Oral History interview with Libby Schwartz

Libby Schwartz spent her youth in and around the Greenbush community. She was born in 1940 in the neighborhood’s Madison General Hospital (now Meriter Hospital), and departed Madison after graduating from the UW-Madison School of Pharmacy in 1961. She grew up in a two-flat home on Park St. with her extended family, speaking Yiddish with her Russian born grandfather. Her family’s business, Schwartz Pharmacy at 902 Mound St., was a retail and social hub in the Greenbush neighborhood. The original store was demolished in the early 1960s in conjunction with the urban renewal project. Libby shares her recollections of working at the store in her teen years, helping with stocking the shelves, making malts at the soda fountain, and after obtaining her pharmacy license, filling prescriptions. She vividly recalls visiting the Bush neighborhood’s bakeries, butcher shops and grocery stores where one could buy a fresh challah and lox, and a kosher chicken.

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  • Production Transcript for madjewish-004_LibbySchwartz_FINALaup.mp3

    [00:00:00] Introductions
    [00:01:36] Libby’s immediate family and how they came to Madison
    [00:04:35] House on Park Street
    [00:08:31] Synagogue
    [00:12:03] Yiddish culture
    [00:14:29] Neighborhood diversity 1940s-1950s
    [00:17:45] Getting around town outside of the Greenbush neighborhood
    [00:19:11] Businesses in the Greenbush neighborhood 1940s-1950s
    [00:23:59] Family pharmacy business: products sold, Libby’s jobs at the store, postcards from WWII soldiers
    [00:36:06] Education at Washington Elementary and Central High School 1940s-1950s, and playing the French horn in band, orchestra, and choir
    [00:43:19] Education: University of Wisconsin-Madison 1957-1961
    [00:49:02] Changes to Greenbush neighborhood after 1960s urban renewal project 


    [00:00:00] Introductions
    Interviewer: Today is January 10th, 2023, and we're interviewing Libby Schwartz -- that's L-i-b-b-y S-c-h-w-a-r-t-z -- for the Madison Public Library's Living History Project. I'm Daniel Einstein, and we're recording this interview over the internet from Libby's home in New Jersey. We'll be discussing Libby's experiences growing up in the Jewish Community in the Greenbush and adjacent neighborhoods, and in particular, her family's business, Schwartz Pharmacy. So Libby, why don't we just start by telling us a little bit about where you were born, when you were born, how long you lived in Madison? 

    Libby Schwartz: Okay. Well I was born April 28, 1940. I was brought to life in Madison General Hospital, which is on Mound Street and Park. And I think it still is there, although it's probably spread out quite a lot. And at that point, at that time, our family pharmacy was across the street on the other corner, the northwest corner of Park and Mound. I lived in Madison until 1961, when I got married and moved to Waukegan, Illinois. 

    [00:01:36] Libby’s immediate family and how they came to Madison
    Interviewer: So for the first 21 years of your life, you were living in and around the Greenbush neighborhood. Why don't you introduce our -- us to your immediate family, your parents and your siblings? 

    Libby Schwartz: Okay. My Dad, Sam Schwartz and my Mom Rose, my brother, who's seven years older -- who was seven years older than I, Robert, who was also a pharmacist. My dad, myself, he were pharmacists. We went into the family business, so to speak. And that's about -- that's the size of my immediate family. I have cousins and so forth, but -- 

    Interviewer: Yeah, and how did your family come to live in Madison? 

    Libby Schwartz: Well that's an interesting story. I -- it's -- as I was told it, my dad -- well my grandparents lived in Sheboygan. When they came to this country, they moved to Sheboygan. I don't know how it happened they got to Sheboygan, but they were told by the Jewish agency that placed people at the time that -- and that was in 1905, 1906 -- that there were people from his town in Sheboygan. So that's where my grandfather went. I'm very glad that he left Russia at that time. Apparently there were -- the Tsar was instituting pogroms, and he, I guess, hadn't had the sense to get out. I don't know anything about that story, about how they managed or how they, you know, what was his decision. But they came to Wisconsin, and they lived there until 1919 in Sheboygan.

    And my father was planning to go to the University of Wisconsin, and apparently, my grandfather said, "Well you can't go to Madison  and eat trayf." That's the story I was told. So my grandfather --

    Interviewer: Explain what trayf means.

    Libby Schwartz: Not kosher food. You could not, you know, "You're not going to eat not-kosher food. You're going to -- we're going to go to Madison, and you're going to eat your mother's food." 

    Interviewer: So the decision was that they would move to Madison at the same time. 

    Libby Schwartz: And I think he had a grocery store -- my grandpa had a grocery store. At some point -- I only know the house on Park Street, where he finally, you know, bought the house. He had a little tailor shop on the side of the house. It was part of the house. And he worked as a tailor, which is -- was his profession. And my father went to university, and my grandmother cooked, as grandmothers do.

    [00:04:35] House on Park Street
    Interviewer: So tell us a little bit about, you know, your house on Park Street. And your grandparents lived with your father, and then after he married, were you all still together?

