Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Fred Ferber - September 11 & 25, 2001

Education in America

Okay. Now, now let me take you back. Now you're in San Francisco and you went to college in San Francisco.


How long and what did you study?

I studied electric engineering at that time. Eh, because I started in Germany really. There was a Technische Schule, a technical school. So I studied really two summer sessions and I believe it was uh, in two or three semesters I believe. I believe two or three semesters and two summer sessions, I know that. 'Cause I, I would--this, the, the, that 1948 summer session uh--let me think for a moment--and 1949 summer session, right.

And then what?

Then I found out that my mother is coming to the United States. My mother came to the United States with his brother and her brother's wife who had family here. She had a family here and so they all emigrated to Detroit. Fortunate to get to the United States. And eh, she was with the brother. I, I made the stupid mistake of leaving Homewood Terrace and coming to my eh, coming to my mother. Nobody knew it was my mother still eh, and, and coming to eh, to Detroit. At the Homewood Terrace I had everything going for me. I was going to City College of San Fran...I could, I would have gone later on to Berkeley or one of the other schools because City College was on a parallel courses the first two years with Berkeley and some other schools, eh. I had food, I had clothing. Eh, I also, which I didn't mention before eh, they have in San Francisco, in, in the Homewood Terrace they had once a year a selection of the best boy and the best girl, supposedly, of the, of Homewood Terrace. And usually eh, the children there had to be six or seven years, stay with the Homewood Terrace before they grew to the position eh, whether they were eh, becoming eh, got the honors of being, the, the, the main one, the, the good one for the year or the special one. Anyhow, I, I was honored because during my--while I was there eh, this particular year there was one girl selected, eh. And this was the only year there was two fellows selected for getting the honor of being the special fellow of the year. It was another fellow and myself. So I also had the honor of being eh, the special fellow of the year, eh. I was very much liked there. I want to return this back for one moment. Mrs. Strauss was very hard to live with, but she taught us so much, she taught us how to eat properly, the etiquette and she was really disliked by, by most. But whoever gradua...went from, from Homewood Terrace, from the Cottage 21 was really eh, did the best later on in life because she was extremely, with all the hardness and eh, eh, what she expected from us, she taught us the most. And she was also a complainer. One day I remember I went to Mr. Bonaparte and said, "Mr. Bonaparte, what am I doing wrong? I know Mrs. Strauss is, I'm this, I'm not doing right in this, I'm not doing right and she's so angry at me." And Mr. Bonaparte said to me, "Fred, you're the most wonderful fellow around. No one like it. There's nothing that you're doing wrong." So I said Mr. Bonaparte, "I know you're always saying wonderful things, but lay it to me, tell me the fact that they are and I'll try to change it." He kept saying how wonderful I am and eh, how, how that he, that I know how Mrs. Strauss how she is and she expects perfection that she cares for me and she did. Anyhow, just expressed a little story about Mr. Bonaparte who always preached the, the good things. And I was, how fortunate I was to be in Cottage 21. And anyhow, I decided to go and to Detroit and they send me to Detroit, they paid for my trip. And mistake it was, even though my life was wonderful, at that time it was a stupid mistake. Because I come to Detroit, no money eh, winter is coming, no place to live. It was a whole new ball game. Eh, Wayne University, very costly. I had to go through all different tests. They eh, a lot of my credits they wouldn't, they wouldn't give me all the credits. Whole new ball game. And you had to look for a job. I came from, from a place where I had everything in the world. I came to Detroit where I -- of course my mother was here, that was, that was the most beautiful thing. For a certain length of time I, I lived in a room with some other people, I remember. They used to uh, uh, they used to help me, no, they used to help me right, they gave me fifteen dollars a week at that time for food, clothing, and living and, and that was, that went directly to the people who uh, who uh, who eh, with whom I stayed. I don't remember it was a week or a month even then .

Who gave you the money?


Jewish Family Service?

The Jewish Family Service. One, one of these people, right.

Uh, when you were in San Francisco did you have any Jewish friends? You had these two...

The Ho...Homewood Terrace was Jewish. The Homewood Terrace was a Jewish institution.

Okay. And what about at the College?

At the college I have, most of the friends at that time were from eh, eh, from Homewood Terrace. There was enough to choose from, you know. Eh, there, there was no reason for me to go outside. We did go to different temples on Saturdays sometime and I remember I had, I've gotten to know some people there. But the closest friends were truly in eh, in Homewood Terrace.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn