Jonathan Farkas: This begins an interview with Mr. Paul Nolle on March 30, 2001 in New Brunswick, New Jersey with Jonathan Farkas and Sandra Stewart Holyoak. First, I would like to thank Mr. Nolle for taking the time to sit for this interview. Mr. Nolle, please begin by telling us where and when you were born.
Paul Nolle: I was born in Montclair, New Jersey on May 3, 1926.
JF: Who were your parents?
PN: My parents were William and (Jean?) (Adams?) Nolle.
JF: Where were they from?
PN: My mother was born in India of missionary parents [and] came to this country when she was about thirteen or fourteen. My father was born in Canton, Ohio and was raised in Canton, Ohio. They met in college at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio.
Sandra Stewart Holyoak: Can you tell us about their backgrounds?
PN: Well, my mother had a very interesting early life in India. She had a slight British accent, because the Brits were so strong in India at that time, before the turn of the century. Her mother and father came back to the States, and I don't remember the exact year, but my mother was about thirteen. … As I said, my father and mother met at Hiram College. My father went on to do graduate work at the University of Missouri and Columbia in New York. They were married [in] about 1917 [and] eventually moved to New Jersey for business reasons and raised two of us. I have a younger brother. That's about my beginnings.
JF: What sort of business was your father in?
PN: He was a business writer for various professional papers. He eventually was the economist for the Iron and Steel Industry Association. That was located in New York. My mother was a housewife for the most part, although she had taught school in her younger years in Ohio.
SH: Did your father fight in World War I?
PN: No, he did not. He was briefly in the service, but really was not in it very long and saw no action of any sort.
SH: Did he have any brothers who fought?
PN: No, he had only a sister. My mother had one brother who was a doctor, who was too young for military service. Her older brother was a flyer in the First World War with Billy Mitchell, and, in fact, he was one of the Billy Mitchell pilots who sank a battleship in the Chesapeake Bay to prove that the Air Force could destroy the Navy, and he was a very, very interesting man. He was a Yale English professor for quite a while in his life.
SH: Did your mother tell why they came back from India?
PN: They wanted to raise the children who were now what we'd call junior high age today, and my grandfather Adams was an architect, as well as an ordained minister, and he went back to India for a while to finish several churches that he had started and finally retired back in Ohio.
SH: Were they originally from Ohio?
PN: They were originally from Ohio.
SH: Was it uncommon at that time for women of your mother's generation to go to college? Did she discuss that at all?
PN: No, no, she didn't. I mean, she didn't think it was uncommon at all. I can remember here in New Jersey, her closest friends were some of her college classmates at this Hiram College, who also were here in the East. I don't think she thought it unusual at all. She was long before the women's rights movement, but was fairly assertive in the family as to any rights she wanted.
SH: Did she talk at all about the suffrage movement?
PN: I don't think it was a big deal with her at that time. They were, my mother and father, I know, were strong admirers of Woodrow Wilson. Woodrow Wilson was my mother's hero during much of her life, and they were extremely upset, I know, that Wilson's League of Nations, we couldn't join or didn't join.
SH: Were politics fair game at the dinner table in your house?
PN: Yes, yes. Politics were always discussed at the dinner table. You know, I remember many Sunday dinner conversations on politics when there was company. There was a division within my mother's family. The fellow who was an English teacher at Yale and a pilot remained Democratic. My mother and father were Democrats up to, I'm not sure. Being strong Presbyterians, they were, frankly, not very interested in Al Smith becoming president as a Roman Catholic.
SH: Did they discuss that?
PN: Oh, they discussed it. I don't think religion had much to play with it, as they didn't think he was a very sophisticated man. That's about all I can really say, because that wasn't much of a discussion. They became disenchanted with Roosevelt, and I would say that in my really formative years, they voted Republican, and I did too for a number of years. I'm not a Republican today, by any stretch of the imagination, maybe partly to blame from certain Rutgers professors, but partly to blame the Republicans, too.
SH: You had a brother. Was he younger or older?
PN: I had a younger brother, Bruce, two years younger, who was fortunately too young ever to see service, although he was in the National Guard after the war for a number of years. He lives in New Jersey today, too.
SH: How were your parents affected by the Great Depression?
PN: They were affected by the Depression. I remember when times were fairly hard. When I was a young boy, I remember the cleaning lady, well, a maid, really, who was there most of the time. They had to give that up. … I'm too young to remember it clearly, but I was aware that we couldn't do the things that we used to do. There were no summer vacations away. I mean, we weren't starving, by any stretch of the imagination, but I know my mother and father were worried.
SH: How did it affect your father's job? Did he maintain his employment?
PN: Yes, but very deep cuts in income and concerned about that, very concerned.
SH: Were your grandparents still in Ohio?
PN: My grandmother Adams had died. My grandfather Adams, in retirement, lived in Ohio.
SH: Did you work as a young man in high school?
PN: Yes, oh, yes.
SH: What did you do?
PN: Well, when I was in high school, in the summers, I painted houses. I still paint a lot today, not artistically, just the wall. [laughter] I did work for the school system. When I was in high school, I would go down to some of the junior schools and run recreation programs, a number of us, I wasn't alone in that, but there were several of us that did it. When I was younger, my brother and I had a Saturday Evening Post route, where we'd deliver the Saturday Evening Post. We weren't the only kids. That was a big deal in those days, and so, yes, I worked most of the [time], by the time I was old enough to do so.
SH: Were you involved in Boy Scouts at all?
PN: Yes. Well, I was for several years. I can connect that to the Second World War. After Pearl Harbor, I remember my father encouraging me to stay in Scouts, because he said, "I didn't think the war would be over before you're old enough to go into it, but I think they will continue to insist that young men go into the military, and Boy Scouts is a good lead-in for that," my father thought, although he had never been a Scout. I never made Eagle Scout, nor was I close. I enjoyed going camping with the Scouts and the Friday evening meetings we'd have in one of the schools, but I can't say that I was active for more than about four years in the Scouts, maybe through to the age fifteen.
JF: Did you play any sports?
PN: Varsity, the only varsity sport I played was baseball at Montclair High School. … I played a lot of football, and I loved football and still do, but today I must say the only sport I play is golf.
JF: Did a lot of kids from your high school go to college?
PN: Oh, the vast majority. Bear in mind, Montclair had a very large black community at that time and still does, but I would say, I'm really guessing at this, but I'm hazarding a guess that probably forty percent of the blacks went on to some form of higher education after high school. Of the whites, I would say, I kind of believe that it would be close to eighty to ninety percent of the high school class would go to some degree of advanced education.
JF: So you were planning on going to college.
PN: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I never had any doubts but that I would go on to college.
JF: Before you went into service, did you have any idea where you wanted to go?