    Libby Schwartz: The house on Park Street was a two-family house. See, there were five rooms in each apartment, each flat, I guess they called it. So there was no bedroom for me when I was born. I had to sleep in my parents' room. My grandpa, my brother shared a bedroom. My parents had a bedroom; I had no bedroom. They apparently -- I'm not sure when, but my grandma died and my grandfather remarried later. And there was a stepmother living in the house. I don't know anything about her. She passed before I was born. But my dad, you know, finished college. He kept living there, because he was looking after his parents and his stepmother. He apparently went to Philadelphia to visit an uncle, and fell madly in love with his uncle's daughter, who was his first cousin, and he married her. And she came back to Madison, Wisconsin from Philadelphia, which was a very nice move, I think, from Philadelphia, which is not such a great place, to Madison, which is a marvelous place. 

    Interviewer: So the house was at 311 North Park Street.

    Libby Schwartz: Between Johnson and University Ave.

    Interviewer: Which is roughly where Vilas Hall is today on the UW Madison campus.

    Libby Schwartz: Yes, the exact spot where my house was is now a garbage dumpster, a garbage container. I always look at it when I go past. "That's my house."

    Interviewer: And how long did the family live there?

    Libby Schwartz: We lived there until 1955. My grandpa passed in 1950; we stayed in the house. At that point my brother was married. My brother got married when he was 21, so that was in 1954. My father sold the house in 1955, and apparently -- I don't know who -- to whom he sold the house; I have no idea. But apparently it was occupied until '61 or something like that, when the university bought the property.

    Interviewer: Tell us a little bit about the -- what you remember of the house there on North Park Street. Was it a busy street?

    Libby Schwartz: It was an enormously busy street, because that was the main highway from Chicago to like, the Dells. Everybody that was going to the Dells in the summertime went right past our house. So I mean, there was no Beltline at the point -- at that point. There was no, you know, nothing to connect the highways. So the highway went right past, this very busy street. I was not allowed to cross Park Street alone. Kind of -- yeah, it was -- the area from my house to my father's pharmacy, which was south of -- that was south of me -- was along a street that had very few cross streets. So I could walk on that street when I was six, seven years old; I couldn't cross Park Street.

    Interviewer: Tell us the story about waiting for someone to help you cross Park Street.

    Libby Schwartz: Or sometimes I would just shout, "Daddy," in hopes that over the the traffic he would hear me. It was pretty funny.

    [00:08:31] Synagogue
    Interviewer: Let's talk about the Jewish community now. What synagogue did your family attend, and what sort of Jewish rituals did you have in the house? 

    Libby Schwartz: Shabbat was Shabbat, always. Every holiday -- I knew every holiday. My grandfather of course, observed every holiday. And he would, you know, be able to walk to shul until he couldn't walk anymore. And then he would stay with people in the neighborhood by the shul. We went to Adas Jeshurun That was apparently a new synagogue at the time. I think it was built in 1940 or something like that. That -- the older synagogue was Agudas Achim which was on the southeast corner of Park and Mound, across from my father's pharmacy. Everything seems to be around that pharmacy. The pharmacy was the center of the universe, far as I was concerned. 

    Interviewer: So Adas Jeshuran was orthodox -- and you used the word shul, which is another term for synagogue. Tell us about how the synagogue was set up, and what was the role that women had in the shul? 

    Libby Schwartz: I know that they gossiped a lot in shul. That's what I can remember. There was a woman's balcony, but women didn't sit up there. Women sat downstairs. There was no mechitza ( a physical barrier ) to separate the men and women, nothing to separate their vision from each other. So actually, they could sit together, but the women seemed to sit on one side, and the men seemed to sit on the other side. And the children just sat wherever, wherever they wanted. It was very small. There was no Talmud  Torah (school for teaching about Judaism). Often -- well I mean, Simchat Torah, Purim, every holiday, I was in shul with my grandfather. But we kids used to play in the basement, while the people -- sometimes we, you know, went upstairs, and we'd run around, and nobody seemed to care. It was, "Oh, they're children; let them do what they want to do." So it was free, you know. We just -- we'd play games. We would fly paper airplanes around the corridor. You know, it was hilarious. 

    Interviewer: But this was a relatively small congregation. 

    Libby Schwartz: Very small. 

    Interviewer: How many people would be there -- 10, 20 people would show up, a minyan? 

    Libby Schwartz: Well during the -- of course during the (High) holidays, there were maybe 50, 70. I mean, and there was always a minyan. There never was a problem getting a minyan. There was always 10 guys to do that. 

    Interviewer: But you told me that as a girl, there wasn't any expectation that you would have any special trainings, any -- there was no Hebrew school for you. 

    Libby Schwartz: There was no Hebrew school for me, but of course I learned Shabbat candle prayers. I learned the Shma (prayer) My grandpa taught me. I learned how to keep kosher, and I learned, you know, all the things that a woman was supposed to do. 

    [00:12:03] Yiddish culture
    Interviewer: And how about Yiddish culture? What was that like? 

    Libby Schwartz: My grandpa spoke Yiddish to me all the time, and I often spoke English to him, but I speak Yiddish. I know Yiddish. My grammar is really good. but I’m  illiterate. I can't read. I can't write, because I never learned Hebrew; I don't know the letters.

