ID: And what about your teachers? Were there any of your teachers that were outstanding that you remember in high school?
HL: In high school, yes, there was….
ID: That influenced you in your future?
HL: One, two teachers actually were outstanding. One was a younger woman who taught math and taught algebra and geometry. I loved geometry and I just ate it up and that was very easy for me. And the other one who was outstanding was somebody called Miss Brandon and she was much older and she taught English and French and I thought she was outstanding because by the time I went to university and took the first year French I really had learned most of that in Grade 12 and so that was relatively easy.
ID: Harold, I used…we used to have Miss Brandon as our French teacher, French and English teacher. Well, she taught everything, in Cupar.
ID: Yes and when she left Cupar I guess she went to Kamsack. Can you believe we had the same teacher, that’s amazing!
HL: I thought she was outstanding.
ID: And what about Jewish education? Was there an opportunity for that in Kamsack?
HL: Yes, well you know at one time there were approximately 35 Jewish families in Kamsack, that’s at the height. It would be in the late ‘30s I suppose. And we had one man there who served as the rabbi, the shochet [kosher butcher], the teacher, the cantor all rolled into one. Rabbi…Reverend Oland was his name and he stayed there until the community really dwindled and dwindled in the early ‘40s and then ultimately went to Saskatoon. He did teach me some elements of Hebrew and I suppose he also must have taught me something relative to my Bar Mitzvah although I don’t remember having a Bar Mitzvah with a lot of simcha [celebrations] in Kamsack. It was during the war years and I presume that those type of activities took a back seat.
Kent: What did you do at recess?
Karby: Whatever, we used to play tag, a lot of hopscotch, a lot of hanging
Kent: You mean just talking with your friends?
Karby: Yeah, just hanging out. There was always a teacher on duty, always someone in the playground. There are things I don't want to tell you. We were mean sometimes, you know how kids can be. But mostly, I'd say mostly the girls played jump rope, a lot of doubles jump rope with the big skipping rope..
Kent: When you say ‘doubles’ do you mean two ropes or just one rope, two people jumping?
Karby: One rope sometimes two people jumping, sometimes two ropes but one of these long [ropes], you know, that it takes two people to hold. And we did a lot of hopscotch although there was only one small section where you could draw the squares because I'm sure the rest of the thing was gravel.
Kent: You mean you drew your own squares?
Karby: Yeah, sure, of course with chalk, absolutely. And we made our own little beaded throws. I can't tell you how many hours of our childhood were spent making hopscotch throws, you know, beaded, and I don’t even remember now what they were out of, but all kinds of varieties. We did a lot of roller skating and sometimes we'd bring our roller skates and skate in the yard but that was rare because it meant schlepping them to school.
Kent: Yeah, you said the yard was gravel.
Karby: It must have not all been gravel because if we drew the hopscotch it couldn't have been gravel so maybe I’m not…maybe it was just concrete, some kind of cement of some sort. I really don’t remember now. Maybe it’s part and part. I don’t know somebody else might remember that…Once in a while…No, that was about it. We were never allowed off the school grounds. Once in a while we'd go to the park, not Douglas Park but the little Braemar Park, if the weather was nice sometimes.
Kent: You went with the teachers?
Karby: Yeah, with the teacher, we’d have our lunch in the park.
JG: Where do you get your meat now?
ZG and HG: From Omnitsky’s [Vancouver] and Kaplans.
HG: Marty Kaplan. I don’t know the man.
ZG: I get some stuff from him too.
HG: Safeway used to bring it in, but they bring in chickens, only chickens.
ZG: But they don’t any more. They haven’t got a place.
JG: What do you do for Passover?
HG: No problem.
ZG: Well Passover, Safeway brings in enough stuff for us because for the last what four years now that we’ve had Passover Seder at the Centre.
HG: They used to have them a hotel or someplace, but now they have them at
ZG: They were catered, but we finally, well, we’ve got our own Centre, we should do it in our own kitchen. And so we clean the kitchen up. Our kitchen is dairy. But for Pesach we wash it down and use it for meat.
HG: And Calgary sent...I think they came from Calgary, the dishes, they came from Calgary the meat dishes that we use, don’t they?
ZG: Yeah, the dishes we got from Calgary. One of our members, a mother, Susan Shawley, her mother bought the dishes that we use there for everyday, so we bought a few things and cooked our first Seder.
HG: They store away, nobody uses them.
ZG: They have them covered up on top. The first year, I don’t know how I got into it—thanks to Mel—my girlfriend Ruth Finkleman and I took on. Well, we didn’t know anything about it, cooking for how much you should do. So we ordered turkeys and chickens and that and we…
HG: Way too. They ordered way too much.
