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Transcript: Norman C. Wolff, Jr.

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This is the Washington University Oral History Program series of recorded interviews by and for the Becker Medical Library of Washington University in St. Louis. Today is Thursday, October 26, 2006, and I am interviewing here in the CID School Building on Clayton Avenue. My name is Paul Anderson and my interview is with Mr. Norman C. Wolff, Jr., known as Tom Wolff, who is a grandson of Max A. Goldstein, founder of Central Institute for the Deaf. Mr. Wolff is the son of Max and Leonore Goldstein’s daughter Helen and her husband Norman C. Wolff, Sr.

Mr. Wolff has served on CID Board of Directors since 1971. So I want to say, first of all, thank you for agreeing to speak with me. We want to focus on Central Institute for the Deaf and your family’s contributions to it, which now include four generations of participation in the governance of the Institute.

You’re a life-long resident of St. Louis? Is that correct?


And you were in private business as a career?


Some facts, as I indicated earlier, of Dr. Goldstein’s life are well-known locally and Cathy Sarli, the former librarian of the Institute has prepared a resume of some of these events but if I say something wrong, don’t hesitate to break in on me and correct me.

Max Goldstein was born on April 19, 1870 to William and Hulda Goldstein of St. Louis. He graduated from Central High School (which is now Central Visual & Performing Arts High School in a different location) but he graduated in 1887 and he received his medical degree in 1892 from Missouri Medical College, which was one of the private medical schools that later became part of Washington University – until the university grandfathered all those folks in and declared them to be alumni. Max Goldstein chose otology as his area of specialty and he received further training in Vienna, then in the Austrian Hungarian Empire, from Adam Politzer, who is known as the Father of Otology, and Victor Urbantschitsch who was a proponent of aural training. This is the first of our pronunciation tests. It’s one of these things built right into the title of your grandfather’s publication as auralism and oralism and I’m wondering to your ear, is there any difference?

I don’t know – I hear the difference but I don’t—

It’s not something I readily pick up so I guess we won’t get hung up on this. Well anyway, your grandfather returned to the United States in 1896, and he applied the aural—

I think [he returned] in 1894.

OK, in 1894. And he applied the aural, (spells) a-u-r-a-l, based training practices to deaf children, first to the Sisters of St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf, all the while maintaining a private practice and serving as chair of Otology. He taught otology at a private medical school known as Beaumont Medical School, which is one of those late 19th century schools that were founded and then that later was purchased by St. Louis University – it merged with another school and then I think in 1903 it became St. Louis University School of Medicine. Anyway, I’m saying he was frustrated by lack of adequate training programs for the deaf and deaf educators in St. Louis and that led to the founding of the CID [Central Institute for the Deaf] in 1914. We’ll get to where that was. He also in 1896 founded the Laryngoscope, a medical journal that is still in publication and we have as part of our collection, at least a replica but I think but maybe we even have the original of the first issue. He edited and managed this journal until his death in 1941.

All right, Max Goldstein married your grandmother – and here we need a little pronunciation check – Leonore Weiner (pronounces Len-ore Wee-ner)?

Well, it’s Le-o-nore.



Lay-a-nor Why-ner. OK. And that was, through her life—

When people saw the name in print, they automatically – not always – but picked it up as Lenore, so much so that my sister who was first-born in my family was named Lenore. But my grandmother’s name is Leonore, (spells) L-e-o-n-o-r-e. I don’t know if that came from the famous Beethoven music called the “Leonore Overture,” but it was certainly appropriate because she was a serious devotee of music and as an adult was on the St. Louis Symphony Board [for] sixty-three years. She was very friendly with a lot of the soloists and guest conductors – among whom, of course, was Leonard Bernstein and we have some mail left where he wrote to her as “Dear Leonore III” because that was the most famous of the Leonore Overtures. So that’s really the correct pronunciation.

She was wonderfully trained for serving as an editor? She was an editor of the Laryngoscope?

Well, what happened was, when my grandfather died, I’m sort of surprised that nothing was prepared. After all, he had had a stroke in January of 1941, and died that summer – July in ’41 in Frankfort, Michigan. When my grandmother started to work with the attorney about his estate, the Laryngoscope was a possession. “Well what do we do with that and what’s it worth?” So, for technical purposes it was listed in the inventory of the estate at one dollar. There was no physical property. Everything else from an office standpoint was in his office which had been disbanded anyhow, except for his secretary. So, my grandmother hated to see it disappear so she decided she would run it with the assistance of my grandfather’s secretary, Mrs. Lutz, who had been by that time worked for my grandfather for some twenty-five years.

She was Pearl—

Pearl Lutz. And a marvelous lady. Dr. Theodore Walsh at Barnes was sort of the editor, really. My grandmother was editor or whatever you want to call it – publisher – just in name. But, it [the journal] surprisingly – after she had it for a while – started to make money, which it had never done in my grandfather’s time. It always ran into some debt, which he paid for. So, I think it’s a great thing that she did do it because then she sold it to Mrs. Lutz and she [Mrs. Lutz] kept it until she wanted to get rid of it, and she sold it to Dr. Ogura.

Joseph [H.] Ogura.

Joseph Ogura. And then, I don’t know the mechanics after that – I’m assuming after he died his family sold it to what is now known as the Triological Society, which was a mouthful to say – it was the Rhinological, Otological, Laryngological Society [ed. note: the American Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Society] – and they ran it for some time and here in St. Louis. Then they had a celebration in Florida for the hundredth anniversary of the Laryngoscope publishing – [to] which I was invited. At that time Dr. [Byron J.] Bailey told me that the journal was actually being distributed by Lippincott Publishing Company and that they had offered the Triological Society – this was in 1996 – three million dollars for it. Well, they sold it a few years later – I don’t know the price – but I think my grandfather would have had a chuckle.

It’s a marvelous credit to your grandmother who preserved that heritage. Just before we leave her interest in the arts, she also, with your grandfather, founded the St. Louis Art League.

Yes, well there were other people. They were one of the [families]. There were quite a few and if you look at the list of people, there were some pretty well-known names in the city. It’s my understanding that they did a lot of things to encourage young artists and had contests. It wasn’t only sculpture and painting and drawing, but I think they had poetry contests and other things. I don’t have the dates of its tenure, but I’m going to guess [it was] sometime in the twenties, maybe early thirties. It disbanded and I don’t know the actual reason, but I’m going to take a guess that because of another story that had been related to me. My grandfather had a falling out with a couple of people – one actually turned out to be a picture frame company in town here but they were also dealers in art. The reason is that there was a lot of commotion over the fact that the Art Museum was in Forest Park and in those days, not many people had automobiles and there was almost no way to get there unless you had a car. So, part of the group that my grandparents were a part of wanted to have [a] public service bus come through Forest Park and they could go to the Zoo, and they could go to the Art Museum and what not. But certain people who had more control, I guess they [thought] it would disturb the beauty of the park to have public service buses running through the park.

Which eventually they did. That’s a remarkable story. Back to a review of your grandfather’s early efforts. He was a founder of the Society of Progressive Oral Advocates, that’s (spells) o-r-a-l, in 1918, an organization devoted to oral education of the deaf, and then served as an editor of another serial publication, Oralism and Auralism, (spells) o-r-a-l and a-u-r-a-l, -ism – its official publication. And he founded the St. Louis League of Hard of Hearing, which is now known as the St. Louis Hearing—

It’s changed its name a couple of times. The funny thing about that is that for a long time I saw a building out on Manchester, west of Brentwood, Rock Hill Road, past that. “The St. Louis Hearing and Speech Center” or something like that. Anyway, I went by there one day – I had some time – and I just happened to go in there and I asked to see the director who was a very lovely lady that I’ve kept in touch with. And she said, “What can I do for you?” I said, “I want to know if your organization was ever known as the St. Louis League for the Hard of Hearing?” She said, “Yes, how would you know that? That’s a long time ago.” And I said, “Well, I have reason to believe that my grandfather started that.” She was kind of excited. She said, “You’ve really came at the right time.” I said, “Why?” She said, “We’re starting a planned program for our seventy-fifth year and we don’t know who started this organization.” So, I dug up some stuff— So it turned out that is what it was.

Good. History is useful, as we found out from time to time, despite what some people say. In 1933 your grandfather was awarded the Gold Medal by the American Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Society in recognition of his work in the education of deaf children. He got a St. Louis award and an honorary doctor of letters from Washington University. We’ll get some loop back to these times in our conversation to come. He died in 1941 at the age of seventy-one and your grandmother Leonore Goldstein died in 1971 at the age of ninety-six. Do you remember your father talking about medical education in St. Louis in the real early days?

My grandfather?

Yes. Your grandfather, yes

No, I really don’t and you asked in the [list of preliminary] questions what’s my first recollection and I’d have to say somewhere between three and three and a half – certainly at three and a half [years of age], I went through the 818 – then South Kingshighway – building before it was completed with him, which I think I said in the other tape there. One of the things that fascinated me was the elevator, because you could only operate it with a key. A person had to have a key to open the elevator and of course he had the key and we went up. And that’s one of the first recollections. I know I remembered him. I was aware of him before, but that certainly sort of starts it in my chronology of association.

In talking about the medical profession, did he ever say, “In my early days and such and such”?

No, not to us. Then the new building was opened in really [19]29, so I was four and he was fifty-nine. A lot of people would say [he was] an older man or getting on in years – and, I guess we, meaning my family – my mother, father, and sister and I – we had lunch at their house every Sunday all year long except when they were away. The talk wasn’t so much about what happened in the beginning – there were references about certain people. I remember him talking about when they built the first building, which was the one that was torn down. He decided that he wanted to do this and he came home – at that time his mother lived with him. His father had died. He came home and he said, “I have the first donation. Mrs. (I think it was) Edward Faust (it’s in the book, I think) has promised me five thousand dollars.” And his mother said, “Well, if she will give you five thousand dollars, so will I.” So I think the building cost around fifty-thousand dollars. We had 20 percent at dinner time. He would relate stories about early situations. Probably they came up when we were talking about people who were friends. I didn’t know and I guess I wasn’t old enough or mature enough to ask him what made him go into medicine or what made him go to the ear, nose & throat. I do know, of course, that he went to Vienna. But I’m told that that wasn’t out of the ordinary for families who had their children who wanted to be in medicine, and had the wherewithal to send them. I always just say that I think his father should be given a lot of credit for letting a twenty-three or -four year-old young guy go to Vienna, Austria, by himself.

