Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Dr. Arthur W. Jacoby on October 12, 2002, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with Shaun Illingworth. Dr. Jacoby, thank you very much for stopping by today.
Arthur Jacoby: It's a pleasure to be here, Shaun.
SI: You went to great lengths to be here for this interview.
AJ: Right, right.
SI: To begin, I would like to ask you a few questions about your parents, beginning with your father, who was originally from Boston.
AJ: That's correct.
SI: Was his family always from Boston?
AJ: No, my father left Boston at a very early age. His father went blind and he sold newspapers on the street in Boston and, eventually, came down to New York and he worked as a signaler … at the New York Stock Exchange. What that means is that he was up in a window at the exchange and people on the street signaled him, with hand signals, and he relayed that information inside.
SI: What can you tell me about your mother?
AJ: My mother was born in New York City, … one of six, and she became a legal secretary in New York City.
SI: Your father, as you wrote on our survey, was also a veteran.
AJ: Yes, yes.
SI: Do you know anything about his experiences in World War I?
AJ: Well, he was a veteran of World War I, but … he was stationed on the Island of Manhattan during that period of time. He didn't go overseas, but I didn't hear too much about his experiences.
SI: Were your parents first-generation Americans? Is there any immigration history in your family?
AJ: Yes. My mother's parents were from Russia, sometimes it was called Poland, I mean, the border changed very frequently, and they were right on the border, … from a city called Czestochowa, don't ask me to spell it, but my wife and I visited that city several years ago on a tour of Eastern Europe, and it's quite a modern city today, but, in those days, it was quite small and provincial. My father's parents were from Vienna and we also visited Vienna on that same trip and, as you know, Vienna is quite a modern, beautiful city today.
SI: Did you ever find out why your grandparents immigrated?
AJ: I think they were looking for a better life and they came over when there was sort of a mass migration of people from Eastern Europe and Russia.
SI: Did you ever hear any stories about pogroms or anything like that?
AJ: I've heard some stories, yes, about that. My father's name, originally, was Jacobowitz, and that was the name he used in Boston, but, … when he came to New York City, all his friends called him Jacoby and that stuck and that's the way it is.
SI: Your father was a signaler at the stock market.
SI: Was he there during the Crash, in that period?
AJ: I imagine he was, but I didn't hear too much about that.
SI: How did your parents meet?
AJ: I believe it was a blind date and that's about all I know of it.
SI: Where did you grow up?
AJ: I grew up in Paterson, New Jersey, and my father had a gas station in Ridgewood, New Jersey, including a tire store that was attached to it, and he worked seven days a week, so, I didn't see very much of him. We didn't have very much. As a matter-of-fact, we had a car that we shared with an aunt and uncle of mine and we had it every other weekend. This was during the Depression. Looking back, compared to today, we had very little.
SI: How did your father's business fare during the Great Depression?
AJ: He did all right. I believe … he was quite busy. Salaries and income, at that time, was very low. I think he made about fifty or sixty dollars a week, but, in those days, it was enough to get us by.
SI: How did the Great Depression affect Paterson and your neighborhood?
AJ: Well, Paterson was called the " Silk City of the World." … It was the biggest silk processing city in the world. Silk would be brought over from China and there were factories in Paterson that manufactured material from silk and it was a thriving business, until the Depression, and then, the factories became idle and I remember when we had the big flood of Paterson. I don't recall the date, but it was in the … early '30s, and I remember walking downtown to see it. I was just a little boy and I walked several miles and the whole business district, downtown area of Paterson, was under water and I could see all these factories that were empty, and the police and other people rowing boats down there. I don't think Paterson ever recovered from … the loss of jobs and so forth, but it was quite an elegant city when I was growing up, especially, well, not the part I lived in at first, it was fairly poor, but, then, we moved a little further uptown, a little better class situation. I moved from one school to another and it was a part of Paterson that had very fine homes. I mean, I was in Paterson recently, in the downtown section, and it has deteriorated markedly. The school that I went to, School Number 13, was rated very highly and it was a first class public school and, now, it is surrounded by … high fences with graffiti all over the place. … It doesn't look good at all. I went to high school at Paterson Eastside High, which was quite a great high school in those days. In the class ahead of me was Larry Doby, who was the first black player in the American League, right after Jackie Robinson, a few months after Jackie Robinson entered the National League, and Larry was a football star, and I saw him at our fiftieth reunion, because he married a girl in our class, even though he was a class ahead of us, and I told him, at that time, that I was on the playing field on Saturday, like he was, except I was in the band at halftime. He was a great fullback. He also played baseball, but, in high school, you don't pay too much attention to baseball, at least in those days, and I don't think I ever saw him play. He also was a great basketball star. Also in my class was Allen Ginsburg, who became a good friend of mine, and he sat next to me in English class. He was a very quiet, unassuming person, clean-shaven, with braces on his teeth, and a very bright guy. His father was a poet and, also, a teacher at Central High School, which was another high school, the other high school, in Paterson. I think there are three now, but Allen was, as I say, … a very quiet guy and very bright, and I saw him at my twenty-fifth reunion, my fiftieth reunion, we had our pictures taken together, and, now, he is now deceased. I was in the marching band. I was in the orchestra, played the clarinet, and I enjoyed that and I remember, in the early '40s, that recruiting people came to the school, it was during the war, and they told us that we were too young, at least my class, that it'd be very, very doubtful that the war would last that long and we would be in it. I remember Pearl Harbor. I was sitting at my desk at home, doing homework, and the news came over the air and my mother came up to me and she said, "Does this mean we're in the war?" I said, "I think so."
SI: Before Pearl Harbor, how much had you known about what was going on in Europe and Asia?
AJ: Well, we knew quite a bit. We knew quite a bit. … I don't believe I read any newspapers in those days, but we listened to the radio and the news was coming over all the time. As a matter-of-fact, there were kids on the street with newspapers yelling, "Extra, extra," like you see in the movies sometimes, and this actually happened. My brother started Rutgers in 1939. He was the Class of '43. He was the sports editor of the Targum and, eventually, became a Loyal Son. He was very active in alumni affairs later on and became his class reporter. He played 150-pound football and was a journalism major and we used to go down to New Brunswick and visit him every once in a while. He lived in Hegeman Hall as a freshman and, later, moved to a fraternity house, Sigma Alpha Mu, and so, I got to know Rutgers fairly well from visiting my brother, and the whole school was contained [in] what they call the College Avenue Campus now. We called it Queens Campus. NJC [ New Jersey College for Women] was a good walk, distance away. …
SI: Did your parents have any relatives still living in Europe at the time of the outbreak war?
AJ: Yes, they did, but we didn't know them. They were a couple of generations past, but we didn't know them and they were lost, but we did have some of my father's relatives who wrote us, early in the war, that they were trying to get out of Germany and … could we help them? and we didn't have very much, as I said, but we did what we could, and [there were] a lot of papers to be signed and affidavits and all sorts of things and, finally, they got out of the country and went to Shanghai, China, … where they lived for some time and did business there and were citizens there. I think, eventually, they came to California, but I don't think we ever met them.
SI: You were very much aware of the plight of the Jews in Germany.
AJ: Oh, yes, yes, oh, yes.
SI: How important was religion in your life growing up? Did your family keep a kosher home?
AJ: No. We weren't kosher. My grandparents were and they lived in the Bronx, New York. My father didn't have any family. They were gone. So, I never knew [them]; well, no, I shouldn't say that. I knew my father's mother, my … [paternal] grandmother. She lived with us for a number of years in Paterson until she died. I did go to religious school, Hebrew school, in Paterson and I did have a bar mitzvah, and my brother did, too, and … mine was done up in Rockland County, a small place, because we couldn't afford having anything better than that, I should say more than that, in Paterson, yes.
SI: What did your parents think of Franklin Roosevelt before the war, during the Depression?
AJ: They liked him. He was … very much liked by my parents. I know that. My father was a Republican, my mother was a Democrat, I think mainly because my father worked in Ridgewood, New Jersey, which was a totally Republican city and pretty much restricted. I don't think we could have lived there. As a matter-of-fact, I caddied at the Ridgewood Country Club. I used to hitchhike from Paterson to the country club and I would carry a big, heavy men's bag, leather bag. I was just a little kid at the time and, for eighteen holes, I would get a dollar and a quarter tip and, if you were very good, you would get a half dollar tip, but I was never very good, [laughter] but on caddies' day, which was Monday, when they would irrigate the golf course and do work on it, the caddies would play. We were allowed to play and we did and we had a lot of fun, but that was the only time that a Jewish kid could play on that course.
