Caitlin Haskett (00:00:02):
The following interview with Miriam Diamond 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 June 26th at Miriam's home, [redacted], Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. So, to begin with, I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about your childhood and growing up, before Bryn Mawr?
Miriam Diamond (00:00:32):
All right. When I was born, I lived, it was on Pine Street, just a few blocks from where I live now. My father was a doctor. And at that point, that street, the doctors had their offices and we lived above the store. We then moved into East Oak Lane, which is almost near the end of Philadelphia. And that's where I was when I went to Bryn Mawr. I went to a public high school. There were about 400-some people in my class. The academic group was smaller. And I remember when I decided to apply, one of the women there who worked with us said to me, "You'll never get in." But I did. But I lived at the college, although it my last year, I went from home. Because I was hardly there the last year. And I was in Rhoads Hall.
Caitlin Haskett (00:01:47):
Tell me a little bit more about the school you went to.
Miriam Diamond (00:01:52):
The high school?
Caitlin Haskett (00:01:52):
The high school. Yeah.
Miriam Diamond (00:01:53):
It was a very big school, but the academic group was much smaller. It was interesting. Most of the students who were Jewish were in the academic, but there were no black people. They were all white, but mostly not Jewish. And most of the people did not go on to college. In the group that I was in, in the academics, most of the people did not have money to go anywhere other than to Temple. And that's where the majority went. A few went to Penn. There were two of us who went to Bryn Mawr, and the other one left after a year. I was fortunate that I actually had some scholarship money, just because of where I stood in my class, but my parents were able to pay for me to go to Bryn Mawr.
Caitlin Haskett (00:03:14):
Tell me a little bit more about your family. You mentioned that your father was a doctor?
Miriam Diamond (00:03:18):
Okay, I have a brother. He's 15 months younger than I am, so we very much grew up together. We did not get along growing up. Now, we are very, very close, which is very nice. He lives in Massachusetts. He's quite different. He got a PhD, and he was married twice and divorced twice, where I have been married all these years with one person, so in that way, we are very different. He never had any children. And my mother, my mother was very active in the community. She worked for the Parents Home and School Association. And then, after we pretty much finished high school, she started to work in my father's office, and she was his receptionist. It actually turned out to be a very good thing for her, because my father died suddenly.
Miriam Diamond (00:04:34):
He really just dropped dead, and he was 60 years old. My mother then, had to find work for herself. It wasn't so easy for women to find work. And her experiences were, like if she went to a restaurant, she would be put all the way in the back. It's such a different time now. But she got a job working at Penn. She had a couple of jobs, and she ended up being the head of Planned Parenthood in Philadelphia. Yes.
Caitlin Haskett (00:05:24):
Miriam Diamond (00:05:24):
Yes, it was amazing. And I remember very well, the day that she was meeting people, that she was new. And I was there, and I was quite pregnant. So, the people said to me, "Is this your first?"
Miriam Diamond (00:05:45):
And I said, "No." And they said, "Is this your second?" And I said, "No." And I said, "It's my third, but it was planned." So, my mother was a big part of the children's lives. She lived in the city. And my in-laws also lived in the city, right across the square. But they were older than my mother, and they also died. They were not that old when they died. So, the two of us being in our 80s, we never expected. Is there more that I can tell you?
Caitlin Haskett (00:06:33):
No, that's good. I was wondering, you mentioned that your mother had a hard time finding work.
Miriam Diamond (00:06:38):
Caitlin Haskett (00:06:38):
Did she, what did she attribute that to? Did you know?
Miriam Diamond (00:06:45):
Well, mostly, that she was a woman and by herself. But fortunately, she had done a lot of volunteer work. And she did work in my father's office, so she wasn't just a housewife. So, she did have something she could say that she could do. But as I said, when she went places by herself, she was sort of put at the back of a place. A woman alone was not a good thing.
Caitlin Haskett (00:07:23):
I see. Um, what can you tell me about your religious upbringing?
Miriam Diamond (00:07:28):
Okay. That's interesting. I did not have much of a religious upbringing. My father came from a pretty observant family. My mother did not. They were not at all observant. And so then, my father came from a kosher home. We did not have a kosher home. We had shrimp and pork in our house. I asked to go to Sunday school. So, I went to a Reform synagogue. My parents never went to services. When I met my husband, I found out from him that he was fairly observant. And he said if we got married we'd have to have a kosher home, but I could do what I wanted outside the house, but it had to be a kosher home. Of course, what's happened now, I keep kosher out, too. We have a kosher home, and all of our children have kosher homes, which is interesting. Yeah.
Caitlin Haskett (00:08:48):
Yeah. I bet your parents would never have expected that.
Miriam Diamond (00:08:51):
Caitlin Haskett (00:08:53):
Tell me a little bit about you asking to go to Sunday school, and the synagogue you attended.
Miriam Diamond (00:09:00):
It was in our neighborhood, and it was a Reform synagogue. It was just a Sunday school. It didn't go during the week. And I guess I started going probably, when I was maybe, 10 or 11. I don't remember when my brother started going, but it was decided that he should have a bar mitzvah. So, he did go and he did have a bar mitzvah, and then that was the last time he was there. He ended up marrying ... the first wife was not Jewish. And so, yeah, he's never been interested in religion. But I became just much more involved, because of the man I married.
Caitlin Haskett (00:10:09):
Were you confirmed, or anything?
Miriam Diamond (00:10:11):
Yes, yeah, yeah, at synagogue. Yeah, I had confirmation, yes.
Caitlin Haskett (00:10:15):
What synagogue was it that you went to then?
Miriam Diamond (00:10:18):
It was ... I'm trying to remember the name of it. Temple Judea.
