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SS: ...72. I am Sylvia Sheketoff, and I am about to interview Simeon Samuel Nelson, better known as Sam Nelson, who is a gentleman who has lived here in Hartford since 1898, was a pharmacist by profession and is about to reminisce with me about his early years here in Hartford and the changes that he has seen in pharmacy through the years. Sam, let's start out with your very beginning. Will you tell us where you were born?

SN: I was born in a small town in Russia in the province of Minsk. M-i-n-s-k, province of Minsk. Go ahead.

SS: Can you remember things about your childhood in Russia?

SN: I do. I do. It was, this particular town I was born in was located in what was known as the Pale at that time. The majority of the population were largely Jewish people. They were the kind of Jewish people that you see today in that 00:01:00wonderful movie and the wonderful play entitled "Fiddler on the Roof." By watching "Fiddler on the Roof" brought the childhood back to me. It brought the rabbi. It brought the people. It brought back some of the people that I was associated with and lived with and played with.

SS: Sam, do you remember as 'Fiddler on the Roof' showed, anything like a pogrom ? Was that the reason that perhaps you came here?

SN: Pogroms we had in Russia at that particular time. We did not have then in the particular area where we lived. But we did know a pogrom which had existed 00:02:00here and there, off and on, particularly the one that has taken place in Kiev and about the time when we were down there- The pogroms were one of the many reasons why our people migrated from Russia elsewhere, was one of the reasons. We never knew when we would have a pogrom at home.

SS: Can you tell us about how you came to the United States? I believe you told me you did not come with your family.

SN: A brother of mine, an aunt and uncle came to the United States before me.

SS: You were born in what year, Sam?

SN: I was born in the year 1884. They came to the United States before me and at 00:03:00home we always looked for those letters that we received from our relatives in the United States. And most of them described living in the United States as the most glorious forms of opportunities as such did not exist at that time in Russia, particularly for younger people. That was one reason why my parents thought that migrating to the United States as a young man, I was about the age of 14 at that time, that I would be better off. As a matter of fact, they, they had --

SS: But did they send you alone at age about fourteen?

SN: Yes. I had a younger brother of mine with me who passed away at that particular time. I think the main reason was that once I and my younger brother became somewhat established, we could bring them over here. That, I believe, was 00:04:00the original intent on the part of my family. As a matter of fact, a mother of mine and a sister did visit us here in the United States, but, for a number of reasons, they did not remain here but they went back.

SS: Can you remember anything about your experiences in the actual passage, getting to the boat, the boat trip over, landing in Ellis Island?

SN: Well, I remember this. When we crossed the German border, the group of us of migrants was stopped. The first thing we did as we entered Germany was we had taken off, we had to take off all of our clothing which was deloused in an oven and all of us had a very hot, scrubbing hot water bath before we were permitted to proceed. The port from which I left for the United States was the port of Hamburg. I don't remember much of the city of Hamburg because none of us were 00:05:00allowed to go into the city. We were all confined to barracks, so to speak. We stayed in those barracks and waited until our steamer came in. I remember this.

SS: Did your family save the money for you to make this trip?

SN: My family, in addition to some help which they received from the United States, helped me to make it. I remember distinctly the name of the steamer on which I came over was a small one of the Hamburg American line, and the name of the steamer was Patriach or Patriach.

SS: Did you ride steerage, what would be considered steerage today?


SN: No. I was then what may be called second class. It wasn't steerage. My brother and I were second class. It was a lengthy journey, a journey which I believe took well over, I'm guessing at the time, possibly as long as twelve days or possibly longer.

SS: And you didn't dream then that that would be the first of your trips, Sam, where since then you've become a real world traveler.

SN: Well, I'm not a world traveler.

SSL I would call you one.

SN: I'm not a world traveler.

SS: Sam, had you --

SN: This such I do remember. I could at that time and to some extent today read in German.

SS: I was going to ask you that. What sort of education had you received up to this time in Russia?


SN: It was public schools, a public school which I attended, and whatever reading I could pick up myself on my own behalf. For some reason or another, I don't know why, possibly because Yiddish is closely related to the German language, that when I finally came here and I did want to see, get a newspaper and to see what was going on throughout the world, I could not buy an English paper because I could not read English at the time, but I did read a German paper. And I distinctly remember reading a German paper which accounted for the steamer Patriarch on which I came over, on its way back to Germany was burned.

SS: Isn't that interesting?

SN: I was very much impressed with that.

SS: This was in 19, pardon me, in 1898?

SN: 1897, '98, something like that.

SS: And when you got to New York, how did you happen to come from New York to Hartford?

SN: In New York I lived with my relatives, mainly an uncle and an aunt, who had an apartment on Eighth Avenue. One of the first things they did for me, my uncle and aunt, they insisted that I attend a regular public school. And I remember entering a public school which at that time was located on 116th Street, surrounded by a group of American boys, all of whom spoke English of which I did not know a word, but as my aunt and uncle insisted that I had to do was simply sit down and listen and do a little reading in English, do a little reading in English which I did.

SS: And you remained in New York at that school perhaps a year?

SN: I remained in New York at that school for over a year.

SS: And then how did you happen to move to Hartford?

SN: I had an older brother of mine who, at that time, was studying medicine. He had a friend of his. Just how he let his friend I don't know, no bother. He met a friend of his who, at that time, who was a pharmacist, a Mr. Cantaro who was a 00:08:00pharmacist. And when this pharmacist from Hartford cane to New York and visited my brother, my brother told his that he had a younger brother and he would like to get a job for him. And Mr. Cantaro, who afterwards became Dr. Cantaro, told me that he had a job at his store for me with the result that I came to Hartford, I also remember, and I was very much impressed with it, that at that time there was a small steamer running from New York to Hartford, back and forth. I came to Hartford on that particular steamer. It was my first experience next to the Patriarch to be on a steamer on an American river. The beauty of the Connecticut, particularly below Haddam or in that area, I was very much impressed with. I read Indian stories, stories of rivers in rural America, and here I was on one of them. That's the way I came to Hartford.

SS: You mentioned this was a Mr. who later became Dr. Cantaro.

SN: Yeah.

SS: And I know that when you married, you married Lillian Cantaro who was the sister of two doctors. I assume one of these.

SN: Yeah.

SS: May I add in here something about your family?

You and your wife raised three boys.

SN: That's right.

SS: Bill, who passed away, was connected with Life Magazine. George, who has become an internationally prominent architect, designer, well known. You just showed me a Russian magazine which wrote an article on George Nelson. I have seen many such things. And Norbert Nelson who is a Princeton graduate and a marketing consultant, and he too has written and published books, his field, on the marketing of crafts. Getting back to your early life here, when you came to Hartford you then spoke English, you had yourself a job, and as a general helper at this drugstore what were you first paid back in 19, in 1989?


SN: Three dollars a week.

SS: Three dollars a week. And for that you were expected to do a little of everything?

SN: Mr. Cantaro told me I was supposed to make myself useful. And it came to me in time what that meant. It meant doing all sorts of things.

SS: Right. Did you have any religious affiliations at that time.

SN: None.

SS: None. Do you remember what you did in your spare time when you weren't working? What interests did you have here in Hartford?

SN: well, the greatest interest, one of my very early acquisitions out of that magnificent sum of $3 a week plus what my aunt and uncle in New York occasionally would send me some small amount, pocket money so to speak. I remember this distinctly. I bought -3- me a second hand bicycle which became very important to me. I remember one of the first trips on that particular bicycle. I discovered Keney Park which to me was simply magnificent. It brought me back to my early days in Russia where we lived in a highly forested area. All those trees at this park brought all that forested area which I was well acquainted with in my youth because we used to go into the forest for one thing or another, the forest was right outside the town we lived in, and Keney Park 00:10:00brought that back to ne.

SS: You say you rode your bike to Keney Park.

SN: Yeah.

SS: Where was this store you were working in and where were you living at that time?

SN: I was living with the Cantoro family at that time. They had the room for me.

SS: Do you remember what street they lived on?

SN: Yes. They lived on Broad Street.

SS: On Broad Street. Yes. Now that you've relit your cigarette we can continue. They lived on Broad Street. And where was the drugstore?

SN: On the corner of Park and Broad.

SS: So you could walk to work.

SN: That's right.

SS: And ride your bike for pleasure to the park and so forth.

SN: Yeah.

