Kurt Piehler: This begins an interview with C. Harrison Hill on November 29, 1995 at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey with Kurt Piehler. And, I would I like to begin by asking a few questions about your parents.
C. Harrison Hill: Sure.
KP: And, one is, how your parents met?
CH: To tell you the truth, I don't know. I'm working on genealogy. My dad was from Highland Park, and my mother was from Milltown and just how they met, I don't know. I remember that they said they dated at the old Hotel Klein, which was down on George Street, but I really don't know.
KP: You don't know how the meeting took place.
CH: No. The interesting thing is that I found a newspaper clipping stating that, although their engagement was known, they surprised their friends with the marriage date, April, 1913. According to the article, "Mr. Hill called at the Harkins' home with an automobile." The couple were driven to the parsonage in South Amboy of the former pastor of the Milltown Methodist Church. Following the ceremony, they were, "whirled off in the automobile to the South Amboy Railroad Station where they boarded a train for a trip to Connecticut."
The article described my mother as the pretty and popular daughter of Borough Clerk and Mrs. Robert A. Harkins. My great-grandfather Harkins came to Milltown from Ireland in the 1840s. His son, my grandfather, was the borough clerk in Milltown for twenty-five years and my grandchildren are now living in what was my grandfather's house, which, we think, is rather unusual in America.
CH: And, before they moved in, I went into the cellar, to clean up after my aunt and uncle had passed away, and I found a jar in which they had stuffed all their valuable papers from the 1860s to 1970. In the bottom of this, folded up in little inch cubes, were my great-grandfather's citizenship papers and Civil War discharge. That's what got me started on looking into genealogy.
KP: And, this was on your mother's side?
CH: Mother's side. My dad ... lived in Highland Park. His father was a cotton carder for J[ohnson] and J[ohnson] and I'm trying to establish the fact that my great-grandmother was one of the first women in the Salvation Army in the 1880s. She lived in New Brunswick and I have her picture in uniform, but I haven't been able to find any records of this yet.
KP: Have you tried the Salvation Army?
CH: Yes. According to my father she was a captain and ... my grandfather was her lieutenant, which is not what's happening today, but, they say they have complete records of all their officers, so, I'm gathering that she may not have been an officer, but, I just don't know. But, she was. Apparently she traveled around. They went to the coal fields of Pennsylvania and lived on the collection they took up until the family became so big that they had to settle down. And, they did, in Orange, and then, my grandfather came here in the 1860s. He was with Seabury and Johnson, before Johnson and Johnson.
KP: Your father was secretary-treasurer, too, for the Utilities Construction Company?
KP: And, it seems like he was with them for a long time?
CH: For a long time. ... He had been comptroller at Durant Motor Car Company in Elizabeth, and when Durant went out of business he was lucky to get a job with Utility Construction Company, and then, ultimately he became the secretary-treasurer.
KP: So, he worked through the Depression?
CH: Yes. He was never out of work. But, he always said he worked for one tenth of what he had been making previously, and we moved into our new house the day he lost his job, so, he was struggling all during the war to make the interest, you know, they were not paying any principal. ... His personality changed every six months, you know, when he was trying to figure out where this interest money was gonna come from.
KP: Did he ever pay off his house?
CH: Yes. But, I think it was after I got out of Rutgers.
KP: Why did your parents settle in Milltown?
CH: My mother wouldn't leave town. My dad bought a house in New Brunswick and she just refused to live there. ... She lived across the street from her mother and next door to her sister and they spoke through the window. ... You know, ... mother always referred to my grandmother's house as being home. So, we would eat early, and then, I would say, "I am going over home." And, my grandmother would've saved me all of the deserts from the day, and swiped a couple of cigarettes from my aunt and uncle's package for me. ... We had a very close arrangement with my grandmother.
KP: So, you were used to growing up with an extended family?
CH: Well, it was extended, but my mother's ... two brothers and a sister never married. So, it wasn't that extended.
KP: Did they live at home?
CH: Yes, they lived at home. ... Both died in '76. My aunt was ninety-two, and her brother was only seventy-six, but while the minister was consoling him after my aunt's death, he had a heart attack and died, so we had two funerals together and that ... was a mistake. He was very active in Lion's Club, and so a lot of people were coming to express their condolences to him. My brother and I had to stand at the door and say, "You know, Claude has died." ... I don't know what we should have done, but that was a traumatic thing. And, I don't know whether I mentioned my dad had two sisters drown together at the shore, and this was ...
KP: While you were growing up?
CH: No. This was before I was born. 1910. ... They had had one sister die with cancer, and their mother took it very hard so they decided to go down to the shore and at that time they pitched tents down at Morgan. And, these girls worked in New Brunswick and came down on a Saturday afternoon by trolley, and went in the water and stepped in a hole. One of the girls was pulled out, along with a young man who tried to help them. There was a doctor present, but according to the newspaper articles if he had worked on one or the other he would have saved one, but he lost both of them. ... Then the other girl wasn't found until the next day. Her body washed ashore. So, that was a real tragedy in Highland Park in those days.
KP: You mentioned ...
CH: I don't know what you asked me, but I feel like I'm off the subject completely.
KP: No, no, that's fine. No, no, no. Your grandfather on your mother's side was Irish.
CH: His parents were Irish.
KP: His parents were Irish, but your mother was Methodist.
CH: Yes. ... Oh, boy, ... we were Orange men through and through.
KP: Oh, okay.
CH: Al Smith ran for office, my grandfather was about to die, and, you know, "if he had ever been elected, that would have been the worst thing that ever happened to this country," you know? [laughter]
KP: So, you were ...
CH: I was sent to school with an orange tie on St. Patrick's Day, ... and my wife's name is Patricia Kathleen Mullen. So, I mean, we've integrated, but ...
KP: Very interesting. Your father was Baptist and your mother was Methodist. Which church did you go to?
CH: Well, we went to the Methodist Church, because there was one in Milltown. My dad ... taught Sunday School there and everything else, but he never changed his membership from the Baptist church in New Brunswick.
KP: So, it sounds like your father really wanted to be a resident in New Brunswick, but your mother wanted to stay in Milltown.
CH: [laughter] Yes, I think so. Yes. That may have been.
KP: I recently interviewed someone from Milltown, they described it as a very close-knit community in the 1920s and 1930s.
CH: Yes. Very close-knit. Yes. A lot of the people were related, you know. And, I've always said you need to be careful in Milltown, everybody's related to everybody else. There was a German contingent that came there in the 1840s and '50s, and then, they kept bringing relatives over. So, the Kuhlthaus, the Christs are all related to each other in some way or other. But, my family really wasn't in that group at all.
KP: I also was told that there was a Michelin plant in Milltown.
CH: Yes, there was a Michelin plant there for many years. There was a French school, and a lot of French people. In fact, there was a certain amount of feeling in Milltown, a feeling between the French and the Germans. And, we had a French post letter carrier who got to the point of refusing to deliver to one old German fellow that he had an argument with every day up until World War II, you know? [laughter]
KP: They were arguing over World War I?
CH: Yes. World War I. Uh-huh.
KP: There was some tension between the two groups?
CH: There was. Yes. Yes. And then, when Michelin left and went back to France, Mr. Michelin had a home here on College Avenue, and everybody wanted to get in to see it, because he had the only bidet in town and nobody had ever seen a bidet. We have a Michelin Field in Milltown, with a baseball diamond. Recently ... someone wanted to get lights for it. And, they thought "Well, we'll ask Michelin to give us some lights." Well, Michelin had no record of having been in Milltown. So, they sent somebody out, amazingly enough, and they saw the World War I monument, which was a typical French monument, and they saw we had streets named Pershing, Foch, and others from World War I, and then they decided "Gee, ... we must have really have been in Milltown, you know?"
KP: Really? They had no record of it.
CH: They didn't have any record of it. No.
KP: I am most curious that the monument was even in a French style.
KP: And, when did the company leave? Did a lot of the people from France go back with the company?
CH: They went back. Well, there was a French-speaking school. It was separate from the [other schools] ... A few families stayed, but many went back. ... Some of the homes in Milltown are company homes that were built. You know, we had a bungalow section, which was for the lower employees. Then we had others for their executives. ... My grandfather was a builder, and he built many of them. In his old barn, I found a piece of lumber labeled "Michelin house No. 4," and so on. So, it was definitely a company town up until, well, I would say the early 1930s.
KP: So, Michelin moved out in the early 1930s?
CH: Yes. ... They made hand-made tires. ... Then they had trains actually running on rubber tires, on the Raritan River Railroad. For a long time, they were experimenting with them, but, I think it would be in the early '30s that they went back to France.
KP: Growing up, and this would be an early memory, do you remember any Klan activity out by Milltown?
CH: Klan? You mean Ku Klux Klan?
CH: No. But, Milltown was sometimes referred to as an "Archie Bunker" town. We have a very diverse population now.
KP: So, Milltown has changed.
CH: Has changed tremendously. Yes.
KP: Growing up in Milltown, you initially went to the elementary school and what would be junior high in Milltown.
CH: We had elementary school in Milltown, for junior high, we came to New Brunswick. And, ... then I went to senior high, which was overcrowded. Wow. In the building that's now the middle school, we had 1,700 students. We were on three shifts a day. We came in at three different [times]. They called it a "staggered system," you know, to fit everybody in.
KP: This was in New Brunswick.
CH: Yes. This is New Brunswick High School. I finished in '36, so, you know, it was in ... '33-'36.
KP: What was your education like in Milltown before you came to New Brunswick? I imagine it as sort of a close-knit town.
CH: ... It was close-knit and I thought we had a very good education. I was big. So, there was a tendency to skip me, you know? ... I got skipped several times. And, I always said, I skipped English grammar somehow or other, but, I thought we had a good system. ... One thing I remember, we used to be seated in our classroom according to our class grade. We had great competition to see who was gonna sit in that first seat. There were some kids that were slow. As long as they didn't say anything they were just put in the back of the room and sat there until they were sixteen years old. But, I think the ones that were capable got a decent education.
KP: What was it like to come to New Brunswick?
CH: It was quite a change; it was quite a change. Of course, ... we stepped into junior high, but it was very different. We had dances at noon hour, and you know, I was much more cognizant of girls as a junior high student than I had ever been before. And then, ... I was a fairly good mathematician. So, ... they let me take Nine A and Nine B algebra together, and then, I went up to senior high school for advanced algebra. I had a tough time with languages. My Latin teacher suggested I take German.
KP: But, math was easier?
CH: Math was a snap. I'm presently working on a committee for our 60th high school reunion. At the time I went to high school, we had several ... sending districts, from Cranbury to Highland Park to Bonhamton and so on.
KP: In many ways it was a large regional school?
CH: Right. At our last reunion, the 55th, someone said, "How many of us have been in the class since Mrs. Jones' kindergarten?" And, there were twenty kids from Highland Park who have gone totally through secondary together, which I thought was quite unique. And, they're still the ones that are active and planning our class reunions.
KP: When did you have the notion that you might be going to college or wanted to go to college? And, how did your parents feel?
CH: ... You know, it was always drilled into me, that, you know, that you go to college, and you become your own boss. That was my dad, ... because he had worked up to the top several times only to be fired, you know? And, so there was a great emphasis on becoming one's own boss.
KP: In other words he had sort of helped to build up businesses just to then be let go or the business ...
CH: Right. Like Durant closed, and ... I forget what he had done before that, but he'd been in a couple of other minor jobs, you know. ... So, anyhow, he felt you had to work for yourself. And, becoming an architect, I did. However, after ten years of my private practice, with my office in my home, I didn't have any time off. People were calling me all hours of the night, in daytime, and although I didn't mind, my family objected. So, I went one time to Princeton looking for a commission, and they hired me as Director of Physical Planning. I did college and university planning for the last twenty-five years.
KP: I mean, I know I'm gonna ask it later, but since we're right in it, what were the benefits and disadvantages of the two types of work? I mean you mentioned being in your business as an architect, you are your own boss, at the same time you have no free time.
CH: Right. And, whenever somebody gave you a commission they expected the answer immediately, you know? And, you just couldn't do it. The other thing that I did that I think was very wrong is I thought I could take small jobs and do them well, and then, I would get bigger jobs. I got a reputation for doing relatively small jobs, and when somebody got a big job, they went to a big firm to do it. And, ... that was very disillusioning. That was, I think, the thing that I objected to the most. But, ...
KP: It sounds like you enjoyed working for colleges?
CH: Oh, yes, I did. I went to Princeton in '65, and planning at colleges at that time was sort of a vacuous situation. There hadn't been any college planning. People just went out and built a building. ... I was a charter member of the Society for College and University Planning. I stayed at Princeton for five years, and then, I went to Kean College for the last fifteen years. And, I enjoyed it very much.
KP: But, now going back a bit.
CH: Yes. Twenty-five years. [laughter]
KP: You had mentioned earlier that while your parents very much wanted you to go to college there wasn't a lot of money for you to go.
CH: No. No there wasn't any money. I didn't find out until my father had retired, you know, what he was making when he was working initially for Utility Construction Company. ... I always said, "I paid my own way. I worked my way through." Admittedly, my dad created a lot of the jobs that I had. ... But, I never had the money when I had to have it. I was always a semester in the arrears somehow or other, so my dad would finance it. ... He had a little red book and kept a record of what ... I had borrowed, and then, I would pay him back sometime later. I started to work immediately after high school. In fact, I didn't even go to my own class day exercises. I started to work, and in those days in the construction industry you worked ten hour days, six days a week. I was getting forty cents an hour, so that was twenty-four dollars a week. Of course, nothing was taken out of it. There was no social security, no anything. I got the twenty-four dollars. We started to work at six o'clock and we were paving at the time, George Street and Livingston Avenue. So, to get to work by six, I had to walk to New Brunswick from Milltown ... because no buses were running that early.
KP: And, that's not a short walk.
CH: No. And, my dad had two cars. Why he ever had two cars, only one driver I never knew, but during the Depression, they couldn't license them; they just sat in the backyard. Mother was ultimately selling off spare parts. ...
KP: So, your father in the twenties was doing quite well.
CH: Yes. He was doing very well.
KP: And then, the Depression hit and...
CH: It really knocked his legs out.
KP: He had these two cars that you were stripping for parts. So, how did your father get to work?
CH: He took the bus. And, in fact, when he was working in Elizabeth he took the trolley to Elizabeth from Milltown, you know, ... there was the fast line that runs down the Public Service right away there. ... He always debated whether it was better to take the trolley all the way in, or whether to come into New Brunswick, and then get the train to Elizabeth. I guess they both took the same amount of time, but I think the trolley was cheaper, so he took the trolley.
KP: I take it you have some stories about your days of working construction. Besides the early hours, what else do you most vividly remember about working for your father's construction company?
CH: Well, the other thing he did was hire me ... as a watchman. People would ride down the road and blow a tire, and then, they would blame it on the construction company. So, he used to hire me to be a watchman. I sat out there on Saturdays and Sundays for twelve hours just to make sure somebody didn't blow a tire. That was the longest day. Holy smokes, to sit there for twelve hours with nothing to do would just about drive you up the wall. ... But, I was a flagman and you had to watch yourself at all times because people would get annoyed and they would come close to you, you know? ... The other thing I did was work with an engineer doing surveys. ... The company also had an engineering department. So, we would do city surveys. I initially started out to work for a man Otto Voelker, who was an engineer from the Rutgers Class of '03. He was still surveying at ninety years of age. And, his son, Eugene Voelker, is still surveying at ninety. And, recently he called me up and asked me about a survey we had made in Milltown fifty years ago. And, he said, "I was on the party, that I remember something." [laughter]. "Geez," I said, "Gene, I haven't the faintest. I don't even remember being ... on the survey." But, there was a lot of work then because it was the PWA days, you know.
KP: So, your father's construction firm got some PWA contracts?
CH: Well, no. They ... worked as city engineers, so they were laying out the work for the contracts. It so happened my dad was on borough council which had gotten involved in a little bit there with the PWA.
KP: The council in Milltown?
CH: Milltown, yes. And, my grandfather, as I said had been borough clerk for twenty-five years, and then, building inspector for another twenty-five. But, ... what else, ... I had a brilliant idea about something about work. I don't know.
KP: It sounds like work was very exhausting. I mean, ten-hour days, six days a week is a long ...
CH: It's a long day! And, that's what everybody worked in those days, and glad to get it, you know? And, the high paid men in those days, ... they shoveled the asphalt around on the road, and then, there [were] rakers that wore clods and worked in it. There was only one white man that could stand the heat, most of the asphalt rakers were black. The temperature of the stuff was 400 degrees, so you're out there in the middle of the summer standing on 400 degree stuff, you know, it's pretty hard. The one tragedy I remember one day was somebody threw a forkful of this stuff and it hit a man on the arm, and the only way you could get it off was with kerosene. And, putting kerosene in that man's open wounds. Geez, I don't think I'll ever get over that.
KP: He must have really screamed.
CH: Yes. The asphalt rakers were highly paid men. They got sixty-seven and a half cents an hour. And, of course, an asphalt crew only worked about three months out of the year, so they were always coming in to my father and borrowing money based on what they were gonna make. ...
KP: But, even though the asphalt rakers were primarily black, they were still the highest paid?
CH: Highest paid, other than the equipment operators, you know, the engineers that were on bulldozers ... or a foreman. The other thing is, when they were pouring cement in those days with bags of cement, a black man's skin was the only one that could take that cement and ...
KP: You mentioned your father had some involvement with the PWA in Milltown where he was on the council. What type of projects?
CH: Well, we had one that was the stand-by that kept everybody working. They actually dug a swimming pool by hand in an isolated spot. In other words, where no one could see these people working for the PWA. ...
KP: Because Milltown has a pool.
CH: Yes, well, the one that's affectionately called "the mudhole," which has been treated, that was dug by hand in the PWA days.
KP: And, it's still in use?
CH: Well, they have surfaced it.
KP: But, basically the hole is there?
CH: The hole was there, right.
KP: It was the PWA?
CH: Right. Of course, Rutgers Stadium was built PWA, too.
KP: Yes, I know. Your father was a Republican. How did he feel about Roosevelt and the New Deal? I mean, you told me how about Al Smith, which he surely ...
CH: Yes. I don't remember my father ever making a great to-do about Roosevelt. You know, I don't know. My grandfather was the only one that I ever heard express himself. I mean he was the dyed-in-the-wool Republican.
CH: And, my aunt ... actually ran for the assembly in 1921. So, she was one of the early women libbers.
KP What was your aunt's name?
CH: Dorothy Harkins.
KP: She must have been a very active suffragette?
CH: Yes. In fact, I have a resolution at home if you're interested, where the senate paid tribute to her on her death. ... She was one of the first secretaries. She could run a typing machine, and she was a secretary for the senate. She commuted to Trenton. ...
KP: So, she was very active politically when you were growing up?
CH: Yes. Right. Right. ... I don't remember them criticizing anything specifically other than the fact that he was a Democrat.
KP: So, in other words, they weren't partisan in a sense. They didn't think Roosevelt had done everything wrong.
CH: No. No, I don't think so. In fact, my father would say that social security was his salvation because he had no pension plan, and after he retired I'd go down to visit him. We only lived two blocks away, and he was always figuring. I asked, ... "What are you figuring?" And, he said, "How long I can afford to live." Because it was just limited financing. It was just what little that they had saved, ... plus social security to live on. So, whether he objected in the beginning or not, I mean in the end ...
KP: You mentioned this before we started the interview, about some of the reasons you ended up at Rutgers. I mean it sounds like Rutgers was your only choice. Or had you thought of ...
CH: Well, actually I had thought of going to Princeton, but it was just too expensive. ... I didn't really follow up. No. Rutgers was my choice. My uncle had gone here and, as I say, everything was wrapped around Rutgers. And, I used to come here on the campus and used to be impressed with the fact that everybody would speak to me and say, "Hello." And, I would go home and say, "Boy, I must look like somebody on the campus," you know, "who do they think I am?" And then, I read the freshman handbook which says it's customary to say "hello" to anybody on the campus, and that was true. ...
