discuss the absence of antisemitism in Sumter and how Jewish residents have been prominent in every part of Sumter life. Isidore addresses the issue of the Confederate flag flying on the South Carolina statehouse grounds.
Joan Weisblum Steinberg Loeb, born in 1918 in Brooklyn, New York, married Matthew Steinberg and moved to his native city of Charleston, South Carolina, in 1936. Joan, a daughter of Elsie Aleskowitz and Philip Weisblum, recounts some of her family history, and describes how she met Matthew, who earned his M.D. from the Medical College of South Carolina, and their wedding in the Weisblum’s Brooklyn home. Her mother-in-law, Anna Bell Kaminski Steinberg, taught her how to keep a kosher home. The interviewee, who had no formal religious upbringing, recalls attending High Holy Day services at her husband’s Orthodox congregation, Brith Sholom. She notes that Matthew served as mohel for the congregation following Reverend Feinberg, who was also the cantor and the shochet. Interviewer Sandra Rosenblum reports that her husband, Raymond Rosenblum, a urologist, later assumed the role. In 1947, Joan and Matthew left Brith Sholom and joined roughly seventy families in becoming founding members of the Conservative Synagogue Emanu-El. Joan points to the leadership of Charleston native, Macey Kronsberg, the congregation’s first president, as pivotal in organizing the faction that was dissatisfied with Orthodox practices. Joan notes the source of discontent: “It was the fact that the women were not part of the service at all, and the families did not sit together. This didn’t satisfy this generation. They wanted the children to be part of it and to learn and to have an interest, and not to have to just be banged over the head in Hebrew school to learn enough for a bar mitzvah, and goodbye Charlie.” Joan and Matthew donated the first sanctuary, an army chapel, for Emanu-El’s Gordon Street property. Joan lists many of the names and professions of the charter members. She discusses the differences among Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism, and some of the changes that have taken place in her lifetime. Participants recall the mid-twentieth century practices and attitudes of Charleston’s Reform congregants (Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim) and the two Orthodox congregations, Brith Sholom and Beth Israel, and they examine their own, and others’, experiences of keeping kosher—or not. Joan briefly mentions the three women’s organizations she joined in Charleston: the National Council of Jewish Women, the Daughters of Israel, and the Happy Workers. She goes into some detail about why her father thought U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the “biggest hypocrite and enemy of the Jews.” Matthew Steinberg died in 1968. Three years later, Joan married B. Frank Loeb of Montgomery, Alabama, where she was living at the time of the interview. She provides a brief history of Montgomery’s Reform congregation, Temple Beth Or.
Sidney Rittenberg, born in 1921, talks about growing up in Charleston, South Carolina. He relates memories of his parents, Muriel Sluth (Slutsky) and Sidney Rittenberg, Sr., and his older sister, Elinor, who married Art Weinberger, also of Charleston. The interviewee’s paternal grandfather, Samuel Oscar Rittenberg (1867–1932) emigrated from Lithuania and, after living in New York for a time, ended up in Charleston working in real estate with Triest & Israel. Samuel served as president of Brith Sholom Synagogue and was a South Carolina state legislator. Sidney Sr. was a reporter for the News and Courier before becoming a self-taught attorney, partnering with Louis Shimel in the law firm Shimel & Rittenberg. He was a Charleston City Councilman, active in local civic clubs, and associated with many prominent Charlestonians of his day. Although his parents often attended Shabbat services at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, Charleston’s Reform synagogue, the interviewee notes that they didn’t observe the High Holidays. Growing up, Sidney had Jewish and non-Jewish friends. He says, “I didn’t really like being Jewish because it separated me from the other kids. . . . I thought, ‘I’m an American. Why should I be anything else?’” Sidney noticed tension between the Reform Jews and the Orthodox Jews. “People looked down on each other because they weren’t strict enough or they were too strict.” He describes instances of antisemtism; portrays an African-American man who made baskets and wove figures like dolls and ships; and recalls enjoying children’s programs offered by The Charleston Museum. The interviewee discusses an incident that deeply affected him as a fourteen-year-old; he witnessed the unjust treatment of a black man by the police and was powerless to stop it. See also Sidney’s second interview with Dale Rosengarten on June 19, 2013, and his two interviews with cousin Deborah Lipman Cochelin on July 27, 2013, and October 27, 2013.
Faye Goldberg Miller, born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1938, talks about growing up on St. Philip Street, one of three children of Polish immigrants Jeanette Altman and George Goldberg. She explains why her father changed his name to Goldberg from Geldbart after arriving in the United States. George followed his brother Israel to Charleston and opened a men’s clothing shop on King Street. The family observed the Sabbath and the Jewish holidays and Jeanette kept a kosher kitchen. Despite encountering antisemitism from a few neighborhood children, Faye says she “had a wonderful childhood in Charleston.” Faye married Ivan Miller and they raised three children, Shira, Robert, and Bruce, in Columbia, South Carolina. She discusses the family business, Groucho’s Delicatessen, purchased in the early 1940s from the Rivkins by Ivan’s father, Harold Miller, with the help of Harold’s brother-in-law John Gottlieb.
Beryle Stern Jaffe, born in 1945, talks about growing up in Columbia, South Carolina. She is the eldest daughter of Sarah Kramer and Henry Stern. After Henry was discharged from the military, the Sterns settled in Henry’s home city of Columbia, where he joined his father, Gabe Stern, in his dry goods business, at that time located in nearby Lexington. Beryle recalls segregation and how prejudice against African Americans manifested in public, as well as in her own home with regard to their hired help. The interviewee married Pierre Jaffe in 1967. Pierre, a native of Paris, France, immigrated as a child to the United States with his mother, who had married an American soldier. Pierre and Beryle raised two children, Jason and Erin, in Columbia. Interviewer Lilly Stern Filler’s parents, Ben and Jadzia Stern, were Holocaust survivors who settled in Columbia after World War II. Beryle and Lilly describe the degree to which Lilly’s parents, particularly her father, adjusted to life in a new country.
Marian Calhoun Murray was born in Evanston, Illinois, and later moved with her family to Asheville, where she attended high school. While at Agnes Scott College, she was invited to a house party at Edisto, where she met her future husband, J.G. Murray, a native Edistonian. They married in 1935, in Asheville; she was henceforth known on Edisto as ‘the girl from off.’ The couple moved to the Island after a brief stay in Mt. Pleasant, where J.G. worked with Micah Jenkins at Boone Hall. Coming from the city, Marian had much to get used to when they moved to Edisto: the smell of pluff mud, no electricity, water delivered by a pump, and a wood stove to cook on. J.G. had gotten a job as landscape architect for the Edisto Beach State Park, being built by CCC workers. Marian and a friend tried to teach the young CCC workers to read and write—her first foray into teaching. Marian spoke briefly about the economy on Edisto in those early days, mentioning a repair shop, an oyster factory, several stores (Perry’s, Bailey’s, Posner’s), and farming, the backbone of the economy. By the mid-1940s, J.G. was managing the farm at Cypress Trees Plantation. Farming was done with mules, carts, and wagon, using the task system developed in the plantation days. Major crops were cabbages and potatoes. She also recounted memories of the hurricanes of 1940 and 1959 on Edisto, as well as wartime rationing. In 1941, when a vacancy came up at the Edisto Island School, Marian got a job teaching English, Latin, science, and biology. Parker Connor was the principal; other teachers during her time there included Sally Pope, Arlene Jenkins, Sarah Hopkinson, Lena Armstrong, Florence Park, and Clytie Sayer. Marian spoke of the strong support from the parent organization and from churches—only two at that time, she said, Presbyterian and Episcopalian—which put on annual holiday parties, operettas, and minstrel shows. The school underwent many changes during her 30-yeare tenure, including consolidation with mainland schools. The Edisto Island School closed in 1971, and Marian went on to teach at St. Paul’s Academy through 1976, serving in 1977 as headmistress. But she mourned the loss to Edisto: ‘We were sorry to see the school close,’ she said, ‘because that ended the main community spirit that held us together.’
Carolee Rosen Fox, born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, relates some of her Charleston family history. Her maternal great-grandparents, Caroline Goldstein and Isaac Belitzer, lived at 344 East Bay Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Carolee describes the home, known as the John Falls Walker House. It was passed down in the family to her great-aunt Gertrude Belitzer who, in turn, left it to the interviewee’s mother, Selina Leidloff, daughter of Blanche Belitzer and photographer Herman Leidloff. The house, featured in the Historic American Building Survey collection in the Library of Congress, was torn down in 1961. Carolee briefly discusses how her mother, Selina, met her father, Abe Rosen, a New York dress manufacturer.
Jack Bloom describes growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, where his grandfather Harris Bloom, originally from Bialystok, Poland, established Bloom's Department Store around 1910. After serving in World War I, Jack's father, Julius, married Jennie Shatenstein, whose family lived for a time in a New Jersey agricultural settlement sponsored by the Baron de Hirsch Fund. Julius opened his own shop in Greenville, but later joined his father in business. The interviewee discusses his thoughts and current practices in regard to the laws of kashrut, and notes that his mother kept kosher but served classic southern cuisine. His family, including his brother, Melvin, and his sister, Shirley, celebrated all the Jewish holidays, and Julius, who closed his store on the High Holidays, was the cantor for their synagogue, Beth Israel. Jack recalls a few of the earlier Jewish families that settled in Greenville, and mentions several Jewish men, besides himself, who served in World War II. After discharge from the army, he attended Duke University Law School and returned home to open a practice. He married New Yorker Lillian Chernoff in 1963. Jack discusses his religious views and the history of Beth Israel, which, he notes, joined the Conservative Movement in the late 1940s. Note: the transcript includes comments added by the interviewee during proofing. For a related collection, the Julius H. Bloom papers, see Mss. 1034-012, Special Collections, College of Charleston.