SS: Was the Cantaro family with whom you lived religious or observant in any way? Do you remember their belonging to a synagogue or going to a synagogue, observing holidays, Jewish holidays, or not?

SN: The Cantaros and their father was a Dr. Cantaro from Poltala in Russia. Dr. Cantaro and his two sons, Daniel Cantaro and Joseph Cantaro, all lived in the same areas. I remember Dr. Cantaro, the older Dr. Cantaro, telling me when New Year's came, when You Kippur came, and I believe at that time he used to attend services. I don't remember his sons ever attending any services. They may have belonged to some congregation or other, but as far as attending services...

SS: Do you remember any Jewish holidays being celebrated, Passover or Yon Kippur?


SN: Passover I do. Passover I do. As a matter of fact, then and even today Passover is my favorite holiday. I'm fed a lot of things I never eat. So even today while I'm not religious. and I'll be frank to admit that holidays don't mean very much to me, Passover I put down as the most important one. Usually my friends invite me for Passover, and I look forward to get that invitation.

SS: Sam, there you were working in a drugstore making yourself generally useful. How did you then learn how to make the formulas and all the things that nowadays are in pills that they just take out of bottles? And tell us a little bit about how pharmacies differed then, the corner drugstore, what it was like then and 00:12:00what it's like now. Back in 1900, give us an idea of the role that the corner druggist played in the community, were there a lot of drug- stores then, what the requirements were and, what I'm looking for, Sam, is, if I may, before you get started, interrupt you before you get started, I know that the Connecticut Pharmaceutical Association has asked you to address their state convention and do some reminiscing for then as one of the oldest pharmacists in the area. Tell us in a capsule form some of the things that you are going to mention in this 00:13:00address to them.

SN: Well, as a pharmacist, the great change from then to now that today most things prescribed by a doctor on a doctor's prescription are made and manufactured by someone or other. Such things as pills, capsules, powders and even liquids are all prepared. All the pharmacist, in his daily application in back of the prescription counter, has to do is to pour out from one bottle into the other, affix a label or he has to count out so many capsules and so many pills and affix a label. As far as making any of the preparations, he does not make them. I doubt if he'd know how to make them because he was never taught. 00:14:00But this is something that we at that particular time had to do. We had to do and sake a great many common and uncommon daily remedies which the public at large used to buy and used to use. That we had to prepare ourselves in the back of the counter which today we do not have to because all a drugstore has to do is buy from a manufacturer or a jobber and dispense then on a doctor's prescription.

SS: Well, let's start with the prescription that would come into the store back in the 1900's from the doctor. What would it say on that prescription and then how would you behind that counter so about mixing and percolating the chemicals?

SN: Percolating is somewhere else. By percolating where we take a drug, for 00:15:00example, where we take common Jamaica ginger. This Jamaica ginger which comes, we used to get in powdered form, we used to macerate the Jamaica ginger with grain alcohol. This Jamaica ginger with an occasional shaking would stay in that alcohol solution sometimes for a period of 24 hours and then again for a period longer with the result that the alcohol would extract all of the dirt from the powder macerated. When the alcohol got through with the macerated powder, the mass left over was inert.

What we had in the alcohol was a solution of the active ingredient like, I'll 00:16:00use Jamaica ginger as an example. At that particular time Jamaica ginger was largely used and very often used. It used to be used for stomach ache, anyone who had a stomach ache, a dose of Jamaica ginger was the proper remedy to use. And this applied to a great many things which we had to make. Very common, the use of _____ powder was by far greater as a cathartic, was by far greater than it is today. The use of citrus from magnesia was very much in demand, particularly by people of foreign extraction. Some- thing else too in those days. I believe I'm justified in saying that there was a good deal more 00:17:00self-medication in those days than we have today. People and primarily foreign born, when they had aches and pains, would come to the pharmacist, tell the pharmacist their troubles and he would prepare or give then something for that.

SS: In other words, you were allowed to dispense one of these things without a doctor's prescription.

SN: we used to dispense those things without a doctor's prescription, something which you were not supposed to do, but something which all of us did. On the other hand, doctors at that time would give out medication out of their bags or satchels, distribute to their patients, which they were not supposed to do because that was the function of the pharmacist. So while the doctors complained 00:18:00about what they called counter prescribing, we also as pharmacists could complain about their drug distribution, so one evened up the other.

