Karen Auerbach: This is an interview with Frank X. Long at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey on July 22, 1996. I guess we will start, I wanted to know a little bit about Newark, growing up in Newark.
Frank Long: Surely.
KA: What was Newark like in the '30s?
FL: Well, I was born in the city of Newark in 1925. And it was quite a different community from today, and that was to my benefit, really, because it was really a collection of smaller communities and it was somewhat a gracious place, if you can believe that. It had sections like Valesburg, and the section that I grew up in, basically it was called Roseville, and a lot of those names don't mean a lot these days. I was born in a private residence, born at home as would happen in those days. That would be on South Ninth Street near Central Avenue.
FL: ... Basically growing up time for me was on South Tenth Street, 75 South Tenth, right near Central Avenue, and it was a good, wonderful place for me. These days I will find myself, because of the nature of the work I'm doing; I'm editing a publication that aims for personal growth and spirituality I find myself talking to a number of people and it appears to be a genuine rarity if one grew up in other than a dysfunctional home, because there are just so many examples of abused children, and it makes me sad at this point in time. Here I am nearing my seventy-first birthday, I will be that age tomorrow of all things, so I'm not ...
KA: Happy birthday.
FL: Thank you. I'm still kind of amazed at all the dysfunctional families around, and yet I believe it, because I hear it so often. But in my case, it was completely the opposite. It was just ...
KA: A happy childhood?
FL: A very happy childhood. I am prejudiced, I'm sure, but [I had] the greatest mother and father in the world, and I was nicely nestled in a beautiful spot. I was the middle of five children. I have two older brothers and two younger sisters. So I was just kind of surrounded by love in all regards, and it was a very gregarious kind of a household. The door was always open for company, and there was always an evening sing-a-long and I would handle the piano. I hasten to add it was a player piano. I never did learn to play, really, but we had a grand time, and it was very religious household. The St. Rose of Lima Church was about two and a half blocks away, and life kind of revolved around that, to a large degree, but that was [the] basic growing up situation. My father was a longtime employee of New Jersey Bell, as a matter-of-fact he worked there just about fifty years.
KA: In Newark?
FL: In Newark, right. As I say, Newark was a very different kind of a town. It was somewhat blue collar, but lots of lovely residential sections. His assignment was to kind of take care of the maintenance and smooth operation for the entire telephone system over at Prudential Life Insurance Company, which was headquartered, and was the largest employer in Newark. He worked for New Jersey Bell, but on the scene at Prudential, and was responsible for taking care of their phones. My mother was strictly a homebody, although she had, earlier in her life, worked, I believe, at Prudential. So, it's kind of a small world that way.
KA: That must have been unusual ... in the early part of the twentieth century for a woman to work.
FL: The way you put that is very nice. It was the early twentieth century and I sometimes have to remind myself of that, but you're right. It, I believe, though was not all that unusual. I think that basically the young ladies, of say 1905, or 1910, I guess we're talking about, would go to grammar school and then take a, a clerical or secretarial job somewhere and meet some nice young man and get married and raise a family. But they would not return to the workplace I have a hunch because I remember not only my mother but her two sisters, that I recall, and lots of her gal friends that I got to know, she met a lot of them at the workplace, and I do think that was that.
KA: How did your family fare during the Depression?
FL: ... I believe it was a time of real challenge. I was kind of the errand boy of the family, did a lot of the local shopping and so on, and very vividly, I can recall that we lived on a pretty tight budget. My father's salary I'm sure was really minuscule compared to today's time. I mean, he was there in the 1930s, I'd say he'd been working for New Jersey Bell for a number of years, but I'm sure his salary was around the three thousand dollar level.
KA: Was he able to keep his job?
FL: Yeah, he had the security of a long-term employment and he was pretty good at what he did. But I do recall, say it was a casual kind of supper that we were planning, I would go to Central Avenue and the local delicatessen and [buy] fifteen cents worth of spiced ham, that would be fifteen cents for the ham and then a loaf of bread would be an additional eighteen cents or thereabouts, and we would pretty well be set for our ...
KA: That would be for dinner?
FL: For our supper, yeah. So, the pricing was a lot lower. But we were renting the house in the '30s and then an opportunity came along, just to give you an idea of the price structure of things. I'm sure the rent was, it was in a large home and it would accommodate, it was a beautiful household. It would have a, an upstairs boarder who would occupy one of the rooms. There were three of us boys up in the attic room, sharing the attic room and two sisters sharing another room, and then my mother and father in a room, and then there was my Aunt Maggie who also lived with us. So it was just a ... nuclear household and it was just a, hardly ever a negative word. Everybody, because of all the love exuded by my parents, everything just worked well. ... Financially, somehow, in the mid- '30s I guess, an opportunity came along and my father scraped together and mortgaged this and that, and we purchased a home for about two thousand dollars.
KA: Before that time you were renting.
FL: Until then we had been renting. The nice thing in my world, I would guess in a lot of ways it sounds very silly, perhaps, what shaped my life almost as much as anything in the world was being a little bit on the frail side as I grew toward age six and seven. So that when I began grammar school at St. Rose of Lima, I started school but then came down with a very tight succession of the childhood diseases of that time, the mumps and the chicken pox.
FL: Whatever else was around. And so I'd get over one, start back in and then be ill again, to a point where I think, without using a whole bunch of psychology and whatever, my parents did probably the best thing in the world for me at that time. They just decided, "We're just gonna keep you back and let you start school later." So I started my first grade at age seven instead of six, with a smattering of what had gone before and with an inclination especially toward reading and that's something that has followed me all through my life. So it really gave just a tiny bit of an edge, a head start. I was just a touch older than my classmates, and by the time I got to the eighth grade I had still maintained my interest in studying and geography and history and everything else. I was lucky enough to have a, a distant relative send us along a, a volume of books called, "The Book of Knowledge." And it was just kind of a youngster's encyclopedia with ... stories about the world and science and physics and everything, written in kind of an interesting way. It just caught my fancy, and by the time I was in the eighth grade, they didn't have kindergarten, they had first grade through eighth grade, I was a pretty decent writer because I was reading so much, and also just was pretty good in English and interested in school. So what happened then, so graduating from grammar school, my goal was, of course, to go to what to me was a wonderful prep school that both my brothers went to.
KA: Was that St. Benedict's?
FL: That's St. Benedict's Prep on High Street in Newark, New Jersey. Now it's Martin Luther King Boulevard, but at that time it was High Street in downtown Newark, New Jersey. And so I applied for a scholarship, took a scholarship test, and what happened was what happened often with me. I was very fortunate and kind of bright, I guess, because I won a full scholarship all four years to St. Benedict's Prep. And part of it was, I'm sure a very quality essay that I wrote as part of the exam.
KA: Even as a grade school student you were a writer?
FL: Yeah, I was a star student in terms of academics, not all that much in terms of math and science, but mostly English, history and all of that sort of thing. But at St. Benedict's, I did kind of compile, I had the highest grade average for, for all four years, and sometimes it was, it was obscene, it was 98.2, you know, they went on the numerical scale. They had two awards at graduation at St. Benedict's and I won both of them. ... I wasn't a smart alec in that sense and I didn't have a lot pride, but I had a loving set of parents and my siblings were very encouraging, and I was just, I just thought myself, I was fortunate. And then I owe a great deal to a gentleman from Rutgers.
KA: Who would that be?
FL: The name is Lawrence Keefe, and he probably got out in the 1930s somewhere, early or mid- '30s. Larry Keefe was his name, and he was my English teacher when I was a sophomore at St. Benedicts. And the other, well, let's say the big event that was happening that distracted my family and other families around the world was World War II.
KA: When did you graduate from high school in '43 or '44?
FL: '44. So I entered high school in 1940, and the war was breaking out, you know, as far as we're concerned.
FL: And so it had an effect on me in my time at St. Benedict's. My older brother, the first one through who had graduated from St. Benedict's in 1937 ...
KA: What school did your brother go on to?
FL: My brother, John, who is now deceased, but at that time he was a marvelous athlete and very bright young man. When he graduated from St. Benedict's Prep, he went to the Seton Hall, Seton Hall College.
KA: Did he go into the war?
FL: ... [He] went into service very early in 1941, I guess, and he became a naval officer. Served, as a matter-of-fact, at some points here, there, with the guy who became President Nixon. He, along with Nixon, they were both members of the naval supply quarter, and at one point stationed together somewhere in Iowa. But he went on to see pretty exciting and dangerous service in the South Pacific. A lieutenant commander, John was discharged from the Navy but had some adventures. So I, I looked up to him as a St. Benedict's grad and also to my next brother in line who, my brother, Joseph, also deceased, brother Joe, had the same kind of wonderful personality and helpfulness and he was particularly careful of his little brother.
KA: The "little brother" was you.
FL: Which was me. So I was very fortunate to be very loved, very well regarded. He graduated in 1942 and immediately went into ... he went into the Army and served with the infantry and other branches over in Italy. My only service turned out very different, but my debt to Larry Keefe, he really directed my life. My parents did too by keeping me back the first year. Next thing that happened that turned out to be very crucial in my life.
KA: This was your sophomore year English teacher?
FL: My sophomore year English teacher, Larry Keefe, and he was up for the draft. So he was about to be drafted in the Army.
FL: Larry Keefe had gone through Rutgers, was a good writer and also very interested in athletics. As a matter-of-fact, he was the sports correspondent for all of the St. Benedict's teams, and St. Benedict's was one of the larger schools in North Jersey and a terrific powerhouse, especially in sports. Newark at that time, bless its heart, it had no less than three newspapers. He was a sports correspondent, you know, a dignified gentleman, for all three newspapers and I turned out to be his star student. Can you imagine this happening to you, Karen?
KA: That was a good connection, right?
FL: He ... took a liking to me and his wife would take me sometimes to a Broadway play, just a wonderful, beautiful person. I was thinking this morning, kicking myself, that he had passed away and I never did really get a chance to thank him for that. In this way maybe I am a little bit recognizing him, and, because of, just a thorough gentleman, including the fact that he brought [me] one interesting Saturday in my prep school years to the Rutgers campus to see a University of Connecticut football game.
KA: That was your first Rutgers football game?
FL: That was my first Rutgers experience.
KA: Were you a Rutgers fan right away?
FL: I was ready to be that and I was very impressed and that was, you know, big time for a prep school student. I saw what kind of an excellent product they turned out in Larry, who just had all of the finer principles of the world. Including an interest in, you know, a not very affluent young man who was creatively inclined, but needed perhaps a touch of guidance. He provided it at the right time in life so that he just simply said, "Frank, I'm going in the service. You played athletics yourself and you're a good writer. You are an avid sports fan, so I'm going to turn it over and it's okay with the administration here, you are now the sports correspondent for these three newspapers in town." And here I was, age sixteen, seventeen.
KA: That was a big break for you. That was your entry into journalism.
KA: Was it the Newark Star-Ledger Evening News?
FL: It was the Newark Evening News, Newark Star-Ledger, and at that time there was also a paper called theNewark Sunday Call.
