Lynn Marley: This begins an interview on Friday, May 15, 1999 in New Brunswick, New Jersey at Rutgers University with ...
Michael McIntosh: Michael J. McIntosh
LM: Lynn Marley ...
Sean Harvey: ... and Sean D. Harvey
LM: I guess I want to talk about your parents' background.
MM: May I correct you? Today is the fourteenth.
LM: Oh, the fourteenth. Thank you.
MM: Do you want to start again?
LM: No. Okay, we can, with your parents.
MM: All right. My mother was born in Belfast, Ireland. Father was born in Paisley, Scotland. They immigrated to this country, along with other members of their family, around 1910, and met in this country, and several years later were married. As I recall, their saying it [was] somewhere around 1914. The first child was born in 1917. His name was James, he's now deceased, and myself, and twin brother, Frank, were born several years later, in 1922, and we've survived to this day, through World War II and among other things. What else would you like to know?
LM: Do you know how they met?
MM: Yes, they met through a social arrangement ... It was typical in those days for the immigrants to stay together. My father was a piper, a bagpiper. A rather well known one in the old country, and he was sought after in this country to entertain individuals, especially those of course, of Scottish-Irish extraction. And it was at one of those events that my mother and father were introduced to each other, and from that point on, their future was sealed as far as in interest in each other, and subsequent marriage.
SH: Does your family keep up the Scottish-Irish traditions and weddings, and things of that sort?
MM: Well, certainly as ... yes, certainly as I was growing up Father was very, very active as a piper. In fact, he formed his own pipe band. He participated in ... tournaments, not tournaments as such, but ... band concerts with John Philip Sousa. And as I said, was a sought after individual ... for entertainments in the Scottish-Irish community, and with his own pipe band was sought after for very, very many parades. So, I grew up in that environment, and my father also became an instructor of bagpipe playing. Accordingly, there was always an opportunity to hear the pipes, as my dad instructed other young men. As he grew older, he continued his interest, but on a much less active basis, and in his declining years, [he] was nevertheless a judge in Holmdel, New Jersey where Highland Games were held. And I remember as a ... senior in high school, and as a Rutgers undergraduate attending Holmdel, New Jersey, Highland Games, as they were called, and seeing my father participate as a judge.
LM: Any particularly memories of your mother?
MM: Well, yes. My mother, of course, was a homebody. Very, very dedicated to the family and very much interested in the ... growth of her children, as well as the care of her husband, and other members of the family. Her mother lived in Newark, New Jersey, where my mother had originally lived along with my father, before they moved, after marriage, and settled in Kearny, New Jersey. That's where I was born. My grandmother and two maiden aunts continued until ... approximately 1945 and '46 to remain in Newark, New Jersey. By then my grandmother and several others had died, and the last remaining aunt, Aunt Mary, moved in with my parents, to my parent's home in Kearny, New Jersey. She passed away, as I say around 1945.
LM: As immigrants, did your family experience any prejudice from the community or any problems in that respect?
MM: Only in later years did I realize that some of the things that I would hear them talking about reflected what you're asking me. It reflected some discrimination. However, they weren't ... reluctant to express their own discriminatory attitudes towards others. ... Without meanness at all on their part, very often they would send me to the Jews that owned the grocery store to buy some things that the store offered. I didn't recognize the fact that there could be a bit of discriminatory attitude involved in the way they expressed themselves. On the other hand, I heard my Uncle John very often talk about his feeling of inferiority, when he was referred to as a "greenhorn." And it never occurred to me to ask him what that meant, "What was the term 'greenhorn,' what did it mean?" until I was somewhat older, perhaps in high school at the time. And he would tell me that a greenhorn was someone, [a] term of derision applied to the Irish, especially to the men, because they were assumed to not be very, very smart. And like a young animal, a deer for example, who's horns weren't fully developed, they weren't considered very, very bright, when it came to the business world or to the world of business ... that they were seeking, professionally or otherwise. So the word "greenhorn," ... wasn't a very nice expression for them to hear. I'm sure there are other comments that were made, too, but that was the one that stuck in my mind.
LM: So growing up in school your brother and you never really had problems with other children in that respect?
MM: We grew up in Kearny, New Jersey, which was highly cosmopolitan, and there was an equal mixture of Scots and Irish, as well as Poles, as well as Italians, and Czechs, and there was also a school, the Sacred Heart School for Boys, that was an orphanage. So if there was any opportunity for discrimination it was pretty well spread among a very diverse group of young people. I didn't recognize it at the time but that, as I look back, it ... was a good thing to live in that type of environment.
LM: Growing up in Kearny, you went to St. Cecelia's Preparatory School?
MM: St. Cecelia's Grammar and High School. Correct. We didn't know about prep schools in those days, high school is what it was called.
LM: In particularly, your childhood in Kearny because, it still is very cosmopolitan ...
MM: As a matter-of-fact, the church we attended, you mention St. Cecelia's, is now a Portuguese ... group church. I'm sure it's Roman Catholic still, but they say mass in Portuguese. That surprised me, because, that was not one of the elements that I grew up with. I mentioned Italians, Scottish, Irish, Polish and so on, but I don't remember Portuguese at all.
SH: Was the mass in English or Latin, when you were a child?
MM: Pardon me?
SH: Was the mass done in English or Latin?
MM: Oh, no. Done in Latin. Oh, yeah. Sure. Of course, I was an alter boy and had to learn all of the Latin. That was part of it. [Mr. McIntosh recites mass in Latin] And so on, I won't go on, and so on. But, we had to study Latin in high school, and subsequently, of course, we found out it was a dead language, and forgot it all. [Laughs]
SH: Well, apparently not all of it. [Laughs]
LM: I guess maybe we want to start with your times at Rutgers, coming to "the banks."
MM: That's an interesting time of our lives, and I'll tell you why. In 1939-1940 the economy was still very, very sluggish. It had improved a good deal from what it was in the late '20s when the stock market crashed in '29, and although there was an attempted recovery around 1932, it was a very shallow one, and the recovery just sputtered and Depression clung very, very severely. In 1940 if we were to go to college, it was clear that we'd have to do it on some basis other than our parents' support. The support was there very definitely, but not financially, and we took a series of scholarship examinations in St. Peter's College, in ... Jersey City, there was Fordham University in New York ... We went to Villanova, Seton Hall and Rutgers University for scholarship purposes. We were awarded varying scholarships. Some would give Frank a full scholarship, and myself a partial scholarship, or vise versa. But, we were fortunate Rutgers gave us both full scholarships, and so in the fall of 1940, after graduating St. Cecilia's High School, we started ... our college career here on the banks, living off campus. We got down here too late to get housing sponsored by Rutgers, and so we lived off campus in a boarding home, owned by a woman by the name of Mrs. Talley, and that was down [on] Somerset Avenue, as I recall ... We stayed there for our first and second semesters. Thereafter, we were able to move on campus, and stayed at Winants Hall for two years.
LM: You played freshman football?
MM: Freshman football.
LM: Any remembrances of Harvey Harmon who was your coach, and playing against Princeton?
MM: Oh, yeah, Harvey Harmon, oh, yeah, right. I never had the privilege of playing Princeton. The freshman team didn't play Princeton. We played Brown and a few other schools. In the sophomore year we did play Princeton. I was on the team, but, not a participant in the game. Frank may have gotten in, my memory isn't clear as to whether he played or not. I played in the backfield, he played on the line, and in our junior year, our third year, there was hardly any program, any football program at all. But we did have some games in those days. The other schools that we would normally play were either not participating, or didn't have enough to field a team on a particular weekend. With the result that either the game was postponed, or not counted as a formal game for college scoring purposes.
