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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:              ALLAN STRULETZ

INTERVIEWER:         MIKE WEINROTH

LOCATION:               ATLANTA, GEORGIA

DATE:                        JANUARY 17, 2007

Transcript (PDF)

Biography

Allan Struletz was born in LaGrange, Georgia on July 1, 1953. His mother was Rosalind Olshan Struletz, born in Brooklyn, New York. His father was Isaac Struletz, born in LaGrange. Allan has an older brother, Howard Struletz. Allan is married to Lori Draluck Struletz. Allan has two sons, Adam and Scott.

Allan’s paternal grandparents, Simon and Ida Struletz, were immigrants from Russia. Simon first settled in New York City in 1909 and, later, LaGrange, where he operated a scrap metal business. Allan’s maternal grandparents lived in Borough Park, Brooklyn, New York.

Allan grew up in LaGrange. LaGrange had separate bathrooms, separate water fountains, and “separate but equal” schools, libraries, and institutions. Allan attended Harwell Avenue Elementary School, West Side Junior High, and LaGrange High School. By the time Allen attended high school, the public schools in LaGrange had integrated.

Allan attended services at Congregation Beth El in LaGrange with his family. He received his religious instruction at Congregation Shearith Israel in Atlanta, Georgia. His childhood summers were spent in Borough Park, Brooklyn, where his maternal grandparents lived. He spent time socializing with his friend Joey Moskowitz in Columbus, Georgia. In Columbus he was a member of the Jewish youth group AZA [Aleph Zadik Aleph] and he attended dances there. In LaGrange, he socialized at the Callaway Educational Association and at clubs in school. Allan spent many Sundays at Callaway Gardens at the lake and at picnics with other Jewish families from LaGrange.

Allan graduated from the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, Georgia, with a degree in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design. Allan has lived in Atlanta, Georgia since his graduation from UGA. He continues to return to LaGrange for High Holy Day services each year.

Scope of Interview:

Allan talks about his paternal grandfather Simon Struletz. Simon was the first in Allan’s family to live in LaGrange, Georgia. Allan tells how his grandfather Simon left his grandmother Ida and their son Isadore in Russia in 1909 and landed in New York City. He explains how Simon settled in LaGrange when he was traveling to Miami, Florida to find work. He stopped in LaGrange when he ran out of money. Simon started a shoe repair business in LaGrange, and later a scrap metal business. Allan talks about the other Jewish families living in LaGrange when his grandfather arrived: the Goldsteins, the Kaminskys, the Edelsons, and the Coolicks.

Allan tells how his father Isaac met his mother Rosalind. Isaac tagged along when friends drove to a wedding in New York City. Isaac was then invited to attend the wedding, where he met his wife Rosalind. Allan talks about his mother’s activities with Hadassah in LaGrange. He recalls Rosalind attending Hadassah conventions and helping with fundraisers such as clothing drives and selling Holland Bulbs.

Allan recalls attending Harwell Avenue Elementary School, West Side Junior High, and LaGrange High School in LaGrange. He discusses the advantages of growing up in a small town. He tells how he and his friend Joey Moskowitz could ride their bikes to school and to other places and leave them safely unchained. They often rode their bikes to the bus station where they took a Greyhound bus to Columbus, Georgia and Callaway Gardens. Allan tells about socializing at the Callaway Educational Association and at clubs in school.

He discusses observing Jewish customs in LaGrange. He remembers attending Passover seders at his grandfather’s home. He remembers attending synagogue beginning when he was six years old. Allan discusses traveling to Atlanta, Georgia on Sundays with his parents to attend Congregation Shearith Israel’s Sunday school. He recalls his parents shopping nearby at Fred’s Deli for kosher meat and deli to bring back to their kosher home in LaGrange.

Allan discusses attending Congregation Beth El in LaGrange, saying he has attended the synagogue for High Holy Day services every year of his life except one. He recalls its history, how it started as a minyan in the rear of a store, and the purchase of an old Episcopalian church to house the congregation.

Allan discusses spending his summers in Borough Park, Brooklyn, New York, where his maternal grandparents lived. He remembers his family returning to LaGrange with boxes of kosher meat. Allan remembers spending time in Columbus where he belonged to AZA [Aleph Zadik Aleph], a youth group for Jewish teenage boys, and attended dances.

Allan talks about dating non-Jewish girls and his mother’s rule to date a non-Jewish girl only once to avoid any possibility of intermarriage.

Allan talks about segregation and the Civil Rights era in LaGrange. He recalls separate bathrooms, separate water fountains, and “separate but equal” schools, libraries, and institutions. He recalls segregation at Charlie Joseph’s hamburger and hot dog stand when black customers could only order from outside windows. He says he does not recall any Civil Rights marches or demonstrations. He recalls only one incident when some neighbors called to complain to this mother about some black friends from school playing basketball at his home.

Allan discusses leaving LaGrange to attend college, one semester at Georgia Southern [University] in Statesboro [Georgia] and then the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia where he received a degree in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design.

Allan talks about meeting his wife Lori Draluck at the University of Georgia. Allan discusses how his sons Adam and Scott developed their Jewish identity. He tells of their sons attending the Epstein School in Atlanta. He discusses returning with his family to LaGrange for the High Holy Days each year. He talks about the cohesion of the Jewish community in LaGrange. He tells how his friends and family visit together at a bed and breakfast in LaGrange each year during the High Holy Days. He expresses his pride in his sons helping to lead the services for Congregation Beth El during the previous five to ten years along with Ephraim “Effie” Spielman from Atlanta.

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