Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Dr. Alfred V. Sloan, Jr., on July 6, 2005, in New York City, New York State, with Shaun Illingworth and ...
Peter Asch: ... Peter Asch.
SI: Dr. Sloan, thank you very much for having us here today.
Alfred Sloan, Jr.: A pleasure to have you with me. ...
PA: When and where were you born?
AS: I was born in New York, right here in this very county, Manhattan, New York County or Manhattan. I was born on Christmas Eve, 1921, at Sloane Hospital [for Women], if you must know, [laughter] which was the "lying-in" [obstetrics and gynecology] division, I think, of Columbia-Presbyterian [Medical Center].
SI: Can you tell us a little bit about your father, who was also named Alfred Sloan, his background, what he did for a living?
AS: Yes, right. Dad, ... whose name also was Alfred, was born in 1890. He was a physician. He took his bachelor's degree in 1911 from CCNY [City College of New York] and his medical degree in 1916 from Columbia, the College of Physicians and Surgeons. He had just started his internship at Bellevue when World War I, ... not broke out, but when the United States entered World War I, in the Spring of 1917. ... He enlisted in the Medical Corps and spent the next, a bit more than two years, in the Army Medical Corps. He was sent over to France in 1918, as a battalion surgeon with the 81st Division. He served with, let me think, Evacuation Hospital Number Nine, if I have it correct, and saw action, of course, because an evacuation hospital is rather close on to where things are happening. [He] came back in 1919, in roughly the middle of the year, and married my mother, whom he knew from before the war, married her in the Autumn of 1919, and [had] a very happy marriage and produced two children. I had a younger brother, who, regretfully, was lost in the Second World War, with the 65th Infantry Division, the 260th Infantry [Regiment]. He was a medical corpsman and was lost just after the crossing of the Rhine, ... [on] April 20 or 21, 1945. ... That's a long story and a sad one, but Arthur was a first-rate soldier and went down with ... not only the Purple Heart but with the Bronze Star. As I say, I was born in the very end of 1921 and was educated here, in New York City, in the public schools. [I] was a graduate of a very first-rate high school, which is still a very selective high school today. It's called Townsend Harris High School, then located in Manhattan, now located on the campus of Queens College in Queens, and a very, very good, tough high school and more or less on the classic side. Everybody had to take Latin and a second language. ... I think the rule is the same today, although they've included Greek now, [laughter] if you prefer Greek to Latin. So, it was a fine, and remains a fine, classical high school, and one which has far more applicants than those they're able to admit to [it]. At any rate, I graduated the high school in 1937 and, by great good fortune, was admitted to Rutgers and entered with the Class of 1941, entered in September 1937. ... I remember arriving on campus and the first meeting of the freshman class, which would have been what we would now call during registration week. We were on campus about four or five days ahead of anyone else. We were assembled in Kirkpatrick Chapel. ... There were about four hundred of us, in round numbers. ... A member of the senior class--now, he may have been head of the Cap and Skull or head of Student Council or president of the senior class, I don't recall what now, but he was an important member of the class--addressed us and he said something to this order. He said, "You are going to graduate on the 175th birthday of Rutgers College and there are 174 classes ahead of you. Don't let them down." [laughter] I remember that one. So, I've tried since not to let them down, but [I] had a marvelously happy four years at Rutgers, and I just want to parenthesize for a moment and say this: ... originally, when I was about to graduate high school or [was] in my senior year, I had made application to three other schools, none of which were Rutgers. One was Columbia, one was Swarthmore and one was the University of Virginia. ... Other than Columbia, how those schools were chosen is not, at this point, terribly important, but my mother was absolutely certain that I would be admitted to Columbia. The reason was this. She says, "Your parents have three Columbia degrees between them." She had one, from Teacher's College, my father had two, a master of arts degree and ... his MD degree, doctor of medicine degree, and she says, "They'll never turn down anybody who's a passable student with ... three Columbia degrees among his two parents," and they turned me down. [laughter] It was a great blessing in disguise, because I'd have gotten by at Columbia. I'd have made it all right, I suspect, probably near the tail-end of the class. I was not a great student. I was an adequate, but not a great, student and the Columbia crowd's pretty sharp, but, by not going to Columbia, ... nor Swarthmore, which also rejected me, by the way--I still haven't heard from the University of Virginia, so, I don't know whether I was admitted or not. [laughter] I'm waiting every day. I look at the mail, but there's nothing from UVA. [It was] a great blessing in disguise, because, when I went to Rutgers College, it was the right school for the right boy at the right time and I was able to run with the pack. ... Even though I was young, and I was, unfortunately, terribly young when I went--when I entered, I was a little over fifteen-and-a-half--but it was the right school for me and I had four absolutely great years there. ... I've never forgotten it, and I've tried to be a good Rutgers man ever since. While I was there, I joined what was then, and, today, as far as I know, still is, an excellent fraternity, Sigma Alpha Mu. ... I took part, for three years, ... on the debating team, under Professor Reager and Professor (Potter?), and was with theTargum [the Rutgers University newspaper] for three years, picked up the Gold "R" from one or the other. I don't know which. They don't duplicate Gold "Rs," but [I] picked it up for one, because I had served each for three years. [I] played 150-pound football, as a freshman. I wasn't, I'm sure, good enough to have been a varsity man and [I] was a walk-on for the baseball team four years in a row, one year as a freshman, three years with the varsity, and I went 4-0, as they would say. I was a weak-hitting outfielder and nobody needs a weak-hitting outfielder on any baseball team. I'd played a sliver of it at high school. I was not a good player. I played a little bit more in the Army. I became a slightly better player [then], but, again, I'll use as an excuse [that] I was a little bit young and I was hitting my stride about the time I got out of Rutgers and into the service, and so forth. So, that's my excuse, at any rate, but, again, four splendid years, and I was very fortunate in that the four years were, let me say, four kind of normal years, in the sense [that] the country was not at war. World War II broke out ... at the beginning of my junior year, but the United States was not, at that point, involved. We did not go to war until roughly six months after I graduated. So, unlike the classes behind me, '42, '43, '45, and so forth, I had the good fortune of having four more or less normal years at Rutgers College. ... As I say, I've never forgotten them and I've tried to be a good Rutgers man since. I was president of the Rutgers Club of New York in the late '40s to the middle '50s. I was head of, ... we had a small organization called the Rutgers Quarterback Club, which functioned, again, at about that same time, from the late '40s on, with Friday night meetings at the New York AC [Athletic Club]. ... Art Matsu, one of the assistant coaches, used to come down and tell us a little bit about the previous week's game, the next day's game, and so forth. ... I was involved in that and had the pleasure, or privilege, of winning the Class of 1931 Cup in 1951, after I'd been out ten years. ... I must say that, whereas I haven't done my share, I've done the best I could to send good prospects to Rutgers. ... I've never sent a woman to Rutgers, yet, [laughter] but I have sent a number of fellows, one of whom, by the way, ... is a distant cousin of mine, Jim Kerewski who was a bandsman at Rutgers, a trumpeter, trombone or something. ... Now a PhD, Jim was Class of, if I recall correctly, the early '60s, '64 or '65, ... thereabouts. So, I try not to miss any reunions. I've been to the last three or four. Unfortunately, my classmates must be waiting for the seventy-fifth or the hundredth to show up again, because we had a good crowd at the sixtieth, but, since then, it's been pretty thin pickings, ... but I feel somebody has to carry the 1941 banner down College Avenue. ... As long as I can still make it, at 120 [steps] to the minute, [quick time cadence], ... I'll do it. [laughter] So, I've enjoyed that a great deal.
SI: I would like to mention that you have a beautiful mural of Queens Campus on your wall, which was painted by Ray Kindell.
AS: Ray Kindell, Professor Kindell.
SI: It depicts Old Queens, Kirkpatrick Chapel and a little bit of Geology Hall.
AS: Yes. You notice [that] he recognized that Geology Hall was not the most beautiful building in the State of New Jersey and, with artistic skill, he kind of painted it out. He fades it out there, toward the left, and you only see a sliver of it. I think what you're looking at is the washrooms or something, but you only see a sliver of it, but the focus, of course, is on Old Queens and Kirkpatrick Chapel, yes.
SI: We want to ask you many more questions about Rutgers, but, first, we would like to back up and ask you some more questions about your life before Rutgers.
SI: Could you tell us a little bit about your mother's background?
AS: Yes. Mother was born, also in Manhattan, in 1898, and Mother was the daughter of my maternal grandfather and grandmother. His name was Adolph Neurad and Adolph was a great guy, ... great personality, who was a beer distributor for a number of ... what, in those pre-Prohibition days, were the major beer brands around New York, owned a saloon on, I guess we'd call it the area around, just to the east of, NYU [New York University], Tenth Street, First Avenue, Second Avenue, that area, where Cooper Union is today. Well, it was then, also, and Mother was a very energetic character and probably more outgoing than my father. I always think of him as a guy with a good bedside manner, but Mother was really gung ho, extremely active. She was a graduate of--that is, a high school graduate--of Mount Saint Mary Academy in Newburgh, New York, and it's worth making a point right here. Our family is Jewish and has always been Jewish, and we've never intermarried or anything else. Indeed, my granddad had a pew in Central Synagogue, here in Manhattan, this fine, old synagogue. He's had a pew there--well, his name was on the benches until a few years ago, when the roof fell in--and had a pew there since the end of the nineteenth century. ... Yet, when it came time for Mother to go to high school, for some reason, he wanted Mother to get the best kind of education possible. So, he asked around to some of his friends in the saloon, or customers or friends or a local Congressman, I don't know who it was, or a priest. Somebody suggested this Dominican convent school up in Newburgh, which was really, if you must know, ... in those days, more of a finishing school for Catholic girls from Orange County and thereabouts whose parents kind of had pretensions for them. They were middle-class Catholic people who'd done moderately well and they were going to bring up the daughter to marry the right kind of a guy, at the right time, [laughter] and so, Mother went up there and it was interesting--she was immensely popular. Now, she told me once that they had about 160 or 170 students, from what we would call ... grade nine to twelve, you know, the high school years, and, of those 170 students, there were 168 Catholics, one Episcopalian and one Jew, you know, ... but she had a hell of a good time. ... She was a popular girl, a big girl, athletic girl, fun girl, and she ended up as class president and, later, became president of the alumni association of Mount Saint Mary. ... Today, it's a college, by the way, just for the record. It became a college some years ago and [there is] no longer a secondary school, ... and then, Mother went on from there to Teacher's College, Columbia. ... Lest you think I'm making a mistake about this, she got her bachelor's degree, bachelor of science, from Teacher's College in what we would call today nutrition. That was the area, cooking, nutrition, and so forth, because, in those days, Teacher's College gave a bachelor's degree. It does not any more. I think it ceased giving bachelor's degrees and went into the graduate degree only [business] in the middle 1920s, but Mother was Class of 1920 and actually graduated, because of the speed-up during World War I, in the Autumn of 1919, but she never accepted 1919 as her class. She said it made her look too old. So, she took 1920, [laughter] which was Mother's original class, and she, in effect, was a housewife. She taught very little, because, when Dad came out of the service and started his medical practice, he needed an office nurse and Mother became his office--you can't use the word nurse in an RN [registered nurse] sense--but, I mean, became his office assistant/secretary. He stuck her in a white uniform, [laughter] let her hold the patient's hand or something. ... Mother did a marvelously useful job in Dad's office and [was] obviously unpaid. That was the lot of a woman in the 1910s, the 1920s, and so forth. So, that is Mother's background and [she was a] great person. She lived in this--not in this apartment, but in this apartment house--until 1986 and she died in her eighty-ninth year. Dad had died much younger. He had had a coronary and died at the age of sixty-six or sixty-seven, but Mom was great, a good-looking woman, a very handsome woman and a great personality. Right in this apartment house, neighbors come up, and elevator men, and so forth, and say, "Oh, I remember your mother," and ... so forth, which is rather nice.
SI: It is very interesting that both of them were college-educated, particularly in their generation. That was very rare.
AS: Yes. It's unusual, it's unusual.
SI: Did they ever tell you any stories about their college years?
AS: A few, yes. Mother, when she was at Teacher's College, was desperate for an "A" in some subject and, in those days, an "A" was a tough grade. I mean, there was no grade inflation in 1917, '18, '19, you know, and so, she signed up for a physical ed. course. ... This particular phys. ed. course was swimming and Mother knew how to swim, but kept her mouth shut, [laughter] went through the hocus-pocus and, at the end, did brilliantly, you know, as you might expect, and she pulled her "A" down. She was very pleased with that, and she told me that story, you know, when I was a kid. She said, "There's always a way to get an 'A,' if you work at it a little bit." ... Dad's great recollection of college--well, not great recollection, I shouldn't say that, because he was a loyal CCNY and Columbia man all the way--but one of the stories he told me stuck with me. He said, when he was an undergraduate, one of the big features was intercollegiate debating and different colleges would, obviously, visit New York and would debate against CCNY, and he said the debates were almost a social event. They were held frequently on a Saturday night and he said, "You might not believe this," he says, "but the debaters themselves were in white tie and tails," and he mentioned that many of the audience, at least those that could afford it, came in what we would call today black tie, dinner jackets, tie. This is to a college debate, I mean, and on a Saturday night, and you'd bring a girl and it ... became a social event, the way, say, a basketball game might be today. ... So, he mentioned that and he was, of course, very active in his class. I went up to City College about seven or eight years ago and pulled out his yearbook, to see if I could find out any more about him that I didn't know, and I found out [that] he was the class representative to the athletic association. I never knew he had interests in that direction, but, apparently, he did, and chemistry society, obviously. ... He must have been a good student, because he was scholarship-ed into medical school, into Columbia, where he got his degree. ... He met a doctor that I'll tell you about when we get into some of the military stories, that this doctor, Joseph Haas, who was a contemporary of his, ... comes along much later in the story, and I'll tell it to you at the appropriate time.
SI: Did he ever tell you anything about his service overseas in World War I?
AS: A little bit, not a great deal. I know that, at the end of the war, he was stationed in Burgundy, France, in or near the City of Dijon, Dijon, Burgundy. ... He talked a little bit about life in Burgundy over the Winter of 1918-1919, which was a difficult winter, by the way, because that was the [time of the] flu epidemic, around the world, included not just France or ... what had been the battlefront, but all over the world, and so, the doctors were kept busy. He did one remarkable thing, though--not remarkable, but, I mean, unusual thing. He got a leave in April of 1919, about two months before he sailed for home. He got himself a nine or ten-day leave and, instead of running up to Paris, like most soldiers did at the time, he caught the [English] Channel boat and did a quick trip of the British Isles, and I say the British Isles--England and Scotland, essentially. ... He got himself an interview with a well-known medical man in Britain, Sir William Osler, who was then at the top of his form. In fact, it was a few years before he died, and he had the privilege of meeting Sir William Osler and talking, presumably, medicine for thirty minutes or so, and then, continued his trip up to Oxford and Stratford-[Upon-Avon], the usual trip that a person would take [their] first time in the British Isles, and it was interesting. He got all the way up to both Glasgow and Edinburgh and wrote a beautiful letter to his parents, of which I now have a copy just sitting a few yards away, from Glasgow itself, just before he returned to France, ... expressing what he had seen in England and Scotland and his interviews and the people, and so forth. It's a very good piece of personal literature. I'd be pleased to show it to you a little bit later, an interesting thing, and what is compelling about this was, he never got back to England ever again, to his dying day. He never returned to Europe, as it were. He came back to the United States, [had a] medical practice for forty-odd years. When he passed away, he had never gone back, but he took ... that one famous trip, ten, eight, ten or eleven, twelve days, whatever it was, and spent his furlough in the British Isles, which was a nice thing.
SI: You were able to compare notes later on.
AS: Sure. [laughter]
SI: Can you tell us about the section of the city where you grew up?
AS: Yes. I was born in my parents' [home]; ... well, I was born in a hospital, of course, but, I mean, I came [home to], as a kid, I lived in my parents' brownstone in the South-Central Bronx. Now, if you're familiar with the Bronx, it would be a section that was called West Farms. I don't know where the word West Farms came from, whether it was the western side of what had been farmland or whether it was [for] a guy named West who owned farms. I never traced how [it was named]. It's still called, I think, the West Farms Section of the Bronx. For the purists, it's where West Farms Road and Hoe Avenue come to--what is it?
SI: A "V?"
AS: Form a "V," as it were, and the house is right at that point. It was a house originally owned by my grandfather. ... When my dad came back from the service and married my mother, my granddad, Mr. Neurad, the one I was referring to, my maternal grandfather, gave the house to his two children. What happened was, my father's office was on the ground floor. Our family, Dad and Mother and Arthur and I, lived on the second floor and Mother's brother and his wife, who had also just married, the brother having just come out of the Navy, Milton Neurad, Milton and Elsie Neurad, lived on the third floor with their children. So, four kids were brought up together. The three of us, other than my brother, I'm happy to say, [are all still] alive today, and we see one another a great deal. ... The four kids were brought up together, as if we were sisters and brothers, because here we were, with the medical practice on the ground floor, the Sloan crowd on the second floor and the Neurad crowd on the third floor, but it was like we were all tumbled in there together. ... So, it was like having a brother and two sisters, and all pretty much the same ages. ... I'm the oldest and my cousin, (Roslyn?), the youngest, is a woman about four to five years younger than I am. So, you know, ... we were all about the same ages at the time, very interesting.
SI: Was West Farms more suburban then?
AS: Not quite suburban--more than it is today, of course. It was very much a middle-class district. I don't know what to compare it to today--maybe if I said Eastern Queens or so on, Forest Hills. It was the usual mixture of Irish and Jews and some Italian people, not as many, though, as Jews and Irish, ... and a handful of what we called German families, people of German and/or perhaps Austrian descent, I don't know, but, primarily, Jewish-Irish. ... Dad's clientele--that is, his patients--was a great mixture of the two. Most of his patients, at that time, were in the Bronx. One or two had moved north to Westchester County, but into communities like Mount Vernon and Yonkers, and he had some in Manhattan, because he was a Manhattan boy by birth. ... As far as I know, Dad never had patients in Brooklyn, Queens or Staten Island. ... We lived there until I was approximately not quite ten years old, eight or nine years old. Then, we moved to the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, where we lived from 1930--either '29 or '30, I have lost track of that one--until 1933, at which time we moved downtown. Downtown meant back to Manhattan, where Dad was born, where Mother was born. We moved to Manhattan in 1933, when I was roughly not quite twelve years old, and we moved to West 96th Street, if you're familiar with the West Side of Manhattan. We were between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, roughly halfway. Dad had his office in the ground floor of an apartment building and ... we lived on the twelfth floor of the apartment building and there it is, and that was my home when I went to Rutgers. I lived ... on West 96th Street, 7 West 96th Street. ... A very amusing thing happened, years and years and years later; the Registrar at Rutgers, you may have heard of Luther Martin, the great registrar who handled a [huge] job. [laughter] Well, when he retired, he had to be replaced by a staff of about twelve people and seventeen computers, but he knew everything. He did everything from admit you to record you to graduate you. ... I'd come back [to Rutgers], it was either for my twentieth or twenty-fifth reunion, and Luther [was] then retired, but was still going to reunions. He was Class, I think, of 1911 at Rutgers, [Rutgers College Class of 1909]. I walked up to Mr. Martin and, you know, I put my hand out. ... I said, "I don't know if you remember me, Mr. Martin," I says, "Alfred Sloan, Class of 1941," and this was in the '60s, as I say, "Class of 1941," and he shakes my hand. He says, "Tell me," he says, "does your mother still live on 96th Street?" [laughter] Now, you know, wow, wow, pulled that one out of nowhere--so, dear old Rutgers, you know, "Does your mother still live on [96th Street]?" you know, amazing, but, anyway, ... when I matriculated at Rutgers, I matriculated from West 96th Street in Manhattan. I'd just graduated [from] Townsend Harris High School.