LM: Particularly with activities during your freshman year, do you remember being hazed by the sophomores and wearing your green ties, or any particular ritual that you were subjected to?
MM: Well, the concern was far ... greater than anything we were subject[ed] to. [Laughter] We had beanies in those days. We had to wear a beanie, a green beanie. Frank remembers better than I do, one of ... small matter. Our bag, our books had to be carried in a bag, a shopping bag, in other words, one of those with cord handles. And he remembers our being downtown, going through the dime store, I don't know whether it's still there or not, probably it's not, Woolworth closed up most of ... their stores. Nevertheless, the manager, seeing one of, possibly both of us with the shopping bags, wondered if we were shoplifters. And Frank remembers being under surveillance, and having him come over and take a look to see what was in that bag. I don't remember that part of it, but I do remember the beanies, and the need that we had to address anyone that we saw, which was a good rule, by the way, with a "Hello," a strong "Hello." So, that ... you felt accepted, and they would return the "Hello." But, you had to speak first. Yeah, it wasn't so severe that we needed to be concerned about anything.
SH: How did your religious affiliation affect your decision in coming to Rutgers, which is a state school?
MM: Good question Sean. [Laughs] We were raised in a very strict Roman Catholic environment. My mother and my aunts, as well as my grandmother, were subject in Belfast to the Orangemen, and here we had William of Orange, whose statue is right outside our, almost outside of our physics building, where this interview is being conducted. So, one of the early things that we did was to talk to one of the priests over at St. Peter's, the church across the street, and he assured us that we should have no reservations about attending classes at Rutgers University, that we would not be exposed to any attempt to proselytize, and the facilities of the church where they were right there across the street, if we ever needed to talk to them about anything that was going on on campus, and to feel comfortable in doing it. And with that our mind was cleared and we no longer were concerned about being exposed to a faith other than our own Roman Catholic beliefs. It's interesting to look back on those days, because we were brought up in an environment where my mother, especially, admonished us if we ever had ideas of going into another church other than our own Roman Catholic Church. And I remember approaching my mother as an eight or ten year old young man, asking if I couldn't join the Boy Scout Organization. "Well, where does it meet?" "Well, it meets down in that Baptist Church." "No, you may not, you may not join that." So, with that environment you can understand why we were hopeful. We were hopeful that there would be no interference with our career on campus, and there wasn't.
LM: Do you remember having to attend the chapel over at Kirkpatrick, which was mandatory? Which has gone by the wayside for current students.
MM: Has it ...
LM: I don't think that we would all fit. [Laughs]
MM: ... I'm not sure that we were subject to mandatory chapel. My strongest recollection, having been a member along with Frank, my twin brother, of the Glee Club, was that we sang with the choir, and we were compensated, we were paid for our services. And there were probably ... I suppose twenty of us, twenty-five maybe at the most, from the Glee Club that participated in the services on a Sunday morning. I found them very, very rewarding, and I'm not placing the financial aspects above the other experiences that we had in being exposed to the services in the Kirkpatrick Chapel. They had some interesting people that were semi-political in those days, that appeared on the pulpit, or in the pulpit, and had interesting messages. I wish I could remember their names.
LM: ROTC was mandatory during your time at Rutgers.
MM: That's right, two years of it.
LM: Did you have good experiences with that? You chose not to stay in, but, you had enlisted already. What are some of your memories of ROTC here at Rutgers?
MM: ... My father had talked with Frank and me, as well as my older brother, Jim. Jim was not eligible for military service for physical reasons. Although he was an otherwise healthy man, ... he was just not eligible. Frank and I, ... were admonished by my dad to be sure that we joined the Navy. "Why, Dad?" we would ask him. "Because you're assured of a comfortable bed and, and adequate food, when you're in the Navy." Having come from the Old Country, and more especially from the United Kingdom, my father was very familiar with vessels that sailed the seas. It's a big business in Glasgow, which is a big city by comparison with Paisley, its neighboring city, and the shipyards there did a lot for the economy. So, my father was impressed with the service, the military, the Naval service. Accordingly, when we were required in the ROTC to participate. ... It wasn't with enthusiasm. Of course, we had to do the things that were required, and that included classroom work, as well as close order drills, and so on. I don't remember our ever being exposed though to live ammunition and to actual firing of rifles. That came later probably. Twin brother, Frank, did continue by ... becoming a member of the Scarlet Rifles. This was a close order drill team, and the individuals that were selected for that were considered the elite. So, he was honored to be part of that Scarlet Rifles. I wasn't as fortunate as he was, to qualify. So having said that, we were looking for opportunities to not continue with the military, in the Army, and when the V12 Program was brought to our attention by our older brother, we sought out the opportunity here on campus, and did become members of the V12 Program of the US Navy.
SH: Would you discuss that a little bit?
MM: Oh, yes. The Navy, in an effort to enhance the number of officers, agreed that if you qualified physically and your grades were satisfactory they would allow you to stay in college, not necessarily on your own campus, but to stay in college for a period of time. In Frank's and my case we were juniors at the time, and we were given one semester that we would be allowed to continue college ... Under those circumstances in early 1943, we were sent to the University of Pennsylvania. Others, who may have been sophomores, were allowed one year or possibly a little longer, I don't remember the details, to remain on campus and proceed towards their degree. Of course, if they were sophomores one year wouldn't help them very much to graduate. But, freshman were further given a period of maybe up to two years. Again, not enough time to graduate, but nevertheless time to continue their education, and the Navy, of course, was guaranteed a supply of young men of good caliber health, as well as grades, 'cause you had to maintain your grades if you were going remain in the program. The result of all of that, was when your eligibility to remain on campus was up, then you were taken to Midshipmen School. And coming back to 1943, when Frank and I were assigned to the University of Pennsylvania it was in June of that year, and after four months at the University of Pennsylvania we were ... prepared for Midshipmen School, which opened in October at Abbott Hall in Chicago, October of 1943, and we were there for four months. Upon completion of Midshipmen School, we were given the title of Ensign, and continued our education for naval purposes, by being sent to Harvard for naval training in communications. One of the things that ... endeared Rutgers to me was the fact that they allowed us to graduate, in absentia, in June of 1944, when we were still at Harvard at naval training school there ... The way that was done was, of course, to have the courses that we took at the University of Pennsylvania, which were all Wharton School of Insurance and other courses, credited towards our Rutgers degree, and even Midshipman's School classes, seamanship, ... navigation and things of that nature, ... were accepted toward our degree ... We graduated on time, having started in 1940. My father was able to come down and represent us for the degree ceremony on campus from the old gymnasium on College Avenue. Frank and I subsequently found that very, very helpful, because when our careers in the Navy were finished, we went on to law school, which is what we had been preparing for ... when we were on the campus here at Rutgers.
LM: Were you integrated with the other students at the University of Pennsylvania?
MM: Absolutely, yes. We were just other students. We had no uniforms or anything of that sort. If I recall correctly, we were the first to be in the University of Pennsylvania for V12 purposes, and the Navy had not yet set up any type of program to put us in any courses, other than those that were available to the rank and file of students, eligible to take those courses. And we were in the University of Pennsylvania, and I can say this, we felt we had really arrived, because we had fifty dollars a month, and ... no obligation to do anything other than study and participate in athletics, and so on, and we did. We spent the four months there in a very, very active way joining the University of Pennsylvania's football team. And fully enjoyed the hospitality of the University before having to leave and go on, as I said earlier, to Midshipman's School, Abbot Hall, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois.
