Sam Fox

Story was recorded at the Covenant House on May 20, 2008, by Michael Naclerio.

My father moved here from Russia when we was only 17 years old, and then he brought my mother and her family over when he had raised enough money to pay for their trip. They started raising me and my brothers and sisters, but when I was 7 years old, my mother died. My father remarried, and my step-mother wanted us all to learn how to play a musical instrument. I learned how to play the violin, and my younger sister loved to sing. She moved out to California where she once had the pleasure of singing for then Senator, Harry Truman. At age 15, I dropped out of Soldan High School to work in the clothing factory as a bookkeeper. I used to work 6 1/2 days per week for $10. 

When the war started, I joined the Army and ended up as a clerk in Fresno, California. When the War was about to end, they needed some clerks in Europe to help bring American equipment back to the States. I started flying to Europe from Fresno, but I couldn’t handle the flight. I had the air crew let me off in Big Springs, Texas. I was sure I was going to be court marshalled, but the War ended, so the Army had bigger things to worry about.

In the Army, I made a lot of friends. I made an Irish friend who started calling me “O’Brian.” The whole camp started calling me O’Brian. When the officers would pass out checks, you had to wait for your name to be called. The officer went through the entire list and then looked at me and said, “What is your name anyway?” So I had a lot of friends in the army, both gentiles and Jews.

After leaving the Army and working different jobs for a few years, I wound up keeping books at a radio station. I worked there for 7 years, and in that time, I helped on the Arch. We put the background music in the Arch, and I delivered the material to the men. They were exciting times.

Now, I’m 94 years old, and I still call bingo for the Jewish War Veterans Association. I also continue to bowl. My doctor put a pacemaker on my heart, and I wanted to give up the sport, but he said to me, “You bowl until you die!” In the upcoming Senior Olympics, I will be the oldest contestant.

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