In any case as is sometimes the case with families, there wasn’t a family history of hearing loss?

No, I never heard it. I never heard it. I know my grandmother was on the Tuberculosis Society here for many, many years because my grandfather had a sister that died of TB; and she had a cousin that died of TB. But, I never heard anybody talk about anybody in the family [being deaf]. Certainly, young people – they all get a little older, you get a little deaf, although I don’t think he ever did.

What about the Viennese experiences? Did that come up in discussion?

Yes, it came up because not only did he study with these two doctors, [but also] he was very interested in the arts and music and, of course, there was a lot of—

That’s right. That was the Vienna of Gustav Mahler.

That’s right. And the interesting thing was he didn’t live long enough for me to ask what he must have thought of Freud. He had a friendship or an acquaintance of a man – and I tried to get information from the family, but they don’t have anything. It was a well-known, I think, analyst [or] psychiatrist by the name of Gregory Zilboorg, who had written several books on the mind and they were friends. And Gregory Zilboorg was a photographer – took several pictures of my grandfather. And from other little experiences I think he did believe in psychology [and] psychiatry. I don’t know that the first time, but Helen [S.] Lane came as a psychologist.

I do know that, and there was already a psychologist named Max [F.] Meyer.

Well, Max Meyer I was told only a few years ago, had been at the University of Missouri and had a problem where he left there and they were friends; but I think my grandfather hooked him in, corralled him into being here because of the friendship. I didn’t know him. I didn’t know him.

Before we leave the 1890s, your grandparents were married in 1895. Do you know how they met?

No, I asked my mother one time and she thinks that it might have had something to do with a concert, which would have been appropriate. Actually, he was on the Symphony Board before she was and the story is that the President of the symphony – with whom they were friendly – complained in a nice way, “Max, we haven’t seen you at a meeting lately.” Well, he was very busy so he said, “why don’t you put my wife on the Board.” So that’s how that came about.

Now, her father was a rabbi?

No, his mother’s father was a rabbi and I wrote to a pretty well-known Reform temple in New York and they wrote back and said they had no record. I probably could still write to the Hebrew Union College, which is also the archives in Cincinnati. I think when he came, he might have been retired. I don’t know. From my father’s side, I found out that his side, in particular, that they didn’t talk about the past that much. Their past, yes. But not their family’s. When they sold the research building, somebody found – and Kim Readmond [ed. note: Communications Coordinator at CID] sent me – a program about this size, eight pages, of William Goldstein’s funeral service. The best part about it was that in the back of it was a biography. This man arrived in this country at age thirteen with his father and one or two sisters, all of whom perished from yellow fever. Here he was in this country, a thirteen year-old boy. One way or another he came to St. Louis and he made enough money and he sent for his mother and his brother. And they came and he and his brother went to work and then they finally started their own business and did very well.

Were your grandparents religiously observant?

They were what you would call part of the Reform Judaism and his father was a charter member of Shaare Emeth and laid the cornerstone when the temple was at Vandeventer and Lindell. And my grandfather laid the cornerstone when it was in University City at Delmar and Trinity and—

Which is now the CASA [ed. note: St. Louis Conservatory and School for Arts] or the Webster University—

Music [ed. note: the Community Music School of Webster University] I have to say that one of my grandfather’s closest friends was Julius Gordon, the rabbi, but I don’t know that he went to temple much. (Laughs)

Well we’ve already mentioned Pearl Lutz. She was on my list of questions. She lived until 1985.

That’s about right.

Well, when he was working with the St. Joseph’s School, where was that located?

Downtown, somewhere. [In] my grandmother’s interview – it might be in there. It talks about how she would pick him up here in the horse and buggy.

[We’ll] mentally bookmark that as something to refer [to] and St. Joseph’s School still exists and it is out in the county now and it too is an oral [school].

The interesting thing was – part of his doing this – was also to convince the Sisters of St. Mary’s to use the oral method and the [Sisters of] St. Joseph’s didn’t give up the sign language until the mid-’30s. This was like a workshop or a lab or a place for him to go.

But in addition to all this, he was in general practice so he had lots of interests in other aspects of medical practice and study. I understand the Central Institute for the Deaf began at the Goldstein residence on Westminster Place.

Southeast corner of Westminster and Vandeventer.

I’m going to click open my notebook because this is part of the “show and tell” and we’ve already alluded to the book and the book is I’m sure Helen S. Lane, The History of the Central Institute. We owe a debt of thanks to the late Dr. Lane for this really wonderful work and the pictures that it shows so that people who are using this interview got to refer back to the source of some of this information. There’s the house pictured on page five and it’s my understanding that— Does that building still exist?

No, my grandmother owned that up until about ’65, I guess. It was sold and there was a legal problem and it almost came back in her hands, which we didn’t want it to. But then whoever bought it – I don’t know if they sold it to St. Louis U. [University] – but it’s been torn down for some time.

As the picture even shows, suggests by the sign on the front that the first floor of the building was used as a consulting office?

One side was the waiting room and the other side was the doctor’s office.

And then in time he built a building in the rear of the property to serve as a hospital. And there was a woman, I guess, who had a long association with deaf education named Ruth Paxson. Do you remember her?

She had been his secretary [or] nurse – I never knew her. I think vaguely I had met Miss [Ethel] Hilliard, who I think followed her. The only one I really knew was— He always called Mrs. Lutz by her last name.

Just Lutz?

Just Lutz. Right.

This wasn’t a sign of disrespect—

Oh no. She, I think, was very fond of him and worshipped him and what not and she actually could sign his signature and you couldn’t tell the difference. I know there were times where he would say to her, “Send my daughter a check” for something and my mother wouldn’t know. Maybe by the thickness of the pen, of the ink or something, and she used to kid him. She’d say, “Did you sign that or did you have Lutz do it?”

They could fool the bank. We have this artifact here that is also reproduced in Helen Lane’s book. It’s the seal of Central Institute for the Deaf and it has the serpent, and a cup and two books, and I guess that was his design?

Well, yes and no. I not sure if it’s the chalice, as he used to call it, or the serpent was part of the emblem or logo for the Triological Society. And I think he sort of adapted this with the books for learning. As part of the school. And, then the circle around it with the name. He also, in the art side of his life, was a collector of prints and in the early days, collectors used to have what they called a “collector’s mark” and they had usually a steel dye and they would mark the back of an etching or a drawing with their little collector’s mark.

Kind of like branding a head of cattle, right?

Branding, right. It’s to show who owned it. It was part of the provenance of the picture. He and another gentleman put together a whole book of collector’s marks. This basically was his mark and in the center part – or underneath here somewhere – there was a very, very small square or diamond [or] triangle and it had the letters M-A-G. So, he liked that, obviously, because I think he got the idea – part of it from the Triological Society and he elaborated on it with the school and then also did the collector’s mark.

Just about the time that World War I broke out in Europe and we weren’t yet involved as a country but it certainly tore up the world that he had known as a medical student. You’ve already alluded to the fact that back here he was thinking about and raising funds for a permanent building outside the home.

He was in service – he was a Major in the medical corps and was stationed in Fort Dodge, Iowa, for [the] better part of a year.

So that would have been the entry of the U.S. in the war.

[Nineteen] seventeen.

In 1917. So, maybe simultaneously he was thinking about a new building.

The new building – what then was the new building – was done in 1916.

Here we have – from Helen Lane’s book on page thirteen – a picture of the [building]. So where exactly was it located?

Right behind the other building – what they called 818 building – right behind it.

I can see little bits of it.

There wasn’t twenty-five, thirty feet in between.

Helen Lane’s book suggests that it existed until the time of her writing [the book]. Would this have been the picture on 3B Kingshighway and then the property that—

Set back.

I see. So that allowed the room for the construction, and had really a broad program and included adult lip-reading and—

That was, I guess, part of the clinic.

So, many of the elements of the later institutes were involved in that building. So, where and when – I don’t remember it in 1980 – so it was already demolished.

It was hidden. It was hidden. It only was destroyed just a year or so before the new building was built.

I was just not observant.

It had to be destroyed, so the new building could be put up.

Maybe then I did see it – I’m certain then I must have seen it. I just didn’t think of it as a structure that was earlier than the one that is still standing. So, at any rate, it was completed in 1917 and you remember it, as I might have had I been more observant.

I remember it as being the old building – the original building – and it didn’t have a front entrance any more like that.

Yes, they probably modified it with a connecting passageway.

It was like a patio – there was just—

And then, by the end of the decade he was buying additional real estate and bought what was known for a while as The Annex.

Where the highway is was a street called West Papin and on Kingshighway [Blvd.] – right across on West Papin – was a three-floor, three-story, probably a six-family [building].

This is again [in] Helen Lane’s book, on page seventeen.

They referred to that as The Annex. That served several functions. At one time it was the home of the St. Louis League for the Hard to Hearing and it was also where they conducted classes for teachers in training from Washington U [University], and it also served as a dormitory when they needed the space.

Later on we have testimony about how there was damage from a tornado and everybody had to get out. It had severe damage to that structure. It was a typical St. Louis three-level flat – so originally [it was] a residential building. Judging from the Chevy parked in front of it from, I would say, the fifties, it must have existed—

I don’t know when that [photo] was taken. You can tell by the car in the front.

There’s a two-tone Chevy is parked there in front of it. At any rate, the original permanent building that we’ve already just identified, was not only multi-purpose but it also then opened the possibility of innovation in equipment for the deaf. From that era we’ve got identified the Simplex Tube and a picture of two little girls that is now on permanent display at this building. Even before electronics, I suspect, your grandfather and his associates were thinking about ways that the equipment could be improved. And then some of the ideas were brought back – again from Dr. Lane’s book. There were ideas spun off from the accordion and I see a picture of— Apparently Urbantschitsch in Vienna had a harmonica that had a kind of central accordion-like thing and then your grandfather adapted it still further in the early research that was done in that building.

