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MRS. KLAU: I am Sadie Klau, Mrs. Joseph Klau. Today I am talking with Mr. Meyer Cohen of 31 Arlington...

MR. COHEN: 21, 21.

MRS. KLAU: Of 21 Arlington Road in West Hartford. This interview is for the 00:01:00Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford. And now, Mr. Cohen, let's begin by asking you where you were born.

MR. COHEN: I was born in Russia in the Ukraine, you call it. Ukraine is that part of Russia where I was born. Because there is different parts of Russia. But I was born in the province of Kiev.

MRS. KLAU: In Kiev.

MR. COHEN: Kiev.


MR. CORN: Kiev is the capitol city same as Hartford is the capitol city of Connecticut. Yeah. And I came to this country in June. 1898. 1898. 1898. I was 14 years old when I came to this country.

MRS. KLAU: Well then, you must remember a good deal of your early life.


MR. COHEN: Oh, yes.

MRS. KLAU: In the Ukraine.

MR. COHN: Yes, I do.

MRS. KLAU: And do you want to tell us a little bit?

MR. COHEN: Well, I was actually born in a village or in a forest, not even a village, but a forest. The reason that I said a forest, in the Ukraine there was many big forests belonging to Polish nobility. They themselves were not able to manage it. So they leased it to Jews. Now Jews cannot own...

MRS. KLAU: Property.

MR. COHEN: Property there.


MR. COHEN; They cannot land. They can own a house but not land. The Jews managed the forest. They cut the heavy lumber and sold it to different parts, to 00:03:00Germany. And the next neighbor to us was probably about 10 miles, also Jews that took care of another forest yet. And I remember I was only about 8 or 10 years old and I remember what a good life we had with our neighbors. They used to visit each other. We used to celebrate holidays. Now I remember an instance on Chanukah. We celebrated with our neighbors and all nearby, and one man was so enthused that he went on the top of the roof and danced on the top of the roof.

MRS. KLAU: Well, that's life.

MR. COHEN: Jews were not allowed to live in that part of it, but we were 00:04:00privileged because we were...

MRS. KLAUs Tenants.

MR. COHEN: No, we were managing. Yes, we were allowed. We had to have a tutor. You know at that time there were no schools, of course.


MR. COHEN: So we had a private tutor from the nearby city about 40 or 50 miles. We had to hide him because he was not allowed to live with us. Of course he lived with us. He was not allowed. We were allowed. We had privilege. So we had to watch every policeman called a rodnick at that time.

MRS. KLAU: Called what?

MR. COHEN: A rodnick.

MRS. KLAU: A rodnick.

MR. COHEN: Yeah, rodnick. There was pristin and a rodnick was like a chief of police. And we had to hide him in a garret somewhere when there was an inspection. But we managed. Yeah.

MRS. KLAU: Well, how long did the rebbe or tutor you call him, a rebbe...


MR. COHEN: I was the only pupil. I was the oldest in my family. So he's the one that taught me Hebrew, Jewish and Russian. Both. All the three.

MRS. KLAU: All the languages that you would need.

MR. COHN: Yeah. Well, we lived in the forest until I was about 12 years old. Then the forest disappeared. They were all...

MRS. KLAU: Cut down.

MR. COHN: Cut down. So my father moved back to the city. Yeah

MRS. KLAU: What exactly does it mean to manage a forest?

MR. COHN: Well, if he cut lumber.

MRS. KLAU: Yes-and then..

MR. COHEN: And shipped it to different parts, even to Germany. There was all heavy forest, mostly oak, and we had about 100 people working.

MRS. KLAU: What kind of people would those be? Those were not Jews?


MR. COHEN: No. no. They were Russians, peasants.


MR. COHEN: In Ukraine is not the real Russians. So that's the way it was- But then my father came back to the city.

MRS. KLAU: That was Kiev?

MR. COHEN: No, no, no. We had a little city, Piater, Piatergor.

MRS. KLAU: Oh, Piater?

MR. COHEN: Yeah, Piater. Yeah- There is a Piater society.


MR. COHEN: Actually in Russian it's called Piatergor. "Gor" means mountains. That means it was surrounded by 5 mountains. So that's Piatergor- So the Jews shortened it to Piater. Yeah. Now the first president of the Emanuel Synagogue was a Piaterer, Walter Beatman. He came from the same city as I was.



MR. COHEN: And Judge Borden was born in Piater too. I wasn't born there. I was born in the forest- But Borden was younger than I am. He was born in...

MRS. KLAU: Piater.

MR. COHEN: Piater- And I, when he came we were a small community so that Piaterer kept together.

MRS. KLAU: Kept together here in Hartford. But before we go on to that, I want to ask you a little bit more about your time in Russia or in the Ukraine- Tell me about your family.

