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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:           JO MARKS HEYMAN

INTERVIEWER:      UNSPECIFIED

LOCATION:             ROME, GEORGIA

DATE:                        APRIL 10, 2001

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY

Betty “Jo” Marks Heyman was born in Ocala, Florida and grew up in Albany, Georgia. She was the daughter of Charles Henry Marks and Mabel Goldman Marks. Her siblings were Charles Henry Marks and Helene Malaver Marks Crawford. She moved to Rome, Georgia in 1951 after marrying Lyons Joel Heyman who was a manager at Fox Manufacturing Company, a family business founded by his father. In Rome, she was a member of Rodeph Shalom Congregation, its sisterhood, and was a teacher in the congregation’s Sunday School. She was active with Hadassah and B'nai B’rith. She and her husband Lyons Joel Heyman were the parents of three children: Deborah Heyman Harris, Lyons Joel Heyman Jr., and David Marks Heyman.

Scope of Interview:

Jo recalls her family members and how they arrived in Albany, Georgia. She discusses her great-grandfather Henry Charles Marks, who immigrated from Forbach, France, and her grandmother [Helena Wortheime Marks]. She says they settled in Cincinnati, Ohio and had ten children, including her grandfather Charles Henry Marks who moved his family to Albany, Georgia when her father Henry Charles Marks was a child. She discusses the family’s business in Albany, the Rialto Saloon Company. It was a liquor business operated by her grandfather and father.

She tells how her father met her mother Mabel Goldman. She says she lived in Ocala Florida until she was two years old, when her family moved to Albany. She mentions her brother Charles Henry Marks and her sister Helene [Malaver Marks Crawford].

She describes her childhood in Albany and growing up in a small town during the Great Depression. She discusses members of her extended family who lived in Albany: her Aunt Stella Marks Stein and her cousins Buck, Charles, and Erich Stein; and her Uncle Raymond Charles Marks and his wife Dorothea Sterne Marks. She recalls her contact with other families in Albany: the Farkas, Lonsberg, Meyer, Gortatowsky, Kuhn, Rosenberg, Hofmayer, and Goldsmith families. She describes their businesses.

She mentions aspects of racial discrimination in Albany and her relationships with black household help and black children. She states that she experienced only one overt antisemitic event during her life.

She recalls her religious activities as a child and her family’s adherence to Reform Judaism. She talks about attending Temple B’Nai Israel, a Reform congregation, in Albany. She mentions her confirmation, observing Passover and Hanukkah, and attending services for the High Holy Days. She remembers Temple B’Nai Israel’s rabbi, Dr. Edmund Landau, and his wife Rose Geiger Landau.

Jo discusses attending Shorter College in Rome, Georgia. She talks about being the only Jewish student there as well as in school throughout her childhood. She talks about moving to Rome after marrying her husband Lyons Joel Heyman. She describes the Jewish community in Rome and teaching Sunday School at the Rodeph Shalom Congregation.

Jo repeatedly states how much she enjoyed being Jewish in a small town. She explains her confidence in the preservation of the Jewish community in Rome, even while acknowledging that all of her three children left Rome and reside elsewhere.

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