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MA:... is Marie Abrams. The date is November the 18th, 1977, and I am interviewing Naomi Wile.

NMW:I, Naomi Miller-Wile, the wife of Ben H. Wile, have been requested to write about my father, Doctor Ignatius Miller, Rabbi of Temple B'Rith Sholom of Louisville, Kentucky.

NMW:It will be a brief biography, followed by a few personal experiences, which will help give a better picture of the man.

NMW:My father was born June the 10th, 1857 in a small village in Austria, Hungary. He was prepared, by tutors, for the Roman Catholic agnosium, which he went through with honors. During this time, in conjunction with his studies, he was also tutoring. In fact he had been tutoring since the age of 14. Then to Breslaw University, where he entered the Rabbinical Seminary and also studied at the university there.

NMW:He then went to Berlin, where he studied at the [German Language 00:01:41]. And also at Berlin University. While there he received a call to go to Leipzig, as a religious teacher and also studied at the university there. Then, at the invitation of Isaac M. Wise of the Hebrew Reunion College in Cincinnati, Ohio, he came to the United States to teach bible and Talmud.

NMW:He had his PhD degree from Berlin University when he came to the United States. After teaching at the HUC he received the degree of Rabbi. According to the 1954-'55 catalog, he was the first to receive such an honorary degree, in 1885. And none other was conferred until 1942.

NMW:His first position as Rabbi was in Kalamazoo, where he also taught German, Hebrew, and Latin, at Kalamazoo College. He then went to Des Moines as Rabbi, but also taught German at the Highland Park Normal College. While there, he 1:00belonged to the Prairie Club. A literary club comparable to our Philson Club.

NMW:After occupying these two pulpits, he came to Louisville in 1895, where he actively occupied that pulpit for 29 years. The pulpit of Temple B'Rith Sholom. He was then made Rabbi Emeritus. He died September the 6th, 1925.

NMW:Reminiscing is both delightful and emotional. Going back to the time when my sister Ruth and I were children, our father would take us on long, pleasant walks. Sometimes we would go to Cherokee Park, sometimes Jacob Park, sometimes just along the city streets. It was then that we would be tested on what we had 2:00learned in French, German, and Hebrew. We would conjugate verbs, describe nouns, and learn generally. The beauty of the environment would be pointed out to us and history was always part of our jaunts. What a historian our father was. And how beautifully he imparted it to us. The Grecian, Roman, Jewish, and American histories.

NMW:Even though he was born in Austria, America was the land he chose. As he said in a Fourth of July speech, which I shall always remember. It was the land he loved and talked about. Its freedom, a land for all people.

NMW:These walks always ended in a practical way. We would stop in the fruit store and purchase fruit to take home to mother. My father loved teaching and he 3:00loved to continue learning. His PhD was the gateway to [inaudible 00:05:02] information. I remember when Louis Mann was a student of the Hebrew Union College and came regularly during his vacation to study Talmud with father. They studied for hours in the hot summer weather. And my sister would make lemonade to take to them to refresh them a bit.

NMW:I remember that my parents always had the entire confirmation class for Seder. When one of these former confirmants was in Europe during the war, he was called up to the Torah to say the Barakah Blessing. He wrote to my father to let 4:00him know what a satisfaction it had been to him that he was able to recite the prayers in Hebrew.

NMW:The Seder symbols were prepared with my mother, and the guests were so impressed. The Haggadah, the customary Seder service, was participated in by all those present. The prayers were read, the psalms were sung. A week of weeks followed and it was confirmation day. My parents call on every one of the confirmants, 12 or 14 annually. We had no automobile in those days, so that meant street car transportation from here to there, great distances. Something which we of today cannot conceive.

NMW:During the period of my father's rabbinate at Temple B'Rith Sholom, I must 5:00boastfully say we had an excellent religious school, with a very fine faculty. And the remarkable part of that faculty was the fact that the teachers taught for my father without remuneration, which was a unique situation. And they were qualified teachers. In time, as my sister and I became qualified, we joined the ranks.

NMW:At this point, I should like to give recognition to one of my father's most valued teachers, Edna Groman, who became head of the reference room at the Louisville Main Library. Our entire family has cherished her friendship.

NMW:My father did not limit his activities and interests to the temple alone. He was very much interested in the Federation of the Jewish Community, known as the Jewish Welfare Organization. I can remember on occasions when strangers arrived in Louisville. Some of whom had inadvertently been misdirected or could not be understood because of a language barrier. He would get a call from the railroad station personnel. He would then go there and if the situation could be 6:00straightened out right then and there, fine. If not, he would contact the Jewish Welfare Organization and that organization would take over.

NMW:My father belonged to literary and historical organization that is in existence today, the Philson Club. Information concerning it can be found at the public library or at the Philson Club Building itself.

NMW:Three individuals whose names are well known in this community and who were dear friends of my father come to mind. Louis [Dembits 00:08:00], uncle of Supreme Court Justice, Louis Dembits. He and my father compiled the prayer book that B'Rith Sholom Temple used for many years, until Union Prayer Book was adopted. Rabbi Adolf Moses, with whom my father exchanged visits frequently. And Rabbi Joseph Row. Each of these individuals held a special place.

NMW:Dr. Row assisted my father in officiating at the wedding ceremonies of my 7:00sister and myself. And to go step farther, the diploma given my father when he became Rabbi is in the home of his granddaughter, who married a rabbi, Robert Schuyler, of Fort Worth, Texas.

MA:Can I ask you a question about the prayer book?

NMW:Please. Did I say anything back to his death?

MA:No. Can I take a minute while ... You want to go on there or-

NMW:I must've said it here.

MA:Yes, you did. Yes you did.

NMW:Did I say he died September the 6th?

MA:Yes, yes. You did.

NMW:I know he said he was born, but I didn't know whether-

MA:You did, you did. I want to ask you about the prayer book that your father just wrote-

NMW:Yes, and I want to tell you something and I'm going to get up on the ladder, yeah. That prayer book was in use here years and years and years. And I thought, and I know, that I have a copy of that at home. And I can't, there's only one place that it could be. But I'm going to get up, I have to get up on ... I just didn't get it down if it's up there. But I'm sure that I've got the copy of that prayer book.

MA:Oh my, is it all in English, part in English?

NMW:It's in English and Hebrew.

MA:There's no German?

NMW:Oh no.

MA:But you did tell me earlier that when your father ... I know that when B'Rith Sholom was first formed-

NMW:Oh I didn't tell that, did I?

MA:When B'Rith Sholom was first formed, I know that all the service and the sermon were in German and Hebrew, but when your father came in was part German and part English?

NMW:It was, he had sermons in English and he also had sermons in German, to satisfy those people, because our members were German. I never had that-

MA:But the prayer book that he helped to write was English and Hebrew?

NMW:The prayer book was never anything but English and Hebrew.

MA:Well now, the original one German wasn't it?

NMW:It may have been, but I don't remember that.

MA:Yes, probably before his time.

NMW:Yeah, but it was not during my father's time. That I really know.


NMW:Let me see something. I just don't ... But I don't think I have that-


MA:I remember that, I asked you if you remembered where B'Rith Sholom was, where the temple was located, and you said on First Street?

NMW:The original one, which I do not remember at all, was on First Street. And I can't tell you more about that. But the next one, of course, you would know that, that was Second and College.

MA:Do you remember when they moved there? I don't. Was it while your father was Rabbi that they moved to Second Street?

NMW:I don't know. I've got a book at home that maybe would help me on that.

MA:The book, the history book that I had when you came to talk to my class that has your father's picture in it?

NMW:Mm-hmm (affirmative)-mm-hmm (affirmative).

MA:We ought to look. I think that-

NMW:I still have to bring that book, but I didn't think it was necessary. I think maybe it's in there.

MA:It seemed to me that ... I don't remember. It seemed to me your father had not been rabbi very long when that book was printed. I think it's interesting that your father had such a close relationship with Rabbi Moses and with Doctor Row.

NMW:It's interesting, isn't it?

MA:It says something about our community.

NMW:It says something about the individuals. I mean, that there wasn't any friction.


NMW:Which I think is important, really I do. Because some of these rabbis, you know how they are, just like other people, the competition sometimes is ... But you see father was interested in knowledge and getting knowledge and imparting knowledge. And the friendship ... Now, I could've told you this, too, but it's too much.

NMW:When we married, Ben and I, some people from Des Moines and from Kalamazoo-


NMW:No, they didn't come, they sent gifts, though.

MA:Isn't that lovely.

NMW:Can you imagine such a thing?


NMW:I thought it was beautiful.

MA:I mean, no, sure that's lovely, I can't-


NMW:I thought it was beautiful.

MA:That is lovely.

NMW:You know, I think those things are just remarkable. But he, there was never any jealousy in father. I think he was too big for that. I mean, I think he was much more interested in improving the mind and the religious attitude and so forth. I really do. But I just don't know where that book is and I'm going to ... I mean, there's only one place it could be and that would be in our attic.

MA:I would love to see it, if you can find it.

NMW:I've got to find it, because those things aren't thrown away and so it-


NMW:But I didn't want to get on ... See I get up and ... Don't tell my family. But I get up and Ben nearly died when he heard that I got up on ladders by myself. You know when the girl isn't there I get up, but I don't know what can happen to me. I just don't feel that bad.

MA:Well, maybe one day I'll come by and get up on the ladder. You can point to me and I'll get up there.

NMW:And Maddie wouldn't be able to help me much, because she wouldn't know what to do with it up there.

MA:What she was looking ... Tell me, you told me when we were having a 10:00preliminary conversation, that your mother was also such an influence on your life.

NMW:A tremendous influence.

MA:And you only mentioned the Seder and I see-

NMW:Because she doesn't belong in the religious aspect of it.

MA:No, but would you share with me some of your-

NMW:Oh mother was a wonderful person. In her own quiet way she was remarkable. She could've brought down, I can't tell you this. The trouble she could've brought into a community if she hadn't known how to conduct herself. And some of the members of the congregation would come, she would hear these conversations, she would never participate in them, but she would go back to my father and tell him what was what. And then he would know how to handle it, you see?

NMW:And she was just a remarkable person, is all I can tell you. And she was kind to people. You know, when she ... And she participated in everything. We used to have, in those days, not in my day, but my mother's day, what they call sewing circles. The women would gather together and sew for the temple. And mother never missed a time, she was always there. And she really was ... Now, I make clothes, my mother didn't. My mother just encouraged me in it. You know? But she did do beautiful hand work. And she participated in that. You know?

NMW:In fact she did, when I married, when Ruth married, she did a great deal of the embroidery work for us. She was clever like that, very clever. But those things don't fit in here, don't you see?

MA:Well, no, I'm interested, if you felt, as a child, or remember feeling as a child, that perhaps behavior was expected of you that might not have been of your friends, because you were the daughter of a rabbi?


NMW:No, no I can remember Marie ... I wanted to put this in, but these ... I just didn't think the people would be that interested. Anyway, it's too personal. These are things ... Why, they wouldn't be interested in this. I don't know that they're interested in what I have here.

MA:I think so.

NMW:You may be, because you and I are friends, and that's that. But I know when there would be twilight, we four would be together, father would tell us stories and mother would participate in these things. It was great. You don't have time for those things these days, everyone's all on his own. The kids are doing this and so forth. It's just a little different, that's all. It was beautiful.

NMW:And as I said, father would take us on ... But I've never forgotten one thing, when we would go to summer resorts, every summer. And I never will forget one time, this was a very lovely place in West Virginia, and when my father would come into the room, this man was a colonel in the Army. Funny how you bring out these things to be ... This man would arise when my father came in and he would leave when my father came in. Finally I observed that and I couldn't understand it. And he said, to such intellect, I want to applaud and this is my way of doing it.

MA:And he stood out of respect?

NMW:Exactly, stand out of respect.

MA:Isn't that beautiful?

NMW:Wasn't that wonderful?

MA:That was beautiful.

NMW:And I also remember the kids really loved father, the kids at Sunday school. They felt, they didn't stay in awe of him, they loved him, really. And the kids would want to walk up and down with him, before Sunday school, you know? They'd want to get early, so they could take his hand and walk up and down with him.