PN: No, I really didn't. I had a cousin who went to Dartmouth, and therefore I rooted for the Dartmouth football team, and I applied at Dartmouth, but this was right after I was out of service, and the colleges were jammed up and I was told that I couldn't be accepted for another eighteen months, and I thought, "To hell with that." I thought I had already lost a little over two years and didn't want to lose any more.
SH: In school and at home, did you discuss the events that took place in Europe before Pearl Harbor?
PN: For instance, I was very much aware of the fact that Marian Anderson wasn't allowed to sing in Constitution Hall. My mother was a member of the DAR and was so mad about it that she resigned. Bear in mind, she was Republican at this point. … That was a very major event, because I remember it being discussed strongly on both sides in dinner parties where I was eavesdropping on, and I remember relatives of my mother's pleading with her not to resign and stay in and make the fight, turn it around. My mother really wasn't that active in the DAR that she felt she wanted to engage in that sort of controversy. … I tell you that today with a great deal of pride about my mother. So that was a major political event that I remember. I don't remember the election of Roosevelt over Hoover. I do have strong memories of the landslide election in '36. That election is really the first one that I have vivid memories of. … I remember my father was very much a Wendell Willkie fan, and my first introduction into politics was addressing penny postcards to people all over the United States to urge their delegates at the Republican convention to vote for Wendell Willkie.
SH: What other events do you remember being discussed? What do you recall about the invasion of Poland or Lend-Lease?
PN: My mother, bear in mind, was first raised under what we called the Union Jack, and she felt very strongly that we could not let Britain go down, and, basically, I remember hearing discussions and even participating in them by this point, before we entered the war, that we could not let Britain go down. I can remember my mother spending hours at Central Presbyterian Church in Montclair making what they called Bundles for Britain. We didn't, but I remember that several of my mother's very close friends entertained British pilots who weren't yet pilots, who were being trained down at McGuire, and they'd have them up for Sunday, bring them up on Saturday and keep them through Sunday afternoon and then take them back. … That was a very common thing that was going on in Montclair at that time, but there was also a lot of work at many of the churches, I remember, Bundles for Britain.
SH: What about the America First Committee? Was there any discussion of them?
PN: Oh, yes. Oh, yes, there was. There were friends who I remember hearing … in our house agreeing with Lindbergh, accepting Lindbergh's position. I think my mother and father, particularly my mother, for the reasons I've explained, was strongly pro-British and very anti-Hitler, of course, who couldn't be at that time, but was concerned selfishly about her [sons], "If this goes on long enough, my two sons are going to become involved." So there was some of that concern, but my mother just despised [the Germans]. My father was part German. In fact, the name Nolle is, it's difficult to know when you look at a Paris phonebook whether it's French or German. It is German, so far as I'm concerned, because I know that my great grandfather immigrated from Alsace-Lorraine, and I was always told jokingly that he was German when Germany occupied Alsace-Lorraine and French when the French did. In a Paris phonebook, you have almost a whole page of Nolles. … Recently my wife and I were in Paris, and we took a tour of the, I can't think of the building now where the trials took place, but there's a long list of those people who had their heads chopped off, and sure enough there was a Nolle there. So it was, during the Second World War, it was a French name; it wasn't a German name. I think my grandfather was probably more German than French.
SH: Do you remember where you were when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor?
PN: Oh, I remember that Sunday, Pearl Harbor, very clearly. My father and I were listening to the New York Giants football game on the radio, no TV in those days, of course, and all of a sudden, they broke in with an announcement that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. I had no idea what Pearl Harbor was or where it was, but I remember my father getting out our family atlas and finding Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. He knew that it was our largest naval base in the Pacific, and we knew that it was war right away.
SH: The focus of your family had been on Great Britain. In terms of your mother's missionary background, were there any discussions about what was going on in China and Japan and the Far East?
PN: Well, yes, there was concern, because there were some missionaries in China known to my mother. In fact, I don't know whether the name Walter Judd would mean anything to either of you, but Walter Judd was a very active, was a congressman eventually, but he was a medical missionary in China and came back to this country warning about the dangers of Japan. In fact, he was Eisenhower's choice for vice president, and they talked to Eisenhower into accepting Nixon. … We knew Walter Judd. My mother entertained him for dinner several times, simply because he came to Montclair to give sermons. I think he was a Congregationalist at the Congregational Church in Montclair. So, yes, there was talk about China, and there were other people, friends of my parents, who knew people from China, Americans, who had either business or missionary reasons to be in China, and were terribly concerned. But I think Pearl Harbor was just an unbelievable shock to all of us. I don't think there was any concern at that point that we were going to go to war with Japan, although I learned subsequently that my father was very worried about the fact that we were trying to starve the Japanese from oil and that was perhaps provocative on our part, but, no, after Pearl Harbor, nothing but hatred for them, the Japanese.
SH: Can you tell us what it was like the next day in school after Pearl Harbor?
PN: Discussed nothing but it all day long …
SH: What grade were you in?
PN: That's a good question. It was 1940, so I was fourteen. I was in junior high school. I wasn't in high school. I was probably seventh or eighth grade, seventh grade, I guess, at the time of Pearl Harbor. I would have been in the seventh grade, I think.
SH: Did you listen to Roosevelt's speech the next day?
PN: Yes, yes. Well, no, that was on a Sunday, and the speech was on Monday or Tuesday. I guess I heard excerpts that night on the radio from it. I don't really remember hearing the original speech.
SH: From that point on, can you talk about what you saw within your school of the older classmates and the way the war began to affect the school and the community?
PN: Well, we all recognized that, "Now we are at war." There was some concern that we were so wiped out at Pearl Harbor that, at least the kids, I don't know that adults had this feeling, but, "Gee, how are we going to stop them, if they came to the coast of California?" That, at least, was what I remember talking with my friends, "We don't have a Navy anymore. How are we going to stop them?" or at least we thought we didn't have a Navy. You know, at that age, still, war doesn't occupy certainly all of your thinking, because obviously there are other things that occupy your mind at that point, but it was now a concern that we were involved in the war, and it was going to involve us kids within a few years, as it did.
SH: You talked about your mother and the Bundles for Britain. Did Pearl Harbor change the focus of what the groups were working on? How quickly did it mobilize groups helping US forces?
PN: Well, it certainly continued, Bundles for Britain. I think that went on right through, at least in the church that we belonged to, the Central Presbyterian Church. I don't have as clear a recollection, though, after Pearl Harbor, of my mother spending so much time at the church. I think that may have been just that I was out of the house more, because I was growing older and getting along, doing other things, but I know it continued to go on. Whether it went right up to the end of the war, I don't know.
SH: What do you remember of rationing and the coupon books?
