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.
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.
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.
Bernice Berlin Silver, one of four children of Sam and Bertha Livingstain Berlin (Berlinsky), talks about growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, several blocks from the Jewish immigrant neighborhood north of Calhoun Street. Bernice grew up in an Orthodox home, but her father opened the family store on the Sabbath out of “necessity.” She attended Crafts School and Memminger High School, where she was valedictorian of her graduating class. While most of her friends were gentiles, she participated in AZA (Aleph Zadik Aleph) activities and was an AZA Sweetheart. Bernice married Sam Silver (Zilberman) of Augusta, Georgia. The couple moved to his hometown where she became active in Hadassah and started a chapter of the NCJW (National Council of Jewish Women). After about 25 years, the Silvers relocated first to Columbia, South Carolina, and then California, before settling in Charleston, where they operated a restaurant supply business for over two decades. Bernice discusses her immediate and extended family members. Interviewer Ruth Jacobs reads from material obtained from Charleston city directories regarding business and home addresses of the Livingstains (Bernice’s mother’s family) and the Goodmans (Bernice’s maternal grandmother’s family) in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Alex Garfinkel discusses his father, Harry Louis Garfinkel, who emigrated from Divin, Russia, around the turn of the twentieth century to avoid conscription. He was followed to the United States by two sisters, four brothers, and his father. Harry heard there were landsmen (countrymen) from Divin in Charleston, South Carolina, so he moved there and worked as a shoemaker until he bought a mattress factory. He married Celia Hannah Lapidus of Charleston. At some point, Harry turned over the mattress business to his brother Sam and opened a junk yard, which grew into a successful scrap metal business. Alex grew up on Line Street, one of eight children. He attended Hebrew school at Beth Israel and briefly mentions the split between Beth Israel and Brith Sholom, the Orthodox synagogues. Alex talks about King Street merchants, his father’s businesses, and taking over the scrap yard as a young man, which exempted him from military service during World War II. He invited his cousin Max Garfinkel of Baltimore to join him in the growing business, and they remained partners for over forty years. See also interviews with other members of the Garfinkel family: Helen Rosenshein, Olga Weinstein, Sandra Shapiro, Nathan and Frances Garfinkle (Nathan spells the family name differently), Max and Jennie Garfinkel, and Philip Garfinkel.
Jennie Kaufman Garfinkel’s parents, Benjamin and Dora Kirshstein Kaufman, emigrated from Kaluszyn, Poland, around 1912. They settled in Charleston, South Carolina, where they owned, first, a dress shop, and then a grocery store. To help support the household, Jennie left high school before graduating and took a job. She met her husband, Max Garfinkel, when he came to Charleston to work for his uncle H. L. Garfinkel in his scrap yard. Max grew up in Baltimore, the son of immigrants Molly Blacher and Hyman Garfinkel of Divin, Russia. He and his cousin Alex Garfinkel partnered in the scrap metal business in Charleston for over forty years. Max and Jennie talk about their children and grandchildren, and consider how their experiences as Jews differed from previous generations. Interviewer Leah Barkowitz, the Garfinkels’ niece, who grew up in Charleston in the 1930s and ’40s, mentions the Villa Margherita, a Charleston inn that excluded Jews until about 1950. She discusses the “five o’clock shadow,” which meant that Jews and gentiles socialized with one another before, but not after, five o’clock. See also interviews with other members of the Garfinkel family: Helen Rosenshein, Olga Weinstein, Nathan and Frances Garfinkle (Nathan spells the family name differently), Philip Garfinkel, Sandra Shapiro, and Alex Garfinkel.
Mickey Dorsey, a member of the Seventy-first Infantry Division, United States Army, discusses his experiences serving in Europe during World War II. He outlines the movement of the troops through France and Germany, into Austria, where they discovered Gunskirchen Lager, a concentration camp near Lambach. The American soldiers found hundreds of starving prisoners and thousands of dead bodies locked inside. He recalls that he and his fellow soldiers were shocked to learn of the existence of the concentration camps, and he describes his reaction to encountering the Gunskirchen inmates. During the interview, he refers to photographs taken by their division photographer, Joe Daurer, which Dorsey donated to Special Collections, College of Charleston (see Mickey Dorsey papers, Mss. 1065-046). Despite being born with only one finger on his left hand, and in the face of repeated rejections, the Chester, South Carolina, native describes his efforts to enlist in the military. Ultimately, the army accepted him for limited duty, but, after basic training, Dorsey convinced his superiors to allow him to join a combat unit. The interviewee also discusses his work history and reunions with his army division and Gunskirchen survivors.
Rabbi Burton L. Padoll describes growing up in a “totally assimilated, non-practicing, Jewish family” in Youngstown, Ohio, his decision to become a rabbi, and his experiences as a student at Hebrew Union College. With input from Solomon Breibart, he discusses personal and professional aspects of his tenure as rabbi at the Reform temple, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE), in Charleston, South Carolina, from 1961 to 1967, particularly the response of congregation members to his vocal position on and active involvement in local civil rights issues. In addition to covering events such as boycotts, sit-ins, and the integration of Rivers High School, the two men recall the rabbi’s other contributions, such as engaging the congregation’s youth in community activities and establishing an annual arts festival at KKBE. See also the Burton L. Padoll Papers, Mss. 1082, in Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston, and on the Lowcountry Digital Library web site.
Ralph Geldbart tells the story of his father, Israel Geldbart, who immigrated to New York from Mogielnica, Poland, early in the 20th century. He used his mother’s maiden name, Goldberg, on the advice of relatives living in New York, who believed it would be an easier name for Americans to understand. (The family later reverted to Geldbart.) Israel, who began working as a tailor in New York, volunteered to serve in the United States Army during World War I and was sent to France, where he was wounded. After the war he brought his wife, Rebecca Cygielman, and their daughter, Sylvia, to the United States. They settled in Charleston, South Carolina, where Israel opened an army surplus store on King Street. The family, which grew to include Helen, Ralph, and Jack, belonged to Brith Sholom, one of the city’s two Orthodox synagogues. Ralph describes relations among members of Orthodox Brith Sholom and Beth Israel, and the Reform temple, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. He discusses his family’s Shabbes traditions, local Jewish merchants, and the Kalushiner Society, an organization founded by landsmen from Kaluszyn, Poland. Ralph was a sophomore at The Citadel when he joined the army to fight in World War II. He recalls landing at Omaha Beach on D-Day in the second wave. About a month later, while his unit was pushing into Normandy, Ralph was wounded, and he describes his experiences during transport and hospitalization in Europe and the United States. Ralph completed college at the University of Chicago and earned his optometry degree at Northern Illinois. After returning to Charleston, he opened an optometry office on George Street near the College of Charleston. He was the first contact lens fitter in the Southeast. He married Madolyn Cohen of Lincolnton, North Carolina, and they raised two daughters, Laurie and Jill, in Charleston. Note: the transcript contains additions and corrections made by the interviewee during proofing. For related material, see the Goldberg family papers, Mss. 1051 and Family tree, descendants of Oise Sokol, Mss. 1034-035 in Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston.
Rachel Raisin and Mordenai Hirsch, daughters of Jane Lazarus (1887–1965) and Rabbi Jacob Salmon Raisin (1878–1946), describe their experiences growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, in the years between the First and Second World Wars. Jacob Raisin emigrated with his family from Russia to New York City when he was twelve years old. The son of Orthodox Jews, he attended Hebrew Union College and served a number of congregations in the United States before he was hired in 1915 by Charleston’s Reform synagogue, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE). Jane Lazarus, who could trace her Sephardic ancestry in America to the 1700s, was a member and Sunday school teacher at KKBE. The couple married in 1917 and raised Mordenai, Rachel, and their brother, Aaron, in a home that was one of seven rental properties on Wragg Square known as Aiken’s Row. The sisters describe the house and property where they grew up, and where members of Jane’s family had lived for generations. Jane’s father, Marks Hubert Lazarus, ran a hardware and cutlery store, the M. H. Lazarus Company, on King Street. Topics addressed in the interview include merchants, private kindergartens, and Jane Lazarus’s involvement in organizations such as the Daughters of the American Revolution and Hadassah (she founded the local chapter). The sisters also discuss issues of assimilation and identity, particularly as they relate to the early members of KKBE. Rachel attended Radcliffe College where she majored in government, and earned her degree in library science from Emory University. She worked in several cities in the East and Midwest. Mordenai studied early childhood education at the College of Charleston and Smith College. She received her master’s degree from Teachers College, Columbia University. She married sculptor Willard Hirsch, who co-founded Charleston Art School with fellow artists and teachers Corrie McCallum and William Halsey. Mordenai provides some background on her husband and his family and gives examples of his commissioned works. See Lazarus and Hirsch family papers (Mss 1018), Rabbi Jacob S. Raisin papers (Mss 1075), and Willard N. Hirsch papers (Mss 1074), for related materials in Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston.