KA: You were the sports correspondent, what team did you cover?
FL: I covered St. Benedict's, anything and everything that they did, for all three of those newspapers and I just poured myself into it. I continued my grades, and they continued high, but I just had no idle moments. I would go to a St. Benedict's game, say it was a football game, and I would phone in the score to the Star-Ledger desk. And ... as time went by I, I would actually sit next to ... the telegrapher and write out the news for the late editions of the Saturday afternoon Newark Evening News, and then I would head down to the Sunday Call and sit at the desk and write another story there. So it was crazy.
KA: How did you learn? How did you learn how to write a sports story?
FL: I just read so many of them. I was just so interested and I found out early, you asked the right question, I, I found, Karen, as you may have found also, that when it comes to writing news or sports articles ... there is a certain kind of a formula that evolves. I mean, we do deal with who, what, when, where, and why and how, and you translate that in a creative way. I've always, I've been blessed with a degree of creativity that here, as I approach my seventy-first birthday I think it's better than it ever was, or at least as good. So that was my secret weapon, and my vocabulary was kind of terrific, especially for that age, so I could easily find different ways of saying the same thing. You've had that experience I'm sure
KA: When you were in high school and your teacher went into the war, was that a traumatic experience for you? He was your mentor.
FL: It was. Someone recently wrote a little feature article about me and my career and they summed it up this way. They said, "Frank Long is just a lucky freshman that was just in the right place at the right time." I have always somehow had this feeling, and I still have it, that there is some kind of a beautiful guiding star in my life. I think it's a higher power that has looked upon me just with real delight. I have just found myself with, not in the financial area, let's say, but in all of the areas that really count, the non-material, I just have had the knack of being precisely, and there are a lot of examples that come down, a little scary, but somehow there I was, right at the place I'm supposed to be. So I'm afraid that I didn't think about it too deeply. I said, "Well, here's another nice thing that's happening to me." ... I, tomorrow and the day after, here at age seventy-one, I still expect some really interesting and nice things to happen, and what's happening to me right now, getting to meet you and taking part in this. This is another nice thing. Not that I expect it, but that I guess maybe people say, "Well, you kind of open yourself up for nice things to happen." When I, for example, the Newark Sunday Call ... I was not just a brash sophomore from St. Benedict's who came in and turned in a story. I must have shown some interest in other sports activities to a point where the sports editor, his name was John Deer, just a gracious older gentleman, he obviously saw in me some ... dedication and real interest. So he appointed me, at age seventeen, I was assistant sports editor of the Newark Sunday Call. I would come in there, as a matter of fact, every Saturday and I'd sit at the desk and edit the horse racing results from Narragansett, as well as the track results and the ... golf, and so I just became rather proficient in the whole sports field. But now why did that happen ...
KA: At seventeen, that is a lot to worry about.
FL: Yeah, but his, the other thing that I had no control over, obviously, but I was just at the right place at the right time. But the basic backdrop that really was making all of these things happen was the war ... I somehow have always felt a real debt to those who went before me, who should have been, excuse me, they were all fighting the war somewhere.
KA: There were a lot of men who would have been the writers and editors.
FL: Yeah, normally sports writers, sports editor. I was there at age seventeen instead of their being there at age twenty-five, thirty, forty-five. They were all fighting a war. I have a tremendous debt and feeling of some obligation to be true to all of those people, including to all the brothers. But here again, you see what happened when I was age six? The reason that this was really happening to me is because I had been held back a year. If I would have been in the, I did go into the war myself but at a later date when I graduated from high school, and I was age eighteen at that time I very likely would have gone into service ... maybe a little earlier. But at any rate, you see what I'm getting at? The one thing had, because my English teacher was drafted, the whole world opened up for me, and I just was writing rather sophisticated bylined articles at age sixteen. I would cover a track meet, for example, and I did, just by the nature of trying to find out who was going to win ... It would come down to the finish line. There I was with my little pad and pencil, and they'd shoot a picture of the winning racer and they'd be straining and, and the tall guy just as prominent in the picture would be me. I mean there I was ...
KA: You were right behind them.
FL: Somewhat in the background but very prominent and my friends would say, "I saw you on the front page of the sports section, what are you doing here?" You know.
KA: It was big time for you.
FL: Big time. Kind of crazy, but it never did go to my head, really. I always thought of myself as lucky rather than talented. So there you go.
KA: How was your high school involved with the war effort? You know, what type of things do you remember from that?
FL: It was, the high school was a precious, delightful, wonderful time for me, and we did get involved in support of activities. We put our own, everybody there was soon going to be in service, so the school put in its own obstacle course and its training course and program ... to try to get us ready, really, for service, cause that was the process. We had the usual drives for this and that.
KA: Scrap drives and that sort of thing?
FL: And trying to support the war effort ... I would, besides being the sports correspondent, which kind of kept me a little busy, I got very active, I went, this happened wherever I went. I just became active in the school newspaper, so I was a reporter as a freshman in high school for the St. Benedict's Prep newspaper.
KA: Did you become the editor?
FL: Yeah, I became the sports editor and then the managing editor and then the editor. And later the same thing happened at Targum.
KA: What kind of a, what kind of a publication was your high school newspaper?
FL: It was a tabloid newspaper, and I think it was very classy, and we tried to maintain a pretty good quality about it ... A guy in the class ahead of me, his name was Raymond Brady and he was a pretty classy writer. He was in the Class of '43 and one of the top editors, and he and I got pretty close to each other. And it turns, and we've been in touch, not, not all that often, but he was the financial correspondent for WCBS and, and the whole CBS TV network. Ray Brady is the, he still is the, the financial wizard who comes on ...
KA: Did he go on to a big career?
FL: Yeah, he went on to a large size career. But I, I just couldn't, I, I was very lucky again. I just kept very busy and at the right time, the yearbook was coming along, and I found time to be the editor of the yearbook, too. I was doing anything and everything. Including, I'll tell you, this, the one glorious moment, there isn't going to be another place, probably to record it, but I was just such a recipient of good fortune. I was not talented enough and didn't have enough time to make, my sport was basketball. I liked basketball, baseball and I touched football.
KA: You played, in the high school you were on the basketball team?
FL: Well, I was not good enough to be on the basketball team, but I was captain of the intramural, my intramural basketball team. So the intramural all stars, this one evening, played the faculty all stars and people from the faculty, who were pretty good at what they were doing. I came in, in the fourth quarter, as a freshman, and ... just somehow, I mean here again, some, through some "divine providence," the ball found its way to me over on the side, a real long shot, and I just flipped it up and it went in. And people were kind of amazed. So I was running back down court, then, my, one of the teachers was so amazed, you know, that I made the shot that he stumbled into me, and that put me on the foul line, and I made that shot. So, that was three quick points, you know, in about two minutes. So, and back down the court we came, and the ball game was almost over at this point. And somehow, again, I was heading over on kind of a tangential course from the basket, but pretty far-out, and the ball came my way. And I had been practicing this hook shot that was pretty classy, so an over-the-head hook shot from way back of the foul line. I just swept it up and it nestled into the basket. So there were five quick points for this unknown freshman, you know, in this all-star game and it was me. And that was and will remain my only sports highlight. But what happened, I was not that active on the newspaper at the time. I was just a reporter. But the sports editor, the way he wrote it, I can almost remember the way, I loved the way he said it, "To the amazement of all, Francis Long," I was Francis at those days, "Francis Long, a freshman, scored five points in the final five minutes of the game with some extraordinary shot making." And that's, so I kind of retired from the actual performing of athletics at that time. But anyway, it was just one of those things.
KA: What you read really affected how you got into journalism.
FL: Yes, I really was an avid reader and a student of how sports stories were constructed,
KA: Were there certain newspapers with sports sections that you read every day?
FL: Yeah, the Newark News was a class act of the time. It was just filled with fabulous sports writers, really terrific guys. Paul (Horowitz?) was a name, Bill (Doherty?) was a name ... a Rutgers grad who had been a center at Rutgers. Bill and, I can't remember his last name, but he was one, and I was kind of adopted by a lot of these characters and I just studied how they wrote. Then interestingly, the place that had the most accessibility, again, because the staff had been hit by the war, I find myself of an evening, I sound like I was doing anything and everything, but I would go down three or so evenings a week and sit at a desk at the Newark Star-Ledger. Sid (Dorfman?) was the head of the service at that time.
KA: He is still a columnist there.
FL: He is? I think that's probably true ... But he, again, he thought I had some dedication to me, and so I would take the sports results from other high school players. They didn't know I was also in high school myself.
KA: They did not realize that you were in high school.
FL: No, I sounded, I tried to be as professional as I could. So at any rate, very early I got a whole lot of extraordinarily good experience and learned a whole lot about how to put together an article. What happened then ... along came graduation from high school in June of 1944, and ... I knew I was gonna get drafted, or whatever, so I, signed up for the Navy ... I was told I would be taken in September, October, that fall, and this was June, and I remembered Larry Keefe and I remembered my exposure at Rutgers, and I took a ... another exam. And what happened, when I took the exam, I think [that] I must have been a pretty smart little kid because I finished either first or second in the state.
KA: You got the governor's scholarship.
FL: I got what was called the governor's scholarship, so I won a full four-year scholarship to Rutgers, which I never used, because I came back on the GI Bill.
FL: I did sign up for Rutgers, I thought, well, I might as well get my feet wet. And here again, providentially, it was a wonderful thing to do. And so I signed up for summer session. Well, I signed up as a freshman, an incoming freshman in June or July, June I guess it was, of '44 ...
KA: What kind of classes did you take?
FL: I'm, it was all kind of a mystery and kind of a haze, and everything was sort of on an ad hoc basis because of the war, really, and because it was also summer session. But I remember Winants very well and Van Nest, and I signed up for, in the journalism sequence because that's what I wanted to do. I had English and history and French. Because I was a freshman, I had mathematics and chemistry and what happened was I, I got near the end of the term and ... literally took off because I had to join the Navy, so I literally was not physically present as that session ended. And here I am because [of] a ninety-eight percent or so average, a winner of a governor's scholarship, my first exposure to Rutgers, my first semester here I flunked two courses.
KA: You were not at the finals, I guess?
FL: I didn't show up for the finals and somehow, the war was on and things were confused, and I took off for the Navy, so I flunked mathematics and chemistry, and so when I came back two years later...
KA: You had to take it over?
FL: I was in trouble.
KA: What was Rutgers like, during the war?
FL: In the summer of 1944 the war was ... really at its height, you know. It was ugly out there, and here it was, a kind of a little oasis. There were ROTC things, I joined up for a ROTC unit, for example, and that did me some good when I arrived at boot camp. But it was ... mostly young men like myself, who were kind of lost at, in the middle of events we didn't understand, and there were a few grizzled guys, who had returned from the war, and there were some who, you know, who were, physically were not able to serve, and so it was a really kind of a mixed bag, but a smaller group. But I was impressed by some of the teachers that I ran into. It was, to me, it was such a short interval. It was more a corridor towards something that was going to open up later.
