Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Dr. Lloyd Kornblatt on July 31, 2003, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with Shaun Illingworth. Dr. Kornblatt, thank you very much for coming down today.
Lloyd Kornblatt: My pleasure.
SI: To begin, for the record, could you tell me where and when you were born?
LK: I was born here in New Brunswick, in Middlesex Hospital, which is now Robert Wood, July 1, 1923.
SI: Can you tell me, first, about your father's family, where they came from, and his background?
LK: Okay, my father was born in Philadelphia and the family moved from Philadelphia to Metuchen and had a small farm with a couple of cows, poultry and field crops, and that's where I was introduced to the animal world and, hence, became a veterinarian.
SI: Where had your father's family been from before settling in Philadelphia?
LK: They were immigrants from Russia, from the Ukraine, as I recall.
SI: Was that your grandfather or further back?
LK: That was my grandfather and grandmother, on my father's side.
SI: Did you know those grandparents or had they passed before you were born?
LK: My father's parents? Oh, yes, as a matter-of-fact, my grandfather, who was the farmer, is the one that, really, I was closest to and introduced me to the dairy cattle and poultry and whatever we had on the farm.
SI: Did you ever hear any stories about what it was like for them in Russia or why they left Russia?
LK: Well, the dirty word in those days was pogrom and, you know, the Cossacks and whatever were killing the Jews and that's where there was a mass immigration from Eastern Europe to the States here.
SI: He was a farmer, but what was he doing in Philadelphia?
LK: He was a bookbinder and he didn't do any farming until he came out to Metuchen.
SI: What about your mother's family's background?
LK: My mother's family also came from Russia. She was born in Russia, came here when she was, I don't know, six or seven years old, and they left for the same reason. … My mother's family lived in Brooklyn, and then, she came out here to visit her sister, who had a farm next to my father's parents, and then, love blossomed, I guess, [laughter] and that was it.
SI: Sandra Holyoak has now joined the interview. You were about to discuss the history of …
LK: … Of my grandfather's farm in Metuchen.
LK: In his book, My Life With the Microbes, Dr. Selman Waksman, when he came to Metuchen, said he was met by his cousin's son with a horse and wagon, and the cousin's son was my father, because Dr. Waksman was a cousin to my grandmother. So, that's the part of international interest in that particular farm. That was before he discovered streptomycin. He was just a microbiologist at Rutgers and, as a matter-of-fact, from what I gathered, in World War II, because they were cutting down on all their expenses, they almost let him go. That was before his discovery. So, you never know. He found that famous soil sample some years after that.
SI: When he came to visit your grandfather's farm, was he then, a student or a doctor?
LK: Dr. Waksman? Yes; as a matter-of-fact, I think he lived with them for quite a while. Now, when he came over, he didn't know any English and, of course, he was always a brilliant person. He became Phi Beta [Kappa] as soon as he attended school here. … I guess he attended the graduate school here.
SI: Was there anything else you wanted to say about your mother's background?
LK: No, … nothing heroic there.
SI: Okay. Did you hear similar stories through your grandfather about why they left Russia?
LK: Yes. They all left because of, I was telling Shaun about the pogroms, when the Cossacks were raiding and killing Jews and so on. As matter-of-fact, in my mother's case, her father had to go up to Siberia and I think he was teaching Hebrew or something to the prisoners up there. I mean, they just sent them all over the place.
Sandra Holyoak: Did they have family here in this country when they came over?
LK: Yes. There were cousins, in my father's family, … in Philadelphia. They were all from the Philadelphia area. My mother's family, there may have been, but I'm a little bit fuzzy on that.
SH: Did the entire family finally immigrate to the United States or were some left behind?
LK: There must have been some distant cousins left behind and … they never communicated or anything like that.
SI: If I remember correctly, your father served in the Army in World War I.
LK: Right, he was in World War I, right. He didn't go overseas. I think that was similar to my situation, where he was in dental school. He may have been deferred, I'm not even positive.
SI: Was he in a program similar to the ASTP?
LK: Could have been, but I doubt if they had it as well controlled as they did when I was there.
SI: In his day, did he just go to the dental school or did he go to an undergraduate school before that?
LK: He may have gone a year to Rutgers. They didn't have the requirements that they did in later years, where you had to have a BS degree. Theoretically, in veterinary school, all you needed was two years, but it was better to take a full degree. You'd have a better opportunity to be enrolled.
SI: Did he ever explain why he went into dentistry, rather than farming?
LK: Because he had several relatives in Philadelphia who were dentists. As a matter-of-fact, at one time, as I recall, on both sides of the family, there were about fourteen dentists. I'm the only veterinarian. [laughter]
SI: Back in his day, and even in your time, there were quotas on Jewish students.
LK: Oh, yes.
SI: Did he have any problems with that?
LK: He didn't. I did. As a matter-of-fact, you know, you can't go around in this world with a chip on your shoulder. You could be mad every day at something, you know. So, I became interested in veterinary medicine because I spent a lot of my youthful years, instead of hanging around at the corner drugstore, with my grandfather. We always had a couple of dairy cows. I think we got five or six hundred chicks, baby chicks, every year and it was a five-acre facility. It wasn't like a tremendous farm out in the Midwest. So, when I applied to veterinary school, Prof. Helyar, who was our adviser from the Ag School, he said, "You know, Lloyd," he said, "the reason that the veterinary schools aren't taking … more than a minimum quota of Jewish boys is because all Jewish boys want to be small animal practitioners and make a lot of money." In my case, that was the furthest from my mind and I was a little bitter at that, but I did get selected the second time around, and, I think, out of our forty students, maybe five of us were Jewish boys.
SH: Professor Helyar discussed the quota system quite openly.
LK: Oh, yes, oh, yes. He minced no words. As a matter-of-fact, after I graduated, Dr. Beck, who was our adviser, said, "Look," he said, "these Pennsylvania Dutch veterinarians that are coming into the school looking for help are not going to hire you." So, I was already a veterinarian, I could care less. I just went to work in West Virginia for a Jewish fellow who graduated the year before me and needed some help; so, life goes on. As I say, if you're going to worry about these things, you can see why, I can readily see why, there's such rage in some of the black people when they look at what's going on, but, in my case, I just pursued it. As a matter-of-fact, interestingly enough, in those years, there were only twelve veterinary schools in the country. Now, there must be, I don't know, twenty-five or thirty. There was Penn, Cornell, Michigan State, Ohio State, Auburn, Washington State, Texas A&M, that's eight, and a couple in Canada, that's ten, and Iowa State, that's eleven, and, also, Middlesex, which later became Brandeis. So, Middlesex, in order to get their enrollment full, enrolled a lot of Jewish boys, and, when I applied for an application, they sent it just like that. I said, "Wait a minute, anything that's too easy is not worth pursuing." So, I never filled out the application. I stayed with my attempts to get into the University ofPennsylvania and the second time around, everything worked out. I became a veterinarian and so on.
SH: I would like to go back and ask about your grandfather's farm. How long was he able to maintain that farm? Was he mainly raising produce?
LK: Yes, yes. … The things that he sold from that were mainly produce, from a virtual roadside stand. The milk and the eggs, I think, were used by the family and I think that my father, who was a practicing dentist, and my aunt, his sister, I think they helped out financially, … and then, he also had a few cousins who boarded there, and I think, between … all of them, why, they supported the farm.
SH: How long did it stay in your family?
