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´╗┐Mary Bobo:

This is Mary Bobo of U of L. oral history project. Today is February 28, 1979. Today I'm interviewing Ms. Evelyn Weiss. Her date of birth is 1906. She was born in Mobile, Alabama and presently lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Her parents names were Edna Solomon, born in Kentucky, and Milton Brown, born in 1878 in Mobile, Alabama.

M.B.:

Ms. Weiss, under what circumstances did you come to Louisville?

Evelyn Weiss:

I came as a visitor to visit family and met my husband, Dr. Weiss, who is in fact [inaudible 00:00:54] two years at that time. Having his family returned to Louisville to practice the cardiology after attending University of Louisville 1:00Medical School.

M.B.:

About what year was this? Do you remember?

E.W.:

This was 1930.

M.B.:

1930. Do you remember what your first impressions of Louisville were?

E.W.:

Well, I'd always loved Kentucky. All my friends in college seemed to have been Kentuckian. Had nothing to do with the fact that I had moved here. I always enjoyed Kentucky people. I've thought that Kentucky was a beautiful place and a very warm, tight community. And I thought it'd be a nice place to live, though I never had any idea that I would live here.

M.B.:

You mentioned roots, you do have a family heritage that goes back quite a few 2:00generations in Louisville. Could you tell us about this?

E.W.:

Well, I am fourth generation. My mother was born here. Here parents came to this country with what would be my great grandfather, the father of my grandmother who's name was ... [inaudible 00:02:29]. I'm thinking. Who do you think the grandfather...

M.B.:

So, your great grandmother's name then was Eva Bocksaw.

E.W.:

My grandmother was Eva Bocksaw and her father was J.S. Bach, and he was the 3:00oldest member coming to this country.

M.B.:

What business were the ancestors that you can remember involved in?

E.W.:

My grandfather had a number of small stores in the small communities, such as Elizabethtown, Pine grove, and other small towns through the state of Kentucky.

M.B.:

Did they ever live in Louisville-

E.W.:

Then when his children were school aged and so they could take advantage of attending school in the city he came to Louisville with his family, and he continued to have contacts with the stores that he had established and also went 4:00into other activities here in the city, and eventually lived here in town.

M.B.:

Now is it through this grandfather that you have a connection with your mother or with your father? I believe there was something about yellow fever [inaudible 00:04:24]

E.W.:

Well, my mother and father met due to the fact that my father's family came to visit relatives here during the yellow fever epidemic which struck the south. My mother met my father at this time, and they were subsequently married.

E.W.:

And then, of course, their life was in Mobile, where my father had his place of business.

5:00

M.B.:

Tell us something about your father's-

E.W.:

That business, interestingly enough, is now one of the oldest family businesses in the state of Alabama, having had it's hundredth anniversary in 1977.

M.B.:

What was this involved with? The business.

E.W.:

This was originally involved with the covering of cotton, and in later years has gone into different types of coverings under the main weather type, tall thorns.

M.B.:

Is this the name of the business? This-

E.W.:

[phonetic 00:05:50] Bram & Bram was the name of the business, and it still carries the same name. It's four generations of Brams.

6:00

M.B.:

Do you remember anything in particular about your family life as a child?

E.W.:

Oh, I remember it all.

M.B.:

Give us some of that.

E.W.:

Well, I was born, and reared to age 10 in the home in which my father was born, in which my grandmother lived for 55 years. At age 11 we built a new home in a different part of the city. That original home had been done now part of the restored area in Mobile.

M.B.:

Was this a time of upward mobility for other Jewish families around?

E.W.:

Time of?

M.B.:

Time of moving up and mobility, as far as prospering, when you moved to this 7:00second home?

E.W.:

Not necessarily. My grandfather's generation was the one who really came to this country with absolutely nothing, and they were the ones who prospered and did very well and had a large home, and I would say there was no difference in the circumstances, or one was in, like every city, the newer part of the city, but was not a step up socially or financially.

M.B.:

But this original home was in restoration area of Mobile for now?

E.W.:

Yes. It has been. When the last large interstate built highway went into the 8:00city, that land was taken, and the house was torn down, brick by brick, and rebuilt in another area which is now a restoration area. But they rebuilt the house completely.