SI: Did you see any other signs of anti-Semitism?
AJ: I did, in school. … Yes, there were several occasions and did you want me to repeat them?
SI: If you want to.
AJ: I remember, one of my close friends, lived a couple of blocks from me in Paterson, invited me to a Halloween party at his church, which I attended, and I wore a Popeye outfit, with a mask, and we paraded around and people got prizes for their costumes and so forth,, and then, came the time, … the announcement, "Everybody take their masks off." So, I took mine off and there were some guys at the other end pointing at me and saying, "What's he doing here?" things like that, which affected me very, very greatly. In class, in grammar school, the classrooms were decorated with ribbons of red and green hanging from the walls, and I remember marching in with the rest of my class one day and there was one ribbon that was entangled and not hanging properly, so, I reached up and loosened it, and the teacher, who was part of the church hierarchy in town, yelled at me, "Arthur, don't touch that just because you don't believe," and everybody turned around and stared at me, and that's one thing I've never forgotten. I was just a little kid then and, you know, a lot of stuff like that and, one day, I was out for a holiday, I think it was Yom Kippur, and, when I came back to school the next day, the teacher said to me, "What did you do yesterday? Did you go to the movies?" I said, "No, I went to temple." You know, stuff like that, but it hurt.
SI: Do you remember hearing anything about Bund activity in northern New Jersey?
AJ: About what?
SI: The German-American Bund?
AJ: I heard of it, but not very much. I didn't know too much about it, but I did hear of it, yes.
SI: In high school, what were your interests, both in the classroom and extracurricular activities?
AJ: Well, extracurricular, as I said, I played the clarinet. I took lessons in high school.
SI: When did you begin to play the clarinet?
AJ: I guess when I was a sophomore, and my parents bought me a clarinet and it cost, I remember, … twenty-six dollars and that was a big expense for them and, as a matter-of-fact, I still have that clarinet today and I play it today. I had lessons, and then, when I was good enough, I joined the band and joined the school orchestra, and what else did I do? I started playing drums a little bit and they wanted to start up a drum and bugle corps and I was part of that, but it never took off. That's about it in high school. I wasn't a very good student in high school. I didn't do much homework [laughter] and I got by. Some grades were quite good and others were not, but I was sort of a middle-of-the-road person at that time. … Looking back, I was really quite immature, so that when I hit college, when I hit Rutgers, I didn't know how to study, I didn't know how to do anything, and I'm surprised I didn't flunk out the first year. [laughter]
SI: The war broke out while you were in high school.
SI: How did the war affect both your life in high school and, also, your neighborhood and town?
AJ: Well, the neighborhoods were mobilized. I mean, my brother went off into the Army. He was drafted. He went into the Air Transport Command and was finally stationed, for two or three years, up in Newfoundland. He became a staff sergeant. … I was a volunteer air raid warden and we had air raid drills … constantly, and I had an armband and made sure that all lights were out in the neighborhood and things like that. The Wright Aeronautical factory was quite big in Paterson in those days and you could hear them testing the aircraft engines twenty-four hours a day. There was just a constant roar of motors, twenty-four hours. I remember Memorial Day parades, and I was just telling … my daughter the other day, I remember seeing Civil War veterans [laughter] in those parades and, each year, there were a couple less and, finally, they were all gone. … I was in the Boy Scouts and I marched in those parades and we used to camp out and do a lot of things. Some of my Scout leaders were in the war and some were badly wounded and a couple were killed. … That was very enjoyable; the Boy Scouts was a good outfit.
SI: How long were you in the Boy Scouts?
AJ: Several years, I don't remember.
SI: How far did you go in rank?
AJ: I just became a Second Class.
SI: Do you remember any scrap drives or bond drives in Paterson?
AJ: Oh, sure. I remember all the songs, you know, "Any bonds today? Bonds of Freedom, that's what I'm selling. Any bonds today?" and so forth, and there were posters all over and, as I say, … the war touched everybody and … people had star decals in their windows if they had somebody in the service and, finally, at my house, we had two, when I went in, and my father used to wait at the corner for … the postman to deliver the mail.
SI: Do you remember the rationing policies and how that affected your family?
AJ: Yes, gasoline, for instance, was rationed and we used to have stickers on the windshields, according to how much … gas you can get and so forth, and things were in short supply, for instance, cigarettes. One of the cigarette companies, I forget which one, had a green label on it, and then, they changed it to white, because the green dye was used for war purposes, things like that. … We had some soldiers in Paterson, stationed there, with antiaircraft units around the city, to protect the Wright plants and, during the night, we had searchlights, every night, roaming the sky. They were practicing and whenever a plane would fly overhead, there might be three or four searchlights right on it.
SI: How did the Wright factory influence the town? It must have expanded a great deal during the war.
AJ: Yes. Everybody was working and a lot of women were working, because the men were gone, and … it was a bustling city, I must say.
SI: Did you ever do any war work after school? We talked about your air raid warden activities.
AJ: No, nothing special that I can remember.
SI: Was there a USO or Red Cross in town?
AJ: Probably was. My aunt, who died two years ago, age 103, worked for the American Red Cross and she was very busy, and I think they were making bandages and stuff like that.
SI: You mentioned earlier that recruiters came to your school and said that you would probably not be involved in the war. Did you believe that at the time?
AJ: Yes, we believed it. [laughter]
SI: When did you begin to realize that you would be involved?
AJ: [laughter] Well, I guess towards graduation, but I graduated Eastside at age sixteen, almost seventeen. I was seventeen a month later, so, I still wasn't eligible to go into the service, and so, I started at Rutgers. Rutgers was … the obvious school I was going to, since my brother had gone there. It was a New Jersey school, it was close enough that I could come home weekends if I wanted to and it was relatively inexpensive. So, that's where I went. It was on the quarter system, so that I started right away, the end of June. As I said, it hit me like a ton of bricks, because, for instance, the course in English, which was my best course in high school, I failed the first semester. [laughter] I was a biological sciences major and I took physics at Van Dyck Hall, which I did very poorly in, chemistry, biology and some others I can't think of at the moment, but, then, I joined the ASTPR, [Army Specialized Training Program (Reserve)], which was very active here at Rutgers. They had regular Army people here taking engineering courses and I joined them as a seventeen-year-old, and I went through a couple of semesters, or a couple of quarters, with them and I had differential calculus and engineering drawing, which helped me very much later on, and things like that. We marched through the streets from class-to-class and … Rutgers was on a real war footing at that time. I had had ROTC, and so, I knew a little bit about the service and how to salute and do all those things, and then, finally, in the spring of 1944, I left school, simply because I was approaching my eighteenth birthday and I knew I would be inducted at that time, or not inducted, but put on active duty, because I was already in the service. I had an Army serial number.
SI: Since your brother was in the Air Transport Command, had you given any thought to enlisting in the Air Force?
AJ: Well, there was no such thing as Air Force in those days. The Air Force was … part of the Army and, … if I can remember correctly, you just don't choose what you want to do, unless it's Navy or Army or Marines, but I had something like four months before I was eighteen, so, I took a job in New York City, in the Wall Street area, at the Great American Insurance Company as an office boy, on the fourteenth floor. … I used to commute into New York every day by steam train from Paterson and I took the Hudson tubes across, either that or the ferry, and this building was on Liberty Street and Maiden Lane, which was, maybe, one or two blocks from Wall Street, and it was just a wonderful experience for me, because not only did I work in that building, but they had me traveling around New York City on the subway, delivering insurance policies to various brokers in the city. … For five cents, I traveled hundreds and hundreds of miles, all around that city, and, of course, it was very safe in those days. There were no problems, whatever, and I saw a lot of the city and I met a lot of people and I was down in the financial section of New York, which was very exciting, and, I remember, we had a parade. A number of troops came back from Italy and they marched up Broadway and I was in the crowd, watching them, and the bands were playing. … These were guys who had seen action and it was just a thrilling experience for me. … I saw a number of well-known people down there, … putting on talks, you know, selling bonds, and I saw the mayor down there, Mayor LaGuardia, and it was just a great experience. So, finally, approaching my eighteenth birthday, and I said good-bye to everybody. I remember walking over to the Hudson tubes and there was an elderly lady selling newspapers on the corner, who I used to buy a paper every day [from], five cents, and I told her I was leaving for the Army and she gave me a hug. Then, it came time to go to Fort Dix, where I was inducted. I went down to Fort Dix by train and I ran into a bunch of high school buddies of mine down there and we were given uniforms and we were given haircuts. [laughter] My head was shaved. I looked in the mirror and I said to the barber, I said, "You did a good job," and I put my hat on and it came down to where my ear is [laughter] and we had morning line-ups and duties to do, KP, loading trucks, policing the grounds. They couldn't think of … enough things for us to do. So, one time, … a bunch of us, like, five or six of us, were put on a section of grass and … the Sergeant said, "Cut the grass." "What are we going to cut it with? We have nothing to cut it with." "Well, pull it up with your hands," and that's what we did and I remember an officer walking by and he said, "What are you men supposed to be doing?" "Pulling grass, Sir." Well, he could hardly hold back his smile as he left. [laughter] Finally, I think it was after five or six days, maybe a week, we were marched onto a train, at least, you know, part of us, a section of us. We didn't know [where] we were going and the train took off and a sergeant on the train, on my car, told us, "You're going to the best damn outfit in the service. You're going to the field artillery." So, we looked at each other, we didn't know anything about field artillery, [laughter] but it sounds pretty good, and we went down to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for basic training and I was placed in a company that was training in radio communications.