MR. COHEN: Well, I'll go back to my great grandfather. I'll try and remember-


MR- COHEN: My great grandfather was considered a, in his little city of Eltemir 00:08:00he is the one who also leased forests.

MRS. KLAU: He leased forests?

MR. COHEN: Yes- From the Poles. A partner,


MR. COHEN: He was a prominent man- My grandfather was a scholar- He was not a businessman. When it came to marrying my grandfather's children, my great grandfather was the head of the family. My grandfather was no businessman- He was a great scholar. My great grand-father died when he was 70- So my grandfather was really at a loss-He started to do business with a partner, and the partner cheated him out. And he didn't have anything- He lived, I don't know 00:09:00how, what they lived on.

MRS. KLAU: Did his wife do anything? That was sometimes the case.

MR. COHEN: No. I got a picture of my grandmother who came to visit this country, I got it right here-

MRS. KLAU: Well, we'll have to look at that-

MR. COHN: So when I came to this country, I was 14 in June and...

MRS. KLAU: Did you have brothers and sisters?

MR. COHEN: Yeah. I had 2 brothers. Now my own mother died at 32, about 1895 she died. My father and mother were the same age, 32- And my father, he married a relative of his, a young girl, a beautiful girl-And she was as good to us---I was the oldest. I was 13 when my mother died.


MRS. KLAU: You had 2 brothers?

MR. COHEN: Yeah, 2 brothers and 2, and no, only 1 sister. We were 4 of us. Yeah- And my father, after he came from the forest, he didn't know what to do so he left for this country-

MRS. KLAU: He came back to Piater,

MR. COHEN: Piater.

MRS. KLAU: And from there.

MR. COHEN: From there he left for this country.

MRS. KLAU: Was this before your mother died?

MR. COHEN: No. that' s after.

MRS. KLAU: After your mother.

MR. COHEN: He was already remarried in Europe.

MRS. KLAU: I see.

MR. COHEN: And my stepmother.


MR. COHEN: He left my stepmother.

MRS. KLAU: With the children.

MR. COHEN: With 4 children.


MR. COHN: And I came. I was first one to come in 1898. He came about 1896. And I 00:11:00came and I was l4 or 15 years. At that time there were no restrictions.

MRS. KLAU: On child labor.

MR. COHEN: On child labor.


MR. COHEN: So I got a job at Smith and Burns that makes saddles and harness. Smith and Burns. They were on Sigourney Street.

MRS. KLAU: Are they still in business?


MRS. KLAU: Smith and Worthington.

MR. COHEN: Smith and Worthington.

MRS. KLAU: That's the same company.

MR. COHEN: The same company.


MR. COHEN: They were on Sigourney Street. And through a man by the name of Gorfine that worked there for a long time I got...You had to have pull to get a job. No language, no experience and I was 15 years-- almost 15 years old and I was a little bit of a shrimp, and I think he paid some kind of a bribe to the foreman to get me a job for $3 a week, 60 hours a week.


MRS. KLAU: 7 days a week, 6 days a week.

MR. COHEN: No, 6 days a week. No, 60, 6 days, 10 hours a day. I worked there for $3, 5 an hour. First when my mother came, I remember we lived on Front Street near Grove Street in the back apartment.

MRS. KLAU: Front Street near where?

MR. COHEN: Near Grove.

MRS. KLAU: Oh, near Grove.

MR. COHEN: Yeah-


MR. COHEN: And the house was in the back. in the rear, not from the front. We paid $9 a month rent. Well, my father, before I came, he worked in a rag shop for Mr. Borden, that's Judge Borden's father. He had his own rag shop.

MRS. KLAU: Shika?

MR. COHEN: No, Sheeka Borden.

MRS. KLAU: Sheeka Borden.

MR. COHEN: Sheeka Borden, yeah.


MR. COHEN: He worked for him.



MR. COHEN: So this is what...We used to have sampling. And Borden, he was the oldest. So I used to be there, quite a visitor there before Walter married. Walter married; Walter was the son of his second wife. And he had a daughter of his first wife, Ruchel. And they both married when he came to this country. I knew him before they were married. Well, he got a job in Pratt and Whitney as a seeder. Also.

MRS. KLAU: Your father.

MR. COHEN: Yeah. $9 a week.


MR. COHEN: Of course he bought passage on payment.

MRS KLAU: Yes. He had to save some money up for the passage. Yes. Where did you live?


MR. COHEN: On Front Street.

MRS. KLAU: On Front Street in the back there.

MR. COHEN: In the back, yeah.


MR. COHEN: And then I got a job too at Pratt and Whitney. I got $4.

MRS: KLAU: And that was a raise.

