Partial Transcript: Uh, today, today is August 12th, 2015.
Segment Synopsis: Sara Levy talks about growing up in Williamson, West Virginia. She goes on to discuss the Williamson Bargain Store, a clothing store that was owned and operated by her parents.
Keywords: Appalachia; Stone; Tug River; West Virginia; Williamson (W. Va.); Williamson Bargain Store
Subjects: Childhood; Entrepreneurship; Jewish businesspeople; Jewish children; Small business--Ownership
Map Coordinates: 37.6742682, -82.2773629
Partial Transcript: Um, so, when did it--when did your parents move to Williamson, and when did they--
Segment Synopsis: Levy lists off her mother's family from Williamson. She also discusses her father's immigration into the United States from Poland. Once arrived, her father stayed with family in Chicago and worked as a theatre attendant while he taught himself English and assimilated.
Keywords: Chicago (Ill.); Coal; Coal mining; Edith Shannon; Harry Shannon; Hollers (hollows); Jimmy Shannon; Marvin Shannon; Peddlers; Poland; Raymond Shannon
Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Family histories.
Partial Transcript: And how, how, how old was he and when did he move from Chicago to Williamson?
Segment Synopsis: Levy recounts the story of her father coming to Williamson as a peddler, traveling to remote areas and selling odds and ends, and founding the Williamson Bargain Store with a Syrian business partner named Mikhel. Her father eventually bought out his business partner and remained in Williamson.
Keywords: Appalachia; Auschwitz; Ben Stone; Coal; Coal mining; Concentration camps; Hollers (hollows); Holocaust; Peddlers; Williamson (W. Va.); Yiddish
Subjects: Entrepreneurship; Family histories.; Jewish businesspeople; Small business--Ownership
Partial Transcript: So, okay. He was here and he went into business with Mikhel, and then Mikhel left the business or your father bought him out.
Segment Synopsis: Levy talks about the clothing store her father owned, Williamson Bargain Store. She and her sister both worked in the store throughout their childhood and attended Williamson Grade School.
Keywords: Cleveland (Ohio); Ofsa Shoe Store; Williamson Daily News; Williamson Grade School; Williamson High School
Subjects: Childhood; Education; Entrepreneurship; Jewish businesspeople; Jewish children; Small business--Ownership
Map Coordinates: 41.49932, -81.6943605
Partial Transcript: Can you tell me a little bit about your parents' relationship to Judaism?
Segment Synopsis: Levy recounts her parents' religious practices and beliefs. Her father was not particularly religious and her mother was a devout convert to Judaism. She also recounts her father meeting her mother in the Steckler household.
Keywords: B'nai Israel Temple; Conversion; Gefilte Fish; Huntington (W. Va.); Peddlers; Ruth Steckler; Steckler; Temple
Subjects: Family histories.; Jewish families.; Jews--Identity.; Worship (Judaism)
Map Coordinates: 38.420833, -82.423611
Partial Transcript: Now at--I'll tell you about another experience.
Segment Synopsis: Levy recounts a story of being mocked by a fellow student for being Jewish when she was six years old. This eventually led to a confrontation that led Levy to push her bully down a flight of wooden steps. Williamson Grade School sent teachers to Levy's classroom to teach about Jesus and sing gospel music with the students.
Keywords: Columbus (Ohio); Danny Freeburg; Gloria Ginsburg; Gospel music; Morris Ginsburg; Nashville (Tenn.)
Subjects: Anti-Semitism; Antisemitism; Childhood; Discrimination.; Jewish children
Map Coordinates: 39.9611755, -82.9987942
Partial Transcript: You mentioned, uh, your mom cooking for holidays.
Segment Synopsis: Levy recounts the role of Jewish tradition during her childhood. Her mother was a devout convert and assimilated into Jewish culture and customs. Her father made Chrain from horseradish root and her mother made gefilte fish.
Keywords: Chrain; Gefilte Fish; Hess family; Kashrut; Kosher; Shabbos; Taylor Jewelry Store
Subjects: Childhood; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Religion; Worship (Judaism)
Map Coordinates: 38.4192496, -82.445154
Partial Transcript: And their son--Sonia and I were older because Ted Hess wanted to date one of us.
Segment Synopsis: Levy talks about meeting Erle and their first date together. At 16, she met Erle on a blind date in the summer of 1951. She also mentions Zeta Beta Tau and the Jewish students involved in the UK chapter of ZBT.
Keywords: Ivan Goldfarb; Joyland Country Club; Ted Hess; University of Kentucky; Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT)
Subjects: College students--Religious life; College students--Social conditions; Greek letter societies.; Jews--Identity.; Jews--Kentucky--Lexington.; Lexington (Ky.)
Partial Transcript: So you came and you started school in 1953?
Segment Synopsis: Levy discusses daily life at University of Kentucky in the 1950s, as well as the student dating scene during this time. She also talks about a history professor, Enogh Khrae, who scheduled a test on Yom Kippur and refused to allow her to make up the exam.
Keywords: Enogh Khrae; European History; Fine art; Jewell Hall; Yom Kippur; Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT)
Subjects: Anti-Semitism; Antisemitism; College students--Social conditions; Discrimination.; Greek letter societies.; Jews--Kentucky--Lexington.; University of Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.0389023, -84.504929
Partial Transcript: And when did you get married?
Segment Synopsis: Levy reminisces about marrying Erle. Erle's grandfather owned a shop on Upper Street, Phillip Gall & Son. Levy named her fourth child Phillip, after Erle's grandfather Philip Gall.
Keywords: Clothing stores; Pawnshops; Phillip Gall; Phillip Gall & Son; Upper Street (Lexington)
Subjects: Entrepreneurship; Jewish businesspeople; Jewish families.; Marriage; Small business--Kentucky; Small business--Ownership
Map Coordinates: 38.047215, -84.4987036
Partial Transcript: So, can you tell me, I guess, a little bit about how that time at U.K. impacted your Jewish identity?
Segment Synopsis: Levy discusses Jewish sororities at UK, and other Jewish students at the university. Levy was briefly involved in a sorority that she helped found but left because she did not agree with the group's mission. She wanted the sorority's mission to help other students but other members were not as enthusiastic and used the club for social functions.
Keywords: Hillel; Jewish sorority; Lillian Ruben; Phi Sigma Sigma; Shirley Ruby; Sonia Stone
Subjects: College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Religious life; College students--Social conditions; Greek letter societies.; Jewish leadership--Kentucky--Lexington; Jewish women--Kentucky--Lexington
Partial Transcript: I'm going to ask you some more questions about the family that you and Erle built together, but before I do that and jump ahead to that...
Segment Synopsis: Levy discusses the Jewish community of Lexington. Coming from Williamson, Lexington had a significantly larger Jewish population than her hometown in West Virginia. She recalls 10 or 12 Jewish students that regularly socialized together. They often met at Hillel or at Temple Adath Israel. After Sara and Erle's children grew older she became more involved within the Jewish community in Lexington. She and Erle attended the temple on Friday services as well as during the holidays.
Keywords: Cooper; Gunga Din; Kashrut; Kosher; Moe Davis; Rabbi Leffler; Reform Judaism; Reform Temple; Temple Adath Israel; Yiddish
Subjects: College students--Religious life; Jewish families.; Jews--Kentucky--Lexington.; Lexington (Ky.); Worship (Judaism)
Map Coordinates: 38.035655, -84.482845
Partial Transcript: Um, is there anything that else that you would like to share looking back, or?
Segment Synopsis: Levy gives her closing statements for the interview. She talks about her husband Erle and her admiration for him. She also remembers to tell a story about her involvement in a university carnival sponsored by the campus fraternities, perhaps taking place on St. Patrick's Day.
Keywords: Fraternity; St. Patrick's Day; University of Kentucky
Subjects: College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Greek letter societies.; Marriage
FERNHEIMER: Uh, today--today is August 12th, 2015. My name is JaniceFernheimer, I'm associate professor of writing, rhetoric, and digital studies, and director of Jewish studies here at the University of Kentucky. And it is my great pleasure to have the honor to interview Miss Sara Levy of Lexington, now, but we're going to find out where from earlier, here in the student--Louis B. Nunn studio for oral history. Um, okay, I think we're going to go ahead and get started. Thank you for coming. It's a real honor to have this opportunity to get to ask these questions. This interview is part of the Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project, funded by the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence. Um, can you tell me what was your name at birth?
LEVY: Sara Ann Stone.00:01:00
FERNHEIMER: And where and when were you born?
LEVY: Williamson, West Virginia, which is right on the border of Kentucky,separated by the mighty Tug River, which I'm sure you've heard of.
LEVY: And my parents' store was in West Virginia, and our house was across theriver in Kentucky.
FERNHEIMER: Oh, wow.
LEVY: So, it was interesting.
FERNHEIMER: What were your parents' names? And you told us they opened up or owned--
FERNHEIMER: --owned the store, but what--how would you classify their occupation?
LEVY: Their occupation? They owned a store. Williamson Bargain Store.
LEVY: And, uh, my sister and I would work on weekends in the store. And thestore was open Monday nights, Monday evenings, till nine o'clock. All the stores in Williamson, almost all of them were Jewish owned. Very few not 00:02:00Jewish. And they picked Monday night to stay open, so that's what they did. Sonia and I--my sister, Sonia and I worked at the store a lot.
FERNHEIMER: And how--when--you say they stayed open late on Monday, 'til aboutwhat time?
LEVY: Nine o'clock.
CREW: Do you your paper down there, just so--
LEVY: Are you taking this away from me, John?
CREW: I just went to set it right there for you, if that's okay.
CREW: Just so--it--
CREW: --makes a lot of noise when it's in your hand, and I want you to be ableto use your hands.
LEVY: I don't--
LEVY: That's good.
CREW: Yeah, without it--
CREW: --rustling around.
LEVY: Excellent. Thank you, John.
CREW: You're welcome.
FERNHEIMER: Um, So, when did it--when did your parents move to Williamson, andwhen did they--
LEVY: --my mother--
FERNHEIMER: --open the store?
LEVY: --grew up there, in West Williamson. And my mother's mother died when mymother was ten years old. She had four brothers.
FERNHEIMER: Do you the names of, uh--00:03:00
LEVY: The brothers?
FERNHEIMER: Well, uh, your mother's name, and then the names of the brothers.
LEVY: Yes. My mother's name was Edith Shannon. And, uh, the brother'sname--was Jimmy, Marvin, Raymond, and Harry was the baby.
FERNHEIMER: Oh, okay. And your father? His name?
LEVY: My father was a Polish immigrant. He and a sister came over when he wastwelve years old. And. um, the sister, I think, was about eighteen months younger than he. Twelve years old. And they were in steerage on a boat, and he was so sick. Motion sick. I remember him telling me he thought he was going to die on that boat, he really did. A twelve-year-old child. So, um, they got to Chicago, and there was a distant cousin, Cousin Sam, who let the two children 00:04:00sleep on his kitchen floor. And that was not a unique way to do--
FERNHEIMER: And how did your father get from Chicago, sleeping on the kitchenfloor at his uncle's--Cousin Sam's to Williamson?
LEVY: No, no, Chicago.
LEVY: Cousin Sam was in Chicago.
FERNHEIMER: Right, but you--your father stayed with Cousin Sam in Chicago and, uh--
LEVY: As a child.
LEVY: And he learned to speak English--
LEVY: --by ushering in a theater, a movie theater, and then he would go to seeplays, sneak in, as much as he could. And this was in Chicago.
FERNHEIMER: And how--how--how old was he and when did he move from Chicago to Williamson?
LEVY: He had to be probably in his early thirties or late twenties. And thereason he moved to Williamson was because he kept hearing stories about the coal 00:05:00mines making people wealthy, that you could make a really good business because coal was king--
LEVY: --at that time, and Williamson was--coal mining town. So, he came toWilliamson, and he ended up--he was a peddler first, and when I say a peddler, he had a--I remember him telling me he had a big sack that he carried on--my father was a little guy. (laughter) I mean, he was, like, five foot four.
