Ida Ostendorff was born in Gilbert, South Carolina. At the start of WWII she traveled to Washington D.C. where she passed a typing course and began work as a “government girl” working in the Judge Advocate General’s office. In 1942, upon turning 21 and meeting the minimum age requirement, she jointed the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). She completed her basic training at Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia, where she was trained to use a gas mask. She volunteered for an assignment overseas and traveled to New York City to embark on the Queen Elizabeth. She landed in Scotland on June 6, 1944, having no idea at the time that it was D-Day. She was then transported to her assignment at Stone Staffordshire, England. On her way there she remembers the commotion caused by the Normandy landings: “As we were going along, people were just waving wildly to us because they knew it was D-Day, but we didn’t know it.” She remained in England until the end of the war. She met her husband after the war when they both took the same French class. They were married for 61 years and have five children, several of whom have served in the military.
Clarence A. Renneker Jr. grew up in Orangeburg, SC, and enrolled at The Citadel in 1939. His brother-in-law, a graduate from the school, influenced his decision. He majored in business and graduated from The Citadel in May of 1943. Renneker was sent to Ft. Benning, GA, where he completed OCS and was commissioned. He was then assigned for a time to the 80th Infantry division. After training in the southwest, he was shipped overseas in June 1944 as an “excess officer.” After arriving in England, he was assigned to the 118th Infantry after speaking with the regiment’s executive officer by chance in a barbershop. The Regimental executive officer was Citadel graduate Colonel Caldwell Barron, Jr. As an officer in the 118th division, Renneker helped run training schools around England, and later in France, he helped train replacement troops from other branches as riflemen by teaching them map reading skills, to shoot and care for their rifles, and other basic infantry skills before they were sent to the front lines. After the surrender was signed in Germany, Renneker helped coordinate the post-war return of soldiers to the United States. In June 1946, he returned home to his wife and eventually took over his father’s clothing store in Orangeburg. He is retired and living in Mt. Pleasant with his wife.
Warshaw was born on October 27, 1920. From an early age, he wanted to go to college at The Citadel. When his high school record seemed likely to derail his hope, direct appeal to Gen. Summerall got him in. After overcoming some early problems, Warshaw settled down and graduated in 1942. He received orders on graduation day to report on June 10, 1942, for active duty and soon was assigned to the 433rd automatic weapons battalion, an anti-aircraft unit. Shipped to Casablanca, on the Moroccan Atlantic coast, his unit was assigned a training and support mission until the July-August 1943 invasion of Sicily. After the conquest of Sicily, his unit joined the Allied invasion of Italy and advanced to the Cassino front where the attack stalled. Withdrawn from the Cassino front and sent to the Anzio beachhead, he was able to visit Rome after the breakout for one evening. Withdrawn once again, Warshaw’s unit left Italy to join the invasion of southern France, fighting from there into Germany. Warshaw was promoted to first lieutenant and to captain as the war progressed, but when asked he said that he had absolutely no interest in staying in the Army. The morning after the capture of the Dachau concentration camp, Warshaw’s colonel took him to see the camp. There they found the odor was such that “we could hardly stand it . . . piles and piles of bodies.” He opened one of camp’s four ovens where “Bones were still smoldering,” and the colonel handed him a camera and told him to take pictures, some of which are archived at the Jewish Heritage Collection at the College of Charleston. A retired merchant of men’s clothing, he resides in his home town of Walterboro, SC.
Civil rights leader and community activist William Saunders was born in 1935 and has resided most of his life in Johns Island, South Carolina. In this interview, Saunders reflects on the economic and cultural changes he has witnessed over the years. Many of the changes had a negative impact on the health and life expectancy of the African American community. Regarding land ownership and access to natural resources, he states- both poor white and black landowners lost their properties because of shark loan practices. He criticizes government policies that facilitated city annexations, profuse housing development, and promoted tourism industry without considering their impact in the life of folks residing in rural and urban areas of Charleston. He thinks organic farming is a positive practice but one that does not benefit poor families. Saunders states he keeps working on his community as a member of the Gullah/ Geechee Commission. He also co-chairs with Tommy Legare the organization Concerned Citizens of the Sea Island, which is against the extension of I-526. Saunders states that activism can carry a heavy toll. "If you got the knowledge, and you care, then you have to suffer. You really have to suffer because you’re the one that gets involved."