Caitlin Haskett (00:10:27):
Okay, yeah. All right. If there's not anything else you want to mention about your childhood and your background before Bryn Mawr, then can you tell me a little bit about the decision for you to attend Bryn Mawr?
Miriam Diamond (00:10:40):
There was a woman in Bryn Mawr who had gone to camp, I went to an all women's ... girls ... camp up in New York State, and there was a woman, a girl there two years older who went to Bryn Mawr. And she was from, I think from Buffalo. And that gave me the idea, maybe I could go to Bryn Mawr, too. And my mother was thrilled with the idea. She had gone to girls high school in Philadelphia, and she had ... a group of women and girls were taken out to see Bryn Mawr. But she had ... Well, one, I don't think her family could have afforded for her to go, but she also, I think, felt that there were no Jewish people there at all. So, she did go to Penn. But then, her father didn't have the money for her to continue, so she was only there two years. And so, it was especially important to her, one, that I graduated from college, and she was thrilled when I said I wanted to go to Bryn Mawr.
Caitlin Haskett (00:12:17):
So, it was your decision to choose Bryn Mawr?
Miriam Diamond (00:12:21):
Yes, yes. It was my decision, yeah.
Caitlin Haskett (00:12:23):
You mentioned that someone at your school said that you'd never get into Bryn Mawr? Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
Miriam Diamond (00:12:31):
Yeah. Well, this was our advisor, that worked with you to get into college. And I mean, I was a very, very good student. I was fourth in my class, and there were several hundred people in my class. I don't know why, I just remember her saying that to me. I don't know why she said it. Maybe she just thought that Bryn Mawr wouldn't take somebody from this big public high school that was not a particularly fine school. But I got in.
Caitlin Haskett (00:13:18):
So then, tell me about coming to campus, and maybe what you can remember about your first reflections of being at Bryn Mawr.
Miriam Diamond (00:13:26):
Yeah. Well, I was prepared, or I thought I was prepared if there weren't going to be many Jewish people there, that it would be okay. However then, they really put many Jewish people in one, well maybe a couple dormitories. But I was in Rhoads, and I came in, and it was filled with Jewish people. I mean, they were not the majority, but there were so many of us. And of course, when my daughter went there years later, it was nothing like that, nothing like that. Then, there were some dorms that virtually, had no Jews, Jewish people, in them. The food was very different from my food at home, and it took me quite a while to get used to the food. Even though we didn't have a kosher home, I guess, maybe it was kosher style. I don't know. But this was ... Like at home, we had rye bread. Here, there was just white bread on the table. So, it took some adjusting. But I did make friends quite quickly, and I liked being in the Rhoads Dorm.
Caitlin Haskett (00:15:15):
Did you make friends with the other students in Rhodes or how did you make friends initially?
Miriam Diamond (00:15:22):
Initially, it was the students in Rhoads, yeah. That was pretty much who my friends were, yeah.
Caitlin Haskett (00:15:31):
So maybe, tell me a little bit more about what your social life while you were at Bryn Mawr was like.
Miriam Diamond (00:15:37):
Okay. When I came to Bryn Mawr, there was a young man that I was seeing who was from Philadelphia, and he went to Franklin and Marshall. I went out there sometimes, and I guess there were a few blind dates. I remember one of the women, and I don't remember exactly who she was now, but I remember, she got dates for us. And they were Villanova, and the man that I went out with was not Jewish. I guess I probably was just, I was more comfortable, I think, with somebody who was Jewish. I mean, the background was so different. I mean, I knew I couldn't continue that kind of relationship. And then, I met my husband my sophomore year, so that ended that. I found my Jewish man.
Caitlin Haskett (00:17:00):
Did that discomfort in starting a relationship with someone who wasn't Jewish, did that extend to your friendships at Bryn Mawr, as well, or-
Miriam Diamond (00:17:09):
Miriam Diamond (00:17:10):
Miriam Diamond (00:17:10):
Oh, no, no, no. Yeah, I just knew I wasn't going to date somebody who wasn't Jewish. But no, I had friends in the dorm, certainly, who weren't Jewish, and that was fine. My best friends were Jewish, but I clearly was friendly with ... Yeah, and I didn't think about religion. I wasn't a religious person, and I did go to services, whatever services they had at Bryn Mawr. But I guess it's just who I was. And the world was different then. I mean, there was more ... Well, I don't know, maybe the world is the same. I don't know. But I just, I was more comfortable with people who were Jewish.
Caitlin Haskett (00:18:12):
Were you involved in any clubs or organizations?
Miriam Diamond (00:18:16):
Well, I ended up being president of the sophomore class, so I guess ... And I don't remember how that happened. I was just looking through things. I had forgotten about that. But I was reading through some things, and yes, so I was involved with things in the college because of that, certainly.
Caitlin Haskett (00:18:42):
Do you remember anything about if you ran for the position, if you were nominated by a friend, or how you got-
Miriam Diamond (00:18:51):
Yeah, I don't remember that, I don't remember that. I must have been nominated by someone probably, in my dorm, I assume. And I was elected. And then, of course, I got to meet many more people from different dormitories. And we were, dormitories, we were very stuck with our dormitory friends, or the friends who were in the classes that you took. And I am still friendly with my Bryn Mawr classmates. There are a group of us who have, we get together every two months for lunch. And I was the only one who was a Philadelphian and stayed there. These are women who, they married somebody from Philadelphia. And anyway, so I'm still very connected to Bryn Mawr.
Caitlin Haskett (00:19:59):
Yeah. Tell me a little bit more about living in Rhoads. Did you live by yourself or have a roommate?