FERNHEIMER: My height!
LEVY: Carried on his back--and went from house to house in what they call up inthe hollers.
LEVY: I don't know if you know what the hollers are, but maybe you can describeit better, just--
LEVY: --it was like a group of houses--it's like a little village, but very little.
LEVY: And no elected officials. It was just a group. A neighborhood,like--so, he carried his peddling stuff. He carried pots and pans and sewing stuff and tools and all kinds of stuff. And he would go from house to house and sell the stuff at--sometimes one of the women would tell him, "The next time you come through, I need a certain kind of needle." Or, "I need a thing for my sewing machine," and s-- on and on. So, he did well doing that. My dad was very friendly, very easy to talk with. So, he did very well. Then he--in Williamson, he made friends with a guy that he called Michel. And Michel was Syrian. They went into business together. This is before he met my mother. 00:07:00
FERNHEIMER: What year about do you think this was? Roughly what year do youthink this was that he started the business with Michel?
LEVY: Um, I have--well, my sister was born in 1933, and I was born in 1935.And he had been in business--or he may have just started the business, because--well, Sonia and I worked in the store, but we were already twelve or thirteen years old when we did that. Eleven or twelve. So, what year? It would have to be, uh, maybe in the late '30s.
LEVY: So, Michel was Syrian and didn't like Jews, except he didn't think myfather was like most Jews. That's--he literally said that. Anyway, Daddy 00:08:00ultimately bought his share of the business, of the Williamson Bargain Store, which was on a corner of Main Street. First--Second Avenue was the big main street in Williamson, was Second Avenue. And, um, I think Michel maybe went back to Syria or something. I don't know where he went. But then, my dad owned the store and used to take the train to Chicago to buy merchandise. And--
FERNHEIMER: Did he still stay with his cousin Sam when he would go to Chicago?
LEVY: I think Sam died.
FERNHEIMER: Oh, okay.
LEVY: But he brought over a sister. He brought over a brother.
LEVY: Uncle Ben, my father's brother. Now, I think all of that has to beprefaced by the fact that my father's father was so frum that he would not bring 00:09:00the family to this country--
LEVY: --because he said it was too traif, and he didn't want my dad coming tothis country. He didn't want my dad's brother Ben coming to this country, or his sister, Sophie. Those were the three that got here. The rest of the family was sent to Auschwitz.
FERNHEIMER: Um-hm. They stayed at home.
LEVY: And he got a letter from someone that had--it had been sent through Sweden--
LEVY: --a letter, and it was in Yiddish. And, uh, that's how he knew the restof the family was gone.
FERNHEIMER: What was the town that your father was from in Poland? Do you know?
LEVY: I don't have a clue.
LEVY: It was Poland.
LEVY: Lover of Jewish people, yeah.
FERNEIMER: So, okay, he was here and he went into business with Michel, andthen Michel left the business, or your father bought him out. 00:10:00
LEVY: He bought him out, and--
LEVY: --stayed in business for years. I mean, we grew up--we always had niceclothes, because it was a clothing store.
FERNHEIMER: Right. What else did they sell besides clothing?
LEVY: Is what?
FERNHEIMER: What else did they sell or did you sell?
LEVY: Well, there--there was, uh, children's wear--
LEVY: --and some men's wear, but I didn't pay attention, really, to that sideof the store except for hanging up stuff and, you know, getting it straight and--that's what Sonia and I did, uh--
FERNHEIMER: And your sister Sonia was older, uh, correct?
LEVY: Right. When we were going to school, and--yeah, we were probably--well,we were always--pretty much always working in the store, but--given responsibility and shown how to use the cash register. We were already in--probably the fifth grade. Maybe fourth. Fourth or fifth grade, we could 00:11:00use the cash register.
LEVY: And give the correct change--(laughter)--because there was no--this isautomatic. The automatic was us, so that was fine.
FERNHEIMER: And was it just you and your sister? Did you have any brothers orother siblings? Did you have other siblings?
LEVY: No, just my sister and I.
LEVY: And we're still very close.
FERNHEIMER: Is she local, in Lexington?
LEVY: She lives in Cleveland.
LEVY: She married a guy from Lexington. They got married. And her husbandfixed Erle up with me.
FERNHEIMER: Nice. We're going to get there in just a second.
FERNHEIMER: Before we get there, I want to talk a little bit more--ask you afew more questions about your childhood and growing up in Williamson. Can you tell me about where you went to school?
LEVY: I went to grade school, what they called grade school, then, which was afirst, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. 00:12:00
LEVY: And that was in on building, and then next to that building was, um,junior high, seventh, eighth, ninth, and then tenth, eleven, and twelve was the senior building.
FERNHEIMER: What was the name of the school?
LEVY: Williamson--well, it was Williamson High School, and wasn't--I think itwas Williamson Grade School--
LEVY: --and, uh, the middle--I think the grade school and the middle school wasall in one building, but in different rooms. And we used to have a preacher come in. We had preachers come in to make what they call--I--I don't know what they called it, but they would have, like, a big rally for Jesus.
LEVY: And by the time I was in fifth grade, I didn't want to be in the room,00:13:00but they didn't let you go out. So, I just sat there. One other Jewish kid was in my class, Danny Friedberg, who is a pediatrician in Cincinnati now.
LEVY: Or maybe he's retired now. He probably is, 'cause he would be eighty,also. Yeah. So--
FERNHEIMER: How do you spell his last name? Friedberg? F-R--
LEVY: F-R-I-E-D-B-E-R-G. Friedberg.
FERNHEIMER: And did his family also own one of the stores? You said--
LEVY: They had a furniture store. His father actually was a lawyer and--butthe family had a furniture store. And then he had a brother, Paul, who also became a lawyer, and Danny became a doctor.
FERNHEIMER: Do you remember the name of their furniture store?
LEVY: Almost all of the stores in Williamson were owned by Jews. So,00:14:00Friedberg--wasn't Friedberg Furniture. I don't know what it was, but the--I cannot think what it was. You know when--it'll come to me and I'll call you--
FERNHEIMER: --that's fine--
LEVY: --'bout one o'clock in the morning.
FERNHEIMER: No problem.
LEVY: And I'm trying really hard to go to sleep.
FERNHEIMER: I'll be up! (laughs)
LEVY: Yeah, you will be.
FERNHEIMER: (laughs) Um, so there was a furniture store, there's your family'sbargain store. Can you tell me at least the kinds of stores--the other stores that were in downtown--
LEVY: Clothing stores--there was Brown Clothing Store. Sam and Bessie Brown.
LEVY: And Sonia and I got our nicer clothes there.
FERNHEIMER: So, that was more upscale kind of clothing, or--was it more upscale clothing?
LEVY: My um--yeah, upscale. Our store was more moderate. Like, two of ourbest sellers were, uh, Vicky Vaughn and Tony Todd. And they were, like, nice, 00:15:00everyday clothes. I loved the names. Vicky Vaughn. Tony Todd.
FERNHEIMER: Very alli--
LEVY: I used to make up stories about 'em. I used to make up poems about 'em.(laughter) So, that was fun.
FERNHEIMER: Wow, wow. Any other stores that were--that you can remember?
LEVY: Well, Schwachter's, um, there was a shoe store. Ofsa Shoe Store,O-F-S-A. And these were very good friends of my parents.
LEVY: Um, the dentist in Williamson was a Jew, and the doctor--for a long time,the only doctor in Williamson was Jewish. Jerome Gaskill. And the woman who owned the newspaper was Jewish.
FERNHEIMER: What was her name?00:16:00
LEVY: Trying to remember her name. I remember exactly what she looked like.She was nice as she could be, and she wrote a lot of editorials.
FERNHEIMER: Hmm. Uh, do you remember anything--
LEVY: --I want to say--
FERNHEIMER: --in particular?
LEVY: --her last name was Shine, S-H-I-N-E. And--and I'm saying she owned thenewspaper. I think probably Hearst or somebody owned--but she is the one that was in charge of it. I don't know how they did that as far as ownership--
LEVY: --or anything like that.
FERNHEIMER: What was the name of the local paper?
LEVY: Williamson Daily News.
LEVY: Wasn't that clever.
FERNHEIMER: Easy to remember. Can you tell me a little bit about your parents'relationship to Judaism? You said your father's father wouldn't--didn't want anyone moving to the United States--
FERNHEIMER: --'cause it wasn't frum or religious--
LEVY: He--he was, um--
FERNHEIMER: So, what was--
FERNHEIMER: --your dad's relationship to Judaism?
LEVY: My dad.
FERNHEIMER: Or your mom's?
LEVY: No, my dad was Jewish. He was not religious. My mother converted. Shewas much more into traditional Judaism. Observing, making Jewish food. She--she's like the convert that really was a convert and really got into it. I mean, she used to make--she--I remember walking home from school, and as we, uh, crossed a bridge--crossing the river, 'cause we lived on the Kentucky side. We had a big house. And as we approached our house, my mom was cooking for the holidays, you could smell it--(laughter)--because she would get whole fish and cook them, and it smelled so disgusting--I can't even put in words how disgusting it smelled as I was walking toward home. I didn't want to go home 00:18:00because the smell--'cause she would make gefilte fish from scratch. I'm surprised she didn't go to the river and catch the fish, I don't know. (laughter) But, uh, had to be from scratch, and it was like the whole house would stink for days from cooking fish. There were no fans to take the odor out or anything else, and--seemed like it was always hot, and she wanted to make gefilte fish. None of us liked gefilte fish, but we always had a lot of company. Lot of company for all the holidays. So, she always made gefilte fish.
LEVY: But it was good. It was a good--I'm saying it was a good place to growup, but how would I know whether it was or not? It was the place I grew up, and I always felt happy. I mean, I had a happy family. Happy house, happy good--dogs, we always had dogs. And-- 00:19:00
FERNHEIMER: How did your parents meet?
LEVY: My daddy--after--it's--it is interesting, because things come in circlesand they meet each other. My daddy, as I said, was carrying a big pack on his back and going into the hollers and around the mountains selling stuff. There was a family in Williamson itself, Steckler. And Ruth Steckler was one of my mother's best friends. And Mrs. Steckler--because my mother's mother died when my mom was ten years old, she grew up without a mother. But Mrs. Steckler stepped in and gave her--I mean, she spent so much time at the Steckler house, she may have thought she lived there. I don't know what she thought, but she was always with Ruth. Ruth and she were very, very good friends. And that 00:20:00would be why my daddy met my mother, would be that my mother was at the Steckler house and--for all holidays and for Shabbas, they always had her. So, she spent a lot of time there, and they had this bachelor from a big city coming to Williamson. So, they introduced my mom and dad, and my mother was a beautiful, beautiful woman. Pictures of her--I mean, she just--was just gorgeous. So, they ended up together. And, uh--to convert, it took her over a year.
FERNHEIMER: Yeah, what rabbi supervised the conversion?
LEVY: Well, they had to drive to Huntington to--for--
FERNHEIMER: West--in Virginia or in Kentucky?
LEVY: In Williamson, West Virginia--
LEVY: --to Huntington for a rabbi to convert her, 'cause we didn't have a00:21:00rabbi. We had a temple--
LEVY: --and we had a student rabbi from HUC [Hebrew Union College] every otherweekend. It was really interesting.
FERNHEIMER: Were there any other synagogues aside from the temple? Or was itjust the temple in Williamson?
LEVY: How many Jews do you think there were in Williamson?
FERNHEIMER: I'm just asking!
LEVY: It was, like, twenty families--(laughter)--maybe twenty-five families, so--
FERNHEIMER: And what was the name of the temple?
LEVY: B'Nai Israel.
LEVY: I should have brought pictures of--
FERNHEIMER: Oh, you have pictures?
LEVY: I have pictures.
FERNHEIMER: We're going to follow up on the pictures.
