Memories from Members

Lois Joffee, who lived in Hancock for 62 years is still involved now with her synagogue in Arizona. At Temple Jacob she was active in the sisterhood which was known for its teas.

Bobbie Sue Joffee Locke left Hancock at age 18. She remembers that when she first met Richard, her husband to be, a student at MTU, her mother told her to "go out with him, you don't have to marry him." They celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. Margie Kahn, Howard Seligmann and herself were all in Hancock schools together. She remembers braiding her Dad's tallis fringes during services and her first fast at age 11. The kids spent a lot of time outside during High Holy Day services and someone was always coming out to ask them to be quiet. Emil Seligmann blew the shofar back then. Mr. Klatzky taught Herman for his Bar Mitzvah.

Herman's daughter Jennifer left Hancock at age 13. She says she has never found another Jewish community as "haimish." Betty Tepfer always brought her a doll when she came to visit, she remembers. She is working on a PHD in Asian Art History and will soon travel to Bombay to do research. Neal Joffee is also completing a PhD.

Burton Seligmann spent the summer at the family property on Portage Lake, escaping the heat & drought of Texas. He enjoyed reconnecting with many old friends, fishing and going to the woods with Richard Kahn. Both he and Howard are retired. Burt was born and raised in Hancock and graduated from Hancock High School in 64. He remembers preparing for his Bar Mitzvah with Arnold Klatzky and he still has the ax Mr Klatzky gave him for his Bar Mitzvah. He also remembers missing crucial football games because of the High Holy Days. Like Bill Cohodas, Phil Joffee, and Roberta Klatzky, he remembers where each family sat in the synagogue. Back then, the synagogue was open only for the High Holy Days.

Silvert Mawrence writes "My grandfather, Sam came from Bialystock, Poland, circa 1889. He married Sarah Oshinsky from Suwalki, Poland and they brought Isaac, Harry (my father, age 2), Lewis, and Bessie. Sam ferried horses to Calumet from Duluth. I suspect he came because his wife had relatives.

"Sam’s business was livestock - cattle, horses & other critters. He was known in the 50 mile area as “Russian Sam” - the Finnish people called him Russiansimi and I was referred to by my Dad’s employees as Roossan Sami boyka - Russian Sam’s boy, whenever I was introduced to Finnish farmers on a cattle-buying trip to Pelkie, Ewen, or other locales by our Finnish drivers.

"Sam was very successful - he had a lot of real estate in the Calumet area - a large farm holding near the Tamarack Waterworks where he had a tallow rendering plant - the farm was stocked with all manner of ducks, cattle and horses.

"Harry, my father, dealt cattle, and fowl (turkeys & chickens) and whatever he could to make a buck during the Depression - everything was barter in those days - for example, I went to Dad’s barber and the barber got a chicken. My mother was raised in a genteel kosher home in Chicago by her devoted parents and tried to leave him early on by going on a trip back to Chicago where she wrote Dad she wasn’t coming back to Laurium - Dad was on the next train with a gun - told her she was coming back with him and would have his name until the day she died.

"There were 3 of us boys - Bernard, the eldest, graduated from Michigan Tech about 1933. He was a musician and played all over the area with his band. I remember going to the Scott Hotel in Hancock to hear the band. I graduated from Calumet High School where my last semester I was in command of the ROTC battalion. (Silvert’s career in the military included a short stint at the Keweenaw Radar Station in 1950.)

"There were enough Jewish people when my brothers were growing up to have a full-time rabbi. They were both bar mitzvah. My only recollection of Temple Jacob in my youth was how much I hated going there - I had no knowledge of Judaism - no Jewish friends in Laurium - the services were all in Hebrew - not 1 word of English - my dad would rap me up side the head if I said anything - I spent (or tried to spend) as much time out of Temple during services as I could - we had a rabbi for High Holidays . . . it was only when I was in service that I learned anything. I never knew there was such a thing as reform Judaism and when I did I embraced it."

Armand Cohodes of Michigan City, IN ". . .I grew up in Iron Mountain & Norway back in the 20s and 30s. My late Uncle Mike and Aunt Bluma Narot lived in Hancock."

