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Interview with: Goldie Loewenthal
Date: May 28, 1982
Archive Number: OH408
N: 0:00:03 Interview of Goldie Rose Geller Loewenthal of Houston, Texas. It was conducted at 3:30 p.m., May 28, 1982, at Seven Acres Jewish Home for the Aged in Houston. The interview is part of a three-year study conducted by the Houston Center for the Humanities in Public Policy under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities on Houston: The Development of an International City. The interviewer is Elaine Fabien Acker, acting as a volunteer from the National Council of Jewish Women, Houston.
N: Okay, Goldie? Could you start by telling us something about your family, your grandparents who—Or, your parents, who eventually—
GL: My parents came to Texas, my father in 1892, and my mother came two years later. The reason they came—the two things that are unique in the fact that they came to Texas was that my father came to answer a need for a rabbi.
N: Oh, he was a rabbi.
GL: And they needed a leader, and so he was brought to Texas. The reason my mother came two years later was because they left the little town that they lived in in Europe—
N: Where was that?
GL: In Austria, Hungary, and Galicia. Because they had a fire there and everything was swept away, and there was no insurance to reimburse them. My mother left—was in debt, and she stayed the two years and tried to leave the country with a good, honest—not knowing, owing anyone or person any debt.
N: Were there any other children? You were born—
GL: At the time my mother came—left my father, there were five children in the family.
N: Already? From Europe? There were five.
GL: And there’re three lost through—my mother lost two children in one day through an epidemic that went through the town.
N: Oh my goodness.
GL: And the second child was in the crib and had that crib sickness that you hear of.
N: Sudden death.
GL: 02:23 I discovered that by asking my mother—telling my mother that one of the teachers in my school had that and she says, “Oh my, my, my. I had that experience too.” So she only brought two children from Europe to America; my oldest two brothers.
N: And how old were they when they came over?
GL: Well, I imagine, my oldest brother was about ten or eight or something like that. Really we were eight children in all, but I was among the smallest ones, so my brother Sam and my oldest brother lived in New York over the years that I grew up. So we grew up as six children.
N: You say New York? So they didn’t come to Galveston?
GL: They came to Galveston and then went to New York.
N: Oh, I see. I see.
GL: Then my brother Sam went to college there and was the first one in the family that got a college degree. Now—
N: So you came—when were you born Goldie?
GL: I was born in 1902, right after the flood, the famous Galveston flood, which my mother and father lived through. In our home, we always had—I still have a lamp that every time it came for the date of the flood’s anniversary, my father would put up a ________ (??).
N: Good man.
GL: They were saved by the fact that our house had a staircase over the side, and it was separately built, and two families lived, stood on those steps during the whole storm and were saved there. We also like to tell the story about the cow.
N: You had a cow? So you were like a farm?
GL: My mother was a religious person, and she wouldn’t buy any milk, and so she had a cow in Galveston. The day before the storm, she had bought a whole feed—to feed the cow, and picked it up in the barn, you know, up high. Piled it up. And the cow went and lifted her two front legs and put ________ (??) and lived through the storm.
N: Oh my goodness.
GL: So the cow’s
milk was exchanged then for water for—a quart of water for
a quart of milk.
N: Very nice.
GL: That’s the story of the Galveston storm we tell.
N: So that you were—was it a farm you lived on in Galveston?
GL: No, just the Galveston city.
N: And you had a cow?
GL: We had a cow all our lives. We—my mother had—we would go to the cow and get fresh milk right when they came, when she, she’d—
N: She’d milk it and use it—
GL: We’d drink the milk. She’d always boil the milk after she brought it in the house, but we could eat, drink the milk from the cow. That’s an ________ (??). That’s beautiful milk, if you want to know.
N: I don’t know. I’ve never had hot milk from a cow.
GL: And the only reason my mother gave up her cow, which she raised herself, this calf that she raised was like a pet. They’d put it out on the empty lot to graze the grass, you know. There was lots of space then in Texas between houses, and she’d call the cow, “Daisy! Daisy!” and she’d come running and lay her head, put her head on my mother to scratch her. That was my mother’s—
N: Little pet.