SI: You mentioned earlier that Townsend Harris is a very exclusive school.
AS: Yes. You entered by examination. Today, it's by interview and record. They're not allowed to examine you, so, ... apparently, they take a look at your grade school grades, and so on, and they warn you, "You'll be doing Latin, another language and calculus. Are you ready?" [laughter] You know, that scares plenty of them away, you know--a great school.
SI: What did the examination consist of?
AS: Two things, basically, English and math, when you think about it, and I've never been terribly good at math, but it hit me in an area that I have been good at. It's what's called progressive numbers. You know, they say, "Two, four, six, and then, what are the next two numbers?" and you've got to say, "Eight and ten." ... For some reason, I can spot that, for whatever reason, and that was the major part of the math test. The English, I don't remember what it was, whether it was composition or fill in or, probably, word definition--not too far different than the SATs would be today--and these were given to eighth graders, of course, or to junior high school boys. Yes, it was an all-boys high school, at that time.
PA: Growing up in the 1930s, how did the Great Depression affect your family?
AS: Look, I was a doctor's son and, let's be blunt, ... everybody was touched by the Depression, but we were much less touched by it. People manage to get ill whether times are good or times are bad and see the doctor, and so forth, and Dad was a GP [general practitioner]. He was a family doctor. He said to me once, he said, "For every four dollars that I bill, I collect three." In other words, twenty-five percent of his bills just couldn't be paid, and this was probably not very uncommon among doctors and dentists during the Depression. ... For the record, by the way, I must say, his fees, by today's standards, were slightly unbelievable. He charged two dollars for an office visit and three bucks for a home visit, and he made plenty of home visits, between midnight and six in the morning, too, because he was devoted to his patients, and so on, but he still accumulated enough to send his son to Rutgers, so, there you are. ... So, I've got to be blunt about it when I say that, although everybody was affected by the Depression, it's like [how] everybody's affected by a war, but some families more than others. ... The families of doctors, dentists, maybe clergymen and a few others, didn't get hit quite so badly, although one became very conscious of not wasting money. ... For example, I recall, I was given an allowance of fifty cents a week when I was in high school, for a simple reason; ... forgive me, I was given an allowance of a dollar a week. ... It was twenty cents a day and the twenty cents was supposed to be so subdivided: ... in going to high school, I needed [to take] a subway and a crosstown trolley--the subway to 23rd Street and the crosstown trolley from Eighth Avenue to Lexington Avenue. Okay, so, the folks gave me a nickel, a nickel, a nickel and a nickel, twenty cents per day, a dollar a week. Now, I guess I didn't have to, but, except [for] in very bad weather, I always walked across 23rd Street. It took about twenty-odd minutes, twenty-five minutes, and the trolley would have taken six or seven, but I always walked. ... So, I was able to save half of my allowance and, in those days, if you saved it up for a couple of weeks, you had enough to get into the bleachers at the Polo Grounds, because it was fifty-five cents in those days, or the Yankee Stadium, you know. This was a different era, in terms of monetary value, for obvious reasons, and it's amusing. ... Just a couple of weeks ago, my son was invited by one of our professors at the college, at FIT [Fashion Institute of Technology], to a Yankee-Red Sox game. ... He sat in good seats, not great seats, but nice seats, under the overhang, in the lower deck. ... When he came back from the game, I said to Alf--he's Alfred III, so, I call him Alf, Alfie--I said to Alfie, I said, you know, "You enjoy the game?" "Yes," he says. I said, "Do you have any idea what it cost?" He said, "Wait a minute," he says, "I'll pull the ticket out," because he hadn't paid for it, of course, he was a guest, and the ticket was forty-five dollars. So, I said, "Hey, Alf," I said, "I used to sit in that same seat for a buck-ten," but everything [has gone through inflation], you know. My cousin, (Roslyn?), whom I referred to [earlier], ... just a week or two ago, went to see Julius Caesar, the play, with Denzel Washington. ... (Roslyn?) is a comfortable, comfortably [well]-off woman, I don't want to deny that, and she doesn't care what she spends, apparently, and I said, "Roslyn, what did your tickets [cost]?" because she has good seats, I think second row balcony, or something. I said, "What did your ticket cost?" and she says, "101 dollars and twenty-five cents." I says, "Wow." I said, "When I was a senior in high school," and, you see, I'm going back now, "when I was a senior in high school, I saw Maurice Evans in Richard II at that same theater for fifty-five cents," or sixty cents, fifty-five or sixty. "101 dollars and twenty-five [cents], wow, it's a different ballgame." Well, but, of course, you know, but think what a working man made during the Depression, I mean, when college graduates, ... college graduates, were happy to get jobs at twenty-two, twenty-three dollars a week, if they could find a job. ... Yes, everything is relative and you don't have to be a great economist to be aware of that.
SI: Do you remember how the Depression affected the rest of the city?
AS: Very much so, very much so. I remember, ... not a great memory, but a passing memory, of these "Hoovervilles" in Central Park and, also, on the far West Side, near Riverside Drive, between Riverside Drive and the river, where ... the Westside Highway is today. ... I remember seeing the shanties and the tents, and so forth, and, again, as I say, it didn't hit me so much personally, but I have great recollections of that. ... Of course, everybody was very conservative about what he spent. I mean, you had to be terribly, terribly careful. ... I will say this--my parents, coming from kind of a Germanic background, Dad's people were essentially Alsatian and Mother's were German, ... weren't spenders to begin with and, coming from a medical family, ... Mother always said, "Dear, don't be seen as a guy throwing any money around." She says, "You know, it doesn't do your father any good." Well, I got the message, but as anybody would tell you who had lived during the Depression, or during World War II, for that matter, it had a tremendous effect on society in general, and it wasn't just cheap prices. I mean, Lord knows, apartments were going for the begging. ... We just saw a small illustration of it.
SI: What did your family think of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal?
AS: To the best of my knowledge, Dad was apolitical. I mean, he could go either way. Now, I do recall that he did enroll as a Democrat, after World War I, ... but not as a vigorous one. When he came back from the service and opened his medical practice, he was visited by a gal, I think her name was (Sarah Murphy?), who was the local, what do they call them? ward healer, or something, ... for Tammany Hall, you know, for the Democratic Party. ... She says, "Doctor, are you a member of any party?" "No." "Would you be interested in becoming a member of the Democratic Party?" At first, Dad wasn't particularly interested, one way or another. Politics were not really down his line, and she says, "Look, Doctor," she says, "this is a Democratic town." She says, "You may need help some day, ... with a patient or with whatever, getting some assistance or so on." She said, "It's good to be on the list." So, he hooked in, became a registered Democrat. ... Sure enough, about, oh, I don't know when it was, ... he told me the story, it's amusing, five or six years later, this would have been in the middle '20s, five or six years later, he had a difficulty. He had a patient who was rather ill and he wanted to put the patient into Bronx Hospital, which was the municipal hospital nearest him, and [there was] no space, no room, no nothing. So, he remembered what (Sarah Murphy?) had said and he picked up a telephone and he called her. He said, "Is there anybody you know? Can you help me," and so forth, "get this patient into Bronx Hospital?" and she says, not these exact words, but the sense of the words was, "Doctor, I'll get back at you within an hour." ... Sure enough, Dad said, half an hour later, the phone rang. This was (Sarah Murphy?), "There's a bed at [the hospital]," you know, Tammany Hall at its best, I mean. ... So, he did take advantage of that. I do know that [there were] a number of Republicans that he voted for. He voted for Charlie Tuttle, who was, I think, in the late '20s, running, if I'm not mistaken, for Mayor against Jimmy Walker, [Mayor of New York City from 1926 to 1932]. I may be wrong about the office, Mayor or Governor--I think it was Mayor of New York City. [Editor's Note: Republican Charles H. Tuttle ran for Governor of New York in 1930 and was defeated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.] He voted for Fiorello La Guardia, [Mayor of New York City from 1934 to 1945], who, by the way, was a Republican, whether we know it or not, [laughter] but not a dominant one, but he was a Republican. ... I think he voted for Ken Keating for the United [States House of Representatives and/or Senate]. So, he was kind of apolitical. Mother was a little stronger a Democrat, because of her father, again, Adolph Neurad. Adolph Neurad, ... through his saloon and all that, was a friend of Boss [Charles F.] Murphy, the big Tammany Hall boss of, ... I call it Lower New York, Lower Manhattan, and so forth, and I guess one thing leads to another and there you are. ... Again, a medical family is not phenomenally [political]. As far as I know, they were very positive about Franklin Roosevelt, but so was the whole country, so was the whole country, you know, and [elected him] four times in a row. ... It's unusual, ... but, again, not vigorously so. I have no recollection of any of them doing anything dramatic, protest marches or any of that, none of that, ... part of it being, again, the doctor business. The medical business tends to, on the whole, stay away from politics. I guess I got more involved in it, then, because ...
-------------------------------------END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE ONE---------------------------------------
SI: You mentioned that your maternal grandfather was very involved with the Central Synagogue.
AS: Yes, that's Adolph Neurad, correct.
SI: Was your own family involved with the Central Synagogue?
AS: ... Yes, we are Reform Jews. [Editor's Note: Reform Judaism upholds modernized ideals that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be restructured to be more compatible with today's culture.] In fact--I'm trying to be precise about this--I am a fourth-generation, and my son a fifth-generation, Reform Jew on the paternal side, and I think a fourth-generation, one less generation, on the maternal side. One of my great-grandfathers, who, again, came from Alsace or the Alsace-Lorraine area, was a Reform Jew before he came to the United States. He was a Reform Jew over in Germany, because the movement started in Germany in roughly the 1820s or 1830s, shortly after the Napoleonic Period, and so, we've been [Reform for a long time]. ... As I say, the maternal side was Central Synagogue, the big synagogue on 55th Street and Lexington. My dad, my dad's family were members of Temple Israel, which is now located only a few blocks from here, 75th Street, near Park Avenue, also a well-known Reform synagogue, and then, about the time just before the Second World War, my mother had been a follower of the late, famous American rabbi, Stephen Wise, whom you may have heard of. ... He was the great Reform rabbi of the first half of the twentieth century and she was enamored of him. She started to follow him when she was a sophomore at college and whatever. ... Just before the Second World War, in the late '30s, as best as I can recall it, they both pulled away from their previous associations, one from Central Synagogue, one from Temple Israel, and joined the Free Synagogue, which was Stephen Wise's synagogue, and is now known today as the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, located at 68th Street in Manhattan, just off Central Park West, and a very, very well-known Reform synagogue. ... We, as I say, have been active Jews and, as I perhaps mentioned, there's [been] very few divorces in our family. I sound like a Southern Baptist to you, [laughter] ... I know, but, I mean, ... we have not married outside of the faith, except in two cases that I know of, and that's out of about, maybe, thirty close relatives. ... One marriage was a late-life marriage anyway, where there were certainly no children involved, ... but our extended family has included Methodists and Quakers and Roman Catholics and whatnot, but not what I would call, what's the word? nuclear family, the immediate family, not at all. ... We've all been synagogue members and, you know, God willing, I'll be buried in a synagogue plot, [laughter] ... but [I have been proud] all the way and made no bones about it. As a matter-of-fact, ... I don't want to jump ahead, but, when I was in the service, overseas, I was one of a small group that helped conduct Hebrew services on a Friday evening. The story is very quickly told. We had a divisional chaplain named Captain Klausner, K-L-A-U-S-N-E-R. I can't go beyond that. I don't know what his first name was, Captain Klausner, and Captain Klausner, who was the Jewish chaplain for the Second Air Division, could not be at all [laughter] the airbases at the same time. So, he had told us, when we got overseas, he says, "Look," he says, ... "I want you guys to run a Jewish service, if you possibly can," and he gave us prayer books, "every Friday evening," he says, "as long as the group is not on a mission or whatever." He says, "Try to run it every Friday evening--failing that," he says, "on a Saturday morning, but," he says, "aim for Friday evening." He says, "I'll only be here once every couple of months to lead the services, so," he says, "I'm going to establish a rotation [of] who will be in charge every Friday night." ... He started with Lieutenant Colonel Schwartz, who was the deputy group commander, and he went down to Major Klopfer, who was the intelligence officer, Captain Paul--he did it by rank--Captain Paul, who was a meteorological officer, and then, there was some lieutenant, whose name I've forgotten, and then, he got down to Sergeant Sloan, and there was one other guy, so that we, the six of us, seven of us, ... did it on a rotation. So, several of us said, "Gee, ... Captain, we're glad to do this, but we don't handle Hebrew too well." You know, ... I forgot all the Hebrew I ever knew from Sunday school, you know, forgot it all. [laughter] Klausner was very practical. He says, "Read it in English." [laughter] He says, "You can speak English, can't you?" [laughter] He said, "I give you my personal assurance, the Lord understands English." [laughter] So, you know, he was very hard-nosed, but very practical. So, I was one of the guys that focused predominantly on English, because I had long since forgotten the little Hebrew that I had picked up for my bar mitzvah, and so, ... you know, did it in English and felt good about it and was a rather very positive experience, but that's getting ahead of the story, slightly.
SI: Go ahead. Do not be afraid to move forward at any time.
AS: Well... [laughter]
PA: Was there enough for a minyan?
AS: Yes. ... That's an interesting question. The answer is yes, in most cases. We had, I think, to our knowledge, ... between eighteen and nineteen, twenty, Jews in the bomb group, which was four squadrons combined, ... of which about thirteen, twelve, thirteen, fourteen were pretty regular [at] showing up, because, you know, it might always be your last Friday night, so, you wanted to check in with the Lord before. [laughter] ... I remember this guy from Chicago, this other sergeant, who asked Captain Klausner, he said, "Rabbi," he said, "what if we don't have enough [men], if we can't get up ten men for a minyan?" You're supposed to have ten, you know, to organize a Jewish service. He says, "What if we can't get ten, because some of the guys are flying ... or could be on leave or whatever?" So, Klausner gave the great answer, [laughter] he says, "I'll take responsibility for this." He says, "In the European Theater of Operations, a minyan is two men." He says, "If you get two of you together, you pray." [laughter] ... He was clearly a Reform rabbi. [laughter] I can tell this clearly, you know. Somebody said he had been the, and I'm not sure of this point; ... what, not that chaplain's the word, the Jewish student group that's on every campus? ...
AS: Hillel, right. He had been the Hillel advisor at the University of Alabama. [Editor's Note: Hillel is the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.] Now, somebody said that to me, so, I mean, I ... don't know, possibly--never saw him after the war.
PA: I am sure he had just as much of a job getting a minyan in Alabama as well.
AS: Well, but he had a university there, you know. I mean, that may be a few thousand students, but this was a smaller tactical unit, ... but the guys showed up. The guys showed up pretty regularly each Friday, and it was a nice feeling, yes.
SI: Did you keep a kosher household when you were younger?
AS: No, no. We're Reform Jews, you know, no big problem. I'll give you another great story. ... I don't mind putting it on tape, but I wouldn't want it to get all around. [laughter] Just before the invasion, I was in Cambridge, Cambridge, England, at the Red Cross on Trumpington Street, and I grabbed, you know, not a hot dog, must have been what passed for a hamburger, and a cup of coffee, or something. ... I'm sitting down in the snack bar and the guy opposite me, I noticed, was a Jewish chaplain. I could tell by his collar insignia, you know, the Ten Commandments, which identified a Jewish chaplain. So, [he was] a fairly young guy--maybe he was thirty years old, I don't know--and we got talking and ... turned out he was from the Midwest. He'd gone to, I think, either Indiana U. or Purdue, I'm not sure, and then, had gone [on for rabbinical training]. I said, "Where did you do your rabbinical training?" and he said, "In Cincinnati." Well, the minute he said, "Cincinnati," I knew he was Reform, because Cincinnati ... is the Hebrew Union College. At that time, it was the only location and that was the Reform seminary. "Oh," I says, "that's nice," I said. We were having a good chat. He was a nice guy, very informal and pleasant, and so forth, and I said to him, I said, "Listen, ... answer for me a question." I said, "Because I'm a Reform Jew," I said, "if I ... want to have a ham sandwich-- and go up to the bar and order a ham sandwich-- is the world going to end?" So, he gave me this answer, and, again, I'm paraphrasing it, because I can't remember the exact words. He says, "Look," he says, "don't make a big fuss over this," he says, "because ... you're Reform, I'm Reform," he says, ... "and I don't want to lose my union card, but," he says, "frankly," he says, "the Lord has got bigger things to worry about than whether Sergeant Sloan eats a ham sandwich or not." He says, "You eat a ham sandwich, He really doesn't care," he says. "But," he said, "he'd be very, very upset if you did not share that ham sandwich with a hungry man," and I thought, "Hell, that was a great piece of philosophy," and I wish I knew this guy's name. I have no idea who he was. I just knew his rank, but I didn't know [his name], because he may have gone on and become one of our great postwar Reform rabbis somewhere, and he says, "Look, eat your ham sandwich, but share it with a guy who's hungry." ... I thought that was a wonderful, wonderful piece of [philosophy], that he was emphasizing the doing good to the next guy, rather than the formality of obeying whether the laws are kosher or not. So, it's an interesting experience. ...
SI: Do you have any questions before we move on to discuss Rutgers?
PA: I just have one last question.
PA: You are a junior and your son is a third. That is not a traditional Jewish custom.
AS: No, it isn't, but you catch a lot of this in Reform [families]. ... I say a lot of it--I don't mean a lot of it, [but] a fair amount of it--in among Reform Jews, and somebody told me that this was also, not a practice, but an accepted technique, among--come on, Spanish and Portuguese Jews. ...
AS: Sephardic Jews. [Editor's Note: Sephardic Jews are descended from Jews of the Iberian Peninsula.] Sephardic Jews will use the junior, whereas Ashkenazi Jews, as a rule, avoid it. Certainly, an Orthodox Jew wouldn't do it, [name a child for] a living person, ... but my mother called me junior because she was in love with my father and she loved him and here comes the baby, "He's junior." ... See, I skirted [the issue] neatly ... when Alfie was [born], Alfred, III. I said, "I didn't name him after me. We didn't name him after me. We named him after my father," who had died some years previously. I'm clean. [laughter] You can get around it. ...
SI: You mentioned that you were very young when you went to Rutgers.
AS: Yes, fifteen-and-a-half.
SI: Was there a reason? Did you skip a grade?
