The Only Jewish Family in Town:
In Rural Ohio
WHEN my husband accepted a position as an associate profes- sor of sociology at Rufus College, we moved to Foxton, Ohio, with our sons, David, five, and Allen, four. For three years, from September 1956 to August 1959, we were to live in one of the few remaining places in the United States with a genuinely rural culture. Already the growth of cross-country highways threatened the area and, inevitably, commercial developers will sound the knell of Foxton as we knew it. This is a report of what it was like to be the only Jewish family in town.
Rufus College isn’t listed in any directory under that name, but it is real-one of eighteen hundred colleges in the United States. Rufus was a hundred and five years old and had been accredited eight years when we came; it was then independent, though it had begun as a church-related institution and there were still occasional skirmishes over policy with trustees accustomed to the old ways. Most of the students at Rufus came from rural workingmen’s families, or from small farms-the children of the well-to-do farmers in the area or of Foxton’s business and professional people went to the state university. The usual sociological investigations of student bodies have scarcely ever reached into obscure little colleges like Rufus. There we found the “unknowns”-including a handful of Jewish students far away from anything resembling a familiar home environment.
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