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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:                      JOSEPH (JODY) GROLLMAN  

INTERVIEWER:                 NOAH LEVINE

LOCATION:                        BAINBRIDGE, GEORGIA

DATE:                                 JUNE 20, 2017

Transcript (PDF)

Biography:

Jody Grollman was born in Bainbridge, Georgia, on January 11, 1947, to Rosalie Gold and Joseph Milton Grollman.  His father was born in Bainbridge in 1908.  His family came to the United States from Lithuania.  Jody’s grandmother was from the Kline family.  They came to Bainbridge in 1907.  Six or seven siblings in that family were merchants in Bainbridge.  Jody’s grandfather peddled his wares and eventually opened his own retail and shoe business in 1912, known as Grollman’s Department Store. The shop remained in business for 79 years. Jody has many family members buried in the Jewish cemetery in Bainbridge, Oak City Cemetery.  Jody has one sister and one brother, who live in Atlanta.

Jody’s family were members of Temple Beth-El, a Reform congregation, where he attended Sunday school.  He was confirmed, but he did not have a bar mitzvah.  He went to Bainbridge High School and the University of Georgia.  After graduating, he returned to Bainbridge and worked in the family’s business.  Jody married Paula Putnal in 1971.  Her family had a dress shop in Bainbridge.     

Scope: 

Jody Grollman talks about growing up in Bainbridge, Georgia.  He talks about his family’s lineage, tracing names and various places.  He tells that his father was born in Bainbridge in 1908.  He recounts that his grandmother had six siblings, each of whom were competing merchants in Bainbridge.  Jody discusses there being a large Jewish population in Bainbridge before his grandparents had arrived, recounting that they had been involved in civic life and governance.  He speaks of Bainbridge having a Jewish mayor 100 years ago and German Jews having started banks.  

He talks about Temple Beth-El opening in 1916, where he later attended Sunday school.  He talks about having a wonderful childhood, reminiscing about friends in the neighborhood and riding bikes.  He mentions recognizing differences when other children attended vacation Bible school.  He talks about Reform Judaism in Bainbridge and that no one was bar mitzvah'd.  He talks about attending services on Sunday nights and traveling to neighboring towns for Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur. 

Jody talks about his father’s longtime friendship with President Jimmy Carter and meeting Middle East leaders through this friendship.  He remembers doing business with various family shoe wholesalers in downtown Atlanta.  He remembers fondly traveling to Atlanta to buy Jewish foods and recalls Gold’s Delicatessen on Peachtree Street.  Jody speaks affectionately about his wife, Paula Putnal.  He reflects on the future of the Jewish community in Bainbridge and interfaith marriages.  

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