Interview with Zara Shinder July 6 1985

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Interview with Zara Shinder July 6 1985
Shinder, Zara ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Leon County Oral History Collection ( local )
Jewish Disapora Collection ( local )
Jewish Oral Histories ( local )
Spatial Coverage:
Leon County (Fla.) -- History.


This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

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Source Institution:
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Leon County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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Interviewee: Rosella "Zaza" Shindler

Interviewer: Florence Greenberg

July 7, 1985

G: My name is Florence R. Greenberg. Although I am far from
being Barbara Walters, I want to adopt her style in
reminiscing and recording the life and times of my dear and
cherished friend, Rosella Shinder, known to her family and
friends as Zaza. The date is July 7, 1985, and the place is
Tallahassee, Florida. I have known Zaza for many years, and
know her to be a wonderful human being, beautiful in face
and form, sensitive, intelligent, compassionate, and one
whose life story will be, I know, cherished by her devoted
family and friends. Now, dear listeners, meet Zaza, to whom
I will address a few questions. Where were you born? If
you care to, you can also add the date. Go all the way back
in your memory and tell of your earliest recollections--your
siblings, your parents, about whom I know you have many
wonderful memories. Now, Zaza, it is all yours.

S: Thank you, Florence, for those wonderful, flowery words, of
which I am not worthy. I am not ashamed to tell my age. I
was born in 1912 on South Lawrence Street in Philadelphia.
There were two boys, and I was the fifth girl. I do not
remember moving away, but I do remember the house I lived in
next. It was at Third and Kathryn, right around the corner
from Betsy Ross's home. We had a home just like Betsy
Ross's: two rooms on the basement level, two on the first
floor, two on the second floor, and two on the third floor.
We five girls shared the second bedroom on the second floor.
My mother and father had the front bedroom, and the brothers
slept upstairs.

February 2, 1916, is a date I remember. I was only four
years old, and I remember my little brother being born. We
children were huddled in that second bedroom against the
wall listening to our brother Mutty being born. We did not
know, of course, it was going to be a brother, but that is
the name we were going to give him--Herbert Morton--and we
called him Mutty. We lived in that house until I was eleven
years old, when we moved to West Philadelphia.

I want to go back to a couple of things that I remember in
that house. One time--I think I was about six years old--I
had tonsilitis. We had a big coal stove in the kitchen. My
little brother was two years old, and he was playing with
the gas jet. We had gas; there was no electricity at that
time. That is the last I remember. My brother Toots found
us lying on the floor underneath the range, half overcome by
gas. He, of course, took us outside, and I am here to tell
the rest of the story.

I had scarlet fever in that house. I was taken to the
hospital. I remember waving to my mother and father and
sisters and brothers from the window; they were not allowed
into the hospital because it was a hospital for contagious
diseases. I do remember seeing them on this vast, expansive
lawn. I had never seen a lawn where I lived because there
was no grass; no grass grew on concrete. My mother took me


home after four weeks. They had shaved my head, which they
did in that day, and my mother bought me a bonnet. I
remember that bonnet as if it were yesterday, a bonnet to
cover my shaved head. I was sitting on the steps. We lived
across the street of the Mount Vernon School, which my
sisters and brothers attended. When they came home, I did
not know them and they did not know me. They saw a fat,
little girl with a bonnet sitting on the steps.

When I was eleven years old we moved to West Philadelphia.
I had never been on the elevated subway train. Miriam took
the younger children, and we climbed the steps of the
elevator, got on the train at Second Street, and we went
underground. I ran from one side of the train to the other
looking and searching. Miriam asked me what I was looking
for. I said I was looking for miners: "Surely there must be
miners. We are underground!" When we came out of the
underground at Thirty-second Street, we came out with a roar
and around a curve, and I thought I was on the "shooty-
shoots" or the rollercoaster.