    Interviewer: But your brother did get bar mitzvahed?

    Libby Schwartz: Yeah, my brother had a tutor, Mr. Eisenberg, Rachmiel. Which I remember him -- my mom saying he got bumped off by a car while he was reading a book, crossing the street. It's sad. 

    Interviewer: What sort of Jewish youth group might you have joined?

     Libby Schwartz: Well when I was in high school or junior high -- I think it was in senior high -- I belonged to B'nai B'rith Girls, which was sponsored by, of course, B'nai B'rith. And --

     Interviewer: And what is -- what's B'nai B'rith?

     Libby Schwartz: B'nai B'rith is a fraternal organization that gets together -- it's national. It's probably international. And it's a men's organization, and they -- I think they would have a woman's auxiliary. I'm not exactly sure. Yeah, I'm sure, because my mother belonged to B'nai B'rith. My father belonged to B'nai B'rith, but they didn't have meetings together. And B'nai B'rith Girls was, you know, the -- like the Girl Scouts, became like the Girl Scouts. And we would get together at people's homes. Some of the women would be -- one of the mothers would be, you know, like, a guide for us. And we would have picnics, and we would have parties. And we would have discussions, and we would do nice things for other people. We would try to be, you know, good, and we had things that were planned, that were meant to be for, like, we'd have -- go -- we'd go to the hospitals to read to the little children, and so forth like that. That was our, I don't know, our main thing.

     [00:14:29] Neighborhood diversity 1940s-1950s
    Interviewer: So you participated in this Jewish girls' group, but among your friends -- you lived in a neighborhood that had many immigrant families -- black children, Catholics, Italians. How did the kids --

    Libby Schwartz: Yeah, I didn't have any Jewish friends.

    Interviewer: You didn't really have any Jewish friends outside of this little group.

    Libby Schwartz: Right. I didn't have any Jewish friends, really, in that group, except for the butcher's daughter.

    Interviewer: As a young girl growing up in this neighborhood, did you ever have any sense that you were different? That your, you know, your grandfather spoke Yiddish in the house, that you went to services -- how was that experience for you?

    Libby Schwartz: It wasn't even an experience. I mean, I was different. I knew that like, in Girl scouts, for example, when there were cookouts, me and the other Jewish girl in the group would bring our own hot dogs, because we wouldn't eat non-kosher hot dogs. I could speak Yiddish; they couldn't speak Yiddish. But it didn't -- it wasn't a glaring object of, you know, it wasn't a thing. I was just different.

    Interviewer: It wasn't a thing.

    Libby Schwartz: What a great way to grow up. Or maybe it was just, my personality being that -- what it was, it just didn't bother me at all, or it didn't make me feel different. It was like, I could share with them my differences, and they could share with me their differences. I would go to their Lutheran services at the Lutheran Memorial, and they would come with me to my services, you know, at the shul. It was not a -- it wasn't -- it was no difference, really. I mean, I was a kid in Madison Wisconsin. I was a Wisconsinite. That's how I felt it was.

    Interviewer: Let's just explore this idea of Greenbush as a neighborhood. Did you have a sense that you lived in a different part of town, a poor part of town, the -- where the immigrants lived, or what was your experience?

    Libby Schwartz: I just -- we just felt that it was a rich neighborhood, and that there was a lot of -- I mean, there -- kids would go, like, from the Jewish family to Italian family, and it was a great neighborhood. It was very warm. It was very welcoming. It was very friendly. Everyone -- it -- there was no difference between people. Black people, orange people, yellow people -- didn't make a difference. We were all -- we all lived there, and it didn't seem like -- I don't think we ever felt that it was a poor neighborhood. We didn't feel poor. I wasn't necessarily very poor, because my father had a business. But there were people that did not have a business. We just didn't -- we didn't feel poor. It was a very rich neighborhood in experience.

    [00:17:45] Getting around town outside of the Greenbush neighborhood
    Interviewer: Did you have a sense, though, that, you know, you couldn't travel too far to the south of the Bush neighborhood, or to the north, because you would be getting into a different place where different people lived?

    Libby Schwartz: No.

    Interviewer: Was Shorewood off limits?

    Libby Schwartz: No.

    Interviewer: Was University Heights off limits?

    Libby Schwartz: No. No, and me and my friends, when we were little, we used to go down to the campus, because we lived very close to the campus. And we would just -- they would just let us wander the halls of the science building or the Union. We would go to the Grand Ballroom and put on plays, little, you know, plays on the stage, because nobody bothered us. We couldn't probably do that anymore. Probably wouldn't be allowed.

    Interviewer: Certainly, children had a lot more freedom to wander than they do today. How did you get around town? Did --

    Libby Schwartz: Buses.

    Interviewer: Did you have a car? Buses, mostly?

    Libby Schwartz: We did have a car; we did have a car. My mom did not drive, however, and she and I would go downtown with a bus, or go to visit her friends with a bus, or walk. That's how they got around. She had a friend on Chandler Street, and we would just walk from our house to Chandler.

