Marion Kaslon, Karen Schlam, and Terri Gilbert

Recorded June 29, 2008 Archived June 29, 2008 00:00 minutes
Audio not available

Interview ID: LMN000377


Marion Kaslon talks to her daughters, Karen Schlam and Terri Gilbert, about her family history in Brooklyn, her father’s business savvy and meeting and marrying their father.

Subject Log / Time Code

Marion’s father was a veteran of WWI. He opened a chain of laundry’s in Brooklyn called Long Last Laundry.
She went to PS 219 in Brooklyn then to business school. She met her future husband at 12yrs. old.
Her father’s parents came to the US from Austria in 1890. Her grandfather’s name is on Ellis Island.
Her husband was Irvin Kaslon. He served in the army for the Portable. He served in the army’s Portable Surgical Hospital which eventually became M.A.S.H.. When he returned he went into the advertising business.
They married in Brooklyn on 8/5/1944. It was the hottest day of the year in NY. She made him wear his uniform jacket because he looked so good in it.
The happiest day of her life was when Irvin returned from service. She met him at Grand Central Terminal.


  • Marion Kaslon
  • Karen Schlam
  • Terri Gilbert

Recording Location

StoryCorps Lower Manhattan Booth


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00:05 This is Marion caslin. I'm 83 years old. And today is June 29th. I'm in Foley square and I am here with my two daughters, Karen and Terry.

00:17 Okay. Make it a cherry.

00:22 I'm Terry Gilbert 56 years old. Today is Sunday, June 29th, 2008 and I am the daughter of Marian who is here to tell us a story.

00:38 My name is Karen schlam and I am 58 years old today date is June 29th, 2008 where in downtown New York near Chinatown and the courthouse and I am the daughter of Marian Catholic?

01:01 Okay, and Mom, we wanted to start talking to you about some of your memories and we want to share it with our goal here is that we have some information that we can share going forward into posterity. So one of the first things that we wanted to talk to you about was just your earliest memory. What was the first thing that you remember?

01:27 The the first memory that I remember, I think it's going to Aunt Jackie was bored and I remember getting a table and chairs and table with two little chairs. And that was like gift cuz I was getting a baby sister and my mother and father for his home and that was it and that was my first memory of her and then other memories of her as a little guys we grew up with playing together in the house and she we would play hide and seek and we had to Stow. Oh that was on legs the oven and the stove with a separate entity in those days and it was space underneath it and thus she would always go and hide under the stove is your boy table as long as it was something above her. She thought you couldn't be seen but we play with our dolls and things like that, but I mean

02:27 And particularly how hiding under that I can visualize hiding under the stove and the fact that it was a stove that we don't see it around anymore. And we lived in well in those days we moved we kept on moving cuz you would always get a month because the concessions to get a month free and instead of having the place painted Renny singing the always got a month's free. We have moving we lived in the East New York must have been Brooklyn and we will some one place to another that how you would like to move you move from one house to another that was always an apartment house. And and this is like the third floor cuz that was the cheapest place to live. The third floor cuz you had to walk up three flights to save a month's rent Bay by month's rent. So you kept moving there was this just your family know everybody's in the entire neighborhood.

03:27 Real estate in the same area and even when I was in school, we more or less they just stay the same school and Matta everybody did everything you would doing that and then we

03:45 At one point we were on home relief. My father was sick at least because that's was I guess 1930s.

03:54 I was in another thing and

03:58 I think kindergarten Elementary School.

04:01 And I like to think one of the things that made me realize I wouldn't that we will pull with my mother had to take in a boarder.

