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Interview with Maurice and Anna Lee Wolff




Anna Lee (Mrs. Maurice) Wolff was born in Minneapolis in 1886. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1908 and married Maurice Wolff in 1909. In 1914 she was the first president of the Women's Auxiliary of the Temple of Aaron. In 1918 she was a founder of the local organization of the National Council of Jewish Women, and for two terms she was president of the Minneapolis World Affairs Council. At the time of the interview she had been a member of a local writers' group for twenty-five years. Maurice Wolff was born in Minneapolis in 1884. His parents were very active in Temple Shore Tov (later Temple Israel). He graduated from high school in 1902 and went to work for the Rothchild advertising agency about five days later. He worked there until 1919, when he went to work in his wife's family's business. Later he was business editor of Lancet Publications, which included the medical journal Lancet. Wolff was president of the Jewish welfare board during World War I and was active in Masonry and skating. He was also a member of the board for Family and Children's Services of Hennepin County and lectured in advertising at the University of Minnesota, College of St. Thomas, and local business colleges. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Anna Lee Wolff--her early life in Minneapolis - activities in public and religious affairs - general absence of anti-Semitism - and her pacifist beliefs. Maurice Wolff--his career in advertising - interests in skating and social clubs - community service - and an absence of anti-Semitism. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: MHS received the interview material in 1972 from Mrs. Nathan Berman of the Minneapolis Federation for Jewish Service. The interview consists of two parts: part one is an interview with Anna Lee Wolff, and part two is an interview with Maurice Wolff.







Maurice Wolff Anna Lee Weiskopf Wolff Narrators Mrs. V.R. Gould Interviewer June 14, 1969 Minneapolis, MN

Maurice Wolff Anna Lee Weiskopf Wolff Mrs. V.R. Gould

- MW - AW - VG

VG: This is a sample of the kind of work done on this machine. We are going to record a history of Anna Lee and Maurice Wolff. AW: I have a long life to look back to, with many different periods. My name is Anna Lee Weiskopf Wolff. My parents were first cousins; their fathers were brothers in Czechoslovakia. My mother’s father came to this country direct to New York and then for some reason, which I have never found out, he moved to Charleston, South Carolina and opened a paint store. My mother, brought up in Charleston, was nineteen years old when she went to Savannah. My mother and all of her six brothers were born in Charleston. She was four years old at the time of Fort Sumter. Her father was in the Home Guard. They were just about to move out of the city, up into a safer place in the country near Charleston, when the Civil War ended. My father went into business in St. Augustine and then in Jacksonville with my mother’s oldest brother, after the folks were married. My father was in business down there in 1880 and he was influenced by some salesman travelling around the country who told him the prosperous future of America was in the upper Northwest. VG: And they came up . . . AW: They left their first child in the South and then came North to Minneapolis with two children. All the rest of us—there were nine in all—were born up here. VG: What were their names? AW: Lyle and Eddie came from Jacksonville. At eight years old Eddie died. Not very long after that, another boy was born up here and he died. Then came Robert, who lived to full manhood. I was next, then my sister Jessie, who now is Mrs. Leonard Cohen. And


