xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript
text Tiffany Cothron (TC): Hello, Im Tiffany Cothron.
John Irish (JI): Hello, my name is John Irish, and we are interviewing
Linda Sanders (LS): Linda Sanders, L-i-n-d-a S-a-n-d-e-r-s.
JI: All right. I guess we should all start with the first question. Where are you from?
LS: Brooklyn, New York.
JI: New York. Have you lived there very long? Or how long did you live in Brooklyn, New York?
LS: Actually, I lived in Brooklyn until I was 12, and then we moved out to Long Island, and I got married when I was 19, and we moved to Maine. We were there for a year and a half, and then we came back to New York City, and we both, my husband and I, went to work.
TC: When did you move to Florida?
LS: Nineteen seventy-eight.
TC: Nineteen seventy-eight? All right.
JI: Did you move do Dunedin when you moved to Florida?
LS: No, we did not. We moved to Largo. We didnt know about Dunedin, unfortunately. After our children moved out and went to school, I decided I was moving to Dunedin. Thats what we did, and we just love it.
JI: Any particular reason why Dunedin?
LS: Dunedin very much reminds me of the neighborhood I grew up with in Brooklyn, a small little neighborhood feel. And the fact that I dont drive and never have driven, everything I need in Dunedin is within two miles that I could walk to if I needed to.
TC: Are your parents also from Brooklyn?
LS: Yes. Well, my mother was from Brooklyn. My father was from Maine.
TC: Okay. And what family members were from Ireland?
LS: Actually, this is my story. I grew up believing that I was Irish. I am Jewish, Russian Jew. Thats how I grew up. My father deserted my mother when she was pregnant with my sister, and my mother understood that my father was from Bangor, Maine, and he was Irish.
So for 68 years, I thought I was an Irish Jew, no problem. A few years ago, two years ago, I ran into a problem with my hands. As you can see, my fingers are curling. They are very thick. I have these nubby lines. This is the Viking disease. It has a long name, begins with a D. Youd have to look it up. Anyway, I thought, This is very strange; why do I have this? So I decided to try ancestry and do my DNA.
Well, that journey was really amazing for me. When it came back, Im not Irish. Im not Irish at all. Im Scottish. So I called my mother, who is 90, and I said, Mother, how can I not be Irish? Oh, well, I forgot to tell you. Your fathers mother was actually from Scotland, and she had such a very accent. I never could understand the woman. I said, But when was somebody going to tell me? It never came up.
And it was like that back in those days. It just never came up. They kept everything quiet. And then it opened a whole new world to me because I went on Ancestry, and I found my family. I found a father I never saw and traced my Scottish roots all the way through. I find out that Im a daughter of the American Revolution from my great-greats, who were Josiah and Abigail, and they were in the American Revolution.
Who knew such a thing? We come from Ayrshire, which is where they make very good cheese and Johnny Walker Red and Black and whatever. And the fact that my father said that they lived in Bangor, Maine, they never were in Bangor, Maine. They were in Smithfield, Maine.
And the fact that I lived in Maine and got to travel all over because my husband was in the service was like, Okay, now I know really where Im from; its not a mystery anymore! The first weekend, however, I walked around very down. It was like someone told me I was adopted. I just lost my identity, but my friends here have been wonderful.
JI: Have you ever traveled to Scotland?
LS: No, I have not. I mean, wed go to England. We have friends in England. They said the minute Im ready, theyre going to take me on that trip. I cant wait.
TC: So you said that your grandma was Scottish?
LS: From Scotland, yes. Her name was Pearl. (paper rustling) Her name was Lila Pearl Nerrow, N-e-r-r-o-w. Looking into that, that is an old Welsh name that isnt even used anymore, which I was very fascinated by. Going back, the Emory name, my maiden name was Emory.
Emory happens to be an English name, but that doesnt mean anything. In that part of the world, they cross over so much. So I can go all the way back to my family roots on both sides of my paternals, or parents.
TC: And so, your mom is also Scottish?
LS: That was another bad move.
LS: Now, my grandfather left my grandmother saying that he didnt want to bring a Jewish wife, let alone a Jewish child, home. Our understanding was his name was Farley, John Farley, and he was from the Carolinas. We tried everything to find him. My sister and I said, Do your DNA, Mom. See what happens.
It was a bad mistake because my mother isnt Irish, which she was told. Instead, she is French, Belgian, and [Swiss]. Now, when you are that age, you have nobody to ask, How did this happen? I made a joke out of it. I said, You know, remember when Grandma and Aunt Molly said they used to go to Uncle Jacks speakeasy? I think maybe Grandma had a little bit too much bathtub gin, and there you are, Mom.
But she was very hurt because that meant they werent telling her the truth, but maybe my grandmother didnt know the truth, and she certainly wasnt going to speak about it. Coming from a very Jewish family, this was really not a good thing. So everybody just buried it. Its just like, wow, your family tells you all these stories.
You cant necessarily believe it, especially coming from our time. For you, everything is out there. But for us, I couldnt say where the Jewish sidecouldnt find the town or the village or anything for them because they didnt talk about it. They came here, and they were American.
TC: How old was your mom when she found out that she wasnt Irish?
TC: Eighty-nine. Wow. And so, growing up, did you guys have any kind of Irish traditions because you thought you had Irish?
LS: Um-hm. I had a big shamrock with a Star of David, and I drank the green beer. I had green bagels, and being a redhead and having my very Irish face, everybody just assumed I was Irish. I didnt even have to say anything.
They didnt believe I was Jewish, but theyd all go, Shes Irish. In fact, this St. Pattys Day, a group of Irish friends called me up and wished me a happy St. Pattys Day. They said, We dont care what your DNA says, youre Irish.
TC: So they kind of adopted you into their culture?
LS: Well, Ive always been. I have a lot of friends from Ireland, and everything Irish was me.
TC: So have you been to Ireland then?
LS: No, we just go to Newland because we have close family friends there. But now I want to see Scotland. I really do want to see Scotland.
TC: So, do you have any family that resides in Scotland or Ireland or anyone over there?
LS: Not that we know. I could have found my fathers family in Maine when I was there, but I was 19, my mother had remarried, and I thought this would cause a lot of problems. So I left it alone, even though in Bangor, Maine, there were five Emorys in the phone book. I was so tempted to call.
But I thought I was going to cause problems for my mother. Now, at my age, Im going to be 70. If these people wanted me, they wouldve found me. So I have three sisters older than me that we know are in Maine. Are they alive? I dont know. Again, they never reached out to find my sister or myself, so maybe its just best left alone at this time.
TC: Right. So you obviously said that you identify as Jewish. So is that culturally and religiously, or?
LS: Growing up, it was religiously. As an adult, Im strictly a cultural Jew. Quite honestly, when I travel, I dont wear anything Jewish, nothing, rather than cause problems.
TC: Right. So growing up Jewish, did that affect anything in schools? Or even you identifying as Irish, how did that affect you in schools?
LS: In Brooklyn, its a melting pot. I lived in an orthodox Jewish neighborhood, attended synagogue and all that as a child. One of the funniest things was the rabbi. You know, as a child, you go through religious classes, and the rabbi I had was a young man. His name was Mr. Lefkowitz, and he looked like Ichabod Crane.
He was going down his list of names, and he went, Emory. And there I am. My nickname was Howdy-doody has a child, and he must have been thinking, Shes Jewish? But the red hair actually comes from the Jewish side, not the Scottish or Irish side. Redheads run in the Jewish side of the family, but it was never a problem growing up.