SI: Was the group that went down to Fort Bragg still this group of your friends from high school?
AJ: No, no. There's nobody that I knew that went with me, nobody. … We were assigned to radio because, apparently, from an aptitude test that we took, we took all kinds of tests down there, an aptitude test showed that I was good in Morse code. I knew nothing about radio or Morse code at that time. So, we went down to Fort Bragg and we started on basic training, which … started off with some easy calisthenics, and then, things revved up as time went on. I was there for seventeen weeks and it was very, very tough basic training. I think Fort Bragg is pretty well-known as a tough camp. We went on assault courses, which meant that we had to cross streams on logs while sticks of dynamite were thrown at us [laughter] and things like that, obstacle course every day, and marching, forced marches. I remember a twenty-five-mile forced march, Sergeant Polhaus … was our drill sergeant and he had just come back from the Pacific. Corporal Marker … was our corporal and … he was very tough. Corporal Marker, he's a young guy and he was … bucking for sergeant. When he finally didn't make it, he kind of cooled down a bit. He turned out to be a nice guy, but Sergeant Polhaus was a terrific guy. He had really been through a lot of combat and he was all heart. He was a good guy.
SI: What about Corporal Marker? Had he been overseas?
AJ: No, no, he was just a … young fellow.
SI: Were either of them regular Army or were they draftees?
AJ: I don't know, I don't know, and we had a captain [who] was head of our company, but I don't recall his name and I remembered that somebody asked him what he did before the war and he said he was in lumber, a good looking guy, and, every Sunday, we marched in review on the parade grounds and there were some general officers on the reviewing stand. …
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AJ: This is fun. I'm going to write a book. [laughter]
SI: Some people have after being interviewed. Please, continue.
AJ: Okay. General officers on the reviewing stand on Sundays, and, one day, we're marching by and I said to the people around me, "Look, that's General Marshall," and, sure enough, there's George C. Marshall standing there, and we saluted him, and I remember boxing. We had to box each other and … the boxing instructor thought I was pretty good and he wanted me to box. You know, we had boxing every weekend, like on Saturdays, in the arena and we all came to watch, but there's no way I was going to box. [laughter] We had guard duty, we had KP, we had everything. … We had to sniff poison gas. We crawled under barbed wire with live machine gun bullets going over us and, I remember, one guy got stuck behind me, so, I crawled back to grab him and help him and the Sergeant yelled at me, "Leave him be, you get going." We shot every weapon that was ever invented, [laughter] including .50 caliber machine guns, .30 calibers. We had carbines. We didn't use rifles, field artillery used carbines, bazookas. We were trained on .105-mm howitzers, which was interesting. We put the shells together, and then, we rammed them into the breach and another guy pulled the lanyard … and we did a lot of that. I remember being out with a forward observer, who was a lieutenant, and that was being out at an observation post to watch where the shells landed, because … back where the howitzers were, you couldn't see your target, because the shells were lobbed over, you know, it could be twenty-five miles away. … We watched the shells land and the Lieutenant would tell me to radio back how to adjust the guns, so that the aim would be better and I used to radio back. … One time, I asked him, "Well, what about that one? What should I tell them?" He said, "We're getting out of here, because that was too close." [laughter] Fort Bragg was very busy place at that time. There were guns firing all day long and right next door to us was the officer's training, and a lot of guys didn't make it and were sent back to their regular outfits, and the 82nd Airborne was there and we used to watch those guys parachute just about every day. So, finally, I think it was around December of '44 was the Battle of the Bulge and they needed men urgently, so, they took a lot of our guys out, sent them to Europe. They were green troops and I heard, later, that some of whom were hit. Fortunately, I was not sent. They thought I was too good a radio operator, so, I and some others were sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, which was [the] Field Artillery School. So, we went out there for a few months and we had instruction in radio repair and we learned how radios worked and how to repair them and it was quite intensive. We had a lot of German prisoners there, Italian prisoners there. The German prisoners were under guard. The Italian prisoners were free, because Italy had already capitulated, and they were sort of a happy bunch. [laughter] The German prisoners would work around the buildings, the grounds, and we had big maps posted of the European conflict and where the frontlines were, and, of course, they were moving eastward, and they pointed and looked at them and laughed, because they didn't believe it. They thought they were winning the war.
SI: Were they Afrika Korps troops?
AJ: No, I don't know where they were from. We camped out at Fort Sill and we did a lot of things there and, from Fort Sill, I went to my port of embarkation.
SI: Before we go overseas, I have a few questions.
AJ: Sure, sure.
SI: How much of a shock was it for you to go from civilian life into the military?
AJ: None whatever. I don't know why, but I had … no problem changing my lifestyle, maybe because I liked camping and I did Scouting and stuff like that. No, I had no problem whatever.
SI: Do you think your Boy Scouting experience helped you in the military?
AJ: I think so, yes.
SI: You took basic training at Fort Bragg. Did you have advanced training after basic training there or was that at Fort Sill?
AJ: What do you mean by advanced training?
SI: Did you only take basic training at Fort Bragg?
AJ: Basic training at Fort Bragg and the next step, ordinarily, would be to go to some unit that was organized, that probably was already in action, as replacements. … We would not ordinarily have further training.
SI: What was the make-up of your training unit at Fort Bragg? Where were the other men from? Were they mostly from this area?
AJ: Okay, no, I think most were from the South, mostly, a lot from Pennsylvania ; many were coal miners, [from] coal-mining sections of Pennsylvania. They were all ages. Most everybody was older than I was. There were some young people there, like I was. There were a lot of older people, older men. When I say older, I don't mean old, [laughter] but I mean they're in their late twenties or maybe even early thirties, and so, there was quite a mix. I think I was one of the very few college people there. As a matter-of-fact, … in Fort Dix, one corporal said to us, "Okay, all college boys raise you hands." So, I thought, well, you know, maybe we'd sort papers or stuff like that, so, I raised my hand, and a couple of other guys did, too, and we were taken out and we loaded trucks. [laughter] He had something against college boys.
SI: That probably taught you not to volunteer.
AJ: Exactly, yes. I heard that so many times before I went in, but, here I was.
SI: Was OCS ever a possibility?
AJ: Yes, yes. In basic training, we were told that we could apply for OCS and, I remember, we all lined up down at the … sort of the headquarters of the company to find out what our intelligence test figures were, because … you had to have attained a certain level or else you're not eligible. So, we all got our answers and I remember somebody yelling out, "Hey, you know what Jacoby got?" … I don't think anybody ever went for OCS. I didn't apply for it, because I really wasn't interested and, especially, I was happy I didn't, because I heard later that, I don't know, the average length of life for a lieutenant overseas was like fifteen days, something like that, but … I didn't feel like I could do it, at that time. So, I didn't apply. I remember people asking the Sergeant, "Well, you know, should we apply? Should we not apply?" or maybe they asked some officer so-and-so; the answer was, "Well, you should always aim for the stars, whether you reach it or not," and I thought, "Hey, you know, maybe he's right," but I didn't.
SI: Did Sergeant Polhaus ever talk to you about his experiences?
AJ: No, no. He never talked about it, never did, but, on the train, oh, I remember what happened; yes, we did have … a few days off after Fort Sill and I went home for a few days, before I went to my port of embarkation, which was Fort Ord, California, and I remember, on the train … going to Fort Ord, there was a sergeant who had come back from the Pacific and he was telling stories about the fighting out there and how they never took prisoners and it was real, real scary stuff. Was I scared? no, not at all. I was indestructible in those days; I was really indestructible.
