G. Kurt Piehler: This begins an interview with Mr. George T. Heinemann on August 1, 1995, at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with Kurt Piehler and …
Rheka Gandhi: Rheka Gandhi.
KP: I will let Rheka begin by asking you a few questions about your parents and your childhood.
RG: You were born in New York City. Then, your family moved to Teaneck. Did you live in the city at all as a child?
GH: … No. Actually, … I guess I'm a real antique, because my parents moved over to Teaneck, New Jersey, in 1923, and no sooner had they moved in the house that I was conceived, and the only problem was, when delivery time came, there was no place to deliver me, and I was delivered in the Women's Hospital in New York City, because, in those days, … for example, Holy Name Hospital, up in Teaneck, didn't exist, and neither did any other hospital around there. So, they immediately took me home after two weeks and I resided in New Jersey ever since. I always consider myself a Jersey man, always.
KP: Even though you were born in New York City.
GH: That's correct. [laughter] I hide under the bed when I sleep in New York City.
RG: Do you have any memories of your childhood and your neighborhood?
GH: Oh, yes, yes. Teaneck was a wonderful place. As a matter-of-fact, where I live now, out around Pittstown, New Jersey, it was selected because it reminded me very much of Teaneck when I was a child. It was a bucolic community. Of course, the George Washington Bridge had not been thrown across the river and the only way to get back and forth between New Jersey and New York is by some form of ferry. So, it was fairly bucolic. It was just beginning to change, … but, for example, in back of my parents' house was a great, big, we called them fields, but, it was a farm, a farm that had been deserted. … I just loved that as a child, because of such things as I'd go blackberrying and we could fly kites. In those days, you didn't have to worry about ticks, and one of the reasons [that] you didn't have to worry about ticks was that all the farmers around there had guinea hens, and they were used as alarm systems, literally, because they make a terrific racket if somebody comes on the property when they shouldn't. The other thing is, as far as guinea hens are concerned, the piece de resistance is the tick and they eat them up. We kids, we used to be able to roll around the grass in the field and never have to worry about ticks. I've had Lyme disease twice now, already, where I live. [laughter]
KP: In Pittstown?
GH: Yes. Okay, it was a beautiful place and, of course, when the Depression hit, houses became abandoned and things were pretty rough. When [the] George Washington Bridge was thrown across the river, I mean, one of the big things from my childhood was, on Sunday, we used to go up on the Palisade cliffs and look at them building the George Washington Bridge, and then, when that was completed, Route 4 came through there, and then, Teaneck really expanded. At that time, I was very fortunate to be raised in Teaneck, because one of the things they did was, they were very much in favor of education, and they built Teaneck High School, which was a crackerjack high school, and it was one of the top high schools in the United States at that time, during the '30s. One of the things they had was, you could graduate from Teaneck High School with a pilot's license. They had their own plane. It was an Aeronca. I used to take off from the football field and that went on until Route 4 came through, which came right by Teaneck High. They said, "No, you've got to move it over to Teterboro," so, that's what they did. They had an aeronautical engineering course there. It was one of the very few high schools that I know of, even today, that the staff was about one-third PhDs, and, of course, that was mainly because they couldn't get any work. Childhood memories, gee; that was a great school. I always remember … seeing Rear Admiral Byrd there. He lectured in that place, and, for some reason or other, right over my house, my parents' house, I should say, in Teaneck, was a place that was earmarked by aeronautical maps, because I remember the Hindenburg coming over, right over our house. It turned due south, down to Lakehurst. I remember Silvio Marcheti. He had a fleet of planes. He was … the fleet commander of Italia Balboa , I think his name was, and the planes all marched over the top of our house, bingo. When Lindbergh … crossed the Atlantic, that was the biggest thing going for me as a little kid. Everybody loved Lindy and, I remember, what did I want for Christmas? I wanted a toy Spirit of St. Louis . It was an all-metal plane. I wish I had it now, because it would be worth a fortune. [laughter] …
KP: Did you have childhood fantasies of becoming an aviator?
