- Interview with Debra Cohen and Cindy Galland, July 7, 2005, Wisconsin
- Wisconsin Jewish Archives Oral Histories
- Wisconsin Historical Society
summary Debra Cohen and Cindy Galland are interviewed on July 7, 2005, in Wisconsin. Debra discusses her childhood in Watertown, Wisconsin and the antisemitism she experienced there. She also discusses her wonderful experiences attending Camp Interlaken and standing up to her high school when they held Christmas celebrations. Cindy Galland discusses her fun-filled childhood in Watertown, Wisconsin and her neighborhood friends and all of the activities they did together. Cindy also discusses her adult life in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the Jewish school she and her husband transformed in Santa Fe....moreDescription:summary Debra Cohen and Cindy Galland are interviewed on July 7, 2005, in Wisconsin. Debra discusses her childhood in Watertown, Wisconsin and the antisemitism she experienced there. She also discusses her wonderful experiences attending Camp Interlaken and standing up to her high school when they held Christmas celebrations. Cindy Galland discusses her fun-filled childhood in Watertown, Wisconsin and her neighborhood friends and all of the activities they did together. Cindy also discusses her adult life in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the Jewish school she and her husband transformed in Santa Fe.
accession number WSA0149
summary Debra Cohen and Cindy Galland are interviewed on July 7, 2005, in Wisconsin. Debra discusses her childhood in Watertown, Wisconsin and the antisemitism she experienced there. She also discusses her wonderful experiences attending Camp Interlaken and standing up to her high school when they held Christmas celebrations. Cindy Galland discusses her fun-filled childhood in Watertown, Wisconsin and her neighborhood friends and all of the activities they did together. Cindy also discusses her adult life in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the Jewish school she and her husband transformed in Santa Fe.
Interviewee Debra Cohen,
Interviewer Andy Muchin
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Wisconsin Historical Society
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Partial Transcript: Debra Cohen is interviewed on July 7, 2005. Her maiden name is Grange.
Partial Transcript: Debra grew up in Watertown. She was the only one in the school system who was Jewish. At the time of the interview, she was 31. Debra was born in 1974 and lived in Watertown until 1992. When she was in elementary school, a boy would pretend to sneeze and say "Jew" whenever Debra walked by. He did this from second grade through high school. In high school, he got an entire group of guys to stand around Debra and do it. This made her feel very self conscious. Another instance of antisemitism Debra experienced happened in 7th grade. During a WWII unit, she was passed notes that said "Heil Hitler." This was at Watertown Middle School. The principal's daughter sent her the notes. The girls tried to tell Debra and her mom that they were just joking, and Debra's mother had to step in and say that it was not a laughing matter. In choir, their school used to sing Jewish songs. One of the girls was so angry that she yelled at Debbie and accused her of being the entire reason they sang the dreidel songs, and praised Hitler. Debra can still hear them saying these horrendous things in her head. This happened in 1989-1990.
Partial Transcript: Debra's brother and sister want to private high school. Her brother is 10 years younger than her. In elementary school, Debra and her sister were together. Debra feels that the harassment she experienced made her appreciate her religion even more. It made her want to stand up for who she was. During the holidays, she would stand up to her high school and tell the principals that they should not play religious music over the speakers and decorate the school with Christmas trees. She does not have a lot of friends left from high school.
Partial Transcript: Debra went to Camp Interlaken for 12 years. Her best friends are from Camp Interlaken. A lot of her best friends from camp have married her family members, and so they have become family. Her friends at camp were often surprised with what she experienced in Watertown.
Partial Transcript: Debra's parents own a garbage truck manufacturing company called High Road Equipment in Watertown, Wisconsin. They came to Watertown in 1969-1970 right before they got married. Debra's parents came to Watertown because Debra's maternal grandfather and grandmother were there.
Partial Transcript: Cindy is living in Denver currently, but spent a number of years in Watertown. Cindy was born in Milwaukee, but moved to Madison shortly after she was born. Her father was a butcher for Oscar Mayer, but he got sick from going into the cold freezers. In 1944 he bought a scrap business in Watertown, Wisconsin from a man named Arnold.