One of the things we did have across the street from us was a Catholic nunnery. It was the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Well, my sister and I were very adventurous. So we thought, Its there, lets go check it out. The nuns took one look at us and thought, These kids have got to be Catholic. And Sister Bernadette from Ireland took us under her wing and just tried so hard to make us believe that we should be Catholic.
We didnt see anything wrong with it. They fed us, they were nice to us, they read from all the catechism, which I really didnt pay any attention to. Except one day, my sister had to be about 7; she came home, and the next thing we know, she was down on the floor crossing herself and saying the Hail Mary. And my grandmother, she heard that. We just always told the truth.
Oh, she said, this is going to stop now. And she went to all the stores that are across the street from this cloister. And again, were in a very Jewish neighborhood. Most of the people I knew had numbers. Thats what I grew up with. You make sure you dont see them go in there. Theyre trying to steal them. You make sure they dont go in there.
So everybody was told to watch out. So my sister and I, wed just go up on our toes, (whispering) reach for the doorknob, open it up and go in. But we also celebrated Christmas, and we celebrated Easter because when the Russian family came over, of course, they were very down in Russia with the Progroms and all that happened.
And they thought, What beautiful thing for children. So we had the Christmas tree; we had the Easter bunny. We had to keep this pretty quiet, however, because we were in a really Jewish neighborhood. So other people had Christmas trees, but the Easter bunny was never spoken about because Easter in Europe was not a good time for Jews.
You would be killed. So it was like, (whispering) shush, the Easter bunny, nobody knows anything about the Easter bunny. Were just going to have a nice, Jewish meal and not mention the actual reason.
JI: So growing up, what were some of the values that your parents instilled in youIm sorry, your momcoming from your Jewish heritage?
LS: Reading. Reading, reading, reading, reading. We got a book for every single holiday there was. TV was new when I was a child, so most of the time there was classical music playing, and we read. My first opera was Carmen. I was madly in love with these little records that were bright red.
I could listen to that forever. But I have to say, I dont know, my Irish friends didnt grow up that way. It wasnt something that they experienced. I can only say from my Jewish side that, that is very important; learning is very important. And thats what I grew up with.
TC: Do you appreciate that? Did you kind of pass that on, instilling that in your kids?
LS: Oh, yes. Absolutely. It didnt work on my son. If he reads, its sports. But my daughter is a professional artist, and her stuff is known all over the world.
TC: Oh, wow.
LS: Yeah, if you put her in and Google her, youll see all her stuff. Her name is Margaret Juul, J-u-u-l.
LS: Um-hm. And that name is Scandinavian, from her first husband, which also leads me to tell you that I am Finnish, from Finland. Thats where this comes from. And the Vikings were in Ayrshire in 1200, and the Scots rose up and removed them. And of course, they left DNA behind, and Im one of them.
TC: So how many kids do you have?
TC: Two. So you have a daughter and a son?
JI: Margaret and?
LS: Michael. Now, when I investigated my husband, I found out the name is not Sanders. They were Hungarian Jews, and their name was Urbanik with a U. So for my children, I said, Okay guys, youre not Irish. Youre Hungarian. It was very confusing to them.
TC: Yes, so, because you were kind of affected by not knowing what your background or ancestry was, you wanted to make sure your kids had that foundation?
LS: Absolutely. Because there were such holes in my life. I dont know what happened to any of these people. Did they have heart disease? Did they have breast cancer? Did they have any of these things? Thats such a hole in your life. And its difficult. I sympathize with somebody who has found out theyre adopted.
Now you can get more information. But back in my time, you got no information. And it really leaves a big hole in your life. Just getting that photo, my fathers yearbook photo, blew me away. I sent the picture to my mother, and she called me and she said, Thats your father. You know what its like, at my age, to say, Oh my God, thats him?
TC: Right. So are you still married?
LS: Oh, 50 years.
TC: Oh, wow. Thats great. Did your husband go through the same thing with not knowing?
LS: Well, he had his parents. The only thing was they changed their name. Now, did they change their name when they came over, or did the caseworkers? Because when my great-grandfather came over from Russia, they gave him a different name.
LS: And he didnt know because he didnt know English. So he went from Itkin [sic] to Atken. He also became one of the founders of the Ladies Garment Workers Union in New York at the Shirtwaist Factory.
He was 14. He had nobody here, and he just was going to be American. And he became, to me, a great person, putting that union together and giving people rights because, in those days, nobody had any rights. Child labor laws, nothing. So I was quite proud of him, and I knew him. He didnt pass away until I was 18.
JI: What are some of your other fondest memories growing up in Brooklyn?
LS: Brooklyn is the best place ever. Those nuns actually dressed my sister and I in nun costumes. And then, oddly enough, we lived very close to the Scandinavian area of Brooklyn. We would march in the Scandinavian Day parades. Who knew I had any Scandinavian in me or my sister?
Wow! (laughs) I mean, it was such a melting pot. I used to babysit for the Chinese laundry people, and they had a little girl, and I would babysit their little girl. One day they even invited me to New York China Town to eat Sunday dinner with the family, and it was amazing! It was amazing. Except when everybody started to burp.
TC: Thats tradition?
LS: Thats tradition! When I went home and told my grandmother, she said, Dont you get any ideas. You dont burp in this table. Like most Jews, yes, after any holy day, wed go to thenot your neighborhood, but outside your neighborhood to have Chinese food, lest you run into any of your neighbors and people would be embarrassed that they were eating shrimp and things that (whispers) theyre not supposed to eat.
TC: So, you said that you worked as a babysitter for them. What other kinds of jobs did you have? I know that, now, youre a museum curator here.
LS: Actually, I aspired to be a great ballerina. Went to a private school in New York City, the American Ballet Academy, which is the only live-in ballet academy in the United States. We were the kids picked to play in Lincoln Center for the sugarplum fairies and all of that. It was wonderful, but it was very expensive and my mother couldnt afford it. So eventually, I had to drop out and be a little bit more practical.
So then I thought, Im going to go to the Fashion Institute of Technology because I did a lot of sewing. My great-grandfather was a tailor. We all sewed, and by 10 we had our own sewing machine. We all knew how to sew. And I thought that would be something Id like. Keep in mind, this is 1963.
Two other girls and I went on a bus from Long Island into Manhattan with this group of guys. We got there, and we walked around a little bit, and the professor came and looked at us. He moved over and he said, I dont know why youre here. Youre not going to get in this school. This is for guys. This isnt for you. You can walk around, but dont bother to think youre ever going to come in here.
And you could get away with that in those days. So they let us walk around, and there wasnt a guy there that was straight. They were so flamboyant, oh my God. It was crazy. And growing up in the dancing world, yeah, I was used to that. It didnt bother me. But I was really angry that I wouldnt get that chance.
So, okay, Im going to go in the working world. After graduation, I went to Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in Manhattan. I worked in the mortgage department. People would give you the mortgage, and you had to stamp all the pages and everything and put everything together. I actually had a paper signed by Abraham Lincoln. It was for land thats in Illinois, which was very exciting.
But there, again, I find out what the guys are making. Theyre making more money than I am. Well, I went over to the supervisor. I said, Will you explain this to me? Theyre doing the same job Im doing! For heaven sakes, hes a man. Hes going to have a family. I said, Im chopped liver? I live with a single mother and a single grandmother. Thats how I was brought up. They had to go to work and support a family. And he just brushed me off, so ever since then, Ive become rather feminist.