then the twins were born, one of whom died within a week after birth. The other, Leonard, lived also to full manhood. VG: Where were you living in Minneapolis, Mrs. Wolff? AW: The changes in climate were very severe, and the stories they tell of the inadequacy of the housing in those days makes you shiver. I bend my knee to my father, when I think he came to this country at the age of seventeen and gradually, all on his own, built up a good business, first down there and then in Minneapolis, and became comfortable enough—I put it that way—to buy about a quarter of a square block on Chicago Avenue and Fifteenth Street, where he had three houses built, one on Chicago and Fifteenth, on the corner, and next to that a double house, 810 and 812. I couldn’t tell exactly whether I was born in 810 or 812, but it was one of those two on Fifteenth Street. The other children were all born there, and we lived there until I was almost ready to graduate from Central High School. I had the prospect of being on the honor roll at Central and my father, to whom education meant a very great deal, picked up his family and moved across the street to Sixteenth Street, so that I might continue at Central instead of having to go to South High School; the boundaries were changed very suddenly, so that Chicago Avenue divided the two districts between Central and South. I have always thought that that was quite a heroic thing for him to do, and also for my mother to be willing to comply. In those days Jewish people didn’t have a great deal to do in the general community life. I am sure that if they had been a few years later they would have participated in the general society as well as they did in the Jewish. My father was for several years the treasurer of the Jewish welfare society. Money wasn’t too plentiful in those days, and I know there were many times when he had to fill the treasury himself, temporarily. VG: Will you give me the year? And were you associated with the Temple [Temple Israel] at that time, and where was it? AW: I think Maurice, my husband, will have to tell you just where that first Temple was. I really don’t know. The one that I remember is the one on Tenth Street. I was very religious in those days; unfortunately, perhaps, the old ritual and conventional Judaism doesn’t mean to me what it did then. I think I have grown to be a good deal of an internationalist! However, in those days I never failed to go to the service every Friday night with my father. Later, when they built the new Temple, “the house that Jack built” [a reference to architect Jack Liebenberg, who designed the Temple Israel building] at Emerson and Twenty-Fourth Street, my father contributed all of the paint and materials for the building. One of the women, Mrs. Rubin, happened to tell me this later. I didn’t know it at the time. Her husband was very active at that time in Jewish affairs, so she kept in touch with what was going on. My mother organized the first Sisterhood of Temple Israel. It wasn’t called the Sisterhood in those days; it was called the Auxiliary. Mrs.


Abbott Mickolas, Lily Mickolas, our dear friend, was supposedly the organizer of the Sisterhood, but the fact of the matter was, she was the first president of the Sisterhood, as such, which became part of the National Sisterhood. I was born in 1886. And then the other children came within two and four years apart, and my younger brother, the twin who survived, he was about ten years younger than I, I believe, and that was way into the 1890s. I graduated from Central High School in 1904, went to Wellesley College and graduated from there in 1908, and the following year was married to Maurice Wolff, whom I had known all my life as a very close friend of my older brother. VG: When did you meet your husband, and where? AW: [Unclear] He was genuinely interested in mother and when my mother died in 1944, she left a note saying that she thought as much of Maurice as she did of her own children. VG: Do carry on, from your married life, to how you entered into the community here. AW: Well, I was married in 1909. For several years I wasn’t too active. Our first child, Max Henry, named after his two grandfathers, was born in 1910 and three years after that our second son, Jesse David, was born, and of course in those early years I didn’t do a great deal. I did give book reviews and little talks. The Council asked me once to give them a talk on some of the French writers, and the joke of it was, I didn’t know anything about them, but I studied as best I could. VG: When you talk Council, you mean the National Council of Jewish Women, I am sure. And can you tell me what your husband was doing at that time? What was his business? AW: I think he can tell you better than I can. He was working from the time he graduated from high school for Maurice L. Rothschild, the clothing firm, and was there about seventeen years, before he entered our family business. I became president of the Minneapolis section [of Council] during the First World War, in 1918. It was a very difficult time. Many immigrants were coming here, and from Ellis Island some of them were sent here to Minneapolis, and Council was trying to take care of them as best we could. Mrs. Arthur Brin, Fannie Brin, represented the Council on this immigrant agency, whatever it was, but the president always had something to do. We did Red Cross work, and I, at that time, was a very ardent pacifist, so much so that it was very difficult for me to adjust to the things that we were called upon as a member of the community to do. I think it was at that time that the Council became more closely associated with the general community. I was in the women’s department of the civil defense organization, and I tried in every way I could to keep up the volunteer work, the philanthropic and educational work, and not to let it be swallowed up by the war effort. But anyone who lived at that