KA: You were drafted and you went to Bainbridge, Massachusetts?
FL: No, no, not Massachusetts, it was Bainbridge, Maryland.
FL: Yeah and I'm not sure if I was drafted or joined. I would have been drafted if I didn't join.
FL: Whatever, I found myself in the Navy and at boot camp, which was in Bainbridge, Maryland near, below Elkton and Havre de Grace. Do you know that town?
FL: It's in the Chesapeake Bay area, kind of a large installation, the largest in the East. They had the Great Lakes for the Midwest and they had a couple places down South, but this was a large place that most in the northeastern part of the country ended up, that most of the Philadelphia and New Jersey area men ended up at Bainbridge. So I went through the boot camp, and because I had a little ROTC, then I became a platoon leader and did okay, and getting through, you know, the twelve or so weeks of boot camp. But then ... when you finished boot camp, off you were to go here and there but here again, because at this point in the war, it was the end of December now, or January, of '45 and ... the war was still very active. And the people who had been at the training camp here for a while, the older guys who had, had the kind of, some of the interesting jobs in, say terms of the newspaper and the sports, they were being assigned to some overseas duty. It meant that someone like myself, coming along, here again, I had ton[s], I had so much experience. Here I was, eighteen years old, but I was a real veteran when it came to being a sports writer and experiences in editing newspapers. I had edited a yearbook and a newspaper and was assistant sports editor of the Newark News, you know, Newark Sunday Call and had tons of experience. So they assigned me as kind of a liaison for the athletic teams and this, here again, you talk about good fortune. I'd been a sports nut all my life, and suddenly I was in the same barracks as my sports heroes of all time, really, and that would go for football and baseball especially. So there they were, including Stan Musial.
KA: I read that you met, that you met Stan Musial.
KA: What was he, ... how did you meet him?
FL: He was just a great guy and lots younger, as we all were. But a very enthusiastic guy, he would join in a basketball game. You [would] think here's a, one of the most successful athletes of all time, but he would be more aggressive. He had that kind of a drive and even in a pickup basketball game, so that, he was the most enthusiastic.
KA: Did you play with him?
FL: Yeah, I found myself in this or that game with him, you know. But names that you would not be familiar with, but one of the great catchers of the day was a guy named Bob Scheffing, okay, and Ken (Ratzenberger?) was a terrific pitcher for the Phillies, and there he was, you know, in the same barracks. Eddie Miksis, who was later, a rather fine shortstop for the Dodgers, and Eddie Yost, who became the perennial third baseman for the Washington Senators. All these guys were in, my ... barracks mates, you know. I was just in seventh heaven.
KA: You became a sports writer then?
FL: I, at first I did ... some, I handled the sports announcing for the big football team, the Bainbridge football team. It was fabulous, and I'd be the in-stadium announcer. Same for the baseball team, and I would find myself announcing prizefights. So I got some public speaking experience that way, but mostly I was interested in getting onto the newspaper and I did wiggle my way onto the newspaper and sure enough, I became the sports editor of the Bainbridge Mainsheet, which was a weekly paper, and just a fascinating publication, 20,000 circulation, so we had the equivalent of a small town paper.
KA: It was circulated to the people on the base?
FL: To the people on the base and other bases around and about and squires and that sort of thing.
KA: What kind of events would you cover? Was it covering people going to war?
FL: Mostly it was what was happening in and around the base itself.
FL: A lot of the focus was on athletics, 'cause we had a fantastic basketball team, for example, some really fabulous stars, generally exciting games and the same with football and baseball especially. We would have big league teams come in to play our baseball team, so I would get to meet Leo Durocher.
FL: You know, just a fantastic location for me. I became, I was the sports editor, and then I became the editor in chief and I would write the editorials and I'd try to make them meaningful and worthwhile and say something profound.
KA: Does anything stand out? Do any of them stand out in your head?
FL: I'll tell you, yeah. Another, coincidence has filled my life, as you kind of gather. Sunday, out of the blue, comes a visiting priest from St. Benedict's Prep, my favorite priest there who had been the headmaster, Father Philip Hoover. Suddenly he appeared at Bainbridge just to, to come in and say some masses and so I got to serve as his alter boy. It was just a deja vu kind of thing and we had a great reunion and ... he spoke as he always did. He had eloquence about him, as well as a terrific athletic ability. Here he was, the headmaster of the school, and he would, would often be in pickup games where I would [be] playing too, and he would hitch up his cassock and he had ... a nickname. He was "Honey Hoover" because he had a honey of a set shot. It was just, so he was there in all his glory. But he appeared suddenly in the midst of a war, and I was the editor of the paper, still in awe of him. But he, he offered a sermon, I was just, I found so touching. It was simple enough in its concept, the idea of a person working on a jigsaw puzzle where it was just such a terrific problem to fit the pieces together because it really didn't seem to make much sense. So what the person did is to turn the pieces over and it was now solvable because there was represented the face of an individual human being, and in that situation it was a lot easier to put the pieces together and to make things more harmonious, more understandable. When you turned it over there, the whole world and the complexity of life was a little better understood. I turned that into an editorial. So I had this, I always had this ability to ... translate one thing into another. But the naval service was just rather fantastic. And at my turn, it came for an assignment overseas at a given point. The war was coming to an end. I joined in late '44, early '45. The war in Germany ended and, but I, as things were coming along towards the spring of '46, toward the latter part of '45, yeah. They were getting ready to assign me for Shoemaker, California, which was the launching point for the invasion of Japan. And I was scheduled to be part of that ...
FL: As most of my colleagues were.
KA: What if the bomb had not been dropped?
FL: If the bomb hadn't been dropped, I'm one of the many whose life would have been different because that invasion of Japan, as you have read I'm sure, that would have been one hellish undertaking that would have left a lot of us in some other condition.
KA: You never left, because of the bomb.
FL: I never did leave Bainbridge and I was discharged from there in '46.
KA: Then you went to Rutgers.
FL: And then came back to Rutgers.
KA: Was there ever any question that you would go to any other school?
FL: Well, it's, since I had dipped my toes in here, I really, with this government scholarship and whatever, I really could have gone anywhere pretty much I think and yet I had, again I thank Larry Keefe for the intro and my own experience here, even though flunking two of my courses, it was still obviously a good place to be. Interestingly, I've been very happy later, because I enrolled in '44, I did graduate in '49 and most, the other classmates who had, most of them started in '45. I condensed the rest of my Rutgers career into just four years. I'm still not sure why. But I got out in '49, but the degree they handed me said you are a (B.Litt?), not a Bachelor of Arts like the rest of my colleagues. I am a bachelor of letters, B.Litt. I'm not sure, we could do some research and find out whether it's either bachelor of literature or bachelor of letters but, that is my degree, B.Litt.
KA: Because it was a writing program?
FL: It was a, it was the degree they gave for those who had, for those who enrolled in '44.
FL: I'm sure ... When '45 came around, they had changed it somehow. So I just came under the wire. I'm one of the last, the last of the B.Litt.'s. But I, I wear that one proudly when I put down my, my degree. But the return to Rutgers was something else again. A totally different campus.
KA: Was it all veterans?
FL: Yeah, it was a real menagerie because I had been here in '44 and [there] were mostly young guys wandering around. But, and when I came back here in '46, the war was now over, so that chapter was behind, so we didn't have that heavy cloud hanging over the scene. So we were just now a bunch of guys mostly looking for a place to sleep at night because it was just so crowded with tons of us. I mean, you know, twelve or so hundred in my class and we didn't have any place to go. We went to class, classes in barracks sitting along the river there, you know, beyond what was the J&J buildings at that time. And ... most of us went out to sleep at night at the Raritan Arsenal, you know, way off in the distance.
KA: When you came back in '46 it seems that there was a noticeable difference in the number of people.
KA: How was the atmosphere?
FL: There were lines for signing up for, for anything and everything.
FL: Huge lines, yeah.
KA: You did not experience that in '44?
KA: When signing up for classes, you had to stand in line?
FL: Yeah, registration was just impossible.
KA: Where did you live at during school?
FL: Well, I first, I commuted from my home in Newark for a while. But then I was lucky, a next door neighbor in Newark had some friends on Hardenberg Street, an older gentleman and his wife, and so I became a boarder in that house. It was convenient for the campus and a terrific situation. But technically I was, well, I was an independent. I did not, I didn't join a fraternity for quite some time.
-------------------------------------END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE ONE-------------------------------------
FL: Yes, it turns out the chap who had been the Targum editor, when I first went on it was Robert (Prentiss?) and then following him as editor was Bill MacKenzie and they were both members of Zeta Psi. I, you know, I just got to like them and I got to visit the house, of course, and I was recruited, I guess, because I ...
KA: You were Targum.
FL: I was kind of anointed as eventually one day to be the, an editor myself, and so that was the way it all worked out and I was just very pleased that it did. But I didn't join Zeta Psi until my junior year, I guess.
KA: When you came to Rutgers did you immediately go to the Targum?
FL: It was a natural thing for me. I'll tell you ... I did find the Targum to be a destination I would have in mind, certainly. But also, more important really, because I had to supplement what I was getting from the GI Bill, you know, my parents weren't in any position to help out, and I didn't expect any from them. But I went into, well, what I was after was to get my job back as the sports correspondent for the Newark News because that was the big paper in the state. Yeah, and that's what I want to do, I wanted to get that connection going with them. ... So, what happened was ... I had, as a matter-of-fact, when I got here in '44, of course, I was working directly with all my pals at the Newark News. When I was here on campus in '44, I did send them stories, you know, in that summer intervals. So I, fortunately I established a connection there and a grapevine, and Gordon McCoy, who was sports editor of the newspaper and later on joined the ... PR department at, at Rutgers. But Gordon McCoy is a, just a, a heroic figure in World War II as an aviator. I forget whether it was Army. But anyway, I guess, it was Army Air Corps, and just a real war hero, and a great sportswriter. He wrote a column, and was the sports editor, and he wrote a column called the "Real McCoy." He became my mentor, kind of, 'cause I gravitated toward Targum and, of course, toward him and the sports page. So he also had higher up connection than I do and he reminded me that I'm a, I'm, even though I didn't look it, I was a returning war veteran and should be given my previous position that I had when I went off to war. So through his, it was somebody else, frankly, who was occupying, when I got back here in '46, who was occupying that job as sports correspondent for the Newark News. But it was returned to me through, here again, a kind of another good fortune development because it became very important. I got a number of terrific stories and every day I would file some piece of news for theNewark News and they paid all of about ten cents an inch for that coverage, and so it became an important part, along with my service on the Targum and whatever.
KA: Then, all through college, you also were a stringer for the Newark News.
FL: I was a stringer for the Newark News. Right. And a typical day, as I say my scholastic career was condensed. I'm not sure why I was in such a hurry. But getting back here in '46 with two failing grades, I was put on probation, really, and here I am, star [high school] grad, winner of the scholarship, and on probation. So I tried to explain that, you know, I hadn't shown up for the final because I was elsewhere serving my country and ...