M.B.:

Can you remember some special anecdotes about your childhood?

E.W.:

Yes. During one of the topical storms, for which the south was famous, and still is, I think Camille was the last one on the gulf coast. My grandmother stood at the window, watched the storm, and wrote her name, Elanora Brown, cut it into the glass window with her diamond ring. And when that house was torn down and 9:00restored my brother took the window, which was the original old English glass with the teardrops in it, and he now has that frame, and that's the one relic we have personally in the family from the old home.

M.B.:

That's interesting. Tell us about your schooling. Did you go to a Jewish school, or public school?

E.W.:

I attended the Barton Academy, which is also a landmark in the south. Was used during the civil war for the confederate soldiers. It's still a beautiful old building. It's no longer a school, I think, if I'm not mistaken, it belongs to the board of education, but Barton Academy is a landmark, and I'm a graduate of 10:00that. There were only two classes after I graduated before they had a modern school. At that time was the only high school in Louisville county, and from there with a great deal of effort I was able to get into Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland.

M.B.:

Did you have to go any place to complete for your last two years of high school? [crosstalk 00:10:44]

E.W.:

No, I didn't. It was ill-advised, I probably should have, because most people did, but I managed by taking extra courses to get in with enough credit, and thoroughly enjoyed my years at Goucher College.

11:00

M.B.:

Do you remember something about the synagogues that you attended as a young girl?

E.W.:

We had a very old, very beautiful synagogue that was the reformed temple, it was called the temple, not the synagogue, and that has since been the place for a very new, beautiful new [inaudible 00:11:37], and it's still a congregation about the same size as it was that many years ago.

M.B.:

Was there anything sort of binding as far as the community, the neighborhood was concerned, or the Jewish community that you can remember in Mobile? [crosstalk 00:11:56]

E.W.:

It was a very closely knit community. There was a lot of families 12:00inter-marriage. Not same families, but one family would marry into another family, and then the nieces and nephews of one family would marry back into the other family. And while there was no blood relationship marriages there were a lot of, yes, close... It was a very closely knit community.

E.W.:

It was a small city then, say sixty-thousand, now it's about two hundred and sixty five or three hundred-thousand, which makes a great difference, but that's true in all cities today. It was an almost entirely German-Jewish community.

M.B.:

Well let's move then in time from the time that you left Mobile and went to 13:00college. Then was it about this time that you came on to Louisville after finishing school and then met your Husband?

E.W.:

Yes.

M.B.:

Tell us a little bit about your early years here, your early marriage years.

E.W.:

Well, I enjoyed Louisville very much. Dr. Weiss was a Clevelander. So we were, more or less, strangers to the community, though he had ties through his being here during his years of medical school, and I had, by that time, very few amount of elderly relatives left, and we immediately felt very at home, very comfortable, and became part of the Adath Israel temple in 14:00which my mother had been confirmed and married, and which all of our family had attended, and then we became affiliated, my children all have confirmed and had all of their contacts there, and now the grandchildren have.

E.W.:

So we've always been closely associated with what is now Adath Israel Red shore. You know there's a consolidation of two temples.

M.B.:

Just for the record where was the location of this temple, Adath Israel?

E.W.:

On 3rd street, near York.

M.B.:

And I believe you're very close to the new temple that's been built.

E.W.:

The new temple's being built across the road here on [phonetic 00:14:58] Limekil Lane and 42 Highway.

15:00

M.B.:

Thinking back on those years, what were the things that you found here that gave a sense of community, in Louisville, and with Jewish people in general?

E.W.:

Well, I think it was a group of interested people. I think they were rather religiously oriented. I think it was a temple of, there again, a reformed temple, but it had deep roots with the early beginnings of reformed Judaism, being as close as we are to Cincinnati, and that was the seat where I began my start of refound Judaism, and I think it's always been a very active, 16:00interested, and a rather large congregation. I think we're about six hundred members.