AS: Yes, I did. ... I'll try to be as precise as I can. Number one, my parents got me into either kindergarten or first grade, and I think it was kindergarten, slightly earlier than I should have. I had missed a cutoff date, was going to wait until next September, and Dad and Mother must have gone to the principal. They took me. Okay, so, there was probably a savings of seven or eight months there. Then, I was skipped a grade, either the second half of the second year, you know, 2B, as they called it, or 3A, I don't know. In the second or third year, I skipped a grade, and then, the third thing was, when I went to Townsend Harris High School, I neglected to mention this earlier, it is, it was, a three-year high school, one of the very, very few, where you did four years' work in three--oh, and then, one other thing. In the junior high school rapid advance sections, you did three years in either two or two-and-a-half, I'm not sure. So, a pick-up here and a half a year here and a half a year here and a year at Townsend Harris and you add them up, ... I should have been, you know, seventeen-and-a-half, eighteen when I graduated. That accounted for my being young--not any kind of brilliance. I don't want to suggest that I was any kind of a brilliant student. ... At high school, I was about the center of a good high school--now, I mean, a tough high school, a good high school. ... I was about the center and I could see why Columbia says, "Hell, this kid is too young. We have, demographically, good Lord, ... enough New York kids already," and, when they rejected me, they rejected me in rather a nice way. They said, "Let him try again next year," you know. [laughter] My mother never got over it. She says, "What?" you know, [laughter] but Dad took it lightly. It wasn't the end of the world, and then, that's when he started to look around and Rutgers came up, and would you like to know how we happened to [come upon Rutgers]?
AS: ... Because we were New York people, not New Jersey. We had no people, no family, at Rutgers, prior to myself. Dad asked, started to ask, around ... about colleges for his son, who was fairly close to graduating Townsend Harris High School. One guy came through, a fellow named Frederic P. Alden; Frederic Alden, I'm not sure about the "P." [Editor's Note: Frederic Alden's middle initial was "A."] ... Alden was the headmaster of the Columbia Grammar School in New York here, a rather prestigious prep school, to which my younger brother was a student. I was not. I was in the public high school at Townsend Harris, but he asked Mr. Alden anyway and he said, ... "You know the older boy a little bit and this is the kind of work he's capable of. He's about the middle of a Townsend Harris class and here are his Regents grades. What do you think?" and Mr. Alden said, "Look into Rutgers," and it was the first time Dad had heard of it. Then, Dad did a fairly gutsy thing. He put a call through to John Huston Finley. [Editor's Note: John H. Finley was President of the City College of New York from 1903 until he was appointed Commissioner of Education of the State of New York in 1913. He joined The New York Times as an associate editor in 1921 and became the editor-in-chief in 1937.] John H. Finley was then the editor of The New York Times, but Finley had been his college president, back in 1907 to 1911. When Dad had gone to college, he had been the President of CCNY and Dad didn't know him, but [he asked] on the grounds that, "Well, you were my president. May I, you know, ask a favor of you?" So, he typed a letter, sent it off to Finley and said, "Would you be willing to spend fifteen minutes with my son, speak to him ... and suggest an appropriate college, and so forth?" ... To make a long story short, Finley said, "Yes," he would, he says, "if he gets down here on a Saturday morning, at," I don't know, "eight-forty-five sharp," and I go into this office, you know, all alone. I'm a kid and I walk into John H. Finley's office, and behind him is the flag that Captain [Robert E.] Peary carried over the North Pole and a signed photograph of Woodrow Wilson. I'm looking, [laughter] and he asked me a few very simple questions. He says, "What do you most dislike about high school?" [laughter] and I told him [about] a couple of courses that I was having problems with, and [he asked], "What's the last book you read?" and, "What's your interests?" and he asked me three, four, five questions. ... He was very polite, and I didn't know what else [to do]--I just answered them as honestly as I could. ... He knew I had gone to Townsend Harris, because my father had given him my general demographics, and so on. So, [he] picked up the phone, telephoned my father. He said, "Send the boy to Rutgers." [laughter] He says, "I think it'd be the right school for [him]." He knew that, you know, this was not a brilliant child or anything, but a decent kid. I was a Boy Scout and the usual thing and played a little baseball. ... He asked me, "What was the last book I had read?" and I figured, "I can't fake this guy. I mean, he's too important and too smart." [laughter] ... The funny thing was, the last book I had read in the Townsend Harris Library, actually, you know, for pleasure, was Walter Camp's book on football. [Editor's Note: Walter Camp, a nineteenth century American football player, was known as the "Father of American Football."] Walter Camp had written a book back in 1925, I think it was, but it was in the library and I pulled it out and I read it. I liked it, and I told it to him. ... He lined me up--he and Frederic Alden lined me up--for the right college and bang, bang, bang. ... One fine day in April, Dad and I drove down there and it happened to be prep school weekend, but we didn't know that, and so, people were around. ... We walked into Old Queens and got up to the second floor and there was Luther Martin. He was at work on a Saturday morning and we met Luther Martin. ... He and Dad talked and it turned out they were both members of the Masonic fraternity and they both, I think, served in the First [World] War or something, whatever, [became] great friends, [laughter] and talked for about an hour or so, and with Dad, with me--Dad was in the room. ... When it was over, Mr. Martin said, "I would advise the boy to put in an application." Well, that was the answer, you know. Welcoming an application from Luther Martin was tantamount, as they say, to getting in, and I did and bang, bang, bang, and there it was. ... I remember, Dad and I walked around the campus, alone, after we'd spoken to Mr. Martin, had a bite of lunch in the old Winants Hall, and then, walked around the campus alone. ... We walked up College Avenue and Dad stopped a student, I think, and said, "Which one is the Deke [Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity] house?" and Dad had a way, apparently, of judging colleges or universities by the DKE house. He looked at it at this school, this school, this school, and the Dekes had had, I don't think they have it anymore, but they had a very nice house, not far from Ford Hall.
PA: I believe they still have it.
AS: They may still have it. I'm not [sure]. It was DU [Delta Upsilon] that doesn't have it anymore, but whatever. The Dekes have [one of] the nicer ones, a red brick job. It was a little neater then than it is now, nice, white windows, and he figured this was a good [school]. We walked on to the Quad and we were in front of, I don't know, Hegeman or Leupp or one of the Quad dormitories at the time, and Dad happened to stop another student. He said, "Would it be all right if we went in?" and the fellow was very nice, very polite, very courteous, and this impressed my father. ... He says, "Sure," he says, "come on in," he says. "I'll show you my room, if you'd like to see it," and [he] opened the door. Dad must have said, "A nice class of lads here," [laughter] you know, and bang, bang, bang. The next thing you know, Monday morning, I wrote out an application for Rutgers and, a month or two later, I got the admit and never was happier.
SI: When you came to Rutgers, was that your first time away from home?
AS: Answer's really no, forgetting a couple of years at summer camp. The summer between junior and senior year at high school, this would have been the Summer of 1936, I went on a rather lengthy motor trip with four other guys--there were actually six of us all together, but one guy was the leader--of the Far West and the national parks, and so forth. There were two guys from Rome, New York, two guys from Utica, New York, and two guys from Manhattan, and the fellow who led the trip, a fellow named John Guyton, was, at that time, the branch secretary of the YMCA [Young Men's Christian Association] in Brooklyn, the Flatbush YMCA. ... He led a trip, you know, basically of high school seniors, kids, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen years old, one boy was a freshman at Hamilton College, and so forth, led us on a trip of the West. We did a lot of climbing in the national parks. So, at that point, I was away from home [for] maybe the short side of a couple of months. It was a good summer, and then, the summer before I entered Rutgers, the Summer ... of '37, Dad sent--Dad and Mother sent--me on a youth hostel trip to England and France.
AS: Where we sailed out of Hoboken with our bicycles and got off in Plymouth, England, spent, I don't recall, six or seven weeks cycling from one end of England to the other, and barely touching Wales on the way, but to the Scottish border and down the other side, crossed the Channel, and then, cycled in the northwestern part of France for about three weeks, ending up in Paris, and that, that opened my eyes. I spoke a little French from high school and that opened my eyes. ... You know, I had just graduated high school and, that way, I didn't feel like such a young fifteen-and-a-half-year-old kid, having had that experience under my belt, and we did about thirteen hundred miles. ... It was good cycling, averaged about thirty miles a day, and we stopped only at youth hostels, with one or two exceptions. I think, in London, we had to go to a bed-and-breakfast, but, I mean, only at youth hostels, and it was plenty of exercise and plenty of lousy weather and, [laughter] well, you know the British Isles in the summer. ... So, I was away in a sense, and so, when I got to Rutgers, it was just [a small change], and you didn't feel terribly far away when you're only thirty-five miles from home. See, the one thing about Rutgers is that Rutgers is a New Jersey school and ninety percent of the students are from New Jersey and it's not a big state, you know. It's not like Wyoming, where every kid has to go to Laramie, no matter what part of Wyoming he's from, could be hundreds of miles from home. It's a small state. So, you never--I never--really felt that I was that far away, and I know when my Dad fell ill and had that heart attack, I was home ... within two hours of getting the message, I mean, caught the next train. ... You know, I couldn't have done that if I was at Ohio State or some other place.
SI: What else do you remember about that trip to England and France?
AS: Well, [it was] a huge eye-opener, and I think [for] practically everybody on the trip. There were twenty or twenty-one of us, more fellows than girls. It was about thirteen and eight ... or twelve and eight, something like that, but the age range was from, the youngest kid was about fifteen, a little younger than I was, and the oldest was a man of twenty-eight, who had taken the summer off to do this. So, we had an interesting range. I would say the average was somewhere around a college sophomore, junior level, you know, twenty-one, twenty-two. ... Besides being out with, you know, older girls, and so forth, and older guys, too, I think everybody on that trip, that I can remember, and I can remember the gang pretty well, came away in love with England. They thought this was great. We didn't know enough about [France]. France was a little tougher to bust into the culture, because of the language thing, and France was also a shorter stay. It was more [like] three weeks there and about six in England, but it was a great introduction to the British Isles, and speaking to the people, and so forth, and, again, catching them at a time before the war. So, when I got back during the war, you have a sense of comparison, something to compare it to, and, boy, we must have gone through every cathedral, at least every country cathedral, [laughter] that you can think of--Durham and Gloucester and Norwich and, oh, God, I can [remember] a half a dozen, York, and so forth. So, it was a great eye-opener and, when I got back to Rutgers--when I entered Rutgers, I didn't get back to it--when I entered Rutgers, in some of the classes, you had to do a little speech or declamation. Even in French, you had to do it in French. I used that as the background. The profs [professors] were impressed. [laughter] They liked it. They thought, "Hey, this kid's been [around]." [laughter] That helped, you see, because, otherwise, I'd [have] been a pretty young kid, ... but that experience, again, got me over the hump a great deal, and then, you know, living in a fraternity, also. ... I'm sure it is, today, the same way, in all fraternities, ... a good fraternity is a support group. That's what it is, and a poor one is a lousy one, but a good one is a support group and it helps you enormously, particularly your first year or two, and, you know, you know what profs to avoid, you know what teams you have a chance to make, or whatever. ... They're good, they're good, and the older guys were reasonably good to the younger guys and I've got friends I still see today, you know, from the house.
PA: What made you join your fraternity in particular?
AS: SAM? Yes, well, SAM was, what? to begin [with], it was one of three Jewish fraternities on campus at that time. There was Phi Epsilon Pi, ... which I think merged ... in the '70s with another national Jewish fraternity. I don't recall which one.
SI: ZBT [Zeta Beta Tau]?
AS: Not ZBT. ZBT came after the war, and then, went, left the campus, ... again, during the troubles in the late '60s, '70s, or thereabouts. [Editor's Note: Phi Epsilon Pi merged with Kappa Nu in 1961. In 1970, Phi Epsilon Pi and Phi Sigma Delta combined to form Zeta Beta Tau, which remains on the Rutgers-New Brunswick Campus today.] Tau Delta Phi was the third one and the SAM crowd just seemed [favorable]. First of all, they rushed me. Before I even got back from Europe, they came here, a couple of the guys came here, one day, and [asked], "Is Al at home?" [laughter] My mother said, "Well, he's about three thousand miles from here," you know, but they did a good selling job on my parents, on top of which, when I got down there, I had been assigned a room in Winants Hall, upstairs, which my mother was convinced was going to burn to the ground within a year, you know. [laughter] This damn thing is still up. We've burned out two houses so far [as a fraternity], but, ... in a sense, from my mother's point of view, ... the fraternity house looked better than Winants Hall, from the point of view purely of safety, and Dad liked the idea, again, I think, saying, "Well, he's a younger kid and maybe it's better, as not quite a sixteen-year-older, to have, you know, some kind of support, guidance," or whatever it is, "from older guys," and it was a very good choice. ... From the day college began as a freshman to my graduating day, I never lived outside the house. I lived there for four [years]. I don't think you can do this today. They won't let you pledge in until, what, mid-year? and you can't live in the house, normally. ... An interesting thing about the house was this--the guys ran it themselves, quite properly. For example, you had to come down to dinner with a jacket and tie. Dinner, they used the word formal, and, I mean, formal didn't mean black tie, but jacket and tie for dinner. There was no housemother, no housemother, and there was nobody doing this. Every Tuesday, I think it was Tuesday night, was meeting night, I think for all fraternities on campus. ... We had about twenty fraternities in those days, twenty or twenty-one. Everything was quite proper. When we had a weekend, like a Sophomore Hop or a Junior Prom weekend, or Military Ball, we got chaperones. Chaperones lived in the house and [there was] a minimum of nonsense, a minimum of nonsense, and the whole thing was [that] it was self-oriented. It didn't come from rules or the dean poking his head into every fraternity house. [laughter] The guys ran themselves, ... and I understand this was not uncommon. I mean, I had friends in half a dozen different houses and it was pretty much a self-oriented thing, ... but that may be a reflection on society at the time, as much as anything. I mean, a good sociology prof could identify that pretty quickly, yes, but, sure, and, again, remember, also, in those days, we had chapel twice a week. I often tell my students [about] the difference between going to college today and when I was at Rutgers College. ... I'll tell them, very quickly, "First of all, it was all-male. Today, you know, every school, practically, is coed." I said, "Second of all," I said, "here we are, a land-grant college. We weren't quite a state university yet, but," I said, "we went to chapel twice a week." So, a kid would say, "What kind of chapel was it? Was it Catholic?" "No, no, it wasn't Catholic." I said, "It was kind of 'YMCA Protestant,'" I said, "white-bread Protestant." You couldn't [do that today], but, hell, anybody can pray over you and I'll take all the prayers I can get, you know, and from any source. ... "Then, we had," I said, "you'll love this," I said, "we had Saturday classes, until one o'clock," very unpopular with the student body, very unpopular with the faculty. So, what they did was, they dumped it on the younger faculty, you know, who had to teach the Saturday classes. [laughter] I said, "Every student, well, unless he was physically ill, unable, had to do ROTC [Reserve Officer Training Corps] for two years, no 'ifs,' no 'ands' and 'buts.' You didn't raise your boy to be a soldier? That's tough. [laughter] Here's the rifle, you know. Everybody had to do ROTC," like that picture, [of a large ROTC cadet assembly in the yearbook]. The third and fourth [year] were optional, of course, the ones that led to a commission. ... Oh, the other one, of things that I loved, ... and the kids today can't get over this, there was no GPA [grade point average] requirement. All you had to do was pass, ... what was it? 124 credits for the bachelor's, or 126? Well, whatever, [I] forget what the number was--just had to pass them. A "D" was as good as an "A." You could graduate with 124 credits of "D" and you got the same damned diploma [laughter] as the guy who was going to med school with "As." ... So, unless you had, you know, ambitions of, shall we say, you know, graduate school or law school or something, you know, "the gentleman's C," you could see why it developed, and a "C" was considered a very respectable grade. [laughter] I mean, I don't mean great, I don't want to kid you, but you got into honors school, I think, with a "B" average, which is equivalent to a dean's list, more or less, got into honors school with it. So, I tell this to the students. I say, "You know, 'Ever changing, yet, eternally the same,'" I say, "and, yes, it's still the [same school], but it is changing. I mean, ... there are these differences," but they love this bit, "No GPA? Terrific, I should have been born sixty years ago," they said, [laughter] but a great difference--so, fire away.
SI: What do you remember about your first days at Rutgers, particularly the hazing?
AS: Well, the hazing was moderate. There was hazing. You had to wear a dink and I had to wear a green tie, except on weekends. I mean, ... from, I think, noon Saturday on, you could dump it, until eight o'clock Monday. A dink, green tie; you had to roll your, what is it? your slacks into your socks, ... like, you wore, say, white sweat socks and you'd bag them over your pants. You had to carry your books, or whatever, in a shopping bag--books, T-square, whatever, had to be in, like, a big brown shopping bag. ... You had to know all the [school] songs and cheers by the first home football game, and you know what? I still know them. [laughter] No, when you learn them that way, they stick with you, and I still think I know all the [words to the alma mater]. On the Banks [of the Old Raritan] actually has four verses. I know three of them, and I can still give them to you, and the songs, the cheers, the "R-U" yell, the whole damned thing. Now, that's not so much hazing. There was very little physical [hazing]. I think you also ... had to carry matches with you, so [that] if an upperclassman stopped you and asked you to light his cigarette, you'd [Dr. Sloan imitates a match strike], you know, light it for him. I think that was part of it and that was about it, now, but ... none of these flag rushes or, you know, this scouring through the dorms at midnight and pulling the freshmen out of bed. I have no recollection, because, maybe, again, living in a fraternity house, there ... could have been less of this, but it wasn't easy. The big thing was, "Was I going to be able to handle the academics?" and I was miserable in chemistry. ... I'd made a terrible mistake of, number one, not having a good scientific background, despite my parents. Number two, my high school science had been physics and I should have stuck with physics. Tough as it is, at least I had a little groundwork in it and, number three, I wanted to avoid math. So, I took chemistry--terrible mistake. ... A couple of the guys in the house started to tutor me and I got an outside tutor and I finally got through chemistry, with two "Ds," but I'm sure they were gifts. I'm sure that the two "Ds" were gifts, and I'd never have made it through Rutgers, ... still taking chemistry and I'd be the oldest Rutgers student, [laughter] trying to get through freshman [chemistry], but I got through it then. ... Then, my grades picked up a bit the sophomore year. You do much better than the freshman year. You know, you're more familiar with it, and so on.
SI: Did you know immediately that you wanted to be a history and political science major?
AS: More or less, ... not precisely. I originally was going to do journalism, and then, somebody, a kid who was a freshman--oh, no, not a kid I knew, but we were talking during registration--he says, "Journalism is too narrow." He says, "This is a tough world you're going into." He says, "It might be smarter to get a more broad-based one," and history/poli. sci., like English lit, you know, was more, you know, broad-based, and so on. So, I switched, actually, thinking, originally, that I was going to do [journalism]--now, not that it would have made a hell of a lot of difference. I mean, I could have switched after the first year with very little difficulty, but I switched before we started ... into history/poli. sci., because at least it opened options, the law school option or teaching history or government service. ... You figured the Depression was going to go on forever anyway and it was going to be tough. So, you did something ... that had some value.
SI: Did your parents ever try to convince you to go into medicine?