LM: During your times at Rutgers, do you remember any particular faculty, besides Dr. Apgar, who you mentioned was your favorite professor? Do you have any remembrances of Dean Metzger or others?
MM: Very well, yeah, Dean Metzger was a nice man. Some personalities stay in your mind. Dr. Winchester is one. He was a Physics instructor ... interesting man. I think he had a very kind heart, but he came across as being rather severe ... Dr. Apgar was the Economic professor ... and a very ... very pleasurable man, good educator, very patient, and I remember enjoying, very much, his presentations as to why certain theories dealing with economics ... were out there. And he explained Adam Smith's role in the economy. Adam Smith being a Scotsman, interested me a great deal, considering my ancestry ... Then there was a French teacher, Dr. Predmore. He was an interesting young man, and a good dancer. I remember seeing him at one of the dances. He danced the Continental. [Laughter] ... Yes, there were a lot of personalities. Dean Metzger, he stayed in the background, although you saw his name and you saw him a great deal, and at the very end, was kind enough to invite us to his residence where he put the Gold R in Frank's hand, and the Gold R in my hand. In those days, this was a high honor to be given the Gold R, and as it was explained to me then, and if it's continued now, (I'm not sure that it is,) but if it's continued now, it recognizes those that while they're on campus [they] participated and contributed greatly ... to various organizations, and we were very active. We were active not only in athletics, but also in the Glee Club and as I said, in the chapel activities. The debating team, anything we could get our, get involved with, we were involved with.
SH: Especially in boxing, was that correct?
MM: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We were in boxing, intramural boxing ... Yeah, intramural ... basketball, and intramural competition and singing, quartet singing ... The campus was shrinking in those days. Boys were going off to military services and you found voids very, very easily. There was almost an effort to recruit you. You didn't have to go after certain activities. I remember Coach Munger at the University of Pennsylvania sitting on the wall outside the Palestra, I think that's what they called it where we ate our meals, and he'd be watching us as we walked in, and if he did know that you were interested in football, he'd look you over and he'd approach you. He'd come over and ask you, "Do you want to play football with us?" Yeah, that's the way it was in those days. ... You didn't have to work too hard to get involved in things ... and it was a nice, nice time.
LM: With the dwindling of the campus, did you notice the atmosphere changing due to the impending war?
MM: Yeah, it certainly was. I could remember one of the fraternities playing over, and over, and over, again, one of the very, very popular, early songs relating to the war. It had to do with as I recall, with the "Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder," they played that over, loudly, loudly ... It created an atmosphere of awareness, that we were at war to hear that. I'm sure they played other records, but that one I remember especially ... Of course, ... we had a growing number coming in ... that we weren't familiar with, because these were soldiers now that had already been trained, and now were here going into the ROTC program. They weren't just college students, as we had been. They were ... the equivalent of, let's say the V12 guys of which I was one, going to the University of Pennsylvania. These were Army people coming and starting to fill up the dormitories. I learned that when I bumped into one of these fellows during a vacation ... in Bermuda of all places, ten or twelve years ago. He saw my Rutgers hat and he said, "Oh, you went to Rutgers." He was a year or two after Frank and myself on campus, and had participated in athletics. So, we were aware of a change that was going on. It got pretty serious when you started to get reports of some of the fellows that you knew as freshman, who had already been killed. They were no longer in the military, they were no longer on campus, they were gone. Yes, yeah, we started to hear stories of that sort of thing.
LM: Do you have any particular recollections of Winants Hall?
MM: Oh, sure. It was a beehive of activity down below. They had the bookstore down there, and a little post office. Of course, there was the cafeteria ... it ... was an old building then, and one recollection I have is that unannounced, and I don't know why we missed the announcement, they were going to paint the rooms, and of course, do other things to repair whatever needed to be repaired in the room for Frank and me, this was to be done over the Christmas recess, and Frank and I had taken a job at Pennsylvania Station for the post office, sorting mail in connection with the Christmas rush. So, I guess we were ... over there at Pennsylvania Station when our rooms were cleaned out. When we got back that night, there was nothing in our room. [The] bed was gone, desks were gone, books were gone, clothes were gone, and we didn't know what to believe. I guess my first thought was, "Well, they finally caught up with us, they don't want us here." [Laughs] "They've thrown us out." However, we were able to discover, I think it was through Howard Crosby, who at that time was very, very big on campus. We bumped into him, or went to find him, and he told us that we'd been moved to one of the off-campus homes, and where we would go if we wanted to find our belongings. And sure enough, I don't remember the name of the street, but it was two streets over off campus going, let's see, I guess going west. What street would that be?
SH: Stone Street, possibly?
MM: What's the name?
SH: Stone Street, possibly?
MM: Could be, I just can't remember for sure.
SH: Stone or Mine? Maybe Mine Street.
MM: I'm not sure. But that's where we were and we spent, as I recall, close to three weeks there ... some of it, of course, was spent during Christmas recess at home. But, when we came back we still had to live out there, until the room was ready for our return.
LM: Do you remember, since you were pretty socially active on campus, dating NJC women?
MM: Yeah, oh, yeah.
LM: Any fun experiences with that? Any trouble with curfews?
MM: That didn't seem to be a problem, curfews as I recall. We just knew that if we had a date that they had to be home by a certain time, and we didn't think twice about it. They were ... certain to be there when they needed to be. One young lady that stays in my memory was Eileen Kuhn, K-U-H-N. Eileen had a brother, who was a student on the campus, and Eileen went to NJC ... She introduced us to two young ladies, who happened to be twins, and Frank and I dated the twins. Her name escapes me at the moment. Frank probably will remember it, but I can't ... We didn't have a whole lot of money. In those days, very few people had any money to speak of ... We were not the exception at all. So, dating was, at best, possibly Dutch Treat, and I don't think these young ladies had very much money. So the activities were Catholic Newman Club type of things ... Where the Newman Club would meet and that involved ... both young men and young women ... After that there might be a record player there, and under the supervision of the priest usually, who was the moderator, we'd dance for a half hour or forty-five minutes until the time was over, and we had to go home, and then we had some communion breakfasts. I remember one morning, where the Newman Club, with the boys and girls, met at St. Peter's Church and afterwards we went out to breakfast, and then we also had a softball game. Boys versus girls softball game. That was fun. Yeah, the entertainment was rather simple, because as I said, there wasn't a whole lot of money to do anything fancy. We were fortunate to have a car on campus, for both our sophomore and junior years. So that gave us some wheels and we were able to do a few other things ... However, it happened that it was, what was called a Cabrolet Coupe, a 1932 Chrysler. Who had the car before us, I'm not sure, but they put the BX pipes coming out of the hood of the engine, down into the ... fenders, and gave it a powerful look ... It could seat possibly, three on the front seat, but it also had a rumble seat. So, we prayed for fair weather when we had a prom to go to. [Laughs] Somebody was going to be in that rumble seat, and I remember using it for exactly that purpose, to pick up my date and Frank to get his date, all in Highland Park, and bringing them over and helping them out of the rumble seat and into the prom.
LM: Did you attend the military ball?
MM: Oh, yeah, sure, sure ... Yeah, those were ... wonderful affairs, wonderful affairs and very, very well attended. There was a lot of participation on the part of the entire student body.
LM: So, your being a twin brother, and I know the feeling of being a twin myself, did you try staying together? Were you guys interested in doing the same activities, and did you enjoy the identity of being twins?