Helen Laufer Dwork Berle describes growing up in her native city, Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1920s and 30s. She discusses in detail Jewish merchants and the St. Philip Street neighborhood. Her parents, Harry and Tillie Hufeizen Laufer, who immigrated from Mogelnitsa, Poland, owned a mens clothing store on King Street before opening a restaurant. Laufers was Charlestons first kosher restaurant and served as a social hub during World War II.
Rose Louise Aronson was raised in Orangeburg, South Carolina, the great-granddaughter of Moritz Rich who, with his brother Lipman, emigrated from Prussia before the Civil War and settled successively in Charleston, St. Matthews, and Orangeburg. About 1890, her maternal grandfather, Louis Leopold Block, a German immigrant, joined the Hirsch brothers in their dry goods business in Camden. In the 1950s, Rose Louise was instrumental in organizing Temple Sinai, Orangeburg’s Jewish congregation.
Fay Alfred follows up on information she broached in her first interview. She also discusses what happened to her relatives living in Europe during World War II, and her brother’s death while being held as a POW in the Philippines. She and her daughter, Marlene Addlestone, recall visiting her in-laws at their resort in South Haven, Michigan, and Mrs. Addlestone, talks about living in Charleston, South Carolina, where she moved after marrying Avram Kronsberg in 1959.
Barry Draisen was raised in post-World War II Anderson, South Carolina, where his parents owned a jewelry and music store. After working in several states as an engineer for General Electric, he returned to his hometown with his wife, Ellen Cherkas of Atlanta, to help run the family business. The couple decided to remain in Anderson where they took over the store, raised their children, and became active members and leaders of Temple B’nai Israel.
Brothers David and Sam Draisen, descendants of Russian immigrants from the Draisen and Poliakoff families, describe the family jewelry and music businesses and their experiences growing up in Anderson, South Carolina, in the years after World War II. They also discuss the history of Andersons Jewish congregation, Bnai Israel, and provide details about their careers and immediate families.
Born in 1927, Sophia Marie Friedheim Beers was raised in the Protestant faith in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Her grandfather Arnold Friedheim, a German Jewish immigrant, settled in the town after the Civil War. His brother, Julius, followed him to Rock Hill and together they ran A. Friedheim and Brother. The department store, which supplied uniforms to Winthrop College students, closed its doors in 1964 after nearly a century in business. Sophia recounts the story of her cousins, the Schwartzes, who escaped Nazi Germany in 1938 and came to Rock Hill.
Harold Marion Aronson, born in Lane, South Carolina, in 1919, grew up in New Jersey, but returned with his family to South Carolina where they opened a dry goods store in Kingstree. Harold, who flew weather reconnaissance missions for the United States Army Air Corps during World War II, married Rose Louise Rich in 1944 and, later, settled in Rose Louise’s hometown, Orangeburg, South Carolina. The Aronsons established a successful aluminum awning business and raised two daughters.
Hyman Rubin describes his upbringing in Norway, South Carolina, and later in Columbia, where his family owned a wholesale dry goods store. He talks about his experience at the University of South Carolina, and recounts his political career and tenure on Columbia's city council (1952-1966) and in the state senate from 1966-1984. In 1940, he married Rose Rudnick of Aiken, South Carolina.
Interview with Eugene C. Hunt by Edmund L. Drago, August 28, 1980 and November 4, 1980, AMN 500.001.005.1980, in the Avery Normal Institute Oral History Project, of the Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston
Rebecca Bryan discusses memories of her life in Charleston. She mentions a contest between the fire departments, the Womens Exchange on King Street, Dixie Antique Shop, transportation as a young girl, several significant earthquakes and hurricanes, the history of her house at 110 Broad Street, the Battery as a child, her childhood schooling, the Charleston Exposition of 1901, and a story about the Charleston Light Dragoons. Audio with transcript and tape log.
Marian Birlant Slotin discusses the history of her fathers antique business, George C. Birlant & Company, which he established in 1929 in Charleston, South Carolina. George married Lillian Marcus of Kingstree, South Carolina, and despite their Orthodox backgrounds, they raised Marian, their only child, in the Reform tradition. Marian reminisces about her childhood and many of her close and distant relatives. She married Phil Slotin of Georgia, and they raised two boys. As of 2011, the antique shop remains in the family, run by their son, Andrew.
Rabbi Gerald Isaac Wolpe, a descendant of Polish and Lithuanian Jews, grew up an only child in Roxbury, Massachusetts, surrounded by extended family. After graduating from rabbinical school in 1953, he served as a chaplain in the United States Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune. Two years later, his civilian career was launched in Charleston, South Carolina, where he led the Conservative Synagogue Emanu-El until 1958. The rabbi discusses far-ranging topics including the Jewish businessmen of Charleston, his view of what fueled the Conservative movement, how he balanced his personal beliefs about segregation with the concerns of his southern congregants, the making of Porgy and Bess, and how South Carolina Representative L. Mendel Rivers got his name. After serving Temple Beth El in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for eleven years, Wolpe moved to Har Zion in Philadelphia, where he led the congregation for three decades before retiring.
Louis Funkenstein of Athens, Georgia, married Caroline Geisberg, a native of Anderson, South Carolina, and the couple settled in Caroline’s hometown where Louis established a paper box company. The Funkensteins describe their family histories and discuss a variety of topics including religious practices and Jewish-gentile relations in Anderson.
Ella Levenson Schlosburg, the daughter of emigrants from Lithuania, recounts her family history and describes growing up in an Orthodox Jewish family in the small midlands town of Bishopville, South Carolina. Her father, Frank Levenson, one of a handful of Jewish merchants in Bishopville in the early 1900s, ran a general store that sold everything from groceries to mules. Ella married Elihu Schlosburg, the son of Anna Karesh and Harry Schlosburg, and they moved to Camden, South Carolina, where they established a liquor business.
Sura Wolff Wengrow grew up in Allendale, South Carolina, in the first quarter of the twentieth century where her father, Henry Wolff, a German immigrant, ran a general merchandise store. In 1901, Henry married Rachel Pearlstine of Branchville, South Carolina. The family kept kosher and observed the holidays, but Sura did not receive a Jewish education, formal or otherwise. With no other Jewish families in town, she socialized, as a child, with gentiles and attended their church events, a pattern of assimilation she would repeat while living in Allendale during the early years of her marriage to Sam Wengrow of Beaufort, South Carolina. Longing for a connection to Judaism, and wanting her children to be involved in synagogue life, the Wengrows moved to Columbia when their oldest son was twelve. Note: This transcript appears to have been heavily edited with corrections, deletions, and additions by the interviewee and/or her son during proofing. Therefore, the transcript differs somewhat from the audio.
Reverend McKinley Washington was born in a small community outside of Sumter, South Carolina called Stackhouse Place. In this interview he talks about life on Edisto Island during the height of the civil rights movement including the changes he has witnessed. McKinley’s dad was a sharecropper and his mom a teacher. He graduated from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina with both a degree in political science and religion and a Master of Divinity. During college in the early 60’s he was part of a lunch counter demonstration and listened to Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X when they visited campus. McKinley shares many of his own civil rights experiences. He came to Edisto Island in the mid-60’s to pastor the Edisto Presbyterian Church which was African-American. At this time the African-American community was very poor. Rev. Washington helped organize and was part of the South Carolina Commission for Farm Workers, Community Action Program, Head Start Program, Political Action Committee, and the NAACP. He describes how he worked to get African-American’s registered to vote, to integrate the local schools, the state park, and swim on Edisto beach. He was persuaded to run for public office and elected to the State House of Representatives. There his goal was to get things done in rural areas such as Edisto Island. He fought for roads to be paved, ditches to be cleaned, and was instrumental in getting money for a new bridge to replace the often broken down drawbridge. The new 1993 bridge is named in his honor. He went to Washington to plead for the Sea Island Healthcare Center. After the old Edisto Island School closed rather than be integrated, he helped the African-American community buy it for recreation, summer, adult education, and daycare programs, and community center. McKinley describes his work with Fritz Hollings and the changes in the Republican and Democratic parties. He says that while things have improved tremendously for African-Americans, there is a lot still left undone.
Harold Stone Reeves, a native Charlestonian and lifelong performer, discusses the many aspects of his life since his birth in 1892, including his longtime interest in Gullah, attending the University of South Carolina, his commission with the Charleston Light Dragoons during World War I, his involvement with the Society for the Preservation of Spirituals, and his role as the first manager of the of the Charleston Social Security Office. Audio with transcript and tape log.
Longtime Charleston preservationist, Elizabeth Jenkins “Liz” Young, was born April 7, 1919 on Edisto Island. In this interview she conveys her love for Charleston and emphasizes the importance of its preservation, gives a brief lesson on the Gullah dialect, and discusses St. Michaels Church. Young also talks about Federal Memorial Day versus Confederate Memorial Day, a holiday designated to memorialize the soldiers lost in the Civil War, which she calls the “War Of Northern Aggression.” Audio with transcript and tape log.
New Yorker Ira Kaye and his wife, Ruth Barnett Kaye, of Sumter, South Carolina, discuss Ira’s work as a defense attorney in Japan’s war crimes trials, the reluctance of Sumter’s Jews to speak out against segregation, and Ira’s experience with racism in South Carolina and representation of a tri-racial isolate group called the Turks. They also recall their experiences living in Nepal and India while Ira served in the Peace Corps.
Sylvan and Meyer Rosen, brothers and natives of Georgetown, South Carolina, recall growing up in the coastal city and socializing regularly with gentiles. The Jewish congregation, Beth Elohim, too small to support a rabbi, received support from Charleston’s Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. The brothers name of some of Georgetown’s Jewish families and provide background on their extended families, the Lewenthals, Weinbergs, and Rosens. Their father, Harry Rosen, and their uncle Albert Schneider, who married sisters Dora and Fannie Lewenthal, operated The New Store, which initially sold men’s and ladies’ clothing and later furniture and appliances. Besides practicing law in Georgetown, both men held political office—Sylvan as mayor and Meyer as a state legislator.
