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0:00 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: Ethel Mayer is being interviewed on July 13, 2005 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

0:07 - Ethel's Father's Start in Burlington, Wisconsin

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Partial Transcript: Ethel's father first came to Burlington, Wisconsin from Poland in July of 1903. His name was Isaac Lipton. Once he reached Burlington, he moved in with his sister, Mrs. Louis Finskey. Isaac was 19 years old when he immigrated. He chose to go into the scrap metal business, and stayed in that business for over 50 years. To start out, he husked corn in order to save up to buy a horse, wagon, and junkyard. His first junkyard was at the corner of King and Liberty Street. He rented the land from the Perkins family. Isaac then moved his business across the street from St. Mary's Church. He moved again to Geneva Street. In 1918 Isaac owned two horses and a wagon, but ended up modernizing and bought a Ford Model T. In 1929 during the depression, business suffered but picked up again.

2:24 - Isaac Lipton's Early Life, Marriage, and Family

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Partial Transcript: He was born May 15, 1884 in Poland. While in Poland he lived on a farm and was in the butter and cheese business. Isaac married Ida Liebowitz from Milwaukee. They were married on July 11, 1911. His business was steady by 1909. He then sent for his other brother and mother. After two years in America, the brother he brought died and his mother died in 1918. Another brother, Abe, came to America when Isaac did in 1903. The Lipton's (Isaac and Ida) have 6 living children, Paul, Ethel (interviewee), Samuel, Francis, Esther, and Ruth. They had a child who died in infancy, and a son named Benjamin who died at the age of 17. Four of Isaac's children were valedictorian's. All six graduated from high school.

4:00 - Isaac Lipton's Childhood Tragedy (Lipchip)

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Partial Transcript: Ethel's father's name in Poland was Isaac Lipchip. Jewish people in Poland could not own property.Isaac's family had a lease on farmland and would take butter and cheese to market. When he was 11 years old the horse and wagon came back from the market without the riders (Isaac's father and his brother). A woman discovered their bodies. Someone who wanted the lease on the farmland hired a murderer and killed Ethel's grandfather and his older brother. When Isaac was 19, he and his brother came to Burlington, Wisconsin.

5:45 - Isaac's Start in Burlington, Louis and Annie Finskey

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Partial Transcript: Isaac and his brother had family in Burlington, Wisconsin so that is where they came. His existing family in Burlington consisted of an Uncle, who paid for his niece to come with the contingency that they got married. This was Louis and Annie Finskey. Louis Finskey was in Burlington because his brothers were here first. One of the brothers owned a hotel in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

7:44 - Finskey's in Burlington

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Partial Transcript: Annie Finskey was in Burlington. Louis and Annie were married. Louis' brother Joe owned the hotel in Lake Geneva.

8:17 - Jewish Family in Lake Geneva

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Partial Transcript: The Broskosky family was in the scrap business. The Broskosky wife was a cousin to Isaac.

9:31 - Jewish Families in Burlington, Wisconsin

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Partial Transcript: The Bickers owned a resort in Burlington. The oldest son, Matt is still living. He lives on a farm near Brown's lake. The resort was the only Kosher resort in the state of Wisconsin. Brown's lake is a couple miles out of Burlington.

11:23 - Hotel in Lake Geneva

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Partial Transcript: Ethel does not remember the name of the hotel Joe owned. It was a big hotel across from the lake. He had it for a long time. The hotel was very fancy. He bought it from someone, and then sold it.

13:04 - The Finskey's in Burlington

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Partial Transcript: The Finskey's were not the first Jews in Burlington, but Ethel does not know their names. Louis Finskey was a farmer. Ethel would walk in the woods on their property and would pick the most beautiful wildflowers. She was interested in nature study. Annie was had no choice to marry Louis, and was much younger than him. Ethel's parents did not think this was the best thing for her. Annie gave birth to Libby, Joe, Harry, and Sarah. Sarah was the last one to pass away. Annie and Louis' farm stayed in the family because Harry ran it, but then he moved to Michigan and it was lost.