LK: Oh, golly, I guess it must have been in the family at least thirty years, minimum. Another interesting thing about the farm is that among their friends … [was] the Hammer family. Now, if you're familiar with the Hammer family, the late Dr. Armand Hammer was a multi-millionaire. … He made it in the pharmaceutical industry and he went over to Russia, was the representative of Ford, and so on, and so forth, and his parents were friends with my grandparents. Then, when I graduated veterinary school, he heard that I had been doing artificial insemination up inNorth Jersey. We had the bull set up in Clinton and he was retired and he had an Aberdeen Angus farm, down in Colts Neck. So, he called me and wanted to know … if I could work for him, and I had an embryonic practice and I said, "Fine." So, I used to go to Colts Neck at least three or four times a year. That was pre-Garden State [Parkway], so, it was a tough haul and he was not fun to work with. At one time, he said he couldn't afford, quote-unquote, "my fees." He put me on a monthly retainer and for me to argue with him was like a club fighter getting in with Cassius Clay, or Muhammad Ali. [laughter] … It was no contest, but it was a very interesting few years. My job was to collect semen from the bulls, which I'd been doing in North Jersey, and breed his heifers. So, he would have these young heifers that were bred to one hundred thousand dollar bulls, and then, he had his Aberdeen Angus sale and sell these heifers for thirty-five or forty thousand, and that's the way these wealthy guys worked. Among the people … who came to the sale was Steve Birch, whose family owned Anaconda Copper [Kennecott Copper?], Jack Solomon, from Gallagher Steak House, Bill Mennen, from Mennen's whatever. So, the way it works, the multi-zillionaires raise racehorses; the multi-millionaires raise cattle; the other wealthy people raise champion dogs. In my case, I raise pet stock for dogs. [laughter] So, you had that line.
SH: A real pecking order.
LK: Definitely a pecking order, but he was not fun to work with. He was not fun at all. If he called you at nine o'clock in the morning, from Colts Neck, and I was in Metuchen, he expected me in Colts Neck at ten after nine. [laughter] That's the way these things worked, very interesting. As a follow-up, then, he sold the Angus herd in Colts Neck and he retired again, divorced the wife, who was his second wife, the first one was a ballerina fromRussia, … from Russia. I don't think Rutgers had any ballerinas then, [laughter] and he went out to California and he was a brilliant, brilliant guy. So, he bought Occidental Petroleum, which, at that time, was selling for, I don't know, three or four dollars on the Stock Exchange, and my brother-in-law called me, he said, "You know, Lloyd," he said, "your old friend Dr. Hammer has just become head of Occidental Petroleum." I said, "That SOB, I'll have nothing to do with him." Of course, it was five at that time; it went up to about a 105. [laughter] So, you can't let your emotion rule your whatever. … Also, now, he was a non-practicing Jew, Dr. Hammer, but he did business with Libya, with Khadafi, you know, wherever the buck was, he was there, and there was a fantastic book that he wrote, or co-authored, with all the photographs of the big wheeler-dealers from throughout the world. … That was his cup of tea, but he'd long since left me in the background. I just was one little, tiny pawn in his life, but it was interesting.
SH: Did your family farm eventually succumb to developers?
LK: Oh, sure, oh, yes. What else is new? Yes.
SH: What can you tell us about your mother's family?
LK: My mother's family came from Russia. They lived in Brooklyn. … From what I gathered, my grandfather, originally, was a blacksmith in Russia. When he came here, he just, I don't know, peddled some stuff on the street. … He couldn't hack it and they were, you know, one step above the poverty level, and then, when … her sister got married and ran a poultry farm next to my grandfather's farm, then, she'd come out to visit, but my uncle, her brother, was an MD, went to Cornell, so, they kept trying.
SH: Did your maternal grandfather ever come to work on the farm?
LK: No, he came to visit and we would go there on Jewish holidays, to Brooklyn, you know, that sort of thing, but I was mainly introduced by my grandfather on my father's side.
SI: What was Metuchen like in those days? Was it very rural, a lot of farms?
LK: Oh, yes. Well, not in Metuchen per se, but, when I started practice there, I graduated in '47, started the practice there in '49, we got married in '48, I did artificial breeding in the areas around Metuchen. My biggest client was the Rahway Prison herd. They ran about seventy or eighty cattle and they ran about forty or fifty hogs and I went out there and took care of them.
SH: What did your maternal grandparents do, before your mother got married?
LK: … My maternal grandfather just worked in Brooklyn at, from what I gather, menial jobs, just kept one step ahead.
SH: Was any of your family Orthodox? Did you keep a kosher household?
LK: They were Orthodox, originally. I don't know how much they practiced it. My father's family weren't; they weren't religious at all and, of course, I don't go to temple, except on the high holidays, … but my wife came from an Orthodox family. So, we've had problems. She wanted to keep a kosher home and I loved to go deer hunting. [laughter] So, we've had problems there, but we've resolved them. We'll be married fifty-five years this August.
SH: It was a good resolution.
SI: Was there a significant Jewish community in Metuchen at the time?
LK: No, no, it wasn't at all, I don't know, twenty families, give or take. Now, they have quite a few.
SH: Did you go to Hebrew school?
LK: No. My mother taught Hebrew and my brother and I went to school, and because it was my mother, we never paid attention. I never did learn.
SH: Are you older or younger than your brother?
LK: Two years older, just the two of us.
SI: Can you tell us a little bit about your school days in Metuchen? What were your favorite subjects?
LK: I had a good record and we took the college prep course. A lot of the kids in my class took the commercial course and that's where Ethel Esturpey and I were schoolmates together. I enjoyed my days in Metuchen, you know, was very active. … I wasn't very big in those days. I always said, "If I only weighed 130 pounds, I'd go out for football," but I never did. [laughter] I started growing, I guess, when I was at Rutgers and, because I was nearsighted, all I could get on was the fencing team, and then, when the war came, they gave up fencing because of the metal.
SH: Did you have after school jobs or hobbies?
LK: In high school?
SH: As a young person.
LK: Always worked; I always, always worked, always did something, even in veterinary school. Now, the veterinary students usually weren't as affluent as the medical and dental students, so, we washed dishes in the fraternity houses for them and I had a very high paying job at the medical school. I cleaned rat cages for fifteen dollars a month; [laughter] things change.
SH: Did you have a paper route?
LK: Yes. … As a matter-of-fact, did you interview Red Bruno yet, Lucien Bruno? He was in my class, … a Metuchen graduate, and definitely should introduce him, and he had a paper route and I helped him on his paper route. The best job I had, when I went to Rutgers, is, the Department of Agriculture was hiring students to work on Dutch elm disease. So, we went to Bloomfield, as I recall, and they taught us how to climb trees. I don't do the tree climbing anymore [laughter] and we did it with ropes and our job was to climb the trees where we saw the dead leaves on the top of these elm trees and we'd cut those little branches off, take them back, and then, they would send them to the lab and, if those trees proved positive to Dutch elm disease, in the winter, the WPA crews would come out and cut the trees down, just like stamping out hoof-and-mouth. The only way you can do it is [to] just get rid of those affected trees and we loved the job. As a matter-of-fact, that was a high paying job. I think it was fifty cents an hour and, when I became a crew chief, it was sixty-five cents an hour.
SH: Were other men from Rutgers on your team?
LK: Out there? No, they were … from different areas and we lived in Philadelphia. … I lived on the Mainline, as a matter-of-fact, and we worked out of Philadelphia. It was a great job for a young student.
SH: Were you involved in the Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts when you were growing up?
LK: Yes. … I went up as far as Star Scout in the Boy Scouts. I was also [in the] 4-H Club in Metuchen when I was in high school.
SH: Did you go to camp?
LK: Yes, I went both to Boy Scout camp and to the 4-H camp, Wayweonda. One was Sacandaga, the other was Wayweonda in North Jersey.
SH: What were your projects in 4-H?
LK: I think it was forestry, as I recall. We planted trees, that sort of thing. 4-H wasn't as big in Metuchen, like it would have been in more rural areas. "I pledge my heart to greater loyalty, my head to greater thinking, my hands to greater service," and so on. That's the four Hs. [laughter]
SH: Did your family talk about politics around the table? Did they participate in any political parties?
LK: Not actively, not actively. They talked about it. They voted Democratic, but politics was not a big issue.
SH: What do you remember about the Great Depression?
LK: I remember that my father lost the house that we lived in and … we had to move into a little apartment above … what was then his office and he was hit pretty hard, just like everybody else, but, as a dentist, he weathered the storm; in those days, three dollar fillings and a five dollar extraction. That was pre-root canal days. They taught the dental students, then, not to have a dead tooth in your mouth. So, if a tooth had died, forget root canal, they didn't even know the procedure then, the teeth were taken out.
SH: Did your mother ever work outside of the home?
