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February 03, 1989 - Image 77

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-02-03

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"My father had a certain code of
ethics he taught us, that to be a
mentsh you do the right thing, even
though others won't reciprocate."
For his part, Louis Kay does mitz-
vot because "I like to do it. I do it of
my own will, and I am happy to help
people. I still remember what it was
like for me" in the Holocaust.

Continued from Page 75

always in his home in the south cen-
tral Polish village of Wloszczowa —
and how his parents sent him out to
deliver food to the less fortunate
before he ate supper.
He also remembers Yom Kippur
1942. The Nazis took his family — his
parents, Moishe and Ruchel, six
brothers and two sisters, plus his
uncles, aunts and numerous cousins
— as well as the 800 other Jewish
families in town and murdered them
at Treblinka.
But the then-17-year-old Lejbus
Kreps didn't know that. The strong,
Young Kreps was being moved to six
different concentration camps —
Skarzysko, Czestochowa, Buchen-
wald, Nordhausen, Dora and Hart-
zungen — and forced by the Nazis to
Lovette Milkinn, Louis Kay and Linton Bartley.
make ammunition. "I was making
the bullets that killed my own peo- handle most anything."
Kay was
ple," he says.
struggling to learn English when
The Nazis beat him for feeding his Gladys Silverman met him in 1952.
bread to the birds.
He was sitting on a blanket at
Toward the end of the Holocaust, Metropolitan Beach, studying the
he was befriended by Irving Lipson, alphabet on a deck of cards, she
four years his senior, educated, able recalls.
"He was a nice, quiet guy who
to speak German. Kay says Lipson,
who eventually would live in Detroit_ wanted to be married that day,"
36 years before moving to Las Vegas, Gladys says. They wed in 1953.
saved his life by persuading him to
Eventually Kay, beginning from a
flee the Nordhausen concentration $10-a-month storage garage, was
camp to avoid being shot by the Nazis working from 5 a.m. to midnight and
as the Allies were closing in.
had 40-50 small soda bottle and syrup
Kay returned to Wloszczowa to
accounts stretching from Detroit to
search for his family, but only some Lansing.
photos saved by a Gentile neighbor
On the road, he met Dave Rubin,
a tractor-trailer driver hauling scrap
Until 1949, Kay bought and sold to Lansing. "We'd stop in a coffee shop
gold jewelry, the money paying the and talk. To know him was to have a
hospital bills of Holocaust survivors. real close friend," says Rubin."He was
"He'd give you the shirt off his so goodhearted, it was nothing for
back; he's that type of person," says him to give somebody a buck or two
Max Guthart, a fellow survivor who to get something to eat with. He's
met Kay in Detroit in 1949. "He real- helped many, many strangers?' Even
ly didn't have that much, but whether the birds "were like persons to him."
he had it or didn't, it didn't matter. If
Today, Kay has 12 birdfeeders in
he has a dollar bill, he'll give you his his West Bloomfield backyard and
last dollar."
buys 500 pounds of birdseed every six
Adds son Victor Allan, "My father
looks at strangers as if they were
His company, LKE, Inc., has four
friends, and looks at family as if buildings in Detroit, doing business
with the major bottlers — Pepsi, Coca-
they were himself. He makes no
Cola and Seven-Up.
Taking Guthart's advice in 1951,
Lovette Milkinn has been with for
Kay quit the General Motors Fleet-
Kay 20 years. "He's wonderful:'
wood Plant automobile assembly line, LKE's operations manager says. "He
bought a truck and became a junk
sticks by me and I couldn't ask for
anyone better:'
peddler in Detroit's alleys.
"I knew he was very hardworking
Milkinn said her boss admits be-
ing wrong when he is, listens to his
and that he liked that work:' says
employees, goes with them to help
Guthart. 'Louie was strong; he could



Continued from Page 73

resolve problems that may hinder
their work, and is someone for whom
employees will work whenever they're
Other LKE veterans include Tony
Lee Jackson and Linton Bartley.
"He's been like a father to me,"
says Jackson. "I can talk to him. He
gave me a chance when I needed a job
and he's been behind me all the way.
He understands and he'll do the work
as hard as I do. He'll show you
something can be done, and he doesn't
mind getting dirty."
Adds Bartley: "He's one of the
best I've ever worked for. I enjoy work-
ing for him. He helped me out with
my mother's funeral, told me to take
my time to come back, that my job
would be here.
"Because of that, we get the job
done. If he wants it done, we're gonna
do it. You can't say no to him; you
can't turn him down because he will
do too much for you. Sometimes on
the weekends, I'll drive by just to see
if the building's OK?'
During the 1967 riots, LKE
employees protected the building by
putting "Soul Brother" signs in the
windows and standing watch. The
rioters burned down the buildings
around LKE's Chene Street facility,
but didn't harm it.
Victor says his father taught the
children compassion for people who
work hard but still don't make it to
the top. He also remembers how, even
though Kay was having trouble mak-
ing mortgage payments in the early
years, he sent shalach manot baskets
to fellow Polish refugees in Israel.

was a mystery, I think"; she doesn't
remember the details — with a stylus
on a wooden slate. In the middle of the
project she got a Braille machine, but
Isackson was determined to finish her
manuscript the way she started it —
by hand.
The Braille machine was a gift
from her family. It's a good one, she
says. It's electric, and that makes for
easier work.
The machine rests on a small
table in a back room in Isackson's
Oak Park home. It has seven keys —
one for spacing and three on each
side, all smooth and slightly curved
like a duck's bill. Letters are made by
typing a series of keys. Press down on
two and get a "d"; hit another two and
make "1."
It's as complicated as it sounds,
but Isackson's fingers move quickly,
gracefully over the keys. It gets easier
with practice, she says.
Isackson can complete a page in
about 15 minutes. Usually this is
done at her leisure, but there are
She remembers once working on
a book a young student needed im-
mediately for class. She quickly set
the pages into Braille, giving the stu-
dent the book chapter by chapter.
Like the machine, paper onto
which Braille is set must be special
ordered. It is paid for by the Beth
Shalom Sisterhood.
Another sisterhood — that of Tem-
ple Beth El — pays for the binding of
the Brailled sheets through the Sis-
terhood Braille Fund. The temple is
home to a bindery, where Brailled
books are compiled and sent though-
out the world.
For all her years working as a
transcriber, Isackson says she has
never tired of Braille.
"Oh, I don't find it boring," she
says. "My biggest problem is when
the book is too interesting! I'm doing
a children's book right now and I ad-
mit I just couldn't wait. I went right
to the back to see what happens."



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