ZG: Way too much. We didn’t cook all the turkeys we had ordered. I bought the ones that weren’t cooked. But a lot of our members went home with food after the Seder because I think we had about 75 people and I think I had cooked three turkeys which was quite a bit.
HG: They have more than 75 now.
ZG: Yeah, they have over 120 now, but that was the first one. It was good, it was fun, it was the first time we had it in our own place. Everybody helped; Susan Shawley helped us. She taking it over for this year now, and we in turn are going to help her.
DR: Well, my name is Rome, as you heard, more correctly originally it was Rom, from Vilna, where the family name is rather well known as a publishing house. I suppose at the beginning of the story, during the First World War the family were refugees deep inside Russia, and when peace was declared in Western Europe—because there never was any peace afterwards in Eastern Europe what with wars and pogroms and civil wars and revolutions and things…When peace came in Western Europe we made contact with an uncle, a brother of my father, Aaron Rome, who was living in Vancouver, and he ‘brought’ us was the term that was used, he brought us to Canada in December 1921. I might say that the whole story of our family and every other family in these decades of getting into Canada from Europe after 1914, each story was a saga because of the very tight and tightening immigration rules that were coming into effect in Canada. As a matter of fact, our family, after we did manage to reach Canadian soil legally, with passports and visas and everything, were detained incommunicado in a Halifax, we’ll call it a jail, for seven weeks, and very dramatically, with the assistance of [Lou] Freeman and Archie Freeman, the mayor of Vancouver came all the way from Vancouver to Halifax to help get us out, and eventually, in December 1921, we reached Vancouver as free immigrants, and that’s the real beginning of my life I suppose as far as you would want to know.
ID: How did you feel about becoming a parent for the first time?
EH: Oh incredible, incredible because Paul was against it at the time. I was in England and I was very depressed about my family, extremely depressed because no news and in the Blitz it was pretty tough. So I said to Paul that I would like to have a baby, that was after the collapse of France. So he said, “This is insanity, I mean look we may be invaded, and the money, I haven’t got a job here,” because we had export to England, we had an office in London so once the war started, you know, the office wasn’t any more. So I said, “Look it’s true we don’t have that money,” but I wasn’t so used to it then only three years. But I said, “We’re not left completely without money so whatever happens to us will happen to the child,” and I said, “I don’t think I can survive the war without my family and without anyone.” So Paul said, “But it doesn’t make sense,” he said, “because we can be invaded,” I said, “I know it doesn’t make sense but I feel so lonely that I just can’t. I have to have something to live for.” So we started trying to have a baby for a month I hadn’t conceived and I was so stupid I went to a doctor, to a specialist, and he said, “For what are you here?” And I said, “I cannot become pregnant.” And he said, “How long did you try?” and I said, “One month.” [Laughter]. So that’s how Irene was conceived in London and I think that saved in a way my life.
ID: Did it?
EH: Absolutely, I went through a terrible time through the Blitz because we went at a very bad time in the Blitz but at the same time that made us come to Canada.
ID: That gave you more of an impetus to move.
ID: You told me some stories about entertainers on the beach.
MD: Oh yeah.
ID: Tell me about them.
MD: Again we’re talking about the Depression years.
ID: What years were these now?
MD: So we’re talking about 19…okay, so we arrived in Vancouver in 1935, I was five in the summer and just turned six in November. And in the summer months things really are much the same now as they were then with the concrete boardwalk that we have there with the…right on Beach Avenue. And people were poor. People were trying to find some means of earning a living and particularly the entertainers. The entertainers were lined up…Now the entertainers that we see now are these, what do you call them, buckster…hucksters?
MD: Hucksters, whatever. Anyhow they were more down on the beach…
MD: Bus, yeah. Buskers. But these were real professional entertainers, they were ventriloquists, they were dancers, they were singers…
ID: Did [inaudible]?
MD: They [couldn’t]. These were people that at one time were probably on radio or vaud…mostly vaudeville. And they were lined up and there was series of them. And it was like, it was really, it was like a series of vaudeville acts all going on at the same time.
ID: Would they put a hat out or something for money?
MD: Yeah, yeah, people had their hats out for money and you’d walk and you’d put a few pennies in. And the area where Milestone’s Café is, where…
ID: At the corner of Davie and…
MD: Yeah, Davie…and Den…Denman and Davie. And all the way up. As a matter of fact all the way up to Pendrell, along there on the west side of Denman there was a series of hotdog stands. These were actually built into the homes and at the back people and upstairs people lived. And in the front these were all concessions. And there was the aroma, you walk down the street in the summer on Denman Street and one after another hamburgers, hamburger stands. People were selling hamburgers and hotdogs.
ID: All along Denman.