time can assure you that it was a very difficult thing to do. In fact, it was so very hard on me . . . I guess I took it harder than I needed to . . . but anyhow, at the end of the year, I refused to serve longer. Dr. Deinard [Rabbi Deinard] was here then, our beloved friend and minister, and I remember that when the war was over I called a meeting and Dr. Deinard talked, and Professor Swanson, the head of the history department at the University who later married my sister’s teacher at Central, came and talked, too. It was an occasion I shall never forget. There are two other things I remember about my short administration. One was the initiation of the Minneapolis representative of the new Junior Council that was organized that year. Sadie Kantrowitz did a great deal of work, and she and I went around and talked to the different Jewish groups and got girls to join. The other thing that I remember is the meeting we held at the Unitarian Church after the death of Nina Morais Cohen, the founder of our Council, who had been in Chicago with Hannah Solomon in 1893 at the time of the founding of Council, when Jewish women all over the country were organizing their sections. Mrs. Cohen came home and with the help of my mother, Molly Metzger and Rebecca Michaels, and a few other women, very few, they organized the Minneapolis section. Mrs. Cohen’s influence was perhaps the most powerful one of any Jewish person in this community, at least among the women. She organized a study group that considered Jewish history in the various countries of the world, a program that was used all over the country. She died in her early sixties, in 1918, and we held this meeting. Several of us talked. Maria Simpson, the English teacher at the University . . . she was a very important person around here, this little woman . . . talked at that particular meeting, and I wrote this little article about Mrs. Cohen and got the various women’s organizations in the city, the YMCA, the Minneapolis Women’s Club, five or six of them all told, to sign this article, and the Minneapolis Journal published it. And about four years ago, when the Council had a biennial in Minneapolis, at my husband’s suggestion I went down to the library and they made it possible for me to get a duplication of that whole page devoted to this Memorial Day. VG: Is that what started your interest in writing? AW: I had been interested in writing all my life. In my senior year at Wellesley, my professor called in several of the instructors to hear one story that I wrote, and another one of my instructors said, “I’m sure we are going to hear from you some day, not in fiction, but in other writings.” She was entirely mistaken; nobody has heard of me except the few in the Minneapolis Writers Workshop, which I have belonged to for twenty-five years. In 1917 we bought a lot in Lynnhurst, opposite Lyndale Park, and built a nine-room home. We had one child of seven and another little boy of four. At that time I was very anxious to do some outside work. I had never been satisfied merely to stay at home, although when I look back now, I think—and I would like to tell this to other mothers— while your children are little, stay with them as long as you can. You can always work outside when they are in school or when they go away to college, when you may be very