SS: I see. And the doctor would write out a prescription, would he, prescription pad, though, similar to what we have today.

SN: A prescription pad would be used except he would prescribe things that today he is not acquainted with. For example. most tinctures or, I believe, all of you know what a tincture is. It's an extract of a powerful drug or of a certain drug in, with an alcohol form. Those things used to be largely prescribed, tinctures, combinations of tinctures, bromides in solution which are hardly ever being used today.


SS: Would he give you the formula to use to make this up?

SN: No. He would simply prescribe. He would call the medicine he prescribed by its official United States formulary or United Pharmacopea Latin name. He prescribed that in abbreviation. One we got that, it was up to us to make it up or have it, in most cases we have it already made and all we had to do is pour it out or dispense it from one packet into another packet.

SS: But obviously you had to somehow learn a great deal of chemistry in this on-the--job training of yours.

SN: Chemistry was a must. In my particular case, Mr. Cantaro, the one I worked for, was a graduate of the Albany School of Pharmacy. He turned all of his books 00:20:00over to me in addition to pharmaceutical chemistry which I simply had to know in order to pass my State Board which I was looking forward to.

SS: Was there no school in Connecticut, pharmaceutical school you could attend?

SN: We had no college of pharmacy in Connecticut, but the surrounding states like New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and a number of others had schools of pharmacy. In our particular case we did not have to attend a college of pharmacy because the State Board did not require us to attend a college of pharmacy. We were simply given an examination, a written examination, an oral practical examination which we were supposed to pass.

SS: Could you take that exam any time you felt you could pass it or did you have to put in a certain prescribed number of years of training before even 00:21:00attempting the exam?

SN: Yes. You had to be, among other things that the Pharmacy Board required was that you had to have practical experience of four years. So, in other words, before applying to the Board in writing for the examination, you had to, with your application, you had to submit a certificate for the man or different pharmacies you worked for that you did have the required four years of practical pharmacy in back of a drugstore.

SS: And do you remember going for your exam, to pass that?

SN: Very distinctly. To me it was an occasion. It was the first time that I had 00:22:00to go before a board. I was anxious, of course, as much as I spent a number of years in back of a pharmacy, I was anxious to pass the Board so as to become a licensed pharmacist. I looked forward to it with a good deal of interest and I will say some trepidation.

SS: Where was this exam given?

SN: The Board of Pharmacy at that time met in the State Capitol. They had an office there.

SS: Did you go in a group? A few other boys were also...

SN: We went in a group. There were quite a number, quite a number, I forget just how many. I knew some. Some I didn't know. But we were all notified to appear before the Board. During the year just how many examinations the Board held I don't remember today. I know there was more than one. Certain groups were told to appear before the Board for the examination.

SS: Besides the written exam, did they make you do any practical mixing at that time?


SN: Yes. There was an oral exam, and in addition to that you'd be given a prescription to make, to make up. There were small prescription counters in the Board of Pharmacy room, so once you got your prescription you simply had to make it up according to the prescription and turn it over to the commission.

SS: I see. And I assume you passed that exam and...

SN: Some weeks after I received word from the Board of Pharmacy that I passed that exam. Of course. prior to that I was hoping I did. I wasn't sure whether I did or not.

SS: Right. Let's get back to what Hartford looked like visually in the early 1900's. You mentioned the corner drugstore, most of them were placed on corners, and the role that the corner druggist played really in the life of the people. Were there many such drugstores?

SN: There were a great many because they were one man stores. They were all small stores. At that particular time the amount of money invested into any drugstore was comparatively small compared with the large amount of money that the pharmacy requires today due to a certain extent to the inventory the store carries of many many other things that have nothing to do with pharmacy.

SS: In those days did this corner drugstore have a soda fountain?

SN: Yes. It had a soda fountain, yes. But it dispensed no food of any kind.

SS: What did the store look like? Was it a narrow...

SN: It was a small store. The number of sidelines that that store carried were very very limited. They had a cigar counter. They had a candy counter. Some of the stores had soda fountains. None of them ever dispensed any food in any shape or form. We used to get in and get an ice cream soda or something like that, and that was the beginning and the end of it.