GH: Yes, very definitely, because, in those days, World War I was over, and the big, "in" thing were the pilots. Oh, boy, that was the big thing, you know, the loop-the-loops, and the dogfights, and what have you, and, on the way, when I walked to school every day, there was a barn on the left, by Genesee Avenue on Teaneck Road, and that had a JN-4 in it, that's a flying "Jenny," and they were sold out of the service, and I used to go by every day, little George, look in the window. … Gee, I was so thrilled. The other thing that stimulated me was the fields in back of my parents' house. You'd be playing as a child and, all of a sudden, a plane would come over. Of course, in those days, when a plane came over, everybody's standing there with their mouths wide open, "Ahh," you know, looking at it, and they [were], by and large, biplanes, and, all of a sudden, the plane would, "Cough-cough-cough," and start doing a tailspin, or a falling leaf, coming down. Oh, that would bring the people, and then, also, at the last minute, the engine would catch, and the guy would land in the fields, and, of course, he was selling rides for two dollars a head, and he would sleep there, under the plane, at night, and I made money on the thing, 'cause I would bring water down. At twenty-five cents, I'd bring you down two milk bottles full of water, so [that] they could drink it. [laughter] Aviation was the "in" thing. My parents were terrified of me becoming a pilot, absolutely terrified, because, obviously, I was going to get killed. My cousin, George Long, … he came from Bound Brook, as a matter-of-fact, but, they moved out to Long Island, out to Amityville, Long Island, and he was very much into planes, and, of course, I made model planes. All children, of any moment, made model planes in those days, and my big thing was, I'd make a model plane, [and] when it wouldn't fly too much anymore, I'd put a firecracker in it, and go up to the attic, and light it on fire, and as the poor thing would be flying, "Ka-boom." Oh, boy, it's just like the moving pictures, you know, and I'd go out to visit my cousin, out in Amityville, and he would take me out to Farmingdale. He was two years older than I was, he just passed on, as a matter-of-fact, and he would take me out to Farmingdale Airport, and that was the big thrill of my day, because, holy Moses, here, this Farmingdale Airport was opened up by veterans from World War I who were pilots, and they had their Spad airplanes, three of them, out there, three Spads, and I used to go out there with my mouth hanging wide open, looking at this, you know. … My idea of a big deal was when my parents would take me down to Teterboro Airport on Sunday and watch the planes just take off and land. Then, finally, I saved up two bucks for a flight, by the time I was ten years old, and that was a big thrill for me, a big thrill, and along comes World War II. … First, I wanted to be a pilot. That was a no-no. … Then, I wanted to be a Marine, because my uncle was a sergeant major in the Marine Corps, my mother's brother, and, when I went down to Grand Central Palace, or next to Grand Central Palace, in New York, to enlist, the Marine Corps line was about from here down to Elizabeth. The Army line was very short. So, I said, "I'm not going to wait here," and I went over and signed up in the Army. [laughter] That was a fatal error, that was a real fatal error, because my father had gotten me an appointment to West Point, through the politicos in New York, and I says, "I don't want to be an officer. I want to be an enlisted man. I want to be one of the regular guys." I was in the Army [for] about fifty minutes and I knew I'd made a great, big error. [laughter]
RG: Do you remember where you were when you heard that Pearl Harbor had been attacked?
GH: … Oh, yes. I was in bed at the time, listening to my radio, and it came over the radio, yes.
RG: Were you shocked? What was your reaction?
GH: I was waiting for something to happen, as was many of the young fellows in the '30s. Here, I graduated [from] Teaneck High School in '42. What job was there for me? nothing. There was nothing, and, if you move yourself backwards, say either 1938 or '39, I remember, on Garden Street, and this was a good, middle class street, fellows laying on the roofs of the houses, just sunning themselves, because there's nothing else to do, absolutely nothing to do. So, being young, most of the fellows were waiting for something to happen, to get involved, and it happened.
KP: How did the Great Depression affect your family?
GH: My father was very fortunate. My father was the inventor of the, you know these sprinkler heads? [There are] none in here. Gee, this place is going to burn down. [laughter] He invented three types and my father only had an eighth grade education. However, he was number one in the country in fire alarm systems, and he … came up through the hawsepipe, so-to-speak, and Dad, on his death, the people came from all over to his funeral, so, he must have been something. He was of such stature that he taught in Columbia University during World War II, with only an eighth grade education. He was fortunate, because he worked for the Aero Fire Alarm Company during the 1920s, and, when the Great Depression came, finally, the company boxed up, and he was transferred to the Automatic Fire Alarm Company. He was the only one transferred out of the whole outfit.
KP: Everyone else was laid off.
