Personal narrative of Joyce Maidenberg
From: Joyce Midenberg (jm)
Medium: Audio tape
Place: Home of Joyce Maidenberg, 910 Berkely Drive, Marion, Indiana 46952
Collected by: Jenny Reto (jr)
00:00 jr: I am Jenny Reto. This is April 29, 1999. This is being recorded at 910 Berkley Drive. I am speaking with Joyce Maidenberg. Please state your name.
jm: My name’s Joyce Maidenberg
jr: Do I have permission to interview you?
jr: Do I have permission to submit this interview to Marion High School?
jr: Do I have permission to submit this interview to the Marion Public Library?
00:30 jr: Now in 1940 you were getting ready to leave, um, elementary school and go into high school?
jm: Right, right. Mhmm, actually I left elementary school in 1939 when the war broke out in England.
jm: And then, um, I went to, um, junior high high school - the equivalent of the same here, um, that was, uh, boys and girls coed. And, um, I was starting, uh, and then the war really started to involve, uh, people being called out. The teachers, mm, male teachers, all suddenly disappeared. They were even going into the service and, um, then the bombing began. I lived in Bristol, which was quite a large city, and, uh, the bombing started and one night, uh, the Germans flew over and they dropped incendiary bombs, which, um, the burn, they burned the whole of the center city.
jm: And my school was, um, up in flames. It was burned as well, so now then when I was up all night, of course, but when I went to school, uh, the next day, the school was no longer there. We were transferred to, certain classes were transferred to different schools
1:50 jm: and that’s what happened. Then the, uh, bombing became very, very severe, and, um, actually we had a bomb that fell in between our, my house and the house next door. But un . . ., but fortunately it was about ten o’clock in the evening, and we could hear it. We were sitting down between the two houses, and, um, we were very blessed it didn’t go off. It was, um, a time bomb, and we were taken out of the house and, um, evacuated the whole area. And the bomb squad came and eventually, uh, they, um - we were gone for about three or four days. They took the bomb out. They took it away and exploded it, and we were very, very lucky. My mother and father decided then and there that I should be sent out of Bristol, which as I told you was a big city
jm: And I went to stay with an aunt and uncle who lived in the countryside as tiny little village. And there I went to a girls' school. It was completely all girls and, um, it was about three miles away from where I lived and most of the time I would ride a bicycle to school. And, um, when I graduated, came back to Bristol and, uh, everything, um, well, there was a lot of damage. And, um . . .
3:17 jm: Uhh, of course, everything was rationed and, um, I started to work then and I became an apprentice as a hair dresser (laughs).
jm: Can you believe it? And, um, uh, the apprenticeship lasted for about, uh, three or four years. You had to learn a great deal. I really don’t even know if they do anything like this. There was no school involved. You just . . . to a shop, and you learned everything that you could. It was very different then from here,um.
jr: Um, do you remember what the, what the store was called?
jm: Unfortunately I don’t remember the name. Y’know, it was such a long time ago (laughs).
4:03 jm: In the meantime, our synagogue, um, we had, um, I would call it a conservative synagogue. Um, they, we would entertain servicemen during, um, particularly Saturday - it was Sundays - and we would have, uh, tea dances and things like that and the whole of the Jewish community was involved. And any servicemen that could come, they could be Canadian, American, English, whomever, and that’s where, um, I met my first husband. And then he was, uh, then he went to France, and, um, I kept in touch with him. And then he came back to England and was stationed there for a while. And, um, then the war ended and, of course, he came back to America and, um, finished his schooling. And then in a couple of years, we kept in touch, and I came over to marry him.
Um, my first husband and I were married in Brooklyn, and we lived in Brooklyn for five years. He was a social worker at a county hospital there and then was transferred to Northport Long Island to a Veterans Administration Hospital. And we lived in Long Island for five years. And, uh, two of the children were born in, in the New York area. Then we, um, he was offered a position of chief of social service at the VA hospital in Marion, and, uh, that’s how we ended up coming here. That was in 1957, and, um, he was chief. He, uh, went, uh, David was born here, and, uh, we, we stayed in Marion. He was, uh, very involved civilly. He was president of the, um, YMCA; um, he worked at a Health Clinic. He did many things. Uh, uh, he just was very involved here.