KP: People really did say "hello?"
CH: Yes. You know, you just greeted everybody that you met on the campus. ... So, it was so different, you know? You walk along here now, and I'm sure nobody would say "hello," you know? [laughter]
KP: You also got some help from Dean Metzger?
CH: Oh, yes. I had this 200 dollar scholarship throughout school.
KP: Well, apparently there was some discussion about the scholarship. Could you recount your first meeting with Dean Metzger when you asked him?
CH: Well, I went to ask him about applying for a scholarship. ... Tuition, as I said, was 400 dollars a year, as I recall at that point. So, he said, "Well, how much do you think you can afford to spend?" And, I said, "Two hundred dollars." And, he said, "Well, you'll have a $200 scholarship." That was it. There were three people that controlled the community in those days. President Clothier, Cy Johnson, who was the controller, and Dean Metzger. Maybe the registrar got into the act a little bit, but I mean, he was the record keeper rather than the decision maker, I guess. ... It was very different then, you know. We had Dean Demarest, who we always referred to, unfortunately, as "Whistling Willie" and President Clothier, who was a very aloof sort of person, but pleasant to me. A typical Quaker, I guess.
KP: Someone said he looked like someone who was from central casting.
CH: Yes. He really did and I remember his saying one thing, that his classmate was president of Princeton and the one thing that he envied Clothier for was his home here. The Princeton president's home was in the center of the campus and it wasn't as nice. One of the things I did was convert Prospect, which was the president's residence, to a faculty club. ... You know, everybody wanted to get off the campus in the '60s. The president, the dean of the faculty, and the dean of the students all lived on campus. Nobody wanted to live on campus when there were all these insurrections.
KP: Let me give David a chance to ask some questions.
David Hou: I was wondering, I noticed you studied ceramics. Were there any particular reasons? Did you think there would be a good future in it?
CH: Yes. I was convinced there was gonna be a good future and most likely made a big mistake by changing, you know? Because when I got out of the service I went back to Yale to study architecture. ... There were nine ceramists in our class; five of us took advanced ROTC Brooks' father was Commandant of the Ordnance School at Raritan Arsenal and Braid married Elvadawn Outland, whose dad became the commandant at Aberdeen. They both ... really wanted West Point appointments. Braid couldn't get pass the test and didn't get an appointment. Brooks got the appointment, but couldn't pass the physical. So, they went into the service almost immediately and stayed in the service. I changed to architecture and the other fellows that stayed in ceramics did very, very well. Landback became president of Carborundum, and others did very well. So, there was a great possibility. There were twenty jobs for everyone of us when we graduated in 1940.
KP: Which is unheard of for most graduates.
CH: Yes. I mean it was a question of which job did you want to take, you know, and in those days there weren't very many professionally-trained ceramists. Most of the people were craft-trained. I had a job selling clay and ceramic raw materials for Edgar Brothers in Metuchen. ... My job was really to go into a plant if they had a problem and work with them to resolve the problem using my materials, and then, as long as the batch worked, nobody thought of changing it. There were not many schools of ceramics at that time. Ohio State had a school of ceramics, which sort of took care of the Middle West, and Rutgers was the East. So, my territory was from Carolina to Canada on the East Coast, and I was traveling 200 miles a day, you know, doing my work, 4,000 miles a month. I was making more on mileage because they paid me six cents a mile in those days which was a lot of money, ... so I was doing very well.
KP: Did you drive this?
CH: Yes. One of the things I don't know whether I'd mentioned was that Rutgers got the idea with DuPont that we would sell ceramics by having an exhibit at the New York World's Fair. So, Otto Stach and I worked for DuPont at the New York World's Fair, really promoting Rutgers ceramics. We started April 1 and went to November 1. So, we took our lectures in the morning, and then, they rearranged our labs. ... We did a lot of commuting. We got thirty-five dollars a week there, which was one of the high-paid jobs, I mean, most of the fellows got twenty-five dollars. ...
KP: And, that's good money in the early 1940s.
CH: Yes, it was ... the Summer of '39.
KP: Oh, yes.
CH: So, that meant that we missed ROTC camp. So, then we had to go to ROTC camp after our senior year, and things were very unsettled then. I remember President Clothier saying, "Well, you just can't worry about the world situation. You need to go out and try to make a living." But, those of us who went in early, thought we'd go in and serve our year and get back out again. [laughter]
KP: Little did you know.
CH: Yes. And, in fact, you had to request a second year of active duty, volunteer for it. And, they asked me in October and I said, "No, I didn't want to stay in, I wanted to get out. And, Colonel Outland called me in, and he said "Hill, you know, you live in New Brunswick, you're right next to Kilmer. If you get out, I predict, you'll be in the Philippines by the first of the year." And, I often wondered, you know, what the heck did he know that nobody else knew? We had a reunion and I went back. I wanted to ask him, but I really would've had to shout, because he was so hard of hearing. But, he did predict that we were gonna have a war in the Philippines.
KP: So, he had said to you that if you get out you'll be in the Philippines?
CH: By the first of the year. And, that always intrigued me. And, he disapproved my request, so ... I was in. But, we were lucky getting in, because we were promoted rather rapidly. I went in January 1, 1941, in February of '42, I was first lieutenant, and in August, I was a captain. But, then I stayed the same rank, because there were rules that you couldn't be promoted more than twice in your same assignment in the United States, and you couldn't be made a major unless you were twenty-five. We weren't that old. ... The reason I didn't stay in the reserve when I got out, was because so many people outranked me. When I was overseas, I was calling one ordnance officer who had been in my OCS class, "Colonel." I was a captain then, and they were majors and lieutenant colonels, and ... I'm still a captain, you know? In fact, they were saying what was wrong with my class, you know? I didn't care to hear that. [laughter]
KP: Going back to Rutgers. You mentioned your initial interest in ceramics was a very local source, you said before the interview started.
CH: A neighbor was a secretary of the chairman of the Ceramic Department, so she was always promoting ceramics when I was trying to make up my mind what I wanted to do. I thought I wanted to be an engineer, but I was working with engineers who were talking me out of being a civil engineer. They didn't think that was a good way to make a living.
KP: So, if it hadn't been for that secretary, you might not have ended up in ceramics.
CH: Ceramics. That's right.
KP: Because your initial thought was ...
CH: An engineer. Yes.
KP: Did you play any sports in high school?
CH: I played basketball, but not seriously.
KP: But, you did join crew.
CH: I was on the crew here, which was the one sport that you could start, ... nobody else had any crew in high school either. So, you were starting out on sort of a level playing field and competing. But, I was heavy, ... most of the men in the crew were like 175, and I was 190, so I was always trying to lose weight. ... I rowed freshman and sophomore year, but then our labs were just too much, ... we couldn't go. But, it was interesting, ... those early years, I think Rutgers crew started in '33, and I started in '36. So, it was the early days of crew. We had a floating boathouse. We'd come in and would put the boat up over our head and get soaking wet. But, that river water which everyday was a different color because of the dyes from Calco Chemical. That was foul.
DH: You were in Delta Kappa Epsilon?
DH: Which is now, if I'm correct, a community service house?
CH: Yes. [laughter] ... We were marched off the campus, I guess, but we're trying to recolonize, I understand.
KP: You were a commuter though, so how did you maintain your fraternity ties and commute?
CH: ... I didn't become a fraternity member until my junior year.
KP: And then, did you move on campus?
CH: Oh, I didn't move on campus. I was just a member ... as a commuter. And, I joined because I thought it would get me beyond my ceramics friends, which were very limited, you know, but it would give me a contact here on campus. ... A friend of mine, we did many things together in high school, was a member of DKE, and he talked me into becoming a member of DKE. My uncle had been a Phi Gam. My brother joined Delta Phi, so ... we didn't have any great allegiance to one fraternity or another. It all depended on who was in it at the time we were in school.
KP: Why the DKE house? Why did you join that particular fraternity?
CH: Because this friend of mine from high school, ... was a DKE. ... Many of the fellows from DKE were killed during [the] war. We had quite a group of men who were casualties.
KP: You mentioned Professor Lane was your favorite professor.
KP: Excuse me, Kane.
CH: Kane. ... Kane was a craft-trained man. I don't think he had any degree, but he was, I think the most knowledgeable professor we had as far as ceramics generally. And, he was English. ...
KP: I read that he had some eccentric habits.
CH: Oh, I see. Okay.
KP: I think Bill Bauer had said some very eccentric ...
CH: Oh, yes. Bill would know. Sure.
KP: One question in terms of ceramics, there was an important transition going on.
--------------------------------------END TAPE ONE, SIDE ONE----------------------------------------
CH: ... The people that we met who were ... in the crafts. ... Do you want me to wait?
KP: Yes. It just takes a second. Please go ahead.
CH: The people we had, who were in the crafts, were very knowledgeable. ... The big thing that was happening here at Rutgers, the Ceramic Society always met here. We met, in the Ceramic Society meetings, all the people ... who were managers or ceramists throughout the state. So, we had a great relationship with them, and they knew us. That was great as far as being hired.
KP: So, you really knew both the sort of the theoretical, but also, it was very practically driven it sounds.
CH: Right, right. And, there weren't too many, I mean, Rutgers had had a course in ceramics, from, I guess, the '20s, and all these people that had been in that course were in the profession. But, they were only graduating one or two a year, so there weren't any tremendous number of people who had been trained here at Rutgers, and they were the only trained people that I knew of. One or two firms had trained ceramists doing research, but the rest were all in production, generally. One thing we always had to do was define ceramics. The minute I was introduced to anyone ... [I] would have to explain ... the definition of ceramics. I don't know whether Bill gave you one or not?
CH: ... Anything that's heated to a red heat and it's processed and manufactured, that's non-metallic. So, I always used to say, "It was non-metallic metallurgy." ... Now it's different, because I don't know what they have done. We took one course in the phase rule, and you learned that any two materials mixed together lowered their melting point. A melting point of pure aluminum silica was 3200 degrees, so you couldn't get any refractors to go over 3200. I think now on these rockets missions, some are going up to seven or nine thousand. I don't know what's happened, ... what happened to prove that we were wrong, you know. ... It's really quite incredible. So, we really respected them. ... I had sort of a similar experience the first year that I was on active duty. I was in this training company and we had fifty or sixty first three grade non-commissioned officers. And, when the war began these fellows were given direct commissions, and to give them as much money as an officer as they were getting as an enlisted man, and, maybe losing a house on the post and having to move off, they were all commissioned first lieutenants, captains, and majors. So, for the first three years, the first year they were in my outfit, for the next period of time I worked for them. I had a lot of respect for them. We had enlisted men who never went to college that could do a terrific job with calculus. I just don't know how these people got their ability, but they were all very clever. So, we respected them.
KP: David and other students had to do a paper based on the Bergel-Hauptmann case. Do you remember anything of the case when you were on campus?
CH: The Lindbergh?
KP: No, the Bergel case. The professor from NJC ...
CH: No. I don't remember that at all. That was after me I think, wasn't it? Isn't this the fellow that Seymour Zenchelsky was trying to ...
KP: Yes, yes.
CH: I did Seymour's home, that's why. ...
KP: Yes, that's the case, but you don't have any real memory of it?
CH: I have no idea about that. No.
KP: You came in 1936 during the '36 presidential election.
KP: How did most students feel about the Roosevelt-Landon matchup? Were most students for Roosevelt or were they for Landon? Any thoughts or recollections?
CH: No, I really don't. I'm afraid I'm not much help with politics. Milltown was completely Republican. There were few Democrats in town. I can remember going when my dad was interested in politics, you know, and they used to have to count these ballots by hand. How relieved I used to be when I'd hear a straight Republican ticket or a straight Democratic ticket! Otherwise they were calling off each one of these names, ticking them off. As I say there were two or three families in town that were Democratic. Everybody else ... were Republicans, so there wasn't any great discussion. The only thing that I did get involved in is, I was staying in the Stevens Hotel at the time of the, I guess it would have been ... '43, the Democratic Convention where Truman replaced Wallace as a vice-presidential candidate. They were quartered in the Stevens Hotel, as we were. And, I can remember the lobbying in the elevator and the Chicago Tribune. All the papers were sold on the newsstand, except the Chicago Tribune which was sold in the elevator lobby. And, every day, they had on the front page, a color cartoon criticizing the Democrats, such as Eleanor Roosevelt dragging the flag through the mud, Truman's face appearing in a sunflower growing out of a pile of manure, and you know, it was pretty bad. [laughter] ... Was it Wallace, vice-president, ahead of Truman?
KP: Yes, Wallace was before.
CH: His son went to Aberdeen as an OCS candidate, so he came and he was one of our commencement speakers. So, I was sort of a Wallacite, I guess rather than a Trumanite, you know. [laughter]
KP: When you entered college, war in Europe must have seemed, I mean even the prospect must have seemed, very distant.
CH: No. It was very distant. It was only in our senior year, I think that we started really being obsessed with the idea that we were gonna get into war and what we were gonna do when we graduated in 1940.
KP: Why had you decided to stay in advanced ROTC?
CH: It was the only elective we were allowed in ceramics. We had to take, I think it was a 154 credit hours for graduation. And, because we were a land grant college they had to allow us [to] take ROTC ... With Braid and Brooks, you know, having really wanted to go to West Point, we were all gung-ho about taking advanced ROTC. Plus it paid money. I forget what we got, but we got something. We were always looking to earn a buck.
KP: Did you expect to serve? Because I know a lot of ROTC people did not.
CH: I don't think we expected to serve until our senior year, then we did. But, not prior to that. ...
KP: You expected to get a reserve commission?
KP: So, in some sense you must have been shocked that all of a sudden here you are in ROTC and ...
CH: No, it seemed sort of natural. I mean, ... an evolution, you know. ... No, when I decided to go in, and then, after I got [in] in '42, there was an opportunity to apply for a regular Army commission. ... I applied for a regular Army commission, and then, ... I was told that I was qualified, but that they didn't have ... enough vacancies. So, I wasn't appointed. And, my wife and I have said many times we [are] really sort of sorry we left the Army, you know. ... We enjoyed it. I had pretty good assignments. During the war I was teaching ROTC at the University of Oklahoma, and selling War Bonds in Central Park and Grant Park, and doing whatever I was doing at the Chrysler Building. I don't know whether it was somebody learned that I had worked at the World's Fair or how I got all these ...
KP: These assignments.
CH: These assignments. I don't know.
KP: Before you were in the Army you worked for a year for ceramics.
CH: No. ... See, I took ROTC after graduation, which I finished in July, so I was working for like three months.
KP: And then, you were called up for active service?
CH: Yes, and then, I applied, and I expected to go, actually earlier than January 1. I expected to go like mid-December, so I left my job, and then, I was really sweating out this money, because I wasn't really making any money. And, one of my interesting experiences was getting to Aberdeen. There was a little bank, and I needed to borrow money to buy uniforms, because I didn't have any. So, I asked them about a personal loan. And, they said, "Oh, no. You're having your pay deposited here, just go ahead and buy your uniforms." So, you know, it's how things have changed, giving me carte blanche to overdraw my checking account. [laughter]
KP: You mentioned, I enjoyed your discussion in your pre-interview survey about the peace-time Army and how very different it would be from the wartime Army. One part, was your sort of arriving there on New Year's Day and there are only MPs to greet you, which would not happen in wartime.
CH: No. No. And then, the other thing that we had was when the war was declared we had to mount a guard. We had never had a guard. And, the only thing we had were cavalry's Smith and Wesson revolvers, which, you know, were on the left side, so we had to train all these men how to pull a revolver out of a holster.
KP: You had no rifles at Aberdeen?
CH: Well, we had rifles, but ... we didn't arm the guards with rifles. We armed them with these pistols for some reason or other, you know? [laughter] ... Nobody knew how to shoot the doggone things. ... Other things ... we were concerned with security, internal security. We had ...
KP: This was before the war?
CH: ... I'm not sure it was before the war. No, I think it was after the war. [laughter] We ... had men in the company that we thought we could trust. We would give them envelopes that were pre-addressed and said, "If you see anything suspicious, put it in this envelope and mail it." ...
KP: Did you ever get any information that was useful?
CH: It never came to me because it went to somebody else, do you see? But, we had one fellow in the outfit that was German-born and he had a hell of a German accent and everybody was convinced that he was a spy, you know? [laughter] So, that would be the most silly thing to appoint a guy with an accent like that as a spy, you know? But, I'm sure his name got submitted every month. And, he was in because you could become a citizen faster if you were in the Army. I just forget what the rule was, but instead of five years, you could only have three or something of that sort.
KP: You mentioned that there was quite a social swirl in the pre-Pearl Harbor Army, that there were real social expectations for a junior officer.
CH: Oh, yes. You made a call, you were supposed to call on your ... I had an officer's guide. ... I was trying to find it to bring it in and give it to you. ... If I do find it, I will.
KP: Please do.
CH: You called on your commanding officer within two weeks. You left a card for a household, and then, one for every unmarried girl. ...
KP: And, this was in the officer's guide?
CH: Oh, yes. We had this whole standard of things that you were supposed to do. And, I don't know whether I mentioned, one of the fellows, they were throwing a dance for the OCS candidates. Did I mention that?
KP: Yes, you mentioned it.
CH: The one flunked out and I got ordered to go to the dance in his place, you know? I mean it was, ... we were very social, we really were. And, the British Army is much more so. I mean, oh, wow! I don't know whether you're familiar with anything there, but ... to be an officer in the English Army you had to be a college graduate, and most likely every college graduate in the service was an officer. So, they were very surprised to find our educated enlisted men, you know. ... They just couldn't believe it.
KP: That you would have enlisted men who were ...
CH: Well, they had all sorts of degrees, Ph.D.s, everything else, you know?
KP: And, they were like a private, or a corporal, or a sergeant?
CH: Yes. And, in fact, we had an investigation, which I chaired, at Aberdeen at one time because we had a company clerk that had a Master's degree in engineering, and somebody said, "Why are we using him as the company clerk?" So, they appointed a commission. I was the commanding officer of it, and we interviewed everybody on the post. This was after the war started. And, we didn't recommend a reassignment of anybody, because the people who didn't have the training had by that time picked up the training. I had an Indian who's name was Tom Mix. And, he had been a gas station attendant. But, he was a fabulously intelligent guy [that] we had as a tech sergeant. And then, this little fellow with the Master's degree. He was short with no military bearing. ... He couldn't have survived as an officer, you know?
KP: So, you are giving the sense that sometimes the Army did even if it didn't make sense put a Master's as a company clerk. There was often a reason to it.
CH: Yes, right. ... I thought there was a lot of reason. ... I didn't say anything I criticized much about the Army. ... There was responsibility. I was a supply officer. We always used to joke about, in addition to your regular duties, you'll be this, that and the other things. [laughter] I was mess officer, supply officer.
KP: I imagine that even though there was a build-up in 1940-1941, I imagine that things were fairly relaxed at Aberdeen. Is that an accurate statement?
CH: Fairly relaxed, but we had a lot [of] building. And, what they were doing on the post was cutting down; they were moving CCC barracks into Aberdeen and one of my jobs was running a canteen to feed the construction workers that were there at Aberdeen. ... It was a lot of expansion, and I forgot what your question was. I got rambling on here. [laughter]
KP: So, you were busy in 1941?
CH: Oh, yes. We were very busy.
KP: What was the sense of your fellow officers? Both the regular Army and the more recent arrivals about what would happen, I mean, did you expect war with Germany? Did you expect war with Japan?
CH: Yes. I think we expected war with Germany. I don't think we expected any war with Japan. I didn't expect it, but Colonel Outland apparently did, you know? ... I just wasn't thinking about it.