JI: Right on.
LS: Because its not fair.
JI: Weve been jumping into, I guess, the inequality in the workforce and the labor-constrained genders. Have you seen any changes since then?
LS: No. Not a lot. Not a lot. But what I do find with the young women that work here, its so interesting to me how quickly theyre offended. Now, if a man comes by and calls you sweetie and stuff, they go off the wall. I can see it from their point of view. When I grew up, that was normal. You know, you smiled. Mad Men, thats what it was like. So Im not sure I agree with them because I think it takes it a little bit too far.
Hopefully, someday there will be a happy medium, but I dont know. But I dont think its gotten any better. I truly dont. Education, certainly. Youre all educated. I mean, Heather, I just adore how shes gotten in the world. In our time, it was not easy. If you were rich, yeah, you went to college. You went to college to find a husband.
TC: Right. Is that where you met your husband?
LS: No, we went to school together. Weve been together since we were kids. We grew up together.
TC: Oh, okay.
JI: Your families knew each other?
LS: No, the odd thing is, we both come from Brooklyn, but we come from different sections. We discovered we went to the same movie theater; we went to all the same things. In fact, in Brooklyn, you have the Brooklyn Museum, awesome; the Brooklyn Library, awesome; the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens across the park. Theyre all in walking distance. Its fantastic.
So we went to all the same things, and our families moved out to Long Island when we were both 12, and thats how we met in school. I thought he was a jerk becauseapparently, I found out, he had gone to private boys catholic school. When he was let out to go to public school, he went crazy.
Myself, coming from the background I had, I thought, I this guys a jerk. He cant sit and just do what hes supposed to do; hes fooling around; hes not taking anything serious. Who knew? When I turned 16, something changed. Seventeen, he wanted to marry me; my mother said, Oh, no. So we waited until I was 19, and we just had our 50th anniversary.
TC: Oh, congratulations.
LS: Thank you.
TC: So, in your relationship, are you the one that cooks? Or is he into cooking?
LS: We had a very traditional marriage for a long time. It was never a question, would I stay home with the children? Never a question. He had a great job. He actually was one of the plumbing foremen for the twin towers. He worked in all the big hospitals in New York City. I never knew until I was with him that you need a plumber to put in dialysis machines in the big hospitals.
TC: I had no idea.
LS: Me neither. He would have to go in the middle of the night, like 2:00 or 3:00 oclock in the morning, because thats when you could change everything. Nobodys going to be on dialysis machines. To work your operating rooms, you need special equipment. Plumbers put that special equipment in. Who knew? So he did all the New York Hospitals.
And I stayed home and did all that traditional stuff, and then we moved down to Florida because, in 1978, we had a severe recession. We figured we always wanted to live here. We thought about going to Maine. But, ice cold and freezing, or sunshine? Sunshine is better. So we moved here.
I was a monitor in the elementary school, Mildred Helms. In fact, the principal said, You need a job. Youre here more than the rest of the staff. And I became P.E. aide; I aided the librarian; I aided the art teacher, who probably had a D and let me to do a lot of the art stuff for the kids because he was terrible. Then, when they hit middle school, that was time for me to get a job.
Id had enough of this Hillary Housewife. I got a job with a friend of mine at a dry-cleaning plant. The funny thing was, when my husband got out of the servicethis gentleman in Queens was the first person my husband worked for, doing plumbing and stuff. You need that for that kind of work too. So when he moved here and we all met, he said, You want a job? I said, I really do, so thats how I started working.
I was there for 10 years, then I went to Dockside Import where I was a floor designer for six years. Then we moved here, and the welcome wagon lady, she said, You need to come to this museum. Oh, I walked in here, and I was thrilled that hes from the Bronx; Im from Brooklyn. Yes, we speak the same language. This is good.
And the greatest thing I could say, Vinny was so wonderful. He let me fly in a way nobody did before. He let me design stuff and do the mannequins and take care of all kinds ofbecause it was only he and I and volunteers. He let me plan rooms and all kinds of stuff. We had Andrews Memorial Chapel; I became the person in charge of the chapel, the chapel coordinator.
Never did a job like that before. I was there for 15 years before Jessica came. This has been the greatest experience, this past 20 years, just the greatest. Ive had to do things I never thought Id get to do or anybody would give me the opportunity or say, Okay, you dont have the background, you dont have the degree, you dont have the education. No, he just let me go.
And it was he and I, when we got our first exhibit from the Smithsonian. It was on the journey, which is peoples journey through America. We just stood there with tears in our eyes. We did it! We actually did it. We got this. I was so, you know, I could do something like this and nobody ever gave me the chance. So grow. Go. You never know.
JI: Lets see. Are there any other hobbies that you have?
LS: Besides reading?
JI: Besides the reading.
TC: You said that you danced growing up.
LS: Oh, oh, oh. I was a dirty dancer at the Laurels Country Club in the Catskill Mountains. That is so true. And I worked with Tito Quente. We taught mamba, and cha-cha and all that kind of stuff, to all the old Jewish ladies because thats where old Jewish ladies go every summer. They dont do it anymore. Its all gone. But thats what I used to do. God, I forgot about that.
TC: So now, do you still like going toyou said that you loved Carmen growing up. Do you still go to operas?
LS: I listen to opera all the time. I do. And my son, when he was much younger, teased me. I saw Pavarotti. He said, Why do you listen to that Pavarotti guy? You dont even understand what hes saying. My gosh, Mom. You should listen to The Cranberries. I said, Cranberries? You put a cranberry next to Pavarotti?
The joy of my life, a couple of weeks ago, we were going somewhere in the car and he was driving. He put on opera. What was that? Oh my God! My son is listening to opera! And my daughter in law said, Hes got a lot of secrets that hes not letting you know about, but he loves opera.
TC: So you said that you listened to classical music growing up. So you like classical music, you like opera. Do you like jazz?
LS: I love all music except country western. I dont do country western at all. My son loves all music. So there are times when he has me in the car captive and hell put on some country western. Im not so sure about rap either, but country western I cant do.
JI: Aside from music and opera, are there any other theatrical arts that you enjoy?
LS: Well, Im a reenactor.
LS: Yes. The museum has what we call History Comes Alive. Thats every January, the end of January, beginning of February. We become people buried in our cemetery. The Dunedin cemetery is awesome. It really is an interesting place. So theres about 7 or 8 reenactors, and we find somebody who is prominent that people would really like to know about, and we become those people.
We have the costumes; we have the props; we make up folders and photos and everything, and we become those people. I used to go to schools to do that. The schools, middle schools, theyd really get a kick out of you coming in your own costume; youre talking about things.
I was in a middle school, and one of the things I said to them was, You realize I dont know what electricity is. Somebody said something aboutwhat is electricity? And the kids were all talking going on about, How? I didnt have electricity. What else would I not have that you know about? And one little boy was so cute. He raised his hand, and he said, Jell-O. Yes, because we had no refrigeration. Wow!
So I thought that was really cute. Its always stuck with me. I found my tartan. My tartan is Dunlop. Thats the tartan. And when I went to find it, I would find it online, but none of the shops here carry it. But theyve now come out with a Jewish tartan because, you know, they have tartans for everything. They have a Jewish tartan thats just come out, so I think maybe Ill get that one.
TC: Yeah, there you go.