MD: It was a like a huge carnival there. So if you can just picture the carnival atmosphere of the hamburger stands, the hotdog stands on one side and across the street on Beach Avenue facing the English Bay were all these entertainers. It was lively.
ID: Every night? Every day? All day?
MD: Almost, almost every night. Obviously during the day the hamburger stands were still functioning particularly on the weekends but at night the combination of the entertainers and the sounds and smells of the hamburgers, sizzling hamburgers, was unbelievable.
JB: Sylvia, where were you born?
SH: I was born in Calcutta.
JB: And when were you born?
JB: Who were the first of your family to come to Canada and why?
SH: We were the only two, my husband and I.
JB: And what’s your husband’s name?
SH: George Augustus Hill.
JB: Okay, and why did you guys come to Canada?
SH: We came after the war and because my husband knew Canada as a child. He came when he was a boy of 15 from England and worked on farms here. And he always loved Canada. So then he went back to England after the war years and it was so drab and so difficult. And I came from a home that was fairly affluent and I didn’t do much work, house work or anything. So he said, “Look, let’s go to Canada. You will love Canada.” And so we came over to Canada.
JB: And where did you come at first?
SH: We came over at a time where England froze our money. 1948. England froze all our money and we came to Canada with 10 pounds. That was all the money we had. And my life really began here. I began to learn what it was to cook, to scrub, to wash. And really began life because before that we always had help.
JB: And did you come straight to Vancouver or?
SH: No, we stopped over at New York because I had relatives there. We visited for a while, borrowed money from my cousin, and then we came straight on to Canada. Very fortunately, very lucky, we met a family—this is interesting—we met a family when the train stopped at Regina. And an old gentleman was coming up to the train to get in. I was very pregnant, I was nine months pregnant. And he saw me standing in the doorway and he said, “Shalom aleichem [Hebrew greeting],” to me. I said, “Aleichem Shalom.” He said, “I knew you were Jewish.”
SH: Just like that, I’d never met this gentleman before. And we started talking. And my husband who is never very far from me ever, he said, “Why not ask the gentleman into the compartment and talk to him rather than standing in the doorway?” So we did. He asked us if we knew anyone here. No. Had a doctor here. No. Relatives here. No. He says, “[Where are] you taking your wife?” So he said, “Now I’m going to telegram my sister in Vancouver and she’s going to meet you.”
JB: Do you remember what her name was?
SH: Yes, Fannie Segall. So Fannie and Peter Segall met us in Vancouver. And right away they came up to us and said, “You’re coming to stay with us.” Hadn’t met them in my life before. Of course my husband he was very, he said, “No I can’t. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. I can’t just come and live in your house.” And he said, “We’re Jewish we can all live.” But he was rather adamant so we stayed in a hotel. But the very next morning Peter was at the hotel. He said, “Your wife is coming to our doctor.” And they looked after us in the beginning and, because I was soon, one week after I was here my baby was born.
BD: Well, we were on the, there wasn’t a Canadian set up at all at that time.
ID: Not in the Eastern part of Canada?
BD: No, we were all part of the American, we had regions. We were part of the ‘Western Interstate’ which was California, Seattle…Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. Albert I think was included too but there was nothing there. We were already organized but we were part of the Western Interstate. And then, I’ve just forgotten the year that…maybe I have it here, when the Canadian, the National Council of Jewish Women was formed. Of course we severed our roots, severed our connections, we were still part of the international group, but we became a separate organization with our own government, with our own rules, and bylaws, and so on and so on.
In 1924 when Council first started, it was only of course volunteers that did everything we used to do. And now my particular job at that time was carrying treats, like carrying chocolate bars, rice pudding on occasion.
ID: To whom?
BD: To the old ladies in the incurable ward of the Marpole Hospital.
ID: My goodness.
BD: That was part of my job there. It reminds me, you know now volunteer work is an entirely different story but in those days it was terribly important.
ID: [It’s probably as important today].
BD: Council’s work in the community was really recognized those days because we worked in various fields. They had tag days, they’d call on Council for the Community Chest drives, [and they’d] have over the years too, those days we had Council—there was a tag day almost every Saturday, you know, for some thing or the other. Always Council was called upon and always we provided the volunteers for the Community Chest after that was started. And wherever you were needed in the community, you were called upon, and you found volunteers to do it.
ID: And this was sort of Jewish representation for community work?
ID: And was it hard to find volunteers or could they offer their services readily?
BD: People had help, help was attainable in their homes for very reasonable amounts of money. Some people paid $25 a month for help, yeah. I didn’t, I never believed in that sort of thing, I always paid more. But we all had help so that we were free to do work in the community.
ID: Yes, that makes a difference.
