SHERMAN: This is Robert W. Sherman, Field Representative for the WisconsinJewish Archives, and Mrs. Joseph Baron interviewing Mr. Robert Hess of Milwaukee on February 3, 1965 about his anecdotes and--
SHERMAN: Reminiscences of the Jewish Community in Milwaukee.
HESS: Well I think in the first place, we ought to get acclimatized to theperiod and area of which I shall speak. I'm trying to bespeak Jewish life as I knew it, in what was at that time known as the Ghetto. Of course, the ghetto as such is merely a euphemism, even at that time, there were Jews living outside the periphery of the ghetto. They were the rich Jews. They were to a large 1:00extent Jews who had been here prior to the coming of East European Jewry for some decades. But largely, the Jewish Community of Milwaukee as I knew it and I'm speaking circa 1905 to about 1920. I say, the Jewish community as I knew it, was circumscribed in an area, which I would loosely denote beginning on Lee Street and Sixth, going west to about Thirteenth, Fourteenth, or Fifteenth Street and north, just a few blocks beyond what is now known as Walnut Street. In that area, [coughing] and in that area, I observed the kind of Jewish life 2:00that is now in my opinion becoming more of history and museum than real. The second and third generation moved away and as you know have proliferated throughout the whole county and country for that matter. But let's try to concentrate on what was the Jewish life at that period to which, well say from 1905 up. On the first place, it was a very changing scene, immigration was still vibrant, Jews were coming in-in large numbers. I'll remind you that in this connection that not until the Johnson Immigration Bill was there any stoppage of 3:00Jewish immigration, and a good many came from the East, sent largely by organizations who didn't want 'em all concentrated in the Eastern borders and so they went West. It was a conglomerate. Most of us, most of them were small business grocery stores, delicatessen shops, shoe shops, small impecunious kind of businesses. A great many, great-great many were peddlers.
Let's understand, an immigrant would come and usually attached himself to alanzman, somebody who came from his section of Europe. A lanzman himself was a man who was probably of very modest means, probably himself a peddler. And so 4:00this new arrival sometimes with family, mostly without, would attach himself to a lanzman and he began to peddle. Ohh first, there was a pushcart operation, and then as he prospered, he probably saved up enough money and got a little help from others to buy what he called a ferrdel, which is a diminutive of a little horse. I recall in this connection that the horse dealer of that time was a...the horse dealers were a couple of brothers known as Tolkan Brothers, T-o-l-k-a-n. There are all sorts of anecdotes of that period speaking of the chicanery of the Tolkans in regard to their victims that they sold horses that didn't match up to representations. I recall vividly one when I was already in 5:00the law with Joe Padway, one of these victims came in and complained bitterly of the Tolkan Brothers. Oh they were crooks, they were in there where they picked up enough to call them "sons of bitches" and "thieves." "And look," he said. "He sold me a horse and he guaranteed," he said, "he was win broke and so I didn't know any different, I bought him and so I put him on the wagon and he don't pull. So I think maybe I got to give him more oats, so I buy him oats. I buy him hay, but work, nothing. Now I don't know what to do Mr. Hess." They never called me Hess as they couldn't pronounce the "H," you know. "Oh what shall I do?" But what could you do? They complained bitterly that 6:00they were always cheated, how true it is, I don't know, but I do know that the Tolkan Brothers were the distributors of the horses for the peddlers.
But let's go on, most of them were peddlers they [pause] made a precariousliving. Their economic situation was [pause] hardly enviable, notwithstanding as was the custom of those days, these peddlers saved penny to penny to get enough money to bring the family and ultimately most of them did bring their family. They were boarders and it is peculiar they had to board not only themselves but the horse, and we had in those days a good deal of litigation between tenant and 7:00landlord as to the position the horse had in the deal. Then there were, of course, as I said little stores, there were a lot of delicatessen stores. Oh some of the children of these people have become quite known, but their origins were in this ghetto area.
Now in this ghetto area, there was some professional life, very limited, I thinkas I recall it, when Joe and I got into the practice that it was 1912, I believe, there might have been, not too exceed, oh a half-dozen other lawyers. There were very few physicians that I remember. I remember a Doctor Nahin, N-a-h-i-n, a Jewish doctor. My father, who came on the scene in about 1902, was 8:00the second Jewish doctor. Then later there came Doctor Markson, charming man who was in general practice and then went into the specialty of [pause] skin. What do you call that?