MR. COHEN: A raise. But I begin to learn to operate machines. I was a good pupil. Yeah. And I got as far as $7. Then the entire country at that time that worked 10 hours a day, was working all over the country, and by some, I don't know how, instantaneous, all over the country went out on a strike for 9 hours. 00:15:00They didn't want to work 10 hours a day. 9 hours. And I was on the strike, too. I even was on the picket line. That was about 1899 or 1900. 1900.

MRS. KLAU: That must have been the very beginning of the labor movement.

MR. COHEN: Yeah. It was the very beginning, yeah. And we did win. We did win the 9 hours. We worked only 54 hours instead of 60. I was on the picket line on the railroad track. You know where the railroad tracks on Flower Street?

MRS. KLAU: On Flower?

MR. COHEN: On Flower Street. There was a railroad passing.


MR. COHEN: And I was on the picket line on the railroad track. After I got my job back, I was fired.

MRS. KLAU: Because you were on the picket line.


MR. COHEN: On the picket line. So I couldn't get a job here. So my uncle worked in Schenectady for the General Electric Company.


MR: COHEN: That's the biggest plant.


MR. COHEN: So he told me to come to Schenectady and he'll try to get me into General Electric. You know, I didn't ask.

MRS. KLAU: How old were you about that time?

MR. COHEN: Well, maybe about 17 or 18.


MR. COHEN: And I had some experience with machinery.

MRS. KLAU: Had the rest of your family come over by then? Your brothers and your sisters?

MR. COHEN: One brother didn't come. The youngest one didn't come. But my mother and my sister and 1 brother came- And my youngest brother didn't come. My 00:17:00grandmother actually brought him up. He was only 6 months old when my mother died. My mother died in May. He was born in January and my mother died in May. So he was left. So my grandmother-- I got a picture here. Then I worked in Schenectady. And there I, it took me a long time to get a job there.

MRS. KLAU: Was this during any of the depression periods?

MR. COHEN: No. No depression. No, no. That was in 1929. And I couldn't get a job at General Electric, so I got a job at American Motors working nights from 6 to 6. 72 hours. But I didn't want to depend, I stayed with my uncle in Schenectady. 00:18:00I didn't want to depend on anybody. I never was. I was always independent since I was 15 years old. I paid my way. So I got a job there. And I was going to General Electric to get a job there and I did finally got a job in General Electric. And worked there for about 2 years. I wanted to be with my family.

MRS. KLAU: More of your family.

MR. COHEN: Yeah, more of my family. My father. And I didn't like Schenectady at all. And then I got a job there for the Pope Manufacturing Company.

MRS. KLAU: Pope.

MR. COHEN: Yeah. I came there when they started to make automobiles. They were a bicycle, primarily making bicycles.


MRS. KLAU: Yes. They were one of the first manufacturers of automobiles, weren't they? Pope? No?

MR. COHEN: No. Ford was before, General. There was about 25 factories making automobiles at that time. Now there's only 4. I worked for a long time there in Pope. And then I...

MRS. KLAU: Where did you live during this time?

MR. COHEN: Well, we moved several--We moved--

MRS. KLAU: You lived at home?

MR. COHEN: Yeah. with my parents, yeah. We lived on Front Street and then we moved across the street in a 5 story apartment, a brick. Yeah. That was built.


MRS. KLAU: On Front Street?

MR- COHEN: Yeah, also on Front Street.


MR. COHEN: I'll tell you who lived there with us. You know Barney Turetsky?


MR. COHEN: They lived there too.

MRS. KLAU: Barney Turetsky?

MR. COHN: His parents.

MRS. KLAU: Oh, Barney's parents. Yes.

MR. COHEN: Barney's parents- Yes- He had a very nice wife and he had a daughter, Bessie, was married to ___. Barney Turetsky worked for Ballerstein Hat Shop. At that time there was only one store that sold ladies' hats. Probably you don't know it.

MRS. KLAU: Right.

MR. COHEN: Now Fox's didn't sell hats.


MR. COHEN: But Ballerstein's where Sage-Allen is now sold hats.


MR. COHN: And he worked there for 15 years and he knew the business. So he 00:21:00proposed to me that I should go into business with him.

MRS- KLAU: Selling hats?

MR- COHN: Well, yes, establishing a store.


MR. COHEN: Now there is another chapter in my life. I worked, I made $18 to $20 a week which at that time was...

MRS. KLAU: Good pay.

MR. COHEN: My father made only $9 a week and he had to support us. We bought, I put in, I had $1,000 saved up which was a lot of money at that time. So we wanted to buy a house for the family. So I gave $1,000. My father didn't have any money, so he borrowed from me. A relative $200. And we bought a house on 00:22:00Windsor Avenue, 450 Windsor Avenue. There was no Jews. Only Jew that lived there across the street was Samuel Glazier. Did you knew Samuel Glazier?