KP: You mentioned that one of your duties was to give a lecture on sex morality.
CH: ... Yes. That was at Aberdeen.
KP: That was before Pearl Harbor?
CH: Yes, and after Pearl Harbor, too.
KP: And, what was this? What did you talk about?
CH: Well, ... every man ... below the rank of corporal had to get this sex morality lecture every three months. There were three of us involved. The chaplain would give the moral side, the medic the side about venereal diseases, and then, I would give the speech about what happens. Now, if you got a venereal disease when you're in the service before the war, you know, the enlisted, and you were laid up with that, that didn't count towards your enlistment. You had to serve additional days to make up this. ... So, ... it was an interesting thing. And then, we had what we called "short-arm inspection," which the fellows had to come through and demonstrate that they didn't have any venereal disease.
KP: So, did you ever do a short-arm?
CH: I never did it. I had to witness it, which was, geez, I hated to stand there, you know?
KP: So, you just stood there while the men ...
CH: Yes, I had to witness that everybody went through the doggone line that was supposed to.
KP: You mentioned, that, I mean, it was odd for you to give this lecture to guys who were ...
CH: Oh, they were all older than I was, you know? And then, we always joked about the fact that we had one case of venereal disease which the fellow got, which was classed "in line-of-duty," because he proved that his wife gave him the venereal disease.
KP: Historians have looked back and found that venereal disease was a real problem for the Army.
CH: Oh, it was, you know. I remember going into Liege, Belgium and in the big town square there was a billboard, "Control VD." ... It was bad, you know. ... I sort of forget. Syphilis was the one that they worried about in those days. ... Apparently, the only way that you could prove it was through a spinal tap, which was sort of hazardous, ... whether you were cured. ... This is funny. You are asking me totally different things than I was prepared to say. [laughter]
KP: No, I mean ...
CH: Of course, ... my feeling, you know, when I ... first started was Readers Digest has a column "Humor in Uniform" and I kept thinking, "I'm the 'Humor in Uniform' person".
KP: I have read some of your stories. What else do you remember about pre-war Aberdeen?
CH: Well, the big thing was, we went there and there was no housing for us. And, so, I don't know quite what I did that first day, but, ultimately, Stach and I roomed together. ... In the summer several of us rented a house, which was ... on Bush River, which is on the Chesapeake. ... Six of us lived there, and our only shower was on the running well-water out on a boat house on the docks. So, we stayed there till November 1 and decided this is too much; we can't do this. So, then we moved into the post. The officers' club was very active. We had ... chipped in ten dollars a month, or something or other, and for ten dollars a month we got three bottles of liquor through wholesale. Every Thursday night was badminton night. We went ... in the big buildings we had for tanks and so on, we had these ... indoor badminton courts, and it was a lot of feverish competition. I still have my rackets ... from that.
KP: Was there any gambling on the competition?
CH: Not with officers, but with men, yes. We weren't supposed to have any gambling with men. But, ... we were in permanent barracks, and we had three pool tables, and they became the gambling tables for about three days after every pay. ... We separated. ... Our pool room orderly was the highest paid guy in the place, because he cut the pots, which then was the money that he earned. He would take a quarter out of every pot. And, he would keep the gambling honest. He was supposed to be the best gambler, because professional gamblers would try to get into the Army, you know. And, we segregated the tables, the first three grades, corporals, and sergeants, and privates because I'm not a gambler, but apparently if you have enough money you can just freeze somebody out of these games. And, for three days after pay day there was gambling and we never went down near this, because we didn't want to see it.
KP: If you don't see, I can't ...
CH: Yes. I mean, I didn't know it was happening, but we did know it was happening. Because the pool room orderly would cut the pot, and then, we had an arrangement with the first sergeant would pay him additional money because he was only a private first class. But, he was making a lot of money from what the first sergeant gave him. And then, the rest of it went into what we called, "the slush fund." And, when men would come in and say they needed money for this, their wife was pregnant, their child was sick, something of the sort, the company commander would say "Well, we'll speak to the Red Cross." And, after ... they'd leave, we'd speak to the first sergeant. ... The Red Cross got a lot of credit for stuff they never did, you know, and it was coming out of this slush fund.
KP: In other words, it was really coming from the men's gambling that you would take care of these emergencies and it was done all off the record. ...
CH: All off the record. Yes. We had a company safe and everybody was scared to death somebody would come in and inspect the place, and we have all this cash in the company safe. The other thing that the slush fund did was help us with our pay. We were forced to count out the money to a man ... on his payroll. They would read how much he was entitled to, how much he owed the PX, the mess hall, laundry, and so on. Then, if there was a balance, the company commander had to pay it out. The local bank would give us this money. We had quite a few men, but the money in those days, because the pay wasn't that much, was seventeen or $18,000 ...
KP: But, it was cash?
CH: It was cash. Nothing bigger than a ten dollar bill, and they gave it to us all in brand new money, because it was serial numbered. And, that was the easy way for them to turn out, well, to count out brand new money. The company commander would do it. I'd be sitting on one side looking for him to make a mistake, sergeant on the other side, you know, so if he made a mistake ...
KP: He's personally ...
CH: He personally was responsible for it. But, thank God, we had the slush fund, you know? And, most of the men were pretty honest. If we gave them too much, they'd come back and return it. I never remember getting stuck for much other than, as the supply officer, I got stuck for spoons, mustard wood. You know, these little spoons they used to hand out with mustard. They were not expendable for some reason or other. And, they would get lost. ... They're only worth five cents a piece, but I objected to paying for 100 spoons, mustard wood, and fly swatters used to disappear. ... So, we used to save Dixie Cup sticks, and I'd get all of my friends to bring in their used fly swatters, so I could turn them in. ... The big thing I lost was a 155 gun. I'm making an inventory, and I'm short a 155 gun. And, I keep looking all over. You know, this is worth 150,000 dollars. [laughter] And, I finally got up my nerve to go in to my commander, and say, ... "Colonel, I don't know. I somehow lost a 155 gun." He said, "Oh, I meant to tell you about that. I gave it to a group going overseas who needed a 155 gun." ... Well, now you need to get signatures in the Army, you know, for things. I had a heck of a time finally getting signatures from an outfit that's already been overseas for three months. [laughter] And, people have changed. ... Oh, boy!
KP: You ...
CH: You asked me about the civilian days. We did these dances over at Raritan Arsenal and ... they were nice. In fact, that's how a lot of us ended up going to Aberdeen. We were invited to these dances, as single Rutgers men. That's how Braid met Elvadawn Outland.
KP: I have read that there was also a lot of drinking in the sort of pre-Pearl Harbor Army?
CH: ... There was a lot of drinking. But, I don't remember anybody getting much in trouble. Other than, Jeez, my mess sergeant one night. My supply sergeant got really crocked. And, you know, I had to protect him. I really should've reported him, broken him, or something or other. ...
KP: But, you basically made sure that he did not get into trouble?
CH: Yes. I had to see that he got home. Oh, he drove down the street the wrong way. He was going all over the place, you know? And, there used to be a problem with Army cooks. Lemon extract was almost pure alcohol. And, so, you had real trouble keeping lemon extract on the shelves, because many of the peacetime cooks were ex-boxers. I don't know how this happened. But, they were sort of a little bit punchy. And, they used to drink this lemon ... extract, and we had to be careful of that. In the peacetime Army, too, we had to buy our own food. ... I was given thirty-two cents a day per man to buy the food, and to have to work this out with the mess sergeant.
KP: So, in other words, you would take care of actually buying the food?
CH: Through the quartermaster, but we would tell them what we wanted. ... In those days, amazingly, the one price I remember was 100 pounds of coffee was four dollars. ... Ration was defined as so much of this, that, and the other thing, you know? So, many ounces of potato, so many ounces of meat, and then, we came up with a price. I remember we had the Marine Ordnance School at Aberdeen, and they had a different ration. Their ration was less than the Army. We used to have to keep food money separate from other funds. If you had any accumulation of money in what we called "ration saving," we could throw a beer party. And, we always used to have to finance the one for the marines, because we never had any ration savings from the marines. [laughter] But, ... we couldn't have a beer party ... without letting the marines have one.
KP: So, there was a lot of cooperation with the marines at Aberdeen?
CH: At Aberdeen, oh, yes. At that time, we had a major in charge and all their students came to Aberdeen. Later, it went to Quantico, but in the beginning it was at Aberdeen.
KP: So, they would sit in the same courses ...
KP: And, go through the same program, except that they were marines.
CH: But, they really always stayed together, ... you know, they were one section of the dining room or something. I mean, it wasn't a separate dining room.
KP: They were pretty much integrated.
KP: What about the men? The officers, for example, how many regulars were at Aberdeen in 1941 and how many people just like you, just out of ROTC?
CH: ... In '41, ... of course, you know, before we got there, ... just about everybody was a regular. There was only one Rutgers man there ahead of us. That was Art Perry, and he was a pilot. He went through air force training, and then, we were there at the Proving Grounds. Everybody else I knew was a regular. Not everyone was a West Point graduate, but they were regulars.
KP: How many West Pointers did you have?
CH: I would say about half the officers.
KP: Which later in the war would be unheard of?
CH: Oh, yes. Like the commandant of the school, the assistant commandant, all his aides, ... 40th Ordnance ... Company ... captain, you know, they were all West Point men.
KP How did you feel surrounded by all these West Pointers? And, here you have this newly-minted BA from Rutgers, with advanced ROTC, I mean ...
CH: They received us well. We didn't ...
KP: You didn't feel like ..
CH: ... We weren't intimidated against, or differentiated against, no.
KP: In other words, West Pointers weren't clubby.
CH: ... They weren't clubby socially. I think it would be clubby, you know, as far as promotion and things of that sort. ... I didn't feel any discrimination.
KP: What about the men in the peace-time Army? You mentioned some of them were very good.
CH: All our people were very highly trained. However, in peace-time, the recruits would come into our company, and we had to train a recruit. Now we were getting ... some kids from Kentucky and Tennessee that couldn't read and write. And, we just ... couldn't use them. So, there was a procedure called "section eight," which got rid of people who were undesirable in the Army. One man, I can remember, came in. First sergeant said, "What's your name?" And, he says, "Henry." And, he said, "Well, what's your last name?" This fellow looked sort of shocked and said, "Henry" ... So, he was Henry, no middle initial, Henry, you know. ...
KP: And, why didn't he ...
CH: He didn't have any name. Somebody called him Henry. That was the only thing that he knew. Then we had another fellow that ... actually had served three years in the infantry. ... He got to our place and we couldn't do anything with him, so the first sergeant made him ... permanent latrine orderly. He came down and asked the first sergeant to type up a notice "Don't throw cigarette butts in the urinals." ... So, some master sergeant comes in and throws a cigarette butt in the urinal and Breck says, "Sergeant, pick that up!" The next thing we know the sergeant's coming in dragging Breck by the ear. ... So, we had to section eight, Breck and Henry. And, they were each allowed to bring in a witness in their own behalf. Who do they bring in? The other guy that's being section eighted. So, they were our worst example. Most of the fellows were very capable.
KP: But, you did get these guys.
CH: We did get them, and there was procedure in the Army. ... I think we had an Army classification test. And, I think the top men in the Army classification test, which compared to an IQ test, went to the signal corps. The second group went to ordnance. So, we had the ...
KP: But, you would still get the people from Kentucky who didn't know how to read and write.
CH: Well, we got rid of them.
KP: Was it just that a mistake was made?
CH: ... I don't know how that happened, come to think of it. I mean, that must have been after, you know. Because like on this Army classification test you had to get 110 or you couldn't get into OCS. So, we had some competent guys that would get 108 and they'd take it over again. And, the thing that used to amaze me, was they'd come back up with another 108. ... You could take the same test over-and-over again, and not improve your grade. It was incredible. No, I don't know how we got those. ...
KP: Well, you're not the first one to encounter soldiers, who didn't know how to read and write. ...
CH: And then, this one kid, I don't think he'd ever taken a bath. You know, the people in the barracks kept throwing him in the shower. ... But what had happened was he had been a coal miner and his pores were just filled with coal dust. ... It was incredible how dark he looked just from not having bathed regularly.
KP: What about your relationship with the sergeants? You mentioned some of your sergeants would later become your officers.
CH: It was great. ... I respected them, and they, I guess they respected me, because they asked for me and kept me. ... I was originally in the artillery section and ... [the] commanding officer in the artillery was one of my sergeants. And, I became assistant director of the technical training, which was under a fellow who ... had been, another tech sergeant, so I worked with them, and they were fine.
KP: Obviously, you had some very experienced tech sergeants. The fact that they got so quickly promoted.
CH: Oh, yes. These people were career people. Some of them had been in since World War I and had been officers in World War I. And then, ... stayed in and they enjoyed it. And, the thing that used to intrigue me was [when] you asked these people where they wanted to retire, they wanted to retire in this area, because they'd been in Raritan Arsenal. ... They said, "You're forty miles from the mountains, forty miles from the shore, and forty miles from New York City. Where else could you be any better place to live than, in New Brunswick?" You know, it used to really intrigue me. [laughter]
KP: Because you ended up spending your life in this area and it must have sort of given you ...
CH: ... I don't know whether I mentioned it, I was teaching ROTC at the University of Oklahoma and when I said I wanted to study architecture they ... offered me a job there, teaching ceramics and getting my degree in architecture. ... The commandant of the unit there, ... had been the superintendent of schools, so, he offered my wife a job teaching school. And, we were all set to go, but then we decided it was too far from the ocean. I'm not a great ocean person, but somehow Oklahoma seemed a long way from the ocean. So, we didn't do it. ... But, Oklahoma had a good school of ... architecture.
KP: Any other thoughts about the pre-Pearl Harbor Army that I have not asked or any recollections on anything?
CH: Well, on materiel, you know. When I first started teaching artillery, one of the weapons that we taught, and it took a very long time to teach it, was a French .75, which was a World War I weapon. And, you know, we hadn't replaced that with anything any better. We were doing a lot of experimenting with our tanks and things. I ... came to realize, later, that some of the restrictions, well, maybe I could say how we got a job in ordnance. The artillery or the infantry would design a program; they would say what they wanted a weapon to do. And, they would give [it] to the ordnance department and the ordnance department would come up [with] and design and test this weapon, and then, give it back to them to see whether they accepted it. One of the first things I read was an article discussion, when MacArthur had been chief of staff, on whether we should have a .30 caliber or .25 caliber rifle. The Japanese had a .25 caliber, we had a .30. It all depends on ... at what distance you want to wound. The purpose of war is not to kill, but to wound. Because if someone is wounded it takes three people, knocks out three people, whereas if killed, you've just lost one. And, there was this discussion, the Japanese were willing to wound at a shorter distance, than we were. We wanted to go 600 yards, and so, many of the things that we did were dictated. ... And, what I started out to say, was when I moved these enemy things, I realized that the profile of our railroad tunnels dictated how big some of our pieces could be. We couldn't get a heavy tank through. And, our heavy tank didn't have the floatation of a German heavy tank, because their tracks were wider. And, they just drove them down the Autobahn. ... So, when we shipped them around the country, we had to take off the tracks; we had to take off sprockets; we had to do all of that. So, ... I didn't think there had been any great advances, to tell you the truth.
KP: So, you really were using old stuff?
CH: Yes. It was ... World War I. We got rid of some of the old trucks. We didn't have carbide lights or anything. You know, automatic transmission just came in. ... We were to have manual transmissions in the tanks, ... initially, and went to hydromatics.
KP: Where were you when the news of Pearl Harbor came?
CH: To tell you the truth, I don't know. Everybody else seems to know. I don't know where I was at Pearl Harbor, and I don't know where I was when President Roosevelt died. I just don't know.
KP: But, it does sound like it did change the pace of your base?
CH: Oh, it changed. Yes. Oh, boy. It really did make a change, yes.
KP: What changed the quickest? I mean, one, you mentioned that you started posting guards, this was one of the more immediate things. Were there any other things that changed?
CH: Well, then, I guess when we started, that might have been when we started this procedure of trying to see whether anything was unusual going on with our men, anything suspicious. ... Of course, in Aberdeen, the school wasn't that involved. But, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, of course, was, you know. ...
KP: One of the things I remember was that people said on Army bases, Sunday was really a day of rest. They said that really changed after Pearl Harbor Sunday.
CH: Oh, yes. Now getting home, Saturday and Sunday, I mean every Friday night we took off and we came home. And, there were caravans of cars leaving Aberdeen. [laughter] And, finally, there were, as the war got on, there were special trains that formed at Aberdeen to bring the soldiers into New York City and, you know, ... they didn't have the cars. I can remember them putting wood benches in baggage cars, which had no heat. And then, we'd stop at ... North Philadelphia and run heat through a car for fifteen minutes, and then, we'd take off like mad for Baltimore, you know? ... It was wild. [laughter] And, so many people on the train. I can remember the conductor walking on the backs of the chairs, trying to collect tickets. ...
KP: How long did you stay at Aberdeen?
CH: I had one permanent station five years. Even when I left, I was on temporary duty.
KP: So, that was your base the entire war?
CH: I taught ROTC at Oklahoma for four or five months, I just forget what. And then, I was overseas for five months.
KP: When did you teach at Oklahoma?
CH: '43. I was just going to be married. ... Allegedly, my company commander said, "Hill's getting married. He's not gonna be any use to the school for three months. We might as well send him out to Oklahoma." So, I went out to the [University]. ... And, ... Pat and I, were married at Aberdeen and ... we had a delay en route, to get to Oklahoma, for our honeymoon. We stopped at the Homestead of West Virginia. There were not many people there, but, only two military people, General Marshall and I. He was really a whirling dervish on the dance floor, I can remember. ... But, then we went to Norman, Oklahoma. ... They had an unusual custom there. All their dances were held in the student center, ... none at sorority houses. ... There was dancing every night in the week. And, we were like the perpetual chaperons. They had another custom that was rather unusual. The stags stood in the middle of the floor, and everybody danced around them. And, of course, Oklahoma was a dry state. We had one supply sergeant that had a very lucrative business going to Dallas and bringing back liquor.
KP: You mentioned that you would accompany the first black officer candidate. Was this at Oklahoma?
CH: No, no, no. This was at Aberdeen. And, we didn't know, there was nothing that indicated that he was colored until he showed up. And, we had just had a little incident on the post in which a Filipino cook had picked up somebody's pancake with his hands or something, and there was like a riot in the mess hall.
KP: Was this before the war or after?
CH: This would be, after the war. Well, no, I guess it's before the war. I guess we were training officer candidates. ... It was very early in the game. It had to be early '42. So, this young man was assigned to our company. The company commander said, "Stick with him and be sure that ..." you know, that I gave him a room in an otherwise all white barracks. ... The dining hall was all white. Everything was white. But, there was no problem there, and he was competent, so we kept him on the staff. And, this other black ...
--------------------------------------END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO-----------------------------------
KP: This continues an interview with Kurt Piehler and
DH: David Hou
KP: You were talking about this first black officer candidate.
CH: As more and more came through, we recruited them and kept them on as instructors, and so on, and put them in the barracks, you know, just integrated them into the barracks. Well, by the time we got in fifteen or twenty of them, they asked to be given their floor in the barracks, and then, later on, even starting their own officers' club, which we had struggled so hard ...
KP: To integrate.
CH: To integrate. But, they really wanted to be separated. I never quite understood that, you know?
KP: On a lot of Army bases, there was real problems with having black soldiers or black officers, especially black officers.