GH: Yes. Everybody else got laid off, … and, you know, he came home one day, and his face was long, and, you know, they were told they were going to [be] boxed up, you know. He says, "Eula," that's my mother's name, he says, "I don't know what we're going to do. I really don't know," but, he was transferred, and he made, by [the] standards of those days, a good salary. He made about sixty bucks a week and that was good money. At least we had eating money. By the same token, on Garden Street, where there were roughly about fifty houses, at least two-thirds of them were out of work, and I can remember, … they were pretty desperate times there, for some people, because my father belonged to [the] Masonic Order, and he did a lot of giving money away to people, to keep body and soul together. … I remember this one thing, it really impressed me as a child, was, the family up the street, called the Gumars, Eula Gumar and I forget what his name was, but, in any event, he was an engineer, and they had two children, and they couldn't hack it, because he couldn't get a job, and so, the upshot of it was that they came down to my parents' house, I have big donkey ears, I listened, you know, … and they were asking my parents to stand in as witnesses, so that they could get a divorce. … In those days, the only basis for divorce was, you know, going out and shacking up, and they wanted them to say that, yes, they knew that they were shacking up, in order to get a divorce, so that … she could get subsistence from the government, to raise their kids. That's how bad things were. So, this always did have an impression upon me, the Depression years, how hard things really were, and, also, [it] impressed upon me that, you know, you had to get out and "hump it" to work, and none of this business of making excuses of why you can't work, and the fact that my great, great-grand uncle was John Brown, was hung at Harper's Ferry, and that's the fact. That's true. … I can't go back and say, "Well, he was a traitor to the country and so forth, so, therefore, I can't really work. I'm mentally impaired, you know." I am mentally impaired, [laughter] but, for other reasons, and my forebears founded Brownsville, Texas. … That's another story, but, I won't get into it here.
KP: You grew up knowing about your extended family tree.
GH: Yes, yes.
KP: What did your family think of John Brown? He was quite a legendary figure in the 1920s and 1930s.
GH: Well, as it turned out, as I said, they founded Brownsville, Texas. Of course, Texas went with the Confederacy and the Brown family; down in Brownsville, Captain Brown, he came home on a leave, he was a Confederate captain, … and the only water-borne invasion of the real South was done at Brownsville, where they came with cavalry. You know, my Grandmother Barriett, her maiden name was Brown and her first name was Georgia, and they called her "Sweet Georgia Brown," but, she recounted the tale to me, time and time again, … as a child, of them wheeling into the ranch that they had down there, … running upstairs, and blowing him away in his bed, "the blue bellies," they called them. Well, … quite frankly, the family, to this day, has never really forgiven the Union, to this day.
KP: The Brown family?
GH: On that side of the tree; that's my mother's side of the tree; yes.
KP: They are still fighting the Civil War.
GH: Oh, yes. So, a natural question for you is, "What am I doing up here?" Well, my grandmother, Georgia Brown, was a very spirited person, 'til the very day she died. She was ninety-three, I think Grandma was, and, at sixteen, she wanted a pair of red shoes, and her father says, "Nice girls don't wear red shoes." So, she went on a trip down to New Orleans and she met my Grandfather Barriett, who was quite an inventor. He was Thomas Edison's biggest competitor, and I have all the papers to prove this, the patents, and newspaper articles, and so forth, and so on, and he located his plant, ultimately, in Cincinnati, but, in any event, he saw her, they both fell in love, and she comes back, and she was sixteen, and she says, "Daddy, … I want to get married to Mr. Barriett here." He says, "Over my dead body," and she took off by herself, and she got married to him, and … Great-Grandpa Brown, he says, "Don't you ever come back on this ranch while I'm alive," and she didn't. In 1916, after he died, my mother returned there with Grandma Barriett, to see her mother, and so forth, but, she never returned until that point, and so, my Grandmother Barriett, essentially, stayed with my grandfather, up in Cincinnati, and then, for various other reasons, they ultimately went to New York, and then, my mother married my father, and, of course, that's how come I got here.
KP: You have these two wings of your family.
GH: Oh, yes, very definitely. On my father's side, they're a bunch of krauts, of course, and, I mean, they came over in the 1890s. My Grandmother Heinemann came over as a servant girl, to work her … passage off, and my grandfather met her, and they ran a delicatessen. They worked their fannies off, they really did, and my father would tell me how the whole family would pitch in. There were three of them, a daughter and two sons. They would pitch in, making potato salad and so forth. … Suffice it to say, they made enough money, working like crazy, for my grandfather to retire when he was about fifty years old, with about five pieces of property out in Long Island, in the Richmond Hill area, and, suffice it to say, too, that during the Depression, my father's brother, Henry Heinemann, who was an accountant, he lost his job. The only thing that kept him alive was the fact that he stayed with his father, because his father was the only one who had any money, and he couldn't get a job, and he'd have to take occasional itinerant jobs, here, there, and everywhere, you know, a few bucks here and a few bucks there. It was really sad.
KP: Your parents were Lutherans.
GH: Not quite. [laughter] My father was Lutheran.
KP: Your mother was Episcopalian.
