Ken Jacobson

Ken was born in 1930 and grew up in Waterville, Maine. Ken was interviewed by Katie Peterson.

Ken Jacobson: I used to go to the rabbi five times a week and I became the world’s fastest writer. You know, I learned how to write Yiddish and I learned how to read Hebrew. I never knew what any of it meant. And I could do it so fast that you couldn’t believe it. And I did his correspondence and everything else and I never knew what I was writing. [laughs] Which is really pretty crazy but I can still do it, actually. And I still don’t know what it means. [laughs]

Katie Peterson: How long did you go to Hebrew school five times a week?

KJ: Well, it wasn’t really Hebrew school. It was me and the rabbi. There was no Hebrew school. And I went five times a week and hated it. [laughs] I just hated it. And there were a couple of other kids going who were smarter than I was—they used to set the clock ahead. He had a clock right on the table and as soon as he’d go out of the room they’d set the clock ahead and so he wouldn’t have to be there for the whole half-hour. Nobody liked it much. [laughs] But anyway, I went.

KJ: The Hillsons weren’t as involved in the Jewish community as other people. I always envied Bobby Hillson, who was the son. He was just a little bit younger than me. He was one of my sister’s ages. Because he used to go to Mr. Hains and for months he didn’t go and his family thought he was going. [laughs] And I always thought: “Wow! That kid has guts! I would love to do that!”

KP: Was he the kid who put the clock ahead too?

KJ: Oh, we all put the clock ahead. [laughs]

KP: Oh man…

KJ: After the years I went to Mr. Hains, and actually my sister went too. My older sister. They started a Hebrew School on Sundays which my two younger sisters went to. And it was originally at the synagogue—I don’t remember if they had it at the synagogue or not. It was a fairly basic. But it was a Hebrew School, and nobody learned Hebrew of course, but they learned kind of cultural stuff and Jewish history and stuff like that. Not that it quite stuck with everybody.