Miriam Diamond (00:20:07):
First semester, I had a single room. And then, I had a roommate, and she was from New York. She was exceedingly smart, really, really smart. She now lives in California. The top floor of Rhoads, there was ... I don't know how it is now, but there was just a group of three rooms in one corner in the top. And so, the second year, that's where I was. And so, there were two single rooms and this double room, and I was in the double room. We were all Jewish. Two came from New York, one came from New Jersey, and I came from Philadelphia. Yeah.
Caitlin Haskett (00:21:10):
And so, your freshman roommate and you moved together to the third floor, second year?
Miriam Diamond (00:21:16):
Well, no. Freshman year I was by myself.
Caitlin Haskett (00:21:20):
Miriam Diamond (00:21:20):
And then, we knew that this area was going to be open. I think probably, seniors moved out by the time of our sophomore year, and so the four of us decided to room there.
Caitlin Haskett (00:21:36):
How did the four of you decide you wanted to live together?
Miriam Diamond (00:21:43):
Well, we were friends. One of the women, I was very friendly with. And we just thought it would be fun to live up there in that special place, and that we would get along well. One reason why one of the women had to be in a single room was, she was unbelievably neat, I mean, beyond belief. So, she knew she couldn't share a room. And I felt I could share a room, because I wasn't ... I was neat, but I wasn't crazy neat. So, we got along very well being there. So, uh, so yeah.
Caitlin Haskett (00:22:37):
What were the names of the women you lived with?
Miriam Diamond (00:22:40):
Joelle, Alice, and Gloria. Yeah.
Caitlin Haskett (00:22:44):
Which one did you live in the same room with?
Miriam Diamond (00:22:47):
Caitlin Haskett (00:22:48):
Gloria. And the neat freak was--
Miriam Diamond (00:22:51):
Caitlin Haskett (00:22:52):
Miriam Diamond (00:22:52):
Miriam Diamond (00:22:53):
And Joelle, um, Joelle has died. She actually was married twice and divorced twice. Alice, I just, I lost track of her. I don't know what's happened to her. And Gloria, I'm not a lot in touch with, but sometimes.
Caitlin Haskett (00:23:24):
What were they like when you were at Bryn Mawr with them?
Miriam Diamond (00:23:28):
Well, they were fun to be with. As I said, Gloria was very, very smart, and she studied a lot. I guess they just were good company. I just enjoyed being with them. And Joelle, I did visit in New York. I spent more time with her. Her mother was very tough with her, and was very anxious for her to meet somebody and to get married when she graduated. That was important to her, whereas to my mother, the idea of my getting ... Well, when I got married before I graduated, she was really concerned about that I wouldn't finish college. To her, my finishing at Bryn Mawr was the most important thing. And I did finish. My senior year, I lived in my parent's home. I didn't have to be at school ... Senior year, I didn't have classes three times a week or anything. So I drove, I took my mother's car and drove. So, I probably came just two days a week, then. And that was fine.
Caitlin Haskett (00:25:17):
What--I'm trying to think how I want to phrase this question.
Miriam Diamond (00:25:24):
Caitlin Haskett (00:25:24):
How did things change when you moved back in with your parents? Did you notice your friendships or anything change, with your relationship to Bryn Mawr?
Miriam Diamond (00:25:36):
Well, I still felt very, very strongly about Bryn Mawr. I was glad then, I didn't mind being out of the dorm. Now, I was already married, and so being at home was perfectly fine. I wasn't there more than two days a week, I think. But I still was very connected to the college and the non-res students. I mean, we had a room, and so in some ways, I was more involved with individuals because I didn't have a room to myself like I did when I lived there. So, I spent more time talking with them. And so, it was good being a nonresident. Yeah.
Caitlin Haskett (00:26:38):
Tell me more about the non-res room, and getting to know people there.
Miriam Diamond (00:26:44):
It was just, it wasn't that big a room, as I recall. There were twins from our class, whose father taught at Haverford, and they had always been non-res. And actually, in these years, I've been very friendly with one of them. The other one moved kind of far away. And then, there were a few other people who were married, so I was friendly with them. But it was more a place, well, to get some work done, or just to put your coat, because I was living at home. I mean, that was really where I spent most of my time.
Caitlin Haskett (00:27:47):
But did you still maintain friendships with the girls you had met in Rhoads?
Miriam Diamond (00:27:51):
Yeah, I did. But I spent less time with them, especially since I didn't have to be there very often. But I did stay connected with them, yeah.
Caitlin Haskett (00:28:09):
I had a chance to look through your yearbook in the library, and I noticed that you're listed under Rhoads as a senior, even though I guess you were a non-res that year.
Miriam Diamond (00:28:21):
Yeah, but three years, I was in Rhoads, yeah.
Caitlin Haskett (00:28:26):
Shifting years a little bit, what can you tell me about academics at Bryn Mawr?
Miriam Diamond (00:28:33):
Well, I was nervous. When I decided on sociology and anthropology ... Well, okay, the first year, I mean, you had to take chemistry or something. That was really a disaster for me. I mean, I remember talking to the professor, and it was a large class. So, there was no ... You weren't really connected with anybody. But there were some people who really loved that kind of work, and I just was, I was doing it because I had no choice. I think the first semester, I almost wasn't passing. I just remember being, how was I going to get through with it. But I did talk with the professor. Anyway, I did pass. I passed. I got done. I was glad it was out of my way.
Miriam Diamond (00:29:49):
The sociology class, sociology was also with anthropology. I found the anthropology quite interesting. I didn't know that I would, but I did. But I took more sociology classes, and the professor ... that professor was Jewish, which was interesting. I think I felt comfortable with him. I mean, some of the professors there, I guess while they were fine for me as teachers, I didn't feel the kind of connection with them. And maybe because this professor was Jewish, or just how his personality was, he was very warm towards the classmates. And so, I really enjoyed my sociology classes very much.
Caitlin Haskett (00:31:05):
What was the professor's name?
Miriam Diamond (00:31:07):
And now let's see if I can remember his name. I don't remember his name.
Caitlin Haskett (00:31:15):
Do you remember what he looked like, or what can you tell me about him?
Miriam Diamond (00:31:19):
Yeah, he was a little chunky. I guess they all wore suits then. I think everybody wore a suit. He was kind chunky, but he was warm towards the students. I mean, some seemed more, just more involved in teaching what they had to teach, and then you didn't feel connected with them. Now, maybe somebody who was in their major, they might be connected. I don't know. But he was a warm person, and he would talk with me after class. So, I liked him very much.
Miriam Diamond (00:32:09):
Yeah. What kind of things did you talk with him about?
Miriam Diamond (00:32:14):
Oh, now, I have to remember what we talked about. I guess we must have talked some about work, but I think I probably talked about what was going on in my life, too. I think that I did. And he just was very open to talking. Yeah.
Caitlin Haskett (00:32:42):
He sounds like a lovely man.
Miriam Diamond (00:32:44):
Yeah, he was very, very nice. And I met his ... He had two sons. I met his family. And he lived on campus, or maybe right off campus. But he was there, yeah.
Caitlin Haskett (00:33:03):
And you mentioned that taking his class influenced you to be a sociology major?
Miriam Diamond (00:33:09):
Well, I was interested in being a sociology major beforehand, but he certainly added to my pleasure in being a sociology--
Caitlin Haskett (00:33:28):
Why were you interested in being a sociology major?
Miriam Diamond (00:33:35):
You know, I really don't remember why. Well, I certainly wasn't going to be in any sciences. So, I guess it possibly could have been English that I might have picked, but I think the subject matter was interesting to me. And really, I kind of continued with the work that I did, really was related to that.
Caitlin Haskett (00:34:18):
You went on to get a Master's of Social Work, right?
Miriam Diamond (00:34:21):
I went to Villanova, yeah, but that was a good time later, yeah.
Caitlin Haskett (00:34:30):
Caitlin Haskett (00:34:33):
Sticking at Bryn Mawr for now--
Miriam Diamond (00:34:36):
Caitlin Haskett (00:34:36):
You mentioned already that you lived with a lot of other Jewish students in Rhoads.
Miriam Diamond (00:34:40):
Miriam Diamond (00:34:40):
But, I wonder what else you remember about being Jewish in Bryn Mawr?
Miriam Diamond (00:34:48):
Well, as I said, I wasn't religious at all. But I guess probably, I was comfortable with other Jewish people, although, once when I was non-res, then it was mixed, and I was friendly with those women who were non-res. So, I guess the feeling was, I think one's religion was more a factor in people's lives than it is today. I think today, I think people are ... Well, women work at anything. I think the religion doesn't figure in the way that it used to. I think there's much less separation of people. So, I think it's probably just the times that it was.
Caitlin Haskett (00:36:20):
Can you elaborate on how you felt religion factored into life more?
Miriam Diamond (00:36:28):
You mean then, or--
Caitlin Haskett (00:36:30):
Miriam Diamond (00:36:32):
As I said, I was not observant, and I ate any of the food that they had. And actually in the home that I grew up in, we had non-kosher food. So, that wasn't important to me.
Caitlin Haskett (00:37:01):
Did you feel that other people treated you differently because you were Jewish?
Miriam Diamond (00:37:04):
No, no, I did not. Not at all, not at all. No, I actually ... Obviously, I said I got to be the president of my sophomore class. I ended up being, I was comfortable at Bryn Mawr. I was very comfortable. I was very happy there. I really liked it. I liked the women who I met. As I say, they are still my friends, which is terrific. It really is terrific that we are still ... One of them lives close by, and we have lunch together every other week. And then, there are five of us who get together about every, well, less than two months apart.
Caitlin Haskett (00:38:04):
I wonder if you remember other Jewish students who may have been more religious ever participating in religious services while you were at Bryn Mawr, if they would go off campus to synagogue, or things happened on campus?
Miriam Diamond (00:38:20):
I don't remember that being the case.
Caitlin Haskett (00:38:27):
Do you remember anybody participating in any sort of formalized religion?
Miriam Diamond (00:38:32):
No. They just were Jewish, and I guess I felt comfortable with our backgrounds. But nobody was religious that I connected with.
Miriam Diamond (00:38:50):
Yeah. All right. Um, shifting gears a little bit, tell me about traditions at Bryn Mawr.
Miriam Diamond (00:39:06):
Well, I guess it did make it kind of special, and I think it sort of separated it from other schools, I don't think other schools ... Maybe it was the size of the school, too, the fact that it's a much bigger school now than it was then. I enjoyed the things that were special to Bryn Mawr.
Caitlin Haskett (00:39:50):
Did you have a favorite tradition?
Miriam Diamond (00:39:54):
I can't say that. I did. No.
Caitlin Haskett (00:39:59):
Did you participate in traditions when you were a non-res in your senior year?
Miriam Diamond (00:40:06):
My senior year, probably not, because I only came on the days that I had to be there. So, I was certainly less involved my senior year. And, uh, yeah.
Miriam Diamond (00:40:26):
Do you think that was typical of other non-residential students?
Miriam Diamond (00:40:34):
Well, I really don't know. I don't know. I would imagine, well, it certainly was easier not to be involved when you weren't living there. And senior year, you really didn't have to be there very much, because I was only there two days a week. And I assume the others, too, would only have been there a couple days a week. So, I guess it's harder as a non-res to be very involved. But I felt very strongly about the college. I certainly did. And I continue to. I mean, I don't think there has been one year that I have not contributed to the college. And I've been involved in things with--
Caitlin Haskett (00:41:51):
The Reunion Planning Committee, yes?
Miriam Diamond (00:41:53):
Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. Things like that. Yeah. Yeah. And there's something called--a group called the Golden Sages. Do you know about the Golden Sages?
Caitlin Haskett (00:42:04):
Miriam Diamond (00:42:04):
I was very involved with the Golden Sages. So, that really kept me quite involved with the college. And so, I like that. And so, I do get to the college twice a year for Golden Stages programs, and I help plan them. Yeah.
Caitlin Haskett (00:42:32):
Okay. Going back to your time at Bryn Mawr as a student, I just have a couple more questions. Um, tell me, uh, I know you got married in your sophomore year, but then decided to live on campus again in your junior year.
Miriam Diamond (00:42:51):
No, I got married, it was ... I was going into my junior year.
Caitlin Haskett (00:42:56):
Miriam Diamond (00:42:56):
Caitlin Haskett (00:42:57):
But then you still decided to live on campus that year?
Miriam Diamond (00:43:00):
Caitlin Haskett (00:43:01):
Yeah. Tell me about that decision.
Miriam Diamond (00:43:03):
Well, my husband was away. And as I said, I told him that I would marry him, but I was not going with him. And he knew he would be drafted as he graduated from law school. And he said that was okay. In some ways, being there in the dormitory and being married, I mean, I didn't have to think about whether I would get a date. I didn't have to think about social things. I really just could do my work. So, I guess it was kind of positive being married, in terms of ... And I did better in school, well, I guess maybe, it was because I also wasn't then, taking courses that I had to take, but more courses that I wanted to take.
Caitlin Haskett (00:44:08):
So, social life before you got married really revolved around dating and that kind of thing at Bryn Mawr?
Miriam Diamond (00:44:18):
I mean, I certainly had dates, but it was more spending time with my friends, yeah. And I remember, I did have a date at Penn. And it was a Jewish fraternity, and it was horrible. When I found out my husband went to Penn, I had really negative feelings about it. They were just drinking. That's all they were doing, they were drinking. And I just couldn't wait to get back to the dorm. I mean, I thought they were just terrible people. So, uh, I really, yeah. I, and I had a boyfriend from home who was at Franklin and Marshall. And in my freshman year, I went out there I think, twice and spent the weekend there. So, I guess I didn't do a whole lot of dating. I think mostly, I just was with my friends, and was perfectly fine.
Miriam Diamond (00:45:42):
Yeah. What kind of things would you do with your friends when you were hanging out?
Miriam Diamond (00:45:47):
I think we just, I guess we sat around and talked. I think that's all we did. We walked into the Village, The Ville. But we really ... That's funny. Reminds me now, one of our classmates came from, she was not a Jewish woman. She was an only child. I think she came from a very, very wealthy family. And she didn't like the food, and she just would go out any all the time. Sometimes, we would go with her, but I really couldn't afford it. I mean, my parents gave me some money, but it wasn't for me to be eating out, because I was getting food where I was. So, I do remember sometimes going out with her, and that was sort of getting off campus. But that did not happen very often, no.
Miriam Diamond (00:46:55):
I couldn't afford it. And I liked being with my friends in the dorm. And I don't think we went to the movies much. Mostly, we just were there. We hung out and talked. Oh, the other thing is, I don't know ... There were smokers then. I did not smoke. I never smoked. So, I think smokers then, had another community. I mean, I guess they must have, but I wasn't part of that community at all. So, it mostly was being in somebody else's dorm room, but not down in the smoker.
Caitlin Haskett (00:47:51):
All right. Tell me, if you remember, the influence of any current events or national or international events while you were at Bryn Mawr.
Miriam Diamond (00:48:03):
I don't think I paid too much attention to it. Yeah, I don't remember reading newspapers. I was more interested in what my subjects were, and being with my friends. But I don't recall being particularly interested in what was going on in the world.
Caitlin Haskett (00:48:29):
You don't remember talking about that kind of thing with your friends?
Miriam Diamond (00:48:33):
I don't think we did, so much.
Caitlin Haskett (00:48:36):
Miriam Diamond (00:48:36):
Caitlin Haskett (00:48:37):
Caitlin Haskett (00:48:41):
I wonder, you've talked about how it was so important for you to go to Bryn Mawr and to finish your college education. What was the difference between your expectations of Bryn Mawr before you arrived, and then the reality after you were on campus? Or did it perfectly match up? Yeah.
Miriam Diamond (00:49:07):
Well, of course, ahead of time, there's only so much I could know. But there was woman whom I had known from camp, and she was two years older. No, she was more than that, she was several years older. And she was sort of, the impetus of why I wanted to go. I thought so highly of her, I thought being at that school would be good. And she was in Rhoads, so I asked to be in Rhoads. But I think she probably was a senior when I was a freshman, and I really did not have that much ... I made friends right away with other freshmen, so I didn't spend time with her. But, I enjoyed my time in the dorm. I really did. We went from room to room, sat and talked. And as I said, my friends didn't smoke, so we weren't down in the smoker room. We just were pretty much in each other's rooms.
Caitlin Haskett (00:50:33):
Yeah. Tell me about what you had planned for your life after Bryn Mawr while you were at Bryn Mawr. Did you have plans?
Miriam Diamond (00:50:44):
I think I wanted to go on and do some social work, and probably would have gone to graduate school to get a degree in social work. I probably would have done that, but then I met my husband earlier than I expected. And as I said, I told him I would not go with him wherever he had to go, I had to stay at Bryn Mawr. And he said that was okay.