GL: Little pet. When my father developed asthma, she had to dispose of the cow, because—she sat down and cried like it was a child. She was—
N: After so many—
GL: She promised them that they wouldn’t kill the cow, that they would use it for milking. That’s the story of the early days. We made our own cheese and made our own butter, had our own milk, which is something that you don’t see or hear about today.
N: Nope. No more. So you went to—you said you were a teacher, so where did you go to school?
GL: 06:34 Well, I went first in my early days to Rice University—
N: Right here in Houston?
GL: In Houston. Yes. My brother Abram, he graduated from Rice University, and I followed him in 1920.
N: So Abram is younger than you?
GL: No, he’s older than me.
N: Older. So he was one of the two boys that came from Europe.
GL: No. He was—
N: No. He was born in Houston also, in Galveston.
GL: Yes, he was the one that is older than I am, but not the oldest.
N: I see.
GL: And so, now let’s see where we, where we go from here.
N: So you—alright, when you went to college, the family—
GL: I went to—
N: --moved from Galveston to Houston, so you—
GL: --to Houston and I went to the co—to Rice when they had a trolley car to take you from ________ (??) to the university.
N: So where were you, okay—
GL: So I have then, later in life, when I went through a bad marriage and had to go back on my own, I went back to the University of Houston, and I got two degrees, and I became a teacher.
N: 07:46 Okay, so you were married before you were married to Mr Loewenthal?
GL: That’s right. He’s my second husband.
N: (unintelligible; speaking at same time) He just passed away not too long ago. Okay, so when, why did your family move from Galveston to Houston?
GL: Well, it was a financial basis, and my father had—was eighteen years in Galveston, and Galveston became the small town, and Houston became the bigger town, so he just moved for financial reasons.
N: So he—
GL: And he came here and established his first congregation.
N: And what was the name of the shul?
GL: Adath Israel.
N: Oh, Adath Israel. Was it a big congregation?
GL: I don’t know. Houston was a small city, and I guess there were less people that were strictly Orthodox than there are conservative, but—so he never made a living from the salaries in the shul. He worked like the old fashioned rabbis that worked the other things. He was a lawyer and he was a—
N: ________ (??)
GL: He was—oh, he so much as during ________ (??), and he made a living in that way.
N: Right. Right.
GL: And he—so we had our own Jewish meat market, and so we were brought up with an independent person who didn’t depend on the community.
N: Very good.
GL: So you understand, they don’t do those things today.
N: No. Now they’re just the rabbi and that’s it. That’s all they can handle.
GL: It was a moyl too. So—
N: Which your nephew is.
right. It’s in the family.
GL: My father was a moyl, and then my brother was a moyl, and now my nephew is a moyl.
N: Which brother was a moyl?
GL: My brother Max was a rabbi. He was a moyl.
N: And where was Max. Is he here in town?
GL: He’s buried here in town. He left the Adath Israel in ______ (??) and made a new congregation called Beth Jacob. We were builders of shuls and religious life was just a way of life with us.
N: Right. Pass the right through.
GL: We tried very hard in those days to get positions where you didn’t work on Saturday.
N: Right. Right.
GL: So I’m the only girl in the family that has a college education because I wanted to become a teacher and I wouldn’t have to work on Saturday.
N: Right. Right.
GL: I was a natural teacher. Some people have talent as being a musician, and I would say my talent was in teaching. And so I taught twenty years until I retired.
N: And what did you teach?
GL: Since I had five years’ business training, I became a commercial teacher during the Depression when they needed to teach other people to become able to support themselves in the commercial way. I became a commercial teacher in the Senior High School.
N: Oh, so there’s typing and shorthand—
GL: And things—you’re in the business world.
N: I see. I see. So when did you meet Mr Loewenthal?
GL: 11:10 Mr Loewenthal came to—that’s a funny story too. We knew Mr Loewenthal’s cousins, and they were bringing him to Texas through an ad in the Houston Herald.
N: Where was he coming from?
GL: He was coming from a DP camp.
N: Displaced Persons—so he was in Europe?
GL: He was in Europe, and they put an ad in the Herald that they were looking for him, and his relatives picked him up and carried, brought him here.
N: Was he in the camps in the war?
GL: He was in Italy.
N: Oh, from Italy?