Well he was, I think, pretty innovative. He used to always try and make something out of something or make it different or improve it. One of his friends who was a printer by the name of Lear – again, he called him by his last name, Lear. He printed all my grandfather’s stationery, his bills. He printed a lot of stuff for the school and the two of them together one day – my grandfather found an old sewing machine with a treadle and they bought this and he and Lear worked out a deal to make a printing press out of it.

Really? In other words, the power mechanism was—

You’d have to be able to push the paper under it at the right time.

It was basically a printing press like they had in the colonial days – Ben Franklin might have operated it except it had this auxiliary power mechanism. Then we’ve alluded to the time of the tornado, which I think it was 1927 and they moved all the pupils down the road to a hotel—

Kingsway Hotel.

One of the reminiscences said [the] Buckingham [Hotel].

That’s right – but it was called the Buckingham then – it became the Kingsway.

It became the Kingsway.

[It’s] also gone.

Then there was the fire there – it was a harrowing experience. But by this time there was fund-raising underway for the 818 South Euclid, then Kingshighway, Building, and that was under construction and completed in Nineteen- —


Twenty-nine. And that [building], you say, that you remember when it was in its very early stage. Again from Helen Lane’s book, page twenty-nine, we have other pictures of it. In this case it’s this big structure and then maybe that [building] peeping behind it in this particular image – maybe it was—

No. No.

That was still another building. It was this structure that we see in this image.

I won’t say “no” for sure, but it seems to me that the original building was not as long as the 818 [building]. It depends on when this [photograph] was taken. This was taken pretty early – look at the cars. Behind the school on West Papin were two apartment [buildings], maybe more – but there were two apartment buildings that he wanted to buy and he proposed this a few months after his stroke, which was probably the last Board meeting of the year and they turned him down.

[This was] in 1941?

Right. He was pretty upset by it because he was then talking about having a research building right there. Up in Michigan he said to my grandmother, he said, “I think they must have thought I’d lost my marbles” because of the stroke. But he said, “I’m going to try when I got back – I’m going to try one more time. If they won’t let me do it,” he said, “I’m going to buy those buildings myself.” But he died. The buildings would have cost six thousand dollars. I don’t know if it was for one or two, probably one.

In 1929 the building that I remember from the eighties – but the picture in Dr. Lane’s book has a living room, and then a big spacious lobby that I think I remember, and in this particular picture shows him on a sofa conferring with somebody. [ed. note: images are on page twenty-nine of Dr. Lane’s book]

The Board. [In] that [photo] – he was in conference with somebody – his office was over here and over at this end was a very small little living, sitting room. When I say “entertain” somebody I mean have a social minute or so, something like that. But I was at Board Meetings with my mother and there were maybe fifteen, twenty people at the most and they would sit around this lobby, and that was the Board.

And, throughout this time the innovation in the equipment continued. Here’s a picture of an impressive thing called the OSISO [ed. note: OScillation Instantaneous Scope Optical efficiency]. I don’t know how much is involved in the OSISO because it sits on a big cabinet like a piece of furniture one might have had in the room and then there’s an electronic apparatus above it. I don’t know [if] that instrument was preserved.

I don’t know.

It’s probably one of those things—

Is that thing still around. I don’t know that it is. I’ve seen it before – I’ve seen the picture before.

We welcome a visitor. Can you give us your name?

Robin Feder: I’m Robin Feder. I’m the Executive Director [of Central Institute of the Deaf].

I thought I recognized you when you came in. Thank you for allowing us to use the conference room for this conversation. At any rate, you don’t remember these things either.

Feder: That furniture is in our lobby. There is some of it still there.

Yes, I think it’s still there.

OK. Well, your grandfather had a great gift for friendships and apparently he made a key contact with a pioneering radio guy by the name of Charles E.(Bud) Harrison.

Bud Harrison, yes. He was a delightful guy.

And from the News Notes of Spring 1988, there’s a memorial article [that] tells about how he was early involved in radio and then had operated studios. So he in a respect was the first technical otologist for the Institute.

What the arrangement was – I don’t know where they met – but my grandfather had a great deal of fondness [for or] an opinion of him and he gave him some space on the second or third floor of the 818 Building. In exchange – he didn’t charge him rent – and in exchange for his doing recordings for the school – speech and all this sort of stuff – and they remained friends throughout.

Both your grandparents were – all the time they had ways of fundraising. It was a strategy involving colored index cards.

I saw that. I never was aware of that. I can’t say – I remember their using cards for soliciting people. I wasn’t aware of the color coding according to somebody’s wealth. Could I comment on it?

Sure. Yes.

You asked about the colored index cards. He charged every patient the same and it wasn’t that he charged the well-to-do man less or nothing, it’s that he charged him the same. If somebody else couldn’t afford it, they didn’t pay. But, the great story is – and I think I may have said it in there – was that Mr. Johnson (I don’t remember if it is Andrew Johnson, but we are talking about the Johnson who was the head of International Shoe) was in his patient chair and my grandfather was probably soliciting him for the 818 Building.

It’s the same Johnson who is commemorated in the Rand Johnson Surgical Wing of Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

I think so.

It is enveloped into the modern in-patient pavilion.

His response to my grandfather was that he was that “You are the only doctor who doesn’t charge me more because of my name.” He gave, I think, fifty thousand dollars to the school. He charged everybody the same unless they couldn’t [afford it]. One of the stories in that respect was that as a young boy, David [P.] Wohl came at the age of about fourteen to my grandfather and he said, “My father is sick.” It turned out his father had a very serious mastoid problem, which of course you don’t have today anymore. He took care of Dave Wohl’s father. The boy wanted to know how much he charged. He said, “I want you to charge me the same as everybody. My father doesn’t want anything for free.” Dave Wohl came to see my grandfather every Saturday and gave him a dollar – for I don’t know how long.

The Wohls were also shoe manufacturers.

Yes, but that was when Dave Wohl was fourteen.

This was the later flier who died in combat [ed. note: during World War II].

He was a friend of mine. I was with Dave Wohl, Jr. the night before he left St. Louis.

He is commemorated with a portrait that hangs in the—

In the Wohl Hospital.

In the Wohl Hospital. It’s a memorial hospital dedicated to his memory. His parents were David and Carlyn Wohl and they have been magnanimous in many, many respects including Central Institute for the Deaf. I think they were benefactors.

What’s interesting – they were friends for years and he once said to my grandfather, “I would give my wealth for your knowledge.” He had no schooling to speak of. He went to work [as] a young boy.

In 1931 there was an affiliation struck for the first time with Washington University and that was the affiliation of the teacher’s college with the University College of Washington University which was and still is the night school. So, do you recall any details?


It was just the beginning of—

Of a relationship.

Looking over the list of the people involved – of course, there was your grandfather along with the head of the Department of Education, Professional Frank Wright, but also on the list is a very notable person in the Institute’s history, Julia [M.] Connery. She was already the principal of Central Institute. I know you remember her.

Yes. I know I’ve said it – I’ve said [that] she intimidated me – just her mere presence. She was a rather big woman, not fat but just a big woman [who] wore a black dress and always about that far off of the floor and she sort of scooted around.

You mean the hemline.

Hemline, yes. And had a belt and always had a ring of keys hanging down on her belt. She was very – I thought – intimidating. But she was a very nice person and she had a great regard for my grandfather and for the work at the school and evidently was well-thought of nationally and had retired in the spring of [19]41. But when my grandfather died then the Board asked her to come back and she did for one more year.

I see.

She was also very stern and [in] one of your questions you asked about the sign language in the school. It was not permitted at all and if a child was caught using it, [the child] was reprimanded.

Maybe that approach wouldn’t used [today].

I don’t think it’s wrong [when used] at the right place. I think the policy around here is that you can use it but not in the classroom. [To Robin Feder] Can’t use it anywhere? Well, they do.

Robin Feder says, “No.”

Feder: No. The children might gesture but they wouldn’t use any sign language here.

I’m surprised.

Feder: They might use informal gestures.

Oh, I thought they could. I guess I’ll have to start something. (Laughter)

At any rate, there was an advisory board for the teacher training program and I imagine that therefore became one of the institutional structures that remained in the long history at CID. By this time we had the Great Depression and there was a certain notable impact of the financial crises at the Institute, was there not?

I would imagine. I don’t recall.

Cathy Sarli [ed. note: Sarli was the librarian at CID] has recorded for my benefit that the school closed early in 1932 to save on money and the teachers’ salaries were reduced. I mean this was common across the [board]. Everybody who worked, particularly in non-profit institutions, and if you weren’t working for profit making institutions you probably just lost your job – but even your grandmother, Leonore, was advised that maybe this wasn’t the moment to do fundraising. That’s one of the stories that have come [down]. By this time we are into the era of your personal memory. Do you have any personal impressions of St. Louis and how it differed from [now]. We had, for example, the streetcars and it was a much different city where they burned soft coal and things like that. Does anything spring to mind?

My father certainly wouldn’t have said [that] we were rich – we weren’t what you call rich. If I would come home and I would say something about another kid – I would say, “He was a poor kid.” My dad used to edit it by saying, “You mean poorer?” I’m almost embarrassed to say how we lived during the Depression, but values were always foremost in my family. If I went to the ball game with my father, he would buy me a Coke and a bag of peanuts, but there was never any consideration with coming home, or even having a hot dog. Or if I did have a hot dog, I didn’t get the peanuts. [There was] nothing about coming home with souvenirs, pennants or banners. The game was the treat, was the fun and the experience that you remembered. When I was old enough I went to the ballpark on the streetcar. I went to school on the streetcar. In grade school I lived off of Waterman and Skinker. I went to Delmar/Harvard in University City on Delmar and I walked to school [in the] summer and winter and I went home for lunch – and I walked.

What line of work was your father in?


When did he marry your mother?


Did your mother have any career training outside of the home?

