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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:                       LEO J. DRUM


DATE:                                  FEBRUARY 10, 2011 and MARCH 29, 2011

LOCATION:                          MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA

Transcript I (PDF)

Transcript II (PDF)


Leo J. Drum, Jr., was born in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1915.   He went to Barnes School, a private elementary school.  He attended Georgia Institute of Technology for engineering in Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated in 1935.  After graduation, he worked for York Corporation in Atlanta and Tennessee Valley Authority.

In 1941, he began military service and was stationed at Craig Air Force Base in Selma, Alabama.  He went overseas during World War II and was stationed in England and in France.  Leo was a staff officer working in the headquarters of the United States Army Corps of Engineers in Europe and became captain in 1943.  Leo worked under the chief engineer of the entire Theater of Operations.   By the end of the war, he had worked his way to lieutenant colonel.  He returned home after the war and started his own air conditioning business in Montgomery.

He had been a member of Temple Beth Or since birth.  He had his confirmation class with Rabbi Benjamin Goldstein.  Growing up, his family attended temple on Friday nights and on High Holy Days.   He sat on the board of Temple Beth Or for 17 years and on the board of the Standard Club for 18 years.  


Leo discusses growing up in Montgomery, Alabama.  He talks about his education at Barnes School, a private elementary school.  He discusses his education at Georgia Institute of Technology. 

Leo describes his family as an aristocratic Reformed Jewish family, several generations from Mobile, Alabama.   He talks about his grandmother being a Lobman and describes the Lobmans and Steiners as extremely prominent people in his family.  He recalls the Steiner-Lobman Dry Goods Company.  He recounts having many cousins in the Montgomery area.  Leo talks about friends and neighbors, who were all prominent people in Montgomery.

Leo describes growing up as a Jewish child as not much different from growing up as a non-Jewish child in Montgomery.  He talks about the wonderful memories of his childhood, of walking to school and going to the movies.  He tells that he never feeling any prejudice.  He describes going to the synagogue as being very important and discusses going to temple on Friday nights and on the High Holy days.   

Leo talks about the civil rights era in Montgomery and having good relations with the black community.  He remembers the impact of Rosa Parks and the Selma marches and how they triggered the civil rights movement.  He discusses how the media helped it achieve national notoriety.  He talks about several rabbis from Temple Beth Or and their relations with the congregation and their involvement with civil rights movement. 

He describes going to the black tie events at the Standard Club, a social club formed by German Jews.  He talks about being on the board of the Standard Club for 18 years and his contribution in changing the religious restriction to include all Jews and non-Jews.  He discusses other synagogues in Montgomery and the need to combine services.  He discusses intermarriage in the Jewish community.    

Leo discusses his military service in the United States Army during World War II in Europe.  He describes, with great knowledge, military operations and his experiences and achievements.  He talks about the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  He reflects on the growth of Montgomery today and being on the board of the Montgomery County Historical Society.   

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