We lived on Edgewood Street, which was literally the league
of nations: Polish, Lithuanian, Greek, German, Irish,
Italian, and of course Jewish families. We lived as one big
family. My brother Toots was the first one in the family to
get married. The entire Edgewood Street friends were
invited to the wedding. The orchestra played polkas, Irish
jigs, tarantellas, fraeloks, and every dance tune of every
nation. I was thirteen years old, and I cried the entire
night. I thought I was losing a brother. One month later
my little brother was hit by a taxi and killed. [It was]
the most devastating time of our lives. But life goes on,
and my years on Edgewood Street were memorable because of
the love and closeness of our family.

On a summer night we would sit on the wooden swing on our
front porch. The neighbors gathered on the steps, and we
would sing all of British theater songs. My mother and
father were in the [Yiddish] theater for twenty-nine years.
Miriam and Toots were child actors. Although we younger
children were not in the theater, we knew all of the songs.
My mother was a subret, a female comedian. My father was a
character actor and had a beautiful baritone voice. Mother
was a great dancer with a so-so voice, but the audience
loved her. Miriam and Toots had good voices, but Pearl
chewed her words. As a trio she blended with the other two.

My early years were spent going to Holmes Junior High
School, and then on to Overbrook High. I was in the second
graduating class at Overbrook. I wanted to become a nurse,
but Mom said no, that it was no profession for a Jewish
girl. I went to business school, but quit after six months
because I hated shorthand. I got a job as a payroll clerk
in a dress factory. My work was cut out for me. I had to
figure dozens, quarter dozens, half dozens, and so on at the


given price. I worked there from 1929 to 1933.

At the same time my sisters Dorothy, Hilda, and I were
chorus girls at the Casino Jewish Theater. There were
performances every night and a matinee on Saturday. A few
of the performances I will always remember. I think you
would enjoy hearing them. There were twelve chorus girls,
and nine of them would play poker in our dressing room
between scenes and when we were not on stage. This one
performance my sister Dorothy, a girl named Ruth, and I were
watching from the wings. When our cue for on-stage came,
the other nine cho'reens were playing poker. Dorothy, Ruth,
and I went on stage singing as loudly as we could. Someone
called to the girls, and they came straggling in and took
their places. I thought the conductor in the pit would have
a stroke. What a tongue-lashing he gave the nine [poker-
playing] girls!

One other time we were giving one performance only of The
Yeshivabocher, "yeshiva" meaning school and "bocher"
meaning boy. The part of the young boy is always played by
a small-statured person. Miriam played the role when she
was eleven years old. An adult plays the boy grown into
manhood. Both roles are played by females, traditionally.
Because Hilda, Dorothy, and I knew the music and words of
the play, hearing them throughout all our lives, we needed
no rehearsal. Our place on stage was sitting at a long
table dressed in mourning clothes because the father of the
yeshivabocher died, and the bocher just arrived from the
yeshiva and was told of his father's death. At the back of
the stage to our left was a picture frame with a net
background. The son started to sing the Kaddish, and when
he finished he lifted his arms to the back of the stage and
cries, "My Father! My Father is dead!" Everyone, including
we three mourners, turned to look at the picture. Lo and
behold, in the frame was a ghostly white face of a bearded
man illuminated by a spotlight. We three "actresses"
screamed and almost fainted. We had never seen the play; we
only knew the songs and the plot. Our conductor, Mr. Frank,
came roaring backstage. "What happened? What is with the
screams?" Betty Blank, his wife, said, "I liked it. It was

G: Zaza, all that you have told us up to now has been most
interesting, and I know that everyone who listens to it will
enjoy it. But now let us go a step further. I know you
must have been a very attractive young lady with plenty of
suitors. You need not laugh; I can tell. [laughter] Tell
us about the one that you met who finally became your
husband. I know that will be of great interest to your
children and grandchildren, and to anyone who listens to
this interesting tape.