CH: We were south of the Mason-Dixon line. We had a little trouble in town when they first came down. We had a couple of black National Guard regiments that were from Detroit that were activated and brought to Aberdeen. And, they had little incidents in restaurants and things for a couple of days. ... Then I always said, we were integrated. In a couple of days, it just blew over. But, for a long time, you know, blacks had to go to the back of the bus, sit in the balcony of the public movies. ... But, anyhow, I thought we didn't have any trouble with them. The one thing that we did have was all the officers were very well-screened, you know? I mean, we knew who they were, but sometimes people that they would invite to dances at the officers' club were not as selective, you know? So, sometimes there was a little feeling there, but I wasn't involved in anything personal, but. ...
KP: It's interesting they had gone through training, you kept them, and they were really treated as ...
CH: Yes. They may not think that, but, you know, I didn't see any problem.
KP: What was the impetus behind this? Because there were real problems at other bases.
CH: I don't know.
KP: Was it the commander or was it ...
CH: Well, I guess it was the commanding officer just said, "You know, there's no discrimination and that was it." We did have problems. I was on the officer mess council where we had to use civilians in the Army, whereas there ... [are] black stewards in the Navy. And, I think I'm correct in saying this, that we always wondered why we couldn't use black troops. ... There was a memorandum went around at one point, you know, "where can we use these black troops?" There was a feeling that they weren't the same quality soldier, I guess. So, what do we do with them? And, we were having trouble manning our officers' mess. I would have to go to Baltimore and if somebody asked me for a quarter, I said, "Jeez, would you like a job? We need the pot washer up at Aberdeen." You know, so we got ... the homeless were trying to wash pots, you know? Finally we got a good French chef and all the pot washers quit, because he used so damned many pots that they didn't want to wash them. But, anyhow, our commanding general is said to have suggested that we could use some as our mess stewards. And, he was reduced from a major general to his permanent rank of colonel. So, I mean it was strong, strong feeling ... against discrimination. And, American Army enlisted men were not supposed to wait on officers, which they did in the Navy and they did in England. When I was in England at Sherborne they assigned me a batman. I didn't know what to do with him. The only pair of shoes I had were the ones I was wearing. There was nothing for him to shine. ...
KP: Yes, go on.
CH: Well, the general. The first thing this young man said to me was, "What time would you like your tea in the morning?" And, I said, "I don't care for any tea." And, the ... brigadier gave me the elbow, "How the hell's he gonna wake you up, if he doesn't bring you tea?" Well, after a few days, I ... could get accustomed to that very well. ... [laughter]
KP: I'm curious. I've been very struck by the differences between the services.
CH: Oh, boy.
KP: And, the Army, I mean, the Navy was incredibly hierarchical, I mean, the services are hierarchical.
CH: Oh, I recommended my son go in the Navy, you know. I mean, their BOQ was better, as was their officers' club. When we were in Oklahoma, we belonged to the naval officers' club. Their ships' stewards looked like a high-class supermarket compared to our commissary, which looked like Home Depot or worse. I mean, we had everything. It was just completely different. I had an interesting story. ... The first meal we had at the naval officers' club, the steward came through and asked if we would like milk. My wife said, she wouldn't care for milk, she would like coffee with dessert. So, he comes and he brings soup, and milk, you know? And, my wife says, you know, "I really don't want the milk, I just like coffee with dessert." He then served her coffee and dessert as he served others soup. [laughter]
KP: I'm curious. Just going back, way back to the idea of bringing black troops to serve in the mess, the officers' mess, that was really a forbidden rule to use enlisted men in this way?
CH: You couldn't use enlisted men to wait on an officer. No, that was ...
KP: That was really strict? Even if they were black troops, it didn't matter?
CH: Yes. Right. Right.
KP: Because in the Navy ...
CH: Completely different, you know. And, only thing I can figure out is, well, on a ship, somehow it's different. ... No way could you use ...
KP: So, you had to go out, and as you said, scour the streets of Baltimore?
CH: We chipped in to the officers' mess. There was an officer mess council. And, of course, we were serving ... that contribution from the service. We were on this thing, but we had to recruit, hire our own cooks, our pot washers, and buy our own food, and, you know, it was quite a project because we caused people to chip in. A lot of people left weekends, you know? So, they wanted to just pay for five meals, you know? And, we said, "No, it's all premised on the fact that you're gonna pay us for seven, but only eat five." So. [laughter]
KP: Plus you have to keep these people paid the whole week?
CH: Right. Then we had some Catholic fellows who went to communion on Friday morning and they couldn't eat before communion, so they wanted to ... get credit for Friday breakfast. ... We had these arguments all the time.
KP: Did you have any Jewish officers?
CH: Yes. No, we didn't have any problems with Jewish, no, none. No, I loved one fellow's Jewish rye bread. Every time he came back from New York, he brought this Jewish rye bread. [laughter] ... And, what the heck did he drink? It was, I forgot now just what it was. It was something I wouldn't think of as being wine. Oh, vermouth. He used to drink vermouth. ... No, we had quite a few Jewish officers.
KP: Both Jewish and black officers?
KP: You mentioned that you had, before you started the interview, you had some interesting experiences in New York. Both selling bonds and sort of supervising a sort of public exhibition.
CH: Well, it was in an exhibit. Congress got upset about the comparison of German, Japanese, and our equipment. And, so there was an exhibit set up in the Mall in Washington. I didn't have anything to do with that. But, then the Treasury Department thought that this was a good way to sell war bonds. So, they sent us out to Central Park, New York. Actually there were 600 officers and men. This was not just ordnance, this was everybody. One of our big problems was trying to get a railroad hospital train car into Central Park, New York. It got stuck underneath a bridge. But, anyhow, we went there, and we were selling war bonds and if somebody bought a war bond we'd give them a ride in a jeep. It was really a promotional thing for selling war bonds.
And, the only interesting experience I had there was Bergdorf Goodman called me and said, "We're trying to get a .57mm gun in our window, is there any way to disassemble it? And, we've got a crew of people out there, on overtime, taking the glass out of the windows to put the tank in." So, we went up and it was very easy, two pieces, you put them in the window. And then, we had all these guys putting the screws back in. So, they wanted to do something for me, which I didn't want, and so ultimately, they sent my wife a big bottle of Mille Fleur perfume.
And then, of course, with this ordnance exhibit in the Chrysler Building. ... You know, my times are off here, I just don't recall how that went. But, that was something. The Ordnance Department was setting up to show our materiel in the Chrysler Building. And, other than the experience with Moses, my other experience there was, we wanted to camouflage something, and we needed some trees or bushes. And, so, my men said, "Where do we get this?" And, I said, "I don't know in New York." I wasn't too sure, so, I pointed them out to the Holland Tunnel, and they came out in Jersey City, and asked the policeman where they could chop down some trees. And, ... I don't know who he called, but finally they gave them a police escort out to the dump and they cut the trees needed, then they came back into ...
KP: Camouflage some stuff?
CH: Camouflage some stuff in our exhibit, you know?
KP: Just to put on the tape, because you'd given me a clipping, but you had sort of a run-in with Robert Moses, who is leading New York figure at the time.
CH: Yes. I got this phone call, and a fellow just said, "Mr. Moses said get those tanks out of there." And, I said, "Who is Mr. Moses?" "We have permission from Chief (Wallender?)," who was LaGuardia's, I don't know what, "to put them there." So, ... he came back and he said the second time, "Mr. Moses said get those tanks out of there." So, I called up Chief (Wallender?) and he said, "Oh, my God, we've done it again." ... And, they had given us permission to park the tanks in what was Park Department land, which they didn't have any jurisdiction on. So, it was a big to-do, and the local papers, the Times and Tribune got a kick out of this, you know? One of the headlines read, "Moses, Unarmed and Single-handedly Routs Two Army Tanks." ... And, we had to get crews in to move them, to drive them. I didn't know how to drive a tank, ... so we moved them to different locations, off Parks Department land.
KP: You also had a run-in with Mr. Chrysler in the Chrysler Building.
CH: Yes. He came in with his son, unannounced, and was going through, and we'd had a lot of trouble with vandalism. People would just take little things, you know, which ruined our exhibit. So, we gave the MPs instructions to tell people not to handle anything. So, Chrysler was touching these things and the MP told him a couple times not to touch them, and then, finally said, "Sir, if you don't stop, I'm gonna have to ask you to leave the building." Well, Jeez, talk about something hitting the fan. We got this call, "Get rid of the black MPs." I didn't know this happened, you know? But, and then, the Ordnance Department said, "Well, he was doing his job." And, somehow we got beyond it, but ...
CH: But, you basically backed up your MPs?
CH: Oh, yes, sure. Sure. That's why I say I didn't see the discrimination. The fact that I'm even saying he was a black MP rather than an MP indicates something, but ...
KP: But, I mean the Army was very segregated, I mean, Aberdeen sounds like it was not a segregated ...
CH: It wasn't segregated. No. We had black students in the companies and the provisional student companies. We didn't segregate. At least, I don't remember us ever doing it.
KP: Going back a little bit more to Oklahoma, because my wife grew up in Oklahoma.
CH: Oh, did she?
KP: And, we just went out there in November. It's a general question. Growing up, how much did you travel?
CH: I hadn't traveled at all.
KP: I mean, in your initial job for three months?
CH: I had done that traveling, yes. But, I hadn't gone to the National Parks or anything of that sort.
KP: And, Oklahoma was very different in the 1940s.
CH: Yes, that was ... quite a ride and when we got out there, of course, it was after we were married. My wife didn't have a driver's license. So, we went to the motor vehicle place to get a permit as in New Jersey. Well, they didn't have any permit. And, the woman there said, "The highway patrol's coming in this afternoon, he'll give her a test. You know ... [how] to answer these questions, don't you?" Well, they brought out a test and they read the question and as a collaborative effort, everybody answered the questions. The ... highway patrolman came in and he took one look at me and said, "She can drive, can't she?" And, I said, "Yes." And, Pat got a license for fifty cents. So, after that, I was always apprehensive of any Oklahoma driver. [laughter] I figured, gee whiz, you know, really watch out.
KP: You mentioned there were some differences you noted at Oklahoma. I mean the university. What about Oklahoma, in general? In addition to the licensing of drivers.
CH: Well, the weather, of course, was much milder ... roses blooming at Christmas-time. It was a dry state, you know? ... It became a challenge to get liquor. It's like my dad said, "There's no fun to drink since prohibition." ... I think that was ...
KP: You had that sense that you were doing something ...
CH: Yes. [laughter] With rationing here in the East, you know, you couldn't get any meat. But, holy cow, ... we wanted to get something other than steak in Oklahoma. That seemed to be all they had. We used to go to the Cattleman's Cafe, which was right in the middle of a stockyard. And, housing was short. We lived in a motel room for thirty days out there and cooked our meals on an electric hot plate.
KP: So, you really noticed that it was a very different war in Oklahoma?
CH: Oh, yes. Yes.
KP: I mean it sounded like you had a lot more comfort, except the housing. You could get real meals all the time, and you didn't have to worry about driving.
KP: Were there any shortages of stuff that you could get in the East?
CH: Well, the only shortage that I remember, ... we didn't have a shortage in the Army, but my mother had a shortage of pepper. She couldn't get pepper at home. And, we could buy a pound can of pepper for seventeen cents. I always remember this at the commissary, so I bought mother and all her friends a pound of pepper, you know? And, my funny stories as a mess officer. I have to tell this. My mess sergeant said at Thanksgiving, "We don't have any sage for dressing." And, I said, "Well, I'll get you some sage." Well, the Army training manual, the Army cook, always had recipes. Take 100 pounds, take 500 pounds, you know, they were huge quantities. So, I called the sausage maker in Havre de Grace and said, "Do you have any sage." He said, "Sure, I have plenty, how much do you want?" And, I said, "Gee, I don't know, give me fifty pounds." So, I go over there and he's got ten of these brown shopping bags filled with leaves, you know? I don't think I ever knew what sage was, and I took them back to the sergeant and he said, "My God, we have sage for the next twenty years." ... [laughter]
And, if I may, I [would] just like [to say], my mess sergeant was a Sergeant (McCarin?), who was an Olympic heavyweight boxer, and a big husky fellow. And, one day I was going in the refrigerator and one of the student cooks said, "Lieutenant, I wouldn't go in there, because Sergeant (McCarin?) said he'd break anybody's arm he saw go in the refrigerator." [laughter] Well, the infantry was short of non-coms, so they took my mess sergeant, and put him in charge of an infantry platoon. And, he had ... no knowledge of this. So, he asked to be reduced. And, he was reduced to a private. Overseas at one of my demonstrations, the only enlisted man in the outfit is (McCarin?), and he's just been given a battlefield commission. So, ...
KP: Officer's commission?
CH: Yes. ... He had saved his platoon. The officer ... had never been under fire and, I guess, he had to knock the officer out, almost, to take over his platoon. ...
The shortages, well, we had the ration stamps, of course, you know. For some reason or other my wife liked pineapple juice. And, boy, that was the one that took the most stamps. [laughter]
DH: I noticed you discussed earlier the ethnic situation in Milltown and Aberdeen. Were there any problems in Oklahoma?
CH: Oklahoma? Yes. There were Indians in Oklahoma. I mean, they always used to say, "There were three prices in Oklahoma, one for the Indians, one for the natives, and one for the Army." But, and there was feeling on that. I don't remember any other feeling. And, I don't even know how that was demonstrated, to tell you the truth, I mean, it's ... the sort of thing you talked about. But, no, I didn't see any discrimination.
DH: Was the other population, was there a lack of a Jewish population in Oklahoma or a black population?
CH: I'm just not aware of who was Jewish or who was black. ...
DH: It wasn't as pronounced.
CH: It wasn't as pronounced. No. I mean, we always referred to the natives as being Okies. [laughter]
KP: Growing up, I mean, the Grapes of Wrath had been a very popular book in your senior year in high school. What did you expect when you were being sent out to Oklahoma? Did you have any images of Oklahoma?
CH: No. ... I really didn't. I guess, I wasn't very imaginative. ... All I knew was Oklahoma was 1,300 miles from the coast, which was halfway across the country. I thought of it as being farther west than that. And, the Army only required us to travel 200 miles a day, so you didn't have to get there fast, you know?
KP: And, you drove out?
CH: We drove out.
KP: Which must have been quite amazing?
CH: Actually, my first year in the Army I had a car, and then, I wanted to get a station wagon, or rather a convertible. So, I spent $1,200 for a Pontiac convertible, which was my year's salary. After I paid that, I didn't have any money to run the doggone thing, you know? And, I would think I was a hot rod coming up to date my wife with the roof down, and then, she was [so] concerned about her hair blowing around that we'd put the roof up. [laughter] But, it was convenient to move in. You could put the roof down, load up the back seat.
KP: It was also in the end a wise decision to buy that car, because you had basically a new car going into the war.
CH: Yes, right, I had a 1941 car.
KP: Which was ...
CH: Which was good.
KP: How did you meet? I should have asked this question earlier, because I also want to ask what your duties were in Oklahoma. But, how did you meet your wife?
CH: A blind date. A friend of mine in Milltown was a good friend of hers, and we met on a blind date, it evolved. [laughter] ... After college, I mean. I didn't know her.
KP: You didn't know her before?
KP: You were an officer in the ROTC program at Oklahoma. What were your specific duties?
CH: Well, the main reason I went out there is the Army had a different system than the Navy. The Navy V-7 system, you just went and you took a normal course of study at Oklahoma, and you were in this program, and you ended up with a commission in the Navy. The Army made you take a regular program, plus what they called an ASTM program, which was extra courses. And then, they required you to come in and take officer candidate training in lieu of the summer camp. Well, we were losing kids as officer candidates. They weren't prepared to take the discipline, and so, in a sense, I was sent out there to prepare them to take officer candidate training. Get them disciplined and what to expect, and only one of my men washed out of training. The real thing was to get them ready for that. Now, I did teach the courses in ordnance materiel and so on. I was the instructor in ordnance. We had regular classes. There were different people out there, some fellows who were in ordnance, some were in artillery, some were in infantry, and ...
KP: And, it sounds like you liked this assignment?
CH: Oh, I did. I did. ... I had a very good group of kids. But, I always felt ... they were discriminated against as far as difference between the Army and the Navy because the Navy got through this much easier than the Army did. I don't know whether I mentioned ... there was a ... Navy base north and south of town, so we belonged to this naval officers' club out there ...
KP: So, you got to see the Navy. You had mentioned earlier that the Navy had certain perks that the Army didn't.
CH: Right, right. Boy, I did notice that, yes.
KP: But, you would be reassigned. You would come back to Aberdeen?
CH: Yes. I was always on temporary duty, ... and one of the things that they did was, I wasn't getting promoted, but when I went on these jobs, temporary duty, they gave me per diem. So, I was drawing extra pay in Oklahoma and overseas for six months. I was getting, it wasn't that much, it was six dollars a day, but it mounted up, you know? And, when I went in London to collect pay per diem, I wanted to buy my wife a present. ... It so happened the finance officer there had been the finance officer at Aberdeen, and he said "Jeez, how did you get over here? These orders don't send you to Europe." But, I said, "Well, ... don't think ... I would be here, ... if I wasn't sent!" ... [laughter]
KP: What other duties did you perform as part of Aberdeen?
CH: Well, ... after I came back from Oklahoma, I was reassigned to the Proving Grounds, rather than the Ordnance School. And, as such, I was assigned to something called the Kangaroo Project. The Kangaroo Project was organized with five people from all different spheres of concentration: artillery, automotive, rockets, and so on. And, it was conceived that once we developed a weapon and we thought it was field worthy, we would take the weapon to a theater of operation and test it in the field. I had worked then as a proofing on a ... .75 recoilless rifle. But, I took it overseas. General Patton wanted us to fire it against the enemy, but I was told I couldn't do it, because it was still classified as secret. And, we didn't want to have a dud or something of the sort, somebody find it, and then, come up with the fact that we had this unusual weapon. When we had the (Handmar?) cartridge cases, cut down, welded and cut down, burn all the ammunition boxes, and do all sorts of things when we were overseas. But, the idea was supposed to be, ... we were prepared to go all theaters of operation. And, we were equipped with all sorts of clothes: for the tropics, for the arctics, ... we had all of this stuff so that we could theoretically take off in a day's notice. And, ... the official name for that was the Ordnance Overseas Maintenance.
KP: And, how big was this unit in both officers and enlisted men?
CH: ... Well, we didn't really have any enlisted men. We were just officers, and there were five of us, I think in each group, and I'd say forty people. One of the men we sent over to get a V-2 rocket and bring back Wernher von Braun. ... Many of our jobs were like OSS sort of things.
KP: But, yours was not?
CH: ... But, mine wasn't. No.
KP: So, you were given charge to test this weapon?
CH: ... I tested it, yes. And, ... then we sent it to the infantry board, they tested it. Each of us fired, I don't know, I used to say 5,000 rounds, but I think maybe it might have only been two. But, we fired an awful lot of rounds through this. Of course, when we were proving we always try to do things as safely as we can. We fired from stockades. The recoilless rifle, the trick is, you have an explosion in a tube, and there's an equal and opposite reaction, so the projectile goes out, the unburned powder and flames come out the rear, so that would just automatically balance it. But, to make the projectile stable, we had rifling ... in the thing. And, you couldn't cause that to be cut by, excuse me, the explosion, so we pre-engraved the rifling so you screwed it in, like a screw. As I say, I fired 2,000 rounds, the infantry board fired 2,000 rounds. They had a demonstration at Ft. Benning in front of 3,000 men and there's a premature and kills the gun crew in front of ... 3,000 people. So, this was one of the things that I had to react to, an awful lot of people overseas that had been there. ...
KP: Who remembered.
CH: We found out then that the fuse could be assembled in the armed position. And, we had never hit it, you know? Somebody had hit it, ... going in. And, that's what made the thing go off, but with all the rounds we fired, we never had that experience. ... So, I always had at every demonstration we had overseas, we'd always ask somebody if they would like to fire it. There was only one person that did, General Hodges, who was in command of First Army. When he got finished his shoulder stars were all bent out of shape from loading this 40-pound weapon, but he did a good job, so I always had a warm spot for General Hodges. [laughter]
KP: So, basically, I wouldn't say it's a show, but you were really taking this around to show it to people in the field?