04:08 And I gave up my but yeah, we had to stop by Jackie and I slept in the living room and we gave the best buildings to this man a young man came and stayed in the house. And of course my mother very concerned about him. She would always one that was I need another one time when he didn't come aft faience. Yes. She knocked on the door and said they had a cold or you're sick and she was fed soup and took care of him. But I guess I think I was like a six-month. Wasn't too long, but I

04:40 I remember cuz it was a it was reality. I realized it and there was a point where my father was what my father had been a veteran of world war one and you even said that you have his discharge paper you write. I have all his papers and I have pics of him in uniform and as we were available in bed when we got there was a bonus if they got and I was very important to us as many soldiers have been fighting for this bonus and I think maybe two for $300 but it was a massive amount of money and and I mean when my father bought a car with that money because he was in the laundry business and he needs a car to make deliveries and it really made a big difference that bonus money did your mother

05:32 Work in the laundry then when you go to know, so when did when did you did your dad by say just about 1934-35 on the way to handle a tree and you're about 10 years old and younger than that. It was weird that they gave the laundry out to it to a made a big laundry to do the wet Bosch. But we did the pressing on my mother stood and I end and we had a little mango and I used to fold a hankie chips and we always said I always let the people who gave my father Lord you are very rich that they could get the laundry on my end and my mother stood there in Hawaiian.

06:23 The laundry was called the last long laundry last long laundry last long laundry Chinese Chinese people. He had one on New York Avenue and that we bought the one on Clarkson Avenue and the whale on Clarkson Avenue, I remember that part of it was when the New Deal started and my father had a dick. So I intend that has up in the NRA and there was a lot of literature and paper and father needs you. So what did he get money?

07:22 Call the go by the name Sam Nelson was that his name is right. Is he started this laundromat?

07:47 Worked alongside him and you had and you helped now and Jackie was a couple years younger. So she can't we live behind the laundry cuz you couldn't afford rent in an apartment and the store was made up many stores at that time had to store in the front and it hadn't apartments in the back and that's where we lived in the back of the laundry. So there was like a I guess it don't say it was like a 24/7 kind of business cuz they worked all day until the job was done on him and I will be eight V8. Then we went back to my parents went back to do some more work. Whatever had to be done. And did you walk to school in Brooklyn, which was where on Clarkson Ave box in the 93rd 93rd Street Destiny. I mean it was still there when we were little cuz we lived at Grandma had a store right now.

08:47 That this was East Flatbush and a lot of memories of me. I had to go out a good friends and that's where I meant that even with it when he was 16 or he was 15 or so, but then we will I die. And if that's why we had that laundry things must have gotten better cuz we're able to get a three-room apartment on 93rd Street for that Senate met him. So we moved out of the out of the back of the laundry. So my father decided I think we moved out the back of the laundry and then he decided he was going to try another business and he offered at the store across the street. That is a

09:38 Leica

09:40 Dry good store

09:42 As he started to make cool covers, he would buy fabric and there was a man who taught him how to do it was a complete reversal the kind of thing. He ever did decide to make full covers with that record self-rising he was as he had a sewing machine and it came down to the east side. He after the job is stockings and with a very limited amount of money and a lot of it was on credit. He would buy stockings and underwear and towels it was that kind of dry goods to become RH Macy's for you also has a lot of memories because that's where your mother was born right like grandparents with your grandparents. Your mother's parents. They lives on East 10th Street right near the river.

10:35 Why what the hell out of that are also at the same time. There was a sings called Hoovervilles, right alongside the river and they had these tense of people who really I guess it would calm hobos, but they weren't they were just people who could not afford to live anyplace and depression and they was living in and you remember going to visit your grandmother on the Lower East Side and seeing these people living in your hands to shake shack for the long along the East River Down Under the Bridge and he is going out since the river and actually it was where the East Side Drive is now, haha off at 14th Street.

11:35 Take the bus to my grandmother that would take us to 8th Street. The bus actually came down the street. So you are mother.

11:46 Had how many siblings?

11:51 Three siblings. She hides Uncle Dave. She has Uncle Willie. She has a sister Annie and she also had Jack who died Jack was at his father parents came here and 1890s before 1900 mom's grandfather who is like the first immigrant for our family isn't that the name that we put it in on Ellis Island? Remember we did that who is your grandfather Morris Romper Romper is your grandfather? Who's the first immigrant in someone they were doing that whole thing on Ellis Island. We donated a break or something with his and his name is there.

12:50 And okay from Austria.

12:55 And

12:57 They had and he was in the clothing business.

