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).
Rock Hill, South Carolina residents Edward Aberman, Mary Ann Pearlstine Aberman, Jack Leader, Harriet Marshall Goode, and Martin Goode discuss local Jewish history, marrying outside one’s faith, and racial discrimination and interracial relations in Rock Hill. Edward, a native born in 1932, describes growing up in Rock Hill, and recalls Jewish family names such as Breen, Friedheim, and Kurtz. His father, Sol Aberman, was a musician who, in his youth, played in nightclubs and circuses around the country. After settling in Rock Hill and opening a scrap metal business, Sol supported the musical ambitions of local children and played with the Hejaz Shrine Temple band. Besides being the leader of the small Jewish community of anywhere from six to fourteen families, Sol worked hard for various civic and charitable organizations. Born in 1946, Jack Leader also grew up in Rock Hill. His parents followed brother-in-law Harry Cohen to Shelby, North Carolina. Harry helped all his siblings get off the ground with their own businesses in the Carolinas. Jack’s parents moved to Rock Hill and opened Melville’s, later named Leader’s, which sold ladies’ and children’s clothing. Jack discusses his Jewish education and his family’s religious practices, and recalls that when he was growing up, there was an active Hadassah organization in Rock Hill. Harriet Goode, born in 1937 and raised as a Presbyterian in Rock Hill, was about eight years old when she found out her paternal grandmother, Fanny Friedheim Marshall, was Jewish. Harriet’s great-grandfather and his brothers emigrated from Germany to Baltimore and, ultimately, wound up in Rock Hill, where they opened Friedheim’s Department Store. As a child, Harriet had both Christian and Jewish friends and was not aware of any discrimination towards Jews in her hometown. Mary Ann Aberman came to Rock Hill in 1955 as a newlywed and describes the “culture shock” of moving from the larger city of Charleston, South Carolina, to Rock Hill. Martin Goode, who was raised as a Methodist in Covington, Georgia, and came to Rock Hill after college, talks about his view of Jewish people in general. Note: See also Edward and Mary Ann Aberman’s interviews (Mss. 1035-221 and 222), and an interview with Rock Hill native Sophia Marie Friedheim Beers (Mss. 1035-220).