Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Dr. Harry F. Hutchinson on August 18, 2009, in Venice, Florida, with Shaun Illingworth. This interview is made possible, in part, by travel grants from the Class of 1942, which is your class, and the Class of 1949. Thank you very much, Dr. Hutchinson, for having me here today.
Harry Hutchinson: You're welcome.
SI: To begin, could you tell me where and when you were born?
HH: I was born in Asbury Park, New Jersey, October 16, 1919. I was born in a home, a private home, which most babies were then, in those days, born at home.
SI: Was it somebody you knew, or was it a midwife-type setup?
HH: No, it was a general practitioner, a Dr. Ackerman, who was quite well-known in those days, back in the Shore.
SI: What were your parents' names?
HH: My mother was Nellie Eames Bowne and my father was Harry Louis Hutchinson. He was from Hightstown. She was from Wayside, New Jersey.
SI: Both of your parents were born in New Jersey; was there any kind of immigration history, first, on your father's side?
HH: My father's grandfather came from Germany as a boy. ... He stowed away in a sailing vessel, which landed in Perth Amboy, and he was smuggled ashore, they claim, in a hogshead of cheese. I don't know ... how that happened, but there was a cousin waiting for him on the shore, and they had prearranged this. So, he came ashore and, later on, he had eight children, seven girls and one boy, and he was a farmer, and quite a successful one, apparently. ... One of the seven girls, of course, was my father's mother, Laura Belle, who has, of course, passed away, long ago.
SI: Where was that family farm? Was it down in the Hightstown/Englishtown area?
HH: Yes. ... My grandmother's farm was near Robbinsville, New Jersey, which is not far from Hightstown, well, you know, in that same area. ... Her maiden name was Houseman and she married a guy named Harry Baker Hutchinson, and that's where she got the Hutchinson from. ... Later on, he passed away, and that was my father's father, and she married a fellow named Frank Thompson and she owned and operated, ... I think it's called the Central Hotel, in Hightstown, ... used to be near the railroad tracks, near the railroad station. ... It wasn't doing too well, until they started putting telephones in Hightstown, years ago, and the telephone people stayed at the hotel and gave it a much needed boost in revenue. ... I ate there several times as a boy. I can remember, they ... served family style, at a big, long table, and all these dishes were put on the table and you helped yourself, like a family would, dig in, and the telephone linesmen, they liked that. They could dig in, eat all they wanted, and she was quite successful at it.
SI: Is there any kind of immigration history on your mother's side of the family?
HH: No, but my mother's [side of the family], the Bownes, were quite well-known during the American Revolution. There was a Captain John Bowne, down in Middletown, who was quite a hero during the Revolutionary War, and there are eight Bownes buried in the Old Tennent Cemetery from the Battle of Monmouth, who were relatives of hers, uncles and cousins, what-have-you.
SI: Did she ever tell you anything about her life growing up in Wayside?
HH: Yes. She was the valedictorian; they went to high school in Asbury Park. They had no school in Wayside, no high school, and she was the valedictorian of her class in high school, in Asbury Park. ... One of her classmates was Senator E. Donald Sterner, and he was also, later on, president of the Spring Lake Bank, and I met him and he was quite pleased to meet Nellie Bowne's son. ... He was a very enthusiastic guy. I enjoyed talking to him, a real nice guy. Her brother, Leon Bowne, owned a meat market in Allenhurst. Her other brother, Charles Bowne, was an all-around farmer, handyman, mechanic. He had a stroke at an early age and, later on, died. ... Her other sister, May Van Schoick, she married Arthur Van Schoick, who owned the Buick agency for years in Lakewood, New Jersey. ... Their son, young son, Arthur, went to West Point and became a lieutenant colonel during World War II. He was about my age. He was born just a couple of months later than I. He was big, tall, six-foot-four, great, big giant of a man, very proud of him during the war. ... He got a Bronze Star during World War II. ... He got out of West Point just in time to get into the war, World War II. He made a career of the Army, served twenty-seven years. That's most of the Bowne Family. That's my mother's side of the family.
SI: It sounds like you had a lot of relatives around Monmouth County.
HH: Oh, yes, yes. They were a Monmouth County family, pretty much. ...
SI: Your father went to the Peddie School in Hightstown.
HH: Yes, in Hightstown. He graduated around before World War I, I think, around 1914 or somewhere, '15, maybe. ... He had a scholarship in mathematics, didn't have much money. Nobody had much money back in those days. So, he was very lucky that he could go there. ... I wanted to go very badly when I finished grammar school, but there wasn't any money then. That was during 1932, '33. Nobody had any money then. So, I wasn't allowed to go.
SI: After he graduated from the Peddie School, did he go back to the family farm?
HH: No, no. He went down to the Shore and went to work for Steiner & Son. They made pajamas, and their motto was, "We put the world to sleep." ... They had a big factory there in Bradley Beach and they had several factories, one in Keyport and one in Freehold, which he, later on, wound up managing both of them, ... until, again, the Depression came and men started sleeping in their underwear, I guess, because the pajamas didn't sell, and both factories, in Freehold and Keyport, were closed. ... He got a job, then, with Liberty Clothing, and commuted back and forth to Salisbury, Maryland, for a year or two.
HH: Yes, but he also bought a farm in the interim, near Englishtown, a twenty-acre farm, three thousand dollars for a twenty-acre farm, in the Depression. That was in '32, '33, about the time I graduated grammar school. ... There's a story of that, too, and it affects my life, basically. We moved from Keyport to Freehold, when the Keyport factory closed, and Dad found the expense of commuting back and forth to Freehold was too much. He went back and forth every day. So, we moved to Freehold to save money and I went to Freehold school, which was a fine school, much better than Keyport, and I was put in with a class of high achievers. ... Later on, I looked back and Johnny Witman became a very well-known pediatrician, in Trenton, Henry Lefkowitz became the chief of police of Freehold, Donald McCullough became the postmaster, Helen Gravelle became a very well-known schoolteacher, Sidney Alpern became a druggist, and there was a whole list of men, ... and women, in that Class of 1933 who really went places. They did all right. ... Then, we moved to Englishtown ... when I graduated from grammar school, and with the understanding that ... I would go to Englishtown High School one year, my freshman year of high school, had one year there, and then, I'd go back to Freehold. They were sending their students to Freehold, but there's a little story there, because we were sent to Jamesburg instead of Freehold, which was a big disappointment, because Jamesburg was not in the same ranking as Freehold by any means. ... I think the Jamesburg school was paying their teachers, then, in scrip. During the Depression, they had no money, so, they paid them in scrip, and I think they made a deal with Englishtown that they would educate us for less money than Freehold was charging. ... That's my guess. I have no proof of this, but I think it was to save money, again, that we went to [the] Jamesburg school, and that was too bad, because I was put in there with a class of kids who had no aspirations of going to college. Only one other boy in my class went to college, went to Rutgers, and that was Bergen Wilson, Rutgers College of Engineering Class of 1941, and he has since passed away. ... They were not academically-oriented and, with that kind of peer pressure, I didn't study. I had a wonderful time in high school. I was manager of the baseball team and I was editor of the school paper and I was president of the student council and I was a shot-putter on the track team, and I had a wonderful time. I was in every play, I guess, they had, but I didn't study, and my mother warned me, she was a student, "When you get to college, you're not going to be able to keep up; you won't know how to study." "Oh, I'll know how to study." So, my first year at Rutgers was a debacle. I mean, really, I didn't do well at all. ... Some idiot told me that if you had two "4s," the equivalent of "Ds", they would still accept that; you could still pass. So, I was satisfied with two "4s." Well, when the time came to count up the score, I would not pass. I had to repeat several courses, which meant an extra semester at Rutgers, when I finished up in four-and-a-half years instead of four. ... It's my own fault, but I attribute that to the poor backing I got at Jamesburg. ... It was a fun time for me and I loved it, but it really wasn't very productive.
SI: When you say the students at Jamesburg did not have any ambition, was that because they were coming in from the farms and they just thought they would go back to the farm after graduation?
HH: Yes, yes, and they were all farm kids. Back then, New Jersey was an agrarian society and there were many, many small farms, and these kids were bused in from around the area, from Manalapan and Millhurst and small towns, like Tennent. ... Anyway, they were bused in to the school there, at Englishtown, and Englishtown is a nice, little town, like a New England town. It was a nice town for kids to grow up in, but the school system wasn't all that great, and, again, ... the kids, peer pressure is something else. So, when I went to Englishtown, the freshman year, I didn't study there, either. I didn't apply myself well at all, but I wish, ... in a way, I'd gone to Freehold. That would have made a big difference in my life, I think.
SI: To go back to your parents for a moment, do you know how they met?
HH: No, I do not know how they met. No, I do not know. I know my father was the only boyfriend my mother ever really had, and they were very, very devoted. ... My mother, especially, she was very devoted. ... He died in August and she died the very next month, and I think it was grief that killed her. They were married over fifty years, and they had the two children, my sister and me, and she was a very, very devoted mother and wife. ... Of course, he was busy making a living, so, he didn't have the opportunity that she did, to be a parent that she did, but I had wonderful parents.
SI: Can you describe for me the area of Englishtown that you grew up in?
HH: Yes. We lived just outside of the two-mile limit from the school. If you lived two miles further out of town, or more, you were entitled to a bus to school. Well, I lived 1.9 miles from the school. So, I had to walk to the school every day, get there on my own, and it's just on the outskirts of Englishtown, a twenty-acre farm. ... We farmed mostly grain, corn and wheat, and chickens. We raised chickens, and there's a little story there, too. I had no money, and I didn't know what I was going to do with my future, and my last year in high school, with my father's permission, I bought a hundred cockerels, little baby chicks, males, and raised them. ... I kept track of every nickel I spent on them, for feed and whatever, and used my father's brooder house. ... When the time came, I sold them, two-pound broilers, to my uncle, who was a butcher in Allenhurst, twenty-five cents a pound. ... When I totaled it up, when I sold the last chicken, I added up my figures and I hadn't made a dime. I had broken even, that's all, and so, that was the end of my career as a chicken farmer. If I made money, I might be a chicken farmer today, but, thank God, I didn't make any money and I avoided that, because there's no money in farming anymore, not really.
SI: Did your family own the farm throughout your youth?
HH: No, no. They bought the farm when I graduated grammar school, and they owned it until I was in medical practice. They owned it, I guess, what would that be, fifteen years? something like that. They bought it for three thousand, sold it for eighteen thousand, and an identical farm in back of it just sold for three hundred-and-fifty thousand dollars. Yes, land there has appreciated tremendously in value.
SI: Did you live in the same area before they bought the farm?
HH: Well, I lived in Freehold. That was five miles away, and then, Keyport before that, which is fifteen miles from Freehold. So, it's all in Monmouth County.
SI: All right. I am just trying to get a chronology of where you lived. First, you lived in Freehold, then, you lived in Keyport.
HH: No, Keyport first.
SI: Keyport, first, then Freehold.
HH: Yes, until the sixth grade, and then, in sixth grade, we moved to Freehold. ... Then, when I graduated grammar school, we moved to Englishtown, ... where they stayed for the rest of their lives. I, of course, went to college. I commuted back and forth to college; again, no money. So, I had to commute back and forth from home. ... I would carry other students with me, and charge twenty-five cents a ride, to New Brunswick from Englishtown, and I always had one or two passengers. They went to some business school in New Brunswick, the name escapes me, ... and then, one was another Rutgers student. ... I almost always had company. Looking back, too, kids now don't drive like we did then. I never got a ticket, I never had a fender bender. I guess, maybe, I had a flat tire, once in awhile, but, for three solid years, I drove eighteen miles each way ... to New Brunswick, five or six days a week, and put a lot of miles on the car, but I never had any problems, ... serious problems.
SI: Do you have any memories of your time in Keyport and Freehold, of what those neighborhoods were like?
HH: Oh, yes, yes. Keyport, ... the kids there, again, were rough and tumble. They really weren't academically-oriented, at least not too much, and I was a pretty good student in Keyport. I did all right. My grades were okay, and that's why, I guess, I was put in this class of high achievers in Freehold, when I went there. ... One of my very best friends wound up a drug addict and he died, from Keyport, and I do have one friend left from Keyport, Hollis Carter, who is eighty-eight years old, eighty-seven or eighty-eight. ...
SI: We were talking about growing up in Keyport.
HH: Keyport, oh, yes. Of course, Keyport is on the bay, Raritan Bay, and we were quite interested in boats and swimming and fishing. It was a maritime type of a town. ... The kids were inclined to be a little bit rough around the edges, sometimes, and not bad, I don't mean they were bad, but they were just full of mischief. ... I'm still in contact with Catherine Nolan; she used to be Catherine Dunham. She was the principal in the high school for years, retired now, and my first girlfriend, when I was about ten years of age. ... She married a bartender, though, and he wound up an alcoholic, which, in Keyport, is not too uncommon, ... also, a girl named Weigand, who was a nurse at Jersey Shore Medical Center, where I interned, younger than I, quite young, but we're in contact, very nice girl, and this Hollis Carter, I mentioned before, and they're about the only three that I still have contact with in Keyport. ... Of course, I've been away from there since I was ten or eleven years old. That's eighty years I've been away from that place, and all my contacts have either moved away or passed away, one or the other. ... We only lived in Freehold for a little over two years, and I really don't have any contacts in Freehold remaining. I used to talk to the druggist down there, who was in our class, a female, a girl, and I'd call in drugs from my office and order from her drugstore, and we had little chats over the phone. Betty Crawford, her name was, and I don't know whether she's still around or not. I don't know, but she would be the only contact. ... Johnny Witman was in my class. He was from Freehold. His mother was a sixth-grade schoolteacher, and the best schoolteacher I ever had. She was a marvelous, marvelous teacher. ... Johnny was a real nice guy, an only child, and became a pediatrician in Trenton, very well-known on a state level. ... He and this Crawford girl were very sweet on one another, but he wound up marrying another girl, of course, in the end. ... He and I both went to Hahnemann [School of Medicine]. He was a year ahead of me in Hahnemann, and I called him. I ran across his name in a book I was reading; not his name, but Yardley, where he had his practice, outside of Trenton, and so, I decided, "I'm going to call Johnny Witman," looked up his number in the medical school directory, which is ten years old, and I dialed it and this male voice came on. I said, "Is this Johnny, Johnny Witman?" He said, "No. Let me have you talk to my mother." So, this girl got on and she said John had been dead for six years. So, that was the end of that relationship. I was quite embarrassed. I had no idea. I don't know what you do in a case like that, call ahead, somehow, or call somebody to find out, but, you know, it's a tough situation.
SI: In Keyport and Freehold, would you say that your neighborhoods were working-class neighborhoods?
HH: Yes, yes. Freehold, of course, in those days, was a rug mill town. They had the big Karagheusian, A & M Karagheusian, Inc., rug mill, and most anybody in town either worked for the rug mill or knew somebody who did. We lived in a duplex, and the other side of our house was owned by Jim Moore, who ... worked at the rug mill. So, we heard a lot about the rug mill. The rug mill, later, moved out, and there really is no major industry in Freehold anymore, at all, and Keyport, I don't know how they hold things together. The clothing factory closed down, and fishing is not that great. ... There is a boat building plant there, in Keyport, which is, I think, fairly active, but neither town is too prosperous, I don't think. Of course, Freehold is the county seat and they have a courthouse there, and lawyers, the judges and what-have-you. So, it's a busy little town, but there's no real major industry anymore in Freehold, not that I know of. Of course, I've been away from Freehold now for, oh, goodness, thirty or forty years. So, maybe things have changed, but I don't think so. I think it's still the same as before.
SI: You were in Keyport and just about to leave when the Great Depression started.
SI: Can you tell me what you remember of the impact that it had on those three towns?
HH: Oh, yes. That's one of the reasons we left Keyport, because the Depression had caused ... Clarence Steiner to close the Keyport plant. That was the smaller one. So, my father decided to move to Freehold, at that time. ... I was, I guess, about ten years old, and I know he lost a bundle. We'd just remodeled a house and it cost him nine thousand dollars. In those days, that was quite a sum of money, and I think he sold it for six thousand dollars, and we moved to Freehold and we rented there. I think my father made, perhaps, as much as fifty dollars a week, in good times, and what he made during the Depression, I have no idea, but I know things were pretty tough. In fact, ... his job in Liberty, down in Salisbury, gave out, too. They closed that plant, and he decided to try his luck at farming. ... I remember, I was, perhaps, thirteen, fourteen years old, and I said to my mother, I said, "Mother, we're poor, aren't we?" and she said, "Well, you're not going to go hungry, I promise you that," and we never did, ... because she would can and we would go out in the orchard and ... you were allowed to pick up dropped peaches. You couldn't pull them off the tree, but anything on the ground, you could have for free. So, we'd go down to Menzel's farm, out toward Morganville, and pick up peaches off the ground. She would can them, and they were good. The drops were ripe, and some of them were Rutgers variety, and the tomatoes, too, Rutgers tomatoes, and we'd buy them by the basket, twenty-five cents a basket for tomatoes. Prices, then, were astonishingly cheap, and gas was sixteen cents a gallon, six gallons for a dollar, and, now, it's two-fifty something a gallon, ... quite a switch. ... My father was not much of a farmer. ... All of Steiner's plants closed and Steiner's son, Harold, who was in ... World War I, in the Air Force; they had a special group of men, Lafayette Escadrille, Lafayette Squadron, yes, something like that. [Editor's Note: The Lafayette Escadrille was a squadron of the French Air Service during World War I comprised mainly of American volunteer pilots. Americans also served in other French squadrons, and as a group, these men were known as the Lafayette Flying Corps.]
