Caitlin Haskett (00:00:00):
The following interview with Chloe Garrell was conducted by Caitlin Haskett on behalf of Bryn Mawr College as part of the project, Mid Century Jewish Martyrs: A collection of oral histories. It took place on July 11th, at Chloe's home, [redacted].
Chloe Garell (00:00:19):
I'm going to start out as a follow up to the introduction--
Caitlin Haskett (00:00:21):
Chloe Garell (00:00:23):
My real name is Charlotte.
Caitlin Haskett (00:00:26):
Chloe Garell (00:00:26):
And so, I was Charlotte Drabkin, in those days gone by. The Chloe came, I think it was freshman week, and has stayed. Someone asked, "Don't you have a nickname? Charlotte is so formal. Are you Charlie?" And I said, "No." "Are you Lottie?" And I said, "No." Well you know, "Don't you have a nickname?" And I said, "No, I'm Charlotte." And then someone said Chloe, and it stuck. So I have a dichotomy, because any Bryn Mawr friends, I'm Chloe, the rest of the world, I'm Charlotte.
Caitlin Haskett (00:01:03):
Chloe Garell (00:01:04):
Just a little bit of background, just to who I am, very mixed up, that's who I am.
Caitlin Haskett (00:01:11):
Yeah. All right. How about we get started talking a little bit about your childhood and growing up. Where did you grow up?
Chloe Garell (00:01:20):
I am first-generation. My mother came to this country when she was 12 years old, uh, from Russia. I'm not sure how old my father was. My father was about 10 years older than my mother. I grew up in many places when I was very little. We lived in the Bronx in New York, where most of the family lived. My family, the part of the family that immigrated, never lived on the Lower East Side, which I guess was a big thing that you went right to the Bronx instead of the Lower East Side, in those days. And then we lived in New Rochelle, and that I have no real memory of. The place I have the greatest memory of is a town called Port Chester, New York, which is in Westchester, nobody ever says they're from Port Chester, they say they grew up between Rye and Greenwich.
Chloe Garell (00:02:15):
We moved there when I was 9. My father died when I was 10, but we stayed there, and that's where I went to school. My parents bought a, they called it a stationary store but it was really a candy store, because my father knew he was very ill and dying and he felt he needed to leave something where my mother could support us. And that's what happened, she worked 18 hour days, because the store was open from 6 in the morning until 11 o'clock at night. Very un-Bryn Mawr background. It was a small town and people had enormous respect for my mother and what she was doing. And my brother who is, who died a few years ago, was 3 and a half years older than I, so he proceeded me in school, and we were expected to do well. I mean, it was never said, but it was just assumed you would do well in school.
Chloe Garell (00:03:22):
And we did, however it was not a very good school system, as I found out when I got to Bryn Mawr and realized how unprepared I was. Is that, you want more of my childhood?
Caitlin Haskett (00:03:33):
Chloe Garell (00:03:34):
I did live for a year, the year that my father died, in June and in September I was sent to live back in New Rochelle with my aunt and her daughter, because the family felt it would be easier for my mother. And I went to school there for one year, and my mother would come and visit, and I would go home on weekends. I had no great memory of that year. I don't have a memory of a lot of this, and I've often thought I should go dig it out, and then I thought, why? I've been okay without digging it out, so why bother.
Caitlin Haskett (00:04:10):
Chloe Garell (00:04:11):
The, I went to Port Chester High School, where I did not get a very good education, but I was very active. I was editor of the newspaper, I was president of the history club, you did all these things. I was annoyed because I couldn't be editor of the yearbook, because I was told I couldn't be editor of the paper and the yearbook. And my brother had been editor of the yearbook, so there was a little competition there. So that's basically my growing up years, with an amazing mother...
Chloe Garell (00:04:50):
who, I was supposed to turn the light out, she got home after I was supposed to be asleep, and of course I never did, I read, and she never said that she could see the light on as she was walking home, she never said it, because she felt badly that I was home alone. But she was really quite something, and very supportive. She would come home from work, exhausted and ask me my Latin vocabulary. She had no idea of Latin, but she sat there eyes closing, and would ask me my Latin. I look back on it, as a mother and grandmother now, I look back on what she did, I don't think I could have done what she did.
Caitlin Haskett (00:05:32):
She sounds like an amazing woman.
Chloe Garell (00:05:36):
I once said something that, "can you imagine what grandma," to my daughter, "What grandma would have been like if she had an education, there'd be no stopping her." And my daughter, or my cousin, I can't remember who it was, said, "There was no stopping her anyway."
Caitlin Haskett (00:05:53):
Tell me a little bit about your religious upbringing.
Chloe Garell (00:05:59):
I came from an Orthodox family, my grandmother was Orthodox for her entire life, until she died at 96 or 7 which was quite remarkable when you think about it. She would have been born at the time of the Civil War in this country, of course she wasn't in this country. And she was observant. We were not. I think we might have been more observant had my father not gotten ill when we were all so young. It was a survival thing. And I would say that in many ways, like so many Jews, we were more cultural than religious, and the holidays were important. Of course, in my generation, girls were not bat mitzvahed, that came later. So, the fact that I wasn't didn't matter. I did go to Hebrew school for one year, because my father believed that girls should be educated as well.
Chloe Garell (00:06:59):
So he too was ahead of his time. I went to Hebrew school for one year when I was nine and half or so, it was just before he died, a year. And I hated it, because, first of all, I was the only girl. Second of all, the teacher could not control the class, and the boys didn't want to be there either, but they had no choice. That was the only time I went because my mother knew how much I disliked it and was not going to force me to go back after--my father died, actually the last day of Hebrew school. So it was ironic. So I have been, we did not belong to a synagogue, my brother was bar mitzvahed in a very, just a religious service and that was it. It was no big event. When I was bringing up my family, we did belong to a synagogue.
Chloe Garell (00:08:04):
The kids went to Sunday school, they were bar and bat mitzvahed. I felt it was important. We did not observe the rules of Kashrut or Sabbath, which is not untypical. But we did the holidays, we did the holidays, and to this day I love going to synagogue with my daughter, because she knows, she reads, she knows, she'll point out to me where I've lost my place. But I'm proud of the fact that she has continued it with her kids. I have two sons and one of whom had done nothing, and the other one who cares, he's not doing much, but he does care. So that's sort of my, is that enough, want more?
