Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Alice Abrams Siegal Interview
Narrator: Alice Abrams Siegal
Interviewer: Becky Fukuda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 13, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-salice-01-0010

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BF: Now, what about discrimination, sort of the other way? Like I was thinking about how during this time period, segregation, at least in the rest of the country, was still full in force.

AS: Yeah.

BF: And I sort of wondered whether or not there were, there was actual segregation in Seattle during this time period.

AS: Yeah, there was, yeah.

BF: So how do you feel like, did the Jewish community have their own set of biases against other ethnic groups, against African Americans, Negroes at that time, or...

AS: Well, yeah. I know I would hear things. It was never like, "Oh, those horrible..." but it's, hear things about, especially the Negroes at that time, that were sort of negative. And I didn't understand why, I mean, I know we had one black family that was living across from where my grandparents' place was when I was still living there. I think I might have mentioned that, and this one day, the little girl that lived there who was about my age, we were playing together and then we went to her home and then her mother became very upset when she saw me. And she had a heavy accent, so I'm sure she was from the deep South, where she had experienced horrible discrimination, and I think she was worried that she'd get in trouble or whatever. I'm not sure, because as a young child, all I knew was, "I don't understand this," but it was very sad and I felt very sad about it. But...

BF: So what did the mother do?

AS: Well, she said, "She shouldn't be here."

BF: To you?

AS: She couldn't even look at me. Yeah, she just... so I left. Then we never played again. I thought that was pretty sad.

BF: Do you remember talking about that with your, your parents?

AS: No. You know, I never talked about those things. No, just kind of...

BF: But it obviously really stuck in your mind.

AS: Oh, yeah. Oh, I'll never forget it. I can still see the kitchen, I can still see her mother, and I mean, they were poor. We didn't have much in the way of furniture, but theirs was kind of rickety sort of stuff. So I knew that there was difference in how people lived, and some people have a lot less. So, yeah, it stuck in my mind. I've never forgotten that.

BF: So you, you obviously said you, you learned something about how people make do with less. What did it mean to you about different races or different...

AS: Yeah, how did...

BF: Did you also sort of come away with sort of a, something that stuck in you about that?

AS: Well, I know that we did have restrictions on where blacks, American, African Americans can live, could live, and I don't know if there were restrictions against Asians. There could have been, because I'm sure they wouldn't be, those areas that were restricted where we, Jews couldn't live, certainly would mean any ethnic group couldn't live there. And I don't... no, I, you know, I don't remember anything about Asians, 'cause I really didn't know -- except in high school, I know there was one girl, I cannot think of her name, who we apparently were pretty friendly, and who I admired a lot because she was a very good student, and I think that was one of the things that I saw with... I'm sure most of the Asian students were at Franklin, because there weren't that many at Garfield, at least when I was going. And, but they were never boisterous, loud or... and I admired them, because I was quiet. [Laughs] I didn't like boisterous people.

BF: But it sounds like, at least in your neighborhood, that the lines were drawn pretty strongly that there wasn't a lot of socializing among different groups.

AS: No, I think, yeah, that's true.

BF: And this one small attempt was cut short.

AS: Yes. Yes, right, right. Yeah, no, there wasn't. Pretty much the Jewish kids stuck with the Jewish kids, and, and so we didn't pay attention to what the others were doing. [Laughs]

BF: Right, right.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.