KA: That did not work.
FL: They didn't, no. That didn't work.
FL: So, those grades were held and I had to kind of work against them. But what I figured out was, because, I guess, I, I was in some kind of a returned veteran mode, I did not have to take either mathematics or chemistry, as long as I took some other sciences. So I ended up in geology and whatever, science has never been that, my strength. So I got, and I, I was, frankly, doing so many other things, editing the paper and being a stringer here and so on, student council, so I didn't put in inordinately classroom hours. But, I did get very good grades, and I ended up graduating magna cum laude, which was okay as far as I was concerned, considering all the other stuff I did and considering, also, that somehow I condensed four years of college into three. I don't know why exactly. I started in '46 and I was a member of the class of '50, almost until I graduated.
KA: Then you became a member of the Class of '49.
FL: Well, I graduated in June of '49, they had no choice but to recognize me as a member of the Class of '49.
KA: Did you take a heavy course load?
FL: I took a heavy course load and I went to at least one summer session, and so I was able to get out. I don't know exactly why. I guess, I was kind of anxious to get out in, quote, "the real world."
KA: Did you have plans to be a journalist?
FL: Yeah, that was my, that was my goal. That was my hope ... I somehow became fascinated early, well, during one summer when I wasn't going to school here, one summer I was a full-time reporter on the city desk of theNewark News. You talk about that "big time," that was it. I wrote a, an appealing letter to the Newark News and just spelled out all the experience I had, you know, by, I guess, I was all of about nineteen or twenty at the time. I had tons of writing experience and gave them a sample and they liked it. So I sat down in the city room of theNewark News and that was just about as dying and going to heaven as you can get, you know. ... There were some very big-time writers there because of, the Newark News was a heavy duty, quality newspaper.
KA: That was "the" paper.
FL: Yeah, and so I would be sent out to cover some big stories. They had a lot of faith in me.
KA: What kind of stories do you remember covering?
FL: Well, one I remember happened pretty early and, I guess, they noticed I had been in the Navy. I was a petty officer, a yeoman second class. I didn't get to be an officer being I was editing a newspaper. But they assigned me to cover, of all things, the decommissioning of the Battleship New Jersey. What more could you want if you're, at twenty years old, or nineteen, whatever? And so off I went, you know, and here I was, a, an enlisted personnel, suddenly thrown into all the admirals and all the heavy duty brass. And I carried as much weight as anybody; cause I was representative of the Newark News. And so I wrote [what] was, I thought ... nothing seemed to bother me then, and, I guess I've been lucky. I haven't, fortunately, until now and not even now and I don't ever expect. ... I've not been afflicted with a severe set of nerves, I've just always kind of maintained, been able to maintain kind of a coolness. I think that there is a certain degree of self-assurance, maybe, that I figure, "if I can write some front-page articles at age seventeen, I can do anything." Maybe that's why. But, so I just sat down and wrote what I thought of the story. The way the story began, it had a one sentence first paragraph. It simply said ... "The SSNew Jersey is standing at ease." And then a second paragraph, I remember, "the behemoth of" I went on a little of my vocabulary at that point to get a little more flowery but that was it, that summed it up. "The SS New Jersey is standing at ease." Everybody liked it and I've just been spoiled, I'm afraid, to have a lot of people like some of the stuff that I wrote. But my other, my favorite story, well, well, two, one was, I was young and agile, so they would shoot me out if something was breaking. And one thing broke, and suddenly, in downtown Newark, you had a severe case of runaway pigs. They would just, a truck broke down and these pigs were anywhere and everywhere. So I went up and covered that story and I had a great time. But my most poignant story was when the City of Newark auctioned off its, the final group of its city-owned horses, other than the police horses, which were some ... but these were the ones that pulled the wagons for maintenance and other things and garbage and whatever else. But they were terrific, handsome, sturdy animals, and there they were in this big enclosure, somewhere in the depths of Newark and they were being auctioned and I was the ...
KA: The reporter for that event.
FL: The reporter, and it's the most touching kind of situation. And again, what a lucky thing it was, because I did, I did capture some of the spirit of what was going on, because of the horror of it was most of these were slaughterhouse representatives who were purchasing the horses. So you can imagine the kind of story that emanated. And I was, again, what good fortune, huh? To, to be this young Turk, who went out and covered all of the interesting stuff. Another one, there was a fire in a ... factory that produced lamp black, which is what they would paint lamps with, you know, you'd get an ebony, just all this dark powder. The firemen would emerge from the ...
KA: Covered in the ...
FL: Everybody was all covered and so it became another kind of an interesting story. ... Thank you, Karen, for asking the interesting questions. So that was just a glory time for me.
KA: What year was that?
FL: It would have been in '48, I think it was.
KA: You would have been a junior in college?
FL: Yeah, and here I was covering these exotic stories. But I'll tell you, an interesting thing happened I couldn't ask for more than to go out on all of these, and so I felt that kind of early in my life, I was getting the best of the journalistic experience. But would you believe, I found that less than completely satisfying to my persona?
FL: I found that, as exciting as all this stuff was, I really ... was taking at that time some courses in public relations, Frederick Merwin, here, he was head of the journalism department and my, and I was more a major in public relations than ... journalism. Because I had the feeling that as much as I had all, you know, I enjoyed being a journalist, editing, by this time I had edited about four newspapers and ... done a lot of sports writing ... So I felt, that's terrific, but I like, I like it better when I can chart where things are with regard to an entity, say a corporation, or an institution, and then to see how it advances and maybe help it advance by piloting some of its own communications and helping to guide it that way, which is the definition of public relations, really. So I found early, and I may be among the rarest of individuals, somebody who has actually been in the public relations field for, and practicing, and continuing to practice for some fifty years now. Because public relations was kind of a very young science in those days, in the 1940s. It was really not all that well-formed. So I've been lucky, I think, to be part of that field.
KA: Then mass communication was just starting to become a big field.
FL: Yeah. There was more interest in mass communications and it was trying to define the differences between advertising and publicity and promotion and public relations. I've always kind of, again, it was a matter of good fortune, good timing. I have aligned myself with the more professional end of the public relations spectrum, where we would try to be advocates rather than those who would try to manipulate. ... I had the benefit of teaching public relations the last several years at Drexel University and [have] given guest lectures at Rutgers and whatever, and I try to point out that difference between manipulation and advocacy. And that has always, you can be terribly creative and have lots of fun as you are an advocate, but a truthful one, for your cause. So that's how I got into the public relations side rather than journalism. I think you were asking that question.
KA: In the article you wrote, in "Aloud to Alma Mater" ...
KA: You spoke about the Targum office at 24 College Avenue.
KA: What did the Targum office look like?
FL: I called it kind of a Charles Adams structure.
FL: Rickety kind of building ... filled with used desks and old-fashioned typewriters and that was about it. But it was a beautiful, it was as great a gathering place as the Roundtable, you know, that hotel in New York, you know, the Algonquin Roundtable, the Hotel Algonquin where Frank Adams and all of the mobile brains of the time. Well, our version of it was the Targum building and it had two or three floors worth of not handsome but very functional kinds of furniture. But mostly it was a place for us [to get] together and exchange notes and ideas and have fun. I just think that was about as nice a set up and, can you imagine after finishing a day of classes, okay, and ... just trying to make sense of what was going on, and what was my evening's array of activities, 'cause I always had something going, this would be just the most wonderful place to sit there, and as a sophomore or junior in school, to walk into your own building, by the time they really didn't have a whole bunch of people, sit at your own large desk and pick up the phone, your own phone, and call this or that person just to have a friendly chat with, and look over some notes from this or that class, and do some writing, a little piece of poetry, maybe, or [whatever] might occur to you? It was your own think tank, you know, just a beautiful, marvelous ivory tower. So that's what it was for me.
KA: What floor was the newsroom on? Was there a newsroom and a business office?
FL: We had the news activity down on the first floor and up on the second floor we had the editor-in-chief. I occupied that office quite a lot, and the sports editor and the business editor on the second floor, and I'm not sure we actually used the third floor.
FL: But we had our own bathroom. I mean, can you imagine? One note that should go into the archives. We had some folks who had the smallest job with the paper but were interesting talkers and thinkers, and so they would be walking in our midst and because we were talking, settle all the world's problems, you know ...
KA: Try to debate the world.
FL: Oh, sure. Unfortunately, it was before the time when women could join our ranks, so they had their own paper at what was then NJC, it is now Douglass. But ... we talked about them anyway, so everybody. We had a great guy named, Sid DeCosta, a journalism major, not all that active on the Targum, but he was a good conversationalist, and what he enjoyed, what he liked, frankly, was he could go use our own private bathroom and he didn't have to go in with the whole world, you know, everything was crowded, including any and every bathroom on campus. So that was one of his real delights. So when we had our Targum banquet in the last year, I think I was here, or he was here, ... we made sure he turned up at the banquet. There on the menu we had a selection of this or that kind of item and we put names on a lot of the items and the food. But one item that was very popular with the, in-crowd was called "DeCosta Peas" and that was our little remembrance for our friend, Sid. But the Targum was just a fabulous place. We did have one of the closets where you could, likely, find anything, but the Class of '11 did use the building as its reunion headquarters and their colorful reunion garb was there. Some of the classes in that era had some clown-type suits, really.
KA: They kept them in your attic.
FL: They kept them in our closet.
KA: Were there any non-students in the office?
FL: It was completely students.
FL: Could you imagine that? We, they trusted us somehow, and we did not have a particular faculty moderator, either. We would talk with the Dean of Men, Dean of Students, whatever, Cornelius Bluecott, just a wonderful, marvelous gentleman, and Howard Crosby was his assistant at the time and became dean later on, so we would kind of informally check with them and, if anything, if there were any policy problems we would kind of talk it over with them. ... Another wonderful guy in my life was Wallace (Morlen?), who was the director of public relations for the university, and he, very informally touched base with him, and he kept interested in me. I found, because of my penchant for public relations rather than journalism, I was looking for some positive answers, frankly, in a sea of real controversy. We had some terribly, difficult times that got stirred up on campus. I mean, we had the veterans versus the younger students. Their interests would clash quite often.
KA: Was there some kind of tension between the editors of the Targum and the administration?
KA: What was the story there? Was his name, Harold Harris?
FL: Yeah, you have a good memory. Harold Harris was a columnist for the, the Targum and I thought, you know, [he had] some really interesting, clever kind of observations about this and that. But he was also an employee of the student cafeteria. I do believe the gentleman's name, I, really, I met him once at some kind of function, and I'm sure he was a gracious gentleman, Mario (Tundini?), he kind of ran a pretty tight ship. ... In one of his columns, Harold, I'm trying to remember whether it's Howard or Harold.
KA: I think it was Harold.
FL: I think it's Harold.
FL: Say it's Harold, for now, anyway, ran a humorous but rather sharp criticism of the quality of food served at the cafeteria, student cafeteria.
