Six Jewish Girls in Boyle Heights

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[Music playing] ARMONY SHARE: My name is Armony Share. I was born in Mexico in a little town in the
state of Morelos. My birth name was Armonia Pupkowiez. That’s a whole mouthful. A lot
of people have trouble pronouncing because in those days children weren’t named that
kind of name, so I Anglicized it to Armony, and I legally changed it when I became a citizen
at age 18. My parents came from Russia and Poland. Mother
from Russia; father from Poland, and they lived in Paris for a while and then they migrated
— immigrated to Mexico. In 1941, we immigrated to the United States.
>>JOYCE SINDEL: I’m Joyce Sindel, and I was born at the White Memorial Hospital in Boyle
Heights. I met Armony because she lived across the street from us, and I honestly didn’t
know how we met. I just thought we were playing because that’s what we do. We played. We played
in the street, on our front lawn, or wherever it was.
Arlene lived down the street from me on Folsom Street. I remember her as a little girl with
a lot of hair. Curly, curly hair, which I with so envious of because I had very blond
straight hair.>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: My name is Arlene Dunaetz.
In Boyle Heights, when I lived there, my name was Arlene Light, and I was born in Cleveland,
Ohio. And my parents came here in the late 30s. Probably, I believe early 1938 because
I started kindergarten here. My mother always worked. She sewed — so she
was a power machine operator. She sewed women’s sportswear in various terrible sweat shops
in Los Angeles. It was usually piecework. You know, if you were able to sew 20 garments
or 20 whatever it was, and you had — and each one was 16 cents, and I figured her pay
for her. So, you know, you were pushing yourself. My mother came to America in steerage with
a 9-month-old baby that she was nursing. I once visited a steerage of an exhibit and
I thought, oh, my God. That would be horrific, but that’s how it was. She came with a child,
and she had another one like a year or so later. She was — she was never able to get
any education. My father was a shoemaker. My father worked
at a shoe store. A very prominent shoe store.>>HELEN BIALECK: My name is Helen Bialeck.
That’s my married name. My maiden name is Helen Glazer. I was born in Williamsburg,
Brooklyn, New York. My father was a fur operator. He made mink coats. My father was fluent in
Yiddish; my mother was not. My mother was four years old when she came to England, and
she was very British in her manner. I came to Los Angeles in 1942.
>>CHARLOTTE GUSSIN-ROOT: My name is Charlotte Gussin-Root. My father was born in Pennsylvania
— Johnstown, Pennsylvania. My mother was born in Romania, but came over as an infant.
And as far as I know, they met here in Los Angeles. My mother was a housekeeper. She
never worked after she was married. I believe she was a bookkeeper until she got married.
My father had a show card business, making little cards that go in the windows, like
under shoes, to tell how much the cost was. Then when he closed that up he went to work
for the railroad.>>JACKIE WATERMAN: My name is Jacqueline
Marcia Waterman. I was born in Los Angeles. My grandparents on my mother’s side were born
in Romania. They moved to — as soon as they got married — they were very poor, as most
of the Jews were. They moved to Canada. They landed in Toronto. No English. My grandfather,
when he got off, they became peddlers — he became a peddler, and had a cart. Obviously,
he did very well. When my aunt got married and moved to California,
then my mother’s family all migrated to Boyle Heights. The reason they ended up in Boyle
Heights is my grandfather sold his farm in Winnipeg, Canada. And obviously, he had money
because he came here and he built three different duplexes in Boyle Heights, which was the place
to move. It was a very healthy place, and that is where the Jews were. There was no
Beverly Hills. There was nothing. This would have been in the 20s.
>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: Oh, this book is from 1944. Everybody knew everybody. Oh, there is Armony.
Her maiden name was Armony Pupkowiez. She came from Mexico. She was my best friend.
Here’s another one. “Well, when you get married and have twins, don’t come to my house for
safety pins. Lots of luck to my best friend and a swell kid.” Yes, that’s a word we used
a lot, swell. “Isn’t that swell?” Well, you know, that was so dated. [Laughing].
>>JACKIE WATERMAN: My sister had a twin bed. I had a twin bed. I would have kids sleeping
— including Armony. As many as three girls in a twin bed. Two one way, and the other
one the other way. We were that thin. We could do that, and Armony was over quite a bit.