lonely and life may seem very empty unless you undertake something for the commonwealth. I have been reading a good deal lately about this post-economic age that is coming to us, when the affluent people in various countries of the world, besides America, will have a great deal of leisure, and some of the economists are wondering what they are going to do with their time when they don’t have to worry about their daily bread. But I think that there are still many things that citizens can do no matter how affluent they may be. In the first place, I think the commonwealth will call upon us women to do things for the general good, and our own consciences and intelligence will tell us that. I have always been perhaps preeminently interested in world affairs. To me, war has always been one great evil pestering civilization, ruining, preventing its progress in spite of all that science and technology have done, particularly for the American public. On two occasions I have been asked to take the presidency of the Minneapolis World Affairs Council, but it seemed to me that in other ways I could accomplish more and satisfy myself more, so I refused both times. For a number of years I gave book reviews for the World Affairs Council, and I still hear echoes of how much they were appreciated. And I just completed a paper, the subject of which is “The Year 2000 Frame-Work for Predictions.” It’s a book written by two social scientists, Herman Cahn and Anthony Weiner, in which they present the various scenarios in a scientific method, with charts and tables giving present trends and how they think those trends will lead to what is coming in the next thirty years, between now and the year 2000. I wasn’t able to go to Winnipeg—our World Affairs Study Group has an annual conference with members of the Winnipeg branch of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs—but they took my paper up there and, I understand, read parts of it. Those conferences are very interesting. Sometimes the two groups take the same subjects for study during the year in preparing for the conference, but this year Winnipeg chose to talk about Czechoslovakia, whereas our topic was on the future thirty-odd years, and what is likely to happen in various phases of our lives—the space age, education, the urban problem—and they asked me to take the final subject, the international prediction for these coming years. VG: This is very interesting, but I do want to get back to you. In the interim years I know you did many other things; won’t you talk about those? Did you ever find any antiSemitism in any of the work you have done with other organizations in the city? AW: At times I stand in humility in the face of the affection and respect that I have received and do receive from many of my Christian friends. When I was in college at Wellesley, I was never conscious of any anti-Semitism whatsoever, although I was not asked to join a Greek sorority, and only one Jewish girl was a member of the Shakespeare society. But I never felt any sign of anti-Semitism, nor have I since, although I am sure my experience is the same as that of all other Jews. Our Christian friends love us, respect us, admire us, but I am sure that they are conscious always that I am Jewish. VG: I know that you did belong, or maybe you still do belong, to the Wellesley Club. Will you tell us about that?


AW: That is one of my devoted hobbies. I have belonged to the Wellesley Club and have gone regularly to our monthly meetings since I graduated from college. In fact, last year I had thought of going back to my sixtieth class reunion, but as it happened, I couldn’t go. For two years I was the program chairman here, and initiated something different. Up to that time most of our programs and activities had been social, just Wellesley so-called “girls” getting together, and raising funds when they could for the college. I felt that in addition to these things, as college women we ought to have a program dealing with more personal, and non-college interests, things that were concerns in our local community and our national community. I remember when the Guthrie Theatre was organizing I had the man who was managing the thing and promoting it at the time come and talk to us. I had Mr. Long, the cartoonist, give us a talk on editorial cartoons. I was asked to take a third term but felt that I had done enough, and although I can’t remember all the programs, I know the women still—after about ten years (when I was doing this and I was asked to take the third term but I felt I had done it enough)—they are still talking about those years and wishing that we could have more programs of that kind! I want to say, and I have said enough about myself, but although I have taken very little office, I feel that I have had some influence. And I say that simply because of the reaction that I am still getting from both Jewish and Christian women. VG: Thank you, Anna Lee, very much. I know anyone who’s interested in Minneapolis Jewry and what it has contributed to the entire community will learn a great deal. [End tape side] VG: June 14, 1969, Flag Day. And we are interviewing Mr. Maurice Wolff. Mr. Wolff, we are going to start with your history – your parents, where you came from, how you came to Minneapolis. How about that for a beginning? MW: Why not start with my grandparents and my great-grandparents? VG: Fine, go right ahead. MW: My great-grandparents came from Germany on both sides, on my mother’s side from Dusseldorf, on my father’s side from Posen. Peculiarly enough, my mother’s name, Carrie Kaufman, had been preceded by a great-grandfather of mine whose name was Wolf Kaufman. [Question about recording] I’d say that both families came to this country in the late 1840s, possibly the early 1850s. My grandfather on my mother’s side, my maternal grandfather, settled in Pekin, Illinois. My paternal grandfather first in Fredericksburg, Virginia, then Richmond, Virginia, then Montgomery, Alabama. My grandmother on my father’s side was Frederika Glick, my grandmother on my mother’s side was Lina Steiner.


