Media Files
Title:
Interview with Ruth Finn, August 2, 2003, Superior, Wisconsin
Collection:
Wisconsin Jewish Archives Oral Histories
Organization:
Wisconsin Historical Society
Description:
summary Andy Muchin interviews Ruth Finn on August 2nd, 2003, in Superior, Wisconsin. Ruth discusses her childhood in Rice Lake, her family's store, and her father's time as a cattle dealer. Ruth also details the Jewish organizations she belonged to and how she spent the high holidays. Ruth discusses Yiddish magazines, keeping kosher, and rabbis in Superior, Wisconsin.
Identifier:
accession number WSA0153
Format:
audio
Description:
summary Andy Muchin interviews Ruth Finn on August 2nd, 2003, in Superior, Wisconsin. Ruth discusses her childhood in Rice Lake, her family's store, and her father's time as a cattle dealer. Ruth also details the Jewish organizations she belonged to and how she spent the high holidays. Ruth discusses Yiddish magazines, keeping kosher, and rabbis in Superior, Wisconsin.
Language:
English
Date:
created 2003-08-02
created Unknown Date
Agent:
Interviewee Ruth Finn
Interviewer Andy Muchin
Rights Statement:
Copyright to this audio belongs to the Wisconsin Historical Society or, in certain cases, either to the individuals who created them or the organizations for which they worked. We share them here strictly for non-profit educational purposes. If you have questions related to the copyright status of material included here, please contact us at asklibrary@wisconsinhistory.org.
Publisher:
Wisconsin Historical Society
Duration:
00:46:57
Source Metadata URI:
00052545
Partial Transcript: Andy Muchin interviews Ruth Finn in Superior, Wisconsin on August 2, 2003.
Partial Transcript: Ruth grew up in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Her father was a cattle dealer in Duluth, but he needed a new place to buy cattle. He settled in Rice Lake.
Partial Transcript: Ruth's father immigrated from Lithuania. His name was Harry Widdes. Ruth's mother's name was Sarah Pomish. They had four children, all born in Superior, Wisconsin because Sarah's mother lived there. Ruth is the second oldest of the four children. She has a sister who lives in LA, a brother who lives in Iowa, and a brother who lives in Rice Lake.
Partial Transcript: Lived in a house on Wilson Avenue, a block from downtown. Ruth's father was a cattle buyer who went into the grocery and meat business. He had a store in Rice Lake. Ruth's mother ran the store. The store was named Widdes Food Market.
Partial Transcript: Ruth's Parent's arrived in Rice Lake when she was a little girl. They lived in Rice Lake for a very long time.
Partial Transcript: Ruth went to the Lincoln School in Rice Lake, then Rice Lake High School, and then Teacher's College in Superior. She met her husband there in a bar.
Partial Transcript: Ruth taught in a town called Dallas during the war years, which had a population of 100 people. She got married right after she graduated college, during Christmas time. Her husband did not have to fight in the war because he had an ulcer.
Partial Transcript: Ruth loved living in Rice Lake. She would swim and play cards. Rice lake had a population of 5,177 people during the time Ruth was there. There was a Jewish population in Rice Lake and they all ran business there.
Partial Transcript: Ruth's mother kept Kosher. She would bring meat to a rabbi for him to butcher. Ruth lists Jews that she knew from Almina.
Partial Transcript: Did not always do Chabad dinner on Friday because her Father was working at the store. During the holidays, Ruth went to Superior. No special Rice Lake recipes for Jewish food.
Partial Transcript: Jews in Rice Lake socialized with other Jewish people from nearby towns
Partial Transcript: Ruth lived in Rice Lake until she went to college, and only remembers one instance of experience Anti-Semitism as a child.
Partial Transcript: Ruth went to Lutheran Sunday school because her friends were there. When she was older a Rabbi came to town every week and she had Jewish Sunday school lessons. Ruth never learned Hebrew, but her parents spoke Yiddish.
Partial Transcript: Ruth's parents spoke Yiddish and English. Her parents would speak Yiddish when they did not want the kids to know what they were saying. Ruth figured out some Yiddish from listening to her parents.
Partial Transcript: Most did not keep Kosher. Jewish families in Rice Lake went all over for Jewish Holidays. Some went to Minneapolis, Duluth, and Eau Claire. Ruth's family went to Superior because they had family that lived there. Ruth's family also ran a Sader.
Partial Transcript: Ruth has a brother in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, a brother in Iowa, and a sister in Los Angeles, California.
Partial Transcript: Ruth bought passover food and butter from a Rabbi. The butter came from a creamery that shipped butter all over.
Partial Transcript: Fundraisers came through Rice Lake and would ask for money, some even stayed with Ruth's family. The Fundraisers were orthodox and claimed they were raising money for the Holy Land. The fundraisers spoke Yiddish with Ruth's parents.
Partial Transcript: Bill Finn, Ruth's husband discusses his father and his father's ability to read Jewish books.
Partial Transcript: Bill's mother bought Yiddish newspapers, they had them delivered in the mail. Ruth's parent's did not have Yiddish papers delivered.
Partial Transcript: Ruth's family had hired help and they treated them like members of the family.
Partial Transcript: Ruth does not believe there was any anti-Semitism in Rice Lake. Ruth's brother is on the school board and police and fire commission. Ruth discusses how Jews were respected members of Rice Lake when she was growing up, and continue to be respected members today.
Partial Transcript: In Rice Lake there was a B'nai B'rith. There was an official lodge, and Ruth's dad was involved. The lodge hosted meetings, parties, and dances. It was a way for Jews in the area to get together. Ruth discusses the card games she played growing up.
Partial Transcript: Ruth calls the sisterhood Women's League. The Women's League helped build the new Synagogue by fundraising, and throwing dances. Non-Jewish members of the community loved coming to the Jewish dances. Ruth's league would hire a band, it was a whole affair.
Partial Transcript: Ruth did not like living in West Bend. It was a very German area. Ruth loved living in the Neenah/Menasha area. There was a synogague in nearby Appleton, Wisconsin. Ruth would not have minded staying in the Fox Cities area. However, family is really important to Ruth so Bill and Ruth moved back by Bill's parents.
Partial Transcript: Ruth reunited with family during the Holidays. When Ruth's parent's got older they moved back to Ruth and bought a house by Ruth and Bill.
Partial Transcript: Ruth does not know why so many Jews became cattle buyers. Ruth shows Andy (interviewer) her Aunt Libby's wedding photo.
Partial Transcript: Ruth was part of the Sisterhood at the synagogue. Everyone got along, there were no scandals. Ruth was a helper, she was never on the officer board. Ruth would cook at the synagogue. There were a lot of Bar Mitzvahs. Ruth is no longer Kosher, but she was for most of her life.
Partial Transcript: Ruth was a member of Hadassah and the Council of Jewish Women. They met in Duluth. Ruth discusses the number of women who were involved in the Jewish organizations. There was also a men's B'nai B'rith.
Partial Transcript: When there was a rabbi the Jewish community would get involved in Interfaith activities. Rabbi Rellis was one of the last rabbis in Superior. Superior has not had a rabbi in 20 years.

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