6:21 jr: Um, okay, well, during the war what did you guys do to keep people’s spirits up? - because I know I'd be really scared if there were . .
jm: Well, we were frightened. Every time the sirens went, we had to -really we had, um, air raid shelters that we built in the garden with the - and they put grass over the tops so it just looked like a hill in the garden. Um, and we would go underground like rabbits and light candles under there because everything was a blackout. And, um, we were sick of these shelters, but the air raid sirens went so often you finally got to the point that we just didn’t go in then anymore. We stayed in the house. We got underneath the stairs and, of course, in school - Um, actually most of the air raids took place at night so we were at home.
jm: Um people still they went to the movies a great deal so that they knew what was going on in those days uh never even showed two full length films but they would show um news casts of everything that was going on so we were aware of what was happening the rest in the rest of the world
jr: so it would kind of be the equivalent of news and TV today?
jm: Similar right uh huh it would be 15 20 minutes of different things that were happening all over the country the world and that sort of thing hat brought it but um everyone went to the films, the theatre um what else did we do we had bicycles and everyone went biking you’d go out into the countryside and we lived uh right close to uh um a beach area and um we’d ride our bikes there um there was a lot of dancing ballroom dancing and um I took lessons with my brothers and a whole group of uh young people we go dancing together in the evenings or tea dances a tea dances is like when you’d have tea and they’d play music and you’d dance at the same time um what else can I say that was really all we did I mean we played games at home um we’d play a lot of cards
jm: playing cards that sort of thing um dominoes and things like that but actually uh um at night of course we didn’t have television so we listened to the radio
jr: to the radio
jm: Right, and phonograph records we used it that way I belonged to a Jewish youth group and we would get together and play tennis um things like that
9:08 jr: Um was it was it more difficult for you being Jewish rather than just rather than not being Jewish and living during the time? Actually, not um I didn’t run into any um anti-Semitism
jm: Actually, in Bristol the was not a very large Jewish community quite small but again like the one in Marion the were very close knit
jm: and we would spend a lot of time uh at each other’s homes uh visiting each other and um that was uh I mean there was no petrel around to run us around most of us didn’t have cars anyway uh during the war and we didn’t travel very much after the war um uh I went to London I would visit different places like that but I didn’t get to Europe while I was still living in America in England until I returned afterwards, two years later
10:08 jr: so what was what was the change like to go from living in England all your life to living in Marion Indiana?
jm: Brooklyn? Oh to Marion Indiana well
jr: or just into America in general
jm: into America it was it was quite um a culture shock moving here especially to Brooklyn um but the people were very very friendly and um of course I missed my family um but you had so much here remember we had had rationings for years and years and years even after the war we still were rationing but of course my mother did all that on thing you’ll be interested in Jenny um I didn’t practice cooking because I couldn’t we
jm: couldn’t afford for me to ruin anything
jm: (laughs) and there were times of course we had no gas no electricity and my mother would uh have to cook on a we had coal uh stove and my mother had to cook food that way um we were rationing we lived in and area where lots of little shops and we lived next door to a um we called it green grocery shop where they sold just vegetables and fruits and um every once in a while we were fortunate enough to get some oranges or bananas which were very scarce and uh we’d hear the doorbell ring and we’d find a little bag of something in side our door so we really did appreciate food that sort of thing fruits um there was not enough rationing to do very much baking and so uh um we were short of everything so when I came to America you can imagine when I passed a bakery there was so much food
jm: everywhere and um I I I should tell you but I arrived on a ship I went to San Hempton I was on the ship for 10 days to come over here the ship broke down it landed and we got here uh my future husband Abe Zukkerman um met me of course and the first thing he did was take me to a Jewish delicatessen you’ve been to those haven’t you
jm: and he bought me a corn beef sandwich which I it was so much meat in this corn beef sandwich that I it was something I we would eat in a whole week
jm: the whole the whole family would eat I couldn’t eat it all I mean it was just too much I would just say there was just and over abundance of everything I mean our clothing had been rationed so um here we came to stores where everything was free I mean no rationing needed so that this was really something Um everything was so big here
jm: (laughs) wherever we went eveything was so big actually my sister-in-law put it in a good way she said not only is a is everything so big here but uh even the potato chips I mean they didn’t have those in England
jm: (Laughs) um so um well then I learned to drive over here of course we had a car um
13:30 jr: Um So when you came to Marion what kind of different things did you do then
jm: All right well Marion was so completely different than New York of course
jm: it was um I was everything was on a much slower pace you know everything and um again people were very friendly uh I got involved with the um schools I was secretary of the PTO PTA that um we um did a lot of things with various people from the veterans administration and um we went to Chicago which
jr: so you traveled a little bit more then
jm: we traveled much more yes and from then on yes uh huh
14:27 jr: Um did you have you had people like family members in the war?