GL: From Italy. Verturo (??) in the northern part of Italy. So they brought him, and they needed a room, and we—it was at a time when you couldn’t find a room for anybody, and my mother and I, we lived in our own duplex, and we had an extra room, and my mother said when people need room as much as we have, and we have an empty room, we couldn’t refuse, so he paid us some rent and to keep, to bring Bernard to this country.
N: Oh, wonderful.
GL: So actually, the first day he saw me he fell in love with me, but I wasn’t in love with him.
N: Ahh, love at first site. (laughs)
GL: I wouldn’t marry him until I found out whether he was stable. I didn’t want a man come from all that trouble that he went through with deranged minds.
N: Was he in a concentration camp or—
GL: No, he wasn’t exactly. He was in Russia and in Italy, I mean in Germany and parts of those areas. He was a sufferer of that but he didn’t go exactly to a concentration—
N: Never went to the camps.
GL: But he had traveled around ten years. Once we looked at a map, and he showed me how much he traveled, and it was outrageous. They way he slept one—he didn’t rest the next day. And his trade was that he was a Jewish plumber.
N: Oh, a plumber.
GL: 13:26 And that’s out of the ordinary too.
N: Sure. What language did he speak when he came here? Yiddish or German, Italian, Russian?
GL: He knew how to speak Russian, and he knew how to speak Yiddish, and he knew how to read Hebrew.
N: So how did you communicate? What did you speak?
GL: Jewish and English. Like my mother told him, “We’re not going to talk Yiddish in this house. We’re just going to talk English.” So he went to school, night school, overnight every three times a week, and he went through about two years. He even took English, high school English.
N: How old was he when he came over?
GL: Well that I can’t remember exactly. Let’s see. He was in his thirties. But he had studied Russian and Polish and German, so he knew all the languages, so he adapted himself very well.
N: Smart. So he was a plumber, and he was living in your house with you and your mom. Your dad had passed away already.
GL: Both of them are gone. My mother—
N: Yes, but at the time your husband, your future husband came over, it was just you and your mother left in the house? All your brothers were out and married—
GL: They had their own home, and I had mine, because that house happened to be mine.
N: Oh, that was your house? So your mom was living with you.
GL: Yes. Well in a way it was and a way not. She helped me.
N: She helped too?
GL: She helped me—
N: She didn’t have a cow anymore though, did she? (laughs)
No, she—we didn’t have a cow anymore.
N: Where were you living in Houston at that time?
GL: Right in the center of the other part of Houston on Wheeler street where the—
N: That’s like downtown. Right?
GL: Not down now, but it was part of where the Jewish neighborhood there. I owned a duplex and so I had one—I was able to buy the home because I rented part of the house out and it helped pay for it.
N: So you were already teaching at this time. You were a teacher?
GL: Yes, I became a teacher and so that is how I acquired my first property.
N: How long was he here before you got married?
GL: Within two years we were.
N: Good girl.
GL: Of course he was in America about thirty-three years, and we’d been married about thirty-one and a half years when he died.
N: Right. So you continued—
GL: It was a very happy marriage with a good husband and he provided.
N: You didn’t have any children, did you?
GL: No, I never had any children with my first marriage and I didn’t have any in the second, just I’d take care of everybody else’s children.
N: Yes, yes.
GL: When you’re a school teacher, you know, you’re involved with children.
N: 16:21 Yes, I was a teacher too. I know what you’re talking about. With lots of nieces and nephews and a big family, right?
GL: And lots of nieces and nephews that I could control. I disciplined and so I became a teacher because I knew if I could do it to my own family I could do it with strangers.
N: That’s right. That’s right. Did your husband go into business for himself?
GL: Yes he did. When he married me he became sole owner and he went to Texas and got his license. He was a master plumber, not just an ordinary, just—and that was an achievement too I’ll think. A person has to learn another language and practice it and—
N: Right. Right.
GL: He was a master plumber and all this—mostly they appeared when he was plumbing. But he, being an independent person, he’d rather work on his own, so he had his own business and I helped.
N: You helped out in the shop?
GL: No. I didn’t do his work, but I answered the telephone and kept his books.
N: Well that’s working. That’s working.
GL: I worked with him, and he built himself up in that way. In addition to that, when my brother Max got sick and he couldn’t read the Torah and couldn’t do all his _______ (??), my husband went and learned himself, and he became the best oral reader in the city of Houston, and he—that’s the reason we know about the home, because he’d come here every yontif.