LS: Yeah, every charity has a tartan. Anybody could get a tartan. I was totally unaware of that. I thought you had to be with a clan, and when I did the weddings at the chapel, I did a number of weddings from Scotland and Ireland and a big Scottish one where they all came with their tartans, and they had their banners.
And they explained to me that, this is your tartan, but you could have maybe eight variations of that one tartan because, you know, you wear it for your hunting; you wear it for this event and that event, and they all change. And okay, I thought that was great. Now I have a Jewish tartan.
TC: Thats cool.
JI: And your sister, is she in Florida as well?
LS: Yes, she lives in Largo.
JI: Did you move together?
LS: No, I was here way before she came, and shes not interested at all, which amazed me. She just wasnt.
TC: So you were close growing up. Are you still close now?
LS: We were never close.
TC: Oh, you were never close? Im sorry. I thought you were
LS: No, we were never close. Were sisters but so different. I mean, so different. And then I have a half sister because my mother remarried. My stepfather, whos the only father Ive ever known, was born in Italy. So my half sister and I have always been like this, but I was 16 when she was born, so we grew up like that.
But my other sister, shes a year and a half younger than I am and just really never had any interest. She didnt have interest in family and stuff, as we were so different. I grew up with all my relatives and went to the synagogue and did all that stuff. She was never interested. In fact, I believe she became Catholic with one of her many husbands, but thats a whole other thing. (laughter)
JI: Do you still go to church? Do you go to participate in church?
LS: I dont, not since I got married. My husbands Catholic, but hes Catholichis father was Jewish, and my mother in law was Italian, and she ruled the roost. So he was brought up Catholic. You look at himthe first time I met him, [I thought], Hes Jewish. That was my first clue. When I came to Dunedin, and we came hereI mean, when we came to Florida itself, nothing Jewish. You couldnt find anything.
You had to go all the way down the end of St. Petersburg. Thats the only place you could get anything Jewish. And then we moved to Dunedin. We were planning a luncheon at the country club, and one of the ladiesshes passed nowbut she looked at me. She said, Now, were not going to have any of those things that you eat.
Excuse me? You know, those bagels. And that just came out of nowhere, and I said, No, I dont think they have bagels. Well just have your soggy, white bread that sticks to the roof of your mouth. I have to say, I grew up, and I know what its like to have people throw snowballs at you and call you a dirty Jew, a Christ killer.
I was beaten up coming home from seeing the movie, The Robe. With my own friends, I was a Christ killer. Then in high school, there was a German girl named Ursula, and I sat behind her, and she threw all my stuff off the desk. She said, Im not sitting next to a Jew. You know, later on we became friends.
JI: You still are to this day?
LS: No. But we made friends. It didnt stay shattered.
TC: So how did that make you feel and affect you emotionally growing up? Did that really have a big impact?
LS: Oh, God. As a child, I took Hansel and Gretel literally. If you didnt like me, you were going to cook me. Very much so. And when youeverybodys got those numbers. Its a bad feeling; its a bad feeling. When we moved out to Long Island, thats when the movie Mein Kampf first came out, and we all went to see it. Good lord, when we came out of that theater, there wasnt a person that wasnt crying.
I mean, I was sick for weeks after seeing that movie because then I found out that I did lose family in Russia. They hid for two years and were found. So one nephew of my great-grandfathers made it to Israel. Thats all I know. But it was very affective, very affective. I could not, to this day, that drives me crazy, and I certainly could not go to the Holocaust Museum. I wouldnt last a second, not a second.
TC: So was that one of the hardest parts of your life, emotionally? Was your childhood really bad?
LS: Oh, yes. So much so. But I had a wonderful family. I didnt know I was poor. I didnt know what we didnt have. I had wonderful aunts and uncles and cousins. It was a close family, so in that respectI mean, that was always in the back of my mind, and now Im very fierce about stuff like that, really fierce. I cant take anybody dumping on anybody; what for?
TC: So that kind of affected you. Now, I see, your past has made you more for women and?
LS: And people. Im a big Bernie Sanders fan, can I say? Uncle Bernie has to win.
TC: Youre, actuallythat was one of our questions.
LS: Uncle Bernie has to win!
TC: What are your thoughts on politics today?
LS: Im very political. Im very political. Town-wise and out there-wise, and just because Hillary is a woman doesnt make any difference to me. If Elizabeth Warren was running, it would be a different story. Just, Bernie, I can only hope and pray. Do I have to vote for Hillary? Yes.
Because I would die rather than let any of those three goons become president. Oh, lord. And I have so many friends in New Zealand and England, and theyre like, My God! What is wrong with you people? I say, Its not me. You know its not me. So I know Ive got a lot of people on Facebook that I went to school with.
Unfortunately, Long Island is very Republican, so Ive been un-Faced a lot. They think Im just a little bit too much. Oh, well. And I have to say, too, when 9/11 came, we were just on the plane coming home from England. We were out visiting our friends. Were on the plane, and an Arab family, a lady and whatever, they had to wait because the trolley with the drinks had to pass before they could go into the ladies room.
For that split second, split second, I thought, I dont like them being on this plane. And then I went, Oh, for God sakes, Linda. What is wrong with you? You know, forget that. Were home, were jet lagged. We put on the TV, and theres the building my husband built. He couldnt believe it. Nobody could believe it. We couldnt believe it.
Then, when they started to say the building wasnt built right and all that, it crushed my husband terribly, terribly. What do you mean it wasnt built right? It wasnt built for that. So in his man cave, he has all the stuff including his union guard that says, World Trade Center. And no, weve never gone back.
Thats one of the reason I dont wear anything Jewish when I travel. I just assume thatd cause me problems. And I have friends that say, Oh, come on, lets go visit the holy land. No way! I get there, and theres going to be some crazy person with a bomb that says Linda on it. No, no. I would never go.
TC: So I know that you saidI forgot where I was going. My train of thought just died.
LS: Youre too young for that.
TC: It happens sometimes. But I guess I was going to connect it somehow, but I forgot how I was going to connect it. So Ill just ask you, how would you describe yourself and how would your friends describe you?
LS: I think they would say I was amusing and fiercely loyal and fiercely opinionated. I am. I honestly am. If I see a wrong or something, I have no patience for people that sit on the fence. Ive learned my lessons.
If somebody does something to somebody, I mean, Ive been on the subways in New York where a man was accosting a young woman and everybody just picked up their Times. And I was up there punching and screaming and hollering for the police to come. What do you mean you just sit there and you dont act? Youve got to act.
JI: You mentioned your husband was in the service.
LS: Air force.
LS: Oh, no. Thats what he wanted to be. He was accepted into the Air force high school in New York City, but my mother in law was a very backward person. She said, No, no, no, you cant do that. Because he would live with his grandmother during the week and then on the weekend be out with them. She said no, very narrow minded. So he joined the air force to fly a plane.
They made him a plumber. So when his four years were upnow, also, being a plumber, when they sent them to Vietnam, they were the first ones that died because they got the landmines. So everybody we knew, once they went over, they never came back. So when his term was over, at that time, the air force could extend you another year if they chose to.
So he said, Okay, if I stay another year, can I then become a pilot? and they said, Yes, thats fine. We can do that, but youre going to do a tour in Vietnam first. And he said, Ah, no. I dont think so. And I just thank God because he probably wouldnt have come back, so we were fortunate that he spent the whole four years in Maine.
JI: Did he have any siblings?
LS: Yes, one brother. And my brother in law was 4-F, so he couldnt go into the service.