MR. COHEN: He was supposed to be a very wealthy man and he was a leading real estate man-.MRS- KLAU: Yes.

MR. COHEN: He owned a lot of property on North Main Street.

MRS. KLAU: Well, Windsor Avenue at that time was a very beautiful street or avenue.

MR. COHEN: Yes. Jews lived on Bellevue Street and Brewster Street. That was the Jewish section.


MR. COHEN: There was no Blacks there at all at that time. So we bought a house on my name too because I put in most of the money. And my father still worked 00:23:00for $9 a week. Well, at that house that we bought was also a grocery store. And there was a barn. And he bought it with 2 or 3 mortgages. So I wanted my father to get out of the factory. So we landed there the store, a grocery store, with a couple. He moved out. I say, "Pop, why don't you start a grocery store?" So we took him out of the shop and made a grocery man out of him. Well, he was not good. He was not a retail man. He was a smart man but not, he did not like the kind of business. So my older brother took over the store. And he began to dabble in real estate.

MRS. KLAU: Your uncle?

MR. COHEN: No, my father.


MRS. KLAU: Your father.

MR. COHEN: He began to dabble in real estate. And at that time he was very lucky. He bought a house for $6,000 and got a mortgage for $7,000. You always bought with borrowed money.


MR. COHEN: On both names. After a while he needed to borrow money. He says. "Meyer, transfer your part to me." So my father, I transferred, I didn't have anything.


MR. COHEN: I still worked in the factory. Now here is the chapter. When Barney Turetsky said to me I should give him $1,500 and he will make me a partner in his business, I asked my father did he need the $1,500. He made more than 00:25:00$1,500. Much more. Probably made $5,000. But he never had any money because he always bought more than he could. So he didn't have any money.

MRS. KLAU: Never had any cash.

MR. COHEN: Never had any cash because that's the way he operated. He didn't have any. So I was disgusted. In the meantime next door to me lived a family, Finesilver. You knew a Nathan Finesilver?

MRS. KLAU: Yes. I remember.

MR. COHEN: He was responsible to start the old people's home. He, he was the secretary of that. ___with his picture on the top and I think I gave it to Rabbi Silverman because that's the history of starting. And I was in love with his 00:26:00sister, with Nathan Finesilver's sister. She was a widow and lived in that house. We built another house. We moved away from the original house and we built a house. There was a barn. We took off the barn and built a 3-family house.

MRS. KLAU: On the same land?

MR. COHEN: Yeah.

MRS. KLAU: Now this is where?

MR. COHEN: 450 Windsor Avenue. And she was, I got her picture here. Well, my father was against marrying a poor girl. She didn't have anything. Nothing at all. I was considered a rich man although I didn't have anything. He had it all. He had it all. I didn't. I married her just the same.

MRS. KLAU: She was a widow, did you say?

MR. COHEN: Her mother was a widow.


MRS. KLAU: Oh, her mother was a widow.

MR. COHEN: Her mother was the mother of Nathan Finesilver.

MRS. KLAU: Oh, I see.

MR. COHEN: That was Nathan Finesilver's sister.

MRS. KLAU: I see. Yes.

MR. COHEN: Well, I wanted, I worked 11 years in the factory. I am the only one in the family who put in so many years in the factories. I'm the only one. I wanted to get married. I was 26 years old and establish a business for myself. But I didn't have any money. Anyway, my uncle in New York interfered and my father gave me $600. And my uncle and brother had a grocery store on Ninth Avenue, and they told me to come to New York and they'll find a grocery store for me.

MRS. KLAU: In New York?


MR. COHEN: In New York. The only business that people down there is a grocery store. And they bought a store for me on 58th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue for $900. That is goods and everything else. And I had $600. $300 I borrowed and came to New York in 1909. We were not married yet, but my future wife came to New York and took a room across the street and helped me in the store. She knew the business better than I did. And we got married in April, 1910. And my first child was born in New York. But after 2 years my wife did not like New York. She 00:29:00did not like it at all. So I moved back to Hartford. So I was away from Hartford 2 years.

MRS. KLAU: You didn't mind picking up and moving to better yourself.

MR. COHEN: Well, I had nothing to move. My furniture -- I didn't have my furniture when I got married. I spent $90 cash. That's all the money I had. But we were happy. My child was born there. We had a beautiful baby. And we came back to live with her mother. Her mother had a flat on Capen Street near Vine Street. That's where Nathan lived. He had a store there.


MR. COHEN: So I found another. Then I bought land and built an apartment. Oh 00:30:00well. In 1913 I got in back to the grocery business on Orange Street.

MRS. KLAU: Orange?