N: He used to do the services?
GL: The whole thing for them during the holiday.
N: Very good. And Abram still has been coming every day for many—
GL: Well, with Abram it was just a matter of doing something he’s always done, but with my husband, it was a matter of learning how to do it.
N: To do it first.
GL: Not coming here with that background. And he didn’t work on Saturday either.
N: 18:30 Right. Right. Where you lived in Houston, was that cons—that was considered just a Jewish neighborhood, right?
N: Were there any gentiles—
GL: We lived really downtown. I never really lived among only Jewish people, but just in the Jewish neighborhood where you had gentile neighbors and all that.
N: So you had friends that were not Jewish?
GL: And I worked in the school with very few Jewish teachers. It’s due to the fact that we had a Jewish woman on the school board that I got in to work. Dr Daly (??) helped and she’s known—she was a member of the school board, and she helped me to get into the school system. I came in the depression time when it was hard to find—that worked out.
N: Sure, sure.
GL: I didn’t have teacher’s experience, only business experience.
GL: I’m going to have to take a breath.
N: Should we turn it off and take a break?
N: 19:37 Okay.
GL: 19:40 Part of the religious background that I have, my parents did not impose religion on us, they just lived it and wanted an example. In other words, they didn’t want to die being rich or die having jewelry, or like my mother used to say, “My diamonds are living diamonds, not—“
GL: --not dry.
N: Very good.
Their idea was to produce a family of religious children
that were what he called a mensch and not just people.
GL: And I didn’t realize until I got to this home that that was true. Because when I mention my maiden name is Geller, then immediately somehow or another they put a halo on me. That’s with the inheritance and my parents wanted it. They wanted you to be a mensch with a good name.
N: Geller is a good name. That sure is.
GL: The other day I was interviewed by some children from the school.
N: Right, from the Weiner School?
GL: One of the girls when I told her my name is Geller, oh, my parents knew you, and gee, you’re ________ (??). That immediately put a halo on me. Just like my husband used to say, he was married to the Sotsky (??) family. You understand what he mean?
N: I think so, yes.
GL: The Russians had their czar and he was a Sotsky (??).
GL: They achieved it. I can tell you that they achieved their end because my family’s name does give prestige to everybody, not only in Houston and Galveston, but the whole state of Texas. My mother and father would bring—would let the immigrants come to their home when they got off the ship to come to Galveston.
N: When you were in Galveston?
GL: And some of them were religious and they gave my—they didn’t do all of their work. Some of the religious—my sister would always tell that they’d take me to the house and the kids had to sleep on the floor because my mother and father would give them—
N: The beds to—
GL: --the bed to sleep on.
N: 21:56 That’s nice.
GL: I don’t remember that, but just—
N: You’ve heard about it. Sure. Well, that’s part of it too. The stories that you’ve heard. What are your memories of, I don’t know, I guess we go back to the World War I. There’s nothing you remember before that? Right?
GL: I don’t remember lots of things before—
N: I know you do. You have a terrific mind. (laughter) Wonderful.
GL: The wars were bad because they took our gr—my mother’s grandchildren, and I can only remember one thing that every day at 12 o’clock, in the middle of the day, she’d go into her room, lock the door, and pray for her grandchildren.
N: Oh, the grandchildren were all in the war, not the sons?
GL: Not the sons.
N: So your brothers were too old to go into World War I?
GL: They probably were.
N: So World War II, that was in the forties, right? Late thirties?
GL: The influence is the same influence that you have in every general public every time you have a war, you have an uprising of families and separation of families and certain things good go to waste and some things bad come into being.
GL: What can I say that it influenced? There are just so ________ (??) and one individual influences the whole country.
N: The whole country, that’s right. Getting back to Houston when you came here, other than your father was the rabbi in the shul, what other Jewish organizations were here in Houston that you affiliated with?
GL: 23:44 We always had people that’d come to our house from Israel; we call it Israel today, it was then Palestine under the Turks, and so we were very well aware what was going on in Israel.
N: Did you belong to any Zionist organizations?
GL: My mother and father did and all the people in the family were all deeply Zionist.
N: Yes. Did you—have you gone to Israel?
GL: No. That’s one of the things I missed. Because my family today, I have three nieces who married in Israel.