jm: mhmm my brother was in the service my father was uh and air raid warden and he would have to um go to a certain office and every evening and then would walk in the neighborhood to make sure there were no lights being shone that there were blackout curtains and of course if there was and air raid he would make sure that people went to shelters
15:00 jr: when you talk about blackout
jm: your not sure well no light was supposed to be shining through any window uh during the war
jm:everything was complete was complete it was a black out it was completely dark and if you wer out in the street you could use a flashlight as long as the light was to help you walk as long as the light was flashing on the sidewalk but there were no lights all the lights were out no street lights
jr: so what time I mean they didn’t do this during the day just what once it got dark outside?
jm: one it was everything was very dark as a matter of fact I think we had balcouts um in a America in certain areas I’m not sure where but um they did because they didn’t want the planes to see any lights to um y’know from above so it was very very dark a good thing was it gets very dark in the summer time I mean it’s dark in the summertime late uh it’s still light at 10 o’clock
jm: so that was fine um we kept busy I mean every time the siren went off it was a very frightening experience and the bombing was very very it was horrendous
jm: it was very very scary and um when I went into the country to live with my Aunt and Uncle they I think they uh just one bomb was dropped um a few miles away but there in the little villages fortunately there was not any damage not an awful lot anyway
17:35 jr: Um where did your other siblings where’d they go because you went to live with your Aunt and Uncle?
jm: They stayed well my brother was in the service
jm: and my other brother lived at home and he helped my father in the air raid as an air raid warden as well um and people just kept going it’s a it’s it was amazing people helped each other if they were in need uh if somebody n had house damage people pitched in just as you see on a television now everyone cared about each other
jr: uh huh
18:12 jm: they would have sing songs in the air raid shelters just to y’know just to keep up the spirits um I did a lot of reading you just knew that you had to keep going When we finally pulled into the Harbor in New York and we all got up very early to see this and to see the statue of liberty it was absolutely wonderful
jm: very very exciting and then the immigration people came aboard and checked us all out and we didn’t have to go through Ellis Island which they did before the war years ago so that was very very exciting
19:09 jr: When you were on this ship were you were there just people from all over ?
jm: all over well a lot of people um were coming over to be married um it was called the Marine Marlin that the ship was called and there were a lot of people who were coming from New York at the time um after the war they were coming over to relatives from Europe from uh well from different places fro France and Poland and they were being sponsored by there relatives in America and the ship was absolutely packed Again um were were in the ship in a bunk there were ten of us in one room sharing y’know it was like bunks and actually uh again they they had so much food
jm: it’s it’s just something we were just not used to the quantities of everything um I made friends on the ship and I am still in taught with uh quite a few of them to this day they went to different parts of America it’s an amazing country we uh I think it was in the uh 70’s we took a whole month and we drove across the country and that’s when you truly do appreciate this wonderful country
20:43 jm: have you done that ?
jr: no um I’ve been to like New York and stuff like that
jm: one of these day’s I hope
jm: I went to L.A. and San Francisco and on the way back I went to Utah it was a wonderful wonderful trip
21:11 jr: well thank you very much.