Hill District memories
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Hill District memories

(Photo from Flash90)
(Photo from Flash90)

I just finished reading “New documentary recounts the Jewish history of one Pittsburgh neighborhood” in this week’s Jewish Chronicle. My husband and I plan to see this film. In fact, I told (a friend) who knows what memories in me will be revived, including how the IKS was a godsend to my dad (Hungary) and my mom, who immigrated from Russia.

I am now 83 and never have I given anyone an interview about my Hill District experiences. We were unable to “give” to the community, as we lived in Terrace Village (2087 Bentley Drive), which was like Section 8 subsidized housing. We had to move there after my late father went broke in his store for lending out too much credit to customers — and then came the Great Depression. I even remember President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicating a plaque on Elmore Square (up the hill from Bentley Drive) even though I was only a few years old at the time.

I was born in 1936, and went to Miller Elementary School from K through sixth, and then attended Fifth Avenue High School for a year and a half before we were financially able to rent a place and move to Squirrel Hill. Other memories I retain — other than the severe anti-Semitism I experienced daily from kids attending Catholic school before Jews were absolved of killing Christ — included the Roosevelt Theatre on Center Ave., Carnegie Library on Wylie Ave. and across the way was the Hebrew Institute. Thank God for the Irene Kaufmann Settlement where I took piano lessons from Mrs. Perlow, and tap dancing from Gertrude Belle, and learned to swim. Also, I still remember the shops: Hausmann’s Kosher Butcher Shop, Filner’s Bakery, the shoemaker on Center Ave., the police station, Liepack’s Drugstore and so many other memories. I wish over all of these years I had someone to share my memories with while I still have my “marbles” — or at least most of them.

Shirley Holtzman Schwartz | Pittsburgh

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