SS: What about patent medicine?

SN: Patent medicines, there were a large number, most of them gone and forgotten, a number of them. I mentioned some of them, powdered_______, Lysol, _________ liniment, which are still being used today and known today. A great many just passed away.

SS: Such as what that's just passed away. Do you remember any that were in great demand, the name of any in particular?

SN: Yes. We had a tablet, a pill known as a pain pill for pain people. That was supposed to be the Geritol of the 1900's. It was composed of iron. Iron is a very cheap product. The substance of iron has a certain medicinal property. The price they get for that cheap iron is outrageous, but the cost, we must not overlook the cost of advertising. But some of them used to advertise and make 00:24:00all sorts of claims and the people were gullible enough to buy it. I will say this. That some of the high prices which some of these pharmaceuticals sell for today did not exist at that particular time. Just how much Sarsaparilla or Fletcher Castoria was sold for was comparatively little. Today I know with the dollar not buying as much as it used to, they're much costlier and more expensive.

SS: You did have a cigar counter in those days. Do you remember some of the brands of cigars and how much they sold for?

SN: Well, in the Hartford area the most popular brand, and the cigars were hand rolled, they were not machine made. At that time the hand rolling of cigars was a skill. It was an industry. Cigar makers would sit in their window and roll out cigars for you to see. In the Hartford area the most popular cigar was known as Soby's Bachelor which sold for five cents apiece, six for a quarter. Of course, there were some cigars that sold at a higher price. I remember this distinctly. When I was on Park Street at the Park Street store, Mr. Fuller of the Fuller Brush Company had a shop close by. That was when Mr. Fuller first started out making brushes. And most every day. I could even tell the time. Mr. Fuller would come into the store and I'd always give him or put before his a box of Soby's Bachelor Cigars. He would smell them. He would look at them. He would squeeze then. And before he got through, he would pick out six of them for which he paid a quarter.

SS: And how about the candy that the drugstores sold? Were any of those the brands of today?

SN: Packages, packaged candy of those days has gone by with one exception which is still being sold and that is Schraft's.

SS: Otherwise the candy was sold how?

SN: A good deal of candy was sold in bulk. We had to weigh out this, that, some of them were chocolate, some of them were something else. But we had to weigh out. Particularly young people used to come in, quarter pound of this, half pound of something else.

SS: You mentioned also that the corner druggists played a rather important role in the life of people. Tell us about people coming into the store, perhaps just to use your telephone. Why was that?

SN: Well, the number of telephones or the occasion for any one person to use a telephone was few and tar between. Occasionally someone would have to use a telephone. There were no phones in private homes. There were no phones as we know today in apartments. People simply did not have a phone. Business firms back in 1900 did have telephones. They had to have then. And if a person wanted to call up some office or some business firm, having no telephone, he invariably 00:25:00came to the pharmacy that did have a phone, and with the permission of the pharmacist he would use the phone without paying and call whoever he wanted to call. It may be of interest too that there...Telephone operators did not exist and was not used at that particular time. The telephone operator was known by the name of Central which was hello, Central, give me this, give me that, give me something else.

SS: And you did not dial these telephones. You had to ring up what we call the operator.

SN: They had to call...The telephone was largely, almost entirely as far as I know, was a roll type affair. On top of that telephone was a small box with a handle on it which you had to turn. This was supposed to ring a bell somewhere and wake up the operator if the operator was asleep.

SS:: But the operator was called Central.

SN: But the operator was called central.

SS: What about deliveries, Sam, as we know them today with the drugstore having a small delivery truck going back and forth?

SN: There was that much. There was something else too, which at that time existed we have not today. If you wanted to communicate by telephone or otherwise with a certain person in your neighborhood, maybe a relative, maybe a friend, you wanted to contact that particular person and the person had no telephone and you had no telephone, it was not unusual to phone the drugstore nearest to that particular person, and it was quite frequent, not unusual, wouldn't say all the time, when the man in the store would manage to get somebody, a boy or a girl, with a message that he would come way to the person you wanted to speak to or you wanted to call.

SS: I see. Getting back for a minute to deliveries, were any made?

SN: Some, yes. Some, yes.

SS: By horse end...

SN: No.

SS: Or by foot.

