Press enter after choosing selection

Legacies Project Oral History: Herb David

Mon, 09/28/2020 - 10:05am

When: 2016

Herb David was an Ann Arbor luthier.  Originally a research psychologist, David was taught how to make and repair stringed instruments by his mentor, Sarkis "Sam" Varjebedian.  At the age of 30, David started Herb David Guitar Studio, a shop where he produced, repaired, and sold guitars, dulcimers, harps, banjos, and many other types of stringed instruments.  He passed away on July 25, 2020.

Herb David was interviewed by students from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor in 2016 as part of the Legacies Project.

Transcript

  • [00:00:09.31] SPEAKER 1: State your name [INAUDIBLE] test.
  • [00:00:11.27] HERB DAVID: OK, when you talk to me, please, you're going to have to talk a little louder.
  • [00:00:16.78] SPEAKER 1: Yeah, sorry.
  • [00:00:17.70] HERB DAVID: That's OK. It's all right. That's why I'm telling you, because I'm a little hard of hearing-- a lot more than I want to be. It makes it hard for me to-- now I've got to strain to hear, and I don't always hear what you say. I hear what I think you said. And that's not-- if I smile, that's because it isn't really what you said, but it's what I heard. I got that from my mother. She was really hard of hearing. And she used to break out in a real heavy laughter when she figured out what she heard and what the person said.
  • [00:01:00.32] SPEAKER 1: OK, so let's begin. So this is an interview for the Legacies Project, which has students gathering oral histories and putting them together for an archive for future generations.
  • [00:01:11.03] So while we're interviewing, to best of your ability, try to ignore the camera and just talk to me. If your eyes wander a little bit and you look at the lens, that's fine, but try to refocus back on me.
  • [00:01:22.57] HERB DAVID: I can't ignore it, because he's got the big eye in the back, there. His eye's all magnified-- [INAUDIBLE] gargoyle eyes [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:01:32.69] SPEAKER 1: So each videotape is about 60 minutes long. And if you're in the middle of answering a question and we have to stop, I'll just ask you to hold your thought and then we'll replace it. I don't think that's going to happen, since we started a little bit late.
  • [00:01:45.50] So now, everyone turn off their phones, their pagers, anything that makes noise. And remember that you can call for a break anytime you want and we can stop the interview. And you can just pause and do whatever you want. OK, let's begin.
  • [00:02:00.67] So first of all, I'm just going to ask you some basic demographic questions. You don't have to elaborate on these. We just want to get these on file. So we can elaborate on your life later in the interview.
  • [00:02:14.07] Please state and spell your name.
  • [00:02:17.11] HERB DAVID: My first name is Herb-- Herbert-- and my last name is David. H-E-R-B blank D-A-V-I-D. That's my name. That hasn't always been my name, but that's my name.
  • [00:02:33.42] SPEAKER 1: What is your birth date, including the year?
  • [00:02:37.54] HERB DAVID: My birth date is-- and a date that a lot of things have happened, a lot of significant things-- it's the 12th of April, 1931. [INAUDIBLE] maybe I'm the oldest person you've ever met.
  • [00:02:57.34] SPEAKER 1: How would you describe your ethnic background?
  • [00:03:00.06] HERB DAVID: My ethnic background? Stimulating-- very interesting, wonderful way to be born and grow up. Both my parents were immigrants, and they came at a very bad time. They came during the 1930s. And that was not a good year to have a kid.
  • [00:03:26.56] SPEAKER 1: All right, what is your religious affiliation, if any?
  • [00:03:29.84] HERB DAVID: My latest affiliation-- I don't really have any affiliations. Like what, for instance, are you talking about?
  • [00:03:40.18] SPEAKER 1: Like are you Christian? Are you Jewish?
  • [00:03:43.12] HERB DAVID: Oh, OK. Yes, I am Jewish. I was just writing this little piece about who is a Jew and what is a Jew. I'm doing an autobiography of myself. So I started off by saying who am I? And I first said, I'm a Jew. And what is a Jew? I said, somebody who is related to Judah.
  • [00:04:06.61] SPEAKER 1: All right, what is your highest level of formal education that you have completed?
  • [00:04:10.48] HERB DAVID: My highest formal education was-- well, I don't really have a highest form of [INAUDIBLE]. Because I was working on my doctorate. But I was going straight through the masters into the doctorate. And I published a lot of papers, and I published my doctoral dissertation.
  • [00:04:34.75] But I never finished the doctoral dissertation. I finished the dissertation and published it, but I didn't finish the degree for a doctorate. I had other things that came in between that were more fascinating for me to do. And I tried to come back and finish it, and I just couldn't get into the spirit of going back to school.
  • [00:05:00.07] SPEAKER 1: What is your marital status?
  • [00:05:02.35] HERB DAVID: My marital status?
  • [00:05:03.35] SPEAKER 1: Yeah.
  • [00:05:03.77] HERB DAVID: It changes from day to day. Depends on the mood of the moment-- the occasion. I've been married now for some years or so. I think it's 15 years-- 12 years. This is my second wife. My first wife I was married to for 15 years. She was a really fascinating woman.
  • [00:05:28.91] SPEAKER 1: Is your spouse still living?
  • [00:05:30.48] HERB DAVID: Pardon me?
  • [00:05:31.28] SPEAKER 1: Is your spouse still living?
  • [00:05:33.62] HERB DAVID: My spouse is still living-- the current spouse is still-- the first wife is passed away.
  • [00:05:40.07] SPEAKER 1: I'm sorry. How many children do you have?
  • [00:05:44.65] HERB DAVID: I wish I had a lot of them, but I don't have any children. I wasn't blessed with that.
  • [00:05:50.17] SPEAKER 1: How many siblings do you have?
  • [00:05:52.63] HERB DAVID: None. I'm the only one.
  • [00:05:56.28] SPEAKER 1: What would you consider your primary occupation to have been?
  • [00:05:59.63] HERB DAVID: My primary--
  • [00:06:00.71] SPEAKER 1: Occupation. What was your job?
  • [00:06:02.93] HERB DAVID: What was my job? Well, that's another way that I was blessed. I was blessed. At first, I had a lab over at Ford Hospital. I was doing research on the space program.
  • [00:06:25.00] Actually, when I was in the army, I started-- I was doing research on the space program, on g-forces and survival in outer space. And when I went out of the army, I was into the opthalmology department in the university. So I was doing research on vision, how you see. I have some copies of the publications I made when I was [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:06:57.14] And I mean, you know, I'm of the age when I've been a few things. And I've been-- all had fun-- great experience doing them. And so when I got to be-- after a while, I started playing music, actually.
  • [00:07:17.43] And I don't know if you want to hear a story about that. But I was doing research with monkeys. I was teaching them how to play the piano. And we were actually doing brain studies-- doing [INAUDIBLE] on how you remember things and how you learn things.
  • [00:07:41.10] And I thought, gee, this is great. I had a room about half this size that was soundproof, that you couldn't hear anything else. And I'd hook up the recorder to the monkey, and I'd go sit in a room and-- go outside the room and try to see what the monkey would react to.
  • [00:08:09.10] But then, I thought, this is an interesting thing. Let's see how a guitar sounds in a soundproof room.
  • [00:08:15.58] SPEAKER 1: So that's how you got into music?
  • [00:08:17.21] HERB DAVID: Hmm?
  • [00:08:17.73] SPEAKER 1: So that's how you got into your guitar shop?
  • [00:08:20.35] HERB DAVID: Yeah, so that's-- no, I didn't have the guitar shop yet. I was sitting in a room, and I thought-- I bought my guitar there. Excuse me. I brought my guitar, and I was playing it in the soundproof room. And the head of the project walked in there and said, you shouldn't be playing guitar in a lab like this. He said, you'd better take your mandolin home.
  • [00:08:53.59] And I said to him, my mandolin? I said, I think that's a good idea. I think I'll take it home and I'll go with it. So I quit. I quit. I took all my data that I had gathered and published it later-- from the monkeys. And I just went home. And that's where I started teaching the guitar at home.
  • [00:09:18.62] But I lent one of my students a book that was a magazine-- one copy of a magazine. And it was one-- I guess my wife at the time, really favored-- really valued-- and I never got that book back. And so she said-- she chased me out of the house.
  • [00:09:44.40] So I found-- I started a guitar shop in the basement of a-- dusty basement of a building-- me and the cockroaches that were the size of skateboards. They said-- people from the university used to come over there, and they'd pet them.
  • [00:10:07.25] SPEAKER 1: So when did you retire? At what age?
  • [00:10:09.39] HERB DAVID: At what age? 84-- 83. I had my shop for 55 years. It was great, a great thing. It was like a party for me, all the time. And all the people that I met during that time is an unbelievable-- incredible.