Caitlin Haskett (00:08:57):
That's plenty. Where did you go to Hebrew school?
Chloe Garell (00:09:01):
The one year in Port Chester at the Jewish community center they had it, that's where Hebrew school was, because there was only one synagogue, it was an orthodox synagogue, excuse me, in town.
Caitlin Haskett (00:09:18):
What can you tell me about the decision for you to attend Bryn Mawr and how that happened?
Chloe Garell (00:09:25):
That's an interesting question, I had never heard of Bryn Mawr. My high school was absolutely terrible in terms of guidance, nothing. I knew about Vassar, I knew about Radcliffe, because it was Harvard, but of course I was a woman, I couldn't go to Harvard. My brother said, "Have you thought about Bryn Mawr?" And I said sort of, "What is Bryn Mawr?" And then we talked, he was in college at the time, we talked and I did some research and I said, "Oh." So I applied to three schools, because in those days you didn't apply to 10 or 12. And you had to list your choice in order, which was not a good thing in many ways. So Radcliffe was my first choice, Bryn Mawr was my second choice, Vassar was my third choice. I did not want to go to Vassar, but Vassar had a very large Westchester County Vassar club scholarship.
Chloe Garell (00:10:31):
So I thought, well if I get the scholarship, I may not want to go to Vassar, but I would do that. I did not get into Radcliffe, which was, in retrospect a really, really good thing that I did not get into Radcliffe. And there was another person in my class who did not get into Radcliffe, so we bonded over not getting into Radcliffe. And she went on to go to Yale Law School and she said had she gone to Radcliffe, she doesn't think she would have gone to law school. We were both political science majors and there was one professor who had an influence on all of us, it's that professor who influenced her in her decision. I went down to interview with the then dean of admissions, Annie Leigh Broughton, had a wonderful interview. Had a horrible interview at Radcliffe, which I'm not, which my friend who didn't get in said the same thing.
Caitlin Haskett (00:11:32):
Chloe Garell (00:11:33):
But they had never heard of my high school, had no idea what my grades from high school meant, because they had no comparison of any other students, we did have New York State regions, so they had those grades. And I got in. I don't know how, but I got in. So then the question was, was I going to get financial aid, as they now call it, we used to call it scholarship, because I couldn't go without it. The one thing that the guidance counselor in my high school said is, "What if you don't get into any of these? Or don't get the scholarship?" I said, "I'll go to Hunter, New York." Of course, I couldn't go to Hunter, because I didn't live in the city, but I said, offhand, I was a little arrogant, I think. Anyway, in those days, the mail came several times a day.
Chloe Garell (00:12:24):
So I waited in the morning the day that it was supposed to come, because it was before it came online. And I had gotten my admission to Bryn Mawr and I went to school, and during the course of the day, I got called to the dean's office, my mother had called to say I had gotten a scholarship. I still remember my scholarship interview, by the way, they used to have something called regional scholarships. Somebody, an alum from the regional scholarship committee, which I subsequently served on, interviewed you. I came into New York and I'm convinced my mother got the scholarship, because she asked about my family. Now when you ask about my family, you were told all about my mother. And I am convinced that it was hearing about my mother that did it. So, that's how I got to Bryn Mawr.
Caitlin Haskett (00:13:22):
You mentioned before we turned the recorder on that you were the first woman in your family to go away to college-
Chloe Garell (00:13:28):
Correct. Yes. Um,
Chloe Garell (00:13:29):
My cousins all grew up in New York city and New York City you had, Hunter, which was where the girls went, and City College, which is where the boys went. Girls could go to City, but hardly anybody did. And Hunter was basically a teacher training place. That's why New York city has the Hunter schools, which is an exam school, which is a whole other story, but because they had to have a place to train their teachers. So I had cousins who went to Hunter, but we no longer lived in the city. If we lived in the city I might not have had a choice of where to go, because of finances. But I was the first one to go away, I thought it was pretty exciting, my mother was very supportive of it. I think I mentioned to you before we really started recording, that I think, although no one told me, I think that there was some of my aunts, particularly my mother's sisters thought it was terrible that I was leaving my mother home alone, because my brother had finished, was graduating, had just graduated from college and was starting law school, so none of, neither of us was going to be around. But my mother never said a thing, other than being supportive of it.
Caitlin Haskett (00:14:52):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
Chloe Garell (00:14:52):
It's funny, a mother story relating to all this, she was, I was in college, my brother was in law school, and she went to Florida for a week or so vacation. And she was sitting with a bunch of other women, all of whom were talking about their kids, of course, and where their kids were going to college, and my mother didn't say anything. They turned to her and said, "Don't you have children in college?" And she said, "Yes." And they said, "Well, where are they?" And she said, "Bryn Mawr and Harvard." And she didn't push it, she just quietly said it. So yes, that's ... okay, what next?
Caitlin Haskett (00:15:31):
Tell me about what your expectations for Bryn Mawr were.
Chloe Garell (00:15:42):
That's a question that I'm finding difficult to answer. I knew it was going to be academically rigorous. I didn't realize I was much less prepared than I was. In those days, there were many more girls from prep schools and their education was so much better than mine. It was incredible the things that they just took for granted that I had never heard of. So I really kind of felt behind to begin with, and I struggled, I did struggle academically, there's no question about it. My expectations were that I was going to get a really, really good education. I had not decided what I would do with it, in those years you either became a teacher or a nurse, and I wasn't going to do either one of those. And I was going to see, as time went on, what I was going to actually do with it. Law school was a maybe, although again, there weren't that many then, unlike now where more than half the classes in law schools are women. My classmate who went to Yale Law School, there were just a handful there then. My expectations were not solidified at that point, actually.
Caitlin Haskett (00:17:21):
What was it like coming to campus and your first year at Bryn Mawr?
Chloe Garell (00:17:27):
I knew that was going to come up.