Ruth & Justin Seligmann were married in 1949 and lived in Hancock until January 1957 when they moved to San Diego with their two young children. There were services for the High Holidays “but some of us mothers provided a Sunday school for our kids in the basement of the temple. We celebrated some other holidays there and did what we could with the resources we had."

Karen Reiss Lee shared this curiosity: "Richard Kahn and I are 1st and 2nd cousins. Our mothers, Louise and Jean Gartner were sisters and our fathers, Ted Reiss and Norbert Kahn, cousins.

William Shoer writes: “Going back into the teens I do, vividly, remember Lewis Mawrence and his sister Bessie who was a most gorgeous
looking girl. We knew Louie very well because he was in the hide business and my father Mandel was the kosher butcher in Hancock.
Whenever my father accumulated a load of hides Louie would pick them up from our barn. The odor from the hides in the days before
refrigeration and the flies and maggots in the fat and flesh were controlled by spreading coarse salt on them. In the winter, everything froze
solid and you had to break the hides apart with a sledgehammer.

"My job was to spread salt on the hides. If you had a cut or a scratch on your hands you knew it right away because the salt would burn in the
wound. I was only six then. Now I’m getting close to 90 and my hands still hurt.

"Louis was a good man and a fair buyer and every so often I got a nickel ice cream cone from him at Mount Joys store on Quincy Street
across from Suomi College where I used to play with Eddie Leiblein from the wholesale grocery on Hancock Street..

"I still remember when Harriet Markus was married in the synagogue in the early 20’s. My father performed the ceremony. Mr Markus was in
the junk business. They lived in West Hancock in a very large house and had 3 daughters.

"I can still smell the bread from Sakari’s Finnish bakery where a bag of cinnamon toast was 10 cents. Also, Levine’s tobacco store, across
from Gartner’s, sold all kinds of penny candy, and if you were a good boy, Mr Levine gave you a piece.

"I remember stealing sour gooseberries from the priests yard near the church on Quincy Street not far from where we lived at 512, next to
Cuffes electric supply store. His son Tommy was my pal and we used to steal apples from Mr Williams yard. He was the dry cleaner next to
the firkin factory where they made firkins for the butter and cheese people. In west Hancock there used to be a brewery.

"On Saturday there was always a draft horse auction sale. The horse dealer was Jake Tolkin who came up from Milwaukee with several
loads of draft horses. You could buy a good horse for under $100."

Ruth & Justin Seligmann were married in 1949 and lived in Hancock until January 1957 when they moved to San Diego with their two young children.
There were services for the High Holidays “but some of us mothers provided a Sunday school for our kids in the basement of the temple. We celebrated some other holidays there and did what we could with the resources we had."

Armand Cohodes of Michigan City, IN ". . .I grew up in Iron Mountain & Norway back in the 20s and 30s. My late Uncle Mike and Aunt Bluma Narot lived in Hancock."

Nancy and Bill Skerchock called on their cell phone from the synagogue. When Nancy told me that her great grandfather was Jacob
Muskatt, I rushed right over to give them a tour. The Muskatt Store was a fixture of downtown Ontonagon for many years.The cash
register from the store can be viewed at the Ontonagon Historical Society.
Nancy and Bill recently purchased the Muskatt family home at 602 Houghton Street in Ontonagon, opposite the old courthouse, built in 1897, and are restoring and preserving it.
Jacob and Esther Muskatt are buried in the Temple Jacob cemetery which Nancy and Bill visited. They were impressed with the upkeep
and made a generous contribution to the cemetery fund.
Esther was the daughter of Louis Levine. Jacob and Esther had four children: Roy whose second wife Margaret was an English teacher;
Irene (Minnie) Bennett who had one son, Leon; Bertha who had one daughter, Joan Goldman; and Hiram who had two daughters, Vivian and
Dorothy. Nancy is Dorothy’s daughter. Esther’s sister Marie tutored Hiram and Roy for their Bar Mitzvahs. The family came to Temple
Jacob for services.
There is a story about a Bar Mitzvah which never happened because of a snow storm. Which of the Muskatt sons might this have been?

Jean Joffee writes: "Since I am one of the oldest living Joffees left I thought I ought to let you in on some of the old timers I knew and talked with.

Mandel Glass one of the large Glass family visited us when Jay and I lived above the Joffee’s Men’s and Economy Shoe Store around 56 years ago. He was very active as was Jay's father, Herman in the construction of Temple Jacob. Mandel insisted they spend a bit more money to use the shining brick that still shows its gloss on the building. The dome was a tan when I came to Hancock 58 years ago. Arnold and Rena Klatsky came to Hancock in the 50s and he was instrumental in having thedome done in Copper. Rena and I taught Sunday school for a while. Harry and Eva Cohodas lived on Harris Ave. before my time . They raised their family there. Jay's mother, Fanny and I spent many meetings Jay attended, talking about people and family which I wish I could remember. Jay's brother Milt was in WWl and Herman's brother, Dr. Will Joffee was a Medical Doctor and came to work for C&H during the Flu epidemic and returned to Chicago later.

In Calumet there was the Bloom family. Ida taught in the Calumet schools. The Rosenbaums had a variety store on one of the corners in Calumet. Harry and Bertha left for Chicago about 40 year ago. We had good friends in Laurium, Mr & Mrs. Arnovits who were Jay's parents friends , but we visited them regularly since their son was in Texas and daughter and family in Omaha NE ( you hear from their grandsons). The Mawrance family was in Calumet and we became friends when one of the sons, Sylvert came to a Calumet with his wife Nell and family. He was affiliated with the US army base before it closed."

Paul Schoer writes: "My father emigrated from Russia in 1908/9. Through a friend in Marquette, he went from there from Boston. He sent to Riga, Latvia, for his wife. There were ten children. Leo, Isadore, William, and Ida were born in Marquette. Around 1916 they moved to Hancock where they had a store on Quincy Street."

Paul remembers standing on a stool to reach into the candy case for free samples. He, Ruth, Libbye and Betty were born in Hancock. They left in 1925 when Paul was five, for Salem, MA, where Samuel and Louis were born. His paternal grandparents came to the Copper Country from Russia and his grandmother died here in 1920 and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Houghton. "My father attended yeshiva in Russia. He was a skilled cantor with an excellent voice. He conducted the service, read the Torah, blew the shofar for High Holidays and more." Paul suggests that Jay Joffee (or Bill Cohodas) might be able to share information about his father's role at Temple Jacob. He says that it was very comforting to see how well the Jewish cemetery was maintained.

Bob O'Neill of O'Neill Funeral Home reminisced about Abe Goldman and his sister Lillian who had a grocery store in Hancock. Also Ben Miller who had a general store which sold clothing, appliances and had a lunch counter. Jake Weiss worked there, as did Bob O'Neill.

Helen Horowitz wrote the following about her grandparents. "Joe and Rose Markus moved to Hancock about 1901 or 1902, shortly after they married. They lived at 927 Railroad (now Lincoln) Ave. Joe was initially a peddler and eventually owned a wholesale hides and scrap iron yard. They had 3 daughters: Harriet, Minnie, and Betty. Harriet was the first bride married in Temple Jacob in 1924 or 1925. My mother, Betty, taught Sunday School at the Temple. One of her students was Bea Glass. Bill Cohodas remembers how Rose would stand outside with a plate of cookies when he ran past her house from football practice."

Neil Joffee brought his bride Tanya on a visit to the Copper Country so she could see where he grew up and learn something about the Joffee family’s long history here. They visited the synagogue and Neil reminisced. Ted Reiss was Neil’s godfather. The moms took turns teaching religious education. The class included Keltzs and Londons. His sister Jennifer had her Bat Mitzvah in 1982.

Stanton Polin writes “I am the grandson of an original Temple Jacob founder and member. My maternal family name is Blacher. Moses Blacher died in 1904 but Bessie Blacher lived in South Range until moving to Chicago around 1920. She raised 4 children; Goldie, Samuel, Sampson, and Dorothy (my mother). Sampson's bar mitzvah was in Temple Jacob. On a previous visit many years ago we obtained the key to the "shul" from one of the Joffes and we enjoyed a tour of the shul. On another visit my brother, Rabbi Milton Polin, conducted Sabbath services for the community. On still another visit, when I was invited to give a lecture at the hospital, I again visited Temple Jacob. Are there any old timers who might remember Bessie Blacher and her millinery and ladies' dress store on Trimountain Avenue in South Range? I want my children to pass on stories and traditions to their children.