SI: The Americans who went over to fight in France.
HH: Yes, yes, and he was in that squadron, and my father admired him for this immensely. He thought he was just the greatest guy, and he was. He was a fine man. ... I remember, he came to the farm one day and Dad was trying to ... scratch out a living and they talked a long time. ... It turned out that Harold had his eye on a factory in Freehold, not a great, big factory, a small factory, and he wanted Dad to run it, more or less, in a partnership. Dad would run the factory, and Howard was a great salesman, he would sell the pajamas. ... He had a deal with J.C. Penney. They liked J.C. Penney. J.C. Penney had a reputation for paying their bills on time and no arguments, nothing like that, a good, honest group. So, anyway, Dad relented. He wasn't doing very well at farming, [laughter] and he started this factory with Harold Steiner, and they did very well. They did quite well, because, of course, the help in Freehold was plentiful. They had lots of help there. In fact, the rug factory had closed by this time and people were looking for jobs, and so, the help was plentiful and inexpensive, and Dad was the only mechanic. My father could fix any kind of machinery. These very complicated sewing machines would break and he'd fix them himself. I admired him for his mechanical ability, and he was very good at figures. He had, as I say, a mathematics scholarship at Peddie and he was very good at figures. ... He was a clever man. He wasn't very good at economics, money. He couldn't handle money very well, but he did all right. He did okay. He was a good father. We went hunting together and fishing together and we farmed together. ... We worked together in the farm. ...
SI: When he was running the farm, what type of crops or livestock would he raise?
HH: Mostly corn and wheat, to feed the chickens. We had, perhaps, well, chickens by the hundreds, and we had an old barn, a big, old barn, which we had converted into a chicken house, ... took the back of the barn out and put up storm sash, like they'd have over vegetables, and used that for windows. Instead of buying expensive windows, we bought up sash and put them up, and that would let the sun come in, light come in, all day long. ... We had electricity running out to the chicken houses, and my Uncle Lee, again, would buy all the eggs we could produce, or chickens that we could produce. So, we had an outlet for our product, ... but it was a tough time. Looking back, I didn't realize it as a child, how tough it was on my parents, but it was tough. We ate a lot of macaroni, a lot of potatoes, oatmeal, things that were inexpensive, and chickens, of course, chicken and eggs, and we had a cow, ... family cow, and so, we never went hungry, no, never hungry, but times were tough.
SI: Do you remember other things you had to cut back on, or different strategies you had to adopt to get by?
HH: That I myself did.
SI: Things that you participated in or things you saw your parents doing.
HH: Well, we didn't travel much. We didn't go to any expensive sports events, like ballgames or things like that. Back in those days, the various fire departments in town, it was kind of nice, the firemen were all amateurs, they weren't professional firefighters, nor were they professional ballplayers, but they would form ball teams. ... The Freehold firemen had their ball team and the Keyport firemen had their ball team, and so on, and the various towns had their own ball teams. They would play on a Sunday afternoon. ... We'd go to the park there, which was the back of our house in Freehold, and watch the ballgames over the fence, where it was free. That was our outing for sports. My Uncle Lee, the one that owned the butcher shop, didn't have any radio, there was no television in those days, and he had no radio. ... My mother, that was her brother, asked my father, "What did you ever do to that radio that was in the shop?" My father had set up a candy counter in the factory, so that the girls could buy candy at lunchtime, and the proceeds from it went to buy a radio. So, when the time came to close the plant down, my dad took the radio. It was his radio, and it was an extra. We already had one radio. So, my mother said, "Why don't you give it to Lee? Let Lee have the radio." ... Uncle Lee had an old Wurlitzer saxophone, which I wanted. So, I said, "Well, how about swapping the saxophone for the radio?" because he didn't play it. ... I don't know where he got it from. So, we swapped the saxophone for the radio, and he had that radio for years, and my mother finally gave the saxophone away to the neighbor's kids when I went to college. I didn't play it that much. I took some lessons for awhile. Mother was very generous. I had an old Model A truck. I paid twenty dollars for it and put a new clutch in it. ... I used it in my road stand for, oh, two or three summers, and I made more on the road stand in the summer than my father made, I think, working all year round. The road stand was quite lucrative, and I was more interested in finance than he was. He didn't care that much about money, and not that he was a wastrel. It wasn't that. He was a good man. I was lucky with my parents. They were wonderful, but she gave away the truck. I was away in medical school then, and I came home and the truck had been sitting in the barn and I asked, "Where's my truck?" "Oh, I gave it to the neighbors." [laughter] She was very generous, but it was just as well, because I wasn't using it and I had no prospect of using it. So, she was right, but I could have sold it for, I don't know, twenty, twenty-five dollars, I suppose, but, no, God bless her, she was very, very generous. With what she had, she would share it, and Dad would, too. Dad was not stingy, not selfish at all.
SI: Do you recall, during the Depression, if transients would come through looking for work or meals?
HH: Oh, yes, oh, yes, and Mother never turned them down. She wouldn't let them in the house. They would sit in the back porch and she'd take a plate out to them, but she always fed them. ... There were stories around that these transients would make a mark on the telephone pole. If there was a real nice woman there that gave them a nice meal, why, they'd leave a mark on the telephone pole, so that other people, when they came by, could read the sign and go get a good meal, too, but, oh, yes, she never turned anybody away, never, never. We would have them come, mostly, during the summertime; of course, winter was too cold. ... The farm was about a quarter of a mile long and across the back was a stream. On the other side of the stream was a railroad that ran from the shore down to Princeton, and every morning, at eight o'clock, the train would go by and they'd drop off the mail at Englishtown. ... That would be my marker to go to school. ... Very often, you'd see a fire down in the back there, by the railroad tracks, and being a kid, of course, I naturally was curious, "What's going on?" and I went on down and there were bums down there, and they would sleep under the bridge. ... Where the stream went under the railroad track, there was a bridge and they would sleep under the bridge and had a fire there. ... I noticed some cans of something called Ken-L Ration, empty. It was dog food, and they didn't have any dogs, so, I assume that they ate the dog food. They were cheap, you know, you'd buy them for, like, ten cents a can, and they were buying the dog food, heating it up on their fire and they would have dog food for their meals. It's true, and I told Mother about it and she said, "Well, here, you take this down to them." So, she gave me a bag full, a good-sized bagful, of vegetables and stuff. She had a big garden and it was from her garden, and I carried it down to them, and, oh, they were so grateful. They thought that was just wonderful. ... When cold weather came, they disappeared, they came south, because it was too cold up there, but they would ride the railroad. They called it "ride the rods." They would hop a ride aboard the freight train. When the train stopped at the siding there, they would jump on and ride and get a free ride. They never ... offered to hurt me or harm me; I felt no fear of them at all. They were too beaten down, I guess. It must have been depressing, to have nothing but the clothes on your back and eating dog food, and I felt so sorry for them. No, they were always glad to see me, because, several times, Mother gave me bags of food to take down to them, and they were glad to see me come. Yes, when we saw the fire from the house, you know, could see the glow of the fire, bonfire, Mother'd say, "Take some on down to the fellows." She called them fellows. It might be four, I guess. ... I never saw more than four there, but they were pitiful, pitiful.
SI: In your area, did you see any of the New Deal programs in effect?
HH: Oh, yes, oh, yes, one, I remember vividly. ... Commuting back and forth between Englishtown and New Brunswick, we would go through Old Bridge, and before you get to Old Bridge, there's a stretch of road there with a gravel shoulder. ... The WPA, Works Progress Administration, spent months, I think, raking out that shoulder. They'd just go through the motions and it was just a make-work situation, give them something to do, but they were raking and we laughed, because, every day, we'd go by and they'd be raking this shoulder, the same shoulder, over and over again. ... I guess it was the best shoulder on the highway in New Jersey by the time they got done, but [it was] a good-sized crew, I would guess maybe a dozen men, raking this shoulder every day. ... I was paid; they had something called, I think it was NYA, National Youth ...
SI: National Youth Administration.
HH: Yes, something like that, and I worked in a laboratory and was paid fifty cents an hour, which I was glad to get. That was big money, in those days, and I worked in New Jersey Hall, with Dr. Thurlow Nelson. He was head of the Biology Department at that time, nice guy, but quite stern. ... You don't fool with Thurlow Nelson and he was working with the fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster. I think they have big chromosomes and he was studying the chromosomes of these things, and he had test tubes with agar in them and these fruit flies, oh, any number of these test tubes. ... When he was done studying them, it was my job to wash the agar out and the bugs, and drown all the bugs first, and then, wash the test tubes out and dry them and give them back to Dr. Nelson. Well, of course, one day, I didn't quite drown the bugs and they flew to the light and he walked in. At that time, of course, he would come through then, of all times, and, here, the light is surrounded by a zillion Drosophila melanogasters, and he said, "What happened here, Harry?" and I said, "I had a little accident, Dr. Nelson." [laughter] "Oh, okay," but he was very kind and we got rid of the darn things somehow. I forget how. The room, too, strangely enough, was full of cockroaches, in New Jersey Hall. Of course, New Jersey Hall was old when I was there, fifty years ago, or more than that, ... seventy years ago, and no effort was ever made, that I know of, to get rid of them. We walk in, the room would be dark, turn the light on, and ... you could actually hear them scurry across the floor, that many of them. They run to hide; just a sidelight. ... I suppose, now, they wouldn't use the same test tubes over and over again, but, back then; these weren't big test tubes. They were five inches, maybe about as big as your finger, and they would use them over and over and over again. Of course, back then, we used the same needles for hypodermics over and over, in the hospitals, and they were sterilized in-between each use. ... They'd get dull and get burrs on them, and the nurse would sit there with a whetstone and these needles and sharpen the needles, but they'd do this by the hour, to save these needles. They're getting paid, I suppose, then, maybe, oh, fifty cents an hour, maybe, something like that, and they're paid to save these needles by sharpening them on the whetstone. Now, of course, they're all disposable, throw them away. ... They're much better, because they're all perfectly sharp, but, back then, they'd get a burr on them, ... like a fishhook, and they didn't feel very good when they had a burr on them, no, but, things like that. Yes, the Depression was a tough time.
SI: Tell me about the road stand.
SI: How did that come about? What did it take to get it running?
HH: ... Thank you, I'd like to talk about it, because it was fun. I worked for a guy named Ray Griggs, when I was thirteen, fourteen. He had a road stand just outside of Englishtown, between Englishtown and our farm, and he asked the boy who delivered papers for a recommendation, "Who could I get to work in the road stand?" Well, this delivery boy was a friend of mine, Seth Van Riper. So, he gave "Old Man Griggs" my name. So, Ray Griggs stopped by the house and he said, "You want a job?" and I said, "Yes, I guess so." I'm just a kid. So, he said, "I'll pay you a dollar a day, and a dollar and a quarter on Saturday and Sunday, to work at the road stand." Well, that sounded pretty good to me, here I am, a kid, going to make a dollar a day; boy, that's all right. So, we worked from eight in the morning until eight or nine o'clock at night, seven days a week, at a dollar a day and a dollar and a quarter on Saturday and on Sunday, and you're on your feet most of the time. I was exhausted. I was so glad when winter came; I could rest. The first year, I even worked when school started. He wanted me back, even while I was going to school, to work, weekends, and I'd go back to school Monday morning exhausted. So, the second year, I said, "I can't work weekends anymore. I can't do it." So, I just worked weekdays. ... I worked weekends and weekdays during the summer, but, when school started, I quit. ... The third year, I went back to see if he wanted me to work with him, and Harry Lake, a kid about a year younger than I, had already been hired. So, I stood around, and Mr. Griggs was talking to somebody and he didn't appear anxious to see me at all. So, I waited awhile; he still didn't make any effort to talk to me. I figured, "Well, he's got Harry, so, I guess he doesn't need me." So, I wandered on back home and talked to my mother and dad about it, and we went ahead and had mother's Uncle Harry come and build me a road stand. ... That was another thing; people would help you back in those days. This was not on our property, it was on Gus Grevsen's property, who owned a garage, service station, and he had this lot alongside the service station. So, he said, "You can put your road stand next to my service station for free. I won't charge you for it, just put it on my property." So, I did. We built this road stand. I had that for one summer and we did all right. It was on the wrong side of the road there, really. The first year wasn't all that lucrative. We made money, but not that much, and Mrs. Sorensen stopped by and she said, "Would you care to have our road stand?" Her father had run it, as a hobby, I guess, an old man, and he had died and it stood there idle, and she said, "Would you like to run my road stand?" ... I needed time to think about it, because I'd just built this stand, you know. ... So, I asked my dad and mother, "What do you think?" "Oh, I think it's an opportunity, a nice road stand and a good location, and you ought to go for it." So, for one summer, I ran both road stands, but ... the one down in Tennent, Sorensen's, was much more lucrative, so, I quit mine and tore it down and went to work in theirs, and I made fifteen hundred bucks that first summer, which, in those days, was a lot of money for a kid. I was seventeen, eighteen; I could drive a truck, legally. I must have been at least seventeen, and what I'd do in the morning was, I'd go down to the Freehold farmers' market. Back in those days, most every town of any size had a farmers' market, and Freehold had one, and I'd go down there in the farmers' market at six o'clock in the morning and buy up tomatoes and lima beans and what-have-you, and carry them back out to the road stand. ... Of course, customers always say, "You raise these yourself?" "Oh, yes, yes, we raised them ourselves." I don't know why it'd make any difference, but it did, and we'd lie, I didn't sell many apples though. I don't know why. Sorensen had seven hundred apple trees, but I forget, now, why we didn't sell many apples. ... Later on, after school started and I had to go to school, my mother went down, on weekends, and sold apples, and she did all right. She did quite well, just for weekends, ... and I had boys that worked for me then. ... I think I paid them two dollars a day, and every weekend, and Sonny Davidson and Danny Boutote, who I loved like a brother; he was a fine, young man. He went through World War II. He got the Navy Cross in World War II, which is a biggie, but he never would talk about it. I never even found out why he received it, and he died of colon cancer and I was furious, because ... he wanted to go to a doctor locally, who I knew, who was not as good as [the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center]. I had colon cancer and I went to Sloan-Kettering. I went to the very best, I thought, and it turned out well. I'm still here, but Dan insisted, "Oh, I'm loyal, I'm loyal." I said, "Danny, for crying out loud, I don't care about loyalty; this is your life." "Oh, no, I'm loyal. I'm going to be loyal to this guy," and he's gone, and it didn't have to happen, I don't think. ... Anyway, Sonny Davidson, from Englishtown, was one of the boys. ... We had maybe fifty watermelons stacked up outside, in front of the stand, where passersby could see them, you know, and there was a big sign on them, probably, "Twenty-five cents apiece," I suppose, in those days. ... Nighttime came and we got ready to close the stand down. I said, "Hey, you guys, you want to put those watermelons inside? Somebody'll come along and break them up or steal them. So, to get them out of harm's way, you want to put them inside the road stand?" "Oh, yes, sure." Well, they had washed the windows that day. The windows got dirty. The front of the road stand was gravel and dirt would kick up and the windows were filthy. So, they'd cleaned the windows that day and, not thinking, Danny stood outside and Sonny went inside, and the very first watermelon they threw crashed right through this newly cleaned window. They forgot they'd cleaned it. ... Thank goodness, I laughed. I could have gotten mad, but I replaced the window the next day, for a dollar or two, no big harm done, but I had a lot of fun teasing them, "What a bunch of dopes, ... clean the window and throw a watermelon. You should have thrown the watermelon first, then, cleaned it later," you know. It was fun. We had a good time, and we made it. That got me through college. I had enough, when I got done, to get through Rutgers, and, also, my first year or two at Hahnemann Medical College, but, at the end of my sophomore year, I was broke. I had no money at all, and they didn't have student loans then; at least I wasn't aware of any student loans back in those days. I had no idea what I was going to do. ... All of a sudden, the Army came in and took over and, before you knew it, I was in the Army. I had no choice at all. "You're," what do you call it? "volunteering for service in the US Army," and [I figured], "Okay, all right." So, we went to Carlisle Barracks and were indoctrinated there, got our shots, and the Army paid our tuition, paid for books, paid the laboratory fees, plus, I think, 118 dollars a month spending money. I was rich. Boy, I was loaded. I never had so much money in my life, and I lived, of course, in a rooming house a few blocks from the college, and we ate all the time in restaurants, holes in the wall, around the college, but thank God for the Army and thank God for the Sorensens. Without the Sorensens and the Army, I wouldn't be here today.