MM: As you know, Lynn, when you grow up as a twin, you don't think about the fact that, "Oh, yeah. I'm a twin, yeah, I should do things this way or that way." You just grow up doing them together. We ... had our own personalities, and sometimes as youngsters, especially, that clashed. But ... as we matured, ... that was diminished, and by the time we were ... in college ... we recognized that we had an opportunity. It was something that we needed to embrace. We could help each other in many, many ways and minimize friction that might destroy the common objective that we had. It started out just as a simple objective, of getting a college degree, and of course, it shifted very subtly to being a part of the military, in this case the Navy, when we entered the V12 program ... As we approached the war, the interest shifted even stronger to supporting each other, and avoiding any friction or competition that would be destructive. ... By the time we got it together in Midshipmen School, here we not only looked alike, we thought alike and did everything else, and now we dressed alike, completely. [Laughs] ... That was an interesting period ... As I said, I had my own dates. Frank had his own dates. We never competed seriously with each other or, for the affections of one girl or another. There was one interesting story that occurred when we were in Midshipmen School. We were in Abbot Hall, as I said, in Chicago ... The people in that area were very, very generous with their hospitality ... On most weekends you could find a number of invitations, where it was an open invitation to any midshipman that wanted to ... attend a dance or social affair of some other sort ... We were interested in dancing, so we usually signed up for those. I met a young lady ... let me think if I can recall her name. I probably will, as I unfold the story ... I was ... happy to be dancing with her at one of these. ... Sunday afternoon dances and made a date with her for the subsequent week, or I guess it was two weeks hence. Yes, we were going to go to a movie or something of that sort, two weeks hence. But, between the meeting of her and the two weeks hence business, I met another young lady, I remember her name very well, because I subsequently married her. [Laughter] Her name was Gene Smith. Now I had a problem, because I wanted now to be with Gene Smith on the date, that I had said to the other young lady I'd date her. So, I appealed to Frank, if he wouldn't be kind enough to meet the date that I had set up for two weeks hence ... With some reluctance, he agreed. But, he was reluctant, and I persuaded him and described her and so on. It would be better if Frank were here to tell the story, but I'll do the best I can. They met and enjoyed each other's company, as I expected they would. I believe they attended a dance, and may even had had a meal later. Not likely, considering that our meals were served. But, they did maybe have a Coke or something together, and as he was saying goodbye to her he pulled out his wallet, and unfortunately, she was able to look over his shoulder and see that the identification that he had, didn't say "Michael," it said "Francis." [Laughs]
LM: So, she didn't know that she was with the different brother?
MM: Not until that point. She may have wondered a little bit about some differences, there were subtle differences, but had dismissed them. But now ... of course, the fat was in the fire, wasn't it? ... Frank had to make a clean breast of the ... thing. He tells me that the relationship did not completely end right there. That she understood and accepted his statement, and so on. I was "persona non gratis," however, in her eyes, after that. Frank had an opportunity to talk with her at least by telephone, once or twice after that. In the meantime, as I said, I continued with Gene Smith to see her, and by the time Midshipmen's School was over, almost four months ... later, by that time ... we had fallen in love and subsequently, two and a half years later married her.
LM: How long after Midshipmen's School were you "afloat?"
MM: We ended our midshipmen careers on St. Patrick's Day, 1944 ... As I said, we had to go to Harvard for Naval Training School. We came out of there as communication officers, and immediately, almost immediately in September of 1944, we were assigned to the Armed Guard Service. Armed Guard were people, naval officers and enlisted people, that were placed on merchant ships. In those days many of the merchant ships were the Liberty Ships. Liberty Ships carried tanks and Jeeps, and other war material across the Atlantic ... The naval officers and the enlisted crews, did only two things on those ships, we manned the guns and handled the communications. The merchant crews did all the other things. They steered the ships, and kept the motors going, the oil flowing, and the stacks clean and painted the decks, and did everything else. Usually, there were three Naval officers on most Liberty Ships: an officer in charge, and a communication's officer, and a gunnery officer. ... The communication officer had a crew of six that handled the flags, and handled the blinker, and more importantly the wireless communications. The gunnery officer, of course, took care of the guns and the defense of the ship. ... The Liberty Ships carried a five inch gun in the bow and about a dozen ... fifty caliber machine guns, mounted in tubs in various parts of the vessel. I was on about a half dozen different ships crossing the Atlantic, usually leaving out of Brooklyn. Frank and I were in the same convoys. The first two as I recall, we sailed together in the same convoys, and ... our communications skills came in handy. We didn't use flags very much, but we did use the blinker light, not during night of course. But, during the daytime, we would send messages to each other using the blinker lights. The blinker lights were rather large, oh, I guess, twenty inches in diameter, and it had louvers on the front, and when you pushed down the lever, it opened these louvers and the light shown through when you pushed it down, released it and it closed. So, you were able to go AA, A would be da di da, da di da. Dash, dot, dash, dot, dash and B and so on. So, it was a slow process, but you could communicate with each other anyway, and if you got real good at it, of course, you could speed up the conversation ... [Laughter] Usually by the end of the convoy, we were getting a little more proficient in speaking with each other. Flags was a little more difficult, because with the flags the wind very often would 'cause those flags to not be easily seen. You'd have to use the binoculars to watch the flags.
SH: So, you were really guardsmen on civilian ships?
MM: Well, merchant ships. Yeah, merchant ships. These were Liberty Ships built for the purpose of carrying armament, tanks, guns and so on across the seas and handled by merchant captains and paid merchant seamen not connected with the Navy at all.
LM: Were the ships owned by the Navy, or were they owned by the merchants?
MM: They were owned as I recall by the War Asset Administration of the government. ... The War Asset Administration also leased other merchant ships. On my next Atlantic crossing, I was on the Morgantown Victory Ship. It was new and a great improvement over Liberty Ships. Unfortunately, we hit a mine or took a torpedo in Le Havre, France. After that, I was assigned to the ...
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MM: Pacific Theater. My ship was on an old United Fruit Line vessel called the Delphinus that had been acquired by the Navy ... and was subsequently returned to the United Fruit Line Company, after we had used it for our purposes. It was a refrigerated supply ship that we hauled mostly meat around to the various installations in the South Pacific.
LM: How were your conditions on the ship, sleeping wise? Were your quarters the same as on a military ship, or were they better or worse, in your opinion?
MM: ... When I was in the Atlantic, the Liberty Ships were adequate. The officers had private quarters ... We used a common commode ... and a common shower area. I had the good fortune, while I was still in the Armed Guard Service in the Atlantic Theater, to be assigned, as I said, to a brand new Victory Ship. The Victory Ship was the successor to the Liberty Ship, and the Liberty Ships rolled a great deal, because where they had to go, which was in shallow water. The hull was made like a bathtub on the bottom, and the result was you did a lot of rolling ... They were able to design the Victory Ship so that they didn't roll quite as bad. In fact, they were very, very nice, and this was a brand new one, Morgantown Victory. I felt that I was on a luxury vessel, and I did have a nice cabin, clean, brand new paint and all. [I] was fortunate as could be. Unfortunately however, we had a little bit of a problem in Le Havre ... The number five hold was blown open, either because of a submarine attack, or a mine. I'm not sure which, and that vessel had to be left behind in Le Havre for repairs. And I returned to the United States on the Liberty Ship, ... as a passenger this time. However, I was assigned again, to another Liberty Ship and had to make another crossing, before I was sent to the South Pacific.