CH: Right. And then, it got so that we were moving so fast at the end, that we would go where the division headquarters expected to be the next day, not ahead of their lines, but, we would go and we would pick out a range, so that we could fire this thing [recoilless rifle] when the division was coming through. And, in one of the days, trying to find a range, I drove through a city, which I later found out was Essen, and as I'm coming through, Jeez, our troops are coming the other way, jumping from doorway to doorway, mopping up the town, and they said, "Where did you come from?" [laughter] When I had come through nobody had bothered me, but, Essen hadn't been taken yet.
KP: From your demonstration, did you make any changes to the weapons?
CH: I was ...
KP: You were not part of the development?
CH: Well, we didn't have any more development overseas. It was no longer experimental.
KP: Yes, but did you do any of the development work when you were at Aberdeen?
CH: Oh, all of it. I did. In fact, I ... got a Commendation Medal for what I did on that.
KP: In developing a weapon, how was it different from developing other products? Say ...
CH: Well, somebody generally gets the concept. Now one of the things that we had was, the thing would come in and you'd have to devise a test. ... The recoil is a big thing in artillery, taking up the recoil. So, somebody decided that an M-3 tank was a heavy thing. Why did we have to have a recoil mechanism? Why couldn't we just mount the gun rigidly in this tank? Well, we get an M-3 tank with a 105 howitzer welded in there, and it became my job to test it. Well, I expected trouble right from the word, "go," but I wasn't sure what it was gonna be. So, we fired the thing and we found out that all the turret ring bolts were loose. So, we tightened them up, we fired five rounds before we realized that what was happening. We were elongating these bolts and after five rounds everything broke loose. So, you get that. Generally, things were handled safely. The only accident we ever had at Aberdeen was the (beano?) grenade. Somebody decided that ... the normal hand grenade, you had to put like a shot. When they said, "We're used to throwing a baseball, so design a grenade like a baseball." Well, that order came in to throw these things by hand. This one proof officer recruited a bunch of his friends to come out there and help him throw these things. And, if you threw them too hard, you got a premature, right out in front. So, one of the fellows got killed doing that. But, normally, we tried to be safe, and that's the only accident I know of that was at Aberdeen.
KP: Were there any real dead ends, in terms of weapons development, that you remember?
CH: Oh, boy, I'll say. And, one of the things that ... we would capture things and bring them in. And, I spent more time, I thought that the way to sabotage our war effort was for the Germans to throw out any doggone thing and let us capture it, and then, we would spend six months proving that it didn't work, you know? [laughter] I had more stuff that I tested ...
KP: That really was terrible stuff?
CH: That was really terrible stuff, you know, that the Germans had. I don't know what the devil they were doing with it, but it just didn't seem to work. We would look at it and say "This looks like it could be like our recoilless weapon." ... But, it wasn't.
KP: Because there's often a lot of talk about the vaunted superiority of the German Army even though they lost.
CH: Yes, well.
KP: And, you found a lot of equipment really was not up to snuff?
CH: It wasn't that well [designed]. They had two things that were infinitely superior. Their large tank, and I forgot whether that was the Tiger or the Panther tank, was really good. And, we had an M-2 tank, which we compared to it at this weapon show, but we had five of them. They were all in Detroit, or something or other, the German tanks were out in the field. The big thing that we had a comparison with was their .88 and our .90mm ... antiaircraft gun. They had a higher muzzle velocity. And, the big thing was how they used it. They used it as an anti-tank weapon as well as an antiaircraft. But, they had a much higher muzzle velocity and a much better accuracy. But, ... that muzzle velocity wore out the gun tube, so they had to replace gun tubes, I forget, after ten or fifteen rounds or something, where we wanted fifty or a hundred rounds. We didn't have a gun tube to replace it with. So, we had a lower muzzle velocity, therefore, our .90 didn't work as well as their .88. But, it was what people said they wanted, that dictated it.
KP: Were there any real successes that you remember at the Proving Ground?
CH: Well, I thought our .57 was a success. Yes, and other things were improvements on existing things.
KP: But, this was new?
CH: This was a totally new thing that, I don't know who conceived of the idea, but, it [the .57] came down and we tested it and, it was a very simple piece. The only thing was that the linkage could get out of adjustment. Well, when the airborne was gonna jump the Rhine and drop in, General Ridgway asked me how it was packaged. I didn't have any idea how it was packaged. I knew we had dropped it, so he suggested that I better jump in with them. Well, I'm sure I turned green. But, after talking to the airborne, I got the feel that the first jump was the easiest. After that, you began to know what to expect, you know? ... But, ... I didn't have to jump in, thank God. [laughter]
KP: For a while there you thought you might be ...
CH: I might have to jump in, yes.
KP: Not having been through parachute ...
CH: And, one of the things that I got into trouble with overseas is, I was a captain ... riding around Europe in a two-and-a-half- ton truck loaded with ammunition. And, that ... looked incredulous, you know? This is after the Battle of the Bulge. And, here's a captain driving a truck that came from the communication cell, which is Paris, out driving around the front. And, I was treated with suspicion, when you went from one Army camp to the next, you didn't know the password. And, they would quiz me on infantry camps, and I didn't know anything about infantry camps. Then they would quiz me about baseball. I didn't know anything about baseball either, so I became a really suspicious character.
KP: You also, I mean in a sense, you were not confined to one particular unit, and you mixed with a lot of brass.
KP: Did you get any sense of which units or which commanders impressed you or unimpressed you. You mentioned this one general really impressed you, that he was a hands-on general?
CH: He fired the gun. The other general I was impressed with was General Gavin, who had driven up from enlisted man. ... I forget, whether he was the 17th or 82nd Airborne. He ... had a reputation for giving his soldiers his socks when theirs got wet. I asked him if he had any questions after the demonstrations. He said, "No." Then he got hold of my tech sergeant and quizzed him for two hours. He just didn't have any confidence in ... officers. He thought the ... enlisted men knew. ... The other person that I was impressed with was Taylor. When I got to the 101st Airborne, the morale was absolutely lousy. He had just fined all the officers a hundred bucks, because he'd given a lecture and pointed to his ribboning, campaign ribbons, and said, "I have four battle stars, we're gonna get a fifth, and you're gonna get it for me." And, the officers booed, and so he fined them all a hundred bucks. So, the 101st Airborne, the morale was lousy, but Gavin's outfit was tops. And then, Patton, ... he was the only general I didn't meet, and he wouldn't help us. He threw all sorts of roadblocks in our way. To get around, we had to steal gasoline. ... It was incredible. Most people helped us. ... At the time, he had gone off on a looting mission and the Third Army had cut off the First. The First Army didn't have any front when we were there with them. They had a headquarters in Wiesbaden.
KP: They had in a sense been cut off from the war.
CH: Yes, cut off from the war. Gee, you know, he was terrific. I got interested ... one of the things that I observed, the British had one proving ground. The Army, Navy, marines, everybody worked for this one proving ground. They didn't have the range safety that we had; they fired all over everybody's head. So, their uniform; they had a special uniform: a red hat, blue blazer or jacket, and white trousers, whether they were Army, Navy, or marines. ...
KP: You did a test then for the British services?
CH: Yes. I was assigned to the British Proving Ground in Shoeburyness.
KP: Was this after your sort of the tour of the front, the tour of Europe?
CH: Oh, yes. This was after I got in England, and spent a month traveling around England, just before I came home.
KP: Driving around France and Germany in 1944 and 1945, what else did you observe? Did anything strike you in terms of ...
CH: Well, the big thing that we observed, is how the French hated us for bombing Le Havre. I ended up at Le Havre and everything was knocked out there. The French blamed us for that. I made the statement several times that I didn't think the French had gotten over World War I. ... You know, the only French I saw were sailors riding around in tanks. I never ... understood what was going on there. I did meet some French officers in the United States, and they were explaining that the food in the Maginot Line was left from World War I. ... They just were not prepared as far as I was concerned. General de Gaulle was very impressive driving around Paris. He'd drive around in a little sports car with no roof. At least I think he couldn't have a roof, he was so tall that his head was sticking up out of the top.
KP: So, you got to see Paris?
CH: Oh, yes. ... One of my great things. I took this picture of a Frenchman, which I think is the best picture I ever took, but, notice, there's nobody on the street. There are no cars, there's just one person.
KP: When did you take this picture?
CH: During the war.
KP: This is colored picture from the war. This is a great picture.
CH: I have a few other pictures, because I went overseas with one roll of colored film. So, I was very careful taking the pictures, but I have some that I'm very proud of, some that I took that I wasn't sure that I wanted to turn out. This is of an atrocity spot in Gardelegan, where they drove 300 political prisoners into this barn, bolted the door, and then, set fire to it. And, these, these are the Burgermeisters. That was high on a hill, and we brought the Burgermeisters in and told them that they should have seen it and stopped it. (It took place over two or three days.) The Army made them responsible for making individual graves for all these people. ...
KP: So, you made the Burgermeisters dig the graves?
CH: Well, the townspeople. They made the townspeople dig the graves, and then, be responsible for perpetuating them. And, I was with the Seventh Army on V-E Day, ... and ... this picture shows the V-E celebration, all the guidons from all the ...
KP: You also mentioned that the Seventh Army was probably the most dangerous in terms of people shooting.
CH: Yes. Shooting during V-E Day. ... See, the war ended on the third or the fourth or something, and then, we decided that V-E Day would be so many days hence. So, this was actually, the war had come to an [end]. Well, these are just some other pictures. I was looking for the Eagle's Nest up at Berchtesgaden. I got to Salzburg at the end of the war, and I never found it. This was a picture at Ulm. I was always impressed how the cathedral stands and everything else around it is demolished, the bridges. And then, the typical picture of the Eiffel Tower, but this brings to mind there was a carriage sitting there with a young baby in it and a tiny little American flag. You know, I wish I had taken a picture of that. ... One of the demonstrations we fired was at Fountainbleu. ... I don't want to give those original ones away, but I have a few of these if you want them, extras.
KP: Oh, if you have any extras that would be great. ... I mean, I don't want you to give the originals away.
CH: I don't want to give the originals away, because they're the best darn pictures. See, this is my Frenchman, and I have one like this someplace, because after I took his picture he handed me the fishing pole, and then, took my picture, and he kept backing up, backing up, and I thought, "Oh, my God!" You know, I didn't want a picture of myself. But, anyhow, he took it and it turned out very well.
--------------------------------------END OF TAPE TWO, SIDE ONE-----------------------------------
CH: [The picture of the burned political prisoners is being shown and discussed.] Still smoldering when I got there. ... And, there were three men that survived this. They somehow were protected ... under dead bodies, and they got out. And they were ones, one fellow, fairly burnt, was the one that told us it was there. ... This was in the First Army.
KP: Were you shocked by what had happened?
CH: Oh, ... I couldn't believe it. I said later, "I just don't understand why there wasn't any smell." Everybody said, "Boy, there was a horrible smell." The only thing that I can figure out is, I was so shocked. I didn't know.
KP: I mean we now know a lot about the German, but at the time did you really think the Germans were capable of this?
CH: Yes. Yes. I got ... at the end of the war when I was there, I realized how self-centered the Germans were. They were coming to us and saying, "If you get somewhere you can stop the SS from blowing up the bridge." ... They were really trying to protect their own livelihood. And, I didn't know too much about this. I did get to Dachau. And, I mean some of the things, like these women collecting the tattoos from men's body and making lamp shades out of them and things like that. I mean, I just can't believe that. And, I just can't believe these ... incredulous. And, this was just one squad of soldiers that threw these people in here, and we were just about to overtake them. So, I didn't think that ... Stach, who was my very good friend, his uncle was a fugitive from the Bund in this country because he had spoken out against them. And, his grandparents lived in Magdeburg. We had officers in this country who were never sent overseas, because of their family connections. In one of my outfits, one of my associates was Ken Kesselring, who was Marshall Kesselring's nephew. ... So, he never went overseas. They were afraid they'd be captured and threatened with the lives of their parents, or tortured. So, I reached the Elbe and when we got the word to wait for the ... Russians and I sat on the hill. (We had gone across the bridge and were shot up and came back.) The next day I sat on the hill watching them bomb Magdeburg. After the war was over, I told Stach this and he said, "Yes, that's when my uncle was killed, in that raid." You know, so it's a, I don't know what to say. ...
I didn't know what to expect from the Germans, but I did think they were pretty self-centered and one of my experiences was, that we set up a demonstration at Rosenheim, and the division didn't come. And, they said, "Go to the next big town." The only ... map I had was a Michelin Tire road map. So, I went to Salzburg, Austria, and that was the first day it was occupied. En route I had picked up a lieutenant with a corporal with a bunch of military government signs. He had been military government in Rosenheim, and he said, "Gee." He thought everybody in town was a member of the party or something or other, and he didn't know quite what to do and he was getting out. So, anyhow, we pulled in and there's a hotel that says, "American Express Travelers Checks Cashed Here." ... So, I went in, got a room. The whole hotel was filled with German officers. We had passed a column of German troops for forty miles, trying to surrender. But, nobody wanted to pick them up, because then you had to feed them. And, we didn't have any [food]. So, anyhow, I get in the room and I get this phone call, and they thought I was military government. And, they said, "Do you have any instructions?" I didn't know what to say, I said, "Have everybody turn in their weapons". Well, Jiminy Christmas, within a couple of hours there was a six foot pile of weapons out in the town square. The people just obliged, you know, and turned in these beautiful sporting rifles. They weren't military rifles, and ...
KP: So, what happened?
CH: Well, we just left them there. ... Then we got a bunch of South Africans drifting into the place. They had been prisoners of war for four years, so they were looking for arms, so we said, "Get your arms out here in the town square." And, the other thing that we had done, my driver's parents came from an area where he could speak some language that he could communicate with the DPs. So, when we hit a town we'd find out from the DPs, who had the best wine cellar, and as we fired our ammunition we'd replace it with fifty liter jugs of cognac. ... We had all sorts of thing[s] on this truck, so we gave these South Africans a weapon and a bottle of whiskey or something, and then, got out of the way.
KP How often did you encounter displaced persons and at what stage?
CH: ... Quite frequently. ... I remember the first one I saw ... impressed me, ... he had bent over trying to drink from a ditch and died, and ... died on all fours. I met another fellow who said he was a Polish captain and he was looking for something to eat. I gave him some of my c-rations, and he gave me a pair of Zeiss binoculars. There were a lot of DPs. We brought them together at some place, and then, started shipping in food. And, we shipped in flour. And, these people were so desperate they ate the raw flour and died. It was sad. There were a lot of displaced persons wandering around.
KP: I mean, in a sense, because of your freedom of movement, you really got to see more than your average soldier?
CH: Oh, yes. Yes, right. Yes. ... The average guy, I don't know, had seen the inside of his foxhole or something or other, but I just had a completely different experience than most, I think. ...
KP: You mentioned that on V-E Day, you were scared because of everyone shooting their weapons. Were there any close calls when you were demonstrating, in terms of ...
CH: No, we never had any problems. We were firing a demonstration up at the Ninth Army, and we were next to the British headquarters, ... [which] was the other side of the hill. And, we had the .57, .75, and the chemical warfare .105mm mortar. And, that you could never be too sure of, because that was supposed to be recoilless, but it really wasn't. And, we were firing several rounds into this hill. Finally one round goes over the hill. And, in a few minutes there's this whole procession of British officers coming and we thought, "Oh, my God, we hit their headquarters!" It so happened, we missed. [laughter]
KP: But, you were close?
CH: We were close.
KP: You got sent to England. What happened to you after V-E Day? How long did you remain in Europe before being sent to England?
CH: Not very long, I think it was fifteenth of June. ...
KP: Did you keep demonstrating after V-E Day or did you stop?
CH: We demonstrated once more; we came back and we demonstrated for Paris after we had been around the front. That was the last demonstration at Fountainbleau. ... And then, they decided to send me to England to demonstrate for their general staff. And, that was a very interesting experience. As I said, the one thing I thought we could learn from them in cooperating. It was very late in the war, before I talked to some naval officers and compared notes on rockets and things. We just didn't communicate between our services, where they tested things together. I think they had a better knowledge of what each other was doing than we did. We were almost like secretive between [services].
KP: In other words, you never really shared with the Navy?
CH: No. ...
KP: Even though you had this marine contingent?
CH: Yes. They had left. We didn't share with them. Our development work we didn't share with them, not to my knowledge, you know, which ... is a bad criticism, I think, you know of ...
KP: Whereas the British seemed to be much more ...
CH: At least knew what, they may not have talked to each other, but at least they know that next door a guy is firing something, you know? Would talk about it in mess or something at night.
KP: But, you had no clue what the Navy people were doing?
KP: You mentioned you liked England, you had quite a tour of England, before we started the interview.
KP: Your assignment became a longer one than you thought and it became in some ways a very comfortable one.
CH: Yes. ... As I said, this one lady, Mrs. Bathhurst, who did all these things to help me. I don't know what her background was, but ... her father had gone to Eaton, and had gone to Trinity College, and she had quite a sense of humor. I went to Commons one day, not that that had anything to do with a sense of humor, but they were discussing Burmese independence. That was sort of interesting. I just, you know, very formal. I brought all these things because my memory is so lousy. I don't ...
KP: So, you got to see the House of Commons?
CH: Yes. But, then, what the dickens was I talking about before I got to the House of Commons? Well, ... she arranged for me to sit at Trinity College and eat at the high table, and as I said, with Justice Jackson. And, after dinner was over, the Dons went to a room upstairs where a steward hit one of these big Chinese gongs. It was a small room, but, boy, he walloped that thing,. And then, passed the snuff. And, that was the signal that we could start to smoke. ... So, that was an interesting experience.
KP: You were really getting a tour of England that most people do not get to see.
CH: ... I went to Eton one day, and this woman has the smallest handwriting I have ever seen. And, I wrote her and thanked her, and this is [her letter].
KP: [Reads letter] Eaton College, Windsor, June 12. Dear Captain Hill, Thank you so much for your most charming letter and delightful visit. I was sorry you didn't see any cricket, but you can always see that any time in England. Remember we are always here during school term and come again if ever you, I can't even read it! [continues] find your way anywhere near here, anywhere near. And, must bring the weapon next time. I've been showered with questions from the boys. I hope you will soon have some sun. I wouldn't hate us for our climate.
CH: Actually, the climate was good when I was in England. Because I went there thinking I was only gonna be a few days. And, I only had a few changes of socks and underwear, and the uniform I was wearing. And then, I'm there for thirty days, I couldn't buy anything, because everything was rationed, so I would wash my uniform, this wool uniform, pound it dry in the tub as dry as I could, and then, I'd walk around the street until it got dry. And I didn't have the rain that everybody predicts in England. I went to Stratford-On-Avon, I spent a weekend at Torquay, I went to Glasgow. Lady Brunner made arrangements for me to go to Trinity College. I mentioned how good the kids at Eton looked with these suits on that they wear downtown. You know, the top hats and so on and so forth. She said, "Well, they look good, but when my father was there, he only had one suit, and the first day he was there, he upset a can of sardines in his lap, and he had to wear it the rest of the semester." [laughter]
KP: You mentioned that the British Army was very hierarchical, and a general got busted, because he wants to use enlisted men in the mess.
CH: That was in the American Army.
KP: American Army, but in the British Army, you got a private assigned to you?
CH: Yes, as a ... batman, and they all had them, you know. And, he was to wake you up, make your bed, shine your shoes. I don't know what the heck he did the rest of the day. I mean, as I said, he couldn't shine my shoes. I only had one pair and I was wearing them, but ...
KP: Which in the American Army you were accustomed doing yourself?
