Media Files
Title:
Interview with Charlotte Mirmon, August 6, 2004, Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Collection:
Wisconsin Jewish Archives Oral Histories
Organization:
Wisconsin Historical Society
Description:
summary Andy Muchin interviews Charlotte Mirmom on August 6, 2004 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Charlotte discusses moving to Stevens Point, Wisconsin in 1947, shortly after marrying her husband, and being welcomed by the Jewish community. She discusses the Jewish community in Stevens Point and raising two kids. Charlotte also talks about the closure of the synagogue in 1986 and the shrinking Jewish community in Stevens Point.
Identifier:
accession number WSA0168
Format:
audio
Description:
summary Andy Muchin interviews Charlotte Mirmom on August 6, 2004 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Charlotte discusses moving to Stevens Point, Wisconsin in 1947, shortly after marrying her husband, and being welcomed by the Jewish community. She discusses the Jewish community in Stevens Point and raising two kids. Charlotte also talks about the closure of the synagogue in 1986 and the shrinking Jewish community in Stevens Point.
Language:
English
Date:
created 2004-08-06
Agent:
Interviewee Charlotte Mirmom
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:
00:46:14
Source Metadata URI:
00050364
Type:
Sound
Partial Transcript: Andy Muchin introduces Charlotte Mirmom and states that the interview occurs on August 6, 2004 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
Partial Transcript: Charlotte arrived in Stevens Point in 1947. She grew up in Milwaukee and discusses how she met her husband at a graduation party.
Partial Transcript: Charlotte moved to Stevens Point with her husband, whose family was in the furniture business. She helped run the family furniture store. Her friends and family initially worried about how Charlotte would acclimate to living in a small town.
Partial Transcript: The Mirmon family's furniture store most likely opened in 1932. Charlotte discusses how the furniture store came to be established in Stevens Point by her father in law.
Partial Transcript: Charlotte is unsure of when her husbands parents, the Mirmons, came to Wausau, Wisconsin from Latvia. She discusses how the Mirmon family came to Wausau and the various locations of the Mirmon family members throughout Wisconsin.
Partial Transcript: The Mirmoms were not the only Jewish merchants in downtown Stevens Point. There were two clothing stores, a wholesale produce company, and a liquor store owned by Jewish families.
Partial Transcript: UW-Stevens Point had a few Jewish professors.
Partial Transcript: The largest Jewish population for holiday services was probably about a hundred people. Typically, twenty-five people attended Friday night services. There were no Saturday morning services that Charlotte can recall.
Partial Transcript: The old synagogue in Stevens Point is now a museum. The congregation is about a hundred years old and the building is located near the main street of Stevens Point.
Partial Transcript: Charlotte does not know anything about the founding congregation of the synagogue. She knows that the synagogue was founded in 1904 from a corner stone on the building. The only founding member in Stevens Point when Charlotte arrived in 1947 was a Mr. Cigel.
Partial Transcript: Charlotte's family and her mother-in-law kept kosher. They would have their meat shipped in from Milwaukee on a Gray Hound bus. The meat shipment served three families and so they often had to call Milwaukee to order more meat. Staying kosher could be a challenge, especially when the Mirmoms hosted the entire congregation on holidays.
Partial Transcript: Charlotte's family gradually stopped keeping kosher. It was difficult to obtain the food they needed to keep up the diet in a small town and very hard to go to restaurants.
Partial Transcript: Charlotte says the congregation followed the conservative branch of Judaism. She also discusses the various rabbis, who were with the synagogue full time. The congregation did not keep many records.
Partial Transcript: The congregation had an active sisterhood that helped run the synagogue and a bridge club. There sisterhood met monthly while the men played poker in the synagogue's rec room. The sisterhood often provided the congregation with food.
Partial Transcript: The synagogue had a B'nai B'rith that would often get together with the chapter from Manitowoc. Charlotte's husband was in B'nai B'rith and her brother-in-law was president. Charlotte says that the Stevens Point B'nai B'rith was mainly a social organization. The men often played cards together after the meetings.
Partial Transcript: Charlotte discusses the various rabbis in Stevens Point. Eventually, the community could no longer keep a rabbi and rabbis from Chicago had to fill in during the holidays.
Partial Transcript: The synagogue originally had pews that were replaced by theater seats. Since Charlotte has been in Stevens Point, the congregation has had mixed seating. The new theater seats had the members names on them. The members each bought a chair to fund the synagogue. People typically sat in their own chairs.
Partial Transcript: Charlotte discusses the rabbi that came to the congregation in the 1950s from Israel to finish up his degree at UW-Stevens Point. The rabbi eventually moved to Milwaukee, but his son still visits the congregation.
Partial Transcript: Stevens Point had about twenty Jewish families, who were all affiliated with the synagogue. Almost all the families regularly attended services.
Partial Transcript: Charlotte often visited her family in Milwaukee during the 4th of July to celebrate her mother's birthday and during other holidays.
Partial Transcript: Stevens Point had Cheder Jewish school when there was a full time rabbi. The kids would go after school about three times a week. Charlotte discusses the Jewish education of her two kids.
Partial Transcript: Bar mitzvahs were a very big deal to the congregation, because it was so small. They were typically held on Saturday. Charlotte discusses her son's bar mitzvah.
Partial Transcript: Charlotte has never experienced any antisemitism in Stevens Point. The community has been very welcoming. She discusses even attending church with her friends. Charlotte also talks about how many of the immigrants in Wisconsin were Polish and spoke Polish with her father. Not many of the Jews spoke Yiddish.
Partial Transcript: Charlotte's brother-in-law was the president of the congregation for a long time. He helped lead services when the rabbis were absent. Services were held in a mix of Hebrew and English.
Partial Transcript: There was no B'nai B'rith youth organization, but Charlotte was never concerned about her kids not meeting other Jewish kids. Charlotte has a son and a daughter, who are both teachers living in Stevens Point. Her daughter, Marcy, is also a successful athlete and coach.
Partial Transcript: Sports were very important to the Mirmon family. They always attended Brewers games.
Partial Transcript: The Jewish community was very welcoming to Charlotte when she arrived in Stevens Point in 1947.
Partial Transcript: The family had Passover Seders led by Charlotte's brother-in-law. The Mirmons celebrated all the Jewish holidays.
Partial Transcript: If there was a Christian/Christmas related event at the public schools, the Mirmons attended because it was just part of the community.
Partial Transcript: The congregation did not own a home for the rabbi. He had to rent.
Partial Transcript: Many of the Jewish merchants downtown died and so their businesses closed. The Mirmons' furniture store closed in 1984, a year after her husband died. None of the other family members wanted to take care of the store.
Partial Transcript: Both of Charlotte's kids went to UW-Stevens Point and they both stayed in the area after college.
Partial Transcript: You can currently tour the Stevens Point synagogue. The synagogue closed in 1986 and was handed to the Historical Society, because the congregation was too small to keep the synagogue running. The Stevens Point Jewish community must go to Wausau if they want to attend services. Charlotte discusses the Jews currently living in the area.
No transcript available for this file.