PN: Oh, I remember that very clearly. I remember my mother scolding my father that he was too darned honest, the way he measured the house for the oil for heating the house, because we were always cold, and much to my mother's horror, we were burning coal in the fireplace, which, of course, was not nearly as clean as wood, but we literally had a fire going, coal fire going in the fireplace, morning, noon and night, and for quite a while. We were also very much aware of gas rationing [and] that we couldn't drive as much as we would have liked to. We used to save up, because my parents still liked to drive to Ohio to see their parents at that time, and that was difficult for a while with the rationing of gas. The big problem at that time, that I didn't understand, was we also didn't have the rubber, and tires were in short supply, but, you know, the hardships we had were just nothing compared to what Europe and England were putting up with, and we knew that.
SH: Were the papers and radio your main sources of information, or were there letters back and forth from England?
PN: No. My mother did not really have that many close friends in England at that point. She was aware through other friends that things were very difficult in England, you know, food was in short supply, etcetera, and I'm unaware that she was getting letters from people in England.
SH: Did your family travel into New York City?
PN: Yes, we used to go to New York frequently. My father was an enormous opera fan, and during the depths of the Depression, I know, they didn't go to the opera, but in their later years, they did, and just occasionally, it wasn't a regular occurrence, and they'd also go to shows. My mother, having been brought up in India, loved Indian food, as I do also today, and we'd go, I remember it was a treat, we'd go to New York to go to a Hindustani restaurant, as we were taught to call it, and my mother could converse with them, to some degree, in Hindustani, and they'd always give us extra special attention, of course. I don't think of those war years, when I was home, as extremely difficult. I mean, everything was rationed. We used margarine instead of butter a lot of the time, and, as I say, the house was always cooler than we really wanted it to be, and there was rationing of things like gas. The big worry for my mother was her two sons were probably going to have to go off to war …
SH: How did Montclair mobilize for blackouts?
PN: Well, we did have blackouts, but we taped up the top half of the headlights on the cars and would drive it around Montclair believing the submarines were not going to see those headlights. I have no idea why we did that, but we did. There were air raid wardens all over. We had a bucket of sand in the attic, and there were [warnings] the first few days after Pearl Harbor. Now that Hitler had declared war on us … there were scares about air raids. I remember Montclair schools were closed early one afternoon, concerned that there was an air raid. That only happened once, much to our sorrow, us kids. [laughter] I didn't really appreciate how tough war was at that point. I just wasn't old enough to fully grasp it, so that I don't look back on them as horrible years. I looked back at them as almost from some standpoints, not happy, but dramatic, intriguing, interesting. That's when I learned to read The New York Times, because we read it every morning and where the war in Europe stood. The big concern, as I say, was my mother realizing that her two sons would have to go to war, and the city that she loved so, London, was being smashed to the ground, to the point where she would cry about it. She was that emotional.
SH: Were there young men that you were aware of who died, or did you know families that lost people?
PN: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Within a year after we entered the war, I was aware of people I knew who were killed, and right up to the last, one of my closest friends, we were on the baseball team together, and he was killed on the Indianapolis, a cruiser, the last day of the war, and, in fact, I was with his sister just this past weekend, so that I was very much aware of the loss of lives from the beginning to the end. I didn't know anybody [who was] killed at Pearl Harbor, but it wasn't very long before there were deaths that I certainly knew who they were.
SH: Did you remember whether young men were more apt to enlist, or did they wait for the draft?
PN: I think most of us, in one way or another, enlisted. I did, not out of a great sense of patriotism, I mean, I was patriotic, I don't mean to slur that, but my ambition was to be a naval aviator. … I can remember one morning when I was a senior in high school, so this might have been 1943, fall or winter, the end of '43, when two fellows showed up at my front door, and I knew why they were there, because we were all going to the naval enlistment office in New York for the V-5 program, and my mother was very suspicious that we were not going to high school, but the three of us lied to her, but she really wasn't fooled. So we were all enlisted in the V-5 program, and we had to periodically have health checkups, namely the eyes, and lo and behold my eyesight changed from twenty-twenty to something less than, and I was out of the program. Only one of them, of the three of us who went, was actually in the program and was learning to fly when the war was over. I did end up in the aviation branch of the Navy. I'm not sure whether it had any connection with the fact that I had enlisted in the Navy Air Corps.
JF: When did you actually join the Navy? Was it after you graduated?
PN: Yes, after I graduated from high school. Actually, it was the early fall of that year. … I was sent to Bainbridge, Maryland for boot camp, which was a city built not too far from where Camp David is now, in the hills of Maryland near the Potomac River, and it was an enormous boot camp. I think at one point there were something like 70,000 people living in those barracks, and I was homesick. It was the first time I'd been away for this long from home, but it wasn't all that [bad]. In this boot camp, Bainbridge, I was, of course, as I said, homesick to some degree, but I never found it really distasteful. One of the recollections I still have was the feelings between the Northerners and Southerners in the barracks. We were all Yanks or Rebs, and I wasn't quite used to that. I didn't know much about that, but that's a memory that I retained from boot camp. I was very fortunate, in that I don't think it had any real connection to the fact that I enlisted in the Naval Air Corps, but I was sent to Lakehurst, New Jersey after boot camp, instead of onboard a ship as a swab jockey, as they called the lowest ranking sailors. I was sent to Lakehurst, where there was in a Catholic girl's school, very fine school, just outside of Lakehurst, that the Navy took over to train people in what the Navy called aerology, it's what you and I would call meteorology, and I became a weather forecaster for the Navy. That was very exciting to me, I mean, I really was very fond of that. It was a crash course that lasted about four months, and I was kind of proud of myself, because I was the only person in my particular class that didn't have at least two years of college. I was, you know, just out of high school, and my knowledge of physics was almost nonexistent, and chemistry was even less, and so it was quite an intellectual struggle for me. I think, intellectually, I probably worked as hard there as I did ultimately here at Rutgers or law school. … The ultimate place, after getting out of the school, was be assigned to a carrier, but I wasn't. I was assigned into a naval air station, first, in South Carolina and then in Georgia. Those naval air stations were involved in submarine patrol, and they would spot German submarines with their equipment, and it was the job of those of us in the aerology office … In the one naval station, there were blimps, and blimps are very sensitive to any sorts of winds …
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JF: This is side two, tape one of an interview with Mr. Paul Nolle.
PN: I was mentioning that blimps are particularly sensitive to winds, and when we wouldn't forecast the winds accurately, we were invited to join the blimps the next day, or the next windy day. It was a good way to get airsick, so it made us as careful as we could be in forecasting winds over the Atlantic. We were really only forecasting for about 500 miles out over the South Atlantic.
SH: Tell us about these blimps and how they were used. Who flew them?
PN: There were naval officers flying them, piloting them, and they were very good with their sonar equipment, and it really, it wasn't sonar, but it was equipment they had that could spot submarines that were submerged. … They wouldn't bomb them or anything. They would simply report their locations, and then they'd send planes out with ash cans, as they call them, bombs. The German Navy was still, towards the end of the war, very, very active, so I was at two different stations at this time.