18:37 - Ethel's Childhood

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Partial Transcript: Ethel lived in the town of Burlington, across from St. Mary's Church. Her father's scrap metal business was adjacent to their house usually. He had to move his business a lot because the city did not want a scrapyard on the Main Street of Burlington. He had a civil suit with the city of Burlington. He had to move his business west of the city. Ethel shows Andy a photo of the house she was born in. Both homes are still standing.

20:47 - Ethel's Childhood Home and Memories

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Partial Transcript: Ethel left Burlington in 1946. She was born in 1919. During the war years, she worked for her father. Ethel's uncle Abe also lived with her family growing up. When she was 16 or 17 they moved from the house she was born in to another house her father built. This was impressive because he was able to build a house during the Great Depression. Ethel's brother Benny died at the age of 17. A year after Benny died, Ethel's mother had another child and Ethel believed that the new baby saved her life.

23:44 - Ethel's Brother Benny

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Partial Transcript: Ethel's brother Benny's appendix burst but they did not know about appendicitis at the time. For 6 weeks he laid at home sick before passing away. Ethel says he was so handsome and liked by all.

24:28 - Ethel's Siblings

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Partial Transcript: Benny was the oldest, then Paul. Paul went on to law school. Ethel worked for her father's business then went to Milwaukee. Sam got his PhD in biochemistry and worked for the government. Fran went to Madison before marrying Lawrence Weinstein. Fran is still living in Madison.

28:32 - Benny's Funeral

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Partial Transcript: Benny is buried in Milwaukee at the Second Home Cemetery. Ethel's parents are also buried there. Benny's funeral was at Goodman Funeral Home in Milwaukee.

28:47 - Jewish and Synagogue Life

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Partial Transcript: Ethel's Family belonged to Beth Israel. By car, it took them a little over an hour to get there. Ethel's family kept kosher at home. The Jewish families in Burlington were close.

31:00 - Anecdote about the Finskey Farm

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Partial Transcript: There was no electricity on the Finksey farm. Paul and Ethel stayed at the Finsky's overnight when their mother was giving birth to their little sister. Ethel's Uncle Max and cousin Andy came to visit Ethel's mother and got to see baby Ruthie before Ethel. She was not happy.

32:43 - Ethel's Parent's Wedding

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Partial Transcript: They got married on the Finskey farm in Burlington at Louie Finskey's house. They were married in 1911. Her father was shorter than her mother.

34:00 - Abraham Lincoln Statue

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Partial Transcript: Ethel went to school at the the Abraham Lincoln School. She walked by a statue of Lincoln everyday. It was dedicated in 1913. She loved to walk past the statue. It is still there today.

34:33 - Gilbert, Becker, and Ethel's Families

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Partial Transcript: The Gilbert's were related to the Keiser's in Milwaukee. They had a fruit store on a corner in Burlington. The Becker's took over the Gilbert's fruit store. Ethel's family and the Beckers kept Kosher. They got meat from Milwaukee. There was not always a lot of it. Ethel's father led Seder's at their house. Their relatives would come from Milwaukee to come to the Seder.

37:06 - Ethel's Friends

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Partial Transcript: Ethel looks at a photo of her two dear friends. One was Italian, one is named Virginia Summers. Ethel shows Andy an article in the Burlington paper that has a photo of Ethel and her friends dated 1941. Both of her friends were Catholic. Her Italian friend had two brilliant sons, but her life had a tragic ending. On a vacation, her husband had a heart attack and died. A short bit later, she drove her car into a tree and died. Ethel knows it was a suicide. Ethel and her friends are wearing fur coats in the picture. Ethel got her fur coat for $89 in Milwaukee.

39:31 - Paul as the Valedictorian

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Partial Transcript: Paul was the valedictorian of his high school in 1933. He gave the speech at the graduation and Ethel remembers hearing it. The ceremony was at a church, and their family did not think twice about attending.

41:59 - Keeping Kosher and Jewish Tradition

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Partial Transcript: Ethel largely ate dairy dinners, meat was only eaten a couple meals a month. Ethel's favorite meals were soup, and brisket roast. She baked bread every week. Ethel's mother had beautiful candlesticks.