Chloe Garell (00:17:30):
Bryn Mawr was very different than the Bryn Mawr you know. For one thing, you selected a dorm, and a lot of people knew the dorm, so they knew where they wanted to go. I had no clue. It turns out, and most people stay in their same dorm for
Chloe Garell (00:17:50):
the duration of their stay at Bryn Mawr. Unlike now, you didn't go into a draw every year, if you wanted to keep your room, that was fine. The, there seemed to be a cluster of the more society, if you will, women, girls. In, I will say Pembroke East, and Pembroke West, they cleared out almost every weekend. I was in Pem East, the reason I think I asked for Pembroke is, because there was a party for accepted students and the girl whose mother was doing the party was in Pembroke, so I put that, because I didn't know. I'm not sure it was the right place for me, but I stayed. I stayed because I'd made friends. I have a really funny story that I can tell. The third floor of Pembroke, which is different now than when I was there.
Chloe Garell (00:19:01):
There were fewer rooms, There were three freshmen on the third floor of Pembroke, Roosevelt, Hopkins, and Drabkin. And that was the big joke, because Roosevelt was the president's granddaughter. Diana Hopkins was Harry Hopkins daughter, Harry Hopkins was a very close aid of president Roosevelt's, and me. So you know, it's interesting what can happen in life.
Caitlin Haskett (00:19:31):
Chloe Garell (00:19:31):
So that was always a, I always laughed about that. I said, you know, as my mother, father, that generation would have said, "Only in America.",Mm-hmm (affirmative). Which, is true. Speaking of being Jewish there, I never felt discrimination for being Jewish. I think I didn't have enough, I wasn't smart enough. Because, I'm sure it was there. I always felt that the differential was more social and economic, than religious. I mean, I made good friends there, not necessarily among the social and affluent. I see it more today than I would have then, which is kind of funny in a way. So, I did live off campus one year, which was not allowed in those days, supposedly. I was not coming back my junior year. I did not have the money to return. And I had a call, I used to be, I worked on campus all the time. I worked in what was known as the deanery,
Chloe Garell (00:20:48):
which is the alumni house. I waited tables, I babysat, I did whatever I could to earn some money, which in some ways took away from spending more time studying that I should have. I didn't know how to study, that was the other thing. I did not have to study in high school, it just was too easy. So it was hard to learn to study. But anyway, I was not coming back my junior year. And I had a call from the woman who ran the office where you got your babysitting jobs and such, saying, "Would you like to live off campus with a family and be the live-in babysitter?" I said, "Sure." So two of us were interviewed by this lovely family who lived adjacent to the campus and they had a child who was not even a year old, and my job would be to babysit.
Chloe Garell (00:21:42):
So two of us were interviewed and I got the job, and it was great. I had, not only my own room, I had my own bath. And very little to do, because it was a very easy child. I would sometimes put her in the carriage and walk around campus with her. It was a unique experience in that, this is not something they did, and I don't know why they did it for me. I really don't, because I was certainly not an outstanding student, I was not active on campus, because I didn't have time. But they did it, and for which I am eternally grateful. My current involvement over the many years at Bryn Mawr is because of what they did, and I feel I owe, I owe the next generation, the next generations, if you will. I did realize how different it is because my daughter went there many years later. Different in the way people live.
Chloe Garell (00:22:55):
Because you went into the draw, you did not stay in the same, it was great, we could leave everything over the summer. In your room, you would keep in your room. Well, now of course they have programs going on in the summer. What was the question about?
Caitlin Haskett (00:23:13):
About your freshman year.
Chloe Garell (00:23:15):
Oh, my freshman year.
Caitlin Haskett (00:23:16):
Chloe Garell (00:23:18):
My freshman year was hard, it was a hard adjustment, but I got through it.
Caitlin Haskett (00:23:26):
Was it hard socially or academically or both?
Chloe Garell (00:23:30):
It was both, but it was harder academically than socially.
Caitlin Haskett (00:23:34):
Chloe Garell (00:23:34):
There were several people who, we became good friends, we remained good friends forever. They came from very different places than I did. There were four of us, two of them were daughters of alums. One was the daughter of a college present in another community. But we remain friends, today. Of the four of us, three are still alive. One was back at reunion last month, the other one we email from time to time. And then after freshman year, oh I had made other friends as well. One of the things, and this has nothing to do with freshman year, but one of the things is, that even if you weren't friendly in college, when you meet afterwards there's something there.
Caitlin Haskett (00:24:29):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. The shared experiences.
Chloe Garell (00:24:31):
A shared experience, shared values to a large extent, a caring about college, because if you didn't care about your college, you didn't get involved in alumni stuff.
Caitlin Haskett (00:24:45):
Yeah. Tell me about that group of friends that you mentioned. What are their names, what were they like at Bryn Mawr?
Chloe Garell (00:24:52):
Quiet, more or less. I mean we would have tea together. I mean, we had other friends, too, but we lived near each other in the dorm. And one of them went on to get her doctorate at Johns Hopkins and then went on to be renowned in her field. She married a Haverford guy who I knew in college, that she didn't know until after college, because they met in England. He was a Rhodes Scholar and she was a Marshall, and they had the Bryn Mawr Haverford commonality and that's really where they met, and they got married, they had two kids. He taught at, they were in Washington, he taught at American University, she went back to school to get her PHD, they got divorced, he moved away. Not an untypical story. The other two, it's interesting because of the four of us, only she and I had children. One of them married somebody who had been married before and had grown children, they didn't have children. And the other one married, actually married twice did not have ... so, we were the only ones of the four of us. You know, we stayed in touch, but not closely in touch, we lived in different places.
Caitlin Haskett (00:26:36):
What kind of things, you mentioned drinking tea together, but what kind of things did you do when you were friends at Bryn Mawr?
Chloe Garell (00:26:45):
Oh we talked, we did some things on campus together, they did more on campus than I did, again, because I was the only one really working, of the four of us. I think we were thrown together partly because we were not part of the social set, I think. And because our rooms were near each other.
Caitlin Haskett (00:27:06):
Chloe Garell (00:27:07):
I think that's how we got, and you know, we liked each other. But then there were other friends, people you met in your major and spent time in classes with. I had friends because we waited tables together.
Caitlin Haskett (00:27:26):
Tell me a little bit more about working while you were a student at Bryn Mawr.