Bertha Lazarus Breibart, daughter of immigrants Louis and Rose Lazarus (Lazarowitz), discusses growing up in Charleston and Summerville, South Carolina, in the 1920s and ’30s. Louis arrived in New York in 1902, worked as a tailor, and, later, his wife and their first child, Max, joined him. The family moved to Charleston, where Louis ran a shoe repair shop in various locations on King Street. When they moved to Summerville, he reopened on Main Street. Bertha remembers that her father struggled to make a living; they were a “very poor family,” one that included three brothers, Max, Morris, and Herman, all much older than Bertha. The family traveled to Charleston to attend holiday services at Brith Sholom, one of Charleston’s two Orthodox synagogues. Bertha recalls the traditional foods her mother made, their Jewish neighbors in Charleston and Summerville, and her experiences attending Summerville public schools. When she was eighteen she represented Summerville in Charleston’s 1935 Azalea Festival beauty contest and won. Bertha attended AZA and B’nai Brith dances and other social events in Charleston, and on one of her many visits to the city, she met her husband, George Breibart. Note: the transcript contains additions and corrections made by the interviewee during proofing.
Marion Hornik discusses his family history and growing up in Charleston, South Carolina. His father, Morris, born in 1863, left his hometown of Jaroslaw, Austria-Hungary, now Poland, when he was fourteen years old. He worked in London, England, and New York City before moving to Bonneau, South Carolina, where, at eighteen, he took a job in Mr. Nagel’s country store. Eventually he moved to Charleston, married his first wife, Julia Dessauer, and, in 1886, opened a clothing store on King Street. In 1893 Morris switched to selling wholesale goods from his new business on Meeting Street, Hornik’s Bargain House (later he changed the name to M. Hornik & Company). Julia died five years later, leaving Morris with three children. He remarried after a few years, this time to Rebecca Klein of Walterboro, South Carolina. Tragedy struck again in 1915 when Rebecca died. Morris brought his sister Rosa to the United States to help him with John and Marion, his two young sons by Rebecca. The Horniks were members of the Reform temple Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE). Marion attended Porter Military Academy and graduated from the College of Charleston in 1929. He worked on oil tankers during summer breaks and, after college, he worked for an Atlanta company as a traveling salesman. In 1934 his father requested he return to Charleston to help with the family’s wholesale business. When Morris died three years later, Marion and John became partners in the business. Marion recalls his mother’s father and brother who ran Klein’s Drugstore in Walterboro, and discusses the tendency, in recent years, toward more traditional services at KKBE. Note: the transcript contains additions and corrections made by Marion’s wife, Ruth, during proofing. For related material, see HF5429 .H67 1907 and Mss. 1034-097 in Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston.
Ethel Lapin Draisin, born in 1908 in Charleston, South Carolina, is joined by her husband, Louis Draisin in recounting her family history. Ethel’s maternal grandparents, Nathan and Ethel Goldstein, emigrated from Poland and arrived in Charleston in the 1870s. Nathan ran a wholesale dry goods business on Meeting Street. Their daughter Dora (Ethel Draisin’s mother) married Israel Lapin, a Lithuanian immigrant who ran a clothing store on King Street from 1909 until 1953. Ethel Lapin met Louis Draisin, who emigrated from Bobruisk, Russia, as a young child, while she was visiting relatives in New York. In 1940, shortly after marrying, the couple settled in Charleston, where they raised two children, Neil and Judy. Ethel, the oldest of six, recalls Jewish merchants, neighbors and friends of the Lapin family, and the food her mother prepared. Louis describes his World War II tour of duty as a quartermaster in Patton’s Third Army. Both Draisins discuss Charleston’s “uptown” and “downtown” Jews, and the Orthodox synagogues, Brith Sholom and Beth Israel.
Joseph Chase, Charleston, South Carolina, native and older son of Freda Lerner and Marty Chase, discusses his family history. Freda’s family immigrated to Charleston around 1920 from Biala, Poland. On a visit to her sister in Detroit, Freda met Marty Chase, who had emigrated from Vilna Gubernia, Poland, to New York City in 1912 with his mother. In 1930 Marty left his factory job in Detroit and moved to Charleston to marry Freda. The interviewee notes that his uncle Morris Sokol, a furniture salesman, helped Marty get his start peddling furniture. Eight years later Marty rented a building on King Street and opened a store. He purchased the building in the early 1940s and replaced it with a new one in 1946, still the location of Chase Furniture at the time of the interview. While Marty “was not an observant man”—he opened his store on the Sabbath—Freda adhered to the laws of kashrut and led the family in Sabbath and holiday rituals. Joseph and his brother, Philip, joined the business in the 1950s, a time when there were more than thirty furniture vendors on King Street, and offering credit was routine. Joseph reflects on the history of the business and how it changed over the years in regard to customer loyalty and demographics. He considers the future of the business, which, at the time of the interview, was in its third generation with Ben Chase, his nephew, at the helm.
Philip Chase grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, the younger son of Freda Lerner and Marty Chase. In this interview he describes how Freda, who emigrated with her family from Poland to Charleston in the early 1900s, met Marty, also a native of Poland, while working with her sister in Detroit. The couple married in Charleston and settled there. Marty peddled furniture initially and, by 1938, was selling furniture from a building on King Street, previously occupied by Carolina Furniture Company. Eight years later, he constructed a new building on the same site, still the location of Chase Furniture at the time of the interview. Philip recalls growing up in a small community where “everyone knew everybody else,” and most of the furniture dealers on King Street were “friendly” competitors who traded merchandise to help their fellow store owners make a sale. Philip and his brother, Joseph, joined the business in the 1950s and, later, Philip’s son Ben became a part of the enterprise. The interviewee discusses the history of the store, particularly its customer base and the effects of Hurricane Hugo.
Ben Chase, a Charleston, South Carolina, native, followed his father, Philip, and uncle, Joseph, into the King Street business his grandfather Marty Chase started in the 1930s. In this interview he discusses the challenges Chase Furniture faces, particularly “the shift of the population out of the city,” which he anticipates will require the store to move to the suburbs in the near future. Besides losing a large part of their client base, the diversity of the remaining customers has been difficult to accommodate. Limited downtown parking adds to the list of reasons for a change in location.
Stanley Karesh grew up in the Hampton Park Terrace neighborhood of Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1920s and ’30s. His family kept kosher and attended Brith Sholom. Stanley describes the shoe store his grandfather Charles Karesh built at 545 King Street. Charles immigrated with his wife, Sarah Orlinsky Karesh, to Charleston, circa 1878, from their hometown of Trestina (Trzcianne), in Polish Russia. They operated a store in the small town of Greeleyville, South Carolina, for a few years before returning with their growing family to Charleston, eager to live in a larger Jewish community. Stanley refers to a number of Charleston families, including Rittenberg, Friedman, Bielsky, Barshay, Kaminski, Jacobs, Banov, Livingstain, and Pearlstine, many of whom are related to the Kareshes. He also mentions his maternal grandparents, Harry and Anna Smolensky Feinberg, and cousin Rabbi David Karesh of Columbia. Stanley attended dental school in Baltimore, where he met Charlot Marks. The couple married in 1945 in her hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina. They raised three daughters in Charleston, and they were one of the first families to move to South Windermere, a subdivision west of the Ashley River. Stanley discusses the changes over time in relations between members of the Orthodox and the Reform synagogues and between the two Orthodox congregations, Brith Sholom and Beth Israel. He and Charlot, the youngest charter members of Conservative Synagogue Emanu-El, which broke away from Brith Sholom in 1947, recount its origins and offer their view of how its members differed from the Orthodox congregants from whom they split.
Claire Krawcheck Nussbaum, daughter of Polish immigrants Jack and Esther Bielsky Krawcheck, describes growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1930s and ’40s. Her parents were Orthodox Jews who observed the Sabbath and kept a kosher kitchen, with the help of Agnes Jenkins, who worked for the family for decades as housekeeper, cook, and third parent to Claire and her three siblings. The Krawchecks lived downtown on Colonial Street, many blocks from the uptown neighborhood, north of Calhoun Street, where the majority of immigrant Orthodox Jewish families lived at the time. Claire was close to a Catholic girl who lived on the same street, and she attended Ashley Hall, a private girls’ school. She had few Jewish friends, but became quite familiar with Catholic and Episcopalian traditions. Her father had men’s clothing stores both north and south of Calhoun Street—Jack’s on the corner of King and Vanderhorst Street, and Jack Krawcheck’s on King Street between George and Liberty Street. Claire discusses the buildings that housed the latter of the two stores, 311 King Street, which her father built, and 313 King Street, which he restored. Changes to the properties included gardens behind the buildings featuring iron work by Philip Simmons, and specially-designed, second-floor meeting rooms, used by local clubs, with paintings by William Halsey. Jack and Esther were members of Brith Sholom and they were active in a number of Charleston’s civic organizations, such as the Preservation Society and the Garden Club. Claire, who had difficulty relating to Judaism as a child—she couldn’t understand the Hebrew services and no one explained why they were following certain rules—convinced her parents to allow her to attend services and Sunday school at the Reform synagogue, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE). It was there that she became connected to the spiritual and religious aspects of Judaism. In 1950 Claire married Maurice Nussbaum of Ehrhardt, South Carolina, and they raised four children in Charleston. She discusses her siblings, children, and grandchildren, and her views on religion, antisemitism, and the changes in KKBE’s congregation since she began attending as a teen.