N: Oh. Well I know your sister-in-law Libby’s children, Abram’s, your brother’s children—
GL: They go—
N: They go quite often. Yes.
GL: I said the family go there, but they have three girls—
GL: --nieces that are married in Israel.
N: And whose children are they?
GL: Well there, my brother Sam’s daughter married in Israel, and she’s in the desert—
N: In a kibbutz?
GL: --and the Leff girl, Tina Leff , is married there, and the third one, let’s see, is my nephew, he’s a rabbi in Portland, Oregon, and his daughter is married to an Israeli that lived—but that’s not important as the one that I recently lost two nieces. They died recently in the same year, and they were the ones that went to Israel before the first World War I. They were part of the kibbutz named after, let me see—
N: I’m trying to think of the name—
N: So they were part of the—
brought my—when my oldest brother Harry retired, he went
to Israel, and he and his wife are both buried there. Part
of Israel is part of our life.
N: I guess so. Let’s see.
(recording is interrupted)
GL: --the passport that he had to have a little bitty picture made, and then he died before he could get—(unintelligible; speaking at same time).
N: Oh, so your father was planning to go to Jerusalem—
GL: (unintelligible; speaking at same time) there on his death. That was one disappointment he had.
N: That he never made it to Jeru—well you never got to go. Did your mother ever make it to Israel?
N: No, she didn’t get—
GL: Only my sisters and brothers. They’ve all been, but I haven’t.
N: You’re the only one left.
GL: Somehow or another that one thing we were looking forward to making and didn’t make the ________ (??). We were hoping when my husband retired we would go.
N: And how long ago did he retire?
GL: He didn’t.
N: Oh, he never retired? Well.
GL: Sickness took over.
N: Oh, I see. Cause he just got sick last year, wasn’t it?
GL: In the beginning of 1981 is when he first began to ail. By February of ’92 he was gone.
GL: I don’t know what else would be of interest to them in my life except that I worked twenty years as a school teacher and I had lots of experience because I taught in practically every phase of the school system.
N: 27:19 All in Houston?
GL: I started out as a night-school teacher and ended up as a senior high school teacher. Meanwhile I taught in a vocational school, and I taught in a junior high school, and a senior high school, and a night school.
N: You did it all.
GL: I did it all.
N: You did it all. (laughs)
GL: There are very, at my time, very few Jewish women that were teachers.
N: Right. It’s not the profession—I guess, did you—was that because you felt there was anti-Semitism in the school system that there were few Jewish—
GL: Actually I never met any anti-Semitism among the teachers, well, among the teacher’s group. But getting in was difficult.
N: (unintelligible) the school board, I mean, they tried to keep the Jewish women out or they just weren’t getting—
GL: There were very little Jewish woman that (unintelligible), especially after they hadn’t been grown, you know, had the experience. Well I said that I was unique in that respect. Another thing I was unique in then, I went to Rice University in my youth and then stepped away for ten years and went back to school.
N: So you didn’t complete your degree originally? You went back again?
GL: No, I didn’t get it.
N: That’s when you were married young?
GL: Married and divorced and had to go on my own so I wanted to become a teacher. Although all my life it was my ambition to become a teacher, so you see, that was an experience that you see today, every now and then, thousands of older people going in—
N: Going back to school to get their education.
GL: 29:03 --going back to school. But in my case, I was only one person, one olderly person, among the youth.
(break in recording)
other words, when we all lived in the same town, and when
we’d come to holidays, they would come to my mother’s
house, and all the kids and their family would go to shul
together and ________ (??). And that made us close
N: So you have four brothers. Four brothers—
GL: Four brothers and three sisters. We were eight.
N: Eight. Okay, so, starting from the oldest, what were their names and where did they eventually live?
GL: My brother Harry and his wife, which is a story in itself too, but I’ll leave that now.
N: That’s okay. You can tell us. (laughs)
GL: Well, he married his cousin, that being my mother’s sister’s child. She was married before my mother and older than my mother. When she gave birth to their son, her sister came and said to her, “This is my son-in-law,” and she didn’t have any children for five years.
N: Oh, she picked him out already? (laughs)
GL: She picked him out when he was—
N: When he was born.
GL: When he was born and she didn’t even know if she was going to be able to have children.