Chloe Garell (00:27:32):
Well, it took time, you had to be at work, just because you were serving meals. I did learn to, we laugh about it, I learned to make meringues there, which many years later when we would have, after I was married, we would have company I would very often haves meringues with ice cream for dessert, that's where I ... "What did you learn at Bryn Mawr?" "I learned to make meringues." You know, you talk a little bit between running between the kitchen and the dining room. And then you'd go about your business, which was to go to class or go study, or go hang out and talk. And that was part of it too, was hanging out talking, and you learn a lot. You learn a lot about people and coming from different places.
Caitlin Haskett (00:28:35):
Did you make any connections with the full-time staff that you worked with, or was it more just the other students you worked with?
Chloe Garell (00:28:43):
No, you didn't make real connections, there was a difference, there was, but there were people you felt closer to. A woman, whose name I don't remember, who ran the kitchen, you got to know her well, and she got to know you and kind of looked after you in some ways. And then of course, in the halls, we had a dining room in every hall, there was maid service. So you did get to, and you had maid service in the rooms, you did get to know the maids. Some better than others, some were easier to talk to and others were strictly business. I do still remember Louise, who was the head maid in the dining room, and the year, that first year I lived off campus, I would sometimes have lunch with my friends in the dining room. I wasn't supposed to do that, but I did, and I still, see Louise knew everything about everybody.
Chloe Garell (00:29:45):
And I still remember her saying to me one day, not looking at me just saying, "Ms. Dramkin, I won't give you a slip unless I have to." Meaning she wouldn't give me a thing to pay for lunch unless someone got on her case about it. That I still remember, her just saying very quietly, nobody else could hear it, "Ms. Dramkin, I won't" ... She took, she knew, she obviously knew why I wasn't there. So that, you know, it was those things that you remember, when people were very kind to you.
Caitlin Haskett (00:30:20):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). All right.
Chloe Garell (00:30:27):
As far as the Jewishness goes, which is, I know this is in large part about...
Chloe Garell (00:30:35):
I never, I know there were people who were anti-Semitic, there's no doubt in my mind. I never felt it. If I wasn't included in something, I probably didn't know it was even going on. And I think also having grown up with very mixed friends, I was less self-conscious about it, because I had all these friends, had friends of all faiths. Growing up, it was a very Catholic community, so I had a lot of Catholic friends. And in high school, our class, and I've talked to people who were in other classes, years, in our high school, we had a very mixed group of friends in high school, it was the kids who were in the academic classes, the higher academic classes, and it was all kinds. But I recently was talking to somebody who was two years ahead of me in high school, and her life revolved around the Jewish community center. I said, "I never went to the JCC." Except that one year I went to religious school, to Hebrew school. I went to my mothers store after school and helped. So I never had that clannishness about me. As I say, I know it's there, I know that anti-Semitism is rampant, I know,
Chloe Garell (00:32:10):
But either I was too insensitive to feel it, or it wasn't there. I'm sure it was there.
Caitlin Haskett (00:32:18):
Did you have other Jewish friends on campus?
Chloe Garell (00:32:22):
Yeah. Yes, I did actually. I did, nobody lived in Pem East, or Pem West. Yes, I did, in fact one year I thought of transferring to another, moving to another dorm the following year and then I said, "No, I'm comfortable here." But yes, yes I did.
Caitlin Haskett (00:32:43):
What dorm did you think about moving to?
Chloe Garell (00:32:45):
I was thinking about moving to Rhodes, because I did have friends there, and they were Jewish friends there. One of whom became a close friend long after graduation. We only knew each other very casually, and she isn't one of the ones I was interested in moving because she was there, but we became good friends for many years, until she died. And it wasn't because we were Jewish, although that seemed to, I don't know. I think it's because her husband and my husband had hit it off, that makes the difference. They vacationed with us for years.
Caitlin Haskett (00:33:29):
How did you meet up with the other Jewish students, if you weren't living in the dorm with them? Did you have classes with them?
Chloe Garell (00:33:37):
Caitlin Haskett (00:33:37):
Chloe Garell (00:33:38):
Yeah, I think so, or we would talk. Whether we would talk because we had this commonality, I don't know. It just, it was small, so you talked, you met up with a lot of people. It was much smaller than it is now.
Caitlin Haskett (00:33:59):
What about organized religion on campus? Did you go to any religious services either on or off campus?
Chloe Garell (00:34:07):
Caitlin Haskett (00:34:08):
Did you know other people who did?
Chloe Garell (00:34:12):
Other Jewish people who did?
Caitlin Haskett (00:34:13):
Chloe Garell (00:34:14):
Yes, sure. I had friends who went to church. But I wouldn't have even known where there was a synagogue. And as you know, Hillel didn't exist, and I don't know how active I would have been in Hillel. You know, it's hard to predict because it's a different time. But no, and I didn't go home for the holidays.
Caitlin Haskett (00:34:44):
Did the other Jewish students you know go home?
Chloe Garell (00:34:48):
Probably, but I don't know. I don't know. But there's certain things in your religious life that stays with you forever, I never ate bread during passover. I just, to this day, I just can't eat bread during passover. You know, that's part of the whole cultural thing. So I'm not sure if wanting to know how Jewish students felt on campus in my day, I'm not sure I'm quite the person who can tell you. I think some of the others might be able to tell you more.
Caitlin Haskett (00:35:24):
Yeah. It's still important to hear that, you know, it was more of a cultural thing and you mixed with everybody.
Chloe Garell (00:35:30):
Yeah. My whole life.
Caitlin Haskett (00:35:33):
Did you mark the holidays in any other way? Aside from not eating bread during Passover.
Chloe Garell (00:35:39):
Caitlin Haskett (00:35:39):
Chloe Garell (00:35:39):
Not really, not when I was in school. Afterwards I did, I mean, after I got married I did, in spite of my husband. He didn't care, and still doesn't care, but he went along with it, because it was important to me. In spite of the way I was just talking about the way I was and the way I grew up, it was important to me, and it was important to me that my kids had a religion background.
Caitlin Haskett (00:36:14):
Shifting gears a little bit. What about academics at Bryn Mawr?