M.B.:

Can you note any changes that have taken place in the congregation itself, and it's attitudes towards-

E.W.:

Well, it's going to be a great deal larger now than it has ever been, because we're in three hundred to six hundred, and that's going to be a large group, but there again I think it will be homogeneous, and our practices, and thoughts, and our interests look the same because we're all of the reformed persuasion, and we have rabbis who are interested, and the way you said- are being chosen now 17:00generally with the new American [inaudible 00:17:10] congregation is they have a overseer and suggester of policies.

E.W.:

And there is quite a lot of change, which is modern, and, I suppose, the right way to go, we hope so.

M.B.:

Do you see a continuation, though, of the traditions with your children and your grandchildren as you remember them being passed on to you?

E.W.:

Yes. Yes I do, but I think they choose to tune into closely knit families, which we have had, you're inclined to do in your home what your parents did, and we 18:00have kind of gone down through the year doing what the generation before did. Such as celebrating the Slater Service, and [inaudible 00:18:25] marking the holidays appropriately.

M.B.:

Can you think back on your various activities with organizations in Louisville, and some of the things that most influenced the development of, say, a particular organization that you were more involved with than some others?

E.W.:

Unfortunately for the last many years I have not gotten really involved, but I 19:00have always belonged to [phonetic 00:19:07] Her-datza for forty odd years. I was active in the counsel of Jewish Women. I was active in Adef-Israel sisterhood, and had three children confirmed in the temple, and they've always acted with the Sunday school, and all of this was many years ago. -

E.W.:

At this point the only activity I'm still continuing with is the Jewish community center group known as Club 60. With whom I have been active for some, I think, thirty-four years, and I continue to give them one day a week, and 20:00enjoy this. I have now become one of the senior citizens by quite a few years, but I started in my late thirties, early forties, working with them.

E.W.:

I've done other things. One of the things that I enjoy really the most was through the counsel of Jewish women, some eight or ten years ago, I did volunteer teaching. That was counsel project, and I worked at Barry jr. High, and it was a very wonderful, successful, from the standpoint of helping these under-privileged children. I think I had more satisfaction doing this than almost anything I ever did, because they just bloomed like flowers with the 21:00one-to-one training, which we were able to do, that was a counsel of Jewish women project which eventually taken over for board of education.

M.B.:

Sounds nice, well done. With your own children, are they now going through the Jewish day school, or Jewish Hebrew school? Are they involved with public schools?

E.W.:

Well that would be my grandchildren.

M.B.:

Grandchildren I mean.

E.W.:

I have three children: A doctor, an attorney, and one daughter who has three children, and I have seven grandchildren ranging in ages from six to twenty-two. Most of them have been through the Sunday school. Some of them have gone to the private school, some of them have gone to public school. I guess that, evenly 22:00divided, and they're almost, excepting the three, have reached seniors in high school, some years in college, and I have one six year old who's still involved in Sunday school, or just getting involved in Sunday school, but that's the grandchildren's generation rather than my children.

M.B.:

Go back to your own children. They were here in Louisville-

E.W.:

My only children went all through public school here in Louisville. I think my son was in one of the last classes of male high school, male high school as such, just a school for boys. My daughter graduated from Atherton. I believe it was already educational, just about. They seemed to come 23:00along about the time of all the new ideas in education, and then my youngest son graduated from Atherton. That's Dr. Morris Weiss, Emily Padsworth, and Alan Weiss.

M.B.:

Going back again for a few minutes, tell me something about how you remember world war two days here in Louisville, and the [crosstalk 00:23:39] days leading up to it.

E.W.:

Oh, they were very rugged times. My husband was not in the service, he was kept here as what was called... Let me see, I have to give you the right 24:00terminology... As one who was needed in the community. He examined the soldiers for induction every day, for half a day. He taught at the medical school. He continued to practice medicine, because so many of the doctors were in service. He had a twenty-four hour day, and that was a very, very strenuous time, but he's doing the time with the children growing up, and we managed to have as much as possible a family life, we spent very little through those years, and that 25:00must have been at least four years that my husband came home so low that we hardly knew he was there.

M.B.:

Thinking back on the years leading back to world war two, of course it was such a terrible time for Jewish people in Europe, some of the individuals we have talked to had relatives to come over during this time. Now I realize your family has been here for many years, but do you have close friends, or distant relatives that-

E.W.:

I have quite a few friends, and I worked with a friend who was so very, very active with the counsel, Selma Clingal is a legend in the community now and, 26:00unfortunately, passed away several years ago now, but not before she was given all sorts of honors for the work she did, but she did a great deal in helping to establish homes, and make these people comfortable when they came to Louisville, and there were quite a lot who came, and I enjoyed working with her and helping her with that, and we did everything we could, and gave everything that wasn't being used and so-forth to settle homes, and places for them to live, and try to get them jobs and make them feel at home.

M.B.:

Well this would be a difficult job at any time, but did you feel any support 27:00from the community at large in doing this?

E.W.:

I think that the community did a wonderful job, yes I do, and I think Selma McClean's really the backbone of a lot of it, or at least the part in which I was involved. I'm sure there are a lot of other people who were involved, but I worked actively with her, and I knew her, and she was, I'm sure [inaudible 00:27:36] in the community, because her husband, still [inaudible 00:27:42] He's working now with the elderly, and everything good to them, for them, [inaudible 00:27:52] another way.

M.B.:

What you find really is that people who just really cared about other people have been involved in these organization, or the different projects that you-

28:00

E.W.:

I think that's true of most organizations, don't you? The ones who really get the things done are the ones who feel it deeply within them, and feel the urge to do it, and a responsibility to do it. I think that's true with every organization and every walk of life, regardless of religion, any other circumstances. I find it's have done good work with the ones who really feel, who are the do-ers, and if they do one thing they do another. The more things the real do-ers, or if you want somebody to help you to do something, you ask one of these busy people, and it's an old expression, I know, but they've done 29:00things through the years. So many of them are gone, and some of them moved away from the city, but we have always had a very active Jewish community that's done a lot of outstanding work in the city, as well as the ones that've come to the city, And right now they're doing a very good job with the ones that are coming from Russia.

M.B.:

Tell us something that you know of this?

E.W.:

Well, I've been involved with a few of these people from their coming to Club 60. They're a lot of young people who are able to come, and know the language, and are able to find a place, a niche in the community, and a place for themselves. It's the older people who are so lost, and they come to Club 60, we try to make them feel at home, and we've had some very interesting, very 30:00knowledgeable people with good grams, and who have had professions in their native country. Some are able to fit in because they are able to grasp the language. I have experience with one in particular who was capable, charming, pleasant, wanted to co-operate, and simply could not manage because she couldn't master [inaudible 00:30:43] which that makes it very difficult, but generally speaking these people find their place, and they learn the language, and fall into things very nicely.

31:00

E.W.:

And there's Club 60, which is a group of elderly right at 60, they're a great many German people who have been in this country for twenty years, thirty years, who are still active and have a lot to give and to offer, and some of the ones that come in recent years have fallen right in to be able to cope with the new country. Once in a while you find one who has problems that we try to, through the federation, and the [inaudible 00:31:40] handle just to help them.

M.B.:

Are these people generally locating throughout the community, or they either came close to the community center? Can you tell?

E.W.:

Some of them are, it's a very nice thing if we can, because there are so many activities, and now they're building- [silence 00:32:02]

32:00

M.B.:

To community. Tell me more about this home that's being built.

E.W.:

Well, it's an apartment house really, it's not considered a home as such, and people may put in their request, because we have a lot of local people too, elderly people who are still living at home, who think it's time to get away from the responsibilities. And as I understand it, and I'm not an authority on this, the rental will be [inaudible 00:32:55] so that people are able to pay, 33:00and that looks as if it won't be too long before it's available. Most of these relations, the ones whom I have come in contact with, and that's a small, I'm sure, minority of people who have them live in the highland, and a few of them who I've known closely have lived on the streets around [inaudible 00:33:35] to the community center for activities.

M.B.:

Let's go back again for a few minutes, I'm interested in pursuing a bit further this matter of your family going back so far in Kentucky history. I believe you said that your father's family came during the yellow fever epidemics. Do you remember where they lived, and tell us the circumstances-

34:00

E.W.:

Well they came here as visitors to Adolph Moses' family, and where the Adolph Moses family lived at that time I don't know, but it was almost everybody lived in what is now called the inner-city. My mother was married in a home next door to the... What do you call the historical club? It is the Philton Club. She was married, but it was at addresses right next door to the Philton Club. two of those houses have been put together for the Philton Club, the one next door to it was where my mother was living when she was married, and the people lived in that general area.