LK: My mother? Yes, she helped my uncle, who had a shoe store here in New Brunswick. My father was a practical joker. So, after the freshman year at veterinary school, I brought back a large molar, because we used the horse as our basic animal for anatomy, and he put it in his drawer in the dental office and, when the propitious time came and he was extracting a tooth, he'd reach into the drawer and say, "Look at that molar." [laughter] I think he gave some of his patients almost mini-heart attacks. That was a natural. … Can you imagine that scene?
SH: Did anyone in your family, maybe the extended family, take advantage of any of the New Deal programs, like the CCC or the WPA?
LK: No. That usually was for guys who were from families who were really struggling. I mean, my father was never a big spender, that sort of thing. He loved to bet the horses, but he was a two dollar bettor, no matter what, two dollars.
SH: What were some of the extracurricular activities that you were involved in in high school?
LK: I worked on the Blue Letter and the Dramatic Club. … I tried out for the track team, but there, again, physically, I wasn't strong enough for that, … but I was active and I enjoyed my high school years.
SH: Was there anyone, a teacher, classmate or family friend, who directed you towards Rutgers? Why did you choose Rutgers?
LK: As I was telling Shaun, in our days, if you lived in Metuchen or nearby, you automatically went to Rutgers. If you were a girl, you automatically went to Douglass. We just didn't have the funds to go out to see some of these other, you know, schools, even though the tuitions weren't like it is today.
SH: Were you interviewed by anyone before you came to Rutgers?
LK: I don't remember who interviewed me at Rutgers. I really don't, but, in those days, … if you had good grades, it wasn't difficult to get in.
SI: Before you came to Rutgers, did the University have any impact on your life, maybe through the Agricultural Extension Service?
LK: Oh, yes, yes. Rutgers was a big name, … was the name, as far as we were concerned, and then, Dr. Waksman was here at that time, so, we had that … particular connection.
SI: When you came to Rutgers, you were in the agricultural course.
LK: We were in the Ag School, but we took what we called the pre-med course. … Although enrolled in the Ag School, we took most of our courses across town, here. It wasn't called pre-med, it was called the ag research course. So, … like you said, you interviewed Chizzy [Charles] Thayer, we were classmates together at Rutgers, Carl Schenholm, did you happen to interview him? There were about four of us that went on to veterinary school.
SI: In high school, you took the college prep course, but did they offer any kind of Vo-Ag course there?
SI: Anything that would lead you towards that?
LK: None of those in Metuchen High. I was the only one to go on to veterinary school, but, after me, several Metuchen kids did. They're veterinarians today. They worked for me as kennel people, that sort of thing.
SI: Was your family pushing you towards college?
LK: My mother said what most mothers say, maybe; I wouldn't say Jewish mothers, I'll say mothers. She said, "Why don't you become," quote, "'a real doctor?'" unquote. I said, "I respect the 'real doctors,'" unquote, "but I love the animal field," and I've never looked back. I've enjoyed my whole career. I'm still working part-time.
SH: Did you have it in your head to become a veterinarian when you entered the Ag School?
LK: Long before that.
LK: I used to send to the government for all the veterinary bulletins and everything else and, when I wasn't accepted right away at Penn and when I went to the interview, I brought all these bulletins, which I'd saved for years, and I told the dean who was interviewing me, I said, "Look, I didn't make this decision last week because I wanted to have, quote, a 'Dr.' in front of my name. … I've been interested in veterinary medicine since I was yea high." I'm sure that helped to influence him.
SH: Did you live on campus or did you commute?
LK: Rutgers? Oh, God forbid, we commuted. [laughter] As a matter-of-fact, there were some fellows who commuted from Elizabeth and I'd take the train in Metuchen and, you know, in those days, nobody had funds, so, what they would do is, they would get out of their seat and I'd sit next to the window. So, when the conductor came along, why, you know, he didn't try to collect anything from me, because I was already sitting next to the window. I finally got nailed one time. [laughter] So, that's how we worked it in those days.
SH: Did you find it difficult to commute and take such a strenuous academic course?
LK: No, no, we were able to work [it] out very well. You know, the commute to Metuchen, sometimes I'd hitchhike, sometimes I'd drive in with my uncle who had the shoe store, but, more frequently than not, we'd take the train and … it's one stop.
SH: Were you able to get involved in any of the on-campus activities at Rutgers?
LK: In Rutgers, not really. I didn't join a fraternity. I joined the fencing team, but didn't have time for any of the others, because the commuting took time and I wasn't living on campus. As a matter-of-fact, … some our students lived in the Towers Building, if you know where that is on the campus. Some lived above the pigpens and that sort of thing. These fellows were from agricultural backgrounds and didn't have a lot of money when they came … toRutgers.
SI: How well do you think your education in Metuchen prepared you for the course work at Rutgers?
LK: Oh, very well. Yes, I worked hard. I mean, I had good grades, so, I had no problem in that regard.
SI: You mentioned that most kids from Metuchen, if they did go on to college, went to Rutgers, but did a large number of kids from your high school go on to college?
LK: There was a good number. I don't think it was a [majority], maybe, maybe fifty percent, but don't quote me on that. I really don't recall that.
SI: It was significant, though.
LK: Significant, yes.
SH: Do you feel that your education at Rutgers prepared you well for UPenn?
LK: Oh, yes. The education here was excellent. As I say, … after the initial courses in soils and whatever, we took everything with the pre-med students and the pre-dental students.
SH: Which professor impressed you the most here at Rutgers?
LK: I liked Dr. Steckbeck, who was from the Botany Department. Dr. [Franklin] Miller, from the Physics Department, was good. I mean, all the professors were great here.
SH: Did you have any interaction with the administration here?
LK: Not really, no.
SH: You do not have a Dean Metzger story.
LK: No, I don't. [laughter] … I knew I wouldn't be a physicist; I had to take physics rewrite. That, I knew.
SH: As a commuter, did you have to attend chapel?
LK: No, no.
SH: What about initiation?
LK: Pardon me.
SH: Initiation. Did you have to wear the dink as a freshman?
LK: I don't recall that. We may have worn a dink, but most of that was with the fraternity guys, as I recall.
SI: You took most of your classes on this campus, College Avenue.
SI: Many of the Ag School alumni have discussed a division between the Rutgers College people and the Ag School people. Did you feel that?
LK: No. The ones that took straight ag courses, they did their thing, whether it was poultry hus [husbandry], dairy hus or fields and crops or horticulture, so, there was no friction there at all.
SH: Were you involved in any of the Ag student honor fraternities?
LK: Well, I got in the honor fraternity and, when I didn't get into veterinary school on the first try, I went to see Prof. Helyar again, I said, "You know, I was just elected to," I think we called it Phi Zeta [Alpha Zeta] then, and that impressed Prof. Helyar. So, I guess, at that time, he wrote a letter of recommendation, but the first time around, no.
SI: Your class, the Class of 1944, was probably the last class to experience pre-war Rutgers, before the big changes of World War II.
LK: The Class of '44, "The class that won the war," right? [laughter] Yes, well, to bring [you] up-to-date on that, I was drafted in 1943, but, right before I was drafted, I was accepted to veterinary school, and so, they told me, at the draft board, "Well, you show them the application down at Fort Dix," which I did, and they put it in my file and, meanwhile, I went out to Camp Grant for basic training in the Medical Corps, and then, in January '44, all the ones who had completed, … see, the basic training started, I think, in September, we were drafted in August, and … you were trained to be a surgical tech, x-ray tech, the first line of medics on-the-line. So, the fellows that I trained with, I am sure, by June 6th hit the beach or thereafter. I found myself going into [the University of] Pennsylvania, to Philadelphia, in the Army, in veterinary school. Now, at that time, there were only ten of us that came through in the Army and the other thirty members of our veterinary freshman class were civilians who were deferred. So, we had the first year paid for by Uncle Sam. We ate at the Palestra, we lived in fraternity houses, got our books, everything, plus, you got, what is it? fifty dollars a month or whatever. So, my father didn't have to pay anything at that point. Now, one of the decisions I made is, when the program was disbanded, in those days, the University of Pennsylvania campus, and many of the other big schools, had ASTP, V-5, V-7, so, the Navy, the Marines, all had members of their particular category studying whatever they needed, whether it was foreign languages, veterinary medicine, dentistry, medical, [you] name it. So, when the program was disbanded, they gave us the choice, "Either go back to the ground troops where you came from, and, if you survive it, come back after the war and finish, or … take a discharge and go back to veterinary school as a civilian and maybe you would be drafted." So, I thought about it between, I guess, a second and second-and-a-half, maybe two seconds. I said, "Look, they're not going to draft me twice in the same war." [I] took a deferment, they never drafted me again. The second year of veterinary school …
SH: You took a discharge?