    [00:19:11] Businesses in the Greenbush neighborhood 1940s-1950s
    Interviewer: So let's talk about some of the businesses in the neighborhood, in particular, any recollections of the kind of sounds, or smells, or other experiences you might've had at a place like Milwaukee Bakery. Do you remember --

    Libby Schwartz: It smelled so great. That's where we bought our challah. Mom didn't make a challah. I, however, made challah, but she didn't.

    Interviewer: So every Friday afternoon, you'd get a challah from the Milwaukee Bakery?

    Libby Schwartz: Yep, we'd get a [challah]

    Interviewer: What other baked goods did you get there?

    Libby Schwartz: As I recall -- I can only remember the challah. But -- and we did get macaroons that were brought in, I believe, from Milwaukee, from actual Milwaukee, not Milwaukee Bakery -- actual Milwaukee -- that were the best macaroons I’ve ever tasted. And I've never tasted any since then except those that I've made. 

    Interviewer: And what about Stein's Kosher Butcher?

    Libby Schwartz: It had sawdust on the floor, and Maish Stein [assumed spelling] Morris Stein was always accused of putting his thumb on the scale. I have no idea if he did that. His wife -- we would open chickens on the left-hand side of the store, and I loved watching that. I loved that. I just liked the cutting open and the -- I loved that. It was great. And their daughter Charlotte, who--

    Interviewer: Well I'm curious because we talked about this before, that you were really intrigued by the dissection, and later you did go to pharmacy school and had medical training, I assume, and so --

    Libby Schwartz: I guess that what interested me. I mean, one of my interests would have been to be a surgeon. But I didn't want to go to school that long. I wanted to get out of school. I just didn't want to go to school that long.

    Interviewer: But at a very young age you were already attracted to anatomy. Grocery stores? Borsuk’s grocery store? 

    Libby Schwartz: Gazevich’s Deli, that was right across the street on the northeast corner of Mound. We would buy lox, pastrami, corned beef. I don't recall that we ever bought any -- oh, my mother used to buy pot cheese, farmers cheese, from him, because she couldn't buy -- she couldn't get that in the grocery store. Although now, here you can get it in the grocery store all the time, any time. We'd buy simencies which are the pumpkin seeds. I don't know why we call it simencies. I have no idea, derivation of that. It might be Italian, for all I know. (and) bubble gum. 

    Interviewer: Where did you go shopping for clothing? 

    Libby Schwartz: Oh, that was downtown. Yeah, Manchester's, Rendall's, Baron's. Hills Brothers, no we didn't go to Hills. But I would go -- we would go to Hills to see my Aunt Esther. We would just stop in to say hi to Aunt Esther, because she worked in the millinery department. Oh yeah, and Yost’s. There was Yost’s too. We'd buy things there. It's even more further down, more on campus. 

    Interviewer: How about restaurants in the neighborhood? 

    Libby Schwartz: Oh, I don't know anything about restaurants. We didn't go to restaurants. At least I didn't, when I was a kid. 

    Interviewer: So you never went to Spaghetti Corners, or Bunky's or --

     Libby Schwartz: No. 

    Interviewer: And that was because they wouldn't have served you kosher food? Or -- 

    Libby Schwartz: Right. Maybe my parents went. I have no idea. I mean when I was a kid, I had -- I mean I know that on Tuesday night my dad played -- he bowled with a league out of the Triangle supermarket-- or grocery -- not a supermarket, a grocery store. Friday night, my brother and his wife would come over for dinner, and Saturday night -- did he -- was he off on Saturday night? No, he wasn't off on Saturday night. But Friday nights, earlier on, he would go to -- they would go to the movies, and then go dancing afterwards. I don't know where they went dancing, but they went dancing. 

    [00:23:59] Family pharmacy business: products sold, Libby’s jobs at the store, postcards from WWII soldiers
    Interviewer: Well let's talk about your family's business, because that was such an anchor --

    Libby Schwartz: It was. 

    Interviewer: In your family. 

    Libby Schwartz: For the family and for the neighborhood. It was. 

    Interviewer: When did the store open, and how long did it stay at that location? 

    Libby Schwartz: Okay, well let's see. He bought the store in 1930. My brother was born in 1933. I was born in 1940. The store was in that location until '64 or '5, I would think. Yeah, I think so. So-called the new pharmacy, which was 1964 '65. Because I remember that when my dad became ill, and I was already on my third kid, I went out to work in the store while he was in the hospital, because they didn't have a -- you know, they needed an extra pharmacist. My brother was there, but he couldn't work all the hours. So I worked some of the hours, with my baby in a -- sitting in the window in a little infant seat. He was a good kid. He was the third kid; he was no problem. 

    Interviewer: So just to be clear, your father was a UW (trained) pharmacist -- 

    Libby Schwartz: Yep. 

    Interviewer: Trained, your brother was, and you were. 

    Libby Schwartz: Yep. 

    Interviewer: And your uncle also worked in the store. 