SH: You and your brother managed to stay together for a long time, even through military service. When you were transferred to the Pacific, did he go with you, or did you part ways at that point?
MM: That's ... a good question, Sean. Frank seemed to have a little more good fortune than I did, and one that happened to him, was that after he was released from the ... Atlantic Theater and the Armed Guard Service, he was assigned to a vessel called the Henrico, which had been damaged by kamikaze planes, and was in dry dock at Treasure Island, in San Francisco. So, he was assigned to that, but the ship wasn't ready for him. Accordingly, he was living there, kind of a "Life of Riley," doing nothing [except] waiting for the ship to go back into service. In the meantime, I had the misfortune of losing ... the Victory Ship that I was telling you about, theMorgantown Victory and having to come back to the U.S., and then make another crossing, before I was released. Finally, I was released and I knew where Frank was, and I knew what his story was ... I guess we phoned each other, and I said, "Frank, I've got orders to go to Treasure Island. I'm going to be out there with you." He said, "Great." So, I took the train, and after four days, got off at San Francisco and he met me, and we went out to Treasure Island, had a nice weekend. Monday morning I reported, as you had to do, to the Port Director's office. There were orders waiting for me. [Laughs] I was being sent to Auckland, New Zealand on first available transportation, while he was still there waiting for the Henrico. So, off I went on a ship as a passenger again, it was a Moore McCormack ship this time called the Moore McTern. Again, one of those acquired by the Navy under the War Asset Administration ... While I was on that vessel, we dropped anchor at Pearl Harbor, the Pacific war ended. By the way, the Atlantic war had ended some months before that in, April of 1945. So here I was out on the Hawaiian Islands on the Moore McTern, heading for Auckland, New Zealand while Frank's still back on Treasure Island waiting for his ship. I found my way down to Guadacanal, where I was left and got air transportation, military air transportation to Auckland, New Zealand, and got aboard the Delphinus as communication officer there, relieving the communication officer, who had now enough points that he was coming home to be discharged. As it turned out, I would be there August through May, about eight months, or nine months before I'd be discharged from the service. So from Auckland, New Zealand, which was a very nice city, enjoyed being there, we toured the South Pacific, New Hebredies, Espiritu Santo, Guadacanal, and some of the other islands, the Marshall Islands, carrying mostly food, refrigerated food. We were a refrigerated supply ship to our naval positions in those areas, and our final trip was to decommission the vessel. No, pardon me, our final trip was to the Philippines to carry a load of potatoes up there, and that was sort of interesting, because the Philippines people won't eat potatoes. So we got them up there and they loaded them on the barges, and took them out into the ocean and dumped them. We didn't know that. [Laughs] But [at] any rate, after doing that we were told to go to San Francisco and it was then indicated to us that we'd receive further orders. Expectation was high that we would decommission the ship, give it back to the refrigerated supply people. But that wasn't true. When we got to San Francisco, we received orders to go to the Aleutian Islands, up, you know, to Alaska, and bring some food to the ... naval people up there. The only problem with that was we didn't have any heat on the ship. Before I got aboard it, the ship had run aground on a reef down in the South Pacific. To get it off the reef all the radiators on the ship were tossed overboard. So we were without heat, and we couldn't go to the Aleutian Islands without any heat aboard the ship, we'd freeze to death. So when the port director realized that, he rewrote the orders, and now we did indeed decommission the ship by going down through the Panama Canal, having picked up a load of bananas in Quito, Costa Rica. On Easter Saturday, 1946, we loaded bananas, Easter Sunday we took off and headed down for the Suez Canal ... pardon me, the Panama Canal ... Over into the Gulf, and then up to Algiers, across from the New Orleans, where we decommissioned the ship, somewhere as I recall around the 12th or 13th of May, 1946. Yeah, 1946. I was married June 1st , of 1946 to the young lady that I'd met in Midshipmen's School, two and a half or so years before that.
LM: During your travels on the ship, did you find it hard to communicate with her?
MM: ... Originally, it wasn't hard. We would write to each other. That was the principal way of communication, ... especially when you were in the South Pacific ... Normally, I can only speak for myself, there'd be an accumulation of mail waiting for us when we'd get back, let's say to Auckland, which was our permanent address. So, if we were gone for two weeks there'd be five, six, maybe eight letters there, and I'd arrange them, of course, according to the dates and so on. I can't speak for sure how our mail was handled, but I tried to write on a regular basis. But again, I'd mail all four, five, six, seven letters at one time covering a period of ten or twelve days. So, I'm sure that they arrived as mine did ... Keeping in touch with Frank my twin brother, was interesting, and I'll tell you two stories, both true ... and both happened in New Zealand. I was walking along Queens Street, as I recall that was the name of it, the principal street towards the ship. When another officer passed me, and I noticed out of the corner of my eye as he passed me that he kind of gave me a look. He turned around, and came up in back of me, and looked again at me and I stopped now, 'cause I was aware that there was something going on here. And he said, "Frank, don't you recognize me?" and I said, "If I were Frank, I would." And I explained to him I was Frank's twin. It wasn't three or four months later, that I was the Officer of the Deck in port, and we had a ... paymaster. We had a CPA aboard, who was an officer, and he was able to pay anyone who could present the proper certification that they were entitled to be paid. A PT Boat pulled alongside when they saw the paymaster's flag, and two officers came up, saluted the Ensign and saluted me. After the second officer saluted me he hesitated. He looked at the other officer and looked back at me and said, "Didn't I just see you in the Officers' Club?" I think he said Guadacanal, but I'm not positive exactly where it was. I said, "Well, I've been there, ... but it was some time ago. A good half year ago." "No, no," he said, "it was just four or five days, I was with him last week." I said, "No, but I have a twin brother. Could it be, do you remember his name? Was it Frank?" "Oh, yeah, yeah. It was Frank, wasn't it you?" [Laughs] Again, I bumped into someone that had seen Frank, and apparently knew him well enough to confuse him with me. And I thought that was rather strange to have those happen in Auckland, New Zealand ... When the ship that I was on, the Delphinus was sent back to San Francisco, ... we had one little side trip that we had to take to Seattle. You ask me about communicating. When you'd get to San Francisco, or in this case to Seattle, you had access to telephones, and I would call Gene at home, talk with her. This was my prospective wife and, of course, talk to any other members of the family ... In Frank's instance, I didn't know that he was somewhere in the neighborhood, but he had gone to the Port Director's office and found out the movement of ships and found out theDelphinus, my ship, was coming to Seattle, and we had had a tough crossing coming out of Pearl Harbor to Seattle via San Francisco, heavy, heavy fog. And as navigator, I'd been promoted from communication officer to navigator, but I also had other duties. But nevertheless, I was up all night, the night that we made our attempt to find the Straights of Juan de Fuca, going up to Seattle. We had about one hundred miles to go, once we got out of the Pacific Ocean, up the Straights of Juan de Fuca to find Seattle. Heavy, heavy fog, and when we finally got in there and anchored safely, I was exhausted. So, I put a little sign on the door, "Don't disturb." I'd found the sign from the ... one of the hotels, and slept for about ... three or four hours. I then went to the saloon, and had some coffee and breakfast. While I was there, twin brother, Frank, came aboard the ship. He knew where my cabin was, 'cause he had someone show him. He saw the sign, "Don't disturb," and went in, and waited for [me] ... He was going to surprise me. In the meantime, the captain, Captain Armbruster of the ship, sent down the steward to have me come up to his cabin. [Laughter] So the steward saw the "Don't Disturb" sign on the door, and went back to the captain and said, "Mr. McIntosh has a "Don't Disturb" sign on his door." Oh, Captain Armbruster comes down himself, and he opens the door and there's Frank. [Laughter] He starts to chew Frank out. Telling him that he doesn't stand for any officer who would refuse to come when he's summoned, and he didn't like the idea of that steward having to see that "Don't Disturb" sign on the door. Well, about that time, I came along back from the, from the saloon and the Captain was dismayed when he looked at Frank and looked at me, and looked at Frank and looked at me. [Laughs] But that had a happy ending. He finally chuckled to himself over what had happened. So you know, there are enough things that happened accidentally that allow you to keep in touch, this being one of them. I guess you'd say it was accidental that Frank was there. But, very memorable events and sometimes with a happy and occasionally humorous ending.