SN: By foot. By foot. As far as the doctor was concerned, it was horse and buggy.

SS: It was horse and buggy.

SN: Horse and buggy. Not only that, I happen to remember a number of doctors or I will say several doctors who had a beautiful team of horses. And I particularly remember how other doctors would accuse these doctors of using the team that they drove for self- advertising.

SS: All right. Sam, you then married Lillian Cantaro and raised your fine family of three boys. Tell us something about your extracurricular interests with your wife other than your business interests. I know, for example, you both were greatly interested in music. What was there available and how did you get to perhaps musical events in your early married life?


SN: I was interested in music simply because I like music. My wife, Lillian Cantaro, used to play the piano. She was not a professional pianist, but she did reasonably well and she used to like to play the piano and I used to like to listen to her play. It seems to me that in quite a number of years after, I don't remember the date, but we call today a _______________ came into play. The 00:27:00first man ______________________ was Thomas Edison. This may be of interest, that Edison never had the thought of using the record as a musical reproduction. Mr. Edison's idea was to use the record largely as we use the dictaphone today. He would speak into the record and then his secretary would plug in her ears and she would copy the record on a typewriter or some other instrument by her own hand. Mr. Edison was followed by Mr. Bell of Bell Telephone who likewise started reproducing records. Mr. Edison brought suit against Mr. Bell for infringement of patents. How that ever came out, that I don't know.

SS: Do you remember, you and your wife buying an early phonograph record for music?

SN: Yes. For music. It was first made in Philadelphia.

SS: Was in one of those hand wind jobs?

SN: It was a big horn, it had a great big horn. Incidentally, the record which we use today is flat. At that particular time, the record was in the form of a cylinder. What appealed to us, my wife and I, we could buy a number of pieces of music in a cylinder which we could reproduce. After, some years later, the RCA came and took over the record business with the Victor Telephone. Some of you may remember one of the advertisements which you used to see here and there was that of a pretty little dog listening in to that large tube, and the name of it was listening to his master's voice.

SS: Yea. That's become quite a famous...

SN: That was originated by the Victor people.

SS: But did you and your wife ever get to go to any live concerts at a concert hall?

SN: Frequently. Frequently.

SS: Did you ever go to theater? I know you're a man who culturally has an enormous amount of interests. How did you follow these up?

SN: Well, we were both interested in music, in concerts. I distinctly remember 00:28:00listening to Mr. Pidarasky who was in Hartford. I forget the date. He gave a concert on High Street which was called the Foot Guard Hall. Mr. Pidarasky gave a concert at Foot Guard Hall. I distinctly remember, which most of you people who are listening to me do not, I have listened and saw Sarah Bernhart in a performance which I thought was tremendous, given by an older woman with a wooden leg who portrayed a young boy.

SS: Was that given at Foot Guard Hall also?

SN: That was given at Parson's Theater on central Row.

SS: Where were you and your wife living?

SN: I remember seeing Richard Mansfield at Person's Theater. My wife was with me. We watched Richard Mansfield in "The Student Prince." Again, an older person giving an excellent performance of a young student.

SS: Where were you and your wife living and how did you get to these places?

SN: Well, I forget just where we lived and I forget just how we got there, but we got there. We did. Of course, in those days trolley cars were quite ample and transportation...

SS: I see. We, of course...

SN: Transportation was good. I remember both of us too watching Maud Adams in...

SS: You saw all the great ones.

SN: In "Peter Pan."

SS: Oh, yes.

SN: Maud Adams in "Peter Pan." I think a play that I was most impressed with, I think it was one of the, it was new to me. It was one of the first plays...I never attended theater in Russia. I didn't know what it meant. But here it was different. And because this was the first play and because it was a magnificent play, it was a play by Joseph Jefferson in...

SS: The name slips you just now. We'll give you a chance to think about it. Let me ask you some more questions. In your early married life and raising a family, were most or your friends Jewish or was there a great deal of social mixing between people of different religions in those days? Did you live in a predominantely Jewish neighborhood or a mixed neighborhood?

SN: I would say we lived in a mixed neighborhood, and I will say that my wife had a number of relatives.

SS: You were married in what year, Sam?

SN: 1907.