>>HELEN BIALECK: I must have walked at least almost two miles, I think, to the library,
and I went there every week. In fact, I always took out 10 books a week. So my father once
caught me reading under my cover with a flashlight. He said, “If you don’t stop that and discontinue
that, I am going to take away your library card.” So I didn’t get to do that at night
under the covers anymore, but I did read a lot and I did read a lot at the library at
the school. For instance, at Hollenbeck Junior High they
had a wonderful library and because my mother was English, I used to read a lot about the
kings and queens of England and the history of England, and I still follow it somewhat.
>>ARMONY SHARE: The local library was a very central part of my life and so I spent a lot
of time getting books there. And I used to read them all the way up to the house and
all the way back down on the street. It was a very important part. I did get down to the
Central Library when I was going to UCLA, and sometimes on the weekend I would go down
there to study.>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: My sister was just 8 years
older than I�would have to comb my hair in the morning and get me ready for school
because my mother was at work. And I was an original latchkey kid because once my sister
graduated from high school and went to work, she wasn’t there for me after school. Whereas,
previously, when she was in high school, she would have to miss any activity after school.
She would had to come home because she had her kid sister. She would say, I have to take
care of my kid sister. I didn’t realize until much later how much
she gave up, because she missed a lot of things that she might have liked to do, and we were
very close, my sister and I.>>ARMONY SHARE: This is our yearbook. Hollenbeck
Junior High School, signed summer of 1947. We had to be in the 9th grade. Yeah, the graduating
class. All right. So that’s Char and that’s Helen and that’s Arlene and that’s me and
that’s Joyce.>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: I went to Boyle Heights
about the late 30s. Perhaps — well, I started kindergarten in Los Angeles, so — and I was
born in 1932, and I did not start Sheridan until the second grade.
>>HELEN BIALECK: But you were so friendly and outgoing. I mean, how many kids today
would go off to somebody who is brand new and say, “Hi. My name is …� and “What’s
your name?” “Where are you from?” or whatever.>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: I knew she was someone
special to me.>>HELEN BIALECK: That was so impressive to
me. To have somebody who doesn’t even know who I am. My first day in school.
>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: Someone to talk to.>>HELEN BIALECK: That part of the playground
was empty, and she came out of nowhere and said your name and everything, and that was
so nice.>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: I am glad I did.
>>CHARLOTTE GUSSIN-ROOT: I took piano lessons when I was in elementary school and the piano
teacher lived a couple of blocks from the school, and she lived in an apartment upstairs,
and I was supposed to go up from school every day and practice, and she would leave a little
piece of candy on the piano. And so I would go up there, and I would go tink, tink, tink,
tink about two minutes, and then I’d grab the candy and then I’d go home. So for all
those four years, I can barely play chopsticks, so I’m sorry about that. [Laughing].
>>HELEN BIALECK: The Senior class of 1950 at Roosevelt High School. It was called The
Roundup. Here I am, in Optimist. Here I am in Rostrum over here. And another one is Charlotte
Gussin-Root.>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: You have to remember, we
were born into the Depression, and the Depression wasn’t over in 6 months. It lasted for a long
time, so there was hard years during –>>HELEN BIALECK: There was.
>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: — our youth.>>HELEN BIALECK: And I remember that we were
able to work at the age of 14. They let us work — I worked at Thrifty’s — at Thrifty
Drugstore. Because of the war, there was a shortage of people available to work. They
let them hire young, young people. I also worked at May Company selling candy, which
almost did me in, but Thrifty Drugstore was a very busy place.
>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: Thrifty’s was in Boyle Heights.
>>HELEN BIALECK: On Soto. I mean, on Brooklyn Avenue [Said in unison with Arlene Dunaetz].
You couldn’t sell condoms. If you were a woman you had — a man come up and say this is what
he wanted to purchase, you had to refer him to the pharmacist. [Laughing].
>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: Is that so? I didn’t know what a condom was at that time. [Laughing].
>>JACKIE WATERMAN: My first job working, I was probably in the sixth grade, was at
my Uncle Elmer Zellman�s Men’s Store. I would go there at Father’s Day and Christmastime
and I would wrap the packages.>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: I worked at a dry cleaning
store. And I used to work Saturday, pretty much all day, and I was paid $4 for that day.
And I decided that I needed $5. So this the story. And I asked my boss, the
woman, for a raise. I said, “I would like to have $5 for Saturday,” and she said, “No.”
So I didn’t argue or press it any further. I just didn’t go back.
The next week one of my friends came by to say hello. And she sees this girl � who
is Marilyn. She says, “Where is she? I need her.” She said, “Why didn’t she come? What’s
wrong? Why–?” And so she runs to my house and she tells me. And I got $5 thereafter.