NMW:And this [Talstein 00:17:18] girl, you know, I don't know whether she's still living even. Hugo Talstein's sister, is she still living?

MA:I don't know.

NMW:Well, anyway, my father had been to Europe and he bought this black straw hat, I never will forget that hat. And it had a little bit of a crown to it, just a little bit of one, you know. And he wore that to a picnic, Sunday school picnic. And this little girl said, Doctor Miller's got on the latest straw hat, perfectly at ease with him. You know, it was beautiful. Children adored him, that's all. And he loved children and he would tell them stories. And he was a marvelous father to us. And my mother was ... Really, I think we were blessed with two great parents, that's all I can tell you.

MA:That's beautiful.

NMW:And it's a wonderful feeling, that, really. You know?


MA:That's beautiful. Did you ever experience any anti-Semitic acts, or problems with being Jewish? Or was Louisville perhaps an easier place to be Jewish, live and be Jewish, in your childhood?

NMW:Well, we never really did any extend.

MA:The reason I ask is it sounds like your father lived in more than just the Jewish community.

NMW:He did.

MA:He had contacts, you say he was a member of the Philson Club.

NMW:Now we had some friends, who lived across the street from us, who were non-Jewish people, who were very friendly with us, extremely friendly. And every 13:00Christmas, we ... The first time he did it, we didn't understand what it was. He gave us, Ruth and me, each a bill, at Christmas time.

MA:A dollar bill?

NMW:Yeah, we thought it was counterfeit, play money. We came home, we showed it father ... See, they called us over to see the Christmas tree. That was our relationship with these people. They called us over to see the Christmas tree. And we saw, beautiful. They were very wealthy people. And I still know the daughter, she had moved to Indiana.

NMW:But anyway, we were very, very good friends. And after we saw the Christmas tree, he gave Ruth and me each this, we thought it was counterfeit. We came home and father and mother looked at it and they said, this is real money. No one had ever given us money like that. You know? We weren't used to accepting ... We were told never to accept money. But you see, but with this man it was okay, you know?

NMW:And then I'll tell you another thing. We had friends, in fact I still know the ... I still go to see this one person. She comes to see me. We would exchange, they would bring to our house a basket for Ruth, a basket for me, a basket at Easter time, with candied eggs and the colored eggs, you know? I mean, our relationship was really very, very nice in-

MA:In Louisville.


NMW:In Louisville. And then also, when the second Presbyterian burnt down, it was at the corner of Second and Broadway. And we were Second and College, you see. My father offered the temple for them to worship and pray.

MA:Do you remember when it was?

NMW:No, we were children then.

MA:Yeah, so it was quite, you know?

NMW:It was many years ago. I don't know.

MA:And did they use the B'Rith Sholom?

NMW:Uh huh.

MA:Till they could get facilities?

NMW:I don't know how long they used it.

MA:But they did use it at least-

NMW:Yeah, I'm quite sure they used it.

MA:A time or two? That was lovely.

NMW:And I don't know, there's so many little things that come up, that you-

MA:Do you remember, because I just was ... Doctor Wiler was in the confirmation class the other day talking about the use of the term Hebrews as in Union of American Hebrew Congregations, whereas now if we were forming that body, now we would probably say, Union of American Jewish Congregations. Or Union of American Reform Congregations. But we don't really use the term Hebrews to apply to ourselves, now. Did your father refer to the congregation as a Jewish or a Hebrew, or do you remember? Did he use the term Hebrew to refer to Jewish people?

NMW:No, I don't think that he did. I mean, I think that he referred to Hebrew more as a language.


NMW:Rather than ... Although I can't speak for my father, you know?

MA:Did your father know Isaac, Mayor Wise?

NMW:Yes, I told you they-

MA:He invited him here, but you didn't ... Did you ever meet him?

NMW:No. I told you, we were born way-

MA:Of course, you were born after that.

NMW:But he was, my father, I told you received the degree of Rabbi from the HUC and Isaac M. Wise is one of the signatories on it.

MA:Do you have a copy of that?

NMW:No, Riley has that.

MA:In Dallas.

NMW:Uh huh.

MA:Fort Worth, I mean.

NMW:Uh huh. I told them that, I had put that away all the time. See I have a storage place in the basement and all those things that I think are valuable, they're going to have a great time when I die. All those things that I think are valuable are there. And I thought that was valuable. [inaudible 00:22:35] and 15:00did they jump at that. And they have it framed.

MA:Well, I should think so.

NMW:And they have it in their living room with their good art. And it is good art, though.

MA:Of course it is.

NMW:And really, and Bob falls right in with the feeling of my father and my mother. It's beautiful. He's a ... Of course, I think he's special anyway.

MA:He's carrying on a tradition and that's nice.

NMW:Yes, very, very nice. You know? It makes it nice for me, anyway. And it makes nice for Riley, because Riley's always been very close, she's always been something special.

MA:Does she have any sisters or brothers?

NMW:She has two brothers.

MA:And what do they do?

NMW:Well, one lives in Cincinnati. And the other one is the one, no I didn't tell you. I told ... I can not think of it. He was in Memphis and he's just been ... Had a most complimentary offer. And I can not think. It's right outside of Tampa. I get so mad when ... Not Carl Gables, Clearwater.


NMW:Clearwater. And he's had this offer to come to Clearwater. He's very much interested in nuclear medicine.

MA:Oh he's a doctor?

NMW:Yes, he's a doctor. All my husband adored him. Really, he thinks he's something special. And I guess he is, I don't know. But anyway-

MA:You haven't told us anything about your husband and what he did. Would you like-

NMW:In this?


NMW:I thought this was supposed to be my father?

MA:Well it can. But I thought you might, because the next question I'm going to ask you is about your friendship with Rabbi [Brasel 00:24:15]. And I thought since you've told us a little bit about you and your background, you haven't mentioned a thing. And you might just like to mention him.

NMW:Well, I would love to, because I thought he was something really special.

MA:I know you did.