Chloe Garell (00:36:20):
They were really hard. For me. As I said before, I did not know how to study, because I had never studied. I did not have enough of the background that a lot of the other kids did and I struggled. I wasn't sure I was going to graduate, I thought it was quite a miracle that I did. I never did well, but I bumbled my way through. I was a political science major and I really liked a lot of those classes, because that was my interest, it's still my interest. We had requirements that are different now than they were then. I thought some of the requirements were foolish, for example, we had to pass two language proficiencies, and they couldn't both be romance languages. In other words you couldn't do French and Spanish. Almost everybody in my class passed a language proficiency.
Chloe Garell (00:37:18):
As as we got there they had had all these years of language, I had not. The way my school system I went to worked, we didn't start high school, the high school building, until 10th grade.
Caitlin Haskett (00:37:30):
Chloe Garell (00:37:32):
So I couldn't start languages until 10th grade, so I had two years of French and two years of Latin. Two years of French wasn't enough to pass the proficiency. These kids grew up with it. So to me, it was kind of a waste of time that I had to take more French, when I'd rather take something else. And then I did take Russian, because I needed to have another language. I would rather ... I mean the Russian I didn't mind taking, but there were things that I would rather have done. They didn't have a math requirement, thank goodness. So I think, and requirements have changed.
Caitlin Haskett (00:38:11):
Chloe Garell (00:38:11):
And I wish they had not, I wish they had been different. Given me more of an opportunity to explore other things, where I didn't have because of requirements that I had to do, because of what I had been missing when I got there.
Caitlin Haskett (00:38:29):
What classes would you have rather been taking, aside from languages?
Chloe Garell (00:38:35):
I think I might have, even though I majored in political science, I think there were other classes I would have liked to take, that I didn't have time to take. And I might have, hopefully, at least in retrospect, I like to look back and think I might have taken anthropology or you know, I might have broadened my perspective. But I had very little time for electives other than those that pertained to my major, or to requirements.
Caitlin Haskett (00:39:06):
Chloe Garell (00:39:06):
So that was to me, a, more in retrospect than at the time, because at the time I was just trying to swim upstream, so to speak, that was an unfortunate thing about the requirements.
Caitlin Haskett (00:39:22):
Yeah. Tell me about being a political science major.
Chloe Garell (00:39:26):
My favorite, well of course, it was a mixed bag of courses that you had to take, but of course I think everybody's favorite course was taught by a professor by the name of Peter Bachrach. We, your senior year you had ... I can't remember what they're called, you know, where you just met in small groups in your major. And one of the final exams, which of course you couldn't graduate unless you ... I have to tell this story because I love it. Was constitutional law. I really liked the constitutional law class, interestingly we used the same books in undergraduate constitutional law as they used at Harvard law school. And the only reason I know that is because my brother said, "What are you taking next year?" And I told him, and he said, "Well what are you using for books?"
Chloe Garell (00:40:24):
And I told him, he said, "Oh here." And he gave me his books. So we walk into the final exam, it was comprehensives. One question. Now, remember this is May 1954. How will the supreme court decide Brown versus Board of Education? That was it, that was the question. Whole thing, if you didn't get it, you didn't graduate.
Caitlin Haskett (00:40:54):
What did you say?
Chloe Garell (00:40:56):
I have no idea. But I think what he was looking for was the philosophies of the various justices. I have no idea what I said. But you come out of the exam, and May 17th 1954 the decision in Brown versus Board of Education.
Caitlin Haskett (00:41:11):
Chloe Garell (00:41:13):
Nobody, I guarantee you that nobody had it right, because whoever expected a unanimous decision?
Chloe Garell (00:41:23):
So that's one of the things that has remained, I mean it's a stupid thing, but wow. I've always wondered if he ever bothered to read the exams. But I just, I've always been interested in politics. When I was in high school, in 1948, presidential election, Truman, Truman who? I can't even remember, wasn't Eisenhower, Truman Eisenhower? It was Truman Eisenhower, no, that was later.
Caitlin Haskett (00:41:57):
Chloe Garell (00:41:58):
Truman somebody, who I can't, I stayed up waiting for the results. My mother didn't say, "You have to go to bed now." I stayed up with the radio listening to the results, and the results ... Truman Dewey-
Caitlin Haskett (00:42:11):
Chloe Garell (00:42:12):
And the results didn't come out until the next day, because it was a really tight election. And I remember groggily going off to school, still not knowing. So that interest has been with me, all the way through, it still is. And I won't get into that, right now about what it is, but I did hold elective office in town, many years later. So.
Caitlin Haskett (00:42:46):
Yeah. Well let's stick with Bryn Mawr-
Chloe Garell (00:42:48):
Caitlin Haskett (00:42:48):
Chloe Garell (00:42:49):
Caitlin Haskett (00:42:50):
We've already talked a little bit about your social life, but I wonder if you were involved in any organizations or would remember any events on campus that your participated in?
Chloe Garell (00:43:04):
I don't remember being involved in any organizations, I did do sets, you know for productions, because we did a lot of productions and I did work on sets for that. Painting and hammering and that kind of thing. Other than that, I did not take advantage of what there was. Because there were things, I didn't do the newspaper, I didn't do self government, I just didn't.
Caitlin Haskett (00:43:37):
Did you ever go off campus for, to just hang out with some friends?
Chloe Garell (00:43:42):
Well, we'd go into the village, but basically I stayed on campus. Except sometimes we would just walk into the village for something to do, or go for a hamburger or that kind of thing. But no, I really didn't, I wasn't shopping, people would go in to shop, they'd go to Ardmore where there were stores. I didn't do that, because I wasn't shopping.
Caitlin Haskett (00:44:10):
Chloe Garell (00:44:13):
So I didn't go home that often, except for the major vacations, once in a while I would go for the weekend.
Caitlin Haskett (00:44:23):
What was it like when you came home?
Chloe Garell (00:44:26):
Like it had always been, nothing special. You
Chloe Garell (00:44:32):
Know, I'd come home to, I didn't really stick with my high school friends that much. We all went our separate ways, pretty much. Except I married somebody I went to high school with, so other than that, which I'm not going to get into right this minute, other than that, I didn't really, he's the only one from high school I really remained friends with. So, next question.