KA: Always a point of controversy, right?
FL: Yes, that's true. So this, we published at that time twice a week, a Tuesday and a Friday, I think that was probably it. So he, the column appeared on Friday, in the Friday paper, and by Friday evening he was unceremoniously discharged by (Tundini?) because he didn't, the cafeteria head did not want some disloyal student working for him, someone who was criticizing the food and being on the payroll. That didn't stand. So we got together that Friday evening and started licking our chops, literally, because here we were, not afraid of controversy. We kind of enjoyed it because a lot of us were veterans, you know, and older. But to us this was a delicious example of an abuse of freedom of the press. You can't say something against your school, because you're going to be fired for saying it. So we got our, all our heavy artillery all lined up and ready to roll. So Monday, early Monday, all of the fiery rhetoric was stoked up and we were ready to go like crazy. I have a hunch it probably was Wally (Morlen?) but some other saner heads in the administration realized what was happening. It was obvious that this was going to be a real hot kind of potato, to use a crude term. By midday on Monday, with obvious reluctance but for the record, with a certain degree of graciousness, Harris was rehired by his boss at the cafeteria, and so they were hoping that would end that problem. But being some kind of creative students as we were, what we did was to really turn it into a rather strong and ringing, endorsement, by the administration, of the principles of freedom of the press. "Isn't it wonderful that this glorious University will recognize that it was in error when it fired this student for being critical and, instead, reaffirmingly celebrated the glorious nature of our endeavor, you know, by hiring him back and therefore ..."
KA: You turned it around.
FL: Yeah, we just made them. They were just so embarrassed, because they were just trying to shove it under, but they, the front page headlines were, you know, ringing endorsement of freedom of the press, "Targum Writer Rehired By," so forth, and that was, that was kind of our nature, to kind of twit the administration. But a very serious deal kind of came along at one point here, where I think it was probably Dean (Meder?) who was provost at the time. But President, we had Robert Clothier as the president, kind of the distinguished, older gentleman, who had taken the University through all kinds of marvelous, expansion steps and charted a lovely course. But at this time, he was not all that active, let's say, in student-administrative relations. He kind of left that to ... one of the others, and I don't want to lay it all on him or whatever, but somehow the administration issued this dictum that in effect said the running of the university, the administration of the university, is accomplished by the administration. The classroom in attendance, the study part is all, that's where the students belong. They do not belong in the administration of this University, and so there will be a rather sharp, demonstrable line ... drawn between the operation of the university and the student body itself.
KA: That ran as a letter to the editor?
FL: No, well, it was. It was issued as kind of a dictum by the administration saying, "here forward, the students will stay in their place and will not try to run the university." 'Cause a lot of the other, a lot of previous letter writing, we were great letter writers in those days, and a lot of the letters, I'm sure, evoked this response from the university, "let's understand that students are students and we are administrators." So it would, then when that was issued, I think, it was Wally (Morlen?), the director of PR, realized what a tremendous avalanche there was about to be here. And so he got to me and said that, you know, your inclination, Frank, you are one who wants to see a positive result rather than just an all-out-fight that is going to lead nowhere. So what I'd like to do is just to have you, there's obviously some, there's a miscommunications going on here. But President Clothier is obviously not the kind of person who doesn't, who wants to turn off the student voice completely. That's not his way. There may be, maybe some misinterpretations of thinking here and there. So I'm going to set up an interview where you're going to sit down with the President and talk about the situation. That, that was it. Yeah. Talk about interesting situations. I was, I feel, very blessed to just, to have had that experience. And here again, I didn't feel the, the real slightest tremor about it, you know. I just thought, well, here's another interesting thing that is happening and, you know, sure, I'd be glad to be part of this. And so ...
KA: What was Clothier's reaction?
FL: He, he effectively, graciously, said that he was sorry that this had been written, and was about to be issued, and he herewith was ... rescinding it. He certainly wanted and welcomed the voice, you know, the suggestions, the advice, the involvement of students. It would be plain. There would be certain areas where, obviously, the decision would have to be made by us [administration] and we can perhaps sharpen to some degree those lines, what they should be. Friendly lines. And he just really took all the teeth out of the ugly statement that had been about to be issued. ... He asked my help in getting the word across that he was interested in the voice of the student. He wanted the students to be involved and he, not in so many words, he regretted that there had been some other tangents that had been erroneously deposed, but they were not going to be followed. And so it just... really withdrew the sting from what could have been, you know, one of the ugliest of all the battles. And he, still, a lot people realized that this thing was around and was about to be enacted even though both the president and I said it was pulled back. We still got tons of other letters, but it was great. It was a good public relations experience. What were you going to say?
KA: Did you write that as an editorial?
FL: I wrote that as an editorial. I forget it, exactly how I start, "Is the voice of the student welcome in the administration of the university?" You know, "I asked this question yesterday in President Clothier's office." I just made it as dramatic as I could.
FL: Those were great times. I, you should have had them when you're editing the ship, you had your own set of problems.
KA: What kind of man was Clothier? Were the editors of the Targum distant from the administration?
FL: There was a certain distance in terms of his age and ... the schedule that he kept. He was in the middle of some really exciting stuff, in terms of the, the constitution of the State of New Jersey was being rewritten at that time and he was right in the middle of it and offered the Rutgers site as the place where the constitution was redrawn. I mean, he was involved in all those kind of things. He was, really, a gentlemanly, courteous, astute man who wanted to have things run smoothly, and gave over a lot of responsibility to others that ... and they did not, in my judgment anyway, always come up with the, the most beneficial kinds of decisions. They would have sometimes been abrupt, and I felt a, what public relations really means is studying what your audience or your publics are all about and how they can best be served. And some, not all, that didn't go on all the time, and Wally (Morlen?) was good about it, but we had, there are some executives get in position and just want to get something rammed through and ... so that's the way that worked.
KA: From the editorials at that time, it seems that your editorial board was kind of a crusading editorial board. You took some issues and you pushed them.
FL: Yeah, that was what we would love to get, find a good cause and, and try to promote it. But what were you going to say?
KA: One of the big ones seemed to be building construction, with the bond referendum. Do you remember that?
FL: Yes. To some degree, we tried to rally more support for that. That's true.
KA: Was that a sign of Rutgers getting bigger and changing in atmosphere?
FL: Yes, I would say so, and I do believe that it was just a wee bit different from what goes on nowadays. In that book, "Aloud to Alma Mater," it was edited by a good friend of mine, George (Lukac?) and he was anotherTargum editor, and he came along several years after I did but, and it refers more, because that building thing came more to a head than it did in the immediate post-World War II days. But in the '50s when George and others were around, they literally organized, as you're quite aware, and we'll get into it, I'm sure, at some point, a march on Trenton made up of students, Rutgers students who were trying to do exactly what you're saying. Trying to get the legislature to recognize more of the building needs of Rutgers. But I was in a situation where I was trying to kind of keep the lid on things. ... I would look for good progressive things to do. We had a, a philosophy teacher, Houston Peterson, one of the stars of our campus and the whole world, really, as a teacher, just an author and a gracious gentleman. ... He was trying to get across the idea that wouldn't it be nice that here we're supposed to be an academic community but we're so disparate in the way we go about our lives. We don't have any real focus. Wouldn't it be nice if everybody, about everybody on campus, students, faculty, administrators, secretaries, clerks, and everyone, if we all decided to read the same book at the same time and maybe it just might enrich our conversation and better our world, and so he picked out a book by, one of the classic books about the environment, the early environmentalists, archeologists, and that sort of thing. Ruth, whatever her name was, writing about Samoa and the tribes and the organizations of society, you know, but in a very readable way, say it was, "organizing society," say that was the title, that was not the title. So I, I really put my heart into it and wrote a rather, you know, intriguing editorial, [what] I thought about it, "Let's get behind Houston Peterson and all read this," you know and he was just so grateful. And it really did seem to work, for a while anyway, and we had some fun about it.
KA: Did you all read it?
FL: Yeah, and those were the kinds of ... I was always a positive person. I tried to do that. Another time, we had a very dull kind of election, but it was an important election coming along. We were trying to get some important legislation through, you know and ... I wrote and nobody was paying any attention to it. So I wrote an editorial, the title I put on the editorial was, "Sex and Free Love."
KA: I read that and it had nothing to do with the title.
FL: It had nothing to do with the title. But forgive me for using the head, but the election coming up was so important, we wanted ... I was very flattered several months later, the Reader's Digest picked it up and ran it in theReader's Digest and sent me a check for like ... fifty dollars for it. So that was great, and I must say, we Targumpeople, we were actually paid a salary for working on the thing. We had our own corporation. We were not run by faculty or whatever, and the Targum editor would earn, I forget, you know, fifteen hundred or two thousand dollars a year.
FL: After, after, yeah, let's say we, after the advertising revenue, instead of going somewhere else, it would go to the Targum staff.
KA: Were all the editors and reporters paid or just the editor?
FL: It was on a sliding scale, you know, I don't think it got down to the reporters, maybe it'd be fifty dollars, or a token, or whatever. Those were interesting days and also, we were alert to national competitions, provided they had a good, good cause going for them. One of the insurance companies, Liberty Mutual, or some such, enlisted the assistance of, because of so many accidents involving young people, college students, they would pay some prize money for the best representation of safe driving.
KA: You wrote a bunch of editorials about that, right?
KA: "That stoplight outside."
FL: Well, various things. I forget the stoplight, but we would show some gory accident pictures and we, I must say, we did get a few prizes for some, of a monetary nature for doing that stuff. In a way, we were, we were ready to do good causes but ... we got paid for them and that was all the better. One of the things that, and mostly we had a sense of humor about things, I really do enjoy the ... idea that we'd get behind and try to promote worthwhile events on campus. One of them was going to be a big Mardi Gras activity which was a good cause. The proceeds were going to go support some charity, or other, and somehow, it didn't get off the ground. The backers of it didn't hit the right buttons as far as the students are concerned and ... somehow the Mardi Gras wasn't going to make it. Now we were not the sponsors of it, but we hated to see this good cause go by the boards, so what we decided to do was to take over the, the event and scale it down somewhat and it was with the, the backers had originally, the original backers said, "Fine. It's all yours, 'cause it's not going anywhere." So what we did was to call it the, "Semi Gras," I mean, with tongue in, the whole thing was just tongue in cheek. You had your own cronies, I'm sure, some guys with some witty remarks and gals who would kick in commentary here and there and write poetry that didn't mean much. So we had all, we had a collection of these characters, and so we all put together the program for the Semi Gras. We had recorded dance music ... We picked an NJC auditorium hall, you know, at no cost. It was their commuter lounge, or whatever. That was the site and we invited mostly our friends, but we invited anybody who wanted to come by, and they were gonna hear recorded music. But, and largely they, we had the mugrats, and we sang these parodies, you know.
KA: What do you mean by "mugrats?"