HESS: Dermatologist. He is the father of another well-known dermatologistpracticing now in Milwaukee. There were a limited number in professional life, most of them at that time depended still upon non-Jewish physicians and lawyers for that matter. Life was hard, life was complicated and yet because of the period, it was also simple. For instance, we didn't have [pause] oh radio, we 9:00didn't have television, very few of us had telephones. Good deal of the amusement of the time was concentrated in the early days of the motion picture, and in this connection it might be interesting to note that the first motion picture was a neighborhood house, so to speak. For the second was on Twelfth and Walnut, where Walnut and Fond du Lac intersect. And I had the distinct privilege, I think it is, of being one of the early lecturers. Now you've got to remember, to whom I was talking, in the first place, the instrument of the motion picture was a very much underdeveloped thing. It would surprise you now...now that you got fair ladies, and color, and all the modern-- 10:00
HESS: Sound and acoustical and so forth. It was very primitive. For instance, Irecall very vividly that there were no titles. As a matter of fact, on the screen itself there were cross lines to indicate the periphery where the actors could go because it all depended upon focusing them in the camera, so it was sort of a stilted operation. Now, the duty of the lecturer was very simple. He had to tell the story to the audience and he was in a precarious position depending whether the audience accepted him or not. Now as matter of fact, if they didn't accept you, they weren't kind about it, they'd knock the hell outta you.
HESS: They really would, and so we had bouncers, bouncers to protect the11:00lecturer. As a matter of fact, one of our bouncers became [pause] oh, err, oh--
HESS: Shut that a minute. Let me think of that word. Became the head of theCustoms Department in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was our bouncer, because it was all your life was worth if you didn't happen to hit him right. As a matter of fact, we had another tactic, if things were too quiet, we picked a fight in order to maintain our dignity to make 'em understand who was boss. It was an interesting period. It was the time when Jewish life was beginning to get acclimatized to their environmental conditioning. And I had the rather unique 12:00experience of translating the picture in the framework of what this Jewish life understood. In other words, I was the voice of the picture and you became more or less of a hero to the audience, because you made this thing vivid to them. And, of course, I would interject a good deal of jargon, using all of the localisms and phrases that they understood. It was cheap entertainment and the only kind of entertainment we had. You go out today and you go to "Fair Lady," I think you pay three and a half. They used to get in there for a nickel. As a matter of fact, it was called the nickel show. Pictures changed, I think either two or three times a week and there was a constant flow of nickels coming 13:00into the box office. It was an interesting period. Now, there were all sorts of characters within the area and periphery that I am describing. They always had unique names, in...they brought over from the old country. A woman might be known as "Sera del herbata," Sarah the Hunchback, that was her synonym, Sera del herbata, or "Mush the hinkendinker," Morris the Cripple, one who dragged his foot one after the other. They had all sorts of nicknames, but by God they went through life that way. That's what they were. If "Serka the herbata" lived to be a hundred-and-nine, she would be still "Serka the herbata." 14:00
It was in that period that Joe Padway and I began the practice of law. Theactual period begins in 1912, and maintains until both he and I had gotten out of the area and came, quote, "donton." The sphere of our work was limited to the kind of clientele we had. Now what was that clientele? Well there were storekeepers, who sold their stores, landlords, who laid leases, contracts, occasionally a personal injury case. As a matter of fact, we lived on those, the others were just bread and butter, without very much bread or butter. And oh, but I got a tremendous background of Jewish life because of that. I must say 15:00also in connection with that, that we had a druggist right next door to our office. Our offices were on Ninth and Walnut. On the northeast corner of Ninth and Walnut, there was a drugstore that had been there for years, but in our time was owned and occupied by a fellow by the name of