Richard Polite was born in Charleston in 1951 and raised on Strawberry Lane before his family moved to Cannon St. near President St. After attending Burke High School, where he played football, Polite served in the U.S. Army and served one tour in Vietnam. In this interview, Polite recalls growing up in segregated Charleston and later working at the Naval Shipyard. He explains why he enjoys the job he has now held for 12 years driving a truck for the City of Charleston’s environmental services department. The job affords him the opportunity to serve and interact with the public. Hazardous working conditions and mismanagement have nevertheless led Polite and many of his coworkers to establish a union this past year. While there is no shortage of dissatisfaction among his coworkers, fear of losing their jobs in a poor economy has kept many of them on the sidelines.
Philip S. Minges, Jr. was born on December 1, 1923, in Charleston, SC. He reported for active duty in 1942 during his sophomore year at Clemson University. Although he began training in the Corps of Engineers, combat replacement requirements led to Minges’ assignment as an infantryman to the Eleventh Armored Division. Minges reflects on his combat experience during the Battle of the Bulge when he had to try to dig a foxhole under fire in frozen ground. In his first battle, only three men of a 12-man squad, Minges and two others, came through unharmed. All others were wounded or killed. A few battles later, Minges was wounded: “I heard something hit on the side of the track, about waist high. I knew what it was. [If the shot] had been over about a foot [it would have gotten] me in the back…. I heard another pop and dirt flew up around my feet…. I got shot in the foot.” Following World War II, he enrolled at The Citadel in 1946 and graduated in 1948. After the war, Minges worked fifty years for Dupont in Camden, SC, and retired as an Army Reserve colonel with thirty years of service.
John Burrows was born in Saginaw, Michigan. An excellent student and athlete he graduated high school and received a full scholarship to go The Citadel. He entered in September of 1936 as a civil engineer major, and quickly became number one in his class academically. He also excelled in football, basketball and track, making all-state for basketball three years in a row, and remains in the Citadel Athletic Hall of Fame. Upon graduation from The Citadel in 1940 he received a regular army commission and joined the 61st Coast Artillery Regiment. From there he was eventually assigned to the air defense division of the Supreme Headquarters under General Eisenhower in London, and oversaw the then top-secret plan codenamed Operation Overlord. Burrows recalls his decision to enter The Citadel and his active duty in WWII. Although never in direct combat, his time on the Supreme Headquarters staff allowed him an insider's perspective on the planning for Operation Overlord and the European Theater. He discusses the US Army's ingenuity when it came to advances in weaponry, which were occurring in front of his eyes. He also discusses in detail the German surrender at Reims and how the US Army so effectively handled the multitude of issues surrounding the details of such an event. Upon returning from his service in the army, Burrows worked for a book publishing company before returning to Charleston take a job as Assistant Commandant at The Citadel. Audio with transcript.
Lidia Gabriela Ojeda Ruiz (b. 1997) was born in the town of Jerécuaro in Guanajuato, Mexico and came to the United States in 2006, with her two older brothers to live with her mother and her older sister who were already settled in Johns Island, South Carolina. In this interview, Ojeda remembers growing up in Mexico, the difficulty and confusion of leaving family and friends in Guanajuato to start a new life in the United States, and the challenges she faced adjusting to a foreign environment. She shares her story of adjusting to the school system, learning English and becoming acculturated. Moreover, she discusses her status as a Dreamer and the burdens placed upon DACA students to further their education beyond high school. Ojeda tells about her interest in criminal justice, her work with a local immigration lawyer, and her plans to continue her education in the future. In this interview, Ojeda reflects about how growing up in two different places, Guanajuato and South Carolina, have shaped her life and character.
This panel discussion was held in October 2004 in observance of the one hundredth anniversary of Temple Beth Elohim in Georgetown, South Carolina. Relying on local records, L. C. Sloan reviews the history of eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century Jews of Georgetown, in particular, Marcus Moses (1830-1884) and his children. Robin Heiden Shuler describes growing up in the 1960s and ’70s as a member of a small, close-knit Jewish community in predominantly Christian Florence, South Carolina, and how she drifted away from Judaism as a young woman in Charleston, but returned to it as a mother. Robert Schimek provides his perspective as a transplant from the Northeast. He proposes that the line between Conservative and Reform Judaism is becoming increasingly blurred and that Beth Elohim’s goal is to “make as many as we can . . . feel comfortable under our umbrella.” Panelists and audience members also briefly discuss the question of antisemitism in Florence and touch on the history of Temple Beth Or in Kingstree, South Carolina. For Mr. Sloan’s research materials, see L. C. Sloan collection, Mss 1036, Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston.