Mary Ann Pearlstine Aberman, the elder of two daughters of Milton Alfred Pearlstine and Cecile Mayer Pearlstine, provides some background on her mother’s family the Mayers, whose ancestors arrived in the United States from Bavaria in the early 1800s, and her father’s family, the Pearlstines, who emigrated from Germany to South Carolina in the mid-1800s. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, she describes growing up in the Hampton Park Terrace neighborhood of Charleston, next door to her first cousins. The family did not keep kosher but they did observe Shabbat by lighting candles before dinner and attending Friday night services at the Reform synagogue, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE). She remembers that Jewish Citadel cadets were invited to join members of Charleston’s Jewish community for worship and holiday observances; they even taught Sunday school. She met her husband, Edward Aberman of Rock Hill, when he was attending The Citadel. Mary Ann reviews some of her father’s civic contributions to the Charleston area, particularly his involvement in the South Carolina State Ports Authority, and she recalls Pearlstine family involvement in Brith Sholom and KKBE. She also briefly discusses the founding of Emanu-El, the Conservative congregation, in 1947, noting that KKBE lost some of its members to Emanu-El at that time. Mary Ann is joined in this interview by Edward Aberman. See also Edward’s interview on the same date (Mss. 1035-221), the Abermans’ interview with fellow Rock Hill, South Carolina, residents Jack Leader, Harriet Marshall Goode, and Martin Goode on September 21 , 1999 (Mss. 1035-218), and an interview with Rock Hill native Sophia Marie Friedheim Beers (Mss. 1035-220).
Melvin Jacobs and Rose Wexler Jacobs, audio interview by Sandra Lee Kahn Rosenblum and Ruth Bass Jacobs, 14 January 1998, Mss 1035-172, Special Collections, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA.;Melvin Jacobs reminisces about growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, where his father, Louis Jacobs, ran a shoe store on King Street. The Jacobs family attended the Orthodox synagogue Brith Sholom and observed Shabbos, although around 1913 Louis began opening his shop on Saturdays. Melvin was drafted into the marines at age thirty-four; he served in the supply corps, stateside, from 1943–45. In 1947 he married Rose Wexler of Savannah, the daughter of Romanian immigrants. They raised four children in Charleston. Melvin, who joined Louis in the family business, describes how his father made the switch from selling shoes to selling hosiery. The couple discusses the schism at Brith Sholom that produced the Conservative congregation, Emanu-El; the merger of the two Orthodox synagogues, Brith Sholom and Beth Israel; and their involvement in the establishment of the Jewish day school, Charleston Hebrew Institute. Note: this is the second of two interviews; the first was in 1997 (Mss. 1035-139). For several related collections, search for “Pearlstine” in Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston.
Hannah Prystowsky Rubin, born in Charleston in 1916, recounts the story of her grandparents’ immigration to the United States from Zabludow, Poland, circa 1890. Ezra and Mollie Prystowsky followed the Jacobs family, also from Zabludow, to Charleston, South Carolina, where Ezra repaired shoes for a living before opening a men’s clothing store. Hannah’s father, Mike Prystowsky, was a tailor and worked with his brothers in the family’s King Street store, “E. Prystowsky & Sons, Mike-Sam-Jake.” She describes growing up on St. Philip Street, surrounded by extended family, and recalls members of two branches of the Mazo family—the Uptown Mazos and the Downtown Mazos—who operated delicatessens above and below Calhoun Street. In 1938 Hannah married Samuel Rubin of Columbia, son of wholesaler Joseph Rubin and Bessie Peskin Rubin. Within five years they had three small children. Hannah discusses Sam’s two-year stint in the army during World War II, and how she helped two German Jewish families, who survived the war, become acclimated to life in America after settling in Columbia.
William Ackerman, an attorney and the developer of South Windermere subdivision in the West Ashley section of Charleston, South Carolina, recounts how he obtained the land, and who was involved in the design, construction, and sale of homes. After building began in the early 1950s, he decided a one-stop shopping center would be a useful addition, so he convinced Woolworth, A&P grocery, and Belk department store to serve as anchors. A number of local shop owners, despite widespread skepticism, moved their operations from downtown Charleston to the new suburban South Windermere Shopping Center, the first of its kind in the area. The residential-commercial venture was a tremendous success. Ackerman describes negotiations he held with major tenants, and recalls many of the businesses that have occupied space in the center. He also discusses the development, by Edward Kronsberg, and the demise of Pinehaven Shopping Center, in North Charleston. See also Mss. 1035-101, Special Collections, Addlestone Library, for William Ackerman’s December 5, 1996 interview.
Edward Aberman, one of two surviving children of Bessie Samet and Sol Aberman, discusses his family history. The Samets, originally from Russia, immigrated circa 1914 to the United States from Cape Town, South Africa, where Bessie was born. They followed Samet family members to North Carolina, and ultimately settled in High Point. Sol Aberman, the son of a Russian immigrant, grew up in Chicago and left home when he was young, traveling around North America as a member of a band playing clarinet in a variety of venues, including circuses. During one stop in High Point, North Carolina, he met Bessie Samet. After they married, the couple lived in Chicago and North Carolina for a time, before settling in Rock Hill, where Sol assumed leadership of its small Jewish community. He hired students and circuit-riding rabbis to conduct holiday services, and was instrumental in building Temple Beth El in the early 1940s. Edward, who was born in 1932, describes growing up in Rock Hill, how his family observed the Sabbath, and efforts by coaches from Clemson, University of South Carolina, and The Citadel to recruit him to play football. He attended The Citadel in Charleston, where he met his wife Mary Ann Pearlstine. Mary Ann joins Edward in this interview. See also Mary Ann’s interview on the same date (Mss. 1035-222), the Abermans’ interview with fellow Rock Hill, South Carolina, residents Jack Leader, Harriet Marshall Goode, and Martin Goode on September 21 , 1999 (Mss. 1035-218), and an interview with Rock Hill native Sophia Marie Friedheim Beers (Mss. 1035-220).
Helene Ejbuszyc Diamant, born in Warsaw, Poland, immigrated to Paris, France, as an infant with her parents, grandparents, and brother. She was in high school when the Germans invaded France in May 1940. Her father fled with an uncle and was never heard from again. Helene describes how she and her mother were arrested by the local police and detained at the internment camp in Drancy, near Paris, and released once she showed her work papers. Her brother was also detained at Drancy; during the interview, Helene reads a postcard he sent from the camp to inform them that he was leaving soon “for an unknown destination.” Sometime in late 1943 or early 1944, Helene and her mother fled with her grandparents, an aunt and uncle, and two cousins to Aix-les-Bains in France’s so-called free zone, where they spent nearly a year before escaping to Lugano, Switzerland. She met and married her husband, Maurice Diamant, in Lugano, and they immigrated to the United States in 1948.
Clark recalls what Johns Island was like when she became a teacher at the Promise Land School in 1916. Topics of discussion include transportation, the houses and living conditions on Johns Island, the importance of the Angel Oak tree to African Americans living on Johns Island, and the changes in the Angel Oak from 1916 to 1980.
Rabbi Hersh M. Galinsky, discusses the controversy that surrounded the establishment of a suburban minyan house during his tenure (1963 to 1970) at the Orthodox Brith Sholom Beth Israel, in Charleston, South Carolina. He also addresses the current—at the time of the interview—debate regarding moving the synagogue from its downtown location to West Ashley, where a majority of its members live.
Sam Siegel, born in Anderson, South Carolina, in 1915, describes the hometown of his boyhood as “a very hard town . . . mean, nasty, completely controlled by the Klan.” Sam’s parents, Bess Silverman and Max Siegel (Shul) emigrated from Latvia in the early 1900s and settled in Anderson where Max worked as a peddler before going into livestock sales and slaughtering. The family did not keep kosher, and the Siegel children had little Jewish education. Sam’s playmates were Christian. “I had my friends, but it wasn’t comfortable.” Sam talks about his seven siblings, in particular, his brother Reuben, known as “Jew Boy Siegel,” a star boxer and football player for Clemson. As the number of Jewish residents in Anderson increased in the early 1900s, they began to meet in a large hall over a store for High Holy Day services. Sam remembers teaching Sunday school there as well. He mentions some of the Jewish residents of the 1930s and ’40s, who pooled their resources to build a temple for the growing community. Sam describes helping to place nearly a dozen Jewish refugees in Anderson, including one young man, Kurt Sax, whom he helped get his start in his own small business. Sam married Leona Novit of Walterboro, South Carolina. When he visited Walterboro, he “fell in love” with the town, which was a popular stopping point for travelers driving between New York and Florida. Walterboro, Sam says, “has always been a very liberal town. It’s made up of people from up north and out west.” Sam and Leona moved from Anderson to Walterboro, where they raised their four children and Sam ran a dry goods store. He discusses a number of other topics including intermarriage, Camp Blue Star, the journal in which he has made daily entries since 1932, and the Walterboro congregation and how it acquired a Jewish section in the local cemetery. He also describes his service in the army during World War II and his role in the Battle of the Bulge, in which he lost a leg in an attempt to rescue two American soldiers. Note: the transcript contains corrections made by Sam’s daughter Gale Messerman.