I wasn’t playing hard to get. I just thought I wasn’t supposed to go back if she wasn’t
going to pay me for it. So at 12 years old, so I got $5 a day. That’s about $0.66 or something
cents an hour. It is nothing. I mean, because it was all day. And then I used to go home
for lunch. It was so close. Brooklyn Avenue is the main business street.
I remember my mother used to buy her poultry at a store where there were live chickens,
and they would go and pull pick out a chicken. And then there was — and they were all kosher-killed.
There was a certain man � a mohel — who would say a prayer and kill them in most humane
way, I guess, whatever. And I would have to sometimes go and pick them up on Thursday
because then my mother would have a chance to cook for Friday night. You know, if you
wanted to make chicken soup, you bought a chicken and you cooked the chicken and you
made chicken soup.>>JACKIE WATERMAN: Grandfather opened up
a shoe store on Brooklyn Avenue, which is now Caesar Chavez, which was also close to
Zellman�s Men’s Store, which — they were all on Brooklyn Avenue and basically on the
same side of the street.>>JOYCE SINDEL: I was in elementary school
at Sheridan Street School. My mother was a pretty avant-garde person and she opened the
store on Brooklyn Avenue, now known as Caesar Chavez. And she sold radios — large radios,
refrigerators, stoves, et cetera, et cetera. And she did that, as well as booking my dad’s
jobs. My dad was a plumber — plumbing contractor,
and I remember our house always being, um, well, it just always was like the meeting
ground. And in the back my Uncle Jack repaired radios and whatever else people needed to
have repaired.>>JACKIE WATERMAN: My grandfather opened
up a shoe store on Brooklyn Avenue, and then he gave my uncle, Elmer Zellman, a store to
open up, a men’s haberdashery is what it was called. And that was there up until probably,
I’d say 15 years ago.>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: One day we had a friend
that who we’ve all known from elementary school, and he joined us for one of our lunches, the
group of six women. And he asked us what was on the northeast corner of Brooklyn and Soto.
Well, we all knew it was Curries Mile High Ice Cream. He said, “What’s on the southeast
— what’s across the street?” And then someone said, “Oh, that was Detroit Bakery.” “No,”
I said. “That was the bakery my mother sent me to.” Detroit Bakery was farther down on
Detroit. You know, so I mean, it was just comical.
>>HELEN BIALECK: What was the name of the other bakery?
>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: I don’t know. Bernard told us, but I don’t remember.
>>JACKIE WATERMAN: Well, my friend’s grandparents owned the Detroit Bakery until after the war.
They lost it. They lost it.>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: It was Rosner’s Bakery,
I believe, and that was near the bank.>>HELEN BIALECK: Oh.
>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: Because I used to go there on Friday and pick up a challah for dinner
and it was a square twist. That means it is was a pan loaf. It wasn’t braided, but the
top was braided so that was called a square twist.
>>CHARLOTTE GUSSIN-ROOT: Arlene and I used to go to the Brooklyn Theater quite regularly,
and then we’d go right up the street, there was a Mexican restaurant, a small restaurant,
and we would have Mexican food there and we loved it.
>>HELEN BIALECK: There were three theaters: The Brooklyn, the National, and the Meralta.
>>JACKIE WATERMAN: Frequently, we would go on Saturday, let’s say, to the theater, and
a bunch of the kids would get together.>>JOYCE SINDEL: Warsaw Bakery was one of
the suppliers to The Famous. It is that kind of bakery. Like corn rye breads, pastries,
Danish pastries, et cetera. And there was another one across the street, Star Bakery
–>>ARMONY SHARE: That’s the Detroit Bakery.
>>JOYCE SINDEL: — and Rosner’s Bakery and the Detroit Bakery.
>>ARMONY SHARE: There were like four of them right within three, four blocks.
>>JOYCE SINDEL: And Dell’s Meat Market and Greenstein’s on the corner, across the street
from where you lived. I hated going there. Mr. Greenstein would go �Joycey.� [Pinching
her cheek]. [Laughter].>>ARMONY SHARE: My parents had a store on
First Street, First and Chicago, and so it was maybe — I used to think it was a long
way, but it was really like four, five blocks down from our house to their store. It was
a General Bargain Store. That was the name of it and they sold, just like it said, lots
of everything. Not used. Everything was new, but a lot of
the clothes were like last year’s designs or leftovers, or sometimes seconds, irregulars,
or stuff that other stores had not sold and turned back to the manufacturers. And my mom
used to go down to the Garment District by P car, the street car. And she would go there
and buy all of this stuff and then they pack it up for her and she’d carry it back on the
street car.>>HELEN BIALECK: I went to Canter’s frequently
for sandwiches because they had the best corn beef sandwiches and the best coleslaw.