LK: … Did I say deferment? [I] took a discharge. The second year, I had [the] GI Bill, because I had put eleven months in the service, and my dad didn't have to pay until the junior year. So, it was just a situation where you grabbed … the brass ring and take it from there. To go one step further, we started our practice in '49, by that time, I was married, and, in 1951, I bought a big piece of land, which had the home and a big garage stable in the back, which I converted to the veterinary hospital, and the liaison veterinarian from Trenton, who worked along with the government, called me up, he said, "Lloyd, … how would you like to go back in the Army?" I said, "No, … we just bought this place. We have a mortgage," and so on. See, I made that mistake, I married for love. [laughter] … These things happen, but, seriously, he said, "Well, they want you," and that was to go back as a veterinary officer to Korea. I said, "Boy, … that's not a great thought." … At that time, when I started, I was doing brucellosis testing and tuberculosis testing in all the dairy farms in this area. He said, "Because you're doing that work, you are considered essential to the civilian world, so, I'm going to declare you essential," and I never paid Uncle Sam my dues by going to Korea. A lot of the fellows in town, the dentists, the MDs, went. …
SH: Did you re-enlist, go back into the military?
LK: No. They automatically put me in the Reserves. I was a first lieutenant in the Reserve Veterinary Corps. If I had been doing small animal work at that time, I would have been gone, because that's not considered essential. … The veterinarians in the Army do the basic meat inspection. They do some work for the Canine Corps. The Cavalry, I think, was on the way out, but it's basically meat inspection, food inspection, which we're trained to do. As a matter-of-fact, the fellows who went into the Veterinary Corps first went to Chicago, … to the Army MeatInspection School, and, there, they learned what to do.
SH: Did you have to do any training in the Army Reserve?
LK: No, I was just in the Reserves and that was it.
SI: You mentioned that all of the dentists and doctors had to go as part of the doctor's draft. Beforehand, were you aware of that? Was anybody in town talking about that?
LK: About ASTP?
SI: No, leading up to Korea.
SH: It was called the doctor's draft.
LK: No. I didn't know anything about that.
SH: Did you participate in the mandatory two years of ROTC here at Rutgers?
LK: The interesting thing is, I was in the band at Rutgers. Oh, I didn't mention it. I was the third trombonist in the Rutgers University Marching Band, because we didn't have a fourth trombonist, you know. [laughter] So, we didn't … work with rifles, like the ROTC guys. When I went in the Army, I was in the Medical Corps. Again, we didn't work with rifles. So, it was ironic, and, now, I did a lot of hunting when I first got out, rabbit hunting and duck shooting and pheasant hunting and deer hunting, so, I used guns then, [laughter] but, during my time at Rutgersor at Penn, never worked with a rifle.
SH: Being in the band gave you an exemption from the ROTC.
LK: The band, I think, was part of the ROTC. So, we did not train with the ROTC at that time.
SI: Did you have to perform on the field?
LK: Yes, marching and all that sort of thing.
SH: Military day.
LK: Yes. We weren't members of the famous Black Fifty, you know, Dick Hale and the whole gang. Dick Hale went to Metuchen High, too. We were classmates.
SI: Before Pearl Harbor, were you aware of what was going on in Europe and Asia? Was it something that was discussed in your household or on campus?
LK: Yes, we all were aware. We didn't know that the Holocaust was in full swing; that, we weren't aware of. Nobody knew that, but, yes, we were aware of what was going on, but … the media didn't discuss it the way it is today. The media was completely different.
SH: What about America Firsters and other isolationists? Did you see any of their demonstrations or listen to their speeches?
LK: Yes. We'd read about it, but, as I say, there, again, the publicity wasn't what it is today and, remember, we didn't have the TV, where you saw something every night.
SH: Was there any activity along those lines here of campus?
LK: Didn't see any of that. One thing that was interesting, when I went to Fort Dix, one of the fellows [that] went down on the bus with me was a black boy from Metuchen. We were quite friendly and he went to one section, I went to the other, and that was before Truman made a big move on the Armed Forces and, you know, took out that business of the blacks and the whites going to different areas, but that was accepted. That was it, never saw him again.
SH: Was there any Bund activity in Metuchen?
SI: Did you read about the Bund?
LK: Oh, we read about it. We were familiar with it, but there wasn't anything in Metuchen.
SH: What about Lindbergh? Was he a hero?
LK: He was a hero, a big hero for everybody, until he said Hitler was a great guy. He lost a lot of his heroism mantra in those days, yes.
SI: Were you aware of any refugees coming over from Europe?
LK: In those days, you mean? Yes, but, there, again, it wasn't heavily known. It wasn't widely known.
SI: Some of the people that we have interviewed discussed a program where Jewish refugees were being placed on farms in New Jersey.
LK: Yes, I knew about that. As a matter-of-fact, I learned that from a fellow by the name of Leon Margolin, … who was in my class at Rutgers, but he got into Penn a year before, and down in Vineland, yes, they did have a lot of Jewish refugees who became poultry farmers, not all successful, because they were from the city, … but a lot of them made it, yes.
SI: There was none of that in the Metuchen area.
LK: No. He worked, later on, for Baron de Hirsch, who was a big philanthropist, [the Baron de Hirsch Fund] and he [the Fund] arranged for a lot of them to come, yes.
SH: What did your family think of the Zionist movement?
LK: My family was aware of the Zionist movement. As a matter-of-fact, my uncle, who was my mother's brother, who was a physician, went to Palestine with a fellow by the name of Max Pecker, who became the head of the music department at New Brunswick High School, and they were with the British Army in Palestine, fighting the Turks, which was a Zionist connection. So, I remember that very clearly, but, as far as Zionism, if you want to just jump start one generation more, my son is an ardent Zionist and that's why he became an Israeli. He's practicing veterinary medicine there with our six grandchildren. … When my wife was brought up, she came from a kosher home, she couldn't keep it, successfully, with me and, now, when my son comes to visit us, she has to go back to the kosher routine. [laughter] I'm banned to the outhouse, but we do get along and it's fine. It's just something that you just live with, that's all.
SH: What do you remember about Pearl Harbor?
LK: Pearl Harbor was, I think, devastating to everybody. So, as I say, I didn't know, at that time, anybody personally who was killed there, but everybody was well aware of what was going on.
SH: Do you remember where you were that day and when you heard the news?
LK: What was the date of Pearl Harbor, actually?
SH: December 7th. It was a Sunday, 1941.
LK: '41, I was a freshman at Rutgers. Yes, I don't know where I was on that day per se. Yes, I was a freshman at Rutgers in those days.
SH: We are always curious if people remember and what they do they remember.
LK: … My wife, when we sold our veterinary hospital, after forty-two years, we took a three-week trip to the South Pacific. We spent a week in … Fiji, Tonga and Western Samoa, but, on the way out, we visited theArizona in Hawaii. … That's quite a remarkable historical site.
SI: Do you remember any of the paranoia of those early days of the war, perhaps fears of an imminent attack?
LK: No, not here. Later on, we found out there was German subs off the [coast]; there's one that's still sunken off the coast of New Jersey.
SH: How did your family get involved in the war effort?
LK: Contributed, you know, wherever the contributions came through, they contributed. … What were the fields?
SH: Paper drives and war bonds.
LK: Yes, bonds, war bonds, that sort of thing.
SI: Victory gardens?
LK: Yes, Victory gardens, the whole nine yards, yes.
SH: What do you remember about rationing?
LK: I don't remember that much about rations. I don't think we were involved with that. I think a lot of the rationing was for people who needed it. I don't remember. You mean rationing gasoline, that sort of thing? I don't remember that much, really.
SH: Meat, that kind of thing.
LK: It was a factor, but I don't remember that much, no.
SH: Did you work between semesters at Rutgers, in the summer?
