Sophie “Skip” Payeff Sindler, born in Aiken, South Carolina, in 1930, and her husband, Allan Sindler, born in Bishopville, South Carolina, in 1925, discuss their family histories. Skip’s parents met in Chicago after emigrating from Knyszyn, Poland. Skip recalls encounters with antisemitism while growing up in Aiken. She describes her brother Kivy Payeff’s service in the military in Germany during World War II, and the traditional nature of services at the Aiken synagogue, Adath Yeshurun. Allan’s father, Frank Sindler, a tailor, emigrated from the Lithuania-Latvia region and married Pauline Schwartzman, a native of Baltimore. They followed Pauline’s aunt and uncle, Louis and Mary Schwartzman Slesinger, to Bishopville, South Carolina, where, for decades, Frank ran a men’s clothing store. Allan describes growing up in Bishopville, his Jewish education, and the Bishopville Hebrew Congregation. Allan and Skip raised their family in Camden, South Carolina, about 25 miles from Allan’s hometown. Allan, a chemical engineer and award-winning sculptor, discusses some of his artwork. Other topics discussed include: Sumter’s Temple Sinai, changes in Jewish religious observance, and possible reasons for the decline of Jewish congregations in small Southern towns like Camden. The transcript includes comments inserted by Allan Sindler during proofreading.
Sam Levenson, born in 1918, and his sister Ella Levenson Schlosburg, born in 1920, talk about growing up in Bishopville, South Carolina, where about two dozen Jewish families lived, many of them relatives. The siblings and their brothers, Leonard and Jacob, were the children of Nettie Cahn and Frank Levenson, immigrants from Lithuania. Sam and Ella describe their parents and extended family members, and they discuss how their father came to own his general merchandise store in Bishopville, in which the inventory included mules. The Jews of the town spoke Yiddish, and most kept kosher. They met in the Masonic hall for services, led initially by immigrant rabbis they hired out of New York. Rabbi David Karesh of Columbia, South Carolina, served as their shochet for a time. Also interviewed is Sam’s wife, Carolyn Baruch Levenson, born in 1925, in Camden, South Carolina, to Theresa Block and Herman Baruch. Herman partnered in the clothing store, Baruch & Nettles, and later, sold insurance. The three interviewees offer a number of stories that impart a sense of life in Bishopville and the region during the first half of the twentieth century. The tales range from conflicts among locals that ended in violence to wealthy antisemitic northerners wintering in Camden. For a related collection, see the Levenson-Baruch family papers, Mss. 1034-017, Special Collections, College of Charleston. See also Ella Schlosburg’s interview of May 25, 1995, and Carolyn Levenson’s interview with Debby Baruch Abrams on May 5, 1998.
Norman Baum was born in 1921 in Camden, South Carolina, the elder of two sons (the younger was Bernard Jr.) of Bernard Baum and his second wife, Minnie Tewel. Minnie was a private-duty nurse from New Jersey who accompanied a patient to Camden and ended up staying to work in the local hospital. When she was introduced to Bernard, he was a widower with two sons, Williams and Herman. Norman discusses Baum family members of note, including a relative named Eltenbaum who fought in the American Revolution and three of his nephews who settled in Camden and fought in the Civil War. Marcus Baum died in the war. His brothers, Herman and Mannes, survived and returned to their dry goods store. The Baums were lien merchants and became landowners, acquiring acreage through foreclosures. Norman recalls three plantations the family owned in the Camden area: Lockhart, Vinegar Hill, and Lugoff. His father was a planter, a merchant, the supervisor of a cannery, and the first bottler of Coca-Cola in Camden. Norman describes how his mother used her business acumen to supplement the family’s income. The family lived in a home known as the Greenleaf Villa on Broad Street in Camden. He talks about his brothers and tells stories about members of the extended family, including the Baruchs, also of Camden. The Baums attended Temple Beth El, a small Reform congregation in Camden. The interviewee remembers attending Sunday school at the larger Temple Sinai in Sumter and notes that as a child he was unfamiliar with many Jewish religious traditions and did not receive instruction in Hebrew. Norman and his nephew Garry Baum, who participated in the interview, recount instances of antisemitism, although Norman adds that that he never experienced antisemitism while working in the movie or clothing industries. One of his jobs was working in 20th Century-Fox’s costume division on the movie set for Cleopatra; he was responsible for Elizabeth Taylor’s costume, which required frequent altering during filming. For related collections, see the Minnie Tewel Baum papers, the Williams Baum papers, and the Baum family papers in Special Collections, College of Charleston.