>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: Did you go frequently?>>HELEN BIALECK: Well, I went about once
a month.>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: The Jewish section of Boyle
Heights, however many miles or whatever, really was — it was north of First Street as far
north as Wabash. There was an area that was almost totally Jewish.
>>HELEN BIALECK: People who did live in the neighborhood were very friendly — especially
the children — were very friendly with each other and it was more like a small village.
I think we moved among the different cultures quite well. The neighborhood was a combination
of Latino, of Catholic families. Everyone — there was never any incidence of any trouble
that I know of.>>ARMONY SHARE: When we lived in Boyle Heights,
as I remember correctly, it was mostly a Jewish neighborhood. We did have a Mexican neighbor
right next door on the street that we lived in, but it was really very — pretty much
— I wouldn’t know what percentage, but it was a pretty Jewish neighborhood. The markets,
the delis and the bakeries were all pretty Jewish — yeah.
In the school it was a little different. In elementary school it was more of a mixture.
Quite a few Mexican children.>>HELEN BIALECK: What we did was we were
very active with B�nai B�rith, B�nai B�rith Girls, and we met every week. The
organizations — there were so many. There were so many at the Soto-Michigan Center.
That was mostly for younger people.>>CHARLOTTE GUSSIN-ROOT: I was in the Habonim.
We went to the Jewish Community Center because that’s where we — the Gobettes meetings were
held. And I do recall that the first time I ever saw television on a little, like, 12-inch
screen was at that Center.>>HELEN BIALECK: Aleph Zadik Aleph, called
AZA. It is a group for young men to, you know, to get together and meet each other and have
social events. For the adults, I think they were very active in Workman’s Circle, they
were very active in voting groups. It was all focused on bettering the people who lived
there.>>JACKIE WATERMAN: And then of course, also,
the Breed Street Shul was right there and my grandmother, I would walk with her to the
Shul on the high holidays. And my mother, by the way, was not at all religious. We lived
next to grandma. Grandma was religious. Breed Street Shul was Orthodox, very Orthodox.
The women all sat upstairs. The men and women were always separated. They were not even
allowed to go down on the — what they called the bimah, which was downstairs. Grandma would
only go and we would walk there for the high holidays. That was a big thing for us to do.
Now as it happens, we lived right next door to the senior rabbi, who was Rabbi Zilberstein.
And I never understood in those days, but he would walk ahead and his wife would walk
behind him, and I, of course, have since found out, that’s basically a European — uh, something
that the Jews did a lot in Europe. Oh, Rabbi Zilberstein come open up our door
and walk in and turn on our radio. Don’t ask me why, but I still remember that. Well, he
was king, you understand.>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: Yiddish was spoken in my
house, so although I don’t speak it, I understand most of it.
>>CHARLOTTE GUSSIN-ROOT: When my mother’s father came over occasionally, my grandfather,
and he only spoke Yiddish, and so I could never really talk to him, but I do remember
that he always brought us candy. That’s the most that I ever remember about him.
>>JACKIE WATERMAN: My grandmother spoke Yiddish to me. She could speak English, but she was
much more comfortable with Yiddish. I would answer her in English. On Sundays, there was
— a Mr. — I think it was Friedman — had a Jewish hour. We would always listen to the
Jewish hour. And I remember — I understood everything in those days.
And then there was also the Forward newspaper, which was in Yiddish, not Hebrew. There was
a difference between Hebrew and Yiddish. People in those days, if you spoke Yiddish, you might
have a different dialect, but you could call anywhere in the world. The Jews would be able
to converse to some extent.>>>HELEN BIALECK: There was a newspaper,
a Jewish newspaper called the Forward, or the Vorw�rts. Not my mother — my mother
didn’t read those newspapers, my father did. Well, at one point my mother did become rather
proficient in Yiddish, and when I tried to talk with husband in Yiddish so my children
wouldn’t understand what I was saying, they went to the library and looked up Yiddish
books and then translated what we were saying into English.
>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: My mother would speak to me in Yiddish and I pretty much understood
everything. There were some things that I didn’t understand, but most of the things.