SI: Before you were assigned to the Pacific, did you have any preference for where you would like to be sent?
AJ: Well, the war in Europe was winding down, so, I don't think we had much choice, and I think some troops from Europe were being sent over to the Pacific. No, I didn't have much choice. I really … didn't care one way or the other. I just wanted to go.
SI: Did you ever get to go on liberty at either Fort Bragg or Fort Sill?
AJ: Yes. Fort Bragg, we had, maybe, a day or two off on the weekends, unless we were being punished, [laughter] and we had a fellow … in my barracks by the name of Jerry (Ashbar?), no, that wasn't Jerry (Ashbar?), I can't remember his name, and he was a former pilot in the field artillery, as a sergeant, and they used Piper Cubs, in those days, as a forward observer vantage point. They would check the fire from our guns, to make sure that they were going in the right direction, and they had sergeants piloting them and he was caught chasing a speedboat across a lake and flying under high-tension wires. He was sort of a cowboy and … he got a dishonorable discharge and the only way he could get that erased was making his way back into the service and getting an honorable discharge. Well, he had some influence and he got back into the service, but, of course, they wouldn't let him fly again. … He had basic training with us and, on weekends, we would hitchhike to Raleigh, North Carolina, and go to an airfield and rent a Piper Cub. Now, [as] I say, a Piper Cub. in those days, were fabric wings and with a hook in the back, instead of a brake, and we would sit in tandem in open cockpits with a joystick, and we would rent a plane for thirty dollars an hour and he would take us up fifteen minutes apiece, or a half-hour apiece, and it would cost us fifteen dollars each. You know, he wouldn't pay anything, but he'd be the pilot and I would sit in the front cockpit, he'd sit in the back and take off, and we didn't go very high, because it would take too much time, so, we used to hedgehop over trees and do all kinds of crazy things. … It was a lot of fun. [laughter] That's what we did on weekends and, sometimes, we'd go to USO stuff, but that's about it. I don't remember having any time off at Fort Sill.
SI: The technical training at Fort Sill was pretty intense.
SI: How did you adapt to the training? Did it come pretty easily to you?
AJ: Oh, I had no problem at all. In my class, I don't remember how many people there were, maybe thirty, I came out second in [the] class. The guy who came out first was a radio repairman in civilian life, so, I felt pretty good about that and I liked electronics. I mean, that was my … first time at it. I never knew anything about it and it was fascinating to me, because … they would go into it very deeply. I mean, it was just not all mechanical stuff. It was theoretical things, too, and the instructors were really excellent. … I learned how to drive in basic training, too. They were good, too, and we learned how a vehicle worked, all the parts, and, in the service, there were times that I drove a jeep or a truck, and that's how I learned how to drive. I didn't know how to drive.
SI: Was it completely focused on the machines or did you learn how to use code on the radios?
AJ: We only used Morse code, yes, at that time. There were times that we did voice messages, but it was mostly code.
SI: Can you tell me about going to Fort Ord and going overseas?
AJ: Before that, I have to tell you about Fort Sill. One day, we heard that General [Joseph] Stilwell was going to visit … Fort Sill. General Stilwell was a general in the Army and, as you remember, he marched out of Burma, I think five hundred miles or so, with his men, being chased by the Japanese, a very tough general. They called him "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell. So, Fort Sill is a pretty big place, so, we didn't think he was going to come see us, but, apparently, he was very interested in radio. So, we were working on radios and my back was to the door, it was sort of a barracks type building, and I heard a lot of commotion outside and somebody suddenly yelled, "Ten-hut," and I heard stamping of feet and a whole bunch of officers walked in, several general officers, majors, colonels, all kinds of people, and we were told just to keep working at our radios. … I heard some voices back on the other side of the room, and then, all was quiet and I heard footsteps coming towards me and somebody leaned over my shoulder and said, "Where you from, soldier?" and I looked around, it was General Stilwell. So, I jumped up to attention, almost hitting him in the chin, [laughter] and I said, "Paterson, New Jersey, Sir," and he asked me about my Morse code speed, which was 24/24. That means I could send and receive at twenty-four words a minute and he said, "That's very good," and he said, "Where did you go to school?" I said, "Rutgers University," and he said, "Ah, yes, 'I'd die for dear old Rutgers,'" and everybody in the room laughed. All the officers laughed. [laughter] Well, that night, I wrote a ten-page letter home to my parents and I wrote to my brother up in Newfoundland and he wrote to Rutgers [laughter] and it was printed in the Rutgers Magazine, but it was quite an experience. I looked into his eyes, which were cold, gray, steel eyes and I thought to myself, "I would follow this man anywhere." That's something I've never forgotten, okay.
SI: On to Fort Ord.
AJ: Okay, went to Fort Ord and that place was a bustling [hub], a lot of soldiers there, being shipped out every day, down to the docks in Los Angeles, I think it was Los Angeles, and sent over to the Pacific, and troops coming in daily, going out. Well, we were there I would say no more than two or three days, and then, one day, we were lined up and we had to go through a line, getting all our equipment, special equipment for jungle fighting, socks and stuff like that. … I messed up, because I missed … the place where I was supposed to get some equipment and each man had his stuff arrayed on a tarp, each individual person, displayed on a tarp, and the non-coms would come over and check to make sure you got everything. … I was missing a few things, like jungle socks, and they told me to go get them and … he said to me, "You better not screw up over there like … you just did here." So, I got the things and we marched out to a band playing and there were guys up on the second floor of the barracks yelling through the windows, "Get a Jap for me," and waving to us, and we boarded a train and we didn't go to LA at all. We didn't go to the docks. We went up to Seattle, to a different POE, [Port of Embarkation], a place called Fort Lawton, right near Seattle, and, there, we practiced abandon ship drill and, at one time, we had a little time off, so, a bunch of us went down to Puget Sound, which was right there, and we tied up our boat. They were pulling redwood logs, a huge amount of redwood logs, pulled by a tug, and we jumped onto the logs and raced over and we did a little fishing. … We did calisthenics there, and then, … we were loaded onto trucks one day and taken down to the piers and we boarded an APA, a Navy ship, Assault Personnel, Auxiliary, and there were about three thousand troops on there, mostly Army Air Corps personnel, and a lot of artillery people, too, and we set sail and we went out Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and we were accompanied by a blimp that went out with us for the first day. Then, he turned around and went back and we went out alone, we were told, because we were a fast ship and we didn't have to be in a convoy and we started zigzagging across. Then, we were told we had to go below. We couldn't stay on deck. So, for the next two days, we were below and we were in hammocks five high, swinging back and forth, [laughter] with our helmets swinging back and forth, and I could hear the water lapping against the side of the ship. I was up near the bow and a lot of us were seasick, including me, and it was pretty … dismal down there. So, finally, about the third day, they let us up on deck and the sailors had target shooting. They'd throw out a box and they'd bear their guns on them and start shooting at it. We would cheer if they hit them and so forth. … We went across to Honolulu and, in Honolulu Harbor, they took on some oil and supplies and stuff like that and they took some of us off.