43:58 - Slaves from the Underground Railroad

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Partial Transcript: Some escaped slaves were taken in by families in Burlington. A family was well known for being leading members of the abolitionists. They hid three escaped slaves. There was another family by the name of Wein in the men's clothing business.

45:44 - Jewish Families in Burlington

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Partial Transcript: The Willetses had a business outside of Burlington. The Weins did not keep kosher.

46:33 - Jewish Adults in Town

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Partial Transcript: Ethel's mother socialized with Jews and non-Jews in town, However, her father was not as sociable. He was busy with work. Relatives came to visit during the weekends, Passover, and Seders. Currently in Burlington, there is a doctor with the name Bernstein. The Beckers are also still in Burlington.

48:52 - Synagogue Affiliations

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Partial Transcript: The other Jewish families in Burlington did not associate with synagogues as much as Ethel's family.

49:30 - Jewish Education and Rabbi Sheinfeld

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Partial Transcript: Ethel's brothers had a Jewish education and Bar Mitzvah's. She did not, because she was female. Rabbi Sheinfeld was a well liked Rabbi at Beth Israel. Ethel's family saw him during the holidays.

51:42 - Ethel's Adult Life

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Partial Transcript: Ethel lived in Burlington until graduating high school, then she worked for her father. After, she went back to school and commuted by bus form Burlington to college classes. Ethel married in 1948. She was not super young when she got married. She met Henry at a Jewish dance. He was a couple years older. They met in December and were married the following November.

53:15 - Max Leopold and Ethel's Business with her Father

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Partial Transcript: Max is Ethel's mother's brother. Ethel handled the books. Her father sold the metals. After moving his business, he got into selling other materials as well as metal. Ethel's Uncle Abe was in the burlap business. Ethel's Father had to retire due to his health. He was only retired for 6 to 8 years. During retirement, he just read the Jewish papers and watched TV. He read the Forvert. Ethel's parents spoke English and yiddish. There were Jewish people from charities that came to Burlington to ask for money. Ethel's parents would feed them and write checks.

59:00 - Anti-Semitism in Burlington

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Partial Transcript: Ethel is sure there was some anti-Semitism, but she did not experience any. Her mother was sociable and well liked by members of the community. Ethel's father was respected and trusted.

60:34 - Max Leopold and Arpin, Wisconsin

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Partial Transcript: Max Leopold first came to Arpin, Wisconsin. He was in the original group of a lot of family in 1904. 12 families went up there. Max bought 720 acres of land north of Arpin from a lumber company. Each of the 12 families received 40 acres, a cow, two horses, and a comfortable dwelling for five dollars. He organized a Jewish agricultural society. In 1931, Max was the sole remaining Jew there. He was a Justice of the Peace in Arpin. Max drove by car to pick up a 12 year old Ethel to visit Arpin. Ethel liked going to the farm town. They lived near the Indian Reservations. On Max's 40 acres he had a house, and a barn. He was not a great farmer, his interests laid elsewhere. By 1931, only the Leopolds were in Arpin. In 1952 Max moved to California, therefore terminating the Jewish presence in Arpin. Max came from Romania and was quite a speaker. His accent was not very prominent. Growing up, Ethel was close with her cousin Angie (Max's daughter.) Max was married to Fanny Leopold. They lived on 16th street. It was a Jewish area. Max knew the LaFollettes. Max was a progressive not a socialist politically. He led a co op in Arpin, and would marry people in civil ceremonies.

75:37 - Ethel's Son and Family

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Partial Transcript: Ethel's son John is a blues guitarist and he lives in Israel. They were in the Israeli army. Her son John has lived in Israel for 5 years. He married a woman named Gigi he met at UW. They divorced because Gigi wanted to stay in America and John wanted to be in Israel. Ethel's niece Miriam adopted two children from India.

78:48 - Reflecting on Living in Burlington

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Partial Transcript: Ethel says her childhood was happy, and she felt comfortable in the Burlington Community. Ethel's brothers ended up being bachelors. Burlington is now a well off community with lots of people. Ethel still visits.

0:00No transcript.