AS: No. My father was very good about it. He saw that this kid was not for medicine. He recognized this early, and whereas it must have been a disappointment to him, he never pushed me, and I'm very thankful for that. "Just," he says, "get into something that's honorable and useful and, ... if you can help others, so much the better." ... He certainly could have [pushed it]. You know, had I gone into medicine, he would have had certain minor connections that [he could have asked], "Oh, help the kid get into med school," ... but he never pushed it and he never, to me, showed any disappointment. Now, he may have been personally disappointed that this kid ... couldn't hack [it in] medicine, but, you know, I wasn't cut out for the science side and, to this day, I have very little interest in it. You know, I watch my cholesterol and that's about it. [laughter]
SI: You mentioned that you were on the Targum.
AS: The Anthologist, did a couple of articles, and, Anthologist, do we still have it anymore? ... It was the literary magazine. ...
PA: I do not believe so.
AM: I think it came out either twice or four times, probably twice a year, spring and fall. Yes, the Antho, andTargum, I came in on the sports side, ... because that was my main interest, of course, in life, and stayed withTargum for three years and ended up on the features side. Another guy and I did a features column. ... It was not great journalism or anything. I did find out that most of the guys, though, on Targum, I mean, those that had the editorships, were journalism majors--not all, but, you know, it was just like [how] most of the guys in physical ed. were varsity athletes and that kind of a thing, yes. ... I enjoyed Targum quite a bit. ... I was not good at it, but it probably did help me in terms of English composition and presenting my thoughts in writing, and so forth.
SI: When I was a student, we had to read a semester's worth of the Targum from the war era.
SI: We noticed that the Targum then was not like it is today, where its focus is on international and national events.
AS: It was purely campus.
SI: Yes. Most of the articles were about football games and fraternities.
AS: Came out twice a week. Exactly, it was purely campus. I mean, maybe when World War II broke out in 1939, there was some mention of it, ... or how it affected the campus, but, no, it was all [campus news]. It was out twice a week, if my recollection is correct, Tuesdays and Saturdays or Tuesdays and Fridays, something like that, ... but I never had to go down to the printer's and sit up all night while they ground it out. So, I had a fairly simplified job on Targum.
PA: Regarding your fraternity experiences, you were young at the time. I noticed that your yearbook features an article referring to Stan Klion.
AS: ... Yes.
PA: He was also young. Did you guys bond over that?
AS: Right. Well, more than that, I brought Stan to Rutgers. He was the guy who came with me on that youth hostel trip in England. We had met, originally, in junior high school, grade nine, as I recall--won't go into the details, but we were from the same part of New York and Stan and I became friends at age, whatever it was, eleven, twelve, or something like that. ... We went to different high schools, but we stayed in touch and I was always one year ahead of him, technically a half a year, but he extended his high school a little bit. So, I was a year ahead of him. When it came time to take that bicycle tour of Europe, I think my parents ... were hesitant about my doing it alone, so, they [said], "Let's send the two boys together." ... They didn't know the Klion Family well, but I knew Stan well, he knew me. So, the two of us went. Then, Stan goes back to high school, I go into Rutgers and, a year later, Stan is ready ... to go to some college somewhere and I went to work on him, you know. ... The next thing I knew, he came to Rutgers and did brilliantly. I mean, he was an outstanding student, and then, his brother came to Rutgers, Bart Klion. ... I said, I see Bart every once in a while at a football game, something like that, "You are here because of me, boy. [laughter] I pulled your brother in and your brother pulled you in," yes, but he was a great fellow and absolutely, almost, I can use the word brilliant, at everything he touched, at everything he touched, ... not just studies, but, I mean, in life itself, ... moving on ahead as a quality engineer, originally with Sears Roebuck, and then, on and on and on. He knocked off the accountant [degree], what is it, the CPA [certified public accountant]?
-------------------------------------END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO--------------------------------------
SI: This continues an interview with Dr. Alfred V. Sloan, Jr., on July 6, 2005, in New York City, New York, with Shaun Illingworth and ...
PA: ... Peter Asch.
SI: We were just talking about one of your fraternity brothers, Stanley Klion. At Rutgers, in the prewar period, the fraternities basically dominated the campus.
AS: ... That's correct. That's correct, in terms of campus politics, in terms of activities. The concept was, and I don't think it's a misleading concept, that your fraternity man is more likely than a non-fraternity man to be supportive of the University. ... I mean, there must be statistics on this, which crowd donates more after they graduate or is more dominant, eventually, on the Board of Trustees or other organizations. ... Today, I think we have something in the order, still, of twenty-three, twenty-four fraternities, am I right, a couple of dozen?
PA: It is actually closer to eighty now, if you include sororities, fraternities, professional societies and co-ed fraternities.
AS: ... Oh, well, all right, I was eliminating professional; ... throw out professional, throw out sororities, in terms of social [activities].
PA: It is probably about twenty-five to thirty, yes.
AS: Yes. I would say it's not a hell of a lot bigger than it was then, when it was twenty-ish, twenty or twenty-one, ... but, proportionately, it was much greater--a greater proportion of the campus. I don't have any numbers on this and I've tried to conjure them up, once in a while, but I would broadly say that ... maybe about fifty percent of the campus was fraternity. Broadly speaking, commuters were not and commuters were about a fourth of the population. ... Of the other three-quarters, a slight majority, I think, were fraternity people, not all living in the houses. You know, you could have lived in Winants or Hegeman and been a member of anything, but you caught the greater domination in things like this, ... not so much societies, certain teams. For example, our house had a lock on the managership of track and cross-country and one SAM followed another SAM, and so forth. Others had--I say a lock, [which] isn't really the right word, but it's close to it--on Targum or on crew or on the Glee Club, and you wouldn't see this today; I mean, at any school, not just Rutgers. ... You just wouldn't see this today. ... One of the big weekends of the school year was the Inter-Fraternity Ball. Today, I don't know that it even exists. So, there's no question that the influence [was great], and the political influence, by the way, in terms of the class officers and the elections, and so forth, which was fairly obvious, much less today, ... from everything that I know about Rutgers and any other campus, because, don't forget, I am hooked into the State University of New York and we have sixty-four campuses and sixty-four colleges. [laughter] ... So, I know a little bit about, you know, what's going on at Buffalo and Rochester and, you know, all over the state. I would say this holds true for most schools, and so, Rutgers is by no means unique in this.
SI: You were on the debating team.
AS: Right. That was sophomore, junior and senior year, ... we made our trip through the Northeast. Professor Reager, who was chairman of the Speech Department and the debate coach, Richard Reager, Professor Reager, always used his seniors, and, occasionally, a junior, but, mainly, his seniors, to put on the road, when they were seniors, and visit and be the visiting team, so-to-speak, at other colleges. ... I do recall, in the spring of my senior year, we hit West Point, one of the Boston schools--not Harvard. We hit West Point, we hit University of New Hampshire, we hit Wesleyan, we hit what is today called the University of Connecticut and, then, was the Connecticut Aggies, or something, [laughter] UConn, and somebody in Boston. Maybe it was Tufts, I'm not sure, but we had a very nice New England trip, around the Easter period of the semester.
SI: Do you remember what the topics of your debates were?
AS: They were always topical. They were always topical. Oh, I'm guessing at this one. It may have been government control of business, you know, more and more or less and less business regulation. ... I don't know how we could have avoided it, but I don't recall the topics as relating to our entry into World War II, "Should we be isolationist? Should we join the Allies?" Somehow, I don't think that became [a topic]. That may have been a very informal topic, but I don't think it was a formal one, where you prepared both sides on [an issue]--not helpful on that one, not much beyond [that]. I think they were predominantly domestic topics. One of them, I think in my sophomore year, ... was a little far out. It was the city manager system versus the election system for mayors and city council, versus having a city manager, which is good or bad, and nothing you can get very emotional about. [laughter] ...
SI: Do you recall if issues like isolationism were discussed on campus?
AS: Oh, on the campus, yes, yes, particularly in my senior year. Well, it happened from the start of the war on. Junior year and senior year were war years in Europe and I do recall [that] it started to heat up in '39, into '40, but particularly after the Fall of France in June of 1940. So, that year between '40 and '41 was a very active year. ... I don't recall any straw votes that we took on campus, and so on, but, broadly speaking, support became stronger and stronger for the British, and so forth, who were, you know, at that point, holding up alone. ... I hope I'm not saying this incorrectly, but I do recall, I think it was during the 1941 commencement, or commencement week, that we gave an honorary degree to Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, who, ... when the Germans invaded Holland, they pulled her out and replanted her in England for the duration of the [war], and gave her an honorary degree, by radio, you know, wireless or radio, whatever it was. I recall that. [Editor's Note: Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands (mother of Queen Juliana) was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on October 11, 1941, during Rutgers University's 175th Anniversary Convocation, which she accepted via radio from London.] ... Our commencement speaker, in June of 1941, was Robert Patterson, who was the Undersecretary of War, the number two man in the War Department. So, we were starting to move in that direction. You could see it. There were even a few guys--not many, but there were a few guys--who were already in the service or had left to enlist in the '40-'41 year, my senior year--not many, but there were a few. Johnny Vaill, I think, joined the Naval Reserve and there was a fellow named Homer Roberts-Horsefield, who was an Englishman, who I'm sure got called back. He was an Englishman studying, I don't know, agriculture. Look under "R" for Roberts; Roberts-Horsefield was his name. I didn't know him terribly well, but Homer was his first name.
SI: I have it right here
AS: Yes, you see, it says something about his being the son of ...
SI: We are looking at the 1941 Scarlet Letter Yearbook.
AS: No, it wasn't Roberts-Horsefield. He was the one with the English name, but, ... no, no, he was from North Plainfield--sorry about that. There was somebody in our class who was British and I don't remember who it was. I always associated him with Roberts, because of the [fact that it] looked like an English name, but it was another student, whom I did not know. ... Again, it was starting. Guys were starting to drift into the service and I think the guys who graduated with commissions in June of '41, the four-year ROTC men, were, I think, all, you know, activated, I think. I can't answer for it, because ... I was only a two-year ROTC man, but I think they were all activated that summer. So, you know, it was starting to happen and that's why I'm so thankful that I got my four years in, as I've said, in reasonably normal [times]. You know, I saw Rutgers as Rutgers normally had been.
SI: You would have been too young when you graduated for the prewar draft.
AS: Yes, I was, because, at that time, my recollection was [that it was] twenty-one to, I think, twenty-eight, and then, it extended out.
SI: I have never heard of the International Relations Club.
AS: It was mainly poli. sci. majors or people who'd taken poli. sci. courses. The faculty advisor was Professor [Andreas G.] Ronhovde, kind of a tough name, [laughter] a youngish professor. ... They probably assigned him the job. ... We had a perfectly marvelous, by the way, history and poli. sci. faculty at the time. ... Professor [Irving S.] Kull was the chairman, [who] I hardly knew, but we had guys like John George, who was outstanding, an enormously popular professor, and Mark Heald and Ethan Ellis and a very, very solid bunch of teachers, and these guys could get in there and teach. ... Professor Ellis had the reputation of, he could end a period ... in the middle of a word, you know, in a hyphenated word, and he'd pick it up two days later, on the second half of the same word, no notes or anything. [laughter] ... Professor Heald used to talk about his experiences in the First World War, a great man, and he had served in the First World War, obviously, as a volunteer, because he was in the regular Army, in the famous First Division, and he talked about that, particularly on Armistice Day. ... John George was--you might call him a Democrat in a Republican school. I don't mean we were overwhelmingly Republican, but I think Rutgers, at that time, was more Republican than Democratic, and John George was one of these dyed-in-the-wool, New Deal Democrats from Virginia and he used to go after the boys and they loved it. They loved it, you know. He would fight with them, argue with them in class and let them say their piece and he'd come back at them. ... He and Dr. Peterson, Houston Peterson, who taught philosophy, were, year in, year out, year in, year out, voted either number one or number two among most popular profs, and you could see why. Peterson was another guy, was very, very into things. I remember, ... Peterson taught philosophy and logic. I took both, and we were doing the logic course in the Autumn of 1940 and that was the year, September, October, I guess it was, of 1940, when Cincinnati was playing Detroit in the World Series. [Editor's Note: The Cincinnati Reds defeated the Detroit Tigers in game seven of the 1940 World Series.] ... Peterson was interested in sports, mildly, but, I mean, not in an overwhelming way--kind of like my father. I mean, you know, it was fine in its place, ... but he knew the guys were interested and the guys ... wanted to listen to the radio. All the games were in the day at that time and these were afternoon games and our class ran from, you know, two to three or three to four, whatever it was. ... Peterson had a guy bring in one of these small radios, into the class, and he ran the class between innings. [laughter] He let us listen to the game. Immensely popular--that's the way to get them on your side, [laughter] not that he was so interested, but he knew the boys weren't paying attention. So, he ran the class in those few minutes when the teams changed places every half inning, and he got in a few minutes lecture. Then, he stopped, turned up the radio again [laughter]--great fellow, he was, and, oh, enormously popular. He and John George were the two.
SI: They frequently come up in our interviews as being the most popular professors at the time.
AS: Yes, oh, I'm sure.
SI: Also, if you read the Targum, John George is mentioned often.
AS: Oh, yes, George was great.
PA: Did you feel that Rutgers College, back then, as a smaller school, gave students a more personal feel for the professors than today?
AS: Well, of course. ... The day I graduated, or the year I graduated, we ... had just hit seventeen hundred and we thought we were enormous, you know, that, "Rutgers has never been so large." ... I won't say you knew everybody on campus--you can't know seventeen hundred people--but you knew an awful lot of people. ... With the exception of the two or three courses in freshman year where you might have had a big lecture section, like, for example, in chemistry, we had 150 guys or two hundred, with that exception, all the classes were small--I mean, you know, twenty, twenty-two, eighteen, twenty [students]. I did a couple of French classes with Professor Turner, Clarence Turner, where, I remember, we sat around a table a little bit bigger than this, with, you know, eight or nine guys. ... One thing about the small classes, then or now, I mean, ... there's no place to hide, if you haven't done your work, you know, [laughter] and it works out. Yes, I do think, when a school gets big, we lose [intimacy]. Even at FIT, ... when I started teaching there, we were a college of 450 or something and, today, ... our department, our lousy department, is bigger than Rutgers College was when I was a student. We have the better part of eighteen hundred to two thousand students doing the fashion marketing program right now. ... Every once in a while, I kid the chairwoman along and I say, "Robin," I said, "you're running a college." I says, "You've got two thousand, almost two thousand, students." I say, "You've got 102 different instructors." I said, "You're running a college, and you're doing it on two secretaries and an assistant chairman." I said, "When Dr. Clothier ran Rutgers, I mean, you know, there were vice-presidents and everything," [laughter] but that's what happens. When you get bigger, you [lose that]. It's one of the faults of getting bigger, but you can't do much about it--either that or [fold up]. I don't know how Luther Martin felt when we became a state university, basically, after World War II, but I remember talking to him once and I said, "Do you think we're going to lose this, you know, intimacy?" He said, "Yes," he says, "but," ... in effect, he says, "you've got to go with the tide." So, there you are; ... what have we got, fifty thousand students, all across the state, you know, Newark and Camden? You think about it, I mean ...
SI: Everything is a lot bigger.
AS: We're big, we're big. Well, okay, so, you face it. You do lose the intimacy, and it's a very fair question to ask, yes.
SI: Do you remember anything about your graduation? Does anything stand out about your graduation?
AS: Not [a thing], except Robert Patterson's talk. ... I don't remember what he said, I remember him saying [it], I mean, being up there, and I had my one and only word with President [Robert C.] Clothier at graduation. We crossed the stage and, you know, he gave you the diploma. ... We graduated, in round numbers, two hundred or 230, or whatever it was. So, they called each name alphabetically and my turn came and he hands me the diploma. ... He shook my hand and he said, "Sloan?" I said, "Yes, sir." ... It was the one word I had with President Clothier in the four years, "Sloan." [laughter] He wanted to be sure he's giving the diploma to the right guy, you know, that I wasn't getting Sullivan's or somebody else's, but, by the way, I had great admiration for him, great admiration for him, and he was always my idea of what a college president should be. He looked the part. He was kind of aristocratic. ...
SI: Another professor that everyone usually talks about is Richard Reager.
AS: Oh, yes, Reager, yes, and he was, you know, a popular guy and he was very verbal, being professor of speech, whatever the word was, debating, speech, and so forth, and he was a good salesman for his [debate team]. I'm very, very thankful that I got hooked into debating in my sophomore year. You weren't, apparently, eligible for it as a freshman, for whatever reason, but, for your last three years, you could. ... My father had encouraged me, when I spoke to him, to take a course in public speaking, which was quite optional in those days. I mean, you could take it for credit, but, I mean, you didn't have to. He said, "Get into public speaking," he says, "it's helpful," and I did and that led me into debating and it's been ... a marvelous background for teaching. You know, what do you do in teaching? you talk, and taught us how to do it, yes.
SI: Do you remember any of the speakers that came to the chapel?
AS: Yes. I remember Norman Thomas, and, of course, [he] was introduced as a Princeton graduate. ...
SI: We were talking about Norman Thomas.
AS: Yes, Norman Thomas, who was also a Presbyterian minister, you know. He was ordained, and I remember ... Rabbi Lazaron, of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, was our chapel speaker once. We then had, I remember a series of, not chapel speakers, but speakers, during that year when we celebrated the 175th [anniversary]. ... What we did is, we had a series of, what would you call them? little convocations, if you will. Some were in the chapel, some were at [the gymnasium]. Robert Taft spoke there, Wendell Willkie ... spoke to us, and I was very impressed with him, and that was just before he ran on the Republican ticket in 1940. There was a third, oh, Jan--Jan Masaryk--the younger of the two Masaryks. Thomas Masaryk was the President of Czechoslovakia, who Woodrow Wilson and others had put in after World War I. Jan Masaryk, that's his name, was the son who was, I don't know, foreign secretary or something, and was doing a tour of the United States about the time that Hitler took over Czechoslovakia, '38, '39. ... He was a speaker at, again, one of these convocations and, again, I forget whether it was chapel or not, but these are the ones I can remember. I think somebody said Herbert Hoover was there, but ... I don't recall Hoover, can't answer, but they were big names. ... What would happen would be, the college would grab a number of these people who were moving--they were giving speeches and making connections--between New York and Washington. They'd pull them off the train in New Brunswick [laughter] for two, three hours and run them up to, say, the gym or to the chapel, and the students were all lined up, and they would speak to them and get them back on the train to Washington. ... That was one of the advantages of being on the main line. [laughter]
SI: There was about a year-and-a-half to two years between when you graduated from Rutgers and when you entered the Air Force.
AS: That's correct. Of course, it was the Army in those [years]. What did they used to call it? Army Air Corps, and then, it became the Army Air Forces, and those are some technicalities there, and so forth. We looked upon it as just being a soldier, because you could have been posted to any unit of the Army once you were in the Army. I mean, you could have gone to Ordnance, Infantry, Engineers, Cavalry, Air Force, Air Corps, or whatever.
SI: What did you do in that time?