NMW:And my parents thought he was something special. Now, he went to B'Rith Sholom religious school. He was confirmed there, even as I was, you know. And some years previous to that, of course. And I thought he was really an outstanding individual and had great recognition from his company, with which he 16:00was connected. And in fact, when we would go to conventions, I tell you, I had the most gratifying experiences, because the people would say when they saw us approaching, you know, "Here comes Ben Wile. Here comes Ben Wile." When he came everything was great. And of course I felt, when he came and they said that, that everything was great.

MA:You haven't told us what kind of conventions.

NMW:Oh well, he was in the tool business.


NMW:And now those ... Of course, you probably wouldn't be interested in that, but the Pendleton Tool Company was a very outstanding tool company. And since my husband died, they merged with Ingersoll Rand. And if you look at the big board you will see Ingersoll Rand on the big board.

MA:I'll have to look.

NMW:It had been the Pendleton Tool Company on the big board, too. And anyway, he had really beautiful recognition from them and I have some tributes that were paid to him at the time. And when he died, some of the members of the concern 17:00came down to the funeral, you know.

MA:What an honor.

NMW:I didn't know they were even coming. And I saw them at the undertaking establishment, you know. I was so pleased to see they had come. I thought it was the most complimentary thing.

MA:What an honor.

NMW:You know, it was really great.

MA:Yes, what a tribute.

NMW:And when we would ... Yes, it was a tremendous tribute. And the president ... One time the president came down for a derby. He and the vice president, both, and one of the vice presidents, came down for the derby. [inaudible 00:26:32]. We had a beautiful time together. And luckily, then, I had gotten some great seats for the derby.

NMW:When he invited them to come down for the derby, I said, "Hunny, how could you do such a thing? We don't have tickets for the derby." He said, "Don't worry. I'll get them."

NMW:I didn't see how he could get them. I was really nervous about it, because if you don't have seats for the derby, it's just ridiculous, you know? Well sure enough he did get seats, and they were at our house then for all the meals and then we went on out to the derby and so forth. And we had a great time all the way through. And these were, they were our friends, you see? It was really on a very, very personal basis. And you know it must've been if they came all the way from Los Angeles down to Louisville to be with us.


NMW:And then they went ... We are buried because, in Cincinnati, we have a family plot with my sister and her husband. And-

MA:It's okay, go on.

NMW:And they came down, they went to the cemetery with us.

MA:Isn't that lovely?

NMW:It really is.

MA:And I want you to tell me, because you told me a little bit on the telephone, that you and your husband were good friends with Rabbi Brasel, who didn't 18:00immediately follow your father as rabbi.


MA:Although he did it in a very short period of time, about a year-

NMW:Yes, Rabbi Rosen did.

MA:He was only there about a year or so, I think.

NMW:I think so. It was a short time. I don't remember.

MA:And you said that you and your husband were such good friends of Rabbi Brasel and I think, if you'd like to share any of your remembrances of him that might be nice.

NMW:I don't know what remembrances to share with you.


NMW:Except that we were very good friends. We were together socially quite often, and ... Now, I haven't seen his wife for some time. She hasn't been to Louisville to my knowledge, in a long time. But we remained friends for a long time. And from the very beginning we became friendly.

MA:What kind of person, how would you compare him to your father, as a rabbi?

NMW:I wouldn't compare him. I don't compare anybody to my father.

MA:Okay, that was dirty, dirty pool wasn't it?

NMW:That was a bad question.

MA:Okay. I really was not talking about quality, I was talking about style.

NMW:I wouldn't compare them at all. I just, my father was in a different category entirely.


NMW:First of all, he was always my father.

MA:Okay. Then forget that question, let me see if I can ask it another way.

NMW:Wait a minute, I wanted to tell you something more about my husband.

MA:Oh, I'm sorry.

NMW:The relationship between him and my parents was something too beautiful for words. In fact, I used to say that I was the outsider in the family, because they ... He was really a very unusual person to them, and they were very unusual to him. They were really like, as though they were his second parents, because he had good parents, too, and he was like their son to them. It was really beautiful. It was great. That's all I can tell you.

MA:That's lovely.

NMW:Yeah, that's what makes it harder when he's gone though, too.

MA:Of course.

NMW:Maybe it's better this way, I'm sure it is.


MA:Well, it was nice that he had that kind of relationship.

NMW:And he had that feeling for my whole family. And as far as that's concerned, this is a one who's a physician, that I told you that, I've never seen a relationship like that between a nephew and his-


NMW:Uncle. It's really, it's beautiful. And all these kids would come down and spend time with us. You know, and that was that.

MA:I want you tell me a little bit about Rabbi Brasel. If you can remember any anecdotes, or-

NMW:Oh he always had anecdotes to tell himself, he did. Did you not know him?

MA:No, I never did.

NMW:Did you ever see him?

MA:I have no recollection of him. Only than hearing about him.

NMW:I don't know what to tell you. He was a great story teller. And he was a great ... I liked him very much. I'll tell you, he was the kind of person who ... Oh, I don't have a word for this. Certain people who enjoy being with, I 20:00guess, and others you didn't, you know? And we happened to be among those we who really enjoyed and we enjoyed him and it was a nice relationship. That's all I can say.

NMW:It was more than just that between a minister and his [inaudible 00:31:04]. It was a real friendship.

MA:It was a personal friendship.

NMW:Very personal relationship.


NMW:And I know, I really wouldn't know what else to tell you.


NMW:But I do know that after they moved away, Haskell, their son, would come to visit us, whenever he came in town. He was a very good friend of Essex's.

MA:Irwin Essex?

NMW:No, the Alman Essex.

MA:Oh his son?

NMW:His son. I said-

MA:I guess, Irwin was probably a contemporary of-

NMW:Dr. Brasel, Rabbi Brasel.

MA:He taught me and ... I was very fortunate. I'm supposed to be interviewing you, but as long as I'm not going to be interviewed, I will ... Maybe I should let you interview me when ... He taught me in Sunday School and we had an unusual year. My confirmation year, there was no confirmation class preceding ours, for some reason. There were no students that year. We had, he taught the confirmation class, Dr. Essex. He taught our class for two years. And it was right, as a matter of fact, in the second year of my confirmation class. The year I was actually confirmed, he became ill that year. And he died a year or two later.