Caitlin Haskett (00:44:59):
Caitlin Haskett (00:44:59):
So, in your senior year, and approaching graduation, what were your expectations for what you would do after Bryn Mawr?
Chloe Garell (00:45:12):
Like so many of my generation, I got married, but I had to go to work. They were doing some interviewing on campus for jobs, and I did get a job on, through one of these interviews. It was with an insurance company in New York, because I knew we were going to be living in New York. And it was a terrible job, and one of my classmates was there with me and we didn't know we were each doing this, but we both hated it and we sort of were a little rebellious. It was really boring, and I didn't really look for anything else, because I knew we were leaving, because my husband had to go to the air force. So I figured I would try to stay there until we left. And then we were gone for 26 months, four days and seven hours.
Chloe Garell (00:46:21):
And if you've ever been to Panama City, Florida, you would know why you knew exactly why you were there, especially in the '50s when segregation was still, probably still is, I mean still rampant. Then we came back, and I went to work. I worked for a magazine in the business end of it. I worked at something called Commentary Magazine, which is small, it still exists. I don't think it is anymore, but at one time it was owned by American Jewish Committee, I think owned it. But I'm not sure they still do, but it still exists, I worked there. I never had a job that was terribly fulfilling.
Chloe Garell (00:47:15):
The first year we were married, we lived in Brooklyn and I decided that I would go, I never really wanted to teach, but I would go and get my certification because it seemed like a sensible thing to do. So I went to Brooklyn college at night, and I went for maybe six weeks, and I couldn't stand it because the instructor's grammar was so bad that I couldn't sit through the class. And I don't regret not continuing, because I would be a terrible teacher, terrible teacher. Job I really liked best was when he was in the air force and I worked in the library. I started their music collection, I really had fun in the library. I was a civil servant, I had to take the civil service exam. I was a GS2, which is second lowest to what you can get.
Chloe Garell (00:48:10):
You're gonna be a one, I guess. And that's a clerk, and I ended up running the library because the librarian left and they didn't replace her until I left. But I loved it, I really, really did, and it was just being surrounded by the books and people coming and looking for things. We had airmen who were assigned there, and they were barely reading. I tried to work with some of them, there wasn't a great deal of interest. My husband was in charge of enlisted men personnel, and I said, "Why do you send category fours?" They were known, "Why do you send them to the library? They're not interested in books." He said, "You want me to send them-" I said, "They can barely read." And he said, "You want me to send them to the flight line?" I said, "Nevermind, they're not going to hurt anybody at the library." But that was probably a job that I had that I liked best. I was annoyed that I was a GS2, because classmates who went into civil service were eights, nines, tens, elevens, I was a two. So my work life was never really very exciting.
Caitlin Haskett (00:49:24):
What about family life?
Chloe Garell (00:49:31):
Well, we came back and he finished law school, we lived in New York for a year after he finished law school, he hated it, hated practicing here. We moved to Connecticut, and that's where family life was. And my mother had re-married after, she would never consider it while we were home, but she re-married, long after I was married. So we would see her, and my mother-in-law.We spent almost every Christmas school break after we had kids, in Washington, which was great. My brother lived there, and day after schools got out for vacation, we were in the car, on the way to Washington, and it was great. The kids learned Washington. They lived with my brother during their college years, they lived, they would live in Washington, because it was more fun and more interesting than being in Fairfield, Connecticut, and they were right. Actually, I was offered a job, before we moved to Connecticut, I was offered a job in Washington to work for a senator, and I wanted that job so badly. But, to illustrate the difference in times and generations, my husband did not want to go to Washington. He wanted to go to Connecticut, I didn't want to go to Connecticut, I wanted to go to Washington. So where did we go?
Caitlin Haskett (00:51:00):
Chloe Garell (00:51:02):
Chloe Garell (00:51:02):
Which was fine, I mean, it was fine. I really wanted that job, which would have been the best job I'd ever had, but no. And once we moved up there I did not work. We had kids, I was very involved in the community, I was on the board of education for a long time, I was chair of the library trustees, I did that sort of thing. Some of which I might have done differently, but that's true with a lot of things in life.
Caitlin Haskett (00:51:37):
Yeah. You mentioned that you ran, you held office.
Chloe Garell (00:51:42):
Caitlin Haskett (00:51:42):
Tell me about that.
Chloe Garell (00:51:44):
Chloe Garell (00:51:44):
Well, in Connecticut you are elected to the board of education on a party ticket, it's I think one of two states where you're on a party ticket, and the election for board of education is the same time as the election for the town officials. And Jewishness comes into this a little bit, my husband was active, politically, in town, I was not. I was a league of women voters member, you can't be politically active when you belong to a league, and that was fine. I was doing stuff, I was happy, I met interesting people. The board of education was going from six members to seven members, my kids were young, and I said, "You know, I think I'd like to do that, and I'm not going to displace anybody, because they're adding another seat." So I'm not going to bother anybody.
Chloe Garell (00:52:39):
So I said to my husband, "How do I do this?" So he said, well, he told me how to do it and I did what I had to do. And a friend of ours was going to run also, and she had done all the, I had done no political stuff, she had done all the political stuff. My husband had advised her on how to go about it, because her goal was to be on the board of education, but she felt she had to do the political stuff first. We were going out with this woman and her husband one night to dinner with drinks at their house first, and I said, I have to tell her I'm going to run. Which, meant we would be opposing each other. So I did tell her and you could see her visibly shrink, turns out, and you see this is why, I guess I was never that concerned about being Jewish, turns out that she was upset that I was running because then there would be too many Jewish people running for the board of education.
Caitlin Haskett (00:53:40):
Chloe Garell (00:53:42):
And they certainly weren't going to elect that many Jewish people. Never occurred to me, am I naïve? I guess I'm naïve. Never occurred to me, but I discovered later that's why she was so upset that I was running. Turns out we were both elected. But four years later, for re-election, I won, she lost. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Which, felt really good. Anyway, I was there for almost eight years, no, almost 12 years. We did a lot of things, we closed schools, we changed a lot of things, created a great furor in town, but I felt I was doing something that was important, I made the decisions that I thought were the right decisions. Whether they were or not, I did my homework, I was taught to do my research and to do my homework. And then when I finished with that, I was on the, a trustee of the library and I was chairman of the library trustees, which again was fun, it was great. We set the policies and hired the librarians, and so I did a lot of that. I did some other stuff, too, politically. So that was fun and yeah, so that's my political life after my husband coming back. Don't mind me.