AS: ... Two things. When I graduated Rutgers, I was admitted to four law schools. I had decided [to] take a shot at law school--wasn't overwhelmingly committed to a career at the bar, but law itself is open-ended in terms of you don't have to be a lawyer or a practicing one. So, I said, "Well, I'm a young kid, nineteen-and-a-half. I've got a ways to go yet," and my father and mother encouraged it. I applied to four--listen to this, listen to this. I'm, let's call it a "B" student, at Rutgers--not a great student, better than average, but not great--"B" student at Rutgers. I get into Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Cornell, four for four. Now, imagine that today--you'd have a good imagination. [laughter] I get into all four. I made the decision to attend Columbia. I entered Columbia Law School in September of '41, spent just one semester there. War broke out in the third, fourth month that I was there. Just before the end of the first semester, the war breaks out in December, semester ends in January, never went back for the second semester--indeed, never went back. ... I received a telegram--I forget what it was, a night letter, wasn't one of these urgent telegrams, I think it was a night letter--from the War Department. They were establishing the postal censorship in New York City, where the military, the War Department, was assigning officers, I believe, to it and was running a postal censorship out of a building that is still not very far from our college. It's 252 Seventh Avenue. It was an old warehouse-type building. It later became the Veterans Administration, after World War II, and today is a condominium, but that's another story--establishing the postal censorship there in late 1941, early 1942, under the military. They had my name because I had taken a Civil Service exam in French, or in languages and my language was French, and they said, "Would I be interested in working for the postal censorship?" and I left Columbia immediately, went to work, down at Seventh Avenue and 24th or 25th Street, went there, under a series of Army officers. ... Again, to shorten the story, after about three months of fairly routine duties, I was assigned to the code and cipher section. ... The essential part of the code and cipher section was not, as you might think, this dramatic stuff of intercepting wireless or trying to break Japanese or German codes. It was much simpler than that. It was reading letters--commercial letters, for the most part, but it could be private letters, also--reading letters which were leaving the United States, which everything was held up to be censored. ... I became--I don't want to use the word expert, there is no expert in this game, but I had a good sensitivity for it--I became fairly competent in reading a form of code which was called open code. Open code would be something like this, "Grandma is leaving us on Saturday," and the person receiving it knew that this meant the Queen Mary is sailing with troops on Saturday, or something like that. That's what open code meant, one thing which means another in perfectly normal English, or sometimes slightly stilted, because of the message, but perfectly, reasonably, normal English. ... You either get a sensitivity to this or you don't, that when something just doesn't seem right, and, in many cases, you couldn't interpret the code, but you knew something wasn't quite right and you passed it on to your senior people, who passed it on to the military. ... They took over from that point and we never would know what happened. I stayed with that group for about one year, and then, in the early part of '43, I went to my draft board. ... I'm not heroic or anything, but I went to the draft board and I said, "I'm not anxious in having," what's the word? "a deferment." ... Up to that point, I was deferred, because of the work that I was doing with the War Department. I said, "You can eliminate the deferment," and I spoke to my superiors first. I said, "I think I want to get in," and I did. ... [The] interesting thing is, I recall one or two things that I did ... for the censorship department that probably had a hell of a bigger effect on the war than anything I did in the military, [laughter] but, you know, again, I was a young guy--I was twenty-one or so at the time--and I felt that I should get in. So, in early '43, I moved into the Army and you have my date there. It's on the demobilization [paper]--what's it, like, April 14th? I think, officially, or something. It's down here. It's on the second page of my discharge. ... From there on, it was fairly routine for the first two, three weeks, moving with a group of guys down to Fort Dix, which was just where they classified you, issued uniforms, shots, and so on, classified you. This is a story that thousands of guys can tell--you've heard it before--and, after a week or two at Fort Dix, for whatever reason, I was assigned to the Army Air Corps. Now, the basic training in the Army Air Corps, at that time, was in ... several areas, but two major ones were Miami, Florida, and Atlantic City, [New Jersey], because they had hotels. ... I was assigned to a group that was detached to Atlantic City and, at Atlantic City, I went through, whatever it was, thirteen or fourteen or fifteen weeks of basic training. At the Atlantic City base, we were stationed at the Hotel Dennis, if that means anything to you guys. ... I think it has a different name today, but it's still an operative hotel. [Editor's Note: The Hotel Dennis is now part of the Bally's Casino complex in Atlantic City.] I think that, you know, one of the outfits has taken it over for gambling and I think changed the name, but it was a very good hotel, by the way, and was there for the basic. ... Then, the Air Corps, in turn, reclassified you in terms of your capabilities, you know, "putting the square pegs in the square holes," supposedly, and I was not able to qualify for flying duty, because I was 20/60 or something without glasses, which had been something, I'd been, what's the word? nearsighted, since I was about twelve or thirteen years old. I used to use glasses at lectures at Rutgers, and so forth, but they found out--well, not got found out, I mean, I told them--about my experience with the War Department Censorship Bureau [Office of Censorship], in codes and ciphers, and they assigned me to cryptographic work. Now, ... I've got to be clear about this--cryptographic work is not breaking codes. It's sending. It's "En," learning how to encode a message and send it off, so that the message is, "We leave at dawn," or, "The enemy is attacking," ... and it comes out in code groups, and you're taught how to do these various systems. I got my training, specific training, in cryptography in the summer, in the late Spring and Summer of '43, at Pawling, New York. ... The Army cryptographic training, ... they had taken over what was called the Pawling School. Today, it's called the Trinity Pawling School, but, in those days, it was a private school, residential, took over the school. ... [The] Army took over the whole damn thing and it was up there, and spent, in round numbers, seven, eight, nine weeks, the better part of two months, [there]. I remember, about mid-summer, your training was finished and ... they graduated a class, as it were, each week, on a rotating basis, and then, you were sent off to different units of the Air Force. I was pushed out to the Second Air Force, which was then in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the fairgrounds in Salt Lake City, and spent only a brief time at Salt Lake City, because that became a collection agency for the various bomb groups which were then building up and forming. They would go to Salt Lake City for men and pull them in, "Hey, we need so many medics and we need so many signalmen, we need so many ordnance guys and so many," whatever, whatever, whatever, because ... we were starting to build up the bomb groups and fighters squadrons to go overseas at that time. ... I can give you the exact date. On August 13th, or I left Salt Lake City a day or two before, but on August 13th, I arrived at the then headquarters of the 445th Bomb Group, which was Sioux City, Iowa, at the Sioux City Army Air Base, August 13, 1943, and I was playing all the numbers in my head. I was assigned to the 445th--four, four and five adds up to thirteen. I arrived on the 13th of August, I think. Then, it was [that] Sioux City, Iowa, has thirteen letters in it, or something. I said, "Boy, I'll never get out of this one alive." [laughter] So, well, you know, you get very numbers conscious when you get into code groups, and so forth, and the 445th, which was a unit which ... was a heavy bombardment unit, the aircraft we flew were B-24s, otherwise known as Liberators. The British called them Liberators, we called them B-24s. It was the four-engine aircraft. We were composed of four squadrons, of which Captain [Jimmy] Stewart was commander of one of them, the 700th, 701, 702, 703, but we flew together. [Editor's Note: Actor Jimmy Stewart served as commander of the 703rd Bombardment Squadron in the 445th Bomb Group. He went on to serve as group operations officer of the 453rd Bomb Group and, later, Chief of Staff of the Second Combat Bombardment Wing, Eighth Air Force. He ended the war as a colonel in the US Army Air Forces.] ... It was not separate squadrons doing separate things, as was the case in the Pacific, but, here, the bomb groups all pooled them, the whole damned thing, together. I don't know what our operative strength was at maximum. Maybe, at any one time, we could have put thirty-odd aircraft, ... among the four groups, into the air. Thirty, thirty-two, I think, was about the maximum. ... We finished our training at Sioux City, which was then the last phase of training. See, there were guys in the unit who'd been in first and second phase and I joined them in [the] third phase and we finished our training in roughly mid-October of '43 and, after an embarkation leave, went overseas. If I remember correctly, we arrived in England--it was Scotland, technically. We arrived in Greenock, Scotland, on the Queen Mary, by the way. We arrived on October 27th, 28th, something of that order, 1943, and, by train, ... were immediately pushed down some three hundred miles to our base in East Anglia, which, as I mentioned earlier, had been an RAF [Royal Air Force] fighter base and runways extended, a few more huts built, and so forth. ... We took it over for the balance of the war as a bomber base. Arriving the end of October, oh, the name of the location of the base, and I've shown you these pictures, was Tibenham, and that's spelled T-I-B-E-N-H-A-M, "Tiben-ham." "Tib-en-am" was the pronunciation. It's in the County of Norfolk, roughly a hundred miles northeast of London, on a railway line between London and Norwich. ... If you're familiar with the geography of England, it's ... just north of the Suffolk-Norfolk border, just into Norfolk, as it were. It's almost Suffolk, but Norfolk begins about eight miles south of there, roughly twenty, twenty-five miles from the North Sea. So, it had all the appropriate amenities for a bomber base--near the water, didn't have to go very far to clear land, flat, Norfolk is very flat country, and a base already pretty much built for the RAF. The RAF had had it previous to us. We arrived, and in the pouring rain, naturally, at three in the morning or whatever--lovely reception. When we got over, ... maybe a day later, enemy radio greeted us. On German radio, they said, "Welcome to the 445th Bomb Group," or something like that, "we hope you had a pleasant trip from [the United States]. We look forward to..." whatever. So, you know, talk about secrecy. [laughter] Anyway, we got over there and the first thing that happened to me--oh, incidentally, ... I had gone over just prior to that as a buck sergeant. It was interesting that I joined the Army in April--by October, six months later, I'm already overseas and I'm a sergeant, you know. So, things are moving very, very fast. I mean, you never heard of this in peacetime, certainly, ... but first thing that happened to me was, Major Davis, who was to be the battalion signal officer, called me in and said, "We're sending you to the RAF code and cipher school to learn their signal procedure." He says, "You're going to be the first guy from the bomb group to go and, as soon as you come back, we're going to send Sergeant Gallagher, he'll be the second, and Sergeant Simmons will be the third one," because, in the European Theater of Operations, as far as the Air Force was concerned, we followed RAF procedures, RAF signal procedures, not American. Different theaters of war followed different [procedures]. For example, in the South Pacific, US naval signal procedure dominated, because it was the dominant force, with the Navy and the Marines in the Pacific, but ... prior to the invasion, in terms of the air war, ... [it was] the RAF signal procedure. So, I spent then about two months, perhaps not quite, but about two months, at a Royal Air Force base in Worcester, England. Worcester is on the western side of England, near the Welsh border, and spent ... most of the autumn, into the very early winter, I guess, of 1943, with the RAF. ... That too was a very positive experience, because we were told, "You're going to go with this British organization. You are to do things as they want it. Don't look for any special favors because you're an American," or, you know, "You're not heroes being over here," the usual story. "You fall in line with them. If they are having physical education drill, you take physical education drill. If they have church parade on Sunday, you do church parade with them. If they're playing basketball, you play basketball." [laughter] In other words, "Fall in line as if you were," what is it called? "a soldier of the King, you know, fall in line." We did. There were, at that time--it was a moderate-sized RAF base--maybe three, four hundred people on it. I don't remember exactly. The fourteen or fifteen Americans, I remember, there were a couple from the Navy, there were several from other Air Force, either bomber or fighter groups, and there were one or two from, must have been ground forces, ... I don't remember, not Air Force, not Navy, probably were Army ground forces. ... We had, as I say, close to seven or eight weeks with the RAF. ... I got my first taste of--not, I don't want to use it in the wrong words, but class distinction--by joining the British forces, which I did not have previous to then. The first evening, ... after I'd checked in, and so on, I went in for dinner. Dinner was, I don't know, six o'clock. So, I joined the mess line and, you know, ready to go, and a guy, an RAF officer, pulls me off the mess line. He says, "Sergeant," he says, "you don't eat here." He says, "You eat in the sergeants' mess." "The sergeants' mess, what the hell?" [laughter] Now, we had an officers' mess and an EM mess, an enlisted men's mess, but that was all. Now, this is a relatively modest-sized base. There was an officers' mess, there was a warrant officers' mess, there was a sergeants' mess, there was, theoretically, a corporals' mess, although I never did see one, and then, there was an airmen's mess, which was the big one, but there were four or five different gradations. Now, the great thing about it was this--the sergeants' mess was a fairly small one. There weren't too many RAF sergeants on the base and one or two of us had stripes, so, we joined them. We ate in what might be called, if you could visualize a country house with a kitchen and outside the kitchen was kind of a screened-in porch, it was kind of a screened-in porch, only ... it was glassed-in, instead of [screened-in], because it was wintertime. We sat down and there was a tablecloth. I hadn't seen a tablecloth since I left my mother's house in 1943, you know, in the whole damned [US] Army. [laughter] There's a tablecloth on the mess, and on the tablecloth are the usual implements.
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SI: Please, continue.
AS: Yes. So, as I mentioned, we had tablecloths and, lo and behold, we did not have to go for our own food. We were served by two WAAFs. The WAAF was the Women's [Auxiliary] Air Force, women in the [Royal] Air Force. We were served by two WAAFs, and we never had to leave our table. It was a level of luxury, as I say, that I had never come across in the [US] Army. So, sometimes, it pays to serve with the British, ... particularly if you have a little bit of rank. At any rate, when we finished that, I came back to our unit, which was at the end of 1943. ... We had just about gone operational ... a week or two or three before I came back. ... I want to say this one thing, which is an interesting statement, has little to do, perhaps, with the war, but, when I left for the eight weeks with the RAF, I left virtually all my equipment behind, except for my carbine and my gas mask and one or two items of clothing. All my equipment stayed behind, on the lower deck, as I recall, of a double-decked bed. I came back eight weeks later--not a toothpick was missing, nothing, absolutely nothing. Now, we had a mixed bunch of guys. I mean, some of them weren't the most delightful characters in the world, and I even know one or two had put in a little bit of time, ... I mean, not serious stuff, but had been, what do they say now? incarcerated, slightly. ... Somehow, I mean, maybe it was the war or the feeling of unity or whatever, but absolutely not a postage stamp, nothing, I mean, not a toothpick was missing. ... You know, more would have been missing, I think, from a college dorm than happened here, and it's just worth passing off as a remark. Well, at any rate, our bomb group started operations in the latter part of '43. I don't have the precise date. [Editor's Note: The 445th Bomb Group flew its first mission on December 13, 1943, to strike Kiel, Germany.] ... In the eighteen-odd months that followed, eighteen, nineteen months that followed, we completed 280 missions and [suffered] a tremendous number of casualties--I need not tell you--because, when an aircraft went down, basically, it went down with ten men. Ten was the size of a bomber crew, sometimes nine, but, more often, ten, and the one perfectly horrible moment we had was in 1944, in the raid over Kassel, Germany. I don't know if anybody else has come in [and] has mentioned this one in your interviews, Kassel, K-A-S-S-E-L. They must have been waiting for us or broken a signal or something. They were waiting for us. We put up something in the order of thirty or thirty-one aircraft that day. It was a maximum effort, and only seven or eight came back. We lost, I think, twenty-three aircraft. Now, twenty-three times ten is 230 guys, in one mission. [Editor's Note: This devastating raid on Kassel took place on September 27, 1944.] Now, no other mission was that bad, I must say this right away, but 230 guys in one mission. Now, that would be about, in today's terms, what we lose in about three months in [the post-2003 War in] Iraq and here was one little bomb group, out of one division, out of one air force, and we had fifteen air forces, out of, plus, [the] Army, Navy, everything else, and ... approximately 225, 230 guys lost. ... I lost five very close friends during hostilities, and many others whom I did not know well, of course, but I lost five very close ones. ... I remember, a few years ago, when I went back to the old airbase in the year 2000 or 2001, where I showed you these photographs, ... in Norwich, in the public library, we have a book of remembrance ... of the men who served with the different bomb groups and didn't come back. ... One of the first things I did at Norwich, if you're familiar with the Hebrew prayer for the dead, the Kaddish, I said Kaddish for these five guys. Hell, they weren't even Jewish. Well, I think one might have been, I'm not sure. Lieutenant Gillette, possibly, was Jewish. ... I mean, I still remember these guys and remember them very, very well. ... Of course, everybody was about the same age as I was, twenty, twenty-five--some of them were in their thirties, not too many of them--and, at any rate, we, the bomb groups, flew these various missions. ... It's an old story, "Did the air war shorten the war? Was it a waste of time?" I've heard all the arguments and counter-arguments since. I pray it wasn't a waste of time, and I suspect it wasn't, because, when you think, first of all, [there was] the enormous damage we did cause to the enemy and to the fact that, up to the invasion of Normandy, ... the Air Force was the only American group literally fighting in Europe. I mean, that's one thing, and then, do remember that Japan stepped out of the war as the result of two bomb drops. So, people who say, "Well, the Air Force, we could have done without it, and [it] didn't do anything but strengthen the enemy's determination," I'm not so sure about that. ... Smarter guys than I differ on it, but I'm not so sure about it. Now, what can I tell you on a more personal nature?
SI: What about your personal duties? What was an average day like for you?
