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Subject: Myra Grunthal
tape in progress
I:p*they have homes here or hotels or cottages?
S: No, we had a little cottage that we rented down here, the Ewing cottage)
S which is still at the beach. They have moved it. And the f
lived in back of us.
I: What street? Where was this located? About what street on the beach?
S: Well, it's where the Boardwalk is. Let me see, it's, I'm trying to
think. I think its' 4th Street, I think it's around 4,t Street,
something like that; 04-4O( 41ti
I: Were there aot of Jewish families that came down and stayed at that
S: No, the only, well a very few. There were the, I think the Finkelsteins
had a place and I believe Mrs. eA Ann's mother owned a cottage
in the back of us. But outside of those families, I don't remember
any of the Jewish families coming to the beach. And then, of course,
after the comingof the beach in the summertime, my mother decided that
she would like to go to Saratoga Springs. So, we would go up there and
spend the summers. We had at one time, homes up there. /hen as we grew
older, they sold the homes and they rented places, rented a home for about
two years up thereuntil she passed away. And she passed away at
years of age with Hodgkin's Jisease. And for one solid year, she
was practically an invalid before she passed away. But her younger
sister, Gertrude, had spinal meningitis when she was about six years
old and that is when she lost her hearing. The doctors treated her for
typhoid fever. They didn't know what it was. And it really did something
to my mother. It just crushed her. And she never got over that. That
was one of the things that really didn't help her any. But of course,
after she passed away, her .....
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I: Were/the children young at that time?
S: Yes, I was around eight, I was around eight years old when she passed
away and a month after she passed away, my older sister was confirmed
aLkd she was confirmed in a black silk dress. She wouldn't wear any
was aa wrar any
fancy, she said she went in mourning for one yea e was only 14
years old. They confirmed them young in those days. And then, of
course, my grandmother raised us., y younger sister was sent off to
school) t in Philadelphia and my aunt that lived up
there didn't like the school. So they brought her home and placed her
in the St. Augustine school for the Jeaf andaumb. And that didn't
please them either. So they got her a special tutor and they tutored
her as far as they could go with her. She read lips. There was a fam-
- _. ily here by the name of Dignan, who ran a grocery store)and they had
two children that were deaf and dumb /nd their older sister taught
them. So, Gertie was taught by the sister who later became a nun,
Sister Margaret. And she is still living in Jacksonville. A e was
Mother Superior in St. Augustine. But she taught Gertie and took her
as high as she could. It is very difficult to, course today the schools
are equipped for that, you know. But in those days, hey taught her
as much. ~ e taught her really how to lip read. We would pronounce
words and she would, she never really heard a sound, if she heard today
she wouldn't know what she was hearing. f t's remarkable how she can
understand everything. So, she, I think she is a very remarkable girl.
She really is. Now, let's see. When I was growing up, in a little
group of, some of them are still living, some of them are gone and we
met every Friday night, we were about )years old. And Elsie Coleman
Walker, Marjorie Brash, Walt Bernstein, Leo Mack and a friend of us,
Lonnie Marsh Trube, that doesn't live here, Bert Berlack, Stanley
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Ellis, my brother and Bertha Levinso) and we met every Friday night and
we had dances)or we would play games and all like that. And then, there
was a Mrs. Gertie B rland who lived right next to the Temple. And when
we were about )or years old, we, she taught us how to sew. And
we would make little bibs and night gowns for the childrenpof St. Luke's
Hospital.: e would go out there and read to them. were really only
kids then. And then we also, course during the Spanish American War,
you know, my father was so particular about his daughters that he
wouldn't allow any service men in the house during World War I ut
my sister and I entertained the soldiers at the YMHA. She sang and I
accompanied her. And Uaee was only about, I guess around 5 at that
time. And my father would stand at the door and take us hom fI e wouldn't
let any service men come into the house. But he was very liberal. He
would take servicemen, every Sunday to Mrs. Wolf/ 's Boarding house1
Ad give them dinner there.
I: Is Mrs. Wolf 's Boarding house, could you tell me something about it?
f/ \0 4 ;
S: Well, it was on Church Street. A t was down there on, well it was a block
-doew from theost office on Church Street. And there were ot of
Jewish families who lived there, among them was Mrs. Frank, who)she
/ --- was a Myason, Mynie My/son's sister. And her name was Amy. And she
lived there. And quite a few Jewish people lived there.