JI: And when you guys moved to Florida, what was his occupation?
LS: He was a plumber. He couldnt be the plumber that he was up there because they didnt have this. He tried to start a union, but that was, you had to do it secretly. We had to meet in quiet, hush, hush. And the union here wasnt going to give their workers anything better, so it wasnt worth it.
TC: So is he still a plumber to this day, or is he retired?
LS: Oh, hes a retired master plumber who taught most of the plumbers in Pinellas County because he did the adult education for years, so most of the plumbers for the town got their license because of him, which was a cool thing. I have to say, living on an air force base, I was not the best. I hated following all those rules.
So there was a day we were in the PX, and it had narrow aisles, and I had to learn what everybodys badges meant. There was a pilot, and he was in a jumpsuit, and he was coming this way, and he was a major. I could feel my husband behind my head say, (whispers) Get out of the aisle. He goes first. Get out of the aisle. I was like, Damn, I have to get out of this mans way.
And slowly, I got out of his way, but oh, I hated every minute of it. And then there was a time in the court one nightwell, in the eveningand its freezing at night. When theyd lower the flag at dusk, everybody has to get out and salute or whatever. It was freezing! I wasnt going to get out of the car, so I had to get under the seat, so nobody would see that I wasnt following the rules.
If you got in trouble on the base, say you got a traffic ticket, you couldnt be dealt with, but your husband would have to go to driving school because they couldnt do anything for you. Youre a civilian, but hes not a civilian, so hes going to go to traffic school. So I learned how to be a little bit nicer.
And the man in charge of the base once gave my husband an assignment, and it was to pick the flowers that would grow around the barracks. So he came home, and he said, Here, this assignments got to be ready by Monday. I didnt have anything better to do because he wouldnt allow me to work. He said, This is a base town. You are not going out, just, out there. Okay. So I got the whole thing done.
And months later, there comes the CR with his wife, and hes going, If he says anything about them flowers, dont you say a word. Dont you say a word that you did it or you looked into it or anything because Ill be in big trouble. Okay, so we did it. Then we had a New Years Eve party, and my husband was a bartender. He got me and a couple of others into the noncommissioned officers club.
So we sit at this table. You were only as good in the service, as a woman or a man, as your partner is. Thats the rules. So the other ladies and men werent all going to talk to us because we were way down at the bottom of the list. So there was a Korean woman there.
None of those people would talk to her because she was Korean, even though her husband was with these people, because he was a noncommissioned officer. She wound up talking to us. Aggravated the hell out of me the whole night that they just turned her back on her, like she wasnt good enough.
TC: And this was in New York?
LS: No, this was in Maine on his air force base, Dow Air Force Base, which is no longer in existence. Those kind of things just get my
TC: And you said the Korean woman, was she married to?
LS: Yes, one of the sergeants. Yes. I mean, he didnt seem to have a problem, which infuriated me even more. He should have turned his back on those people and spoke to his wife, but thats the way it goes. And the horriblest(sic) thing was, the minute that men were shipped out, young men like yourself would come on the base. And those wives would be on you like zap, picking up all the young men. I was horrified.
I mean, these women were older. But no, Goodbye, and theyre right on the young men. I was not happy, and I would not have made officers wife. No, no, no. I would have been canned really quickly, and my husband with me because I would have taken him with me.
I just cant deal with it. I think thats because Im Scottish. I think, from my learning, that Scottish people are really strong people, and Im really pleased to find out that Im Scottish.
TC: So have you done a lot of research on?
LS: Oh, yes. Once I found out I was, I was like, holy cow! This is excited! I mean, all I knew about the Irish was leprechauns, and my sister was born in Ireland, and most of my friends were Irish. So it was such a transformation to find out that I wasnt. We used to have parties out on the lawn where the IRA, with the big buttons and everything, went through it.
It was just a hostile group. So my friend said, Didnt you say your father was Protestant? Thats what I knew. Theyre all Catholic. Shh. I wouldnt be able to be your friend. The Irish, no Protestants and Catholics could speak to each other.
So I wouldnt have any of them, including my sister in law. I wouldnt have been allowed to talk wit them because my father, as it turns out, was Lutheran. And they got married in a Lutheran Church, so I just assumed I was Protestant.
JI: And which part of Ireland? North Ireland?
LS: See, I thought it was Northern Ireland, the orange. You cant believe the family stories, Im telling you. So now Ive got a whole big thing for my children in a fancy book, where they can read about that stuff.
JI: And are they as interested as you are?
LS: My daughter is. My son, eh.
TC: What did you say your son does as a career?
LS: Hes a med tech for orthopedic.
TC: And do they both live here or do they live elsewhere?
LS: Well, my daughter lives in St. Pete and my son lives in Clearwater.
TC: Oh, theyre very close then.
LS: Yeah. Our family, when they came down and saw us living here, they all started to come down. They love it. My mother is coming down next month, and I havent seen her in a couple of years. Shell be 90, so were going to celebrate her 90th and my 70th together because I dont know if Ill ever see her again once she goes back with my sister.
TC: Whens your birthday?
LS: June 24th, 1946, and my maiden name was Linda Lee Emory. God, I hated that.
TC: But it has a ring to it.
LS: Oh, it has a ring. At that time, there was the record, Linda, written for Linda McCartney, Paul McCartneys first wife. It was actually written for her. And everybody would buy me this record. They could never understand why it got broken. (laughter) I hated it. Oh, my God. I would find a way for my sister to accidentally break it.
I wasnt stupid. And growing up in Brooklyn, you could go all over the place as a kid. You didnt have to worry about anything. Wed take the ferry, ride the ferry all day for a nickel. I mean, the movies. Go to the movies. Youve got 35 cents. It was 25 cents to get in. You went from 12:00 oclock to 4:00 oclock.
You got the two movies, you got the cartoons, you got the special features, you got the news, and then you walked home. It was the greatest thing. I really feel bad that you all dont get those experiences.
TC: So you went to the movies a lot growing up?
LS: Every Saturday.
TC: So that was your favorite pastime as a kid?
LS: Oh, gosh. Every Saturday. But it was also my grandmother and my mothers day to clean, so, Lets get the kids out so we can clean.
TC: And Im sure you were okay with that.
LS: Well, I didnt know any better because my grandmother wouldnt let you do anything. That was her territory. She cooked, she cleaned. But shed let you watch, so I learned all my cooking from her and my husbands grandmother. My husbands grandmother was Italian. And nobody in the family was interested in what she knew, so she taught me how to make ravioli and spaghetti and all kinds of stuff.
And when she passed away, I got her familys rolling pin. Its solid brass, and it has ridges in it. It weighs a lot. After you finish making your ravioli, the dough thats left, you roll it out, you roll this thing along and you make spaghetti. You would just hang it up and let the spaghetti dry. Its really cool. I dont know whos going to get it when I die.
TC: Do your kids like to cook?
LS: Eh, eh.
JI: As much as they want to.
LS: Yeah, as much as they have to, lets put it that way. But then, they all work. The wives and husbands, they all work. So its a different thing when everybodys got something to do. I dont have any grandchildren, I have granddogs. I cant do anything about it. Its their life. I cant do anything about it. So I enjoy everybody elses.
TC: How old are your kids?
LS: Michael will be 30no, Michael will be 43, and Margarets going to be 47.
TC: Okay, so shes the oldest.