LEVY: I mean, they're copies of--you know, paper copies of Sonia and me and thepeople--the kids at the temple and--
FERNHEIMER: Oh, wonderful.
LEVY: I've got all that at the house. I should have thought of that. Didn'tthink about it.
FERNHEIMER: That's okay.
LEVY: So, we were pretty involved in the temple. I played the organ Fridaynight. We did not have Saturday morning services. We didn't even know about 00:22:00Saturday morning services. Sonia and me, we didn't. But--now, at--I'll tell you about another experience.
FERNHEIMER: I'm listening.
LEVY: When I was in first grade, starting school, and Sonia was in the thirdgrade--so, we walked to school, and there was a girl, her name was June Gayle Smith. I hope she's dead now, but I don't know. Um, June Gayle, first day of school--first week. I can't say the first day, but during the first week of school and stuff--I was in the first grade, she was in the first grade. So, she lived about a block from Sonia and me. And she would walk to school behind us, not with us. And she started singing this song about dirty Jews live--should 00:23:00live in garbage cans. A song that she made up, I'm sure. Her own creation. Right behind Sonia and me, walking, singing the song about the dirty Jews, and that was us! And I kept looking back and saying, "Stop it, June Gayle! Stop it! You shouldn't do that. That's nasty. That's mean. That's so mean. How can you be so mean?" She kept right on, right on, right on. So, when we got to school, again, I was saying, "Stop it," and "please don't." She kept on, I pushed her down a flight of steps. Wooden steps. I know now I could have killed her. I could've--she could've been crippled for the rest of her life. I mean, I was terrible. I did that. I wanted to shut her up. She wouldn't shut up. So, I'm excusing myself--can't do that. But that's what I did, I pushed her down a flight of wooden steps.
FERNHEIMER: And you were what, six or seven at the time?
FERNHEIMER: You were six or seven years old?00:24:00
LEVY: I was six.
LEVY: And I wanted her to stop it and she wouldn't. And she didn't like Jews,and Sonia and I were Jews. There were not many Jews, but we were two of them. And, um, of course, I got in a lot of trouble. And mama had to come to school, but my mother came to school on a regular basis because--well, they had, uh--oh, in all the classes, like from first grade on, once or twice a week they would have some woman with a--a cord thing that they brought into the room. Not to--a whole thing, but just to my room and then maybe to somebody else's room. And she would teach and sing, like, gospel music. Like, "Jesus loves me, yes I know, for the Bible told me so." So, she had her little thing and she would sing in it and teach us. So, in my class, it was me and Danny Friedberg. And I 00:25:00wasn't going to sing Jesus loves me, and I didn't. I got in trouble. Not her. I got sent to the principle, because I just sat there. I wanted to go out, but they wouldn't let me go out. And I just sat there. I wasn't going to sing "Jesus loves me." So, I was sent to the principal's office, and the next morning--and I was horrified. I remember crying over this. My mom came to the school. My mom spent a lot of time coming to the school. (laughter) She knew the principal. Marvin was the principal of the elementary and seventh, eighth, and ninth grade. She--he was not the principal--the senior--but the rest of us. So, she knew him, and she came up and bawled him out. And things changed, 00:26:00because I was allowed to leave--Danny and I were allowed to leave our room and go to the library when they came--when the woman came in with her cord and--to teach us about Jesus. We were allowed to leave. But that was because my mom came up. So, she did it for all the Jewish students. All of them. There were four of us, and--
FERNHEIMER: So, it was you, Danny, Sonia, and who was the fourth?
LEVY: Danny, Gloria Ginsberg--
LEVY: --who I'm still friends with. She lives in Columbus.
FERNHEIMER: What did her family do?
LEVY: Her family had a store, Ginsberg's. Her mom was the daughter of verygood friends of my mom and dad. Of course, I mean, they were--everybody was 00:27:00very close. The Jewish community was very, very close. And she married a guy from Nashville who was so handsome. He was so gorgeous. Morris Ginsberg was his name. And his--she was--Esther Helen Azark was her name before she married Morris Ginsberg.
FERNHEIMER: And she changed it from Esther to Gloria?
LEVY: She was Gloria's mother.
FERNHEIMER: Oh, okay, I'm sorry.
LEVY: Yeah. So, I felt like we had a good childhood. I was always satisfied,happy, and I will say my mom always told Sonia and me, "You come from sturdy stock, and don't you ever forget that." And I didn't know what sturdy stock 00:28:00meant, because I remember her explaining to me, strong family. "Your family, your mom, your dad, our brothers and sisters--your dad's family who you didn't even know, they were very, very strong people. Mentally, physically. They were sturdy--and stock, this family you come from, is strong family." And that always--she--I mean, she kept trotting that out all the time. It was always, "Don't forget, you come from sturdy stock." If we were upset about something, "This will pass. You come from sturdy stock. Don't ever leave that somewhere else." I--now I realize that was so smart of her. But I didn't know then. I just thought, oh, I'm sick of the sturdy stock business. So, what else?
FERNHEIMER: You mentioned, um, your mom cooking for the holidays.
LEVY: Oh, God.
FERNHEIMER: Can you tell me a little bit about the role of Jewish tradition in00:29:00your childhood? You talk about Shabbas and the Jewish community being closes--
LEVY: Well, my mother converted--
LEVY: --and it took about a year.
LEVY: They had to drive to Huntington for her to be converted, and they wentonce a month. And she had books that she had to read in the month, and then the rabbi would test her.
LEVY: And she did well. And, uh, she was converted, and it was--a conversionceremony. So, she was so happy and--a--as a convert, she became more Jewish than the Jews. It was just, like, oh--now that I think about it, it was crazy. She really got into it. Gefilte fish from scratch? Whoa! But, at the same time, my father made chrein. He would grate chrein and use beet juice and it was really good. And he would take part of it and put a little bit of sugar in it. 00:30:00
FERNHEIMER: Did he grow the horseradish for the chrein?
LEVY: No, he didn't grow it, but he bought it.
LEVY: They had to special order--
FERNHEIMER: Yeah, that--
LEVY: The A&P had to special order horseradish root for the Jewish men whowanted to do it, and some of the women. So, I mean, I remember coming home from school and getting this awful odor as I approached our house, which was the fish cooking. And then, Daddy grating--
LEVY: --horseradish, with tears--I mean, I'm sorry, it's a--but, you know what?They had to do it, they liked to do it. And I didn't really appreciate it until I was growing up and realized all moms and dads are not like this.
LEVY: Because they were--really good mom and dad.
FERNHEIMER: So, did you have--you said you had--you guys went to temple forSabbath Friday evening. Did you have Shabbat dinners at the house or was that-- 00:31:00
LEVY: Oh, we did a--we had a lot of Shabbat dinners at our house. And when thestudent rabbis came in, they stayed at our house.
FERNHEIMER: Oh, okay.
LEVY: We had a nice guest room in back. I mean, we could accommodate themeasily. Uh, and we did have a lot of Shabbas dinners, because there were a lot of people there who didn't have family. So, my mom kind of felt like we are the family of the people who have no family.
FERNHEIMER: So, it was a big temple?
LEVY: And she was very much like that. Yeah. So, she always had the potroasts. I mean, she cooked stuff, just put--she loved to cook. But she also worked every day. I mean, she did not have an easy life, but she had the life she wanted. And she was really a good mom. She was really good. My daddy was always a good daddy.
FERNHEIMER: Did she work at the store, as well? Your mom? Did she work at the store?00:32:00
LEVY: Oh, yeah.
FERNHEIMER: And were you--she--you said she made pot roast. Did they getkosher meat? Or did--did they care?
LEVY: There--we--there was no kosher.
FERNHEIMER: I didn't think so.
LEVY: There was one kosher family from Germany that--
LEVY: I mean, I must have been--I was still in school when they moved in andbought a jewelry store that used to be Taylor Jewelry Store, I guess the nicest jewelry store in Williamson, 'cause I think there were two. And their name was Hess, and they were German refugees.
LEVY: And their son--Sonia and I were older, because Ted Hess wanted to dateone of us. (laughter) And ultimately wanted to become engaged.
FERNHEIMER: With you or, uh--
LEVY: To me. Did I want to marry Ted Hess? No. Did I want to go out with him?No. And I quit going out with him, because he wanted--I mean, it started out with, you know, "You want to go--go to the movies?" or something like that, and 00:33:00that was okay. But then, when it was just getting too often--and I stopped it, 'cause I started thinking he couldn't be thinking of a future together, 'cause--I think at that time, I had already met Erle, and I knew that was coming together, to get him.
LEVY: To get Erle.
FERNHEIMER: So, tell me a little bit about what dating was like, and then I--Iwant to hear the story about how you knew--how you know about Erle, how you met him, and--and how you came to get in--um--
LEVY: I met him on a blind date. Sonia was here in Lexington.
FERNHEIMER: Was she at the university?
LEVY: Library science. UK [University of Kentucky] had a great library sciencebuilding, because we--I went also--I mean, I visited West Virginia University, which--we could go to either one, or we could go to Ohio State. I didn't want to go to Ohio State. And, um, we both--Sonia came here because it had a good 00:34:00library science--she wanted a degree, and I said, "What are you going to do with that?" She's, "I'm going to be in charge of a large library, preferably a university library." I mean, she had it all planned out.
FERNHEIMER: And what year was this that she started at the university, do you remember?
LEVY: Nineteen fifty-three. I graduated high school, but I had already met Erle.
FERNHEIMER: Okay, so she started in 1953 or you started in 195--
LEVY: I started in--I graduated high school in '53.
LEVY: Sonia started in '51.
LEVY: And so, she was already--had friends, and there was a Jewish sorority.And there was a ZBT [Zeta Beta Tau] chapter.
FERNHEIMER: Was your sister part of the sorority?
LEVY: No, so, there was--all of the Jewish boys that we knew belonged to ZBT,and they had a house. And when I was chasing Erle, I used to just go over to 00:35:00the fraternity house and hope that he might--'cause he didn't live there. He lived in Lexington, in his home. And I'm just thinking that maybe he'll come by and I'll get to see him. I think now the boys there probably thought I was some kind of schlepper or--I don't know what they thought. But I would just come and just--and when I first came to Lexington to get Erle--'cause I met him in high--I was in high school.
FERNHEIMER: Tell me about that night.
LEVY: Well, that was a--
FERNHEIMER: When you first met him.
LEVY: --blind date.
FERNHEIMER: You were how old?
LEVY: I was sixteen.
FERNHEIMER: Okay, and he was how old?
LEVY: He was seventeen.
LEVY: And he had just started his freshman year, mid--in January, he started,and he was smoking a pipe. Oh, so sophisticated!
FERNHEIMER: So, this was '51? January of '51?00:36:00
LEVY: I would have met him--not in January, but probably in the spring or early summer.
FERNHEIMER: Okay, and he was smoking his pipe.
LEVY: It was in the summer. It was June. I met him in June.
FERNHEIMER: Okay. So, tell me about this blind date. Who were you supposedto--you were set up with him or someone else?
LEVY: With him.
LEVY: And my brother-in-law, who was dating Sonia at that time--Ivan Goldfarb.
FERNHEIMER: And he was at the University of Kentucky, as well? Ivan?
LEVY: Yes, he--he lived in Lexington, and he was, uh, a scientist. And hemajored in organic chemistry and worked for the government. Worked for the Air Force. He did a whole bunch of stuff, I don't know. Stuff that I don't know about and don't really want to know about, because when you start talking 00:37:00numbers and chemistry--no. So, I'm--they fixed us up on a blind date, and I kissed Erle on the first date. (gasps) That was, like, (gasps) nobody--only trashy people did that. But I did it.
FERNHEIMER: Where did--where did he pick you up? Where did you go? What didyou do besides kiss him?
LEVY: We went--the first date, we got something to eat and sat around talking,Ivan and Sonia and Erle and me. And that was fun. And then, two nights later, Erle called me. Course, I was glued to the telephone. (laughter) And--or maybe I called him, I don't remember now. I really don't. And we went swimming.
FERNHEIMER: Where did you go swimming?00:38:00
LEVY: At Joyland. It was a country club.
LEVY: And I guess Erle's parents or Ivan's parents belonged. And it wasevening, and we went swimming. And I still think that the reason we went swimming was because Ivan and Erle wanted to see us in bathing suits. I do believe that. So, that was okay thing here 'cause I had already decided he was mine, you know? Didn't matter. But what was hard was I was still in high school, and I had to go back and finish high school and then come here. In the meanwhile, he had had almost two years to date this--oh, not nice Jewish girls. 00:39:00Freddy the Body.
FERNHEIMER: Freddy the Body?
LEVY: Yeah, her name was Freddy, and she was built. I can't evenbegin--everything was exactly where it was supposed to be. Everything.
FERNHEIMER: What was her bod--
LEVY: And she used to wear these really tight knit things. I had never evenseen one 'til I saw it on her. (laughter) And then I wanted to slit my throat, because I knew that was it. But she was not Jewish.
LEVY: That was the thing that I had--
FERNHEIMER: What was her last name?
LEVY: --that she didn't have. And he was dating other girls, too. I mean,he--it was just a mess. It was a bad time of my life, going after him. It was very bad.
FERNHEIMER: So, would you say he was the main reason you decided to come to theUniversity of Kentucky? Was--was Erle the main reason you enrolled at UK?
LEVY: I came to Kentucky to get him, not because I wanted to go to Kentucky. Imean, I was always a really good student, so it didn't make any difference where 00:40:00I went. I was going to be a good student. I was always good. But he was in Lexington, and that's--I couldn't get him not being in Lexington. I wasn't sure how I was going to get him, but I got him.
FERNHEIMER: So, you came and you started school in 1953?
FERNHEIMER: And what were you--uh, what were you studying besides Erle?
LEVY: Fine art.
LEVY: I painted. I did a lot of painting and, uh, drawing and that kind of thing.
FERNHEIMER: And where did you live when you were in Lexington? Did you--
LEVY: In the dorms.
FERNHEIMER: Do you remember which one?
LEVY: They tore it down, so I should--Erle would remember exactly which one.Jewel Hall was the second one I lived in. The first one was a freshman dorm. I can't--I don't remember the name. I didn't care about the name. I didn't really care about much except Erle. I was always a good student. I did not 00:41:00have to work hard, ever. So, I didn't take anything with numbers.
FERNHEIMER: Can you tell me about a typical day on campus, then? What--whatyour typical day at UK looked like?
FERNHEIMER: What did--you go--what did you do? Where'd you go?
LEVY: Well, the dorm had, um, cafeteria in the dorm.
LEVY: And I would go there for breakfast, which would be a bowl of cereal andsome fruit. I mean, I didn't even drink coffee. (laughs) I was just so nave, really. Untutored. But I liked my classes, except I had a class from a guy that was an anti-Semite, and his name was Enogh Khrae. 00:42:00
FERNHEIMER: Enogh, how do you spell that?
LEVY: E-N-O-G-H, Enogh.
FERNHEIMER: And Khrae?
LEVY: And it looked to me like it was enough. (laughter) But he--Khrae,K-H-R-A-E, and it had to be a German name or some Eastern European name. But he went out of his way not to give me good grades, and I always made good grades. And I was so ashamed for--'cause our parents got our grades.
LEVY: And I felt like I don't want my mom to see I got a B-!
FERNHEIMER: What did he teach?
LEVY: European history. And I'd never deserved a B-. I deserved an A or evenA- if you wanted to really--and I typed every paper, and I made very good grades on the tests. He didn't like the way I expressed myself in discussing, uh, 00:43:00certain periods. That--that was his reason, 'cause I went into him, I didn't understand why I got a B-.
FERNHEIMER: So, you went to talk to him in office hours?
LEVY: Oh, yeah, yeah. But I was also not happy to go talk to him, because hescheduled a test on Yom Kippur and would not let me make it up.
LEVY: See, out--that would never happen now, be--but in that time, I was seventeen.
FERNHEIMER: Were there other experiences of anti-Semitism that you had on campus?
LEVY: No, mm-mm. He was it, and he just--it--even in discussing a period ofhistory, he always brought up the Jews. The Jews were the ones that brought plague, and that's not true, to Europe. 00:44:00
LEVY: The Jews brought it. And that wasn't true.
LEVY: And I never said anything, because I was afraid of him.
LEVY: He'd--he--he wasn't open to real talking--I mean, some of the professors,you could talk to them like a person, and they were good. Anyway, that's Enogh Khrae.
FERNHEIMER: Enogh Krae, European history.
FERNHEIMER: Can you tell us a little bit about your social life as a student?Were you involved with the Hillel or--you mentioned this--
LEVY: You mean hear?
FERNHEIMER: At UK. Was there--
LEVY: My social life was trying to get one of the ZBT guys to date me becauseErle had a car, and you could ask Erle if we could go with him. I mean, I was asking for the dates. And, uh, Erle got to use his Uncle Sidney's car because 00:45:00he babysat their children. So, I always--
FERNHEIMER: What kind of car was it?
LEVY: It was a two-door blue something--I don't know what kind of car it was,but there was--back seat and a front seat. And he would be in the front with Freddy the Body or Dot Whitehead. That was another one. She had this long, silky, gorgeous, blonde, straight, silky--I mean, it was, like--and I had crunched up--I mean, it was--uch.
LEVY: Wasn't curly. It was just bunchy. It was--you couldn't do anything withit anyway. But I 'd--I used to do bad things to--I did, I--
FERNHEIMER: Like what?
LEVY: Oh, God. Uh, back then, they used to have, like, a fraternity dance and00:46:00dinner, and they would have place cards. Everybody--and I would change the place cards. I would go early and change 'em, so--
FERNHEIMER: And what would you change them from and to?
LEVY: I would put the girls that I didn't want Erle to be around at anothertable, and I would put me right next to Erle. Or across from Erle.
FERNHEIMER: And was he on to you? Did he--
LEVY: He had no clue. (laughter) Poor thing.
FERNHEIMER: And how long did this go on before--
LEVY: Almost two years. About a year and seven months or so, something like that.
FERNHEIMER: And when did things change? How did they change?
LEVY: They changed because I was very bad.
FERNHEIMER: What now?
LEVY: I used to hang around the fraternity house.
FERNHEIMER: And it was located where? Where was the fraternity house?00:47:00
LEVY: State Street.
FERNHEIMER: Okay, State Street and--do you know? State Street, where--on State Street?
LEVY: On State Street, at the university. I don't--I mean, I just knew thatthat--and he didn't live there, but he spent a lot of time at the house, so--now, I don't think any of that ever did me any good. I think, little by little, Erle came--I had several things good about me. Number one, I was Jewish. And number two, he could have a conversation--he and I could talk about--not necessarily about us or anything. We could talk about other things outside of fraternity or the university, or we could talk about world things and 00:48:00about Eleanor Roosevelt and things. I could do that. And some of the girls just--I don't know if they didn't care or they were too stupid or what. But, like, Freddy the Body, who I really despised--I would have paid somebody to break her leg. I would've, I--the thing of it is, I know a guy now--(laughs)--or he's probably not--wouldn't do it now 'cause he's much older. But twenty years ago, I knew a guy in the construction business--(laughter)--that would break somebody's leg for twenty bucks. And he'd--actually did that. I never reported him, but I thought how can you break somebody's leg? How do you do that? He said, "Sometimes push 'em down some steps." And I said, "Well, what if they don't break their leg?" "Well, sometimes they break other things, but it's a broken bone. What do you want?" 00:49:00I--what do I want? Go someplace else. So, I don't know where he is now. His name was Lannie Spears and he was in construction. That's what--Erle was a builder for a lot of years. And that's what we did. It was a weird time. So--
FERNHEIMER: So, it took you two years, but finally, you--
FERNHEIMER: You and Erle ended up together.
LEVY: We did.
FERNHEIMER: And so--
LEVY: And we actually would go out--we-there would be a group of us, like,three or four of us, five of us, and we would be in a group. And most of the time, if I could arrange it--which I could, most of the time--I might be with another guy, but during the evening, I would be with Erle. And I didn't care about the other guy. That's, uh, that's mean to do that. That's mean. I was mean. But I got Erle. 00:50:00
FERNHEIMER: So, was that common, to have these kind of group dates?
LEVY: Yeah, group--you know, you--we would be in a group, and then for certainthings we had a date. And I would--
FERNHEIMER: Like a dance or something like that?
LEVY: Yeah. I would find out whether Erle had his uncle's car or not, and Ifound that out by going different ways to find out.
FERNHEIMER: Can you give me an example?
LEVY: Well, Erle would--would--he would babysit for his Uncle Sidney and AuntZelda, and then he would get to use that car for so many hours that he babysat on. So, he would be telling his best friends at the fraternity--Marty, who--Solomon, who still lives here. Do you know him?
FERNHEIMER: Um-hm, yes.
LEVY: Okay, so he was one of Erle's best friends, and he's still a good friend.And Stuart Yussman, from Louisville.
FERNHEIMER: How do you spell his last name? Stuart?00:51:00
FERNHEIMER: From Louisville?
FERNHEIMER: And he was at UK at the time?
LEVY: Yeah, and he was, uh, in law school, and he later became a lawyer.
FERNHEIMER: Was he in ZBT, as well?
LEVY: Yes, yeah.
FERNHEIMER: How many brothers were there? Are--do you remember?
LEVY: Probab--I don't know, we'll have to ask Erle.
LEVY: But I know he had some very good friends at the fraternity who actuallyare still good friends. Gene Dubow. So, Gene comes to Lexington from time to time, stays with us. His wife has Alzheimer's. They had to sell their house, and they just moved. Oh, it's probably been--maybe it's been a year or less. Moved into, like, assisted living where she could have somebody with her.
LEVY: She can't be left alone, because she doesn't really know what she's doing00:52:00most of the time. That's so sad.
LEVY: It is so, so sad. And he's such a good guy.
FERNHEIMER: He is.
LEVY: Just --
FERNHEIMER: He--so, it was Gene and Marty Solomon and--
LEVY: Stuart Yussman.
FERNHEIMER: Stuart Yussman and--
LEVY: Teddy Breg.
FERNHEIMER: Teddy Breg? And where's--where was Ted--
LEVY: He was from--
LEVY: Just one G, B-R-E-G. He was from New York, and he wasn't fromBrooklyn--I'm trying to remember. He was from an area where there's, like, a beach and--I can't remember that. Erle knows all this. He should be here.
FERNHEIMER: He's got his own interview coming, don't you worry about him.
LEVY: 'Cause he's just a good guy.
FERNHEIMER: So--so, you would go out in these group dates with other people.
LEVY: But then--but then little by little, we came to spend more time together,just the two of us. And we really enjoyed being together. We still enjoy being 00:53:00together. We don't have our--we do not have a lot of time together, the two of us, because he works every day. And the nice thing is, he comes home and he's so happy to get home and I'm so happy to see him. And it's nice. He's--he doesn't play golf. He's got--he still makes plans for expanding--and over the years, we have set--we have the big store in Lexington, then we have the store in Georgetown, a store in Frankfort, a store in Versailles.
FERNHEIMER: And for the interview purpose, can you tell me the name of the stores?
LEVY: Kentucky Lighting. Kentucky Lighting and Supply. And he has expandedthe business so much from the time he took over, which was in the '80s.
LEVY: Late '80s. 'Cause we were in construction. We had, in the Jimmy Carter00:54:00years--and I should say pui, pui, pui when I say Jimmy Carter--what a lousy president. Anyway, see, he still has things to say about Israel, Jimmy Carter.
FERNHEIMER: Yeah, he published that book. But I want to--tell me a little bitmore--I want to stay in--at your--reminiscing back about your college days with Erle. Um, I remember you telling me a story about a certain park bench that you used to wait on. I want--
LEVY: It was not a park bench. It's a little--it's still there.
FERNHEIMER: Tell me--
LEVY: A little bench, a stone bench.
FERNHEIMER: Where is it?
LEVY: It was--I don't know where it is now, because I don't know theuniversity, but it was from the student union, from the--from the business school, um, place, he would come out of there. He would have to go to the student union for lunch. I was across campus, on the third floor of the fine 00:55:00arts building, painting. So, I had to come--run down three flights of steps and run across campus to be sitting on that bench when he got out of class and would be walking by that bench to go to the student union to have lunch.
FERNHEIMER: How often did you do that?
LEVY: Every fucking day. Excuse me.
FERNHEIMER: For how long?
LEVY: For him to walk by. That was all it was for.
FERNHEIMER: And did--
LEVY: And on a really good day, he would say, "Hi." Now, on a great day, hewould say, "Hi. Sara?" "Yeah, Sara." And I would be sitting there like I was reading, but what I was doing was catching my breath because I ran like a lunatic. (panting) (laughter) That's okay. 00:56:00
FERNHEIMER: And you did this for months before--
LEVY: I did this for months and months and months and months, waiting. And hedid do all the things I wanted him to do, was--some days he would say, "Want to come have lunch with us? Why don't you come and have lunch with us?" That was, like, oh, I'm in heaven.
LEVY: That was great. Most days, he didn't even notice me. Then, when he didstart noticing me, he couldn't think of what my name was. And then when he was able to remember my name, because I did tell him, like, seventeen hundred times, then he started kind of looking for me, which I thought was great. I knew he was looking for me. Or maybe I decided I wanted him to be looking for me. And, uh, little by little, he finally was almost every day saying, "Come on, we're going to have lunch. Come on." And I would go. 00:57:00
FERNHEIMER: Who else was there at lunch? Was it the same fraternity brothers?Or who--who would go?
LEVY: It was whoever was in class with him, or somebody that--that came to meethim, because they--everybody got out at the same time. Um, it was--just be three or four people. And if he said come on, I did. Was so happy to do it! So, that went on, and then--and I--I remember he gave me his pin. We--he started saying, "Why don't we go to a movie?" And I said, a lot of times, have you seen so-and-so? And he would say, "No." And I would say, "Well, we should do that, we should go see it." High Noon was when he gave me his pin. High Noon. You wouldn't remember that.
FERNHEIMER: That's the name of the movie?
LEVY: The--yeah, name of the movie. So, that was a great time. And then is00:58:00when I felt safe. I knew I had him.
FERNHEIMER: And how long between that and when you got engaged?
LEVY: Two months.
FERNHEIMER: And this was in '53-4?
FERNHEIMER: And did you get married?
LEVY: The end of '54.
FERNHEIMER: And when did you get married?
LEVY: January 29th, '55.
FERNHEIMER: And you've been married since?
LEVY: Well, you know, he's--he--he said to me, "How long do you think we shouldbe engaged?" And his Uncle Sidney had Phillip Gaul's pawn shop, and they had jewelry.
FERNHEIMER: And that was downtown?
LEVY: It was on Upper Street. It was Phillip Gaul and Son. Erle's grandfatherwas Phillip Gaul. Our son is Phillip Gaul Levy. And our baby boy, Phillip, 00:59:00was--had such love and respect for his great-grandfather, Phillip Gaul--I mean, he just--he had, in his bedroom, Phillip Gaul's hat, a cane that he used one time when he had a bad foot. I think he had gout or something. Um, he had it in one part of the--he had a billfold that his great-grandfather threw out. He found it and he thought it shouldn't be in the garbage, I'm going to take it home. So, he brought it home. He'd had, like, a little shrine. And they had a really close relationship, which was wonderful for him, for our son to have, this terrific, terrific relationship. And the funny thing is, Phillip Gaul 01:00:00didn't talk very much. But when he talked, you listened. And I remember I was pregnant with our fourth child, and I had taken Mimi to the grocery, Phillip's--uh, Erle's grandmother, Mimi. And brought her home, and I sat on the swing with Phillip Gaul. With Pop. We called him Pop. And he said to me, "How," you know, "how do you feel?" And I said, "I feel fine, great." And we just sat there. He didn't talk. And finally, he said, "If this should be a boy, it wouldn't hoit me none, you should name him after me. Wouldn't hoit!" We hadn't thought about that. And I said, "You know, we'll talk about that." And we did--that's what we did. We named him Phillip Gaul, and he and Phillip 01:01:00Gaul, literally joined at the hip.
FERNHEIMER: Oh, that's--
LEVY: And I don't know why. Our Phillip worshipped him. Maybe because he wasnamed after him. And Phillip Gaul would talk to our Phillip. Like, my father would talk to our Phillip, and he was just a little kid! But they talked. I loved that. Always thought that was great.
FERNHEIMER: That is great.
FERNHEIMER: That's a--that's a really sweet story. Can you tell me again aboutwhen you were engaged or when you were talking about how--you had started to tell a story about deciding on the timeframe for being engaged.
FERNHEIMER: How did you make the decision? You--then you started to--
LEVY: Well, we, um, we got engaged in November. And Erle was going to graduatein January--
FERNHEIMER: --in '54--
LEVY: --from college. And he wanted to get married as soon as he finished01:02:00college. He was willing to just stay engaged, and Uncle Sydney got him a pretty diamond. I had a beautiful engagement ring, which Lesley Levy flushed down the toilet along with his master keys to a whole subdivision of houses. It was so horrendous that she flashed the master keys. You know, you can buy another ring. They were gone! And I thought, well, they're somewhere--we can take it apart. I called a plumber. They were gone. Everything was all gone. The ring was gone, the keys were in one big thing, they were gone. Okay. I bring up the ring every now and then just to aggravate her. But she doesn't even remember because she was just a toddler. (laughter) So, I like--you have to have something, leverage. Anyway, so Erle and I--I'll tell you how I actually 01:03:00realized he does want to get married. We had been to a movie, High Noon, and we were walking down--there used to be a Stuart department store and a Wolfwhile's downtown. And we were walking to the car, and we were by ourselves. It was just the two of us, and the movie had Gary Cooper--was the sheriff. So, walking by Stuart's, there--one of their window displays was lingerie. Nightgowns and peignoirs, and Erle looked at a nightgown and he said, "Boy, that would really look good on you." And I almost fainted. (laughter) I thought--"Well, you think you're going to see me in something like that?" And he said, "Well, when we get married." And I thought, oh, he just proposed. But he really didn't 01:04:00propose. He was just talking about someday. So, it just so happened that was right around the--that was when we did engaged, and two months later, we got married. So, he was right. He knew--he just knew what we were going to be doing.
LEVY: And we've always been happy!
FERNHEIMER: And once--how would you say--so, it sounds like your time at UK hada pretty--in--big impact on your life, uh, to--
LEVY: Coming to UK--I came to get him. That's the reason I came to UK.
FERNHEIMER: And--and did you end up graduating? Or did you--
LEVY: I did not graduate. I couldn't care less, I really couldn't. But I wasalways a good student.
LEVY: So, I always made good grades.
FERNHEIMER: So, can you tell me, I guess, a little bit about how that time atU.K. impacted your Jewish identity?
LEVY: There was a Hillel, and I was active in Hillel.01:05:00
FERNHEIMER: How many students went to the events at Hillel?
LEVY: I guess it just depended on--there were enough to feel like you had agroup of friends, because there was also a Jewish fraternity, ZBT, and there was a Jewish sorority, AE [Alpha Epsilon] Phi or AE Pi. Something like that.
FERNHEIMER: Was it Phi Sigma Sigma?
FERNHEIMER: It wasn't.
FERNHEIMER: Okay. A Phi?
LEVY: It was AE Pi or Phi, I don't remember which one, because I did join.
FERNHEIMER: Oh, you did join.
LEVY: And then I left it, because it was just ridiculous.
FERNHEIMER: How many young women were involved when you were there?
LEVY: There were probably nine--eight or nine.
LEVY: That's not much. Or ten, maybe, I don't know.
FERNHEIMER: Was your--
LEVY: But I was one of the original founders, and then I realized--I thought01:06:00what we should be doing as a sorority was--why are we here? Not just to have meetings and eat cookies and Kool-Aid or whatever and talk about who's dating who. That's not--that's not why we're here. We need to have some project, perhaps. Something that we can put our energies into to help other people. There are students here who could use help, whether it's tutoring help, maybe financial help, maybe even taking them shopping, or maybe girls here that have a baby that are still trying to go to school. Maybe we can be an influence of some kind to help. Well, that never came around, and I quit.
FERNHEIMER: How--so, you--how long were you involved, would you say? You're01:07:00one of the founders, but then, six months--
LEVY: But then they--they didn't do anything. They didn't help anybody. Theydidn't make any plans to help anybody. They sat around and talked about who's dating who and, "Who do you want to date?" "Oh, I'd just give anything if he would ask me someplace." "Well, why don't you ask him?" "I would be afraid of asking." Are you going to do something for somebody? What are you going to do, just talk about who you're dating or talk about where you're going or talk about sex? Is that what you want to do? That's not what I want to do.
FERNHEIMER: How--do you remember any of the other girls who were involved?
LEVY: Lillian Ruben.
LEVY: From Louisville. Um, Shirley Ruby was my sister's age, and she was stillpart of this sorority. Or she came back to the sorority because she had not graduated when I was a freshman. She was still in school and-- 01:08:00
LEVY: --a really good woman, really nice person.
FERNHEIMER: Was your sister involved? Sonia? Was Sonia part of the sorority?
LEVY: Sonia--no. Sonia--no, Sonia was not part of the sorority. And I thinkshe must have already graduated, or was going to graduate that year.
FERNHEIMER: So, it started the year you started college, in 1953? AE Phi or AE Pi?
LEVY: No, I think it was, like, 1954, maybe.
LEVY: And they did--again, I left.
LEVY: I mean, I was there almost a year. Nothing was accomplished. I don'tsee a point. And because I was very much in a situation where I was much--rather spend my time with Erle than sitting around with a bunch of girls who didn't want to do anything but talk. They didn't want to do anything. They didn't want to help somebody, they--I mean, there were so many things that you could do on campus to be involved in doing something productive. 01:09:00
LEVY: That sounds really terrible for me to talk that way, but I felt, uh, somuch energy was wasted.
FERNHEIMER: Did they interact with ZBT? That sorority?
LEVY: This--not as a sorority that I remember. I don't remember. I remember Ihad good friends at ZBT be--that--because they were Erle's good friends.
FERNHEIMER: But the sorority and ZBT didn't--
LEVY: I don't--I don't think so. And once I--
FERNHEIMER: --and did--did--
LEVY: --realized the sorority was going nowhere--I mean, it just--
FERNHEIMER: Wasn't what you were interested in.
LEVY: It wasn't doing anything. Nothing.
FERNHEIMER: Did--I'm sorry to keep hammering on this, but I--I'm curious,'cause this is the first I've heard of this particular sorority. Did--did they interact with the sororities on campus? 01:10:00
LEVY: Not that I ever knew, but I'm telling you, I was--
FERNHEIMER: You weren't involved that long.
LEVY: I was involved for a goodly period, probably close to a year.
LEVY: And that's why I left, because I felt like what am I doing with my time?They're doing nothing!
FERNHEIMER: Are--are any of these other women that you mention who were part ofthe sorority as well, Shirley and Lillian, were they--are they still living? Are they still in town or--
FERNHEIMER: --or are you even still in touch?
LEVY: Well, Shirley was--there was another girl, Sandy Shaiken.