S: During this time I met the one who later became my husband.
In early October 1930 I met a young man named Harry, whom I


dated about once a week. He wanted me to go steady, and I
told him that I was not ready for any commitments. He
became very persistent, and I told him I did not want to see
him again. Each time he called I was not home. On
Thanksgiving eve in November, Harry's sister, Rose, who was
my sister Dorothy's friend, came into my home with a tall,
good-looking young man. She introduced him as Leon Shinder.
He asked if I would like to go to the Point, a sandwich
restaurant on North Ford Street. I asked Dorothy to come
with us.

When we reached the car I saw Harry sitting in the back. I
said I changed my mind and did not want to go. Leon said
that I could sit in the front with him. I then agreed, and
when we reached the Point, Dorothy, Harry, and Rose went
into the restaurant. Leon asked me why I did not want to
see Harry, that he was very depressed, and would I change my
mind. I told him that I did not owe him any explanations
and jokingly said, "Speak for yourself, John." We had our
hot dogs and sodas in the car, and then we went home. On
Friday night, the day after Thanksgiving, I received a call.
When the caller said he was Leo, I asked, "Leo who?" He
said, "I met you on Wednesday night, and because you are not
going to see Harry anymore, would you go out with me
tomorrow night?" I said I would if he would get a friend
for my friend Irma. We went to a movie, had a soda, and
went home. I said good night to him in the vestibule. We
could not talk in the living room because the entire family
was there. As he was walking out the door he said, "My name
is not John, but I am speaking for myself. One of these
days you are going to marry me."

G: That is cute.

S: One year later Leo and I were married. It was on November
15, 1931, that I became Mrs. Leon Shinder. This period was
the worst part of the Depression, so I will not go into the
struggle everyone had to go through.

Now for the good part. September 11, 1934, the second day
of Rosh Hoshanah, our son Earl was born. Hilda, my sister,
was married to Ed Wagonfield in June, so she and I and our
husbands shared an apartment not too far from our parents.
When Earl was eleven months old I rented a house on Edgewood
Street, number 46. My mother lived at 40; Miriam lived at
21; Hilda moved to 41. Later Dorothy moved to 49. And then
in 1941 I moved to number 17. In 1943 we had the daughter
we hoped for, Elizabeth. [It is] such a long name for a
little girl. We called her Lisa; Elizabeth was Leo's
mother's name. In 1944 we bought number 34 on the same
street. So you can see our family monopolized the street.
[There was] no reason for baby-sitters, not with all of the
family around us.

G: Now, Zaza, knowing your temperament, I am sure you would


never be content just to be a placid housewife, and that
your activities must have gone outside of the environment of
your home. Tell us what you did [in addition to] just being
a mother and a wife and an organizer of the family. What
were your outside activities?

S: When Lisa was three years old I became a nurse's aide in Dr.
Wolf's heart hospital. I volunteered my services on Monday,
Wednesday, and Saturday. I did this for nine months. I had
to stop because it was too hard for me. I then became a
staff aide with the Red Cross, and I also worked in the
mobile blood bank. I had to stop because I had to undergo
surgery, and I could not resume my volunteer duties. I also
belonged to the Hodassah, City of Hope, Hannah B. Wolf
Medical Association, and ORT. I helped them with fund

In 1961 our family made an exodus from Edgeweed Street.
Miriam and I bought a seven-bedroom, four-bath house in
Winfield [PA]. My mother bought on Gainer Road, four blocks
from our house. Dorothy and her five children moved with
Mom and Dad; she had divorced her husband four years
previously. Miriam's married daughter Lenore, Lenore's
husband, and infant Richy also lived in our "big house," as
we called it. So there was Miriam and Es (her husband), Leo
and I, Earl and Lisa, Lenore and Paul and Richy--one big,
grand, happy family.

G: That is great. Now, Zaza, how long did this very happy
arrangement last? How many years?

S: We lived together for nineteen years. During that time Len
and Paul got their own apartment and Earl joined the
marines. Hilda's husband died, and she came to live with
us. Lisa moved from the second floor to the third floor so
that Aunt Hill would not have to walk steps. Lisa was our
chief dishwasher. She would close the swinging doors, put
on the radio, and if it took her two hours to do the dishes
she was happy.