FL: We wrote parodies for a lot of songs like, "It's only a rag in a raggedy shack," you know, to the tune of the Johnny Long song, "It's only a shack in an old railroad track, keeps calling me back," and all of that. But then instead of saying, "We're a four leaf clover," we, we had a song, "We're looking under a four page blunder" you know, and we had a parody for, "M is for the many things" you know that song for "M-O-T-H-E-R," we had terrible verses about, T is for the trials and tribulations, and all of that. So, we had lots of fun with Semi Gras.
KA: You called those mugrats, right?
KA: Did you know the joke publication, the Mugrat?
FL: Yes, we had several that were very exciting.
FL: On April Fool's Day.
KA: You did have a Mugrat?
FL: Whenever I was involved. You know, another source of controversy that, it was very large, and the letter-writers again came out in droves, somehow, some articles appeared that talked about fraternity activities and their viewpoints to some degree, I guess, and they were very viciously attacked by non-fraternity people on campus. And here again, it was a smoldering teapot of ... turbulence, you know, where almost anything have, but mostly, we had an outlet for it in our "letters to the editor" page. We just let them flow on and people could read it and get it out of their minds, but sometimes, I mean, we were not opposed to activism ourselves, the Targum people. We would often get like the Mardi Gras, we made it Semi Gras and actually got involved, same in the, one time the independents on campus got so irritated, they thought the Targum itself, I guess, partly, because one after another, they were fraternity people who became editors, including me, you know.
KA: They thought the Targum was kind of ruled by the fraternities?
FL: Right. They thought it was a fraternity tool and they just got very angry. And at one time, really, they organized one evening, here I am, the Zeta Psi house, interestingly enough, is situated on College Avenue and it's several, seventy-five, eighty, or so feet in between, but the very next building down is the Targum building.
FL: That made it very convenient for me. So here I am ... at Targum and a bunch of the independents, they organized themselves, and they said, "Let's all go and pee on the Targum house." This was their event of the night. Okay? And this was the way, literally, that they can let off some steam.
KA: We have heard this is a myth, of the people peeing on the Targum house. Did they actually do that?
FL: Oh, yeah. ... It was happening. And I was ...
KA: Were you inside?
FL: I was inside observing, very wise, I thought, at the time.
KA: Did you write about that in the Targum?
FL: Here's what happened to, one of our great wonderful wits of every, you've had them in your day, too, but Joe (Grossman?) was a larger-than-life character. He was a little older, was a veteran, I guess, he was in the Class of '50. But he was from Atlantic City and just a very savvy guy. I mean, his career, my god, he was way ahead of his time in terms of, he was a press agent and he had helped get, he got Martin and Lewis, helped to get them started on their career with some Atlantic City booking, he was big in the Miss America thing. He was just a very savvy, wonderful man. He passed away, unfortunately, a couple dozen years ago. But Joe Grossman came up with a comment that sort of diffused anything and made the whole thing an enjoyable rather than an ugly incident. He said this, "You know, I had heard that when it came to the independents that the Targum was 'on the list' but I did not know that they meant it in a nautical sense." Meaning, you know ...
FL: Water, was such, and it was, you know, everybody just laughed at, I think, and we could laugh at ourselves, that was the beauty of it. Really.
KA: What caused that? Was there something that Targum wrote that made the independents upset?
FL: Well, we had some columnists on the Targum and ... there were some like Harris, who were independent, but there were others, who were fraternity people, and sometimes, I guess, their views would spill over here, there, or the other place. ... They were just, again there would be letters. I don't think that the, I know, I know this for a fact that as the editor of Targum I kind of set the editorial tone and we were not writing anti-commuter or [anti-]independent kind of propaganda. We were trying to look for positive results. But somehow I believe it was in the "letters to the editor" column, really. That was our arena. That's where anything and everything could emerge and the fraternity guys would write in, something that put forth their position so stridently that it rubbed a whole lot of people the wrong way. And so somebody from the independent part of the world would come in and say, "It's typical fraternity ... you know, close-minded thinking that there's this and that and this is wrong, the whole system itself and so how can anything go right?" And so there just became that inevitable flash.
KA: What was the outcome after that? Was that the big joke on campus?
FL: It played itself out really, pretty much, and ... folks did not worry about it. But I think that was a, sometimes, is a healthy chance to let off steam, really, and that was, in more ways than one, that was the inevitable result there. I was always happy to see some kind of a resolution, even if it wasn't really a resolution, I would like bring in a point of view that said this, what's going on right now ...
--------------------------------------END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO-----------------------------------
FL: Yes ... we had a literary magazine called Anthologist and ... Al (Aronowitz?), who was very active inTargum, also just a very good short story writer, and he wrote a story called "Pickup." And it was pretty sexy, perhaps, for its time. ... So some of the writers were miffed at the publication, for having the nerve to carry it. And they thought it was demeaning and lowered their standards and everything else. And so one of the top editors resigned and ... with a lot of noise, and then some other editors defended the article and said, "It's great," and then some third editor, he would also ... he would resign. So it ... became a very big cause, you know.
FL: So as the editor of Targum, I, rather than think that this was a terrible situation that all this was happening, I just thought it was kind of humorous. I had that ability, whether people liked it or not, to see the humor of it all. So what I, I say in this chapter of "Aloud to Alma Mater" I say the Targum played it 'tongue-and-type,' and the next issue was a makeup man's dream. Across the top of the front page, we had five individuals, head and shoulder photographs of the principals, along with a cryptic summary of their part in the fracas. And so it started off with (Aronowitz?), and it said, "(Aronowitz?), writes 'Pickup.'" Then the next gentleman, his name was Lamm and it, "Lamm," it said, "shocked, resigned." Then the next chap's name is Stone and it says "Stone answers Lamm." And then the fourth photograph was of a chap named Brogel and it just says, "also resigned." And then the fifth guy was named Shields and his caption was, "defends Pickup." So we were just trying to have a point of view that said, "There are a lot of interesting things going on here, on campus, and maybe some of them are more important than others, but let's try to enjoy ourselves in the midst of whatever, even if we're tackling some tough issues, maybe we can find a way to communicate rather than yell at each other, and also, it's not illegal to have some fun while we're doing it." And I'm afraid I carried that viewpoint into my entire life, and so I've been in trouble ever since.
KA: What was the relationship like between the Targum editors and the Targum council? Was there a friction there?
FL: As I say, really, it did not have that kind of a setup at all.
FL: It was after I left that ... the Targum council was set up. We just had, as far as I can recall, kind of aTargum corporation, and it, under the very loose guidance of the, you know, students. We were permitted to charge money for ads, have the local stream of income, and paid ... not offices but top editors a certain amount of funds and put the rest of it towards the ongoing operations of the newspaper. So that, the Targum council. was something that came later. You're reminding me, Karen, of how lucky we were because it was kind of a simpler age, really.
KA: It sounds like the Targum was pretty independent as a newspaper.
FL: Exactly. We were pretty much an independent entity. I think that, I'm going back to my predecessors, Bob (Prentiss?), before him was Tony (Antin?), a very nice guy, an independent. Then we had Bob (Prentiss?), who was Zeta Psi, and not that that influenced anything, but then Bill MacKenzie was a very solid, terrifically, talented guy. Straight shooters, you know, and I tried to come in there with a, a kind of a wider viewpoint. But all, (Prentiss?) and MacKenzie ... were both veterans and ... so there was not, there were responsible people at the head of the Targum. Our business editor, same way. Very solid, straight shooters, you know, and there wasn't the need for a whole lot of supervision. I think maybe that was the answer.
KA: How did the editors learn their jobs? You learned your job because you had edited a newspaper before.
KA: The younger editors, the ones who were just out of high school, how did they learn?
FL: We were fortunate just to put out appeals for people to come in and we said, "You don't have to have a whole lot of ability. We'll show you how to construct a story." We attracted, we tried to get the word out to freshmen [that they] would have a reporter's opportunity and we'll show you how to develop the story." And we really did run little, informal, guidance classes and showed them how to go about getting information and putting it down, and then we'd show them how you cut, you put the headline and, you know, suggestion of place, and we had ... a very good amount of success. I'm trying, I think it was kind of like osmosis, but, also, we had a very energetic ... news reporting sequence in journalism and we drew a lot of our reporters from there, really. There was a particularly, splendid guy named, Hamilton Carson, southern New Jersey and young, one of the younger element, had not been in service and was too young for any of that. So he just came in, and grew beautifully into the job, and he had a certain bearing about him. A quiet sense of humor that was just really welcome at any and all points. He would have this or that observation that made such beautiful sense and that gave everybody a kick. And this one thing, really happened, and I was fortunate to be part of it because to me it's one of those nice things that could happen only on a college campus. Ham was a, a total, straight, erect, a kind of good-looking young guy, and he was ... I spotted him and some of the others. We just happened to be looking out the window, because it was starting to come down with some snow with those large flakes sometimes, and we, the Targum, the front of the building overlooks the pathway that runs past Winants and ... so I noticed it, for the first time. I said, "Well why, what is Ham doing?" He just seems to be pausing and looking around and taking a slow stroll there, and, eventually, we kept looking at him and he made his way, finally, in the building. And we said, "Ham, what are you doing, anyway? What was all that out there?" And you know, "You weren't just walking. You were strolling magnificently across there." And he said, "Well, you know, the snow coming down and I noticed a Professor was looking out the window at Winants," and he said, "so what I tried to do, I tried very hard to look picturesque." And to me, you know, that says a lot. What kind of a mentality is called for on the part of somebody like Ham, and somebody like ourselves, to appreciate it. There is, there's kind of a gentleness there, obviously a whole lot of creativity was going on, but it was all kind of so good-intentioned, you know? And I, I'm afraid there's a shortage of that a lot of times, but we had kind of a group of us, who had a certain sensitivity, I think, but also a quiet, appreciative sense of humor.
KA: Were a majority of you veterans?
FL: I guess it was sixty to forty, probably, on the side of veterans,
KA: Was there a split between the friendships? Did most veterans keep to themselves?
FL: No. Really, that was the good part, I think about the, the Rutgers years in general. People did, it was more a factor of how you came across as a person, or what kind of classes you were in, and what kind of conversations would erupt in, after a music appreciation class you didn't start to ask, "Is this a veteran I'm talking to or a young Turk?" And it was just fabulous that way. In that book chapter [in] "Aloud to Alma Mater," I took a crack at summarizing the overview of that period of time here at Rutgers and what, a decade earlier, had been kind of a smallish college had become a State University and was still getting used to that, and then had this influx of veterans and a huge population growth, and all of it happening in a condensed set of time. I, I liken that to perhaps the adolescent years in the life of a human being and it, say you get into your forties in terms of your age, how do you look back on those adolescent years? Well, certainly, they were interesting. They were a necessary part of growth. There were some pretty sharp, vivid memories and some really painful recollections, too, in the midst of all that and misunderstandings as you try to get along with people ...
KA: In what ways did that affect the Targum?
