Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Louis Goodstein, or “Louis from St. Louis,” as he would say. He took on the nickname while stationed at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri for basic training. He would often venture into St. Louis during leaves.
Goodstein, originally from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, is a China, Burma, India Veteran of WWII. He now resides at the Jewish Home and Care Center in Milwaukee, where he can often be found sharing his war stories.
In addition to serving our country in WWII, Goodstein also served fellow veterans as a volunteer at the Milwaukee Soldiers Home. He recalls going to an informational meeting in 1950 to learn more about volunteering.
“I didn’t want to volunteer in the beginning,” said Goodstein referencing the fact that he had a young child at the time. He was persuaded otherwise by Dr. Paul Guten, who was serving as national hospitalization officer of the Jewish veterans organization.
“Dr. Paul Guten came to me personally and we had a chat, one to one,” said Goodstein. “The upshot was that he won and I became a volunteer.”
Though it took some urging in the beginning, Goodstein came to love volunteering at the Soldiers Home.
“The first place that we did our volunteering was called Old Main,” said Goodstein. He also remembered serving at the Old Hospital, near the cemetery.
He recalled playing cards and reading to vets. He also started bingo for the veterans, using canteen books as prizes. Goodstein came to love the veterans that he worked with, comparing the relationship to one between a father and son.
“I loved that place,” remembered Goodstein. “If I were able, I’d like to go through there again.”
He remembered the majesty of Old Main, where he spent most of his time in the community hall, calling bingo.
“Everybody got along together,” he recalled. “It was a really great place.”
After almost 60 years as a volunteer, Goodstein has many stories to tell and experiences to share. We share his desire to get back into those buildings, where so many memories were made, so that they can once again serve veterans. Serving veterans is what Goodstein is all about and he is proud to have been able to serve at the Milwaukee Soldiers Home.