Alex Davis, joined by his niece, Suzanne Lurey, who speaks only briefly, discusses his family history and his experiences growing up in Greenville, South Carolina. His father, Victor Davis, opened an auto parts store in Greenville in 1926 and, after he died, Alex and his two brothers, Jack and Louis, ran the family business for nearly four more decades. Alex married Lillian Zaglin, also of Greenville, and they raised two children. He recalls the early leaders of Congregation Beth Israel, Greenville’s Orthodox synagogue, and describes the relationship between Beth Israel, now Conservative, and the Reform congregation, Temple of Israel.
Betty Hirsch Lancer, the daughter of emigrants from Mogelnitza, Poland, describes growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, in the decades before World War II. Her father acted in New York’s Yiddish theaters with limited success, and his father made and sold schnapps out of his house on St. Philip Street during Prohibition. Betty recalls the Great Depression, discusses how her parents made a living, and mentions other families in Charleston who were from Mogelnitza.
Emily Hutchinson Meggett was born in Edisto, as were her mother, Laura B. Hutchinson (who later moved to New York), and grandmother, Elizabeth Major Hutchinson, who raised Emily. Through her grandmother’s line she is related to Jim Hutchinson (her great-grandfather, sometimes called a ‘king’ of Edisto, who was the illegitimate son of Isaac Jenkins Mikell). Emily attended Seaside, Geneva, and Limay—all Edisto schools. She didn’t finish high school; she married in 1951 instead. With her husband, Jessie Meggett (who once lived in the Point of Pines cabin that now resides at the Smithsonian), Emily raised ten children, all of whom attended Edisto schools and later went on to college and successful careers, in fields as varied as the stock market, nursing, teaching, government administration, and the military. She has 24 grandchildren and 35 great-grandchildren; only one of the latter lives on Edisto. For 46 years, beginning in 1954, Emily worked for the family that owned Dodge Plantation. The family had a staff of six who worked for them as needed during the winter months. She rose from dishwasher to cook to housekeeper over that time. In the summers, she worked over the years for the Bolton, Mitchell, and Pepper families, among others. Emily talked about the Mother Emanuel murders; she had a family connection to two people who died there. She said she felt sorry ‘for the people who lost their lives, and for that young man and his family.’ She continued: ‘Back in the slavery time, people taught their children hate, and ain’t all of [it] erased. There's still some there.’ Of race relations on Edisto, she acknowledged that she had seen big changes but that she would like to see more. ‘I'm saying this for years and years...the Lord don't want us to be separated. He made you, he made me. [We’ve] got a different color of skin—but you've got the same red blood, and I've got the same red blood, so he don't want us to separate. He wants us to be close to each other...I don't see colors. I see you as a person.’ Maybe, she joked, she thought that way because of her connection to Jim Hutchinson: ‘I got a streak of lean in me, coming out of the white family.’ Emily Meggett has traveled widely: to Germany, Paris, London; Maine, Tennessee, Florida, Maryland, Colorado. When asked where she wants to be, though, she doesn’t hesitate: ‘This is where I want to be.’
Rabbi Harvey Tattelbaum shared his memories in an address titled “Rabbinic Reminiscences of Beaufort” at the April 2005 meeting of the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina held in Beaufort, South Carolina, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Beth Israel Congregation. His first pulpit, from 1960 to 1962, was the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina. While serving as chaplain for the recruits and their officers, he was hired to lead neighboring Beaufort’s Beth Israel Congregation. He also traveled weekly to Walterboro, South Carolina, to provide services for the members of Mount Sinai
Rabbi Harvey Tattelbaum delivered this speech titled “Struggling, Growing, Reaching New-Old Conclusions” at the April 2005 meeting of the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina held in Beaufort, South Carolina, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Beth Israel Congregation. Rabbi Tattelbaum, who served Beth Israel from 1960 to 1962, describes his secular and religious education, and how reading Night, by Elie Wiesel, contributed to his “search for religious meaning.” He discusses his evolving concept of God and the “necessary challenge” of “spiritual uncertainty.”
Born in 1923, Jane Murray McCollum is the third generation of her family to live at Jack Daw Hall Plantation, located on Edisto Island’s Frampton Inlet. From an early age, she called Jack Daw home. It is also home to ‘Murray’s Graveyard,’ a spot of land her great-grandfather gave to the black slave families, and a separate graveyard, called ‘Jenkins’ Cemetery, for whites. Jane came of age during the Depression, which the family weathered by living off the bounty of land and sea—’...fish, oysters, clams...and all kinds of vegetables’—and by operating a small store called the Sea Island Bargain. The Murrays also, on one terrifying night, rode out the hurricane of 1940 at Jack Daw. Jane comes from an artistic family: Her mother, Faith Murray, was an artist who taught at Charleston’s Gibbes Art Gallery; her father, Chalmers Murray, was a writer, best known for his novel, Here Come Joe Mungin. Her father had a long-time friendship with the artist Jasper Johns, who also had a house on Edisto, She and her sister (also Faith; also an artist) went to the tiny Seaside School on Edisto—there were only seven students in Jane’s class—and she later attended the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina, after which she joined the WAVES. Having served in the Hospital Corps, she subsequently went to nursing school, receiving her training at Roper Hospital in Charleston. When she married, Jane moved to Greenville, SC, until her husband’s retirement; In response to a question about race relations in the intervening years, Jane responded that she saw little difference: ‘When I was growing up here, I didn't even realize they were black. They were really friends...Coming back, I still feel the same way.’ But she does feel that the relationships between blacks and whites were better in those days. Jane has lived at Jack Daw exclusively since 1986. She crabs and swims off a floating dock on the same waters she knew as a child. Following in the family tradition, she paints. As to how her return to Edisto suits her, Jane says: ‘Just to be able to sit here on this front porch and look over there at the creek and the beach and to hear the wind blowing through. Can’t do much better.’
Alice Bailey Stevens’ Edisto roots go back to 1720. She was born at Blue House Plantation, where she lived until 1929, when the family moved to Brookland Plantation. In 1945, she married Johnson Stevens of Lambs Bluff Plantation on Yonges Island. They had three children. She attended high school on Edisto, graduated from Winthrop, and did advanced studies in South Carolina history at the Citadel. She taught primary school for 26 years in Charlotte, Charleston, and Yonges Island. Asked to speak about the history of transportation on Edisto, Alice noted that every facet of life was affected by transportation or the lack thereof. She detailed the early modes: long boats owned by the plantation owners that could make their way to Charleston from North Edisto through a series of cuts. Those on the south end side had a much longer way to row. Lack of transportation also affected early Islanders’ opportunities for worship; they had to travel by boat to Church Flats on Dixie Plantation until they successfully petitioned to have their own church. It limited romantic opportunities as well, as travel between islands was challenging: ‘Some just had to marry the local girls,’ Alice noted. ‘They're still doing it.’ By 1910 the Stevens Line Company began providing daily service to Edisto. Alice gave a snapshot of her lineage: In the early 1800s, her great-grandmother married Ephraim Mikell and moved to Blue House, which his son, Ephraim Jr., inherited. It began as an indigo plantation, but also grew rice, some cotton, and had an orchard. After the boll weevil destroyed the cotton industry, truck farming took over (beans, cabbage, and seed potatoes that came from Prince Edward Island). The black women would sit in a circle, cutting potatoes, and singing spirituals, some 60 years after the Civil War had ended. She also talked about other African American traditions that endured: in cooking, in the language, and in agriculture. Other reminiscences: riding horses at Sea Cloud plantation, the bounty of Blue House, Brookland’s devastation, the practices of people from the Burrough, She ended her talk with a dramatic recounting of two catastrophic events on the Island (the 1886 earthquake and the 1893 hurricane), the first of which involved a crack in the earth in which water bubbled up as if it had ‘come straight up from hell,’ the second of which told of a tragedy that left a lone family survivor ‘fierce,’ and determined never to set her foot in water again.
Sidney Rittenberg, in this follow up to his interview on June 17, 2013, recalls his initial encounters with the idea of Communism. While attending Porter Military Academy, the school chaplain, Reverend William W. Lumpkin, got Sidney’s attention when he stated, “There are people working in little Communist cells around the South, secretly, for equality and justice that are Communists and they don’t consider themselves Christians, but the lives they lead are like Christian lives.” As a teen Sidney was exposed to “socialists, communists, anarchists, everything imaginable liberal,” when he spent a summer at the New Jersey resort run by his maternal grandparents, Martin and Sadie Sluth (Slutsky). “I was struck by the fact that the one who was a Communist, who was a lawyer, was very reasonable and seemed to make a lot of sense to me.” While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Rittenberg volunteered to teach local mill workers how to read and write, and he began working with unions in Durham, North Carolina. Sidney also joined the American Student Union, eventually becoming president of the left-wing campus organization. In 1940, Sidney left school. By that time he had joined the Communist Party [CP] in defiance of a federal investigation of the college’s president, Dr. Frank Porter Graham, “on charges of Communist sympathy.” Sidney traveled to New York and to his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, to collect CP dues and renew contact with members. The interviewee describes his experiences as a trade union organizer in High Point and Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, and his work on behalf of the Alabama Sharecroppers Union [SCU] in the early 1940s. Rittenberg and interviewer Dale Rosengarten share stories about union organizer Clyde Johnson and labor organizer Claude Williams. Dale’s fieldwork for her undergraduate thesis on the SCU led her husband, Theodore Rosengarten, to record the story of a black tenant farmer named Ned Cobb, and produce a book called All God’s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw, which won the National Book Award in 1974. Sidney describes how his union organizing for R. J. Reynolds workers in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, led to him being drafted into the army shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, despite being rejected earlier because of poor eyesight. Rittenberg outlines his service in the U.S. Army, particularly while stationed in China, beginning around the time of the Japanese surrender in 1945. Serving as a claims investigator for the army and, later, after his discharge in January 1946, serving as a famine relief observer for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration [UNRRA], he witnessed the inner workings of Chinese society. “These people were not only in the grip of a terrible backward oppressive system . . . they accepted it as fate, as proper. . . . That’s the great thing that Mao and the Chinese Communists did; they broke up that concept of fate, that you can’t do anything about it, and they made people feel that they could do something.” Sidney joined the CP in China and contributed by supplying books, helping people who were in danger leave the area, and providing whatever assistance was needed. He notes the difference between the CP in the U.S. and the CP in China. After leaving UNRRA, Sidney, intending to head home to the U.S., instead met CP leader Zhou Enlai and General Nie Rongzhen, who offered Sidney a job helping the CP reach out to the American people. Sidney touches on how he coped with being imprisoned in China for more than a dozen years. Imprisonment and solitary confinement “didn’t change me . . . because I believed in the principles. I believed we were working for a better world and there was nothing better to do than that.” He comments on the positive reception he received when he returned to the U.S. in 1980, and notes that “I didn’t really turn from Marxism/Leninism until about a year after I got out of prison the second time. Then I began reexamining basic premises.” In 1993, he co-authored with Amanda Bennett the story of his life in China, The Man Who Stayed Behind. See also two more interviews with Sidney Rittenberg, conducted by his cousin Deborah Lipman Cochelin on July 27, 2013, and October 27, 2013.