Schoenkerman, a charming [pause] intellectual with a great sense of humor. And it was at that store that I acquired a great deal of the feel, and what I might call in Jewish the 'tumb,' of Jewish life of that period. Schoenkerman as the druggist, by the way 16:00Schoenkerman has, [pause] I know, at least two children oh living here who are physicians. The girl as I remember it, is a graduate physician, but married to a physician. I don't know whether she's active in the practice. I think her husband's name is Stern. The boy, of course, is Schoenkerman. Schoenkerman was a character in himself. A Russian Jew with a fine background, and like so many of his generaÂtion, came to America and [pause] struggled through, became a druggist and subsequently, subsequent to his pharmaceutical degree, became a physician. It was in this drugstore that I, as I said before, got a good deal of the feel of community and what we call community standards of Jewish life at 17:00that time. Recall it with me if you will, that the Jewish pharmacists of that day or as he was called the 'druggist.' The 'druggist' was the source of all information, not only pharmaceutical, legal, marital, everything that happened, they came to the 'druggist.' They came to the 'druggist' when they were arrested. They came to the 'druggist' for comfort and Boris, that was Schoenkerman's first name. Boris was a very sympathetic ear. Now you must remember that Joe and I had a law office right next door. Now you can understand that in the daytime, we didn't do anything. Sure, at night we were what the Jews 18:00call a Yarid, a market place. The place was filled with clientele and if at the end of the evening, we had nine dollars apiece in the till, it was a lot. So in the daytime, we had nothing to do and I spent an awful lot of time in Schoenkerman's, because as I told you, you never knew who'd walk in. I must tell you, one that I remember vividly, it's mostly in Jewish, but I'll give it to you for the record, if those who hear this will understand it, good, if not, at least I've given you my impressions.
There walked into Schoenkerman' s store one day a rather corpulent "gezentaeathener," one of those broad backed type with a fachelic over her head. A fachelic is a handkerchief. They were still orthodox, they didn't have 19:00their own hair. In Jewish law, as you know, when a Jewish girl got married, she cut her hair, they wore a parick, and over this "parick" they had a fachelic. A fachelic is simply what we now call a "babushka." So she ambles into this drugstore and has a crumpled piece of paper in her hand, hands it to Schoenkerman and says, "Mr. druggist man sachjeck ma trea." I'll translate as I go along, "...please take notice," "ehobdo," I have here, "aclana rasepala," a small prescription. "Rasepala," translated means prescription, it's a Russian word. Now get the significance of this, she said she had a "clana," small, rasepala, now rasepala is the diminutive, understand. 20:00Now, avowedly and with purpose it, was a rasepala because a resep would cost more.
SHERMAN: Oh, yes.
HESS: So, it was a rasepala. "Sadjac ma trea ibe," good enough to tell me"this'll that was miscosten." What will it cost me? So he looks at it and says, "Oh, adus Mrs. Golfarb dus a da costen acarat teny five nine sic cent." "Teny fiv nine sic cent, Ban te teaner." Which means for voce, for what? "For nine proshackays?" Now get the continuity, a proshack is the Russian word for [pause] the Russian word for powder. In other words, apparently the doctor had told her that this prescription would come in nine 21:00powders. So to go on, she said, "for vois?" For what? Remember, he's asking for ninety-five cents for nine powders! "Whic meansta servox miens groutten blotter.'' Do you think we get money from the streets, from blotters? "[Inaudible]." So he sees the kind of a customer he's got, he says, "if istinckis.'' You don't understand, Mrs. Goldfarb. "In dem proshacken." In this powder, "Forrizine gredient," such an ingredient" "Which cost calenasa gilt sa hast cocaine hastes, cocaine, cocaine." So she burst out, "Wis haste porcaine remark badetainor cocaine hein cocaine have. In bacertva nine fisic cent fer nine proshackays." I mean those are the types he dealt with, he had the patience of Job. He should have thrown her out on her big 22:00fanny, [laughter] but that wasn't 'the way to handle 'em at that time. Or, a kid came in from the neighborhood. I'll never forget this one. One of these little bit of a tots, maybe six or seven or eight years old and hands the 'druggust' on a piece of rough, remember they had err wrapping paper for butchers shops...