No, my mother was an only child. She was rotten spoiled [and] the “apple of her father’s eye.” She was very bright. She went to Mary Institute and got all kinds of prizes, traveled to Europe with them. She was born in 1896. I would say she must have gone at least five, six times. She lived in this highly educated, cultural family. As you know, my grandfather had a great education. My grandmother was born in Tipton, Missouri and came to St. Louis for better schools with her father and mother [and] two sisters. In those days you graduated in what was then the tenth grade. They both spoke about three languages, could read three or four languages.

What were the languages?

German. They were both born in Missouri but their families had been German. My mother didn’t speak English until she went to kindergarten.

So German was the language of the family.

They spoke French, some Italian.

And your grandfather published even some of his work in French.

Right. I thought in German too, but I may be wrong.

No, in both. The Max Goldstein papers collection in the Becker Library attests to this and that he looked to literature and promoted the translation of one French scholar, as I recall.

I think a good percentage of the books of his library that you now have are in German.

That’s right. The Depression also brought the talk via WPA Project – the Works Progress Administration project – of what they call “the speed highway” which is, of course, the bane in some respects of CID’s history [ed. note: the highway eventually built become what is now Interstate 64 and is directly south of the CID property]. So planning at least started already.

As kids my grandparents took us to Michigan and I can remember being on the phone calling him saying, “When are we going to Frankfort?” He said, “I have to wait until all this business with the road is settled.” They wouldn’t leave until they knew what was going on.

So that involved demolition not only of buildings your grandfather was interested in, but a lot of others I would imagine.

On West Papin, behind the Annex, were houses. I think some were probably duplexes. About halfway down on the south side of the street was a building – and it’s in the history [of CID] book. He had a museum. He had all kinds of nature – stuffed birds, Indian relics – it was museum, a miniature (what we call) Jefferson Memorial [ed. note: now part of the Missouri History Museum].

A natural history museum.

Natural history. One of the last years that I was up in Michigan with him, we went around collecting butterflies and then we had a jar, what they called a “kill jar.” You’d put them into the kill jar and put the lid on them and there was something in there (whistles) and they were gone. We would then go to the lumber yard and buy some cedar wooden strips and put a channel in it and lay the body in there and we would mount these things. They were in the museum. Also, his medical office was there.

In the museum?

No. Down the street.

Down the street.

In between the museum and the Annex. There were two or three houses.

Now the museum wasn’t constructed specifically for that purpose?

No, no, it was a house and there had been a Board member, Mrs. Levy, that died and her family donated the money to turn this thing into a museum.

In your conversation already you’ve alluded to Michigan and [it’s] my understanding this was Frankfort, Michigan. I grew up in Michigan and that’s almost to the Sleeping Bear Dunes on the Michigan—

South of there and I went on Sleeping Bear Dunes with him and another man that had a big position at Washington U., whose name I can’t think of – it’ll probably come to me. He was visiting up there. We had a car – not my grandparent’s – but at the Dunes the car had balloon tires.


And he would ride around the dunes. We were south of there – we were just north of Manistee.

Frankfort, I remember, because it was the terminus for—

The car ferry.

For the Ann Arbor Railroad, which—

That’s right. Toledo.

There was a car ferry that went across to the Upper Peninsula. There was a port called Manistique.

That’s right.

Not to be confused with Manistee.

That’s right. On the other side [of the Peninsula]. Manistique, Manitowoc, and Kewanee.

Those were—

Indian names.

Here we have a picture from Helen Lane’s book of the Indian relics in the museum. Did he do the collecting himself or did he acquire them?

Yes. He acquired a lot of it.

Would they have been Native American artifacts from this particular region?

No, mostly the West, Southwest.

So he traveled out there as well?

Well I think some of that stuff he bought at auctions.

Let’s swing back to research. I have a quotation attributed to him where he pointed to the fact that the various functions of the human body were associated with certain areas of the brain. He said, “We are approximating a new and a real science in cerebral location that gives promise of one of the most important advances in medical science.” That was from 1933. Did he have any evidence of that or was it a prediction.

I would say – I’m guessing – prediction because he predicted a lot. A lot of it [was] based on wishful thinking.

I see.

Well that’s part of his being a dreamer, I think.

Now, part of the business community that helped him out, and there was what was then known – and maybe I should be corrected – is it still known as the Board of Managers?


It’s still known as the [Board of Managers] – Robin Feder nods “yes.”

Feder: That’s right.

It’s an old-fashioned term in medical [organizations]. The [St. Louis] Children’s Hospital had a Board of Managers.

I don’t know but I’m guessing from a semantic standpoint a Board of Directors is a corporation.


And technically CID, I guess you’d say, is a corporation but that’s not the way he would have looked at it.

One of the longest serving persons and then other members of his own family served as well, Edward Meissner [ed. note: interviewer is referring to Edwin B. Meissner, Sr., who served as president of the CID Board of Managers from 1936-1956]. Do you remember Mr. Meissner?

Oh sure.

What did he do for a living?

He controlled St. Louis Car Company. They were the manufacturers of streetcars and it was a very big business, of course. I would assume that they also made cars for trains.

I think that the [Missouri] Historical Society has pictures of the big workshops where they made them and it was a huge business.

Twenty-five hundred – no, it was more than that – it was up on North Broadway – way up.

One of those industries that just—


Disappeared until the age of the Metro Link but they buy the Metro Link cars now from overseas, I think.


Alright, there were other people active in the ’30s; we’ve mentioned some of them already. There was a Mildred [A.] McGinnis who was a teacher.

Mildred McGinnis was one of a kind. And was she head of the Speech Department at one time?

Feder: Yes.

She wrote books. She was a very sharp lady. Very sharp lady.

Robin Feder concurs on that. I’m just trying to get the sources into the [recorded interview]—

I think she might have lasted a little too long, but she was very astute without making a big thing of it.

Our son had a speech problem when he was two, two and a half. He didn’t speak – he would say gibberish and our daughter would know what he said. And so my mother said, “You must take him to CID.” Finally we did and McGinnis took him in charge and it was a great experience. We sat in her office in the old building over there, and he was playing with stuff and finally after about ten minutes she said to my wife and me, “Now we’re going to work and I will ask you to remain quiet.” So [she said,] “Peter, come over,” and he came over and she started to tell him how nice [a] boy he was and everything and he sat on her lap and everything and she said, “Peter, would you please go close the door?” And he said, “No.” This went on for four or five times. Finally she stood up and she took him by the arm and walked him to the door and made him close the door, at which point he went [into] a temper tantrum. And then he realized that she had been very loving and nice to him, so eventually he came back to her and then he knew who was boss. He had developed more serious problems. But she had her finger right on the thing. I couldn’t say enough about her.

Her roommate was Kitty Moore. And Kitty Moore had a deaf child, Ben, who was in the school. They lived together; these three people lived together. Then Kitty Moore left and went to Atlanta. I think she either started a school or she was very instrumental in starting the school there. [She] married, remarried. But the teachers in the school then were – I’m sure it wasn’t fun for them to, as you said, take a salary cut. But I bet you they didn’t lose one teacher. I don’t know. It was a close family.

There was a loyal, family relationship.

And they had a school nurse. [Agnes] Loesche. Her name was Miss Loesche. Every one of these people were characters sort of in their own way, but it was a family. It really was a family.

At some point the Institute hired a very distinguished scientist, Rafael Lorente de Nó.

We used to refer to him – maybe it was because we couldn’t say it all as kids – but we used to refer to [him] as Dr. Lorente.

Well, that’s the Spanish way. What did he specialize in?

The book will tell you more than I can tell you. It was pretty heavy stuff. And he ended up at, I think, the University of Tucson or the University of Arizona.

Arizona, at Tucson, yes.

And one of his papers in the Laryngoscope, I was told, was the one paper that the Laryngoscope for years kept getting requests for copies of. I know my grandfather met him in Europe, but I don’t know how or what [the circumstances were]?

He was Spanish then? I know – virtually certain – we have monographs by Lorente in [the Archives].

He lived at The Annex. He had an apartment. My mother went to the train station to get him, with my grandmother. And he gets off of the train and he has a wife. Nobody knew he was coming with a wife. (Laughs)

In those days did it make a difference with the salary one would offer, whether you had a family or not?

Well, they just had an apartment ready for him for one person.

I’m told there developed a tradition where your grandfather’s birthday on the nineteenth of April was celebrated in a special way. Can you tell us about that?

Yes. As a family we always had dinner at their house and then we would come down here and the kids performed a play – probably from a nursery rhyme or maybe a comic strip or something – but every child participated. That was the purpose – that every child would participate. Somebody just hit a triangle or banged cymbals, but every child participated.

I’m told, the script tells me that he had a favorite song about happiness, right?

I don’t know.

“I want to be happy, if I can’t be happy, until I make you happy too?”

That could be.

We need not break out in song because of that, at any rate. Another very distinguished, long-serving person and ultimately his successor was [S.] Richard Silverman. He was already here in the ’30s. Is that right?


And the story is doubtless documented – I know it’s documented in the News Notes – do you have any particular memories of [Silverman]?

I remember that in the late 30s – maybe [thirty]-seven or [thirty-]eight or something, I’m not sure of the exact date – that Dick Silverman was offered the job to head the School for the Deaf in Texas – a state school. And the prime reason for his move – I think he had a child, a young child – was money, salary. My grandfather persuaded him to stay, pretty much on the basis that it would be his recommendation that when his time came that he would be his successor. Facts are facts – that happened.

I was very friendly, comfortable with Dick and Sally and she was a teacher at the time.

Sally Silverman?


She was a teacher at the Central Institute for the Deaf?


In 1939 there was a very special twenty-fifth anniversary party and there was some elaborate preparations.

In the summer before they went to Michigan, I remember being out at their house and my grandfather came home and said that he had made arrangements to rent Kiel Auditorium. And my mother and my grandmother thought he had lost his mind. “What are you going to do with that?” “We’re going to have a celebration and it’s open free to the public.” His ace in the hole was that he invited Helen Keller who came. They were very good friends. Part of it, actually – her part was actually, I believe, broadcast nationally. One of the people who heard part of it was Eddie Cantor. Eddie Cantor had a St. Louis connection – very strong St. Louis connection – with Arthur Baer of Stix, Baer & Fuller. I think he sent a check, not a blockbuster, but [a check]. It was a big evening. Around the time that the main speaker, Helen Keller, was talking you’d look up and the balcony was half full. So, people came and he was proven right again. But it was a happy time. It was an important mark for the school.