BD: In the early days too, when all this immigration was going on following our organization’s beginnings we organized what we called the Well Baby Clinic. There was a lot of immigration here and hardly any of the women in Council could speak Jewish [Yiddish]. Couldn’t understand it, couldn’t speak it, but there was a great need for, for giving these people advice, whether it was to take care of their babies, whether it was to help them to become, to have a bit of a social life, and that sort of thing. And that’s where we did a good job. Our Well Baby Clinic was conducted in the Heatley Avenue synagogue, which was the first synagogue in Vancouver. It was Schara Tzedeck in reality but it was Heatley Avenue. We used to meet in the big hall…
ID: Now this was strictly the Jewish immigrants that had come and were coming to the Well Baby Clinic?
BD: That’s right, they came to the Well Baby Clinic. And it was my job, it was Dr. Davies who was the doctor, girls like Frances [Weinrobe], Charlotte Boyaner, Jenny Chess was the nurse incidentally, you know she’s Jenny Brotman now.
AK: At what point did you come to British Columbia?
GZ: Let’s see, I got married and we were married a couple of years and my husband was working for the Army & Navy in Edmonton and he had worked for the Army & Navy also in Vancouver but he then decided he would like to have his own business and he was looking around and he found this store in Mission, British Columbia, that’s about forty miles from Vancouver. So we moved, I had at that time one child, he was nearly a year old and we moved to Mission, the only Jewish family in Mission.
AK: That’s very interesting, so you met your husband in Edmonton.
GZ: In Edmonton.
AK: How did you meet?
GZ: He was working across the street and I was working as a credit manager in this place and that’s how we met.
AK: What’s his name?
GZ: His name was Sam Zivot.
AK: And so you were initially in Edmonton and then he found this opportunity in Mission and you pulled up your roots and came to British Columbia.
GZ: Right, so then we were there for about seven years, I had two more children both of them born in Mission, one is a daughter and the other is a younger son who, when he was born, we had to bring in the mohel [person who performs circumcisions] from Bellingham, Washington State, [laughs] so we brought him in and he was circumcised there
AK: So now you have three children.
GZ: I had three children now and I felt very strongly about having them educated and being Jewish. We met a Jewish family in Abbotsford which was across, we met a Jewish family in Chilliwack and we sort of all got together for holidays, sort of, and then as time went on and my youngest was five, yeah five, seven and nine, I said to my husband “We cannot,”—because we were running into New Westminster on Sundays so that they would have Sunday school, we were running to Bellingham to go to synagogue.
AK: How long was the drive to go to synagogue?
GZ: Oh Bellingham, not very long, about an hour.
AK: Right, but it’s still quite a drive.
GZ: So the funniest thing that happened was when my second child was born, and we were living in Mission of course, and it was Christmas time and we were driving into Vancouver and of course there were Christmas lights and Christmas lights and the oldest one said, “Oh I want Christmas lights,” and I said “Lou, you are Jewish, we don’t have Christmas lights and we don’t have Christmas trees.” “I want a Christmas tree and I want lights,” and I said “Lou, you’re Jewish, we don’t have those.” Fine, but now a week later I’m bathing the baby and the doorbell rings and I said to Lou, “Lou, go see who’s at the door,” because the doors were all…and he says, “A man says he’s selling Christmas trees.” And I hear this little voice that says, “Oh no, we’re Jewish.” So I was so excited that it got to him. Then I said to my husband, “We can’t do this.” I says, “We have to move somewhere where they can be with Jewish people and have a Jewish education.”
AK: I think you said you were the only Jewish family in Mission?
GZ: We were the only Jewish family in Mission but we had Jewish friends in Abbotsford and...So anyway my Dad at that time had a yard goods store, fabrics, in Edmonton and he suggested that we have a fabric store in Calgary. So that was fine, he went to Calgary to find out a location, etcetera, etcetera, and we moved to Calgary where the children had Jewish family also, I had two sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law living there with their children…
MS: Did you also not have an involvement in 1949 with the redeemed children of Europe who were brought over by Canadian Jewish Congress? Could you tell us something about that?
LZ: Well, that came to be, also that came under as part of my responsibilities, the work of Canadian Jewish Congress and the Jewish Family Service Agency which was a functional part of the Jewish administrative organization so I became involved with the absorption of those children which had come in the same year that I had arrived. They had come some months before I did and had been placed in homes, some that came were actually adopted. But I became directly involved with them too. We organized a club that met to sort of retain the relationship that those youngsters had. They came with fears and with traumatic experiences and so on and they needed a lot of attention and a lot of support and this was given through Jean Rose and her committee and through the staff of the Jewish Family Service agency which about that time was, consisted of Jessie Allman, and so there was quite a bit of involvement with those children and in later years other waves of immigrants that came too.