My father died on February 16, 1956, while I was in the
hospital. One week after Earl's wedding, in June 1956,
Mother died. She was seventy-eight years old; Dad was
seventy-six years old. They celebrated their fiftieth
wedding anniversary a year before. I remember my mother
telling me of her father, whom I never knew. He was married
four times: two divorces, and two deaths. A religious man
was not allowed to be celibate, that is, without a wife.

G: Now Zaza, all of this is great. But tell me, with the big
family living all together, who did the cooking, and what
were your other interests? Did you sew or knit? Did you
play cards? How did you work out the arrangements? I know
it was very amicable, but I would like to know exactly who
did what in that lovely, big house.


S: Miriam worked. That was before Hilda came to live with us;
I am talking about the early years. Miriam worked, and I
was the only one home, I was the chief cook. Lisa was the
chief bottle washer, and Miriam used to do the cooking on
Sunday when she was home. Otherwise, I did all the cooking.
We always had people coming to the house with no
invitations. On Sunday our house was open house to
everybody, not only to family, but to friends as well. I
sewed. I knitted. I made Lisa's entire trousseau before
she was married, but I am jumping the gun. I found time. I
played cards, went to the theater, went out with my husband
to night clubs to dance. I had a lot of activity.

G: Let us continue with the family tree. When was your first
grandchild born?

S: In August 1958 my first granddaughter was born to Cindy and
Earl. She was named Ellen after my Mother Elsie. In July
1961 Lance, my first grandson, was born. In August 1963
Lisa and Jerry were married. In 1965 they moved to
California when Lisa was six months pregnant with her first
child. How I wept when they drove out of our driveway.
They lived in Torrence, a suburb of Los Angeles. I arrived
in California and beat the stork by four days. Ken was born
on September 22, and I stayed with Lisa, Jerry, and Ken for
two months. Lisa was reluctant to handle an infant, believe
it or not. I was completely taken aback, because Lisa was
always so capable.

In 1967, when Ken was eleven months old, Lisa, Jerry, and
Ken were moving to Boston where Jerry was to do his
residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. Jerry's
mother, Dorothy, and I flew to Boston to babysit Ken while
Lisa and Jerry looked for an apartment. We stayed at a one-
time prestigious hotel, a large, two-room kitchenette, until
they located an apartment. Dot and I taxied to the airport
to meet Lisa and Jerry. Coming down the ramp we saw them,
Jerry carrying this fat baby. This could not be Ken! Ths
last time we had seen him he was only a two-month mite of an
infant. We were looking at a miniature Buddah--three chins
and three bellies. We stopped for dinner at a restaurant,
and none of us could eat because we were laughing at Ken.
With each mouthful he would "hmmmmmmmm"; how he enjoyed his
food. Lisa and Jerry found an apartment in Watertown, a
suburb of Boston by the Charles River. Their furniture and
belongings were sent on ahead and were already in Boston.
After getting them settled in their apartment, Dot and I
went back to Philadelphia.

G: Zaza, it is truly amazing to me, as I sit and listen to you
talk about the past, how in this contemporary world, this
war-torn, horrible world in which we live at present, such
things as a beautiful coexistence with your dear ones
existed. I am truly grateful that you are at last willing


to put all of this on tape for your children to know and to
realize the sort of background from which they came. But
into each life some rain must fall. I am sure it was not
all harmony and beauty. There must have been some tearful,
perhaps even tragic moments. So, again, search your memory
and tell me of what happened next in the big house.