  • [00:10:29.30] SPEAKER 1: OK. So now we can move on. So now, we're going to talk a little bit about your family history. We're going to start with your family name history.
  • [00:10:39.18] If you don't know some of this stuff, it's OK. I was looking over the questions beforehand, and I don't know most of this stuff. So if you don't, that's OK.
  • [00:10:46.18] HERB DAVID: That's all right. I can make things up.
  • [00:10:50.13] SPEAKER 1: All right, do you know any stories about your family name?
  • [00:10:53.85] HERB DAVID: Yes. About my family name? Depends on which one.
  • [00:11:04.15] When we came over here, my family emigrate-- I don't know anything about my father's family, although I had a father. I never met him. I never seen my father-- my biological father. And so when the family came over here, they came over with a long name. And when they were here, they shortened the name so it was more easily dealt with.
  • [00:11:36.79] And so my original family's name was-- what was it? [? Yunogovsky. ?] [? Yunogovskyi. ?] The family originally-- I only know my mother's family. And they came over from Ukraine. My mother-- they escaped from Ukraine. They were living in a pogrom. A pogrom is a place where they forced people to live in a certain restricted area. And they couldn't move outside of that area, or they would be dealt with definitely.
  • [00:12:32.78] And so there was a short period of time when a guy who assumed authority in Russia-- his name was Kerensky-- and he eventually moved to the United States and he became-- And during that time, Jews were allowed to travel.
  • [00:12:55.24] Before that time, they had to stay in a small area. And if they moved outside the area, they would be dealt with. And my mother and father-- my mother-- my family-- my mother's family-- she saw her brothers stomped to death by a Cossack. And Cossacks were like vigilantes, like the Wild West and all that stuff. But they rode around on horses, and they did terrible things. And she saw it. And so it was one of the reasons they didn't want to stick around there.
  • [00:13:35.67] So they took off, and they traveled all across Europe in a way you go to get back to eventually end up coming here. They lived in Cherbourg in France for a long time. So my mother and my aunt went to school at the Sorbonne. And they eventually trickled over here.
  • [00:13:58.85] One of the members of the family came over here. And he sent money over to-- so they could book passage. And then they trickled over one-- as far as the money could carry them. And they eventually all came over here.
  • [00:14:17.21] And so the name was [? Yunogovsky, ?] and they changed the name to [? Uni. ?] And my aunt, who is a physician, she got a doctorate at the Sorbonne. She changed your name to [? Unay. ?] She liked to be a little French. So the last name that I had was [? Unay. ?]
  • [00:14:42.50] When I was a sophomore in high school, my mother got married again to a nice guy. And he was also an immigrant from Germany. He escaped the Nazis. He didn't have anything. He liked to keep in his memories about life in Germany. That's another story, though.
  • [00:15:15.53] So she married him, and then my name became David-- my last name became David.
  • [00:15:25.40] SPEAKER 1: So can I ask, where did your family first settle when they first came here-- your mother's family?
  • [00:15:29.87] HERB DAVID: What about it?
  • [00:15:30.80] SPEAKER 1: Where did they first settle when they came here?
  • [00:15:36.42] HERB DAVID: Chicago. They settled in Chicago. They lived for a short while in Omaha, Nebraska and New York City. But they settled for the longest period of time in Chicago.
  • [00:15:49.46] SPEAKER 1: What did they do to make a living in Chicago?
  • [00:15:52.39] HERB DAVID: What did they do to make a living?
  • [00:15:53.97] SPEAKER 1: Yeah.
  • [00:15:55.60] HERB DAVID: My mother was a superwoman-- super-person. There's nothing she couldn't do, and nothing she wouldn't do if she felt it was important to do. Jews are not really-- immigrants and Jews, especially, were not hired much in the old days. [? They ?] were very hard for them to find a job-- a place to work.
  • [00:16:24.80] So my mother was-- sold yard goods, curtains and drapes and things in a department store called Goldblatt's. Just a [? middle ?] department store-- people would-- not very expensive stuff.
  • [00:16:50.73] She was capable, and she was-- there was no task that was too much for my mother to do. I remember, I went to visit her one time when she was in Chicago, and she lived there. And I walked-- I came up to her apartment and she said, take a look at this stove. I said, what do you mean, take a look at the stove? OK, I'll look at the stove. She says, look at this burner. She called it the burner, the hot pad. And she pulled out the cover and she showed it and she just said, look at this. I say, well, I think it looks fine. She says, you know, it wasn't working.
  • [00:17:27.54] And she pulled up the thing, and then she goes-- she said-- showed me the wiring. And I looked at this, and the wiring was no good. There was a problem with the wiring. And so she says, so I fixed it. Now, it works fine. And I said, well, did you turn off the fuse? Did you turn off the heat-- the electricity to it? She said, what's a fuse? She just did things. And there's nothing she couldn't do, and nothing she wouldn't undertake. She was capable. She is a wonderful, very skilled person.
  • [00:18:00.24] So she made a lot of her things. Because of the way they grew up, she made a lot of the things that she used in life-- her clothes, and cooked-- anything, woodworking, or whatever it was, she would undertake it.
  • [00:18:19.02] She started running when they moved her here from Chicago. They moved her here and got her a place-- a house. And she took up running when she was 84-- she was 87, I'm sorry. She took up running, and she ran half marathons. She set a world record for women over 70 when she was 92. She ran a 10K-- six miles.
  • [00:18:50.52] She was a really good example of somebody who was gutsy. She had a great laugh and a lot of sense of humor. And she spoke-- read, write, and spoke five languages. And nothing she couldn't do-- a wonderful person.
  • [00:19:11.80] SPEAKER 1: What do you know about any possessions that your family brought with them when they came here?
  • [00:19:17.97] HERB DAVID: Not much. I don't know much of anything about it. Mostly, I just know some books they brought-- some clothes. They didn't bring too much.
  • [00:19:31.45] My aunt-- I had two aunts called Helen. There was Helen, the big one and Helen-- and they weren't going to let Helen, the big one, into the country. They all came through Ellis Island when they came here. And on the way over, Helen, the big one, contracted bad stuff. She contracted sleeping sickness. So they weren't going to let her into the country, because she had something that she could pass along.
  • [00:20:12.95] And so my mother said, you send her back. I'm going with her. And so they worked out a deal where if they could sterilize Helen, the big one, then they could let her come into the country. So that's what they did.
  • [00:20:31.38] SPEAKER 1: Did any of your other family members, did they stay behind, either in the Ukraine or in France?
  • [00:20:37.40] HERB DAVID: You know, that's a question I have never solved. But as far as I know, one of my mother-- she once claimed that she had 12 brothers and sisters, and I only could count seven. But she was always a little bit on the high side of things. But there was one of them-- as far as I know, one of the brothers stayed there. We don't know why, and we don't know where he is, or where he was. And we never had any inclination to go over and see. But there is one brother who stayed over there.
  • [00:21:21.09] SPEAKER 1: Do you know any traditions--
  • [00:21:22.77] HERB DAVID: In Yekaterinoslav. Yekaerinoslav. It's named after Catherine the Great.
  • [00:21:32.14] SPEAKER 1: OK, so are there any traditions or customs that your family brought with them?
  • [00:21:36.72] HERB DAVID: Lots of them. Lots of family customs, lots of family ways to cook, and eat, and rituals-- mostly religious ones-- that they followed. They didn't do any ethnic Ukrainian rituals, anything like that. They didn't really have any fond memories of where they came from.
  • [00:22:14.95] SPEAKER 1: Are there any traditions that they ended up giving up, or that they changed a little bit to fit their new life?
  • [00:22:23.62] HERB DAVID: No.
  • [00:22:26.36] SPEAKER 1: All right. So are there any stories that you've heard from your parents about ancestors or about their lives, other than what you've told us?
  • [00:22:42.15] HERB DAVID: No, I really didn't-- you know, before-- the thing is-- it's a stupid thing, but as a kid, you just take your family for granted. And you just don't look forward-- look at what they really have been through, or where they come from, or who they are. They're just people you love and people who you're with all the time.
  • [00:23:13.04] And I felt bad that I never really asked my mother or her relations the questions where did they come from, how did they get to France, and how did they travel, and all the experiences and people they met. And was there any relatives or relations living in Switzerland, or somewhere along the way?
  • [00:23:41.46] And when you get finally get around to the point where you can think of things you'd like to know, they're gone. And there's nobody to ask anymore. And that's not uncommon, unfortunately.
  • [00:23:58.60] When she lived in Chicago, my cousin recorded a lot of-- got her talking about where she was from and what she did.