In this interview Rabbi Lewis Aryeh Weintraub provides details of his personal history leading up to his arrival in Charleston, South Carolina. He was born in Uscilug, Wolin Gubernia, Poland, in 1918 and immigrated with his family to Montreal, Canada, when he was twelve years old. He graduated from Yeshiva College in New York in 1941 and from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1944, the same year he joined the Canadian Army Chaplaincy Service. After discharge from the army in 1946, he served as assistant rabbi to Rabbi C. E. H. Kauvar of Beth haMedrosh Hagadol Congregation in Denver, Colorado. In August 1947 Rabbi Weintraub became the first rabbi of a newly formed Conservative congregation in Charleston, South Carolina. The founders had just broken away from Brith Sholom, one of the city’s Orthodox synagogues. Weintraub discusses the dissension in the Jewish community surrounding the split and the decisions involved in the creation of a new congregation, such as choosing a name—Synagogue Emanu-El—acquiring property, and hiring Jacob Renzer as cantor. He mentions a number of the founders and explains how Dr. Matthew Steinberg came to be the congregation’s mohel. The rabbi provides dates and some details regarding the start of Hebrew and Sunday school classes, the first bar mitzvah, the first confirmation, and other “firsts” in the congregation. To enhance the adult education program begun in January 1948 and to aid in “molding the ideology of Conservative Judaism for the community,” he brought to Charleston as guest speakers Jewish scholars such as Arthur Hertzberg, Max Arzt, and Robert Gordis. Rabbi Weintraub credits his parents for his decision to enter the rabbinate. He discusses why he chose Conservatism, the aspects of Conservative Judaism that appeal to Jews, and how a break with certain traditions is not necessarily a renunciation of “other basic, central, ideological principles of Judaism.” He married Fannie Goldberg, a native Charlestonian, four years after arriving in the Holy City, as Charleston is called. “With great regrets” the rabbi resigned at the end of his seventh year at Emanu-El. He and Fannie left Charleston for the sake of their two young children—they wanted them to attend a Jewish day school, not available at that time in Charleston. Note: the transcript contains additions and corrections made by Rabbi Weintraub during proofing.
Isadore Cohen (b. 1918) and Samuel Rosen (b. 1929), Charleston natives and sons of immigrants from Russia and Poland, share their early memories of the Orthodox synagogues, Beth Israel and Brith Sholom, and discuss the relationship between the two congregations before and after their merger in the mid-1950s. They describe their Hebrew education, including their teachers—a number of rabbis plus a Mrs. Allen, daughter of Rabbi Gillman. Topics relating to the first half of the twentieth century covered in the interview include Jewish merchants, the Kalushiner Society, founded by immigrants from Kaluszyn, Poland, popular venues for Jewish functions, and the Cohen and Rosen family businesses, both small grocery stores. Interviewer Professor Jeffrey Gurock from Yeshiva University also provides information he discovered while conducting research for his book Orthodoxy in Charleston: Brith Sholom Beth Israel and American Jewish History.
Leona Novit Siegel, joined by her son, Paul, discusses her relatives, the Zalins, the Novits, and the Bogoslows, and identifies the subjects of family photos during the interview. She was born and raised in Walterboro, South Carolina, where her father, Albert Novit, ran a general merchandise store before opening the Lady Lafayette Hotel, popular with honeymooners and tourists driving between New York and Florida. Albert, who was president of the Walterboro Chamber of Commerce, was known for his enthusiastic promotion of his adopted hometown as a great place to visit and to live. He persuaded traveler Arthur Bauer to put down roots and open the Lady Lafayette Grill, a restaurant to complement his hotel. He also convinced Leona’s husband, Sam Siegel, to move to Walterboro from Anderson, South Carolina. Leona’s maternal grandparents, Hyman and Anna Barth Zalin, emigrated from Russia and settled in Walterboro where they established a dry goods business. Anna’s sister, who had married a Bogoslow, followed. The Novits also emigrated from Eastern Europe, but made Charleston, South Carolina, their home. Leona describes how she met and married Sam, and recounts how she received news of the injuries Sam sustained in the Battle of the Bulge. Note: the transcript contains corrections made by Leona’s daughter Gale Messerman.
In this interview Gordan Stine recalls that his maternal grandmother, Annie Gorse Pinosky, a widow of Polish descent with three children, moved to Charleston, South Carolina, circa 1911, from Fall River, Massachusetts. Sam Banov, a Charleston cousin, had arranged for her to marry King Street merchant Joseph Baron, an emigrant from Poland and widower with two children. In 1922 Annie’s daughter Helen Pinosky married Abraham Stein (Steinhauser), who was born in New York, a son of Austrian immigrants. Stein made his living designing advertisements and setting up displays for stores, and moved the family from Charleston to New Jersey when Gordan was twelve and his sister, Lenora, was eleven. Helen saw the move, which broke up her home, as bad luck, and, relying on numerology, changed the spelling of the family name to Stine. After a move to New York, and back to New Jersey, the Stines returned to Charleston in 1939. Gordan graduated from the College of Charleston in 1944, the same year he enlisted in the marines. He joined the reserves after he was released from active duty in 1945, and earned his dental degree from Emory University in 1950. Called again to active duty the following year, he and his new wife, Barbara Berlinsky, also from Charleston, were stationed for two years in their home town, where they stayed after discharge and raised their two sons, Steven and Robert. Gordan experienced no antisemitism directed at him personally while growing up in Charleston, but he discusses discrimination against Jews in general, touching on John Buhler’s tenure as dean of the dental school at the Medical University of South Carolina. Note: the transcript includes comments made by the interviewee during proofing.
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.
Vafides was born in 1921 in Hull, MA. He was a member of The Citadel class of 1943. He attended The Citadel at the beginning of World War II, leaving in 1943 to serve in the US Army as a paratrooper. He returned to complete his studies after the war ended. He was assigned to duty as part of a bazooka team in the 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Co. H, and deployed with his unit in the 17th Airborne Division to England in late 1944. The Division was alerted for Operation Market Garden but did not participate. When the German attack against Allied forces began in mid-December 1944 in the Ardennes in what is known as the Battle of the Bulge, Vafides was in England undergoing training. His entire division was ordered to France and moved by air and then by truck into Belgium near Bastogne where it joined the fighting as part of Gen. Patton's Third Army. While engaged near Flamierge, Belgium, Vafides was wounded and taken captive by the Germans and sent to a POW camp in Germany. He returned to Allied control when his camp was liberated in early 1945 and returned home. After college Vafides worked as a teacher until his retirement.
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.
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.
Throughout the interview, world renowned painter and sculptor, William Halsey shares his views on art and the difficulties of being a contemporary artist in historic cities like Savannah and Charleston. He mentions studying under Elizabeth O’Neil Verner, attending the University of South Carolina, graduating from the Boston Museum School, living and painting in Mexico for two years on a fellowship from the Boston Museum School, as well as teaching at Telfair Academy and the College of Charleston. His wife, Mrs. Corrie Halsey, discusses her attendance at the University of South Carolina where she studied medical illustrating, her attendance at the Boston Museum School, and shares her experiences with juggling duties as both a mother and an artist. Audio with transcript and tape log.
John Laurens graduated from the Citadel in 1910. During World War I Laurens was stationed with the Charleston Light Dragoons in El Paso, Texas and later in France. In the interview, Laurens enumerates his siblings and discusses various occurrences in his life and in Charleston including family vacations on the Southern Railroad, a bath house that was once located at the end of Tradd Street, the Charleston Exposition of 1901, a tornado that took off the steeple of St. Philips Church and a fire at the Anderson Lumber Company once located on Broad Street. Audio with transcript.
Tom Waring discusses the history of Charleston, particularly the population growth in surrounding cities such as North Charleston in the first part of the twentieth century, its designation as the “Holy City,” poverty following the Civil War, the increase in employment during World War I, and the subsequent influx of newcomers to Charleston during World War II. Waring concludes the interview with a local Gullah Story. Hermina Waring discusses the legend behind her family’s silver service. Audio with transcript and tape log.
Dorothy Haskell Porcher Legge was a pioneer of historic preservation in Charleston. In this interview, Legge discusses her early efforts to restore homes on the peninsula and describes the restoration of her family’s residence at number 99 – 101 East Bay Street beginning in 1931. Legge worked privately and effectively to inspire the revitalization of this block of deteriorated eighteenth-century mercantile structures on East Bay Street which eventually came to be known as “Rainbow Row.” In the interview Legge also discusses growing up on Mulberry (on the Cooper River) and Bonny Hill (on the Combahee River) rice plantations and family history including the life of her mother’s grandfather, Rev. John Bachman. Audio with transcript and tape log.