SH: Where were you stationed in South Carolina and Georgia?
PN: Beaufort, South Carolina and (Glen Cove?) Naval Air Station in Glen Cove, Georgia. I enjoyed those assignments. I mean, I was very lucky. Had I not been in the Navy, I would have been in the Battle of the Bulge, I have no doubt about that, and the odds of coming out of that battle was just very poor.
SH: In the job that you were doing, how aware were you of how the war effort was going?
PN: I was very aware when I was at Bainbridge Naval Training Station that the Battle of the Bulge was going on. As a matter-of-fact, it was going so badly for the United States that there were crash programs with sailors there, teaching them much about the use of a rifle. There was some concern that if that battle, that if things kept going downhill, that even sailors might be rushed into it, and I was very much aware of that. Now, I don't know whether that was a realistic possibility or not, but that was certainly the feeling among us boot camp people that, "This is a pretty grim situation, and they'll need everybody who can carry a rifle pretty soon." I mean, all of a sudden, we were diverted from learning about what to do onboard ship to how to handle rifles. We spent hours with various rifles, and so that wasn't just for nothing. The situation would have had to deteriorate terribly for that to have come about, but it made us very much aware of what was going on in Europe.
SH: Your training at Bainbridge, was that by Navy personnel who came back to the States after overseas action or regular Navy personnel?
PN: Both, both.
SH: Was there anyone who was involved in what was going on in the South Pacific at that point?
PN: There were sailors there and officers there who had been involved in South Pacific fighting, who had been in Guadalcanal and some of the other horrible battles. I don't remember whether Iwo Jima sailors were at Bainbridge when I was there or not, but, yeah, we used to hear horror stories.
SH: About the time you enlisted, was that not when D-Day was taking place?
PN: No, I was not yet in service. D-Day, June 6, '44. I actually didn't go until September '44. I was at home when D-Day occurred.
SH: What do you remember from the papers about D-Day?
PN: Just screaming headlines across The New York Times, I remember that, and obviously constantly listening to the radio to see how it was going, and that's really all I recall. But I remember very clearly that day, perhaps not quite as clearly as I remember Pearl Harbor Day, but it's a major date that I retained.
SH: Do you remember in the papers discussion of when the invasion of France was going to take place?
PN: I certainly understood that it was going to occur at any moment. From April on, we just assumed that it could happen at any time, and there was no thought that, "Oh, this is just not going to be necessary." There was no thought of that sort. But June 6, '44 was a date that I clearly had in mind.
SH: You had just graduated then.
PN: A few days later.
SH: Do you remember who spoke at your graduation from high school?
PN: I don't remember who spoke, and I was not the valedictorian. I just don't remember.
SH: Some other people we've interviewed have said that the graduation speakers were practically recruiting.
PN: No, I don't recall. I don't even recall the subject matter of it, but then I don't recall my graduation from here or the University of Pennsylvania. I mean, I recall graduating, but I don't recall the speaker.
SH: Tell us a little more about the bases where you were stationed and the security at the bases.
PN: Security at the naval stations was only, "If you go into town, don't talk about planes leaving or coming home or missing." The missing, it was because of an accident. There was no danger, not much danger, of any of these planes or blimps being shot down, and I don't recall during my time that any planes were lost. But so far as military service goes, it really couldn't have possibly been softer for me. Now, in the back of my mind was, "I'm not going to be involved in the war in Europe, but I'm certainly going to be involved in the war in Japan." I remember very vividly, I knew that they were getting ready to launch two new aircraft carriers in San Diego, and I knew, really, that that's where I was going to, one of those two aircraft carriers. … I remember thinking to myself, "Gee, I ought to see if I could somehow finagle a weekend back in Montclair with my folks. This is probably the last time before I go to the Pacific." I remember waiting at a train station at Waycross, Georgia, out in almost the desert of Georgia, well, it looks like [how] the New Jersey Meadows once looked, and I was standing near a Marine air force colonel, who would be like standing next to God to a seaman like me, but he was very friendly, and he said, "Have you been overseas?" I said, "No, I think I'm getting ready to go," and he said, "Why do you think that?" I just said, "Well, you know, I have pretty good feeling that I'm going to be involved in the invasion of Japan." This was in early August, before the bomb was dropped, and he said, "Boy, I've been there." He said, "Japan can't last another six to seven weeks at the rate we're creating hurricanes in Tokyo and Osaka and their other cities with the firebombs," and he said, "You can just see the winds, firebombs causing these winds." He said, "Japan is going to be absolutely," excuse the French, "flat on their ass within a matter of another two months," and I was kind of encouraged by that. So, anyway, I went home, and then on a Sunday morning, my parents took me into Penn Station, New York to board a train to go back, and I'm not sure whether it was a Sunday, but whatever day it was, screaming headlines in the World Telegram and the New York Sun, "Atomic Bomb Dropped on Japs," and we knew then that that was the end of the war. I knew then I wouldn't be going to the Pacific, and, in fact, they cancelled one of the two ships that was being built at that time, and so then I knew it was just time for me having enough points to get out.
SH: Did you ever try to get into OCS?
PN: No, I really didn't. Well, I didn't try, but I was, they tried to head me that way after they knew that the war was over. All of a sudden, I got transferred to postgraduate school at Annapolis, Maryland. What was a high school graduate doing at a postgraduate school at Annapolis? I was assigned along with another fellow that I knew, who I had been stationed with me, and we looked at each other, "What are we doing here?" Well, we found out the following Monday. We were assigned to the aerology portion of this postgraduate school. Then it became clear as time went on, officers who had no business talking to us, I mean, lieutenant commanders, captains, and so forth, were very friendly, having a cup of coffee with us, and that wasn't the Navy we knew. We began to wonder, "What on earth?" We didn't really know what was going on, but we knew something was up, and pretty soon, they began talking about, "Don't you want to go to Annapolis?" They knew that we were both intrigued with meteorology, and we weren't meteorologists with four-year physics degrees, and so forth, but they knew that we enjoyed it and were reasonably good at it. So I remember telling this, finally, when they really put the screws on me, I said, "Sir, there's going to be two people out of the next war, me and the guy chasing me." So I think they were very disappointed, and, you know, it was a compliment to the two of us, but, you know, they were desperate at that point, because they saw this whole magnificent Navy just going to crash on them, and so they were anxious to talk to anybody that had two legs and half a brain to stay in.
SH: You weren't tempted at all.
PN: Well, I was. I can't say that, I couldn't be quite that definitive. I was a little, I did think about it a little. Weather had always intrigued me, and I was always a fan of reading The New York Times, looking at The New York Times weather map as a kid. To put it on a percentage basis, it might have been fifteen to twenty percent of me that thought, "Gee, maybe this could be a career," but common sense won out.