But now when they wanted to — when they didn’t want me to understand, I don’t know exactly
what they spoke, if it was Polish or Russian, but they could communicate in that way. So
I knew they were talking about secret stuff.>>JOYCE SINDEL: My mother and dad spoke Yiddish
as the language they didn’t want us to understand, otherwise, it was English spoken at home.
And unfortunately, I never really learned Yiddish so I could never talk to my grandmother.
>>ARMONY SHARE: My first language was Spanish. I knew absolutely no English. My parents spoke
eight, nine — seven or eight languages, which is — you know, in Europe, you would travel
around the countries and you would learn these languages. They spoke mostly Spanish in the
house. Between them they spoke in Yiddish. Sometimes
they spoke in French. Basically, Yiddish or Spanish, are the two main languages that I
remember. Then I learned Yiddish when I was going to the Folkshul. I used to send letters
to my aunts in Mexico in Yiddish. I don’t think I could do it today.
>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: I remember horse — wagons with the horses on it and a big cart and a
man would come around. We lived in a large flat and we were right next to an alley, and
we would see someone come by on a horse and with a wagon. He was in the wagon and on a
horse collecting rags or whatever. Even an ice wagon early on. That ended. Most everybody
had refrigeration by that time, but I remember that there were horse carts.
>>>>HELEN BIALECK: Well, the way we got around mostly was walking.
>>ARMONY SHARE: Oh, we walked everywhere. We walked everywhere.
>>>>HELEN BIALECK: And street cars and buses were the only means of transportation to other
parts of the city. There were no freeways then. Very few people had cars. Gas was like
$0.19 a gallon. They had a light, and it would shoot up if it was Go, and it would come down
and say Stop. There was a bus on Brooklyn Avenue. There was a bus on Soto Street. There
were street cars all over the place. There was no television.
There was no such thing as Facebook years ago, and there wasn’t any way of communicating
unless you talked directly to the person.>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: That’s right. Oh, yes.
There was always that. You could always talk to someone or call someone.
>>>>HELEN BIALECK: You had party lines. You didn’t have one person to a telephone,
so if there was anyone you shared your line with who was on the phone, you couldn’t use
it until they got off.>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: I remember years later
going to a Girl Scout camp, and they had a washing machine with a ringer and nobody knew
how to use it. And I knew how to use it because that is what we had. Then we had — there
was no dryer. Everybody hung the clothes on a close line.
>>JACKIE WATERMAN: There was also Helm’s Bakery that used to come around and sell stuff.
>>HELEN BIALECK: I remember there was an egg lady who would come with eggs and she
would walk quite a distance to just bring eggs. Most people did not drive. Most women
didn’t drive in those days.>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: My mother made wonderful
noodles. Oh, her homemade noodles were the best. And then she would spread a clean towel,
dish towel or sheet on the bed and let them dry. My mother was quite a cook. She knew
how to make all sorts of things that I would never undertake. Blintzes for example, gefilte
fish. She made those things, but you could still buy them, but she always made them.
There was a time when women did.>>>>HELEN BIALECK: It was a different time.
My aunt, my father’s sister, was active in Workman’s Circle and she brought home a book
when I was about 12, not even that, called the Black Book. And it told about the — what
was happening in the concentration camps in Europe, and it just upset me so much. And
I was — I was sad about that because a lot of — my family was a very big one. When I
was born I had 28 aunts and uncles and some of the — not first cousins or second cousins,
but beyond that, were in Europe. I worried about that a lot about that because
there was an active Hitler group here in Los Angeles. I only lost one cousin during the
Second World War, and still I remember going to his wedding and I remember how people felt.
I mean, there was a — it wasn’t as if something happened in a distant land that you felt that
there’s a distance and that didn’t involve you, but the people that I associated with
and my family associated with took all of these incidences that we heard about that
Hitler had happen to the people in these towns. They felt it as an immediate, personal attack
on themselves and their families. Because a lot of their relatives were still
in Europe and they had been in concentration camps, they felt that it was happening within
themselves and they felt very, very mad, and they had demonstrations here in Los Angeles.
>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: I remember as a very young child when Hitler invaded Poland because my
mother was from Poland. There was — I was so terrified that he was going to come here,
too. My parents said, no, no. That’s far away. We’re okay. I think I always had this feeling
that it was a small world, but we were safe. I don’t have that feeling anymore because
it isn’t true. We were active. We played. We played at recess,
we played at lunch, even before school, and even though I played pickup sticks and jacks,
I did jump rope, too, and we had tether ball and we had all kinds of things.