I: Could you remember anyone else)because we have heard this...
S: That lived there?
I: .,this name, Wolf 's Boardin house but we don't know too much about it/
S: Oh, well, Mrs. Wolf/, I think, was originally from Macon. I am not sure
about this. When they opened the boarding house, I know quite a few
Jewish families lived there. And while, aot of them would go there
just for meals, dinner and like that...
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I: Did you recall about what time this was, what year that she had this
S: Oh, gosh, this goes back. I guess 1905, 1906, something like that,
maybe earlier, I don't think...
I: Like for instance, when Jewish families first came o town, did they live
there before they found their own apartments or homes or did they...
S: No, some of them were just living there.
I: Just live there?
S: Most of them were people that didn't want homes and if fact, Mrs. Amy
Myson Frank, lived with Gertie B/rland. Mrs. B/rland also had a boarding--
house in back of the emple. And I think when the Kaplans, I'm not sure
about this now, when the Kaplans came, I think, they stayed there forJ' s/-
a short time until they found located, don't quote me on this now, I'm
'A 41/:. '/
not so sure. But I was one of his, he confirmed me. It was his first
I: Do you recall when that was?
I: What year was that? What year were you confirmed?
S: Well, you see, they didn't wait until you were sixteen then. And we were
about 4$iears old, I have to figure ahout how many years that was.
I: That wou d be about 1916, about 1916.
I: Myra, what, the girls and boys your age, did they go to Sunday school,
did they go to Hebrew school? What connection did you have with the
S: No, we just had Sunday school and Mrs. Kaplan taught us Hebrew. But
very few words in Hebrew. And then I taught Sunday school when I was
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just about 18tyears old)and I taught for about two years, Sunday school.
;' Ahen, my education was interrupted. I attended Center Grammar School.
I graduated from there. And I went to Duva High Schoolwhere my /
father also attended and graduated /l of my aunts and uncles.( en
my older sister married during World War I, she moved to Rochester,
New York and her first child, I went up there with my grandmother
because we didn't want her to be alone. And I left Duva High School
and I went up to Rochester, New York and I entered East High School
up there, which I graduated from. And then, then of course, in those
days, very few girls went to college. But I did have a musical
back ground. I continued with my music, took music lessons, took with
Professor Meyers, took from Mrs. Gatlin, and I continued my music and
I wanted to attend Eastman School of Music. But at that time, I became
very social-minded. laughter And I met some lovely people)and I
just neglected that part of my life. But going back, we had a wonder-
ful group. In fact, as we got a little bit older, there was Silas
Jacobs, and there was Bonnie Witt n, Max Witttn.
I: Did you have a social group with a name, like there were the Jesters
and there were the, course that was much later...
S: /he Jesters Club...
I: But I'm talking about earlfl d you have a group of girls that got
together that called yourselves something, you know?
S: No, the only thing, we never had any, we had little groups thatmetCit'cl
as I said every Friday night. But the girls never had any group like
the Jesters but we always helped the Jesters if they had anything. The
Jesters Club was quite outstanding in Jacksonville. then of course,
when I was growing up, we belonged to the Phoenix Club...
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I: Yeah, tell me about the Phoenix Club?
S: That was the very exclusive Jewish Club. And all first families
of Jacksonville were members of the Phoenix Club) nd my parents
were members of it also.
I: Was this the beginning of the first social club, like the...
I: Does this p seee the, what came after that, there was another club
before __tGdtr_ s~Ao was a, this was even earlier...
S: Yeah, this is the one that I remember, the Phoenix Club, which was
a social club. Then there was also the German-American Club which
ot of the German i- Americans belonged to. It was called the
Germania Club. -New quite a few members that belonged to that, in fact
my mother was probably head of always the Christmas parties and all,
and she was a very liberal-minded woman. She had as well as Jewish
friends and very fine Jewish friends, like Mrs. Sabel and I've
written it down in that history and Mrs. Irma Zacharias, who was a
teacher, violinist, and Mrs. Morris Slageroh she had a number of
Jewish friends. But she also had quite a few non-Jewish friends /nd
one of her very good friends was a Mrs. Baker, Robert Baker, who was
a Porter, one of the old families, non-Jewish families in Jacksonville,
who accompanied her- 'fei many occasions when she sang. But she was /siw/
very liberal in this respect that she colored in white, poor families.