LK: Yes, that's when I did the tree climbing for the Department of Agriculture. …
SH: Oh, I thought that was when you were at Penn.
LK: No, that was Rutgers and, also, we worked at the Raritan Arsenal when I was at Rutgers, during the summer. As I recall, I was loading five-hundred-pound bombs down at the docks in the Arsenal. That was a job that a lot of us took.
SH: Did you commute from there?
LK: Well, the Arsenal, from Metuchen, was only two miles, three miles, yes, but I didn't do any of those jobs atPenn. In the summer, I worked at the school in our program that we had for students.
SH: Do you remember how the curriculum changed at Rutgers after Pearl Harbor?
SH: Accelerated courses …
LK: That, I don't recall, no.
SI: Was the Arsenal a facility only for loading material or were they also manufacturing material?
LK: I think it was a shipping depot, you see, and, now, it's called Raritan Center, as you know, and a lot of us from Metuchen worked there during the summer. A friend of mine, he drove a taxi around the whole arsenal and there were many, many jobs, but my job, we were loading bombs, … either from the dock to the boxcars or from the boxcars to the dock. It was a relatively touchy job. I mean, it wasn't too safe a job, but there was a certain amount of equipment that we handled and, fortunately, nothing happened on the shifts that I worked.
SI: Was it all civilian or was there a military component?
LK: Civilian, these were civilian jobs.
SH: Was there a military presence?
LK: Yes. The military controlled it, obviously, but the Raritan Arsenal was an arsenal and there's still, from what I gathered, some hidden, non-exploded bombs all over the place, but that was a big, big operation for World War I and II.
--------------------------------------END OF SIDE ONE, TAPE ONE--------------------------------------
LK: Another job, that I forgot, I worked for Squibb in the blood plasma department. This was when I was at Rutgers, and, [having] to walk in and out of that ice box, I came down with virus pneumonia, and that delayed my being drafted a month, because I had pneumonia at that time, thanks to Squibb, and got over that, and then, I was drafted and that was it. As a matter-of-fact, to go even further, when I was discharged, took the discharge, after veterinary school, the medical officer came down the line, he said, "Look, before we discharge you, are there any physical problems that you have that we can deal with so [that] we don't have to discharge you at the moment?" I said, "You know, occasionally, I get these chest pains." He said, "Okay, we won't discharge you, we'll send you up to Valley Forge Hospital." I said, "Wait a minute, the pains aren't that bad. I'm fine." [laughter]
SH: Did you ever find out what those pains were?
LK: No, never did.
SI: What exactly were you doing at Squibb with the blood plasma?
LK: … I forget the exact work we did, but there was a Dr. Palmer, who was the head of it, and a fellow [by the] name of Elliot Bartner, who was a Rutgers student. Do you know the name?
SI: Yes, he was interviewed.
LK: Yes, Elliot has been very active. As a matter-of-fact, he's been quite ill recently. His daughter died and so on. I worked for Elliot. He was a pain in the neck to work for. We used to joke about it for years afterwards. [laughter]
SH: When you were at Rutgers, you had already registered for the draft when you turned eighteen, correct?
LK: Right. You automatically were drafted, yes.
SH: While you were in school, at the end of your junior year, you were drafted.
LK: Good question. Here's what happened; I was drafted at the end of junior year. Then, after my second year in veterinary school, Rutgers made a provision that if you had two years in a graduate school, that would be equivalent to the last year here at Rutgers and I came back and I think thirteen or nineteen of us graduated in Kirkpatrick Chapel. I remember that very clearly.
SH: Can you tell us a little bit about what the ceremony was like?
LK: No, [laughter] I can't recall that.
SH: Do you remember any of the other thirteen or nineteen men there?
LK: I do not. I just know that's where I got my degree from, good old [Kirkpatrick Chapel].
SH: Do you remember when it was, which month?
LK: No, no, I don't, but that's where we graduated. …
SI: After Pearl Harbor, how did the war begin to affect the Rutgers campus, in terms of things being cut and so forth?
LK: The guys were being drafted right and left. Yes, they were just heading out. There was no question.
SH: Do you remember anybody who immediately tried to enlist?
LK: I don't know. I don't know if there were many. As I say, if I didn't have nearsightedness, I would have volunteered for, you know, the Marines or Navy, Air Corps, something more glamorous than the infantry, but … I had no choice.
SH: I just wondered if you remembered any of your classmates going away right away.
SH: Any of your classmates.
LK: Well, at the end of the junior year, our class was pretty well decimated, yes. There was no question. That was it.
SH: Had the ASTP been established on campus at that point?
LK: Was there one at Rutgers at that point? No, I don't recall. The ASTP, I know, was at Penn, Army Specialized Training Program, which we called, "All Safe 'Til Peace." [laughter] Everybody has a nickname.
SI: Was the war a constant presence on the campus?
LK: Yes, yes, by our junior year it was.
SH: Did the students talk about casualties or people who had lost their lives?
LK: The casualties hadn't really started to come in yet, at that time. They really hadn't.
SH: Did you keep track of how the war was progressing in Europe and the South Pacific?
LK: We tried to, yes, we tried to, but we were pretty well sheltered. You know, when you compare those days, after all, there was no heavy duty media, no TV, it wasn't like it is today.
SH: Did you go to the movies during this time, see newsreels, that kind of thing?
LK: Yes, occasionally, yes.
SI: When you did get an opportunity for entertainment, what would you do?
LK: You mean at Rutgers?
SI: Yes, at Rutgers, during the war.
LK: We'd go down to the shore in the summertime, go down to the beach, that sort of thing, but I never … went to the Corner Tavern and hung out with that group.
SH: Did you date anyone at NJC?
LK: Yes, one girl, lovely girl, didn't marry her, but I did. My wife went to Rider, originally. She's a New Brunswick girl.
SH: How did you meet Mrs. Kornblatt?
LK: We met through a good friend of mine from Rutgers. He was dating a girl, who he later married, who was a classmate of my wife's in New Brunswick High, and we met through them, and we've been friends with them ever since.
SH: Who was this classmate?
LK: His name was Nat Hindes. I don't know if you've interviewed him. He was in the, what school was that? not the engineering. …
LK: Ceramics, yes.
SI: Being at Rutgers during the war, did the presence of Camp Kilmer affect the campus or New Brunswick at all?
LK: As a matter-of-fact, I guess I was at Rutgers and my father knew some people from Camp Kilmer. They were building it then, and he got me a job working on the railroad crew and, when I got there, I was just a little spindly student and these were all these tough foreign guys and they could handle a pick and shovel like you wouldn't believe. I lasted about two days on that job. I wasn't up to that. [laughter]
SI: Did you notice more servicemen in town?
LK: Yes, gradually, right, because Camp Kilmer is about five miles, four miles, from Metuchen. …
SH: Had you been to Philadelphia much before you went down to UPenn?
LK: When I worked for the Department of Agriculture that one summer, when I was climbing elm trees, yes.
SH: Why did you pick the University of Pennsylvania for your veterinary school?
LK: Because, in those days, Penn had some reciprocity with the State of New Jersey. After all, we didn't have a veterinary school then, we still don't have it now. So, from New Jersey, you would either go to Penn or Cornell. I applied to both. Cornell rejected me and Penn put me on hold and I got in there the second time around.
SH: When you say the second time around, how long was that?
LK: It was the next class, you know, a year later.
SH: You had to wait a year, from September to September.
SI: Were they on an accelerated schedule because of the war?
LK: No. Only when we got in, we were on an accelerated program. We started January '44 and we graduated August '47, … because we went all year round.
SH: That was the year when you were at Fort Dix.
LK: I was in Fort Dix in '43 and started University of Pennsylvania in '44 and graduated in '47.
SI: In your jobs at Squibb and the Raritan Arsenal, did you notice if they were bringing in many non-traditional workers, like women?
LK: No, not then. As a matter-of-fact, in veterinary school, we had no women in our class and, today, the veterinary schools, throughout the country, are sixty percent women. The women have made a big inroad.
SI: Was there a union?
LK: No, no.
SH: What about the posters and the materials that the government put out? Do you remember seeing, say, the Uncle Sam posters?
LK: Oh, sure. Oh, they were all around, yes.