13:02 And I actually have papers of him senses papers of his business with a say he had the name Maurice from Prince son when he made pants. He was the piano made pants. So I was like in the early 90s and then Grandpa Grandpa Samuel. He was American Born in the in the area of vilna Poland thought something else was filled now the Vilnius or something but his citizenship papers, they came from Zelda will probably sometimes she's the only one of our grandparents. My mother was born in New York.

14:02 Is in World War 1.

14:09 Whatever it was, but he became a citizen for the Ahmet grandma. Grandma. He was the laundry man for my aunt Annie and puts her in and Corona Queen by Anthony live in Corona Queens. And that's Aunt Sandy is my mother sis older sister. She was always there and he was hung on tree man.

14:39 He had his laundry. Then when he came out of service. I guess I got into the business and two very good looking as she figured that you would like a chance to do some to my friend my mother.

14:54 Was crazy about him because he spoke English very well. And most of my mother was American she was a stenographer and I don't think she was a business. I think she went to business school in those days. She graduated 8th grade and then went to a business school and she works actually she work for RL Polk and and they were in New York and they still compiling lists save a list company mailing list company that you work for that interesting how things go see the name. And anyway when she met my father know you have the wedding picture of a beautiful dress. It had like a short dress.

15:55 Yeah, that's a band around a has good and then bad the Depression hit everybody and I got married. I was married in 1923 in the middle of a lease before and actually they lived in Yonkers that that he bought a laundry up in Yonkers.

16:28 And that's where I was born in New York in the woman's lying in Hospital in Manhattan, but they lived in Yonkers as my mother used to say. Hello when I was when I would cry she would cry because she was very isolated up there a family lives far away. It. It was in Manhattan. I thought I had the definition of but jumping to when you brought daddy home and said you were getting married. Well, you knew daddy my parents to him also, and I thought he was wonderful, but I thought the first of all my mother's comment about Daddy was

17:16 He'll always make a living for you. He's not afraid to dirty his hands cuz Daddy had worked as a busboy the mountains while he was going to school college. He would always be working. He would where he works at Patty's Clam House here in Manhattan, and he worked at Macy's when he was in college right while he was waiting to go into the army hoping he didn't have it was a matter of my Dad Poor Dad was the first person on both sides to go to college, right? Yes, right. And our dad's name is Irving kasma. So what year

18:10 First he went to college then he went when he graduated college and that year was 1943.

18:23 In 1943 and he how much did it cost to buy broken cars.

18:30 Thin crust anything it would have to pay it by with your books at that time a girl your father tried to pay for it. He had set up fun. So you're great for his grandchildren. But how is it okay with Karen and it would be much more family members who graduated from Brooklyn College Daddy and to who is who is my father sister and and and the two of us has graduated from Brooklyn College, but I wanted to go back to that courtship time with mom and dad cuz I really wanted it so to touch a little bit on that even though it may make you cry. I'm up.

19:30 Top of the roof of the house in an interview some of your friends, but we had wonderful friends. We have a wonderful group of very very first generation college boys. Really they all of my girls till we were wolves lived in the same neighborhood and almost in the same apartment house and it was a wonderful group we had but we went to concerts with Luis and stadium has lots of free things in the city that we made the effort. We went got on the train and we would go out to Louis and stadium in the summer time for concerts who are Prospect Park View.

20:15 No, what's a 1550? Both of us is How We Roll we would have parties in each other's houses. And we danced a lot of dancing. We were very much the fact that you have a record and play a Frank Sinatra or or Benny Goodman sing to this music that we had a record player and all you girls are Frank Sinatra groupies, right? At least we all love to dance and the boys had a club called they close the Y Club just because they're that's what they called and then sit a little basements and we had dances they are.

21:17 And I know but they all went into service one after another song. They went to college wasn't interrupted by your ex finished got the firmest for the school. Your girlfriend's got a college or they just tell us where we want to go to work. Sylvia went to college but the other girls who wants that I graduated from high school. I got a job at my first job went to Tilden High School to Tilden Wichita, and I also went to so we also went to Tilden High School is well, My first job was in Greenpoint and I had to take to trolley cost to get there.