CH: Oh, sure. ... It's like having a valet. I would not know what in the world to do with a personal valet. I'm really interested in Lady Brunner's lineage, because I read an article recently about the Henley Regatta which said that somebody in the royal family always presented the prizes, and she did present the prizes. Her husband was a chief executive officer of ICC, the chemical company, but in this article on the Henley Regatta, they mentioned her as Elizabeth Queen Lady Brunner. So, I don't know quite that ... her name is Elizabeth. When she writes me, she signs her name Elizabeth. Their home was called Greys Court. They had this 300 acre estate, which is a pretty good size estate in England, and they had to sell off, kill off their deer, because they couldn't afford to feed them. They had a Bentley in the garage, but they were driving an Austin, because they couldn't get the gasoline.
KP: This was in 1945?
CH: '45. And, salaries at that time were limited to $20,000 a year. And, they had four boys in college and in school, spending 5,000 a piece. So, there was nothing left for them to live on that I could figure out, you know? When I went there the lady who arranged the visit taught me that one tips the butler fifty cents, but I didn't have to tip the cook, because she was his wife, and ...
KP: You learned a lot about English society.
CH: Oh, yes. I mean people were good enough to tell me this, and they said, "If you can, take some butter, because when they serve you tea, they're gonna serve you their month's ration of butter." ... I learned all sorts of things.
KP: I mean, you saw the British upper-class. You stayed in an estate, you saw Eaton. But, what else? What about the sort of other classes?
CH: Oh, I have a funny story there. ... I had to go in about quarter to five every night and report in and see if there was any message for me, I was attached to the office of the military attaché. So, I would be embarrassed, because there were char women on their hands and knees on the floor scrubbing the white marble floor. Every night, you know? And, I would walk through and I would say, "excuse me," "pardon me" or something. I had to go through their floor. So, finally one afternoon, one of them asked me what time it was, and I said, "It was quarter to five," and she couldn't understand what that was. ... So, I showed her my watch, and she rather indignantly said, "It's five and forty after four." [laughter] And then, she said, "And, pardon me, but why do you always say something, talk to us, when you have nothing to say?" I would say, "pardon me," and they were just not used to having anybody speak to them, unless they were giving them instructions. ... That really took me back, you know?
KP: You thought you were being polite.
CH: Yes, and they were somehow insulted, you know? ... So, ... I really didn't have any tie-in with their enlisted personnel at all, other than, except the batman, who ...
KP: What was the batman's background? Did you learn anything about him?
CH: ... No conversation, whatsoever. He asked me what time I wanted my tea, and that was the only thing that was said. The British brigadier talked me out of my American ration of cigarettes, and then, I had to buy British cigarettes.
KP: Did you smoke before the war?
CH: Yes. I always smoked.
KP: Oh. So, you smoked very early?
KP: Well, you mentioned that your grandmother...
CH: I mentioned that I was smoking in high school.
KP: Any other impressions of England?
CH: When studying ceramics, we studied Wedgwood. And, I pictured people pudging the clay with their feet and things of that sort. So, I wanted to go see the Wedgwood factory. It turned out to be the most modern factory I've ever seen, there was piped-in music, high-level illumination, you know, everything was [modern].
KP: It was a very impressive ...
CH: Very impressive factory and the British couldn't understand why I wanted to see Wedgwood. They said, "Why don't you see Spode, or the china companies." They said, "Wedgwood makes utility ware." Now what they meant was, all the Jasperware and stuff apparently is sent over to the United States and Wedgwood made a cheap grade of china that was sold in the dime store. And, that's what they thought about Wedgwood.
KP: There was a real cultural difference, whereas here Wedgwood is this fine china, there it was ...
CH: Oh, the big cultural difference was we had a whole team of British people translating our own training manuals into British English. The old Hoods, or Boot, and things of this sort. This was a big group in Aberdeen. The other thing that we had ...
KP: So, you had a group of British officers at Aberdeen?
CH: Yes. Translating training manuals.
KP: Because the English was so different?
CH: Right. Especially the technical English. ... The other thing that most people don't know, I think, is that we sent people to help the British maintain our materiel sold to them in lend-lease before the war started. We sent people from Aberdeen, and they went over to North Africa in civilian clothes. If they got caught en route, they knew they'd be treated as a spy. But, once they got to North Africa they put on British uniforms and served with the British on a volunteer basis. I don't know how many of these people there were, but I had a couple of friends that ...
KP: That did this before Pearl Harbor?
CH: Before we were in the war.
KP: How would they be treated by the Army? Would they go on leave, would they go on attached duty?
CH: I don't know how it was handled. ... No, I don't know, I just knew ... and it was always sort of a secretive thing, you know, even on the post we didn't know it.
KP: You sort of knew it, but you didn't?
CH: I mean, it wasn't talked about and ... the other thing we used to have a group that came through the school called "Captain Smith's Group," no, "Dr. Smith's Group." Forty or fifty people came in and they were dressed like painters, plumbers, all sorts of costumes. We were teaching them to recognize different materiel. That this was a .105 gun, this is something else, and then, we would put different things out into field so that they could get training in estimating how many of these things were out there. I don't know what these people did. I'm sure they were spies of some sort. ... But, it was a very secretive thing when this group came through the school and they would come through like ... every month. So, ... we did have that.
KP: How did you go over to Europe and how did you come back?
CH: Well, the team that went over to Europe was an infantry major, myself, a chemical warfare first lieutenant, and a technical sergeant from the infantry, and were formed in a group at Fort Benning. ... We went to Washington and we were assigned to the Army War College, and then, we went overseas from there, and were attached to headquarters of ETO in Europe.
KP: So, what kind of ship did you travel on?
CH: Went over on the Elizabeth. Oh, but that was sort of funny. We were stationed ... at Fort Hamilton. My wife was waiting for me at the Hotel Pierre in New York. I came back and hit the post. Well, the first thing was, we were at Fort Hamilton, which is in Brooklyn, which I expected to be a short distance from Times Square. I didn't realize it was gonna take me an hour to get out to Fort Hamilton. The next morning, I got out to Fort Hamilton, then we were put on twenty-four hour alert, which meant I couldn't contact my wife; I couldn't leave the post; I couldn't anything. We sat there for three days. They finally marched us out at night, put us on some sort of boat, and we went sailing around New York Harbor, and landed on and ... embarked onto this ship, which we couldn't figure out what it was, we knew it was big, but we didn't know what it was. Finally found out it was the Elizabeth. All this hush-hush, when do we sail? Eight o'clock the next morning, everybody's out on the pier, waving good-bye to us. [laughter] How silly can you get! There we saw some discrimination. The British officers were segregated from the Canadian and American officers. They were given quarters on the sundeck of the Elizabeth. The Canadians and we were on the A Deck. And, boy, did that burn the Canadians up.
KP: Oh, really? The Canadians really ...
CH: They objected to that seriously. And, every day we would have this "abandon ship drill," and we'd get out there on the A Deck and we'd be taught how to hold our Mae West when we jumped overboard, because it was forty feet down, and you could break your neck if you didn't hold that thing. I'm glad we didn't have to jump off. And then, we went to Scotland, landed in Glasgow, and we were put on troop trains and taken to Southampton. We were told there not to throw candy to the kids. The Scots kids would be out along the track and we had hard candy in our rations that we would be throwing out. And, they said that so many of them were getting excited and were running in underneath the trains and getting killed. So, we were going along and all the kids are out there, one hand up and one hand out, "Hi, Yank. Hi, Yank!" A few pieces of candy being thrown out. We get down a ways and there's one little kid standing out there says, "Hi, Rebel, Hi, Rebel!" Holy Smokes, the train unloaded their candy on this kid who was smart enough to have learned that, you know, Southerners. [laughter] And then, we crossed the Channel on a Free French ship, which had been scuttled and raised. It was sort of an eerie ship. And, here again was our bad experience with the French officers. All they were doing was trying to exchange money, the black market, trying to get US money for French money. And, somebody must have stolen ... the food off the ship, because the officers' mess was terrible and we used to have to, I used to have to smuggle bread out for my tech sergeant. It was just incredible. And then, when we got to Le Havre, we were unloaded into ... landing craft. And, they would take us up as close [as] they could to the shore. And then, there was a bulldozer there pushing the shore out. But, that was like quicksand. You jump off the end of the boat, you're up to your neck and I'm carrying a forty pound gun, plus training manuals, plus my own equipment. We did get ashore, then they loaded us into forty and eights and took us to Paris. And, that took twenty-four hours to get from Le Havre to Paris. You could get off the train and walk faster than that, you know? And, it was miserable, and so ... we finally got to Paris. I don't remember too much about how I got from the train to the headquarters, but that was sort of wild. So, I figured out once I waded ashore at Le Havre on D-Day plus 217. [laughter] ... Not very close to the action.
KP: After Europe, you would be sent back to Aberdeen?
CH: Well, ... I really don't remember. I was sent back because I had left from the office chief of ordnance, I went back to the office of chief ordnance. ... Somehow, while I was overseas, I applied for admission into Yale, and I didn't know how the heck I was gonna get out, because serving in the United States, you didn't collect many points. ... I had been in for five years, but I didn't have points. I was fighting for battle stars, because they meant five points. ... But, anyhow, I got back and I reported to this major general in the chief of ordnance office who gave me a pep talk, I'd done a great job, and if there was anything that he could do for me, let him know. I said, "General, how do I get out of the Army?" And, he called his aide, and I was out in two weeks. ...
KP: Really? Because you might have been in a while.
CH: I might have been sitting around. After the war trying to get home was no joke. I had plane priority, but there had been bad weather. People were backed up, and somehow, I'm not even sure how this happened, I'd a lot of Navy friends in Britain, because we had a good officer's mess for the Army, but the Navy didn't have one. They were on their own. So, the only way they could come to this officers' mess was to be invited by somebody. And, I kept inviting them to come. ...
KP: As a favor?
CH: As a favor. So, somehow, and I'm not sure whether I did it through them or not, I got assigned to a Navy gun crew on a Standard Oil tanker, and when I got on the tanker they had their guns in cosmoline, you know? There were five of us aboard, and we sailed from London. We were just passing the white cliffs of Dover after the first night. When I asked how long it would take to get home, they said, "Twenty-two days." I had gone over in four-and-a-half. But, ... this was the US officers' mess in London. They published this every week and told you what all the plays were and it was there that a lady helped me with all the plays. I saw eighteen plays.
KP: So, in some ways, while you saw a lot of the terrible things, particularly in Germany, you had the time of your life, particularly in England.
CH: ... I really did and I only made really one mistake in my life, I guess. I was offered a chance to go to Command and General Staff School right after I was married. And, that was like a nine month tour, which would have been, you know, in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, but I've always heard these stories and I just didn't want to be separated from my wife, so I didn't go. I think that would have ...
KP: You might have had a very different career.
CH: Yes, right. ... I was writing here for days here trying to figure out what I was gonna say. I haven't said anything that I figured out. ... This is a picture of the Rutgers group at Aberdeen, not everybody is there, but that was in March '42.
KP: I wonder if we have a copy of this in the archives?
CH: I don't know, I have that one, that's the only one I have. Could be copied.
KP: Did anyone ...
CH: This is the six of us who lived together. I had the camera, ran to get in the picture, unfortunately I didn't make it, but ...
KP: Is this you on the side?
CH: Yes, that's me on the side there. But, that's six of us, we lived together. [laughter]
KP: I don't even know if the interview started when you mentioned this, but you in many ways liked the Army.
CH: Yes, my wife and I have said many times, you know, maybe we made a mistake in not staying in the reserves. But, the reason I didn't stay in is, I was still a captain at the end of the war, and all my friends were majors and lieutenant colonels, and, you know. ... I didn't want to stay in as a captain. ... I most likely would've made major soon. But, I ... had been one of the first people, now I was one of the last.
KP: But, it sounds like you developed this interest in architecture, or had you always had it?
CH: Well, I'd always been interested. My father was in heavy construction and my grandfather was a carpenter and a builder. So, I've always been, you know, I'd always been interested in architecture. But, for some reason or other it never entered my mind when I was going to school in the first place.
KP: Why during the war? Is there reason?
CH: I don't know. ... It just came to me, you know. ...
KP: Because you'd already had a college degree?
CH: Yes, I had my BS, you know, and then, I went back and ... basically no carry over into architecture, ... I had to do four years work, and ... I got credit for a couple of courses, strength of materials, and calculus, you know, but ... [laughter]
KP: Would you have gone back if there hadn't been the GI Bill, do you think?
CH: To college? No, I couldn't have afforded to. ... We had saved, because we knew we were going back, and we had about $6,000. ... I knew that I couldn't afford to keep a car, so I sold my 1941 car, and we depended upon trolleys at Yale. Our son was born in New Haven. We always figured he was conceived on V-J Day. ... I had a son. There were quite a few married veterans at Yale.
KP: How did you like Yale? I mean you had been through the whole four years of college and now to go back to college, and then, having been an officer.
CH: Well, I liked it, but it was very difficult because ... normally if you had an assignment, you did your work and if you passed your test, you passed. But, in architecture, you do a problem, you work on it for six weeks and you hang it up for exhibit. You might have a chance to defend it, but a group of people would go through, who were not your professors, maybe there'd be one professor, but there'd be other architects, and they would grade, your work. ... It was difficult to grade an architectural problem. So, we got "Commend," which meant 95-100, translated 95-100, "Accept" which was passing, and "Not Accept," which is zero. ... They always said design might be a five year course, but you could finish it in three, depending upon how many points you collected. So, one really never knew. And, our problems were due at midnight. We'd go run it down, submit these problems at midnight and not know how we were doing.
KP: So, in some ways you were back to the points, I mean the points system, quite literally, followed you into architecture school.
CH: And, I did quite well at the end. I won a traveling fellowship, but having just come back from Europe and having a young son ... and I still had eligibility time which I could have converted to the GI Bill, Yale would have sent me over as a post-graduate of some sort, you know? But, we decided after a year not to take it, so I had to give it up, but. ...
KP: But, it's still quite an honor.
CH: Yes. I was pleased because there were only two traveling fellowships and this was one that was given out by the entire ... art school: the painters, the sculptors, and the architects were all in on this.
KP: So, it was a very competitive fellowship.
KP: You are in school with a lot veterans, but you are in school also with nineteen-year-olds who had never been ...
CH: Well, I don't know, this maybe shouldn't be on it. [laughter] But, Yale used to have a system where the underclassmen worked for the upperclassmen. It was called "niggering." And, when we came back as veterans, five or ten years older than all these other kids, we just refused to do it. So, it changed.
KP: When you say work ...
CH: The idea was that in an architectural office you may not work alone. You may have people working for you, so they were training you to, not only to do your design, but to get people to help you with your drafting, with your rendering. ...
KP: So, this wasn't just like at Rutgers, I know there were class obligations, you know, freshman had to do certain things, and sophomores.
CH: No, ... this was like year round.
KP: This was work, too.
CH: You know, when you got to ... problems were done every six weeks. ... If they wanted somebody dotting drawing for grass, somebody would be sitting there with a pencil dotting the drawings, or ... drawing trees or something of the sort. I had a couple of women help me with my thesis who had graduated from art school. ... And, I did my renderings in temper, which one of them suggested, and I think it was one of the reasons that I won the prize, because nobody had used egg temper before.
KP: Was there anything else that the veterans had changed about Yale that you could tell? I mean one of this is an architecture that's a real change.
CH: Then, of course, several of us were married and had children. ... Yale converted to student apartments a lot of buildings that they had bought to tear down to expand the campus. We lived on Lake Place, which was adjacent to the Payne-Whitney gym. We were fortunate to have a large living room, and a large bedroom with an alcove perfect for our baby. These apartments were unfurnished and maintained completely by the University. One negative was having to share the kitchen and bathroom with another couple. And so, you had to learn to get along with other people that way. There was discrimination at Yale. I understood, before we got there, one of the friends that we lived with had been an undergraduate, and he said all busary students got rooms on the fourth floor of the dorm, so there was automatically a class system, you know, which he was very upset about. ... We didn't run into that. The women had very fine social clubs such as Yale Dames that my wife belonged to. So, and ... then each of the professors at Yale was given a stipend to entertain students. Which you know, I've never heard of since. When I went to Princeton and scheduled a meeting with a group of graduate students who had a complaint about people breaking into their dorm, all the women showed up with their sherry glasses. Apparently it was customary for someone to bring sherry when you call a meeting with the students, but I wasn't aware of this.
KP: This was at Princeton?
CH: Yes. This is at Princeton. [laughter]
KP: How did Yale compare from your college days? Were there any other comparisons, thinking back on your Rutgers days, between the two schools, things that were the same in terms of college and things that were different?
CH: I would say the courses were very similar. The only thing was that, we didn't have big classes. The ceramists unified. We all had the same schedule; we just moved around as a block, other than in freshmen English, and contemporary civilization, ... and ROTC we weren't in classes with anybody but ceramists. ... We were ... always with the chemists who used to ride us, but you know, they used to call us "caramists" and a few other things. But, I would say it was very similar, but ... we didn't have big classes. Now, when I was at Yale, the Dean of Students gave a lecture course in architecture 101, and he was a very popular lecturer. The year I was his reader, he had 180 people in the class, which was a lot, you know. I never saw any classes like that around here, but he had been doing it for years, so he had a system. If he gave a reading assignment, everyday there was a ten minute quiz on the reading assignment. ... Then he had notebooks, which you had to keep, which got to be two or three inches thick. He used to assign several essays as well. One was, "A Criticism of Gothic Architecture at Yale." And, I'm reading these things, and I was paid by the piece. I got five cents a ten minute quiz, twenty cents a 2,000 ... [word] essay, and things of this sort. So, I'm reading this and I thought this sounds like something I read before. I find I had four identical copies typed up, same picture, same everything and two bad copies, of the same report. Well, Yale had an honor system and these were all first-year architectural students. Oh, boy, what do I do now? The dean was so aloof, ... I didn't speak to the dean as his reader, I spoke to his assistant. ... I told him what the problem was, and he said, "Well, with this you're gonna have to see the dean." So, I go into the dean, quaking in my boots as if I had been the guy that copied the essay, you know? [laughter] And, he said "Well, what grade would you have given it?" And, I said a ninety, and he said, "Inasmuch as they all collaborated, I think they should each get fifteen." Well, when we handed back the papers with six fifteens, boy, there was hell to pay. [laughter] Everybody knew that the reader was anonymous, but everyone was saying "Who the hell's the reader?" ...
KP: Do you know what else happened to the case? Did they just ...
CH: No. He gave them fifteens. That was it.
KP: That was it.
CH: ... He gave them chance to write it over again. But, I always thought, I often wondered what would've happened if it wasn't divisible by six. I mean, he came up with this answer awful fast, I'm sure that he had it. ... I thought Yale had a good system. We always compared it with Harvard. The thing that always made us annoyed was we had to spend four years and got a bachelor's of architecture degree and Harvard spent three years and got a Master's of architecture degree. So, this was always a bone of contention, you know. We should have gone to Harvard. [laughter] ... So, I don't know when it became true, but several years after graduation, I got a letter from Yale, said that our LLB has been a perfectly fine degree for 135 years or something, but now that ...
KP: You had a letter from Yale saying ...
CH: Yes. If you want a Master's degree, send us fifteen dollars and we'll reissue your diplomas. So, now I became a Master's, which was quite a Godsend, because I was working at Kean College and they were always ...
------------------------------------END OF TAPE TWO, SIDE TWO-------------------------------------
KP: This continues an interview with Kurt Piehler and ...
DH: David Hou.
KP: With Mr. C. Harrison Hill on November 29, 1995 at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. So, you were at Kean College getting this Master's. ...