MR. COHEN: Orange Yes. Parkville. It's between the Boulevard and Park Street. And I was there 7 years. And I wanted to better myself. I was very fortunate in the New York store although I never was in business in my life. I was very successful; I mean from the business point of view. I knew the grocery business and I opened another...

MRS. KLAU: Let's go on from there. After you got out of Orange Street--

MR. COHEN: That was in 1920.


MR. COHEN: I built, I bought land on Prospect Avenue and built a garage in 1920. In '21 and '22 I put on 2 more additions as we needed more room. And I also sold cars, Chrysler and Plymouth. But in 1937 I withdrew from the business and I bought land on the corner of Farmington Avenue and Asylum and built an apartment which I still have. I'm more or less retired.

MRS. KLAU: I want to go back quite a little way now, Mr. Cohen. All these years you were very busy with working very long hours and establishing businesses. But didn't you also have time to go to night school?

MR. COHEN: Yeah. I went to night school in my early days. I went to night school and I read English papers. My first English paper was the New York Evening Journal which at that time Arthur Brisbane was the editor. And I learned a great deal from reading his editorials. He was a very famous...

MRS. KLAU: Writer.

MR. COHEN: Journalist.

MRS. KLAU: Yes. And tell me a little bit more about your going to night school. You went to night school. And which school was that?

MR. COHEN: At Brown School. At the Brown School.

MRS. KLAU: And do you remember the teacher?

MR. COHEN: Yes. Miss Clark.

MRS. KLAU: And did you tell me that you went to a graduation?

MR. COHEN: I went to a graduation when Sol Berman graduated from public school. He was a nice little boy.

MRS. KLAU: And you went to graduations after that.

MR. COHEN: After that. I took up...I learned but this country seen children graduate. Yeah.

MRS. KLAU: Actually your formal education ended there. But you had a great interest and loyalty to this country.

MR. COHEN: Yes, and loyalty, from the very start that I came to this country, during the Spanish-American War and then the First World War, I took a great deal of interest in the First World War.

MRS. KLAU: And you kept informed. How did you keep yourself informed on events?

MR. COHEN; Events. Well, I don't remember if it was on the radio, the First World war, or not.


MR. COHEN: I don't recollect. But I read the newspaper, everything pertaining to the war with Germany.

MRS. KLAU: You also read the Jewish newspapers.

MR. COHEN: Yes, I did.

MRS. KLAU: And you were a very long time subscriber.

MR. COHEN: Up till six months ago I read the...

MRS. KLAU: The Yiddish paper.

MR. COHEN: Yeah.

MRS. KLAU: And so now you, we have gotten you through the grocery business and the automobile business and then you also turned builder.

MR. COHEN: Yeah. real estate. I never built for anybody, but I built for myself, and this apartment on the corner of Farmington and Asylum Street is a symbol of what I have accomplished. I am remembered more of the building the last building than anything else.

MRS. KLAU: You still own that, you say.


MRS. KLAU: And so let's go back a little bit now and tell us something of the things that you remember about the early Hartford days.

MR. COHEN: The early Hartford, the Jews at that time, Bellevue Street, Winthrop Street, was considered as a choice location for the Jews. Now when and there wasn't even, Windsor Street was only a few Italians on Windsor Street but mostly Jews. All the stores belonged to Jews on Windsor Street. Windsor Street and Brewster Street and that was the Jewish section then. They moved out to Richmond Street which was in the later years.

MRS. KLAU: What institutions were there? Do you remember any when you first came here?

MR. COHEN: Yes, I remember on Market Street. I didn't mention Market Street.


MR. COHEN: When I came to this country, my first place was on the corner of Market. My family wasn't here yet, my father, on the corner of Market and Pleasant Street. That's where we came, I came, from the old country, corner of Market and Pleasant. Now there was 2 synagogues on Market Street. One was called the Rumainisha Shul with Rabbi Horowitz.


MR. COHEN: I remember him very well.


MR. COHEN; And then the Litvisher Shul was a little larger, a little more...And I remember Kempner. He was a real estate man. He was the president.

MRS.KLAU: Of which shul?

MR. COHEN: Of the Litvisher Shul.


MR. COHEN: And he had a son, a lawyer, David Kempner. He was a very prominent lawyer at that time. That was many years ago. And I forgot the name of the rabbi that was at the time at the Litvisher Shul.

I couldn't remember because we patronized, the Russian Jews patronized the Rumainisha Shul, not the Litvisher Shul.

MRS. KLAU: And do you remember, were there any other Jewish institutions -- Talmud Torah?

MR. COHEN: Well, there was a Talmud Torah, I believe. There was a Talmud Torah, yeah. But, of course, the first institution that was known was the Old People's Home which was on Washington Street. It started on Washington Street.

MRS. KLAU: Oh, it started before Washington Street on Worcester Street, remember?