    Libby Schwartz: He worked. He didn't go to college. He came out of the army and went to work in the store. And he was called, I guess, the journal man. He really ran the -- you know, knew the business. And then became part of the new place, the Park Region Medical building, when that started in 1964 or God, I'm not sure which. I know that in '65 I was there, but -- 

    Yeah. Because my father was in the hospital at the time, and he stood at the window and watched them tear the store down. I'm not sure how he could do that, but he said, "No, it's just progress. It's progress. That's what he said when they tore the store down. All of it. I couldn't have done it. 

    They were immediately able to relocate in the new medical building. 

    Libby Schwartz: Apparently they had that place -- you know, the land was already decided that that was going to be there. I'm not sure what was at that -- in that spot. I mean they must have taken down stuff in order to build the medical building. 

    Interviewer: Right. Well it was part of this whole Triangle urban renewal project. 

    Libby Schwartz: Yeah. 

    Interviewer: So, that -- the business continued from 1965 until -- what, 1990 or so in the new location? 

    Libby Schwartz: Something like that. Let's see, my brother sold the pharmacy to -- I think Prescription Pharmacy when he was 59. He was 59. So that was in 1986? Let's see. Let me just figure that out. He was born in '33. So add 33 to 59, and it's 96? Yeah, something like that. 

    Interviewer: And so, what sort of services and products were sold in your store? 

    Libby Schwartz: Okay, so the old store, which was on Mound Street -- 

    Interviewer: That was 902 Mound Street. 

    Libby Schwartz: Yeah, had almost anything you could possibly want. You know, it was -- there was a soda fountain. We served sandwiches, cold sandwiches. There was a prescription department. There was health and beauty aids, Max Factor makeup. I think there was also -- yeah, they also sold Max Factor makeup in the newer pharmacy. Toys for little -- you know, kids' toys. Buttons that you blew and you know, just nonsense. 

    Interviewer: What about the -- You know I've interviewed several others who are always happy to talk about the comic book section. 

    Libby Schwartz: Well there was a magazine section that -- magazines, "Life, Time," you know, "McCall's" "Good Housekeeping," comic books. I think you had to take the comic books if you took the other magazines, as I recall. You had to. I mean it was like, you know, that was what the distributor required. And it was, I think, the bane of my Uncle Alex's life, because kids were always stopping and reading the comic books. And he'd always say, "This is not a library. It's not a library." But yeah, the little boys from [inaudible]Agudas Achim loved to come over and get cokes and sodas, and read the comic books. Sort it out. 

    Interviewer: Did you work at the soda fountain? Was that one of the jobs you had growing up? 

    Libby Schwartz: I did. 

    Libby Schwartz: Yes, I did. When I was 14, I got a work permit. You had to get a worker's permit when you were less than 16. I'm not sure that that's a true thing anymore. I had to go get a chest x ray and get a food handler's permit. And I worked every Sunday morning in the pharmacy until I -- actually, I worked all the way through college. All the way through college. And then also the weeks that the regular girls would go on vacation, I would work their schedule also. 

    Interviewer: Do you remember any of the recipes at the soda fountain for malts or -- 

    Libby Schwartz: Oh, I remember all of them. All of them. Right now I could make you a malt. And my dad always used to say, "The thing that they don't teach you in pharmacy school is how to make a chocolate malt." That's what he said. 

    Interviewer: What was one of the favorite soda fountain drinks that you remember? 

    Libby Schwartz: Oh, chocolate sodas. You get a squirt of chocolate, some ice cream in the bottom, stir it up, more soda water, then the scoop of ice cream went in. That's a very easy recipe. 

    Interviewer: And how much was a -- 

    Libby Schwartz: How much was a soda? I think it was a quarter. 

    Interviewer: Wow. That was a lot. And how much were you getting paid as a 14-year-old? 

    Libby Schwartz: Well here's the deal. My dad paid me way too much. But I wasn't allowed to keep it. It went into the bank. 

    Interviewer: I see. 

    Libby Schwartz: He paid me way too much. It was like 10 dollars for the morning work -- a morning's work. That was quite a lot. 

    Interviewer: Were you saving for college, or he just wanted you to have -- 

    Libby Schwartz: Yeah, no, he just wanted me to have it, you know, to save it. I didn't have -- I didn't pay for college, because I had a scholarship, a music scholarship. 

    Interviewer: Well we'll get to your school experience in a minute, but I'd like to know a little bit more about the pharmacy business. And how did you help your father out other than working at the soda fountain? Did you do deliveries? Did you do stocking? 

    Libby Schwartz: I did deliveries. I dusted the merchandise. I sold merchandise in the other part of the store. When I wasn't working at the soda fountain, I would be on the other side of the store, wrapping things. We used to wrap every package. Not bags. We didn't put them in bags. We wrapped every package. Folded, wrapped, you know, the whole thing. I did that. Wrapped Kotex because those were on the shelf and it was, you know, it was supposed to be, like, discrete, not knowing that it was Kotex. So it was wrapped. 

    Interviewer: So that was behind the counter? You had to ask for that? 

    Libby Schwartz: It wasn't behind the counter, but it was wrapped. Also, condoms were behind the counter, condoms. They were not in front. Now they're in front. 

    Interviewer: Yep. 

    Libby Schwartz: You go CVS now. Out there for everybody to see. 