MA:He was a joy as a teacher.

NMW:I'm sure he was. Because he was a very, very bright person.


NMW:I started to say in this, but I didn't see, I didn't think it belonged there, that my husband was confirmed by my father.

MA:That's nice.

NMW:I think it's nice, too.

MA:That's nice.

NMW:And I'll tell you, too, when we married, after we became engaged, he brought the confirmation piece with him and showed it to my father. Isn't that nice?

MA:That is lovely. And you said that-

NMW:He had a great deal of feeling for -

MA:Rabbi Moses helped your father officiate?

NMW:No, Row.

MA:Dr. Row?

NMW:Dr. Row.

MA:But that must've been very unusual.

NMW:Well, I told you that my father-

MA:But I mean, I imagine that that was quite a thing?

NMW:Now this I don't want you to put in. Close this off, because I want to ... Here-

MA:I'd like you tell me about where your wedding was though.

NMW:Oh my wedding was at Temple B'Rith Sholom.

MA:On Second Street?

NMW:Uh huh. And my sister was the maid of honor. And my husband's brother was the best man.

MA:And Dr. Row officiated?

NMW:And Dr. Row and my father officiated.

MA:That's lovely.

NMW:And the choir performed, you see. It really was a pretty wedding. Of course, I thought it was a great wedding.

MA:I'm glad you did.

NMW:I'm glad it ended that way, too. You know?

MA:You said the reception was [crosstalk 00:33:59]-

NMW:And this-

MA:Tell me what happened when Dr. Row came in.

NMW:The dinner was held at my parental home. And of course, Ben and I were there to receive the guests when they came in. And it was a ... We had the family and a few close friends and the entire religious school faculty.

MA:Oh that's lovely.

NMW:And, of course Dr. Row was there. And when he came in, he kissed me and congratulated me and said, "I always kiss the bride."

MA:I think that's lovely.

NMW:Isn't that cute?

MA:Where did you go on a honeymoon?

NMW:Chicago. That's where I always wanted to go. I didn't even want to go to New York, I wanted to go to Chicago.

MA:Was that a common place to go for a honeymoon?


NMW:My sister went there, too. I guess it was. I don't know. I guess it was.


NMW:We went to New York after, so that wasn't ... The point is I wanted to go to Chicago. Isn't that funny how you have ideas? Because I'd been to Chicago before, but I just wanted to go to Chicago. That hotel isn't there anymore.

MA:Well, some of them that were are, that shouldn't be.

NMW:That's right. But, I told you my sister was the maid of honor-


NMW:And my brother-in-law was the ... And, Augusta [Seligman 00:35:25], do you know who I mean?


NMW:Well, do you know who Joseph Seligman was? Well, Joseph Seligman was one of the most prominent attorneys in this city. His wife was a cousin of ours. And his daughter, Augusta, was my flower girl.

MA:How lovely.

NMW:And she was precious. Just adorable.


MA:Did she live here?

NMW:Sure, she was a little girl. She was a flower girl.

MA:But did she marry?

NMW:They moved to New York, she moved to New York. She and her sister Lucy.

NMW:Did you ever hear of Lucy [Schneider 00:36:01]? Anyway, they moved to New York.

MA:You just-

NMW:And she just recently died, Augusta recently died.

MA:You mentioned something about Louis Dembits and Louis Brandice.

NMW:Louis Dembits was an uncle of Louis Brandice.


NMW:And I want to tell you, if I were an artist, I could draw a picture ... I was a little girl, but I could draw a picture of this Louis Dembits, because he was a peculiar looking individual and had very bad eye sight. That I remember. But he must have been a very unusual person.

NMW:I tell you because he and my father were good friends.

MA:What about Louis Brandice, do you remember him?

NMW:No, I never saw Louis Brandice.

MA:Never saw him?

NMW:No. Never did.

MA:I thought he lived in Louisville. Perhaps my timing is off on him. I had him-

NMW:He may have, I don't know.

MA:You just don't reco- ... Yes.

NMW:I don't, but I didn't think he.

MA:My timeframe may be off.

NMW:I think maybe your timing is, I won't say wrong, but different.


NMW:I don't know. I just I really don't know.

MA:But you do remember Louis Dembits, who was his uncle?

NMW:I don't remember him really, but I just-

MA:You have a picture of him.

NMW:I have a picture of him. You know, when you hear about people so often, you formulate a picture, you know? But as far as Dr. Row is concerned, I really know, you know? And as far as ... Who's the other one we mentioned?

MA:Rabbi Basel, Brasel.

NMW:Of course, but we were friends. There was another man.

MA:I'm trying to see if ... Your father, perhaps, died really before the Zionist 23:00movement started, and I was ... So, that he would not-


MA:It was '19. When was the first Zionist conference?

NMW:I don't know, but 1925 he died. And that was not ... No, no, because he was not a Zionist.

MA:That's what I wanted to ask you.

NMW:That's right. He was not a Zionist.


NMW:That I know.

MA:Yes, yes, okay. That's why-

NMW:That I know.

MA:I was trying to see if there was a time frame that I could map there.

NMW:Yeah, but you could connect that.

MA:But it was quite common. Of course, you know it's interesting, you know, there's a new American Reform Zionist Organization, that just formed.


NMW:Yeah, back then there was the Organization for American Judaism, way back there. And he was not-

MA:There was an anti-Zionist, though.

NMW:That's right, uh huh.

MA:Was he part of that group?


MA:No. But he was the one that was neither.

NMW:Yes, uh huh. But he was not a Zionist.

MA:That was quite common, of course. And, shows the influence of the state of Israel, I suppose.


MA:I'm sure were he alive today-

NMW:Now, uh huh. I could be a Zionist today. If that meant being in favor of Israel, because I think they're having a terrible time now. Everybody is very much concerned about them.

MA:It's interesting that the change, though, in the reform-

NMW:American Council for Judaism.

MA:That was it.


MA:He was not a member of that, your father?


MA:Well, I think it's interesting, though. And you and certainly, I, in my lifetime, can see a change in reformed Judaism.

NMW:Oh, yes.