  • [00:24:17.76] SPEAKER 2: The bells about to ring.
  • [00:24:19.08] SPEAKER 1: Yeah, we have--
  • [00:24:21.99] HERB DAVID: You play guitar, huh?
  • [00:24:23.14] SPEAKER 3: Yeah.
  • [00:24:25.05] HERB DAVID: I knew there was something good about you-- that smile on your face.
  • [00:24:30.90] SPEAKER 1: So I'm going to ask you the courtship again, just so we can get it on tape. So do you know the stories of how your grandparents or your parents met, or any other members of your family?
  • [00:24:45.34] HERB DAVID: See, that's one of the things I didn't ask. I know that my grandmother, who I knew for a very short time when I was just maybe three years old-- she was Polish. My family-- my father-- my grandfather was in Ukraine. And I know that they had some-- I don't know how they met. I need to listen to the tape, because I think that's one of the questions that my cousin was able to address to my mother at the time.
  • [00:25:29.88] But my grandfather was a-- had horses-- he had a shipping business where he-- I don't know. I don't know what that means. I can delve off into some other area that you didn't ask me about. But I don't know.
  • [00:25:59.57] SPEAKER 1: And how about we just move on from this?
  • [00:26:01.13] HERB DAVID: It's a good question, though. It's a question that people should be able to answer.
  • [00:26:07.21] SPEAKER 1: So now, we're going to start part two, which is more about your life, specifically your childhood and early parts of it. So to begin, where did you grow up, and what are your strongest memories of that place?
  • [00:26:25.19] HERB DAVID: Most of my growing up was in Chicago. I had my mother-- took me to New York for some of my growing up. Because my biological father was from New York, and he was a-- I forget what you call it, but-- people-- he read books and he corrected for the publishers. And but that didn't last too long-- forever. I mean, he was too spirited, or whatever he got into that my mother didn't like. So we moved back to Chicago.
  • [00:27:09.67] So my earliest memories of Chicago-- and this is sad times when I wished I had a father around, and then sad times when I wished my mother didn't have to work so hard, so we could be together more.
  • [00:27:41.47] I remember playing with the friends that I had in elementary school, and friends that we played with. And so I don't really have any strong-- strong personal memories came when I was in high school. And I went to a school called Sun High School on the north side of Chicago.
  • [00:28:13.45] And I was an athlete. I was a skinny kid. I was 4 foot 6, and I weight about 70 pounds. And I thought, this is no good. I can't go on this way. And I went and saw the gymnastic team putting on an exhibition in the assembly hall. And so I said, that's for me.
  • [00:28:38.78] So I went and took that up, and I started growing and all that stuff. I got to be the-- I was the second in the city by a quarter of a point. I was second. I did that, and that got me a lot of open doors into school-- universities, like I told you. I never applied to college. I just went, just like you go to public schools, the high school, or something-- I just showed up and said, I'm here.
  • [00:29:19.56] And I stayed there. And I had a good thing. And I'm glad I went to Michigan State. And I'll be more glad this weekend, when they beat Michigan.
  • [00:29:31.22] So I played trumpet, and I was in jazz bands. There wasn't any rock and roll yet, there was just jazz. I played in a band. Story you can see-- story-- we had a--
  • [00:29:57.37] SPEAKER 1: We can get to all that later, if you want. We can get to all of that later, if you want. There's actually going to be a part about your high school life.
  • [00:30:03.66] HERB DAVID: Whatever you want me to do.
  • [00:30:04.89] SPEAKER 1: Yeah, how about we finish this part, and then we can get there?
  • [00:30:06.69] HERB DAVID: I'm sorry?
  • [00:30:07.47] SPEAKER 1: How about we finish this part, just about your early memories, and then we can get to your high school later?
  • [00:30:12.88] HERB DAVID: OK. About my early memories?
  • [00:30:15.90] SPEAKER 1: Yes, so what was your house like growing up?
  • [00:30:22.89] HERB DAVID: Well, my grandfather and my mother and her sisters, we lived in an apartment on the south side of Chicago. Because my aunts all worked at the University of Chicago. And we lived in a place, and I went to public school-- elementary school. And I don't remember. I only remember is-- I didn't have a bedroom. I slept on chairs. They had a couple of chairs that they'd put together, and I used to sleep on the chairs.
  • [00:31:09.06] I don't remember much about how we-- used to play kick the can outside. And--
  • [00:31:17.76] SPEAKER 1: How many people lived in that apartment when you--
  • [00:31:20.34] HERB DAVID: I'm sorry?
  • [00:31:20.79] SPEAKER 1: How many people lived with you?
  • [00:31:23.59] HERB DAVID: Four. My grandfather had a room, and my aunt-- four. There were four of us that lived there.
  • [00:31:34.42] SPEAKER 1: Did they speak any foreign languages other than English?
  • [00:31:37.69] HERB DAVID: We hardly spoke any English. They spoke mostly Yiddish, Jewish, and Russian, Ukraine. And my grandfather would speak-- or my mother would speak whatever language she thought she could speak on the phone or to somebody so you wouldn't understand what she said. Of course, you did understand, because everybody spoke the same languages.
  • [00:32:14.26] But yeah, there was a lot of French. My mother read, wrote, and spelled in five languages. And there were several-- my grandfather spoke a lot of languages too, so when I was growing up, I spoke French, and Russian, and Yiddish, and all that stuff. And I forgot them after I got old enough to be in high school. I didn't use them anymore. I forgot everything.
  • [00:32:52.54] Mother wrote poetry and all that stuff in Russian, and French, and different languages. So we never spoke much English in the house, because--
  • [00:33:04.43] SPEAKER 1: Were there any other languages around in your neighborhood?
  • [00:33:09.78] HERB DAVID: I'm sure there were, but we tried to-- no, I don't recall. Well, when I was younger, we lived in a far west-- Northwest side of Chicago, near Kedzie and Roosevelt Road in an ethnic neighborhood, where there were a lot of what we used to call-- what everybody used to call kikes and niggers and-- I forgot what they called-- wops, they called-- that was Italians-- and all these nasty names. And that was on the far west--
  • [00:34:05.97] Eventually, I mean, we lived there. But eventually, that became an interesting thing. Because that was Roosevelt road. And it became Maxwell Street. That was the name of the neighborhood a little farther east, towards the downtown. It became Maxwell Street. And that was like-- all the ethnic people around used to come in with carts and go up and down the street and sell their stuff. Or they rented space in a basement, buildings all lining a certain area, a mile-long area along Maxwell Street.
  • [00:34:58.02] And the Jewish people said, you know, we don't get enough people buying stuff here. So let's see what we can do about attracting them. So let's rent some musicians. So they brought some musicians up from the South, from the deep South, some jazz musicians. And then those jazz musicians said, you know, they can't hear us too good, because we're out on the sidewalk, in the street. We're in the open. So buy us some amplifiers. So they bought amplifiers.
  • [00:35:39.84] So that was the beginning of rock and roll, on the sidewalks of Maxwell Street. Lots of the piano players and guitar players, all that, it started off there. The name Muddy Waters, and all the names that you might remember if you know something about the history of jazz.
  • [00:36:05.23] So that was kind of a fascinating place to be. You could buy anything you wanted on Maxwell Street. You can buy cars. You can buy washing machines, or any drugs, and whatever you want. So there are people laying all over the sidewalks. They were high on something. Maxwell Street-- that's a street that doesn't exist anymore. I think there is a street they call Maxwell Street, but it's not where it was, and it's not the same ethnicity.
  • [00:36:42.62] So that was-- did that answer your question? Does that clarify it?
  • [00:36:48.93] SPEAKER 1: Yeah, definitely. So what was your earliest memory? Just in general--
  • [00:36:54.99] HERB DAVID: My earliest memory? God, I'm going to have to think about it. Playing for puries in elementary school at recess time. You know puries-- what puries are? Puries are marbles, marbles with just one color that you can see through them. And we used to play marbles. I don't know, people don't play marbles anymore. But we used to play marbles during recess time.
  • [00:37:38.08] And when we weren't doing that, then we'd find-- Good Humor man. I don't know if-- I don't think it's a Good Humor man anymore, but they used to go around with carts and selling ice cream-- when we weren't playing marbles, we'd have a-- I remember buying-- I couldn't afford much, because we didn't have any money. And if I spent money that we didn't have, I was punished for it.
  • [00:38:11.52] I remember, I bought a yo-yo. I had $0.10, and I bought a yo-yo. And my mother just got furious, because we were wasting money on yo-yos. And we lived in a--
  • [00:38:29.91] SPEAKER 1: So what was a typical day like before you entered school?
  • [00:38:34.39] HERB DAVID: Before I entered school?