SH: Had your brother graduated from high school at this point?
PN: Yes, and he had to join the National Guard. He was in the Fiftieth Armored Division for about ten years, partly because he just wanted to, but he was, in order not to be drafted, that's what I know he had to do.
SH: Your cousin had gone to Dartmouth. Had he gone right from high school?
SH: I just wondered if any of your family had been involved in the fighting forces.
PN: No, I had no family members, well, I had a very close cousin who was in the heavy fighting in Italy and right into Germany, a very close cousin.
SH: Did you maintain any of the friendships that you had made while you were in the Navy?
PN: I did for a while. This fellow that I was sent to Annapolis with, he and I stayed friends. We corresponded, [and] we had a few phone conversations, but it didn't last. Oh, I remember corresponding with him once here from Rutgers, but it didn't last.
SH: Did he take the Navy up on their offer?
PN: He was slightly more tempted than I was, and we talked about it together, but we both decided, "No."
SH: You said that you were shocked to see the interaction between Northerners and Southerners in boot camp in Bainbridge. After boot camp, you were sent to the Deep South. Are there any memories of that that stick out in your mind?
PN: Yes. I remember at the Glen Cove Naval Air Station, or both naval stations I was at, there were one or two blacks who tended to janitorial duties in the weather stations. This friend of mine and I became very friendly with one of the black janitors, and we talked about race relations a little, and he was bitter when we poked hard enough to find out, and he saw no great future. He was an intelligent man. He was a high school graduate and was very well treated by the whites in this office. Well, there were some Southerners in there who treated him just as well as we Yankees did, but I was bothered about his future, because he was an intelligent man. One of the biggest shocks I had during the war, as to race relations, was when I was taking the train from Washington, DC back to Jacksonville, Florida, and for the first time, on the train, I realized that I was looking in the backdoors of the shacks along the railroad tracks. … They were really almost just paper shacks, and then you looked through the backdoor right through the front door. They were just black ghettos, and as a naïve Montclairite, I was shocked.
SH: Your school was integrated in Montclair.
PN: Totally integrated. Now, you know, I say totally integrated, but that's perhaps not a correct statement. There were very few blacks at the dances. That was the problem, and, you know, there wasn't a lot of after-school socializing between white and black.
SH: What were your social activities at these naval air stations?
PN: Well, very occasionally, we would be entertained by families, but that was rare. One of the problems in service was, and this was true of high school graduates, as well as older men, drinking was a terrible problem. I was brought up in a family that rarely had served liquor except at parties, and they would not have been unhappy had Prohibition lasted. I remember my father lecturing me before I went off to the Navy about, "Don't over drink," and I wouldn't say that I followed him completely on that, by any means, but drinking was a severe problem, I mean, and I became disgusted at it ultimately. Frankly, it was more on the career Navy people than on the rest of us who were there because of the war, and the old-time sailors, who were the guts of the Navy, were drunk every weekend, I mean, stone drunk. I can remember going to the jail and bailing them out. So I was, well, I did imbibe at that young age, but I was also sickened by the alcoholism. There's no question in my mind, I don't know anything about the services today, but alcoholism was a big problem then.
SH: Were there any blacks in the Navy at that point?
PN: Segregated. … It was a segregated armed services. You know, there's the famous statement about Truman telling Eisenhower that he was, when Eisenhower was chief of staff, Eisenhower pleaded with Truman not to integrate all at once, to do it gradually, and he said, "If you don't, you're going to lose your senior officer corps." Truman's response was, "General, you better tell them to start packing their bags, because I'm going to sign it right now." Yeah, I was appalled at the segregation. I wasn't used to it, coming from Montclair where we integrated. Well, at least on the surface, we had integrated, but I also know that this cousin, who was superintendent of schools in Montclair, built very fine schools in the black communities, so that there wasn't the integration. But, very honestly, without trying to be cute about it, there were a lot of black and white friendships, and I've been to reunions at Montclair High School for my class, where there is a reasonable attendance by blacks. So I was brought up in an atmosphere that was fairly broad-minded on the racial issue and was aware that it was a problem that had to be worked at, but that was not so in the Navy. They were not working at it one little bit.
SH: What is the most memorable event in your career as a Navy man?
PN: Well, I have only one event, which I relate to you with some sadness. I honestly enjoyed what I was doing. I mean, I think of myself as being immensely lucky in the service, in that I was doing something that had always interested me, that was responsible, and that as a nineteen-year-old, that was my age, I was a very young person to be doing this forecasting business. Now, obviously, there were officers above me who would check me out, but I don't recall very many corrections, and so there was pride in that. I don't know whether I should even tell you the story, but I'll try to make it as short as I possibly can. After the war was over, there was still concern, right after it was over, about German subs, that they didn't have the word that it was over, and there was a terrible sinking, in which I'd lost one of my closest friends in the Pacific, when the Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Jap sub that didn't have the word that the war was over. Unfortunately, the Naval Air Station in Key West, Florida ran out of hydrogen, and how that happened, I don't know, or I certainly don't remember, and I was at Glen Cove, Georgia. Hydrogen for all the Southeast was stored at Glen Cove in big tanks, and we sort of drew straws as to who was to drive this tractor trailer, that was the biggest trailer I've ever seen in my life, to Key West. I'd never driven a tractor trailer. I had no idea how you braked it, and so forth, to keep the tail from hitting the front of it, but, in any event, I thought I was smart enough to handle it. I had, I guess I'm showing my prejudice at this point, I had a Southerner with me who could hardly speak the King's English and was a fence post, and so I was in charge of this little ship that I had never seen before. I'm driving down, where Cape Canaveral is right now, on a two-lane federal highway, and I see a school bus stopped in front of me, and so I had the truck under control and was braking it. School bus leaves, and I assume this orange grove truck, between me and the school bus, is going to move on. By the time I realized that it wasn't going to move on, I hit it, and I've got to tell you, there was orange juice all over the place. Oh, man, nobody was hurt, fortunately, but it shakes up my pride, but it really wasn't my fault. There's no way I could have stopped the truck. This guy, he couldn't start his engine. His engine had died, and he couldn't get it started, and I demolished his truck and a lot of oranges. I was arrested on the spot. … I showed them my emergency orders from the United States Navy. He said, "I don't care about that," and I was hauled into court. The judge fined me one hundred and fifty dollars, and I had twenty-five dollars on me. In any event, to make a long story short, the Navy went after that town unbelievably, Titusville, Florida. They descended with all sorts of lawyers and shore patrol, officer shore patrol, and really went after the town, because, you know, there was a real emergency for this fuel. So that was a very memorable occasion in my service.
SH: Were you able to get back underway?
PN: Oh, yes, I got back underway, because I called my home base immediately, and they notified shore patrol and naval officers right in the area, and, I mean, they came in squad cars and explained to the judge that he'd made a big mistake.