S: Florence, I have many happy memories, and some sad ones when
we lived in the big house. In 1967, while visiting Jerry
and Lisa in Watertown, I received a call from Miriam that
Leo had suffered a heart attack. There was no plane out
until 8:00 at night. Lisa was pregnant with their second
child at that time. We arrived in Philadelphia at 8:45.
After taking Ken to our house, Lisa and I went to see Leo.
It was a terrible time for all of us. He was in the
hospital for four weeks. I will not go into all of the
agonies and heartbreaks that Lisa, Earl, I, and the rest of
our family went through. Lisa gave birth to David on March
12, 1967. One year and one month later, on April 30, 1968,
my darling Leo left me. Lisa, Jerry, and the two boys came
to Philadelphia. Lisa was expecting her third child, and on
the day that Leo was put to rest, Lisa gave birth to
Michael. Lisa gave birth at 9:00 a.m., and Leo went to his
eternal home at 11:00 a.m. Michael was born in the same
hospital on the ninth floor, and his grandfather died on the
eighth. God giveth and God taketh, but my Leo would never
see his third grandson or all of the others who were to

We had a comparatively new car, only eight months old, which
I had never driven. The reason: I never learned to drive.
But in July I took driving lessons and passed the exam after
four lessons. I never really worked during my marriage. We
had a curtain and drapery retail shop around the corner when
we lived on Edgewood Street. I made all of the special
orders for some department stores on Philadelphia and
Chester, and also for private customers. This was before
Lisa was born. I had not worked since then.

I decided to go to the Philadelphia School of Office
Training to brush up on my typing. It was then I noticed I
had two left hands. My left hand did what I wanted it to,
but my right hand could not follow what I was telling it to
do. Nevertheless, after a week or two I could type sixty
words a minute, with maybe one or two mistakes. I went to
school for six months and then applied for and got a job as
typist/bookkeeper and all-around Man Friday for a children's
camp. I went up to the Poconos (in Pennsylvania) each day
for ten weeks, from the last week of June to after Labor
Day. Ellen and Lance, Earl's two children, came to camp at
no charge for the last three years of my employment with the
camp. I worked for Camp Tanalo for exactly five years to
the day.

We were still living in the big house--Miriam, Iz, Hilda,


and I--four people rambling around in a house meant for
nine. We four sat down and had a conference [and decided
that] we would move to an apartment building, each of us in
our own apartment. It would seem as if we were all
together. So Miriam and Izzy had an apartment on the sixth
floor, Hilda on the fifth, and I on the lobby level for one
year. Then I moved up to the seventh floor. We had dinners
together on Tuesday night in Miriam's apartment, Sunday
morning breakfast in Miriam's apartment, and Sunday dinners
either at Hilda's or my apartment, barring no other
engagements. We still were one happy family, although not a
big one. When Dot (who had moved a distance away but still
in the same city) and her children, my son's family, Toots
and his family, Hilda's daughter and family, and Miriam's
daughter and family came together on a Sunday afternoon, we
had to have our get-togethers in the social hall. Lisa and
her family, I think, lived in the [Panama] Canal Zone. I
could not keep up with her; it could have been in San
Antonio. No matter. When she came to Philadelphia, the
entire family got together.

Miriam's husband, Izzy, died in 1974. My brother Ed, or
Toots as I lovingly called him, died in 1975. So Miriam,
Hilda, and I had a more than close relationship. Of course,
we saw Pearl and Dorothy regularly. I had left Camp Tanalo
due to differences between Mr. Samments and me. I was then
employed by Morgan, Lewis & Bachias, a tax and law firm that
had offices in Canada, New York, London, and New Orleans. I
and two other women worked for seven accountants. We were
surrounded by warm, friendly people.

G: Now, Zaza, with all these facts and knowledge, when exactly
did you decide to come to Tallahassee? Of course, I know
that your children were here, but that must have been quite
a step for you to take. We are all familiar with the fact
that it is rather difficult for a mother to come and live
with her children. You have to give it a great deal of
consideration and thought, take all the pluses and minuses,
and then decide if this is exactly what you want to do and
if you feel that you have the strength and the confidence
and the belief in your children, especially your son-in-law,
that this will work out. Knowing you (of course, I know you
are a women of a great deal of common sense and
determination), and, also being familiar with that darling
son-in-law of yours, I doubt there was any great problem.
But you never can tell until you try it. Tell me, how has
it worked out?

