Sandy was born in Cleveland, Ohio, though at the age of nine months his family moved to Los Angeles, CA, where he grew up in a new, and largely Jewish, housing development in West LA. After college and graduate school, he moved to Minnesota, to teach at the University of Minnesota. He and his wife Carol have been members of Mount Zion for about 17 years, and were married 39 years ago, in a ceremony that was officiated by Mount Zion’s Rabbi Leigh Lerner in the living room of their home. Sandy continues to teach statistics at the University, where he has been for nearly 43 years.
Where did you go to school?
I went to high school and college in California, then graduate school. I changed coasts and I went to the east. To some unnamed school in the east.
What was the name of the unnamed school in the east?
My real first name is Harvey, and people often thought that my real first name was the name of the college (Harvard).
That’s it. See, you learn new things by putting a microphone in front of a person.
I’ve often wondered how my parents came up with my name. My mother was an immigrant, and my father’s parents were immigrants. So how they came up with two Anglo Saxon names – Harvey Sanford – I’ve never been able to figure that out. It’s always been a mystery to me.
How did you come to be called Sandy?
That’s another story. I was always Sandy till I started first grade, then they put this sign on my chest that said ‘Harvey’. It scared the holy crap out of me. I cried for two days.
What is the most cherished photograph that you have?
So the first thing that pops into my head. My mother was raised by her grandmother who lived in a mill, in a shtetl in Czechoslovakia.
And one photograph of her mother, my great grandmother, survives and it’s on the counter in our family room. And it’s a photograph of this little, very old Jewish lady. She’s wearing a scarf, and she looks older than anybody.
And I like it a lot.
I don’t know her first name. My mother’s family name on her passport was Miller, because they owned the mill. But it was actually Marton, I do know that. My nephew has turned into a genealogist.
What’s the poorest you’ve ever been?
I moved here in 1972, and I had $300 in the bank, and a Mastercard. And I was going to live on the Mastercard, but it turned out when I got here that they didn’t take Mastercard in Minnesota. So I came here with $300, and that’s all.
I lived on borrowed money from my then Department Chair for about six months. I had two or three pieces of furniture I bought for about $30 at Goodwill, and that was about it. But it got better after that.
Once the checks started to come in?
Well about the third check, because I had to pay him back.
I was paid $11,000 a year, actually for nine months, as an Assistant Professor. We now hire people at about $85,000 a year, so a little more.
And now they take Mastercard in Minnesota.
But I don’t have one.