SI: When you were in high school, was a college education something you had in mind for yourself, or something your parents thought about for you?
HH: No, not really. My mother always had aspirations of college, and, I think, down deep inside, I wanted to be a doctor. That, I knew, but how to get there, college, whatever, yes, I hadn't thought about it in such a way, but, yes, I think so. ... My dad, when I started in medical school, said, "Well, you're doing what I always wanted to do. I always wanted to be a doctor." I didn't know, at that time. ... So, yes, there was a feeling of wanting to get a better education and I was determined to go to college. That, I was determined to do, going to get there somehow, by hook or by crook, and my parents gave me room and board all through the first three years of college. Then, the last year, Mother said, "You ought to go to school and live in school and get some college life. You're missing a lot," and she was right. ... I said, "Well, we can't afford it." ... "Oh, yes, we can. We can afford it." So, I lived off campus. We lived in a Mrs. Murphy's rooming house. It's on Easton Avenue. I think it's still standing. It's a duplex and she lived in one side and put up students in the other side, and we called it the "Mur-Phi House," like the Chi Psi House and the rest of them, were Greek fraternities, "Mur-Phi," Mrs. Murphy's house. ... There were six of them, like, two on each floor, three floors, yes, six boys, and nice guys, very nice guys. ... She was right. I got more college spirit in that last year, when I lived at school, than I did in three years of commuting. Going back and forth, you don't enter into things like you should. ... I spoke about Jamesburg High School before and how I was so ill-prepared for college; my first year was terrible, and I had to repeat a lot of stuff, which meant that I took an extra semester at the end and graduated, finished up school, in January. ... So, I had six months before I could start medical school. So, I went to work in Calco Chemical Company in Bound Brook, and I commuted again, back and forth to Bound Brook, every day, from Englishtown. So, I was quite a commuter.
SI: What did you do in Calco?
HH: I was a chemist. They paid me thirty-five bucks a week. I was able to save most of that ... for medical school. That got me started in the first year or so of medical school, what I saved in those six months, but, of course, I spent a lot on gas and tires and repairs, ... because Bound Brook must be twenty-five miles from Englishtown, probably a fifty-mile roundtrip every day. ... I was never late for work, though. We had to punch in a time clock and I was never late for work and never had a fender bender, knock wood. The reason I'm so cognizant about driving is, I'm not allowed to drive now. My family fussed about it, my doctor fussed about my driving, so, I've had to give it up, and I miss it something awful. ... That's the one reason I'm unhappy about it, because I've never had a bad accident, with all the driving I've done, and I feel I'm capable, but I've known other old men, though, who thought they were capable and had a terrible crash or calamity, and so, I don't argue. I say, "Okay," but I'm, I guess, almost like a hermit here, around here. I have four boys and they've been awfully good, and their wives, about supporting me. They come to visit. Mark, my number three son, ... flew down from Washington just to spend four days with me last weekend, and Brian, the oldest one, is coming down from Atlanta, flying down, Labor Day weekend, ... to spend three or four days with me.
SI: That is good.
HH: And his wife is a schoolteacher. She was "Teacher of the Year" a year ago, in Peachtree City, Georgia. She's a smart girl, and she spent most of the early summer with me. She was wonderful, a wonderful cook. I had lost twenty pounds and she thought I looked awfully scrawny, I guess I did, and she was determined to get me fattened up. ... She's a good cook, so, I did; I gained eight pounds while she was here.
SI: That is good.
HH: Yes. ... Something else, an aside that might be of some interest; ... I have a girl who comes in in the evening. She's coming tonight, to cook for me, and she cleans my house once a week and does my laundry, and a real nice gal, very quick, smart, from Vermont, but she wanted to go to Vermont, to a wedding, and she took three weeks off. So, I had nobody to clean, and so, she got a gal to come in, ... a retired minister's wife, to do my cleaning and laundry, and she was wonderful, just wonderful. ... So, I was going to get Meals on Wheels and one of the girls in my church said, "You will not. We have a program in the church for people like you, ... for shut-ins, and we'll bring you meals." ... What they do is, every other day, they bring me two meals, for two days, ... dinner for tonight and tomorrow night, and they've been grand and the food, they bring big servings, big portions, and the food is excellent. ... My girl is back now. She just called, "I'll be in tonight to get dinner for you." So, I called the church and told them not to send food, because I've got a refrigerator full of food now. I couldn't eat it all. They were grand. ... This stroller, walker, came from the church and the wheelchair is church property, and that's a prayer shawl hanging over the chair there that they made and gave to me. My church has been grand, a Presbyterian church, and they've been just grand. I had been raised a Baptist. My grandmother, Thompson Hutchinson, my father's mother, was a member of the Hightstown Baptist Church for fifty years and he pumped the organ, used to have a pump on the organ. ... My father was pumping the organ, and, one time, when he was a boy, lightning struck the steeple of the church. ... He still remembers the fire, flames, shooting up that steeple of the Baptist church, and so, the sister church, that was the Manasquan Baptist. ... Our steeple was struck by lightning here, just recently, a month or so ago. We just ... remodeled the clock in the steeple and, darn it, lightning knocked it out, I guess.
SI: It was the church in Manasquan, not Hightstown, that got hit by lightning.
HH: No, no, the church in Manasquan, yes, it was struck by lightning. It's an old, old church. It had a two hundredth anniversary not too long ago, and I was on the board. In fact, I was chairman of the board of trustees for twenty-five years. ... This is a little interesting sidelight. If I'm rambling, you can stop me.
SI: No, go ahead.
HH: Is it all right? The church clock was a fixture in the town and the town ran by the Baptist clock. If the kids were out playing in the street, in the evening, Mom would say, "Okay, when the Baptist church strikes eight, you've got to come in," or, "Now, it's breakfast time and the Baptist church just struck eight o'clock. You've got to go to school," and their lives were run by that Baptist clock. That was the timepiece of the town. It's not a big town, and it had to be wound by hand and it had a great, big weight inside of a tunnel-like [structure]. ... A young man in the church would go up in the steeple and he'd wind the clock up and lift this weight up as high as it'll go, once a week, but, to get there, it was a rickety, old ladder. ... It was really dangerous, and an older man couldn't do it, so, young men took to the challenge of it, ... I wouldn't say gladly, but they did it willingly. ... When the war came, World War II, they all went in service, so, the clock just stood there, not wound, and it was unwound for years. ... Finally, in 1976, I decided we were going to get the old clock going again, as part of the national bicentennial, and everybody said, "Oh, yes, let's do that. We'll do that." So, the town pitched right in. It was heartwarming to watch. The fire company heard about it and they brought the hook and ladder over and put a great, big ladder up to the steeple and they climbed up and painted the face of the clock, and the hands and all, redid it, refinished the face of the clock. ... A jeweler in Avon heard about it and he came up. He's a watchmaker, a good one, he wasn't Baptist at all, a Jewish fellow, and he went up and climbed that rickety ladder. He went up and got the clock going. The clock, he says it was made by the same people that made Big Ben, in London, yes, the same company. ... The funeral director next-door to the church trimmed the tree. You couldn't see the clock for the big maple tree. So, he had it trimmed, and people pitched right in. They were all very enthused. It was really nice to see, and on, I think Fourth of July was a Sunday, if I remember correctly, anyway, the clock, for the first time, right during the middle of Sunday service, boomed out twelve o'clock, "Boom, boom, boom, boom," you know, twelve times, and then, one o'clock and two, all day long. Monday morning, a doctor lived across the street, Dr. Marr. He's all right. He called and talked to the minister and said, "Something's got to be done about that clock. It keeps me awake all night long, listening to that darn clock bonging all night long. You've got to do something about that." So, the minister said, "Well, the board of trustees meets tomorrow night. We'll take it up in the meeting." Well, wouldn't you know, Monday night, before the board met, lightning struck a tree in the doctor's front yard and a branch fell across his telephone wires and his electrical wires. He had no phone, no electricity the rest of the night long. So, as soon as his service was restored ... on Tuesday, he called the minister back and he said, "Don't worry about the clock. It's fine." [laughter] ... It was such a hit, they decided to get it electrified, and avoid climbing that ladder, but, then, it got struck by lightning, forty thousand dollars worth of damage, but they were insured. So, it's not any tragedy, but too bad, nice, old church. I'm Presbyterian, now. We used to have 116 envelope people in the Baptist church in Manasquan, which was, you know, considered fairly good; we have sixteen hundred here, in the Presbyterian church in Venice, yes. We have five pastors, budget of over a million dollars. So, it's a big church.
SI: When you were growing up, did the church play a very important part in your life, and your family's life as well?
HH: Oh, yes, yes. My dad sang in the choir, and he wound up as superintendent of the Sunday school, and there, for several years, I never missed Sunday school or church, every Sunday for years. In fact, I had a pin, I don't know what happened to it, for perfect attendance, at both services and Sunday school and church. ... Mother was in the Daughters of the Cross. ... You know, we were a very active church family. ... I didn't realize it when I was growing up, but I had it pretty strict, growing up. We never had liquor in the house, nobody smoked, no wild parties, nothing like that. Of course, we couldn't afford a lot of celebrations, anyway, but, ... looking back, it was a good way to grow up. I think kids that go to church and Sunday school are less apt to be criminals as they get older, get into dope and things like that. My own grandchildren don't go to church. To suit me, they go once in awhile, but I don't think that's the best thing in the world.
SI: I want to get an idea of, when you were growing up on the farm, particularly, how isolated or a part of the world you were. Would you get the news on a regular basis? Did you have access to other people?
HH: Oh, yes. ... In Freehold, we moved from Freehold to Englishtown, and in Freehold, as I said, we lived on the ballpark and we'd play baseball. ... We had a bunch called the Ram Cat Alley Rats, our ball team. I don't know where they got the name Ram Cat Alley Rats, and we had a wonderful time playing ball. It was like Little League now, without any adult supervision. We had an old, beat-up, ten-cent rocket baseball, falling apart, and our gloves, ... you know, we would trade gloves back and forth, and maybe one bat for the whole team. It was run on a shoestring, but we had a wonderful time. They were nice boys, and we moved down to Englishtown and I was all alone, and I guess that's the last time I cried. I remember going down to the brook, and I was going to do some fishing, and I caught an eighteen-inch trout down there, one time, out of that brook. ... I must have been no more than twelve years old and I was so lonely and depressed, I cried. ... There was a sign on the barn when we moved in, "Contentment Farm," and I took that bugger down. ... I made a feed trough for the chickens out of it; ... no contentment, but, by the time I left, in a few years, I loved the farm, really did, and one of the biggest mistakes I made in my life was, when my dad got older and retired, he said, "Do you want the farm?" ... Being a big, noble jerk, I said, "No, I want you and Mom to be happy. That's the main thing. You sell the farm, and whatever you get from it, you know, enjoy that." So, he sold it, eighteen thousand dollars, but I was so sorry I said that. I loved that old farm. We could have spent summers up there and winters down here, something like that, but you make mistakes. He didn't really need the money.
SI: How far away was the farm from, say, your nearest neighbor?
HH: We lived sort of down ... the hill from the Kirklands, and there was a five-acre field of hay between our house and the Kirklands, I suppose the length of two football fields, maybe, on the west of us, and then, [to] the east of us, the Palmer house was half a mile away, but Gus Grevsen's garage, I spoke of, a Sonoco garage, right across the street and they were the main neighbors that we had. We were more neighborly with them. Being a kid, I was interested in mechanical stuff, and Gus was a master mechanic. ... He had no children of his own, and he and I got along pretty well and he would show me things to do with cars, and, if I had problems with my car, I'd take it over and Gus would help me, and he was very kind in that regard. ... He died without a will, and there's another ironic thing. If you haven't got a will, you'd better have one made, because he never had a will and he had a wife who had a daughter and the daughter had a granddaughter, and Gus did not care for the daughter or the granddaughter. ... When he died, he died without a will. Gus was tight, and he wouldn't spend a hundred bucks for a will. So, his wife inherited all of his money, and it was substantial. She told me he had two hundred-thousand-dollar CDs, certificates of deposit. So, you know, he's not poor by any means. ... Then, she died, and the daughter was the only surviving heir and she promptly died. So, the granddaughter, who Gus didn't like at all, ... inherited everything that they'd had, all the money he made, and all because he didn't make out a will. On the other hand, the Palmers, on the other side of us, that I spoke about, half a mile or more away, more like a mile, they were poor. They had five or six children and [the children were] not married and they could have used some money. ... The woman was Gus's sister. They're going without, and, meanwhile, this other granddaughter's flying to Rhode Island for clam chowder for lunch, you know, come on, but she was a schoolteacher, too. ... It was a good lesson to me. I've got a will and a trust, because of Gus, big mistake.
SI: You said you chose Rutgers because you could commute there and because of the affordable costs. In the scrapbook that you have here, you showed me some of the bills and they were really quite low.
HH: Oh, yes.
SI: Can you tell me what it was like, going to school at Rutgers and getting adjusted to the classes? I know that you were a commuter, therefore, you were not as involved in college life as someone living on campus, but did you still have to do freshman initiation-type activities, for example?
HH: Yes, superficially. ... The fraternities, they really made the freshmen toe the mark, but, me, being a not, what do they call it? Scarlet Barbarian, or something like that, they didn't pay much attention to me. [Editor's Note: The Scarlet Barbarians were a social group established as an alternative to the Greek fraternities.] We were supposed to carry our books in a shopping bag and wear a dink on our head and things like that, and, at first, I did. I thought it was appropriate and I wanted to be "one of the boys," peer pressure. So, I did it, but I noticed other freshmen who didn't bother, and so, gradually, I threw away the dink and threw away the market bag. Nobody said a word, nobody was paying any attention. I had a sad thing happen, and it still rankles me a little bit. ... The day after Pearl Harbor, I went down to Freehold, to the draft board; I was a real patriot. You know, young men are gung ho and I was going to show the Japanese something. So, I went down, I was going to enlist, and I was early, very early in the morning, and the door wasn't even opened up yet. One other chap [was] sitting there on the steps and we chatted. ... Another man came up. He played ball, was a fireman, first base, ... came up to open the door; he was on the draft board. He looked at me. He said, "Aren't you the Hutchinson boy?" and I said, "Yes." He bowled with my father, and he asked, "Aren't you the one who's going to be a doctor?" I said, "Yes, I hope so." So, he said, "What are you here for?" "I want to enlist." "Well," he said, "Don't you think that a doctor is more important than cannon fodder?" and I said, "Yes, I guess so." "Well, you go back to college, and you can get a ... student deferment from the school. You don't have to come down here." It was good advice. So, I turned around and I didn't miss a class. I hurried back, ... twenty-three miles, to New Brunswick, and I got there in time for my first class, I guess, maybe, the nine o'clock class, and that same day, I went in to see Dean Metzger. He was a retired minister, snowy white [hair]. I can picture him so plainly.
SI: Reverend Fraser Metzger, then the Dean of Men at Rutgers College.
HH: And there was a counter, a bar, in the office there, the Dean's Office, and I stood at the counter and his secretary came up to me, "Can I help you?" ... I said, "Yes, I want to get a student deferment," and I didn't tell her about the draft board or that sort of thing. ... He came out and he said, "What do you want?" and I said, "I want a student deferment." "I think you're a slacker," and I was speechless. He was a man of the cloth. I just couldn't ... say a word. I was speechless, and he saw that I was shocked and he said, "Okay," said, "you'll get your deferment," and, boy, I carried that with me. He didn't know, in 1940, I went to New York City and I was going to enlist in the Navy V-7 Program. They would take you on a cruise, two weeks every summer, and you were in the Reserves, and, if war broke out, you'd be an ensign. You wouldn't be just a swab jockey, you know, you'd be an officer, and that appealed to me, because I could see a war was coming, we're going to get into it. So, I went up there and they had what was like a barge and on it was a Quonset hut-type thing, a metal, semi-circular roof, and big. It was a big thing, oh, a hundred yards long, at least, and a gangplank walking down to the road, leading down from street level. ... I walked on down this gangplank, I can still picture it, and I was hanging on the railing. ... I went inside and along one wall, the far wall, there were rows of chairs. ... At the head of the line was a guy with a small table, like a little card table, and in a white uniform, I guess he was a commander, I don't know, but, anyway, there was a Navy officer. ... He was examining eyes and the guy in the first chair next to him, ... he would hand him a little book and he'd read out of this little book, and that was the eye exam. If you could read without your glasses out of this little book, you passed. So, as he was passed, then, the next guy'd move up. Like musical chairs, you move up; as each guy passed, then, you move up. So, I had plenty of time to see what was going on as I moved up, up, up, up. By the time I got to the head of the line, I could see it was Shakespeare. They were reciting and reading some Shakespeare. Well, I'd just taken a course in Shakespeare in Rutgers and was fascinated by it. I really liked it. ... We had to memorize Portia's speech and Hamlet's soliloquy and a few other things, and the one that they were reading from was Portia's speech, "The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven. Upon the earth [place] beneath. It is twice blest," and so on, and I had it memorized. So, I got up there. ... I remember, he said, "Take off your glasses," and he handed me this book, ... opened it to the page and he handed me it. I couldn't read the thing, so, I started off. The other guys had been reading Portia's speech, so, I said, "The quality of mercy is not strained." He looked at me kind of [funny], and he [said], "Give me that book." So, I gave it to him. "You read the wrong page." ... He had flipped the page when he handed it to me, I didn't see it, and he said, "We can't use you," and I said, "Well, I can see 20/20 with my glasses on." "No, no," and I argued with him, but there was no relenting. ... If I had thought of it, I would have told Dean Metzger about that, because that was so unfair. Sometimes, Rutgers will send me requests for funds and I'll think about Metzger and I cut my giving in half. ... I did give them a painting that I had, very good painting. It was given to me, though, by a patient, and it was of Old Queens. ... It was a zincograph, wasn't a painting, zincograph, they called it. I never heard of it before, beautiful thing, and it may be hanging in the library. I don't know. They said that's where it probably would wind up, but worth a few thousand dollars, but ... that still rankles me. How could a dean be so unfair? I've forgiven him for it, but I haven't forgotten it. ... Poor, old devil, I'm sure he's dead and gone many, many years by now. He was a good man.
SI: He would lead the chapel ceremony.
HH: Oh, yes, yes.
SI: Did you have to attend those, since you were a commuter?
HH: Oh, yes, oh, yes, yes.
SI: Does anything stand out in your memory from those ceremonies?
HH: Yes, one. ... One of the professors came in there ... on a chapel day, and Metzger was there. ... He was an older man and I can't remember who it was, but he had, obviously, false teeth that didn't fit very well, and, when he spoke certain words, they would whistle. Well, it was kind of funny, I guess, and we were, you know, college freshmen, and they giggled. ... It really wasn't very polite of them, but, under the circumstances, it was understandable, I thought. I wasn't one of the gigglers, but I couldn't get upset about it. ... The next chapel, Metzger was there and he gave them the devil, "The idea of laughing at that nice, old gentleman because [of the way he spoke]," you know, "you're very impolite." He really chewed the whole freshman class out, but I remember that one vividly.
SI: Was it Dr. William Demarest?
HH: It could have been, it could have been Demarest, yes, yes, "Whistling Willie?" [Editor's Note: Dr. William H. Demarest was President of Rutgers College from 1906 to 1924.]
HH: "Whistling Willie" Demarest, yes, yes, isn't that funny, [that] that comes back to me? That was back in 1941, somewhere in there, wow.
SI: You mentioned that, in Jamesburg High School, the academics were not quite superb and that it was difficult to make the transition to college.
HH: Oh, yes.
SI: Does anything stand out about the classes that you had trouble with? How quickly were you able to overcome that?
HH: Well, I don't remember. I know when I went back for my sophomore year, I was resolved to do a whole lot better. I was worried that I might not be allowed to repeat or go back to school. I thought they might kick me out, but I'd done so well in several subjects, and I guess that and my high school record, where I was ... a "big frog in a small pond," in high school, helped, ... and I think Thurlow Nelson helped me, too. He took a liking to me, but they did allow me to come back my sophomore year, and I did resolve then, "Hey, I'm going to show these son of a guns that I can do the stuff," and I did much, much better, but the freshman year, I was totally green. ... Also, I had nobody to confer with. I was totally alone. I went to school there, didn't know a soul. ... If you were in a fraternity, or a group of students, you can get information from them, you know, "two heads are better than one," but I had nobody. I'd drive in my car in the morning, get out and go to class, come back, get in the car and go home. ... I would usher at the football games and sell my ticket, and that was always a plum. You could watch the game and get paid to see it, and that was fun. ... As I say, I worked in the New Jersey Hall for Dr. Nelson, and so, I was exposed a little bit to college, but not anywhere near as I would have been had I lived there. It would have been much better. ... You know, guys will help one another.
SI: Did you start ushering at the football games right away?
HH: No, no, no, that was later. I don't think so, although, yes, I was ushering the year we beat Princeton. We beat Princeton 20-18 at the dedication of the new stadium. [Editor's Note: On November 5, 1938, the day the original Rutgers Stadium was dedicated, the Rutgers football team defeated Princeton for the first time since defeating them in the first college football game sixty-nine years earlier.] It was brand-new. ... There's something else; the PWA [Public Works Administration] built that stadium, and they did a pretty good job, I think, actually, when they got done, took forever, but they did a pretty good job, and I was at that game. ... Also, I had my father come with me and I gave him my ticket, and I was the usher. ... As soon as the game started, I sat down next to him. The seat was empty, so, I sat right next to him. So, I watched the whole game. ... I remember, they had a snake dance going around the field, after the game was over, and I ran on down and got with the fellows. ... We're dancing like idiots around the field, and they rang that bell in Queens. Do they still do that after they win a football game?
SI: Yes. Now, after a particularly memorable event, like when the Rutgers Women's Basketball Team made it to the Final Four in 2007, they ring it.
HH: Yes. Well, that thing rang all night long, I guess. They made the fraternity freshmen ring the bell, that was their job back in those days, but that was a great game, 20-18.
SI: What is a snake dance?
HH: You form a line, a big, long line, and that line weaves around, and you follow the guy ahead of you and they make, like, a snake crawling across.
SI: Okay, like a conga line that they do at weddings.
HH: Yes, yes. Everybody was excited. They were yelling. It was a good win. That was the first time we beat Princeton in years. Now, we don't play them anymore, because we beat them too much, as we got bigger. Back then, I think Rutgers had eighteen hundred students, if I remember right, and Tranavitch, William "Bill" Tranavitch.
SI: He was the quarterback.
HH: Yes, you know that?
SI: Other people I have interviewed have discussed the games and I have learned some of the players' names.
HH: Yes. He was good, he was very good, quite a hero. I didn't know him personally, but I knew him. He wouldn't know me.
SI: You also had to take ROTC for your first two years.
HH: Oh, yes, yes, that was one of the courses that I didn't do well in and I was made to repeat. So, I actually took three years. ... That's when I made corporal, I guess, the third year, and I was so proud of that stripe. "Oh, boy, I'm a corporal now," big deal, but I enjoyed it. One thing, I haven't mentioned it, when I went to medical school, I wondered how I'd fare against the other guys. ... When I went to Rutgers, I didn't do well at all, my first year, but, when I got to medical school, I found that I was very well-prepared and the guys that came from the big-name, fancy schools, like Princeton and Harvard, and whatever, ... some of them weren't as well-prepared as I was. Rutgers ... gave me a good education, an excellent education. I was very pleased with it. I was kind of disappointed, I never told them, my four boys, that I would have loved to have seen one of them go to Rutgers, but I was advised by a psychologist not to do that, let them choose their own college. It was good advice, because the oldest one was riding his motorcycle on the campus at Otterbein College, where he wanted to go. His girl went to Otterbein, so, he had to go to Otterbein. You know Otterbein, out in Ohio?
HH: A little college. There's some good, little schools out there, and Denison University, and, oh, I don't know, there are a bunch of them, but, anyway, he was riding it, ... which is a "no-no." You're not supposed to be riding a motorcycle on the campus. So, he called me. He said, "I'm in deep trouble. Would you call the Dean, because I may get kicked out?" So, I did. I called the Dean and she was very nice. ... She said, "Well, I just wanted to throw a scare into him. We're not going to throw him out, but I'm glad you called, because, you know, it shows you're interested," and they did allow him to remain. ... Had I pushed him to go to Rutgers and he got in trouble, ... that'd been the end of it, probably, you know. Get in trouble, boom, you're gone. They don't fool around. So, it was good that he chose his own school. ... My youngest had a problem, that he went to Nathaniel Hawthorne [College], a little school up in New Hampshire, and he had a problem, I forget what it was now, and there was some talk about kicking him out. ... I said, "Well, Kurt, you chose this school yourself. You know, it was your doing. I didn't make you go, you went. So, it's up to you to straighten this thing out," and he did. He got it straightened out all right, but thank God, he wasn't kicked out. He's doing very well now. In fact, all four graduated college. Mark was at Gettysburg and Dean was Paul Smith's College, up in the Lake Placid area, Saranac Lake, and Brian was Otterbein, so that all four finished college.
SI: One thing many of your classmates have mentioned is how small the school was then.
HH: Oh, yes.
SI: It seems like most people at least knew each other by sight, were able to recognize faces.
SI: What about your relationships with professors or your classes? Does anything stand out in your memory? Thurlow Nelson seems to have left an impression on you.
HH: Yes. Professor Richard "Dickie" Morris, Dr. Morris, in mathematics; I had to repeat my math and I got a hundred [on the] final exam in algebra and in trigonometry, got hundreds in both of them. ... I find that a good teacher, and he was a good teacher, like Johnny Witman's mother, inspired you to do well; at least me, anyway. They mean a lot. This daughter-in-law of mine, Helen, she now teaches the exceptional students in the first and fourth grades and she's an exceptional teacher. ... They do inspire you. Somehow, it's contagious, and "Dickie" Morris was great. He was a fine, fine professor. There were others, a fellow named Hoffman, taught us German, and he was very nice and friendly. ... Dr. Nelson, although he was strict and stern, he was fair, and he went to Woods Hole, up in Massachusetts, in the summertime, to do research on oysters. ... He helped me get into medical school, I think. It was probably his recommendation that got me in[to] medical school, and I liked him very much. We had a professor, I'm trying to think of his name, too, who taught us calculus, and there was a Dr. [David D.] Porter who was also very nice, taught us physics. And a real nice math teacher, always had a cigarette whenever he was out of his class, but I can't think of his name. Been too many years, I guess, too much water under the bridge. ... I found the teachers very kind and understanding, and, no, the faculty, I can't say too much for them. I think they were great. I enjoyed them. That was one reason I wanted ... one of my boys to go there, or all of them, I'd have been delighted if they all went to Rutgers, ... and it would be cheaper, too, of course. When they go to out-of-state colleges, it's more expensive, but that wasn't my main thrust. Back then, I was making a decent living. I could send all four to Rutgers then, or to college, but they're educated. They don't know what they missed; they missed a lot.
SI: The biological sciences were basically a pre-med course of study.
SI: How much time did that take up, in an average day? Did you have to do a lot of labs and things of that nature?
HH: Oh, yes, yes, many afternoons, I won't say all, but most afternoons, we were in a lab, one lab or another, chemistry lab or botany lab, and they did take up a lot of time. Laboratory time, I think, was three hours at a session, and we'd have class in the morning, as a rule, and then, the labs in the afternoon. ... Our time was pretty well filled up, between the two, and there wasn't much time for fooling around. ... We were kept busy.
SI: You had this idea of becoming a doctor for a very long time.
HH: Oh, yes.
SI: Was there anything in particular that sparked that ambition?
HH: Yes. We had a Dr. Hartman, in Keyport, that lived right around the corner from us. ... I burned my arm one time and my mother took me to see him, and he was so kind and gentle and a real nice guy, and very understanding, and I said, "Gee, I'd kind of like to do something like that someday." ... That's what started it, really, Dr. Hartman. He was also, later on, the county physician. ... As an intern, I would call him. If we had some patient die or something, we'd call him and report the death to the county coroner, and that was him. ... It's four o'clock in the morning, or whenever, you call Hartman and reported it, and he didn't do anything about it, that I know of, but it was all mandated that we report all deaths like that. ... He worked up to a ripe, old age, because I was an intern in '45 and I had my arm hurt when I must have been less than twelve, probably ten, eleven years old. So, he worked thirty years after that. He was pretty well up there, real nice guy, though, real nice guy.
SI: It sounds like you were pretty aware of what was happening overseas. You had tried to get into this naval program early.
HH: Yes, yes.
SI: Was the war overseas, before Pearl Harbor, something that you followed and thought about?
HH: Oh, yes. ... We didn't know then about the Holocaust. That was totally unknown, which was a dreadful, dreadful thing, but Hitler was starting his rampage, that he had took over Austria, of course, and then, later on, invaded Poland. ... Yes, I followed it quite closely, and, to me, it was pretty obvious we were going to get into it. ... Then, they bombed England and plastered London pretty well. ... Then, we had Lend-Lease, and that was a step in the direction of war, you know. Actually, Hitler could have declared war on us then. We were supplying materiel to his enemies and he could have very well declared war on us, at that time, but he had his hands full, I think. It just wasn't practical, but I was surprised the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. I didn't think they had the nerve to tackle us. ... A friend of my family, Jerry Eubanks, was an insurance broker, whatever that is, he had an office on 40 Wall Street. He's really the only big shot I've ever known, intimately, and he took an interest in me. He drove me up to see this Navy program thing. ... I talked to him about the Navy and he said, "Oh, yes, great idea," and he said, "In fact, it's so good, I'll take you up. I'll take you up to where you go." So, he had a Packard, big, old, black Packard, and he was doing seventy miles an hour, which, for me, was the fastest I had traveled. I told him, "I think it's the fastest I've ever gone." He laughed, ... but he dropped me off at that scow. ... I said, "I think we're going to be at war with Germany pretty soon," and he said, "No, no, Japan."
HH: And I [said], "Japan? They wouldn't dare tackle us, those little shrimps," you know, "beady-eyed shrimps. They're inconsequential. They wouldn't dare," and a lot of people felt that way, and they were wrong, of course, but I was amazed. I really was. That was on a Sunday morning, getting ready to go to Sunday school; terrible thing. ... My first assignment, ... I was a private first class in medical school, and then, to intern, they let us out for nine months to be an intern and made us first lieutenants in the Reserve, for nine months, and, in that nine-month period, Germany capitulated. So, they relented and let us finish out the year as an intern. ... I forget what I was going to say now, lost my train of thought.
SI: You said you were a first lieutenant in the Reserves.
HH: Yes, then; oh, I know, I know what it was. My first assignment then, when I finished my internship, was to go to Halloran General Hospital in Staten Island. Later on, for a month or so. This was just to mark time, until the class in basic training got into Texas, down in Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio. So, I spent a month or so at Halloran, and we had five thousand admissions one day at Halloran. I believe ... some of the general hospitals over in England unloaded when Germany capitulated. You know, why keep our guys over there? ... They talk about Army inefficiency, and Groucho Marx, one time, said, "Army military intelligence is a contradiction in terms," ... but they looked good that day, boy. I was new to the game and I just was amazed at how businesslike they were. I don't think any soldier went without a meal or didn't have a place to sleep or wasn't properly taken care of. They were like clockwork. Everything went just beautifully. ... They stuck me off in the corner with a corpsman, and it was just applying bandages, and he actually did the work. I was re-bandaging these guys. They hadn't had their bandages changed aboard ship, and we had a great, big wastebasket full of old, smelly, dirty bandages, and he and I spent the entire day re-bandaging these guys. ... They came off that ship with crutches and canes and were blind and in bandages, and you look at the dregs of war and wonder, "What the hell is it all about, you know?" I'm a pacifist, now. That one exposure, five thousand admissions, that cured me of war. ... It's dreadful, and these were all young men, you know, eighteen, nineteen, they're kids and they're shot up to bits, and these are the ones that survived. These are the lucky ones. I heard somewhere, the other day, that France is charging us rent for the land that our dead people are buried under over in France. Can't be true, I don't believe it, but anything's possible, I guess. [Editor's Note: This is a widely circulated false rumor. The American Battle Monuments Commission maintains military cemeteries around the globe on rent and tax-exempt land that has been granted to the United States by the host country for this purpose.] ... That was a dreadful, dreadful sight. Then, I went down to Fort Sam Houston in August, and, if you think it's hot up here in Florida, wow, that was the hottest I've ever been. You're out in the sun marching, you know, close-order drill and all that kind of stuff. ... There, again, I didn't know a soul. Yes, there were hundreds of the guys down there and I didn't know one of them, and I thought, "I may as well apply myself and I'm going to make the most of this." So, I did. The other guys treated it like it was a lark. They'd go out and drink beer and play cards, and they were on vacation. ... I didn't know any of them, so, I applied [myself]. I studied, and it was a good thing I did, because I was sent to MacDill Air Force Base and I later learned that was a plum assignment. That was considered a great assignment. Some of the guys got shipped to Korea and, oh, all sorts of places, and I found out how that works, later on. I spent almost two years at MacDill, delivering babies, and the colonel, Colonel Reed B. Harding, he was the highest-ranking officer on the base, slept in our BOQ, ... bachelor's officers' quarters. ... He was down the end of the hall and his car wouldn't start. ... I didn't know it, and one of the guys yelled down, I had a car there, and they yelled down to me, "Hutch, would you give the Colonel a push?" and I, without thinking, said, "Push him where, down a well?" and they said, "Quiet, quiet, he's right down there." Well, that was before I got married. I was married November 27th, and, before Christmas, I was transferred to Kearney Air Force Base in Nebraska. [laughter] It was eighteen below when I arrived, from Florida, in Kearney Air Force Base, and I just think that, maybe, my "pushing him down a well" comment had something to do with the transfer. He didn't care. He was a strict, stern, old bugger, and a nice guy, but ... you didn't fool with him, and me making a joke about pushing him down a well, I don't think went over very big. Another guy, Charlie Pope, too, had a problem with him. He lives right here in Tampa now, an internist. ... The Colonel took a dislike to him. He wound up in Goose Bay, Labrador, ... at Christmastime, again. ... His first request, when he got up there, was to send more liquor. They ran out of whiskey. ... They had about ten of us young officers, we're all first lieutenants, doctors, and a cadre of nurses, ten or twelve young nurses, and that was very nice duty. That was great duty. ... Charlie Pope married one of the nurses, afterwards, and she later on died, and then, he remarried, and, now, his present wife has macular degeneration, but I call him on the phone, once in awhile, real nice guy. We're the only two guys left, that I know of, from that whole band that went there, back in August of 1946.
SI: Let us go back to the early war period. You started to tell me that, the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, you were getting ready to go to Sunday school.
HH: Yes, yes.
SI: Can you tell me more about that day and how you responded?
HH: Yes. I remember one thing; there was an awful lot of traffic for some reason. I don't know where they were going or what was going on, but we were on a highway, the road from Englishtown to Freehold. You may know about it, the two-lane cement road. ...
SI: Route 33?
HH: No, no, it's parallel to Route 33, though, something like Route 33, but it goes from Englishtown to Freehold, Englishtown-Freehold Road, and that road was jammed with traffic. ... I don't know where or what was going on, why it should do that, and, all of a sudden, out of the north, came a C-47 military transport airplane, and flying very low, very low, and I [thought], "He's going to crash." ... He zoomed up over the telephone wires and ... kept on going. I never forgot that. "What's he doing? What's going on?" I never did find out, but ... everybody was crazy December the 7th, thunderstruck that Japan would have the nerve to attack the big, powerful United States. We weren't told, oh, gosh, for months and months, how bad the damage was to Pearl Harbor. We had no idea. Nobody told us it was practically decimated and how many were killed. We went out there visiting, my wife and I, she loved to travel, and we visited Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona, the memorial ship, ... a ship still sunk out there, underwater. ... There are more than a thousand of our boys' bodies still inside that ship, in the hull of the ship. ... There was a sergeant there, in the Marines, and I said, "That's a hell of a thing. I mean, why can't they get those bodies out of there? That shouldn't be allowed. They ought to get those bodies out, give them a decent burial," and he saw that I was mad and he got mad. He said, "Well, there's all kinds of oil down there." He said, "We'd have to use flames to cut through to them and probably blow the whole ship up. Do you want to blow everybody up?" and I said, "Well, no," but it seemed a damn shame that they'd leave those boys' bodies there now. They're still there, as far as I know, well over a thousand, something like fourteen hundred and some, that are still entombed in this ship. [Editor's Note: 1,177 crew members from the USS Arizona were lost in the attack on December 7, 1941, and the ship is the final resting place for many of them.] I still think they'd try to get them out somehow, not right [to leave them there]. The minister's son, from Keyport, another boy, Eddie Rossell, real nice guy, he and I were best friends. ... He finished high school and had no money. Again, Baptist ministers didn't make that kind of money back in those days, still don't, and he joined the Army and he wanted to be a radio mechanic or technician, have to do with radios, ... because there was no TV then and radios were the thing. So, they sent him to Fort Monmouth to learn radio, and he did, and they shipped him out of there to the Philippines, and just in time to get in the Bataan Death March. ... He wound up in Camp O'Donnell hospital, a POW camp, with dysentery and died, and, again, a damn shame. If the Japs had given him just a little paregoric, you know, simple medication, it would have saved him, but they fought a dirty war. They were terrible, just awful. I have no use for Japs to this day. Yang [Yong-eun, or Y.E., Yang], that won the golf title, the  PGA Championship; do you play any golf?
HH: And he beat Tiger Woods the other day, and he's South Korean, and I thought, at first, he was Japanese, and I was so glad that he wasn't. [laughter] I can't help it. ... I don't like them. ... We had a man come back with scurvy. When they were in Japan, they're going to ... pull their teeth out. The gums would get gingivitis and the teeth would hurt, and so, they pulled them out, just with their fingers. They were so loose, they just came out. ...
SI: Was that when you were at Halloran?
HH: Oh, no, this was in Shreveport. I went to Shreveport Charity Hospital for a year's residency, and one of my technicians was a ... Philippine victim, a prisoner of the Japanese in the Philippines, and he had had scurvy and gingivitis. ... He had all false teeth, just a young man, and that's what started the conversation. He got something under his upper plate and he said, "I've got to go wash my teeth off," and I said, "What do you mean, 'got to wash your teeth off?'" He said, "Well, I've got a plate," and then, he told me, said, "I had scurvy and gingivitis in the prison camp." ... He said he weighed eighty pounds when he came out, and he had to go to the sink and wash off the seed, whatever it was, under the plate; ... chalk one more up to the "Great War," terrible things.
SI: You came back to campus after Pearl Harbor and you had the unfortunate incident with Dean Metzger the next day. Was it the next day, that Monday, the day that the incident happened?
SI: After that, what was the mood like on campus? Did a lot of people want to enlist?
HH: Oh, yes. It was very upsetting. You know, we lost 236 alumni in World War II, that got killed. Some of them were friends of mine, such as Clark U. Espenship, well, anyway, friends of mine, and, yes, there was a tension in the air. You could almost feel it. ... We were practically all draftable, you know, 1-As, and, if you didn't get a student deferment, why, you're going to be in the Army, and probably shipped over to Japan or somewhere, you didn't know where, but there was a lot of tension in the air, oh, yes, yes, and some of the guys did enlist. I knew a guy named Snookey Rash, his father was a West Pointer, and Snookey grew up on the Army bases. He was an "Army brat," they called them, and he was sixteen years old at the time and he wanted to go in the service. ... Of course, his mother and father would not sign for him, so, he took off, went to Canada, and lied about his age. He didn't last a month, had an airplane crash, training, and dead. ... He wasn't the only one. There were any number of guys that took off. Clark Espenship didn't. ... I don't know whether he graduated or not. He was another good friend at the time and he was killed in a training accident, airplane training accident, down in the Carolinas, a good fishing buddy of mine. [Editor's Note: Clark U. Espenship, Rutgers College of Agriculture Class of 1942, served as a US Army Air Forces officer and was killed in an aircraft crash while instructing at Turner Field in Georgia.] So, I lost several friends, but, yes, the air on the campus was changed, no more easy-going, relaxed [atmosphere]; the tension, you could feel it. ... Before Pearl Harbor, they had an organization called OHIO, "Over the Hill in October," because the first peacetime draft was going to be ... October 16th, and that was my ... twenty-first birthday. I'd be twenty-one on October the 16th, and I was going to join. Being drafted was not a very popular thing before the war, and so, they formed this Over the Hill in Ohio club of guys who didn't want to go into the war. ... Over the hill meant they were going to run away, disappear, so that they couldn't be drafted. ... Then, after Pearl Harbor, that was never heard of again, that was the end of that, but I remember they registered us at college. ... I had to register for the draft, because I was twenty-one on that day, but I wasn't born until seven o'clock at night, so, really, technically, I wasn't twenty-one years old. So, just for fun, I spoke to the guy in charge, the proctor or whatever he was, and I said, "Look, I'm not twenty-one yet. I wasn't born until seven." "Sign it, sign it." So, I signed it, but it was worth a try, because, as I say, by that time, war was not very popular, but, once Pearl Harbor hit, the whole mood of the country changed. "We've got to whip them and show them who's boss."
SI: After Pearl Harbor, you still had two semesters left to go.
HH: Let's see, Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.
SI: Yes. You said you had to do one more semester.
HH: Yes, I had to do an extra semester, yes. I was due to graduate in '41, June of '41, and I had to do an extra semester from June of '41 until December, January of '42, and then, I went to Calco, as a chemist. ... I don't know why I wasn't drafted then. I guess, maybe, the medical school, I'd been accepted to Hahnemann, maybe that's what kept me out.
SI: Did you apply to Hahnemann in that last semester?
HH: Yes, yes, that last semester, yes.
SI: From what I understand, back then, since New Jersey did not have a medical school, New Jersey students had to compete a lot harder to get into neighboring state programs.
HH: Right, oh, yes.
SI: Can you tell me a little bit about that? Did that affect you?
HH: Yes. ... Our state legislature, as I understand it, passed a law that one, not a square mile, but one small area of New Jersey could do vivisection. There were laws against animal vivisection. You couldn't ... operate on animals and cut them up, and so on. ... So, they made this one exception in the law of this little piece of property where they then built the medical school, and, I think, dental school, too, on this one little, it must have been a block. I've never seen it, though, never been there, but it was anti-vivisection that caused the whole thing to make a medical school unlikely, but, once that was passed, the medical school very quickly went up and it's got a pretty good rating now. ... They've done a good job, but, when I went to medical school in Hahnemann, my professor of medicine said, "Where are you from, Harry?" and I said, "From [New Jersey]." "Oh," he said, "they have everything over in New Jersey, all kinds of diseases, a great place to practice," and he didn't have a very high opinion of New Jersey. [laughter] Hahnemann now has merged with Drexel; it's Drexel-Hahnemann [Drexel University College of Medicine]. ... Hahnemann had some financial problems, and legal problems, I think, too. They were talking about indictments there for awhile, but I guess that passed over. I spent my last year or two as a junior intern at Frankford General Hospital in ... West Philadelphia, which was fun. I worked evenings in the small hospital there, and I got a lot of practical experience. When you're a medical student, you long to do something with your hands, you know, get in there and do something, instead of sitting there with a book all the time or taking notes. ... So, as a junior intern, you could start IVs and you [could] take histories and physicals, and you felt like you're really accomplishing something. ... I went to Akron City Hospital for a year of residency, later on, and there, too, the attendings didn't let you do very much. So, I got tired of holding retractors and watching, and I said, "I want to get to do something." So, I learned about Shreveport Charity Hospital, which is run entirely by residents and interns, and so, I applied and they accepted me, and I went down there for my second year of residency. ... The first day I was there, I did a hysterectomy, and she did very well, too, thank you, but they had five thousand babies there in the year I was there, and that's one of the reasons I went there, too. I figured if they have ... that many babies, they must have a lot of gynecology to do, too, the repair work and what-have-you, vaginal repairs, and it was a wonderful year. I'm glad I made the move. ... I was married then, had a child, but it was worth the bother and expense of moving, good year.
SI: Back then, in medical school, would you choose to specialize in, for example, obstetrics and gynecology?
HH: Yes, most of us did make some choice in medical school, and those who didn't wound up, of course, in general practice. ... One reason you wouldn't specialize is, it takes more training. ... I took two more years, after medical school, and, here, I'm married with a child and going back to school again, and so, the guys, that didn't appeal to them at all, some of them; they'd just write "general." You could leave medical school, do a year of internship and go into private practice, but you couldn't ... call yourself a real specialist. That took extra work. You have to pass specialty boards. You saw the specialty board, and recertification, that you had to recertify ten years later to be a specialist, and they're not willing to do that. When I got out of medical school, I was so sick of books and studying ... every night. ... You had it up to here after awhile, you know. You just can't take any more. So, during my internship, I didn't study that much. I did read some, but I gradually got back to where I could sit down and read a few chapters of a medical text. ... We, of course, had no vacations. They crammed four years into three during the war. They wanted us to get through the medical school as fast as we could, and we did get a two weeks' vacation, one time, and we, some of us from our rooming house, Italian boys, real nice guys, ... there were four of us all together, ... we spent a week at Point Pleasant, during which we had a hurricane. ... Would that be '44? anyway, a beaut.
SI: 1944? [Editor's Note: In September 1944, the East Coast was battered by the 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane.]
HH: Yes, that's it, but I remember all the lights went out and we were in an upstairs apartment, overlooking the main street in town, down near the ocean, and a section of the boardwalk went floating down the street, and with the lamppost, not lit, of course, but a lamppost still set in it, moving down the street. It was that big a storm, and Lenny Rotondi, real cute little guy, awful nice, I was very fond of him, he lived in Newark, said, "I want to go home, and miss this hurricane." [laughter] It was my car. We'd left my car there, outside the house. It was all right, but he said, "I want to go home." ... Then, in the second week, [we] went to Lake George and had a windstorm. So, our two weeks' vacation was a windy one, but we had a nice time. That was our only vacation for three years.
SI: Was it the first semester, or the first year, of medical school that you were not in the Army?
HH: Oh, no, in medical school? That was the first two years.
SI: For the first two years, you were not in the Army.
HH: Yes, freshman and sophomore year, I was on my own, yes, and that's when my money gave out. My folks would have helped me if they could have. They probably would have taken a mortgage on the farm, ... but I didn't want to do that. ... Thank God, it was providential, I had no idea it was going to happen, all of a sudden, I'm in the Army, and it couldn't have happened at a better time.
SI: Did that change your routine much?
HH: We had an inspection and close-order drill every morning, all lined up outside of the hospital, and the captain in charge would inspect us, and that was the main thing. He'd also try to give a lecture, occasionally, on medical things, and he wasn't a doctor. He was just an ordinary layman. ... He mispronounced words. He was talking about "sulfur" drugs, meant sulfa, but he got sulfur out of it, somehow, and the kids in the class were so scornful, I felt sorry for him. ... Medical students are not at all reluctant to express themselves, and, when he said, "Sulfur," there were boos in the back of the class and it was embarrassing, really. I felt sorry for the guy, but he wasn't exactly a Rhodes Scholar or Phi Beta Kappa. He was just a nice guy. I don't know why they put him in charge of a medical school group, though. I never could figure that out. I don't know.
SI: Did you have to wear a uniform?
HH: Oh, yes, yes. ... We went to Carlisle Barracks and they supplied uniforms there. ... It was a Sunday morning we were there, and I forget why I didn't go to church. They had a chapel there, and they were having chapel. Anyway, I didn't go to church that Sunday and I was lounging out in the yard and an officer came out and he said, "You and you and you, you volunteer for KP," and so, we went, and I scrubbed the kitchen and I did dishes. ... It was considered, of course, beneath us to do scullery work like that, but I enjoyed it. It was an experience I'm glad I had, I had a hand-run can opener and they had these big cans of fruit or vegetables, whatever it was, big hotel-sized cans, maybe hold a gallon or more. ... I put these things in, wind the crank, and the thing would spin around and the top would flip off, and, as the top flipped off, it would spill some of the juice on the floor and on the table and run off the table. ... I had a big vat, ... a great, big pot, and I dumped this thing in the pot on the floor. Well, I looked down and here's this big, brown spot in the middle of this, I think it was canned corn I was opening, and here's this big, brown spot in the middle of all this yellow corn, and I said to the sergeant in charge, "Hey, Sarge." ... He looked and he took a big spoon, "You don't see it now, do you?" [laughter] He stirred it away. Nobody got sick from it, but he laughed. ... I thought he'd try to clean it out, somehow, but he didn't, he just stirred it. It was dirty, muddy water off the table, yes, drained down into the corn. I didn't see it in time. Army chow; it wasn't all that bad.
SI: Living in Philadelphia, did you see many of the effects that the war had on the home front? For instance, did you experience any Civil Defense drills?
HH: Yes, we'd occasionally have a drill. You'd hear the sirens, they'd blow the sirens, and you had to cover your windows, ... pull the curtains down. If you didn't, they had men, volunteers; what did they call them? They had a name for them, who would walk up and down the street, and, if they saw the least little crack of light, they'd be at your door, banging on the door, "Hey, cover that light up."
SI: Are you referring to air raid wardens?