S: In 1976 I suffered two heart seizures; I call them seizures.
Lisa and Jerry had always wanted me to live with them. They
never pushed. They just said, "Mother, when you are ready,
our home is your home." After the last attack I opened my
eyes and saw Lisa standing there. She had left Jerry and
her six children to rush to my side. I then knew I could
not do this to her. I told her in June that I would come to


Tallahassee in September. Oh, I forgot to say that Lisa,
Jerry, and their brood had moved from Panama Canal to San
Antonio to Tallahassee. In early September I was
hospitalized again, so we postponed my move to a later date.
Lisa, who had flown to Philadelphia, packed my clothes, put
my TV and clothes into my car, and we left for Tallahassee.
I must say the day I left my sisters and the many friends I
had made in the apartment building was a sad and tearful
day. I was president of our social club for two years, and
the night before I left they gave me a farewell party, one
that I will always remember.

Lisa and I left Philadelphia on October 1, 1976. We arrived
in Tallahassee on October 3, on Yom Kippur day. We stopped
at Woolco, where I bought presents for the children, having
no time to do it in Philadelphia. We went to the temple,
tired and exhausted by the trip. We were in time to hear
the shofar. I had visited my Tallahassee family twice
before and had met many of the congregants when I attended
Friday night services. The sincere and warm greetings I
received that Yom Kippur day I will always remember. We
went home after services, and all of my grandchildren helped
me into the house with my belongings. Even Paul, who was
all of three years old, carried something in. Paul and
Laurie were born in the Canal Zone, and I had seen them only
three times in that many years. I was given the master
bedroom and bath, and the fussing and love shown to me that
day made me realize that coming to live with Lisa, Jerry,
and my wonderful six grandchildren was the best thing that
could happen to me.

I had met Ethel Rose on my previous trip to Tallahassee, and
she called me the next day to tell me that she was giving a
luncheon at her home in my honor. Ethel and I found we had
much in common, and I knew that I had found a friend. The
following week Lisa and I went to Ethel's home, where she
had invited so many lovely and friendly women. I was
introduced to Florence Greenberg, and she asked me if I
played cards. I told her I played canasta, but only "played
at" bridge. Within a week there was a canasta game. Ethel,
Florence, Lina Gross (whom we sadly miss--she died a year
ago), and I played our first of many, many canasta games.
Our canasta games still go on regularly on Thursday
afternoons; Ethel, Florence, Hanna Goldsmith, and I are the
constant foursome.

I went back to Philadelphia for July and August of 1977 and
1978. I stayed in Miriam's apartment, and Hilda, Miriam,
and I spent the summer together. In 1978, while visiting,
Hilda said she did not feel well. I took her to the
hospital on that Thursday night, and Saturday night she
died. Dear, kind, loving Hilda. Whenever she went on
vacation--summer or winter, Atlantic City or Florida--it
rained the entire time. So even on the day she was buried,
July 3, the skies wept. I have not been back to


Philadelphia after that year. Miriam and her daughter's
family moved to Ft. Lauderdale. My son and family were
living in Hollywood, Florida. Dorothy and two of her
daughters were living in North Miami, as was Paulie (Hilda's
daughter) and her family. What reason did I have to go
back? My living roots were here in Florida; my memories
were back in Philadelphia. So it seems that the offspring
of Saul J. and Elsie Liebermann were still trying to be as
close as humanly possible, even though we were separated by

I became a member of Temple Israel and the Sisterhood, and
vowed that, health permitting, I would become active in
their undertakings. In 1978 Lisa told me that she was
pregnant. How happy I was! How miserable Lisa was. For
three months she spent most of her time in my easy chair,
sick and nauseated. She said it was the first time this had
happened with all of her pregnancies. Well, on Thursday,
September 21, 1978, on Debbie's birthday and the day before
Ken's bar mitzvah, Lisa presented to us Jennifer, a
beautiful, dark-haired, olive-skinned sweetheart. Lisa came
home on Saturday morning. When Jerry walked into the house,
I was standing in the hallway, and he placed Jennifer in my
arms and said, "Mother, here is your baby." I had not
actually seen Lisa and Jerry's six children grow up, but now
in Jennifer I would know all of the joys that I had missed.
Jennifer was named after my sister Hilda.