So, we're in Honolulu Harbor and they took off … some men, including me, a small group, and they took us over to a truck and they transported us to the 13th Replacement Depot, which was near Wahiawa in the middle of Oahu, and the replacement depot was a place where they gathered soldiers and they apportioned them out to various places in the Pacific, where they were needed as casualties were brought back. We lined up every morning and they would read off a list of names and those people would be transported down either to Honolulu Harbor or Pearl Harbor and sent out to various places. Well, there were about five of us who, every morning, stood there and we didn't hear our names, and this went on for about a week and, during the week, we were tired of doing all sorts of duties, [laughter] so, … we hid amongst the rocks and we played cards, and we were caught by some officer, one day, and we explained to him that we've been here so long and he said, "Okay, don't worry about." Finally, we were called. There were about five of us and we put on all our gear, our combat boots and our knapsacks and helmets and carbines and what have you, and we were loaded onto a six-by-six truck, and we didn't know where we were going. We had no idea; nobody told us. So, we traveled down towards Pearl Harbor. We came to Pearl Harbor and we went past Pearl Harbor and we went into the City of Honolulu, right in the middle of the city, to a place called Lanakila Park. It was a park in the middle of the city, but it had been surrounded by, maybe, a ten-foot wire fence encircling it and inside were a number of low buildings, low wooden buildings, and quite a number of very tall wooden poles supporting antennas, and we came to a guardhouse and we were told to dismount and there was an entrance there and somebody said, "Gentlemen, you are now in the Signal Corps," and we walked through, and here we are, in all this battle dress, and we look around and there are guys in shorts, a couple of guys throwing a football around and people doing casual things. It was like a different world. [laughter] So, I was assigned a hut and we were told that we were quarantined for a week while our relatives, our parents, were investigated by the FBI. … We were to be cleared, first, before we could do anything. We were in the 119th Radio Intelligence Company. What that company did was, they had very highly skilled radio operators, intelligence people, a lot of guys spoke Japanese fluently, and what they did was to monitor Japanese frequencies and copy down their messages. The Japanese used Morse code, also, with a slight variation from ours, called Kana, … and guys would be sitting at a desk with earphones on typing away for hours upon hours. There were incidents where some of them went a little nutty and had to be sent back to the States. We also had a direction finding network, all over the Pacific. On various islands, we had direction finders and that was one of my jobs, but that came a little bit later. I was then sent out to Kahuku Point, … which is at the northern end of the island. … It was a B-25 base and these planes would fly patrol every morning, but we were sort of on the edge of that base and, I think, there were about five of us [that] lived in a cabin out there, all by ourselves. I think the top person was a sergeant. There were no officers and we had a direction finding tower there. When I say tower, it was only about ten feet tall and what we did was, when our base in Honolulu wanted us to monitor or find a certain radio transmission, at least the direction from where it was coming, they would pipe into us that transmission, from Honolulu to us, and we would listen to it and we would turn our dipole, which was a long pole with, well, it looked something like a TV antenna today, and we would turn it until that transmission was at its peak, the loudest, and we would determine the azimuth, or the direction from which it was coming, and then, call back into Honolulu and tell them that direction. Now, this was done all over the Pacific and these azimuths, or directional lines, were plotted on a big map of the Pacific and where these lines intercrossed was where that radio was transmitting from. Before I had gotten into that outfit, they told me that a certain Japanese radio operator, they could recognize him because of his fist. Now, a fist is sort of a signature or a way somebody transmits … a key, a Morse code key, and everybody transmits just a little bit differently. It's like a fingerprint or a voice. … First of all, you could always tell … when a Japanese transmitted, because they had a certain way of doing it, but each one had his own personal way, also, and they had sort of a nickname for this guy, and he was located in Japan. They hadn't heard from him for a couple of months, and then, somebody caught him again. He was transmitting again and they put the direction finders on him and they found out that a whole outfit had moved from Japan into China. So, that became very useful. That was good duty out there. I don't remember … how long I was out there, a few months or so. … Two of us would drive into Honolulu, it was about fifty miles, every day, just to pick up the mail and we would go to the USO shows at the B-25 base and that was interesting stuff. Then, I was sent back to Honolulu and, … on my shift, I ran the net, the Pacific net, and what I would do is, we had a roomful of guys monitoring these Japanese transmissions and, when there was one that they were interested in, to find out where he was, they would send his signal up to me, and then, I would alert the net. There might be a dozen different places around the Pacific, starting from the Aleutian Islands down to the Solomons to Okinawa. Incidentally, … when I came to [Hawaii] on my APA ship, that APA ship was going to Okinawa. We had just landed on the southern tip, so, I was lucky enough to go out there, but we had a station out there and I would alert the entire Pacific net just by a couple of dits on my key and guys would be waiting for it and nobody listening who was not authorized, like an enemy, would know what the heck that was, what was going on. … When I got confirmation from everybody that they were now alerted, I would transmit the frequency, I would tell them what frequency to listen to, and they would do that, … but there might be several transmissions on the same frequency, or very close to the same frequency, and they wouldn't know which one to monitor, so, I'm sorry if I'm going into too much detail.
SI: No, please go on.
AJ: So, when there was a pause in the transmission, I would hold my key down and, when they started transmitting again, I'd pull it up again. So, when they heard the transmission from their radios and heard the key, my key, down during the pauses, they knew they were on the right one, and then, finally, they would send back their azimuths, back to me, and I would send it down to our plotting room, and we had a decoding room, too, but I was not privy to that. That was top-secret stuff. That was real fascinating things and I was promoted to PFC, then, tech, fifth grade, and then, finally, I heard, we all heard, that we had dropped some big bomb in Japan. We didn't know anything about it, but we heard it was some new, big bomb and we all kind of celebrated, and, soon after that, we got word that the war was over, and the officers threw us a beer party and there was a lot of shouting and yelling … and celebrating. I drank ten cans of beer within a few hours, in the hot sun, in the summer, on Oahu, and I think I was sick for about three days. [laughter] I couldn't smell a beer for at least six months after that. So, … soon after that, our company was disbanded, just completely eliminated, and … I didn't have enough points to go home at that time. A lot of guys went home; a lot of guys didn't. So, I was transferred to the 3116th Signal Service Battalion, which was a Signal Corps unit on Oahu, and I was immediately assigned to the LT-789. Now, what is the LT-789? I was lent to the Transportation Corps by the Signal Corps and the LT-789 was a seagoing tugboat and I was the radio operator. There was a crew of a captain, who was a former tanker captain and who missed tankers dearly, there's a first mate, Mr. King, second mate was Gil, I don't remember his last name. The cook was Red, a big guy, redheaded guy.
-------------------------------------END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO--------------------------------------
SI: This continues an interview with Dr. Arthur Jacoby on October 12, 2002, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with Shaun Illingworth. Please, continue.
AJ: Okay, as I was saying, Red was our cook, a big, redheaded fellow, and we had a chief engineer, I don't remember who that was, and we had about three crewmen. They were all Merchant Marine, except for me, I was in the Army, and it was a big tugboat, unlike the ones that you see in harbors. It was all steel and … her engine was steam driven, unlike our sister ship. … Her sister ship was diesel and you could hear her coming a mile away, but we were pretty quiet, and what her job was, … we usually towed barges of Army trucks to various islands in the Hawaiian group, and we did that, and we went to islands like Molokai and Lanai and Maui and, one night, we were on our way back to Honolulu and we hit a very bad storm in the middle of the night, and the waves were pretty high, and I was told to send an urgent message to the Coast Guard, which I did, but all the crew and the Captain were on deck with their life vests on, and I was the only guy in there, in the radio shack, and a lot of the crew were seasick, and so was I, except when sending this message. For some reason, I felt okay when I had something urgent to do. I got a message back from the Coast Guard to ride out the storm as best we could and we made it and the engineer told me, later, that if we had rolled, … we had a round bottom, … one more degree, we would have turned over. We rode into Honolulu, still dark, and a Coast Guard cutter came around and signaled us by lantern, and I was working our signal lantern, too, to stand clear of an ammunition ship that was there, and so, I said, "Okay," and we did. An ammunition ship usually had a big red flag on it. So, we anchored … out there, and then, later on, we came into port. We were in and out of Pearl Harbor many times and, at one time, we tied up a barge at the superstructure of the Arizona, which was sticking up out of the water. There were many ships in Pearl Harbor of all kinds. There was an aircraft carrier, I remember, and I saw a couple of submarines and, at night, they were all signaling each other and I signaled with them and had some fun, just doing unofficial messages back and forth. After that duty, I was transferred … to a troop ship, the USS Haleakala, which was a very old ship, a former medium or small sized cruise ship, that the Army had taken over. It was an Army troop ship and we had three radio operators, the chief operator, first and second. I was the first and we took a load of Marines up to Midway Island and each of us stood watch for eight hours in the radio room. When we got to Midway, we took on a pilot, because the entrance to the harbor was very narrow, it was sort of an atoll and a very small entrance, and I remember being on the bridge and this pilot ran [from] one side of the bridge to the other, making sure that we didn't hit the sides. So, we got in there and the Marines got off and I found that island to be nothing more than a big sandbar, and I don't remember any trees on there at that time. There might have been, but I took some pictures. I had a camera and I was introduced to gooney birds on the island, which, I believe, are albatrosses and there were thousands of them on the beach. The beach consisted of small pebbles. It wasn't fine sand, as I remember, and these birds would bow to each other, back and forth, and acted kind of funny. They were cute birds. … I remember that there was a Coast Guard ship next to us, berthed next to us, and an inebriated officer grabbed one of the birds and wrung its neck, which we didn't think was very nice. Anyway, we stayed … in Midway only a day or two, a couple of days, and then, we took on some Marines and headed back to Pearl and, in the middle of the first night, one of the Marines had appendicitis, and the ship's doctor told me that there was no way that he can operate on this fellow, that he would have to be transported back. So, we radioed