AS: We fundamentally handled more--let me put it this way. In addition to encipherment and decipherment of coded materials, we handled a lot of standard signal missions, which I think any good signalman could handle. I was not a radio operator. ... Some of the guys were qualified this way--I was not, nor a radar person, or so forth. What it meant was putting in eight or ten hours, whatever it was, in what amounted to a signal command post, which was ... not only near, but next to, the operations headquarters of the unit, and staying on duty, at that time, doing standard signal work, and, also, helping in the communications portion of crews which had to be briefed before they went aloft. I don't think the work was phenomenally strenuous. I don't think it was phenomenally dangerous. Oh, you took your chances, like anybody else, ... if they hit the base with bombing, and so forth, which was very rare. The greatest level of danger, if that's the word, that I think I came across or I came under was shortly after the invasion [in] July 1944. It was about a month after the invasion. I was sent with Sergeant (Thompson?) down to London on a signals course, and this was the time when the Germans had started to fire what were then called "buzz bombs," V-1s, over Southern England, including a great many that hit London. ... I remember several explosions, and near explosions is perhaps the best way of putting it, during the week that I was over there, with no opportunity, almost, to take protection, unless you, what's the word? considered yourself taking air raid precautions twenty-four hours a day. I guess you could have gone into a shelter or into the London subway, but we didn't, and all you would hear would be the racket of the bomb coming over, the "flying bomb" coming over. ... While the racket kept going, you'd know it was going past you. When it cut out, this was the time to get under a table or under a seat in the bus or what-have-you. I was phenomenally impressed with the way the standard English civilians stood up to this. They were under [wartime conditions]. This was the fifth or sixth, it was the fifth year, actually, for them, and the war lasted six years. ... They'd gone through a blitz and they'd gone through kind of a minor blitz in the middle '40s, '43-'44, and they went through this "buzz bomb" experience and, finally, [later], the V-2s, which landed without warning, which, at least with the "buzz bomb," you could see it coming. [Editor's Note: The V-2 rockets were German long-range ballistic missiles first launched against Allied targets in September 1944.] Certainly, at night, you could see it coming. During the day, sometimes, you could see it coming, but the other one, the V-2, which came along a few months later, just exploded, and with presumably a greater power than the V-1s, and people who stood up to this--they were sending their kids to school every day, not knowing if the child would come back at night--it was a remarkable experience and I was, you know, very proud to be aligned with such people. I mean, they really stuck it out and, except in a few cases, did not go to pieces. Now, I can tell you one interesting experience I had, and is kind of humorous in a way, but an interesting experience and probably had little to do [laughter] with the outcome of World War II. ... By the Spring of '44, I'd been in the service fifteen months or so, whatever. ... Strangely enough, I had not met one person in the service that I knew, either in the United States, nor over[seas]. ... Everybody said, "I kept bumping into this guy from my hometown or from high school," or, "This guy was my girlfriend's boyfriend." [laughter] People met people, or even relatives--never met a person that I knew, with one very minor exception. ... When I was put into the Army, the first or second day at Fort Dix, I did meet Bill Bishop, who was Class of '41 at Rutgers. He was apparently stationed at Fort Dix, processing other soldiers, and I saw him for five minutes, but that was it. I never met any relatives, anybody, neighbors, what[ever]. My dad wrote me a letter at about this time, Spring of '44, that, "Uncle Joe's medical unit is over in Wiltshire," mentioned the town, I think it was Swindon, Wiltshire. Now, Uncle Joe--Uncle Joe, to begin with, was not a relative. He was called Uncle Joe. He was a very, very dear friend of my father's. They knew one another from medical school. They knew one another from the First World War. They'd served together, but Joe had stayed in the Army as a Reserve medical officer. My dad had not, but Joe stayed in, and his rank crept up during the '20s and during the '30s, a small notch at a time, and so forth, captain, major, whatever. ... I'll give you his full name. His name was Colonel Joseph Haas, H-A-A-S, and Joe Haas was as close to our family as you could be without being related. I mean, there was no blood or marital relationship. Joe Haas stays in the Army Reserve, gets called up in the Second World War, of course, early on, and commanded a station hospital. He was called up as a lieutenant colonel. He went to colonel before they went overseas, full colonel, and commanded the 120th Station Hospital, which was posted in, as I say, Wiltshire, which is kind of on the way between London and Oxford. It's to the west of London, at any rate, and Dad said, "I hear the 120th is in [Wiltshire], not too far from you, fifty or a hundred miles from you." He said, "Here is Joe's APO [Military Postal Code] number. Write him a letter and see if you can make contact with him, and maybe you can get over to see him on a weekend leave or something like that." I did that and he wrote back to me [and] told me, in effect, where they were stationed. It apparently wasn't a terrible secret, because the hospital was also taking care of German prisoners at that time, as well as American wounded. [He] told me how to get there and I did, finally, pull a forty-eight-hour pass, or whatever, and I got myself--a little complicated way, two, three, four trains--but I got myself over to Swindon, Wiltshire, got a lift up to ... where the base was. Everybody knew the American hospital, and I walked up to the sentry box, or the guy who was on duty on the sentry's position, in front of the hospital. ... I showed him my orders to have a forty-eight-hour pass and I said, "I'm here to see Colonel Haas." "What's your name?" gave him my name. He says, "Just a minute," and he rings up the Adjutant and [says], "Adjutant, there's a sergeant here from the Air Corps who wants to see Colonel Haas. Is it all right?" Adjutant must have said, "Yes, the Colonel is expecting him and send him up to the Adjutant's tent." Adjutant says, "Send him up to my tent first." So, I go up to the Adjutant's tent, reported in and I said who I was, "And I'm here to see Colonel Haas, who I believe is expecting me," first guy I'm going to see from home in a year and three months or whatever. Now, ... the Adjutant calls the Colonel and says, "Colonel, Sergeant Sloan of the Air Force is here. You want him to come up to your tent?" "Yes, send him right up." So, the Adjutant takes me outside. He says, you know, "There's his tent over there," fifty yards up the slope or something, and I'm walking up a little slope and I'm wondering, "I haven't seen this guy in several years," because, you see, he was in the Army. I mean, he was called up before I had joined the Army. "I haven't seen Joe in several years. You know, he's like a relative, but he's a colonel. Do I salute? [laughter] Do I not salute?" ... I'm thinking, "He's a colonel. It's probably gone to his head, you know. He's commanding a unit, eight, nine hundred guys, but, on the other hand, you know, he used to dawdle me on his knee ... when I was a kid and come over for dinner all the time, until he got married," and I'm all mixed up. "What do I do?" So, walked into the tent, I lifted the flap and he's sitting there, at a little bit of a desk, or whatever it is, something like this, one of these wooden things, and I figured, "I'd better play it safe." [laughter] I mean, I knew him like I would ... have known my brother, I mean. I'm [thinking], "Better play it safe." So, I salute and he returns the salute, and then, he gets up and kisses me. [laughter] ... So, I said, "Jeez, it's a damn good thing nobody walked into the tent at that moment [and saw] the Colonel kissing the Sergeant," [laughter] but, so, that was one of the memorable experiences. ... The first thing he asked was, "How's Mother? How's Dad?" you know, but it was a very, very interesting experience. I had another one, not long after that, which is a little more humorous--well, it's humorous in a stupid way. ... Next scenario takes place in early June of 1944. ... The unit had just gone through its regular dental check. They give you a dental check in the service every, I don't know, six months, or something like that, and then, I'd gotten a dental check. The group dentist says to me, he says, "Sloan," he says, "you have two impacted wisdom teeth," ... I think they were uppers, "one on each side of your mouth." He said, "You ought to get them out of there." He says, "They're going to give you trouble," and he says, "You don't want trouble." ... He says, "We ought to take them out [as] soon as we can." So, I said, "Okay, Captain." I said, "I'm ready to go." I says, "Can we take it out now?" So, he says, "Sure." He says, "Let's take one out now and I'll take the other one out tomorrow." He says, "Nothing's going to happen for days." The weather, it was pouring rain. It was pouring, miserable, foggy, you know, as only it can get in England or Ireland, you know. He says, "I have it on the best authority we're standing down for at least forty-eight hours, maybe seventy-two hours, maybe longer." He says, ... "I'll take one out right now," and he says, "You come back tomorrow, noon or something." He said, "I'll take the other one out." So, I hop in the chair [and] he takes one out--no drama. It came out very nicely and he tosses me five or six aspirin. He says, "Take a couple of aspirin now," and he says, "Get back to the command post," and he says, "Take another aspirin or two around midnight." So, the dental officer doesn't know this, but, about shortly after midnight, ... the Teletype starts rolling and we start to get the field orders for the invasion of Normandy. It was June 5th of 19. It was the original date when it was supposed to go, and they postponed it a day, as you know. ... The early morning of June 6th, the field orders start coming through. So, here I am, minus a wisdom tooth, and, of course, [at] that point, we're on duty for twenty-four hours, around the clock, and the whole business and, you know, the world stops and the invasion of Normandy ... goes on. Now, here is the amusing part--that one tooth is out, the other tooth is sitting up there. The dentist had said to me, "Sloan, if you don't get this tooth out fairly soon, there's going to be trouble," blah, blah, blah--you know the way dentists talk. That tooth stayed in my mouth until the year 2001. For fifty-seven years, [laughter] it gave me no trouble at all. Finally, I did have it yanked, about three, four years ago--fifty-seven years, between 1944 and 2001, get it. So much for the Dental Corps--he got fooled on the invasion, he got [the tooth diagnosis wrong], and I often wondered, "Maybe he should have left the other one in, too. Maybe he was looking for something to do." [laughter] So, I never had the second tooth pulled out. The Allies invaded Normandy instead. ... I'll give you another story, which I think will also amuse you, but ...
SI: Tell me about that first.
AS: Sure. This one took place after the war with Germany was over. We were still fighting Japan. It was June of 1945 ... and it took place, by the way, not very far from New Brunswick, New Jersey. It took place at Camp Kilmer, which is, you know, just where the other campus, the Livingston Campus [of Rutgers University], is, yes. Well, we had a corporal in our outfit whose name was Fisher. Fisher was from either Newark, Jersey City, Union, I'm not sure--somewhere around Essex County or Hudson County, anyway. ... With us, he was, I think, a radio repairman, if I am not mistaken. He was a good radio repairman. In civilian life, he had been a relief projectionist at some movie house in Newark, but not a major movie house, ... you know, in a residential part, a small house in Newark, and Fisher was the most grumbling guy. ... He was not happy unless he was grumbling. This guy, he had decided that they started the Second World War just to get him, just to louse up his career as a relief projectionist in some dinky movie house in Newark, [laughter] and he disliked everybody. He particularly disliked officers, but, I mean, he disliked the British, he disliked officers, he disliked other guys, he disliked the Army, the Air Force, the equipment, and his favorite expression was, "The dirty son of a bitches, the dirty son of a bitches." So, I once said, "Well," I says, "Fisher," I said, "if you're going to say it, say it right. ... The plural of son of a bitch is not son of a bitches, it's sons of bitches, you know." Well, he was not too well-educated and he kept saying it, "You son of a bitches." I gave up on him--wasn't a bad guy, except ... he was only happy when he was grumbling. So, listen to what happens--we are brought home, where they repatriated [our unit] roughly four weeks, after the Germans surrendered. We come back the early part of June. I think it was June 7th or 8th [when] we hit Staten Island, the pier, you know. ... They took us over to Jersey City in a ferry and we took a train down ... from Jersey City to Camp Kilmer, and we disembark at Camp Kilmer. ... We were the first unit back, the first bomb group back, from the Eighth Air Force, for whatever reason. I know why, what the reason was--they were going to reposition us on Tinian Island for the air war against Japan, but that never happened, because the war ended about a month-and-a-half later, but we're the first group back and [we were] big heroes. Yes, the girls are out there applauding and, you know, we get down. They take us down. We arrived about noon. They marched us into the mess hall. They fed us a great meal. We were waited on. They fed us a great meal. It was like a Thanksgiving dinner--ice cream and milk and all the stuff you couldn't get. When the meal was near the end, they read us two or three telegrams of congratulations from H. H. Arnold, who was [the] commanding general of the Air Force, "We welcome back the 445th." Well, they were trying to be nice to us. ... They announced everybody would get a thirty-day leave, which made everybody feel great, you know, go home, marched us over to a warehouse, new uniforms, because we were still in the woolen uniforms. It was a sweltering day in June, got fresh uniforms, new shoes. If there's such a thing as the Army being nice to guys, the Army was nice to us. I don't think that groups that came back later on [got that reception], got to be kind of routine, ... but the first group back, you know, we had won the war for them. So, we're in the fresh uniforms. We've got a thirty-day leave in our hands. They even allowed us a three-minute telephone call home, you know, "Go to this and that telephone booth and there's a [connection]." The whole thing was very nice. I'm walking with Fisher down the company street to where the barracks were, where they had put us up for the night, and I says, "Well, Frank," I said, "here we are." I says, "You've got nothing to complain about," and I see he's not too happy, because he really, at that moment, ... had nothing to complain about. He was home. He was safe. He was in one piece. ... There were girls making a fuss over him. Even the Army was making a fuss over him. I said, "Oh, by the way, you know, we passed the Statue of Liberty, I don't know, three o'clock this morning, when we were coming into the pier on Staten Island." I says, "You know, our overseas pay stopped at that moment." You know, we used to get twenty percent more for being overseas, and I think once you hit the three-mile limit, that was it. I says, "You know, somewhere around three, four this morning, our overseas pay [stopped]." (Fisher?) said, "The dirty son of a bitches," and he was happy. [laughter] He had something to complain about. So, that was a light moment, but an interesting one. Our unit, by the way, for the record, was one of about a little bit more than a dozen bomb groups in the Second Air Division of the Eighth Air Force, and the Eighth Air Force, which was the force, the bomber force, basically, although it had fighter support, ... that, in a sense, from Britain, bombed Germany during the day while the RAF bombed it at night. It was the equivalent. The Eighth Air Force had three bomb divisions. The First Division and the Third Division flew B-17s. That's the Flying Fortress, and the Second Division, ... of which we were part, flew B-24s, the so-called Liberators. ... By the way, the Second Air Division still stands together as an alumni association. We still have an association and have an annual conference, convention, rather, and it's rather nice that they've maintained this all over the years. Now, one of the very fine things that the Second Air Division did was, when the war ended, and it was barely ten days out of the way--[when] I say the war, I say the war against Germany, in May of 1945. Five or ten days after the end of the war, when it ended, we knew we were going home and going home early. General Kepner, William Kepner, who was commanding general of the Second Air Division, and others on his staff, decided that we should leave something behind, a remembrance in honor of our men who were lost. ... We should leave something behind in Britain as a remembrance of what the Second Air Division did and in honor of their dead. Some wise counsel said to them, "Not another statue, not another plaque or a statue or a big cross or whatever. Let's do something that's more practical," and here's a bunch of guys who are really not terribly intellectual. I mean, they're not your intellectuals, [the] elite or anything like that. I mean, they're soldiers and officers in a bomb division. The decision was made. They had heard that the City of Norwich, which was more or less our home city--the units were scattered around Norwich, but Norwich was like the hometown for all of us, where we took our leave, and so forth. The City of Norwich, they heard, after the war ended, was going to build a new library, big, big--they needed one--a big public library, whatever. ... We thought--they thought--it would be very nice if we left behind an American wing to that library, which would be stocked with American books and American magazines as they came out, and Americana in a general way, some pictures, and so forth. ... We thought doing something like this would have a more permanent meaning than a statue or a memorial, and so forth. So, the decision was made, up at headquarters, and I'll give them credit for this, the decision was made that we'd set up this American wing in the proposed new library, which eventually would be built, and eventually was built, in the City of Norwich. We, on our final, what's the word to say? our final pay call in Britain, before we sailed for home--I think it was, like, either the 31st or the 1st of every month, you got your pay. ... I remember, I used to get twenty-nine pounds, eight shillings, two pence a month, you know. Everybody knew what he got. They made this determination [that] every officer would drop in a pound. A pound, in those days, was worth four bucks. Every enlisted man would drop in ten shillings, which was half a pound, two bucks, no "ifs," no "ands" and "buts." When you picked up your pay, which was in British currency, you know, pounds and coins and whatever, if you were an officer, you dropped in a pound, if you were an EM, you dropped in either a ten-shilling note or you dropped in, what was it? four of these half crowns, which comes to ten shillings. So, I have two bucks invested in this and, years and years later, when the new library was built, and you can see it today, the most beautiful American wing has been established in the Norwich Public Library. ... One can visit it today, and I visited it twice already, with, now, it's not just books, now, it's CDs [compact discs] and, oh, everything, all sorts of communications equipment, and remembrances of every group [that was there]. There's a plaque up there for every group that flew in from [the Second Air Division] and the base from which it flew, and so forth. ... That's where that memorial book is ... that I referred to [earlier], with my friends' names in it. ... As a result of this, this is the best collection of Americana in Britain, outside of the US Embassy down in London, where the, what is it called? ... the Office of Information [the US Information Agency] or whatever it's called, you know, has its stuff. Outside [of that], it's the best collection, and it's no accident that ... one of the new universities--I say new universities, one of the new, postwar universities that was developed--the University of East Anglia, which is just miles outside of Norwich, maybe three miles or so outside of Norwich, has the best program in American studies of any university in the UK, including Cambridge and Oxford, and has the classic American [collection]. You know, if ... you're an English kid and you're a Commonwealth kid and you want to study American culture, American history, American whatever, you go to UEA, and the reason they have it is because ... that resource material is only two, three, four miles away, in the Norwich Public Library. So, here was a bunch of guys that, you know, as I say, not at all, you know, intellectually-oriented, but they did this and it's a great thing. It's a great thing. I mean, I try to put in a few bucks every year, you know, ... because we have this alumni association, as it were, of the Second Air Division. So, that's a story worth [telling]. I don't know if you've heard this one before.
SI: No, I have not.
AS: But, it's one worth recording, because it comes from an unexpected source. You know, if we were all university professors, sure, we'd see the value of a library, but we're not. ... You know, these are ordinary guys, like Fisher. He's got his two bucks in there. [laughter]
SI: Yes, very interesting.
AS: An interesting story.
SI: You said that the Normandy invasion interrupted your dental work.
AS: [laughter] Yes, and how.
SI: Did big operations typically interrupt your activities?
AS: Oh, yes, because, number one, they had better things to worry about than my wisdom tooth. Number two, ... as my father told me, in major operations, when there was heavy casualties, and so on, they used dentists as doctors, not always in surgery. I mean, they used them as anesthetists or what-have-you. ... As a matter-of-fact, it's a rather interesting story--if you were to go up to McGill University in Montreal, into what was the old College of Dentistry, it is now something else, but, for eighty or ninety years, a Victorian building, an old dental college, there is a plaque on the wall, ... with about thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen names on it, of dental graduates of McGill who were lost in the First World War. ... I asked the guy, I says, "How the hell would a dentist get himself killed?" You know, I mean, ... you think of dental work being done well behind the lines. I mean, they're not sitting in [trenches]. He says, "Obviously," he says, "these guys were being used as medics, ... because they had more medical training than the average person, far more, and they used them as doctors." ... So, you can see why they weren't too worried about my wisdom tooth.
SI: Did a major operation begin when you got the orders?
AS: Getting the orders in, and, if I'm not mistaken, and I will not ... swear to this, I think those field orders for D-Day came in in plain text, on a Teletype, what they called, the English called, or British called, a teleprinter, but we say Teletype, which they evidently felt was secure enough. It only needed an hour's worth of security. I remember that. ... I don't know when the boys hit the boats, maybe between midnight and three in the morning, and landed somewhere in the dawn to eight AM period on the beaches. I don't know exactly, but, ... by that time, I'm pretty sure enemy aircraft had spotted the invasion fleet moving in already, and this was, of course, the air support that we were, that we and the other bomb groups were, giving. ... I do recall that it was one day that the B-24s flew very low. They were using them almost as, like, fighter-bombers. A B-24 is not designed to fly at a thousand feet altitude or eight hundred feet altitude. [laughter] It's almost not airworthy at that level. It's predominantly meant for fifteen to twenty thousand feet, and it can hold its position passably well. It's not as good an aircraft, by the way, as the B-17, but it wasn't meant to be. It was a flying boxcar, and they could grind them out six times as fast, and so forth, but that's beside the point. ... Thanks to that, I must say this, no heroics on my part whatsoever, but the bomb group, the 445th Bomb Group, did win two extremely prestigious awards, one of which I can show you in the next room. ... We were given the Presidential Citation, the group citation, and we took the Croix de Guerrefrom the French Government, and not too many groups have both of those awards. Several have one or the other. I think there were only--I don't want to say for the record, I simply don't know--maybe two or three units in the Eighth Air Force that had both awards, and the interesting thing was that, as bomb groups went, we were not a very highly-educated crowd or, you know, top-of-the-line crowd. I don't want to say that we were pulled from the dregs of the Second Air Force, [Eighth Air Force or Second Air Division]. We weren't, but we had only a handful of guys, for example, who were college graduates in our squadron. [The way] I heard the story, we had only six or eight guys, out of several hundred, who had finished, you know, a college program. We had several who were interrupted, like Gallagher, who was up at Wesleyan, and McGinley, who was at Notre Dame. I remember some of these guys, but, at the bachelor's level, or whatever you want to call it, not too many. I'll tell you something, also, that's rather pleasant. There are three of us, our bomb group communications officer, that's Major Howard L. Davis, our assistant intelligence officer, ... he was then a lieutenant, I still think of him as lieutenant, Lieutenant Fritz Jacobi, and myself. We meet for lunch about every second month or so. We meet for lunch over at the place in Central Park near the lake, the Tavern--not the Tavern, but the little restaurant by the lake--and this is the interesting part. Davis is four or five years older than I am and Jacobi is a few months older than I am, but, so, see, we're about the same age. We're all working. All three of us are still working. Davis works for N. W. Ayer, the advertising agency. He's technically retired, but he goes to work every day. He's really become the historian of this agency, and he retired as one of the senior vice-presidents. Jacobi is editor of a magazine for the television trade. I can't help you too much with the name of it, and I'm still teaching, the three of us, ... [laughter] and the war is over sixty years next month--so, take it from there.
