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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:                       BETTY ROSE GIBIAN


DATE:                                   JANUARY 23, 2012

LOCATION:                          SELMA, ALABAMA

Transcript (PDF)


Betty Rose Gibian was born in Selma, Alabama, in 1922.   Her father, Jackson Leva, was born in Selma.  Betty’s grandmother was born in Albany, Georgia, and her grandfather was from Rutesheim, Germany.  Betty’s mother, Ray Naman, was from Waco, Texas.   Both of her grandparents are buried in the cemetery in Selma, Alabama.  

Betty went to Byrd Elementary School, which was around the corner from where she lived as a child.  She went to junior high and high school in Selma.  She had many friends in her neighborhood and school.  Most of the children in her school and neighborhood were Christian.    

Growing up, religion was an important part of her family life.  Her family had Friday night dinner at home.  They lit candles and said the blessing.  She attended Sunday school as a child and was confirmed with Rabbi Jerome Mark.  They celebrated Passover at the synagogue, Temple Mishkan Israel.  They had Passover dinner and purim dances at the Harmony Club, a Jewish social club in Selma.  

Her father owned American Candy Manufacturing Company, a candy business in Selma, which started regionally and eventually expanded nationally and internationally.  She married Richard Gibian in 1945.  He worked in the family business.  Betty and Richard have three daughters.  

Betty discusses growing up in Selma, Alabama.  She recounts that her father, Jackson Leva, was from Selma.  She describes her family as being part of an old community from Selma.  She mentions that her grandparents are buried in a Selma cemetery.  

She talks about attending Byrd Elementary School, which was around the corner from where she lived.   She describes living in a wonderful neighborhood and having a lot of friends from there.  She talks about her friends from school and the neighborhood and that most of them were Christian.  She describes that she did not feel as an outsider or different from the other children, except sometimes during the Christmas holiday.  Betty describes religion as being important part of growing up and recalls having Friday meals at home, lighting candles, and saying blessings.  She remembers Rabbi Jerome Mark and attending Sunday school at Temple Mishkan Israel.  She tells of having Passover dinner and purim dances at the Harmony Club, a Jewish social club in Selma.   

Betty talks about her father’s business, American Candy Manufacturing Company.   She talks about living in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband, Richard Gibian, and returning to Selma.  Betty recalls her first date with Richard.  She talks about Richard working in her father’s business and recalls names of candies.

She recants that her uncle was one of the founding members of the Jewish country club in Selma.  She mentions that she was once a member of the National Council of Jewish Women and the work they did in the community.   Betty mentions their three daughters.   She relays how important the Selma community and the synagogue is to her and tells that she cherishes all her memories of living in Selma.


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