HH: Yes, something like that, yes, yes, and my wife was one in Rumson. She was one of those. She'd walk around and check for lights that weren't out. ... They wouldn't do it too often, maybe once every three, four months, something like that, they'd have one of these alarms. ... One thing about Philadelphia, of course, it was a big port. ... You walked downtown and there were sailors from Denmark and sailors from, oh, all foreign ports, and there'd be a lot of them in town. ... Then, all of a sudden, they're all gone. The ship would sail and they'd be gone, and then, you had another group of foreign sailors come in. On their hats, they have a band, you know, usually, where they're from, or on their arm, some way to identify their nationality, and England, we had quite a few from England, would spend some time on leave in Philadelphia. They were never any trouble that I know of; they were a nice bunch of guys. ... Also, the Salvation Army had a little trailer-type arrangement, where the side window, solid window, it opened out and it formed, like, an awning, and they were handing out free coffee and doughnuts, and I really didn't feel entitled. I was just wondering what they would say. I'm a medical student, ASTP, Army Specialized Training Program, "I'm going to see what happens. Will they give me a doughnut and a cup of coffee?" So, I walked over, and they were as nice as they could be, "Yes, sir, you want a cup of coffee? Cream, sugar, and here's a doughnut." That doughnut cost me I don't know how much, thousands, because every time the Salvation Army had a drive after that, I would contribute. It really made me feel they're a good outfit. I still contribute to them, all because of a lousy doughnut and a cup of coffee. [laughter] It wasn't very good coffee, either, but it tasted good that day, but, yes, they were right on the town square, right around City Hall in Philadelphia. ... They were on that perimeter, but there weren't too many other signs of war in Philadelphia.
SI: Did rationing impact you at all?
HH: Not to any great extent, no. You'd go in a restaurant or a diner and they'd have signs up, sugar was rationed, and the signs would say, "Use less sugar and stir like hell. We don't mind the noise." ... Certain meats, you couldn't get freely. I think my Uncle Lee made out like a bandit during the war, ... because he's a butcher and he had ways of getting meat that other people couldn't get and he had a high-class clientele, in Allenhurst. It's a pretty fancy neighborhood, and he did all right. He's a nice guy. ... They had gasoline rationing for awhile. You had to have stamps for gasoline, but, then, I knew Gus Grevsen so well, and commuting back and forth to college, ... you know, I worried about my gasoline supply. ... Gen, Gus's wife, said, "Don't worry about it." She said, "We'll take care of you." So, I never had any problem getting enough gas. Tires were rationed, too, and you'd take an old tire to the retread or recap place. For three dollars, they'd recap it for you, and just like new. So, I never bought a new tire all the time I was in college. I bought recaps, three dollars apiece. I don't recall ever having a flat tire, going, isn't that funny?
SI: How large, roughly, was the ASTP unit at Hahnemann? Approximately how many men were in this unit?
HH: Oh, they had very few civilians, very few. The girls, of course, were civilians. We had a few girls in the class, three or four, maybe four or five. I talked to one on the phone not too long ago, Peggy Giannini, and she's a national figure now in Washington, in children's deformities, and quite a girl. We went horseback riding a couple of times, up in Philadelphia, but there were maybe half a dozen girls in my class, and four or five boys who didn't go in the Navy or Army, didn't go into any service, one fellow from Puerto Rico that I know did not go, but they stood out because they were the only ones in civilian clothes. ... Maybe ten percent were Navy and they wore Navy uniforms. They didn't have any drill; they had no obligation that I know of at all. ... We had, oh, gosh, it must have been close to a hundred, I guess, in the Army. ... The numbers escape me, though. I know we graduated 116 and we started 164, I think, and the first semester, eight failed out. One guy died. ... The attrition rate was pretty high, and, if you flunked out, you were automatically in the Army. Boom, you're on active service. I know one guy, Joe Falco, I knew him quite well, lived down the street from me, and he failed. ... I went down to see him off. He was packing his suitcase and he had a big tear in his eye and he said, "Don't let anybody tell you it doesn't hurt. It hurts," and I haven't seen him, nor heard from him, since. I don't know where he wound up, Joe Falco; funny how names come back to you after all these years.
SI: Was it a pretty high intensity program, particularly with the idea that you would wind up in the Army if you did not pass?
HH: Oh, yes, oh, yes, yes, it was. The first couple of years especially were high pressure. We had eleven midterm exams in one week, and you had to study for all of them, and we were studying night and day. ... I don't know what we did the other months, but I remember that one. In our senior year, I was, not free, I guess you could say I had that much time, to be a junior intern at Frankford General Hospital, but I still had to study. What we'd do there is, we had quite a long subway ride out to Frankford General Hospital, ... we'd study on the train going out and coming back and that was a help, you know, get the main points across. ... Then, we would take time to study some during the spare time, but, the senior year, the pressure was not that great. Once you got through the junior year, you're pretty assured of graduating then. So, you could let up a little bit. Sophomore year's not too bad, either, but first year is tough, first year is tough. I think they do it deliberately, to weed out the lesser students and, you know, the guys that aren't really sincere about wanting to be a doctor, but the attrition rate was pretty high.
SI: I had read that, during the war, because of the shortage of civilian doctors, that medical students were given more responsibilities. Was that the case? Were they doing more things in hospitals, for example, than they would normally be called upon to do?
HH: Gee, not that I'm aware of, no. Our hospital, I know, the chief of staff of our hospital, Jim Fisher, he was a graduate of Peddie. He'd graduated with my father and he was chief of staff at ... the old Fitkin Hospital, Jersey Shore University Medical Center now. We've gotten real fancy, and he told me, he said, "All these guys go off playing soldier," he was a crusty, old guy, "and leave me to do all the work," and it's true. A lot of the staff did leave during the war. John Hardy enlisted very shortly after Pearl Harbor, ... the guy I showed you in ... my group picture, John Hardy, wonderful guy, ... but he couldn't wait to enlist. He was gone, married, two children, and a lot of the guys did that. ... I would judge that practically all the men went into the service. It was unusual to see a man of draftable age as a civilian, in the doctors. One was Norman Wittie in Point Pleasant, and he was criticized by many because he, "draft dodger, slacker," you know, wouldn't go in the service, but somebody had to stay home, take care of people, and he was one that did that. ... Most of the other guys, in their thirties, forties, Dr. Friedman, from Freehold, went in and he didn't last long. ... He told my father, my father was a patient of his, ... he said, "The first week I'm in there, they give me a knapsack to carry on my back and I haven't carried a knapsack on my back in years, a guy like me, and I just couldn't stand it." So, they discharged him. They sent him back home as being unable to serve, but most of them, most of the guys who were draftable, they went in, most of them, but I didn't realize it. I guess maybe we did do more; we didn't do the definitive treatments, though. We'd start IVs and help with surgery and deliver more babies, things like that, but the real tough stuff, no. They managed somehow. Somebody was there. Some attending would do the work, maybe some older man or some woman, but there was a shortage of doctors, very definitely.
SI: Compared to what you saw interns doing later, did you have to work more hours or put in more time?
HH: ... [laughter] Doctors in training are a strange breed. They just passed a law in New York State that resident doctors could not be made to work more than eighty hours a week, and the American College of Surgeons are up in arms, because that's not enough. They should work more than eighty hours a week to get good training. It's ridiculous, you know. ... I've worked more than that, and I lost twenty pounds the first month or two I was an intern. From July to September, I lost twenty pounds. I smoked then, too, which helped to cut your weight down, but it was impossible hours. There were four interns to cover the entire hospital and a resident, a medical resident. Jim Fisher's son, he was a resident, too. ... Most of the time, it was four interns and, on weekends, there'd be two, two interns, ... at night, to run the entire hospital, and this covers OB, obstetrics, delivery of babies, emergency room, was all the same service. Now, how do you handle emergencies and deliver babies, you know? It was tough. In fact, to tell you a quick story, my granddaughter, Kristen Ann, her picture's up there, beautiful girl, thirty-one years old now, single, ... she came to me, oh, ten years ago, I guess, now. ... She wanted me to give her a reference to be a doctor, and I said, "No." I was thinking one thing; the president of the New Jersey Medical Society told me personally, he said, "I would not recommend that any young person go into medicine today. They should go into law or computer sciences, not medicine. Don't go into medicine. It's a mess." ... Most of the doctors here in town envy me, being retired. I'm out of it, you know. ... I'm lucky. So, I told Kristen Ann, no, I wouldn't do that, and she was quite annoyed that I wouldn't. ... She said, "Well, what do you think of being a pharmacist?" "Now, that's great. You have regular hours and good money and it's ... a respectable position to have," and she said, "Well, I've been working in a drugstore on weekends as a clerk and I kind of like it." "Well, why don't you pursue it?" So, she did and, now, she's a registered pharmacist. She loves it, thank God. She works a forty-hour week. The average medical student graduates, owes a hundred thousand dollars to the school. She doesn't have any debt. She gets time-and-a-half overtime, she has no debt to pay, she had no office to open, she has no malpractice to worry about. The drugstore covers your malpractice. It's clear money. She makes 108,000 dollars a year. For once in my life, I gave somebody some good advice that they followed, and she's very happy this way and just bought a house, a nice house in Atlanta. She sent me a picture of it and she's found her niche. She's found her place. So, I wouldn't recommend a young boy or girl go into medicine now. ... She'd had no residency to worry about, you know, and not working eighty hours a week, which isn't enough, and night calls, getting up in the middle of the night, go out in a stormy night. ... She's going to have a family some day, I hope, get married and have a family. To be a busy doctor, you just can't do both. You can't be a good wife, a good mother, and run a busy practice. You just can't do it. So, I'm being disloyal to my profession, but I have to be honest, and none of my four went into medicine. They said I worked too hard, and we did. ... We worked very hard. ... The hours at OB are terrible, generally operate in the morning, and we'd help each other. I didn't have a case every morning, but, if I didn't have a case, I was helping somebody else, and then, office hours every afternoon and some evenings, and then, you're on call, twenty-four hours a day, and weekends, and it was tough. It really was very demanding. I enjoyed it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, and the money was good. I was able to educate four children, ... but I would not recommend it for a young person today, and the way things look now, with President Barack Obama, they're going to socialize medicine more and more. I'm sure of it. It's a mess. No, I wouldn't recommend it; don't go into medicine, please. [laughter]
SI: After you were finished at Hahnemann, then, you went to Akron.
HH: Let me think a minute. After Hahnemann, I went to Fitkin as an intern, yes, for a year, and got married, too, in 1947. ...
SI: Okay. Your time at Akron and Shreveport was after World War II.
HH: Yes, yes.
SI: Your internship was at Fitkin Hospital.
HH: Yes, my internship. Germany surrendered in May, of '47?
SI: They surrendered in May 1945.
HH: Yes, '45, that's right, '45, and my internship finished up in June or July that same year, and that's when I went to Halloran Hospital for awhile, not too long, a couple of months, and then, down at Fort Sam Houston in August, and then, left there after six weeks' training, basic. ... It was kind of interesting. In Fort Sam Houston, they had the tiled roofs, like I have in this house, and the ends were open, though, the ends of the tile, and, at dusk, a torrent, a river, of bats would come out from under those tiles, a torrent of them, thousands of them, and I guess that's why they have no mosquitoes, no bugs. These bats would clean them up. So, I went back, years later, with my wife. She wanted to see where I'd been, at Fort Sam Houston, and I was surprised, no guard, no gate, you just drive right in, drive all around, which, during the wartime, we weren't allowed to do. I was surprised, but no guard, and we drove around and I went to my old barracks, which was then an office, and I spoke to some enlisted man there. I said, ... "Do you ever see any bats around here?" "No, no bats." So, I don't know what happened to them. There were dozens, no, hundreds, thousands of them, and then, we went from Fort Sam Houston to MacDill, and then, to Kearney, Nebraska, I mentioned that, and then, from Kearney, we came back and started up a general practice in Point Pleasant ... for a couple of years, and I worked with Dr. Benjamin Daversa. He was an OB man, brilliant man, smart, and he'd had a heart attack and his wife called. Could I help cover his practice while he was convalescing? "Oh, yes, I think I can manage it." I was broke, had no money. It was like manna. I'm a lucky guy, and so, he wasn't so lucky. He survived, though. We were partners for twenty years. ... On the side, I had a little practice in Point Pleasant, as a general practitioner, which was good experience for me, gave me a lot of regard for a good practitioner. A good general practitioner is the best man in the world, no question, a good one; trouble is, there aren't that many good ones around anymore. ... Then, I left there and I couldn't become a specialist without more training, so, with his blessing, I went to City Hospital in Akron for a year, where they didn't let you do anything, and then, went to Shreveport, where they let you do everything. ... In Shreveport, one time, we had to do autopsies, and, of course, ninety-nine percent of the patients there are black, and a black corpse, one looks just like the other; they all look the same. So, I had a call to do an autopsy on somebody named Jackson or Johnson, some quite common name. So, I went down to the morgue and I pulled out the remains. They had him on a big tray in a refrigerator. I pulled the tray out and on the guy's big toe was a tag and it said, "Jackson," "Johnson," whatever the name was. So, I autopsied him and I imagine I spent, oh, probably, between one and two hours, put him back together, and, about that time, the black attendant, who had been out to lunch, came in. He said, "Did you do the autopsy?" and I said, "Yes, there it is, right there." "That's not the one. That's the other one. There are two Johnsons," two Jacksons, "in here. You did the wrong one." So, I thought, "Oh, boy, I'm going to be facing malpractice suits and all sorts of things, do an autopsy on the wrong body." So, I went upstairs and told the administrator. ... He was a pathologist and he was the only licensed MD in the whole hospital; all the rest were interns and residents, ran the whole show. ... I told him, "Gee, I just autopsied the wrong body." "Oh," he said, "we'll make it a coroner's case," as simple as that. ... Then, nothing ever happened, but, again, lucky, stupid, but who would think there'd be two guys with the same name? Then, we came back, lived in Manasquan for a few years, where I did OB/GYN there, and had another baby. House got too small, so, we moved to Sea Girt, bought a big house in Sea Girt, a great, big dump. ... Then, in '86, I retired, but I did OB/GYN for forty-some years, and I always say, ... "I treated women so long, I talk just like one." I'm monopolizing the conversation here. [laughter]
SI: I have asked you to do that. [laughter] Does anything stand out about your time at Fitkin? I believe you met your wife there in that period, when you were at Fitkin the first time.
HH: Yes, she was a student nurse, yes, and she worked in OB. After she died, I had a pretty girl, the nurse there. That's not Cathy. Cathy's in the red jacket up there on the mantelpiece. That's Judy, over there, and I taught her as a student nurse, as an intern. I was an intern, she was a student nurse. ... Then, she worked in the OB floor or delivery room. I got to know her better there and became fond of her. She's a nice girl. ... I don't know, she got married and we delivered her babies, two of them, a boy and a girl, so, she was my patient. ... Then, she came and worked in the office. I thought she was exceptional, she's cute as hell, so, I asked her to work in the office. She did, but her husband got a job up in Connecticut that he couldn't refuse, vice-president of something, big job. He was a cop, and he, somehow, got this beautiful job. So, he went up to Connecticut and took her with him, and the babies, and she was up there for eight or ten years. ... He was climbing up a tree to saw a limb off and fell out and killed himself, you know, struck his head. So, anyway, to make a long story short, she came back down to New Jersey and worked in the office again, for awhile, until I retired, and then, lo and behold, she moved down here. ... She told me, she said, "I want to be near you." Well, by this time, my wife had died, and so, anyway, one thing led to another and we got married in April, I forget what year it was now, about '04 or '05. Cathy was dead a year-and-a-half, '05, I guess, and she made a deal with a guy up in Connecticut, I knew about it, but I didn't pay much attention, where they would share expenses. She had this big house to maintain up in Connecticut. So, he moved in. He was a retired fireman, and I think they had romantic interactions, I'm sure they did, because, after she married me, they were on the phone every morning at five o'clock. He got up at five o'clock in the morning, called on the phone, and then, he came down for a week's golfing and she was out golfing all the time. ... Anyway, one thing led to another, we had the marriage annulled, and they're still together, she and this guy, Bill. I expect her to call any time. He has diabetes. He's also bipolar, you know bipolar? yes, and he's had several breaks. When he heard that she married me, he went on a psychotic break, and he has an ileostomy and he took all his clothes off, went walking around the house, draining his ileostomy on the floor, a bad psychotic break. He'd been hospitalized twice for depression before this, which we didn't know about at the time, but he was hospitalized with this last break and she thought it was ... her fault, for marrying me, and she blames herself. ... He's threatened suicide a few times. That really got her upset. So, it's just a complicated situation, but, now, he's in the hospital. He has inflammation of the legs, vasculitis of both legs, and they admitted him for that and, in the course of his workups, they found he had lymphomas in both lungs, and he's diabetic. Diabetic, psychotic, vasculitis, lymphoma; the guy hasn't long to live, I'm afraid, ... with all that wrong with him. So, she went over to check up on him and she said she'd call me when she found out what the scoop was, because I feel sorry for the guy. ... He did break up our marriage, but I still feel sorry for him.
SI: Does anything else stand out about your time at Fitkin or Halloran? You mentioned the day, at Halloran, that there were five thousand admissions and how that experience was very influential on you.
HH: Yes, yes.
SI: When you were at Fitkin, were you mostly dealing with local medical needs or were there any returning GIs that you had to deal with?
HH: Yes, yes. We had some guys come back with malaria, I remember, several with malaria, and shaking and fever, high fever, and feeling terrible with malaria. ... One instance, in Halloran; was it Halloran? I've got another senior moment here, can't think of it; sorry, slipped my mind. Oh, yes, I know what it was; this whole time, we've been talking about the bad things. One good thing, I was single, in Halloran, I hadn't gotten married yet, and I think I was engaged, maybe, but I was free and twenty-one. ... The ballparks and theaters and what-have-you in New York City, which is right across the bay there, would send over bunches of tickets for these wounded veterans to have. Well, that was very nice, and they used them, but they couldn't go without a medical doctor going with them. So, I saw more ballgames and more plays, and I think I was at every theater in New York City. I got tired of going after awhile. I went mostly as a favor to these guys, so that they could go, but that was one of the better aspects of the thing. One of the guys, I remember, that I took, a little, short guy, real nice, little fellow, and I don't know what was wrong with him. He was a patient in the hospital, obviously, and he opens up his wallet and in it was a clipping from his hometown newspaper with his obituary in it, his own obituary, yes, which I thought was interesting, nice, little guy, but that was one of the better things that happened there. One other thing, I don't think I mentioned it, within a week or two, most of those guys, most of those five thousand that I mentioned, had been shipped out to their nearest general hospital to their homes, so that they could visit with their people. I thought that was pretty darn nice, too. They, the military hospital administrators, were thoughtful. It was a good operation there. They ran a good show. As I say, I can't take credit for it; I was only there a month or two, but I was quite impressed, quite impressed.
SI: Were you on active duty with the Army Air Forces then?
HH: Yes, oh, yes. When I finished up my internship, you went right in active service, as a first lieutenant. ... After I'd been at MacDill a year, then, they made us all captains.
SI: What stands out in your memory about your time at MacDill, which is actually just up the road, correct?
HH: Yes. We were busy. We had a lot of OB. I don't know whether it was related to the guys coming back from overseas that hadn't seen their wives in so long and wanted to start families or whatever, but we were busy. ... I was partnered with a guy named Charles Warfield and he and I ran the dependents' clinic, wives and children of the soldiers, and delivered the babies. ... He'd be on one night and I'd be on one night and take turns, one week in, one week off. Oh, I know, one thing that, yes, just crossed my mind; I delivered Major Lansone's wife. ... She had twin boys and it was her first pregnancy and they were delighted. They were so thrilled. He was the major in charge of one of the wings, B-29s. It's the biggest bomber, at that time, in the world, and he said to me, he called me Hutch, "Hutch, what can I do for you?" He said, "I appreciate your delivering my wife and I'd like to do something for you." So, I said, "Well, I've got a girl up in New Jersey and I would like to go visit her. Is that all right?" "Yes, I thought it'd be something like that." So, he said, "What are you doing this weekend?" and I said, "I hope going to New Jersey." "Yes," he said, "that's right, you are." He said, "Meet me down at the flight line after duty hours." So, they rolled out this B-29 and gassed it up, with I don't know how many thousands of gallons of aviation gasoline, high-test gas, and a crew of five, and flew me, one lousy doctor, up to New Jersey. We landed at Newark Airport, and my father and Cathy met me at the airport and drove me down to the New Jersey Shore. We spent the weekend together and, Sunday afternoon, I went back. ... My father was fascinated by the parachute. He thought that was just the most marvelous thing, the parachute. ... You had to check out a parachute. When you fly in the service, you have to have a parachute. So, I checked one out and he, the Major, told me, "Be very careful. Bring it back when you come back," ... but he (his father) was very interested in it, not the [B-29]. I thought he'd be interested in the plane, but he didn't care much, only the parachute. I don't know. So, we waited a few minutes and, pretty soon, this crew of five came in a taxi, drove up to the B-29, and they all piled in and they looked terrible. They were hung over and their clothes were wrinkled and they obviously ... had been drinking, and what it was, they had gone to the Army-Notre Dame football game at the Polo Grounds, and then, gone out on the town that night and got stinking drunk and hung over. ... I thought, "Am I going to get in that plane, this great, big plane, with this drunken bunch of bums? ... I've got to, you know. I've got to go," because I was late once before and the Colonel threatened to send me, I forget where, Korea? I think Korea, and he would have done it, too, if he could have. He was that kind of a guy. Well, anyway, I climbed aboard ... with these guys and I sat between the pilot and the copilot, on a little squat seat there, and in between my knees was an ... automatic pilot, about as round as this thing (the six-inch microphone stand base). ... We got off the ground all right, thank God, because that's one of the most dangerous moments. Getting off and landing, they're the two worst times, and got up to altitude. ... The Major switched automatic pilot on, in the right direction, and fell asleep and the whole crew was asleep. [laughter] ... I was the only one awake and I had the Sunday papers with me and I'm reading the comic papers in the Sunday paper and watching. You know, you're up in the nose, got a beautiful view up there. It's all greenhouse, they call it, all glass, around you. You can see beautifully. So, I look out and here's this big, old thunderhead sticking up, huge thing, black as could be. The bottom was flat, you know, ... and we're headed right for the bottom of that thunderhead. Well, I was only a captain and captains don't wake up majors. As a rule, you know, you don't mess with majors, when you're a lower grade. ... There was a pretty good wind out there, make us veer off a little bit, and this damned automatic pilot goes, "Click, click, click," and clicked right back on, headed right for this thunderhead. So, I finally got my nerve up and I said, "Major, should we go through that thing?" "Oh," he said, "hell no," and he put that B-29 up on one wing and we made a big sweep, I don't know how many miles, ten miles, twenty miles, around this thunderhead and got around the other side. He looked back, "Okay," puts the autopilot back on, but, if I hadn't been awake, I thought we'd go down. I learned, later, they go up. There's an updraft in those things and they go up to forty, fifty thousand feet, and we didn't have any oxygen. We could have smothered, suffocated, maybe, but, lucky for him, I was awake. ... He went back to sleep again, the whole crew went right back to sleep, and we got back down to Florida. ... The First Lieutenant was a copilot. He woke up and he said, "Where are we? Where are we?" "I think we're over Florida." So, he said, "Oh, yes." Then, he checked in. I don't know how he found out where we were now, I forget, but, anyway, the Major woke up then and landed the plane, but that was my own private B-29. That's a true story, yes. You can't make up something like that. [laughter] ... What that cost the taxpayers, I have no idea, but I learned later, too, that if you're in the Air Force and get flight pay, you have to fly a certain number of hours a month or you can't get your pay. So, this was not a total waste. They got their flight pay by flying me up to New Jersey. They'd have flown somewhere else, just to waste time, otherwise. This way, they did get something accomplished. It was fun. That was my biggest adventure in the Air Force then.
SI: You were there when the US Army Air Forces became the US Air Force.
HH: Oh, yes, yes.
SI: Was there any kind of ceremony?
HH: ... No. We were away, somewhere, and ... we were in a commercial plane. I forget the details now, it's been so long, but there were three or four of us and one was a real comic. ... Of course, I was Captain Hutchinson, and the general in charge of the whole base was General Hutchinson; no relation at all. So, none of us had any money and where the commercial airport is over here and MacDill is over here, oh, five miles, maybe more, out on the peninsula, so, it is too far to walk. So, it's nighttime. So, this guy said, "I'll take care of things," this wise guy. So, he got on the phone. We didn't have cell phones then; he had to borrow a dime to make a call. So, he went to the pay phone there, and I didn't know what he said, but, pretty soon, a staff car came racing up and pulled up in front of us and the driver asked, when we got in, "Where's the general?" ... This guy said, "Not general; it's Captain Hutchinson." "Captain? I came to get a general." What this guy had done, he said, "There's a General Hutchinson here, waiting for a car. You'd better come over and get him," and so, the driver came over. He was a good sport about it. He laughed. "Okay," he said, "get in. I'll take you back to the base." ... I never would have thought of doing something like that, but he got away with it. We all got a ride back to base for free. When you're young and foolish, ... you get away with stuff like that.
SI: At MacDill, did you do anything else besides the OB/GYN work?
HH: Oh, yes, that's all, OB/GYN, dependents' clinic, yes. ...
SI: Were the medical facilities there adequate?
HH: Yes, yes. I wouldn't say they were superb. They were adequate. That's a good word; they were adequate. If they had any real major surgery, they would try to ship it up to Walter Reed [Army Medical Center], or some other general hospital, but they'd do appendectomies and hernias, gall bladders, routine stuff there. I didn't do them. I delivered the babies, and I didn't do C-sections, Caesarean section. I don't recall who did C-sections. I think we called in a consultant in town, maybe. We were allowed to do that, too. Yes, I think so, yes.
SI: What were the medical facilities like when you got to Kearney?
HH: Well, there was a Good Samaritan Hospital that allowed us to come in and deliver our babies, in this Catholic Good Samaritan Hospital, and it was spic-and-span. It was one of the best-run hospitals I've ever seen, but the base had been closed down and it was dirty, dusty, like places ... get when they're not being used, and we spent most of our time getting it in shape. We were actually doing painting and cleaning the place up. ... We weren't that busy, didn't have that many babies to deliver. The base wasn't that big, and I don't remember too much exciting. Biggest thing I remember, when I was pulling up in there, they said it would be a dry cold, "You won't mind, going from Florida to Kearney, Nebraska, in December, because it's a dry cold," you know. It was eighteen below zero when we landed in Kearney, and I was cold. ... My poor wife, she doesn't stand cold very well anyway, and it was cold as could be and we lived in a motel for a week or so, until I found a place to live, upstairs apartment, which was adequate, but we were there from December to June. ... When I left in June, I was the commandant of the hospital. Colonel Darnell, I don't know if he made colonel, perhaps was only a lieutenant colonel, Darnell. ... He took off, and I was only a captain, but he said, "You're going to run the hospital now." "Okay. ... I'm due to be discharged any time." "Okay, discharge yourself," and he said, "You name another guy to run the hospital when you're gone." He was that casual about it. So, the day came and I wrote my own discharge. I had the sergeant type it up for me, they call it "cut your orders," and named Darby, I think his name was, ... I think he was a first lieutenant, I was then a captain, in charge of the whole hospital, but it was that casual, you know. One thing, out there, too, we'd go out and they had jeeps and we'd get in a jeep with a .22 rifle at night and shoot jackrabbits. ... They encouraged you, because they were on the runway a lot and they'd interfere, maybe, with the planes, especially smaller planes, trying to land. ... So, they encouraged us to do that, but you sit on the hood of the jeep, bouncing around, you know, hurt your behind after awhile, and trying to shoot these jackrabbits. A moving target from a moving vehicle is really a challenge; I'm not sure I ever got one. I tried a number of times. I went back, later on. Two of my kids wanted to see where I had been and we drove through Kearney and the Air Force airport then was a cornfield. I don't know what they did with the concrete. They had concrete runways. I don't know what happened to them, because there was cornfields. The town hadn't changed that much; typical Western town.
SI: Did the military base have much of a relationship with the town?
HH: Not too much, no, not that I'm aware of, no, no. In fact, I think that it was an older couple that owned the house where we stayed. We had the upper apartment, ... which they had fixed up for this purpose, I think, to have, you know, boarders from the base come in. ... Apparently, it was the wife's idea. She was quite nice, but the old man, he didn't like anybody upstairs. He made it obvious that we weren't terribly welcome, and so, when we were discharged, he made some kind of comment, "I knew, I knew you wouldn't last." So, I said, "Well, I've arranged for Dr., or Lieutenant, Darby," the same one I made commandant of the hospital; he wanted to move in. He wasn't satisfied with his quarters. He and his wife didn't like the quarters they had. So, they moved in our place, and the old man was shut up. He was mollified, but, no, the townspeople, ... I wouldn't say there's any antagonism, animosity. The Senator from Nebraska, I think, had something to do with this, getting the base reopened, because there was really no need for it, and it's an awful expense, moving all these people all around, and it was a B-29 base, too. We could fly, though. As long as you're in the Air Force ... and if you have a pass, you could fly wherever the plane's going. I'd get on the flight line on a Friday afternoon, after hours, and ask, "Where you going?" "Well, we're going to;" one time, it was Detroit, Selfridge Field in Detroit. "Can I go, got any room for a passenger?" "Sure, come on." So, I hopped aboard. I was in summer fatigues, you know, khakis, and, when we got to Selfridge Field, it was snowing, never been so cold in my life. So, I went to the flight line there and I said, "What have you got going out of here, soon, quick?" and they said, "We've got a general's plane, he's not aboard, but a general's plane, going to West Point." "Okay, can I go?" "Sure, the plane's empty, come on." So, I hopped aboard. ... I remember, we flew around Niagara Falls. They kind of diverted and we flew around the falls, to see them, and land at West Point. ... From there, I got a ride down to Mitchell Field, Long Island, and this is all taking time, of course. ... I slept overnight in the visiting officers' quarters. They have a place, ... not very fancy, but clean and warm. So, you sleep in the bachelors' quarters, and then, you go through the chow line ... to eat. So, you know, it's all not a great hardship, but I got to Long Island and there's nothing flying out, and I had to be back to the base. This was Sunday afternoon, by this time, and I had to be back to the base there for duty Monday morning. So, they had a plane there from Homestead Air Force Base in Miami, sitting on the runway, and I didn't know what's going to happen to it, just sitting there. So, I went out and [was] looking around, just to see what's going on, and a guy named Earl Rafes was sitting on the front step and I looked down. He's got a bald head, a very typical, characteristic, bald head. I recognized his bald head. "Earl, is that you?" "Yes, yes." ... I said, "What are you going to do?" "Well, let's go in and get something to eat." So, we went in and ordered steaks, and they order at one end of the line and, by the time you get down at the other end, they're ready for you. ... As we got down at the other end of the line, there's some guys there putting food into a paper bag. So, Earl, big mouth, I wouldn't have spoken to them, but, ... luckily, he did, and he asked, "Where you guys going?" "Going to Homestead. Want a ride?" "Yes, yes." So, we got two slices of bread and put our steak between these two slices of bread, and they weren't all that big, and climbed aboard this plane. ... When they got to Homestead, in the middle of the night and early in the morning, we dozed in the airport there, again, until four or five o'clock in the morning, and there was a local bus, awful thing, going across Florida, ... from Homestead to Tampa. So, Earl didn't have any money at all. I had some. So, I bought two tickets, and I forget, they weren't that much, three or four dollars apiece. So, we climbed aboard this bus and there was a Hispanic guy with a crate alongside of him and a fighting cock, a rooster, in this crate. ... He had the crate on the seat by him, I'll never forget, and we rumbled across from Homestead Base to Tampa and got back just at eight o'clock, just in time for duty. We were so lucky, but, the crazy things you do when you're young, you know, but fun, fun to look back on. I'll never forget that fighting cock. The Hispanic guy said, "Yes, he's a good fighter, good fighter."
SI: Let me just pause the tape for a moment.
[Editor's Note: During the break, the interviewer and Dr. Hutchinson began looking through his scrapbook and records.]
HH: You may not believe this, but, of all the certificates I got, I think I'm proudest of my Army service. I didn't do a damn thing except deliver babies, but I'm so glad I went in. ... This is my discharge from Kearney Air Force Base in Nebraska, "Kearney Air Force Base, Nebraska, Fourth Day of June," and this is the one from the medical school, "Private First Class, Army Specialized Training Unit, ... 1320314;" I've forgotten that one.
SI: Was that your ID number?
HH: Yes, serial number, 1726051; that I remember, yes. That was June of '48.
SI: When you were separated, did you go into the Reserves or were you fully discharged?
HH: No. ... There was a question about that, whether we wanted to go in [the] Reserve or not. ... The war was over, and I don't know whether I went in the Reserve or not, to be honest with you, because I figured, "There's no need for me now," you know. ... Then, the Korean War started up shortly after that and I wasn't called in. I guess I couldn't have gone in the Reserve, because I wasn't called up. I know some of the guys that were Navy, they went back in it, to Korea, but the Army didn't ... kind of need us.
SI: I know that the "Doctor's Draft" was a big issue in the Korean War.
HH: Oh, really, yes?
SI: That did not affect you at all.