>>JOYCE SINDEL: We played Over the Wire. I mean, they were telephone wires. Nothing
was underground, so there were telephone wires, and if you stood on opposites sides of the
yard, you had to throw a ball over the wire and somebody had to catch it. And I think
you were not supposed to hit the wire. We played Steps. Steps was also a ball game.
You had to throw the ball on to the steps, and as it came back, you had to catch it before
— and if it hit the end of the step, it was better. I — in fact, the house that I lived
in, 2518, still has the same red steps because I took a picture of that.
We used to play Spud Stop. [Laughter]. Where if you were it, you would [Laughing] you would
have to turn your back on everybody else. And then you would call one, two, three spud
stop, turn around. But everybody else could run, but they had to stop and if they didn’t,
you could catch them. [Laughing]. And they would be it.
What else? Oh, something about the gutter. Three Feet Off the — oh. Three Feet Off the
Gutter. [Laughing]. Yeah. It was interesting because when my own kids were very small,
we made a stop going there and they said, where did you play? I said where do you think
we played? We played in the street. [Laughing].>>ARMONY SHARE: My parents were living in
Paris, and they were very politically active. They were pacifists and my father refused
to fight in the army — go into the army. My parents were anarchists. They were pacifist
anarchists, and so France said you either go in the army or you stay in jail or you
get out of the country. So he ended up going to Spain. Some kind of
a political exile type of program, and he spent time there until another country would
accept him, which was — ended up being Argentina. And he got on the ship to go to Argentina,
and people he met on the ship said no, no. You don’t want go to Argentina. You go to
Uruguay, Montevideo, so that’s where he ended up.
>>JOYCE SINDEL: My grandmother, Rose, Rose Faierman, was in charge of taking her family
to the United States. She got from Turov to Bremen with her children. And somehow she
was bilked out of her money, so they ended up coming in steerage.
>>ARMONY SHARE: Meanwhile, my mother went back to Russia because she wanted to participate
in the formation of the new government and she was active there. By then, the Bolsheviks
were in power, and she was not a Bolshevik; she was a Menshevik.
While living in Paris, she became acquainted with Trotsky and his wife. She told me that
when she went back to Russia, she saw Trotsky and she said, “I bring you greetings from
your wife.” He said to her, “Welcome back Sonia,” and she said that’s the last time
she spoke to him and last time she ever saw him. So they never made contact with him when
he arrived in Mexico. She was very active politically, passing out
brochures and propaganda-type things. And so ended up in a lot of trouble, and was picked
up, put in jail, and ended up being sent to Siberia for a year.
>>JOYCE SINDEL: My mom came from Poland — Sokalov, Poland, and my grandfather had been in the
Polish Army, where he learned to like all kinds of “un-kosher” food.
>>ARMONY SHARE: While in Siberia, she had some training as a midwife, and again, she
was like my father. Not necessarily in jail, although, she did spend time locked up, but
then being way up where there is nowhere she could really go to. There was a town nearby
and they were eventually given some freedom to be in the town. So she did a lot of — delivered
babies and other such things in the town and earned a little extra money, and eventually
was able to escape and made her way back to Moscow.
Meanwhile, my father found out that she had been sent to Siberia, and so he decided to
go back and try to help her escape. They met up again in Moscow, and from Moscow they stayed
there for a little bit of time, and then they went to Paris. And again had to leave and
left and decided to go to Mexico. I suspect that one of the reasons they went
to Mexico is because my father had learned Spanish, and they both knew French, so Spanish
would be easier.>>JOYCE SINDEL: My grandmother, Esther, was
very European, very kosher, and they first came to England. It is all very cloudy to
me, but somehow or the other the Farbstein family arrived in St. Louis. Why did they
come to Boyle Heights? I don’t know.>>ARMONY SHARE: My parents were very active
politically in Europe, so for many reasons they ended up going to Mexico between 1918
and 1921, more or less. We moved went to Boyle Heights sometime in
1942. I spoke not one word of English. My father did not drive and my parents did not
speak English at all at this point. And I have an older brother. He’s six years
older than I, so he must have been all of 15 — 14 or 15 when we moved. And he drove
the family in an old car from El Paso, where we lived for a couple of years waiting for
our papers to come through to immigrate to the United States, and then he drove all of
the way to California and — because my parents didn’t drive.
>>HELEN BIALECK: We didn’t belong to a synagogue, but I did attend Cornwall Street Synagogue,
especially at holiday times. My father wasn’t a religious person, and I think a lot of it
had to do with financial reasons. We identified as Jews, and we practiced a lot of the things
that happen in a normal family of the Jewish people, but we did not belong to a synagogue.