    Interviewer: What about advice? Would people come in and describe a physical ailment to your father and -- 

    Libby Schwartz: "I get this big patch on my arms and I don't know what it is. What do you think it is?" Yeah. they would ask, these elderly Jewish folk -- now that I think about it, they were probably younger than I am now. But anyway, rather than go to the doctor, I mean, they avoided going to the doctor, if they could possibly do it. And so they'd say, "Yes, can you send me a thing? It's a funny color." And whatnot. And my dad would sell them a little ointment for it. And it usually would go away, because it was usually nothing. But that's the kind of advice. 

    Interviewer: Tell us about this story that soldiers in World War II would send letters to the pharmacy. 

    Libby Schwartz: Okay. So I did send you a snapshot of Sam and Alex. And I think that picture is on the statue -- the sculpture that's supposed to commemorate -- 

    Interviewer: The Greenbush memorial sculpture. 

    Libby Schwartz: The Greenbush -- yeah. Which is a kind of a funny thing with a swan's neck and nothing else. I don't know what it's all about. But anyway, That picture I think is engraved on the side of it. But I'm not sure that it is visible anymore. 

    Interviewer: It has been recently renovated. 

    Libby Schwartz: Oh, really. 

    Interviewer: It's looking much better now, yeah. 

    Libby Schwartz: Oh, okay. Maybe I'll have to go take a look. 

    I don't know how it began, because I was, you know, obviously very small at the time, or maybe I was born at the time, I have no idea. But people would -- guys would send postcards and letters to the pharmacy in hopes that the pharmacy would then share them with the neighborhood. My uncle and my father would sort the mail out, and it wasn't that there was a postal station there. It was just that they would send them to Schwartz Pharmacy, Madison Wisconsin, and it would get there. Even if they didn't have the address written on there, it would be Schwartz Pharmacy, Madison Wisconsin, and it got to the pharmacy. And then my uncle and my dad would share them with the neighborhood. 

    Interviewer: So did they post it on the wall, or was it just a pile of letters in the corner? 

    Libby Schwartz: I'm not sure. I think that it was in a box. I'm not sure. Or maybe it was -- I don't remember. I was too small. I have no idea. 

    Interviewer: But clearly the neighborhood was a hub, a social hub as much as a place to go and buy drugs and -- 

    Libby Schwartz: Yeah, I have a picture of what they used to call the drugstore cowboys. I think I'll have to send you that picture. I'm not sure exactly where it is. I will find it and send it to you. It's a really cute picture. This was all of the denizens of the bush, the fellows that were in the army, that had been in the army. 

    [00:36:06] Education at Washington Elementary and Central High School 1940s-1950s, and playing the French horn in band, orchestra, and choir
    Interviewer: Let's talk about schools, the elementary school and high school that you went to. Washington Elementary and Central High. Some people may not know that Washington Elementary is now the school district administrative building. 

    Libby Schwartz: Right. 

    Interviewer: On Dayton Street. 

    Libby Schwartz: It's been that for a number of years. 

    Interviewer: But you went to school there. What do you remember about your teachers? 

    Libby Schwartz: They were all wonderful. It was great. It was a wonderful experience. I loved school. Mrs. Beck was my first-grade teacher. I didn't go to kindergarten. I was in kindergarten for, I don't know, a couple weeks and they said, you know, "We'll put her at first grade." Apparently I knew how to read. So they put me in first grade. Wow, you've taken me back. 

    Interviewer: It's a few years ago. 

    Libby Schwartz: Yeah, it was a few years ago. I remember that my first grade teacher was wonderful in that she would read a particular story to us, and then we would make the setting of the story. Like when we read "Little Black Sambo," we actually built out of corrugated cardboard, a hut, like a little village hut, with grass roof, that you could actually walk into and walk out of. I mean it was a big thing. I remember one time when we read about something about airplane, we made an airplane that you could sit in. I don't understand how we did all that. But we did it. She was a wonderful teacher. Man, she was a great teacher. And all these things. 

    Interviewer: What do you remember about the playground at elementary school? Or the games you played? 

    Libby Schwartz: We hung upside-down on the jungle gym. And everybody would say, "See your pants. We can see your pants." We didn't play particular games. I remember though, in the wintertime, we would go outside every day, whether there was snow or no snow. Not anymore, they don't do that anymore. But back in the day, we would go outside. Teachers had to schlep on our boots and, you know, tie us up in scarves, and we'd go outside. But we would play like we were in Alaska, or we were on Baffin Island, which we didn't even know where Baffin Island was. There were snowdrifts, and we were jumping snowdrift to snowdrift. And when we would walk home, the sidewalks would be clear, but we would walk through the piles of snow. That's what we did. 

    Interviewer: I'm guessing in the 1940s, little girls were still wearing skirts and knee socks. 

    Libby Schwartz: Yes. We didn't wear pants, except snowpants. We wore snowpants, but that's it. We didn't wear jeans then. 

    Interviewer: And it was cold back then. We had real winter. 