Living in Tallahassee for almost nine years has given me
more happiness than I could have wished for. Lisa and Jerry
and my wonderful seven grandchildren have shown me so much
love, have given me such respect. Many nights when Jerry
comes home from the lab he is so tired, but [he always
asks], "How is my queen and my queen mother? Did you have a
good day? Did you have an exciting day?" He always [comes
home] with a pleasant greeting.

Liz does not know the meaning of the word no. There are not
enough hours in the day for her to accomplish the things she
has to do. For example, take each child to their activities
or to school, go to the temple, bring a child home from
school, go to the temple, take a child to a scout meeting,
go to the temple. I could go on and on indefinitely. Lisa
loved my parents, and I think she tried to emulate my
mother. My mother bore eight children, Lisa seven, so she
is short one. My mother gave her time to raise money for a
synagogue so that the mortgage could be paid. Lisa's
dedication to our temple is comparable. My mother was a
terrific baker; Lisa is also a terrific baker. I could go
on and on indefinitely with these comparisons.

As the children got older I was relieved by Jerry as the
dish fairy. The older children now--Michael, Deb, Laurie,
and Paul--help with the dishes and/or setting the table.
Oh, yes, I too help. I heat the water for the macaroni or


light the oven when Lisa is on her way home with dinner.
This is a loving, caring, and sharing home, where privacy is
respected from Jenn to Ken.

I had been made a GG, a great-grandmother. Ellen, my oldest
granddaughter, presented Earl and Cindy with Samantha, their
first grandchild. Sammie was born on July 7, 1984. She is
a most beautiful little girl with a perpetual smile, and
[she] loves to have her picture taken. Earl and Cindy,
Miriam, and Landon--the family all lives now in Boca Raton.
My past years in Tallahassee have been good ones because of
my beloved family, my very dear friends Florence, Ethel,
Hanna--again I could go on and on and on. I thank God that
He gave me the chance to come to Tallahassee to live and
spend my autumn years with my devoted family and wonderful,
caring friends.

G: Zaza, dear, dear Zaza. I have listened to your memoirs at
times with a lump in my throat, and at other times with a
chuckle. You have, indeed, contributed so much to your
loving family and to the community at large, and especially
to our temple. I doubt whether the temple itself could go
on without Lisa and Zaza, and I only pray that God will give
His angels charge over you to the end, that you will live a
long, fruitful life, and that you will reap the benefits of
the many years that you have devoted to others. God bless
you, darling. I am proud to be your friend.

S: Thank you, Florence. It goes double; it takes two to tango,
you know.

If you thought that you were finished listening to my dulcet
voice, wrong! There is still some tape left, and I thought
my family would like to know something of my parents'
background. My mother's father, Abraham Freid, was born in
Hungary, and had one child, Yeta, with his first wife. She
died, and he soon after married his second wife. She bore
him Leopold and Ben. All this [was] in Hungary. My
grandfather took his wife and three children and moved to
New York, where my mother and then her sister named Rose
were born. His second wife died giving birth, and my
grandfather, being a very pious man, took another wife to
care for his six children. She was very cruel to the
children, and my grandfather divorced her. He then went
back to Hungary and married his fourth wife, a widow with
three children. My mother told us how wonderful this woman
was to them.