Sidney Rittenberg talks a second time with cousin Deborah Lipman Cochelin in follow-up to their recording session on July 27, 2013. Some of the interview covers the same ground as Sidney’s June 17 and June 19, 2013, interviews with Dale Rosengarten, including stories about his family; the unjust treatment of an African American by Charleston, South Carolina, policemen in the mid-1930s; and Rittenberg’s experiences living and working in China. Sidney attended Sunday school at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE), the Reform synagogue in Charleston, South Carolina, and relates his memories of KKBE’s Rabbi Jacob Raisin. When he was about fourteen years old, Sidney met Joseph Nelson Mease, a College of Charleston freshman from Canton, North Carolina. Mease introduced Sidney to topics in natural science and historic figures like Charles Darwin. “The main effect that Joe Mease had on me was that I immediately declared myself an atheist.” Sidney describes his after-school activities, family vacations, and how he befriended medical school students and helped them with their studies while he was still in high school. He discusses why he chose to pursue his college degree at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, instead of taking advantage of a full scholarship to Princeton. For graduate studies, he was sent to Stanford University by the U.S. Army to study Chinese language, politics, culture, history, and anthropology. In September 1945, Rittenberg was assigned to the army’s claims department in the judge advocate’s office in Kunming, China. While in China, he observed that the foreigners who were allowed into the country between 1946 and 1966 came from all over the world and the vast majority were Jewish. “Why? Because, like me, they grew up with, first of all, a natural affinity for oppressed people.”
Ira Rosenberg was born in New York City in 1937, eight years after his brother, Monte, to Bessie Lipschutz and Alan Rosenberg. The family moved to Richmond, Virginia, in the early 1940s, where Ira grew up in the midst of a sizable Jewish community. The Rosenbergs were Orthodox but Ira says his parents “were not very active” in the local synagogue. However, Alan insisted Ira go to shul every Saturday morning and attend Hebrew school in preparation for his bar mitzvah. Ira is joined in this interview by his wife, Anita Moise Rosefield Rosenberg, originally of Sumter, South Carolina. They married in 1963 while Ira was serving in the United States Air Force. Ultimately, they moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where they raised their children, David, Virginia, and Mindelle. Ira describes his career as a pharmacist after he was discharged from the military in 1966. In the 1980s he changed professions and opened his own business as a realtor and real estate appraiser, Rosenberg & Associates. Ira and Anita discuss changes in Reform Judaism and in their synagogue, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. They talk about Rabbi Stephanie Alexander, KKBE’s first female rabbi, and the degree of acceptance extended to lesbian and gay members by the rabbi and the congregation. Anita recalls being on the national commission of a program begun in the 1970s by Rabbi Alexander Schindler, a former president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. The program, called Outreach, was designed to encourage acceptance and inclusion of intermarried couples and their families. See also a follow-up interview (Mss. 1035-461) with the Rosenbergs, conducted on November 4, 2016.
Sidney Rittenberg, born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1921, is interviewed by Deborah Lipman Cochelin, whose great-grandmother Rachel Rittenberg Sanders was a sister of Sidney’s grandfather Samuel Oscar Rittenberg. Sidney tells stories about his parents, Muriel Sluth (Slutsky) and Sidney Rittenberg, Sr., and his sister Elinor Rittenberg Weinberger. He talks about growing up in Charleston, including the schools he attended and the friends he made. A good bit of the narrative is similar in content to his June 17, 2013 interview with Dale Rosengarten. The cousins recall several members of their extended family and Sidney describes time spent as a child on Sullivan’s Island. See also Sidney Rittenberg’s other interviews on June 19, 2013 and October 27, 2013.
Selden K. Smith, a South Carolina native who taught history for nearly four decades at Columbia College in Columbia, South Carolina, talks about his role in the development of Holocaust education courses. He describes meeting local survivors and says of interviewer Lilly Stern Filler’s mother, “The most compelling person of all—it was all compelling—was Jadzia [Stern].” What started as an experimental course featuring presentations by survivors grew into a standard offering at Columbia College. Dr. Smith notes he was not involved in or even aware of the effort to create legislation that established the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust (SCCH) in 1989. However, he was appointed to SCCH in 1990. He credits Margaret Walden, who then worked for the South Carolina Department of Education, for much of the progress made with Holocaust education in the state. Among SCCH’s projects was a joint effort with South Carolina Educational Television to interview survivors and liberators, resulting in the publication of the teaching guide South Carolina Voices. The interviewee discusses the status of Holocaust education in South Carolina and suggests that the challenge is how to make it “relevant to one’s day and time.”
Nicolas Lindsay was born in 1927 at the Hotel Davenport of Spokane, Washington. He was the son of renowned American poet Vachel Lindsay and poet Elizabeth (Lisa) Connor Lindsay of St. Louis. His father killed himself when Nick was four; he and his sister were raised by their mother thereafter. The family moved across the country: to Illinois, California, Alabama, Maryland, and to New York, where he attended boarding schools. Nick did not graduate from high school, but went to work in a steel mill instead, where he helped organize Steel Workers of America, CIO. Later he attended college in Connecticut and got a scholarship to UNC, where he met his future wife, Frances Easley DuBose (DuBose). They raised 10 children and have been married for 70 years. DuBose, a South Carolinian, had visited Edisto as a child, a connection that led to the young Lindsay family’s moving to the Island in 1955. Before arriving on Edisto, Nick worked briefly for the Atomic Energy Commission, which was building what came to be known the Savannah River Project. After the family moved to Edisto, Nick worked as a teacher for a time; but he needed to make more money, so he took on carpentry work, building houses and boats, among other things, including the steeple on the Episcopal Church, which he and his wife did together. The two of them also got involved in efforts to help the black residents of Hollywood and Edisto register to vote—a dangerous business at the time. Because of intimidation by armed white men at the registration center, ‘Nobody got out of the car. I turned around; we came home.’ He continued: ‘We were troublemakers,’ citing the history of the white Presbyterian Church he was asked to write, but which the Church subsequently declined to publish. Nick referred to another book he wrote, And I’m Glad, an oral history mostly narrated by Edisto Islander Sam Gadsden. He discussed a number of renowned Edisto Islanders throughout its history, including April Frasier (on whom, he noted, the title character from Here Come Joe Mungen was based); slavery-era plantation owners Townsend Mikell and his father, Isaac Jenkins Mikell; the ‘King of Edisto,’ Johnny Thorne, who established the freedmen’s village of Shago; and Jim Hutchinson (‘the founding father of the Republican party’) and his son, Henry.
Rosemary Smith and Keller Barron share their memories of South Carolina Democratic Senator Hyman Rubin (1913–2005), who was elected in 1966 and served for eighteen years. Rosemary, who grew up in Nazi Germany, was the administrative assistant to the Senate Medical Affairs Committee that Rubin chaired. Keller was the research director for the Joint Legislative Committee on Aging, also headed by Rubin. Both women describe Rubin’s attributes and tell stories about his contributions to the city of Columbia and the state. He was a founding member of the Columbia Luncheon Club and the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council, both organized in the early 1960s to facilitate racial integration. The interviewees note that although the senator did not “wear” his Jewishness “on his sleeve,” he did decline invitations to attend functions at Forest Lake Club in Columbia, where Jews were not accepted as members. For related materials, see Hyman Rubin’s May 24, 1995, interview, Mss 1035-024, and Rose Rudnick Rubin’s May 5, 1996, interview, Mss. 1035-072.
Roselen Morris Rivkin, born in 1926 in Romania, immigrated with her family to the United States in 1932. They lived first in Elkhart, Indiana, then South Bend, Indiana. She met her husband, Arnold Rivkin, of Columbia, South Carolina, while he was stationed at Notre Dame during World War II. They married in South Bend in August 1946 and moved about three months later to Columbia to operate Edward’s Men’s Shop at the corner of Washington and Assembly streets. After twenty years, the store relocated to 1625 Main Street and reopened as Marks’ Men’s Wear. Roselen talks briefly about Arnold’s parents, Rachel and Raphael Rivkin, and recalls the Jewish merchants she knew on Assembly Street and Main Street. She found Columbia’s Jewish community to be small, close-knit, and welcoming. Roselen and Arnold raised three children, Mark, Allen, and Lynda, in the capital city. For a related interview, see Caba Rivkin, Mss. 1035-017.