HESS: Remember that? Very thick, and on it is written, apparently written by anolder child, "Please Mister Druggustman man, please, with the enclosed boy send for ten cents ipecac, my mother wants to break." Now you got to understand what's back of this. Mother wants to break is a very loose translation of ray mama del brecken, you know? Heave up. That was called brecken. So this is 23:00translated freely, "Please, Mister druggust man, please with the enclosed boy, send for ten cents ipecac." Ipecac was something to induce vomiting. "My mama wants the break."
HESS: Those were the type of clientele we had or he had, but not only that, hewas, as I said, sort of an oracle, everything that he said was, was accepted. And he really was square about them, if they had an ear ache he would send them to an ear doctor, if they had a legal problem he'd send them to the well-known firm of Padway and Hess and, but the main thing is I'm trying to give you a picture of the changing life of that period. They also came in to him with their marital troubles, and as a matter of fact he acted much in the same way as the 24:00family court acts now. He would try to amend, he would try to bring them together. If he couldn't, he'd send them next door to Padway and Hess. There was also in that period [pause] a social life of a certain significance for the growing kids, I can recall vividly, we had no escape except we'd go to lake park for a picnic. Now Lake Park was really a venture, if we lived on Ninth and Walnut, we had to take at least two or maybe three transfers to get to Lake Park.
The morale of the period was so entirely different. I can recall my ownexperience, my father was a physician, he died in 1907, and this then was prior 25:00to that, and I had gone with my sisters, at least one of them that I remember, Annette, who is now a woman in the seventies still practicing medic-dentistry, and I had my girlfriend and we went to Lake Park. Now what in God's name could we a do in Lake Park that was vicious? In those days, hell a fellow wouldn't dare to take a girl's hand, if he surreptitiously reached out for her hand and petted it that was as far as the guy would dare, compared to the moralities of today. So, we got back. We got back, I think, a little before eleven o'clock p.m. Now mind you, this was after we'd been there and had our roast, what do you call the...As we walked in, the first thing I knew, I got a smack over my 26:00jaw from my father without any explanation, but he didn't limit himself to me, he gave another resounding smack to my sister, Annette. He couldn't imagine how any decent people would be out after ten. I mean that was the standard of moral. Again, apropos of the standards, the morals change. If a woman in those days were to come to Bradford Beach and didn't have her bathing suit down to her ankles, she'd be arrested for indecency, absolutely. Today, if she came that way she'd be arrested for violating the peace, a riot would occur. You know, the changes of morals. Again, I can remember very vividly in Jewish life, the 27:00consternation that I remember in the neighborhood when we found that one Jewish woman living two or three houses away from ours, we lived at 903 Walnut Street, was smoking a cigarette. Cigarette smoking was only the privilege of the whores, the women of easy virtue. Painting their lips that was unheard of. They had a very strict, limited sense of liberties in the sense that we know them now. I only mention this in passing because the whole standards have...are in the distant past. We didn't have an opportunity. We didn't have movies, we didn't have...we had a very limited theatre, if you could afford it. Who the hell had twenty-five cents to go to the gallery of the Davidson? If you did, 28:00you saved for fourteen days to be able to take in the show. Then, the whole standards were different. There was a much more cohesive family life. Sundays, we usually gathered, the kids I'm speaking of, around the piano and we sung the classics of those days, whatever they were. There was very little opportunity to go beyond that. Occasionally, we went to West Park, which is now Washington Park or Lake Park, but that was a day's outing. If a guy wanted to take his girl out, he had to have no less than twenty-five, thirty cents. I can remember even when I was already a lawyer in my courting days, I was limited because my income was 29:00very little, I'd take my lovely Sarah and we'd go to a place called Jacob's on Third and State. It was a famous beer hall, where they had a free lunch counter, and I want to tell you those counters were full of beautiful, editable foods. So you'd get your girl a glass of beer and a glass of beer for yourself, linger and eat fifty cents worth of food in the process. But it was a very interesting life and the thing that I like to think of is what emerged from it, from these rather insignificant, hard beginnings. If you think in terms of the [pause] the offspring of these people and the offspring of the offspring, you see to what a 30:00far extent Jewish life has progressed in the area that I speak of and I like to feel that it isn't only true of Milwaukee, it's true generally. That very thing also had its other side. The assimilation between Jew and non-Jew. The freedoms that came in is probably one of answers to the problem that confronts Jewish life today of the [pause] getting away from Jews and Judaism and so on. There it probably...there it expresses itself in intermarriage and a freedom that their grandfathers never had. Now whether their grandfathers lived a richer life in the Jewish sense or not really is a debatable question, but what I'm trying to tell you in this discussion is to give you a sort of over tones of the life 31:00that I knew in the ghetto.
