|Object Name||Tape, Cassette|
|Scope & Content||
March 17, 2004
Recorded in Glens Falls, NY.
Buzzing noise takes up about a quarter of the first side.
Family came to West Rutland, VT. Family still in Vermont. "They were trained as peddlers and savvy businessmen. They knew what people needed and wanted in their homes and worked accordingly. They probably went to Manchester--to all over. But they probably had roots too."
Was there a family store in Granville?
"Absolutely. Right on Church Street. The house is still there. Not far from the Museum. Right around the corner. I think it was more groceries. My grandfather had a store in the front room of the house. I was talking to my cousin the other day and he also remember the candy and counters and penny candy sort of thing. And I have the scoop that he used in the big barrels of sugar and flour and so forth. It would be the slate workers, it would be the Slovaks. He was right on the edge of where they were living. He carried slips for them on what they owed and when they were paid, they would come in. And the advantage was my father and his family, because of where they lived, they could converse with the Slovaks. They knew a mixture of the different languages so they could talk with them."
"No we did not. My mother came from a Kosher home as he did as well. But I tell you, it was not easy to keep a Kosher home in Granville. You had to go to Glens Falls or Rutland to get food. It was just simpler to get by. I assure you, it was many years before ham or anything else like that was served in the house. All the shopping was done local. My father has memories of horse and wagon from Grandpa's house on Church Street to West Rutland and he would sometimes do the trip overnight. And the horse's name was Jenny. He didn't want to go alone and his sister would go with him and she was scared of death because they would go at night. It would take a number of hours. He talked about back roads and snow drifts. I don't think he went through Middletown Springs."
"Usually a synagogue is more orthodox and temples are more conservative or reform. My father's parents would go to Troy to the synagogue there on high holy days. One of their granddaughters lived down there. . . . When I was in high school, they held services in Granville. They were rabbinical students who came. And they would actually hold services. I think it was the late 30s. Well, I'll tell you, even if they did, because of how life was in Granville, everyone intermingled. There wasn't a lot of socialization among Jewish families. There is a hierarchy in Granville. I never felt that. We were welcome in their homes. As far as being observant together, that was only when we brought someone in. Most people went to their families for the high holidays. There were homes that kept Kosher. They couldn't do much about it, that was the sad part. If they felt a need, they would go to a relative's for a high holiday. Poultney Jewish community was before my time. I always knew about the cemetery. The Glens Falls community is an old time community. The minute you have numbers, you'll have the services."
"This is an interesting topic for me because my grandfather had a place within the Granville community where I said this to Dr. Schine. The feelings of the gentiles--remember we were only a few families--my father was a Jew but was a good one. Everyone respected him. He radiated the idea that all men were equal. He felt that way--all religions are equal. I remember going to midnight Mass and services. As a result, I didn't look for antisemitism. My friends were two different kinds of Catholic. It never came up. One time, in seventh grade, we had a wonderful teacher discussing how communities were built. The idea came up about where communities were where there were no churches. A boy yelled out, "the Jews" but we let it go. Antisemitism was there. I was valevictorian of the high school class. The gentleman who was superintendent, the principal of all schools. I was accepted to Cornell, on registration day. I had state scholarships and everything else. This is burned into my soul. I was given an advisor and I went up to the advisor and I was going to take a pre-med course and he had too many students so he said take your papers over to this person and they will process the papers. So, being who I was, I took the papers and went over to the side of the room and read the papers. The principal of that school gave me the worst recommendation I had ever seen in my life. He said I wasn't a leader, I wasn't this and I wasn't that. I almost passed out as I read it. I got into Cornell. If they had read that, I would never have gotten in if I hadn't gotten the state scholarships. I don't think I would have gotten into Cornell. I couldn't believe it. So it was there! It is an extraordinary story. If anyone wants to know, it was good old Professor MacMaster, who ran the Granville school system for years, who was smooth as silk. I have never forgotten that. I looked at that reference and thought, oh my god. I was one of the quiet ones and did well. I had friends in all the churches in town. It was a personal thing. Whatever he wished, he probably was biased but because of the position he was in, he couldn't say it or do it. Particularly because of my father."
"We had a camp on Lake St. Catherine and I remember having the radio on in the summer. They read on the radio the people who were on the state scholarship list. It was in the summer, the summer we had graduated. At least I got in where I wanted to get in but not because of him. That teacher in the classroom where the boy called out, she was a wonderful teacher. She called my father, and he said "drop it". He was a farm boy. I would see more hesitancy on the part on the urban kids in Granville than the rural farm kids had less exposure . . . My father wrote about the Ku Klux Klan. But I do think that my situation and my response to the situation has got to be colored by the respect of my father in the community and because he was looked up to . . . he was a Jew but he was a good one. He was active in the Masonic Lodge. The prejudice was there but it was not overt. I think you choose friends who you are compatible with. But it was there, in a small community like that, but we are talking almost 50 years ago or more but it was there. It was nice for me because I didn't grow up defensively. I was just accepted and assumed it would be that way."
Emphasis on education?
My father has four sisters. None of them have advanced degrees. Of those four sisters, two are successful business women. My father worked for a while with the movie theater and put him through a business school in New York City. He advanced past the status of pack peddler. My father did have a store on Main Street in Granville for a number of years. The village to my knowledge, the work that he did for the village, like tax collection, was kind of part time. And my mother was very competent and helped a lot in the store. When we hit the depression, he couldn't keep the store going. It was at that time that he became the Village Clerk."
Your parents? Your grandparents?
"I think I was very fortunate in a couple of ways. First, to have the father I had. He was an absolutely unusual man. I've been going through things he wrote and said . . . He had no hatred in his heart for any man and as a result of that, I didn't either. And I wasn't apprehensive at all about being Jewish . . . I'm a people person and I got that from him. Once I was married and living in Glens Falls and my husband was involved in the synagogue here. We still did not have an observant home but I was active in the synagogue, president of the women's group, active, my children went through the whole education program. If that had been available in Granville, I would have gone. As a result, I am still not as immersed in religion as others because of how I grew up. . . My husband grew up in Glens Falls and went to the synagogue . . . you will be interested to know that even they were brought up Jewish, my children are not observant. They observe the holidays. I don't have any grandchildren. Perhaps that is why they are as free as they are."
"It is interesting to compare my reaction to growing up in Granville to others that grew up with me. You are going to find that they are very defensive about being Jewish. They were much more . . . obvious about their Judaism. I prefer to follow my father's path. It was, and is, mine."
Judaism was a background fact?
"It was, rather than something I had to overcome. I also wasn't up front about pushing the issue either. But again, I used to go around and around with my closest friends--they were Catholic-- and um, we used to go round and round on some of the holidays and she would want to say something but she'd bite her tongue. We had respect for each other and I think if the world does that, it gets rid of a lot of problems."
Conclusion of interview on side 1.
|Creator||Williams, Stephen T.|
|Title||Marilyn Cohen, Oral History|