Caitlin Haskett (00:51:23):
But then, you followed him after Bryn Mawr?
Miriam Diamond (00:51:26):
Well, in the summer, I went down to Norfolk. I spent the summer in Norfolk. And then he actually finished, we finished at the same time. He got out of the Navy, I graduated, what in ... I guess, what month then, did they ... I guess it must have been June, that we graduated. And I went down to Norfolk, and he was done in July. And we came back to Philadelphia. We lived around the corner from here. My father, I told you, was a doctor. And he had a building that had his office downstairs, and there were apartments upstairs. So, we had one of the apartments in my father's building, which is really, just around the corner from here. And then we ended up buying a house on Pine Street, and stayed there until we came here. So, we've been city people all the time.
Caitlin Haskett (00:52:39):
So, you sort of were interested in pursuing a social work career, but also emphasis on your husband and your family?
Miriam Diamond (00:52:46):
Yeah, well ... I mean, the work that I did, I worked a few years before we had children. And it was a social work kind of, I went out into neighborhoods, and people who were on public assistance, I spoke with them. And mostly, they were African-American people. There were, I think my in-laws probably were concerned about it, but they wouldn't say anything. But some people would say to me, "Aren't you afraid to go into those neighborhoods?" And I wasn't, because we had a certain book that we carried. And so, everybody in those neighborhoods was very aware of that book, and that you were getting money from them, so nobody ever bothered me. I never had a problem, and I liked the work very, very much. And then, I had a baby, and I was home for a number of years.
Caitlin Haskett (00:54:06):
Do you think your plans for what you were going to do after Bryn Mawr were similar or different from the plans that your classmates had?
Miriam Diamond (00:54:17):
Most of them got married and had families, so our lives were pretty much the same, I think I would have to say.
Caitlin Haskett (00:54:40):
Tell me a little bit more about where your life has gone since Bryn Mawr. You mentioned working right afterwards. What organization did you work for?
Miriam Diamond (00:54:49):
Well, I worked for the State, for people who were on public assistance. Or maybe actually, it was probably the City. And I did that until I got pregnant. Well, I did it while I was pregnant, but then after. So, I was at home when the children were small. But I spent a lot of time with their Home and School Association, things in the community. And I stayed connected to Bryn Mawr always. And then, when the kids got older, I went to Villanova and got a degree. And then, I worked at a woman's organization, a woman's health center was where I worked. So, I was really with women, and I liked that a lot. And there's an agency, I don't know if you call it an agency, but Women's Way, I don't know if you've heard the name of that, but in Philadelphia. And I'm still connected to Women's Way, all these years. So yeah, I mean, my life really was spent with women. And the work that I did was with women, and I liked that.
Caitlin Haskett (00:56:24):
Why did you decide to go back to Villanova to get your social work degree?
Miriam Diamond (00:56:29):
Well, when the children were in school, I worked in the classrooms a little, and I did some teaching. I guess now, you probably do, but I didn't have to have a degree. And I really didn't like it. And I thought, "Well, I want to find something that I can do that I like." And so, Villanova, I'm trying to remember now, whether the price, I think the price was right. And I could get a degree, and then find work that I wanted to do. So, that's how it played out.
Caitlin Haskett (00:57:34):
And then, Women's Way was the organization you worked with afterwards?
Miriam Diamond (00:57:38):
Miriam Diamond (00:57:38):
What kind of work did you do with them?
Miriam Diamond (00:57:40):
Well, I was a lot older than everybody else. I guess I was in my 40s then. So, when I came to the Women's Health Organization, they wanted to do something with middle-aged women. They really had just been doing birth control. And, this was before I went through menopause, but they wanted me to run a seminar on menopause there. So, I read up, and as time went on, I did go through menopause. But that's what I did there, I worked with the older women. And everybody else was younger than me. So, that's how I got into it, and I liked it very much. I really liked the work that I did.
Caitlin Haskett (00:58:45):
Did you work with Women's Way for the entirety of your career?
Miriam Diamond (00:58:49):
Yeah, I did. And then I worked in their office, too. And I'm still very connected with Women's Way, and the people who are there now.
Caitlin Haskett (00:59:07):
Tell me a little bit more about your children and your family, and just anything about that.
Miriam Diamond (00:59:15):
Well, my children are the best things in the world. I mean, they're now old, they're middle-aged. I think I first thought I probably would have two children. I had trouble getting pregnant. Well, then I had the two children, and had come from a family of two children. But after that, I decided I wanted to have a third child, too. I enjoyed raising them. And my relationship with them now is just wonderful. I mean, my daughter fortunately, is in Philadelphia, and is there because she married ... I mean, she was getting her PhD at the University of Chicago, and she married somebody who was a professor at Penn, and that's how ... So, I'm very connected to her, and have a very, very good relationship with her and with our sons.
Miriam Diamond (01:00:32):
I mean, that's more ... Well, our younger son calls us every Sunday on the phone. And the other one, it's more, I am more in touch with his wife that I am with him. But this summer, we are going to the beach. We had a house, Long Beach Island, which we sold, which distressed the children. But we are going to be a week with our older son and his family together. We rented a place. So, I would say our family is probably the most important thing to us. But we are separate from them, and we don't talk to them every day. And interestingly, when I met my husband, his sister was six years older, and she had had children already. They were young.