Now, I want to bespeak another thing. There were [pause] outstanding charactersin that era. There were some who occupied [pause] governmental stature. I remember Mr. Schlomovitz, who was the bailiff of the United States District Court for the eastern district of Wisconsin here in the post office. Really, his job as bailiff was a very insignificant thing in the makeup of the judiciary on the third floor of the Federal building, but the fact that he was bailiff gave him a pedestal and they looked up to him as though he were God himself. And he 32:00also became the focus. He focused everybody to him, that he took a little bit of an advantage of the situation is neither here nor there. Finally, and for the purpose of this reading, we'll probably have more, I'd like to say this; When I look at Jewish life as I knew it, in what was then the so called ghetto, and I look at what has become of the ghetto, I go up Walnut Street every so often. I needn't tell it has become completely colored, the the houses that I knew, the house where my mother ran the lying in hospital, the home of Schlomovitz who was the bailiff, the home of oh, I forget his name, the doctor who lived next door 33:00to us. All demolished, all becoming part of the urbanry. The stores we used to frequent; the store across the street, run by Weiss, W-e-i-s-s, the delicatessen, run by Mr. Feder whose daughter is now a very prominent figure in the Labor-Zionist movement. I think she was or is the president the Women Pioneer. What I think of another grocery man, whose daughter is now head of the Legal Aid Society. What I think of all the kids that grew up there, what became of them and what became of the children of the children, where they are and I 34:00see the tremendous development, the enlarging of the scope, the opportunities that we have and I go back to the raw beginnings, I have a kaleidoscopic view of Jewish life from let's say 1900 to 1960. Let me give you an aside that is interesting, among others, one of the now greats that emanated from that period in that area and that kind of parentage was Golda Meir, now Prime, not Prime Minister, but Foreign, Foreign Minister of Israel. I knew her very well. It so happened that she was a Socialist and I was a Socialist and we were both members of the Central Committee of the Socialist Party. At that time, it was customary 35:00to have soap boxes speeches and both she and I--
SHERMAN: Uh, we are going to continues this on the reverse side of this tape,uh, talking about Golda Meir.
SHERMAN: This is side two of the record recording of Robert Hess interviewed byRobert W. Sherman and Mrs. Baron of Milwaukee.
HESS: Shall I go on?
HESS: I don't know how far the last tape was, we were speaking about GoldaMeir. Her maiden name was Golda Meir, oh Mabowitz, M-a-b-o-w-i-t-z. She came with her parents approximately, I don't know exactly, but somewhere around 36:001905 or 1906 or maybe a little later. As I said, she was a very ardent Socialist [pause] and an ardent Zionist, save as she expressed her Zionism in what is known as the Labor-Zionist Movement and I was in the, so called Alga minor, general Zionist movement. We both were members of the Central Committee of the Socialist Party and each of us used to go out on Saturdays or whenever the stores were open on soap boxing in behalf of the Socialist Party. I remind you too, this is an aside, that Socialism had quite a vogue in that period. In fact, we elected the first Socialist Mayor of Milwaukee in 1910. Uh, she was very 37:00active as a Zionist and active as a, as a Socialist, and I don't recall exactly, but in the early part of the period after 1910, she went to Israel and became increasingly important and as her party, Mapie, became dominant, she became a dominant person in the movement, and I have always thought of her as one of the outstanding women world over, in so far as Zionism and Jewish life is concerned. She has reached proportions which she richly deserves. She is a very charming and dedicated personage to the movement, but to revert back, her 38:00beginnings were in Milwaukee. As a matter of fact, I think she got a degree from the Normal School here, taught school here for a while, and shortly thereafter went to what is now Israel, then Palestine, in its very primitive days, began her early life in Israel in a kibbutz and grew to the proportions that we now know her. She's a woman approximately, I would say, in middle sixties, sixty-five or thereabouts and I've always thought of her with most affectionate consideration, because of her beginnings and her subsequent dedication to Jews and Jewish life and especially the re-establishment of Israel as a homeland for 39:00the Jews.