You mentioned Eddie Cantor. He was one of the superstars of radio at the time and performed on into the television days. I remember Eddie. There’s a story where your grandfather taught Helen Keller to dance.

The story is that he taught her to dance the two-step, or whatever they call it, at a convention in Boston at the Copley Plaza.

As I said they were very good friends. She visited their house when they lived both at this house on Westminster and then after Westminster really became an office and the school part and then they had another house that the parents had owned at 4060 Washington, which is also torn down. And she came, of course, with Anne Macy – Anne Sullivan Macy. My grandfather would – showing off to my mother – tell my mother to recite something, maybe the Gettysburg Address or something, and Helen Keller would respond and then he would say to my mother, “Say it in French.” And my mother could speak to her in German and Helen Keller picked up the language variation immediately.

Because it was signed into her hand?

Signed into the hand and also sometimes in the mouth.

I’ve seen pictures of her with Anne Sullivan Macy. But in any case we had proof of an extraordinary intellect.

She spoke or understood three or four languages – certainly three or four languages. I remember her writing that Anne Sullivan basically went blind, and Helen Keller said, “Now I can help her,” because she took care of her needs and helped her in her last days.

Of all the things that your grandfather collected, the one, of course, that is most associated with the CID are the hearing devices. Can you recall how those were amassed?

I think some of them were accidental. He knew a lot of ear, nose and throat doctors in this country and he had a great relationship with several of them. There was a man in Philadelphia, Chevalier Jackson, who was a very close friend and also wrote for the Laryngoscope, and he was a collector of stuff. In fact, not too long ago, he had a collection of things that he took out of people’s ears. It’s in a medical museum in Philadelphia. But he just would casually pick them up. He collected too many things, but he did a pretty good job with them.

Well, did some of that collecting go on in Europe too, along with the books?

Oh yes. If you look at the interview with my grandmother from the hospital, when they would land in, for instance, England, of course you’d land in Southampton then you’d take the train up to London. He would go from the train station to a bookstore. And come home and as my grandmother said, “Just filthy.” It was always the second-hand bookstore.


And this one in particular had nothing to do with medical stuff – it was all art and English history and that sort of thing. The interesting thing about his collecting art was that he knew about the artist, he knew about the painters. It gave him a better understanding or appreciation of their traits and their techniques. He had an enormous library, other than what you have.

Yes. I think some of the library came to us for reasons – I think really good ones – there were many things that were worthy publications, but they weren’t considered rare and I think they were interspersed among the—

He had the library here. What you got came from the Research Building, which had been his library, but the library at home – there were books in almost every room and mostly on the second floor. He had no – that I can remember – no order of anything. Travel books he would probably have in one thing. If he wanted to show you something he knew exactly where to go and get it and show it to you. A lot of kids when they were nine, ten years old— Today the education is so much better – they’re more exposed, you’d hear of Rembrandt. We knew of artists that had funny names – Pieter Bruegel. Who ever heard of Peter Bruegel? But he had funny characteristics and he’d show you this and you got a kick out of it. You’d say something about, “Show me another Bruegel.” It was pretty exciting to go there.

Ultimately these collections were dispersed in various manners. I understand the Indian relics went to the Missouri Historical Society?

Everything in the museum, as far as I know, went to the Historical Society. In fact, somebody called me a few years ago – a terrific guy, unfortunately he left and went to the Smithsonian, so he was a pretty good guy. He asked me to help him with some of the Indian stuff. My grandfather had a code that he would put on the back of a picture or objects of art. He had a letter code.

That’s not the same thing as the mark that you told me about?

No, no and he would tell you what he paid for it.

I see.

So they wanted to know if I would give them the answer to the code, which, of course, I was willing to do. You had a word and each letter represented a number. For instance, the word had no duplicate numbers; there were no two “As” or anything. His word was “blacksmith.” So “B” was one and then he would use instead of the “H” for a zero, he would use “X.”

I see.

So if you saw a picture that had “BXX” on it, it was a hundred dollars. Or, if you saw something that had “BK” and then 2 small “Xs” – the two “Xs” were just cents. They wanted to know about the value of some of this stuff. They were making an inventory of this stuff.

It’s probably good – part of the provenance that they maintain in the museum records. Well, for all of this, Max Goldstein was also a sports fan. He had a particular love for wrestling.

Wrestling and football.

Tell me about the wrestling. First of all, where was the wrestling arena?

Kiel Auditorium.

Kiel Auditorium.

On the other side.

The old demolished [side].

He went with a cousin – a different kind of a guy. He was married to my mother’s cousin and they had no children and his name was C.B. Leers. C.B. was also handy with tools and helped him when he built the trailer.

We sort of skipped over that, but we have to return to that one.

The other thing he built – he did with the museum and the trailer – the other thing he built I don’t know if it’s recorded in [Helen Lane’s book], I think it might be – he built a full-scale doll house for the kids at school that was electrified.



Full-scale meaning that the children could walk into it?

No, no.

I see. So illuminated—

No, if I remember it was about this big (gestures) and about that high (gestures) but it was proportioned to the furniture that he put in and miniature people.

So roughly about two feet by three feet, something like that, or maybe a little bit larger?

Maybe a little bit bigger, but it was pretty good size.

He was a woodworker himself and then the range of his work ranged from the dollhouse to a trailer, which was a house trailer.

Right. He had the trailer – the shell – built. I went with him, it was someplace over in Wellston. This guy built this trailer and brought it over to their house in Hampton Park. Their house in Hampton Park had quite a bit of land. There are three houses on this place today. So he had the trailer parked – I think it’s in the book – and he and this C.B. worked on the interior. He had two beds in the back – upper and lower. Then in the front where the thing went to, he had a little counter and it was leveled off, squared off. And he had two boxes here that were hinged and two here and they were seats. You put a cushion on them and they were seats. At night time you took the seats off and you opened these boxes and it made a platform and then the four cushions made the mattress. So there could be three people in the [trailer].

So it wasn’t a terribly large [structure]. We’re sitting in a conference room of twenty feet by—

It probably would fit in here. It was a pretty good size.

This is the CID conference room and—

Maybe not quite. No, it’s almost as long as this room.

And it was wooden. It must have been really heavy to drag [someplace]?

Yes. All wood.

In those days they had big engines for certain of the cars. The City – this was before the riverfront was cleared for the Arch.

In fact, one of his prized possessions for the trailer was that he went to [a place] I wouldn’t have known existed – but there was a Pullman junkyard. He went to the Pullman junkyard and bought, for sixty cents, a Pullman sink out of the bathroom. It was nickel-plated, oval, and he put that in there and had a shelf – a cabinet – above and he had a tank of water. (Laughs) No hot water – we didn’t have hot water.

The information I have says that he had some – characterized here as – strange and not-so-healthy dietary habits.

Well, in those days nobody knew and probably if somebody had told him he probably would have told them they were wrong. He was stubborn. They had their own chickens for a long time.

Where did they keep the chickens?

At Hampton Park.

We should say [that] Hampton Park is now a part of Richmond Heights. It’s one of the historic neighborhoods of [St. Louis]. Is that where the forty thieves – the [1904] World’s Fair buildings were dismantled and some of the houses were put together with things brought—

I don’t know.

Not your grandfather’s house at any rate.

No. Hampton Park, a good part of it, backed on to Hanley Road – from Clayton, Hanley Road, all the way down to—

South of Clayton.

To south of the highway. In fact, it sort of stops right at the highway. They had, back on Hanley Road, they had a huge garage. I say huge – it was a two-car garage, but it had a second floor and it had the chicken house attached to it. It also had, what some people would call in the old days, a potting shed. My grandmother was a big gardener and you could go back there and find maybe two, three hundred pots of different sizes – clay pots. She had a cold frame that she would start stuff from seed [in]. But then they had this chicken house and a chicken yard, all fenced in. They probably had twenty chickens.

Anyway, he ate two eggs every morning for breakfast. Every morning. Now you tell that to a doctor today and he’ll tell you you’re crazy. Plus, in his later years I believe he smoked close to two packs of cigarettes a day. [He] did not drink. Probably some wine on occasion at a party. [He] smoked cigars until he had a heart attack in about 1928 or 1929, and the doctor told him to get off of cigars and go to cigarettes. (Laughs)

That’s the mentality that lasted until—

Dr. [Evarts G.] Graham.

Sure. Well, we’ve continued our conversation here, but I just want to make sure that we have your permission to go a little bit further.

Yes. I’m OK.

Good. We’ve already established that your grandfather died at the Frankfurt house in 1941. I’m sure it was a shock to the family and your grandmother had no choice but to get back to St. Louis after the services and get on with the management of the estate and to some extent [to] help the Institute.

The interesting thing is she remained on the Board until she died. She never once – if she didn’t agree with something, she would speak her mind – but she never once said, “I don’t think Max would like that. I don’t think Max would do it that way.” If there was a difference, it was her difference.

I see.

It was noted that she never used this as any kind of leverage or form of disagreement. I think it’s kind of amazing.

We have a picture of her from the News Notes of 1972 addressing the fiftieth anniversary of—

She died in December of [19]71 so it would have been—

That’s right, it was a memorial statement. She died December 11th.

I don’t know if it’s shown in the index—

(We’re looking at Helen Lane’s book.)

But there’s something in here about her where it’s – and I don’t know if it’s complete – but she wrote a paper that was published in the Volta Review and she gave it also as a lecture at a board meeting. She read her little dissertation and it was about something from little acorns grow or grew – meaning the school and how at first she was not totally in favor of all this.

So it was a memoir of her involvement?

Yes. But the interesting thing about it is that she wrote it when she was ninety-one years old, which I think is just amazing.

We should definitely, if we don’t have it—

If you don’t, I have a copy. But I’m sure you do.