SS: 1907. But mostly you lived in mixed neighborhoods. And would you say other than your relatives, your friends and so forth were...

SN: Jewish.

SS: Were Jewish.

SN: Yes.

SS: I see. Do you remember any discrimination here in Hartford ever against you either professionally or otherwise because of being Jewish? Was there any of that that you were aware of?

SN: Instead of using the word discrimination. I think the word anti-Semitism would be more justifiable and more correct. I don't believe at that particular time there was very much anti-Semitism in the Hartford area. Anti-Semitism was brought to a very high point at the time of Adolph Hitler which came much later, of course. There were a great many people who justified the anti-Semitism of Adolph Hitler and they could probably think of instances of their own. In other words, Adolph was the one who was largely responsible for anti- Semitism to any 00:29:00extent which existed in the Hartford area.

SS: Sam, I know that through the years you've become an avid photography bug and have enjoyed taking pictures of the many trips that you've taken, and the community has enjoyed many slide lectures that you have given after you've returned from these trips and benefitted by being armchair travelers with you, seeing your marvelous slides and listening to your interesting lectures. How did 00:30:00you first get interested in photography and when did you first take that up?

SN: I first became interested, that was at the time I lived with the Cantaros. I don't remember how, who gave me or whether I bought my first camera or my first camera was given to me. This much I do remember. It was a box camera with a glass plate. There were no film as we know today. We used to use glass plates. And living with the Cantaros and possessing a camera that took pictures, I had been asked to take mostly family type pictures off and on. And little by little, of course, the interest in photography has developed over the years. Afterwards when the plate camera. the glass plate camera was done away with and the film 00:31:00has taken its place, the camera became by far more interesting and more useful due to its adaptability.

SS: Sam, you've been fortunate in seeing your grandchildren grow up and have a close relationship with so many people here in Hartford and their children. What are your observations from your point of view about the changes in family life today in the, let's say Sixties and Seventies, to what it was like when you were young, married, raising your children. The general tone of family life, how has it changed? What values did you and your wife try to instill in your sons?

SN: Unfortunately, I must say that the change in the family life of the average American family, Jewish or not, I look upon it as tragic. It was the family has lost its influence to a very large extent over the family's children which in a way accounts for a good deal of lawlessness that we see scattered throughout our country. I think it's tragic. I think it's too bad. The family used to be a 00:32:00close knit unit. We speak of police power, but even before that the power of the family, the control that Father and Mother had over the children, over their behavior, was by far more important and greater in those days than it is today.

SS: Certainly one of the values that you must have felt strongly about was education. Your three sons attended Ivy League schools, went on to graduate school and so forth. What other things besides a good education would you say you and your wife tried to instill and successfully did instill in raising sons who have contributed so much to their community?

SN: Leaving my wife out of it because she was a Cantaro, she was the daughter of her father who was a man of religion. She inherited some of that. It was largely due to my wife that I Joined a synagogue or in the temple. My sons, however, I must admit, had no religious training of any sort whatsoever then nor now. They do not belong to any religious organization. Religion outside of an unusual holiday like Passover or Yom Kippur does not play any important part in their lives.

SS: Yet you...

SN: I think one thing...

SS: You did belong to Temple Beth Israel.

SN: I did belong to Temple Beth Israel. And as far as my children were concerned, I'll call it a religion. To a certain extent I think it was a religion. We insisted upon common decency. We insisted upon common decency being a part of their lives today which, I believe, I can truthfully say that while they're much older than they used to be with families of their own, the principle of common decency prevails in their families today the way it used to in my days.

SS: I'll go along with that and certainly...In other words, while perhaps they didn't have the formal organized religion, they had the code of ethics that the Jewish religion, formal religion would have. Sam, are there any activities that we haven't mentioned that you perhaps would want to recall that you did in this community that might be of interest? I'm going to ask you if you thought yet of the name of the play that you saw Mr. Jefferson in.

SN: "Rip Van Winkle."

SS: What was it?

SN: "Rip Van Winkle."

SS: "Rip Van Winkle.' Very good. I knew you'd remember. Sam. I want to thank you very much for this interview. This is Sylvia Sheketoff signing off after having interviewed Simeon Samuel Nelson this July 29th, 1972 here in his home on the corner of Fern and Oxford Street. Thank you very much.