Now let me digress and tell you about another guy, another person. We had afellow here by the name of Strelzin, S-t-r-e-l-z-i-n. A very [pause] acute, able businessman who subsequently went to New York, and I don't know, counts his riches in millions. His contribution to Milwaukee was limited, but it's interesting to note that he too had his beginnings in Milwaukee. As a matter of fact, his father was a talmud...
HESS: No, no. Hebrew school, talmudturder and many of the kids recall his fatherand especially his mother, whom I remember as a very gentle, loving Jewish woman 40:00of the old school. And let me say this and if I make no other impression with this interview, I want to go on record, having lived pretty richly myself in both the general life of the community and Jewish life in reaching now to the late seventies. I think the period that I speak of and especially the Jewish woman, the Jewish mother, the "mama" of that period, we'll never have her like again. She was the repository of all that was worthwhile for her family. She was a devoted mother, devoted wife, struggled with her husband and both of them had a weather eye not so much upon their present, but as to their future, 41:00not for themselves as translated in their hope of immortality, which rested in what would their kids be. And to a large extent their kids didn't disappoint them. That's all.
SHERMAN: Mr. Hess could you tell us more about the Jewish mama?
HESS: Well, I just heard an aside given to me by Mrs.Baron that there is a bookout called How to be a Jewish Mama. I don't know the book. I know nothing about it. I don't know whether it is written in a serious vein or more or less in a humorous vein or. Whatever there was, which contributes to how to be a Jewish mama, it'll never be the same Jewish mama that I knew in 1900, in 1910, and in the 1920s. The Jewish mama of that day didn't [pause] uh had 42:00problems that certainly don't confront the Jewish mama of today. Today, the Jewish mama is worried about whether her kid will or will not go to high school, where is the kid after ten, worried as to whether the kid's behaving, or whether she is in bed with some guy. The Jewish mama of yesterday never worried about that. The Jewish mama of yesterday is an entirely...is a, is a type that has vanished from Jewish life, at least on the American scene. I don't know what it is in other countries, I suppose that there is no real Jewish life of that kind that I'm speaking of. In Russia today, from which these people emanated, Jewish life has pretty well disseminated by the Hitlerian period. I 43:00speak only of a personal knowledge of Jewish life on the American scene using Milwaukee as the prototype and pretty confident that what happened in Milwaukee happened all over, especially away from the eastern, eastern coast. That Jewish mama to her should be built some sort of monument, not of the one but of the type. Some artist or some sculpture ought be a being that would try to depict whatever art he has what that woman meant. She was largely the hitching post upon which all her family life radiated. The father might be the peddler, who 44:00went out with his horse in the morning and suffered all sorts of indignities, especially went to the south side. The mother was the one to whom they all came and if you read, as I have read over the period, the few books that have been written descriptive of that life, you will note, as I have noted that the writer usually centrals his typification of Jewish life around the mother, the matrix. That was the life I knew. There have been modifications with the passing of the years, but the original has gone forever, and if she is still alive she's too old to be of any use. I mean, I'm trying to give you the Jewish mother, the typical Jewish mother of the period described. 45:00
BARON: Can you tell me more about what your mother was and about her?
HESS: How did you know about my mother? Have you ever heard anything about her?
BARON: Well you've talked about her a few times.