Caitlin Haskett (00:55:29):
I realize I forgot to ask you about traditions when we were talking about-
Chloe Garell (00:55:33):
Caitlin Haskett (00:55:34):
Bryn Mawr. I wonder what you can tell me about that.
Chloe Garell (00:55:36):
Oh I love the traditions, I love the traditions. Lantern night, which you still have.
Caitlin Haskett (00:55:43):
Chloe Garell (00:55:45):
Caitlin Haskett (00:55:50):
Chloe Garell (00:55:50):
Which is where I got my Chloe nickname, was at step singing. We were standing around right at the beginning and that's how that started. What else? It seems to me there were lots of things, I'm trying to remember what they were. You don't have freshman shows anymore?
Caitlin Haskett (00:56:08):
Chloe Garell (00:56:10):
Freshman shows were great.
Caitlin Haskett (00:56:12):
Chloe Garell (00:56:12):
Took a lot of time, my only involvement was backstage. They were very good, some of them, really clever. I'm trying to think, because I know there were others, but lantern night was a big thing.
Caitlin Haskett (00:56:31):
Tell me about it.
Chloe Garell (00:56:33):
Well, you know, you lined up to get your lanterns, which I don't have mine anymore. Well, when we were moving to New York something happened and I said, go away. I had it for years, had had it for years. Then there was supposedly hell week- Mm-hmm (affirmative). Which you know, you didn't know what was going to happen, except that you were awakened in the morning with flowers and, I don't know if they do that anymore which was really, really fun.
Caitlin Haskett (00:57:07):
Chloe Garell (00:57:11):
What else do you do, so that, jog my memory.
Caitlin Haskett (00:57:15):
We do lantern night, parade night, which is at the very beginning. We still do hell week and May day.
Chloe Garell (00:57:21):
And May day, I was just going to say May day-
Caitlin Haskett (00:57:23):
Chloe Garell (00:57:23):
I almost forgot May day, yes. We got dressed better than you guys do for May day. I've seen the pictures.
Caitlin Haskett (00:57:30):
What did you, how did you get dressed?
Chloe Garell (00:57:33):
You wore white, but everybody was dressed something white. It wasn't pajamas, it wasn't a bikini, it was something appropriate.
Caitlin Haskett (00:57:43):
Chloe Garell (00:57:43):
Do they still do hoop rolling down senior row?
Caitlin Haskett (00:57:46):
I don't think anybody actually rolls it, but people carry their hoops down-
Chloe Garell (00:57:51):
We used to hoop roll like that..
Caitlin Haskett (00:57:52):
Chloe Garell (00:57:52):
Caitlin Haskett (00:57:53):
Did you have to practice?
Chloe Garell (00:57:54):
I don't think so, I think you just did it. Some people may have practiced, I mean, not everybody did it, but there was hoop rolling. And I don't know, it just seemed there were more, I can't remember what they were, but they were always fun, they were-
Caitlin Haskett (00:58:14):
Tell me about step singing.
Chloe Garell (00:58:18):
Well, you went by class and you stood by class and you had a song mistress and you learned all these songs with words you could not pronounce, you know, the Greek hymns and then you would have your own song and everybody just, I'm sure it's the same thing that goes on now. Mm-hmm (affirmative). But I think everybody, I can't sing, I can't carry a tune, but I still went to step singing. A friend of mine said, "Everybody can sing." I said, "I can't sing." And she said, "Everybody can sing." And I said, "No they can't." So we started to sing, and she said, "Higher." I said, "I can't get higher." She said, "You really can't sing." And to this day, I can't sing, I'd love to be able to sing. So most of the traditions are still alive, I'm glad to hear that.
Caitlin Haskett (00:59:23):
Chloe Garell (00:59:27):
You probably don't do tea,
Caitlin Haskett (00:59:29):
Actually, we do, my friends and I do, I don't think everybody does-
Chloe Garell (00:59:32):
We did tea.
Caitlin Haskett (00:59:33):
Chloe Garell (00:59:34):
I mean, not everybody did, but a lot of us did tea. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Some people sent their laundry home, because they had these boxes and it was very inexpensive to do it. And whenever my friend Carrie got her box back, we knew that was, we were having tea, because of course there were always goodies in the box with the laundry. So, what else?
Caitlin Haskett (01:00:05):
What do you think, yourself, when you graduated from Bryn Mawr, what do you think that version of you would be surprised about in how your life has gone since then?
Chloe Garell (01:00:22):
I think, I think I would have accomplished more than I did. I mean, people say I've done a lot, but in my own mind I don't think so. One of the things, and this is nothing really to do with Bryn Mawr, is I, it has to do with generationally, I see young people today who have children, know their children much better than my generation knew our children. That may sound strange, but I see that.
Caitlin Haskett (01:00:56):
Chloe Garell (01:01:02):
And that is nothing to do with Bryn Mawr. My grandson a couple of years ago said to me, "You know, grandma, it's not fair, I'm a double legacy at Bryn Mawr and what good does it do me?"
Caitlin Haskett (01:01:17):
Chloe Garell (01:01:17):
I said, "Well, you wouldn't go there anyway." Actually he might, if he, I don't know. So it was really funny, out of the blue one day, presented that to me.
Caitlin Haskett (01:01:31):
Maybe he'll go to Haverford.
Chloe Garell (01:01:33):
He went to, he's at Johns Hopkins. Ah. The younger, his younger brother went on the college tour with his mother a few months ago, and he did look at Haverford and he liked Haverford. I don't think he's going to go to Haverford, but he, my daughter was surprised that he liked Haverford. Yeah, these New York kids like bigger schools, I think, they're used to big.
Caitlin Haskett (01:02:02):
Chloe Garell (01:02:04):
Well, you know, they go all over.
Caitlin Haskett (01:02:08):
All right, one last question. What sort of influence do you think Bryn Mawr has had on your life?