N: My goodness.
GL: Later on, my mother objected to that. She didn’t want her family to intermarry. She didn’t want you to marry cousins. She wanted you to marry outside of the family.
N: Sure. Sure.
GL: She felt it was better, and so she was the one who didn’t like the fact that—
N: 33:10 But eventually he met and married his cousin?
GL: They married and they lived together so many years, and they ended up, because their two daughters were in Israel, they went to Israel to—
N: Those were your two nieces that moved to Israel?
GL: And they are buried in Israel. Both he and she. My second brother is the first one in the family that went to college, and he was highly educated.
N: What was his name?
GL: Sam Geller.
GL: And he had a son that lived in El Paso, and he had asthma, so he went to live with his son in El Paso. He also was a Torah reader for the shuls and always mixed in with shul ________ (??), just so religion was part of our tra—(unintelligible; both speaking at same time).
N: Part of your family.
GL: Part of our training. We were just trained, and he left—his granddaughter is now married in Israel. So you see there is somebody there.
N: Another one.
GL: The next one is the sister that I talked to you about recently that the Houston—she was such a good worker, and she was president of the Houston section where it was a small section, and then she was president again when they had their national convention, and they picked her to be the president of that year.
N: And her name is Annie Leff?
GL: Annie Geller Leff.
N: Annie Geller Leff.
GL: 34:40 And then after she died, they named a chapter in her name. I know that is unique. They don’t do those things.
GL: And another brother, that followed, the one that followed my sister, he was a rabbi here. He built up his congregation called Beth Jacob.
N: What was his name?
GL: Max Geller.
N: That was Max. I thought you said Max lived, went to New York?
GL: No. No. He lived all his life in Houston.
N: In Houston.
GL: He didn’t die in Houston, but he’s buried in Houston. He has two sons that are rabbis. One in the east and one in the west. One in Bolton, Massachusetts, and one in Portland, Oregon. Massachusetts and Oregon are—
N: Very far apart. Isn’t there a relative who’s a rabbi in Connecticut?
GL: No. He used to be Connecticut, now he’s in Massachusetts.
N: Oh. Cause that’s the one your sister-in-law Libby has told me about.
GL: That’s the one—
N: Cause I had relatives in, I’m trying to think of the name of the city in Connecticut. I can’t think. Oh, so he’s now in Massachusetts?
GL: He’s a (unintelligible). He’s really one of the fanatic religious bunch, and the other one is more conservative, the older one.
N: He’s what, labobich? (??)
GL: (unintelligible) The younger Geller is the rabbi in Portland. When our family get a rabbi, we’re rabbis for eighteen, twenty—He was in Portland, was in Port Arthur, maybe something like ten or fifteen years. We just don’t come and just stay a year and then—
N: I guess not.
GL: --transfer out to another one. Whereas it has been in the past, some of them are st—they’re changing that too. There’re rabbis that are staying longer—(unintelligible; speaking at same time).
GL: And my father’s buried here with a special ________ (??) on the cemetery, and my brother has also a—you know that an ________ (??) is one of those—
N: Eternal light?
GL: Yes. Little houses that they make on the cemetery for their honor. My father and mother are buried in one in the Beth Jacob Cemetery and the other one is Adath Israel Cemetery. In the Adath and Beth Jacob Cemetery there are two ________ (??); one for my father and one for my mother and one for my brother. So that is unique.
GL: And then Abram is the next.
GL: Then I come. Then I have—Leah Gordon is my sister, and I have—
N: So she’s the baby?
GL: No, she’s not.
N: There’s another one?
GL: Yes, the baby. We always make fun of our sister Esther. Said they had run out of names, so they called you Esther, because you was born around Purim.
N: Me too. That’s my Hebrew name, Esther. That’s not running out. That’s a good name. That’s a good name.
GL: Well they had so many names.
N: Right. How many more can you choose? But you were named after your bubby. Your grandmother?
GL: I was named after my grandmother, and she had prestige in that little town. It was—the stories I tell about her, she had lots of jewelry because they were the wealthiest people in the town. They had their own home and their own store.
N: 38:13 Was your grandfather a rabbi? No, he was a merchant.
GL: No, my grandfather was just a merchant.
N: A merchant.