MR. COHEN: Yeah, Worcester Street. Well, see I lived away from the Jewish sections altogether. After I was married, I lived in New York, then I lived in Parkville, then in West Hartford. So really, I didn't live among the Jewish community at all. And being busy 7 days a week. I didn't have the...

MRS. KLAU: Contact.

MR. COHEN: Contact that I should have. But I did know what was going on in the Jewish world all over the world which was my greatest interest. I remember the Dreyfus Affair very well.

MRS. KLAU: Did that effect the Jews here?

MR. COHEN: Well, the sympathy was with Dreyfus.

MRS. KLAU: Yes, of course.

MR. COHEN: With Dreyfus. And I followed that very closely, yeah. That was, I can't remember how long ago. but anyway that was my...

MRS. KLAU: Strong memory with you with the Dreyfus case. How was it living, you say you didn't live among the Jews?


MRS- KLAU: How was it living in a non--Jewish, among the non-Jews in those days? In Parkville...

MR. COHEN: Yes, very friendly. I had many many friends among the non--Jews. Very many friends. They remember me. In fact they remember me better than I remember them as they tell me when they see me. Some hasn't seen me in 40 years.

MRS. KLAU: Well, you ran a store in the neighborhood.

MR. COHEN: Yeah. Well, I stopped on Farmington Avenue which is not far from me and I see a woman staring at me. She was about 50 years old. And she says to me, "Are you Mr. Cohen?" I said yes. I ask her, "Who are you?" and she says, "You won't remember me, but you knew my mother." She named her mother's name and she happened to be a customer in my store. She was 7 or 8 years old when she saw me last.

MRS. KLAU: And remembered you all these years.

MR. COHEN: Yeah. I moved out, in 1920 I moved out from that neighborhood and I've been living in West Hartford all those years and it was probably in 1970, so 1920, almost 50, well 45 years anyway she hasn't seen me anyway. She was only 7 or 8 years and she recognized me then.

MRS. KLAU: Well, that's very pleasant to be...

MR. COHEN: Another man also lived in my neighborhood on Raisin Street which is next to our street. I parked my car on Farmington Avenue, and he had his car parked in front of me, a Cadillac. And he opened the door to get in and I opened my door. Then he saw me and he said, "Are you Mr. Cohen?" The first word he tell me, "you haven't changed." He hasn't seen me from 1920 until 1970. He says to me, he told me his name, he says, "I just retired from the Travelers Insurance Company."

MRS. KLAU: And you haven't changed.

MR. COHEN: Yeah, he says to me, "The face, you haven't changed." That's 50 years.

MRS. KLAU: Well, I haven't seen you or known you before today, but I must say that when you told me what your next birthday was going to be, I could hardly believe it. And that's going to be when?

MR. COHEN: The 15th of August. 91. I'll be 91 the 15th.

MRS. KLAU: The 15th of August. And you have a remarkable recall. It's certainly a pleasure to be talking to you.

MR. COHEN: Well, I'm still active although I don't attend meetings. I don't like meetings. But I did go, if you remember the 1967 war.

MRS. KLAU: I certainly do.

MR. COHEN: There was a meeting at the Hall High School and everybody flocked to it.


MR. COHEN: And I was there. And they pledged, they raised a lot of money that one day, that one evening. Yeah. And I was there.

MRS. KLAU: You did go to that meeting.

MR. COHEN: Yeah.

MRS. KLAU: Do you remember when the state was proclaimed in 1948?

MR. COHEN: Oh yes, in May. 1948.

MRS. KLAU: You tell me that your great interest is Israel.

MR. COHEN: Yeah.

MRS. KLAU: You did get to Israel.

MR. COHEN: Yes, I got to Israel and I've seen almost everything worth seeing except I didn't go to Masada because it was a lot of walking. At that time I couldn't make it. And those that did go were sorry. Of course now they got escalators.


MR. COHEN: They didn't have it in 1968.

MRS. KLAU: No, they didn't. And you went to Israel on the American Jewish Congress tour.

MR. COHEN: They were a very nice group of 42 people. And among all those 42 people I was the oldest.

MRS. KLAU: Yes. You'd like to go back again I'm sure.

MR. COHEN: Well, my traveling is not...

MRS. KLAU: Is going to be armchair traveling from here.

MR. COHEN: Yeah. Well, I'll tell you I read in here and see what is going on in Israel. There is movies, there is everything. I hear the interviews from people that were there and I feel that I'm close to Israel right now although I'm not there.

MRS. KLAU: Well, that's very good.

MR. COHEN: I've seen all their institutions, the Technion, the Hadassah Hospital. I visited everything that's worth seeing.

MRS. KLAU: What do you think now about the events now, the last war in Israel?