First elected in 1970, Lonnie Hamilton was the first African American to serve on the Charleston County Council. In this interview Hamilton discusses teaching at Bonds Wilson High School in North Charleston, his decision to run for Charleston County Council, subsequent elections, and his daughter. Audio with transcript.
David Alexander Cohen, Jr., born and raised in Darlington, South Carolina, recalls stories of the Hennig and Witcover families while sorting through documents, among them, mortgages, deeds, and bonds acquired by his grandfather, Henry Hennig, a lien merchant. Henry, a German immigrant, operated a general merchandise store in Darlington, and boarded at the home of Dora and Wolf Witcover before marrying their daughter Lena. David’s father, who was in the wholesale grocery and fertilizer business in Darlington, offered his African-American customers credit, and acted as a protector of sorts for those who needed help with personal matters. His great-uncle Hyman Witcover was a respected architect who designed the former Park Hotel in Darlington and numerous buildings in Savannah, Georgia, including city hall. David remembers going to the Florence train station with his father to pick up Rabbi Raisin of Charleston’s Beth Elohim, who conducted services one weekend a month for the Florence and Darlington congregations. In later years Darlington Jews hired rabbis from Sumter and Florence to lead services. David married Kathleen Hyman and they raised four children in Darlington. He describes his and other family members’ involvement in the Darlington Hebrew Congregation and Beth Israel Congregation of Florence. Note: Corrections and additions made during proofing by the interviewee’s wife and son are in brackets with their initials. Mr. Cohen provided interviews on three separate days. The July 12, 1995, and October 26, 1995, interviews were recorded on Tape 1. The October 27, 1995, interview was recorded on Tape 2. Mr. Cohen donated his papers, the subject of most of Tape 1 and all of Tape 2, to Special Collections, College of Charleston. See the David A. Cohen, Jr. collection, Mss. 1021.
Dientje Kalisky Adkins, daughter of Phillip and Evaline Hamel Krant, was born in 1938 in Bussum, Netherlands. She recalls fond memories of life before World War II in the small village not far from Amsterdam, where she and her parents lived over a store run by her father and his brother. She offers several happy tales about extended family members, including her maternal grandparents who lived in nearby Hilversum. Dientje remembers the German occupation of her hometown and tells the story of being sent into hiding by her parents when she was four years old. She describes emotionally and physically traumatic experiences while under the care of a harsh and abusive Catholic nun. By the time the war ended and her parents returned to claim her, Dientje was eight years old and had become accustomed to a new name and Catholic doctrine. The interviewee discusses the negative effects of the war on her psyche and the difficulties of returning to life in Bussum with her parents. The family grew to include a brother and an adopted sister. The Krants attended holiday services and Passover seders at the only synagogue in town. While her family was Orthodox, Dientje’s parents did not keep kosher, nor did they observe the Sabbath. After college, Dientje worked on an ocean liner caring for children in the nursery. She met her husband Leonard Kalisky while vacationing in Germany, where the Kingstree, South Carolina, native was serving on an American army base. They married in 1963 and raised three children in Charleston, South Carolina. The couple divorced after 25 years of marriage. Dientje discusses her emotional status and her outlook on life as a result of her childhood experiences. Note: the transcript contains additions and corrections made by Dientje during proofing.
Connie Karesh Franzblau was born in Brooklyn, New York, where her father, Leroy Karesh, ran a shooting gallery in Coney Island until he was drafted at the outbreak of World War II. His wife, Frances Frankel, and their four children moved to Eutwaville, South Carolina, where Leroy’s parents, Abram and Katie Cohen Karesh, and a number of Katie’s relatives lived. Leroy was excused from military duty when Frances became ill, and the family moved to Charleston where he took a job at the shipyard. Although they lived only briefly in Eutawville, Connie recalls fond memories of the town where she spent her summers and extended family gathered for holidays. Connie’s family was Orthodox and kept kosher, but the Orthodoxy was “southern style.” “You do what you can, and then after a while you do what’s easy, and then after a while you do what you can get away with . . . .” When they moved to Charleston, they attended the Conservative synagogue, Emanu-El, because it was in their neighborhood and, therefore, convenient. Connie discusses her family history, how she met Arnold, and Camp Baker when it was located in Isle of Palms. Arnold, the son of Nathan and Nettie Franzblau, was born and spent his early childhood in New York City. When he was seven years old, the family moved to Aiken, South Carolina, where they hoped Nathan, who had a lung condition, would enjoy better health. The Franzblaus joined a small, close-knit community of immigrant Jewish families who, generally, did not socialize with the town’s gentiles. Arnold recalls attending Sunday school and holiday parties at the synagogue, Adath Yeshurun, and identifies some of the Jewish families in town. He moved to Charleston to attend The Citadel and the Medical College of South Carolina. He met Connie while working as a urology resident at Roper Hospital and the two married in 1953. They lived in a number of locations across the United States, and raised their two children in New Mexico. Arnold describes his family background and the antisemitism he encountered in Aiken and among medical school fraternities. Both interviewees discuss intermarriage and assimilation, and recall the discrimination blacks faced in the South before the civil rights era.
Eileen Strauss Rubin grew up in Sumter, South Carolina, the only child of Isaac and Pearl Weinreich Strauss. Isaac, who was born in New York, moved in the 1870s as a teenager, first to Mayesville, South Carolina, where relatives, the A. A. Strauss family, owned a store. After relocating to Sumter, he invested in land and helped a nephew get started in the printing business. He died when Eileen was only five years old. Eileen recalls celebrating the holidays and attending Sunday school at Sumter’s Temple Sinai, where she was confirmed. As a girl, she visited her mother’s family in Ohio and, having made a number of friends there, decided to go to Ohio State University (OSU). She met her husband, Herman Rubin, at a fraternity dance at OSU. Herman was an M.D. and practicing in Akron. About a year after they married and shortly after their first daughter was born, Herman, who was in the army reserves, was called up for active duty. After five years in military service, the Rubins returned to Akron, where their second daughter was born. In the early ’50s, in search of a milder climate, the Rubins moved to Sumter. Eileen discusses her family history, her daughters, and the family’s real estate business. Interviewer Robert Moses, a Sumter native and friend of the Rubins, contributes to the conversation. Note: daughters Ellen Rubin Eber and Gayle Rubin provided additional information noted in the transcript during proofing.
Dora Altman grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, where her father worked as a tailor. Her parents’ emigration from Poland was sponsored by a relative, a member of the Mendelsohn family. The Altmans attended the Orthodox synagogue Brith Sholom and, at some point, Dora switched to Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, the Reform temple where services were conducted in English. Dora remembers playing with both Jews and gentiles as a child; the Henckel twins, members of the Coburg Dairy family, were among her closest friends. Dora was engaged to Samuel Turtletaub when he was killed in France during World War I. She never married. During the interview, Dora identifies certain photographs (see the Dora Altman collection, Mss. 1006 in Special Collections, College of Charleston), and is joined by interviewer Haskell Ellison, also a Charleston native, in recalling Charleston’s Jewish families and merchants of the early 20th century.
Houston, Texas native Jessica Maas had no intention of enrolling in a military college after graduating from high school. But a visit to The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, solidified her decision to take on the challenges this military school offered, despite several offers to play collegiate-level volleyball at other schools. Maas explains, “I came on campus, and my coaches were talking to me about the challenge and how it would be a different situation from most college students, and that you wouldn't get the normal experience. Once I heard their pitch and heard that it would be a challenge for me, I couldn't turn it down, and I knew that I would regret it if I didn't see if I could handle it, and see if I could excel.” In 2011, four years after first stepping through the Citadel's gates, Maas graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, proving she had indeed handled every challenge The Citadel had to offer. In her interview, Maas relates her experiences at The Citadel as a female athlete, discussing topics such as gender relationships, friendships, faith, and the leadership styles she encountered. Jessica also recalls her best and worst moments during her four years at college, from academic challenges, to reminiscing about favorite classes.
Carolyn Kostopoulos, owner of Carelli Costumes, Inc. in New York, has been the wardrobe director of Spoleto Festival U.S.A. since 1982. Kostopoulos discusses her costume work for the festival over the years, the process of designing and creating, and the difference between her work on Broadway and Spoleto. She discusses her relationships with the artists who wear her designs and details the various costume headquarters she has had in Charleston including the "haunted" old city jail. Audio with transcript.
Marcus Overton is an actor, director, and coach whose career has encompassed theatre, opera, radio and television, and arts administration. He also conducts an award-winning show for South Carolina Public Radio, Spoleto Today. Overton was executive director and producing director of Spoleto Festival U.S.A. during the turbulent years of 1992-1994. Overton discusses the rift between ousted executive director Nigel Redden and Gian Carlo Menotti, Menotti's own eventual departure from Spoleto U.S.A., and the personnel changes and budget deficits that threatened the survival of the festival. Audio with transcript.