JF: When were you discharged from the Navy?
PN: In August of '45, and I immediately went up to Hanover, New Hampshire to see if I could possibly get in the winter term. I knew I couldn't get in the September term, and I had some pull. This cousin that I mentioned, that fought throughout Italy, was a classmate of the dean of admissions, but despite the favors, I wasn't going to get in for at least a year. They were so backed up. I also wanted to, you know, try to help work my way through, so for a year, I went to Rutgers in Newark and then came down here and lived in Ford Hall.
SH: Did you use the GI Bill?
PN: Oh, yes. Oh, yes, completely. The GI Bill was marvelous.
JF: Was it hard to get into Rutgers?
PN: Oh, yes. Rutgers had the same problems. The first year I was here, I lived out of town, in a home, and packs of kids, guys, did. All of the colleges, all of the good schools, were just swamped. Rutgers was very swamped. The class sizes were larger than the professors liked, and the living accommodations were overcrowded, and people had to live elsewhere. A lot of people didn't live on the campus.
SH: The first year that you were going to school in Rutgers, Newark, were you living at home and going to school during the day?
PN: Yes, yes, yes.
JF: What was your first impression when you got into this Rutgers, New Brunswick? Did you like it?
PN: Yes, I liked it. I thought it was pretty tough. I mean, nothing came easy.
JF: Back then, how would you rank Rutgers, compared to other schools?
PN: I don't know how to answer that question. I think I prefer answering the question, for instance, I think I became a very good writer, and I think that was thanks to the English courses I had here at Rutgers. I think they were excellent, and I ultimately became a lawyer, and writing is a skill that lawyers have to have. Ultimately, in my career, I wrote speeches for the chairman of Prudential and wrote my own speeches, too, that I gave, and I never had to hire anybody else to do that, and that was, to me, that was one of the crowning achievements I gained at Rutgers.
JF: Were you an English major?
PN: No, I wasn't. I was a political science major, knowing I wanted to go to law school, and that's what Rutgers told me, "If you want to go to law school, that's what you should be, political science," although they didn't only stress it; they also thought that English is vitally important. There was a very famous Rutgers professor, at that time, by the name of Professor Burns, and he and I used to have a lot of arguments, but he was very, very good, and I still read his book that he published, I guess, a year or two before I was in his class. I still read it, go back to it. If my wife and I are traveling, as we do on occasion to Europe, I frequently read up on the history of where we are going out of that book. Rutgers at that time was kind of in a bind. It had one or two, and I can't remember the names, but it had avowed socialists, and I'm being charitable when I say that, in its midst, that were professors. This was very upsetting to the legislature, and Rutgers then didn't have the legislative support that it has today, by any means, and so it was a very difficult time for the administration of Rutgers, and these outspoken professors didn't help their political situation in Trenton at all.
SH: When did you decide you wanted to study law? Did you come into Rutgers knowing you wanted to study law?
PN: Yes, pretty much.
SH: When did you make that decision?
PN: I suppose I'd made it before I graduated from high school that I probably wanted to be a lawyer, because politics intrigued me so. … I didn't think I was good enough in scientific matters to be a doctor, and I knew I was, as you've just learned, a long-winded talker, that's what lawyers are, and so, yes, I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer. I knew it when I was in the Navy, although as I told you, I did, for a few weak moments, think about meteorology, but I really knew that's what I wanted to do.
JF: When you lived off campus your freshman year, was it hard making friends with people here?
PN: Well, I regret it to some degree. Yes, it was, although I have very good friends. For instance, I have just finished serving on my fiftieth anniversary class reunion with several people who were very good friends when I was here, and so I have a, at this point, I have just a smattering of friends who were in my class. You know, as time goes on, you don't see people as much, and I have not, until this past year, been a big reunion person, but I still have some people that I see. I very much enjoyed this fiftieth anniversary class. We raised a lot of money. We did very well, and it's partly due to some of the people of the committee.
JF: What were classes like? Was attendance mandatory back then?
PN: I think everybody attended. You know, we were all out of service. We were all desperate to finish as rapidly as we could. I think the attendance was excellent. I wasn't aware that there were a lot of people skipping class on a regular basis. I wasn't aware of anything like that.
JF: I read in the Targum, from that time, that classes had previously been mandatory and that they switched that after freshman year.
PN: If that's the case, I have forgotten it. I guess that's beyond my memory at this point.
SH: Were you exempt from ROTC?
PN: Yes, yes, yes, because of military.
SH: Did they still have chapel at that point?
PN: It certainly wasn't mandatory. I don't think they did. I don't recall anybody, I don't recall my associates going to chapel.
JF: What clubs were you active in?
PN: I was very involved in what was called the International [Relations] Club. That had a lot of meetings, and we put on a major program in my senior year, in which Harold Stassen came as a speaker. It was sort of a miniature United Nations, modeled after [the UN].
JF: You were the secretary of that club, right?
PN: I think that is correct, yeah.
JF: You were the membership chair of Ford Hall.
PN: Was I really? I had forgotten that. I do remember my senior year in Ford Hall.
JF: Did you join Ford Hall, or was it a dorm that you got assigned to?
PN: I don't know. I don't remember.
JF: During your college years, the student government started passing laws to eliminate discrimination or at least ban discrimination from campus groups. What were your feelings about that?
PN: Well, I thought the fraternities were very exclusive. There were fraternities that, my recollection is, wouldn't take either blacks or Jews or Italians. I'm not trying to paint myself as a bloody liberal on the subject. It was a combination of reasons. One was I did go home on weekends, frequently, not all the time, by any means, but I did go home. I was courting a girl who did not have much interest in coming down here. Because she didn't go off to war, she had graduated from college, and she'd had her college fun.
SH: How much do you think coming as a returning veteran played into this?
PN: Oh, I think that was a part of it. I was older than, you know, some of them, not all of them, because there were a lot of them like me, but there were also fifty percent who were just out of high school.
JF: When they passed anti-discrimination rules, do you think it was something that the fraternities ignored in practice?
SH: One of the things we need to take into account here is the fact that something had happened to the point where the student government actually had passed anti-discrimination clauses. So this wouldn't be a reflection on you, but this was already a perceived problem, because there was this legislative action taken by the student government.
JF: Now, just real quick. What was drinking like at Rutgers? Was that a problem?
PN: It was not as bad as I experienced in the Navy, by any means. The friends I had were not heavy drinkers here. There were some, I mean, there was sometimes damage at some of the fraternity houses from all-night parties. I was not aware, though, that drinking was a major problem here. I think it was maybe a bigger problem when I was at the University of Pennsylvania.
SH: What was it like to be in class with eighteen-year-olds? How was the mix, academically and socially, between these two groups of people here on campus?
