Rosemary and Raymond moved to the Twin Cities from Saint Louis 14 years ago, to be closer to family, and have been members of Mount Zion ever since. They were both born and raised in Saint Louis, and for 25 years were members of a small, 100 member Reform congregation there that has since disbanded.
Rosemary and I were both from St. Louis. We met at a fraternity affair and got really friendly in a Chevrolet coupe.
I don’t think we need to go there.
There were five other guys in the coupe.
Have you ever experienced anti-semitism?
Yeah, when I was in the army in Chicago in 1945. I met a guy and he became pretty friendly with me for about two weeks and then all of sudden he dropped me like a hot potato – and all I could figure out was that he finally found out that I was Jewish. No, we never said anything about it – he didn’t want to have anything to do with me.
Tell us something about your grandmother.
You must mean my mother’s mother, I didn’t know my father’s mother. My grandmother lived with us for a long time. Mostly the thing that I remember about her was that she used to hover over me when I was eating, and as soon as I finished eating she grabbed the dish and would put it in the sink. It was her job to clean up. Her name was Ida. She was born in Rumania.
And on Friday I used to go the fish market with her, to buy a carp that she’d bring home and put it in the bathtub, and she would cut it up and make gefilte fish out of it.
Was it still alive?
Yeah, it was alive in the bathtub. It worried me, too, because I always thought it would escape down the drain.
The best piece of advice from your parents?
Oh my God. My father never gave me any advice. But what I learned from him was that you need to do hard work and get the job done. Hard work and get the job done. So I got that from him without him saying a word.
What do you remember about your Bar Mitzvah?
I remember I was scared. I think had a small part in the Shabbos morning service. Not like we make the kids do now. Probably read a few lines out of the Torah.
I had just gotten glasses. I got glasses a year before. I don’t know why I remember that.
A lot of my family was there. There was one guy that showed up that I had never seen before. His name was Morris. Big Morris. Cause there was another Morris. Little Morris. Big Morris and Little Morris. One was an uncle and the other was a great uncle.
And I never saw Big Morris again.
He gave me five bucks and that was it.