Klyde Robinson continues his account of growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, begun in his first interview on August 26, 1997. His father’s business was a bicycle and toy store on the corner of King and Ann Streets, and everyone in the family worked there. Even as a U.S. district attorney and circuit court judge, Klyde helped out at Christmastime when sales peaked for the year. The Robinsons lived in the Hampton Park and upper King Street neighborhoods, and summered on Folly Beach and, later, on Sullivan’s Island where, Klyde recalls, a number of Jewish families had houses beginning in the 1930s. Emma Brown, the African-American woman who worked for the family for nearly 50 years, was well-versed in keeping kosher. Klyde attended The Citadel and at the end of his junior year, he and some of his classmates joined the army to fight in World War II. Despite near-blindness in one eye, Klyde was allowed to serve; ultimately, he went to Europe with the 141st Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion. He notes that while he was aware of the existence of the concentration camps before he left the States, German townspeople claimed to know nothing about them. When he was discharged from the army, almost three years after signing up, he returned to The Citadel to complete his undergraduate education. While attending Harvard Law School, he met Claire Zuckernik of Boston, Massachusetts. In 1949 he graduated from Harvard and was admitted to the South Carolina Bar. He and Claire married in 1950 and she joined him in Charleston, where they raised their children and he started a law practice. Klyde describes his career, including how he acquired his positions as Charleston County’s attorney, assistant U.S. attorney, and circuit court judge. Among the other topics discussed: the social barriers among the Jewish community in the first half of the 20th century; the establishment of the Conservative synagogue, Emanu-El, in 1947; the merger, referred to by the interviewee as an amalgamation, of Charleston’s two Orthodox synagogues, Brith Sholom and Beth Israel, in 1954; joining the Masonic lodge, Friendship Lodge, No. 9; and the debate about whether to open the Jewish Community Center on the Sabbath and High Holidays. Also mentioned are Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch, leader of the congregation at the newly merged Brith Sholom Beth Israel from 1955 to 1963, and Bill Ackerman, developer of the South Windermere neighborhood who ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for mayor of Charleston in 1971. Note: see transcript for corrections made by interviewee during proofing. See Mss. 1035-165 for the preceding interview on August 26, 1997. See the Klyde Robinson Collection, Mss. 1024, in Special Collections at the College of Charleston Library for related material.
Sara Bolgla Breibart, at the age of one, emigrated from Brest-Litovsk with her parents and four-year-old brother. They followed her grandfather, Avram Bolgla, to Augusta, Georgia, where he had established a shoe business. With input from her niece, Debra Bolgla, she recounts their family history, including the loss of those who remained behind in Europe to the Holocaust. Sara grew up in Augusta among a small group of Orthodox Jewish families. She discusses the discriminatory attitudes toward African Americans that she observed as a child in Augusta and an adult in Charleston, South Carolina. She married Solomon Breibart of Charleston and they raised two children, Carol and Mark. Note: the transcript contains comments made by Sara during proofing.
Anita Rosen Levine, the daughter of Rose Rosenfeld of Romania and Jacob Rosen of Vitebsk, Russia, grew up in Port Chester, New York, a small town with a vibrant Jewish community. She received her Jewish education from students of New York City’s Jewish Theological Seminary, who traveled by train to the suburb to teach Sunday school. Anita was visiting a friend in Charleston, South Carolina, when she met Sol Levine, a native of Savannah, Georgia. His parents, Harry Levine, a cantor from Yekaterinoslav, Ukraine, and Freda Wasserman, a native of Warsaw, Poland, emigrated from Russia in 1906 with their two daughters and Harry’s mother. After Freda died in 1932, Harry and his two youngest sons, Sol and David, moved from Savannah to Charleston, where his daughter Rose lived with her family. Nearly two years later, Harry and Sol moved to Columbia, joining Sol’s older brother Max. David, still a young boy, stayed behind with Rose. Sol belonged to the Herzl Club in Savannah and was the first president of Columbia’s Jewish youth group, AZA, Aleph Zadik Aleph. He clerked in stores in the South Carolina towns of Allendale and Bamberg before returning to Charleston where he worked for his brother-in-law at LeRoy’s Jewelers on King Street. Sol and Anita, who married and settled in Charleston in 1942, talk about their social life, downtown shop owners, and their three children. In the early 1950s, when construction of the Savannah River Site, a nuclear production facility, was underway, Sol was hired to run a store in Barnwell, one of the South Carolina towns experiencing rapid growth associated with the new plant. The Levines lived in Barnwell for two years before returning to Charleston in 1955, the year after the two Orthodox synagogues, Brith Sholom and Beth Israel, merged. Prior to moving to Barnwell, they had been members of Brith Sholom; upon their return to Charleston, they joined Brith Sholom Beth Israel (BSBI). They discuss the merger and comment on the breakaway of Brith Sholom members to establish the Conservative congregation Emanu-El in 1947. Other topics covered include Sol’s contributions to BSBI through the Men’s Club, Anita’s involvement with the Daughters of Israel Sisterhood, the St. Philip Street and Rutledge Avenue mikvahs, and the rabbis, cantors, and sextons who served the Orthodox community. Anita began working for the BSBI rabbis in the mid-1950s, running the office for the synagogue and the Charleston Hebrew Institute (CHI), BSBI’s Hebrew day school. She describes the growth of CHI from just a kindergarten in 1955 to graduating the first class of seventh graders in 1964. “It was like my fourth child,” she says, referring to CHI.
Leonard Cohen grew up in Latta, South Carolina, the son of dry goods merchants, Isadore and Hannah Horowitz Cohen. Isadore emigrated circa 1910 from Lithuania and, after working briefly in Baltimore, followed his brother Harry’s advice and came south. His train ticket got him as far as Dillon, South Carolina. He peddled first, and then worked for Mr. Blum in his Latta store. Baltimore Bargain House extended credit to Isadore to start his own business, which prospered, enabling him to expand his store and, eventually, buy his own building. Two other Jewish families lived in Latta at that time, the Blums and the Kornbluts, and Leonard recalls being the only Jewish child in his classes at school. The Cohens attended services in Dillon, with Rabbi Jacob Raisin of Charleston officiating. Leonard remembers the Fass family, prominent members of the Dillon congregation. At Camp Osceola in Hendersonville, North Carolina, Leonard studied Hebrew with Rabbi Solomon and prepared for his bar mitzvah. He attended The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, from 1941 until 1943, when he was drafted into the army. He describes his experiences in the military, particularly the action he saw in Europe as a soldier serving in the 102nd Division. After the war, on a visit to Baltimore, he met Mildred Friedman, daughter of emigrants from Poland. Leonard and Mildred married in 1948 and settled in Latta, where he had already joined his father in business. They raised three children in Latta and were members of Temple Beth Israel in Florence, South Carolina. Faced with competition from discount chains, the Cohens closed their store in 1987. Other topics mentioned in the interview include: Baltimore Bargain House and changes in the wholesale industry, Charleston Jews Leonard met while attending The Citadel, Mildred’s mikvah experience before her wedding, and the first bat mitzvahs at Temple Beth Israel.
Lawrence and Sylvia Polan Weintraub provide background about their parents and grandparents, primarily their activities after they arrived in the United States from Eastern Europe. Sylvia was born and raised in Mullins, South Carolina. Her father had moved to Mullins from Baltimore to manage a store. Her mother, a Levin of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, joined him after they married. Sylvia describes how the family kept kosher in a small southern town, where she and her sister endured antisemitic taunts from schoolmates. Her family traveled to Dillon, South Carolina, for services and Sunday school lessons. Larry was born and raised in Brooklyn where his father and uncle manufactured ladies’ blouses. After serving in the army during World War II, Larry moved to Walterboro to join his maternal uncle, Harry Zahl, who ran a wholesale business. Larry worked for Harry as a traveling salesman, and it was on his route through Mullins that he met Sylvia, working in her father’s store. The couple married in 1947 and lived briefly in Petersburg, Virginia, before returning to South Carolina. They raised their two children in Timmonsville and were members of Temple Beth Israel in Florence.
Raymond Stern grew up in Andrews, South Carolina, where his father, the son of emigrants from Eastern Europe, established Stern’s Dry Goods in 1932. Raymond recalls Melvin Hornik, a Charleston wholesaler, and discusses his childhood friends and Jewish merchants in Andrews, Lane, and Kingstree, including his uncle Charlie Tucker, who was from Baltimore. Tucker was one of the first Jewish merchants to come to this rural region between the midlands and the coast. The Sterns were members of Congregation Beth Elohim in Georgetown and, later, Raymond’s parents also attended services at Kingstree’s Temple Beth Or. After he graduated from the University of South Carolina and served four years in the air force, Raymond returned home and joined his father in the family business. He assumed control of the store around 1965. At the time of this interview, it was still open. Raymond married Florence Harris, a school teacher, and they raised four children in Andrews, Georgetown, and Charleston. Note: audio quality is poor.