22:05 And my first pay was $12 a week and then the boys find out found out that I had that double Fay out which was $0.10 each way with five cents each way. They gave me a dollar. It's crazy. I made $13 a week from the $13 a week. I gave my mother $5 a week. So I had $7 for myself. And this was what we were dating and then of course Daddy when it's a service, so I was too nervous to where did he go? First two and he went out to Fort Eustis, Virginia.

22:46 And surprisingly now that I think about it. I'm amazed my mother. Let me go.

22:54 I went down to visit him three times at camp in Richmond. We were not engaged we went down and what one time I met him in Williamsburg Virginia, which was there the camp and the way you went with by Train by train and you would go to Grand Central Station take the tray and I get that way and then another time I met him a crowded then write all the way to Williamsburg on the floor at the time I said the most is when I came back when Daddy went overseas and I had to come back from Texas and I had to come back from Austin, Texas and the change was very crowded at that point. That's why we were married and I have gone down to be with him and Texas at least. I don't know when he was sent overseas. Where did he go?

23:49 He wants to China. They bite the ends here actually, and that he drove the Burma Road to India. And what was his position there? He was in the medical Corps. It isn't it was called the portable surgical hospital at that point which eventually became Mash Korean war was closed. But this was a forerunner of us as he he got into he was originally an anti-aircraft and he was one of these things with volunteered at some point that cusses.

24:28 Is leanings in college for pre-med so he got into the medical and surgical bills later when he came back. He sent that he was disappointed that he didn't go on and become a doctor who said he went into advertising. No. No, he always said if I had wanted to do what I would have done a few one of his things you really wanted to be something you make it your business to be. I think it's very happy and he got into this by while he was in the army.

25:05 He was writing scripts for the radio station and then Zia. I'm so creative. He was always always like to write they started to do write a funny little comedy skits.

25:21 My feeling was that he should have gotten into radio or done something that kind of skipped writing instead of getting its advertising in a wonderful voice and accuse a great Storyteller and have a good singing voice Grandma Bessie and said the off-brand wonderful stories about the peaches in the cans of peaches and and I think that they are but what I'm always amazed at is that how many years will you back here and he there?

26:02 Oh, no, I thought he was really overseas only like for 18 months and you wrote him every day every single to write the song lyrics of a song that is but they were using somebody else's where your daddy sent you.

26:39 They was already x-rays. We were married to read it before, you know, it is raining.

26:50 But it would he came back from basic training. He looks so gorgeous. He was so send but he married was an interesting thing was sort of like you you decided that you guys were going to get married right or you just said to Dad. I've got this date. That's what he said. He was coming home on furlough at that point. He was down to Texas and is coming home office for a while. What's the date? I have we got married on August 5th 1944. What was significant about that day is still the hottest day on record in New York City every year. I look at the New York Times in the listing of the temperature right now. They always a list of August 5th 1944. It was a hundred two degrees. And other than than 2 on other days on August 5th and 7th in that again.

27:50 Then have air conditioning or the place where we got married was supposedly had a condition on Eastern Parkway cuz I know it's to Kansas's doing these service right now and I insisted on Daddy. We're at him before he came in. He had a very

28:12 Summit uniform made which was just a shirt with just a shirt and pants for tailing very well tell if you view it was he intended to wear for the wedding but I insisted he wear a jacket. They had to wear his winter uniform jackets cuz I figured to head to you the happiest day of my life. What was the happiest day of the I've had lots of very happy days. I've been with the grandchildren were born it but with his daddy came out from surf healthy.

28:54 But I'm headed to Grand Central Station.

28:58 And Grandpa. Hi there. They did a white fake fur jackets, and I wear a purple dress under it.

29:07 And I raised him as being such that's why we wanted the original to record this in Grand Central cuz he thought that that that spot really had such a significant, you know, so many significant comings and goings for you. I think it's true for a lot of people in New York. Was it a lots of San Francisco plane landed? I thought he was coming at 8, to come by train, but he didn't come directly. They came back. The scientist George closer to New York with the actual discharge was okay different when you're standing in Grand Central and you could if you could see the future now you looking back do you say what was very lucky lady and why we had a very good life together.