My mother was raised in an orthodox family, so a lot of what we did was — we couldn’t
— we were not allowed to write on Saturday, which was the Sabbath. And this was a carryover
from my mother’s learning. We weren’t allowed to, you know, carry money on Sabbath, and
it was a lovely feeling of being encompassed in a larger group.
>>ARMONY SHARE: I used to go to a Jewish school at the Folkshul, which was on Soto
Street, and it was — strictly Yiddish. We would learn to read and write Yiddish, and
we learned about the literature and all of the writers — the Yiddish writers and about
the history of the Jewish people, so it was mostly cultural. There was no religion involved.
>>>>HELEN BIALECK: I remember the news boys running up and down the streets, waving the
newspapers and announcing that war had been declared, that Pearl Harbor had been bombed,
and so it was right after the war that we came to Los Angeles.
>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: I remember during the war when there was gasoline rationing, and we
had very little gasoline because it was needed for the Army.
I went to the Wabash Library regularly, and it was a walk. Nobody was driven to school,
nobody was driven to the library or to anywhere. First of all, there was no gasoline during
the war for anything, but what you might want to do special with the family on Sunday, for
example.>>JACKIE WATERMAN: You had stamps, there
was gas rationing. Certain days you could drive your car, and you couldn’t get sugar,
butter, meat was in short supply, um, many things. And I know my mother used to switch
her stamps for sugar and gave it to a lady who would help us out sometimes in the house,
and she would give us the butter stamps, and you would switch these kinds of things and
try and manage that way, except when it was canning time. When there was canning, Mom
needed all of the sugar she could get, and they would have these big vats, and you would
can all of your fruits and vegetables.>>ARMONY SHARE: Of course, we were all big
in on buying the stamps, the savings stamps, and we ended up turning them into bonds, so
we would buy $0.10 at a time or whatever, and then turn them into savings bonds.
We also had newspaper collections, newspaper drives. We used to have — collect tin foil
from the bubble from the gum, from the gum wrappers.
>>JACKIE WATERMAN: This was during World War II. I went to City Hall every Saturday
and became a runner for Captain Mabel Patton. As a runner, what you did, they would give
me things and I would have to take them to different offices, and this all had to do
with the war. And I had no idea what I was running, but I was a runner.
>>ARMONY SHARE: Living through the war when we were living in Boyle Heights, you know,
things changed a bit. Things were not available. Sometimes there was rationing. Socially, of
course, a lot of the people — first of all, a lot of the Japanese people were sent — all
of the Japanese people were sent away. I did not have any Japanese friends at the time.
I was more affected by — I remember being at the Meralta Theatre one night and seeing
a group of sailors — of U.S. sailors — come in and shine the lights at the legs, at the
feet of all of the people sitting there and pull out any that they thought were Zoot Suiters.
And that was really scary to have seen all of this happen. And I also saw busloads of
servicemen come down First Street and beating up some of the Zoot Suiters.
>>JACKIE WATERMAN: I used to go — I remember I was in junior high school. This was during
the war. There were no men around and the women were all working in the war industry.
Any warm body that could be an usher at the Philharmonic or the Biltmore Bowl, it was
called, across the street, could be an usher. Now, I loved to go to the plays and the operas
and all, and I ushered.>>JOYCE SINDEL: I did, too —
>>JACKIE WATERMAN: You too.>>ARMONY SHARE: So did I. And the programs
— yeah. The Civic Light Opera Association, that’s where we used to see most of the shows.
>>JOYCE SINDEL: The Philharmonic was in that church building and we would climb, climb,
climb, climb to the tip — Mary. Mary was her name, who was in charge of the volunteers.
I remember — you had the programs, but I remember. [Laughing].
>>JACKIE WATERMAN: Now On Sundays, frequently, during the World War II, my dad would drive
us to Hollywood to see the war, the newsreels, and we would watch the newsreels.
>>ARMONY SHARE: Now when we used to see a lot of the war movies at the theater and,
of course, the newsreels that they used to have all of the time. And the sound of the
airplanes dropping bombs, I still, to this day, when I hear the sound of airplanes coming
by that make that similar sound, it just takes me right back to it.