LS: Yes, and looks very Irish. She looks very Irish. She went, Im not Irish? I said, No, youre Hungarian. But she looks Irish. Shes got that white, milk skin, and she could be out in the sun forever. Shed try to get a suntan, shed get nothing. Her skin what just white. And when she was in high school, the boys used to laugh and say, Here comes neon legs, put your sunglasses on.
JI: You mentioned you learned a lot of Italian cuisine. Did you also get to learn Jewish cuisine and Irish cuisine?
LS: Yes. Irish, no. Not Irish, really, because everybody thinks corned beef and cabbage is Irish. Its not. Its Jewish. When they came to New York, the Jews were already eating it because it was cheap. They taught the Irish, because they came later, that you could survive eating this food.
And then it became New York Irish because in Ireland they dont eat this stuff. In fact, when I had people over from England and I said we were going to have corned beef, they went, Corned beef? Its just delicious! Theyd never had it out of a tin. People from the Midwest, they come, Im going to give you a good, Italian meal.
You put out the ravioli and theyre [in disbelief]. I said, Dont tell me you just eat Chef Boyardee out of a can. Yeah. Im like, No, no, no. Here, much! And theyre like, Oh, this is good! I said, Yes, see, its different. Dont eat that garbage.
TC: So I know you said that you grew up in a strong Jewish community. Was there a strong Irish community nearby?
LS: No, it was Scandinavian. Today, the school that I went to and my mother went to and my aunts and uncles went to, is a special school in Brooklyn of advanced education, and its 89% Chinese, which I thought was really interesting.
I was disappointed. For their 75th anniversary, I sent them a letter all about my whole family going to that school, and what that school meant to us and all that. Never heard back. I was really disappointed. I was hoping Id get a Chinese to pen pal with. That was really what I was hoping for. But they didnt. I was disappointed in that.
TC: Do you have any pen pals?
LS: I did. Growing up, I did. Japan. And I think we were three years into our friendship when he sent me his picture and a letter saying, There has been a mistake. I know you believe me to be a girl, but Im not. He sent me his picture, and I was like, Oh, my God. Was I a little embarrassed.
And the only reason I stopped was because my fiance said, I dont like you writing to that young man. And I stopped. Dumb, dumb, really dumb. He lived in Hokkaido, and he was going to be a marine biologist, which Im sure would be fascinating and interesting. Youre a kid, you listen. Now, I would have gone, Yeah, right.
So I work; he stays home; he cooks; he does all the shopping. I come home, hes already cooking my dinner. I can lay down, take a nap with the dog, and then I could help him clean, and everything is nice. Thats why were still married 50 years. Were not under each others feet.
JI: The roles are kind of almost reversed or even shared now.
LS: Yes. Now its just the other way, and its fine. He used to be out all the time with his friends, bowling and all that kind of stuff. But hes not well. I go out now, with my friends. Good night, Ill see you later! Dont stay up!
TC: What kind of dogs do you have?
LS: We used to breed dachshunds. We had as many as nine at one time. We fostered, we rescued, did all of that stuff. Now, with old age, I just have the one, and shes spoiled rotten, rotten.
TC: Have you always been an animal person growing up?
LS: Yes. When I met my first dachshund I was eight, and that was it. That was it. I never looked at another breed. That was the breed of my heart. And I could hear a dachshund bark, I can see one in your car. I know where they are. And my son, he met his first Rottweiler when he was about nine.
Hed say to me, when we had a black and tan, Mom, you think if we gave Raisin some steroids hed turn into a rotty? No, Michael. You can have whatever you want when you grow up. And he did, he got his rotty. And she was, oh, what a honey. I was afraid of big dogs. I was grandma, and shed come, and shed sleep with us if we babysat her and everything. I loved her. She passed away not too long ago. It was heart breaking.
TC: Im sorry.
LS: So instead, he winds up with a husky. Thats taken some getting used to. Gosh, she is big, and she is strong, and when she comes to say hello, its like, you know. They need a little bit more classes.
TC: Was your family animal people, like your mom?
LS: No, not at all. Growing up in Brooklyn in an apartment, my grandmother had no time, no patience. My aunts and uncles, everybody loved animals, but we didnt own any dogs. But the minute we were all able to, everybody had animals. My husband grew up with birds, fancy birds.
So weve got lovebirds and parakeets, and weve had cats. Then when my son was growing up, we had every animal known to man. He and a friend even caught an alligator, and the principal of the school said, Now, boys. We cant keep this. So he took them somewhere where they could let it loose.
Then one time, he called us, Dad, Dad, youve got to come pick me up. And my husband said, What? You rode your bicycle. Did something happen to your bicycle? No, Dad, youve got to pick me up. I cant bring this. Oh, okay. Â A huge tortoise, gopher tortoise. And he called all his animalsoh, what do you call itthe boxer?
LS: Rocky. Everything was Rocky. We had guinea pigs. My friend that I got the guinea pigs from, I said, Look, I want two males. Yes, two males. Okay. One morning, Michael comes running and jumping and jumps on the bed, Mommy, Mom, youve got to wake up! The Rockys had babies! Oh, no.
JI: Rocky 1, 2, 3, and 4.
LS: Well, Rocky became Ms. Piggy. Then there was Rocky. But weve had every kind of animal you could possibly want. Hatched lizard eggs and all that kind of stuff. My husband was a big fisherman, so they all learned how to fish and do all that stuff, and its all good.
JI: Do you travel around the United States?
LS: Only this coast. When we did take a trip to California, but that was a little scary. We went to Vegas, and from there we drove. You see all these tires all over the place and pieces, and then they have these big mounds of sand that say runaway trucks. So if you couldnt hold onto your truck, it goes into them.
And then we get into California, and then its like, Dont look down. Ooh, oh oh! So we get to our friends house. Theyre older people; theyve both passed away, sweet couple. So we get into the house, and everything is so cute. And my husband smoked, the wife smoked, so she says, Come on, Tony, well go out and have a cigarette. They went outside.
And then she said, Look, its getting towards dusk. We better hurry up and get inside. And he said, Well, why, May? Well, we get drive-by shootings. Oh, lovely. This is in Palo Alto. Then when we came in, she showed us all the cracks all over the house. Then she showed us all her curio cabinets, and all the cabinets had piano wire to keep everything from falling.
Oh, I was really comfortable with this whole thing. I slept the whole night like this (laughter). Â And there was actually an exit out of the bedroom door, so you could getI thought, These people are crazy! Drive-by shootings, and (inaudible). Â So I was very happy the next day that it was our last day.
And then come morning, You people are crazy! and they go, Well, you live in Florida. Yes, for a week we know the hurricane is coming, if not longer. I mean, when you get one of them thingsoh. Id rather have snowstorm. We had a few of those in Maine. Oh, it was cold.
JI: Do you miss it? Do you miss the weather?
LS: No, not at all. The only thing is, I do enjoy that if you go someplace and its cold and youve got snow for the week or so, thats good. But then Im ready to come home.
TC: Did you ever snowboard or ski growing up?
LS: No, I didnt even ice skate. In Brooklyn, its strictly roller skates. And boy, I could roller skate through the traffic (makes whizzing noise) perfect. Nobody had bikes in our neighborhood because it was all apartment buildings, so you didnt have a lot of that stuff.
I dont drive. I dont swim. Whats the other thing that kids make fun of me that I dont do these things? How can I help it? I grew up in Brooklyn. We didnt do that stuff. You had taxis; you had buses; you had trains; you walked.
TC: So its like a whole other different culture up there?
LS: Oh, totally, totally different.