PN: That's a good question, because there were, I mean, half of us were two years older than our classmates. Our experiences had probably aged us, even made us a little more sophisticated than the two years would indicate. … I remember in political science, those of us that this Professor Burns taught, which was a very well attended class, because he was a very popular professor at that time and nationally known, and there would be very, very lively discussions in this class, but for the most …
----------------------------------------END OF SIDE TWO, TAPE ONE-----------------------------------
JF: This is tape two, side one of an interview with Mr. Paul Nolle.
PN: I was saying, for the most part, I think the people who had been in the service felt a little more sophisticated. They'd had more experiences in life, and unusual experiences, and they were more interested in getting through school as rapidly as possible, so I think there was a gap between the people who had been in the service and the people who were here just out of high school. I think that was inevitable, and I think Rutgers, as a school, handled it very well.
JF: When you were here, Rutgers kept reaching enrollment highs ...
JF: … every year you were here.
PN: Yes, yes.
JF: Did you ever at that time realize Rutgers would be like it is now?
PN: No, I never dreamed that it would be what it is today. You know, it did not have the state's support in those days that it does today, and, you know, it should have. New Jersey being one of the wealthiest states in the country and having among the highest per capita incomes, Rutgers should be well supported by the state, and probably Rutgers deserves more than they get currently, although it's a great deal more than what it was when I was here.
SH: You were involved in the International Relations Club while you were here, and you talked about bringing in Stassen. Were there other lectures, concert series or social activities that you remember here at Rutgers?
PN: That recollection is the strongest I have. I do remember one other seminar that was given by a woman lecturer for two or three days that I regard as one of the most important events in my life. I've been happily married twice, and this woman taught us the differences between men and women and the glories of both of them. She got into sexuality and things of that nature. It was one of the most marvelous educational experiences I had in my entire life, and I attribute, in part, that lecture, which is the clearest lecture I recall, of two or three lectures that I recall in my entire educational experience, as meaning more to my happiness than anything else I can think of. That is the highest praise I can give Rutgers. She was not a professor here. She was invited by the school to come in.
SH: Was she part of a lecture series?
PN: I'm a little vague on that, but she was brought in by the school. I don't even know the name of the course, whether it was "Human Sexuality" or "Happiness In Marriage." I don't recall that, but I just recall what I learned from it. It helped me to have two very happy marriages. The reason there were two was because the first wife was lost to breast cancer.
JF: Since Rutgers was a lot smaller then, did you know the president of the university, President Clothier?
PN: Clothier, yes. I knew him to call him President Clothier. I was only in a meeting once or twice with him on student government affairs. … The one I remember more clearly is Mason Gross, yes.
JF: What do you remember about him?
PN: What I remember, one, what a handsome man he was, so was Clothier, very distinguished looking men. Mason Gross was a brilliant man, well spoken. It seemed to me that he understood students and their problems, and I would guess that he probably understood faculty problems, too. I think he was a very strong person.
SH: Were there other professors at Rutgers that influenced you? You talked about this wonderful lecturer and Professor Burns. Were there other professors that you really liked?
PN: Well, the English professor I had, and I don't remember his name, was excellent. I remember him, boy, he used to get mad at me, and I used to get mad at him. I thought he was very tough on me, but he taught me how to write. You know, I learned Shakespeare from him, and the English poets. I would say that whatever culture I have, he sort of steered me in that direction, and he was a marvelous man, and I can see his face, but I cannot, I don't know his name. I also had an economics teacher, who was a young man and who had been at Brooklyn College and then came over here, and I can remember having lots of discussions with him. In fact, he liked me well enough that I had, his wife was also an economist, and I remember they had me to dinner one time, and for some reason or another, we hit it off very well, even though we didn't always agree. He liked the discussions, and I liked the discussions, we had. Those are the three that stick out in my mind.
SH: Do you remember who your roommates were from Ford Hall?
PN: Yes, I do, some of them. As I said, I kind of lost contact with almost all of them. One of my roommates was Vince Apruzzese, who became a very, very successful lawyer here in New Jersey, and we've been friends ever since.
SH: Were your roommates veterans like yourself?
PN: No, Vince was not a veteran. He was two years younger, two or three years younger. Well, we went to the University of Pennsylvania together. That helped to cement the friendship, and then I used to give him business, and that further helped to cement the friendship.
SH: Tell us about your choice of law school. Did you know exactly where you wanted to go? Did you have a wish list?
PN: There again, I was up against the problem of all the law schools, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and so forth, were all jam-packed full. My mother and father had a friend in Montclair who was, at the moment, president of the alumni association at the University of Pennsylvania and a very large fund-giver, and so I went to see him, and he said, "Well, okay, but supposing, if I put your name in, I'm sure you'll get in, but," he said, "if I put your name in, and then you go to Harvard, I'd be pissed off." [laughter]
JF: To go back a bit, there was an incident when you were here at Rutgers. There was a fire at Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity house, in which a couple of people died. Do you remember that?
PN: I just remember it as a very horrible event. I don't remember any details of it. … I didn't know the two people who were killed.
JF: When you applied to law school, was there a standardized test?
PN: Yeah, there was a LSAT.
JF: When you were at Rutgers, were sporting events widely attended?
PN: Oh, yes, I was a rabid football fan, rabid. [laughter] I used to go to all of the football games. I still go occasionally, but the teams have been so bad of late, it's only been occasionally.
SH: What were the most memorable games you attended?
PN: The last Rutgers-Princeton football game. It was very close, and Rutgers had gone for almost a century without beating Princeton. … Most of the time when I was here, the Rutgers football team was pretty good, and they beat Princeton twice during my time here, and that was phenomenal.
SH: Do you remember anybody flying a plane over the goal post?
PN: No. No, I don't. That happened? Do you know what year?
SH: I don't know the year. I remember interviewing someone who had said that was his most memorable football game and that Rutgers beat Princeton. The pilot in the plane that did the pass was a fraternity brother of the man we interviewed, and this pilot wound up being grounded.
PN: No, it's funny, I don't remember that.
JF: How do you feel about the Rutgers athletic program these days?
PN: I think that's a tough question. It would be easy for me to say that they've made a hash out of it, but I don't think that's quite fair. I remember at one of our fiftieth anniversary meetings that the current head of the athletic department, I can't think of his name, Bob Mulcahy, yes, spoke to us, and he was, in effect, telling us that he was going to hire coaches who could win. I think it is important that Rutgers have a representative football team. I don't think they should join the Big Ten, but I think it has been troublesome that they have been so poor in recent years. You know, they've got that new stadium, which they don't get very many people into very often.
JF: The problem is that Rutgers is in the Big East now, and the competition is a lot more tough. Before that, Rutgers played football against Ivy League teams, such as Princeton.