MA:I'm sure that you can.

NMW:Oh yes. But, I think, too, I think things, the whole world is so different. I don't know. I could never say what my father would feel now.

MA:No, of course not.


MA:But was it common, when you were a child, for all of the children in the Sunday School to learn Hebrew? I know you learned Hebrew, but was that because of your father, or was-

NMW:No, not all. No, no, that was just a question of whether they wanted to or didn't want to. For instance, if you're saying that, we had Hebrew classes on Saturday before Temple. And there were just very, comparative, very few children who went to Hebrew school.

MA:Were bar mitzvah common? Or were there any in-

NMW:There were more bar mitzvahs than there are now.

MA:Well, no, now there are quite a few. When I was a child, there was almost none.

NMW:Well, wait a minute ... Yeah, I was going to say-

MA:That's what I mean, it's gone full circle, I think.

NMW:That's what I mean, it's gone full circle. Because years ago, there were ... My husband was bar mitzvahed.

MA:Okay. So then it was common when-

NMW:Yeah, it was common years ago.

MA:And then it went to a stage-

NMW:That's right. Then nobody was, it seems.

MA:I remember when Stanley Garfine had a bar mitzvah and I think it was the first one in the congregation in years and years and years.

NMW:Well, that might be.

MA:And he was my age.

NMW:Well, not many. And then they suddenly, they've begun again. And I think another thing, I think there were fewer over that of Israel. And I remember when ... I can't think of his name. This attorney who my ... I went to his son's graduation, bar mitzvah. Oh he's so active in the communal affairs, Jewish affairs.

MA:But in any event, so that it wasn't as common. Well then it must've been very unusual, if Hebrew wasn't studied by many children, I imagine that those who studied it, primarily, were boys?

NMW:I'm not going to say my husband was bar mitzvah, because I really just don't quite remember that. He was confirmed though, I remember that.

MA:Yes, well let me ask you a question, of those who studied Hebrew, were the majority of them boys?


MA:It was quite unusual for girls, as you and sister learned Hebrew.


MA:Did you learn Hebrew-

NMW:No, Ruth didn't study it as much as I did. I studied a little bit at home and I'll tell you, I studied ... My father had someone, a student of his, in the class, came to our home and I studied with them sometimes. I loved languages, you see. It didn't make any difference what language. I think if Sanskrit had been a spoken language, I would've studied that. Loved languages.

MA:But let me ask you a question, did you learn to speak it or just to ... To speak it and understand it, or speak ... When you read it, when you read a prayer in Hebrew, do you understand what you're reading? Or is it a matter of just reading the prayer and being familiar with the Hebrew? Can you translate Hebrew?

NMW:I could, to a degree, years ago.


NMW:I couldn't now.

MA:Yes, yes, okay. But when you did learn it, you did learn what-

NMW:I did learn translation, yes. I did. But that was years and years ago. I mean, same thing, I used to speak German beautifully. But after all, as I said to someone, you have to have the practice.


NMW:You know when these new Americans came over here, that was one of my strong points, that I could talk German to them.

MA:And during the Second World War?

NMW:Mm-hmm (affirmative)-That I could talk German to them. And oh, they were so appreciative. And it made me feel so good, you know, that I hadn't forgotten it completely. But then, now, you see, now I would go back to where I was before. And while I think I could make myself understood, it would be grammatically incorrect and a few things like that. You know? Nothing that I would be really proud of.

NMW:Now, my father was a really, an elegant German speaker, just elegant. But I was never in that class.

MA:Where was your mother born? I don't believe I-



MA:Same place?

NMW:In [inaudible 00:43:45], Germany, in Germany.

MA:She was born in Germany? And-

NMW:She was five years old when she came to this country. Came to New York, five years. She really was completely Americanized.

MA:Where did she meet your father?

NMW:Here. My father was a rabbi here at Temple B'Rith Sholom, and I know you've heard of Gus Rosenberg, the undertaker.

MA:Here in Louisville?

NMW:Uh huh.

MA:No, I didn't know that.

NMW:He preceded Herman Meyer.

MA:I didn't know that.

NMW:Well in fact Herman Meyer worked for him, or with him, anyway you want to word it. And, he succeeded Gus Rosenberg. Gus Rosenberg was married to a cousin of my mother's. The Rosenbergs had my father stay at their house. I guess you would call him a boarder there. I don't know, because, see, he came to this city and didn't know anybody and they were willing to, for financial, an amount, he stayed there.

NMW:And this cousin of ours, this cousin Gus, he was August and she was Augusta, 27:00and cousin Gusta invited my mother to come and visit. I think she must've had that in mind.

MA:You think she was a match maker?

NMW:And he did fall in love with my mother. And my mother was pretty, though, really. She really was a pretty woman. And I don't know-

MA:Who did you get your red hair from?

NMW:My mother had auburn hair when she was young.

MA:Oh really?

NMW:Uh huh. And then it turned black, you know. But anyway, I remember ... Anyway, they fell in love and they got married. And what's more, when they got married, they had my, this cousin of ours, had the dinner at her house for my mother.

MA:Do you know who married them? I wonder if it was Rabbi Moses at [inaudible 00:45:51] Israel. Or did they import a rabbi?

NMW:I don't know. Wish you hadn't asked that question. I just don't know.

MA:Well, that's something you might think about. Would you have their wedding, their marriage-

NMW:Just a minute. I ought to know that. Maybe Isaac [inaudible 00:46:33] did, I don't know. He could've easily, but I'm not positive now about that. I don't want to mention any names, because I really [inaudible 00:46:46]. And there's no one that I could ask.

MA:You don't-

NMW:And I'll tell you something cute. No, turn this over ... There's nothing to tell, it just has a history of the old timers from here, you know?


NMW:And really it's very, very in- ... I should've brought that, but I-

MA:Did you know many of them?

NMW:No, they were really before my time.

MA:Well, some of them were contemporaries of your fathers. That's the reason I ask.

NMW:Yes, one of them was, that I happen to think of. Oh no, I'll take that back, there were a number of them who I guess who were. But I just, I don't, I never knew them. But anyway, that's okay, you're right.