>>HELEN BIALECK: I remember being at Safeway on First Street with my mother during the
war and bread was hard to come by, so she got hold of a loaf of bread and she put it
in her wagon, and turned around to get something and someone stole her [gasping] bread. And
you had to have coupons for that, I believe. One of the fashions I remember were these
great big bell skirts with appliques on them, you know like —
>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: That was in high school.>>JACKIE WATERMAN: Yeah. That was in high
school, but that was in 48, 49, and 50. And I remember people being very creative and
cutting out animals and being attached with chains —
>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: The poodle.>>HELEN BAILECK: — and leashes and —
>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: Poodle then.>>HELEN BAILECK: Yeah, poodle then.
>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: I had a poodle haircut.>>HELEN BIALECK: Yes.
>>JOYCE SINDEL: I remember in high school, we wore long narrow skirts —
>>ARMONY SHARE: I was just going to say, the pencil skirt.
>>JOYCE SINDEL: It was hard to run in them, that’s for sure.
>>ARMONY SHARE: Sweater shirts, I remember were popular when we were in high school.
>>CHARLOTTE GUSSIN-ROOT: I didn�t have enough money to be concerned about fashion.
I was very lucky that I could find suitable things to wear, but I did envy one or two
of the girls in high school that had a million sweaters. Always had a sweater and always
it seemed like new, but for me, I was glad that I had something to wear, actually.
>>ARMONY SHARE: I will never forget this. Joyce Shoes. I always wanted —
>>JACKIE WATERMAN: And they were $20. That was a lot of money.
>>ARMONY SHARE: That’s right.>>JACKIE WATERMAN: And every day when I would
get home from school, I would get my white polish out, I would and polish them, and buff
them.>>JOYCE SINDEL: My mother would take us to
Bullock�s August sale, and buy us a complete wardrobe for school. There was only one sale
a year, period. Not every day.>>ARMONY SHARE: Right.
>>JOYCE SINDEL: Not every week as we have now. And people from all over the city would
come very early in morning and go shopping. And the same thing for Magnin�s, also had
once a year sale, and people would line up from all over Los Angeles, including Beverly
Hills, and go shopping. The Famous was the one and only white table cloth restaurant
on Brooklyn Avenue.>>HELEN BIALECK: Joyce Sindel’s family owned
The Famous Restaurant. That was the name of it, The Famous Restaurant. And that was located
on Brooklyn Avenue, just facing Cornwall Street. And we couldn’t go there very often, but when
we did, it was just — it was very, very nice. It was a special occasion to be able to — well,
for us to be able to go there.>>JOYCE SINDEL: Well, it was 1942 and my
mom closed the store and my dad decided that he and Uncle Nicky would buy this neighborhood
restaurant, which was this like the iconic, white table cloth, linen restaurant in the
neighborhood. And it is called The Famous. People from City Hall managed to do that for
lunch and so forth. So that — yeah. That was pretty interesting.
My dad died in 1954, and they were in the process of opening another Famous restaurant
on La Cienega. And in fact, it did open, and my dad was managing the one in Boyle Heights
and my brother stepped up to help do that. And the one on La Cienega was just north of
Melrose.>>ARMONY SHARE: We didn’t go out very much.
Once in a while. But we went out as family we went with — remember, we didn’t have a
car either, so we were pretty limited, but since my parents had the store, every so often
on a Sunday, we would go out to dinner as a family. We would go to The Famous.
>>JOYCE SINDEL: Really? [Laughing]. Thank you.
>>HELEN BIALECK: I think it�s a wonderful thing to have this sort of situation occur
because a memory is something that can’t be reconstructed after a person died. And after
a community’s elders pass away, they take with them a history that we can’t replicate
any other way. So recording a history, a verbal history of what people experienced is just
so superior to anything that a writer could accomplish later and try and tell what happened.
>>JOYCE SINDEL: [Singing]. Far off, up on the hillside. I hear the music
playing. La, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da.
Sarasponda, Sarasponda, Sarasponda ret set set.
Sarasponda, Sarasponda, Sarasponda ret set set.
Da, da, da, da, da, da, da. Da, da, da, da, dum. Da da da dum. Yeah! [Laughing].
>>ARLENE DUNAETZ: We love each other. [End] DISCLAIMER:� This is NOT a certified or
verbatim transcript, but rather represents only the context of the class or meeting,
subject to the inherent limitations of realtime captioning.� The primary focus of realtime
captioning is general communication access and as such this document is not suitable,
acceptable, nor is it intended for use in any type of legal proceeding. TOTAL RECALL CAPTIONING, INC. HYPERLINK “http://WWW.YOURCAPTIONER.COM”
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