Partial Transcript: Cindy's Grandfather was named Hyman Loeb. The original name was Loebwitz. He came from the border of Belarus and Ukraine. Her great grandfather on her father's mother's side was Luzar Goodman. He married Ana Esther. Her great grandfather on her father's father's side (Loebwitz) was from Belarus. He lived in a shtetl called Petrikov. That family was hard to track down because Loebwitz was a common name for both Jews and non Jews.
Partial Transcript: Cindy's great grandfather Goodman had a store where he would take in things from the Russian peasants and trade with them. He was known to be a successful businessmen. When Cindy's grandmother (Goodman's daughter) came to the US, she was not in the steerage, she had a cabin. The other side of Cindy's family were distillers. They would collect sap and turn it into turpentine and spirits. One of Cindy's great grandparent's was sent money to come to America, but peasants in her community caught wind of the money, killed her, and stole the money. She never made it to America.
Partial Transcript: Her mother's side was named Feldman. They are from Lityn, Ukraine. Nobody in the family knew that her Grandma Feldman's parents came to America, and are buried in Milwaukee. Some of Cindy's older relatives still do not believe it. The eldest Feldmans died in the 1930s.
Partial Transcript: Cindy was born in 1941 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Part of her family was in the meat packing industry. In the old world, some of her family worked in the cattle industry. The shtetl where they came from was known for distilling and hides. That information is listed in the Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and After the Holocaust.
Partial Transcript: The first person in Cindy's family that came to America was her great uncle Ben Goodman. He came a year before Cindy's bubbe, they were brother and sister. Ben came to Chicago in 1911. He stayed in Chicago and invested in real estate and became very successful. The Loebwitz family (Cindy's bubbe and zayde on her father's side) went to Chicago, then Kurtz, Indiana, then Columbus, Wisconsin. Cindy's bubbe came to America in 1912, and had Cindy's dad, William Loeb, in Kurtz, IN in 1916. By 1921, they were in Columbus, WI.
Partial Transcript: Chaim Loeb (Cindy's paternal bubbe) spoke seven languages, was honest to a fault, and very respected. Chaim bought a grocery store in Chicago in 1920. Before moving to Columbus before WWI, they had a grocery store and packing house in Kurtz, IN. Chaim was known to say "if you want to stay healthy, stay away from lawyers and doctors." He was very hardworking and never cursed. Chaim valued his family and put his kids first.
Partial Transcript: One time Cindy's father took her back to Columbus and showed her the house where he grew up. Cindy's father William was one of six children: five boys and one girl. They were a rowdy bunch. The family had a baby calf, and they would teach it to go through a window of their house. When it grew up into a full size cow, it would still try to jump through the window into the house and it broke the window.
Partial Transcript: Family was very important to Cindy's bubbe. Homes were gathering places. A relative remembers Cindy's bubbe Loeb's ability to put a whole five course meal on the table in three minutes.
Partial Transcript: Another Jewish family in Milwaukee was in the meat business. One man who is a part of that family is a professor and did research on his family. His grandparents loved to take road trips, and they always went to Columbus. Cindy later found out that his family was coming to visit her family. Cindy's family was the only Jewish family in Columbus.
Partial Transcript: Cindy is named after her father's father's sister. She discusses the amount and type of family pictures she has. Cindy has some pictures from the old country even.
Partial Transcript: Sammy Cohen was Cindy's father's very good friend. Sammy was visiting family in Columbus, and Sammy and Cindy's father wanted the same horse at a ranch. Sammy and Cindy's father got in a fist fight, and children around them started screaming "yeah, beat up the Jew." This made Sammy and Cindy's father stop fighting, and unite to fight the other children who were antisemitic. Sammy was from Gary, Indiana.
Partial Transcript: Cindy's Grandfather died of tuberculosis three months after Cindy was born. He went to Denver for treatment at a facility. The facility had the only Hebrew printing press west of the Mississippi. It had a synagogue and a movie theatre, and it was like a village. Her grandfather moved from there to California where he passed away. Her grandmother died in Milwaukee. Her grandmother and grandfather lived in Columbus, Wisconsin for over 20 years.
Partial Transcript: Cindy has her father's high school yearbook from Columbus, WI. He was a football star and received a full scholarship from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He could not accept the scholarship because his father passed away and he had to support the family. Then, the war came and three of the brothers went to fight. Cindy's Uncle Morrie was in the air force, Uncle Archie was in the cavalry, he was one of the first troops to land in Japan, and Uncle Harry ended up in the medical core in India. He did not see any action there. Uncle Harry was very scared of blood so it was good he did not see any action. Cindy's father could not fight because one of his eyes was not good. He felt bad that he could not go fight for the country.