SI: Was Normandy a unique situation?
AS: You say Normandy?
SI: It sounds like the orders came in in the middle of the night.
AS: No, no. Normally, orders did--see, ... Eighth Air Force was daylight bombing, essentially. ... Daylight bombing meant the aircraft were in the air, depends on the season of the year, but [at] seven, eight AM, something like that, starting to form up, which means the orders had to come in from almost the night before, maybe--I can no longer remember it with accuracy--maybe eleven or twelve the night before. Briefings would be very early in the morning. I mean, when I say early, one's probably between four-thirty and six o'clock. ... I don't know if folks who were aircrew have given you a bit more information on this, but, because it was daylight bombing, it required this kind of early head start, and that's when the field order would come through, I guess, roughly, six to eight hours prior to a mission, or orders for a stand down, whatever it would have been.
SI: Did you always receive orders from the bomb group?
AS: ... No, no. ... We were a bomb group in Tibenham. Our orders came from the--I'm just trying to think whether it came from wing headquarters or division. I don't recall which of the two it was.
-------------------------------------END OF TAPE TWO, SIDE TWO-------------------------------------
SI: This continues an interview with Dr. Alfred V. Sloan, Jr., on July 6, 2005, in New York City, with Shaun Illingworth and ...
PA: Peter Asch.
SI: Okay, please, continue. You were telling us about where the orders came from.
AS: Yes. They either came through, or via, our wing, which meant, a wing was three bomb groups, basically, flying together, or from division, which would have controlled the dozen or fourteen bomb groups. I don't know from which it did--have no recollection anymore.
SI: There was no actual planning on the squadron or bomb group level.
AS: No. Put it this way--we did not fly by squadrons. ... In other words, all squadrons flew simultaneously as a bomb group and, generally speaking, ... a bomb group did not go by itself. It tended to go at least with other bomb groups, not necessarily the whole division, but other bomb groups, and some of these efforts were [where] the total division was in the air. ... If you can think, whatever it was, of thirty, let's call it thirty aircraft, or thereabouts, twenty-five, thirty aircraft, times a dozen or twelve, thirteen, fourteen bomb groups, you're talking about three hundred aircraft, or something like that, three hundred to 350 aircraft, and that was just the Second Air Division by itself, the B-24s. So, I'm very proud [laughter] to have been a member of that division, and I stay active in the divisional association, of course, and conventions, as I said, every year. ... We've already had three or four conventions, over the years, in Norwich. We've gone back to Norwich, which was basically, as I say, our--I can't say headquarters town. We didn't keep the headquarters there, but it was our leave town. It was the nearest town to the [base], the nearest major city to [Tibenham], and we got great support from the people there, and from the Church of England. For example, at Norwich Cathedral, the Bishop's Palace, which is, after all, where the Bishop and his family live, the Bishop's Palace became the American Red Cross club--very nice, "Hurrah for the C of E [Church of England]." [laughter] They came through very nicely for us, and so, ... everybody's associations, in terms of a city, so-to-speak, are with Norwich. ... Norwich itself lies about--today, it's less than a two-hour fast trip--but, I mean, it's about 120 miles northeast of London, almost, but not quite, on the North Sea, where England bellies out a little bit to the right, as you're looking at the map. ... For example, if you were to leave Norwich Airport today, which is a minor airport, but, if you were to leave it and fly due east, ... you'd cross the North Sea and you would not hit France. You'd hit either Belgium or Holland. In other words, it's somewhat to the north of [France]. You think of England being opposite France, but it's not. I mean, you'd hit, I think it's Belgium, I'm not sure. ... Of course, I've stayed in touch with people that I knew in Norwich and their families, and, as some of the older folks have died off, I've stayed in touch with the next generation and see them every once in a while. I've seen them a couple of times and I've gone over there and revisited.
SI: Unlike the flying crews, you were not rotating out of the unit.
AS: No. Flying crews rotated originally on a twenty-five-mission basis. By the early part or the middle of '44--it was later than that, I'm sorry, probably by the Summer of '44, when we had pretty good command of the air--it was extended to thirty-five. Now, some of the guys were rotated out of [headquarters] for perfectly different reasons. They were sent to other outfits or they were put on temporary duty. As I say, I was, for a couple of months, with the RAF, and then, at one month, I went ... over to Suffolk, to break in a new group that had just arrived. ... I'm losing track of the number now, but a group that arrived about four or five months after we did, and I spent, I remember, three or four weeks over there on temporary duty, showing them the procedures, best as I could. That all helped, by the way, when I became a teacher. I was doing teaching [laughter] without really, you know, thinking I was, but, in a sense, I was doing some [teaching]. ... Well, you were teaching something. You were teaching guys how to do [something], in this case, set up signals, and it does come in handy. You never know when these things do. So, the other thing worth saying is that, throughout the entire war, I wore my father's overseas cap from the First World War. He had brought it home, and it had the wrong piping on it. ... When I say piping, that's that colored thread that runs along the border of the cap, ... blue for infantry and red for artillery, and whatever, orange, for Signal Corps, and so on. Air Corps piping was alternate blue and gold, little specks of blue and gold, blue and gold, blue and gold, and my father's cap, even fit me fine, ... it went with an overseas uniform, with a dark uniform, [but] it had the wrong piping. His piping was maroon and white, which was the Medical Corps. Nobody ever picked me up on it during the Second World War. [laughter] I wore his cap ... right through the war, and there was something else I wore of his. Oh, yes, he had sent me over his old ... shirt, what I call a shirt, a woolen shirt, that ... you could button right up at the neck and that he must have worn under his tunic, and I wore it ... instead of fatigues. One thing about the Army Air Corps in World War II, they dressed like slobs. I mean, no two guys were dressed alike. You'd be moving around an airbase and this guy's wearing argyle socks and this guy is flying with his varsity letter under the uniform and another guy is wearing slippers and guys were in fatigues. ... You can even see pictures, more formalized pictures of our officers here--I don't know what page this is on, but which was, you know, kind of a semi-formal picture--and guys are dressed in different types of uniforms. ... I'll see if I can come up with them for you. It was the great pride of the Air Force--no two guys dressed alike. ... It's always when you look for these things [that] you don't find them. ... I won't waste your time on it, because the tape keeps running, but, oh, yes, here--dark trousers, light trousers, overseas caps, garrison caps. [laughter] ... These were officers--these are guys, they, more or less, ... lined up for a more formal portrait, you know, with jackets and ties. Take a look at this.
SI: Was there a general protocol that was followed regarding the relationship between officers and enlisted men?
AS: It was an easy [relationship]. That was typical of the Air Corps, very, very easy. I sometimes have seen, either on TV or in the films, you know, some of these movies today, not so much war movies, but, you know, [about] the Marine Corps, and I see [that] ... a corporal will give a recruit an instruction and the recruit says, "Yes, sir." I say, "Since when do you call a corporal a sir?" you know. I says, "You don't call NCOs [non-commissioned officers] sir," but, apparently, they do today. ... My last posting in the Army was after they broke up the bomb group. When the war ended, they posted me briefly, for two or three months, down in Homestead, Florida, at the Army airbase in Homestead, and one of my jobs was--it was an easy job--drilling recruits. I became kind of a drill sergeant, you might say. No one was pushing me too hard. ... A couple of these guys would [do that]. I'd say, "Now, do you understand this, ... how to move the rifle from port arms to shoulder arms?" and the guy would say, "Yes, sir." I said, "Stop right there." I says, "You want to call me sergeant, you can say, 'Yes, Sergeant.' That's all right. Don't call me, 'Sir,'" but I watch the movies today and the guy's screaming at another guy, "Yes, sir." I think maybe it's because it's a professional army today and ours was an amateur army, but, whatever the reason, ... to my recollection, in our unit, at least, it was relatively [relaxed]. Discipline was fairly light. I don't mean to say discipline--I mean, the discipline was good--but I mean the relationships. The "rah-rah" stuff, pretty much, went once we got overseas. There was a little bit of it in the States, but that's in garrison, but, when you get over [to England], probably don't think much of it.
SI: Did you mostly associate with people in your area of the base, or was it more localized than that?
AS: ... For the most part, my close friends--I can show you a bunch of signatures inside where I got everybody's address--were guys in the signal unit, in the communications battalion, and, I mean, as I say, it was all kinds of signals. It was radarmen, radiomen and wireless everything, and some air crew, but mainly guys ... in your own--[if] you're using an infantry comparison--in your own company, basically, the thirty, forty, fifty, sixty guys you worked closest with. ... They were, for the most part, ... not heavily educated, but very good guys, but, again, you were in a period of time when only about one in five was going to college, you know, or at least was graduating college. ... It was not like today, where two out of three high school graduates get some kind of further education, ... which explains an awful lot of things about education today, [laughter] why we have to have all sorts of support situations for the weaker students, the homesick students. [laughter] ... You know, there were no handicapped ones, you know, even handicapped mentally, a little bit, but, you know, didn't have it at that time, because a limited number of [students went on], and, in my father's day, I think it was something like one in twelve went to college, ... in my father's day, my mother's day. ... So, anything else that we can throw in, sure, fire away.
SI: You told us some stories about Jimmy Stewart before the tape went on.
SI: What do you remember about Jimmy Stewart?
AS: Well, let me repeat pretty much what I said to you an hour or two ago. Stewart was, number one, an excellent officer, excellent leader. Number two, he was brave. He was fair- minded. He did not let his Hollywood fame, or whatever it was, stand in the way of doing his job. To the best of my recollection, he took every--now, I'm doing a slight bit of guessing here, but every sixth or every fifth, I'm not sure what it was, let's say he took every sixth mission--he flew on every sixth field order that was a mission. ... Whether it was a soft one or a hard one, he didn't [know]. You know, whatever it came up, came up, and guys who flew with him said he was a damned good pilot and he certainly was a good squadron commander. He went from us to, I think it was the 453rd [Bomb Group], ... I'm tempted to say as the group commander, but it may not have been quite at that level. It may have been the deputy group commander. I just don't remember, and then, he went beyond that to other [positions], to a still higher position, ... I think it was at Air Force Headquarters in Britain, before the war ended. So, he had made a couple of jumps up, but they were deserved, in terms of his military capabilities, and he was a leader and a good man. He was a good man, and I say that despite his being a Princeton graduate. [laughter]
SI: Did you ever have any personal interaction with him?
AS: Just very light. Most of it was strictly business, strictly formal, just a few times, you know, passing along a signal or a communication or reporting to him for whatever had to be done--nothing terribly personal. There were two or three guys that obviously got to know him well and ... would have been his deputy commander and his adjutant. These guys obviously knew him quite well, and everybody seemed to speak very highly of him, even in other outfits that he had served in. ... So, he was a fairly remarkable guy, real decent guy, real good patriot, decent guy.
SI: Would you say that most of your officers were of a high-caliber and well-trained?
AS: Yes, they were nice people. Oh, there's a few, always, that you could do without, but most of the officers, and I'm talking now about the ones I knew best in signals and in operations, most of them were college graduates, [though] not all. One, by the way, was the nephew of the Rutgers Dean of Engineering. I'll think of his name. I wasn't an engineer at Rutgers, but I should remember the guy's name.
AS: Daggett, Parker Daggett. He was Daggett's nephew and he was the communications officer of one of the four squadrons, [though] not ours. I don't know which one it was, 701st or something like that, the 700th, and I know that Major Davis thought very highly of him. I mean, Davis would have known a lot more, you know, about his work than I did. ... Had his name come up before, the Daggett name? Had anybody mentioned it?
SI: We interviewed his son.
AS: Ah, okay. ... In other words, you interviewed Dean Daggett's son, not ...
SI: Not the nephew.
AS: Not the nephew, yes, okay.
SI: I just remembered that this man's father was the Dean of the Engineering School.
AS: Right, and I think Dean Daggett, by the way, and nothing to do with World War II, but I think Dean Daggett is the author, now, if that's the word, the guy who wrote one of the Rutgers songs, "Men of Rutgers, down the field," you know, "never falter, never yield. Hi, Hi for the Scarlet," I think that was written by him while he was [a dean]. In those days, I guess deans didn't have too much to do. They could write a little music. Life was simpler. [laughter] Yes, I remember the story. The woman who was President of Barnard College--they were called deans in those days--but Gildersleeve, Virginia Gildersleeve, the famous head of Barnard College, she used to leave school every year, ... a week or so after commencement, and not come back until September and spend the summer in England, where she had a little cottage somewhere. I mean, imagine a college president taking two-and-a-half months off today. [laughter] He'd, number one, come back, find he was out of a job, wouldn't have to worry about the rest, [laughter] but, I mean, it was simpler. ...
SI: Aside from Normandy, are there any other operations that stand out in your mind, perhaps anything during the Battle of the Bulge?
AS: Yes, you mentioned Battle of the Bulge, and I would have forgotten that. ... Well, we got in trouble in the Battle of the Bulge. It was late December, as I recall, of '44, ... when the Germans were counterattacking and we were, to a degree, falling back there. They again wanted to use, or decided to use, the B-24s, and possibly the B-17s, I can't answer for them, but they wanted to use the division to do low-level bombing. ... I remember the morning when they said, "It'll be a volunteer mission," volunteer, and there were, I don't know, roughly twenty-two aircrews ready at that time. ... Twenty-two volunteered, out of twenty-two, to help the boys on the ground, and this was a dangerous mission, because, again, not so much [because of] the German guns, but a B-24 was not designed to fly low, I mean, airworthy, in terms of just flying an aircraft. Talking about flying an aircraft--there was a lieutenant ... who had graduated [from] Purdue--I'll think of his name after you guys leave, [laughter] but ... I was a good friend of his--and he said, "You want to take [a ride]?" He was doing a thing called "shooting landings," which you may be familiar with, whereby it was to keep pilots in practice, and co-pilots, [too], where you would take off a runway, do a fairly broad loop around ... the airfield, more than the airfield, a couple of miles out, loop around back, land on the runway, but not stop, but gun it up again and take off again and land and take [off]. It was really practicing landings. That's why they called it "shooting landings," for some stupid reason. Anyway, ... this guy said, "You want to shoot a few landings?" I said, "Sure." So, I checked out a couple of parachutes, chose the pack, [laughter] as well as a backpack, and I went up with this guy. ... Now, I have realized since that the most dangerous part of flying any airplane, anywhere in the world, is taking off and landing, particularly landing, but, I mean, [in] the flying, planes don't fall out of the sky, but crackups are on either takeoff or landing. ... Here, you would do about, I don't know, a dozen of them, fifteen and on, and I said, "Well, how stupid I could have been," but ... the reason I flew with this guy was, he was a graduate of Purdue. ... I says, "Purdue, that's an engineering school." I says, "This guy is, you know, going to be a real pilot. I mean, ... he's not a Greek major, you know, out of Bowdoin or something like that. This guy's out of Purdue, the Boilermakers, the engineers." Turned out, I found out, years later, he was a philosophy major. [laughter] ... Good thing I didn't know that. "He's a Purdue [graduate], you know, a real man's school. He'll know how to run a plane." ... That was kind of an amusing thing, but I didn't know that until years later, met him at, ... you know, one of these conventions. ...
SI: Did you ever have any other opportunities to fly in a plane?
AS: Yes, a few times, but ... I remember flying some empty beer bottles once up to Belfast in Northern Ireland. ... I don't know what we were doing with the beer bottles, but we had them in the back, and then, ... just about the time the war ended, we did a number of these--what did they call them? "Cook's tours," or something, observation flights--to notice the destruction that not our particular bomb group, but that the Air Force in general, had laid upon Germany. ... I remember flying over the twin towers of Cologne Cathedral, also at a fairly low height, but they wanted us to see it. So, we had that experience. I did not fly the Atlantic, or back across the Atlantic, when the group came over. We did fly our planes over, but, basically, with a few exceptions, it was air crew and some of the headquarters staff to set up. I came over on the Queen Mary with, you know, ... nine-tenths of the group, and I came back on a ship called the SS Bienville, Waterman Steamship Lines, which was, what do you call them, in those days? not a troop carrier, but, like, a Victory ship. They didn't call them Victory ships--Liberty ship, I forget what they were called--and, going over, fifteen thousand men, in round numbers, coming back, about a thousand. It was a much, much smaller ship. ... That was the time I got seasick, coming home, you know, for two, three days. [laughter]
SI: Were you in Europe for V-E Day [Victory in Europe Day, May 8, 1945]?
AS: Yes, we were. As I say, we got there October of '43 and we left in June, like the 1st or 2nd of June, in '45. ... I added it up once and think it's either nineteen or twenty months, something like that, ... might even say here on the discharge [papers].
SI: A year and seven months.
AS: ... That's overseas service, yes; continental service, another, what? eleven months, roughly, a year [and] seven months, eleven days, okay, from arrival to departure, I guess. Okay, there it is, yes, "Arrived New York, 8 June." The interesting thing is, when my father came back from the First [World] War, he arrived on the 8th of June, 1919, and I arrived on the 8th of June, 1945, twenty-six years to the day, both saw the Statue of Liberty. ...
SI: Do you remember any celebrations on V-E Day?
AS: We knew it was ending then, and I have mixed feelings about V-E Day, because it was later that same day, or that evening, I forget which, that I got word my brother had been lost in action. ... It had taken [place] about two to three weeks before, but, first, it had to go back to the States, and then, my parents telegraphed--not telegraphed me. ... I presume it was a V-mail or something that I got. So, you know, I have unpleasant associations--much pleasanter with V-J Day [Victory Over Japan Day], when I was in the United States, in Homestead, Florida, and the whole ballgame ended on the 14th of August and that was it.
SI: Do you remember anything about the dropping of the atomic bombs?
AS: Yes, very much so, and, when those two were dropped, ... you knew it was coming to an end, and the Russians came in the last week and you knew it was time. You could sense that it was going to end, but it didn't until they got an official [surrender], until they got the Japanese aboard the Missouri and signed it [on September 2, 1945], and then, you were never sure. ... We were spared a trip to Tinian Island, which is where, apparently, a number of the bomb groups in our division were headed for. I think we were slated to re-equip on a B-32, if I remember the number correctly. It was an aircraft I never saw, though. ... I think very few people saw it. It was probably ... a larger version of the B-24. ... I've never seen one, so, I can't, in fairness, say much about it, but I'd heard that story--so, look it up, B-32s, yes. [Editor's Note: The B-32 Dominator was designed by Consolidated to be a heavier version of its B-24 Liberator, comparable to the B-29 Superfortress. However, the success of the B-29 program diverted priority from the B-32, which only saw limited operational use between May 1945 and the end of the war.]