SH: Did you see them in the Arsenal?
LK: Correct, yes.
SH: Did it help to keep morale up?
LK: Oh, I think it helped morale, definitely. They'd have rallies, you know, Madison Square Garden, whatever, yes.
SI: Was any of it, say, heavy-handed?
LK: No, I don't think so, no.
SH: Did you listen to the Fireside Chats?
LK: Oh, yes, FDR's Fireside Chats, yes.
SI: As you followed the news, do you remember any ups and downs in morale? You might hear that this battle was not going so well. Was that something that you were constantly faced with?
LK: To a degree, to a degree, but, you know, once the war really got underway, the Allies, gradually, took the upper hand.
SH: What do you remember about the reporting on the D-Day invasion?
LK: That it was bad news for the guys that hit the beach, that's what I do remember, and … I think back, a lot of the fellows that I was in basic training with must have hit the beach or shortly thereafter. I'm positive. …
SI: Your brother was in the Army.
SI: Was that during the war or after World War II?
LK: He was two years behind me. He also went to Rutgers. He was overseas. … Did you ever interview or ever hear of a fellow by the name of Norm Zellner that was in our class?
LK: He was in our class at Rutgers and he went over with the Black Fifty and he came back a paraplegic and he died not too long after that. … A lot of the fellows I went to Rutgers with, not a lot, but a good proportion, were killed and that was heavy duty. That was heavy-duty stuff.
SI: Did you correspond with anybody who was overseas?
LK: I corresponded with a fellow by the name of Eli Frankel. He was a couple of years ahead of me at Rutgersand we had a great correspondence through the years and he was overseas and I was here.
SH: Your brother graduated with the Class of 1946.
SH: Was he drafted before he graduated?
LK: Right, and then, I guess, he came back a little thereafter, yes.
SH: Do you remember where he went?
LK: He was in animal husbandry and he went down to Texas to work on a cattle ranch.
SH: No, I meant his military career.
LK: Oh, he was in Patton's Army. He was in Germany. … Oh, he was in the Medical Corps, initially. As a matter-of-fact, when I went to Camp Grant, he went to Camp Barkley in Texas, and he was an x-ray technician and he took so many x-rays that he started showing some problems with his blood picture, so, they transferred him to the infantry. By the time they transferred him to the infantry, the war was toward the end and he never did get to the frontlines, but he was in Patton's Army.
SH: You have talked about Camp Grant.
LK: Yes, Rockford, Illinois, familiar with it?
SI: No. Was that entirely a Medical Corps camp?
LK: Yes. That's since been disbanded, not far from Chicago, actually.
SI: How long was your training at Camp Grant?
LK: I went out there from September until January, until they shipped me into Philadelphia.
SI: What was a typical day like in training?
LK: It was grueling, it was tough, you know. We didn't train with rifles, but there was plenty of physical activity, early until late.
SI: Did you have a regular drill instructor?
LK: Yes. He was a tough guy, yes. …
SH: Where was Camp Grant near?
LK: It was in Rockford and it was within an hour from Chicago.
SH: Did you travel from Dix to Camp Grant by train?
LK: I guess so, yes.
SH: Had you done much traveling as a young man before that?
LK: No, not really. I mean, my folks would take the usual trips down to Washington, DC, Luray Caverns inVirginia, and maybe up into New England, that sort of thing. As a matter-of-fact, after we were married, being that our family was still friendly with the Hammer family, my folks and my wife and I and our oldest son went up to Campobello. Campobello was originally Roosevelt's summer home. That's where he contracted polio and the Hammer family bought that from the Roosevelt family and we spent a long weekend up there, which was quite a memorable weekend, but, as far as world-wide traveling, no.
SI: Were you in a training company at Camp Grant?
SI: Is that how it was set up?
SI: Where were the people in your training company from?
LK: Oh, all over, yes, all over the States, yes.
SI: How did you react to being in the military and meeting all these new people?
LK: I enjoyed it, actually. I had no trauma from the military, not at all.
SI: Were you surprised by anything you saw or any of the people you met?
LK: No, no. I was pleasantly surprised when the Army honored my acceptance. They didn't have to honor it, you know, but they did. Interestingly enough, out of all of our graduates, out of the ten that came into the Army, I think there are only two of us left. The others are in that veterinary school in the sky.
SH: From Camp Grant, you made your way back to Penn.
LK: The Army sent me to Philadelphia. It was all under the jurisdiction of the Army, until I was discharged at the end of the freshman year.
SH: These are some of the stories that we are trying to get on record, how the military worked in wartime.
LK: Right, right. Well, … I only knew it from the standpoint of the ASTP, but I do remember, when I went toFort Dix, you could volunteer for various things, paratroopers or whatever, but, being I was hoping I could get to veterinary school, I showed them that acceptance and they honored it. I was just fortunate.
SI: What was a typical day like in the ASTP program?
LK: In school?
LK: Nothing to do with the Army per se.
SI: Was there any marching? Did you have to wear a uniform?
LK: Maybe marching down to the Palestra for our meals, but … it was geared toward our veterinary school, because we were there with the civilians.
SI: Was it a normal veterinary course?
LK: Absolutely, yes.
SH: How had the war affected Philadelphia at this point? You had been there prior to World War II.
LK: I guess it was quite affected, but one thing I do remember, you know, this racism, … it's still around, the bus drivers went on strike in Philadelphia because they wanted to hire some black bus drivers. I still remember that.
LK: Yes. Our country, it's a great country, but, boy, we're still going through growing pains, let's face it.
SH: Where were you housed at UPenn?
LK: We were housed in the fraternities. It was a piece of cake, really. We used to have water fights and whatever. I think the Army had to pay the fraternity, after the condition we left it in, but we were literally housed in the fraternities.
SH: Did you see any of the war effort in Philadelphia, around the shipyards and different facilities?
LK: No. We knew about it. The shipyards were very active, but we didn't [see it].
SH: Were people encouraged to write men who were in the military overseas?
LK: Oh, yes, absolutely.
SH: What year did you meet your wife?
LK: I met Dolores, let's see, … oh, the way I first met her, let's see, when I got out of school in '47, my friends gave me a going away dinner before I went to West Virginia to intern and my friend, who fixed us up, dated my wife at that time, and so, I met her because she was with him, but, then, he finally married this other girl and that's how I met my wife, through these friends of ours, and we've had a great relationship since.
SH: I just wondered if you had met her in New Brunswick.
LK: Yes, right, because she was a New Brunswick girl.
SH: In the veterinary school, did you ever change your focus? Were you ever tempted to look at other programs or focuses?
LK: No, no. As a matter-of-fact, when we got out, my uncle, who was a physician, said, "Look, don't graduate now, take some graduate courses and equip yourself for some other fields," but I was already antsy to get out and wanted to work for a practitioner. Now, my son, who is a veterinarian, did it differently. He went to U of P, but, when he graduated, he went down to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and became a veterinary epidemiologist and, to further go on, he gave up an awful lot to go to Israel, because, when he was working inAtlanta, a Dr. [Allen C.] Steere came down to speak on Lyme disease, because he was from Yale and around Lyme, Connecticut, they found all these cases of arthritis, which is carried by the deer tick. So, my son went up to Dr. Steere, he says, "Look, the funds are running out for my program, but I can work for you and work for the ticks as a veterinarian," which he did. So, he was on the ground floor of Lyme disease. His name is in some of the textbooks and whatever, but he gave up that field to become an ardent Zionist. … Now, he's working four jobs in Israel and we're very, very close and we're very proud of him, because he put that ahead of economics.
SH: What it was like to be a veterinarian intern in West Virginia shortly after the war?