back to Midway to come out, meet us and bring this fellow back. Well, a Navy corvette came out and met us in the middle of the night and they tried to transfer him, but the water was too rough. They couldn't do it. So, we sailed back to Midway Island and got into port and took this man off and, as soon as he was off, we headed out again and, a few hours later, I radioed back and found out that he had his operation, he was doing fine, and I became friendly with the ship's doctor on the way back. I don't remember his name; he's a lieutenant. He was Army and we used to meet in his cabin and talk and I used to put his cap on, his officer's cap, and salute myself in the mirror, [laughter] and I told him that I wanted to be a dentist. I wanted to be a dentist, you know, since I was a young teenager, because I liked my dentist back home. I never felt any real pain with him and I loved the instruments he used and I always liked to work with my hands and this dentist encouraged me. So, that's why I took biological sciences at Rutgers, to go to dental school. So, this ship's doctor said to me, "Arthur, … why do you want to be a dentist, stand on your feet all day looking into people's mouths, when you can be a doctor and do almost anything you want, in many fields?" and it was like a light turned on in my head and I said, "You're right," and I think … that was the moment that I changed my direction. I came back to Honolulu, or to Oahu, and I was transferred to another outfit. Well, to the same outfit, but to where their headquarters was, in the middle of Oahu, and I worked at a tape relay station called YF Relay, and it was the second largest tape relay station in the world, the first one being in Washington, and what we did was, messages came in from all over the Pacific to us and it was recorded on tape, not recording tape, but the tapes were punched with holes and, sometimes, the letters would be also imprinted on them, and these were long tapes on a roll and, according to how many holes were punched at one point, [that] corresponded to the letter that was being transmitted. A lot of this was in code and a lot was also in the clear and what we did was, for instance, if a tape came in or a message came in from Tokyo, [which] we were now occupying, and it was destined for Washington, I would take that tape off the Tokyo machine and put it on the Washington machine and send it off to Washington. We also sent stuff to San Francisco, New York, places like that, mostly those three, San Francisco, New York and Washington, but we had stuff coming in from all over the Pacific. … We worked in a large room, which was deep underground. It was bomb proof, no windows, of course, it was air-conditioned, well lighted, and I would say there were about twenty people working on a shift. We worked twenty-four hours and I worked on the evening shift, four to twelve. Many of the workers there were civilians and, as I said, the war was over … and guys were being sent back … when they accumulated enough points, so, we were being depleted of personnel and new people would be coming in, people who hadn't been in very long, and I was promoted to tech four and, towards the end, I was up for staff sergeant, and then, I was made trick chief, which means I was in charge of the whole operation there, on the four to twelve shift. … If there's an urgent message that comes in, bells would ring on the machine, which means you have … top priority and to send that message wherever it was headed for. One day, bells started ringing on this machine from Tokyo, so, I ran over to it, and it was a relatively short message and it was in the clear and it was typed out. … The message was addressed to Colonel Earl "Red" Blaik, who was football coach of West Point, and it says, "This is to introduce Lieutenant So-and-So and Lieutenant So-and-So, whom I am sure you'll find good assistant coaches at West Point. Signed, MacArthur." [laughter] That was the urgent message and I sent that right off. … We also relayed messages from correspondents around the Pacific. They would send their stories into us. Some of them were very long, but they were the lowest priority. We also had a section where we used Morse code for ships coming over from the West Coast, … the name of the ship, when it was sailing, when they expected to arrive in Hawaii. I did some of that, too. As a matter-of-fact, MacArthur came through Hawaii when I was there and he was down in Schofield Barracks, but I didn't go see him. "Dugout Doug," we called him. Well, finally, I had enough points to go home and, with two or three other people, we went into a truck and, as we were loading up, I saw some of the people in my shift out there and some of the civilians and they were waving to me and wishing me well, and it took us down to either Pearl or Honolulu, onto another general ship, not another general ship, a general ship which was a troop transport, and we sailed for San Francisco. … It was very smooth, a very smooth ride home. I don't know whether it was because we were going home, but it just felt very smooth, and we were on deck most of the time and there were big crap games going on [laughter] and we even had mail call. I got some mail on that ship and we came into San Francisco Harbor, under the Oakland Bay Bridge, and we saw the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz and, as we were coming into our berth, a band started playing and a lot of us climbed up into the rigging, I was one of them, and over to the railing and waving and shouting and what have you. … A lot of pictures were taken of us, which I got, I have home, and then, you can see me there in the rigging, [laughter] and then, it was the long train trip across the US, back to Fort Dix, and went through some paperwork or whatever, and somebody, an officer or a sergeant, tried to enlist me in the Reserve, saying, you know, … "You'll be in for ten years, but there won't be another war for ten years, obviously." Well, he was wrong, but I didn't. I was ready to give up and say, "Okay, let me go home already;" he gave up first. He said, "You can have a promotion. You can have your same MO," or … whatever your expertise was, but I said, "Forget it." … I just want to mention that overseas was quite different than being in the service in the States, because it was very formal in the States, I mean, the saluting and the "Sir" and all that business. When you got overseas, there, some of the officers I got pretty friendly with, called them by their first name, and saluting was, you know, you didn't have to do all that stuff, but, I remember, when I was being discharged at Fort Dix, there was some private that was taking my clothing and equipment and stuff, and he says, "Okay, you can move on, soldier," and then, he saw my stripes. He says, "Ah, er, Sergeant," and then, I felt good about that. [laughter] Then, I took a train to Newark and I called my folks and they came down, picked me up, and that was in August of 1946. My brother was a counselor at a camp that summer in the Berkshires, right near where I live now, and we went up there and I hadn't seen him in about four years, and then, we kind of hugged each other, and then, I went back to Rutgers that fall, as a sophomore, but it was different. I was a different person. I had been thrown in with a lot of older men and I had been given a lot of responsible work to do and my attitude was entirely different. What that means is, I really hit the books. [laughter] … I was in Pell Hall and I met some of the football players there, and then, I moved to my fraternity house, which was on George Street, and I was all the way on the top floor, where the ceiling was slanty, but I spent most of my time in there, studying, and instead of my disastrous first year, I made the dean's list the next three years.
SI: Why did you join the fraternity?
AJ: … Well, I joined the fraternity because my brother was in a fraternity and I knew some of the guys and I thought, "Well, that's the thing to do," you know. You're rushed and, at that time, it was, you know, really, "Hey, great, you're in a fraternity," you know, to being asked to be in. I think, today, it's a bit different. I don't know if I would today, although I have lasting friendships from the fraternity to this day, many of them, and the guys I sit with in the football stadium every year are my fraternity brothers. There are pros and cons to the fraternity that I strongly feel about, but people that are rejected from fraternities, I feel badly for them, and I'm not sure whether it's really a good thing or not, but it was nice. I mean, … they're good guys, good people.
SI: You also played sports.
AJ: I played intramural sports. I never was on any varsity team. I was never good enough to be on any varsity team. That was one of the advantages of being in a fraternity, that you had intramural sports, but I think there were other units that had sports, too, that weren't fraternities, but I played football, not tackle, but we blocked, and I played softball. … I was on the swimming team, played basketball, a lot of basketball, and that was all fun.
SI: You mentioned that you had changed after coming back from the service. How had Rutgers changed in those years?
AJ: Rutgers changed quite a bit, because [there were] a lot more guys on campus when I came back. There were just droves of people. I mean, everybody was back from service and, as a matter-of-fact, there was a guy in my outfit at the 3116th, I can't think of his name, but we used to call him Van, his last name was Van something, and I ran into him here, registering to come back, and we had a good little reunion. What else was different? Well, it was different in that there wasn't this total Army thing on campus. I mean, you'd see uniforms everywhere, guys going to school here, including myself, marching in the streets and there was a lot more school [spirit], a lot of esprit de corps, where there wasn't in my first year, and I met some of the football players and things had changed. … We didn't have physical education anymore. I had that as a freshman and, I don't know, it's more of a college atmosphere, so, it was great and I did well. … I did well socially, but … I was kind of a quiet guy. I was very shy, but I think the fraternity helped me there, because they had functions and I had to get a date, so, I did get dates and that was good. Some of my favorite profs were Mason Gross, of course, who I had for philosophy and who handed me my diploma at graduation, and ours was the first graduation in the stadium, and I also liked my German professor, Professor [Johannes] Nabholz, and I did well in German. I was almost fluent in German at that time. I liked everything about school. I just loved being here and, if I had my way, I'd be here forever as a student, taking every course that was offered, except for the exams, maybe, [laughter] but graduation came. I applied to medical school, and so did a million other guys, and I didn't make it the first year, so, I applied to graduate school. I went to McGill in Montreal and I took graduate studies in zoology. I got a Masters of Science in zoology and did some experimentation in flower beetles, which were ravishing the Canadian flower industry. I also taught at McGill. I was a biology laboratory instructor and I made my tuition-plus and it was a great experience, being in Montreal. It was really cold [laughter] and I thought I would be headed for a career in zoology. I was arranging to be on a tour with National Geographic, either to South America or Africa, and I got a letter from the Chicago Medical School, who said, and I'm paraphrasing, that they couldn't take me the previous year, but they're still interested in me, "Would I come for an interview?" Well, I called my parents and I told them, "Look, I'm all set being a zoologist and I don't think I'm going to go for that interview." So, they said, "Okay." So, then, I got to thinking about it that afternoon. [laughter] I said, "If I don't at least go for this interview, I may regret it the rest of my life. I don't know what's going to happen, so, I'll go." So, I made arrangements at the airport, or at the ticket office, in Montreal. I got a ticket to fly to Chicago. I put a change of underwear in my overcoat and a toothbrush and I flew out of Montreal, in a snowstorm, headed for Chicago and I got talking to the fellow sitting next to me and he told me that he worked for a company that was making this new thing and it was the precursor to a chip. …
SI: A microchip? A transistor?
