Grandma Rose talks to Mike, 1965: “It’s worth me a million dollars.”

Mike was in India in the Peace Corps. The family sent him recorded letters, some of which have been retained. This one, preserved by Reed, brings Grandma Maidenberg to life. Here is a transcribed excerpt:

Hello, Michael. I got to tell you again, I’m so happy for your letters. It’s worth me a million dollars. I’m praying every day I should see you coming back and Tooby get married. Then I’ll live and be happy. And please, Mikela, take good care of yourself, all you can, if you need any money, Grandma will send you. You just say the word and you’ll get it. For your birthday I’m gonna give you daddy money and he’ll put it in the bank for you. And you’ll come back well and happy, use it. What else can I say? When you got time, drop me a line. When you make a tape, say something to Grandma. I enjoy that very much. The wine, it will be waiting for you more than for anybody. I’ll store away the wine last year and this year for you. And I’ll make you shtrudel when you come back. I’ll make a banquet in Grandma’s house for you. You should only come back well and happy, and Toobela should get married and come with her husband, and we should all have a reunion. I mean this from the bottom of my heart, whatever I say. You should be well and happy. Goodbye dear, goodbye sweetheart. I kiss you. I love you. I love Reed and Toby, but you are so far away. I want you should come home I make you veranikas and wine and shtrudel. I’m going to have a banquet at Grandma’s house, with two maids. Take good care of yourself and come home and make Grandma happy, and all of us.


Grandma Maidenberg, Milt and Irma in conversation about the family, probably 1965

This is a wonderful, relaxed chat in which Grandma Rose remembers Milt going to school as a little boy. At 3:00 on the recording, she tells the story of the Horseshoe Curve, when Milt asked a conductor to wake him up to see the great railroad engineering feat, but Grandma thought the conductor was detaining him for traveling on an underpriced ticket. At 10:05 she remembers how Irma’s mother would mix “milchich and fleishig”, milk and meat, and she began to do the same thing. “So I gave up the kosher.”


An Interview with Tante Haika’s son Ed Caine, 1993

Ed was interviewed by his granddaughter Anne Karmatz. Ed’s memories of Tante Haika provide an insight into this strong woman, whose favorite nephew was said to be David Maidenberg. She probably bought David and Rosa to America by financing their passage. She also likely set David up as a peddler. David would visit her in Philadelphia, and she came to Marion on several occasions. Ed talks about immigrant life in Philadelphia.

Notes on Ed Caine interview, 1993 (PDF)


Frank Maidenberg Oral Interview, 1991

Frank, then 77, was recorded in Madison by a friend of Jill’s who was a skilled interviewer. There are about five hours of conversation, on five discs which can be accessed below. A detailed description of each disc can be found in this document:

Notes to go with Frank Maidenberg’s oral history, October 1991 Highlights (View PDF)

The interview is a wide-ranging look back at Frank’s life, and provides wonderful detail about growing up, starting the National China company, how Mom helped out, working with Pop in the store in Gas City, Indiana, the struggle of the Depression, service in World War II, dedication to his family and to his community of Marion, Indiana. There is sweet and offbeat detail, such as the mordant nicknames of each son. Who was the “pisher”? Who was the “tsvok” (nail)? Who was the “shtinker”? Who was the “shtimmer-kutter” (literally mute cat in Yiddish, meaning speech-impaired)? Listen to Disc two, or read about it in the notes.

DISC 1
Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 1

Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 2

DISC 2
Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 3

Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 4

DISC 3
Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 5

Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 6

DISC 4
Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 7

Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 8

DISC 5
Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 9

Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 10

Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 11