    Libby Schwartz: Yes. Real winter. But even when I was in junior high and high school, girls did not wear trousers to school. I'm not sure that we weren't allowed, but we didn't. It could be that we weren't permitted. But I have no idea. We just didn't. But we would wear a pair of slacks under a skirt, you know, because we didn't wear snowpants; we were big kids. We didn't wear snowpants at that time. 

    Interviewer: So what do you remember of Central High? 

    Libby Schwartz: I loved Central High. And it's gone. It's totally gone, including the arch. Why do they do that? I don't understand. Anyway, the junior high was on the lower two levels, up to eighth grade? Ninth grade? I'm sure -- they didn't really consider it senior high, ninth grade. But we did, in our minds. We were freshmen. I loved it. I love school. I love the plays. We did plays. We did a couple plays a year. We did musicals. I played in the pit. I was on the stage. 

    Interviewer: That's great. 

    Libby Schwartz: I loved it. 

    Interviewer: So I understand that you are an accomplished musician. Did you start playing an instrument in -- 

    Libby Schwartz: I started playing when I was ten. So there was the summer after sixth grade, I started -- because you could take lessons up at the high school the prior summer to when you started junior high. And it was $2. It cost us $2. And I could rent an instrument for $2. 

    Interviewer: And what instrument did you play? 

    Libby Schwartz: French horn. I played French horn. And I still play French horn. 

    Interviewer: Was it considered a good music department? Was -- 

    Libby Schwartz: No. It wasn't. 

    Interviewer: Not particularly. 

    Libby Schwartz: No. Nothing like it is today. But it was great fun, and I was in the band and the orchestra and the choir. In senior high, I was in the Triple Trio, which is, like, the A Band for girls. There were nine of us. Yeah, the Triple Trio. I always had private lessons. As soon as I started an instrument, my dad started me with private lessons. And I had really good teachers on that score. The teacher that I had for horn was a son of the -- I'm not sure if he was the chairman of the music department, but he might have been something in the music department. Professor Iltus [assumed spelling] His son, John Iltus, who was the high school teacher, was my beginning French horn teacher. And then he moved to Janesville to take a job, and then I got another teacher from the university. 

    So I had good teachers. And I was in music clinic, I went to Interlochen. That's a national music camp, Interlochen in Michigan. And the last year after graduation, I went to music clinic in order to audition for a scholarship. And that's where I got the tuition scholarship for University of Wisconsin, which was -- tuition was like 150 bucks a semester. I mean, it's not even a fraction of that. I mean you can't say like, it's 10 times, or 20 times. It's enormous. I don't see the point. You know, football makes you so much money. I don't understand it. Anyway, that's another subject. 

    [00:43:19] Education: University of Wisconsin-Madison 1957-1961
    Interviewer: Well, let's hear some stories about your experience at UW Madison. You literally grew up across the street. 

    Libby Schwartz: I did. 

    Interviewer: From campus. Did you always know that you would go to university in Madison? 

    Libby Schwartz: I pretty much knew that I had to go to University of Wisconsin. My brother was pumping for me to go to Purdue. Because he knew I was going to study pharmacy, and Purdue had a really good pharmacy school. But my father wouldn't hear of it. "No," he says, "No, you're going to school here, and this is what we can afford, and this is it." But then -- 

    Interviewer: And you could live at home. 

    Libby Schwartz: Yeah, and I lived at home. But I was, you know, gone from 7:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night. 

    Interviewer: So what do you remember of -- so this would have been, what, late 1950s. 

    Libby Schwartz: Yeah, 1957 to 1961. 

    Interviewer: So what was campus like during that time? 

    Libby Schwartz: Great. It was so much fun. Everything was fun. I had fun everywhere. I'd hang out a lot at the Union, because it was -- there were a lot of different people at the Union. I had friends who were from Cuba, and I had friends from Africa. And friends from, you know, all kinds of places. And we would hang out at the union when we weren't studying. I belonged to a sorority. Not a social sorority. A pharmacist sorority. It was Kappa Epsilon. It was called a fraternity, but it was really a sorority. But I had a number of good friends, women, I was good friends with all of the women in my class, which was not many. There were four women in the class. 

    Interviewer: Tell us a little something about what that was like. You were four out of roughly a hundred -- 

    Libby Schwartz: A hundred, yeah. 

    Interviewer: Pharmacy students. How were women treated in that program? Were you -- 

    Libby Schwartz: We were treated as equals. I feel like I've always been treated as an equal. I've never had a complaint about salaries. I've always gotten the same as the guys got. I've just always been an equal. It has never occurred to me that I would be anything else. And a little bit different when I got out into the world and was working. People would -- they would say things that were probably, you know, considered not correct now. They'd say, "Well, come back -- I'll hire you when you're not pregnant." I just took it as all right, it was just the way it was. We didn't make a fuss about it. But otherwise, everything was fine. Everything was good. 

    Interviewer: Was it the sort of thing that, you know, there was always the expectation, "Of course you're going to be a pharmacist. Your father is a pharmacist, your older brother is a pharmacist. That's just what you do." Or do you think that you might have -- 

    Libby Schwartz: Yeah, I wanted to be a musician. I wanted to be a musician. But music school was not in the cards. At Wisconsin it was not a good music school. And so, I thought, I'll do pharmacy, because it's not worth it. If I can't go to Juilliard, you know, or the University of Indiana -- because that was a good music school -- can't do that, no, I'll go to Wisconsin, I'll just do pharmacy. And it has been a good choice, a very good choice. 