Miriam Diamond (01:01:37):
And, uh, his sister spoke to his mother like three times a day. His sister spoke to his mother three times a day. When the children left for school, she spoke to her mother, when they were home for lunch. And Bud had already told his mother, "When I get married, that is not the way my life is going to be." And I didn't know that, of course, then. In fact, that was true. I mean, she was a very smart woman, she was a very nice woman, and she wanted to be close to us, so she stayed back. I mean, she really ... So I really, I enjoyed the time raising the children. Rittenhouse Square, which is right there, I mean, I would go there, and other mothers were there with their children. It was very sociable, so it was a good time in my life.
Caitlin Haskett (01:02:50):
Tell me a little bit more about ... You mentioned that you met your husband on a blind date, but tell me a little bit more about dating him and the decision to get married.
Miriam Diamond (01:03:02):
I think I told you, I was with him because I was shorter and he was shorter ... Oh, I didn't tell you that? Okay. It was his very good friend who was calling for dates. And so, it was me and another classmate, Nancy. And the way we decided who would be with whom was that I was shorter than Nancy, and Bud was shorter. That's how it happened. We sat in the back. I was quite heavy then. I did not take my coat off. I kept my coat off in the movie. And we went out for something to eat, I still kept my coat on. And when we left, and I remember this so, I mean, like it was yesterday. We are standing right in the hallway, and Nancy says to me, "Miriam, yours liked you and mine liked you." I had no sense of that at all, but I remember that like it was yesterday. And sure enough, I mean, it was true. It was true. So, he called me right again. And he would come out. His parents had a car. He drove out. Sometimes we go out for dinner, sometimes we would go to the movies. And yeah, we got married pretty quickly.
Caitlin Haskett (01:04:52):
So, you mentioned calling for dates earlier. Your husband's friend was setting up the date, and you said calling for dates. Was it just literally, a cold call to the dorm, "Anybody want to go on a date?" or how did that happen?
Miriam Diamond (01:05:08):
Well, it was almost, I guess she came up, she was looking for someone to go out with him.
Miriam Diamond (01:05:22):
Your friend, Nancy?
Miriam Diamond (01:05:24):
Yeah. So, I said, "Yeah, I'll go." I hadn't gone with anybody in law school, so I thought that would be interesting. Yeah. I mean, it just happened. I mean, really, it could have gone another way.
Caitlin Haskett (01:05:51):
Just a spontaneous decision?
Miriam Diamond (01:05:53):
Right, yeah, yeah.
Caitlin Haskett (01:05:57):
Well, one last question.
Miriam Diamond (01:05:59):
Caitlin Haskett (01:05:59):
You've mentioned that you've stayed connected to Bryn Mawr throughout your whole life.
Miriam Diamond (01:06:05):
Caitlin Haskett (01:06:05):
What kind of impact do you think going to Bryn Mawr had on your life?
Miriam Diamond (01:06:17):
Well, really, a huge impact. I mean, I guess having stayed connected all these years, that my best friends are my friends from Bryn Mawr. And then, doing work with the Alumni Association, and then my daughter going to Bryn Mawr, I mean, all those things, it's really just been part of my life. And I feel so strongly about what that school is. So, it's part of me, it's really part of me.
Caitlin Haskett (01:07:11):
Tell me about your daughter going to Bryn Mawr. Did you pressure her into it, or--
Miriam Diamond (01:07:17):
No, I certainly didn't pressure her into it. I think she got in ... Maybe she did early decision. I think she got in early, and she just decided, "I'm set. That's what I'll do." She was happy there. Of course, it was very ... Not very different but I remember her room was, she had the tiniest room. It was really, really tiny, just about room for her bed. She was right next to another room. And then, men could come in ... Not when I was there. You couldn't have men coming up into your ... And there was a man, I wonder whether he was, I think it might've been a coed dorm. In any case, the room next door, people were having sex.
Miriam Diamond (01:08:40):
So, it was very distracting. I mean, she could hear through the ... Anyway, and she took her junior year at the University of Chicago. And then she went back, and that's where she got her PhD at the University of Chicago. But she has stayed connected with Bryn Mawr, too. I mean, I think, that she got, it was a very important part of her life, as well. Do they still have a pansy sale? No.
Caitlin Haskett (01:09:15):
I don't believe so.
Miriam Diamond (01:09:15):
All right. So, that was one of the things when we had our house on Pine Street. Bryn Mawr sold pansies, and I would have the sale at my house every year. And then the money went to Bryn Mawr.
Miriam Diamond (01:09:37):
Sort of like, a fundraiser?
Miriam Diamond (01:09:38):
Yeah, yeah. I guess they don't do it anymore. But I would put them on the steps of my house, and people would buy them, and then I'd send the money to Bryn Mawr.
Caitlin Haskett (01:09:52):
Do you remember what years this was?
Miriam Diamond (01:09:54):
Caitlin Haskett (01:09:56):
Or just even generally?
Miriam Diamond (01:09:58):
Well, the 1990s, maybe.
Caitlin Haskett (01:10:10):
Okay. All right. For real, the last question this time. What do you think yourself, as a senior at Bryn Mawr right about to graduate, what do you think she would be most surprised about in the way your life has gone since then?
Miriam Diamond (01:10:29):
I mean, who?
Caitlin Haskett (01:10:29):
Yourself. If she knew where you ... Yourself at Bryn Mawr.
Miriam Diamond (01:10:35):
Yeah, if that person--
Caitlin Haskett (01:10:35):
If she knew where your life is now, or where it had gone between now and then, what do you think she would be surprised about?
Miriam Diamond (01:10:45):
She, being me?
Caitlin Haskett (01:10:48):
Miriam Diamond (01:10:48):
Yeah. I don't know that I would be surprised. I mean, I knew the man I was marrying was, that he was a very special person, that he cared for me a great deal, and that I just felt that we would have a good life together. So, I think things ... Well, I feel things turned out very well for me. I mean, the fact that I've been well, and my husband's well, our children are just wonderful people. So, I just feel good.