LM: The Navy was segregated at that point. Did you have any encounters with minorities?
MM: Did you say the military was segregated? Was that your question?
LM: No, the Navy was segregated, and I just wanted to know whether you encountered minorities on your ship? What positions did they hold?
MM: I remember absolutely no discrimination. First of all, I can't recall any black people being involved in any of the activities that I had. Certainly not aboard ship, we just didn't have any, any black people aboard ship. And when I was ashore, I had very, very little contact with anything other than white officers, as well as white enlisted people. To answer your question, I'm not aware of any discriminatory activities whatsoever in the military. I'm sure there were, but I just wasn't exposed to them.
SH: You didn't notice any discrimination, as far as Jewish people on the ships either, or in the Navy? MM: No. One of the great things about a uniform, and we could apply this to schools, high schools especially, one of the great things is that it strips away any controversy that you may want to engage in with respect to a person, the way they dress, and once you remove that, all that's left generally is the face of the individual. That face ... it's hard to discriminate against just a face. You can discriminate against a person if you don't like the way they dress. You may not be aware that you're discriminating against them, because you don't like the way they dress. But you are if you talk negatively about them, or to them. Once you put on a uniform, and your uniform is similar or possibly identical to the other person's uniform, you minimize the likelihood of any discrimination. So, now I can't say there was any discrimination that I was exposed to ... or noticed people discriminating against others. As I think back on it, the officer in charge of the first ship that I was on, which was the Walter S. Reed going back to the Armed Services, was ... Jewish. Loftus was his name, nice guy. But no thought of discrimination on my part. As I say, I lived in a very cosmopolitan community and we were all Roman Catholic that I attended school with, but outside of school ... the population ... was diverse. No, I just don't have any recollections of discrimination, military or otherwise. SH: Do you recall being here the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed?MM: Oh, yeah. Yes, I do very well. I was working at Thodes. That was a big thing for me because ... do you remember Thodes restaurant downtown? I guess it doesn't exist anymore.SH: No, not anymore.
LM: Where downtown? Do you remember the street name?
MM: The main street, right across from where the ... as I recall, right across from where the dime store was.
LM: Over on George Street there.
MM: George Street, exactly. Thode, Mr. Thode was of German extraction, he had a heavy German accent. On the second floor, they made chocolate. On the first floor, they had a restaurant, a nice soda fountain, that was very, very busy at lunch ... My role there was a busboy. I would pick up the dishes off the table after the customers were finished, and I would have a meal that was an important part of my pay, and each waitress or waiter, would give me a nickel or a dime as my reward for helping them keep the tables clean. So, I'd get a nice big meal, always refreshing, and I was always hungry. And you know, get maybe sixty, seventy cents in my pocket, and I felt pretty good having done that ...
SH: So you worked only for tips?
MM: Yes. That's correct, and of course, the tips only from the employees, the waiters and the waitresses. I didn't have any direct tips from the public as such.
LM: Did Frank work there as well, or no?MM: [Laughs] He worked there once. He came to relieve me. One of my jobs was to make the coffee, and if you're familiar with how coffee was made in those days, there were two, sometimes three, in this case there were three large chrome plated tanks. And there were valves that you had to open and close in order to get the water, cold water into one tank where it would be heated and then after that, after it was heated, it would go into another tank and would make coffee. It was a little complicated but once during the last half hour, before I would normally go to Thodes I had something else to do. It was very, very important that I do it, so Frank was going to take care of it for me. I drew a little skit, "Frank, now this is what you do. Turn this valve, and then you know, put the coffee in here and so on." Well, I didn't do a very good job of giving instructions. He got down there and everybody accepted him ... as me. But the coffee didn't get made, and Mr. Thode almost had a fit, because it was a very, very important thing to have an adequate amount of coffee. And, "Fired, he's out. Out, out." ... Frank was able to go to one of the others employees there and explain to them what had happened, 'cause Mr. Thode wasn't taking any explanations. As far as he was concerned, it was Mike, who should know how to make coffee by now, and who wasn't doing it. But, Frank was "persona non gratis" there. I was able to come back with apologies to Mr. Thode, and resume my career as a busboy. But, yeah, we had some strange happenings when we tried, one to fill in for the other.
LM: So, you were there when you heard about Pearl Harbor?MM: Oh, yes. Yes, you brought that up a little while ago, didn't you? Yeah, I was at Thodes, at the time I had heard on the radio what had happened. But, I was able to listen to President Roosevelt's speech, and the restaurant was very, very quiet as he spoke for the twenty minutes, or so, that it took him to declare war ... from his speechmaking. Yeah, very, very interesting time. I remember thinking to myself that ... my life was going to be changed. I was at an age where it was very, very likely that I'd be in war, very, very soon. I didn't know at that time that I'd be in the Navy. I just knew that I was draftable, and of course, if you're draftable, you want to, at least I did, want to remain un-drafted. So the way that you do that is to be sure that your grades are good and you're not being asked to leave college, because once you leave college, you're gone. You're drafted. So against that background, my grades improved and I did, eventually along with Frank survive, and get into the V12 program.SH: Now you were at Pearl Harbor on the day that VJ Day was declared.
MM: That's right.
SH: So what was the attitude like there, especially considering its position in the war?
MM: We knew of course, that ... it was likely to end fairly soon because of the bombing that occurred several days earlier ... There was quiet, relief, on the part of the people, on the ship. There was also an awareness that it wasn't completely over because there were some ships still at sea that might still want to conduct war. And we knew, too, that there were pockets of Japanese on many of the islands in the Pacific, where they might not get the word that the war was over, or wouldn't believe it. Some of those were very, very dedicated. Consider, for example, the kamikaze pilots. They were on a death wish once they became Kamikaze pilots, they were going to die and they knew it, and they wanted to. So, against that background while we had some relief that the war was over, we knew that we were still in danger, there was still a danger ... things didn't change when we got underway. It was blackout, we blacked out the ship. Sailed without any running lights, without any lights at all, and made sure that we acted like there was still a war going on. Nevertheless, when we were in port, it was a ... lot different feeling ... I remember going ashore in Hawaii, we anchored in Pearl Harbor. The submarine people, I did meet some of them, I was a transport, as you know. Submarine people had established R&R at ... Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Just the finest hotel at that time, and probably today, too, on the main island of Oahu. Then I went ashore, and had my own room ... lived very, very nicely ... with some of the friends I had made on ship, who were in the submarine service. But, yeah, I remember having mixed feelings, glad that the war was over but realizing that we could still be at risk ... Sometimes we made our own risk. I remember, when I was on theDelphinus having gotten to Auckland and now being at sea, the captain decided it was a good day to practice gunnery. The war was over but we were going to practice gunnery. We hadn't shot that five-inch canon recently. ... We almost blew ourselves out of the water, because the crew having been rusty and not knowing too well how to deal with it, had turned the canon down as the ship ... had heaved upward, and now they fired it as the ship came down, and the damn thing exploded, you know fifty feet ahead of us ... That shell, the shock of that shell hitting the water, fifty feet ahead of us, I thought would blow a hole in the bow. It didn't, but it frightened us all that we almost shot ourselves out of the water. [Laughs] Sometimes you're your own worst enemy. That was the end of the gunnery practice. Absolutely, yeah. [Laughter]
SH: What kind of R&R experiences did you have while you were in Hawaii?