Partial Transcript: Cindy's father was very strong until the day he died. The day before he died he was riding his horse. He was also a golden glove champion boxer. Cindy's father and her Uncle Harry were only 18 months apart. When Cindy's Aunt Rose was playing dolls she used Cindy's father as a doll when he was a newborn baby. One time, she was wheeling him around in the winter outside, and then forgot about him. Later, Cindy's bubbe could not find her new baby and he was still outside in the carriage. Because her father was so small, Cindy's bubbe held him back a year in school. He ended up in the same grade as his brother Harry. Cindy's father ended up being a good fighter because he was also sticking up for his brother Harry.
Partial Transcript: Cindy's grandfather was very respected for his honesty. Though antisemitism existed, he was still respected. Cindy's father was very social and joined lots of organizations. He was in Rotary Club, a 32nd Degree Mason, etc. Cindy's mother started all kinds of clubs. Cindy's father's were involved in square-dancing and bowling. They would travel the state square-dancing. Cindy's father used to craft his own fishing ties and furniture. Cindy discusses the traits her family possesses. Cindy believes dexterity, curiosity, and longevity run in the family. Cindy's father always said "there's an art to everything and you can learn something from everybody." He treated everyone with the same respect.
Partial Transcript: William (Cindy's father) came to Watertown in 1944 during WWII and it was very antisemitic at that time. He came to Watertown after leaving Oscar Mayer. He bought a business in Watertown. William paid $12,000 for the business, a house, and four acres of land. The address was 1515 River Drive. Today, the city owns it and built a school there, covering up the fields and creeks that used to be on the land. William lived very openly as a Jew in Watertown. Cindy's mother was a city girl, but ended up caring for most of the family's animals in Watertown. Cindy says as a child they had monkeys, raccoons, squirrels, foxes, and dogs. Sometimes they even came in the house. Cindy's father loved dogs. He even adopted a "dangerous" Belgian Shepard from a farmer who was going to put the dog down. The dog loved Cindy's father and stayed by his side until the day the dog passed. Another one of Cindy's father's dogs got hit by a train and crawled all the way home just to die by Cindy's father's feet. As a child, Cindy had responsibility for three horses. In the wintertime, she had to haul water for the horses every day.
Partial Transcript: Cindy describes her family as very culturally Jewish and they were proud to be Jewish. However, they did not have shabbat dinner or participate in a lot of religious traditions. During the High Holidays, Cindy remembers going to the shul in Milwaukee. They went to Cindy's bubbe's shul on her mother's side. Cindy would spend time with both of her bubbes in Chicago and Milwaukee. Cindy's family always did a seder. Cindy's Uncle Morrie used to lead. Everyone participated. Cindy's mother and father were fluent in Yiddish. Cindy can understand it and read it but is not fluent. Her bubbe Loeb always read the Forward, from cover to cover. Her bubbe tried to keep kosher but Cindy suspects that her great-grandparents on her father's side were more enlightened, so she is not sure that her bubbe kept kosher. Her bubbe Feldman always kept a kosher home, and so was bubbe Loeb in Chicago, but not in Columbus. In Cindy's home they never served pork or meat and milk together but were not completely kosher. Family members still ate pork outside of the house.
Partial Transcript: When Cindy was 12, a wealthy Jewish family, the Winnegrads, moved into their town. The patriarch of this family bought a big factory. He was married to a non-Jewish woman and they had three sons. He became friends with Cindy's father William. Every Sunday, the man and William would take turns driving the three boys and Cindy to Madison for Hebrew School. Cindy fought tooth and nail not to go. It was at a reform shul in Madison. One boy at the shul made fun of her, and the other kids saw her as a "country bumpkin." She learned Hebrew at the shul. Then, Cindy switched to a shul in Milwaukee at the beginning of the year. Her brother and sister also went to this shul in Milwaukee. Cindy's father did not have a Bar Mitzvah. Besides the Winnegrads, the Millers were another Jewish family in Cindy's town. The Miller's had an auto supply store. Cindy's family owned the Loeb scrap Business. Sometimes, Cindy had to wait to eat because there was no money. They had a victory garden. Cindy's father started to succeed when he also had a paper business. He was in business with his brother Archie and they stayed in business together 50 years.