Bordallo was born in San Pedro Coahuila, Mexico, where she lived with her parents and six brothers until moving to the United States. Her father was a milliner and businessman. In 1978, she got married and crossed the border with her new husband. They arrived in Florida and stayed to work in agriculture, from there traveling to Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia, and anywhere they were needed. They had three children. In 1986, they decided to settle on Johns Island because they wanted a more stable life and better educational opportunities for their children. They kept working on the fields and lived in a camp located on River Road. There, they met the sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, who visited the families and helped them to access community resources. Aspiring to a better quality of life for her family, Bordallo strove to acquire their own house through Habitats for Humanity. Bordallo and her husband regularized their legal status by accepting the amnesty granted by the Reagan administration and later became US citizens.Bordallo nació en San Pedro Coahuila, México y allí vivió junto a sus padres y seis hermanos hasta que emigró a Estados Unidos. Su padre fabricaba sombreros y se dedicaba a los negocios. En 1978, se casó y con su flamante marido cruzó la frontera. Se instalaron en Florida para trabajar en el campo y desde allí viajaban a Virginia, las Carolinas, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, donde quiera que hubiera trabajo en la cosecha. Tuvieron tres hijos. En 1986 pensando en el bien y la educación de los niños decidieron establecerse en Johns Island. Al campo donde vivían, ubicado en River Road, comenzaron a llegar de visita las hermanas de Our Lady of Mercy y ellas los ayudaron a acceder a recursos comunitarios. Aspirando a una mejor calidad de vida para su familia luchó para conseguir su propia vivienda con Habitat for Humanity. Bordallo y su esposo se acogieron a la amnistía otorgada por el gobierno del presidente Reagan y más tarde se convirtieron en ciudadanos americanos.
Artist and playwright Maribel Acosta was born in Havana, Cuba in 1969. She moved in her twenties to Ecuador and since 2010 has been living in the Lowcountry with her family. Acosta has gained a reputation within the local arts community for her paintings, graphic design, community-based theatrical productions, and community service. In the interview, Acosta tells about her childhood in Havana, her early fascination with the arts, and her training as an artist in the most prestigious Cuban institutions. She also talks about her journey as an immigrant and explains that moving from Cuba to Ecuador represented a true cultural shock. Twenty years later, she decided to emigrate again, this time to the United States, with her musician husband and their two children. In the United States she struggled with learning to communicate in English, but that was not a deterrent for her creative passion and her efforts to share her work. Acosta explains that since her children became more independent she has had more time to focus on her artistic endeavors. She has exhibited her paintings in a private gallery in West Ashley and at the Saul Alexander Gallery at the Charleston County Public Library. Finally, she also tells about her project, "Hola Familia", a radio program in Spanish that is broadcast once a week by El Sol 980. Descripción: La artista y dramaturga Maribel Acosta nació en La Habana, Cuba en 1969. A los veinte años se estableció en Ecuador y desde el año 2010 reside en el Lowcountry junto con su familia. Acosta es reconocida por sus pinturas, diseño gráfico, producciones teatrales y servicio comunitario. En la entrevista cuenta sobre su infancia en La Habana, su temprana fascinación por las artes y su formación como artista en las más prestigiosas instituciones cubanas. También relata su historia como inmigrante y explica que el paso de Cuba a Ecuador representó un verdadero choque cultural. Veinte años más tarde cuando decidió radicarse en Estados Unidos junto a su marido músico y sus dos hijos tuvo que aprender a comunicarse en una nueva lengua. Este desafío no le impidió seguir creando y compartiendo su trabajo. Acosta explica que a medida que sus hijos se han vuelto más independientes ella ha encontrado más tiempo para enfocarse en sus proyectos artísticos. Ha exhibido sus pinturas en una galería privada en West Ashley y en la galería Saul Alexander de la Biblioteca Pública del Condado de Charleston. Finalmente, habla de su proyecto “Hola Familia” un programa radial en español que se emite semanalmente por El Sol 980.
Before settling in the Lowcountry in the late 1990s, Pilar resided with her husband and her young son in the city of Mendoza, Argentina. Pilar worked as a teacher and her husband worked for a company called Villavicencio. The young couple was able to meet their obligations and attend to the needs of their child until a reduction of staff left her husband out of work. Like so many other Argentines hit by the economic crisis, after unsuccessfully looking for work for months, disillusioned and desperate, her husband decided to try his luck abroad. A few months later Pilar joined him. In the interview, Pilar tells about the process of preparing to emigrate and the adaptation to the new life in the Lowcountry. She recalls the people and programs that helped her in her journey and reflects on how the experience of migrating affected the family’s roles and dynamics as well as the construction of her own identity.Antes de establecerse en el Lowcountry a fines de los años noventa, Pilar residía junto a su esposo y su hijo pequeño en la ciudad de Mendoza, Argentina. Pilar trabajaba como maestra y su esposo lo hacía en la empresa Villavicencio. La joven pareja era capaz de afrontar sus obligaciones y atender a las necesidades de su niño hasta que una reducción de personal deja a su marido sin trabajo. Como tantos otros argentinos golpeados por la crisis económica, después de buscar trabajo infructuosamente por meses, desilusionado y desesperado, su esposo decidió probar suerte en el exterior. Unos meses después Pilar, se le unió. En la entrevista Pilar cuenta como fue el proceso de prepararse para partir y la adaptación a la vida en el Lowcountry. Recuerda las personas y programas que la ayudaron en este proceso y reflexiona acerca de cómo la experiencia de migrar afectó la dinámica de los roles familiares como así también la construcción de su propia identidad.