CH: Well, actually, it helped because although I was quote "Director of Planning," which, you know, is a title which seemed to encompass everything, rather than just physical planning, but it was physical. They were concerned because they wanted the people with Ph.D.s. And, if you were a doctor, you were called doctor. If you weren't a doctor, you were called professor. But, in art, a Master's degree is a terminal degree, there isn't [a doctorate.] ... Princeton does now give a doctorate in architecture, but there wasn't any such thing as a doctorate in architecture. So, it was a terminal degree, and I was treated with respect ... that way. But, ... thought that was interesting. And, so my Master's diploma has, it's printed on both sides, you know. It says "Master's" on one side, and on the backside it says ... Graduation at Yale was rather interesting. We all paraded in, and Eisenhower was given a doctorate the year that I graduated. And, I just forget who the editor was of the New Yorker magazine, for years, and years, and years. But, he wrote the commentaries that they read when somebody got a degree, and he always had a fabulous sense of humor, you know. And, so, that was rather nice.
KP: It seems like there were a lot of things you enjoyed about being at Yale.
CH: Yes, we enjoyed it. I guess I'm an easy person to please. [laughter] I don't know. ... We didn't have any real criticism.
KP: It also sounds like you enjoyed your education, that you got a lot out of it. Yale trained you well.
CH: I think so, yes. They did train us well. Harvard had a system of, they had most of the Bauhaus architects there, Gropius, Breuer, static faculty, where Yale brought practicing architects in ... for a problem. In other words, they were just there for six weeks. So, ... we met a lot of people with different points of view. And, we were encouraged to develop our own style of architecture, which is difficult. It was much easier, everything that came out of Harvard looked as if Gropius or Breuer had done it, you know. But, we didn't have that problem.
KP: You had mentioned ...
CH: ... Well, we did have one problem, once they brought in ... we were designing, these problems ... for different areas. And, this was for a school in the tropics. Only one person in the class caught onto the fact that it was below the Equator, therefore things were just the reverse there, than they were here. You know, the prevailing breezes and all that sort of thing. So, everybody, but one, got a zero on the problem. [laughter] That really caused quite a stir, you know, because that's six weeks work over. Yale delayed the opening of the semester to November 1st, so that we could start. And then, for two summers they ran summer school. So, we were able to do our four years work in three.
KP: Which made for a very busy three years.
CH: Oh, yes. We were working ... in an un-air conditioned room during the summer [that] was ... an architectural lab that had been a secret society, so there weren't any windows to speak of ... oh boy! It was terrible.
KP: You were there when George Bush was back from the war.
CH: He got his [degree]. ... Yes. He got his degree the same year. Of course, I didn't know George Bush then, I did know Eisenhower. When we mentioned the generals before, going back, going way, way back. One person I was impressed with overseas too, was Eisenhower. I went to Versailles and his headquarters was in the Petite Trianan, and there were a couple of nurses there. And, he was coming out one day in his car, and one of the nurses said, "Oh, look. There's Ike." And, she waved, and he waved back, rather than saluting, which I thought was ... very decent of him.
KP: But, did you ever get a chance to meet him personally?
CH: No, no. Bradley, we did. Oh, the other thing there was, he commanded the Twelfth Army group, I think it was the Twelfth Army group. When we went to Patton, with orders from him, he wouldn't accept them from Bradley, because he outranked Bradley at West Point. And, we had to find orders from Eisenhower sending us to Bradley before he would even let us do anything, you know. I mean he was a character, you know.
KP: You mentioned earlier that your father had really wanted you to be in your own business. Had you thought of joining an architectural firm at all?
CH: I had, and I worked with an architectural firm. Of course, you have to work three years apprenticeship, at least, before you can even take your license. So, I had worked for firms. And, I had worked for a firm, York and Saywer, who had done much of the work here at Rutgers. I started out as a clerk of the works here at Rutgers. And then, when they took me into their New York office, the principle who owned the firm was a Yale graduate. So, ... I didn't realize it, but I was sort of like the pet in the office, and I, you know, got all the good jobs. But, after commuting for a couple of years I went in and wanted to quit, because I said my son was asleep when I left, he was asleep when I got home. So, Kiff said, "Well, why don't you come in and work, put in, we work thirty-six hours, put in your thirty-six hours in four days, and then, you'll have a three day weekend." Which was nice, but I said, "No, thank you very much," and I quit. Then I worked for a firm locally here, and then, when I started to build my house, because I'm living in my thesis.
KP: Your thesis home?
CH: Yes, ... we didn't have any money, so it was delayed four or five years after graduation. But, then when I started to build it the tolerances were too tight. It's a modern home. ... The electrician was putting in stuff underneath the floor and he said, "Boy, you know, my plate's only an eighth of an inch thick, if I make a mistake, you know an eighth of an inch, I'm in trouble, you know." So, I took off and I actually became a builder for five months. And, ...
KP: And, built your home?
CH: And, built my home, you know. And, so we've been living in it ever since, 1953.
KP: So, has it worked out as well as you thought it would?
CH: I think so. My wife always said, "It's not our home, it's your home." But, ... I think it's worked out fairly well. Now that I've buried all these pipes underneath the floor, forty-five years later I'm getting a little apprehensive, you know. In the beginning, I didn't have any concerns, but now ...
KP: When you say they buried they're in ...
CH: Well, we have a terrazzo floor and the heating coils are in the floor. I put down some insulating concrete, then I laid all my water pipes and the sewer pipes, then I put down a structural floor and buried in my heating pipes, were one inch steel. Then I put two inches of terrazzo on top of all of this. So, ... the above were called for in the plans. I supervised the execution.
KP: So, they're buried.
CH: They're buried, you know. There's no way, no way you could ever dig through these things.
KP: So, how would you repair them.
CH: I don't know. I keep thinking about this. [laughter]
KP: I don't know how you're going to ...
CH: Who am I going to stick with this? But, ... one of my professors at college, Gardner Daley, always advised us never to try more then one thing at a time in a house, and not to try anything in one's own home. Well, mine's completely experimental, you know, heating pipes, holding up the roof with the window frames. I have fifteen hundred square feet of glass, a flat roof. My uncle helped me. He was a carpenter. And, when we were building the mill work, actually we made all of the mill work with hand saws. I kept wanting to cut off the posts, they were all ... I thought they'd all be eight foot. He said, ... "You can't cut them off until you get up there." Well, we didn't communicate any better then that, we just didn't cut them off. So, when we got up there, he did something that the Greeks had done. He put emphasis in my openings, where they framed across here, he raised the center up, ... a half an inch, ... so that the window didn't look like it sagged. Well, that made my flat roof, which is not flat anymore, it's got a bunch of ... little curves in it, so it ... doesn't drain like I thought it would, you know. I built my garage later on, I had a way of changing that. But, that was the one big mistake. The other big mistake was I should've put in thermopane throughout, simply for condensation purposes. You don't need it for heat loss, because with radiant heat you're not heating the area, you're just heating the surfaces. But, we found that on our north wall we got condensation, so we replaced some of that with thermopane. But, ... that's my one big regret. The other thing is I wanted to put the laundry adjacent to the bathroom (or in the bedroom wing). I figured all the dirty clothes end up there and the clean clothes end up there. Why not keep them there? Well, my wife said she wanted to hang things outside, so the laundry is next to the kitchen. Right now, I want to change something in the kitchen and it's like impossible. I have to use the water and the sewer and stuff, and I don't know where it is.
KP: Because it is embedded in the concrete?
CH: Yes, it just stubs up through the concrete, and that's it. ...
KP: What have you enjoyed most about being an architect? And, a planner? Because you spend a good part of your career as a planner. Any particular projects? I know, for example ...
CH: Well, I think the one I'm the most proud of is the fact that I did the ... When I was at Princeton I had a staff of twelve architects working, well, not architects, but architectural types working for me. And, we did the small jobs, which were like up to a million dollars. ... I did the addition to the president's home, which became a faculty club. Now, I don't know if you've ever been there, but I think it looks, you know, was very well done. ... I did only five or six homes. I've done my own. I did Seymour Zenchelsky's, and I did a few others. ... I've been proud of what I did, I think.
KP: Because I read that you designed the gates on campus, one of the class gifts of 1940.
CH: Yes. Well, I think that's the big thing. You know, you need to be creative, and you feel like everything you do you are creating something. For the youngsters who say they think they want to be an architect. ... I think I discourage some of them because I'd ask, "Are you taking art in high school?" And, they aren't, they're taking mechanical drawing. Well, architects got away from mechanical drawing. Well, actually now everything's being done by a computer. You know the test is being given on a computer. But, an architect uses a soft pencil, not a hard pencil on his sketches and anything you create, I was pleased, ... you see, I designed this gate up here, and then, I had a woman in the class, Peg Ficken, wife of Charles, Class of 1940, heckle me for the design. She wanted to make a needle point cushion. So, I made a design using the elements that are in our fence which was the crown and the eagle and oak leaf, and it's become our logo, the Class of Rutgers 1940 logo.
KP: For your class, yes.
CH: ... But, anyhow, when she made the pillow, she gave it to me as a gift. ... I didn't know that that was her purpose in asking.
KP: You, in addition to ...
CH: So, it's creating anything.
KP: You really like that part.
KP: You were at Princeton for a while, and then, even longer at Kean College, and you've really been at three major New Jersey institutions. Any thoughts about Princeton and Kean College? Your experiences there?
CH: Well, ... it was very different. Of course, at Princeton it's quite inbred, you know. Most of the people on their faculty are Princeton graduates. And, I was really the odd-ball, always introduced as having gone to Rutgers and Yale, which, you know, got me into cocktail conversations rather fast. [laughter]
KP: You were there when Rutgers and Princeton were still playing football.
CH: Right. ... If fact, I went to a game one week and the next week I came back and the fellow next to me said, "Well, I hope you're cheering for Princeton this week." You know, I didn't ... [laughter] But, well, ... there was a caste system at Princeton. The faculty were the ultimate. The faculty met on, I remember, the first Monday of the month, and the president ... chaired the faculty meeting. Then we had a meeting of the staff officers, the Tuesday following the faculty meeting, in which the president told us what the faculty decided the ... day before. One of the reasons ROTC was criticized at Princeton was because all those people were assistant ... professors. And, this was a block of about fifteen people in a faculty meeting, which the other faculty objected to. And, I think that was one of the reasons why ...
KP: The fact that they had the votes in faculty meetings.
CH: Yes, that they had the vote. And, that even if they didn't vote, ... they were there and ... they were an element.
KP: And, they were outside of the Princeton element.
CH: Yes, right.
KP: Because they were only there for a tour, and then, they ...
CH: Right, right. ... There were a lot of formal events ... which my wife enjoyed, ... black tie affairs and things which ... we never had at Kean. We did at Yale.
KP: Because even to this day, my sense is Princeton is probably one of the most formal of institutions compared to, even now, Harvard and Yale.
CH: Yes. The dining clubs were a big influence when I was there. ... And, the closer they were to Washington Avenue, the more important they were. If you got down the street a ways that wasn't ... But, then there was a certain rebellion against joining there.
KP: What about Kean College? Any thoughts?
CH: ... The thing at Kean was quite different. One thing I should say about Princeton is, there was always a great amount of feeling ... that about fifty percent of the ... professors wanted a faculty club and the others didn't. And, the reason they didn't have it was they wanted the professors to mingle with the students. So, they had common dining facilities up until, ultimately, we built Prospect. But, I mean, that was one thing that they really encouraged the professors, to eat, and deal with the students. They also demanded that the professors teach undergraduates and graduates.
Now at Kean College we found that wasn't true. The older people were teaching graduate students and the younger ones were teaching the undergraduates. They may have been more competent, I don't know, but I mean there was this feeling, you know. ... Now at Princeton, you never knew who had a doctorate, everybody was just addressed as Mr. And, the only person that was ever addressed as doctor was the librarian, Bill Dix. And, that was because of, I was told, because it's not common for the librarian to have a doctor's degree, but for a professor it was just assumed ... that you had a Ph.D. Now there were people there that taught sculpture that didn't, you know, ... had no college training, but that wasn't everybody. [laughter]
Then tenure was a big thing at Princeton. There was a committee of three that determined who got tenure. And, I would be meeting with these different people when the politicking would be going on to get somebody tenure, because that was a major step. After you became a tenure professor at Princeton, you could do no harm. And, we had to give then a key to the building. And, ... it made it tough to secure a building because the faculty member had to have one key to fit the front door and also his office. If anybody knew it, the front door was not too secure because of all these things.
KP: You mentioned this committee of three, would you ever get involved in any of this politicking?
CH: Oh, ... I didn't have anything, of course, I didn't have anything to do with it. But, it was the financial vice president, the dean of faculty, and the president. Now, I was meeting, on occasion, with the ... dean of faculty and the financial vice president. In fact, I worked for the financial vice president, you know. The president, we were renovating his offices in Nassau Hall, and it was a high ceiling on a room on the second floor, and we wanted to make it into two floors. So, we didn't, couldn't upset the president's functioning, so we hung this floor from the roof. Now the roof is wood frame, so that's ... quite a trick. But, anyhow, we got this room hung in there without upsetting the president's room. Now what the heck was I going to say? But, anyhow, Oh, then we built a conference room. And, I was very anxious that I designed the table and we had it made in the shop. And then, I found some very nice chairs, that were plastic chairs with a leather liner, and they swiveled. I thought they were great. ... The financial vice president said, to my immediate boss, "Tell Mike to get those chairs out of there." And, I said, "Oh, I think they'll love, grow to love them." [laughter] Ah, geez, that was a mistake. It was like Mr. Moses said, "Get those chairs," you know, "Get those chairs out of there!" And, I brought ... in lieu these typical college chairs, the oak chairs, or the maple chairs with the black arms and so on. And, the financial vice president's thing was, ... "They look too good. We want dignified squalor." And, I often ... we wanted dignified squalor in the rooms. [laughter]
KP: One of the things that's impressed me most about Princeton, that of all the ivy league schools, they make a real effort to retain consistency of architectural styles. At Rutgers they will think nothing of throwing buildings that do not match architecturally together, in fact, they don't see ...
CH: Yale, or rather Princeton, really collected architects, you know. ... There was no desire to make one building look like the next. We would hire the best architect we could think of, for the building, and then, pretty much give him his head, you know. We had a building committee that reviewed his plans, but ...
KP: I am struck at the great care taken at Princeton. For example the library, burying part of the library, in a sense, to make it fit better on the campus.
CH: Well, that was my idea.
CH: We had a meeting one day, and we were discussing [it]. ... The library wanted to build a reference room with about 100,000 volumes in it. It was open twenty-four hours a day, all right. But, that wasn't too big of an addition to the collegiate gothic building. So, we were discussing it one day, what style should this be, and I just jokingly said, "I think we better bury it." They said, "That's a good idea." And, that's how we buried the addition. And then, later on, we used that same technique in building the computer center, because the town had zoning regulations. They regulated ground cover, and we couldn't get the computer center on the ... site that we had picked out. So, if anything was basement, in other words, over half the wall was buried it didn't count. It was what's up above it. So, we buried part of the computer center.
KP: So, that's why Princeton has a lot of its newer buildings [that] are literally buried.
CH: Well, that's true, but the library was buried well before ... [that].
KP: Yes, because I have been struck by Princeton's putting large parts of buildings underground.
CH: Yes. Well, the original library always did have floors. It was a big mistake, they had rare books under that platform, you know. And, when the trucks were going over top, that was a little problem. You know, with the roof leeks in the rare book room, you know, which ... you didn't want. And then, there was a faculty housing project that's colonial up on Harrison Avenue. And, there we buried the whole garage. We put the pave that goes on top. That was an interesting story. We had a very generous donor who decided there should be some senior faculty housing. And he hired an architect to design that place colonial. We didn't want colonial and there was a big debate. Do we insult this alumni or do we build colonial? And, we built colonial as far away from the campus ... as we could. And, of course, the great gift while I was there was Mrs. Jadwin's seventeen million dollars. She had a son that went to Princeton who was killed prematurely. Her lawyer had gone to Princeton and apparently she said she didn't know whom to leave her money to, and he suggested she leave it to Princeton. So, it was a godsend. It was unrestricted. We used it to build one building, and then, when we replaced it we'd built something else. So, we had the Jadwin Physics Building, the Jadwin Gymnasium. And, ... so that was nice.
KP: What about going to Kean College which is a public school?
CH: Well, after I left Princeton, I decided to go back on my own practice. And, Princeton hired me to ... renovate the Palmer House, it was a guest house. And then, a friend of mine, who was the architect at Kean College, ... there was a new acting president there, and this friend of mine who was an architect said, "Gee, with all this program, I suggest you get an architect on the staff." So, he told the then president, Nat Weiss, who called me and who hired me, and really backed me. Because the first thing I did, which was most important, was eliminate driving on the campus. People drove all over. And, one of the caste systems things there, was what parking permit number one had, whether you were ten or twelve, or something. Because this put your hierarchy of order within the college. So, I said to them, "Well, we just have to get this parking off the campus." And, he backed me 100 percent.
KP: Which can be a very touchy issue.
CH: Oh, boy, yes. I'm sure you know, Clark Kerr said, "The duties of the college ... president were to provide parking for the faculty, athletics for the alumni, and sex for the undergraduates." And, we were stepping on ...
KP: Sacred ...
CH: Sacred grounds. But, ... he was good. And, we eliminated the parking on campus and made all the interior, our whole master plan is built on peripheral parking, which is what we had at Princeton.
KP: I know, because I once parked in one of the lots and it is way out.
CH: Way off, you know. At the time, students couldn't even have cars. Then we built a student parking lot, enclosed in a fence, which was way off the campus, you know. But, they were afraid kids would get killed, that was the purpose of it. I never heard that anyone did.
KP: Anything else about Kean? It's a much more informal place.
CH: Yes. We tried to follow the same procedure. As a planner you get to influence what's going on by whom you pick as an architect, you know. ... If somebody's doing a certain type of work, and you think that's what you should have, then you would hire them. Although, we had to hire the architects through the state. We just couldn't do it directly. So, you had to sell your bill of goods to the state, Department of Building and Construction, and then, they supervised the construction. We didn't. We had somebody on campus that sort of looked at it, but not ... true supervision. ...
KP: Besides the parking, are there any other projects at Kean that particularly stand out, when you were there? Or are there any other projects that did not work out?
CH: Well, the other thing that I was involved in was purchasing Pingry, as an expansion of campus. We were sort of land locked. ... We had the Kean property that was bought, that was not donated, from the Kean family, although it was priced reasonably. And, we were having trouble with recruiting with our name being Newark State College. No little girl from South Jersey wanted to go to college in Newark. ... And, we weren't in Newark. So, we decided, we better change our name, and we ... decided on Kean. Well, John Kean, was one of our trustees. And, he said, "You're always going to have trouble with this, because it's going to be mispronounced." If we hadn't had Kean as a governor, I think it would still be. Everybody was calling it "Keen." Tom Kean's father was not too sure he wanted us to use the name. He thought we might bring discredit on his family, so. ... You see, John Kean's family, we had what we'd call the "Water Keans" and the "Gas Keans", Elizabethtown Gas and Elizabethtown Water. And, Tom Kean's family is the "Water Keans" and they live over in Livingston. And, one of the buildings on campus where I had my office was something, that his, I guess it would've been his great-grandfather, built. And, it's a library. Hamilton Fish Kean was a US senator and he built this gothic library. My office was paneled with wood taken from Nottingham Forest, and ... it was quite a place. And, the families used to come there and spend [their] summer vacation, picnic, or something of that sort. I guess that, plus buying ... Pingry.
... I hated to get a divorced campus. ... At Princeton we had a ten minute break between classes. So, we wanted to place all our buildings so you could get to them with[in] six minutes. Because we figured it ... took you two minutes to get out of the building, two minutes to get in, and you had six minutes traveling time. So, the Princeton campus is an oval. It's a level route, you could go faster than you could go up and down the hill. One summer we hired a bunch of students to find out how far they could walk in ten minutes, and that's what dictated ... how big the campus was. Now, ... we didn't get that sophisticated at Kean. I wish the buildings had been closer together.
