“I think it’s a wonderful thing to have this sort of situation occur because a memory is something that can’t be reconstructed after a person has died. And after a community’s elders pass away, they take with them a history that we can’t replicate any other way. So recording a history, a verbal history of what people experience is just so superior to anything a writer could accomplish later and try to tell what happened.” —Helen Bialeck
As part of our ongoing Boyle Heights Oral History Video series, the first of which featured Japanese-American Nancy Oda, we bring you, "Six Jewish Girls in Boyle Heights" featuring a group of six Jewish women who have remained close friends ever since they attended elementary school together in Boyle Heights in the 1930s. In this Oral History video, the group—Arlene Dunaetz, Helen Bialeck, Joyce Sindel, Armony Share, Jackie Waterman, and Charlotte Gussinroot—reflects on life as it was then in Boyle Heights, their friendships, joys and sorrows, family life, local landmarks, and the vibrant cultural life of the Jewish residents of Boyle Heights.
Jews in Boyle Heights numbered around 35,000 by the mid-1930s (comprising about 70% of the population in that neighborhood), sharing the community with Mexican and Japanese Americans. This group of young girls attended Sheridan Street Elementary School, followed by Hollenbeck Junior High (now Middle School) and Roosevelt High School. They rode the streetcar, enjoyed treats at Currie’s Ice Cream Parlor, and checked out books at the Benjamin Franklin and Malabar Branch Libraries.