NMW:But I had this one book, and that I cherish. I don't want anything to happen to that. I guess I'll leave that to somebody, shouldn't I?

MA:Well, I think there are copies of that, because I had a copy of that book from, I think the Bureau Library here has a copy of the Jewish History of Louisville.

NMW:I'm not surprised.

MA:It was right around the turn of the century. You said one of them in there you knew? Do you remember?

NMW:Yes. No I didn't know, but I heard so much. You know so many of these people have heard about ... For instance, at a table at dinnertime, every now and then 28:00my father and mother would mention names, and of course, I've gotten to the point where I felt that I knew some of these people, you know? Now, there was a name in that book, [Hill 00:47:59] was the man's name. Now his daughter taught for my father.

NMW:See I hear all these things, but I really didn't ... I did know her, though. I did know this Esther Hill. In fact she used to be a guest at Seder time, of my mother and father. And she used to give the kids, as rewards, little fancy boats.

MA:Remember you said, I remember you said that it was unusual when you got the dollar bills for Christmas. How did you celebrate ... And that it was unusual to be given money. How did you celebrate Hanukkah in your house as a child?

NMW:Oh always. We had to ... Oh that was really something we looked forward ... First of all, we always had a little money. And when I say, I mean a little. Ruth and I had and we'd go in town and we'd buy gifts for mother and father and for each other. And then, the first night of Hanukkah, after we lighted the light, we alternated. Every night one of ... Every other candle was lit by one of the other of us. And we said the prayers and then we exchanged these gifts. And we had gifts for our parents and for each other.

MA:Every night, or just the first night?

NMW:No, just the first night, because we didn't spend that much money. But, and of course they gave us nice gifts. We had little ... From our allowance.


NMW:We took our allowance for that purpose. But we went and we were serious about it. And I want to tell you right now, up until recently ... Riley and Bob I'm sure do that. I mean, most ... I think it's a pretty ... I have a candelabra that my father brought from Europe, that is beautiful. It can be, the tall one, or it can be separated and made into a lower one. And we used to use that all the time. It is a beautiful thing, I think. I'm really very sentimental about these things. I mean, I guess, these things mean something to me. I was brought up right there, you know?


NMW:Anyway, but we've always observed Hanukkah. And in fact, when the kids at school would be talking about their Christmas presents, Ruth and I would talk about our Hanukkah presents. We were smart enough, we didn't want them to know that we were being left out of things, so we would just talk about our Hanukkah presents as though they were Christmas presents.

MA:Where did you go to school? Do you remember?

NMW:What school you mean?


NMW:In Louisville?

MA:In Louisville.

NMW:Brooklyn Kentucky. We had marvelous teachers. We really did. We had good teachers. Very good teachers. And when the weather was bad, very, very bad, we had a friend who was in the grocery business and they had ... I bet your mother would know who these people are. Did you ever hear the name Garfine?

MA:Which Garfine?

NMW:Morris Garfine?


NMW:Well, his wife's parents had this store.

MA:Oh Mayer?


MA:Sure. Well, Stanley Garfine was where I went to play-

NMW:That's right. Well, this is Louise Mayer though, this is her parents.


NMW:And they really carried fine food, fine foods. I mean there [crosstalk 00:51:22].


MA:They were lovely people.

NMW:They delivered to us regularly, you know?

MA:Mm-hmm (affirmative).

NMW:She'd call up in the morning, Mrs. Mayer, to see, to get the order from my mother. My mother was the first person she'd call in the morning and my mother would give her the order.

NMW:Anyway, when the weather was very, very bad, they would use their truck and Louise would be in the truck and they stop by and pick up Ruth and me and take us to school in the truck.

MA:Oh that's wonderful. Where did you live, as a child?

NMW:At Floyd and Jacob.

MA:Floyd and Jacob.

NMW:And Jacob.

MA:So you didn't have too far to ... You could walk to temple? Floyd.

NMW:Yeah you could walk to temple, but it was-

MA:To Brook to First.

NMW:Well we did walk to temple.

MA:It was only three blocks, or four blocks.

NMW:It was that four blocks. But we did walk to temple. And most places were within walking distance in those days. Not everybody had a car, very few people had cars, comparatively speaking. But, it wasn't anything.

NMW:Anyway, we liked to walk to school, it was fun. And it was, sometimes, when the weather was good, there'd be several kids meeting and we'd meet at the corners and walk to school together, you know? Come home together, it was fun. And then recess time, you know we jumped rope and did all that foolishness. But-

MA:Was there, you said you took Hebrew lessons on Saturday morning before service, but was there Sunday morning Sunday School?

NMW:Oh sure.

MA:The religious school was always on Sunday morning, then Hebrew lessons were, that was just a special?

NMW:Uh huh, uh huh.

MA:Hebrew lessons?

NMW:And then I want to tell you something, there were some kids who were very much interested in Hebrew. And they would meet at my father's house, in the afternoon, after school, and we'd have Hebrew lessons.

MA:And he would give lessons then?

NMW:Uh huh, uh huh.

MA:Was he the one who taught the Hebrew on Saturday morning? Or did you have a special Hebrew teacher?

NMW:I had both, depending on the class. But he did teach Hebrew, too. But he also, now, when it came to Sunday, religious, school, he always taught the post confirmation class, he taught. He loved to teach and he did it well, you know? He loved to teach. And we loved to listen to him, to have him teach us, you know?

MA:That's beautiful. That's really beautiful.

NMW:... [inaudible 00:53:37] joining council.

MA:Why did you join council?

NMW:Well, and my mother said to me, [Lynteen inaudible 00:53:43] Ferman and I 30:00became friendly. And my mother said, now, since Lynteen is president, this came from my mother, don't you think it's time for you to join council? I said, I never gave it a thought, mother, but I think you're right. So, I joined council. And I've been a member ever since.

NMW:And I've really had jobs. Not recently, but I've really had big jobs to do for council. I was in charge of the council workshop at one time. Which of course you wouldn't know about, it was during the war. And we really did work. That's when these refugees came to town and they ... I think what was accomplished as much as anything else, was a lift to their moral. But they also made practical things the council members bought. And we would have displays. We would have to have a workshop once a week and then I would purchase the materials and bring them back for the next week for them to make.