SI: Did we skip anything about your military career? Is there anything else you would like to add about it?
AS: Pretty much, that's the story, ... except, of course, I was, you know, very, very pleased and very proud to be part of a good unit that did what we were told. ... I do recall, a very minor point, my pay was, in American money, 116 bucks and change a month and, in British money, as I say, it was twenty-nine pounds, eight shillings, two pence, if I remember. Whatever it was, of the twenty-nine pounds, I used to send twenty pounds home to my mother every month. I only kept nine pounds, or about 36 bucks, ... because you had everything you needed. I mean, ... you can't buy clothing and we were, effectively, riding the trains for nothing over there, and, if you had a leave and anything was a few pennies, it was plenty of money. ... My mother was very nice. She put all the money I sent home aside and, when I came out, she tossed me the whole amount for the two-and-a-half-odd years that I was in the service. ... It came to a fair bit, because I was sending home, let me think, ... almost a thousand dollars a year, not quite. So, my mother presented me with about two thousand something, whatever it was--what did I say? a couple of thousand dollars--and you have to realize, two thousand dollars, in 1945, converted to today's money, put in a multiple of about, more than ten, between ten and twelve, you're talking twenty, twenty-five thousand bucks. "Here, son, here's [your savings];" not too bad. [laughter] ... There you are. So, I could end up with a cheer for Rutgers. [laughter]
SI: What did you do once you got out of the military?
AS: Well, when I got out of the military, I did two things. I did start on ... graduate work immediately, but not full-time. I took a position in Philadelphia, with an excellent department store, Strawbridge and Clothier, which, by the way, the Clothier was related to Robert C. Clothier. He was a nephew or cousin or something. [Editor's Note: Dr. Robert C. Clothier, the fourteen President of Rutgers University, was the nephew of Strawbridge & Clothier co-founder Isaac Clothier.] [I] took a position with them, and while I was getting my graduate degrees. I knew that I was in some way going to teach either economics or business administration, and probably more the business administration side. ... I was advised, "Get some reasonable experience, not just a degree," and I picked up about ten years' experience with Strawbridge and Clothier and its allied companies, and then, I, [in] 1956, joined the State University of New York. [I] went Upstate for two years and came down to FIT in 1958. I got positioned up for two [years] there and, for the last forty-seven, down here. So, I've, as of now, finished forty-nine years with SUNY, and then, God willing, next year will be my fiftieth year with SUNY full-time--so, a good outfit.
AS: Thank you. [laughter]
SI: What made you switch to focusing on business and marketing from your original focus on history and political science?
AS: Well, number one, job opportunity. I had given consideration to being, like, say, a high school history teacher or a high school civics teacher, coming out of the service. I decided not to return to law school. There, I had two, three years to think it over and I decided [it] wasn't quite for me. ... I still have the letter I wrote to Dean Gifford at Columbia Law School, telling him, "Thank you very much, but I will pursue other directions." ... I was thinking of becoming a [teacher], but, again, it would have been looking around and waiting around, and [they would say], "Do I have a master's degree?" "No, I don't have a master's degree." I could have gone back, and I think, on a full-time basis, knocked out an MA, say, in history, in little over a year, maybe fifteen, twenty months, or something, but I was anxious to get going, like a lot of guys were, and to earn an income. ... I had this opportunity to go with Strawbridge and Clothier, indirectly, through one of the officers in our unit, who had worked for them before the war and put me in touch with them, and, of course, I guess organizations then were just grabbing guys that had come out of the service, particularly if they had their education, the bachelor's degree, under the belt. ... I went to work for them and I picked up the experience, which became critical when I moved, not so much to SUNY Upstate, but when I moved to FIT, because what they were interested in was not so much the degrees. I mean, it was all right, nice to have the degree and be close to the doctorate, and so on, but the important thing was, "What was your professional experience?" and, "Whom did you know in the industry?" ... These were the questions I was [asked]. So, it all worked out rather decently, and I spent those ten years in a profitable way, I think.
SI: It is interesting that you were hired onto the faculty before you had your PhD.
AS: That's right, but, bear in mind, again, when was I coming into the faculty? I'm coming in in '56, ... when schools are starting to build up again. ... I won't say the Baby Boomers had hit the school yet--they were still too young--but you could see them coming. ... For example, SUNY, at that point, was expanding from half a dozen or eight or ten campuses to twenty to thirty, and moving in the direction of the sixty-four we have today. It was getting bigger and bigger, and I went with Orange County Community College in Middletown, New York, which, at that time, was only underway six years, I think. I think ... they were founded in 1950, to be exact, and I came in in '56. I was there near the bottom, I mean, you know, and I was able to move up quickly, but, after two years, I had the opportunity to come back to New York City, which pleased my wife a great deal, and to stay with the same university, but to go with a different unit. ... I moved on from the two years there to ... what's now been forty-seven years at FIT, which isn't bad, which isn't bad. ...
SI: Regarding your students, the subject matter and your career, how has everything changed over the years?
AS: In terms of students, damn little change. Now, there's been a shifting in different directions. Students today do not handle the English language as well as they did when any of us went to college--you, I, or even when you started as a freshman, Pete, I don't know--but because students don't read, you know. I mean, I don't mean students don't read as students; I mean, from the time they were six or eight or ten, instead of reading, they're watching telly [television] or whatever else. On the other hand, students are much more aware of the general problems of society, let me put it that way, problems, whatever, and I think that's a trade off--less efficient on the mechanical skills, which is harmful, but better on the societal skills, if you want to call it that. ... Even in our college, which is largely female in enrollment, which is largely professional, in terms of interest, and so on, [there is] a considerable amount of concern, let me say, for the problems of society in general, of the poor, the underprivileged, whatever. It's nice to see. It's nice to see. So, as far as students, you know, somebody asked me this about Rutgers, when I went back for my, I don't know, the sixty-first, sixty-second reunion, and some guy from the New Brunswick Home News was walking with me [laughter] and he was taking notes. ... He said, "Do you see any difference on the Rutgers Campus?" "Well," I said, "of course," you know, women, you know, all this kind of stuff, but I said, "You know, I pop into our fraternity from time to time and I speak to students who are Rutgers students, or who have been," [and] I said, "I see the same guys--different names, but I see the same face there, you know, and the same bitching about this prof and that prof, and, 'How am I going to make it, get this term paper in on time?' This hasn't changed a hell of a lot, hasn't changed a hell of a lot," but, as I say, you do have the shifting. ... Within the same body, there's been a bit of a shifting of emphasis or interests, and so on, but it's great to teach students. ... It's been a very pleasurable career and I'm very glad I chose it, and I'm very pleased that my father lived long enough [to see me become a professor]. He died relatively young. He was sixty-six or sixty-seven, but he lived long enough to see me start out as a teacher and move into a teaching career, which I know gave him great satisfaction. See, that's why I didn't even bother with the medical part at all, you know. ...
SI: Is marketing the kind of field where you have to publish? For example, in history, publish-or-perish is the norm.
AS: I think that's more a matter of the university or the school at which you're teaching. ... For example, a cousin of mine teaches--he teaches physics--but he's at Michigan State. Michigan State has a very large marketing department and a very good one. Now, I don't think you'd get very far there without publishing. On the other hand, if you were teaching this at maybe a school like Worcester Polytech or Stevens [Institute of Technology] or a school with less, let me say, broadly, scholarly ambitions, but a little more hardnosed, then, I think that the quality of your teaching effort comes in, at least more, then. It is not totally, "Publish or get out of here." The other extreme, of course, would be something like the Harvard Business School, where they'll tell you, I don't know, "We want four articles a year and a book every third year," you know. [laughter] I mean, it can go extreme in cases like that, whether it's marketing or anything else, and my focus on marketing has been, for the last fourteen, fifteen years, anyway, basically on American demographics, which is the base of all marketing. ... I don't care what the product is you're selling, if you're trying to sell a college, I mean, "What's the demographics of the audience? Who do I go after? Who's my potential [audience]?" and so forth, and the demographic stuff never stands still. As we're talking, you know, the population of the United States is growing, or whatever, you know, and changing, and you've got to try to stay on top of it as best you can. So, we give the students round numbers. We don't try to overwhelm them with detail, but we give them round numbers, but you get all sorts of crazy pieces of information that you have to put together. "What's the divorce rate in South Dakota?" you know, or, ... "How many Episcopalians are in the United States?" 2.3 million, I think, but whatever it is, you know, I mean, these things, and they're always changing. ... To stay on top of it, frankly, what it requires more than anything else is a good, solid reading of The New York Times every day. If you do that, it's about seventy-five percent of it. ... It's all there, and you begin to pick it up and any major demographic changes are always in that paper, because it's so thorough. I wish I could get my students to read it. I can't, frankly, except for the few who would read it anyway, but it's one of these things. ... You do the best you can and recommend it, and so on, but it's an interesting discipline to teach, because unlike--I teach a little bit of business mathematics--there, nothing changes. ... A hundred years from now, three and three is going to be six, I mean, [laughter] but, ... when it comes to marketing and particularly to the changing consumer market and the demographics of it and the size, ... it's always changing, and staying on top of it keeps you sharp, too. You know, it's like any other muscle that you exercise. You've heard this before, you know, exercise your brain. It helps, and [do] you know what helps, by the way, in all this learning demographic knowledge? baseball trivia. If you'd been following baseball as a child, like my son does--he's really into it--and you get numbers-oriented and name-oriented, ... by the time you hit all this baseball trivia, then, when you get to the serious stuff, in a sense, your mind is ready for it. So, it's a stupid thing to say, but it does help. It's mind training, in a sense, yes. So, can we add anything else? ...
PA: Did you want to add anything further? You touched on three people, if you wanted to comment on them, your brother, your wife and your son.
AS: Oh, well, as I told you, my brother passed away just before his twentieth birthday, ... after we'd bridged the Rhine, and, of course, you know, you never get over it, period. I mean, you just don't get over it, but what you try to do, at least what I tried to do when I came out of the service, was, you know, to act like two, ... you know what I mean, take on [the role], be both [sons] for my parents, because, I mean, this was the tough blow, to the parents. I had a fine marriage. My wife passed away about nine, just about nine, years ago, this month. She was in her sixty-seventh year, like my father was, yes. She was in her sixty-seventh year when she passed away, and she was a resident, when we were married, of West Orange. So, you see, ... I'm a New York boy, but I go to Jersey for my education, I go to Jersey for a wife. ... Her dad had been a football coach at three colleges, actually. He had played for Syracuse. He was, I think, co-captain in 1924, a fellow named Mort Starobin, and he was a linesman, a very, very excellent tackle, in the days when you didn't have to be three hundred pounds to play the middle of the line. ... When he graduated Syracuse, he started as ... one of the freshman coaches at Syracuse. Then, the coach, and this is in the middle '20s now, the coach, [John F.] "Chick" Meehan, moved to NYU and built those great teams, when NYU would play the best in the country at the Yankee Stadium, you know, Pitt, Oregon, Tennessee, Fordham, you name it. He was the line coach for Meehan at NYU, and then, when NYU began to de-emphasize, eight or ten years later, and Meehan moved off to Manhattan College, he became the line coach at Manhattan College. So, that's the way assistant coaches do--they stick with the head coach, more or less, unless they get a head coaching job themselves. As the head coach moves, they move with him. ... Regretfully, I never met him, because we had such a community of interest, and he was also a fraternity brother of mine from the Syracuse chapter. Regretfully, I never met him, because he died as a very young man. ... He had an embolism when he was forty-one or forty-two years of age, when my wife was only a girl of about, I think, thirteen, twelve or thirteen, when she lost her father. So, it was a little tough on her. ... She was a fine person, though. We had forty-one years of a very good marriage, and, by today's statistics, forty-one isn't so bad, when you stop to think about it, [laughter] with one marriage in two ending in divorce, you know. If you take the averages, even though we're living a little bit longer, forty-one is ... I guess not totally to be sneezed at, but it was forty-one very, very good years. ... She was very supportive when I became a teacher and, you know, income dropped a little bit, very supportive of it, and was a wonderful mother to ... Alfred III. ... Alfred III has three Columbia
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AS: degrees, including two at Teachers College and ... his specialization has been the other end of education from mine. He does the nursery and pre-nursery kids, the pre-school kids. He's particularly good with kids, ... and specializes in this, between age three and age six, wow. ... I tell him, I says, "Hell, you're doing a more important job than I am," I says, "because you're really affecting their attitudes." I says, "By the time I get them, they're eighteen. Come on, it's pretty much locked in by that age." I mean, you can do things, but not [as much], but, hey, with a three, four-year-old, you know. ... In many cases, today, the schoolteacher of the young child puts in as much time with the child as the parent does, because, with both parents going to work and the child comes home and the kid goes to bed early, he may see more of the teacher than he does of the [parents]. So, he's very good at that and he enjoys it and I'm delighted. I'm delighted, because I say, "At least we got somebody into Columbia in this family," [laughter] but I'm thankful I never got in and I'm just so pleased that I went to Rutgers instead, because it was, as I said, the right guy in the right school. That was it, and so, anything I can further do for you or shall we say [we are done]? ...
SI: Is there anything else you can think of that you would want to put on the record? I did want to ask more about the censorship job.
AS: Sure, go ahead.
SI: Can you explain more about the censorship job?
AS: Yes. You'd get a stack of letters, slit them open in a certain manner, which we were taught very quickly, and read the letter--if the letter seemed to be okay, sealed up the letter, put your number on, so [that] they know who read it. I mean, it was no secret about mail going out being read, put your number on, and I think I still remember my number, but, anyway, put it on and pass the letter through for dispatch. If ... you were not totally sure of the [letter], "May be something in there. I don't think there is, but maybe," you know, you could put it on a delay, so that it goes out, but not tomorrow morning, and maybe put a two-week, one-week delay on it. If the letter did not smell right to you, then, you turned it over to your unit head or whatever--I forget what his title officially was, the office head or the unit head--who went further with it, and, eventually, passed it upstairs to [the military authorities], you know, if it was serious stuff. ... As I say, there may have been one or two serious ones. I mean, everybody could trap something now and then. ... Such specialty as I did have, ... although we were trained a little bit in codes and breaking codes, not a huge amount, it was in reading this stuff and kind of sensing it out, you know, this so-called "open code" thing, which I became a little bit knowledgeable of. So, that would have been your routine day, and it was, you know, day after day, basket after basket of letters, day in and day out. ... In terms of letters going out of the country, go back to 1942, in terms of mail leaving the country, ... relatively little personal stuff was going abroad. Yes, to England, yes, people had relatives in England, or Ireland, sometimes. You couldn't write to the Continent. The Continent was under German control. Theoretically, I guess, you could write to Spain or Portugal. I saw practically none of that, but most of what went out was commercial stuff, and a lot of it was to South America, for example, or Central and South America, some, a little bit, to Britain, you know, books, and so forth, ... but an interesting job. ... It was a little bit like listening to these guys in the bus or the subway talking on their cell phones, you know. [laughter] They're just pouring it right in and you're picking up every word. It was almost that same kind of a feeling, only, there, it was our job to do it. ... Just before we went overseas, they told us that our mail would be censored by our own officers, and I had a little briefing of the officers who were going to be censoring mails, who were generally lower-ranking officers, I mean, junior officers. ... I told them some of the techniques by which guys might try to give away the location of the unit or something, and there were some simple codes that they might look for, and so on, but I had nothing to do with the mail censorship, because enlisted men did not censor mail. All censoring was done by officers and, if I'm not mistaken, I could be wrong on this, I think at least some officers censored their own mail. I think, ... I mean, maybe a junior officer had to go to a field-grade officer, I'm not sure, but certain guys, I think I got a letter from Colonel Haas that ... was self-censored, but ... it's a recollection and I'm uncertain of it. So, I have to put it that way.
SI: Were you ever aware of anything that you sent up the line coming back, at the censorship office?
AS: Yes. I got a couple of commendations, one from a man who was, in civilian life, a rather well-known author, a fellow named Lloyd Morris, a Columbia graduate, who kind of was the head of the heads in our area. ... He says, "We picked up something," you know, and ... complimented me and it was very, very nice. I was very, very thrilled. ... Once or twice, that happened and that was it.
SI: They never explained that.
AS: No, no. [laughter] You never knew who, what or [how]. No, no, I didn't get into any of this real heavy, you know, FBI stuff or code breaking or, you know, what do they call it in England--Bletchley Park? ... Well, of course, these guys were picking up signals--they were not doing letters. ... They were picking up enemy signals, including even Japanese signals that they were trying to decode, and, evidently, you know the whole Enigma story. It was always very interesting. I mean, I read a couple of books on it, and so forth, but that's as close as I ever came.
PA: You were not even aware of which ones you thought were suspicious that turned out to be or not.
AS: No, no. [Of] the ones I sent up, I presumed it was among those that I said, "These don't look right," of course, but which ones it were among those that didn't look right, I have no idea, to this day, to this day.
SI: Was this mail coming in from all over the East Coast or just the New York area?
AS: ... That's a good question, and I'm not sure I can answer it. I seem to think it was regional. Mail posted out of New York probably was Northeastern, maybe Near Midwest, but that's a bit of a guess and I don't really know for sure. I know one of our [colleagues], a young man in our office, was sent to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to catch mail there, do censorship down there. I was told there was a unit in the Miami area, so, probably, depending, I think, almost more [on] where the mail was going. Obviously, if it was going--I don't know, in the Pacific, who you would have sent mail to, because Japan controlled the Dutch East Indies and Singapore, [laughter] ... but I dare say we got a fair, fair sampling of most of the mail leaving the United States, but the specifics, I have no idea. Just, it's like so many other jobs--you just do your job and you don't know what's going on upstairs and you just hope it's helping.
SI: Is there anything that stands out in your memory about wartime New York?
AS: No, no. ... I was in New York, basically, in '42; from '43 on, I'm pretty much in service. Brownouts, I have a vague recollection of them. We never did have a blackout. I'm trying to think. I do recall, for example, rationing. ... Maybe my mother was concerned, in terms of meat, cheese, I don't know, whatever was rationed. It was not a concern [for me]. I don't recall any food being in short supply, as far as I knew. I do know, that the time we got that repatriation leave, in the Summer of 1945, that I referred to, you know, from Camp Kilmer, one of the things they gave us, as we set off for home for thirty days, was a stack of--no, not a ration book, but gasoline cards or gasoline rations. ... I remember a friend of my father's, he said, "Al, can I have your gas [ration card]?" ... I didn't have a car, so, it didn't make a difference, "Here it is," and somebody else--I think there were a couple of cards for a ration book for shoes. I think leather was in somewhat tight [supply]--I mean, nothing like in England or anything, but limited supply. ... Again, it's a vague recollection, that I haven't thought of this in sixty years. I think Mother and Dad had a neighbor who had two growing children at the time and I think I gave them my shoe [ration card], because I was getting my shoes from the Army. I sure didn't need any shoes, and I think I gave them my shoe ration card, or something like that, ... but a very, very limited recollection of that, ... not a huge amount.
SI: If there is nothing else, thank you very much for answering all our questions.
AS: ... My pleasure, and, "Rah-Rah Rutgers." [laughter] That's a good way to end it. [laughter]
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Reviewed by Tiffany Yun Hsia 2/13/06
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