AJ: Yes, that was a transistor and he said, "It may pan out, some day." I said, "That's very nice, but what I really want to know is, where can I stay in Chicago?" and he told me the hotel to stay at and I did. I went over to the hotel, I forget the name, but it was the largest in the world at that time, [Conrad Hilton]. I think it's changed hands a few times and I went to the desk and asked for a room and I got a room and they said, "Where's your baggage?" I said, "Well, I don't have any baggage," [laughter] and they looked at me kind of funny. So, I went up to my room and this was a Sunday and the interview was the next morning, and I went to see an uncle of mine, a great-uncle, who lived in Chicago, and he didn't know I was coming and I surprised him and he fell all over me. At the interview the next day, at the medical school, which was across the street from Cook County Hospital, there were, perhaps, five professors sitting in a ring and I was in the middle and they all shot questions at me, some of them simultaneously. So, I was alert enough to pick out the questions I wanted to answer [laughter] and I did and, as a matter-of-fact, in the waiting room, I saw, perhaps, three or four people … I had known from Rutgers, who were waiting for interviews. So, I went back to Montreal and, a week later, I got a letter accepting me, and so, I said, "I'm going to go. I'm going to go to medical school," and I did. I got a diploma from McGill and, that summer, I worked in a day camp in Paterson, at the Y. We had all our stuff. The day camp was in the building itself. Occasionally, we had … excursions to other places and … I had a group of kids that were, perhaps, eight years of age, eight-year-old boys, and … I named our section the Waksmans [laughter] and I even wrote a song about it. … We wrote a letter, the kids wrote a letter to Dr. Waksman here at Rutgers, telling him that they are named after him, would he come visit? Well, as expected, he said he was too busy, but he appreciated it and signed his name to the letter, so, that was nice. So, after that summer, I started medical school and … we went through summers. … We had one summer off, but we went through the summers. We were on the quarter system. In my class, in medical school, we had several guys, maybe three, that I had known at Rutgers, maybe four guys, and, … also, one in the class ahead of me, and it was a tough school, very tough, and we had an anatomy exam, my first exam was an anatomy exam, and, that night, I phoned my folks and I said, "It looks like I'm flunking out, because I don't think I … passed that." Well, the next day, we got our grades and I was the second highest in the class. I could hear my father cheering at the other end. [laughter] I went through four years. I visited my uncle frequently during those four years. His wife had Parkinson's and she was deteriorating, but it was a very intensive four years of school and we learned a lot and it was good training. I delivered about fifteen babies there, as a senior, in the middle of Chicago. … The Chicago Maternity Center was in the middle of town and we took care of patients; … there was no room for them in the hospitals, so, we delivered them at home. They don't have that anymore, but it was in the middle of winter and I delivered a number of babies and I had one bad case, which I almost lost, but it turned out okay, and a lot of experiences there. I was an extremely squeamish guy as a teenager and I didn't know what would happen when I started seeing blood. The first two years in medical school are spent mostly in [the] classroom or in the dissecting room or in the laboratories. The last two years are spent in the hospitals. Well, my first experience in a hospital, in surgery, I told the resident there, "Please, keep an eye on me; I don't know what's going to happen to me once I start seeing blood," and it was a total mastectomy that I was going in on, and he started the operation, and the surgeon started explaining what he was doing and why he was doing it, and I became so interested in that, nothing phased me. I mean, there's blood all over the place, but it didn't bother me at all and I could see the resident looking in through the little glass circular window outside the operating room and I went like that, [Dr. Jacoby makes a thumbs-up gesture], something like that, you know, thumbs up, and, from then on, I was okay. I never had any trouble. In my junior year, I was outside school, it was in the middle of winter, and somebody hit me in the head with a snowball [laughter] and I turned around and there was one of my classmates on the other side of the street, laughing. So, I reached down and grabbed some snow, started making a snowball, and I was standing on some ice. I did a big baseball wind up and I threw it at him and, at the same time, I must have twirled in the air, because I came right down on my ankle and broke my ankle. [laughter] Well, they carried me over to the hospital and took X-rays. They put a cast on me, gave me crutches and I went back to school, to … this small amphitheater and, as I walked in on crutches, everybody stood up and cheered. Well, I was a real hero at that time, except, that night, it hurt like hell, [laughter] but that healed, and I went to the library, to the medical library, took a book out on fractures, to see if this thing was going to heal properly and the book was so interesting, I read the whole book, and I thought, "Gee, maybe I should go into orthopedics. I like this stuff." … In our senior year, … you take your choice of … what you're interested in, what you want to study at the hospital for a few weeks. Some people took gynecology, some took pediatrics, well, I chose orthopedics. This was at Cook County Hospital and the residents there … became interested in me and showed me a lot of stuff and I thought, "Okay, this is for me," and that's how that all started. … From there, I went to New Jersey, to the Veterans Administration hospital in East Orange, and I took a residency, oh, I'm sorry, no, I didn't go there. I went to New Jersey, yes, but I went to Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, where I did a rotating internship for a year, and that was a very busy hospital and we did a lot of stuff there, and I also got married that summer to a girl I met in Chicago, who was from New York, [laughter] and, as I say, Beth Israel is a very busy place and it was a rotating internship, and I did everything there. … I applied for residency in orthopedics. … Orthopedics, you had to have a year of general surgery, plus, three years of orthopedic surgery. So, I went to the Veterans Administration hospital in East Orange, New Jersey, for general surgery, which was very good, because they had excellent surgeons there, career surgeons, who worked just at the hospital, very fine people, and I did a lot of surgery there. I did all the amputations at that hospital for one year and a lot of skin grafting, hernias, gall bladders, all kinds of stuff, and the instruction was good, and I lived nearby in Irvington, and they were going to start up an orthopedic residency there, but it fell through. So, I applied to [the] Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City, which was one of the top orthopedic training centers in the country or the world, and I was accepted and one of my close friends from medical school also was accepted and went through three years of orthopedic surgery there, which was very intensive, very busy. You did a lot of stuff, mostly post polio …
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SI: Please, continue.
AJ: We did mostly post polio paralyses and fusing bones in the foot and transposing tendons and things like that. There was a lot of bone tuberculosis, especially in the spine, that we did. All that stuff, we don't see today, fortunately. … I spent some time at Morrisania Hospital for fractures, because we didn't have an active emergency room, and I did fractures there, and I also went to Beekman Downtown Hospital in lower Manhattan, and they had a lot of industrial accidents there, and then, … after training at Hospital for Joint Diseases, I went out to New Jersey to Pascack Valley Hospital in Westwood, which … had just opened. It's a brand-new hospital and I was the only orthopedist. They had two covering orthopedists in Hackensack, but it was a great distance for them. So, I was welcomed and I opened my office and, that first year, I may be exaggerating a little bit, but I don't think so, I made a hundred dollars for the whole year. [laughter] The office, which I shared with a general surgeon, I rented for two hundred dollars a month and I think I took in a total of twenty-five hundred dollars that year, simply because most everybody was oriented towards Hackensack Hospital and we were new kids on the block and we were suspect. … I typed up all my reports, I answered the phone, I took the X-rays, I developed them. I took calls at the emergency room and, the second year, I took in a partner … who was one of my classmates at Joint Diseases and who had gone up to Boston, but was unhappy up there, so, he came down. I told him, "We'll starve together," but our practice grew at that time and we were doing pretty well. … I'm glad of my humble beginnings, because I hear, today, of guys getting out of training and going directly into a group and, their first year, making a hundred to one hundred-and-fifty thousand their first year. I made a hundred dollars. So, I did okay and our practice grew and I disassociated myself with my partner. … I didn't feel that he was really working the way he should and I took in somebody else, from the Mayo Clinic, and before you know it, we had four guys working together and … we did a lot of things. In 1971, there was the total hip replacement that was invented by [Sir] John Charnley in England. We were not allowed to do it in this country, because the cement that was used was not yet cleared by the FDA. However, I and another fellow from Joint Diseases went over to England and worked with Dr. Charnley for about ten days and I saw nineteen total hips done and I could do it in my sleep. I came back and went to the FDA, said it was okay. We started doing total hips and I remember the first one I did. Did you want me to go into this?