Caitlin Haskett (01:12:10):
Is there anything else you want to mention about your time at Bryn Mawr or your life in general before we turn off the recorder?
Miriam Diamond (01:12:18):
No, just that I'm very glad I went to Bryn Mawr. I have enjoyed very much, staying connected to Bryn Mawr. I really have. I mean, it is still an important part of my life. And as I said, my good friends are my friends from Bryn Mawr. And I have relatively good health. I just think I'm a lucky person.
Caitlin Haskett (01:12:55):
That's a lovely note to end on. All right. Well, thank you for sitting down with me today.
Miriam Diamond (01:13:00):
Caitlin Haskett (01:13:02):
Yea, all right.
Miriam Diamond (01:13:04):
So what, what happened? What, what is the--
Caitlin Haskett (01:13:10):
So, you mentioned that the camp who your friend who inspired you to go to Bryn Mawr went to together with you was Camp Woodmere?
Miriam Diamond (01:13:18):
Camp Woodmere, it was in New York State. And I ended up going there for four years, and I became a counselor there, too. Prior to that, I had gone to coed camps, and I was not happy at the camps. They were into having socials, and I was very young. I was 10 years old. And my mother also, was very displeased with those camps. So, when she heard about Woodmere, she was quite interested. And I loved it from the beginning. We were girls, the girls were just wonderful. And the purpose was to do things there, not to look at boys. So, there were a lot of games. There was tennis. And I was not very good at these things, but I enjoyed the time there. It was kind of a rustic place, it was not fancy at all. And as I say, there was a woman there whom I really admired, and she went to Bryn Mawr. And that was the impetus to me. And also, my mother was certainly pushing for it. I mean, if I had chosen something else that would have been okay, I guess. But she was very pleased when I went to Bryn Mawr.
Caitlin Haskett (01:15:03):
How old were you when you went to Camp Woodmere?
Miriam Diamond (01:15:05):
I was, I guess I was 12. 12 through, I guess, 14. And then I came back as a counselor.
Caitlin Haskett (01:15:26):
During high school?
Miriam Diamond (01:15:26):
When I was 18 and 19, yeah.
Caitlin Haskett (01:15:26):
So, you only were at Woodmere for two years, or was it more summers than that?
Miriam Diamond (01:15:35):
You mean as--
Caitlin Haskett (01:15:35):
As a camper.
Miriam Diamond (01:15:35):
As a camper, I was there, I think, four years.
Caitlin Haskett (01:15:38):
Okay. So, that would have been 12 to 16, then?
Miriam Diamond (01:15:41):
Yeah, or, did I start earlier than that? 12, 13, 14, 15. 15.
Caitlin Haskett (01:15:51):
Miriam Diamond (01:15:52):
Yeah, that would be right. Yeah, then 16, I didn't do anything. And then I was a counselor there, yeah. I was 18 and 19.
Caitlin Haskett (01:16:04):
Yeah. Why did you decide to go back and be a counselor there?
Miriam Diamond (01:16:07):
Oh, I loved the place. I just thought it was a wonderful ... I was very happy there. And it was relatively, as I said, small, and was rustic. And I think being a woman was an important thing there. When I went to coed camps, it was what socials they were going to have, and this was all about women. And I guess that kind of took me to Bryn Mawr, too.
Caitlin Haskett (01:16:52):
Miriam Diamond (01:16:53):
Today, I think even if you're ... I'm not sure about this, but I would assume if you're in a coed something now, it's different for women that it was when I was a youngster. To be in a woman's environment was very good. Although in high school, I mean, I was president of the senior class, and there were 400 people. So, it wasn't that women got somewhere, they did there, too. But anyway.
Caitlin Haskett (01:17:42):
You mentioned that they had religious services at Camp Woodmere. What did you think of that?
Miriam Diamond (01:17:48):
It was okay. It was kind of simple. It was not an Orthodox kind of service at all, so it was fine. I mean, I don't think it was something I looked, it wasn't the thing I would pick to do. But it was okay.
Caitlin Haskett (01:18:21):
Were they indoors or outdoors?
Miriam Diamond (01:18:24):
Uh, we were indoors. Yeah.
Caitlin Haskett (01:18:27):
Caitlin Haskett (01:18:28):
What kinds of activities did you enjoy doing at camp?
Miriam Diamond (01:18:33):
Well, I liked the arts and crafts, because I was not a very good athlete. I did swim well. I enjoyed swimming. I swam quite well. And I think I did play tennis. But basketball, I wasn't so good at basketball and the running back. I wasn't so good at that. A number of the women were very, very athletic. But the atmosphere was really nice. And I think that part got me to Bryn Mawr, too.
Caitlin Haskett (01:19:27):
All right. Well, thank you for--
Miriam Diamond (01:19:29):
No, thank you. I enjoyed it. And how many de--
Miriam Diamond interviewed by Caitlin Haskett, June 26, 2019
Oral history interview of Miriam Diamond (née Forman), Bryn Mawr College Class of 1957, conducted by Bryn Mawr College Class of 2020 student Caitlin Haskett on June 26, 2019 at Diamond's home in Philadelphia.
Haskett, Caitlin (interviewer)
Diamond, Miriam Forman, 1935- (interviewee)
1 online resource (1 audio file (102 min.))
North and Central America--United States--Pennsylvania--Montgomery--Bryn Mawr
North and Central America--United States--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia--Philadelphia
Jewish Mawrters Oral History Collection--http://archives.tricolib.brynmawr.edu/resources/bmc-rg12-ohj