FL: To me, the Targum was kind of the, the moderator of all this ... Again, I say that we were carried along by it, but here and there, we tried to do a little directing of the currents of change that were happening. So I looked upon the Targum as an interested and somewhat involved participant in what was going on. Largely, we were an observer with the duty to report what was going on. And I, I like to note that we were trying to help the veteran find a marriage license that he misplaced somewhere along the line, we would carry a little notice about that and that [was] certainly, not the [usual] kind of thing, because we were serving a group of married students for the first time, really, and we would do a little catering to them and so we'd keep that in mind. But also we had ... a group of, I think, some terrifically, talented teachers and we didn't want to overlook the practical, there's some learning going on here, you know? But the Targum, basically, I see it, I saw it as a reflection of what was happening, and a, an opportunity for some communications to take place. I've always been a believer that if one side of a situation knows a little bit more about the other side, things will happen a little better way. Again, our 'letters to the editor' became a big deal. But ... one of the people that I would like to mention, we were aware also and try to be helpful to WRSU, which was getting launched at the time, the radio operation. I just found that was a fascinating thing for me and I found myself having an interview program, now and again, as supplementing what I was doing onTargum. I would invite people on and I'd have a way to get some quick news stories that way and also some interview air time. I was lucky enough to interview my hero, I would say, if I had, I don't have all that many, one of the, one of those high in my eyes would be Mason Gross. I was lucky enough to have him as a philosophy teacher, and the experience is still with me. Literally, he would convene the class when he could and there were about fourteen of us, can you imagine that? Fourteen guys with Mason Gross. And he would convene the class under a tree on the Old Queens campus. Can you imagine having one, really, one of the great minds of the twentieth century elucidating some philosophical points in that, that gorgeous setting? So I just feel so fortunate and, wherever possible, I would try to get him into the scene, you know, or write about what he was doing, or saying in the Targum, or on WRSU.
KA: Was he the kind of man who was familiar with individual students?
FL: He was so involved. He was really so close to the students. He, he knew what's on our minds before we could say it. He was a real student of the human animal and he loved, there was an obvious enjoyment of our viewpoints and we, he, here he was, one of the sharp minds of the times, but he was curious about what was making us tick so that he could learn a little bit more. But there was a gracious gentility about it and a lovely sense of humor, such a sharp, sharpness, but a warmth, and I love it when you can come in with a zinger and, yet, it's a friendly zinger.
KA: What was a typical publication day like at Targum, when you were the managing editor?
FL: Yeah. Okay. It was one of the delights of my life and I kind of halfway realized, again, how lucky I was. But it would be some classes and I, I enjoyed the classroom activity, too, but I knew what was going to happen afterwards. I remember one time, I just was not afraid to do anything, and so about three o'clock one day, after classes were over, I popped into one of the buildings on this campus, and they were having a competition for ... I was a member of the debating team, but they were having an oratorical competition. So without a whole lot of preparation, I just strolled in and gave my talk and walked out and ... over to Targum where, and I learned later I had won, you know, second or third prize or something, but I didn't even have time to stay around. But that's how much on top of the world I was and how, how really lucky I was. I'm not sure why ... I think it was because my parents held me back in the first grade, but I just had an ability to project some words, either in print, or in person. So that's, then got to the desk at the Targum and stories were starting to flow in because, we, say it was a Monday, and we were going to be delivering the papers the next day, ready or not, they would be out in theTargum boxes around the campus. So here it was four o'clock in the afternoon and between that time and eight a.m. the next day when they were going to be delivered, a lot of things had to be done. Right?
FL: Including some homework, but I didn't worry about that. What I would do is take a look at the news page, as managing editor. The stories would funnel in, people like Ham Carson, Joe Rubin, a lot of other people were in the news side and collecting the things from reporters, and the sports people had their thing going and ... So my, my real joy ... and I had been, you know, and here, I had edited a high school paper and high school yearbook and Navy newspaper, then assistant sports editor of a newspaper, a major newspaper, so my delight was to lay out the front page, say, and the other pages, and to think about the headline construction. Somehow I had this God-given gift for writing headlines. I just think, I love to play with words and have fun with them, and that there was [a] story, and as I would look at the first three or four paragraphs, it would hit me. Well, I knew the point count, I knew it had to be twenty-four point and two columns and it would take up this much, and somehow the edit, the headline would write itself in my mind. Ham Carson was around a lot of times, you know, I'd just write down some words and two lines, and he said I, I had cheated, I had come in the morning that day and had scouted out what the stories were going to be and had them in the top of the drawer and took a look at them. But they just kind of came naturally, and, oftentimes, they'd fit and made some sense and sounded pretty good. And so I was very lucky and had a lot of good people working with me. So we would gather all the stuff, at any rate, and we would have it sent over to Thatcher Anderson, that was the printer.
FL: Right. In, off of Hamilton Street, it was somewhere on one of the side streets.
KA: They were nearby and you could walk over there?
FL: Right near by. Yeah, in about three blocks. And so we would walk over to that beautiful print shop and ... we would start feeding the copy into Woody, who was our compositor. There were a couple of guys, Woody, I don't remember his last name. They had the linotype machines, it was, the type was cast, you know, it was, the headlines were set by hand, oftentimes, or on the linotype machine. But we would feed the copy to the linotype operator, who would go around and get the metal proofs set in place. And [that] the way we would go and fool around and send, and bring in Cokes and hamburgers and whatever. But I would usually find a typewriter in the midst of all this, say around six o'clock, and type out about two or three double spaced pages for the story that I would file for the Newark News, somehow.
KA: Sounds a bit hectic.
FL: Too crazy. Right. But, and then within, within a block of the Thatcher Anderson shop was a Western Union deal. So I'd stroll over there, and I became just a colleague and friend of all the nice people in that office and they would take my filing story. And I didn't realize I was, you just do these things automatically, but, again, I was not the only one doing it. But I had, I had a crazy schedule, so that time would move along and eight, or nine o'clock, stuff would eventually start coming out of the type shop to be proofread and to be fit into place. I just had a great delight in estimating and being right more times than not, on how long the story's going to be. How it would fit and cutting and whatever. I guess, we mostly had four page issues, but they were pretty good size and ...
KA: What time would you put the paper to bed?
FL: Yeah, I would say we were still going at eleven, oh, by midnight it would usually wrap up and we'd give a final proofread of everything. But sometimes a funny thing would happen, more often than not, some funny things would happen. One time I found a set of proofs for the Anthology, the literary magazine, and we were not above a little mischief, I'd say, so unbeknownst to the people editing the Antho, I just, I was a little bit kind of turned off by some of the heavy-handed poetry that they would carry sometimes. I thought it got a little too intense for its own good. You know, the meaningless stuff that they would turn out. So I put, I put together a little parody ... I think I can almost remember a few lines of how it went, "She wept. She cried. She tore her hair," it just went into one frenzy of painful experience after another and it ended up, "Still she peeled the onions," and that was the, yeah, it was just as silly, as you could get, making fun of everything. But I stuck it in with the rest of the copy and to this day, here we are in 1996 and this happened, I'm sure, in 1947, '54, I still don't know. A friend of mine, Leonard Stone, who was the editor, noticed it and knew who, exactly, had done it, and he just put it in because he was a good guy. Anyway, that's the kind of stuff we tried to look for, just a little fun and games. Although some, not everybody was, I have always been fortunate to be kind of easygoing and not too quick to rattle. And I would always look for something constructive in the midst of all that, but I do remember some situations where I was not at all comfortable as some arguments would break out as to how to treat this or that story, or how these, carrying that letter was just totally insensitive and we were gonna really 'cause disruption, "so let's censor the letter," you know, and I would find myself in some really tough situations. We'd all kind of meet and resolve and decide, "Well, okay, we have to run the letter, but you're, yes, there is a point of view if we present that harshness, that harshly, it's going to really make everything that much worse. So let's say that the editor, we'll put a note saying, if somebody wants to see the full text they can come by the Targum, but we, we thought, in our judgment, that this, this represents the point of view without getting into extremes." And so you know, there was a whole lot of learning, I don't have to tell you, but ...
KA: You learned as you went a long.
FL: Yeah. As we went along we'd kind of evolve some of those things. I, we were lucky in, Jack Anderson, of the class of '38, was the owner and operator of the plant and he's been just a stalwart throughout the history of Rutgers University.
KA: Owner of the printing plant?
FL: Yeah, he was the head of the printing plant.
KA: That is how you wound up printing.
FL: Sure. And you know, just everything, I'm sure, his, you know, he priced it out in a friendly way and so, everything, it was kind of the, an ivory tower sort of existence as I look back on it. And I was just very lucky to be in an (amicable?) way kind of making my way to all this mélange of activity, so strolling here or there, you know, and over to a softball game when there was time for that, too. ... Then going to an evening meal at the fraternity house, but leaving early in order to get over to ... the print shop. And the nice thing about the fraternity house, it, when I wasn't, for writing papers and that sort of stuff, the class work, the Targum was great, but if I want, really wanted quiet, the fraternity house had a chapter room that was up in its attic that was, the walls were painted black, and you could just sit in a desk and bring your portable typewriter and if you wanted complete quiet, that was a good place. It was a good place to be.
KA: Where did you develop photos? Did you have a darkroom in the Targum office, or did you have to bring the film somewhere else?
FL: We had, we were lucky to have some people who were clever photographers, and they mostly improvised. They would, we could turn a closet into a darkroom if we had to, but mostly they would work with this or that professional outfit in town and go over there and get the pictures developed. So that was the way. We were not all that huge on pictures. We would look for them when we could.
KA: I know from the years I was there, [there] was always one or two major mistakes that stick out in my mind. Do you remember anything that you look on, back, as humorous now? Any major mistakes that Targum may have made?
FL: Yeah. I do somehow have this recollection. I wish it was more humorous, but, mostly, it was, it was a blow to my pride. We had a front page one time that everybody had taken a look at, yet over there we were either tired, or left too soon, because at the bottom there was an important story, and somehow the beginning of the story, the first paragraph and a half, got lifted out of its location and stuck somewhere at the end of the story, so that on the front page an important story started midway in the second paragraph and just made no sense to anybody. And just, to me, was a total source of embarrassment. But mostly, I do remember one time, I would look for an unusual and sometimes in humorous ways to present things. I'm not sure I was able to carry this off. I know it did happen when I was doing, and I'll give you a tip for some future publication you're going to edit, and I'll probably use the trick again because it did work for me perfectly. On the front page of a tabloid, this happened to be a Navy publication rather than the Targum, we were doing a story about a sailor, he had done this or that kind of notable thing. And he just happened to be a very tall kind of guy and ... what I did was to, we took a full-length photo of him and in the, midway on the right hand side of the front page, I started the story and included a photograph that took him down to the waist, and then I said, "continued on page three," and when you turned to page three, along with the rest of the story, you also got the rest of him. In other words, from the waist down. You know, and I would look for little makeup tricks or whatever. I know on the Targum I always had a, I never have been an artist in terms of being able to draw anything, but I've always looked for some clever way to manipulate the makeup of the pages and still keep it readable. But I was in love, as was the rest of the campus, with Frank Burns, a classmate of mine, the quarterback of the football team.