SI: Oh, yes, please.
AJ: The first one I did, the gentleman, in his late seventies, came into my office, bent over, in a lot of pain, who had a terribly arthritic hip and he said, "Can you help me?" and I said, "I'll try," and I told him about this new operation and he said he was all for it. So, I did him. It took me, like, five or six hours and the outcome was that he could walk erect, pain free, and several years later, … the internist who referred him told me that I killed him, because the man moved down to Florida and felt so good that he was walking up and down the beaches and, finally, died of heart failure. [laughter] Well, we did … total hip replacement. Then, the Swiss came out with a new type of fracture surgery. So, I went to Switzerland and learned how to do … their surgery with metal implants and all sorts of things, which is still in use today, very much so, and we did that, the ASIF system. … Then, people started doing … arthroscopies, putting a tube into a knee and instruments, and doing everything through a tiny, little hole in the knee and, of course, we didn't learn how to do that. I mean, in residency, I didn't do any of that, nobody did. So, I went around the country, took courses in how to do that. Now, today, all the kids in residencies are learning that and they're doing it very well, too. They're very well trained, the people coming out today, I feel.
SI: It seems as though the technology associated with orthopedic surgery has changed a great deal, particular with the micro-cameras and so forth.
AJ: Well, technology in orthopedic surgery changed, but technology in all phases of medicine has changed. There's been a tremendous explosion of knowledge and new things in medicine in the past fifty years that is just unbelievable and it's still going on today and, you know, when I started orthopedics, there was a one-volume orthopedic book that is now, like, five volumes, plus. There are so many other books that people are now specializing in knees, in joint replacement, in backs. There are some ankle and foot surgeons. You just can't do everything and know everything, so, this is good.
SI: Concerning the total hip replacement, did you actually report to the FDA? Were you a part of that process?
AJ: Oh, no, no. … This was going on, there were studies going on by the FDA and other centers in the US, and this operation was being done in Europe. Thousands had been done in Europe, but we were always the slowest, not only in the cement but other things, medications, for instance. I think they've speeded it up now.
SI: You think the government regulations have …
AJ: … Have loosened up. Yes, they did hinder it, at that time, sure, absolutely.
SI: Is there anything else that you would like to mention about your career?
AJ: Well, lots of things.
SI: Would you like to say something about your family?
AJ: Well, family, incidentally, my brother, who was a Rutgers grad, became class correspondent for a number of years and was very active in alumni affairs, who was well-known at Rutgers, developed a brain tumor and died some twenty years ago, and, at his death bed, I read him the citation from Rutgers making him a Loyal Son and he smiled at that. He was very touched. I have three children, … boy, girl, boy. My oldest son went to the University of Miami, my daughter went to Skidmore and my younger son went to Syracuse. So, he rooted for Syracuse, the other boy rooted for Miami, I root for Rutgers. We were all independent, so, now, we're all in the same Big East. So, it's quite a rivalry. My older son is manager of the Nuclear Medicine Department of Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. My younger son is an electronic engineer and he worked for IBM for a number of years, but is now laid off, with some fifteen thousand other workers, and my daughter works for a company. … She was a bank officer for many years, but works for a company right here in Secaucus that arranges meetings and seminars for doctors and pharmaceutical houses. My wife was a graduate of the National College of Education, and it is now called [National]-Louis University, and was a teacher and worked on the planning board in our town of Old Tappan, New Jersey, and the zoning board and worked in the library, and then, became manager of a state legislator, John Rooney, managed his local office up here, up in Bergen County. I ran for the school board and was on the school board in my town for ten years, became president of the Board of Education. So, we were pretty well-known in town. Today, my wife, do you want me to go into this?
AJ: I live in Florida, Sarasota, Florida. I also live in Berkshire County in Massachusetts in the summer time. My wife works for [the] Sarasota County Arts Council, or volunteers there, I should say, and I work in a clinic there, the Senior Friendship Clinic; … we deal with elderly, indigent patients. This is a free clinic. I also work at the Mote Marine Laboratory and I am on the stranding team and we take in dolphins that have died, [were] stranded and died, and we do necropsies on them to determine cause of death, whales and dolphins, and I'm also doing research on dolphins. I also go to three hospitals every week for their clinical conferences. I'm taking violin lessons and, this year, will be playing in a string ensemble in Sarasota.
SI: You are very busy.
AJ: Let's see, what else do you want me to talk about?
SI: How did you become involved in the marine biology?
AJ: … Okay, I got a call one day in my clinic asking me if I would work there and I said, "Would I?" I just love that place. It is a big complex in Sarasota and it's growing every year. They have … all kinds of world famous scientists working there on various projects. It is the best-known shark investigative center in the world. They do things like red tide and all sorts of marine animals, sea turtles and things like that. I work with the marine mammal section, … which includes manatees and dolphins and whales. As a matter-of-fact, we have two captive whales right now in our tanks. They are … small whales, so, they don't really fill the tank. … I work with the scientists there and … I work there one day a week, plus, I'm on call. Whenever we get a stranding, they call me in and how did I get there? Well, I got a call at my clinic one day, I think I said this, … "Would I work there?" Somebody recommended me. … We have a big aquarium there and it's a great place for kids to go to. They have busloads of people, of school kids, coming in every day and people come in and pay to go through our aquarium and exhibits. So, it's quite a well-known place and getting bigger every year.
SI: Is there anything else that you would like to add? You spoke in great detail, so that really lessened my load. [laughter]
AJ: Well, what would you like to talk about?
SI: Whatever you would like to put on the tape.
AJ: Well, several years ago, we visited Prague on our Eastern Europe tour and somebody told me that they saw a violin for sale in a window at a store and they told me where the store was and we were having lunch at the castle at that time. So, the rest of the group went back to the hotel and my wife and I made our way through the castle and outside, and we saw some cars with flashing lights come up … and through the gate of the castle, and, in the courtyard, who do I see but President [ Vaclav] Havel of the Czech Republic and he is greeting the prime minister of some country, I don't remember, and so, I took a number of pictures of him. Then, we went up the street and we found this little store and, sure enough, there's a violin in the window, and I was looking for a violin. I never played a stringed instrument before. As I told you before, I played clarinet, … but I was fascinated with stringed instruments, because we see a lot of the Florida West Coast Symphony and, also, Tanglewood, up in the Berkshires, where my wife ushers, at Tanglewood. … We see about sixteen concerts every summer and I went in the store and he brought out this violin and it was eight hundred-some-odd dollars. I said, "Forget it." I said, "Do you have anything cheaper?" So, he went to the backroom, brought out a bunch of violins in the three hundred dollar range and I picked one out and I brought it back and I took it over to a string place in Amherst, Massachusetts, and they fixed it up for me. It was about a hundred years old. They put [in] a new bridge and a new sound post and new strings, and so forth, and I bought a bow and they appraised the violin for me for fifteen hundred dollars. So, I was happy about that. I brought it down to Florida and I had one of the first violinists at the Florida West Coast Symphony give me lessons. So, I started taking lessons and I've taken lessons since and I thought I'd never be able to play it, because it's such a complicated, difficult instrument, which made it more interesting for me, and, now, I'm playing, I think, fairly well and I love it. It's just great. I play a lot of tennis. My wife plays every day and I've just started playing golf again and I'm having a great time with it. …
SI: Well, I am out of questions.
AJ: Okay. …
SI: This concludes an interview with Dr. Arthur Jacoby on October 12, 2002, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with Shaun Illingworth. Thank you.
AJ: Okay, terrific.
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Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 6/21/04
Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 6/23/04
Reviewed by Arthur W. Jacoby 8/14/04