MM: Well, I just explained the only one that's significant, and that was ... Getting to stay at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. We were back on one other occasion, as I was telling you when we loaded ... potatoes up for the Filipinos and were told then to go to San Francisco and proceed from there on, where we would decommission the ship eventually ... And in San Francisco, or before going to San Francisco, we stopped in the Hawaiian Islands, and with three or four other fellas from the ship, we'd go ashore at night. In those days the city started to returning to post war days, or pre war days, if you wish. Where it was more normal, you could get around a little easier and the entertainment was adequate. That was ... that was a nice time, a nice visit that we had there, but nothing outstanding. In San Francisco we were able to go ashore, of course, and eat at some of the finer restaurants, and as I say, things were starting slowly to return to normal with respect to ... post war activities.
LM: In returning to normal, what were some of your recollections, pulling into Pearl Harbor, of the carnage? Did anything stand out in your mind?
MM: Good question ... The area that we used was ... outside of the area where the attack by the Japanese had occurred, and except from a distance, we didn't see any of the carnage. If you used binoculars you could see some of the superstructure of some of the vessels lying there. But, you stayed away from that area for obvious reasons. You know, you didn't want to be running onto something submerged. So, you were kept away from that by buoys and so on ... It wasn't a big thing. One thing I do remember was that we were there in August, on my first visit, and subsequently on another visit in February, and it rained every afternoon at three o'clock. [Laughter] Heavy downpour in February. That was the rainy season. It would rain for a half hour, forty-five minutes, the sun would come out, and it'd be all over with. Now it was an interesting time of my life. I moved around quite a bit, ... both in the Atlantic Theater, and, of course, in the Pacific Theaters, too.
SH: When you decommissioned your ship, you said you were down near New Orleans. Where did you go from that point?
MM: Yes, the naval facility was across from New Orleans in Algiers, and I left the ship there and ... went home to Kearny, New Jersey. I was met at LaGuardia Airport by my family, and stayed just a few days there, because my marriage was coming up on June the 1st . I had called Gene from Seattle several months before that and things had been put in motion for a June 1st wedding at St. Luke's Church in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of ... Chicago ... The family all got on an airplane and flew out. The services, as I said, were held at St. Luke's Church. Frank was my best man. We wore our Navy whites, ... the hotel reception was at the Edgewater Beach Hotel.
LM: What was it like coming home, after your naval experiences? How had America changed in your opinion?
MM: That was a big factor, because I was in and out as I finished the trips across the Atlantic and coming back. I'd usually have anywhere from three or four days to a week, or seven, or eight, or nine days between having to get back on a ship and go ... So, I was able to keep up with things.
I do remember people talking about rationing, and some of them had some difficulty getting enough of this or that. Women were the worst, they couldn't get their nylon hose, you know. Or those that were smokers couldn't get enough cigarettes. But there ... was, there was not a great, at least in the contacts that I had, there was not a great deal of difference between how people responded during the war, and how they responded immediately after the war.
LM: During the Navy it sounded like you ate pretty well. Did you have any shortages of food while on the ship?
MM: Well, of course, in the South Pacific we did eat well because we were on a refrigerator supply ship and we carried fine meats, steaks among them. It wouldn't be unusual for us to have steak four or five times in the course of a week.
LM: Wow! [Laughs] You ate very well. [Laughs]
MM: That was always true, but it was generally true we'd have a mixture of vegetables, as well as meats that we would carry. At times, I'd just as soon have a hot dog, instead of steak. It was that common that we'd eat steak. So, we ate well, sure did ... In the Atlantic when I was on the Armed Guard Service, we ate well too, and I often thought that was largely because it was a merchant ship. The merchant sailors were well cared for, well paid, and of course, well fed as well, and we participated in their food.
SH: So, when you came back again you went on to law school, is that correct?
MM: Exactly. Yeah, as soon as we were able to do so, we enrolled in New York University School of Law. We were back together again.
SH: You and Frank, back together again.
MM: Yeah, right. Exactly. We were both married, by the way. Frank married two months after I married ... The City of New York had made arrangements to refurbish, with State help, buildings on what was called North Brother Island. North Brother Island was developed by the Coast Guard during World War I. They had built a hospital there. The hospital consisted of ... about seven or eight buildings. Each approximately four stories high, with one somewhat larger building that housed the medical facilities that were needed. These other buildings that I just described were largely ... patients' rooms, and recovery rooms, and so on. These were now fitted out as apartments and served by a ferryboat. So, after qualifying for law school, we were allowed ... to apply for and did receive housing on North Brother Island ... We had to be sure that we got up early enough to get the ferryboat, so that we wouldn't miss class, and coming home sometimes at night, if you weren't careful, you might have a long wait, because if you missed that last boat, it might be four or five hours before another boat would take you over to the island, and occasionally we did miss that last boat, sure, especially on weekends.
SH: What did you do for the four or five hours while you waited?
MM: ... Yeah, just like being in an air terminal, you know, without the facilities ... do the best you can [laughter].
SH: How much did the GI Bill help you at this point?
MM: Quite a bit. Oh, yeah, quite a bit. The GI Bill was an absolute necessity if you were gonna keep body and soul together ... It was very generous. Tuition provided ... an allowance was given to you as long your grades maintained a certain level ... It was adequate to ... just buy your food, pay your rent, and that was it. You didn't have much left over for anything else. So against that background, Frank and I went back to doing what we had done at Rutgers, and that was delivering newspapers. When we were at Rutgers, I think I missed that. We'd done a number of things including deliver the New York Times and the Herald Tribune on campus. Now we were back in that business again, when we were in law school on North Brother Island, because everyone on North Brother Island was in a school of higher education. Either at Fordham, or NYU, or Julliard School of Music or one of the other, Hofstra, and so on, Pace, and whatever school nearby was available.
SH: Were they all former military?
MM: All former military, correct. All veterans, correct. More than half of them were married, like Frank and myself. But, they did have a place there for the single fellas as well.
LM: As a result, of most people being married and in the military over there, were there lots of social organizations for your wife to get involved in, while you were studying?
MM: ... No. Many of the wives did go ashore, and had employment, and some of them were themselves students. They were in the military, and some of them were also attending colleges. No, there was very, very little social outlet for ... the women. The men did organize an American Legion Post on the island, and that gave us a chance to have dances. So, we organized our own dances with a record player .... Rarely, did we have anything other than that to entertain ourselves with. Entertainment, I think, was not found, by the families on the island, some of them had little babies, it was found ashore. Down on Forty Second Street going to a movie or something of that sort. I kept in touch, to this day, with a fellow and his wife, who at that time had one child. His name is Lou Minella. Lou Minella, and I still to this day see each other on a regular basis. We met when he was at Fordham attending ... School of Business and I was at New York University School of Law. We were neighbors, as a matter-of-fact, they had a little child at that time six months or so old, and as time passed acquired two other children. But, they live now within a couple of miles of where I live in Dallas. It's nice to have friends like that ... who remember the past as easily as you do, and sometimes refresh your memory on things that you might have forgotten.