TC: Was it like culture shock coming to Florida?
LS: Oh, yeah. A bit. Very much a bit. Because growing up on Long Islandwell, living on Long Island, which is very Italian, all the men were all over in this side of the room, and all the women were in the kitchen. In fact, my husbands family, when I first met them, we had to stay in the kitchen and the men would be in the dining room playing cards.
Youd hear this (makes banging noise), and youd have to go out and see what they want, and then you had to go back in the kitchen. Oh, I thought, This isnt going to work. This arrangement is so not going to work. So one time, I got called into the kitchen, and Anthony got me sitting on his lap and everything.
And the next day, he said, My grandfather had a talk with me, so I have to have a talk with you. And his grandfather was in market, connected, as they used to say. He was in the herb business. Basil and oregano and whatever. I said, What did I do? He said, Well, your skirts too short. I wore mini skirts. Its the 60s. Your skirts too short, and you shouldnt sit on my lap in the room with the men.
I said, Really? You know, Anthony, I could always go off the docks and find somebody else thats going to make me do these kind of rules. So please, dont make me do these kind of rules because Im not going to live with these kind of rules. And there was a time he got a phone call from my mother in law to say that I was wearing inappropriate clothes.
Now, when hip huggers first came out and crop tops, thats what we called them in those days. And I had on a fabulous outfit because I worked in Manhattan, and I was tiny enough to wear the models sizes. Youd get the one off in the Loft. So when I went back to Long Island, I was the coolest dressed person anyone could see.
And he got a phone call that I was half dressed. I said, If my mother doesnt have a problem with how Im dressed, why should you? Im not married to you yet, so bug off. We got married, went to Maine, and I had that same outfit on, and a Dodge dealership hired me to sit in the back of the convertibles. They would take my picture in the convertible with my big hair and all the flippy thing. Fun days.
TC: Was drinking and smoking a popular thing when you lived in Brooklyn and growing up?
LS: Smoking. All adults smoked. Every adult I knew smoked. I grew up with smoke in my face, smoke filled rooms. That was just normal. All the aunts, the uncles, everybody smoked. Drinking, it wasnt a Jewish thing to drink, maybe a little bit of that horrible wine. But my husband does still smoke. My kids dont smoke. I dont smoke. Never had the desire.
But everybody around you smoked. A few Brooklyn Jewish people didnt smoke. Didnt drink, didnt smoke. The best thing was on a Friday night, when they had everything cleaned. You could smellbecause we lived in an apartment building, our doors were open. Everybodys doors were open. You went in an out of your neighbors places. And fresh clean smells, the cooking smells would just be all over the apartment building.
It was beautiful, just beautiful. Ah, it was a good place to grow up. Im really glad that I had an experience to grow up there. Everybody tells me how they grew up here, the older folks. Most of them are on that wall. And growing up here, they had a blast. Oh my God. They had a wonderful time.
The war didnt affect them at all, and they did some pretty crazy things. But still, they didnt have as good adventure as I did. You know, Hayden planetarium, all the museums and the art galleries. I mean, thats such a world apart. But thats what I love about this. Its a museum.
TC: Whats your favorite place youve traveled to? It could be in the U.S. or over in England, even.
LS: Oh, the English village of St. Asaph. I loved it. It has a huge monastery from the 900-something, and Americans bought it. When they tried to clean it out, they found a tunnel so the monks could go under the tunnel and into the pub. Great little village, its on the northern sea. Its very quaint, best food at the pub.
I watched the sheep chew the grass at the cemetery. Its beautiful. I met the gravedigger. He was something out of a cartoon, balding guy with no teeth and whatever. He was scary. He was really scary. And he was the only person in town, when you get sick, you dont get a get well card from because he wants you to join him. Just a wonderful, friendly village.
I got to go to the fish market and the green grocer, and everybody grows their vegetables. So they have tables outside their houses with a jar and their stuff in plastic bags and, you know, please leave a tip. Its all bagged. You take whatever they want. They give a list as to what they would like for their carrots or their turnip or whatever.
You just put it there and you take it. They make their own honey, and everything is on honesty. Just the best place. If I could live there, that would be where I would pick. Nice people, just everything laid back. But I havent been to Scotland yet.
TC: So that may change.
LS: That could change if Uncle Bernie doesnt become president, I dont know.
TC: You may have a new destination to live.
LS: How scary that I might. I dont think America is that stupid. Truly, in my heart, I dont think America is that stupid.
JI: Lets hope not.
LS: Yeah, as I cross my fingers and my feet and my toes. I dont think they will be. I dont think he has a chance in hell because I think smarter people will just say no. But then what do you pick out of any of them?
LS: In town, we have all this political stuff going on in town now. Its starting to drive peoplewe had a situation where our city manager, a very good friend of the museum, an extremely good friend of the museum, man loves history. Weve worked very close with him. He had gone home to Ohio. His father passed away, his mother was put in a nursing home.
He comes back, we had our commission meeting. It goes onto 12:00 oclock midnight, hardly is anybody there. One of the commissioners says, Yes, Id like to bring up that we fire Mr. Spearto [sic]. A guy, Yeah, I second. Its midnight. Shock spreads through town, shock. He waited, he said, until 3:00 in the morning until he went home to his wife. She fell apart, was histerical. They had two kids in school.
Theyve been here nine years. They love it here. I mean, oh my God, everybodys just flying off. So any of the commission meetings that we went to there was, screaming, hollering. People were so angry. Its not that you fired him, how you fired him. You cant fire someonewhat kind of people do something like that?
So now, those two people who are rerunning are being investigated by the sheriff for violating the sunshine law, and its really dividing people because one of those people is running for mayor. So its causing all this little dissent. Its a little town. Everybody knows, everybody feels it, and Vinny has to stay on the fence.
We have to stay on the fence. So I have a friend who is very vocal and into it, and she keeps me posted. Because of my position here, I cant be as vocal as I would like to because I wouldnt hurt the museum for anything. So we just smile at everybody. Say, Yes, I like you, on Facebook, thats my position.
Thats why I cant wear Bernie shirts. I did have a man come in last week in a wheelchair, and he had a Bernie shirt, and I went, Yes! I dont care. Are you a vet? And he said, Yes. We dont charge vets to come into the museum. I said, Well, even if you were not a vet, you would have gotten in here free because youve got the right shirt on. (whispers)I said, Â Shush, Im not allowed to do that at my work.
JI: And your children, are they political?
LS: My daughter is very political. She is a lot like me that way. My son, he just, he doesnt get upset about those things. Mother, you should relax. Its important!
TC: So are you like your daughter, and your husband is more like your son or not really?
LS: Not really, not really. I think the problem with Michael is hes always had very wealthy friends. All his friends had money. And the doctors he works for, they all tend to be Republican. So whenever he slightly says something, his wife and the rest of us go, What? All right, I wont say a word.
Oh, no, Michael. Theres free speech. Im sure theyre throwing darts at him because he first said he was going to be a Trump supporter. I said, No, you cant come in the house. I cant feed you. Sorry. But hopefully that will change. But it matters to the people you hang out with. And again, hes always had wealthy, wealthy friends, and theyre all that way.
I even have some really good people here in town, Mr. and Mrs. Andersonhe was one of our best mayors; he was the state rep, great couplecome in, and he said, So, youre going to be voting for Uncle Bernie, ha-ha. I said, Actually, yeah. He comes from my neighborhood in Brooklyn, Jewish, could be. And who are you going to vote for? And he and his wife said, Trump.