MR. COHEN: I think things look brighter. The Arabs realize they cannot drive Israel out of the sea. Well, I have to admit that if not for the help of this country we wouldn't have an Israel. This country actually was the sole helper of Israel in the last war.

MRS. KLAU: Yes. This country and the Jews.

MR. COHEN: The Jews, of course the Jews. The United States helped them not with millions any more. Millions does not count. It's billions now. The last billion as a gift. This administration has done more for Israel than any other administration.

MRS. KLAU: Yes. we can only hope that there is a peace finally there.

MR. COHEN: Well, you know, there is a peace. Why don't, they say now the Palestines wanted to have a country of their own. But there never was a Palestine country. There was Jordan. Why do they want a new country that never existed before? Why are they entitled to a country now? Jordan is a Palestine country but not called a Palestine country.

MRS. KLAU: Well, I think that you show great insight in making that statement because I think most people are under the impression that there was a Palestine.

MR. COHEN: There was never a Palestine country. In fact there wasn't even a Jordan until...There was Trans-Jordan until England made it, after the division of '48 they made a separate country. There wasn't even a Jordan country.

MRS. KLAU: It was created.

MR. COHEN: Created, created artifically.


MR. COHN: But never was a Palestine. Well, those that live in Jordan are Palestines, yes, of course that is true. Where the name "Palestine" comes from I don't know. They want to make an artificial country which never existed before. Now Jordan, I would like to have Israel to come at peace with Jordan which is their nearest neighbor is Jordan.


MR. COHEN: Not anything else. Not Egypt or Syria. Well, Syria's pretty close too. Israel moved to Syria; Syria didn't move to Israel. Syria moved to Israel by occupying the Golan Heights.


MR. COHEN: Not that they want, it's a protection against attack from Syria's heights. But Jordan would be very easy to settle. And they can live both in peace.

MRS. KLAU: Well, we hope to see the day when perhaps that comes true.

MR. COHEN: Well, it could come true. It hinges on what part Russia will play. Russia likes to see turmoil. They like to see turmoil. They don't want peace. That's where they succeed, when there's turmoil. Everywhere in the world they get in and where they get in is not for good reasons but for evil. Russia is our biggest enemy here and the biggest enemy of Israel.

MRS. KLAU: You're not much impressed with the detente that we have now.

MR. COHEN: No, I'm not. No. I'm not because Russia got all the benefits. We didn't. We didn't need Russia's... Not so much. They need ours, our technology. Now they got, that wheat deal is a scandal. They got wheat so cheap from us and then we created a famine here. Yeah. We gave them our surplus which we should have now so the bread wouldn't be so high if we wouldn't sell the wheat to Russia. Russia was starving.


NR. COHEN; They needed it, yeah. yeah. But we got only $1.65 a bushel and now it's worth $5.00 to $6.00 a bushel. Even at that time it was worth more than that. And easy terms, we gave them easy terms. We gave them a lot of credit. Now Russia's only to take, not to give. Russia never gave anything to nobody.

MRS. KLAU: Well then, Mr. Cohen, you're quite an observer of the present scene and you certainly are aware and informed of what's going on probably to a much greater extent than, shall I say, many younger people.

MR. COHEN: Well, as far as my observance, I observe not through the... I listen to news almost ten times a day. I'm always eager, hoping the news will be good.

MRS. KLAU: Well then, you must have seen certainly so many, many changes in the Jewish community in Hartford since you came here.

MR. COHEN: Oh, yes. I remember when the Reform synagogue was on Charter Oak with Rabbi Elkin.


MR. COHEN: He was a great man. I went to the Jewish, to the synagogue, and to the temple on Charter Oak Avenue.

MRS. KLAU: You did. And you also went to the Rumainisha Shul.

MR. COHEN: Rumainisha Shul, yeah. I belonged to the Rumainisha Shul on Market Street. I was on Windsor Avenue when they closed.

MRS. KLAU| Now you tell me you also belonged to the Arbeter Ring for a while.

MR. COHEN: For about 20 years, yeah. I'm sorry that I did quit although I don't need their benefit.


MR. COHEN: Well, of course...

MRS. KLAUI Where did they meet?

MR. COHEN. I don't know. They met on Windsor Avenue.

MRS. KLAU: With the Labor Lyceum?

MR. COHEN: The Labor Lyceum, yes.


MR. COHEN: They actually founded the Labor Lyceum.


MR. COHEN: My brother-in-law, Nathan, was one of the active participants in the Labor Lyceum. You know, his wife had grocery stores. She's the one that worked, and he participated in meetings and so on and he didn't work.

MRS. KLAU: Well, they divided, they changed roles as we say now.