She would clothe them, take my clothes away from me to clothe them.
And one of the families that my father and mother were very, very
kind to was the ~Beank um family in Jacksonville. Mr. 'Banddrumme- had
to have both of his legs amputated. And he wouldn't have them amputated
without my father being in the operating room. And when he was in a
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wheel chair, my mother went over there and would take food) They
lived near us, and clothing and she would, my father was extremely
kind to them.
I: Is that Kate B eruane 's father? Would that be Kate Banddm3mer's
I: Kate BaIsdzarama='- father?
6E a4r'c rta"Cr
S: Kate ~andmdrmmer's father. And she had a, quite a few non-Jewish
friendsA She was interested in the Catholic School here, fhe was very
close to Sister Marianne and she would sing concerts, give concerts in
Dixieland and the money they would raise, she would give to thezs
institutions. I've saidall of that in the history that will go
in the book, whatever you use. But, I can remember on the corner
where Atlantic National Bank is now and -there-home was upstairs. There
were so manyyrooms. But you would have to go outside, was a little,
to go to the little ladies room. It was separated away from...
I: Whose home was this?
S: The Grunthalls. Grunthal/'s corner. And they lived there for many,
many years. And then, of course during the Prohibition, my father
opened up a candy store, ice cream parlor)but I would take so many
children down there after school that I probably broke him. I would
bring slews of them in there for soda/ you know, things like that.
And then, course after that, he went, after Prohibition, he opened up)
he went back into the liquor business which was his business for
many, many years. And of course, he entered politics, like his father.
Are there any other questions that you would like to ask?
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r' t;. /^ e e...
S: I also...
I: How about for instance)did you meet any, did people come in and give
concerts, shows? What kind of theatre did they have in Jacksonville?
Did they have a road company?
S: Yes, years ago, there was a family from Savannah by the name of Gable,
who came to Jacksonville and put on shows and took all of the young
children and put on the theatrical plays. And we all entered into that.
In fact, I have a picture with Beth Stein who was Beth Joel at the
time. It was called the ffjets. It was a little play. It was
mixed, it was Jewish, it was like school children...
I: Yeah, yeah, from school.
S:4 School children. And then, we would put on minstrels. e would have e
,.ha black face and we would sing and dance...
I: That was very popular.4 /he minstrels were very popular.
S: And downtown in the old Women's Club we would put on minstrels and
things like this. This is when I was growing up. And then I played
in concerts n fact, /P de- Pkclft and I had a duet together,
in one that Professor Meyers put on and she was Rose Bausch, Rose
SBausch and she took the name of PJ4e you know after her mother
remarried.i e and I were very good friends as we were growing up.
because she lived on State Street also d md ",,
I: Myra, it seems, when I was reading the Times Union, the early, that
there were ot of recitals in homes, people 1A ndto-entertain Women,
you know would have groups come intatheir homes and they would have
a recital and a tea.
S: Yeah. ye
I: Was this a popular form of entertainment for the women? Did the women
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S: Yes, believe it or not, they played poker. I don't think they played
bridge. I remember they played, they had a regular poker game, because
my mother had a regular poker game.
I: This is when your mother was still living.
S: Yes, they had a group that met in the evening and played poker.A 'they
were very social-minded and I know they didn't play bridge)because
bridge came into it's own later ligf.
I: How about dances? Did you go to many dances as a young girl?
S: Oh yes. We had dances.....
I: Where did they have them?
S: Well, we had dances at the Phoenix Club.
I: Where was that located?
S: That was located on Beuans Street and it was right off of La-rel Street.
And then, years after that, they had a club way out on, let's see, out
-- there on McGurk's Creek round in there, they had a country club.
I: Do you remember the name of it then? Was it a Jewish country club?
S: Yes. Yes, later on they had a club, let's see, let me think where
A ,, di W-1&S f3diA /1
it was located. It was out in Ortega, I believe. Somewheres out in
there, they had a club house for awhile. But they, and then, from
that sprang the Jesters.