Partial Transcript: Cindy worked for her dad from the time she was 12 through high school. One time when Cindy was working, a grandfather came with his grandson to sell something. While Cindy was making the transaction, the little grandchild said "see Grandfather, they won't cheat us." Cindy assumes the grandfather was making anti-Semitic comments to his grandson before they came in. When Cindy was an adult, her and her husband were at Kohl's and a man came up to Cindy's husband and said "You're Jewish aren't you, are you related to a Loeb?" Then, this man proceeded to tell the story about his interactions with Archie and William Loeb when he was a child. He would go to their scrapyard and they would help him with little projects when he was just a kid. He remembers William and Archie with extreme fondness.
Partial Transcript: Cindy did not have any Jewish friends growing up. She had a large group of friends but they were not Jewish. Cindy's younger sister had a large group of Jewish friends from Milwaukee. Cindy never went to Jewish camp because she had horses and land at home.
Partial Transcript: Cindy became a practicing Jew in 1986. She was living with her husband in Santa Fe, New Mexico running an architectural design practice. Cindy's Aunt Rose pressed her to send her children to Hebrew school. After the first day of Hebrew school, Cindy's children said that no adult ever showed up. Cindy then got very involved. She got together with other people in the community and organized a proper school. They hired a principal, and her husband ended up being President. Cindy became the executive director and gave up her architectural design practice. The preschool alone had 90 children, and Cindy had a payroll of 90 employees by the time she left. There was an unusual rabbi that they worked with. At first the shul was unaffiliated, but then it became reform. Cindy started a day school, and articles were written about the Jewish community in Santa Fe. Eventually Cindy and her family decided to leave Santa Fe. Cindy's parents were pleased with her commitment to Judaism.
Partial Transcript: Cindy remembers that during Christmastime she would have to sing songs like "Silent Night" and "Away in a Manger," even after her mother complained. The compromise was she did not have to sing the word Jesus. Another incident occurred when Cindy stepped on the heel of another girl in fourth grade on accident. The girl turned around and called Cindy a "dirty Jew." Cindy remembers how hurt she was to this day.
Partial Transcript: In the early days, Cindy's father was a peddler. Cindy was along with him one day when he picked up some mattresses, and children chased the truck, threw rocks at them and yelled "dirty Jews." Cindy's father did not make any remark about it, just kept driving.
Partial Transcript: Cindy's uncle Morrie had a grocery store in Elroy, Wisconsin. Her uncle Morrie had a beautiful Victorian home that Cindy remembers visiting.
Partial Transcript: Cindy loved growing up in a small town. She remembers going to college and feeling sorry for classmates who did not have any family unity. Cindy reminisces walking everywhere, and how one time walking home from the dentist she got lost, and a car pulled up and said "are you Bill Loeb's daughter?" Cindy said yes, that she was going home. The man laughed and said "You're going the wrong way, I will take you home." She loved the sense of community and how everybody knew each other. Her parents had an old WW2 air siren, and when Cindy's mother wanted to her to come home, she rang the siren. Cindy spent hours with a devout Catholic family who had 12 kids. The kids would play hopscotch, go iceskating, catch tadpoles, go sledding, preserve bugs, and spend every day outside no matter the season.
Partial Transcript: Cindy is the oldest, her brother Harvey is three years younger than her, her sister Sally is seven years younger than her, and her brother Bruce is 12 years younger than her. Bruce lives in Watertown and runs the family business. Her brother Harvey got in the ground floor of the cell phone business, sold his company and then retired early in Chicago. Sally never left Watertown except to go to college. She is married.
Partial Transcript: Cindy did not date until she got to college, and then she dated Jewish men. Harvey did not date until college either. Bruce dated, but not seriously in high school. Sally did not date in high school either. Her parents never said that they could not interdate, but it was just assumed that they could not.
Partial Transcript: Cindy's parents were not involved in Jewish organizations, but they were involved in community organizations in Watertown. Cindy describes her family as having lots of interests. Cindy says her family does not do well sitting idle. She is an avid knitter, sewer, and crocheter. She reads history books. Cindy's father became a watchmaker because he loved collecting watches so much.