  • [00:38:35.39] SPEAKER 1: Before you entered school.
  • [00:38:40.81] HERB DAVID: Well, you're taking me back through a time where I don't really remember much until long ago, but I wish I did. And it's a good questions-- I'm glad you're asking those. Because I'm writing my autobiography, and those are questions I'll address now, about what I felt when I was a-- that's a lot of questions I do remember.
  • [00:39:01.90] But I don't remember what my day was like, you know, I-- I'd get up in the morning and have breakfast. And then my mother would leave, would go to work on the north. We lived on the south side. She worked on the north side. And so she'd get up, she'd leave early.
  • [00:39:29.42] And I'd get up, and I'd go out and meet up with some friends. And we played games on the sidewalk-- kick the can, or whatever it was. That's all I really remember, [INAUDIBLE]. What else-- that's a great question. You're asking some really good questions. I'm glad you're asking them. Things I should [INAUDIBLE], I would like to remember. I really enjoyed it, growing up.
  • [00:40:08.16] SPEAKER 1: OK, so did you have any favorite toys, or games, or books, or other things that you played with?
  • [00:40:20.14] HERB DAVID: What was the game-- Red Rover, Red Rover, come over? You know what that is? Where you'd get in a line, and two teams line up, and then you run over and try to break through the other side. That wasn't always a favorite game, because you got hurt sometimes, when the other side didn't give, and you got flipped over on your head and fell on the sidewalk.
  • [00:40:53.89] This is when I was in elementary school, right? You don't want me to go beyond that?
  • [00:40:57.95] SPEAKER 1: Yeah, probably just elementary school for now.
  • [00:41:07.08] SPEAKER 2: That's about-- oh, and I went to Hebrew school. My grandfather [INAUDIBLE] once. And we'd sit and study together so that I would learn, so I could have my bar mitzvah, my introduction to adult life. So I spent some time every day studying with my grandfather.
  • [00:41:44.20] What else happened? I don't remember much. But I will dwell on this, because I'd like to remember some more of it. I don't remember.
  • [00:42:14.26] SPEAKER 1: So are there any special days, events, or family traditions that you remember from before you started school?
  • [00:42:20.50] HERB DAVID: Any special days?
  • [00:42:21.76] SPEAKER 1: Any special days, traditions that you guys did.
  • [00:42:27.28] HERB DAVID: Well, my family was very close. And cousins, and uncles, and aunts from all the different sides of our family-- remote and-- this family that I was associated most with was-- you call them [? Unay, ?] [? Uni, ?] [? Yunigovsky, ?] [INAUDIBLE]. But there was also other family that was connected [INAUDIBLE], [? Fogel. ?] And so we had [? Fogel ?] [? Unay ?] family club.
  • [00:43:18.00] And we used to get together about every other Sunday. In the warm weather, we'd get to go out on the lakefront, and the park. And in winter, we'd get together at somebody's home. And I remember in my uncle Willie's apartment-- house-- everybody lived in apartments in Chicago-- and seeing some people that worked for him dancing. It's the first time I ever seen jazz dancing. They're black people, and they were doing some native dancing. And I'll never forget what they looked like, and what they did, and the spirit that they [INAUDIBLE]. I'll never forget that one.
  • [00:44:17.47] But we used to get together and there'd be lots of people, and lots of food, and lots of singing. And my uncle would run around playing a broom-- we'd play and strum on a broom and sing songs to the women. They're all gone now. Everybody's [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:44:57.13] And my cousin, Boo Boo-- I don't know why we call him Boo Boo. We call him Boo Boo. When he was around, we got to play together. And he eventually became a professor in Oklahoma. He's gone now, too. But now-- I guess if I sit here long enough, I can remember a few things. I don't know how long you got to sit here, but-- I don't want to take too much time.
  • [00:45:34.30] SPEAKER 1: We're actually almost there.
  • [00:45:35.45] HERB DAVID: I'm glad you're asking questions.
  • [00:45:38.45] SPEAKER 1: Yeah, I'm glad I'm asking these questions too.
  • [00:45:40.17] HERB DAVID: These are great questions.
  • [00:45:41.29] SPEAKER 1: Yeah, they are really good questions.
  • [00:45:42.39] HERB DAVID: Yeah, they are, if you say so.
  • [00:45:46.10] SPEAKER 1: Well, they're not my questions. They were given to us by the Legacies Project. So whoever wrote these did a really good job. It seems like we've reached the end of our interview for today.
  • [00:46:01.15] So first of all, I need everyone in the room to turn off any cell phones, pagers, or anything else that can beep. I just want to remind you again, Mr. David, that you can call for a break anytime you want. If you don't answer a question, you can just skip it. And if you want to terminate the interview at any time, you can.
  • [00:46:19.00] HERB DAVID: OK, you don't have a whip or something like that, so if I don't answer a question, do they snap it?
  • [00:46:25.25] SPEAKER 1: No. OK, so did you go to pre-school?
  • [00:46:29.84] HERB DAVID: Did I go to preschool?
  • [00:46:30.77] SPEAKER 1: Yeah.
  • [00:46:32.31] HERB DAVID: Like nursery or something like that? Yes and no. I say yes and no because my aunt was a physician, and she was in charge of a nursery. And so I used to hang out there a lot, eat there, and sometimes, I would sleep over there and all that stuff.
  • [00:46:57.85] But other than that, if she wasn't there, I wouldn't have been there. And we lived about a block away from the nursery she was at. So I guess I have to answer yes and no.
  • [00:47:15.82] SPEAKER 1: Did you go to kindergarten?
  • [00:47:17.60] HERB DAVID: Did I go to kindergarten? It didn't come to me, so I did go. Boy, look at the-- I don't remember going to kindergarten. I might have, but nothing flashes across the screen of my memory. I liked kindergarten.
  • [00:47:49.97] SPEAKER 1: How about elementary school?
  • [00:47:51.12] HERB DAVID: Did I go? That's a great-- you're asking such good questions. I may go home and I got really something to think about. You know, you sort of-- you plant the germs of memories of the past. But yeah, I went to elementary school.
  • [00:48:11.80] SPEAKER 1: OK, where at?
  • [00:48:12.65] HERB DAVID: That I did go. That was in Chicago, and the name of the school was-- now, I got two names coming into my head. It was either Pope or Kozminski. I forget-- I don't know which was it. I think it was Kozminski School, where I was-- the earlier part of my elementary school. And I think the later part was after like fourth grade or something, it was-- when I told yesterday-- last meeting about the puries and marbles that we used to play and all that, and Good Humor man. That was in probably in Pope school.
  • [00:48:58.90] So, I don't know-- I don't remember. How would I remember elementary school? I mean, the first couple of years-- I mean, as I answer your question, I do get flashes of memory, of things that I saw, you know-- where I hung my coat, and all that kind of stuff.
  • [00:49:24.32] SPEAKER 1: So where did you go to high school then?
  • [00:49:26.15] HERB DAVID: Did I go to high school? It didn't come to me. Yes, I did. I had a great school-- Sun High School. By that time, we had moved to the-- we'd gotten a little more stable economically. We were poor. We lived in neighborhoods where you could-- as I say these words, I see things in my-- but we couldn't live in a better place.
  • [00:50:07.13] And my mother got married when I was in high school-- ready for high school. And so yeah, Sun High School. I remember lots of things about Sun High School. We had a lot of reunions until last-- this current time.
  • [00:50:39.04] And I don't know if we're going to have anymore. Because the guy-- there was a guy that used to organize these things. And we started having reunions when we were 10 years out of high school-- that's a long time for you. That's long time for me too. But we had them about every 10 years. We'd have a get together.
  • [00:51:02.96] I think I told you about the-- I mean, I remember our homeroom. We had a homeroom in the morning. You get into homeroom, and the teacher in charge of the homeroom would get us going on what we had to be aware of for the day.
  • [00:51:29.53] Dr. Davidson-- I remember his name. We got together in a chemistry lab. That was our thing. I don't remember what I told you and what I didn't tell you, but in that room was a girl that I had a really deep crush on. And I really, really, really wanted her to really like me. And so I tried to make myself as available and as pleasant as I could. But she ever knew I was alive. She never paid any attention to me at all.
  • [00:52:08.30] Most embarrassing moment-- I guess I shouldn't be telling you this-- but the most embarrassing moment is I had a cold one day. And I was trying to work on some kind of work-- would take her out to-- you would go to a movie, or something like that. And I sneezed, and I had a really big green snake-- sort of fell onto my shirt. And I didn't realize that. And I looked at it and I was so embarrassed. But she never knew I was alive.