I: That's what I aB*e-remember. 'r J
S: Then the Jesters formed a group because then the Jewish people never
had a club, in fact, they tried to buy, if I remember correctly,
they tried to buy Florida Country Club, but they wouldn't sell it.
I: They wouldn't sell it.
S: No, they wouldn't sell it. So...
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I as the Jesters formed at a time when the Qeformed and the conservative
or Orthodox Jews were coming together or was it still a separate....
S: Well, it was separate. It was just a group of men who got together,
which was, my husband was one of them that formed it and Barnr
44ma~I and Silas Jacobs, they were quite a group, H e-y .
I: Now was this the Jesters you are talking about?
S: The Jesters. And they would meet at the, this is at the hotels until
the 7mple home was bought which is now stands the emple...
I: In Riverside?
S: In Riverside. And they would have their meetings there and of course,
the sisterhood, it was really a congregation, it was a congregation,
belonged to/ congregation. It was like a social gathering and the
Jesters would have affairs there. And then of course, when the Jesters
dis handed, they were really d the beginning of the S ielSr Country
Club, because they were the ones that put up quite a bit of the moneys
and that was the beginning of ouemiair. But in Jacksonville, we used
to put on a lot of things at the temple. Cora Cap would direct
us and we would have little plays and things like that. We have always
been sort of active, always &e&ag something.
I: Well, it sounds like the temple is sort of one big family. It is an
interrelated group of people that the children marry) Ij4/mr 0A/,,,
S: Intermarry, intermarry, yes because my husband's father was one of the
charter members of the old, I forget the name of the synagogue. He
would know, I can't remember. And I was right.....
I: Before it was the emple/ Y ni ?%
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S: The Orthodox ....
I: Oh, the B'nai Isreal.
S: B'nai Isreal, yeah. His father was one of the first members of that.
Harry Glickstein. And of course, everybody lived down there in that
section, you know...
I: A bU4 Il _V,____
S: Yeah, and I, the only ones that I, when I first met my husband was, oh
gosh, I must have been about ()years old. I just happened to meet
him casually at the beach.
I: You know, this is what I wanted to know. If the girls didn't go, say
to college, what did they do after high school? If they didn't get
married and they didn't go to college, what did these girls do?
S> 0f course, I got interested in civic work very, very young. In fact,
I was a member of the Temple Sisterhood when I was ( years old /nd
theWygie me for presidentednd Mrs. .Watzl-e, Tresa -Wa-t-fe, was the one
that really trained me. hen I was abou24' I became president of
I: You were very young.
S: And then I also, when the Hadassah was formed, they called me, when I
was first married and I met at the home there. It was one of the first,
I was secretary. And then....
I: When they first organized? When Hadassah first organized?
S: Yeah. And I have really belonged to everything. When the symphony
was supposed to formed in Jacksonville, they called me. And I met
with them at Mrs. Oberdorfer's home. And fortunately, I don't know
how, when the charter was drawn up for the symphony, of course Ruth
Stein was really quite interested in it. And their names were left
out of the women that really started it like Hilda Oberdorfer. The
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first meeting was in her home. And they left out aot of the women,
the Jewish women.
I: When was this? What year was this? Was this pre-World War I? No, it
must have been after World War I.
S: I'm trying to think of the year that, 19/"could have been 1940, something
like that. I'm trying to think back.
I: So, it was before the Second World War?
S: It goes back quite a few years. But they, course I am still on the
/ ,T h")
board of the symphony. But we really should have been charter members
because we were the first ones to bring the groups togetheAnd then .TWZ
t 4~re4-4 tlfI I was interested in most everything, the Council of Jewish Women, I was
'' S'exr ft J I, sri^-rr I tlr# T
president of the Council of Jewish Women until they could get somebody,
and president of Tri-State Sisterhood and still a member of some of
I: Sounds like you were very active.
S: But h, what?
I: You were very active.
S: Well, I was\alwaysactive. Now I'm taking a rest.
I: Were you president of your isterhood? The Temple Sisterhood?
S: Oh, yes. I'm a member of all the organizations. I support all them.
I: No, I say, were you president of your sisterhood?
I: Yes, president?