30:10 What made this life so wonderful?

30:13 It was full of.

30:15 Exciting things we travel experience together music if you could do one thing differently, what would it be?

30:33 Not really just wish you was here longer wish you was here longer so.

30:41 What do you think was was dad's most wonderful experience just hit so to have him here with us for a moment. What do you think it was that he would say was was the best thing in his life?

30:56 Well, he always have Dairy Maid. I think it's crazy. We wouldn't be so proud of me and always saying what it is, but she's held up better than one other friend. So beautiful. He always took the bedroom legs in the gym. The best legs of everybody. Love isn't legs. You know what then you had us and we lived in Brooklyn.

31:39 Did you ever feel trapped being a mother being a I love doing? I love that the fifties was such a wonderful for me. I have the two of you and you were so beautiful. You are so cute. Daddy was so pictures he took of you and he was so gorgeous. And he was a wonderful daddy sings guy. We were moving ahead and he was happy in his work. He really was very happy is happy and he'd like being his own boss when he who is faithful in the small. They stay for the small place can be like having control of things that you can control it as a young man. He felt a lot of out of control because

32:38 So much poverty, you know during the Depression for in his life, but now your family has grown from Daddy and you asked to son's in-laws now you have four grandchildren who all on their own almost what message do you want them to tell their children about the first floor attic a Chien?

33:07 I mean intervention division of things there's so much in this world to say.

33:15 I'm very proud of them that they have wonderful parents. I'm very proud of my children that they really good people and I love the jobs that my daughters have gotten into that. They're helping people that they're in education. That's it.

33:40 It's been sorry for what the for Life while you also to your grandchildren is you you have always given this unconditional love but I think call grandparents the best part of them and then you don't have to reprimand them no love from you. And I think that that's that it gives them confidence mine.

34:12 And I don't I think that we should have covered a lot of stuff with her some other memory or something else that you wanted to talk about. We've got a little bit. My bestie Daddy's parents wonderful hard-working people that was terrible for them to the seamstress and grandpa. So what's up with the comments industry of a seasonal they worked up in the mountains during the summer time and she worked as a Chamberlain AIDS and other money goes everybody would do it would also be the entertainment. Did I buy sang at the casino's money come in at night and then so she would sing songs to children to college.

35:00 You have an aunt who has a doctor if you have a cousin who is a doctor least. It's a wonderful country think of that the people who lived on the Lower East Side and what what you know, he's in in a hundred years. What's what's happened? What apartment I remember the first time I got on and they are playing Daddy and I went to Puerto Rico and that was our first trip together in my previous trip of an airplane with us. When I was present pregnant with you, right and daddy want to go fishing up. His name is fishing trips and I flew up and he drove the doctor said

35:50 I will have a miscarriage before you said you can still drive that to one of these for me, and I sat there the plane and I was dressed in a beautiful knitted sick or from those days. You got dressed to get on a plane to get on the plane. I have I sent my mother Could Only See Me Now think of me on an airplane going on a vacation to Puerto Rico and that was I just felt so what's your easiest to do, you know is if I had I had arrived just that way I have to be on an airplane.

36:29 It is such a wonderful wonderful trips. And of course there are other wonderful vacation there after that Daddy and I traveled what we had lots of vacation as a family as well car trips the long car trips. But you know, we had one car Daddy he insisted on not be kept his cause a long time, Plymouth Plymouth. We were going down to I think it was a trip through the Smoky Mountains. I think we took that cause down to New Orleans and we had to keep on stopping to put oil in it was burning so Mom, but we took lots of hot chips with you girl and visit every National talk and we still have pretty much.

37:29 A lot of them. Everyone over I think we visited but not with us, but you did it right after we were at

37:41 Every time it's been the best time of my life. It's very happy with my life. I enjoyed working.

37:53 The people I met working the people Isaiah relationships and friendships.

37:59 Daddy to Ted wonderful forever how we think that this was did you enjoy this?

38:09 I am very grateful to be able to say it's a sin to be healthy and be able to remember this. I love you all.