Lebanese-American musician Peter Kfoury was born in Manchester, New Hampshire. His father was Lebanese and his mother Syrian. At thirteen, he learned to play guitar and soon after, he became fascinated with the oud, an old Mid-Eastern traditional instrument. He moved to Connecticut to attend college and for a few months, he took lessons with the Armenian musician George Mgrdichian. By that time, Kfoury started blending Middle Eastern music with jazz, rock, and funk. After a year, he decided to leave college and went to play music in New York. Later he returned to school and graduated as Dr. Chiropractor, the profession he has practiced for almost forty years. In the interview, Kfoury talks about the lack of diversity in the music offerings in Charleston as well as the lack of listening rooms. Responding to these voids, in 2016 he launched the World Music Cafe. John Holenko and Hazel Ketchum from Hungry Monk Music supported his efforts. Since then, World Music Cafe produces a monthly show that features three musicians of different musical traditions and styles. Finally, Kfoury talks about creating, recording and presenting his album At the Heart of Two Worlds.
Vocalist Aisha Kenyetta (a.k.a Aisha Frazier) was born in 1980, in Monetta, South Carolina. Before going to college, her life revolved around family and church activities. Kenyetta describes herself as a freelance vocalist with a powerful voice: "I'm a power singer... but when I sing, my diction is rhythmic. My voice is an extension of the percussion instruments. It's not—I'm not the violin. I'm the bass." She performs with her own band AmpSquared and several other such as Super Deluxe, Plane Jane, and the musician collective Emerald Empire. Additionally, she is the North Charleston Seacoast Church's Worship Leader. In the interview, Kenyetta discusses balancing family, day work, and music career and states she is grateful for the many opportunities to perform. At the time of the interview, Kenyetta was writing her own material.
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.
Barbara Dugan discusses her upbringing as part of an Irish-American family in New York City. Her grandparents emigrated from County Mayo and County Kerry around 1900. Her grandmother, Catherine, took care of janitorial duties in her apartment building while her grandfather, Patrick, became employed in steel works and helped to build several New York City area bridges. As a child, she had difficulty getting her grandmother to speak in detail about Ireland, which she suspects is because of the hardships the family endured before their move to the United States. Barbara grew up going to all-girls Catholic schools and was raised Catholic. She speaks glowingly of her travels in Ireland and discusses the various ways in which she passes a sense of Irish-American identity onto her children and grandchildren. Barbara recently relocated to Charleston to be close to her married son and grandchildren, who live in Mt. Pleasant.
Diana Salazar is a Mexican American born in Homestead, Florida. Her father and grandfather worked as labor contractors, supplying immigrant workers to farmers on the Eastern Seaboard. In the interview, Salazar remembers when she was twelve and a teacher told her “do not become a statistic Mexican girl that works in the fields and gets pregnant. […] You go get your education because you’ve got it in you.” She also recalls that as a child she witnessed an immigration raid on a labor camp in Maryland. Though she knew she was not at risk of being deported, the events left a deep impression upon her. Around the age of sixteen, her parents moved to Orlando and stopped being migrant workers because they did not want this lifestyle for their children. Later, they moved to Hollywood, South Carolina where Salazar completed her high school senior year at Baptist Hill High. She returned to Orlando, Florida where married her first husband. She came back to the Lowcountry in the 1980s with her second husband and first child. Salazar tells about her extensive work experience and activism. In 2006, when massive immigrant protests were held around the country to raise awareness about the struggles of undocumented individuals and demand comprehensive immigration reform, three thousand people congregated in Marion Square in Charleston. Salazar tells she organized the march with the guidance and support of her cousin Emma Lozano, a Chicago activist, but she found no support from local politicians. Salazar is proud of her achievements, among them being the recipient of the Martin Luther King Picture Award. Descripción: Diana Salazar nació en Miami, Florida. Su padre y abuelo trabajaron como contratistas, supliendo de mano de obra de trabajadores inmigrantes a los agricultores de la costa este de Estados Unidos. En la entrevista, Salazar recuerda dos eventos que la marcaron siendo niña. El primero fue una conversación