We should put it together with – because it’s obviously as important, if not more so, than the interview that she gave. Well, by this time your mother was also active on the board, because I see both of them together at a ceremony honoring Ed Meissner. How did your mother come to be on the board?

Well, somebody interviewed my mother once and part of the interview was that she was probably the last person at that time alive that was in on the beginning. And, the beginning really happened around the dining room table of their house in 1913, [19]14, [19]12 or [19]13. And in 1912 my mother was sixteen and as I said, a pretty smart lady. So, she was in on the early stuff and all the people who came to town – the Helen Kellers and all these other doctors with whom he had great affiliation and association – she was there. She was mature enough [that] she would be at the table. I had a book – come to think of it I’m not sure what I did with that – maybe I gave it to my daughter. It was some writer and illustrator who wrote children’s books. And he sent one to my mother and the inscription was something like “thanking you for sharing the evening” or “letting me share the evening with you and your parents.” She was a pretty savvy young lady. She was exposed to all this. As I say, she went to Europe and when they went to Europe it was probably somewhere between seven and nine days travel and everybody had a book bag. They didn’t have stores on the ships that sold paperbacks. So you went with your own entertainment, literature.

She was amazing. She was a voracious reader and as I say, she was surrounded – she almost had no other choice – she was surrounded by all of this culture and this stuff. She was a mature person. I’m not sure what year she was put on [the board] – I think probably not until she was married and then she stayed on until the time that she died. Then my daughter came on about sixteen – let’s see, my mother died fourteen years ago – I guess Laurie [Miller] came on about sixteen, maybe seventeen years ago, which pleased my mother to think that there was finally at least a four generation [involvement].

And I see from the News Notes that ultimately your mother served more than fifty years on the board.

Let’s see, if you take – let’s see she died in 1992, so fifty – that means she was on in [19]42. She was on in the [19]30s because in the [19]30s – I can tell you, it was when I was ten and I identify it for another reason – I was at the board meeting here with her in 1935. So she was on almost sixty years.

Was that one of those memories where you remember the lobby—

I have one of these crazy memories. People say, “Well, how do you know it was 1935?” Because I remember at that meeting my mother told me that in the fall I was going to go to Community School and I remember that. So that’s where I was when I heard it. That’s how I remember it.

Well, after the War – and these embodied some of the hopes of your grandfather – there was serious planning and operations got under way headed by Doctors Silverman and Lane for a clinic and research building. Already by peace time – it wasn’t fully realized until later – but one of the persons that they invited as a consultant, I understand, was Hallowell Davis.


He was professor of Physiology at the Harvard Medical School and already a distinguished researcher in the science of hearing and acoustics and was interested in damage to the ear [by] military planes and many other interests. What do you personally remember about Hallowell Davis? Many, many things, I’m sure.

I remember a few things. One is kind of my own personal – not achievement, but satisfaction – is that when they came to town – Dr. and Mrs. Davis – my grandmother often had people over for tea and she had them over for tea one Saturday. She invited me. I thought, “Boy, what am I going to say?” I knew where he was coming from and I remember participating somewhat in the conversation. I remember my mother told me that my grandmother called her that evening and said that she was, I guess you’d say, maybe proud of me because I was able to [participate in the conversation], not on a scientific basis. I remember him. He was very, very kind. What year was it?

He came in—


Late [19]40s. We could look [it] up in the finding aid for the collection.

I was maybe twenty-four years old or something like that. [It was] about time that I had some—

Yes, 1946, he offered to establish the research department. He really established it. They had done research all along but he really—

He was the anchor.

— put it on the back— I see back already in the [19]30s that they got Rockefeller money to do certain projects.

I think – and it should be here – I think that which is interesting that was to boost the teacher training.

So the General Education Board grant was [for] teacher training, not research.

And the interesting thing is that – I’m not sure I have it right – there seems there was a man who worked for the Rockefellers by the name of Trygve Lie. I don’t know if that name—

Not the later Secretary General? It’s the same name.

Somebody in the family. You’d have to check it out – [it’s] not important. But whoever it was said to my grandfather, “We’ll give you the money, but you must have a salary. We can’t just give money to the school and there’s no paid Director.” So, they had an agreement. I don’t know if Rockefeller knew it, but they were giving twenty-five thousand dollars a year for five years. And the deal was that out of the twenty-five, my grandfather was to be paid five [thousand dollars], which he was – but he gave it to the school.

I see so he plowed it back into the operation.

Yes. I was eight years old when I went to the City Hall and the Mayor of St. Louis bestowed upon my grandfather the Second St. Louis Award and it was a check for a thousand dollars. Well, in 1933 a thousand dollars was probably twice what the medium wage was in this country – annual. And, of course, he hands it over to Miss Connery. [I thought,] “Oh, boy.” I didn’t understand that. (Laughs)

At any rate, that was obviously one of the things that attracted Dr. Davis was this commitment to build a—


A research building and with Mr. Meissner and all of the Board of Managers’ help, they did just that and it opened, I guess, later in [19]51.


It’s a striking building that still stands to this date. It’s kind of a modernist style that has gone out of fashion, but I really like it.

The interesting thing [is] the architect was a teacher of mine when I went to Country Day School.


Lester [C.] Haeckel. Nice man. The other thing about that building is, if I remember pretty accurately, it cost seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars. And inside on the wall was the seal and also it said May-Beaumont Building. Well, between the May Company – Morton May who was an intimate friend of my grandmother’s – and the Beaumont Foundation, which you must know as part of St. Louis connections.

Louis Beaumont, in this case, I think he was the man who did the Scout ranch and the Beaumont Pavilion.

Well, he was dead—

But the Foundation—

Well, the foundation, yes. And the Schoenberg family – see Beaumont in French is beautiful mountain and Schoenberg in German is beautiful mountain. So, between those three entities – Morton May, the May Company, and the Beaumont Foundation – they paid for five hundred thousand of the seven hundred and fifty thousand [dollars]. I’m pretty sure my figures are pretty close, pretty accurate. Morton May was very generous. He was very, very fond of my grandmother. In fact, on his – I guess it was his ninetieth birthday – she sat next to him. They were very close people.

I remember going very much later, into the [19]80s, when Hallowell Davis was still there and I remember meeting with him to look at some of his research.

Did your library get some of his papers?

Yes, the Davis papers are with us. Hal Davis drew around him a very distinguished group of researchers. We recently recorded an interview with Jerome R. Cox, Jr. – Jerry Cox. I pointed out a visitor interviewed Ira Hirsh, and James [D.] Miller was a part of that team and Donald [H.] Eldredge – so really quite a distinguished research team that you, I’m sure, remember. They were also actively, by this time, planning the building of a residence hall and that still exists on Clayton [Avenue].

But that’s part of Washington U.

And that’s now part of Washington University. Up until very recently I can remember seeing the toys for children that were stored in the building that had been temporarily abandoned. Now it’s been rehabbed and that too is kind of a very striking modern building.

Same architect, I think.


I think Lester Haeckel was with Ittner and I think he also did this residence hall. The old man Ittner was a very good friend of my grandfather’s.

William B. Ittner?

Yes, in fact he wrote a tribute of some sort that they published in the Laryngoscope after he died.

You know your mind jumps around. My grandfather was the one that had the idea to make the top of the school, the 818 Building, a playground. That was screened in—


So that on rainy days they had a playground because he thought it was necessary for the kids to get out and exercise – not from that standpoint, but to get out from underneath the burden of the classroom.

That was many times renovated.

Oh, yes.

Ira [J.] Hirsh was really one of the – in fact he was Director of Research following the retirement of Hallowell Davis. [He] had a very distinguished career and the group was really – particularly because of Jerry Cox – really intimately connected with the development of the small computer. [It is] this group that is attested to in the various pages and pictures of the News Notes. Here I see Hallowell Davis and Shirley Hirsh working together on it.

Yes. She worked on it.

I see a picture of a television set, set in what would look like an old stone foundation of – I’m sure this was the main building, [since this picture] is from 1977. So, down in the basement of the old building.

Yes, they utilized that basement quite a bit. In fact at one time, Robin’s office, when she was head of development—

Robin Feder.

When she was head of development – her office was down there.

Then for a while you had another connection [with] a retiree Harold Burgess.

I knew who he was when I saw him, but I—

He was a St. Louis Car executive, then became [involved and] ran the finances of [CID]. Here finally we have you documented – and this is from fall of 1972. That’s a group portrait.

Yes. Mr. and Mrs. Hoss – they had a deaf child here. And that’s my wife. Let’s see – [19]72 – no that was after the fact. My wife taught here – she’s a school teacher, primary school teacher. I’m really not sure if Helen Lane said something to me, but anyway, she came here and she taught, quotes, “a normal kindergarten.” She did with the kids what you normally had, while one or two were off getting their speech.

What’s her first name, just for the record?

Jean. Jean Wolff. She taught in University City, when we were first married, then she taught here and then went back to teaching. She started two seasons, but she had to leave the second year she taught because she was pregnant and there was a lot of measles running around here. So, she had to leave. From what Helen Lane told me, she was very thankful to have had her. Then she went back to teaching and taught in Clayton the rest of her teaching years. [She] taught thirty-three years.

I see. Let’s just look briefly back at Helen Lane’s career because we leapt up to the time when Helen Lane was retiring in the [19]70s. Can you give an assessment of her strengths and abilities?

From what is mostly hearsay, she came as the school psychologist. I was not the best student. I was not the most well-behaved, so I had a session with Helen Lane. Some interesting facts came out – one being I didn’t like change and I’m almost eighty-two and I still don’t like change. (Laughs)

My favorite story really is – and I have to preface it by saying it may be off track a little bit – at least my mother told me the story herself, is that when I was seven I’d never had a problem with behavior when I was at my grandparents’. You just didn’t do anything wrong and I wasn’t afraid. I was having too good a time going out and looking at the birds and all this kind of stuff. So, when I was seven, my mother thought I should be examined by a psychiatrist. Well, in 1932 that was pretty avant-garde stuff.