In this follow-up to their June 23, 2016, interview (Mss. 1035-452), Ira and Anita Rosenberg talk about their children and grandchildren and how they observed Judaism as a family when the children were growing up. Ira notes that he was a co-founder of Dragon Boat Charleston, served on the boards of Charleston Jewish Community Center and Charleston Jewish Federation, and is a past president of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. He discusses the benefits of Jewish community centers, his thoughts on the recent transition of the local center to one without walls, and his feelings about the presence of Chabad in the area.
Abel Banov draws on memories of his childhood in Charleston, South Carolina, to describe his familys customs, the synagogues, his fathers business ventures, the local merchants, and the differences between the citys uptown and downtown Jews. In 1939, he was hired by the North American Newspaper Alliance to cover stories in Spain just after the Spanish Civil War ended and, in the 1940s, he was founding editor of El Mundos English newspaper in Puerto Rico. He married Joan Heinemann, who fled Nazi Germany in the late 1930s.
George Chaplin, in follow-up to his September 27, 1995, interview (Mss. 1035-040), recalls some of the other Jewish families that lived in his native city, Columbia, South Carolina, in particular his relatives, the Berkovitzes. He remembers sensing a separation between Columbia's German Jews and the more recent Jewish immigrants from Russia and Poland. He describes incidences of antisemitism he experienced in school, noting he was "made to feel something of an outsider." When Chaplin was in high school, his family moved to Greenville, where his father opened Piedmont Pawnshop across the street from Zaglin's kosher meat market. The interviewee attended Clemson Agricultural College, at that time a military academy, and was responsible for ending compulsory church attendance each Sunday for the cadets. Chaplin, who comments on the necessary functions of newspapers and their editors, discusses his long career in newspaper journalism. First he worked for the conservative Greenville Piedmont in Greenville, South Carolina, right out of Clemson (he took a leave of absence from the Greenville Piedmont to accept the year-long Nieman Fellowship at Harvard, where he studied race relations and formed a discussion group consisting of Nieman fellows and black graduate students); then the Stars and Stripes Pacific during World War II; David Stern's Camden, New Jersey, papers, prior to and during a strike in 1947; the liberal San Diego Journal in the late 1940s, when the paper won a national award for investigative reporting; David Stern's "crusading paper," the New Orleans Item, which ultimately was sold to its competitor, the Times-Picayune; and finally the Honolulu Advertiser, from 1958 to retirement, during which time the paper won sixty national awards. Chaplin talks about his younger sister, Kay, and her family; his perception of race relations in Charleston in the late 1940s; his religious practices, and why he and his wife, Esta Solomon Chaplin, who both came from strict Orthodox families, chose to raise their two children in the Reform tradition. He is joined briefly during the interview by Esta. His daughter, Jerri, provided comments and corrections to the transcript during proofing.
Holocaust survivor, Pincus Kolender, tells the story of his life from his boyhood in Bochnia, Poland, to the significance of the Holocaust Memorial in his adopted city of Charleston, South Carolina, where he and his wife, Renee, a fellow survivor, raised their children. He describes life in Bochnias Jewish ghetto after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, his captivity at Birkenau, Buna, and Auschwitz, evading selection for the gas chambers, being wounded in an Allied air attack, surviving a death march, escaping the Nazis, hiding in the Czech forest, working for an American army unit, and immigrating to America.
Margot Strauss Freudenberg recalls life in Germany before and after Hitler came to power. She was born in Hanover in 1907 to a family that was proud to be Jewish, but limited religious observance to the High Holidays. Margot describes the debate among Jewish Germans, including her own parents, about the necessity of leaving Nazi Germany, and her struggle to get her family out of the country. They eventually escaped to Charleston, South Carolina, where Margot became a well-known community activist.
Stephanie Waldron grew up in Kenya on a farm in a house built by her father with no electricity. Later, her mother married Dr. Richard Dominick, who periodically visited Kenya. He was an avid hunter, hunting ducks on Long Island and big game in Kenya. During his visits to Africa they went on safaris, to photograph rather than to hunt. During his youth, Dominick traveled with his family to Coosawhatchie, SC, and developed a love for South Carolina. When he retired from his career as an ophthalmologist, he purchased the Wedge Plantation on the Santee Delta to pursue his lifelong passion of collecting moths. Waldron moved with her mother and siblings during her adolescence to the Wedge. Dominick supervised the renovation of the main house, and built a laboratory for his moth studies called the Bug House. This building also contained a darkroom for color photography development. A steady stream of visitors, scientists and collectors, came to the Wedge. The family had horses, and her stepbrother and stepsister rode often. The family bred thoroughbred racehorses, and Waldron worked with the horses. She reflected on times of the year when deerflies and mosquitoes were rampant. Dr. Dominick died in 1976, and her mother stayed at Wedge another ten years. She described the Wedge property, and recalled trips out to Cedar and Islands. The University of South Carolina purchased Wedge, and it became an institute for the study of mosquito-borne diseases. Waldron stayed on for a while before pursuing her career in film and landscaping. Students came to Wedge, and Waldron ran the kitchen and cooked on her assigned days. Waldron recalled childhood activities from Wedge with her step-siblings. Dr. Dominick had decided at age 40 to no longer hunt, and just observe wildlife. Waldron laughed about locals having trouble understanding her dialect (British). Waldron imagined the amount of labor, and the engineering required, to build all the rice fields in the Santee Delta. She recalled her first time catching shrimp with a seine net at Santee Coastal Reserve with Bill Mace. She expressed her good fortune to have lived for many years in the Santee Delta.
Mike Prevost grew up in Georgetown, SC, and his interest in the outdoors developed in his summers spent at Pawley’s Island. He became an avid duck hunter, and his experiences in rice fields inspired his career in coastal habitat ecology. Prevost received his BS from the University of Georgia (UGA) in 1973, and afterward was employed for three years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the Georgia coast. He returned to UGA for a Masters, studying under Dr. Sydney Johnson, and did his thesis fieldwork at Kinloch Plantation in the Santee Delta on brackish marsh waterfowl foods. Prevost received mentoring from Kinloch’s manager, Kenny Williams, as well as from Phil Wilkinson. After completing his degree, he was employed by SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) working on mosquito control, particularly on understanding the ecology of the mosquito and source reduction. Prevost moved on to employment with SC Wildlife Marine Resources Department (SCMRD) with a focus on waterfowl habitat. The range of his work was from Savannah to Georgetown, and he spent much of his time in the Santee Delta. The work in the outdoors provided a number of challenges: biting insects, equipment issues, and the need to often improvise. Part of his time with SCMRD included working at Bear Island in Colleton County, and during that time the concept of the ACE Basin Project evolved. Prevost became a coordinator for the ACE Basin Task Force. After the ACE Basin Project he went to work full time for The Nature Conservancy as the project director for the Sewee To Santee landscape. In 2010, Prevost had the opportunity to go to work for White Oak Forestry Corporation, a subsidiary of Evening Post Industries. White Oak Forestry consists of 17,000 acres in the lower Santee Delta, and was established by Peter Manigault, a visionary conservationist who was the first landowner to place a conservation easement on private land in the Santee Delta. Prevost followed Duff Holbrook as president and manager of White Oak Forestry, and he told two stories about experiences with Holbrook out in the Delta at Six Mile Island. He reflected on the Delta from hundreds of years ago, the changes created by the development of rice culture, and by the Santee Cooper project that reduced the Santee River flow by 90 percent. Prevost recalled some notable people from the Delta, including William Garrett and Ben Willy Richardson. Of threats to the Delta he identified changing climate and sea level rise. Prevost discussed the high significance of the Santee Delta on a number of levels.
William Garrett grew up on Blake Plantation, part of the Santee Gun Club. His parents were George and Celia Garrett; his father was a trunk minder. During his youth Garrett helped his family grow rice. He had four sisters and four brothers. The family did not have electricity so he cut wood for heating and cooking, and pumped water. Garrett told a story about swimming with his brother Moses toward a log in the South Santee River that turned out to be a large alligator. When he was a young guide for the Gun Club the manager allowed his brother and him to go over to Murphy Island to hunt cattle. He started working for the Santee Gun Club at age 18 or 19 for a salary of $2.50 per week. His main responsibility was to take care of the Santee Gun Club members he was guiding, and get them back safely after the day’s hunt. These hunts took place in blinds on the mainland (the Cape) and on Murphy and Cedar Islands. He recalled a young overconfident guide on his first day stating he could find his way back. When the young guide and his member were long overdue, the manager sent Garrett to find them. Garrett recalled going with his uncle to Murphy Island to get turtle eggs during his childhood. He recalled cattle lined up along the beach at night to get away from the mosquitoes. Garrett said he got used to the mosquitoes. He mentioned the names of some of the Gun Club members, and recalled taking Peter Matthiessen, the son of one of the members, goose hunting on Murphy one evening. Garrett was very worried about potential changes when the Gun Club was transferred to the state of South Carolina. He remembered walking four miles from his home on Blake Plantation to court his wife in South Santee. They were married in 1946. Part of his work for the Gun Club and the state was to build trunks, water control structures, and place them in the dikes. Garrett related his experience in South Santee during Hurricane Hugo. He shared three stories of accidental shootings at the Gun Club. Garrett mentioned changes in fishing after the Santee River was dammed and some of his fishing experiences. He also commented on race relations in the area.
Selma Blick Dickman of Columbia, South Carolina, is joined by her daughter Janis Dickman in this interview, which focuses on social issues dating to the late 1940s. Selma, a New York transplant, describes how she feels about living in the South. After moving to Sumter, South Carolina, in 1949, her tendency to talk about New York was greeted with advice from the Jewish natives: talk less about New York and more about her new home. Selma discusses her past perceptions of Jewish-Christian relations and notes how they have changed over time. She and Janis respond to questions about antisemitism and Janis recalls that as a child growing up in Columbia, "I always remember feeling different." Both describe their reactions to learning of the Holocaust and Selma remembers the arrival in Columbia of survivors Jadzia Sklar and Ben Stern, the interviewer's parents. Selma considers how her views of African-Americans have changed during her lifetime; both interviewees talk about racism, segregation, and present-day race relations, including the controversy surrounding the presence of the Confederate flag on the South Carolina State House grounds. Selma's husband, Max Dickman, who died thirty years before this interview, co-founded the scrap metal business, Columbia Steel and Metal. The Dickmans raised three daughters in Columbia. In a postscript to the interview, Janis describes the Dickman family's relationship with Florida Boyd, an African-American woman who worked in their home for forty-three years. The transcript also includes comments and corrections made by Janis during proofing and additional background information she provided upon request.