KP: Looking back?
CH: Yes, because a lot of this stuff was set up, it was started. Initially they thought they could build a master plan, and then, just fill in this master plan. I always think of Rutgers' song, "ever changing yet eternally the same." I mean the campus changed, and ... things that are good one day, are not necessarily good the next. The other thing is in planning any college building, you need five years. Nobody is willing to give you an academic plan more than two years in advance, so how are you going to, intelligently, plan a building? You just, you don't know.
KP: One of the things, and this might just be my observation is that, what strikes me about some colleges, which is limited, and mainly limited to Rutgers and Drew, but I have seen some buildings. And, I often think, do people realize that this might be here for a long time? For example, I guess, at Rutgers campus my classic building is Records Hall. I mean here is this temporary building that's been used for fifty years.
CH: Yes. In my town we had, a so-called, portable school that was used for like fifty years. While I was here, I worked on the first part of the chemistry building, which was the first building out on, other than housing, out on the Busch campus. And, at that time, John Mettler was a trustee here at Rutgers. And, he dictated pretty much, I mean, like he was the donor, and dictated what happened on the campus, and he wanted Georgian architecture, the old gym, the chemistry building. ... So, anyhow we built these buildings for ... John Mettler. When I went to New York and worked for York and Sawyer, it became a problem because York and Sawyer debated, "Do we want to continue to do Georgian architecture? We don't think it's legitimate." And then, it came to a point where, I forget just how many people they said, they would have to fire, if they eliminated doing the Georgian building here at Rutgers. They were going to have to fire a lot of people, you know. So, they decided, well, we got the Rutgers group over here in one corner, and everybody else is doing something else. And, with Mettler, you used to have to get him to [approve everything]. If he approved the color of paint, you know, for something or other, you'd get him to initial it, and then, you'd put a piece of paper over it and keep it [un]til the end. So, that, you know, when we got finished, he'd say, "That's not the color I picked out". I'd say, "Oh, yes, it is! Mr. Mettler, ... see this."
KP: So, he wanted to see everything?
CH: He wanted to see everything. When we did Demarest Hall, one of my jobs was designing the [weather vane]. You have to look at the weather vane up there, the weather vane for that building. And, at that time a chanticler was the Rutgers mascot, you know. So, I'm doing this fighting cock, and I thought I had a very good one. And, my boss took it over and he said, "No, Mr. Mettler doesn't like it." So then I would do another one, Mr. Mettler didn't like it. Finally I got mad and I just drew something in like five minutes, perfect! That's what's up there, the result of my getting mad and irate. And, the other thing that I did, was design a fireplace. They wanted a huge fireplace in Demarest Hall. I had no idea how to build a fireplace that huge. Normally we say the flue should be one tenth to one twelfth the fireplace opening. This thing was six feet high and twelve feet long. It would've been a tremendous hole in the middle of the building. So, I designed it, and I often wondered if it worked. I mentioned it to a student once, who had lived in Demarest. She said it was fine, they had a power outage they had kept warm, cooked their dinners, and done everything else with this fireplace, so. [laughter]
KP: In a sense, you were back at Rutgers when you were working for the architectural firm.
CH: Yes, I was on a reimbursable payroll.
KP: Any other stories?
CH: And, the other story was [the] microbiology institute. That was supposed to be on axis of College Avenue, ... terminate the vista, formal planning. Like the chapel at Douglass, it's on the axis of. ... So, we were out there surveying like mad to figure out where is this point supposed to be, you know, where we put the tower of the microbiology building. We realized we could make a mistake. So, ... [we] got a crane and we lifted a telephone pole up in the air to see if we could see it from College Avenue. [laughter] And then, ...
KP: So, that's why it was placed ...
CH: Yes, placed the way it is, with the tower, ... at least that's why the tower is on. ... And, Waksman didn't want a Georgian building, he wanted a colonial building.
KP: Which ...
CH: ... The inside is very modern, but the outside is colonial.
KP: So, Waksman wanted a modern building, but you got a Georgian because ...
CH: Dean Metzger. Or not Dean Metzger, but ...
KP: Mettler. Mettler didn't want it.
CH: Mettler, yes.
KP: So, that is why Rutgers has this collection of Georgian architecture?
CH: Yes. And, this is Mettler from, I don't know if you ever knew ... interlocking, what the heck was it? Stocking fame, I forget what the name of the firm was. But, one time he sent me a sock, and said, "I want the tile in the men's room to be this color." ... [laughter] Interwoven Stocking, that was it, you know.
KP: Any other recollections?
CH: Oh, gee, I can keep on with this stuff forever, you know. Where are we now Rutgers, or Princeton, or Kean.
KP: Well, no. Well, I have enjoyed your stories about all three. Well, particularly because I never realized Demarest had a fireplace. And, given how cramped Rutgers generally is for money, it just struck me, because I think I saw a clipping somewhere that you had designed the fireplace. And, I just thought to myself, "God, with having Records Hall, you would think, why would they put a fireplace?"
CH: Well, see that was built as a bunch of Quonset huts, and there were more Quonset huts in there right after the war.
CH: You know, that's when they expanded. And then, I don't know how that got. ...
KP: It survived.
CH: Entombed there.
KP: It's still, I mean, it's still very much in use. It's really remarkable that it is still there. I mean they keep improving the inside.
CH: Now the old ceramic was a beautiful, beautiful building. The ceramic industry built that.
KP: Yes. It is now social work.
CH: Yes, but we had a fireplace. ...
KP: Oh, I didn't know that.
CH: Yes, there's a fireplace there. And, Mrs. Brown, the chairman's wife, was very social conscious, so she ... acted as the hostess in all our surrounding association meetings.
KP: Well, Bill Bauer has described the sort of great Christmas parties of the Ceramic Department. And, he has very fond memories, particularly after the war.
CH: Yes, yes. ...
KP: I guess, a question, your son served in the Navy?
CH: ... Yes. He had a very different experience. I mean, ... I thought he should get in training, and so he enlisted in the Navy reserve before he went to college, and was serving down in Perth Amboy. And then, continued to serve while ... he went to Springfield College, and when he got out he went to OCS, and then, into the Navy. And, he served on a destroyer, met his wife in Charleston. ...
KP: He served on ...
CH: He was big. He was big. And, the captain of the destroyer that he served on had been about five foot six. And, he hung a ceiling ... in the mess, which my son couldn't stand up in, you know. He had to go ... but ...
KP: Your son served during the Vietnam era?
CH: Yes, in ... [the] Mediterranean.
KP: But, in the Mediterranean.
CH: But, he had a good tour, too. I mean, a number of the wives decided that they would go over, and they went from port to port while the destroyer was going around the Mediterranean. Interesting thing was my son could never find out where they were going next, but the wives could find out. Oh, sure, ... it was amazing. ...
KP: So, your son was married going into the Navy?
CH: Yes. Well, he wasn't married in, but he got married in the service.
KP: In the service.
KP: And, your one son served ...
CH: He was the one. The other one wanted to go into the marines, but he didn't pass the physical.
KP: Your one son went to Rutgers at one point.
CH: Well, actually, both of them did. My oldest boy who was in the Navy, got his Ed.D. here, and he had gotten his Master's at the Citadel, and went to Springfield originally. Then my other son went to Springfield, came here to get a Ph.D. The people he was working with left. So, there was no one doing the kind of work that he wanted to do, so he took a Master's in physiology. Then went out to the University of Iowa, and low and behold, the same thing happened out there. So, he has now two Master's, and finally got his Ph.D. in science education at the University of Iowa.
KP: So, he has a Master's from Rutgers?
CH: Yes, and my wife has a Master's in reading specialist from Rutgers, so, I mean ...
KP: You were very much a Rutgers family.
CH: Yes, ... right. I was the junior of the bunch. My uncle, my brother, Dudley, and I went to Rutgers College. The rest have advanced degrees.
KP: And, one thing I also noticed is that you ran for council, like your father.
CH: Yes, I ran on the Democratic ticket, though. And, my father had run on the Republican ticket. I was serving on the planning board in Milltown, and being the professional planner, I was working like around the clock. And, I decided that Milltown needed a master plan. So, I was asked to ran actually by both parties, and I decided to run on the Democratic ticket, because I thought ... the Republicans were being pretty stupid. Well, this was the year Eisenhower ran, so my town, you know, turned out Republican. And, I lost by a few votes, and afterwards, I found out that a women who had given me money, for, you know, recognizing my good grades all through school, and another woman who had been my very ... interested in everything I did, they all called me "Junior," said, "You would have made a great councilman, but you ran on the wrong ticket." So, they voted against me, and my wife's bridge club, because my wife didn't want me to be a councilman, voted against me, too. And, I lost by about twenty votes, you know. If these people had voted for me, I would have been elected, but. ...
KP: When did Milltown get a master plan?
CH: They got one a few years later, but I ... [had] left the planning board and I was disappointed in it, because I didn't think the people worked on it as hard as I would have liked. When I was at Yale, I worked for a group of city planners, and ... I had learned at Rutgers to draw in ink, which nobody knew how to do. So, they, when I turned in a project, one of my professors hired me, and I was making all the base maps, ... master plans for Fairfield, Connecticut, and ... you know, and so that was a good job.
KP: Any thoughts about Korea and Vietnam? Any concern that Korea might become your war, too, even though you had left the military?
CH: Yes, I was sort of afraid that I would be called back, because ... my weapons were being used over there. And, I thought, "Oh, boy!"
KP: The weapons you had demonstrated at the end of the war were now in ...
CH: ... Being used. I never thought much about Vietnam other then how different it was. My son was told not to wear his uniform off the base. ... People just were so against, ... you didn't know what would happen to somebody who was in uniform. And, you know, that was so different when I was in the service. You showed up in uniform. You got special tickets to the theater, you know, everything. I mean, that was very, very different. And, that was sort of sad.
-------------------------------------- END TAPE THREE, SIDE ONE------------------------------------
KP: Did you ever encounter any homosexuals when you were in the service, any officers or enlisted men?
CH: No, no, no. ... No, I never saw anything like it, you know. I mean there was no, if they were there, they were in the closet, I guess. You know, you just didn't know it. I never heard of any problem with that. We had problems off the post, but that was girls claiming that soldiers raped them. Generally, we found this was not true, these girls were trying to get them, force them, to marry them for their allotment checks. But, ...
KP: How do you determine it was a racket?
CH: Well, we were investigating this one time and the provost marshall and trial judge advocate went to Elkton, Maryland. There were a bunch of girls that lived in Elkton, Maryland who were working in ammunition plants, and they were charging this fellow. And, these two elderly men went up to investigate. And, one of them jumped off the curb, and then, the other one jumped off the curb, and they turned around and there's a girl behind them that said, "Goosey, aren't you?" And, they came back and they slept. Elkton was off-limits, I mean it was just ... that was it. ... So, we just didn't accept the fact that these fellahs had made them pregnant, or something of that sort. Never had any trouble, never. I don't know, my war experience was different.
KP: It has been fun to interview people with a range of different backgrounds, because everyone's war was different.
CH: Yes, ... I could see some infantry guy going out and slugging it out in the foxhole, you know. One of our fellows, in Aberdeen, was taken back into the infantry. I don't know, did you interview Charlie Leon? I don't even know whether he's alive or not.
KP: I don't think so.
CH: Well, he was one of us at Aberdeen. And, he got called back into the infantry and commanded a company that hit the beach for D-Day. You know, I met him afterwards and, boy, what a battle fatigue case, you know. I mean, he thought it was all his fault that they got wiped out, because he wasn't trained. And, ... it was sad.
KP: I mean, he was really shaken up for years?
CH: Years afterwards, yes. And, ... I really don't know what happened to him. But, in fact, I'm even of the impression that he may have gone on, and gone to medical school. But, right after the war, he was really shook up.
KP: And, he's part of your class? ...
CH: One of our class of ...
KP: I'll have to look him up, and see.
CH: See if there's a Charlie Leon.
KP: Is there anything we forgot to ask you about?
CH: I don't know. [laughter] These are all my notes.
KP: But, you also had very diverse responsibilities.
CH: Oh, yes, I had wild responsibilities.
KP: Did you ever get into Washington much, when you were based in Maryland?
CH: We went to the Pentagon several times. ... The only thing I can remember was near passing out while we'd leave the building and hit the parking lot. That sea of asphalt, was like a hundred and ten degrees, and they were keeping the air conditioning in the Pentagon at sixty, I think. So, you'd walk out, and, oh, boy. I'm surprised people didn't die.
KP: So, the Pentagon was air conditioned during the war.
KP: There's not much air conditioning then.
CH: There wasn't much air conditioning, no. But, that was air conditioned. And, ...that was. ... I'm sure that's of little significance. I recently clipped something out of a VFW magazine, trying to figure out the chronological order, because you asked me once how I got to these places. I don't really know. How did I get from Aberdeen to Fort Benning? I must have taken a train or something, but I just don't remember how I got there.
KP: When did you join the VFW and the American Legion? Was it right after the war?
CH: No, it was much later. You know, I didn't join immediately, and, in fact, I met a fellow up in the parking lot in front of Caldor who talked me into joining. [laughter] And, it was only in like, within the past month was the first time I'd ever been in a VFW Hall. I went down there for a pork chop dinner or something or other. And, I've never really been in the American Legion Hall. So, I've been a member. I understand there's sort of a feeling there between these people, ... you know. Most of those men are enlisted men, and I don't think, I'm of the impression, that they're not too thrilled ...
KP: With officers.
CH: With officers.
KP: Have you ever been back to any of the places you were in Europe?
CH: Yes. Yes, we went. Oh, geez, well, the main place, well, I've been to just about all of them. But, the one that gets me is Salzburg, Austria. In 1945, I went into Salzburg, Austria and there's a group of men holding a bridge. And, I said, you know, "Where's division headquarters going to be?" They said, "We don't know. We don't even know where the rest of our company is." And, this one kid said, "Did you ever see a Hungarian field marshall? Well, there's one standing on the corner over there." ... And, ... we had passed a line of troops, forty miles of troops, four abreast, waving white handkerchiefs, riding carts, doing everything, wanting to surrender. We got this hotel room. I told you about the military government. But, anyhow, many years later, I went back, I couldn't find that bridge. I couldn't find that hotel. In fact, I began to wonder, was I imagining this. And, there were other things that were sort of funny. There was a Hungarian regiment surrendered to some medics just before ... V-E Day. And, they proudly marched, ... this regiment into town. And, they said, "Take them back out where you found them, we're negotiating surrender." So, that was ... it. Took all the wind out their sails. I always felt sorry for them.
KP: What has struck you about the places you have been back to?
CH: Well, they were in rubble when I was there. ... We went over when I was at Kean. ... Our music director said, you can write ahead and get tickets for the opera, and stuff. So, we were going to Vienna, and I wrote to the Vienna Opera and I got tickets for a particular date. And then, we went to Munich, that was two days apart. So, we go to Vienna, and they say, "You're in luck, we have the 'Barber of Seville.'" Two days later we get to Munich, and they said, "You're in luck, we've got the 'Barber of Seville.'" And, I thought, "Oh, boy." ... But, they were so different, you know. One was staged traditionally, the other was surrealistically. The German one started on time, and they even said when it was gonna end, ... like at that time everyone stopped applauding and that was the [end]. ... But, Munich had been a mess when I was there, so this opera house was new. And, the opera house in Warsaw was sort of beat up, but it survived, ... one of the buildings that did. Many of these cities were a mess, of course, England was a mess. But, most of the rubble had been cleared away. ...
One of the things the British ... disliked [about] Americans is taxis were very cheap, so our GIs would take a taxi, and then, they would tip 100 percent or something. And, when the taxi's coming down the street and the Britisher wants to hail it, they'll pass them up and pick up a GI, you know. So, ... they were really very annoyed. They couldn't get a taxi. ... But, as I say, a lot of things were ruined. ... Le Havre was a mess. ... The harbor was filled with ships, and everything was destroyed.
KP: What about Aberdeen? Have you ever gone back down to Aberdeen?
CH: I went back for a reunion in '75. And, that's changed quite a bit, because their emphasis has changed. ... I think they've taken over chemical warfare and there's a big museum. We had a small museum when I was there. And, I was told, the reason that we never showed our modern materiel when there was a Russian in the audience, was because we had shipped them to the museum, you know, one of a kind pieces. ... A lot of it was World War I type equipment and we never really trusted the Russians.
KP: So, there was no real cooperation with the Russians.
CH: Not with the Russians. If the Russians were there, if they asked me a question, I didn't know anything. And ...
KP: Did you do any work with chemical weaponry at Aberdeen during your time there?
CH: Other than the fact, we had this chemical warfare mortar, but that was not a chemical warfare piece.
CH: No, ... I never understood how we could use flame-throwers and smoke bombs, those ... antipersonnel things. They just seemed wrong to me, as if we shouldn't.
KP: You believed we should not use them?
CH: We really shouldn't of used them, I don't think. But, they did.
CH: I mean ...
KP: But, at the time you thought this? That they were really ...
CH: Oh, yes. ... I never approved of that.
KP: Did you ever voice that view to anyone, when you were in the service?
CH: Oh, I'm sure I did, but not that it would influence anybody.
KP: Yes. Because it would be quite commonly used, particularly in the Pacific, the flame-thrower.
CH: The flame thrower was used. And, we were using the smoke, the phosphorous smoke thing, as an antipersonnel thing, you know. You get that phosphorous on you and it burned like mad.
KP: Yes, someone has described having seen men in battle and how bad it was.
CH: Yes, ... I just never understood that. I always felt sorry for the poor GIs that were in the trench. The infantry units, day in and day out, in the foxhole for a hundred days at a time, without being relieved. Most of us overseas didn't have that, the division headquarters was 100 miles back. ...
KP: Did you ever get a sense that you were really lucky? That you could have been this lieutenant or captain?
CH: Oh, yes. Sure, sure. Another thing that was sort of interesting, my wife's brother, Bud Mullen, was a turret gunner, and I met him in England on two occasions. The first, he was coming into London, and there was an uncut version of Hamlet being given, for which I got tickets. You went in the afternoon, you left, had your dinner, and then, came back for the other half. He didn't want to go see an uncut issue of Hamlet. [laughter] You know, that was not his idea. And then, I went to visit him at his post one time, and he took, we went to this restaurant, and I was the only officer in the place, it was all enlisted men. And, they were serving steak, which was unheard of in England. So, it was a rather small steak. So, something I never did in my life, I said, "Gee, I'd enjoy another one of those." So, we ordered a second steak. At the next table, was a GI with a couple of English women, who said, "We'd like a second steak, too." They wouldn't give it to them. And, it was almost a riot. I had to get out of there fast. [laughter] The next week my brother-in-law says, "You know what? They closed that restaurant for serving horse meat without advertising it." So, that steak tasted fine to me, I didn't know. [laughter] Well, I don't know.
I don't envy your job of pulling this together. I have feeling this is gonna to be like ... I wonder whose papers that are down at Princeton that some librarian's been working on for twenty years, the Jefferson Papers or something or other.
KP: Yes. We will do the initial draft of the transcript, and then, you ...
CH: Oh, you mean of me?
CH: Oh, I'm worried about your overall project. But, even now, after being interested, do you make a transcript? Do I see it?
KP: Yes, you will. Thank you very much.
[Editor's Note: The final version of this transcript was completed after Mr. Hill passed away on April 21, 1997. The final version was edited and approved by his wife, Patricia Hill.]
---------------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW------------------------------------------
Reviewed: 6/28/98 by G. Kurt Piehler
Edited: 9/22/99 by Sandra Stewart Holyoak
Edited: 1/20/00 by Patricia Hill and Sandra Stewart Holyoak