LK: After the war, … you mean when I went down to West Virginia? That was a very interesting experience, because this fellow had purchased a small animal hospital, but we still had large animal calls. Now, West Virginia was also part of Appalachia and, thus, we went to what they called the hills and the hollers for the miners. All the miners had a cow or some hogs in their backyard and they were very interesting people to work with. So, I remember, one time, I went out and a sow had what we call a prolapsed rectum and you can replace it surgically, give it a little local anesthetic and there's a certain procedure. So, I'm working on this sow and I'm just out of veterinary school and this miner's wife said, "Doctor, are you sure that isn't your first operation?" and she guessed correctly. I said, "Oh, no, I've done several of these." [laughter] I still remember that, but … they also had 3.2 beer. I'm not a beer drinker, but that was like drinking mineral water. So, between the type of people in West Virginia and the 3.2 beer and so on, I never even took the State Boards. I worked there for … eight or ten months or more, and then, I saw they were advertising, in the Veterinary Journal, for veterinarians to work in North Jersey, in the artificial breeding program, and that was started, originally, by Professor [EJ] Perry, here at Rutgers. He went over to Denmark, where they were doing it, and saw the technique and brought it back here and, originally, veterinarians were doing the artificial insemination, but it got so widespread that, … now, it's just technicians that do it. I mean, if you're familiar with that field, you can take the ejaculate from one bull and breed a thousand cows with it. All you need is one sperm. So, that was an interesting part.
SH: Where in North Jersey were you located?
LK: Clinton, Annandale, that's where the bull stud was and we had Jerseys, (Ayershires?), Guernseys, Brown Swiss, those were the four, and Holsteins.
SH: You were married at this point.
LK: Yes. Well, I wasn't married the first year … I worked there. The second year, we got married, in '48.
SH: Did you live in the Clinton area?
LK: Well, up there, when I was single, I lived in the Clinton area, on one of the farms, but, when we got married, I would commute from Metuchen. My wife was working. She was … teaching graduates at Rider at that time.
SH: What was her field of study?
LK: She was bookkeeping and business law and that's what she taught at Rider. As a matter-of-fact, she taught some fellows who had … come back from the military. They were older than she was, but, then, when the practice took off … and our family came along, she was my original surgical assistant. She didn't like the sight of blood, but she was great.
SH: Where did you start your practice?
LK: Right there in little, old Metuchen. My father had a home on one of the side streets that they lived on one side, we lived on the other. So, we started, … literally, from scratch. I'd have a large animal call to see, I guess it was a horse that had bloat; I'd have to go to the pharmacy first to buy a gallon of mineral oil and take that out on the call. So, we worked very close at that time. [laughter]
SI: Did you find that any kind of connection with the Rutgers Ag School was useful?
LK: Oh, yes. I kept in touch with them, right, yes.
SI: Were they teaching you new things or was it just networking?
LK: We didn't have any network at that time. We just kept in touch with all the periodicals and the bulletins, but I didn't do any work for Rutgers per se once I was a veterinarian.
SH: You have mentioned your son. Do you have other children?
LK: I have one other son, I have a daughter, who are twins. My daughter is not married, but my son lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and he's a school teacher and he also writes children's books, and my daughter-in-law there is a professor of Slavic Languages at University of Wisconsin. Madison and University of Wisconsin are synonymous. I think the undergraduate enrollment is something like forty thousand there and we also keep in touch, but the interesting thing is, Wisconsin is a great state for hunting and fishing and my Wisconsin son doesn't do much, doesn't do any, hunting and very little fishing. I said I'd go out to visit the grandchildren more if he had that as a hobby. [laughter]
SH: You will have to teach them.
LK: That's right.
SH: Does your daughter live in the area?
LK: Yes, she's in the area. [She was my Hospital Manager for over fifteen years and supervised our workers.]
SI: How has veterinary science changed in New Jersey over the course of your career?
LK: The whole profession has done a 180-degree turn. I mean, the technology today is unbelievable. Personally, I think it's overkill. I think what they've done is, they've taken such marvelous training and pushed it on the clients and many times, just like … many of the MDs and dentists, they see a client through a dollar bill. They see it through a dollar bill and one of the significant stories I tell is, … we had the practice for forty-two years before I sold it. A client came in one time and the animal had a little benign wart and they said, "Doctor, what is that?" I said, "That's an LWA." They said, "What's an LWA?" I said, "That's 'Let Well-enough Alone.'" They said, "Dr. Kornblatt, you'll never become wealthy." I said, "Well, I have to look in the mirror the next day and look at myself." They said, "That's why we've been coming to you for twenty-five years." Today, a lot of them, they'll take that little (lymphoma?), wart, they'll biopsy it, they'll send it into the lab, they'll make a federal case out of it when it's really an LWA. They have to pay off this heavy-duty equipment, sonograms, … several big hospitals have … an MRI, root canal. I mean, it's gotten out of hand. …
SH: Has the profession become more specialized?
LK: Oh, absolutely. I have great respect for their training, but they take it out on the clients who are fanatic animal lovers and, "Save my [pet]." … One of the main differences between large animals and small is this; if we go out to a farm and the cow can't deliver a calf and she needs a cesarean, they'll say, "Doctor, you think you can save her? How's it look?" "I'm not positive, but we'll try to save the calf. She may not survive the surgery." "Don't even start. She's not diseased, take her to the Flemington Auction Market, sell her for beef and buy a fresh cow." A fresh cow is a cow that's going to have a calf as she's ready to blossom out and be a milking cow. That's large animal, dollars and cents. Little Suzy Q, the little five-dollar mutt that they got from the shelter, needs a cesarean. "Doctor, money is no object. Save our Suzy Q," all emotion, and that's the difference.
SH: How has this emotion translated itself into the veterinarians themselves?
LK: The young veterinarians go along with the older veterinarians and say, "Look, that's not our cup of tea. … We weren't trained with all the," I mean, the technology is mind-boggling. I mean, I respect it a hundred percent, but it's too late for me to get into that milieu.
SH: Are you a member of any veterinarian's associations?
LK: Well, the AVMA, which is the American Veterinary Medical Association. I also did some work for the AVFI, the American Veterinarians who are Friends of Israel, the Israeli Veterinarians. So, we kept in touch with them, … and then, I was active, originally, in our local association, on the various and sundry committees, you know, the usual.
SH: What are your thoughts on animal rights activists?
LK: The animal rights activists are the same as the political fanatics and the religious fanatics. They are absolute fanatics. They don't have the slightest idea about animal ecology or Mother Nature or whatever. For example, people would come in the office and say, "You're a veterinarian and you're a deer hunter?" I said, "I'm a veterinarian, I'm not a vegetarian." The animals that aren't killed by the hunters up in Maine and Quebec die a natural death during the winter. Mother Nature kills the ones that can't stand on their hind legs and reach the browse. So, Mother Nature takes care of all of this, but, as far as their feelings, their hearts, they are one hundred percent sincere. We had a family in Metuchen who escaped the Holocaust and they had a fur shop and the animal rights [people] came and broke their windows, because they had a fur shop. Now, come on, these people are just off their rocker. I mean, … they're sincere. … Well, you know what vegans are. You're not a vegetarian, are you? Vegans are fanatic vegetarians. So, this vegan was at a booth in one of the fairs and a guy comes by. She said, "Would you like to become a vegetarian?" He said, "No." "What about a vegan?" "No." She said, "Why?" He said, "Because eating meat in our family is a tradition." She said, "What do you mean a tradition?" He said, "Our family has been eating meat for three thousand years. [laughter] These molars are not for celery sticks." So, they mean well, but they're off the rocker.
SH: How have they impacted the veterinarian associations?
LK: The veterinarian associations have no, no regard for them at all, because we are all animal lovers; we wouldn't be in this field to begin with. There was one of these guys, you may have seen it if you were in this area about three or four years ago, [who] was taping a veterinarian in East Brunswick or whatever. She destroyed his practice. She caught him, … oh, slapping a Dalmatian or lifting a cat by the back of its neck. Well, the veterinarian association, the state association, was absolutely panicky. They took the veterinarian's license away. He didn't do anything wrong. They finally gave it back, but, meanwhile, it destroyed his practice, unbelievable people. If they would just spend their time trying to, if you read National Geographic and seen some of the graphic pictures of people starving in this planet, direct it toward that, direct it toward that.
SH: Did you ever do any work for animal shelters or anything like that? Did you volunteer at all?
LK: Yes. I mean, I was connected with them and, if they would bring in strays, we would take care of them, but, there, again, the ASPCA [American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] was a little fanatic, too. They would drop off an animal in the middle of the night. So, my wife or I would have to get up, take it in, and I said, "Well, … who's going to pay for this? I mean, we'll take care of the original first aid that the animal needs," but they would see that that's our cup of tea. Well, I would tell them, I said, "You see this building? You see the stainless steel table, the electricity and whatnot? Somebody has to pay for it. We aren't running an animal shelter." So, they would take advantage of you frequently.