Claire Fund recounts how her Jewish parents survived World War II. Her father Charles Fund and his sister Esther were born in Yeremsha, Poland, in the early 1900s. Charles trained as an engineer in France, joined a branch of the French Army, and ended up in Glasgow, Scotland. There he met his wife, Aurelia Frenkel of Vienna, who had escaped Austria on foot in 1939. Esther, a dentist who had returned home to practice, hid in a farmers barn for more than a year to evade the Germans. Once it was safe for her to come out of hiding, she joined the Free Czechoslovakian Army, where she met her husband, Miroslav Kerner.
Sisters Frances Deborah “Debby” Baruch Abrams and Carolyn Baruch Levenson grew up in Camden, South Carolina, in the 1920s and ’30s in a community where a handful of Jewish families maintained a close relationship with their gentile neighbors. Their mother, Theresa Block, daughter of German immigrants, met her husband, Herman Baruch, Jr., when she came to Camden from New York to help her recently widowed uncle, Louis Block, with his three girls. Debby and Carolyn do not recall experiencing any anti-Semitism as children, and Debby was active in the Baptist and Methodist church youth groups. Raised in the Reform tradition, they attended Sunday school in Camden and were confirmed by Rabbi Samuel Shillman at Temple Sinai in Sumter. Despite growing up in Camden, the sisters had strong ties to the coastal region of South Carolina north of Georgetown. Debby remembers visiting her cousin Bernard Baruch, financier and advisor to Presidents Wilson and Roosevelt, at Hobcaw, his plantation northeast of the city. The girls spent their summers in Pawley’s Island, which included visits to their uncle Joe Baruch in Murrells Inlet. Debby met her husband, Helmar Abrams, a pharmacist, in 1942, when she moved to Georgetown to begin teaching. She discusses life in Georgetown, including Temple Beth Elohim’s congregation, the businesses that lined Front Street after World War II, and the relations between Jews, gentiles, African Americans, Lebanese, and Syrians. Note: the transcript contains additions and corrections made by Debby during proofing.
Harold Jacobs, the only child of Sam and Mignonette Cohen Jacobs, discusses his family history and growing up in Charleston, South Carolina. Sam’s father, Isaac Jacobs (Karesh) emigrated from the area of Europe described by Harold as eastern Germany or Prussia. (Isaac Jacobs, grandson of the aforementioned Isaac and Harold’s cousin, states in his account of the family origins in a 1995 interview that the Karesh/Jacobs family came from Trestina, near Bialystok, Poland.) Isaac, the immigrant, made his way to Cincinnati, Ohio, during the Civil War and joined the Union Army. He married Jeanette Slager, and the couple settled in Charleston where they ran a dry goods store on King Street. Sam, Mignonette, and Harold lived in the St. Philip Street neighborhood before moving to Hampton Park Terrace in the northwest section of Charleston, where they opened Harold’s Cabin, a small store that sold snowballs and a few convenience items. Harold describes the family’s holiday and Sabbath customs, his aunt and uncles on the Jacobs side, the differences between “uptown” and “downtown” Jews, and the expansion of the family business, including how he came to be one of the first merchants in Charleston to sell frozen foods. As a child, Harold attended services at Brith Sholom, the Orthodox synagogue in which his father was raised, and Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE), where his mother, who was raised in the Reform tradition, was a member. Sometime after becoming a bar mitzvah at Brith Sholom, he began to “drift” more toward services at KKBE, ultimately becoming a lifelong member of the historic Charleston temple. Harold served in the army in North Africa and Italy during World War II and, after the war, married Lillian Breen, who grew up on a farm in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, where there were too few Jews for a congregation. Lillian’s parents were from Riga, Latvia, and they ran a furniture store in Rocky Mount. The family traveled to Fayetteville, North Carolina, for the High Holidays.
Judy Kurtz Goldman was raised in Rock Hill, South Carolina, the youngest of three children born to Margaret Bogen (Katzenellenbogen) and Benjamin Kurtz. The Kurtzes, who owned The Smart Shop, a women’s clothing store, were one of twelve Jewish families living in Rock Hill in the 1940s and ’50s. Although the family was observant and highly involved with the local Jewish community, they were fully assimilated into non-Jewish life, which, according to Judy, was not the case with all the Jewish residents in town. Benjamin was on the board of Guardian Fidelity, a mortgage company, and was a founder of the Rock Hill Country Club. Margaret put up Christmas decorations every December and their house was on the tour of homes one year. Judy attended Winthrop Training School, a K-12 school where Winthrop College’s student teachers trained. As a cheerleader and a member of the “in” crowd, she felt fully accepted. Judy discusses her siblings, family history, the saleswomen at The Smart Shop, and Mattie, the black woman who worked in the Goldman home and was a second mother to her. She recalls her feelings, as a child, when she observed the Jim Crow laws in action and their effect on Mattie. After college Judy taught for two years at Roosevelt High School in Atlanta, where she witnessed first-hand the start of integration in Georgia. She describes the response of the white students and her fellow teachers to events such as the end of segregation and the assassination of President Kennedy. Judy married Henry Kurtz, an optometrist who was practicing in Charlotte, North Carolina, a few miles from Rock Hill. Just prior to this interview, her first novel, The Slow Way Back, was published. She discusses the characters and the scenes in the story and the degree to which they are derived from her life. Judy notes that while she “felt more aligned with the gentile community” than the Jewish while growing up, in the process of writing her book, “I had sort of come back home again . . . into my Jewish skin. . . . I became comfortable with my Jewishness through writing the novel.”
Helen Greher Kahn grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, two blocks from House of Peace, the Orthodox synagogue on Park Street. Her mother, Rebecca Cohen, a Polish immigrant, followed her sister to Wilmington, North Carolina. Helen’s father, Isaac Greher (Kerschbaum), came south after arriving in the United States from Austria-Hungary, and made a living by peddling between Charleston and Columbia. While in the capital city, he stayed with the Karesh family, headed by Rabbi David Karesh. The rabbi, who had served the Wilmington congregation before moving to Columbia, introduced Rebecca and Isaac. Helen recalls visiting the Kareshes regularly as a child, and notes that they were an important influence in her life. Karesh served as cantor for the House of Peace congregation, prepared the boys for their bar mitzvahs, visited the sick in the local hospitals, and slaughtered chickens at his work table in the Dent’s grocery store. Helen admired Helen Kohn Hennig, who ran the Sunday school classes at Tree of Life, the Reform synagogue. The Grehers were members of House of Peace, but because it lacked a Sunday school, Helen and her sister attended Mrs. Hennig’s classes. The interviewee touches on a number of subjects including Columbia’s Jewish families, the Columbia Jewish boys’ social organization, the Yudedum Club, and attending dances in Charleston and Folly Beach. Helen married Saul Kahn, also of Columbia, the son of Meyer B. Kahn, an immigrant whose car broke down in Columbia on his way from Florida to Ohio. He decided to stay, and he became successful in commercial construction. Helen contrasts the Orthodox traditions of her youth with those of the contemporary community, especially Beth Shalom’s (formerly House of Peace) Conservative congregation.
Isaac Jacobs, in a follow-up session to his previous interviews that were poor in audio quality, tells many of the same stories recorded in 1995 (see Mss. 1035-005 and Mss. 1035-009). He discusses his immigrant grandfathers, Louis Pearlstine and Isaac Jacobs, the changes in the family surnames, and his aunts and uncles on both sides. He tells several anecdotes involving Louis Engelberg of Ridgeville, South Carolina, the family’s interactions with African Americans, and his father’s dealings with wholesalers. He recalls many of the Jewish merchants in Charleston, South Carolina, particularly food retailers such as the Zalkins, Rudichs, Mazos, and Kareshes. Jacobs also describes the origin of the West Ashley minyan house located in South Windermere subdivision. Note: this interview is also available in VHS (original) and DVD (use copy) formats to be accessed in person in Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston.
Isaac Jacobs, who grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, discusses his family history, including the 1855 immigration of his grandfathers Louis Pearlstine, who settled in Branchville, South Carolina, and Isaac Jacobs (Karesh). Jacobs, a native of Poland, operated a dry goods store in Charleston and was a founder of the Orthodox synagogue Brith Sholom. The interviewee’s father, Louis Jacobs, ran a shoe store in Charleston for 28 years before switching to the hosiery business. In 1931, he opened Jacobs’ Hosiery Company, and was joined by his sons, Isaac and Melvin. Isaac describes how his father got started in the wholesale sock industry and his own experiences as a traveling salesman selling merchandise to immigrant Sephardic store owners in Myrtle Beach, among others. Isaac briefly worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps, and served in the army in the Pacific theater during World War II. He married Ruth Bass of North, South Carolina, who joins him in this interview. Note: The audio quality of this recording is poor. Corrections and additions to the transcript were made by Isaac and/or his wife, Ruth, during proofing. See Mss. 1035-009 for the second part of this interview, dated February 22, 1995, and Mss. 1035-173 for another interview on January 26, 1998.