GL: But he was the rich man of the town, so my grandmother’s jewelry was always in hock to pay for somebody that needed money. She never wore them for jewelry, she thought of them as security for hock.
N: That’s funny.
GL: And she was called the Gift of Gold.
N: The Gift of Gold.
GL: Well I don’t know anything else to tell you about them. We’re just a family like everybody else’s family, you know, in times they stuck together. We didn’t have any other relatives, but now if you’d see how many there are—
N: Oh, it’s a very big family. So growing up, you had no aunts and uncles?
GL: Nothing like that.
N: No cousins? It was just your folks (speaking at same time) and the big family. What did you do for entertainment when you were growing up? Anything unusual?
GL: I don’t know.
N: There weren’t movie theaters.
GL: No. I don’t know. My pleasures were not going among people, maybe because I was a school teacher and there were people. My hobby was—
N: Reading, which you still do.
GL: No, not so much reading as I worked in the yard and I would garden. I was a gardener with a green thumb. Anything I touched lived. My husband used to say, “I tried to kill what you planted, but it won’t die.”
N: So you
had your own gardens?
GL: I liked to get out there and work in the yard. I had a very successful way of—because I think planting and growing things is creative.
N: It’s also better tasting than what you can get in the food stores, picking it yourself. While we were talking before, you said something about any influence on anti-Semitism that you felt and you said, “…during your years in college.”
GL: Well, not in the University of Houston, because it was then just a young college, but when I went to Rice there was, at that time, a Nazi professor in Rice that had a big influence, and I could feel—
N: What year was this?
GL: Nineteen-twenty-one, twenty-two. By the way, they gave us a ride up to the coast. Three of us girls that went to 19—graduated in 1920, in the Houston school, are in the home with me.
N: Oh, your classmates. Alma mater. (laughs) So when you say he was a Nazi, you mean he just said—
GL: He was a really—
N: I mean he came out and admitted he was a Nazi?
GL: No. They admitted it later. But the atmosphere was anti-Semitic at that time when he was there.
N: And you had classes? You took one of his classes?
GL: No, I didn’t have anything to do with him, but I’m talking about the atmosphere at that school.
N: On the campus itself.
GL: That’s right.
N: 41:21 I see.
(break in recording)
GL: 41:25 --didn’t have very much experience with Jewish children because I—most of the children that I knew were non-Jew, but when they say that the Jewish children are pushy, their own, other people have the same idea that everybody’s looking out to do the right thing and be successful, and they go about the ways, sometimes you might call it pushy, to be recognized.
N: Right. Right.
GL: And I never had any trouble with anybody saying that I was pushy.
N: Right. Just a good teacher.
GL: I treated each one on their own respect. I was a teacher for twenty years, and I never, I can say I never sent anybody to the office for discipline. I did my own discipline.
N: Oh, you were a good disciplinarian?
GL: In my own way, in my own room. And I always had the respect of the children where I taught. First thing, I learned their names. I never told, “You come here and do this or you do that.” You’ve had teachers do that to you?
N: Yes. Yes.
GL: And I—
N: Always remembered their names.
GL: Names, and tried to teach them to the best of my ability. And I wouldn’t let the smart ones get away with doing nothing. Sometimes they would say, “Well, you gave her an A, and she didn’t do half the work that I do.” But I would say—I would answer that, “She did the best she could, and did you do the best you could?”
N: Right. You have more ability. Well, to end it up, is there any comments you’d like to add on any topic or any event in history that we haven’t covered?
GL: I’m glad that they’re remembering that there were Jews in Texas before the Metropolitan came here, and they were hardworking people who tried to make an honest living and a good Jewish background for themselves. I would like to end it up with that.
N: Okay. Any message you’d like to leave to the Jewish community or the community at large? Any personal mementos, documents to lend us to copy for the archives?
GL: 43:44 I don’t know whether I have anything that’s worthwhile. You just live an ordinary life and you just have ordinary things. What do they mean by that in the respect of what kind of material do they want?
N: Probably anything having to do with, you know, Jewish life in Houston. Which maybe you could speak to one of the other people about whom possibly—
GL: I never thought about leaving anything as an ________ (??).
N: You’re leaving this tape.
GL: That’s enough.
N: For posterity. Well I thank you very much, Goldie.
GL: Did we tell—
(End of recording 44:24)