SI: Do veterinarians and veterinarian associations get involved with fighting animal cruelty?
LK: Oh, yes, oh, definitely. I mean, right now, there are many, many great drugs on the market to relieve pain and animal cruelty. I mean, veterinarians are sympathetic toward animals, but these people are just taking it to a ridiculous end. Their sincerity, fine; their knowledge, forget about it. They even had an article; they don't want people to go fishing, because the fish have feelings, wrong. There was a cartoon in the New Yorker magazine, if you ever read the New Yorker magazine, one bee said to the other, "Do you think people would still eat honey if they knew what went on the beehives?" [laughter] You have to laugh, not cry.
SI: Since you worked with large animals, were you affected by the general change in agriculture in New Jersey?
LK: A general change in the … whole economy. In other words, … a lot of my clients were Eastern European immigrants who always had a cow in their backyard or some hogs. Now, when the parents died off, the younger generation, people younger than them, didn't want to be beholden to milking cows seven days a week. So, when that died off and the Rahway Prison herd went down to South Jersey, then, I just graduated to small animals. It's not that I got in voluntarily. I enjoyed my large animal work. The artificial breeding died off, because those farms left. Real estate took over.
SH: You talked about enjoying hunting and fishing. What other hobbies do you have?
LK: I'm a jogger and I did six marathons. I keep in shape. Right now, my routine is, my wife and I walk or jog four days a week. I do more walking than jogging. I've had both knees operated on. I play tennis twice a week and, weather permitting, I go fishing once a week, but … my wife and I have always done traveling. We do a lot of reading. We're not bridge players. My brother's a master bridge player, but … that's not my cup of tea.
SH: Where do you fish?
LK: … Atlantic Highlands, Point Pleasant. My Israeli son and two grandchildren are coming over the end of August. I've already booked a trip for Walleye, up in Ontario. … Friends of mine go to Green Harbor in Massachusetts for cod. I've done fishing in Lake Ontario, Salmon River, wherever they are, within reach. [laughter] I'm not in the mega bucks where I can go the Baja and South Pacific for the marlins and that sort of thing.
SH: It is ocean type fishing that you do.
LK: Ocean type fishing and I used to do a lot of trout fishing. When I was with the Artificial Breeding Association in Clinton, I would take a trout rod with me and, as the day was coming to an end, there were a lot of nice little trout streams there, in-between calls, I'd do a little trout fishing. With fishing, you either love it or you think it's stupid, you know.
SH: Have you been involved in politics at all?
LK: No. I'm apolitical.
SH: Have you kept up your interest in music?
LK: Kept up the interest, but … I'm not a musician. My youngest son is a good pianist and, when we left our big building and moved to Sea Bright, where we lived for eight years, we had the piano shipped out to Wisconsin and he uses it out there. There's a fellow by the name of, from Metuchen, did you ever hear of Robert Taub? …
SH: I believe so, yes.
LK: He's from Metuchen. He was an artist in residence at the Institute of Advanced Science [Study?] in Princeton. He's a brilliant, world-renowned pianist. So, we go to hear him whenever we can and we go to various concerts. … See, we live in South Brunswick now and there are many, many areas where you can go to concerts and lectures and whatever. Of course, I'm not interested in the Princeton address. I tell people, "I went to Rutgers, I could care less about the Princeton address," [laughter] but it's a great place to visit.
SI: Have you stayed involved with the University as an alumnus?
LK: Rutgers? Yes, oh, yes, I'm in the Alumni Club, and so on, and so forth, the Ag alumni and the regular alumni, and we go to all the alumni [events]. Let's see, '44, '94, that was our fiftieth, and then, we had our fifty-fifth, yes, I was at that one, too. Did you interview Bob Lowenstein? He's had quite a story. His wife has advanced Parkinson's. So, when we went to the fifty-fifth reunion, I was friends with Bob at Rutgers, that was before he had double hip surgery, I don't know if he was walking well when you interviewed him, so, his wife had advanced Parkinson's and we took them to the convention. Good old Rip Watson was there, … but we've kept in touch since.
SH: Do you go to the football games?
LK: We only saw the Army game, [September 14, 2002; Rutgers 44, Army 0] thank goodness. Now, I hope that Greg [Schiano] is going to do better. Today, in the [Star]-Ledger, he hired this guy from Rahway, 310-pound fellow by the name of Robinson, whom Miami turned down, and he's going to come with Greg, but that's been a disaster. It's all politics. I mean, Rutgers tried to be Princeton during the week and Miami on weekends; that doesn't work. … If you want to have a football team, you have to give them a course that they can handle, like basket weaving. That's the joke that we used to have. How many schools in the country have top scholastic level and top [football] schools? Stanford and Northwestern are two of the few, maybe Wisconsin, also. Wisconsin got to the Rose Bowl, … and the Ivy League schools don't have teams that compete with the Big Ten and some of those. There's a big stink now about the quarterback from Ohio State. He had a nothing schedule, but he was practically All-American, but, … look, that's another field. [laughter]
SI: Do you remember Franklin Roosevelt's death?
LK: … Oh, yes. We were all devastated then, oh, for sure. We were all devastated at that time. That's one hundred percent
SH: What did you think of Truman coming in as president?
LK: Actually, we didn't realize that, … in my opinion, in the opinion of many people, considering his background, he was one of the greatest presidents. He did some work that many people wouldn't have the guts to do, to drop the bombs, recognize Israel, you know, to … integrate the Armed Forces. So, from his background, just a little hack politician who failed in business, he became one of the world figures. … Did you read McCullough's history of Truman?
LK: Oh, he just wrote another even better book, the history of John Adams. Did you read that one? Well, the one on Truman was … just as good, magnificent author.
SI: Do you remember when the State of Israel was declared?
LK: Oh, yes. That was an epic moment and a lot of my wife's family went there. When other members of her family came to the States, a lot of them went there and, when we first visited Israel, that was in 1959, Israel was only eleven years old and my wife had a lot of family there. Some of them, of course, have since died off, that sort of thing, but … I've been to Israel about fourteen or fifteen times. My wife has been there about eighteen times. So, we keep in touch, because of her relatives there.
SH: The war in Europe came to an end when you were at Penn. Do you remember any celebrations?
LK: Yes, we remember the celebrations, but nothing of any real significance at that point.
SH: Do you remember V-J Day?
LK: Well, we were all ecstatic.
SH: What did you do, personally?
LK: … I don't remember that. [laughter]
SI: Did the scene in Philadelphia compare to the pictures we see of New York, where everyone filled the streets?
LK: Oh, yes, yes, but, you know, once we were in the school, when you're in that type of curriculum, you're pretty well tied down. I didn't have any extracurricular activities at Penn because the studies were paramount. If we flunked out, we'd be back in the ground forces, so, we had every reason to work hard.
SH: Did any of your sons worry through Vietnam? Were they in the military?
LK: They … weren't, at that point, giving out the numbers; I mean, they did, but they didn't have a high number. That's just the luck of the draw.
SH: Is there anything else that you would like to put on the record?
LK: Well, I think this is a great project and I'm enjoying talking to you folks. I'm sorry that I can't bring back a lot of the factors. My wife and I and all of our current friends have short term memory loss, but, now, you're taking me to long term memory loss. [laughter] However, to give you an idea of why we're still hanging in there, last week, I was in a 5K run, I don't do marathons anymore, in Westfield, downtown Westfield. There were twelve hundred runners. I came in at the end, but I was number one in my age group, eighty and over. [laughter]
LK: And you know what we say about runners, we're going to be the healthiest people in the cemetery. [laughter]
SH: Thank you for taking the time to speak to us this morning.
LK: Right. … When you said, "We'll come to you or I'll come here," I said, "Look, you're doing such a great project," I said, "I'm coming here. It's not fair for you folks to come out to the wilds of South Brunswick," you know. [laughter]
SH: Thank you.
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Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 6/18/04
Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 6/24/04
Reviewed by Lloyd Kornblatt 10/12/04