PN: The Ivy league has gone totally amateur. I don't know, if I had Mulcahy's job or the president's job, I don't know how I'd feel about it. Obviously, the women's basketball has done reasonably well, but I guess I'm enough of a sport's fan that I guess I'd think that it'd be nice if New Jersey had a representative football team in Rutgers. There's no way that they can play with Penn State, University of Michigan and the rest of the Big Ten, but, in a way, it's too bad, because, you know, I think of the University of Michigan as one of the finest schools in the country in every dimension, medically, law school, and I have been at the University of Michigan. I've been at a football game. I lived in Minnesota for a number of years, and I had matters in Lansing, and I got invited to go to a Michigan football game, and it's just an unbelievable sight. You know, I sometimes wish that there could be that sort of thing for Rutgers, but I just don't see that it's in the cards. New Jersey is one of the finest states in the Union in turning out football players, but Rutgers doesn't get its fair share, simply because really good football players want go to the Big Ten schools, in order to join the pros four later, and Rutgers doesn't have a reputation of getting many people to the pros. It's a problem I think, but, you know, I guess the most important thing is the academic standards.
JF: Are you aware of Rutgers 1000? It's an organization of alumni and professors that has been waging an anti-athletics campaign.
PN: No, I haven't been contacted. I guess I was aware of that. I wouldn't share their feelings. I wouldn't agree with them. I wouldn't join them. I think academic is the most important thing by far, but I think if Rutgers could have a representative football team in the league they now play in, I think it would help Rutgers. I think it would improve their standing among the high schools in the state, because, you know, the Big Ten, not all of them, but, academically, several of them are very good. You know, I lived in Minnesota. I think the University of Minnesota is an excellent school, the University of Wisconsin, and, I think, the University of Michigan are as good as any of the Ivy League schools. Harvard wouldn't agree with me, but Harvard, on the other hand, came very close to choosing the president of the University of Michigan to be their president. They decided to take a political economist. It's too bad that Rutgers is not going to reach that standard, but I think they should aim a little higher.
JF: Did you like Penn?
PN: Oh, I liked law school. Yes, I liked Penn. The facilities, at that time, were a little better than when I was here at Rutgers. However, I lived in a run-down hotel the first couple of years at Penn. There was no dormitory at that time for the law school students. There is now, a beautiful dormitory for them, but, yes, I liked law school. I liked the camaraderie. You know, we were all at the same place and had the same goals in life, generally. Some wanted to be politicians, some wanted to be Wall Street lawyers, some wanted to be lawyers that help the indigent, and so forth. It was a great mixture, and several of my close friends made it to the US judiciary system. Some are federal court judges and circuit court judges. I was, as you can see, I am a sports fan, because I loved to go to the University of Pennsylvania, when I was there, to their football games, where they'd have 80,000 people, and today, they have less than Rutgers has, and they just have no football. They have a stadium that seats 80,000 people, and they're lucky if they get 8,000. But, no, I very much enjoyed my time at Penn, but I also have to say that Rutgers prepared me very well for law school in … what I learned as to writing and expressing myself, both orally and written.
JF: Do you think the extra two years helped you to be a little more prepared?
PN: Absolutely, absolutely, that helped, but I owe a great debt of gratitude to Rutgers on what they taught me about, on what I was able to learn by way of expression, whether it is written or oral.
JF: After you graduated law school, were you married yet, or when did you get married?
PN: No, I wasn't married yet. I married within about two years after I was out of law school, or three, I guess.
SH: Was there a certain area that you focused on at Rutgers that steered you towards law school?
PN: You mean here, in my four years at Rutgers?
PN: I focused on, well, I was political science and economics, but I certainly feel today that the most important courses I had were English, courses in English. If I had to do it over again, and when I counsel people who ask me, "What should I emphasize in school?" I would say that English is what I would [advise]. Anybody who wants to become a lawyer should major in English, not political science.
JF: After you graduated law school, where did you go to work?
PN: I became a trial lawyer in Newark …
JF: Did you work for a law firm?
PN: Yes, I worked for a law firm. I liked trial work, but it was very stressful and not an easy life. One day I tried a kind of a small case, I thought it was a small case, against the Prudential, and the general counsel, within a few months after that, asked me to join the Prudential, and I got very well to the top of Prudential. But, again, I did a lot of things other than the law. I was in charge of their relations with the states across the country, which life insurance companies are regulated by the states and not the federal. … I used to write speeches for the presidents and chairmen, again English, and so I had a pretty nice career at the Prudential.
JF: After law school, was it common then, as it is now, to be a clerk for a judge?
PN: … No, it wasn't as common then as it is now, but it was a plum for, even then, for students to [clerk]. The biggest plum, of course, would be to get to the United States Supreme Court, but it would be a plum even to get to a state court judge or federal district court judge, and that's an excellent way to break into the law.
JF: Did you try that?
PN: No, I didn't. I had this offer with this firm … to go to work trying cases, and that's kind of what I thought I wanted to do. If I had to do it over again, I might have taken a clerkship, but I was tired of not earning money by this point.
JF: Law school was pretty expensive even back then.
PN: Oh, yeah. Law school was expensive, yeah.
SH: How did you meet the first Mrs. Nolle?
PN: Okay. Antoinette, Toni, as everybody called her, was my first wife. I met her in this law firm, and it's kind of difficult for me to even talk about it, but, you know, I had two sons by her.
SH: Did either one of them come to Rutgers?
PN: No, no, they didn't. Paul, the oldest one, went to Connecticut College, and my younger son, I'm not sure he would have made it to Rutgers, he went to Wittenberg out in Ohio and loved it, did very well, and he is doing very well now.
SH: Did either one of them study law?
PN: No, neither one of them was the least bit interested in law. But, as I told you, when we were moving to Minnesota, she wanted to know what I did to screw up to get sent to Minnesota. Then we discovered that we just fell absolutely in love with Minnesota, or at least, you have to fall in love with wherever you live or you'll be unhappy, but except for the terribly long winters, we did very much like it, but she came down with this terrible, dreaded disease.
SH: We know that one of your passions has remained sports, especially golf. What else keeps you busy now?
PN: Well, I'm back as a house painter. Now I only paint the inside of the house. I don't paint the outside anymore. I have done a lot of work … up until the last year, with Lighthouse Community Services in Newark, which is a feeding station for the poor and the hungry. I've kind of given that up. I now do a little work for the Habitat [For Humanity] people in Morristown, but I don't do a lot. Golf is my first priority, I must confess, in the summer months. It's in the fall and winter that I do painting for Habitat.
SH: Is there anything you would like to reflect on that we have forgotten to ask?
PN: I think I pretty well have given you a life history and the family history, but I would like to leave with, you know, that I really appreciate the education that I got at Rutgers. I think it made a big difference in, it contributed immensely to whatever success I enjoyed.
JF: This concludes our interview with Mr. Paul Nolle.
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Reviewed by Kathryn Tracy 5/29/02
Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 5/30/02
Reviewed by Paul Nolle 9/02