S: Oh, yes. Two or three times. And they would call on me if somebody
would resign, it seems to me that I was always the one that would
try to hold it together. And we also gave things that, plays and
musical productions.at the emple_ and I would accompany them on the
piano We did aot in the musical field.
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I: You know, getting back to the Temple, I know that Rabbi Kaplan was
r t J-fco w'f-z r
bbi for about fifty years and then Rabbi lefevits was/!abbi for about
how long, aamt(p)more?
S: I think around, around( In fact, my husband brought Sidney
4 '1< ,-,, ,L A
etkevi-tts to Jacksonville and he stayed with us in our home. He came
down to look things over and he stayed with us for several days. )Xe
was still in the service. Just before he took off his uniform then
they came and se tled here, Dorothy and Sidney and ~ he confirmed
my oldest son and Hugh. I was trying to think. Was it japlan or, I) to 0
think Hugh was his first confirmation class. I think Hugh was.
I: Who, I hadn't heard any other /abbis names except the two. Who preceded
Rabbi Kaplan? Do you know?
S: [here was Rabbi Schwartz and there was Rabbi Pizer. And Rabbi Pizer
was the one that I remember. He was one of the first abbis that was
down on Union and Zaued Street, Pizer. And then at one end-ef-, they
had to bring in /abbis because when my older sister was a organ, they
brought in Morganstern and he confirmed my older sister. hen when my
mother passed away, they called in Rabbi Solom/n from Savannah to
officiate. pe were at, sometimes without a /abbi for just a short
period. But then, of course, Kaplan has been here longer than any of
r- Aofd bi atin t 0, / a ,nep
the abbis. ,e still is officiating _t_ b __ One of the things
s ; /,r ,---- -ve
during the First World War, down p the temple, they would have of
course Friday night services, every Saturday they would have a dance.
And they would ask the younger girls to come down there to dance with
the service men or they would be, ot of the families took them home, ~-/
A I dinners and that sort of thing. Tere were quite a few Jewish service-
men and I think the whole community was very kind to them. Of course,
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I was a little bit young, $ut I do remember my brother-in-law, who
was head of the medical corps out to, which is now the Naval Air
Station. e was the one that my older sister married. He, after
A ep cmat'j
they were marriedA they would come into the city, and he had quite a
few friends, doctors, all doctors and they would, and he had a brother
who was, that came to Jacksonville also, but he was stationed in 0.
South Carolina yet's see i w_-ceme regiment. I would go to take him
to .emple with me. Yne thing, we were raised that you never missed,
never missed a Friday night emple, especially after my mother passed
away. My father took us all to -emple on Friday night. And I went on
Saturday morning with Cornelia My rsonand spent the day with her. I
I: Did they haveSaturday morning services?
S: They had Saturday morning services. And most of the children did go
on Saturday morning. But I was made to go, made to go. But, well I
enjoyed it but it is one of the things that you know, you want to go out
and play. Ie were very temple-minded and when anything came along that
had to be done, the youth really came forth and did it. I mean collecting
) y civic-mindedf/P/ k1'
for this and collecting for thatA We were very civic-minded azi ',,-
I: Myra, I want to ask you about some of the, for instance, the Cohen
_^-- family from Cohen Brothers, the -M4s 6, the ferheims. Were they
active in the temple? Were they active in the Jewish temple community?
S: Oh, very) vye,,
I: The'T mple community. They were.
S: In fact, they were charter members of the emple. Freddy Moses, Mr. Fred
yerheim, who was Harold 1erheim's father and Miss Jay Cohen and oh, the
Lin skty family. They were all, in fact my grandparents were among the
first to become members of the)emple. And all those families, the
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Slager family, and the Cohen family. In fact, the Cohen Store when
it was first down on Bay Street, I recall, and then when they moved
up near the ark. And FErl the Cohens, E1ia9 e and then Levy's.
Levy's was one of the three leading stores in Jacksonville. And there
wa!sJackson-Hoi which very few people would even remember. And that
---- '~~ -~""~""tn tr C (;< P'irWe r f'
was in the building5/q=t my grandparents owned.
I: What was that, a store?