  • [00:52:47.90] And then every time we had a reunion, I would say her name, and say, does anybody know what's happening? What happened to her? Or where she is? Nobody knew anything, or nobody would tell me anything. But our last-- finally, about the 5th reunion we had, the last reunion, she was there. And I tried to walk over, just talk to her and say something. But she didn't know I was there either.
  • [00:53:22.22] So it's OK, because she was no longer the raving beauty that she was when you were in elementary school, you know. I never had that-- by that time, I just wanted to say hello and tell her how I felt for her when we were in school together. Which she was more interested in talking to her girlfriends, so I just walked away and said, OK, well, that's-- and that's my high school-- elementary-- when I was in first year of high school.
  • [00:53:58.44] SPEAKER 1: What about any schooling beyond high school?
  • [00:54:00.93] HERB DAVID: I'm sorry?
  • [00:54:01.59] SPEAKER 1: Did you go to any school beyond high school?
  • [00:54:04.38] HERB DAVID: Did I go to any school? No, not any school. I went to Michigan State, a good school, had a good-- but beyond high school-- part of high school-- well, let's see, was it high school? And I'm confused as to what my timeline was, but part of my high school-- I'm just stepping back [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:54:47.38] Because I went to military school when I was in high school too. I don't know how my folks ever paid for it, but I went to a school where it was during the Second World War. And boy, you had to wear a uniform-- that was really something. All my uncles were in the army and all that stuff. So I wanted to wear a uniform.
  • [00:55:14.15] I know I was in sixth grade. Yeah, I think it was sixth grade that I moved to a public high school. Yeah, that's where I learned to play the trumpet, because I was playing trumpet when I was in sixth grade.
  • [00:55:39.66] Yeah, wearing a uniform so I could be like my uncle daddy, because I didn't have a father that I didn't know. I mean, I had a father, I guess. But I didn't know my father. So my uncle really was loving to me, and he really took care of me-- took me all around the place. I used to call him Uncle Daddy, and he was a great guy.
  • [00:56:06.54] He was a very smart man. He spoke a lot of languages. And so he was in the army, but he was in the intelligence, in the Secret Service. And they sent him over to Germany behind the lines. And was to spy on and gather some kind of secret information, which he did.
  • [00:56:35.76] And he and-- there were two other guys-- were on their way back to the Americans, and he was in a Jeep and he was supposed to drive. And the other guy said, no, I'll drive. And so the Nazis discovered their escape route, and they shelled them and blew up the Jeep. And the guy that drove was killed, and my uncle was thrown into a ditch with one leg-- with his left leg was sort of laying across his body like that. So he had a limp the rest of his life. He never really liked to talk too much about what his experiences were. It's understandable, but--
  • [00:57:37.93] So that was part of my high school-- that age, that experience. He kept me stable. He kept me [INAUDIBLE]. He gave me a person to know I had somebody I could count on that cared for me, besides my mother.
  • [00:58:07.21] So I went to military school and I went to regular high school. Junior Military Academy is where I went to. [INAUDIBLE] I played in a band and all that stuff, and then I went to Sun High School.
  • [00:58:24.74] I forget why. I think I wanted to continue going to another Military Academy in Chicago. Morgan Park-- it's just outside of Chicago. But I think I exceeded my mother's ability to continue paying for my high school and my things. So that's when I went to public school. So yeah, I did go to high school.
  • [00:58:58.75] SPEAKER 1: What do you remember about the popular music when you were growing up?
  • [00:59:07.48] HERB DAVID: The blues and jazz, and I thought-- well, you know, there was all these songs that we sang to our girlfriends and all, and things we sang. I think there were some great Frank Sinatra and singers and all that, and some great trumpet players.
  • [00:59:34.37] And I thought that-- and there was-- it was very exciting. I thought it was very creative music, I think, even more so than what came after, when you got the rock and roll. I thought they would-- with the jazz, it's very, very good music. I thought it was very great.
  • [00:59:59.61] SPEAKER 1: Were there any dances associated with the music that you guys listened to?
  • [01:00:03.57] HERB DAVID: What's that?
  • [01:00:04.63] SPEAKER 1: Were there any special dances that you learned, or trends?
  • [01:00:08.98] HERB DAVID: Yeah, all the time. In high school, we used to have a-- in the assembly hall, the bands used to play in the assembly hall. And we'd dance on the stage-- anybody. It was just an open house. Anybody could dance up on the stage during that time.
  • [01:00:40.54] You know, I don't know if I told you these stories or not, but I was in a band. I played in a band. I played trumpet. And did I-- the story about we had a gig, and we played at a dance-- and I think I was a junior in high school. What was it? On a far south side, and we lived on the north side.
  • [01:01:13.23] And so we playing until like 2:00 in the morning. And they wanted to drive me home. I said, no, no, don't bother. I'll take the streetcar. So they dropped me off on it on the island-- the streetcar island. And I stood there, waiting for the streetcar to come.
  • [01:01:34.22] Before the streetcar came, these three guys walked up behind me and said, what do you got there in that case? I said, oh, just some dirty clothes and all that stuff. So they said, let me see that case. I mean, I was alone and it was 2:00 in the morning.
  • [01:01:52.13] And it was a neighborhood near Riverview Park. It's one of the few amusement parks in the country at that time. They had all these things you can go on-- rides and it's kind of a really low level neighborhood-- not a place you really should have been at 2 o'clock in the morning with a trumpet in your hand.
  • [01:02:24.67] And so I said, it's dirty clothes. And they said, oh, let me see that. And they took it away from me. And I began to get the idea that you really didn't want to mess with these guys. And so they opened up and saw I had a trumpet in there. And they said, oh, you want to play games with me, huh?
  • [01:02:43.22] So they took me behind in an alley behind the stores, and they took my clothes off. And I thought, hey, I'm macho. I'm stronger. I'll show these guys. And then I said, no, maybe you better not do that, because the guy is holding a knife. And so I didn't know what was possible for him to do, or who these guys were. They were probably some druggies and all that stuff.
  • [01:03:15.72] And so they took my clothes off and put me down in a mud puddle. And then they tied my hands behind my back with-- I had a tie on and everything. It was a tie and everything. And then they left me there.
  • [01:03:36.03] And so I thought, oh my god, what am I going to do now? I'm a half a block to a very busy neighborhood. I mean, the only thing that happens is street cars go by here, or the bus goes by here once in a while. And here, I had no clothes on.
  • [01:03:59.14] And so I thought, well, how do I get out of this? So I just sort of slithered along next to buildings until I came to a shop. And then I sort of stuck my head around through the door. And they looked at me in amazement. I mean, who knows, I mean, in this neighborhood, it's always possible for somebody to be wandering around like that. And anyways, it's normally some drunk guy, drunk kid or something [INAUDIBLE].
  • [01:04:33.44] I stuck my head around and told them my story, and asked them if they'd call my folks-- my father, and see if he could come and get me-- which he did. They did call him, and he came and got me. He was kind of amazed at what the circumstance was.
  • [01:04:56.15] So I never got my trumpet back. But I heard about it from some my teachers. They said that somebody come try to sell it to them. But I got another trumpet, just the same thing, which I still have, and which I just started playing again, after 25 years.
  • [01:05:23.74] I don't know if that's part of the story of high school, but that's what I remember. And so that was that. Then my dad took me home, and we went on with life, and I had a story to tell.
  • [01:05:53.91] So this is high school experience you're asking me about? Went to high school--
  • [01:05:59.77] SPEAKER 1: What do you remember about the clothing that people would wear when you were growing up?
  • [01:06:05.52] HERB DAVID: Oh man, I had hair down to my waist in the back. And fashion was to have a duck's ass. I don't know if you know what a duck's ass is, but it was a popular way to comb your hair. I mean, we used these things that women used to set their hair. It made your hair like concrete, it was really stiff.
  • [01:06:31.03] But duck's ass is you comb your hair back and so it's slicked to the sides. You want to look real greasy and all that stuff, because that was part of fashion too. And you comb it all back and so tight against the back your head, and then you run your finger down the middle of the thing so it looks like a duck's ass. So that was what the men used to-- that was what men did with long hair. I mean, so in the '60's here had nothing to do with the-- they didn't even know what a duck's ass was. You've probably never heard of it either.
  • [01:07:26.15] And then there was a process called Marcelling. I don't know who Marcel is, what Marcel is. But I used to work out at the beach, at Montrose Beach, as you call it. We would go there. We were gymnasts, and we'd go, and they had a horizontal bar, so we'd go there and work out. And Rots-- I'm trying to remember the guy's name--
  • [01:07:54.89] Gorgeous George was a famous wrestler there. And Gorgeous George started the rage of Marcelling-- it was this dyeing your hair-- make your hair like little curls and dye your hair blonde. So that was a fashion too, you would Marcel your hair.
