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 varenikes 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.

Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 1
Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 2
Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 3
Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 4
Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 5
Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 6
Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 7
Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 8
Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 9
Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 10
Frank Maidenberg Oral History: Audio Clip 11


Reed Maidenberg’s family sound archive

Reed invested a great deal of time preserving and assembling this archive, taken from a number of sources and devices now obsolete. His introduction:

Here is a link to a Dropbox folder with some audio gold in it: voices from the past and near past…reflections, observations, stories, anecdotes, memories.

Some of you may have time to browse and enjoy these, others will not, but I’m making them available to you in any case.

There are excerpts from tapes sent to Mike in India in 1965…live reports from the Palm Sunday tornadoes, during which time we recorded a tape, pretty interesting…Irma’s trip to Israel in 1986, and later on, her reflections on old age, very touching but always insightful.

Also the voices of Irma, Milt, young me, but also Grandma Rose, Ben, Jeanne, Mary Valinet, and many others…mostly clearly marked, and labeled.

There is audio of the memorial to Frank Maidenberg in 2012; the funeral service of Milt in 1996; and the memorial of Irma in 2010.

So here you go…you can listen on a computer or smart phone or portable device, or download, etc. Many options


“That A-Frame Cabin Where We’d Go To Play” : Lyrics and music by Reed, sung by Reed

Reed (April 2021): “I wish to present to the family my song about the A-Frame and the good gatherings around Thanksgivings we so enjoyed in Indiana. I originally wrote this for Uncle Frank’s tribute in Marion in 2012, but never realized it as a fully expressed work. Now I have, with the help of a professional studio here in Sonoma County, and the able assistance of other musicians. I wanted a legacy recording to present that people could download, play, and sing themselves; and remember some good times we all shared.”

As sung by Reed.    The lyrics.

Night sounds in Marion, Indiana, recorded in 2007 by Reed

Reed (2021 note): “The cicadas in the Midwest are making quite a racket, according to my friends there and phone videos they have sent. I remember summer nights in Indiana when it was 85° and humid, and the amazing sounds of the chittering of all kinds of bugs in the night. Yes, and the freight trains too, which crisscrossed the numerous rail lines in my home town. Some distant, some only 8 blocks away. They sounded their horns low as to not disturb the citizens, which makes for a mournful sound. I took a trip there in 2007 and brought a minidisc recorder with me with a stereo microphone. I set it up in the window as I went to sleep. This resulted in a pretty great 90 minutes of audio, that I often listen to to relax me. The faint barking of a neighborhood dog, the trucks out on the highway running through their gears, the bugs and the trains. It’s kind of a night symphony. I have edited this recording to reduce the instances of an occasional snore; car gunning its engine; airplane flying over, to the essence of the peaceful night sounds.”

The sounds.