Chloe Garell (01:02:19):
I think I'm a more curious person. I'm more literate. It gave me a look, I look at people perhaps a little differently than I might have, and I don't mean that in a positive or negative sense, it's just that I, because of my exposure to so many different classes of people, for one thing I'm not intimidated by them. Mm-hmm (affirmative). And I do, especially since we've been in the city, have been with some people who come from families so different from mine, it's fine, I can keep up with them. I mean, that may sound petty and obviously the knowledge I received, the education I received, I think that that's a given. But then there were the other things that came with it. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chloe Garell (01:03:26):
And part of it is, I think that I'm comfortable in any situation. You know, whether it be a mixed, certainly religiously mixed, because that I've always had. But culturally, socially and economically, I'm fine. And I think that had to do somewhat with my exposure. And I feel indebted to Bryn Mawr, I mean, I've been very active. I was, Bryn Mawr-wise, I was president of the Fairfield County Bryn Mawr club. I was on the regional scholarship committee, I chaired that for a long time. One of the things I'm amused about is I had been co-president of my class for a long time, I find that truly amusing, because I didn't do any of these things in school. And I find it, I said you know, didn't anybody else want it? Is my attitude. I was very involved, I've gone to all the reunions, and I really love going. My daughter doesn't feel the same way about it. It's interesting, my daughter has told people that, "Bryn Mawr changed my mother's life, but not my life." And I think there's some truth in that. She came from a very different place when she went there.
Caitlin Haskett (01:04:56):
Yeah. What do you think she means when she says that?
Chloe Garell (01:04:58):
That my learning, being with all these different people, to her that was not a new thing. She had lived a different life growing, and that, mainly she had lived a different life growing up than I did. She lived an economically easier life, certainly. Although, when she was in college she had to contribute for certain things, because I thought that was important. She had advantages that I never had, and so she came with that. I mean, she had done some traveling, she had gone on a, in her high school, she went on an overseas program. These were all common to her, they certainly weren't to me.
Caitlin Haskett (01:05:57):
That makes sense.
Chloe Garell (01:05:58):
I didn't even know about a lot of the stuff that she knew about. Some of it just because of how she grew up, and some of it from me.
Caitlin Haskett (01:06:04):
Chloe Garell (01:06:11):
I don't know how helpful any of this is.
Caitlin Haskett (01:06:13):
It's been fascinating, it really has. Is there anything else you want to tell me about your time at Bryn Mawr or your life in general, before we turn off the recorder.
Chloe Garell (01:06:24):
Well, I've been very fortunate, my life in general has been really good. There were times when my kids weren't so good, but that's a whole other thing. And I feel I've been fortunate, large, partly, or largely because, at 87 years old, I am fine. I don't have issues that so many of my friends, health issues, that so many of my friends do. So I've been, and that has nothing to do with Bryn Mawr, that is perhaps genetics, but I feel very fortunate. And I feel that my Bryn Mawr friendships have helped stimulate me. And I've had more of them since I've been living in New York, than when we were in Connecticut, because there's so many more Bryn Mawr people in New York, that I do see. There's an interesting story, you probably don't know about, and I don't know all the details, it's nothing to do with me, but I believe it was in the '30s that Bryn Mawr was instrumental in bringing a woman, who was a mathematician- from Mm-hmm (affirmative),
Chloe Garell (01:07:39):
Do you know this story?
Caitlin Haskett (01:07:40):
Vaguely, but tell me what you know.
Chloe Garell (01:07:42):
So, from Germany, to avoid the Holocaust, and she taught at Bryn Mawr for a couple of years, a Jewish woman. She taught at Bryn Mawr for a couple of years. She died early and the story is, she's buried in the cloisters.
Caitlin Haskett (01:07:56):
Caitlin Haskett (01:07:57):
I've heard that. I know Bryn Mawr did bring a few refugee scholars.
Chloe Garell (01:08:01):
I just heard that the other day, well maybe a couple, I heard it reunion from Evie, from my friend Evie. There was one other thing I was going to tell you, that I've suddenly forgotten. Doesn't matter, because I've forgotten it.
Caitlin Haskett (01:08:15):
Chloe Garell (01:08:16):
About, it was Bryn Mawr related, it doesn't matter. That's, my life has been good, I really have nothing to complain about. I look around me and realize how lucky I am. How much Bryn Mawr had to do with it, I don't know. I think, if you were to ask my family, they would say it had something to do with it. But yeah, life has been good. Got a few more years to go. We're already planning our next reunion.
Caitlin Haskett (01:08:57):
Chloe Garell (01:08:57):
We had a record turnout for 65th reunion.
Caitlin Haskett (01:09:01):
Chloe Garell (01:09:03):
And my co-president and I did send a list of things we thought should be different.
Caitlin Haskett (01:09:11):
Chloe Garell (01:09:12):
We did it with the best of spirits, the best of intentions.
Caitlin Haskett (01:09:16):
Chloe Garell (01:09:19):
Well, we did.
Caitlin Haskett (01:09:21):
Chloe Garell (01:09:21):
Things that get overlooked that shouldn't be. Mm-hmm (affirmative). So anyway.
Caitlin Haskett (01:09:30):
Caitlin Haskett (01:09:32):
Thank you so much for talking to me-
Chloe Garell (01:09:35):
Oh my pleasure.
Caitlin Haskett (01:09:35):
Chloe Garell (01:09:36):
But I'm not sure how much I actually did for any of this.
Caitlin Haskett (01:09:41):
It's really been actually very useful, I promise.
Chloe Garell (01:09:44):
Good. Well, I'm glad, I'm glad to hear that.
Chloe Garrell interviewed by Caitlin Haskett, July 7, 2019
Oral history interview of Chloe (Charlotte) Garrell (née Drabkin), Bryn Mawr College Class of 1954, conducted by Bryn Mawr College Class of 2020 student Caitlin Haskett on July 7, 2019 at Garrell's home in New York.
Haskett, Caitlin (interviewer)
Garrell, Chloe Drabkin (interviewee)
1 online resource (1 audio file (70 min.))
North and Central America--United States--Pennsylvania--Montgomery--Bryn Mawr
Jewish Mawrters Oral History Collection--http://archives.tricolib.brynmawr.edu/resources/bmc-rg12-ohj