LM: Did your wife work or did she go to school?
MM: Yes, but that became an expensive proposition, because, in those days a woman might get a job as Gene did for thirty-five cents, forty-five cents, fifty cents was big money, per hour.
LM: Wow. [Laughter]
MM: And she found employment with Dr. Apple at the New York University School of Business, which was in the same building that the School of Law was in. However, at the end of the day we'd have to eat, and very often eating meant stopping in a restaurant, and we'd spend more for food than she had made in the course of a day ... [Laughs] Of course she had to buy lunch, too. So, it became expensive and against that background, after about a year of trying to earn enough ... by her working it was decided that it would be better if she didn't ... That's when Frank and I started to develop the newspaper route, to supplement our income. That was a far, far more effective way to get money and not have expenses involved with earning a living.
SH: When you ate your meals together, was it you, Frank, and your wives?
MM: No, we kept separate that way. Our apartment was on the first floor, his was on the third floor. And the apartment consisted of one fairly large room with a kitchen area at one end, and we had our table very, very close to that area so we ate our meals there. The other end of that big room had a couch on it that could be used as a bed. It would open up into a bed. This was furniture that we bought. And then there was a somewhat smaller room, about the size of this room that we're in now, that was a bedroom, and off that bedroom was a bath, a shower and a commode and a sink, and that was it. It was not a very large area. I'd say probably eight hundred square feet, if that, maybe a little less.
LM: You stayed there for how many years?
MM: ... Almost four years. Yeah, I moved from North Brother Island, as most of the people were doing, as they graduated from school. I moved to White Plains, New York and settled there in an apartment, before buying our home and moving to more permanent quarters, and we stayed in White Plains until 1960, so we were there for about eleven or twelve years, and moved to Dallas in 1960.
SH: Did you stay active with that same American Legion group, that you formed on the island?
MM: No, no. I did keep in touch with one or two of the individuals but, as you can imagine, Sean, as we all graduated we went to different parts of the country, and the American Legion Post just dissolved. One fellow that I remember very well, tried to keep it going but eventually, it was just him. [Laughs] You can't have a post if you've only got one guy. [Laughter]
LM: Did Frank travel to White Plains with you?
MM: No, ... not at all ... Frank was called back into the Navy. And became Assistant Legal Officer, after completion, of course, of law school, in New London at the Groton Submarine base there. Actually, it's Groton across from New London. I remained in New York City and went into the insurance business.
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MM: Yeah ... Frank settled in Groton, as I said, and became the Assistant Legal Officer on the submarine base and I settled in White Plains. We visited on a regular basis, both in White Plains as well as New London, Connecticut. It's only two hours, or so, a drive from one city to the other, and that's the way it continued. Frank prospered very well in his practice once he was discharged from the Navy, which as I remember occurred in '52, or early '53, and in my business I did well in White Plains. He continued to remain in Groton, Connecticut although in 1960, I moved to Dallas, Texas ... We still continued to visit though, once a year or more frequently, since my primary connection was with John Hancock, which was in Boston. I'd be in and out of Boston a great deal of time, and it was an easy trip by train from Back Bay down to Groton, or New London. So, I'd see Frank two or three times a year, occasionally with my wife. But, he'd reciprocate and normally on our birthday in February he'd come down and spend a while with us.
LM: You never forget each other's birthday. You do not have to worry about that. [Laughter]
MM: No, no. Yeah, we've had some very memorable visits around our birthdays for that reason.
SH: What did you do with your law degree?
MM: I did not finish law school.
SH: You never finished.
MM: I never finished, Frank did. I went into the insurance business in New York City ... Frank, as I said, continued and was recalled by the Navy because he did change his designator. The Navy gives you a designator, which is a four number title ... The computer pulled Frank's name up as a person that they needed back in the Navy for legal purposes. My designator remained as a line officer, and they didn't need any more line officers, so I wasn't recalled.
LM: What kind of work did you do in the insurance business?
MM: ... Initially, I sold life insurance. Later on, that was expanded to health insurance and some years later, to securities. So, that today I sell all financial products, whatever they may be.
LM: Are you still working full-time at this point?
MM: Oh, no. No, I'm semi-retired, and have been for a dozen years. Yeah.
LM: Is there anything else that you want to tell us, or have us know? Any particular stories that we may not have touched on?
MM: Well, just to make a personal comment, I can't imagine anyone listening for as long as it's taken us to record these things. I can't imagine anyone listening all that length of time to hear ...
LM: Oh, they will.
MM: Well, I'm flattered if they do, and if they do I hope they'll find something of value in my comments ... I can only add one highly personal thing to what I've just said, and that is to say that the most important part of my business and to a large degree of my social life ... has come as a result of the years, approximately three, spent on the campus here in New Brunswick, a very, very important number of years ... There were times when I wasn't sure, and I'm sure Frank may have felt the same way, that we would both continue to go down the same path. And if that had happened that we did not continue to go down the same path during the time we were undergraduates here in New Brunswick, our lives would have been considerably different. I don't know whether I'd be alive today, maybe having been drafted by the Army, or vise versa. Frank might have been the one to have ... been in the Army. But, as it was, it worked out extremely well, and on that personal note, I'll say I have a debt of gratitude that I owe to the University, for its contribution to a good life.
LM: Okay, thank you.
SH: If you do not mind I would like to go back to something, because I was very shocked when you said that they moved you out of your dormitory. Did they give you any reason as to why? Or you just went to work one day and came home only to see that all your stuff was gone? I'm just amazed by that.
LM: I'm amazed that they took good care of it, and they put it somewhere nice. I'm surprised it was not on the street corner.
SH: That was just very shocking.
MM: Yeah. Well, you have to keep in mind that we didn't have a telephone in our room ... I can't be specific as to why we didn't get something printed in our hand, but I would not accuse the school of having made no attempt to let us know. Keep in mind that it was during a period of time when there weren't many people on campus ... It's entirely possible that whoever moved our belongings out thought we were back at home in Kearny, New Jersey. But, I was, along with Frank, commuting to Pennsylvania Station in order to handle Christmas mail. So, we had stayed on campus and in that room at Winants Hall ... when others had gone home. Communication may have been left in our box in the ... bookstore.
LM: Was your mailbox at Winants Hall?
MM: That's right. Correct, ... it may have been left in there. But, our hours were such that we didn't have access to it. And, accordingly, the communication just didn't get received, and our return one day from Pennsylvania Station ... found us with nothing in our room. [Laughter]
SH: Great surprise. [Laughter]
MM: That's the only answer I can give you. [Laughter]
LM: Merry Christmas! [Laughter]
SH: I guess that was it then.
MM: Yeah, right. After getting over the feeling that maybe we were being asked to leave, it was okay ... We didn't have that much to loose. In those days you didn't carry a lot of stereo equipment with you, didn't know what it was.
LM: Yeah, dorms have changed just a bit.
SH: Pretty drastically, I'd say.
MM: ... A little radio and that's the best you could hope for.
LM: Great. [Laughs]
MM: Well, you folks have been very generous in giving your whole morning to this activity.
SH: Oh, my pleasure.
LM: We enjoyed it. I enjoyed this immensely.
MM: Do they really pay you to do this sort of thing? [Laughter]
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Reviewed by Bojan Stefanovic 10/24/00
Revised by Bojan Stefanovic 10/27/00
Edited by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 10/29/00
Edited by Michael J. McIntosh 12/00