con un profesor que le dijo "no te conviertas en una estadística, otra chica mexicana que trabaja en el campo y se embaraza joven. [...] ve y edúcate". El otro suceso fue una redada de inmigración de la que fue testigo en un campo de trabajo en Maryland; a pesar de que sabía que no estaba en peligro de ser deportada quedó profundamente impactada. Cuando tenía aproximadamente dieciséis años sus padres decidieron dejar la vida migrante y se establecieron en Orlando, Florida. Más tarde se trasladaron a Hollywood, Carolina del Sur y fue allí, en la escuela Baptist Hill donde Salazar curso su último año de la preparatoria. Siendo muy joven se casó y fue a vivir Orlando con su marido. En los años ochenta regresó a Carolina del Sur con su segundo marido y su primer hijo y desde entonces ha residido en el Lowcountry. En la entrevista, Salazar cuenta sobre su amplia experiencia laboral y su activismo. En el año 2006, cuando miles de personas marcharon en distintas ciudades del país para crear conciencia sobre las luchas de los indocumentados y para exigir una reforma legislativa, alrededor de tres mil personas se congregaron en Marion Square en Charleston. Salazar explica que fue ella quien organizó la marcha, que recibió el apoyo de su prima Emma Lozano, una activista de Chicago, pero que en cambio, no encontró repuesta positiva en los políticos locales. Salazar se siente orgullosa de sus logros entre los cuales figura de haber sido elegida para recibir un premio por su trabajo en la comunidad llamado Martin Luther King Picture Award.
Luz Alvarado was born in Mexico in 1984. She is a single mother of two, a college student, a full-time worker, and a volunteer. In the interview, Alvarado tells about growing up in poverty and how America resonated in her young mind as the remedy for her family problems. When she was fourteen, she was sent to spend a few weeks with her grandmother who lived in a small town. There she met a man much older than her and was flattered by his attentions. He told her he was on his way to the United States and invited her to go. She decided to go without letting anybody know, excited about the prospect of achieving the American dream, and seeing her brother who was living in Florida. Soon, she realized this man had not been honest about his intentions, but by then she was crossing the border. In the interview, Alvarado tells about the complex relationship she had with this man who became her husband and the father of her two daughters. It took her several years but finally, she was able to leave the relationship, and since then she has been the sole provider for her kids. Because she was a victim of criminal abuse, she was able to apply and obtain a visa that allows her to stay and legally work in the United States. Alvarado says that changing her legal status enormously improved her quality of life; she is no longer living in fear of being deported and separated from her children. Finally, she talks about being a Meals on Wheels’ volunteer, helping her church, and the dreams she has for her future and her daughters’. Descripción: Luz Alvarado nació en México en 1984. Cada día, Alvarado cumple muchos papeles diferentes: es madre soltera de dos hijas, estudiante universitaria, trabajadora de tiempo completo y voluntaria en su comunidad. En la entrevista, Alvarado recuerda que creció en la pobreza y que los Estados Unidos resonaban en su mente joven como el remedio para los problemas de su familia. Cuando tenía catorce años, fue enviada a pasar unas semanas con su abuela que vivía en un rancho. Allí se encontró con un hombre mayor que ella que pronto la hizo sentirse halagada con sus atenciones. Le dijo que estaba en camino a Estados Unidos y la invitó a ir, insistiendo en que debía decidirse pronto. Alvarado pensó que era su oportunidad para trabajar y ganar dólares para ayudar a su familia y también de volver a ver a su hermano que vivía en la Florida. Sin dejarle saber a nadie, emprendió el viaje. No había pasado mucho tiempo cuando se dió cuenta de las verdaderas intenciones de su acompañante y se arrepintió de su decisión, pero para entonces, ya estaba cruzando la frontera. En la entrevista, Alvarado habla de la compleja relación que mantuvo con este hombre que se convirtió en su marido y el padre de sus dos hijas. Cuando finalmente fue capaz de dejar esa relación abusiva se convirtió en el único sostén de sus hijas. Debido a que fue víctima de abuso criminal pudo aplicar y obtener una visa que le permitió quedarse y trabajar legalmente en Estados Unidos. Alvarado explica que adquirir documentos para residir y trabajar legalmente ha mejorado enormemente su calidad de vida, que gracias a ello ya no vive con el temor a ser deportada y separada de sus hijas. Por último, cuenta de su trabajo voluntario en Meals on Wheels of Charleston y en su iglesia y acerca de los sueños que tiene para su futuro y el de sus hijas.