VG: You landed where? MW: Well, I landed in Minneapolis when I was born. But as I say, my grandfather Gustave Kaufman, lived in Pekin, Illinois and was successful as a merchant. My grandfather Moses Isaac Wolff moved from Montgomery after the war to Aurora, Illinois and from there to Chicago. In my mother’s family there were four children, two daughters and two sons. My mother’s first trip from her native town of Pekin was at the time of the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876, when my grandfather took her there and shortly after that took her to New York, and she went to school there, one of those so-called finishing schools, a Miss Froelich. That was something of a distinction in those days. VG: Why was that a distinction? MW: I don’t know, just one of those social quirks. At any rate, she liked New York very much and persuaded my grandfather to give up his business in Pekin and move to New York and engage in a business there. Meanwhile, my father in the 1870s had come from Chicago to Minneapolis as a representative of a Chicago concern, traveling out of Minneapolis into the Dakotas and . . . VG: Was it the mercantile business, Mr. Wolff? MW: Yes. He went into the Dakotas and Wisconsin and Iowa and lived in the Nicollet House, as it was called in those days, about 1875 or 1876. He was one of three sons and two daughters and his younger brother, Arnold Wolff, was a friend of my maternal grandfather, Gustave Kaufman, and for years this youngest of the Wolffs’ sons had been trying to persuade my father to meet the Gustave Kaufman family because he thought that my father and the woman who later proved to be my mother would be compatible. My father put him off for some years, but finally went to New York with him, the two young people did fall in love, and they were married on June 6, 1883 in New York. My father at that time was a typical young bachelor with a good record behind him. He had served in the Confederate Army in the First Company of the First Regiment of Alabama volunteers and had carried the Guidon in the Regiment, with the Regiment guiding on him. He had served at Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay. He had a military bearing and was, in his way, a very personable individual. He was about twenty or twenty-two years my mother’s senior. He brought my mother to Minneapolis and their first residence was with a Mr. and Mrs. George Jacoby. My father had lived with the Jacobys prior to his marriage and the two couples were very good friends. The Jacobys had no children. I was born eighty-five years ago at about 314 or some such number on Eleventh Street South, where the pool of the Curtis Hotel is now. We lived there until I was a year and half old, at which time we moved to 1706 Portland Avenue. My father was a member of what’s now Temple Israel—it was called Temple Shaare Tov—and he was a member of B’nai B’rith and the Free Sons of Israel, Free Sons of Israel being of real strength and of national importance in those days.


VG: What type of organization was it? MW: The B’nai B’rith, as it is today, was a fraternal order and the Free Sons of Israel was likewise. My father was on the Temple board. My mother was one of the first members of the Council of Jewish Women. When Hannah G. Solomon came to Minneapolis with Mrs. Nina Morais Cohen, after founding of the Council of Jewish Women in Chicago, she stayed at our house as a visitor. My mother was secretary of the local Section. And my mother had been the secretary of what was called, in those days, The Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society, of which Mrs. Louis Michaels was the president. So this business of the secretariat seemed to be a natural thing for my mother. VG: Do you have any other brothers or sisters? MW: No, I’m an only child. VG: What school did you go to? MW: I went through the Madison grade school and to Central High School. That’s the extent of my schooling. VG: And what was your father doing at that time? What business was he in? MW: My father was a traveling representative for a well-known Chicago concern called M. Gimbel & Sons, the head of which was Moses Gimbel. VG: Mrs. Wolff has referred to the fact that you were associated with Rothschilds’. When was this? MW: Well, I was there from the time I got out of high school in 1902 until the end of the First World War. VG: You were married, I believe, very shortly afterwards, and did you participate also in the Jewish community at that time? MW: I was married in 1909. My participation in the Jewish community was typical of my background and tastes. During the First World War I was president of the Jewish Welfare Board, with its headquarters in New York. Miss Rebecca Michaels had been to a founding meeting of the Jewish Welfare Board and unbeknown to me, they had elected me president of the Twin Cities branch! She was the recording and corresponding secretary, and the executive secretary was Isaac Rosenstein, who is now Isaac Rosten. Other people in that organization were Mrs. Sam Pflaum and Mrs. Isaac Rypens of St.