Klyde Robinson, son of Eva Dora Karesh and Mitchel Robinson, describes his family history, including the possibility that William Robinson, the first of his father’s side of the family to come to America, may have been a Christian. Klyde’s grandfather Rudolph Robinson died a young man and his wife, Nettie Meyer, subsequently married Harry Goldberg of Charleston, South Carolina. Although Rudolph and Nettie had attended Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE), Charleston’s Reform synagogue, Nettie joined Harry at the Orthodox synagogue, Brith Sholom, once they married. She kept a strictly kosher home and observed all the Jewish holidays. Klyde’s mother, who was born in Elloree, South Carolina, died when Klyde and his two older brothers, Rudolph and Irving, were very young. Anticipating her death, she asked Mitchel to marry her niece, also named Eva Dora Karesh, after she passed away. Mitchel complied and, later, the second Eva Dora gave birth to his fourth son, Melvin. Klyde discusses the loss of the Hanover Street Cemetery, where several members of the Robinson family were buried, to foreclosure in the 1930s. He recalls the social distance between members of KKBE and Orthodox Jews, and between members of the two Orthodox synagogues, Brith Sholom and Beth Israel, during his childhood. He explains why, after raising his children in the Reform synagogue, he returned to the Orthodox tradition of his youth, and notes a trend in Charleston where some Jews, who were raised in KKBE, are switching to Orthodoxy. Note: see transcript for corrections made by interviewee during proofing. See Mss. 1035-166 for a follow-up interview on September 5, 1997. See the Klyde Robinson Collection, Mss. 1024, in Special Collections at the College of Charleston Library, for related material.
Leon Banov, Jr., a retired proctologist at the time of this interview, was the grandson of Alexander Banov, an emigrant from Poland who ran a dry goods store in Red Top, South Carolina, a small, rural community a few miles from Charleston. Alexander’s son, Leon Sr., who was eight years old when he arrived in America, attended Charleston’s Orthodox synagogue, Brith Sholom, but received his confirmation instruction from Ellen de Castro Williams, a woman of Sephardic ancestry and member of the Reform synagogue, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE). Leon Jr. credits her with starting the first Orthodox Sunday school in South Carolina, and his father was a member of its first confirmation class. To show his appreciation for Mrs. WiIliams’s efforts, Leon Sr. gave her a napkin holder shaped as a deer from his family’s modest collection of silver pieces. She, in turn, gave the napkin ring to Leon Sr.’s son, the interviewee, upon the occasion of his bar mitzvah. Thus began a tradition whereby the deer is passed down alternately to a descendant of the Banov and Williams families as a gift to a new bar or bat mitzvah. Leon Sr., a pharmacist and an M.D., became the first health director of the Charleston County Health Department in 1920, a position he held for forty-one years. He recorded his experiences in As I recall: the story of the Charleston County Health Department. He married Minnie Monash, whose family was from Germany and practiced Reform Judaism. The couple raised their three children in the Reform tradition and attended KKBE. Leon Jr. discusses his siblings and reports that he did not experience any antisemitism growing up. He organized the first cub scout pack in Charleston and received several honors for his involvement in and promotion of the Boy Scouts of America, including the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 1989. His numerous contributions to the medical community include serving on an advisory panel for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and acting as chairman of the Charleston County Board of Health. He also recalls certain former KKBE rabbis and describes how he met his wife, Rita Landesman. Note: the transcript contains comments made by members of the Banov family during proofing.
This is a panel discussion held in 1997 at the 4th annual meeting of the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina, convened on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Charleston’s Conservative congregation, Synagogue Emanu-El. Topics include the reasons for establishing Emanu-El, who the leaders were, and how the controversial split from the Orthodox Brith Sholom affected individuals and families in both congregations. Among the speakers is Lewis Weintraub, Emanu-El’s first rabbi, who provides details of many of the synagogue’s “firsts.”
Robert “Rabbit” Lockwood grew up on the South Battery in Charleston, South Carolina. In his interview, Lockwood describes his long and rich family history, which dates back to the earliest Europeans in South Carolina, including two family members who were blockade runners for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Lockwood’s family tradition of seafarers includes his grandfather and great-uncle who were harbor pilots in Charleston. During his early years, he attended Gaud School for Boys and Charleston High before majoring in Civil Engineering at The Citadel. After graduation, Lockwood became an apprentice harbor pilot, working at the Charleston Harbor until he retired at the age of seventy. In his reflections, Lockwood considers himself lucky to have been able to keep this job and avoid the fate of many of his classmates, who served in Vietnam. He also shares some of his more memorable experiences as a harbor pilot.
Charles Moore, a member and business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 776, was born in Florence, South Carolina, on July 19th, 1961. Soon after, his family moved to the Isle of Palms, where he spent his youth. Directly after graduating from high school, Moore joined the Marine Corps and served from 1979 to 1983. He spent most of his service time overseas, first in Japan and later in Korea. After completing his years of service at the age of twenty, Moore attended Embry-Riddle College in Daytona, Florida, aspiring to become a helicopter pilot. However, he returned to South Carolina before finishing his training and, needing a steady job, decided pursue a civilian job and continued on to join the local union. He explains that transitioning from military life to the union was not difficult, as both systems provided similar structure and order. Moore talks about IBEW, the union which represents electricians and workers of the communication and broadcasting industries, and describes its role in negotiating with contractors and ensuring benefits for the workers. His pride in his work with the union, in his trade, and in the Charleston-based projects on which he has participated is evident. He says proudly, “I can walk around here and see every building I worked in. I’m a part of the community. I love being a part of the community. My children get tired of it because every time we ride around, [I say], ‘Yeah, I built that. I built that.’”
"Herbert Lee Frazier was born at the Charleston Naval Base Hospital. The son of a Navy cook, Herbert grew up wandering King Street, enjoying cartoons, and maturing under the love and support of his close-knit family. Frazier also describes his youth and the neighborhood he grew up in, including the damage it suffered from Hurricane Hugo and the following gentrification. Frazier attended The University of South Carolina, majoring in journalism. Although he gravitated towards an advertising career, he found himself working as an intern at The Post and Courier in a newly integrated news room. Frazier notes that his career in journalism allowed him to “follow his curiosity.” Frazier went on to work at papers such as The State Newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Louisiana, The Dallas Times-Herald, in Dallas, Texas, and The Charlotte Observer in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1990, he was named the journalist of the year by the South Carolina Press Association in recognition of his work with the South Carolina Association of Black Journalists. Frazier also recalls such experiences as teaching at Rhodes University in South Africa, participating in journalism organizations, and leading training sessions in developing countries with the State Department. In the interview, Frazier reflects on the ethics, integrity, and technological advancements in journalism . He also talks about the challenges he faced as an African American journalist and remembers some of the most interesting stories he wrote. "
Bill Carson was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in October of 1976, and when he was ten years old his family relocated to James Island, South Carolina. It was around this time that Carson become interested in playing guitar. Carson talks about his formative years, the music that inspired him, and the people who supported him. He reminices how the Jump Little Children’s band members trained and nurtured him and describes them as being “like big brothers” to him and many other young local musicians. Despite participation in a band during his senior year of high school, Carson did not have plans to pursue a music career, and enrolled at the College of Charleston to study philosophy and art. After graduation, Carson began work in a glass shop, but continued playing in different bands in his free time. He remembers his first show, an opening for the band The Groovy Cools which drew a laughably small audience, and his first serious show with a band called Bud Collins. Carson recalls some of his best experiences playing in an ensemble, especially his participation in the Groundhog Concert Day at the Halsey Institute, which brought many of his favorite local musicians together. When asked whether he thought Charleston had a special sound, he stated that he considered Charleston to be special due to its sense of community. Carson recalls the instrumental trio he formed with Ron Wiltrout and Nathan Koci, known as The Opposite of Train, and his 2011 project to document indigenous music on Johns Island. Today, Carson is known for a vast career that includes writing, recording, and performing music, as well as for his collaborative projects and commissioned productions. He also finds time to be a full time elementary school teacher in his community.
"Longshoreman and civil rights unionist Leonard Riley, Jr. was born on August 27th, 1952, in Charleston, South Carolina. A lifelong resident of West Ashley, Riley’s family owned several acres of land which they farmed. To supplement the income from farming, his father worked seasonal jobs to be able to provide for his five children. It was in these seasonal jobs that Leonard Riley, Sr., became the first family member to work the waterfront. Later, his sons, Leonard and Kenneth, followed in his footsteps and would later become union leaders at the ILA local 1422. Riley relays his own introduction to longshoring, describing how he began at the age of eighteen, during the summer before his first year of college. His first day at work left an indelible memory. Riley recalls, ""Yeah, that was—that first day was unbelievable. I thought I was going to die, literally, cramping—all the bottoms of your feet cramping. I'll never forget that day: hands chafed out by getting blisters on the hands. But these guys were used to it, so it didn't bother them. They dragged me through that day."" After beginning his studies at the College of Charleston the following fall, Riley worked at the docks each summer. Though he earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology, after graduation Riley realized he truly enjoyed his job at the port. In addition to providing a good income, the job helped him to emerge as a young leader among his co-workers. Reflecting on years past, Riley stresses how drastically the maritime industry has changed due to automatization and stresses the union's crucial role in protecting the workers in a changing landscape. Amongst his memories, the 2002 strike against Nordana shipping stands out. Riley tells of the national and international attention- and international assistance- the conflict generated. He describes how the clash was resolved with the help and solidarity of Spanish dockworkers who forced the company to negotiate. Riley concludes and explains that longshoring has historically been a black industry that can be traced through the years back to slavery."
Susan Breslin was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. In the summer of 1963, she joined The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in Harlem after graduating from the University of Toronto. In recalling her time with the organization, Breslin talks about the intense work she performed with the TV Image Campaign, a movement devised by CORE to force major companies to use integrated advertisement. She also discusses the significance of the August, 1963 March on Washington, stating, “I think everybody who participated in the March on Washington—and they came from everywhere—walked away knowing they were part of something huge.” Breslin’s interview dives into the rich depths of CORE’s history; specifically the evolution of its ideology. Breslin discusses the controversy that bubbled up when some CORE leaders advocated for separation instead of integration, and the resulting break that led her to leave the group in the fall of 1965. Breslin also shares her memories of major historical events such as the funerals of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. She reflects on how her participation in the civil rights movement impacted her personal relationships, discusses the emotional quality of those times, and encourages her audience to find the issue of their time and become involved. Breslin believes, as she says, “Every little step creates controversy, but the controversy does not last. What lasts is the door that has been opened.” Later, Breslin moved to South Carolina, and now resides in Folly Beach, where she continues to be active in local political issues.
Civil rights activist and educator Dr. Luther Seabrook was born in Charleston, South Carolina on December 5, 1928. He spent his childhood in downtown Charleston until his parents enrolled him at Lincoln Academy, a boarding school for black children in North Carolina. After finishing high school, he went to West Virginia for his undergraduate studies, obtained a master’s degree in education at Columbia University, and later earned a doctorate in education administration from the University of Massachusetts. In his interview, Seabrook remembers his experiences with the civil rights movement in the 1960s. He explains that, after facing the pervasiveness of racism and discrimination at Columbia University and from New York City officials, he joined the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). With CORE, Seabrook worked to bring about change primarily through the housing and education initiatives. In the summer of 1964, he volunteered to go to Mississippi and collaborate with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), despite the disappearance of three civil rights activists. SNCC leaders sent him to Hattiesburg, where he remained and worked with the Freedom Schools until the end of the summer. Seabrook also recalls his other activities, such as his participation in the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City, attendance of the Selma march, and involvement in a march on Washington. But Seabrook’s impact didn’t stop at civil rights; he also had a successful career in education. In his roles as both a principal and a superintendent, Seabrook was a central figure in the development of the New York and Boston school systems. For his work, he received numerous accolades and awards from various parties. Though Seabrook worked mostly in the North, he returned to South Carolina and worked at the State Department of Education with Dr. Barbara Nielsen in the 1990s.
Jacquelyn Elaine Venning was born in Charleston, South Carolina, where she spent most of her life. Venning describes being raised in a Christian family and her experience in private schools, including Sacred Heart Catholic School and Bishop England, where she was educated until eleventh grade. Venning graduated from Burke High School in 1983. Venning recalls her first job as a shampoo girl, which she got in sixth grade and continued to work at through her schooling. After high school, Venning relates how she fell in love and got married. Her husband then joined the military, which relocated them around the world. Venning describes her experience living internationally in Germany, and in Texas and Georgia before returning to Charleston in 1992. Since then, she has been working with Aramark at The Citadel, first serving in the Mess Hall and later serving as a supervisor in the Daniel Library Java City. In her interview, Venning recalls her apprehension of working in The Citadel’s male-only environment. But she states that her fears quickly dissipated and describes the cadets as having always been gentle and respectful with her and her job enjoyable. Venning recounts the many institutional changes she has experienced during her than twenty-plus years working at The Citadel, including the deeply controversial admission of Sharon Faulkner to the school and later the full inclusion of women to the Corps. Venning concludes with how the food industry has changed over the years and the attempts to unionize The Citadel food workers.
Interview with Bill and Suzanne McIntosh, long-time owners of 66 Anson Street (Chazal House), who reminisce about their home and the changes in the Ansonborough neighborhood that they have witnessed over the past 50+ plus years. Mr. McIntosh was a long-time Charlestonian who descended from Mary Fisher Bailey Cross, a Quaker, who came to Charleston in 1680. He grew up on Greenhill Street and later lived on New and Broad Streets. He went to the Craft School and High School of Charleston. He owned a successful travel agency on Broad Street and was the president of the Preservation Society during the "Omni [now Charleston Place] controversies." Mrs. McIntosh is from New Orleans where they met when both were in college. Mrs. McIntosh worked for the Evening Post. They purchased 66 Anson Street from Historic Charleston Foundation in 1961 through its Ansonborough Rehabilitation Project. They bought the house because as preservationists they wanted to restore a house. Also the house was inexpensive and they wanted a house with a yard. They had followed the lead of Peter Manigualt (Evening Post Industries) who had previously purchased a house in Ansonborough. Within eight years after they bought the house, at least 8 other Evening Post/News & Courier staff bought homes in Ansonborough, and as word spread, many others got excited and moved there. Repairing, restoring, and renovating the house has been an ongoing process, starting when the McIntoshes cleared out sand on the ground that had reached the front steps, added a new roof, and installed electricity and plumbing. Herbert DeCosta did the work and also advised on the interiors. Through the Ansonborough Rehabilitation Project under Frances Edmunds's leadership, Ansonborough became one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Charleston. Regarding neighborhood conditions and changes, like other homes in Ansonborough, 66 Anson Street was in deteriorated and neglected condition when the McIntoshes bought it. Many people thought the area was a dangerous slum but "many didn't see the neighborhood for how good it was … It was a poor community, not a slum … After World War II there wasn't any money" so the homes slowly became run down and weren't repaired. There had been corner grocery stores which were essential as most residents didn't have cars. (The corner stores were converted to residential during the Ansonborough Rehabilitation Project.) Many new Ansonborough homeowners were young couples before they had children. They socialized and shared information, eventually forming the Ansonborough Neighborhood Association. Ansonborough was a close community but has changed significantly over the years. Mr. and Mrs. McIntosh are the only original ARP homeowners living in the borough and they don't know many of their neighbors. Tourism has had an impact on Ansonborough, largely that of the carriage tours which Mr. and Mrs. McIntosh have not liked since the earliest tours. The rising value of homes has made it more expensive to live and maintain a house; almost all of the McIntosh's former neighbors have moved. There are also many part-time residents, which has changed the character of the neighborhood. Interviewed by Katherine Pemberton on April 21, 2016 at the McIntosh's home at 66 Anson Street.
Geoff Nuttall began performing yearly at Spoleto Festival U.S.A. in 1995 as first-violinist with his renowned St. Lawrence String Quartet. In 2008 he was named associate artistic director of the chamber music series and will assume leadership from longtime director Charles Wadsworth in 2010. Nuttall discusses the legacy of Wadsworth and chamber music, the logistics of selecting the performers and the repertoire, and the advantages of having Charleston as a venue for the festival. Audio with transcript.
Leslee Newcomb has been a wig and make-up designer for Spoleto since 1978. She discusses the intimacy of wig and make-up design and her interaction with performers and details the changes she's seen in Charleston since her first Spoleto Festival U.S.A. Audio with transcript.
Renowned flutist Tara Helen O'Connor is a member of the woodwind quintet Windscape, founding member of New Millennium Ensemble and flute soloist of the Bach Aria Group. She has appeared in countless festivals and programs worldwide and has performed at Spoleto since 1994. O'Connor discusses her history with the festival, her longtime association with chamber music director Charles Wadsworth, her performances, her relationship with festival managers and artists, and the history and future of Spoleto Festival U.S.A. in Charleston, South Carolina. Audio with transcript.
Charles S. Way is a noted Charleston businessman and civic leader who has been involved with Spoleto Festival U.S.A. since 1978. He served as the organization's president in 1984, chairman of the board from 1985-1991, and has held the post of chairman emeritus since 1991. Way talks about the history of Spoleto Festival U.S.A., his relationships with Gian Carlo Menotti, Nigel Redden and others, how the festival piqued his interest in art, and his hope that Spoleto U.S.A. and the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy, will one day be joined together again. Audio with transcript.
Interview with Dr. Joseph Hoffman by Lee Drago and Eugene Hunt, September 25, 1980 and October 9, 1980, AMN 500.001.003, in Avery Normal Institute Oral History Project, of the Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston.
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.
Interview with Ruby Cornwell by Edmund L. Drago and Eugene C. Hunt, November 24, 1981, AMN 500.001.001, in the Avery Normal Institute Oral History Project, at the Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston
Interview with Louise Mouzon by Edmund L. Drago and Eugene C. Hunt, November 20, 1980, AMN 500.001.008, in the Avery Normal Institute Oral History Project, of the Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston
Interview with Peter Poinsette by Edmund L. Drago and Eugene C. Hunt, March 31, 1981, AMN 500.001.007, in the Avery Normal Institute Oral History Project, of the Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston
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.
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.”
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.