LEVY: Shaiken, S-H-A-I-K-E-N or I-N. And she came from a large family. Shehad a brother Arnold and--but--and they were from Greensburg or Greensville, Kentucky, just a really tiny little town. And--
FERNHEIMER: What did they--
LEVY: --she and my sister were good friends, and she became a good friend to01:11:00me. And she was really a good person. She died. And Shirley Ruby also became a good friend. And I don't know if she's still alive or not. You know, this is strange for me to talk about this, because these women are a year or two older than me, and I'm eighty.
LEVY: And, um, I mean, I really do feel lucky to live to be eighty, 'cause someof my friends are dead.
LEVY: My best friend died October 28th.
FERNHEIMER: I'm so sorry.
LEVY: Harriet Cooper.
FERNHEIMER: I know. It was a tremendous loss to the community.
LEVY: Oh, God.
LEVY: Yeah. Anyway--
FERNHEIMER: So, aside from--it sounds like that was a small--a pretty smallgroup of women who were involved in that sorority, and ZBT was pretty active. Is there any other things that you can remember from social life on campus? Did 01:12:00you ever get off campus? What--what kinds of things brought you--
FERNHEIMER: --off campus?
LEVY: Erle's--when Erle's grandmother, Rose Gaul, uh, when Erle and I--we musthave already been pinned. Not engaged yet. Because I met his grandmother, and that was, like, it. That's it. His mother didn't cook, and that was--very strange thing to me that your mother doesn't cook. What do you mean she doesn't cook? They had a cook. And I thought that was strange, but that's okay. It's how you grow up. But here's a woman who never cooked. And even after her children left her house, she never cooked. And it didn't make any difference about Erle's sister Bobbi or about Erle's father, Hyman--that they--dinner was 01:13:00at this time, which is when Erle's mother wanted dinner to be. And the cook was there, Mary. And she made all kinds of stuff. And, um, I had never been around anybody that had a cook. I thought that was really neat that she didn't have to cook. But dinner was that time. If Hyman had--was showing property or anything, it was too bad. Dinner was at that time--that they would go ahead and eat. And I can't--could not imagine--how can you do that?
FERNHEIMER: It sounds like, for you, that dinnertime was family time. And so--
LEVY: Well, it was--I don't know what it was. I know they seemed to eat veryfast, because I remember one of the first times I ever ate with Pauline, Erle's 01:14:00mother, and Erle and Bobbi, and Hyman wasn't there, they went ahead and ate anyway. And I had not finished, but my plate was taken. They--everybody was through, and they thought that you're done. So, it was gone. And I was, like, okey-doke, I can handle this. (laughter) But I never saw anything like that, either. I saw a lot of things that I wasn't used to. But everybody does--you are--you--you become accustomed to your roots, to what your family does. And when you hit somebody else's family and they're totally different, it's different. But that's okay.
FERNHEIMER: Could you--yeah, that's--
LEVY: And you want to get back to--
FERNHEIMER: I'm going to ask you some more questions about the family that youand Erle built together, but before I do that and jump ahead to that, I want to ask a couple more questions about your life at--as a student at UK. Can you--can you give me a kind of general impression of Jewish life on campus at 01:15:00that time?
LEVY: Well, since I came from Williamson, West Virginia, there was a very largeJewish community here. (laughs)
FERNHEIMER: And how many people--
LEVY: In my mind.
FERNHEIMER: How many people would you say?
LEVY: Um, on campus?
LEVY: Well, there were a lot of people that--not a lot, but there were somepeople that I knew--we knew were Jewish, but had--didn't do anything with anything Jewish. Nothing.
FERNHEIMER: So, they weren't involved with Hillel and they weren't--
LEVY: So, they were Jewish but they didn't come with any of us. Uh, so therewas probably ten or twelve that, uh, hung out pretty much together.
FERNHEIMER: And this was the group at ZBT? They also went to Hillel or they--
LEVY: Yeah. Hillel--Hillel was good. Hillel, we had a big Hillel.
FERNHEIMER: Where did--did Hill--
LEVY: And we met at the fraternity house many times for Hillel.01:16:00
FERNHEIMER: Did you--
LEVY: We also met at the temple. Not the synagogue, the temple. And the rabbiat the temple was--his name was Moe Davis when I was there. He was fun, a good--he was a good rabbi. He was fun. I grew up in a Reform temple, and that was a Reform temple.
FERNHEIMER: So, you felt comfortable there.
LEVY: I would've felt comfortable anywhere with Jews. It wouldn't make anydifference. Because, in Williamson, um, there was one family that had--that did keep kosher, that had kosher meat sent in, frozen, to them from somewhere. I don't know where they got it from.
FERNHEIMER: This is in the days well before the internet, so they were havingit sent from pretty far away.
LEVY: It would have had to come from Cincinnati or Huntington or Charleston,something like that.
FERNHEIMER: Huh. Um, so what advice would you give to the Jewish studentsenrolled at UK today?
LEVY: I don't know what the enrollment of Jewish students now. How--how many01:17:00Jews are here?
FERNHEIMER: Probably pretty close to the number of Jews when you were here ismy guess.
FERNHEIMER: We don't have a way of counting, but--legally, we can't ask, um--
LEVY: Right. And the--that was also the case, I think, when I was here. Ithink that it was not on the application. Your religion was not on the application. And I--we knew that there were Jewish students that were not involved or associated with anything Jewish. We knew that. But the ones that were were good people. I mean, they seemed to be. I'm sure some of them weren't. They were--some of--you know, there's always going to be schnorrers and some--uh, you know, there's going to be a--nerds and different people that you don't like. You don't have to love everybody, but--
FERNHEIMER: You've used a lot of Yiddish in our conversation today. Did yourfamily--did your father speak Yiddish at home? Or did you--
FERNHEIMER: --and Erle ever speak--
LEVY: They spoke some Yiddish, but my mother did not grow up in a Jewish home.01:18:00
FERNHEIMER: Did she learn from your dad? Or he--did it stop with him?
LEVY: No, he--they'd--they spoke some Yiddish, and when Daddy was with otherpeople in our congregation that spoke Yiddish, they would speak some Yiddish. I didn't understand--do you know Rafi Finkel?
LEVY: Okay, so he's great with Yiddish.
FERNHEIMER: Yeah, he teaches it here--
FERNHEIMER: --at the university--
FERNHEIMER: --now and again.
LEVY: I just adore him. He, uh, at schul one day--just recently, 'cause Erlejust brought it home--Rafi gives Erle a thing--movie thing of Gunga Din.
FERNHEIMER: Gunga Din?
LEVY: Gunga Din.
FERNHEIMER: Tell me a little bit more about what is Gunga Din? I'm not familiar.
LEVY: Well, it's--it's about--um, I don't think it was about India, but I thinkin that part of the world, maybe in Indonesia--
LEVY: --and it was a story, and I have no idea what it was about. But I01:19:00remember I saw the movie, and here Erle came home with this and says, "Rafi gave me this, he wants us to watch it." Well, Rafi just made up, "I want you to watch it." He was trying to--he must have--going to be--get rid of that, and he said, "I'm going to give it to Erle." He gave it to Erle. (laughter) Rafi is Rafi.
FERNHEIMER: (laughs) Well, so, Rafi you know from your involvement with theJewish community here in Lexington. Can you tell me a little bit more about your life with Erle and your life here in Lexington and, uh, how--what you did to become involved with the Jewish community here?
LEVY: Well, here's the thing, and Leon Cooper can tell you much more about thatthan I can, 'cause Leon swears that we did not appear in the Jewish community until our children were grown and gone to college, that nobody knew we existed.
FERNHEIMER: Do you agree with him?
LEVY: I had very little time--01:20:00
LEVY: --to become active in anything. And I--I know Harriet and Leon were veryactive in the synagogue with children, and I was not. But we had four kids very close, and they were--oh, I mean, two of them were in swimming, competitive swimming. Laura was in ballet and regular dancing, and all kinds of dancing. Lisa was a cheerleader. And Phillip worked and was a swimmer. Again, competitive swimming. So, we went to a lot of swim meets. We were always involved with whatever they did. I would go--we would go to--eighth grade ball game, 'cause Lisa was a cheerleader. I wouldn't even know what they're playing, but I--we would watch her be a cheerleader, and that was good. But we did not 01:21:00want her to be a cheerleader beyond one year. I did not want her--
LEVY: --to be beyond that, because I started hearing stories that thecheerleaders, as they got older, got really loose with the teams, with the--
FERNHEIMER: With the young men.
LEVY: And what do you mean loose? Well, they would become--so, I'm supposed toput up with that kind of crap? No. So, her cheerleading days ended when she didn't want them to end, but I did. And--and I was right.
FERNHEIMER: So, it sounds like you were more involved, uh, outside of thecommunity with your kids, um, and their activities during that time.
LEVY: I was not--uh, and Leon said nobody even knew we existed. They knew Erlewas here somewhere, but they didn't know where, and--
FERNHEIMER: So, can you tell me about your Jewish life during that time? Did01:22:00you guys--what did you do to keep--
FERNHEIMER: --traditions that--did you send the kids to Sunday school?
LEVY: --we belonged to the temple and the schul. We belonged to the--
FERNHEIMER: Okay, so both communities.
LEVY: When Laura was ready for Sunday school, I would have sent her to theschul had there been a better rabbi.
FERNHEIMER: Who was rabbi at the time, if--
LEVY: The rabbi at the schul--this is terrible, because I don't even rememberhis name. But I remember him. He did not like children.
LEVY: And I was not sending my children where a rabbi did not like children.And little did I know--(laughs)--that while they were at Sunday school at the temple--'cause this is a lot of years. There were four children. The rabbi at the--at the temple didn't much like children, either.
LEVY: And I taught Sunday school at the temple.
FERNHEIMER: Oh, you did?
LEVY: I did.
FERNHEIMER: What grade did you teach? And from when to when?
LEVY: I taught, like, fifth grade or sixth grade, something like that. And,01:23:00uh, I remember one of the best things we did, and I did it every year, was we had a whole section on Jewish humor.
LEVY: And that always was great. And we always had a show to illustratedifferent, um, periods. Because Jewish humor, much of it is, um, stuff you would cry about if you couldn't laugh. Jewish humor. Like, I remember we were doing one of the presentations, and in the back of the room, we had one of the girls--"Is there a doctor in the house? Ah, help! We need a doctor!" And we had, like, nine guys get up and run over, and then we heard her say, "Oy, 01:24:00doctor! Have I got a girl for you!" (laughter) And it--this was on loudspeaker, so everybody thought that was great. (laughter) And that--I mean, that's--so, we did a lot of Jewish humor. And then, we had a--ending presentation where we spoke about Jewish humor and why it is what it is, the--anyway. That was good.
LEVY: What else? I'm not rushing you, I'm just--
FERNHEIMER: No, no, I appreciate your frankness. Um, so, uh, can you tell me,um--uh, you mentioned the Coopers were part of your social network. Uh, the group of--Harriet being your best friend, and Leon talking about how you--they didn't know you were in the community until after your kids, uh, grew up.
LEVY: Well, Leon says nobody knew we existed because I wasn't out doing anything.01:25:00
LEVY: And that would have been the time that Harriet was really busy andinvolved with the schul. And I did teach Sunday school, but it was at the temple. And, uh, that was also the time when the rabbi at the temple--he and his wife, Alana--
FERNHEIMER: What was his name? Rabbi--
LEVY: His name--isn't this terrible? 'Cause they had--
FERNHEIMER: It'll come to you.
LEVY: I--no, but this is just ridiculous. But this is what happens. This iswhat's happening to me. I'm forgetting names so easily--
FERNHEIMER: I am, too, but for--
LEVY: Not like--
FERNHEIMER: On the other end. (laughs)
LEVY: Leffler. Rabbi Leffler.
LEVY: And his wife's name was Alana.
LEVY: So, they were very fond of, I guess, our kids, because they wanted to01:26:00meet with me privately. Alana and the rabbi wanted to meet with me. So, what would you think if they said that? 'Cause I was teaching at Sunday school. I thought they wanted to talk to me about something I was teaching. Was teaching a lot of humor, in Europe and--anyway, what they wanted to talk to me about was--they didn't want to hurt my feelings and all that stuff, but they felt that I was smothering my children. (laughter) And why was that? Because I always knew where they were. I always knew what they were doing or what they were supposed to be doing. And they knew that I checked up on 'em. So, they were fearful. That was what they--that I was smothering them and making them fearful. I said, "Well, what would you suggest?" "They need to--you need to 01:27:00back off from your demands, which is where will you be? If this is a party, is the mother or the father there? If they are not, you are not going to be there." I mean, there were things that I felt were right. So, they felt that I was just really making a terrible mistake. Maybe I was, I don't know. You do the--you do what you think is the right thing to do.
FERNHEIMER: How did that feel when they pulled you aside that way? What--was this--
FERNHEIMER: --common for them to--to--
LEVY: Oh, they--they didn't--they meant no harm.
LEVY: They meant no harm. They wanted to help me, because they truly felt thatI was much too involved, too demanding on my children. Not demanding that they 01:28:00do or don't do something, but demanding that I know where they were, who they were with, was one of the parents there? Anybody smoking there? 'Cause I could smell it on them. We didn't smoke. I couldn't smell it on my kids, but I could smell their clothes.
LEVY: If they had been in a room where two or three kids were smoking, it wason their clothes. Anyway, that's neither here nor there. But the--the rabbi and Alana very nicely told me I should back off.
FERNHEIMER: Would--would you say that you had--um, I guess what--what is yourkind of most vivid memory of Jewish life during that time when your kids--
FERNHEIMER: --were growing up?
LEVY: I don't think that we had a--we had had a Jewish life in that we did goto services. Not every Friday night, but some Friday nights during--on the 01:29:00holidays, we would go to the temple and the schul, because we belonged in both.
LEVY: I didn't want the children to get used to just the temple.
LEVY: I wanted them to know that they were Jews here, they were Jews there. Weare Jews wherever. We're Jews. And different ways of doing things, you--you get used to--you understand this and this. And, um--
FERNHEIMER: Were there-
LEVY: --I cannot say that we were truly real involved, because we were busywith the kids. Everybody did different things. And we were very involved with the kids.
FERNHEIMER: Did they--did they become bar and bat mitzvah--
FERNHEIMER: Uh, children?
LEVY: And confirmed at the temple.
FERNHEIMER: And did you all experience any, uh, anti-Semitism during that time?01:30:00
LEVY: I did what?
FERNHEIMER: Did you have any experiences with anti-Semitism here in Lexington?
LEVY: Um, there was some anti-Semitism. Mm, I'm trying to remember why, 'causeI don't remember what--oh, maybe be--they--there was, um, some laws passed about discrimination or something.
FERNHEIMER: Hmm, I don't know.
LEVY: I don't remember. But I remember it was something, and I remembergetting a phone call or--that was repeated several times, where I--the phone would ring, I would pick it up, and there would be nothing. Initially it was--there would be, like, heavy breathing, and I would hang up. If they didn't say something, I would hang up. Didn't think anything of it. But that continued for several months, where nobody would say anything. And then 01:31:00somebody--and it--I don't know if it was a boy, a man, or a woman with a low voice--was always the same person--would talk about, "We don't need so many Jews on this--neighborhood, in this school. We don't need all you people. You all should be somewhere else, separate from us." And this was a sincere--and they never said dirty Jew, they never said anything like that. Just said, "You all shouldn't be with us."
FERNHEIMER: And this was on the phone, like--
LEVY: On the phone.
FERNHEIMER: --kind of a crank call situation.
LEVY: And it was--
FERNHEIMER: And this was in--
LEVY: Same person. Same person.
FERNHEIMER: What year would you say that was?
LEVY: Our kids, some of them were at Breckinridge Elementary School. So, thiswas early. So, none of them would be in high school. They would have been in elementary school. And maybe Laura, our older child, could have been in seventh 01:32:00grade, which would have been a different building. It--she would have been in Morton Junior High.
FERNHEIMER: And so, is this in the '60s or the '70s? What--what years wouldyou say?
LEVY: Uh, it would have been in the '60s.
LEVY: Late '60s. Mid- to late '60s.
FERNHEIMER: Hmm. And you think it was correlated with some anti-discriminationlaws at the time, that--
LEVY: Maybe. I don't know. I just don't know.
FERNHEIMER: So, how would you say things have changed in the Jewish communityhere in Lexington during the period of time that you've been here?
LEVY: Um, it's prob--we have, um--I think the university is a significantthings of the Jewish community in Lexington, altogether. Because there are so many people from the university that come here for--few, couple years, 01:33:00to--couple, three years, and then some of them move on. But a significant number stay here, which is great. Really great. So, they belong both to temple and to schul. And I don't know how much the congregations have grown. Neither one is huge. Neither one is very large, and I don't even know what the Jewish community numbers are here--
LEVY: --because, you know, for everybody that's a member of temple or schul,there's two or three people who are Jewish here who are not affiliated. And that's fine. You know, if you had no reason to feel affiliated, or if you don't have children and you're not interested in other--we tried real hard to get a Jewish community center, Erle and I, but we couldn't get anybody willing to put up any money.
FERNHEIMER: When did you try to do that?
LEVY: Um, when our kids were in middle school and high school, we felt that01:34:00that would be a really good thing and we could do it and--we--we had it all figured out, who would give what. Like, you--I was counting other people's money--(laughter)--which is brilliant. Brilliant.
FERNHEIMER: This was what, in the early '70s?
LEVY: Um, late '60s and early '70s, yeah. But that went nowhere. Again,nobody was willing to really do anything.
FERNHEIMER: And why did you think a Jewish community center would be so great?
LEVY: I thought if--if we talked it up and got some people interested--and theywould work with us getting other people interested.
LEVY: Sort of like a pyramid scheme--(laughter)--you know? So, that didn'thappen. I could get really excited about it and really interested in it and--
FERNHEIMER: But why? Why--why that kind of--this particular type of Jewishinstitutional life? What did you think that that offered? 01:35:00
LEVY: I thought it--like, a Jewish center, because we had the separation andthere's still a separation between the schul kids and the temple kids. And they try, you know, to have certain things maybe together, but there's still that separation. There is that, like, you're over there, we're over here. Yeah, we get together sometimes, we do things together, but we don't really do things together. We just do it 'cause we're supposed to. I just thought there was maybe a way to have one group that everybody would feel comfortable with. But it--
FERNHEIMER: So, to try to unify the Jewish community here, was that kind ofyour vision?
LEVY: That--uh, that was my feeling, and a couple other people had the samefeeling, that it could be just like a Jewish center. And, uh, we had a couple people that would have put a little bit of money into it. But we--we could put 01:36:00a significant amount of money into it, and then we would go to people like Warren Rosenthal and people that had money that would be willing to do this for the younger Jewish community, the--the younger--the mid- to older children and the younger families, because we wanted to solidify--to make them feel like a part of something important. A Jewish--part of something Jewish besides the temple or the schul. This would encompass everybody, and that went nowhere.
LEVY: And what were they arguing about? I mean, there was arguments going on,that if, uh, so-and-so's going to be--if we're going to have a Jewish center, are we going to have a kosher kitchen?
LEVY: Or not? Are we going to have a dairy kitchen and a meat kitchen? Wedon't need a meat kitchen, I didn't think. A dairy kitchen. And nobody should 01:37:00mind whether it's kosher or not. Even if you don't keep kosher, if we keep a kosher kitchen, who cares if--so long as you keep it kosher? Well, you can't guarantee that it's going to be kept kosher because--
FERNHEIMER: You would need a mashgiach.
LEVY: People hide. And that wasn't going to happen. I just thought you couldbe more trusting, but everybody said no.
FERNHEIMER: So, that was--it is--it took a--was that six months, a year thatyou were talking about this or planning for it or--
LEVY: But you do what you can do, can't do any more than what you can do.
FERNHEIMER: Yeah. How--how would you say that your Jewishness is differentfrom or similar to that of your parents? And then, also, that of your children?
LEVY: Say that again? I don't know what you said.
FERNHEIMER: How would you--how--how is your Jewishness, your relationship with01:38:00your Jewishness, how is it similar to or different from that of your parents and similar to or different from that of your children?
LEVY: My parents--my father was not religious, but he was Jewish. Very clearlya Jew. He didn't care whether anybody was kosher or not. He cared most about my sister and I, Sonia and I. We were Daddy's girls. But we were Mommy's girls, too. It was just different. We could get anything we wanted out of Daddy. (laughter) We knew that and he knew that. So, it--it was--it was good. Our, um--we went to--Sonia and I--there was--where we grew up, in Williamson, there was just one temple. And that's--is where we went to Sunday school and 01:39:00where we had Jewish things. Uh, sometimes holidays were held at temple, and it was a nice building.
FERNHEIMER: Is it still there?
LEVY: It's still there, yeah. I've got a lot of pictures and written stuffI--you really need to look at, and maybe--I've got a copying machine at home.
LEVY: Yeah, my office is at home. (coughs)
FERNHEIMER: So--so, for him, how it--for him, Jewishness--you said he just--hewas Jewish. What does--
LEVY: He was Jewish and he--to talk to him, he would say that religion was nota big part of his life because his father was so rigid, so frum, that my father 01:40:00and his sister came over because his mother saved every penny to pay for them to come over steerage. And there was an Uncle Sam in Chicago that--they slept on his kitchen floor. Sophie and my dad. And--but as far as Jewish--I mean, stop and think about coming to West Virginia because there was supposedly big money in coal. But where were the Jews? The Jews are the ones that owned the stores. The Jews were the doctors, the dentists, the pharmacists sometimes. But the Jews were not the miners or the farmers or anything like that. So, my father did not feel religiously Jewish, but he was very Jewish. And I guess because my 01:41:00mother--and my mother was the one that insisted on converting--
LEVY: --because she knew that they would have children and she--they were goingto be brought up Jewish. And her good friend was a Steckler, and Mrs. Steckler was very good to my mother. And her best--very best friend, Ruth Steckler, they--they really made her part of their family, so she was at their house for the Jewish holidays and for Chanukah. And she remembers bringing the--Ruth a Christmas present. And they were very, um, you know, "Thank you so much and thank you so much," but Ruth told her privately, "We don't observe Christmas at all." And--and my mother--I remember her telling me that was when she realized 01:42:00why they didn't have a Christmas tree. She thought maybe they didn't have a Christmas tree 'cause they couldn't afford it. She didn't know--
LEVY: But then, Ruth told my mom, "We don't observe Christmas." And my mom hadtrouble grasping that, because everybody observed--and from her family--her mother died when she--when my mother was ten, but then when her father remarried, he remarried an old biddy, and something happened with her and me. And my mother, very involved. And I remember this so clearly, it's--'cause it scared the hell out of me.
FERNHEIMER: What happened?
LEVY: We were visiting her father who lived in West Williamson. So we had todrive, and her father had remarried a woman named Ella, who was old. Uh, I--to 01:43:00me, she was old. So, I was small, maybe three. And the reason I'm saying maybe three--because the dress I had on was yellow, and it had some lace on it, and it was so pretty. And Sonia had had it before me, so I couldn't wait to get big enough to have that dress, and I had it. And we were visiting my mother's father, and for some reason I was sitting on this old woman Ella's lap. I'm sure she just picked me up and set me on a--but I remember I was sitting on her, and she made the statement that--with Sara having those blonde curls, and I had, like, finger curls or something--my hair was blonde. Not blonde blonde, but just quite light. "And with those blonde curls, nobody would know she was a 01:44:00Jew." She said that, loud. And my mother jumped up, grabbed my arm, and jerked me off of her lap. I was terrified. And I remember my mother bending over her saying, "You old bitch! You ever say anything like that again to me or my children, I'll pull your hair out." And I remember my mom saying "pull your hair out," and I'm--she could do that. She could do that. It was scary. And we left. That was my--
FERNHEIMER: And did you ever go back?
LEVY: I'm sure we did, but not when she was there.
FERNHEIMER: So, it sounds like there were a couple of instances in your childhood.
LEVY: Yeah, I remember--
FERNHEIMER: In Williamson.
FERNHEIMER: Of anti-Semitism. Would you say that the relations between theJewish shopkeepers and the--the Jews who did live there, what--what would you say about relations between Jews and non-Jews during that time?
LEVY: If there was a problem, I didn't know it, because all the stores were01:45:00Jews. Not the groceries. There was an A&P and there was a Piggly Wiggly. Piggly Wiggly, that's so cute. And that was the groceries, that was it. Um, we--I don't ever remember seeing a black person in Williamson. And the only time I remember seeing a kid was--had to be in high school. Maybe I was a freshman or sophomore in high school. And when there was a football game or something, everybody went there and then there was always a dance after the game. And everybody would be there, and one of the players was black. And it was a football game, and one or two of the players was black, and only one showed up at the dance, and nobody was dancing with him. So, I went to dance with him, and I kept him with me. And he was a nice boy. He was very nice, very--
FERNHEIMER: How old were you at the time?01:46:00
LEVY: I was in tenth grade. I don't know exactly how old I was. I was intenth grade, 'cause I wasn't allowed to go to the dances before tenth grade.
FERNHEIMER: And what was his name, do you remember?
LEVY: No. It was a football game. I don't remember.
FERNHEIMER: And what made you decide to dance with him?
LEVY: Because everybody was dancing. And I was dating a Greek boy verysteadily, I think, he was in grade, so--but I was after him in the tenth grade. Sam Kaparalis. Everybody was dancing but this young black guy. Nobody was dancing with him, nobody was talking to him. I mean, I felt like he probably was going to leave. And he wanted to dance, because he was--you know, he had rhythm. So, I ask him to dance, and we had a good time. He was a good dancer.
FERNHEIMER: So, how would you say living here in Williamson--or living there in01:47:00Williamson and living here in Lexington has affected the way that you think about yourself and your Judaism?
LEVY: Um, I think while the children were little, there was very little--Imean, we would go to services for the high holidays. We would go a little bit to the temple, a little bit to the schul. And that was pretty much it, because I had four kids in--little over five years. There was not--I mean, we didn't have money. Erle's a builder, and we spent everything, but no matter how little money we had, we always saved--what I considered saving too much, because we'd--we--I don't mean we went without food, but we did not have nice clothes or new cars or stuff like that. We didn't have that. And I was fine with that, 01:48:00because I knew we were--had four children to put through college. And that was what was always on my mind, what are we going to do for money when they're all going to college and just the close--we'll have two or three in college at the same time. How are we going to do that?
FERNHEIMER: And your children, what--how does their relationship to Jewishnessor Jewish practice compare to yours or your family's?
LEVY: Theirs was extremely different. And two of our children are Orthodox.
FERNHEIMER: And when did they become Orthodox?
LEVY: Modern Orthodox. It's--I think it's incredibly wonderful that--of--Imean, these are all from the same gene pool, and it's interesting--it's very interesting--and you'll see--to watch them grow, to see, before your eyes, their--they're growing and their minds are also growing, and what they thought 01:49:00last year they wouldn't even look at this year or this month or this week. Just very different watching--each one is different. They're similar, but they're very different people. And--
FERNHEIMER: So, they went from growing up in a Reform temple, going to Sundayschool in the Reform temple--
LEVY: But also going to services--
FERNHEIMER: Services at the synagogue, right.
LEVY: Schul, um-hm. At the synagogue.
FERNHEIMER: And they became Modern Orthodox in adult life or--
LEVY: Lesley and Phillip have always been close, those two. So, they--Phillipworked one summer while he was in high school for B'nai B'rith in Washington.
LEVY: And Howard Core--do you know who I'm talking about? He is the head ofAIPAC [The American Israel Public Affairs Committee].
FERNHEIMER: Mm, um-hm.
LEVY: So, Howard and Phillip roomed together in the summer, became very close01:50:00friends, and spent a lot of time together. So, Howard always had a place for Phillip to stay. He--because he always wanted Phillip to come in the summertime, and Phillip was earning money because he was working in Washington. He worked for the B'nai B'rith, he worked for different--uh, Gene Dubow got him a job one summer in Washington. And so, that was good. And as he--he--Lesley started working for AIPAC, and Phillip became more interested, and the two of them--Lesley decided--so many of her friends, the people she was close to were Orthodox. And she had an apartment in Washington she shared with a girl. And she decided she wanted to make it kosher. So, they had Yeshiva machers come in 01:51:00with a blowtorch and kashrut the kitchen. And we bought, you know, new dishes and silverware and the--two sets of this and two set--everything. And Phillip followed--the difference with Phillip was, when the girls were in middle school and high school, there were no Jewish girls. There were so few, like--
FERNHEIMER: Here in Lexington?
LEVY: In Lexington. Connie Miller was one and Lesley tried real hard, becauseshe really wanted a Jewish girlfriend, and there wasn't any. And she came home from Connie Miller's house one day and she said, "Well, I don't think Connie and I have a lot to be friends about." And I said, "Oh, well, you know, why? But they're nice people." And she said, "Well, Connie's mother thinks she's a cheerleader." (laughs) So, that was the end of that one. And that was true. 01:52:00Joanne--and to this day, Joanne is like a little cheerleader, but she's a nice woman. But she was not Jewish, she didn't really know anything about Jewish--and I don't know if she converted or not. She may have, I'm not sure. But Lesley and Connie had nothing in common. But Lesley and Phillip had a lot in common. Phillip had Jewish friends, boy friends here. Twins, the Barr twins, young boys Phillip's age. John Maybury, whose mother was Jewish. His father was not. His father was a pediatric endocrinologist.
LEVY: And I took Phillip to him once, because we found Phillip hanging--hewanted a chinning bar on his bedroom door.
LEVY: And we put one up. But then I found him hanging buy his arms on thechinning bar, and he thought that that was going to make him taller. (laughter) 01:53:00And that's when I took him to Dr. Maybury to be checked, because he didn't seem small to me, but--so Dr. Maybury checked him out, he was fine. And Dr. Maybury's--this was John Maybury's father. As we were leaving, he said to me, "You understand, Mrs. Levy, you don't come from a race of giants." And I said, "Yeah." So, he was explaining to me that Phillip was never going to be six foot, but he was going to be five-nine or five-ten. And Phillip is five-nine. Phillip's like Erle. Not big, not little. Fine. So--
FERNHEIMER: Um, is there anything else that you would like to share, lookingback or--
LEVY: I don't know what would be interesting to share.01:54:00
FERNHEIMER: Uh, that we haven't covered or anything--
LEVY: I have a cover?
FERNHEIMER: That we haven't covered, sorry.
LEVY: Well, I think I'm probably married to the best guy in the world, truly,honestly. He's just a fabulous person. And I've always felt that even if I weren't so much in love with him and just knew him as a person, you have to respect him and admire him, because he is just a fabulous person. Everything about him. He's good. He's just a good, wonderful, loving guy.
FERNHEIMER: Well, thank you, Sara, for spending--
LEVY: You are so welcome!
FERNHEIMER: --time with me today and answering these questions.
LEVY: And I'll probably think of many things I should have told you.
FERNHEIMER: Well, maybe you'll be willing and--and--and--to be available if we01:55:00send--have a student come or another person do a follow-up interview once we've--
LEVY: --yeah, yeah--
FERNHEIMER: --had a chance to listen through.
LEVY: Because there's so much more to life.
FERNHEIMER: Yes. Yes, there is. And I definitely want to follow up with youabout these pictures that you mentioned.
FERNHEIMER: And some of the documents and things.
LEVY: You'll come to the house and we'll go look through everything. And I'vegot a copy machine that can make it bigger, make it smaller.
LEVY: It is wonderful.
FERNHEIMER: Well, that will be great.
LEVY: I've got a good life. Really good life, because--why do I have such ahappy life? Why do you think?
FERNHEIMER: I'm interviewing you, so I'm going to let you offer the answer. (laughter)
LEVY: I have Erle. That's--he's the whole thing right there. He's great.He's so good to live with. He's just good. All good.
FERNHEIMER: Well, thank you again, Sara.01:56:00
LEVY: You are welcome. I'm going to keep this.
FERNHEIMER: Sure. You can keep that and share them with Erle, since he--
FERNHEIMER: I'll be bringing him in next week, um--
LEVY: As a coll--oh, I'll tell you one thing as a college student that was soembarrassing to me, and yet I had to do it. They had then--I can't remember what it was called, but the fraternities would elect a girl to be Miss whatever it was. And then they--the univ--
FERNHEIMER: Like, a sweetheart or something?
LEVY: Yeah, something like a carnival, and you would be representing thatfraternity. And you would have a costume to wear, which was a short costume. And a--what are the stockings with, like, holes in them?
LEVY: Fishnet stockings and high heel shoes. And you walk around with a thingthat you want people to buy, whatever was in here. I don't remember what was in there, but people were buying them. So, I was--the fraternity. Well, I had 01:57:00never in my life had on fishnet stockings and black high heel shoes and a short--I mean, it was, like, way above my knees and I was so humiliated to walk around like that. But there were a lot of girls walking around like that, and I thought we are stu--we are idiots. We have let them make us do this and we're doing it. And I did it. I never liked--I felt--I did not ever feel comfortable--I'm trying to think what was that, that was some festival at the university.
LEVY: Had to be some holiday, because we--
FERNHEIMER: And this was something they did regularly in the fraternity, thatthey would have--
FERNHEIMER: --young women be elected--
LEVY: --no, it--
FERNHEIMER: --to this role?
LEVY: No, it was all the fraternities.
LEVY: And maybe sororities, too, I don't know, but it was all girls dressed in01:58:00these short little--I mean, I was dressed a lot compared to what some of the girls had on.
LEVY: But if you're not used to doing that--I never--I felt like I was almostnaked walking around like that.
FERNHEIMER: And yet, you agreed to do it because?
LEVY: Because the fraternity elected me to do it.
LEVY: And I thought, oh, that's a good thing. I didn't know that you had towear the really short thing. (laughter) I didn't know that. I thought, you know, it's nice to--the fraternity elected me for--so, I didn't know that they did all the rest of it, a--festival stuff. And I had black fishnet stockings, they had black high heels, and a short thing and it was green.
LEVY: So, maybe it was St. Patrick's Day or something like that, I don't know.
LEVY: I don't know, anyway.
FERNHEIMER: Well, thank you.
LEVY: So, that was embarrassing.
FERNHEIMER: I can imagine.
FERNHEIMER: Well, thank you very much.01:59:00
LEVY: You are very welcome.
LEVY: And I was a virgin when I got married. Yeah. I think even then therewere not a lot of us, but there were--I just--and--and Erle knew that he could have me any time he wanted. He knew that. But he knew that that would hurt me, ultimately, if we had sex before we married. 'Cause I would have done it. I would have done anything for him. Anything. So, he held off, because he knew it would eventually--if it didn't bother me a lot then, eventually it would make me feel bad about myself.
LEVY: And he was right. That's the kind of guy he is, and he's still like that.
LEVY: He's a great guy.
FERNHEIMER: Well, thank you. I'm very glad I also have the opportunity to02:00:00interview him, too.
LEVY: And I hope you love your husband that much, too!
FERNHEIMER: Well, of course.
LEVY: And he loves you--
FERNHEIMER: Of course!
LEVY: --in 60 years.
FERNHEIMER: God willing. Well, thank you so much.
LEVY: You are so welcome.
FERNHEIMER: Thank you, John.
M: Oh, you're welcome. It was very--
FERNHEIMER: Let me make sure I get the um-
LEVY: And John, this has been an education for you, hasn't it?
M: Yeah, I love hearing these stories. It's one of the--best part of my job's--
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