Paul, and very many young women and young men who were not in service. Notable among the young women was Raleigh Kaplan, now Mrs. Jack Liebenberg. VG: Do you have any other special Jewish associations, private clubs, or anything like that at that time that you attended? MW: At one time in my teens and early twenties, I was president of what was called the Lambs Club. In later years I was president of the Jewish dancing club called the Elysian Club. VG: Was this growing out of the Temple, or was it in the general Jewish community? MW: Yes, and I dare say that most of them were members of what’s now Temple Israel. I was confirmed in that Temple; it was then called Temple Shaare Tov. VG: Who was the Rabbi at that time? MW: The Rabbi at that time was Aaron Friedman, he being the third or fourth Rabbi. The first Rabbi’s name I have forgotten. The second Rabbi of that Temple was Henry Illiowizi, the next one’s name was Marks, who had come to Minneapolis from Canada and left here later to go to San Antonio. He was succeeded by Dr. Friedman, who was succeeded by Samuel N. Deinard. VG: I am far more interested and I know the community is in what you yourself did, Mr. Wolff. MW: Well, I was a teacher in the Sunday School for some years, and superintendent of the Sunday School of the Temple for some years. I was a member of B’nai B’rith but never held office that I remember. Most of the offices that I held were in non- religious organizations. I was a charter member of the Advertising Club. I became a Mason in 1905 and a Shriner in 1907 and was pretty well known as one of the youngest members. VG: I know you are still active in the Shriners, Mr. Wolff. How about your activities when you left the Rothschild’s Company? MW: I became an officer of the Henry Weiskopf Company. And when you talk about outside activities, I was the chairman of publicity for Zuhrah Temple of the Mystic Shrine, the first chairman of publicity they ever had, in 1914. And interestingly, to me, anyway, I was the only correspondent from Minneapolis that ever served all three newspapers at one time, the Minneapolis Tribune, the Minneapolis Journal and the Minneapolis News. And fifty years later I became [unclear] of the Zuhrah Senior Shriners. I kept on skating, and I think I’m the only person who was ever elected to be an honorary life member of both the Loring Skating Club, the pioneer skating club here, and


the Arena Skating Club. I wrote hockey notes for the Minneapolis Journal under two sports editors, John McGovern, an all-American football player, and Jack Quinlan, and occasionally for Dick Cullum. VG: You’re talking a great deal about your writing. Did you go on to college, did you take journalism, or was this merely a hobby that you developed? MW: Well, my business with Rothschild’s was advertising man, so I was in and out of newspapers, up and down their stairs, for several years, and wrote some things in an amateur way for the papers. I wouldn’t say that writing was a hobby. Writing was a calling, a business, because I was engaged in advertising. I had no schooling other than high school. I got out of high school in 1902 and went to work within about five days of the day I left high school. I did frequent the University of Minnesota to a great extent because I had many friends there. I lectured there in advertising in the business department at two different times, gave courses, and I lectured in advertising at St. Thomas College. These things just happened to come to me. I also maintained a course in advertising with a fellow advertising man, Fred Kamman, for one of the local business colleges. This was just after the first World War . . . VG: During any of this time, were you active at all in any of the Jewish organizations? MW: Well, one of my employers, David Simon, was the first president of the Minneapolis Jewish Charities, and I worked on all their publicity and was sort of the mechanical secretary, drawing up lists, attending meetings, organizing promotion speeches, and things of that sort. And when I was with the Jewish Welfare Board during the first World War, I had to be one of the organizers of their community showings, working with the War Camp Community Service, as it was called in those days, and the Knights of Columbus, and other temporary war groups. VG: You left Wycoff for another position; what was that? MW: Oh, that was with the magazine called Modern Medicine, which owned the journal The Lancet. And the journal Lancet became one of four publications: The Lancet, The Lancet Geriatrics, The Lancet Neurology and World Neurology. Also, I did overlook one or two things . . . one was that I was a charter member of the Advertising Club which grew out of the old Publicity Club, of which I was also a charter member, and for thirty years I was a member of the Board of the Family and Children’s Service, as it is called now. Not the Jewish Family and Children’s Service, but the one for Minneapolis and Hennepin County. VG: That too was a very wonderful thing you have done. Now let’s go back to the position you took with The Lancet.