And she had had a friend across the street who had a son – a little older than I – he went to a psychologist but that was a different story. I think my mother was influenced by this. She pretty much asked her father about advice about stuff like this. His answer was, “I don’t think I would do that if I were you.” She said, “He does this—” and to make a long story short she sent me to a psychiatrist. Years later she told me that the psychiatrist said, “There’s not anything wrong with that boy. I think it’s you.” My grandfather said, “I told you. I told you not to take him.” (Laughs) He said, “I could have told you that but you wouldn’t have listened to me.”

It was kind of different for me growing up here. My mother was highly-educated – everybody in the family had to read. I didn’t read until I was almost seventeen. I had this friend across the street and I went to see him one evening and he wasn’t home, but his mother said, “Come on in.” We sat down and talked and she smoked a lot and then she offered me one. And I looked [at her]. She said, “If you want a cigarette, take it.” She said, “I’m not going to tell your parents.” So, she absolutely turned me on. She was the first person that ever told me reading was fun. Everybody said, “You have to read. In order to get through life you have to read. You must do this.”

You were forced.

“You can’t understand [an] arithmetic problem unless you can read. You won’t know history until you read. You must know all this.” But nobody ever told me, except this woman, that it was fun.

That was a great gift to you.


We’re up in the [19]70s and now we’re into the year of Donald Calvert, whom I remember personally. [He was] a very congenial and authoritative person. By this time, of course, you were on the Board, so you must have been one of those who hired him.

No, he came and Silverman was still here, and that’s sort of when I came in the picture.

So he was a Director from [19]72, but earlier on he began his career as a research assistant and clinical teacher in 1954. [He spent] a really long, loyal and fruitful time here. Anything special you recall about him?

No, except that there were numerous committees – at one time I was on the Real Estate Committee with him. He was the Director – [he] was on all of them. And there was a time we talked about selling the residence dorm. I thought he was very thorough. He made sure you were heard and if you couldn’t go to a meeting and he wanted to know your opinion, he’d call you. I thought [he was] soft-spoken and was a real gentleman.

The aside – a silly fact – was that he was the third Director and the first three Directors only had one child. My mother was an only child; Silverman only had one child, and Calvert had one child. It was just strange. But he was very nice and I think he had the right command with the faculty. I’m sure there were a couple of things at the end that they didn’t agree with, but there wasn’t any real turmoil.

From the early [19]80s I just have a News Note that sort of squares us back into the basic philosophy that has always been for Central Institute for the Deaf of oral education. Then contrast it with total communication children, which means, I think, sign languages as well and how the view was that it was a more—

What Robin said to me today – I was surprised because I thought that the students were allowed to use sign language in the halls. I used to use the example – because I heard somebody talking about it – that if two students wanted to meet in the gym afterwards, and they were forty feet away, they could do this, and then they would meet. Before, they couldn’t yell down the hall. I’m surprised. I thought they allowed it. I knew they never allowed it in the classroom.

I know this comes up, particularly now with the uproar at Gallaudet – I don’t know whether you’re aware of it – of a totally different philosophy of deaf education that has ramifications that are very, very serious for the operation of a distinguished institution [like] Gallaudet University, and the whole notion that there would be a kind of subset of humanity that is deaf and ought not to be integrated into things and Central Institute for the Deaf is a— At any rate, we’re talking on here and yet we’re only into the [19]70s. Can we talk on a little bit longer?


We have a distinguished and important person in the history of the school, Audrey [A.] Simmons-Martin, who directed the Parent-Infant Program. Do you recall her?

Oh yes, I told Robin – I was there last week for a little get-together – and I said, I remember that she was in the last class that my grandfather taught. I can’t say that I heard her – I must have. There were – I don’t know how many teachers. He had had his stroke and he didn’t come down here that much. When the time came for these teachers to have their orals with him, they had it at his house. In those days I was at Clayton High School. I used to ride my bicycle to school and often in the spring, when the weather was good, I would ride from Clayton High, which was behind the annex garage part of Famous-Barr – Clayton, over to Hampton Park. I never had to announce that I was coming, I just went. There were days where I would get there and I had to wait because he was giving these teachers their orals, one at a time. All I know is that she was the last in the last class to get her orals from him. I used to say, “He can ask some pretty tough questions,” I can tell you that. I mean, I didn’t understand all the scientific, but I could tell by the tone of his voice, he meant business. And she did the parent/infant thing.

The other aspect of that was in the [19]30s Spencer Tracy’s wife – you know they had a deaf boy, John Tracy – and she came here for guidance with my grandfather and, of course, that was the function of the school. [It] was to train the parents to work with the child at home. So, as far as I know, that was the early place of its kind. Audrey Simmons-Martin then started this here and I gather it was highly successful.

You on the board must have headaches with the change of the expansion of what was by that time U.S. 40 and rerouting of Kingshighway, particularly since it impinged on CID land.

I know that.

I was told by other sources that Edgar [M.] Queeny, who was Chair over at Barnes and was one of those that influenced the layout of the cloverleaf that’s still in existence, and now it’s going to be torn up. But it really threatened— And of course, all the buildings around it were altered, if not demolished. At any rate, it’s not an issue that you recall dealing with?

Well, I remember all the problem and there was probably some difficult times that went on before most of the Board really knew about it. I think probably pretty much with Bud Meissner and a couple other people who had influential connections, if that’s what you want to call it, that we ended up with some property on the other side [of the highway] that we used as a playground.

Yes. I recall that.

The same over here – when this part cut through and took Papin Street – that’s how we ended up, I believe, with the property on the other side where the Research Building ended up.

These are swaps with the Highway Department.

Right. That worked out very well. Of course, the Research Center would have pleased my grandfather. Although as I said earlier, he wanted it right behind the school. That was better than nothing. I think CID ended up OK with the switch of property. All they had to do was change the name of the street. I still refer to it as on South Kingshighway.

James D. Miller succeeded Ira Hirsh.

I didn’t know him.

You didn’t know him.

No, I didn’t know him.

In the early [19]80s there was extensive remodeling of the physical plant. Here are some pictures from 1982.

This thing in the front, this canopy.

The canopy entrance to the main building. Is that still there?

I think so.

Alright. Then there was also—

I don’t go in that way anymore.

— continued renovation of the playground in the [19]80s. By this time Jean Moog was the Principal? Do you recall her?

I don’t know if she was actually – was she principal?

Yes, in the [19]80s she’s identified here [as Principal] by 1986.

It could be. I think her last title was Director of Education. I think that was her preferred title.

[She was an] able person?

I think so. I think very bright. I thought it was kind of curious that she never went after her doctorate. She was a very bright person. She had a working arrangement with another lady in the Research Department – not bodily research, but research methods – Anne Geers.

Ann Geers.

And they published some things. She was here for quite awhile, I’m not sure how many years.

Ultimately [she] left to form her own school.

She left. That was a very unpleasant time. CID had a couple of meetings that were not here and “what’s going to happen” and all this kind of stuff. Very emotional.

I recall it being portrayed as such in the press.

Yes. I had newspaper people calling me, “What can you tell me about this person or that person.” Or, “What do you think about this?” I don’t think anybody that actually called me knew – called me because of my family connections – as much as the fact that [I was on the Board]. In the school directory my phone number, for other reasons, was not published but my fax number was. I used to get stuff at ten, eleven o’clock at night from—

You’d hear the machine whirring?

—some of these other parents. Terrible, threatening letters.


“Oh, your grandfather would be ashamed.” “If you don’t do this, the school will have to close.” Terrible stuff. It got pretty hairy. To me it was “after the fact” – it was obvious that she knew what she wanted to do because she wasn’t gone ten days and it was announced she was starting her own school. Well, you don’t do that in ten days, you know that.

No. In 1989, Richard [G.] Stoker became Director?

It was sort of around the time that Gallaudet was screaming about their Director wasn’t deaf enough and, of course, he was deaf. And that was another thing at the time when Moog departed; there were people who wrote letters to papers about this, quote, “deaf culture business,” the “sign people.” Oh, they tore CID apart, you know.


Oh, yes and they hate the cochlear implant. I got friendly with a guy who is sort of Director of the School for the Deaf in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and he’s an actual ENT doctor and he does the cochlear implant and he said some astronomical amount of teenagers have been talked into taking it out.


Because of the people of the deaf culture. I don’t know what the story is now, but this was fifteen, twenty years ago.

Back to Stoker. He was deaf but he also got the Institute involved in things that had never been a part of the program before – apparently a program to fight blindness, as well?

I heard some of that. There was somebody over in research that was involved in that – Miller, somebody Miller. Maybe that’s the one you were talking about.

James Miller. Yes.

I had a friend, who – she has since died – but she had— It’s not macular [degeneration]. Pigmentosis?

Retinitis pigmentosa.

It’s where you get what they call tunnel vision. Your sight just comes down to a tube. She and her husband – I think through their connection with Jean Moog – had donated some money over there to that cause. I don’t know how long that lasted. He did.

There were some other things I was concerned [about] because he was dismissed pretty quickly. I remember calling – I forget the name right now – a Board member, and I said, “You obviously don’t want to tell the entire Board what the problem was, because it’s all taken care of. But my concern is for the reputation [of the school], I want to know was the man given a fair chance, was he warned?” They assured me that he was. You know his wife worked here, too.

Yes. That’s right. I’m trying to think of her name, but I did note that she was on the staff. Ira Hirsh came back briefly to be Director, and then the Institute hired Donald Nielson and you remember him, clearly.

Oh, yes. He was very strong. In fact, one of the things that Mrs. Moog I think was concerned with – I guess that’s the proper way to say it – was that he was primarily or only interested in research. There were people – I know of one person that she told she thought he was going to let the school go. The only thing to do was research. I don’t believe that. Although there were some parents I think that did. Yes, he was, I guess you’d say, instrumental and the leader to create the new facility.

So he came on roughly in 1994.


Jean Moog left in 1996 and founded the Moog School, which is basically an oral school and then we have Victoria Kozak?

Right. Vickie Kozak – very, very nice lady.