35:00

E.W.:

When I was a very young child and visited here they were living on 2nd street, 3rd street, 4th street close to the town areas, and then I think they moved a little farther out. I had family living at 1910 South 3rd, which is right after the monument of the university. From there the same people moved into the highlands, but closer into town than the highlands. I don't think there was ever a community where people moved as often, and out farther, and farther, and farther, because many cities aren't built so that you can do that. They have 36:00surrounded by water, or they have one reason or another that you can't just keep going. Then by the time I married and came to Louisville the Jewish community in the highlands had gotten out about as far as eastern parkway, and then they continued to move out Bardstown road,

E.W.:

And I tell you, another organization which was very active with them, I don't know why it slipped my mind, is the Heart Association. Dr. Weiss established the Heart Association with one Bob Thornberry who was just getting ready to retire at age 75 I think. He was the executive secretary, and he and Marty went all over the state of Kentucky and established the Heart Association, which will be 37:00thirty years old in June of this year. They celebrated their twenty-ninth anniversary this year, and the...[inaudible 00:37:26] you asked me a question...

E.W.:

When I was working with the Heart Association we felt that if you got out as far as, say [inaudible 00:37:45], that was way out in the highlands. Before we got through we discovered that we had gotten out as far as Gardnerland, and then as 38:00far as Basewood Manor, and, as now the city has grown, out Barbstand, Browns-burr road, and we're just a much bigger community than we were before, and this particular area at Brows-burr road ran the line between [inaudible 00:38:28] seems to be the active area now that people have known, and have felt...

M.B.:

I believe you mentioned to me that you have at least one rabbi in your family tree too, did you not?

E.W.:

We've had several. Rabbi Moses, Adolph Moses, was the first, and that was three generations ago, and then his son was a rabbi in Mobile where I grew up, and he 39:00both confirmed and married me and my family, and I had two close cousins who have been married to rabbi. One who's passed away, and one who's in that rabbi narrative, and yes, that makes about two rabbis in my family.

M.B.:

Miss, we spoke to you, and your husband has been so active in the community, and in the care of heart patients, and I know this is a subject dear to your heart. Were you ever very active in the drive yourself, in the Heart Association?

E.W.:

Yes. In the first place something that my husband many, many times on the strips that he laid through the state of Kentucky establishing the Heart Association 40:00within the smaller cities, and then after his death I was chairmen of Heart Sundays for the women's group for the role in Jefferson county, Heart Sunday drive, and for a number of years after that I was on the board of Louisville and Jackson county Heart Association.

M.B.:

Mrs. Weiss, at this point would you tell me something about Dr. Weiss' interest in rare medical books? I believe he was quite a collector.

E.W.:

Yes he was, starting from the time he was in medical school, and going through, right up to the end of his life. He was a searcher, and you usually found 41:00something of interest, and had no duplicates, but hand approximately six-thousand volumes which, upon his death, my, our, three children: Dr. Weiss, Emily Chrysler, Alan Weiss, and I decided to give to University of Louisville medical library. I understand from the librarian they've been greatly used, and much appreciated, and they're grateful that these books, which were, many, very rare, have been not only appreciated, but used, and gives exposure.

42:00

E.W.:

Well, in case anybody is interested in my grandmother, she came from [crosstalk 00:42:19], spoke French, and German, and wrote both languages fluently, and continued to correspond with her family, some younger ones who were still oriental. She was eighty-six years old.

M.B.:

And this was your grandmother here in Louisville, or in Mobile?

E.W.:

No, this is my grandmother in Mobile, who was Eleanor [phonetic 00:42:49] Heizekslan.

M.B.:

Well Mrs. Weiss, we just really appreciate you talking with us today, and any time you have anything you want to add to the tapes just give us a call, and 43:00we'll be right out.

E.W.:

Well, thank you very much. I appreciate you coming to me, and I enjoyed getting to know you, and wish you also luck with your continuing of this very worth-while activity. [silence 00:43:24]