In the second part of an interview, Isaac Jacobs continues his discussion of his family history, including how his mother’s family name, Farber, was changed to Pearlstine in Trestina, Poland. His mother, Ethel Pearlstine of Branchville, married Louis Jacobs (Karesh) in 1908, and the couple raised eight children in the Hampton Park Terrace neighborhood of Charleston, South Carolina. Isaac describes his siblings, his aunts and uncles on the Jacobs side, and relays anecdotes passed down in the family about life in Charleston. Isaac also talks about his experiences in the military during World War II. He married Ruth Bass of North, South Carolina, who joins him in this interview. Note: The audio quality of this recording is poor. Corrections and additions to the transcript were made by Isaac and/or his wife, Ruth, during proofing. See Mss. 1035-005 for the first part of this interview, dated February 1, 1995, and Mss. 1035-173 for another interview on January 26, 1998.
Helen Berle, a daughter of Harry and Tillie Hufeizen Laufer, immigrants from Mogelnitsa, Poland, reminisces about her parents’ business, Laufer’s Kosher Restaurant on King Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Popular among local merchants and military servicemen stationed in Charleston and Beaufort, the eatery served Jews and non-Jews for about two decades beginning in the early 1930s. Berle describes some of the kosher-style dishes that Jews from the Old Country brought with them to America. “Everything was just good, plain, old, basic cooking. . . . I think seasoning had a lot to do with it.” While blacks could not eat at Laufer’s, they were hired to work in the kitchen, and she recalls that the relationship between members of the Jewish and black communities of Charleston were good in the years before the Civil Rights Movement. She briefly mentions a branch of her mother’s family, the Hufeisens of France, who were also in the restaurant business. Note: the transcript contains additions and corrections made by Helen during proofing.
In this brief interview, Henry Berlin, a son of Charleston, South Carolina, natives Sam and Bertie Livingstain Berlin, describes growing up in the coastal city where his grandfather, Henry Berlinsky, a Polish immigrant, opened a dry goods store on lower King Street in the 1880s. The family name was changed from Berlinsky to Berlin when Sam Berlin and his brother took over the store. Their father, an observant Jew, did not want his name to be associated with a business that opened on the Sabbath. Sam was active in political and civic affairs, and was one of the first Jewish Charlestonians to become a member of the St. Andrews Society, a charitable organization. A big sports fan, he owned Charleston minor league baseball teams and supported local boxing matches. Henry notes that they were one of the few Jewish families living south of Broad Street and, as a result, most of his friends were gentiles. Nevertheless, the Berlins attended the Orthodox synagogue Brith Sholom, and Sam led the effort to merge Brith Sholom and Beth Israel. Henry mentions the split that occurred prior to the merger, resulting in the creation of Emanu-El, Charleston’s Conservative congregation. Note: the transcript contains additions and corrections made by Henry during proofing.
Leila "Sugie" Rosenfeld Einstein, born in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1936, grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, at a time when there were few Jewish youth in the small Upcountry city. One of three children of Cyvia Shapero and William Rosenfeld, Leila talks about her childhood. Her family belonged to Congregation Beth Israel, the Orthodox synagogue that later affiliated with the Conservative Movement. She attended Women's College in North Carolina for a year, then transferred to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where she met her husband, Nathan Einstein. They married in 1957 and raised three sons in Greenville. Nathan joined Leila's father in his business, William Rosenfeld Insurance, and later, with their son Dan, formed a new insurance company, Rosenfeld Einstein. The interviewee discusses several aspects of Greenville's organized Jewish community, including cemetery upkeep and changes in practices at Temple of Israel, Greenville's Reform synagogue (she and her husband are members of Temple of Israel and Congregation Beth Israel). She considers the possibility of a merger of the two congregations, a topic that has been raised among members of both groups in the past. Einstein and interviewer Sandra Lee Rosenblum describe the effect Chabad's presence has had on the Jewish community in their respective cities of Greenville and Charleston. Leila recounts her impression of events surrounding Autherine Lucy's enrollment as the first black student at the University of Alabama.
Lillie Goldstein Lubin grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1920s and ’30s. Her parents, Abraham and Bessie Lazerovsky Goldstein, emigrants from Russia and Lithuania, ran a shoe shop in Charleston that evolved into a men’s clothing store. As a youngster, Lillie’s singing talent was recognized by her mother and teachers. She began taking voice lessons when she was nine and performed at a number of local venues as a child and teenager, notably, singing with the Charleston Oratorio Society in a performance of Haydn’s Creation. Lillie, whose stage name as a professional opera singer in New York was Lisa Lubin, discusses her early training and the artists who influenced her most. During her singing career, she performed in several languages, including Yiddish and German. She describes Charleston’s Jewish community in the years before World War II as “unique” because of the “camaraderie” and the “kinship” that she felt. Lillie recalls her mother’s visits to the mikveh, attending Rabbi Axelman’s Hebrew school, going to Folly Beach to listen to bands, and the black Charlestonians who worked for the family, both in their home and at their store. She married Herman Lubin of New York, whom she met in Charleston while he was working at the navy yard as an engineer. During the course of the interview, Lillie sings a few lines from some of her favorite songs.
Bill Mace grew up in Johnsonville, SC, and fished on the Lynches and Pee Dee Rivers. He learned to fish from his father, and to hunt from his grandfathers. On a fourteen-foot boat he and his brother continued to venture further on fishing, hunting, and camping trips down river to Sandy Island and Georgetown. During high school Mace worked at a wool mill, but wanted to find a job in the outdoors. After high school he went to school in Anderson for a year, considered transferring to Clemson for parks and recreation, but instead came back to Georgetown and went to work at a textile plant. Mace went to a meeting with the director of the South Carolina Game and Fish Division who encouraged him to get an associate degree in wildlife management. He attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Georgia, and was offered a job at Santee Coastal Reserve (SCR) by Tommy Strange in 1976. Among other tasks, Mace managed former rice fields. He took over as manager when Strange retired, and worked there for 21 years. Mace discussed brackish water management in the 24,000-acre SCR, and the constant work to repair and replace water-control structures. Mace imagined the Santee Delta before it was cleared for rice fields, and the enormous labor involved in building the rice field dikes, constructed by enslaved workers. Mace also discussed the hunts of the Santee Gun Club members, including many attempts to navigate in thick fog. Some of his work included law enforcement, and he talked about several episodes where people tried to steal old bricks from historic structures in SCR. In his 21 years at SCR there was only one episode of an accidental shooting on a hunt, and through a heroic effort by one of the guides the victim survived. SCR had significant damage from Hurricane Hugo (1989), and of many issues it took half a year to rebuild the dikes. Mace reviewed many of the conservation protections in place on the Delta’s public and private lands. He retired from the state in 2010, and went back to work as manager of Annandale Plantation, a tract of private lands (around 3500 acres) owned by Dan Ray on the north side of the Santee Rivers. He is doing similar work to what he did at SCR in managing rice fields for waterfowl. Mace lives nearby, and though he once thought of retiring to the North Carolina coast, he now can’t imagine living anywhere else. He also touched on the seasonal challenges of mosquitoes in the Delta.
Freida Zaglin Kaplan, born in 1908 in Wilmington, North Carolina, is joined in this interview by her nephew and his wife, Jeff and Erica Lieberman Zaglin. Freida's father, Charles Zaglin (Zaglinski), trained as a rabbi in Vilna, Lithuania, before immigrating to the United States around 1907. Soon after he sent for his wife, Evelyn Rose Goldberg, and their son, Sol, and they moved from one southern town to another, wherever Charles could find work as a rabbi, shochet, and mohel. They were a family of six, living in Greenville, South Carolina, when Evelyn died. Charles gave up his position as a rabbi, opened a grocery business, and sent the children to live with their aunts and uncles: Sol and Freida to Massachusetts; Harry (Jeff's father) to Tennessee; and Joseph to North Carolina. They returned home at different times over the next few years. When Freida came back to Greenville at age thirteen, her father had remarried. His second wife, Annie Glickman Zaglin, came to the marriage with four children; she and Charles had four more. Frieda discusses her father's grocery business, which, after World War I, included an abattoir. The Zaglins were members of the Orthodox congregation, Beth Israel, in Greenville. Freida remembers people coming from the surrounding small towns for High Holiday services conducted in the Woodmen of the World hall before the synagogue was built in the early 1930s. She married Nathaniel Kaplan in 1931; she had known him as a child while living with her aunt in New England. The Kaplans lived in Massachusetts for about six years, then moved to Greenville after Charles Zaglin became ill. Freida recalls how she made the sukkahs for Beth Israel, and how the women of the congregation prepared the chickens for the synagogue seders. A member of the chevra kadisha for many years, she describes the process of preparing a body for burial. Jeff discusses how his mother kept a kosher home when he was growing up.
Rose Rubin, daughter of Polish immigrants Sophie Halpern and Morris Rudnick, recounts stories about her family’s life in the Old Country and her parents’ immigration to New York. Sophie moved with her first husband, Ralph Panitz, to Aiken, South Carolina, for his health. The town had a reputation as a salubrious retreat for people with pulmonary problems. Morris followed his sister, Anne, who had married Solomon Surasky, to Aiken, where he married Sophie after she became widowed. Rose describes her mother’s awareness of the dangers of the Nazi regime and her efforts to convince family members to come to America, and discusses the history of “Happyville,” a Jewish farming community, established just outside of Aiken in 1905. Rose married former state senator Hyman Rubin of Columbia, South Carolina.