MA:What kinds of things did you make?

NMW:And then we would have the sales at the meetings. And we would take orders. When I say we, because I had several people helping me. We would take orders and have them ready at a certain time. We even had monogramming. There was one woman, a Mrs. Frank, she's still living, that did beautiful monogramming.

NMW:We made luncheon mats, luncheon sets, that were lovely. Various colored linens, they were hand stitched all the way around and had [inaudible 00:55:19] lace all the way around them, with napkins to match. As many plates as you 31:00wanted. Place mats and napkins to match. And we made bread tray covers. And-

MA:These were with the women who came-

NMW:The women who did it. They would-

MA:These were the German immigrant women?

NMW:German refugees.

MA:Right. From Hitler.

NMW:Many of them could do beautiful hand work, they just didn't have the taste for American things. And that was my job, to have them make things that could be used in our country. We had made laundry bags. We made shoe bags. We made aprons that were great. We made coaster insets.


NMW:You know how when you put a glass down on coaster it sticks?

MA:Mm-hmm (affirmative)-mm-hmm (affirmative).

NMW:Well, we made little crochet coaster insets. I said bread tray covers. Serviette and crummer sets, you know what they are?

MA:That's to serve crackers, isn't it?

NMW:Yeah, and we made those. They were beautiful. And-

Speaker 3:Pardon me.

MA:And bibs?

NMW:Uh huh. And oh and oil cloth mats and matching bibs. And we had the child's name or even the word baby, or whatever it was. And we made covers for the dresses, clothes, and so forth.

NMW:Now I want to tell you something, next time Riley and Bob come I want you and Ronnie to come over.

MA:That we will. I want you to finish telling me about ... What other jobs did you do in council? Besides the workshop.

NMW:Then I had charge of the personnel. And, what else did I ... I've been on several committees, as you well know.

MA:Well, I know of a half a dozen.

NMW:Well and I'm just trying to think what I else I did.

MA:Do you remember when the Penny Lunch Program?

NMW:No, that was before my time.

MA:Well I thought they worked on that into the '30s and '40s? Perhaps I was, my time was off.

NMW:No, because the Penny Lunch was at the Floyd and [Jesimet 00:57:23]. That school there, and I know I ... That was really, I'm quite sure, before my time.

MA:Well perhaps the ... I guess, the school system had taken that over by then.

NMW:The biggest job I had, really, was this one with the new Americans. Because it really meant, there were so many involved and then so many different things to do. And then I also had ... I told you charge of the personnel. And what was 33:00this ... I did several other things. I don't know, I keep on doing for ... Then I told you, I've been on a lot of committees, one after another.

NMW:And I like to be on something. I mean, I like to do something. I'm just trying to think what else I chaired. I don't know I'll think about it when I get home.

NMW:You brought out enough for me that I had no idea about.

MA:Well, I want to thank you. It's been a delight.

MA:After we finished the interview, Naomi remembered a couple more things, so we're going to just start right back up again. It's the same day and the same time. But you wanted to tell me about your husband and his business.

NMW:The company made him a zone manager. Which was really quite a complement, because there weren't very many in the business. And-

MA:With a national firm?

NMW:It's a national firm. As I said, it was Ingersoll Rand. And, at the time it was Pendelton Tool Company, but it was merged with Ingersoll Rand since. The tools were hand forged tools. Hand forged mechanic's tools, that are considered exceptionally fine tools.

MA:Now did they make them here?


NMW:They make them in Los Angeles.

MA:He was in charge of selling?

NMW:He had half a dozen people working under him, so that he supervised these jobs and had sales meetings elsewhere to see-

MA:Was he handy?

NMW:Extremely so. He made a dollhouse for Riley's little girl, that was written up in the paper here in Louisville. In fact I have the picture at home.

MA:Oh that's lovely.

NMW:It's a two story place, electrically wired, and it has a living room, dining area, two bedrooms. The roof raises, so the various tools can be put in there. It has a chimney. It has steps that go up to it. It has a doorbell. It has all the furniture, that most of which either I made it or it was bought at Marshall Fields. And it's situated on a board, which forms a yard, which is covered with grass.

MA:That's lovely. Did he make-

NMW:It's measured one inch to a foot.


MA:Did he make things for the house?

NMW:He made a number of things for the house.

MA:I think that's marvelous.

NMW:He made some vases for us, a pair of very fine lamps that I had, and various other things he did for me. He made a [inaudible 01:00:39] bookcase and made it into a whatnot. And, took a ... Can't think of the name of the place in Cincinnati. Where there is a-

MA:And you sewed? You were a nice couple. It would've been nice to have been friendly with you when you were both ... Because I don't sew and Ronnie's not handy, and it would've been convenient for us to have been neighbors of yours 36:00when you were both-

NMW:Well, we had fun together. Because with the house, for instance, I made the drapes and it just finished off the things for him. You know? It worked out beautifully. But the thing that was so interesting was that the electrically arranged the things that he had done. And the whole ... In fact Riley and Bob had it on exhibit when they were in their home. And then Sally played with it afterwards, and now it's put away for whomever gets it next, you know? With all of its furniture and everything else.

NMW:I remember particularly well a pair of floor of lamps that were miniature copies of floor lamps we purchased from Strassles. Ben made those and electrified them. He electrified the house, so that all of it did not have to be lighted at the same time.

NMW:An actual deed of the house was gotten by Sadie Groman. A picture of the 37:00dollhouse, an explanation, by Helen Lepool in Louisville Courier Journal.

MA:One last thing is for you to add the other council projects you remember now.

NMW:I was chairman of the bulletin, publicity, hospitality, and retention and education. A group from council tutored English at Barry Junior High School. After that disbanded, it was discovered that I sewed and I was asked to remain in the capacity of assisting in the sewing classes of the home economics department, which I still do.

NMW:I have been on councils board ever since I've been a member of council.

MA:Naomi, thank you so much. It's really been a delight. And I appreciate it.

NMW:And I have certainly enjoyed it also, Marie. You've been great.

MA:Thank you. Mutual admiration society.