MW: With the journal Lancet I was business manager. In an emergency I would serve as editor. Later, the subject of geriatrics became very important in medicine and we set up a magazine called Geriatrics, which is now the second of their half dozen publications, and I was business manager of what was called Lancet Publications. VG: Now this takes care of your business career. I know there are many other things you have to say about some of the fine people you worked with in the Jewish community. You’ve mentioned Mr. Kaiser and so many other people. Will you give us just a little insight on them? MW: Howard Kaiser is a rare individual. He is approaching his eighty-eighth birthday, and his mind is clear as a bell, his memory phenomenal, his good will a predominant trait, his philosophy interesting and inspiring. In spite of infirmities he is merry, and welladjusted, and is a person of infinite good will. His business was wallpaper, a business in which he was brought up. His father was a wallpaper man before him, and his brother was in the business, too. They’re wallpaper and paint. VG: Were they active in the community also? MW: His father was one of the founders of Temple Shaare Tov, but I don’t think he was very active in it in his later years. His brother Bert, Albert Kaiser, was at one time chairman of the cemetery committee of the Temple, which might have put him on the board; I don’t know. I was on the board of Temple, too. VG: Yes, you did say that. I’m going to ask you one more question. Did you at any time throughout your work here in the cities come across any anti-Semitism in your work? And if so, did you overcome it? MW: I think a good deal of what we call anti-Semitism comes from just such a thing as one person asking another, “Did you come in contact with anti-Semitism?” because that calls to mind trivial slights and omissions that we experience in a lifetime, but which, if we have any backbone, doesn’t annoy us to too great an extent. In grade school, antiSemitism wasn’t even thought of, so far as I can remember. In high school, I managed to serve my class on various committees and on some teams and I don’t think the subject was uppermost in my mind. And in business, I don’t think that anti-Semitism was in the forefront any more than that had been before. VG: I’m going to go back just a little bit, because I did fail to ask one or two questions. You had a Jewish background in your home, but can you tell me why your grandparents left Europe and came here? MW: I think they came to avoid military service. I don’t know. I do know that my mother told me at one time that my grandmother, my father’s mother, had told her that the family


name in Europe was Elkus, and there was, I remember, a striking resemblance between my father and Abraham Elkus, who was a United States ambassador. They might have been both connected to Turkey—can I tell them I don’t like chicken? [Laughter]—and the resemblance was so striking that they might have been brothers. I don’t know whether it was a passport situation, or what it was, but that was frequent, that families had a different name when they came to this country. All the time that the family was in Virginia, in Alabama, and Illinois, the name was Wolff. I had two uncles, Peter Wolff and Arnold Wolff. By the way, Peter Wolff was a Mason and my grandfather, my father’s father, was a Mason, and his brother Asher Wolff was a Mason, and my grandfather Gustave Kaufman was, so I came by Masonry by inheritance! [Break in interview] AW: How about one little anecdote? You’re so good at it! Just one moment; I’m sorry. MW: Tell me what you want to say, and I’ll say it for you. Unknown man: The greatest contribution to Minneapolis is the fact that Maurice Wolff was here so many years! MW: That’s automatic. VG: Any other particular anecdotes you’d like to tell. MW: Oh, I could tell you anecdotes from hell to breakfast. [Laughter] What kind do you want? VG: We’ll have to do that on another tape, Mr. Wolff. I’m sorry. But if the Federation and Minnesota Historical Society will permit it we’ll do a tape and let them accept that. And thank you so very, very much; we’ve enjoyed listening to you. [End of interview]