Mortimer Bernanke, the youngest of three sons of Pauline and Jonas Bernanke, recounts the history of his family in Dillon, South Carolina. Jonas was an officer in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I when he was captured by the Russians and sent to Siberia. Mortimer describes his father's escape through China, whereupon he returned to Austria in 1920 and married Pauline, who had trained as a doctor at the University of Vienna. The couple immigrated to New York City and Jonas earned his pharmacy degree at Fordham University. The Bernankes moved to Dillon in 1941, when Mortimer was thirteen years old. Pauline, who had practiced medicine in New York for two decades, found her career as a physician cut short when she was refused a license by South Carolina. Instead, she assisted Jonas in his pharmacy, Jay Bee Drugs, in Dillon. Mortimer joined his father in the drugstore after studying pharmacy at the University of South Carolina. He describes how his brother Philip joined him in the business, the changes they made during their time as partners, and their decision to sell to a large corporation in the 1990s. Mortimer married Rita Lee Strobing of New Jersey in the mid-1950s and they raised two children in Dillon. They were members of that town's Ohav Shalom Synagogue. Mortimer was among the men who conducted lay services for a congregation of about twenty-five families, a number that fell to three or four by the 1990s. He discusses how the Ohav Shalom members that remained decided to sell the building and divide the proceeds. The interviewee talks about his love of theater; he and another New York transplant, Tom Fletcher, started a theater group in Dillon and, over the course of four years, put on over a dozen plays in a tobacco warehouse. One of their productions was written and performed in celebration of Ohav Shalom's fiftieth anniversary in 1961. Among the topics discussed: the attention Mortimer and Dillon have received thanks to nephew Ben Bernanke's renown as chair of the Federal Reserve; the reorganization of a B'nai B'rith chapter in the Florence area, spurred by Latta resident and businessman Moses Kornblut; and Beth Israel Congregation, Florence, where the interviewee has been a member since the 1990s. Mortimer was joined in this interview by long-time friend Patricia "Pat" Siegel; the interviewer was Beth Israel Congregation's part-time leader, Rabbi Leah Doberne-Schor.
When Pierre Manigault was a child, his grandfather Edward owned Rochelle Plantation. When his father Peter took over Rochelle’s management in Pierre’s high school years, Manigault was put to work cultivating a ten-acre rice field, giving him insight into the difficulties of this job. He recalled Herman “Duff” Holbrook, who went to work for his father as president of White Oak Forestry and manager of Rochelle. Holbrook was like another grandfather for Manigault, and a mentor with a vast fund of knowledge about wildlife and the Santee Delta. He worked with Holbrook for a number of summers and spring breaks. Manigault’s great-grandfather, Arthur, after discontinuing rice cultivation, purchased controlling interest in Charleston’s newspaper. His father Peter, when manager of the newspaper, invested in pine lands in the Delta for the raw materials necessary for newspaper, and set up White Oak Forestry, a subsidiary of Evening Post Industries. Conservation for wildlife habitat was a priority, and Peter Manigault’s conservation efforts including his leadership in establishing the first conservation easement in the Santee Delta by a private landowner. Manigault discussed the impact of the October 2015 floods on the Delta. He talked about his father’s good friend, Ted Turner, who purchased Kinloch Plantation next to Rochelle. They shared interests in media and yacht racing. Manigault reflected on the early Huguenot Manigaults who immigrated to America and the Santee Delta; he also imagined the transformation of the Delta from forest to rice fields. He considered the labor required for that massive undertaking, and the incredible craftsmanship of enslaved workers seen in such buildings as St. James Santee Church, and various Delta plantation houses. He described the significance of the Santee Delta as an internationally recognized conservation area. Manigault has followed in his father’s footsteps in working to conserve the Delta.
Pat Ferris was born in Greenwood Lake, NY, and lived in Virginia and New York until age nine when he moved to South Carolina. His grandmother had a modern house on South Island with electricity supplied by a generator. The family also had the old plantation house on Cat Island. His grandfather was William G. Ramsey, who worked for the DuPont Company. He became a senior engineer at DuPont, and his stock holdings became very valuable for the family. He came to South Carolina because of the Dupont’s interest in turpentine, and became aware of the excellent hunting opportunities. Living on Cat Island and South Island in his youth, Ferris felt it was “heaven”. He had a little dinghy he rowed around on Winyah Bay, and hunted ducks with a shotgun given to him at age 10 by his grandmother. She also gave him the job of killing snakes and alligators: the latter damaged the dikes. He received a nickel for each kill. Ferris learned to sail on a summer vacation to Nantucket Island. He and his brother would go along with a harbor pilot who guided ships into Georgetown. They signed on as cabin boys on a round trip from Brooklyn, NY, to Georgetown, SC, on the lumber schooner Annie C. Ross. Ferris also described a voyage with his brother and a friend in their teenage years in a catboat from Greenport, Long Island to South Carolina. Ferris went to boarding school, and would spend summers on South Island. Ferris attended the University of North Carolina (UNC) when WWII broke out, and he entered the Coast Guard. He patrolled first St. Helena Sound, and then off Charleston in private yachts. He helped a one-armed man pull a seine net on the edge of Winyah Bay. He knew Tom Yawkey, owner of the Boston Red Sox, and owner of the majority of Cat, South, and North Islands. He went on hunts with him on those properties and elsewhere. Cat Island Plantation continued to actively cultivate rice until 1941. With the damming of the Santee River by Santee Cooper, the influx of saltwater did considerable damage to the dikes, and the family received a $6000 settlement. Ferris described years of hunting on Cat island: deer, ducks, and turkeys. He described how Tom Yawkey set up the Yawkey Wildlife Center. Ferris returned to recounting his Coast Guard service, describing his transfer to the South Pacific after going through training at the Loran School. He was at Guam when the war ended, and returned to the US on the aircraft carrier Belleau Wood. He finished by telling a story when he and his brother were “bad boys’ during their childhood on Cat Island.
Gerald Alston was born at the Wedge Plantation, and at age four moved to Germantown. In his childhood, he, his brother, and friends would cut and split firewood, used for both cooking and heating. Like his father and grandfather, Gerald went to work for Herman “Duff” Holbrook, who taught him about plantation and wildlife habitat management. He recounted one incident when Holbrook had grabbed a rattlesnake by hand, and had Alston drive the truck while Holbrook held the rattlesnake and relocated it. Another memorable story was a canoe trip out to Six Mile, a property in the middle of the Delta. The trip took place the day before the arrival of Hurricane Hugo (1989). It was raining and rough on the water, and Holbrook wanted to protect the property by opening up a trunk. Alston was frightened, but successfully helped Holbrook with this mission; they arrived safely back on land. After Hugo there was extensive work to do on these lands. Holbrook purchased a backhoe that Alston ran for 25 years, operated now by his son. He recalled taking rides from Will Alston in a wagon trailed behind a tractor, going from Germantown to Hampton Plantation. Will Alston would stop by Gerald Alston’s grandmother, Ella Alston, and give him a ride back home. Alston also talked about visiting with Sue Alston in her later years. He remembered Archibald Rutledge as a friendly man. Alston recalled times when the mosquitoes and biting flies were “terrible”. He remembered a trip to Cat Island to purchase an old Pontiac just for the engine. He described an annual event put on by the South Santee community. Alston continues to enjoy his job with While Oak Forestry working for Mike Prevost, and having his sons, Errol and Gerald Jr., working with him.
Morris Rosen is joined by his cousin Dorothy “Dutch” Idalin Gelson Cohen and her husband, Mordecai “Mortie” Cohen, in this interview. Morris’s son Robert is also present as interviewer and videographer. Morris, born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1919, was one of four children of Annie Blatt and Sol Rosen. Sol and his siblings, including Dutch’s parents, Zelda Rosen and Louis Gelson, emigrated from Russia in the first decade of the twentieth century, following their older sister Ida and her husband, David Goldberg, to Poughkeepsie, New York, where Dutch was born in 1919. The cousins talk about the Rosen (Rachelkin) and Gelson (Getchen) families of Poughkeepsie and their ancestors in Russia. Morris briefly mentions his maternal grandparents, Mamie Wildman and Morris Blatt, who ran a bakery in Columbia, South Carolina, before moving to Charleston. Morris and Dutch describe how the Rosens wound up in Charleston. Their uncle Sam Rosen moved to the area from Poughkeepsie for reasons unknown and opened a store in Awendaw, a small settlement about twenty-five miles north of Charleston. In about 1919, Sol Rosen and Zelda and Louis Gelson followed and bought an established country store from a member of the Geraty family in Yonges Island, nearly twenty miles south of Charleston. Louis died within a year, and Sol sold his interest in the store to Zelda, who moved the business and her three children to Meeting Street in Charleston after a few years. Sol was in the grocery business and later opened liquor stores. Morris traces his father’s moves from Yonges Island to King and Romney streets in Charleston, to the town of Meggett, and back to Charleston at King and Race streets. Morris and Dutch discuss growing up in Charleston in an area of the city where there were no other Jewish families. They did not experience antisemitism and Morris blended easily with the Catholic teens who lived nearby. The cousins did connect with other Jewish children when they frequented the neighborhoods around the synagogues and while attending religious school. They didn’t notice any friction between Charleston’s Reform and Orthodox Jews and played with children from both groups. Dutch was confirmed and Morris became a bar mitzvah at Brith Sholom on St. Philip Street. The two consider the degree to which their parents were observant Jews and speculate as to why their parents and others of their generation did or did not adhere to certain Jewish traditions. Mordecai “Mortie” Cohen was born in 1916 in St. Matthews, South Carolina, where his father, Isaac, ran a dry goods store and two farms. All the general merchandisers in St. Matthews while Mortie and his two brothers were growing up were Jewish. They met for High Holiday services in the town’s Masonic temple and were joined by families from Orangeburg, Ehrhardt, and Elloree. Most of Mortie’s friends were Christians; he doesn’t remember experiencing any antisemitism in St. Matthews. Mortie recalls how he came to know the Rosens, and he and Morris describe the role of the drummers, or sales reps, who visited retail storeowners when their fathers were in business. Morris talks about how he met his wife, Ida Tanenbaum. Her brother Lou Tanenbaum came to Charleston and opened a clothing store with his brother-in-law Louis Lesser. Morris, an ensign in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II, was assigned to a LST (Landing Ship, Tank) in the Pacific. The group discusses what they and other American Jews knew about what was happening to Jews in Europe under Hitler.
Interview with Marcellus Forrest by Lee Drago, Eugene Hunt, and Margareta Childs, February 21, 1981, AMN 500.001.002, in Avery Normal Institute Oral History Project, of the Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston.