Students

Posted by jyuhasz
 
               GL:         University was a lot of fun for me, hard work but a lot of fun. Realizing that I was very young and I wanted to be a lawyer, and thinking that, first of all I had a very cherubic face, thinking that no one would want a lawyer…you know, if I went I would be out by the time I was 20, 19 or 20, and I thought no one is going to go to a lawyer who’s 19 or 20, so I decided to take two courses. I took BComm, Bachelor of Commerce and Law. In those days you could take a double degree and they gave you credit for an extra year, so you could take, I think, two years of commerce and three years of law and that gave you two degrees, instead of three years of commerce. So I went in, took my first year of arts, two years of commerce, and three years of law. I was…the Jewish kids at that time, there was still a bit of a division. Well no, there wasn’t as much of a division, there were two Jewish fraternities on campus. Oh, remember I couldn’t remember the name of the girls’ organization, Jewish organization; it was called B’nai B’rith Girls, BBGs for short. So there were two Jewish fraternities on campus, and one Jewish sorority. The ZBT [Zeta Beta Tau], the Zebes; the SAM [Sigma Alpha Mu], the Sammies; and DPhiEs [Delta Phi Epsilon], the Deefers. They were the girls. And I belonged to the ZBTs. Mostly, I shouldn’t say mostly, a lot of the guys from Magee that I had grown up with, but by that time they were mixing back and forth, so the guys from the east side, the west side, it didn’t matter. The Jewish girls on campus, it was a fairly new Jewish sorority; in those days there was a lot of sorority and fraternity things, a lot of activities, and a lot of social life was in fraternity and sorority life. And there was a picture in the Jewish Historical Society magazine, I think it was on the back cover, of a whole party of people; they sent away and they asked did anyone know the names of all these people. And I think I sent back mentioning the names of some of the people I didn’t know. That was a picture of a ZBT party, and I was there. I was one of the people in the picture.

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Posted by jyuhasz
 
 
                GL:         …So she [Gerald Lecovin’s mother] came out in ‘47 and we lived on Angus Drive, 5975 Angus Drive, which is 43rd and Angus. We lived next door to—what’s the name of the guy, what’s the name of the bridge that goes across the water in Richmond, not the Oak Street Bridge, the other one?
 
JM:         Arthur Laing?
 
 
GL:         Arthur Laing. We lived next door to Arthur Laing. [Laughs]. And he was our next door neighbour and at that time was head of the BC Liberal Party although at that time he never, they were never in power while he was alive. And I went to Magee High School. I started in grade—you too? Oh, great—I started in, I guess it was Grade 10 and at the time because of one machination and another I was about two years younger than everyone else. So I was a little past 13 when I went to Magee and I was very short and in fact when they, when my mother took me to register me at Magee, they said, “No madam, you have the wrong school, you want the school kitty corner,” which of course was Maple Grove, which was a public school. I was more that size. But I was duly registered, and the principal, having a great sense of humour, decided he would marry me up with someone who’d take me around and show me the ropes and things like that ‘cause, you know, I was an out-of-towner and everything. And he brought in a fellow called Jack Nelson, and Jack Nelson was six foot five, and we built up a friendship and thereafter were known as Mutt and Jeff, and I don’t know if you remember the old comics of the ‘30s and ‘40s, but there was this couple Mutt and Jeff, he was very tall and the other guy was very short. And we eventually became, they decided to open up a tuck shop at Magee, to sell pop and things like that, and we took it over, and so we were a well known couple at the school. The Jewish community then was essentially divided between, I think the divisional line was perhaps either Oak Street or Cambie. The ‘haves,’ the people who had, the upper middle class, lived on this side, and the lower middle class lived on the other side. Most of the kids my age who were Jewish went to Magee, a few went to Prince of Wales, maybe the odd one went to the other schools, depending on where the parents lived, but those were the big enclaves, and on the eastern side most of the Jewish kids went to King Ed. And, so that was sort of, a kind of a division. The Jewish kids pretty well, I would say, they kept to themselves, where we were, they associated with themselves most of the time, although they were active in sports and other things. 