  • [01:08:26.27] And of course we had zoot suits that we were-- zoot suits were-- the pants were like peg bottoms. They were narrow at the ankles and wider at the top.
  • [01:08:45.85] And I remember when I was a freshman in college, a guy called Willy Thrower was on the football team. He was a quarterback, and he was a good one. And he had an arm. And he could throw a football 100 yards and hit a gnat's eyelash if he wanted to. But Willy Thrower used to wear zoot suits, he did. He defined what zoot suits would look like. It was this powder blue jacket and shirt and hat.
  • [01:09:27.75] And blue suede shoes-- that Elvis Presley made that-- I don't know if you've ever heard that song, blue suede shoes, but he had the blue suede shoes and powder blue clothes and all that stuff. So people used to wear zoot suits, the zoot suits and long hair. That's about it for what we wore.
  • [01:10:04.98] SPEAKER 1: Were there any other fads or styles in general that you remember?
  • [01:10:08.19] HERB DAVID: I'm sorry?
  • [01:10:08.91] SPEAKER 1: Were there any other fads or styles that you remember just in general, not necessarily clothes?
  • [01:10:13.70] HERB DAVID: For clothes, you mean, or whatever?
  • [01:10:15.93] SPEAKER 1: Whatever.
  • [01:10:36.19] HERB DAVID: No, nothing's coming to me right off the bat, so no.
  • [01:10:39.96] SPEAKER 1: Was there any slang that isn't used commonly today?
  • [01:10:43.38] HERB DAVID: Say it again, please.
  • [01:10:44.63] SPEAKER 1: Slang, like words that you used often, but we don't really use--
  • [01:10:48.72] HERB DAVID: Oh, slang?
  • [01:10:49.41] SPEAKER 1: Yeah.
  • [01:10:54.53] HERB DAVID: Yeah, sure there was. But I'll think of it as we go along with the-- yeah, there was ways of talking. It was phrases that you needed to use. But they're not coming to my mind right now. But yeah, there was a lot of slang. You don't have that anymore. Or do you have slang now?
  • [01:11:28.59] SPEAKER 1: We have some slang.
  • [01:11:29.39] HERB DAVID: Yeah, some. But we used to use really jazzy words. I'll think of them as we go along, but I'm not thinking of them now. Now they're popping in and out of my head, but I can't remember.
  • [01:11:56.82] SPEAKER 1: What was a typical day like for you during high school?
  • [01:12:00.26] HERB DAVID: What was a typical day?
  • [01:12:16.20] I was an athlete, so I was a gymnast. I was four foot seven when I was a sophomore in high school, and I weighed 60 pounds. And I went to see a gymnastic meet, a gymnastic team put on a show, and I said, that's for me. I'm going to take that up. So I took that up.
  • [01:12:48.02] And so part of my day in the morning was to workout at the gym with the gymnastic team. And I got to be pretty good. And when we had city meets, I was like, second by a quarter of a point I missed in the first-- so I was one of the better gymnasts in Chicago, and that later on played well for me when I was starting to go to college.
  • [01:13:37.43] I told you, I never went to college. I never paid tuition. I don't know how, I just went and never applied to college. I told you that story, I think.
  • [01:13:53.35] So that was in the morning. And then I had an arrangement with another guy who was on the team, who didn't remember me when we met at reunions. But he helped me get through physics, and I helped him get through something else. I forget what it was that he couldn't get through.
  • [01:14:29.34] But then in the afternoon, I played in a band. So I played in a marching band. Then, you know, your classes-- all that stuff I [INAUDIBLE]. French class and languages and all the [INAUDIBLE].
  • [01:14:52.01] Mrs. Sweeney's in the English depart-- English with Mrs. Sweeney. She was a middle aging woman with dyed red hair, which is unusual, [INAUDIBLE] except platinum blonde was popular because of-- what was her name, that actress that started platinum blonde?
  • [01:15:26.25] Anyways, Sweeney-- Mrs. Sweeney had red hair, and she was kind of emotional. And she wanted all of us to do well. And when we didn't do good in a test, she got emotional. And she'd cry, and all that stuff. And if she caught you cheating on a test, she grabbed her hand and shake it around.
  • [01:15:46.87] And Mrs. Sweeney, when she wanted to criticize you or something, she had-- she'd point a finger at you. But her finger always had a spot of ink on the end of it. And she'd wrap a rubber around her finger, and she pointed at you like that, like she's going to shoot you with that. I'll never forget Mrs. Sweeney. She really, really wanted everybody to do well in school, though, [INAUDIBLE].
  • [01:16:31.29] So during the day, we had-- you know, there were your classes and we had these great mobs that went down the hall, just like you do here. We had a big school, so--
  • [01:16:49.95] There was a little restaurant right across the street from the high school. And frequently, we'd just sit in a seat close to the window, so when we got the chance, we'd just duck out the window and go across the street to have a-- whatever it was-- something to eat, or something to drink.
  • [01:17:30.40] And you had to be careful with that restaurant, because they were known to put something in your Coke-- Spanish fly. I don't know if you know what Spanish fly was at the time. That was a sexual stimulant. It'd make you itch. We'd duck out of school and try to go over there, not for the Spanish fly, but just to get away.
  • [01:18:09.69] SPEAKER 1: What else did you guys do for fun?
  • [01:18:11.79] HERB DAVID: I'm just remembering those things. What?
  • [01:18:14.01] SPEAKER 1: What else did you guys do for fun?
  • [01:18:16.00] HERB DAVID: What else did we do for fun?
  • [01:18:17.72] SPEAKER 1: Yeah.
  • [01:18:26.33] HERB DAVID: I mean, we had the usual thing, we had the dances and all that stuff. And I was going to say danced on the stage during recess and all that stuff. There were things we did during school and things we did after school. And so I used to-- all I remember is that we'd go--
  • [01:19:03.97] I had a number of girlfriends, and so I used to take them-- we'd go on a boat just to go out and paddle around-- rent a boat. And we'd just go around there, looking at-- what was around the neighborhood.
  • [01:19:22.70] Not too far away was a Museum of Science and Industry, and we used to go there and just run around. I don't know if you've heard of that, but that's some place you should go if you haven't. And we'd go in there. So we'd go to museum, or to the place where you look at stars-- the astrology museum and all that stuff. So we'd do that, or we'd just go and hang out on the beach or something.
  • [01:20:08.48] Yeah, I remember running around that beach now. It is a good place to go, because there was a-- we were right on the lake shore. The school wasn't too far from the lake shore-- Lake Michigan. And there was big, big boulders all along the shores, so there were a lot of places to just sit and watch the water, and watch things, or jump in and get a good swim out to the place where they sterilized the water and all that stuff. That was the goal. They'd go out there and swim out to the place-- I forget what they call it. I'm trying to think of the name, but whatever it was.
  • [01:21:03.22] [CHIME]
  • [01:21:03.60] Norm [? Schoenfeld, ?] we were close. And we had-- Bill Patterson, his father was an executive that had a political position, and so he had some money, anyway. And so he got us going with animals. And so we had some pets, like an ocelot. It's like a little leopard, a little tiger. And we started to have a falconry group. We got together with-- we had a peregrine falcon.
  • [01:21:49.89] And so finally, we'd go out and hunt with the peregrine falcon. And people would come over and they liked the look of the ocelot, because it's a beautiful cat. But they tried to-- we could feed it and mess with it, but they couldn't. Because it knew who we were, but it didn't know who [INAUDIBLE]. So people came over, and they said, oh, what a pretty cat. And they wanted to pet it. They were close to losing their hands, their arm, something like that. Because the cat was aggressive, could be aggressive. So we had those pets.
  • [01:22:35.38] And later on, I was telling my first wife's family about the ocelot. And they thought that was really great, so they got an ocelot. And they fixed up a room on the back of their house where they could keep the ocelot.
  • [01:23:03.63] And they also had a little dog-- I don't know, a Pekingese, or something-- what it was. And the dog liked to taunt the ocelot-- bark at it all the time. One time, the Pekingese disappeared. We had some idea what might have happened to the dog, but we never talked about it.
  • [01:23:36.24] The cat would greet people as-- the family when they'd come home by jumping on them, tackle them, and jumping on their back. They pulled the nails out so that they couldn't scratch them and all that stuff.
  • [01:23:57.57] Bill Patterson-- he was a really good gymnast. And he got married when he was 16. He was really ashamed that he screwed his life up that way. But he-- we all took flying lessons. We thought it'd be fun to learn how to fly. So he took lessons. And I remember the first time I took a flight. And somebody had been in the plane before me, and he threw up all over the inside, and didn't introduce me, get me started right.
  • [01:24:39.19] Anyways, Al [? Lohman-- ?] I remember names now that I never remembered before-- and Bill Patterson got serious about their flying. We flew around in a Stearman. It was a bi-wing plane, the open cockpits, like you see in the old movies, where you sit there and let your-- what do you call that thing you wore around your neck to keep warm? Let that stream off in the air flow in the back.
  • [01:25:29.54] And so we took lessons in the Stearman. These guys got-- Al [? Lohman ?] and Bill Patterson got serious about the flying. And he got a pilot's license. He was probably 17. He got a pilot's license. But he couldn't get a job flying a plane, because he was too young in the United States. So he went down to South America and got a job flying planes.
  • [01:26:11.51] But obviously, nobody knows what happened to him. Because he disappeared one time and never came. We never saw him again. I guess, he started a company where he would pick up things from boats and fly them in to shore for the companies. And then evidently, we got the idea that he started doing a little drugs with that too.
  • [01:27:00.09] So we got together-- I don't know if I'm telling you things you want to hear. But we got Bill Patterson and Al [? Lohman ?] and Norman [? Schoenfeld, ?] and with another guy-- I can't remember his name. But we hung out a lot together. We'd ride around-- [? Al ?] had a Cushman motor scooter. So we'd all pile on there and go for rides and go places.
  • [01:27:40.72] We'd go during the day, we'd hang out in the parks in Chicago and play tennis. Chicago is a good place to grow up, at least when I was growing up. They had these park houses where they had all sorts of gyms, and all sorts of facilities for getting meeting rooms, and all that kind of stuff. And groups, they would start-- they had these parks about every couple of miles. And so they were great for a place if you needed a place to go. You always had a place to go when you had these parks. So we'd get there and play tennis in the park and all like that.
  • [01:28:38.94] At night, we'd go to the movies or something like that. We liked to see Frankenstein movies, or something that had some little dangerous thing like that in there. When we got out of the movie and it was dark, we would come home down the middle of the street, because we didn't want any dangerous characters thinking-- who were waiting for us-- they'd be waiting for us around the corner or in a driveway or something. So we didn't want anybody to be attacked by these monsters or whatever that were lurking around in the neighborhood. So we walked home. We went home by going down the middle of the street.
  • [01:29:45.69] So one of the guys that we know was a hypnotist. He was good with hypnosis, hypno things. So he'd hypnotize us, and he made us into butterflies, and whatever. Then we'd go butterflying down the neighborhood [INAUDIBLE].
  • [01:30:12.72] SPEAKER 1: Are there any other social or historical events that you remember?
  • [01:30:16.17] HERB DAVID: I'm sorry?
  • [01:30:17.01] SPEAKER 1: Are there any other social or historical events that you remember from that time that had an impact on your life?
  • [01:30:24.43] HERB DAVID: Well, that was all the time-- what we did all the time. There were dances and we would go to dances. What else did we do?
  • [01:30:59.91] Norm and I were really inseparable. We looked a lot alike, and we really liked each other. And he went to Lane Tech and I went to Sun High School. But other than that, we hung out together.
  • [01:31:16.96] My family used to rent a cottage in the summer for a while. We'd go over to Union Pier, Michigan. We'd go out there, and he'd go with me. He'd come visit with them. We had a great time, splashing around and all that stuff.
  • [01:31:33.68] And I always thought Norm was better looking than I was, because he had a really square jaw. He looked very masculine. But I always got all the girls, and so we'd fight about that a little bit. That was-- our summer's there, was going to the lake at Union Pier.
  • [01:32:20.28] His mother, I remember, made really good cookies. So she'd always have some cookies [INAUDIBLE]. [INAUDIBLE].
  • [01:32:34.50] SPEAKER 1: What about your family? Or were there any special holidays that you guys celebrated, or anything like that?
  • [01:32:40.28] HERB DAVID: At our holidays?
  • [01:32:41.70] SPEAKER 1: Yeah.
  • [01:32:42.03] HERB DAVID: Yes. Mostly, our holidays that we reserved were Jewish holidays-- Passover, and all that stuff. And so we had a big family. All the families had emigrated here from Russia and from Poland. And I think I mentioned to you that they escaped some really horrible conditions over there where they were forced to live in pogroms.
  • [01:33:33.60] And I think I explained what a pogrom was to you, that the Jews were forced to live in a certain area. And they were not allowed to move outside of their areas on threat of life and all that, which made them easy prey for the Cossacks. And the Cossacks are like vigilantes, like wild west bandits. I mean, they rode around on horses, and did terrible things to anybody that they could do them to.
  • [01:34:14.46] Like they took my grandfather and dragged him-- attached him to a horse and dragged him over to a tree. And they were going to hang him. I don't know how he got away with not hanging him. But my folks did-- I think they said something about-- they had cows, and their cows attacked the Cossacks. They had a wall around there, where they lived. And the cows patrolled the walls, or whatever.
  • [01:35:01.32] The Cossacks used to come sometimes and rape the women and all that stuff. So someone, when they knew they were coming, they used to throw my mother and her sisters into the snow to get away from the Cossacks so they wouldn't be hurt.
  • [01:35:37.96] Came a time when the Jews were permitted-- were allowed to travel. I don't know what that time was, but I think--
  • [01:35:47.97] SPEAKER 1: OK, can you tell me a little bit about your married life? How did you meet your wife?
  • [01:35:54.81] HERB DAVID: How did I meet my wife? Well, I was married twice. I had two wives-- not at the same time. But I got married the first time to a wonderful woman that I met at Michigan State. She was running after me because she thought I was a boxer. And I don't know if she was disappointed because I was a gymnast, but anyways, we hit it off real well. We got married and kept going. I was going to school.
  • [01:36:38.75] And she was a very-- it was too young to get married. I shouldn't have got married. I was too young to get married, but I did, because I was so taken with her.
  • [01:37:02.23] My family was, as I said before, was a poor immigrant family. They were somewhat educated. I mean, I would say they had a high school education. And my mother claims that she went somewhere to college. I don't know, she claimed a lot of stuff. My mother was a good storyteller.
  • [01:37:26.95] But we were poor. And my mother sold curtains and yard goods in a department store, something like Penny's, it was a low-end department store. And my father, he sold shoes in the store, in the same--
  • [01:37:56.27] So we were-- nothing fancy in our life. I mean, we were just living as best we could on the income they could make from the department store.
  • [01:38:12.60] But I was infatuated with my future wife, because her father was an archaeologist. He was a professor of archeology at Michigan, and he was the head of the archeology department.
  • [01:38:36.59] This is a mythology, a whole story that you become familiar with, somehow where people like me from poor backgrounds get infatuated with somebody who has an education and lives in a much different level than my family. My folks were very loving and very giving, much more so than her family, but they were educated-- well educated. And I was infatuated with that. Because I had the opportunity to get a college education, and that put me in a different situation than the one that I grew up in, where if I had stayed with that, I'd probably be working in a department store selling some kind of yard goods or something-- whatever.
  • [01:39:33.92] So I wanted to get to know what life was like for people like that. Because she had an aunt who was a furniture manufacturer, and so very wealthy. And so I was infatuated with those possibilities, and I wanted to know something about how that life-- how life went.
  • [01:39:57.85] But that wasn't the only reason that I married her. I married because she was a very loving person. But they had a great influence on me, because I think I spent a lot of my life and things that I learned from them-- her father being an archaeologist, was an expert on Indians. He spoke like Ojibwe-- a language with the Indians from Northern Michigan. And he spent his time camping up there. He had a thing where he and his cousin would get-- they would fly him into a remote area of Canada, and then drop him off. And with a canoe, they would make their way back to Michigan, to the United States.
  • [01:41:09.93] And I thought that was a wonderful-- that very much appealed to me. And it had a great effect on me, because I spent my whole adult life traveling around the world. I don't know how many different places. And I got interested in Native Americans and native whatever-- people from different places in the world. And I got really interested in their life and how they managed to live in remote areas. And so that was that was one of the things that attracted me to her.
  • [01:42:03.61] SPEAKER 1: Was that your second wife?
  • [01:42:07.16] HERB DAVID: But like I say, we were just too young to get married. I was 21, and she was 22. But I wasn't ready to-- I didn't have any sort of substance-- way to make a living for our future, whatever it was. I was still going to school and all that sort of thing. And she had the burden of support and putting bread on the table-- was up to her. She was a schoolteacher. And so she made the money, and I just lived with her. And so I was too young.
  • [01:43:01.62] By the time I got recognition, and the time I started to get into being-- I got recognized as a craftsman and all that stuff, and started to be prosperous. She couldn't handle that, because she was used to taking care of me. And when I got to the point where I could take care of her and me, it was hard for her to deal with. So we got a divorce. She was wonderful and everything, but it just didn't work out anymore.
  • [01:43:48.87] So I was single for a long number of years. Had many relationships and all that kind of stuff. I got divorced from her when I was-- let's see-- [INAUDIBLE] 36-- 36, something like that-- in my 30's, by my 30's. And then I finally met up with--
  • [01:44:28.12] I had relationships with women that I really liked, but not well enough to commit to marriage. I had one woman who I always regretted that I didn't pursue. She was a model. She was beautiful. She had her picture in all the magazines, sitting in a wooden tub for the water. And it was in magazines. And she just wanted to marry me the worst way, but I wasn't ready.
  • [01:45:10.30] So I met my wife when I got to be in my late 60's. I said to myself, if I marry-- if I find a Jewish woman who has red hair, I said, I might get serious about that. So then she came in the store, in my shop, and she had red hair. And she looked [INAUDIBLE]. So I walked up to her, and I put my arms around her, and I kissed her. And she didn't slug me. That was the first thing that I did. And I was greedy. She didn't-- so I figured, OK, well, this is a keeper. I got to see what happens.
  • [01:45:59.92] So then I went to-- my mother was alive, and I was taking care of her at the time. I bought her a house not too far from mine. And I had an arrangement to go to Greenland and I couldn't go and leave my mother alone. So I thought I'd made arrangements with somebody to help watch her. She was in her 80's-- late 80's.
  • [01:46:40.21] And so I asked her, I said, you know, would you just look in on my mother and see that everything is going OK? Well, that turned out to be a real serious situation, because my mother chased out all the people that I hired to take care of her. She chased them all away. She didn't want [INAUDIBLE]. And so my wife now, she stuck with her and took care of her and all that stuff.
  • [01:47:08.96] She called me when I was in Iceland, and she said, you got to come back here and take care of your mother. I can't do it anymore. I can't. I got my own obligations, and I'm not meeting them. So you better come back. And I said, well, I can't do that. And she said, well, I can't do that, because I'm in such a remote area of the world that I can't. And so she said, I don't care. I said, the only way you can find me is if they search and discover. They had to go up with helicopters and look for me, because I was in that remote of an area in Greenland. And she said, I don't care. And I said, well, you know what? They said that that's going to cost a quarter of a million dollars. She says, I don't care what it costs. You get back here. I said, I don't think so.
  • [01:48:17.22] So fortunately, she relented and we didn't have the quarter of a million dollars to spend on finding me in this remote area of Greenland. Anyways, because they had to send helicopters after me if I was coming back.
  • [01:48:33.70] So finally, I came back, and she stuck with my mother. And I said, this is the woman. This is an unusual sort of person that has that kind of responsibility. So I got serious about her. And she was saying-- she says to me, well, you know, while you were gone, I had to watch your mother. That means I had to let my own-- she was a potter. She made pottery, and she was good. And she sold it at fairs.
  • [01:49:23.00] And she said, you know, I couldn't do anything, and I lost all this money. You're going to have to pay me. So I had to pay her for the time that I was gone. And I thought, OK, well, this is a great, great woman. It's the right person. She's got all the guts, and I enjoyed it.
  • [01:49:51.40] She was over at my mothers, visiting with my mother, and I said to my mother, I said, what do you think-- what would you think about me marrying this woman? And my mother looked really shocked and she-- OK. She was shocked. [INAUDIBLE]. That's the way it went. That was my proposal.
  • [01:50:20.00] And we've been married now 16 years. And it's been good and bad, the way any relationship goes. So that was it, then we got married.
  • [01:50:36.77] SPEAKER 1: Great. Well, now let's move on to your working years.
  • [01:50:41.18] HERB DAVID: I'm sorry?
  • [01:50:41.78] SPEAKER 1: Your work. So what was a typical day like during your working years?
  • [01:50:46.22] HERB DAVID: What was a typical day in my day? Well, it depends on whether it was in the early years or in the later years.
  • [01:50:55.46] In the early years, I was very-- you know, I'd get up at 8 o'clock in the morning, or 7:30, got to the shop early. Actually, what happened-- I guess I've got to step a step back-- is I was taking-- I was a psychologist doing research with monkeys. I was teaching monkeys how to play the piano. And I was working with-- we sent the first monkey up into space. I helped build the chair that the monkey was sitting in. And I had a lab in Ford Hospital, and I was doing graduate work at Wayne at the time.
  • [01:52:09.12] And we had a soundproof room. It was about this size, that we used to bring monkeys into. We were studying brain processes and monkeys-- actually trying to figure out where it is that your cognitive processes, how do you remember things, how do you learn things. And so we were starting-- that was in the monkeys.
  • [01:52:42.22] And I got thinking, you know, I've got a soundproof room about this size. I wonder what it would sound like if I brought my guitar in here, what a guitar would sound like in a soundproof room. So I took my guitar to there, and I was playing it. And the project was run by a psychiatrist. And I was a psychologist-- and no respect.
  • [01:53:13.02] He said, you know, you shouldn't bring your mandolin to a laboratory like this. He says, it's really not good practice. And I said, you know, I think you're right. I should take my mandolin home, and I should go with it. And so that's what I did. I just packed up my guitar and took all the data that I had collected teaching the monkeys to play and I went home, and that was it. I never went back.
  • [01:53:47.25] So I figured, OK, well, that's the thing for me. Maybe I need to be a musician and not a psychologist. And so I went home. And then my wife said, you can't stick around the house with all the students coming in and out of there. And she was mad at me, because I had lent one of my students one of the magazines that she had collected. And I didn't realize it was so precious to her, because he never brought it back.
  • [01:54:22.20] And so she says, you're going to get out of here. And I can't have these students tracking in and out of the house. So I got a room in the basement of a building downtown, Ann Arbor, underneath Bob Marsh's bookstore-- dusty. All the dust was filtering through the floorboards. And the cockroaches were big enough to make skateboards out of.
  • [01:54:54.00] So that was the beginning, was I was teaching people how to play guitar. And they always said-- someone said, you know, I got a problem. I don't know what to do about it. And I'd figure out how to fix their guitar. And so I got into fixing.
  • [01:55:13.31] And within a short time after I started fixing, for some reason, the good things started to fall on me. And so like the magazine-- the National Women's housekeeping-- forget the name of the magazine. It was a famous magazine. I can't think of the name of it. They came by and they said, you're making instruments? We want to do a story about you. So they did a story about me in a national magazine. That started off all kinds of things and whatnot.
  • [01:55:56.54] So I moved up in the world. I moved up to the second floor of the building and away from the dust. But still, where all the mice and everything are still in the building. God, it's the name of a famous magazine, it deals with houses and housekeeping and furniture and things like that.
  • [01:56:22.27] Anyways, so I there and then started making instruments and repairing them. And somehow, all that-- Ann Arbor had a good lecture concert series. And I got the Presbyterian church to start a coffeehouse that became the Ark. I don't know if you know who the Ark is, but the Ark is-- that's where he got started.
  • [01:56:59.97] And then all these famous people would used to come by. And so then they started coming by my shop, and I met them and all. And I played with the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra. I played in that, and then I got invited to play on national television.
  • [01:57:35.97] And things just started to really get big for me, and I got offers, agents that wanted to represent me and make me into a big star. And I'd tell them, not me. I'm not interested. I'm doing what I like. And I'm doing what I like, that's worth more than any money to me. So I don't want to. I don't want to. Well, what do you mean? How much do you want? And I said, there's no money. There's no price on it.
  • [01:58:07.09] Later on, I thought, maybe I should have let them do something. Maybe I should have-- you know, because I couldn't think of myself as being a famous entertainer, even though I played at very famous situations.
  • [01:58:26.96] I was still married to my original wife. And finally, eventually, we got divorced, and I met my present wife. And let's see-- I'm skipping over a lot of stuff, because--
  • [01:58:49.82] Anyhow, so I got to be making instruments for all kinds of people, people like John Paul Jones. I don't know if you know who he was-- the bass player. He would hang around. And John Lennon was hanging around. And all of these people that everybody knows about were hanging around there. And it was just fun to be around them. That's the way [INAUDIBLE]. It's not quite about why I got married, but--
Graphic for audio posts

Media

2016

Length: 01:59:30

Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)

Rights Held by: Ann Arbor District Library

Downloads


Subjects
Herb David Guitar Studio
Musical Instruments & Supplies - Retail & Repair
Ann Arbor
History
Local Business
Local Creators
Local History
Music
Oral Histories
Legacies Project
Herb David