S: That was a dry goods store, called Jackson-Hoit. And my grandfather owned
two or three stores. And then my c usin was an optometrist, Xewas i
one of the stores, which later my brother had his business there.A he
United Cigar Company which probably very few people would even remember,
rented the space, the corner when my father moved out. Jacksonville
ha changed an awful lot. Just wish they could see it because it was
A } Mr, yMt tVP"- /
like a, even though it was a quiet little town which you sad-say 4h LI
it was quiet today.
I: You know, here's another thing that has been on my mindA How did the
gentile community accept or not accept some of the Temple, you know,
people, temple Jews? Did they accept some of these business men that
-= H i'. FcrcJqo rf; ani( >/^s huio
were successful like Cohen or his family, the virk rWere they
accepted socially in the gentile community? And how was their relation-
S: Oh, very, very much so. As I say, one of my mother's closest friends
was Mrs. Porter) 4Mwtdl( I
I: I'm talking about besides/ a r 14
A )A4cre W UAi Wrl
S: Yes, the Polla)I family. There wasn't eny at3-S.emitism like 4here is to-
day. The Jewish people were so prominent in Jacksonville, that IlT,"
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04, ) .lt.,l c, fe
it didn't have the c.Leks like it has today. We were accepted in ot
of things that I don't remember any really, in fact, unbeknown to my
parents, my very closest friend belonged to the St. John's Cathedral
and I felt like I wanted to belong to it. So, I signed u and my
. brother and my sister, my sister Therma and brother Leonard, found out
about it and they said sha they wanted to join too. So all three of us.
instead of going to Sunday school, we would go to the Episcopal church
until they finally called my father and said What in the world is wrn '
with the children, hey don't show up at Sunday school. (e says) wt.h
I know they go because we used to take a nickel or a dime for collection
.: w4- or
every Sunday. And he couldn't understand why we weren't taking any,
and he discovered, I had a little catechism. And that's when he found
out what happened. And then zbea)of course)ended our very short.,. But
we did have, to me I never felt like, my sister was on the basketball
team.and she had some of her closest friends were some of the old
families in Jacksonville. And I played in basketball and tennis with
girls that were, non-Jewish girls. And there was.nO I - i *
I: How about, did they have the debutantes in those days? Did they...
S: es they did. at was the only thing, I don't think the Jewish people
went in for that so much in Jacksonville. I do know they went in it
in Savannah, Georgia where my mother lived. In fact, my mother was
asked to participate in Savannah. And my c/usin.in Savannah, was a
debutante. In Jacksonville, it never was .4 11 4 y //l7 ,
I: Were there any Jewish girls ever asked to be debutantes in Jacksonville?
S:, Not that I know of. I know that the Cohen family were very, very,
extremely prominent among the non-Jewish people. Minna Cohen and her
sister, Rae, they had countless ntg Jewish friends. But I don't think
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yes, her brother was the only, Ed Cohen, who is Dor/is Rldwal'L
brother, she was a Cohen. hat is Dolly Grunthal's uncle, was the
only Jewish man that was invited to join the Florida 4ac. Club. And
he was the onlyAone that I know of. And of course, they had a club/
-- years ago like Harold M nd my ausin Morton Marcus. They had a
nice group. But the only one that I aux knw that was into it was
Eddie Cohen. f7 course there was aot of intermarriage in their
- family;too. Of course the Zachiarias family was very prominent.
I: What business were they in?
S: Well, the Zach/aria s she was a violinist, I know. Irma Zach/arias
was a violinist. He was an attorney. His son in fact is a professor J
C,\Clt' at M.I.T and has written papers and they are very prominent/in "
11 I U-1- ott."f 6/l f
Boston, around in there. And I don't know, it seems to me that the
Jewish families were as prominent in Jacksonville when I was growing
up/as the Lentiles were. I mean they were looked upo because they
lived next door to one another, the Porters and the Poll ks and they
were very, very friendly. As I say, my mother was too. She had count-
4^L,, tr'' at.+, s: l.b
less non-Jewish friends. But s still Jewish. Mean, the er /
denied their religion)at any time. Everybody knew they were Jewis
but they were accepted, most eve lace /I 0 7e / */
I: Was there any time that you felt excluded because you were Jewish?
(This is the end of the tape, the whole other side is blank)