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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:       ARENSON, CECILE KELLY
INTERVIEWER:   HOLLENBERG, TOBY
DATE:                  DECEMBER 6, 2003
LOCATION:         SAVANNAH, GEORGIA

Transcript (PDF)

Biography

Cecile Kelly was born on March 26, 1908 to Frances “Frankie” J. Oppenheim Kelly (1887-1966) and Lawrence Patrick Kelly (1881-1956), both natives of Savannah. Her mother was Jewish and her father was Catholic. Cecile and her seven siblings were raised in the Jewish faith as devoted members of Congregation Mickve Israel. As a youth, she was highly athletic and played basketball and tennis at both Richard Arnold Junior High School and Savannah High School, as well as handball on the beach. In addition to sports, Cecile Kelly was employed as a referee for the Savannah Department of Parks and Recreation until the end of World War II, as well as in the store owned by her family and the U.S. Marine Hospital.

She married Michael “Mike” Arenson (1915-1988), a native of Talbotton, Georgia who grew up in Newark, Delaware, in January of 1952 and they moved to Newark to work in his family’s department store. They lived in Delaware for eight years before moving to Cordele, Georgia, where they opened Arenson’s Shoe Store. They ran the store until 1979, when they moved back to Cecile’s hometown of Savannah for her health.

Cecile and Mike Arenson were married for 36 years until his death in 1988, and did not have any children. Cecile Kelly Arenson died on December 28, 2006 at the age of 98.

Scope of Interview

In this short interview, Cecile Arenson discusses her youth in Savannah, working in the Parks & Recreation Department as a referee, and working at the U.S. Marine Hospital. She also discusses working in her family’s shoe store and the Great Depression. 

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