HESS: Yeah, my mother was a good deal, though in a more modern sense, the Jewishmama that I have just tried to describe. My mother came to America with her husband. I think about 1887, it must be that because I was born in '88. They went through the same struggling period that I have described only in New York. And uh she was an akashorka, which means midwife in the old country, and used midwifery to help her husband get through college. By the way, that was the 46:00custom of the time, the Jewish mother, Jewish sweetheart, would help her husband. She worked while he went to school. And my father did go to school. My father was a graduate of Jefferson Medical College of I think 1900 or thereabout. He was a sickly man and I don't know the whole of it, but I know that he was advised to get away from Philadelphia. He did get away from Philadelphia and went to a Zionist convention in Pittsburgh, where he met another very ardent Zionist, who became rather famous in his day, by the name of Zolotokoff, Z-o-l-o-t-o-k-o-f-f. Zolotokoff invited him to come to Chicago as his guest. Zolotokoff was assistant United States attorney. My father didn't like Chicago and he was told that there was a little shtetl, a little town 47:00nearby known as Milwaukee. My father might like that more. So taking the old whaleback, which was a famous ship that used to ply between Chicago and Milwaukee for one buck, he came to Milwaukee. I don't know just what prompted him, but there he stayed. The legend is that he was supposed to go all the way to the coast. He did me a great injustice by not going, but there it was. The family came and the family went to school and I graduated in the same year that pop died, North Division High School. The first [pause] graduating class of the now famous North Division High School, except that it wasn't the brick building as it is now, it was barracks. Well pa died suddenly in 1907. Not 48:00suddenly, he died of Bright's disease and left nothing but a good name and five-hundred dollars on the books that people owed him, which I tried to collect with very little success. My mother had the business of taking care of the kids, so she went back to midwifery. She went back to midwifery first as the attendant of a Jewish woman and services began oh maybe a month or two before the birth and continued for I don't know how long after the birth. In all sorts of conditions, in all kinds of weather for I think the going rate at that time was twelve dollars for a confinement, which included all the pre and subsequent. A 49:00hard life, very hard life, and this went on until I got back from school. I went to the University and got back in 1913, as a graduate. I then read an ad in the paper, which read somewhat as follows: "Best care [pause] before and during confinement, babies adopted." And there were three institutions, or two before mother's, one was known as the Fuze Home, the other the Doctor Hibkey Home. Doctor Hibkey has some sons who are still physicians. I made an inquiry and 50:00discovered what it was. That usually it was a girl who would become pregnant, illegitimately, and she'd come to this home when things became rather obvious and the home would take her in and go through the confinement and then have the baby adopted. This was before the period of the social services and any controls and it became much of a pretty thriving business. The demand for adopted children was great and the fee was commensurate, but the ability of the person who wanted the baby very badly to pay. So the result was that mother gave up this miserable going out at night and all kinds of weathers to a Jewish home, itself pretty modest, and continued that practice until 1919. My mother was a 51:00different kind of type of, I mean as distinguished from the rest of the mothers of the children that we [pause] associated with. She was liberal and the kids almost instinctively recognized her liberality. She would wink her eye at things that the other mothers would slap the little rear for, whether it was good or bad, I don't know, but I remember that she was quite understanding about this business of adolescence and getting older and so on. She was in her way a very [pause] intelligent woman. She spoke Russian fluently until the day of her death. She was very much to the left and militantly so. I recall very clearly 52:00once that I got a letter from a friend of mine that my mother who then seventy-seven was picketing the May Store at Los Angeles. Mind you, she'd come in from, come in from Venice and the only way she'd get from Venice would be the interurban, which is twenty, thirty miles away to picket unfair to organized labor at seventy-two. She had a very, very [pause] dominate [pause] feelings. She was always right, the other side didn't have a chance. I was a Zionist and she was terribly anti-Zionist, terribly anti-Zionist, it was 53:00imperialism, it was capitalism. A matter of fact, she went to Russia, a to Palestine with Joe Padway, in his company, and she came back and she was more vitriolic than before. She was a...she was an individualist, but to her ever glory must be said, she too had that typically Jewish sense of values, which wanted to have her kids better than she was economically, socially, intellectually, schooling, etcetera, with the net result that the fact is I did become a lawyer. It was she that insisted that Annette, my sister, should have a profession, and it is interesting to note that my sister is one of the very 54:00early woman graduates of Marquette class of 1914. She was a very powerfully dominate personality, who would brook no interference with what she thought was proper. I had many a quarrel with her, but I certainly remember her as being that the type that [pause] heroes are made of, in her way, that was my mother.
SHERMAN: This is the end of the taping session with Mr. Robert A. Hess ofMilwaukee on February 3, 1965. Mr. Hess has promised to edit and record further 55:00reminiscences and anecdotes of the Jewish community and on his law partner, Mr. Joe Padway.