    Interviewer: And you did like looking at chickens getting -- 

    Libby Schwartz: I did, I did. 

    Interviewer: Butchered, and -- so did you have to take a lot of medical -- 

    Libby Schwartz: Chemistry. 

    Interviewer: Physiology, anatomy, what kind of coursework did you have to do? 

    Libby Schwartz: Not anatomy. Physiology, a lot of chemistry, a lot of chemistry. Organic chemistry. Inorganic chemistry. Quantitative analysis. A lot of chemistry. Every semester there was chemistry. Mainly chemistry. And then the pharmaceutical classes, the pharmaceutics, which was just about, you know, the practice of. And then dispensing lab. We would get prescriptions, and then we'd have to fill them, and then our teacher would critique them. We had to do like that. And that was it. 

    Interviewer: Any mentors, any people in your UW experience that changed the way you practiced pharmacy or -- 

    Libby Schwartz: I honestly don't think that there was any one person. But I think that all of my -- Professor Lemberger, Professor Wurster, and Dr.  Yuill -- I think they all had the influence on me. I can't say that there was any particular mentor. But when I got out and when I had my first job, well actually my second job, because we lived in Waukegan at the time, and I worked in Wisconsin for a while because my license was from Wisconsin. But then when I took the State Board in Illinois, [inaudible] Illinois, and the guy felt I was a very good pharmacist, and I liked that. Very good And I've had other people say, Very good pharmacist. 

    [00:49:02] Changes to Greenbush neighborhood after 1960s urban renewal project
    Interviewer: I want to circle back now to the Greenbush neighborhood. And I'm just wondering if you could go in a time machine back to when you were, I don't know, 10, 12, 14, is there a place in the Greenbush where you can see yourself just sitting and watching the streetscape? 

    Libby Schwartz: I go back in my mind all the time, all the time, and of course nothing looks like that now. But the way I see it in my mind, the streets, the houses, the stores, they're all there in my mind. 

    Interviewer: Any particular sensory memories, the sounds, smells? What do you see on the streetscape? Do you sense that you're in a neighborhood that has the strong Italian influence or the Jewish community? Anything in particular there that brings you back?   

    Libby Schwartz: No, there's no specific thing. It's just an overall feeling of happy. 

    Interviewer: Home. 

    Libby Schwartz: Home. It's home. 

    Interviewer: Yeah. And -- well, the reason I'm asking is, of course, in the 1960s there was this urban renewal project that demolished a portion, the Triangle portion, of the Greenbush neighborhood, which was where a lot of these stores, and the synagogues, the core of -- 

    Libby Schwartz: It was a travesty. 

    Interviewer: Of the community. Tell me how you felt about it at the time, and what it makes you feel today. 

    Libby Schwartz: It did, and does and does now make me angry, because there was no need -- Well, I mean, I can see rehabbing buildings that are falling down or that need rehabbing. I'm all for that. I'm into real estate. We've owned several properties. I've owned houses that I've rehabbed and sold. And anything can be fixed. Almost anything can be fixed. But they just demolished the neighborhood and then left it fallow, for how many years, and didn't do anything with it. And that's just a sin. That's the travesty. They didn't do anything with it. 

    Interviewer: Today there are, you know, low-income housing structures. There are medical facilities. There are parking lots. There are lots of parking lots. 

    Libby Schwartz: There are lots of cars. Lots of new cars. 

    Interviewer: Yeah. But your sense was that the neighborhood had enough integrity that this -- 

    Libby Schwartz: I think it did. Or at least -- yeah, at least it did so that -- I mean, if they had done something in such a way that everybody didn't have to leave, everybody didn't have to go someplace. And then leave it fallow for not doing anything with it. I don't know. It maybe just takes a long time to get permits and so forth. I don't know. But it just -- I don't know the whole politics of the whole thing. I think my nephew Larry wrote a paper on it in school. I don't have the paper. I wish I'd seen it. But maybe Steve knows something about that -- Steve Schwartz. I don't. But as my dad would have said, it's progress. It's got to -- you know, progress is our most important product. Nothing can stay the same. It really can't. 

    It has to move. It's not alive if it doesn't. 

    Interviewer: In your mind, the old Greenbush still carries on. 

    Libby Schwartz: In my mind, it's still there. I have a very vivid imagination. Very. 

    Interviewer: Well, it's clear that Greenbush was an important -- 

    Libby Schwartz: Very important. 

    Interviewer: Foundation for you. 

    Libby Schwartz: It was. And you know what? I have to leave because I have to go pick up my granddaughter from school. 

    Interviewer: Well, It's been delightful chatting with you. 

    Libby Schwartz: It's been great. 

    Interviewer: And I thank you so much for sharing your memories and we'll be back in touch. 

    Libby Schwartz: Okay. Thanks a lot. So long. 

    Interviewer: All right. 

    Libby Schwartz: Nice meeting you. Bye.