MR. COHEN: Well, his wife was a great woman. She supported him. She's the one that was responsible for sending her two children to college. Her oldest was a son. He was a great. great, great --surgeon. He died at 58, same age as his mother died, 58. He had the same heart condition. I don't know whether you remember Max Finesilver.

MRS. KLAU: Yes, very familiar names of course in the community.

MR. COHN: Great surgeon, great surgeon.

MRS. KLAU: And so you also told me that you joined the Piater.

MR. COHEN: Yes, I did because on account of this, well, I wanted to be. I was one of the first to join. I liked the cemetery better than the Workmen's Circle Cemetery. It's next to the Emanuel.

MRS. KLAU: Yes, yes.

MR. COHEN: That's where my wife is, in that cemetery.

MRS. KLAU: I don't think you've told us about your children, Mr. Cohen.

MR. COHEN: Well, my oldest is a son. He went to, he graduated from the Wharton School of Finance.

MRS. KLAU: Wharton School.

MR. COHEN: Wharton School of Finance.


MR. COHEN: And in 1932 there was no job to be gotten anywhere in 1932.

MRS. KLAU: Oh yes.

MR. COHEN: So he went to the Harvard Business School and got administration.

MRS. KLAU: From the Wharton School of Finance to the Harvard Business School.

MR. COHEN: Yeah. He graduated there in 1934. And the first job he got was $16 a week with two degrees.

MRS. KLAU: 60?

MR. COHEN: $16 a week.

MRS. KLAU: Yes. 16?

MR. COHEN: 16 in Providence, Rhode Island.

MRS. KLAU: Well, you did better than that when you came over as an immigrant, didn't you?

MR. COHEN: Well, I made $3 a week.


MR. COHEN: I didn't have any education at all. But then he got a job in the Underwood as assistant personnel.


MR. COHEN: And he worked there until he joined the Army after Pearl Harbor. He was 5 years. He was sent, his Major Norden, he says, "For your education you're not going to be an ordinary soldier. We

send you to the Officers' Candidate School in Lee, Virginia," which he passed. That's 2 years. Then he was sent to Spokane, Washington to be the supplier of that hospital that was established in Spokane. a 50-bed hospital, to receive the casualties from the, from Japan. And he was promoted to first lieutenant. Then they transferred him to the Pentagon. And they promoted him to captain. And he was there until the war ended. And he resigned. And he could have made the Army as a career, but he didn't want it to be a career. And that's where he met a girl. She was in the Navy. That's a picture. She was in the Navy and they married there, and I went to Washington to their wedding. They were married in the Walter Reed Chapel.


MR. COHEN: By a rabbi. And then after the Army he got into the C.I.A. and worked in the Washington office and after a while they sent him on a mission to Formosa.


MR. COHEN: What the mission is I don't know, I don't ask. For a 2-year period. Then he got sick. He was there only a year and a half. They also sent his family.

MRS. KLAU: They sent his family too.

MR. COHEN: Oh, yes, to Formosa. And then he came back to the Washington home office. And before he went, he bought a nice house in Falls Church, Virginia, a new, beautiful there. And I was hoping that he's stay there for the rest of his life with the C.I.A. But then he resigned from the C.I.A. and he lived in about a half a dozen places in the country from job to job. That's the greatest mistake he made by resigning from the C.I.A. Because at that time he would have been retired already because the 5 years in the Army would be added and he would get a big pension.


MR. COHEN: So now he worked for different firms. He was 12 years in Boston and now he decided he wants to live in the country, so he bought land in Peterborough, New Hampshire. That's where he's living now. In Peterborough there's no Jews, there's 3 Jews, I guess.

MRS. KLAU: And he has a daughter.

MR. COHEN: Yeah, a daughter, only one. Then, well, she, the wedding was here in the temple.

MRS. KLAU: Now which wedding now are we talking about?

MR. COHEN: My granddaughter.

MRS. KLAU: Your granddaughter's wedding was in your home.

MR. COHEN: Yeah, well it was in the temple, but it came...

MRS. KLAU: The reception.

MR. COHEN: The reception was in the temple too.

MRS. KLAU: Yes. Who did she marry?

MR. COHEN: She married a rabbi... Just graduated in June and he's got an appointment in California about 40 miles from Los Angeles.

MRS. KLAU: Oh. Well, I'm sure you're very proud of her.

MR. COHEN: Oh yeah.

MRS. KLAU: Very proud of her.

MR. COHEN: She's a very smart girl. And I'll tell you how she met, coincidence. She graduated from Massachusetts University in Amherst, Massachusetts.

MRS. KLAU: Amherst, yes. The University of Massachusetts.

MR. COHEN: University of Massachusetts, yeah. And she was interviewed by the American Tel to be a computer business. She was accepted and she came to White Plains for training and she got a good job there and she learned it very quick. She's very smart.