This oral history interview with Elise F. Wendel was conducted by Rick Harmon in Portland, Oregon, from January 30 to February 27, 1985. The interview was conducted in five sessions.
In the first interview session, conducted on January 30, 1985, Wendel discusses her family background and early life in Southwest Portland, in the area that later became the Park Blocks. She talks about the people in her neighborhood and how the neighborhood changed during the time she lived there. She describes her childhood home at length. She talks about her experience growing up as a Jewish person in Portland, her recreational activities, and a family trip to Europe just before the outbreak of World War I. She also briefly shares her memories of civilian life during World War I and of the 1918 flu epidemic. She discusses her education, including attending Catlin Gabel School and studying in Paris, France.
In the second interview session, conducted on February 6, 1985, Wendel continues discussing her education, including attending Catlin Gabel School and studying in Paris, France, and attending a finishing school in New York. She talks about her father, I.N. Fleischner, and his department store, Fleischner, Mayer & Co. She then talks about her experiences at Wellesley College. She speaks about her marriage to Harold Fox Wendel and talks about his early life.
In the third interview session, conducted on February 13, 1985, Wendel continues discussing her marriage to Harold F. Wendel and his early life. She talks about Harold F. Wendel's career as president of the Lipman & Wolfe department store, including competition with Meier & Frank, changes he made to the business, and his management of his employees. She compares the managerial styles of I.N. Fleischner and Harold F. Wendel; talks about how the Depression affected Lipman & Wolfe; and discusses Harold F. Wendel's involvement with the Oregon State Sanitary Authority and other civic organizations.
In the fourth interview session, conducted on February 20, 1985, Wendel continues discussing her marriage to Harold F. Wendel, including the house they lived in and raising a family. She talks about her involvement with the Council of Jewish Women, the Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood, and the League of Women Voters. She also briefly discusses her involvement in civil defense activities during World War II. She speaks at length about her involvement with the Girl Scouts, including securing property for a summer camp.
In the fifth and final interview session, conducted on February 27, 1985, Wendel continues discussing her involvement with the Girl Scouts, discusses some of the events she helped organize for the group, and talks about some of the ways the organization has changed. She closes the interview by discussing her other volunteer activities.
Wendel, Elise F. (Elise Fleischner), 1905-1986