I said, And what exactly do you feel that he has to offer? Oh, he speaks his mind. Thats it. I shut up because I really respect these people. I thought, He doesnt have mind. So I hope you children are all politically active, at least informed, even if you are not active. You need to be because its your future, mines over.
Or mines coming to and end, lets put it that way. I hope I get another good 20 years. Id love to at least be as old as my mom. Though we have our matriarch in town, Vivian Grant. Shes 102 and still amazing, still amazing, very political. The ladies here in this town are very political, very active in the womens movement.
JI: There is a strong womens movement in the town, are you a part of it?
LS: No, not any longer. This town is very, very diverse. Its very gay. We have something for the senior citizens, the community center, the youth center. And there was a time, when I first came here, we did things like the light posts outside at Christmas time. We decorated them the first year.
Well, Casa Tina, the Mexican restaurant, did it like they do with the dead. Oh, my word. People here went crazy. Oh my God! They cant do that. Oh my God! Sacrilegious, no! Its Mexican. They just happen to do it in a different form. Its not putting you down. Its their way, and why am I explaining this to you? Im Jewish.
And Id get that a lot. When I did the chapel, the priest at the chapel, he was an Irishman. He called me up and said, Linda youve got to stop doing these Catholic weddings at your church. Thats not allowed. Thats not consecrated ground.
And I said, But father, wouldnt it be your department? If you tell them they cant be married, isnt that your business? Im Jewish. It doesnt matter to me. Well, if youre going to have that attitude. Im sorry, father, I cant help you.
TC: So are you involved in the Scottish community now that you know?
LS: Oh, yes. I am in the Scottish American Society. I am the liaison for the Scottish American Society. I have been with the New World Celts. Ive worked on some of the festivals. Not as much as Cheryl has. Its exciting, except theyre old. They are 100 years old. So the person in charge with the volunteers, hes come around, and he wants to get youngerIm younger than they are.
We had a gentleman come in from Bermuda, and he lived there for 35 years. He is a Scot and hes relocated here, and he asked me about it. He said, Well, thats got to change. I said, Yes. But to get more people to be with me, it has to be open all summer. They close it; once the Canadians go home, they close it.
Theyve got to have it open all year. Let everybody become involved. So maybe well make some waves over at the Scottish American Society. I havent had a good thing to make waves over in a bit, so Im hoping this will work.
TC: Are you excited about the games next weekend then?
LS: Oh, not really. Ive never even been because, actually, I used to work the chapel. And in the chapel, I only stopped two years ago. I worked all weekend. I didnt participate in most of the things in town. Ive never gone. And, you know, we all just want to go drink beer.
Theres nothing wrong with that, but I dont think it would be something Id do. Ive gone to the Celtic festivals and worked the Celtic festivals. And I found it just to be another reason to drink beer. Ill pass that, you know. Honestly, been there, done that. I dont get excited about drinking until I fall asleep at 3:00 in the afternoon.
JI: Was it always like that or has it changed recently?
LS: Its always been that way. Thats an Irishman. The Scots too, and the British, Lord have mercy. I mean, I have lived the British. I know the British, and they have no reason or right to dump on an Irishman or a Scotsman for their drinking because they drink. They dont even eat. We were in a pub by St. Aufis [sic]. Its called Clacton-on-Sea. Its right on the North Sea.
These people, all they dothey dont eat. And one time, a man got up and the wife dropped his beer. They were crossing themselves and everything because the beer went on the floor. And then they told me a story one day. She lost this husband for three days. She couldnt find him. He was behind the couch.
He drank all the beer in the house, and he found a jug of wine and finished the jug of wine and passed out. For three days, he was behind the couch. They are something else. You just drink until you drop. So they cant put anything on an Irishman, thats for sure, or a Scotsman because theyreI havent met anybody from Wales, so I dont know.
But the New World Celts, its all seven nations. Thats quite interesting, very interesting. Theres a couple of people there, I forget where they come from, where they speak French. But they are part of the seven nations. I found that very interesting.
JI: How active is it? Like how many groups of people, how many families participate in it?
LS: Oh, a lot of people are in the New World Celts, a lot of people because, again, they can take whatever from the seven nations. The Scottish American Society does honor the Irish heritage, and this past weekend we had St. Patricks there. We had all the Irish river dancers and bagpipe music.
The gentlemen who played the bagpipes played all the old Irish songs, and everybody was singing the old Irish songs, and that was a lot of fun. And my niece, who lived in Ireland for 12 years, said, I used to know how to do that! I said, Really? She said, Yeah! Me and my Nan, we used to do all that, and its cool. So its nice to have diverse cultures and, you know, diverse ways of learning.
TC: Anything else to add? Do you have anything else to add or are you good?
LS: I gave you my shamrock-to-a-thistle.
TC: Well, we really enjoyed sitting down with you.
LS: Well, I dont know if the Jewish part got in the way of your Celtic.
TC: Oh, no. I think your story gave us a lot of information.
LS: Oh, you do know that Mayor Briscoe, in the 50s, was mayor of Dublin and he was Jewish. And my sister in law, who was born in Ireland, she is also a quarter Jewish. Jews get around. (laughs) We get around.
So now that weve found out that Im not Irish, we think the things that we have so much in common because were very close must be Jewish in us. Thats got to be what it is. Have you ever seen the thing that you get from? Thats Ancestry. Thats what they give you. All the bits that you are.
LS: All the way down to Caucuses. Where is the Caucuses? I am not sure.
JI: The Caucuses, near Georgia, Ukraine.
LS: Oh, okay. So that would make perfect sense. So Im 99% European. Norway or Finland, Scotland and Ireland, they still put in Russia and Israel. They do trace some of it to Palestine, which, you know, okay.
TC: Thats cool.
LS: Yeah. It was very interesting, and its exciting when you get it because it comes with all the maps. When it starts, its just feet prints just going to the places where your ancestors went, which was like, wow. It was the most exciting thing Ive ever done. I tell everybody, if you havent done it and you have some questions, you need to try it out because you may be pleasantly surprisedor not.
And I found the most concentration of Emorys was in Maine. Thats the state where they all went. So that truly, truly wasbecause I hadntthere were no pictures, no nothing, just a name.
JI: Must have been a relief almost.
LS: It was because I always wanted to know, just to know. And people would say, Arent you curious? Yes, Im curious. But this was the best way to know without causing any problems. Only to find out he died in 97 anyway, which my mother said, Really? But my mother has already been married 60 years to my stepfather, who unfortunately the last 15 years has Alzheimers and he doesnt know anything, which is kind of sad.
And my sister that looked into it, there are many types of Alzheimers, and he has the one that particularly just affects your brain. So he could live, yeah. There are different kinds. Some will take you right away, and others, you just linger.
So shes on such a health-kick diet for her and her three sons. Shes worried about it coming down to them. And I would too, really, wow. In my family, the Jews lived to be 101, 102. It must be all the matzos. So it was a pleasure meeting you. And I hope, like I said, I didnt distract you with the non-Celtic.
TC: No, not at all. It was a pleasure meeting you, and I think we got a lot of good information. I think its interesting that, even though you werent Irish, you still had those customs and you still followed that. Â I find that, thats interesting in itself. It was a pleasure meeting you. I really appreciate your time.
LS: Oh, thank you. All you young people are so, ah, God.
TC: I really appreciate the time that you took to sit down with us for a few hours and just talk.
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