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Posted by jyuhasz
                Interviewer: Jean Gerber & Cyril E. Leonoff
 
 
               JW:        So it was after my second year of university here that I decided to go into medicine which made my mother and father very happy.
 
               CL:         Did this school have a pre-med at that time?
 
JW:        No, no. No, couldn’t take any…I stayed here ‘til the end of my second year then I tried to get some pre-med and they had nothing here. They…In those days you had to have the equivalent of high school Latin to get into medical school. And I hadn’t taken Latin, I had taken French in high school. Only two schools in Canada that had a preliminary course in Latin which was the equivalent of high school Latin; one was University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and the other was Halifax, Dalhousie. So Saskatoon, I’d come from there so I went back to Saskatoon and took my pre-med there. And then I got into the University of Toronto Medical School.
 
JG:          Now these were days towards the end of the Depression beginning of World War II when Jews did not enter medical school so easily.
 
JW:        No, very difficult.
 
JG:          How did you overcome this quota system?
 
JW:        I just got very good marks. Didn’t get such high marks at the University of British Columbia. I was too busy fooling around, having a good time. But once I decided to go into medical school, my final year in my pre-med year I really got very good marks.
 
JG:          Were there other Jewish—I guess at that time it would have been mostly boys, some girls maybe—trying to get in?
 
JW:        Out of 120 in our class there were five girls. That’s all.
 
JG:          So they would have had to be very good.
 
JW:        They were very good and they were nice girls.
 
JG:          Any other Jews went into medical school with you?
 
JW:        Yes, yes, there were a few, not many. The University of Toronto strangely enough, although the city was an anti-Semitic city, and there many of the doctors were personally anti-Semitic and showed it, the policy of the school wasn’t that bad. I had difficulty finding a place to stay because many houses had ‘restricted’ signs on them. And restricted didn’t mean blacks because there were no blacks, restricted meant there were no Jews allowed. So I had difficulty finding a place to live.
 
JG:          Where did you finally settle?
 
JW:        Well, when I went to Toronto I stayed at the YMCA which is right near the University of Toronto in Toronto. And I stayed there, it was a dollar a day I remember. And I wandered around looking for a place. The university had lists of places that you could go to board and room. I wandered around to a lot of these places and a lot of them had restricted signs on them. And I was getting very discouraged.
 
               I was in swimming one day, you know, at the Y, you go swimming with no clothes on, the YMCA in those days. So I see another guy swimming, he looked Jewish to me.
 
JG:          [Laughing].
 
JW:        So I got talking to him and I was telling him my problems and he turned out to be a medical student also and living in Toronto. And he says, “Well,” he said, “look, I’ve got a place for you to live.” He says, “There’s a Jewish medical fraternity.” He says, “Come and live at our place.” So I lived there for five years, cost $35 a month.
 
JG:          What was the name of the fraternity?
 
JW:        Phi Delta Epsilon and that is an international, Jewish—only Jewish students…

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Posted by jyuhasz
 
 
                LK:          In the days I went to university which was 1939 to ’42 there was a Jewish fraternity on the campus. It was small in number but we, there were only about a dozen or fifteen at the most Jewish boys that belonged to this. It was called Kappa Theta Rho and I can remember the names of some of the people who belonged during those days. There was Alvin Narod was the president when I joined.
 
EN:         Oh yes.
 
LK:          And there was, there, Harold [Rome], there was…Harry Weiner, Ed Gross, Edward Gross. Ed won the Governor General’s gold medal on the graduating class in the year we graduated in ’42.
 
EN:         In what field?
 
LK:          In, it was, for the whole university, the top grad in the university. He was in arts. He eventually went on to become a professor of psychology and spent many years at the University of Washington. And then when he, when he retired from that job he went back and became, went into law and became a law professor.
 
EN:         Great.
 
LK:          Strangely enough Ed was just recently in Vancouver and he phoned me, we had a chat on the phone.
 
EN:         Oh, how interesting.
 
LK:          Yeah. And who else remembers? Oh, Ralph James was a member of Kappa Theta Rho and Irving Koenigsberg, and…I don’t know who else.
 
EN:         But that’s very good.
 
LK:          Anyhow, Kappa Theta Rho was a local fraternity and we were affiliated with a national Zeta Beta Tau and eventually the year after, the year I graduated we finally became full-fledged members of Zeta Beta Tau.
 
EN:         And is that fraternity still active on the campus today?
 
LK:          No, I don’t know what happened. During the intervening years they went through some big years, they became very big on the campus, they had a fraternity house. And then I think all fraternities went into kind of an eclipse and they disappeared or they…Anyway, I don’t know whatever came of it, and there is now a new resurgence and my grandson is a member of the new Jewish fraternity on the campus [laughs].

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Posted by jyuhasz
                Interviewer: Sid Israels, Ann Krieger, & A. Myer Freedman
 
 
               SI:           …And you graduated just as the Depression started in 1929, is that correct?
 
              JM:         Yes.
 
               SI:           And made your way then to Vancouver for your interning and where did you intern?
 
               JM:         At the Vancouver General Hospital.
 
SI:           Was this unusual to get a position like that in 1929?
 
JM:         In a way yes because Jewish doctors weren’t exactly welcome but as it happens the superintendent at the time was Dr. S. C. Bell and he was hard pressed for interns; there were only approximately 12 or 13 interns and he was very pleased to accept me. And I stayed on there for a year and I decided that I would like to see what some other centres had. So as it happens an opening occurred at Chicago in a hospital and one of my fraternity brothers, George Stream, who was a resident at the time in Chicago, he phoned me. I got permission from Dr. Bell to accept the internship at Chicago and I was there for about nine months.
 
               Now, I decided then that I would stay in practice in Chicago. I was the second or third assistant to Dr. [Delee], Dr. Joseph [Delee] and I was directly junior partner of Horner, Dr. Horner and they had a system there that in grades, Dr. Joseph E. [Delee] would only take on or two cases a month. His desire was teaching, mostly teaching and he had set a limit that he can only accept cases that would pay approximately $7,000. Now, any case, under that Dr. Horner got and anything below that was the next in line. So then I decided I would stay in Chicago and Dr. Horner then interviewed me…and the Head of American Medical Association who had formerly been superintendent of hospitals in Vancouver at the Vancouver General Hospital and he arranged for me to have an interim certificate that I would eventually become an American citizen and carry on a practice. Well I started with Dr. Horner in June and it was a very satisfactory way of practicing medicine, as far as I was concerned because twice a week you were in an office downtown and the rest of the week you were always at the hospital. You saw private cases in the hospital, it was your office away from the downtown. Along came the latter part of the fall and it was a very cold winter in Chicago, in December it was just simply awful and I packed up my suitcase and I left Chicago on a moment’s notice and came back to Vancouver General Hospital.

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Posted by Anonymous
Object id: 
L.14094

Poster with Hebrew alphabet is hanging on the wall behind the group of children. B & W print.

Date: 
1975
Posted by Anonymous
Object id: 
L.14076

B & W print.

Date: 
1950
Posted by Anonymous
Object id: 
L.13284

Caption on verso reads: Delta Gamma of Delta Phi Epsilon only Jewish Sorority on UBC Campus. Pledges. L-R: Elaine Fromson, Sandy Tobin, Barbara Freedman (nee Taylor). Cookie Diestel (seated).

Date: 
1954
Source: 
Freedman, Barbara
Posted by jhsadmin
Object id: 
L.00062

In photo: Samual L. Lipson, Percy Saltzman, & Harry Katznelson

Date: 
1932