Mom went to high school in New York, and when she was
seventeen and had finished high school, her father took her,
Rose, and the other unmarried children and moved to
Rosenhayn, New Jersey, thirty miles from Philadelphia. Mom
did not like the farm, so she went to Philadelphia. As she
was a good dancer and could sing somewhat possibly, she
teamed up with a young man, and they became an act in Jewish


vaudeville. A repertoire company came to Philadelphia to
perform in Yiddish legitimate theater. Sol Jay Liebermann,
author of Jewish plays, became part of the company. He took
character roles and also wrote one-act plays, and they
presented two each night. My mother applied for a part in a
play, and it was there that she met her future husband, my

They were married in Camden, New Jersey, in 1902 on the
stage while performing a scene. The audience was unaware
that they were witnesses to a real wedding. After the last
curtain fell everyone was invited to refreshments. Earlier
my mother had married her partner and bore Pearl, my oldest
sister. She divorced her husband when Pearl was less than a
year old. So when my father and mother were married, my
father adopted Pearl. I did not learn that Pearl was my
half-sister until I was thirteen years old. Miriam, Eddie,
and Dorothy were born when my parents were at the height of
their careers. Noting that these three children had talent,
my father wrote parts for them in his plays, including Pearl
as well. The four children also played well-known Yiddish
roles, acting out the adult roles. Paul Muny, then known as
Munyweisenfreind, Stella Adler (Luther Adler's aunt), Molly
Picaun, to name a few, were in the same plays in which my
family was performing. Miriam played the male child role in
The Yeshivabocher, and Molly Picaun, who was nine years
older, played the male adult role.

In the Yiddish theater every play, and I mean every play,
had singing and dancing. Even a heavy melodrama had its
comic moments. In between acts or changes of scene,
performers would come out in front of the closed curtain and
"do his or her turn," that is, sing the songs for which
they were best known. The audience would call out their
preferences when the actor appeared. My father was almost
always asked to sing "Akin ani himola," a song about a child
of divorce. Mom was always requested to sing "Gewald
Menschen mein Himmentasch bret" ("Horrors! my hummentasch
are burning!"). Miriam was asked to sing "Schenk donna
duva," a tear-jerker about war orphans, and "Please, give
alms." Tootsie, as everyone called Ed because of his long
curls at age seven, would sing the comic song "In Atlantic
City." Pearl, as I have said before, chewed her words. Her
song was "Rujjing kissa mongen" ("Raisins and Almonds").
Very apropos.

After I was born in 1912, my father could see that the
Yiddish theater was slowly dying. He had seven children to
support, and he could barely eke out a living acting. He
knew a tailor, and he taught my father to use a sewing
machine and put together men's trousers. In a short while
my father opened his first custom-made pants factory.
Mother was busy with her charitable work. On the next block
from where we lived there was an empty house. My mother
organized a Good Friend Central Day Nursery and milked


pledges from the members to raise enough money for a down
payment on the house. In a short time it would become the
Friend Central Day Nursery, a home where working widows
could bring their children for a hot breakfast, lunch, and a
hot dinner that the mother and her young ones would share.
Mom got a dentist to come to the home once a week. I
remember his name was Dr. Kaltun. He installed his dental
chair and equipment on the second floor front. Mom hired a
housekeeper, a widow with a young son and daughter who lived

My mother, by the time the day nursery was running smoothly,
had her eighth child in 1916. Mother was either at the home
or going after the wholesalers at the docks to get donations
of fruits or vegetables or going to the butcher to get a
good buy on meat, all for the Good Friend Central Day
Nursery. She would prepare the menus for the week so the
housekeeper would know in advance what to make for the day.
She would go over every day to oversee that the food was
handled properly. We only lived a block away, so Mom took
care of the day nursery and her family. [She did] all this
besides being one of the founders of the downtown home for
the aged and the Jewish orphanage at the other end of

Mom also belonged to the Jewish Mogen David. A blue Jewish
star on a white background was their insignia. It was
during World War I that this group of devoted and dedicated
women saw to the comfort and warmth of out-of-town soldiers
who had come to Philadelphia. Mom and my little brother
Mutty (dressed in a soldier suit) went to rally after rally
and sold war bonds. Mom received a citation from President
Wilson commending her for raising more money in our part of
the country than any other one person. All during these
times my father and Miriam would go out of town for