KA: He went on to become a football coach.
FL: Yeah, went on to become a coach, and I still see him around and we keep in contact, yeah. But the, his star running back was Herm Herring, Class of 1950. ... When I was both editor; and sports, I didn't care whether I was editor or sports editor, I would keep a close touch on in special ways. I would originate special sections to celebrate the football glory that these people were creating. So if you can picture, and say we have five columns along the, and it was a, they had a great play where Burns would take the football in his right hand and ... thrust it into the oncoming stomach of Herm Herring. ... It would just was a terrific, the hand-off, and Herring was charging down one side and Burns was there in the middle of, so what I did was to put a column of type in between the hand-off and the reception, in Herm Herring's stomach, and it just made a terrifically interesting page and a great way to feature that. So you can see that I was always looking for ways to exert creativity in things.
KA: To make it an interesting looking page.
KA: After you left Rutgers, you went on to Rutgers-Newark.
FL: Right. The Newark colleges of Rutgers.
KA: Did you get that through the Targum?
FL: It was, my connection, I was working very closely with the people in the PR department at Rutgers. ... I was kind of an honorary member of their team. Wally (Morlen?), especially, was the head, so he had an opening and he twisted my arm. He knew I could handle the assignment and I had [been] born in Newark and my parents were still there. ... They had acquired the Newark colleges of Rutgers several years earlier and they needed somebody to head up the news bureau. And so I took it, that was my first job after graduation in '49, and I did that for a few years and ... enjoyed it. I worked with a marvelous man named, Platt, and he was just a gracious, knowing gentleman. But here again, the coincidence. The major thing that happened over there, I had a lot of fun, we had a College of Pharmacy at that time, it was in Newark. So I had a lot of chance to write about them and all that they were doing. The School of Law, that was another one of the colleges, and we had the College of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences. So there were a lot of things, a lot of interesting people. One of the people I ran into was a quiet music instructor and ... they talk about things, being in the right place at the right time, one day, he strolled into my office there and, in the middle of Newark, we were in a former brewery, the former brewery. ... He said, "Mr. Long, you've been very nice to me and I appreciate it," The name was Alfred Mann, and nice, quiet, Doctor Mann was our music teacher. ... He said that he felt enough time had gone by that he would like my help in doing something that would be a very large thing in the world of music. I wondered, "Well, here I am, in a little backwater section of, you know, the college, what's, what's he talking about?" And it turned out that he had a fascinating story, and I was in the right place at the right time to help him tell the story. It turns out that he was in possession, through a strange series of events, of the last musical will and testament of Richard Strauss, the very famous composer, Der Rosenkavalier and whatever. It turns out at the end of World War II, Dr. Mann had been a soldier in the intelligence corps of the U.S. Army. He and his family, being Jewish, had fled Germany in the '30s. He was drafted into the Army in the '40s and found himself, 'cause he spoke German and was a smart guy, he was in the intelligence corps. Richard Strauss was one of a group of Nazi sympathizers, or VIPs, you know, they weren't sure what of their loyalties, but he was a German and he was, you know, a member of the Nazi party, I guess by default. But one way or another, they needed somebody assigned to him, so they assigned this man, Dr. Mann, became, so he became a great friend and colleague to such a degree that Strauss actually gave him his last musical will and testament. So he ...
KA: He kept it.
FL: He kept it and he felt that Strauss, having died some five or so years later, that it was now the time to do it, and I was the instrument through which he would release it. So you can imagine, you know, if you were sitting there. And so we had a grand time. I called on my Rutgers connections, of course, one of my buddies was AP [Associated Press], the head of the AP office in Newark, and so we used that as a starting point and got lots of favorable attention for this musical will and testament,
KA: Was that Sam Blackman?
FL: No, this was ... a younger guy, Class of '44, and Rip, Rip[ley] is his first name. He still writes the column for the RAM, the ... you know, the alumni magazine. [Ripley Watson]
KA: You went on afterwards.
KA: To work for a lot of big public relations firms.
FL: Yeah. I was, again, I was kind of fortunate. My, I got some good, further, training but I knew I didn't want to stay in a news bureau at Rutgers. What I wanted was to hit the big time and be with a major ... public relations firm in New York, 'cause that's where the action was. I was kind of in Newark in the early '50s there and found myself in a small advertising PR firm in Newark, but wanting desperately to find my way. How can I find my way into big New York shop? I even knew which one I was aiming for, and that would be NW Ayer, 'cause they were, they were the very first of the advertising agencies. They started in Philadelphia. They had the headquarters, their headquarters for public relations, and they were the, they started, they had the first public relations department of a major advertising agency. So they were the place I wanted to be, 'cause I wanted to keep a little ear out for advertising, but I wanted to really be in PR. So my question was how can I get in there? And the question was answered one day, as happens to me in so many so many times in my life, the answers stroll through the door. An attractive young lady joined this little PR advertising firm in Newark one day, and her husband had been transferred from the New York area over to Newark, and so she was relocating from her previous job, which had been secretary to the vice president for public relations at NW Ayer. And I could hardly believe it. So I really had some intense conversations with her as to who did what, how they worked and why they worked, and who was doing this and what were their client list, and so I wrote the most fascinating letter, you can imagine.
KA: You knew all about their company.
FL: I knew I could just know what ... they would be looking for. ... I did find myself in a job interview with the head of the department. Many people have been mentors for me, you know, I've mentioned a couple of them, but Marvin Murphy was the head of their department, and the letter that I wrote and the obvious answers that I could provide for him, and the experience I had as a fairly young guy. So in 1954 I had found myself hired by NW Ayer to join their public relations department and as a representative ... and that, that was really the beginning of ten glorious years which where beyond the dreams of a young, reasonably, talented guy. The opportunities just wouldn't stop coming. I found myself involved in one magnificent opportunity after the other, including the chance to work with AT&T. That was an NW Ayer client, and for years they'd had them as an ad client. But they never were able to bring, land them as a public relations client. AT&T said, "Well, you know, we're doing public relations some outside force couldn't represent." But they were at a point where they were about, for the first time, to change the, the complexion of the phone, literally, because all they had earlier was a black telephone. That's all you could get. So they were going to, they were thinking about introducing colored telephones, and something called, "the Princess" telephone. So they were looking for somebody with some creative stuff and that turned out to be me. I was again at the right place at the right time. And the people at NW, at AT&T said, "You know this is kind of new. We'll try and see how this works out for the," well it turned out that it worked out so splendidly that he said, "Would you please slow down a little, Frank? Because you're, you're embarrassing, you folks are embarrassing some of our own staff here. You're getting so successful there." So they came up with a very large fee for our services and ... I was in charge of the team that just went out and had a glorious time convincing the world to use colored telephones and having a grand time. The other client, again, I think I maybe needed a little talent, but I had a loving interest in automobiles and my other big client was Plymouth automobile, and they, too, wanted some creative representation for their automobiles. So I became their national public relations representative and did some, in each case there were some rather outstanding things ... For the Plymouth car, for example, they wanted to do something totally different at a time when a group down in Tulsa, Oklahoma, wanted to do something totally different. The whole thing came together as I kind of masterminded the first time anybody's ever put a brand new automobile in a time capsule. And so we did that. This was the kind of outstanding, kind of striking stuff, you know, that you wouldn't expect a meek Targum editor to engage in. But I, I was feeling my oats, I guess, and I, literally, we could do anything, you get that feeling after a while. Things continually go right.
KA: Was that a feeling you got at Targum?
FL: Yes. No matter what came up, we could handle it, kind of a feeling. You, I can see you have that feeling, too. You came through a lot in your Targum ... But with the phone company I got them, persuaded several organizations to give them some awards for their introduction of color telephones, the National Society of Interior Designers. It was just some more diplomatic skills, or PR skills, just suggesting to those folks that, "Wouldn't it be nice if you found a way to recognize how your own work has been enhanced by the phone company introducing these color phones?" And they said, "Yeah." And I said, "Well, wouldn't it also be nice if the phone company actually picked up the bill for the reception and the award itself?" "Oh, that would be even nicer." So, little subtleties like that. But at that particular event, I wrote a speech for the vice president to accept the award that the National Society of Interior Designers was presenting, and it was nice, friendly, thank-you kind of stuff. He came to me, he said, later, "Frank, you know, this, you wrote some nice words and all of that, but really next time maybe you can be even more laudatory on behalf of folks like this, because look at what they did. They came up with the idea for the award, they went to the trouble of giving us this beautiful reception, they designed a magnificent statuesque statue here for us." See, I did it so well that even the client wasn't aware.
KA: That you created the idea.
FL: Yes. I'd created the idea. We were paying for the reception and we were paying for the ... Another friend of mine said, "That's what you call a vacuum-pack success, where you did the work so well."
KA: You fooled everyone.
FL: Including the client. But he was, he was the top echelon of the client. The middle echelon, my own contact at the client organization, knew very well that he was paying for all of this. That is probably as typical as anything of my ability to enjoy whatever it was and there were all kinds of exciting things happening. At that time, one of the big actresses in Hollywood, and also something of a singer, but not that well-known, Polly Bergen, she decided that she, she did some singing of ballads and she was putting out an album called, "All Alone By The Telephone." We would look anywhere and everywhere for connections so we seized upon this. It was an Irving Berlin album and she did a nice job on it. So I was the lucky guy to work with Polly Bergen in getting a cover illustration for the album. This was no CD stuff. I mean, this was the big CBS album cover. So I was assigned to make sure the right phone was there, at the right place ... and supervise the photography, which would take place. You know, CBS would really supervise, but I'd be there as the technical guy at her apartment Wednesday, you know, ten o'clock this one morning. So interestingly, and I was looking forward to this, I must admit. The night before, as a suburban father at that time, the youngest child, who is now a lawyer out in San Francisco. I was trying to keep him amused while changing his diapers that Tuesday evening, the night before. And so I took one of those little dart gun things and I put the rubber dart, put it in the middle of my forehead and wiggled it around and had a grand time. And left it on there for ten or more minutes just to, you know, enjoying it all. So, and not realizing, when I pulled it off, I mean, it was a vivid, red circle that just would not go away. I was praying that overnight it might diminish a little bit, but, no, next morning it was as bright and vivid as ever.
KA: You had to go.
FL: And then there was my date with Polly Bergen at her, so I figured out all kinds of scenarios and explanations, but I did a little research and she had one or more children herself, so I decided just to be frank, as I often am. I went to the door, and I must say, she was so gracious, and she was talking to me but really she was talking to that red circle on my forehead as we introduced ourselves and talked about things. ... I said, "I know, let me tell you how it happened." You know, and she said, "I hope so." And so she and I both got a big kick out of it. But that is the, probably that is the real Frank Long. If you want to distill the essence of whatever animal is sitting here.
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Reviewed by Fidel Malpica 3/27/01
Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 4/20/01
Reviewed by Thomas Long 3/5/08