HH: No, no. ... Once I left Kearney, that was the end of my military career. I don't remember anything else from that time. Oh, yes, one other thing; this Colonel Darnell, I had thirty-five dollars that belonged to him. I don't know where I got it from now, but I couldn't give it to him; I wasn't there to give it to him. ... I could have put it in an envelope, I guess, and let the enlisted man give it to him, but, anyway, I put it in the desk drawer, his desk, the main desk in there, because I figured, "He'll be back, you know, any time now." ... Before I got home, my wife, when we left Kearney, said, "Look, we're halfway across the country. We may not get a chance again to go to California. Why don't we go, take a trip? We have no responsibility, no children, no nothing," we had seven hundred dollars to our name, "and we'll make a big loop around California and down to Texas and all around, make a big loop through the country." "Okay." So, we did. ... So, by the time I got home, we had spent every nickel we had and had gone seven thousand miles. We spent seven hundred dollars. ... My mother had given us a new Ford Coupe and it got good mileage, and so, we were comfortable there, but, by the time I got home, time had gone by, I forget, maybe a month, and my mother was all upset with me. I said, "What's wrong, Mom?" "Well," she said, "your Colonel Darnell called and he wasn't very nice at all." ... She said, "He said you'd stolen thirty-five dollars from him." ... She said, "He called back later, and he didn't apologize, but he said he'd found the thirty-five dollars and not to worry about it, but he wasn't nice at all." ... I was going to call him and I said, "Oh, I'm out of it now," you know, but, that, again, left a bad taste in my mouth, but it was probably partly my fault. I should have left it ... with Darby, but it was a spur of the moment thing. I put it in the desk drawer. It's right there for him, ... but, for him to call my mother up and give her a hard time, ... I didn't like it.
SI: You had a long career in medicine in Monmouth County. You spoke about how one of the big changes in medicine was the growth of the bureaucracy and that sort of thing.
SI: What were some of the other changes in medicine that you saw over your long career? Are there any new technologies or methods that stand out?
HH: Oh, yes, yes, I have to stop and think, though. One big thing that ... concerns me are nurses. We have a terrible shortage of nurses, and I think so much so that that is why; nurses used to wear these little dinky caps, like Judy has on in the photograph, that little, white cap, and they don't have them anymore. ... I think the reason is, they said, "Well, it's not sanitary." Well, that doesn't make sense. I mean, you can't tell a nurse from a charwoman, you know, a cleaning lady. So, if you look, here are three women taking care of patients and you have no idea whether she's a nurse or who's taking care of it. ... They may have one nurse per floor, and there's a real serious shortage of nurses, which means, of course, ... the ones who are left have to do the work of two now. University of Pennsylvania, great hospitals, one of our ivory towers; Hollis Carter, this friend of mine, ... for eighty-five years, we've been friends, from Keyport, ... he went up there to have a stent put in his aorta. He had an aortic aneurysm and they put it in through the femoral artery and feed it up into the aorta; that's the new way to do it. I had an aortic aneurysm. They cut me open and put a stent in through my abdomen and sewed it back up again. I was all right, a hell of an operation, though. ... Hollis had a bad time with it and his scrotum ballooned up here like a basketball. He had to lay in bed with his scrotum on a pillow, and he was very, very sick. ... He says the nurse would come in and they'd put dressings on, he thought they were nurses, not sure, but they'd put dirty dressings on his dinner tray. ... They didn't take good care of him at all and come to find out most of them were not nurses; they were aides and maids and what-have-you, and untrained, ... and this is University of Pennsylvania. He won't go back. He's supposed to go back for an ultrasound. He's never been back, two years now, and he won't go back because of what treatment he got before, which is unheard of. It's hard to believe that an institution like that could treat their patients like that, but the good nurses, then, are so overwhelmed that they leave and there's nobody worth having. You know, the ones that are left there, for a good part, are incompetent. ... They're just there to collect a buck and do their job and get out, you know, work eight hours, get the heck out. So, the nursing profession has suffered, is just nothing like it used to be, not at all. I think, too, I'm not alone; I told you about doctors being dissatisfied. This third-party pay is a big bone of contention and, of course, Medicare does not pay generously. They pay, but not very generously, and hospitals are going broke. In Birmingham, Alabama, one of their major hospitals closed their doors; they just couldn't make a go of it. In our own little hospital, the Venice Hospital, the Bon Secours Health System owned the hospital there for awhile and they lost millions, ... nineteen million dollars in one year. So, they got out; they sold it. ... There are so many old people in Venice that are on Medicare and the hospitals can't make a go of it on Medicare. They just can't do it, and that's why, too, if you go in as a private patient, without Medicare or insurance, they really sock it to you, because there's no restraint. They can charge as much as they want to. I had a pacemaker put in here, not too long ago, and the bill for anybody else would have been fifty thousand dollars, for a pacemaker. ... If I hadn't had insurance, that's what it would have been, but Medicare paid for it and they paid something like two thousand. They're not that generous, and that's what all the fussing is about now. There's so many poor people who don't have insurance and they're being neglected. There are people who are not getting the medical attention they should. So, there's got to be a solution. Medicare, itself, really is a form of socialized medicine, and it saved my life, probably. I don't mean to be dramatic, but, without Medicare, I couldn't have had all the treatment I've had. This operation on my aortic aneurysm would be a fifty-thousand-dollar job, probably, and Medicare probably paid them two or three. Medicaid, which is for the indigent, is even worse. We didn't accept Medicaid, unless it was an emergency, of course. Then, of course, anybody would be welcome, but to schedule a Medicaid patient would cost us money, they paid so poorly. ... Up north, they had something called "ward service" and poor people would go through the ward and they would get good care. In fact, the popular saying up there was, "If you want good care, you need to be very poor, and go through the ward, or be very rich, and you could afford the very best," but the poor up there are not neglected. ... The clinics are well-run and they're well staffed. We had to take our turn running clinics. ... One month, I'd be on OB. Another month, I'd be on GYN clinics, and supervise the residents and interns, and we all took our turn. ... There was always a full attending at all the clinics, for problems, and they're well-run and well staffed and it worked out fine, and nobody paid a dime, nobody. What they did was, at the end of the year, the hospital would figure out what it should have cost and submit their bill to the board of commissioners, freeholders, somebody, who handles the taxes and what-have-you, and they would see how much money they had. ... The Monmouth Hospital, you know, Monmouth Hospital, now Medical Center, over in Long Branch, and Jersey Shore Medical Center and Riverview Hospital, now Medical Center, whatever, they would whack up proportions, whatever they had coming. So, they wouldn't take a complete loss, but they didn't make any money on it, but the poor people were taken care of. ... I enjoyed my year down in Shreveport. Of course, that was all charity and nobody, no patient, paid a dime. The taxpayers paid it all, but we doctors were paid a hundred dollars a month, and I had the GI Bill, which paid me another hundred a month. So, we got along, but it was a struggle. It was fun, though. You know, you make things go, but it gave me a new slant on the black problem, too. The blacks down there are treated much differently than they are up here. Down there, in Shreveport, the black people were treated indulgently, like they were children, you know, mischievous children, but children nevertheless, and with some fondness. Now, up North, they claimed to be treated as equals, but they're not liked, they're not liked. Down in the South, they like them; they liked their black people. They get along fine. As long as they, you know, don't do something wrong, why, they're perfectly welcome. We had babysitters come to the house and they were fine. They were very nice people. I enjoyed them. As patients, they were fine. I'll never forget, too, one night, Christmas Eve, I was, ... of course, out of state and I couldn't go home for Christmas. So, I volunteered to cover the OB/GYN floor Christmas Eve. ... They have a late-night supper and I went over to get a cup of coffee or something, to the dining hall, and you crossed the parking lot and the dining hall was like here and the hospital's over here. ... The hospital had four or five wings sticking out into the parking lot and you walk into the dining room and you're facing these windows of all five divisions of the hospital. ... It was a beautiful night, Southern night, you know, a big moon, and, all of a sudden, somebody in one wing would start singing Holy Night or some Christmas carol, and then, somebody else would pick it up, and then, the harmonica. They all, not all, but several, had musical instruments, harmonicas, guitars and portable instruments, and they would chime in, and it was, I'll never forget, the most beautiful sound, all these black voices harmonizing, singing Christmas carols. ... I stood there the longest time and they sang Adeste Fideles and they would sing all the Christmas carols, and it was just beautiful, just beautiful, and I enjoyed it; a year well spent.
SI: Later on in your career, you became very involved in anti-smoking campaigns.
HH: Oh, yes.
SI: Can you tell me a little bit about how that came about and what you did?
HH: ... Yes. I'm not quite sure why I got so obsessed with it, but it was an obsession, is an obsession, still. In 1952, they were having; oh, I know, I know what prompted it. It comes back to me now. I was going to get in an elevator, standing by the elevators, on the ground floor in the hospital, and right next to the elevator was a cigarette machine. ... A young man came in, a high school student, the high school's in back of the hospital, and he was cutting through the hospital ... to get to the cigarette machine. ... He had books and he was trying to balance the books on his knee and put money in the cigarette machine and pull it. So, I said, "I'll hold your books for you." So, I held his books and he got his cigarettes and I handed his book back to him and I thought, "There's something wrong here, you know. A hospital selling cigarettes, that shouldn't be. Everybody knows they're harmful." Even back then, they knew they were harmful. They perhaps didn't know how harmful, but they knew they were harmful. So, I got to thinking about it. At the next medical meeting, I got up, I felt like a jackass, but I did it anyway, and on one side was, I'll never forget, ... Mort Trippe, and on the other side was Milton Haut, and they're both smoking. Medical meetings then were full of smoke. You couldn't see across the room for the damned smoke. So, I got up and I said, under new business, "I think the hospital should get out of the tobacco business. They have cigarettes on the carts. They had carts they push around from room to room, with cigarettes on it, and candy and what-have-you, and the gift shop, they have a wall lined with cigarettes and cigarette machines in the hospital. We should get out of the cigarette business," and it surprised me, they passed it. Somebody moved it, you know, made a motion, and they passed it. Not these two guys; they didn't pass it. In fact, I caught a lot of flak from guys. ... Oh, I had an interest in a tavern nearby and it had cigarette machines. "Well, you sell cigarettes in your tavern, don't you?" and I [said], "Well, if you go to my tavern for your health, you're crazy. So, don't go there for your health." The woman in charge of the gift shop said, "You know, you cut into our finances by cutting out cigarettes. We're making a nice profit from cigarettes, and it's all your fault." ... I took some guff about it, which only made me even more resolute. So, they did, they took the cigarettes out of the hospital, and I don't know how I got into giving lectures. I started, for some reason, giving lectures on smoking and I had a section of lung that I got from the morgue, from an autopsy. ... It's stained gray and in the center was a white tumor, cancer, and I'd take this in a kind of a bucket you get fried chicken in, Kentucky Fried Chicken, a plastic bucket, and it had formaldehyde and this lung. ... I'd keep it in the icebox on the back porch at home between lectures. ... Word got out that I was giving lectures on cigarettes and I forget ... how it got going, but I was called so often, it got to be so I didn't really have time to give them all. The schools, the Hadassah, the Rosary Society, my church, they all contacted me, "Come give your lecture to these folks about cigarettes, about smoking." So, I did. I gave as many as I possibly could, and it was fun. I enjoyed it. I really did get a kick out of it and I'm not sure anybody ever stopped. ... Yes, I think, maybe, somebody did, but ... it made the headlines. Oh, that's what started it; it made the headlines in the Asbury Park Press, the local paper, and NBC, or CBS, somebody up in New York, got a hold of it and they sent a crew down to take pictures of the hospital where cigarettes were no longer sold. It was that unusual. All the hospitals sold cigarettes back then, and I was ahead of my time, for once in my life. ... I was invited to speak at a symposium at Atlantic City, at an AMA [American Medical Association] convention, and I was also invited to an anti-smoking program down in Washington, twice. Dan, Daniel, Horn was in charge of the program. I went down there twice to talk about cigarettes and smoking. [Editor's Note: Dr. Daniel Horn was associated with the American Cancer Society.] ... It made quite a splash; it really did. ... The American Cancer Society, they had a film that I showed these kids ... about antismoking, and a short film, ten, fifteen minutes, and it would get their attention, and then, I'd give my little spiel about smoking and how bad it was, show them my lung. ... I'd always get a phone call, "Will you come speak to my fourth graders? and be sure to bring your lung," and so, I'd take my lung, I'd go, and the film, and it'd take me about an hour. ... I must have talked to the majority of schools in the area, at least to one class; oh, yes, easily that. Englishtown schools, I went to, first aid squads, I went to, volunteer first aid squads, in Bricktown, and it was fun. It was a hobby, sort of, but I thought maybe I was doing some good, and my own wife kept smoking. Poor Cathy, God bless her, she finally quit and, forty years later, she developed lung cancer, and it was due to her smoking. It was that late, that delayed. I didn't believe it at first, but both the oncologist and her primary care physician said, "Oh, that's what did it," forty years later.
SI: You started advocating anti-smoking even before the Surgeon General's announcement. [Editor's Note: In January 1964, Surgeon General Luther Terry released Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States, a report on the harmful effects of smoking that led to many national antismoking initiatives.]
HH: Oh, yes, yes, Luther brought out his report later on. I was ahead of him even, yes, but it was interesting. The television crew came down and it made the television. I never saw it on TV, though. Whether it didn't make the grade or what, I don't know. I don't know what happened to it. ... I kept watching for it, but I never did see it, may have been shown, but it was fun.
SI: Is there anything else you would like to say about your career or your life in general?
HH: No. I think we've pretty well covered it. ... From what I said, you might think I was disappointed in my life, but, no, I think I've had a really rewarding experience, and I loved what I did. I loved delivering babies. It's a real thrill when you deliver a baby. You hold that little baby in your arms and it takes its first cry and you see a life get started. That's really a thrill, and we'd have a girl come in who can't get pregnant, and then, you do some tests and whatever, and, lo and behold, she has a baby. That's great. I had one woman, lovely girl, come in, couldn't get pregnant. ... I did some tests on her and, lo and behold, she got pregnant. ... Within a year, she was pregnant a second time and, after the third time, she wanted to be sterilized. [laughter] She wanted her tubes tied. She had too many babies. The last one weighed eleven pounds and four ounces, I think, a great, big boy. You worry about the mother being diabetic, because diabetics have big babies like that, but she wasn't, she wasn't diabetic. We had some fun, though, in medicine, too. Can I tell [you something] ... a little bit off-color?
SI: Yes, sure. If you want to cut it later, you can.
HH: Yes, okay. One girl, it wasn't my patient, a girl came in, girl, woman, came in ... for a routine examination, hot day, and she gave her name to the receptionist and sits down and picked up a magazine near the air conditioner. ... I guess the air conditioner got working on her, to her kidneys or something; she had to go to the ladies room. So, she walked in the ladies room and there was no tissue on the roller. So, she used Kleenex. She reached in her purse, and this is back when they had shopping stamps, S&H Green Stamps for shopping. You remember those? and got Kleenex out of her purse and used the Kleenex. ... Since her name was being called a second time, she was in a hurry. So, she grabbed her panties up off the floor and put them in her bag and rushed into the doctor's examining room and hopped up on the table. ... Dr. Hardy came in, my partner, and he sat down at the foot of the table, said hello, you know, and the nurse had her knees all draped, like they do, and lifted the drape up and he chuckled. He never laughed, he chuckled, and he said the patient raised up on one elbow, said, "What's so funny down there, Dr. Hardy? This is no time for levity, you know. This is a very serious moment." So, he said, "Well, I've seen all sizes, shapes and colors. I never saw one with green stamps on it before," and the stamps out of her purse had gotten stuck. Anyway, I thought that was funny. We had some funny moments. I had one, too, a little black woman, cute as could be, snow white hair, and she had had some bleeding. ... Her family doctor, a woman, family doctor, had sent her in for an examination and we had an awful struggle getting her up on the table. She didn't want to be examined at all. ... Judy and I persisted, got her up on the table, still had her pants on. So, Judy wrestled her pants off, on the table, which is quite a task, and ... she held still for the examination, which was good. I did a biopsy and she did have cancer of the cervix, as it turned out, and we let her get down after the exam was over. ... She had a taffeta skirt on, kind of makes noise when you push it down, you know, makes a rustling noise, and she rustled her skirt down. ... With the cutest twinkle in her eye, she looked up, she's a real short, little thing, maybe five feet tall at most, and told me, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself," and I laughed. I thought that was so funny, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself." [laughter] ... We had some fun. It was good.
SI: Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
HH: Oh, not a bit. I enjoyed it.
SI: Thank you for getting out the scrapbook. That was very interesting.
HH: Well, thank you. Yes, Cathy made that up for me.
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Reviewed by Jessica Ondusko 10/11/09
Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 1/15/10
Reviewed by Harry F. Hutchinson 1/24/10