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History and the People Who Make It: Norman Markel

transcript edited by pierce butler

This is the eighth in a continuing series of transcript excerpts from the collection of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida.

Former United Faculty of Florida leader Dr. Norman Markel was interviewed by UF emeritus history professor Robert Zieger [Z] on April 20, 2009.

I was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1929. My father drove a laundry truck, for 35 years. He was involved in organizing the Teamsters Union in Detroit. The other thing that was important in my upbringing was being raised in what was more or less a Jewish ghetto in Detroit. I remember meetings in our house with the kitchen door closed and cigar smoke coming out from under the door.

I went to public school. I had one semester in Wayne [State U] when I graduated and then I went off to be an organizer for the Zionist Youth Movement.
I organized from 1948 to 1949. I was sent to welding school in Cleveland, Ohio.

We bought a surplus army jeep with a welding machine, and we took that to Israel. All the time I was in Israel, two years, I was a welder. And when I came back [I] lucked out in that there were plenty of jobs. We are talking about 1952 now, and I started to work at Budd Wheel in Detroit, welding.

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