Now the director is Robin Feder, who joined us for a time and she had long, as we established, been a part of the Administration and continues to administer the school. Here I have a brand new web thing from 2006. Is that right – no 2004, so it’s a little bit older. It shows you and Laurie Miller celebrating the ninetieth birthday [of CID] with a children’s wax museum. Can you tell me just a bit about this, just in closing?

Well, they had some of the children act like they were wax figures – one was my grandfather, one was maybe Alexander Graham [Bell]. It was just a little—

What they used to call a tableau?


Where they would pull apart the curtains and there’d be a historical scene?

No, it was just done in the gym.

OK, so the kids enjoyed—

It was very brief, but very cute. This young guy who played the part of my grandfather – and I was in the school a week or two later and he saw me and he came up to me and he said, “Remember me, I’m your grandfather.” I said, “Yeah, I know that.”

Dalton Coon. Well, is there anything that we didn’t cover? I’m sure there are some things. Is there anything you’d like to say, let’s put it that way.

One of your questions was, “Did people call him a renaissance man?” Yes, I think he really was. He had so many interests.

We’re back talking about your grandfather as a renaissance man obviously we’ve demonstrated that clearly with more interests than somebody could carry on today.

He was a good fundraiser but, the big thing was the children. That came first. And of course, it’s amazing when you figure out how he divided his time. A man at the University of Texas – who was this Dr. Bailey who was running the Laryngoscope – he said, “You tell me your grandfather went to Michigan every summer.” I said, “Every summer that I ever knew except a couple when they went to Europe also.” He said he didn’t know how he did it. I said, “I don’t either, really.” Of course, he had his office over here and the school was pretty close, but he’d go back and forth. You see, when I knew him he was slowing down, I think, seeing patients. I think he actually had given up surgery several years before he actually stopped seeing patients. He took great pride – I remember him telling us once – that from surgery in his entire career he only lost nine patients. That was pretty good because they didn’t have—

And these were a range of general surgeries? Like appendectomy?

No, no he didn’t do that. He did only here – mastoid which was a big operation and, of course, tonsillectomies, adenoids and other kinds of stuff. Some of the journals I’ve read a couple of things where he would watch certain patients and make notes about their progress. Patients that had terrible infections. He was really a dedicated doctor and a great family person.

I think you told us earlier, in earlier interviews, that he had a special meaning behind the word “Central” too, in Central Institute for the Deaf.

Well, he did and he meant this to be the “central” facility for the country for education of the deaf. Plus, he deliberately picked this site because it was part of the hospital’s, it wasn’t Washington University so much then. Of course, across the street from the school on Clayton Avenue – I don’t know you people probably own it, but it used to be Shriners Hospital.

That’s right, old Shriners Hospital.

And he was very friendly with Dr. [Clarence Harrison] Crego [Jr.] who was a big orthopedic guy here in town. He was very friendly with Evarts [A.] Graham. In fact, I put my hand through the window, they said – twelve, thirteen year old boy – and I was rushed to Jewish Hospital and they picked all the glass out and then he sewed it up. My mother wanted to make sure everything was right so she took me to see Dr. Graham. A few days later he said, “Oh, he’s fine.” Well she knew him because he was a friend of the family. I had a bunch of warts and my mother said, “Evarts, what can we do about the warts?” He said, “Oh, he’ll wake up one morning and they’ll be gone.” [In] about a year, I woke up one Sunday morning – and I had about eighteen – and they were gone except on a few I could still see the circle, but the raised part was gone. So I went into my mother’s room on Sunday morning and she was sitting up in bed reading the paper. I put my hand in front of her face and literally she turned white. I said, “What’s the matter?” And she handed me the morning paper. Evarts Graham had been killed in an automobile accident the day before.

This was our surgeon.

He was killed in an accident going to Jefferson City to keep the first cancer hospital out of politics. The first cancer hospital is in Columbia, Missouri, and when you drive by on Highway 40 you see the Ellis Fischel Hospital.

So you are talking about Ellis Fischel, in context.

Oh, I said Graham. I got it mixed up. I’m sorry.

Ellis Fischel. Another very distinguished doctor that you had this treatment from.

He was probably closer to Fischel than he was Graham. Graham was, I think, a fair amount younger. You ask about other phases of medicine and he was interested. [It was] interesting when he first started the school there were some doctors in town that sort of “pooh poohed” him, because they were convinced he was trying to do this to build his own practice.


NCS: Most of those people, a good many of them – there were a half a dozen, ten of them – had a surprise birthday for him when he was seventy and gave him a luncheon and gave him some wonderful fishing equipment.

An apology in the form of gifts.

Yes, and that’s the other thing you mentioned, he did. I heard him tell a man, “You have to have two hobbies, one for indoors and one for outdoors.” Of course, his indoor hobbies were—

Legion. He damaged his hand one time.

Yes, he cut his own mats for his prints. The knife – the blade went through the handle and the handle was in two pieces and you had a screw in there. I don’t know if the screw fell out. It might have been when he gave up surgery – I remember when that happened. But we were not allowed to be in the room when he cut mats after that.

I see. But he continued cutting mats?

Oh, yes. The big thing he collected with my sister and me was stamps. And, of course, when new stamps would come out, I’d go to the post office – he’d give me fifty cents or something and I’d go buy them. He’d say, “A stamp isn’t a stamp until it’s been through the mail.” That was his sort of genuine way of looking at it.

That was a wonderful way of teaching children about the world.

That’s right. Yes. There was a man here in town. I think I might have told this, by the name of Price, Pat Price. His name was Berthold Price. [He was] a very different kind of a man. He was a big stamp collector, very big. I guess he had been a patient of my grandfather’s and they were very friendly. In his later years he lived in Eureka, Missouri. He married his secretary. He had never been married before. He came into town on Saturday for some reason. One Saturday he went by Hampton Park to see my grandfather and my grandfather said, “Wait until you see what I have.” My grandfather had bought, from an auction, a provisional stamp. They were known as the St. Louis Bear Stamps. There were three. They were pretty rare and he bought one. I didn’t know the price – I learned years later [when] he told me the story. He said, “You know, I walked out of there that afternoon with that stamp. Your grandfather gave me that stamp.” He said, “I just couldn’t get over what a nice thing it was for him to do that.” He said, “But of course the next Saturday when I went into town and I went to see him, I took it back.” Well, it turned out this is before they started keeping records here.

In 1969 – here I go for another “remembers,”– I had my lung taken out. My mother said to me, “Have you ever heard of a woman named Appolonia Price?” I said, “Yes, that’s Pat Price’s widow.” Well, she died [and] left the school close to a million dollars.

Little threads of—

Actually when he died he left the school something like sixty thousand [dollars]. In those days sixty thousand dollars to a school here was unheard of. Then, of course, he left everything to his wife – they had no children – in trust and it went to three charities. There was the Catholic Hospital and Central Institute and I forget the third one. It was close to one million dollars. There was nobody to thank. There was nobody. Literally he had nobody. There are amazing stories about the place here, and people. A lot of us wondered – I was sixteen when he died [and thought], “What’s going to happen to the school?” But, Miss Connery came back [and] kept things going and Silverman was here. I think it was several years before they actually made him director. I don’t know why they waited as long.

Well Helen Lane and he had kind of a—

A joint operation. Right.

A joint operation. Then they decided which would – I think inside and outside is how they phrased it.

Yes. She was a lovely lady.

Mr. Wolff, thank you very, very much for agreeing to speak.

I’m sure I’ll say, “I wish I had told them this.” There are so many different experiences. One that I remember, of course, when you talk about the [19]30s – you had a little bit of information earlier. It was a little off. You [asked if he] traveled to Europe at least eighteen or thirty-four times. The answer to that was they went to Europe eighteen times in thirty-four years.


They were married in 1895. My mother was born a year later. I don’t know that they didn’t go, but I’m assuming they went from say 1900 to 19- – I don’t remember if it was [19]37 or [19]38 – but I remember them coming back talking a lot about Hitler. They had four years of the First World War, so there’s thirty-four years.

Obviously, that was a typo or something. Did you ever go with them?

No, I wish I had. He was a creature of habit. My mother said and my grandmother said the first thing he’d would do be to go to the bookstore. There was one in particular in London, but he knew them everywhere. The other thing he would do in Germany, he went to a shop called Henckel. Well, your family may have had Henckel Cutlery.


Well, in those days Henckel made surgical knives and he would buy surgical knives. Plus, he used a straight razor and any time there was an improved, better straight razor he would buy it. He would buy up a storm at Henckels.

They he went years later to visit with [Adam] Politzer and [Victor] Urbant— – I never could pronounce it.


Urbantschitsch, and maybe Politzer – I don’t know if it’s in this one—

The Laryngoscope copy.

—wrote articles. Yes, Victor Urbantschitsch. So he went to see these guys after. He’d get, in the beginning, sort of a refresher course of different ideas they had and then he gave lectures. He had an honorary degree from the University of Heidelberg and Strassberg. There might have been one or two others, I’m not sure. Then when he went, and you can see from the article of the interview of my grandmother, they always went to a town called Carlsbad. That was in Czechoslovakia.

Now it has a different name in Czech – Karlovy Vary.

Right. I went there a few years ago – we were in Prague – and I said I really want to go Carlsbad. There was this wonderful stream [that] went through the whole place. My grandmother said that everything you would see there it was like you were in Paris. All the stores and the restaurants and everything. She went with her mother-in-law and he would be working somewhere else, but then they always met. When they went to Europe – in the end when they got older they didn’t stay as long. I never knew his mother; I knew her mother. But I didn’t know [his mother]. In the old days, they [went for] six, eight weeks. As they say, old world stuff.

And there were probably mounds and mounds of luggage.

Well, they had the old steamer trunk and I can remember that being shipped off – leisurely. Anyway, it was some education that we picked up vicariously. Marvelous experiences to be with them. I had it figured out from the time I was, say, three until I was, say, twelve or fourteen – with going there for lunch every Sunday, sometimes going Saturday afternoon and spending the night there. And then being in Michigan [for] three months in the summer with them. I figured up the time frame. I probably spent 25 percent of my life with them. So, a lot had to rub off. Anyway, I’ve talked enough.

Once again, we want to thank you very, very much for this opportunity.

My pleasure.


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