I apologize for the long interval between posts. As the weather has heated up, so has my workload. Combine that with two boys playing baseball and it’s been a busy start of the summer. We’re down to just one still playing and the season will be over in another week.
A few weeks ago, a group of 8 native Trentonians, Sherry Spiezle, whose first husband “was related to half of Trenton”, and whose second husband “is related to the other half”, and I met at Irene Linder’s house in Ewing. Sherry was the impetus for this get-together. She made it clear as soon as I told her about the Trenton Jewish Project, in March, that she would volunteer to help out. Sherry called me in June and said that she would organize and Irene would host a small gathering to see if we could pull together a group of people who had expressed an interest in making the preservation of the history of Trenton Jewry a reality.
The first thing that struck me as people arrived at the meeting was that everyone who grew up in Trenton really is related. It was amazing. The first four attendees to walk in the door started playing Jewish Geography like they were throwing around Mah Jongg tiles. “Oh, you’re such and such’s cousin, I’m related to them, so we must also be related.” “Your father’s sister was related to my uncle’s nephew.” I didn’t feel totally left out, because I discovered that my fraternal grandfather came from the same shtetl as two attendee’s families.
The first words out of the fifth person to arrive were, “I haven’t seen you in 60 years, when you were 15.” At that point, the meeting already was a success.
Sherry had asked me to put together an agenda. I explained to everyone that I wasn’t a native Trentonian and that I’m actually a newbie. We moved to the area in 1996 and both of our kids went to nursery school at the JCC in Ewing. I had been fascinated by the pictures of all of the athletic programs that hung on the wall. In fact, I took all those pictures down, scanned them, saved them to CD’s and put them back up. That’s really how I had become interested in the Jews of Trenton. I made copies of the CD’s for the JCC and kept copies for myself. Earlier this year, I gave Wendy Nardi, the curator of Trentonia at the Trenton Public Library, a copy of those photos.
Also discussed at the meeting was when we could have another large “event” and get the word out about a truly grassroots effort to preserve the history of Trenton Jewry. It was decided that we would aim for sometime shortly after the Holidays in the fall. The idea of hosting a panel discussion about Old Trenton was raised, as well as an opportunity for people to sit down in front of a camera and tell some of their stories about the old days. Look for more details in this space in the not-too-distant future. We also talked about possibly creating a museum exhibit and a curriculum for the area Hebrew Schools about what used to be in Trenton.
Perhaps most importantly, the group took up the idea of reinvigorating the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Trenton. What do you think? If any of these ideas sound like something that you might be interested in working on, please send me an e-mail and I’ll add you to the list.
Odds and Ends
In the last entry, I published an e-mail from Norm Denard, who wrote about the Boy Scouts. Bob Gross sent this note in response.
“I was a boy scout in the early 40's plus later as an assistant scout master in Troop 93. The names listed seem like the 30's with a few errors in timing. Isaac Garb was in my class from 7th grade on and was a scout with me.
My brother, Allan Gross, Len Millner, Barry Rednor, Phil Moskowitz (sp. ?), and others : Bob Kahn, Irwin Goldstein, Phil Papier, and others were Eagle scouts, the most in the Trenton area active at one time. Dave Rosmarin was our scout master and Ben Binder was our men's committee.
Bob Kahn became the scout master later and we had a mixed group of scouts-blacks, Irish,etc. as the local troops folded. We met at the Har Sinai and were completely integrated with more non-Jews in the troop than Jews.
I will have to dig into my memory bank to come up with some more facts.”
And in a later e-mail, he did:
“so I will add some more Troop 93 scouts, some were Eagle:
Merwin Lavine -deceased (Elaine Palat Lavine's husband); Ted Levin, Ed Green, Bill Binder, Max Gross, Mike Friedman, Phil Papier and some others may come to mind.
Most have left the area and are in parts unknown. Max, Mike and Phil are still around though.”
I also got an e-mail from Tom Wahl, who found us while browsing the web.
"I was surfing the internet, thought about my days of listening to the delightful Sol Weinstein on WCAU radio and Googled his name. I found your on camera internet interview with him and LOVED IT. Thanks so much for it. I knew Sol left CAU for Hollywood and knew he had done fairly well out there but didn't know how well he did. If you should speak with him in the future, please pass along to him my very best and thanks so much for a lot of laughs when he was on WCAU. I was and still am a big Sol Weinstein fan."
That's all for now.