GH: Yes, she was, I guess, originally, Methodist, and then, what they did was, … my mother told me this, of course, I was too small, … when they got married, my father took her to church, the Lutheran church, and, in those days, of course, you know, religion was very, very starchy. … Obviously, all Roman Catholics had tails tucked up under their pants and had horns, which they brought back into their head, and Jewish people were something you didn't mess around with, and so, it was very, very stratified in those areas. So, the upshot of it was that, when it came to raising me, my mother went to church, and the Lutheran minister, priest, whatever you want to call him, he looked down on her, and he said, "What Lutheran church did you go to before?" She said, "I didn't. I went to the Methodist Church in New York." … "Oh," he says, "a Methodist, you are not good enough for us." Well, my mother had a temper, and she says, "You can take it and go shove it," and she walked out. So, when it came to raising me, they compromised and sent me off to the Episcopal Church, and neither one of them ever saw the inside of a church, until my mother [went] in later years.
KP: You were raised as an Episcopalian as a compromise.
GH: Yes, as a compromise, and the stupid part of it was, you know, they'd send me to Sunday school, every Sunday, and I was wondering why they weren't coming, [laughter] you know, and the only time they ever went to church was when my sister got married and when we got married, and I got married to a Unitarian, and, you know, that's, "Our Father, who art in heaven, or, To whom it may concern," [laughter] and that lasted awhile, but, we don't go at all anymore, … because I went to India. That was my problem. [laughter] That was my real problem. That's another story, too.
KP: Your parents were Republicans in the 1930s. How did your parents feel about Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal?
GH: … Well, my Grandmother Barriett was all for Roosevelt. Obviously, the poor soul was living on the dole, in those days, and she thought it was great. My parents were terribly against Roosevelt. … Of course, they were brought up in a discipline of, you know, like Ben Franklin says, "[If] you watch your pennies, you don't have to worry about the dollars." … My mother used to can, and save money by canning fruits and vegetables, and so forth, and, here, they saw this president spending money like a drunken sailor, literally. I'm an economist. That's my discipline. I understand what Roosevelt tried to do. … If anything, he didn't spend enough. …
KP: In retrospect, you see that, but, at the time …
GH: At that time, you know, they're saying, "My God, you know, everybody's starving and he's spending money," and my father had to make out federal income tax [forms], which they hadn't had to do. So, they didn't like him at all. They really didn't like him, and … the WPA and the alphabet soups that went on during the day, you know, they saw those as [wasteful]. The WPA, they didn't look at that as too bad, because they're getting something for their bucks. As a matter-of-fact, you look around New Jersey today, most of the decent post offices were built by the WPA. They're getting something for their buck. On the other hand, the CCC, well, they weren't getting too much, although the Palisades Interstate Parkway was built by the CCCs. The AAA and the rest of the alphabet soups, they couldn't see at all, and even myself, today, I do not subscribe to the subsidies that are given to farmers. Either you hack it or you don't hack it, and that's the way they felt, and the way I feel about that. So, it's kind of a mixed bag.
KP: You attended a very good high school.
GH: Oh, yes, education was fantastic.
KP: How many students went on to college from Teaneck in the 1930s, roughly?
GH: I would hazard a guess of a third or better and all of them graduated, not this business of one year and out. They all graduated. Most of them became doctors, dentists, professional people, economists, and so forth. They made out well. As a matter-of-fact, one of them was the mayor of Denver, Denver, Colorado. He didn't stay in the state, but, the last reunion I was to was about ten years ago. They all had made out very well. I didn't know a one that didn't make out well. Those that did not go into the professions usually went into good trades, which, at that time, were good trades, such as printing, and printing, in those days, was a darned good job. You had to know somebody, but, it was an excellent education. Also, I might say that Teaneck had a fantastic library system. It was very well funded. They had a tremendous number of books and, more importantly, they had comfortable seats there to read, not like these church pews they have in most libraries today. I spent the bulk of my childhood [there], other than playing in the fields. I would dive down from Teaneck High School to the Teaneck Library, which was only about a quarter of a mile distant on my bicycle and leap off the embankment down there, which all the boys did, and I'd spend 'til about five o'clock, every day, in the library, reading magazines. I'd read Life magazine, which my parents thought was a total waste of time, the National Geographic , which they couldn't afford, and then, I read books. I read, and read, and read, and the same with the Teaneck High School library, fantastic library, very good programs. The teachers were excellent.
KP: Did you realize, at the time, just how good your high school and the library were?
GH: Yes, to the extent that I thought Teaneck was the center of the universe. All people that graduated from Teaneck, in those days, thought that theirs didn't smell. They really did. [laughter] I mean, they were "some pumpkins" and they made no bones about it. One name I … recall now, he was on the football team, (Ali Joy?); he went to West Point, no problem at all. Another thing about our graduating class is that, prior to graduation, quite a few boys signed up, and I can still remember this one class with Mrs. Hess, she'd just got the word that Clyde Houghton, a very handsome guy, he looked like Alan Ladd, young boy, but, he looked just like Alan Ladd, and he became a pilot, he was killed, before I graduated. … Charlie Meyers is another one from Teaneck High School, I recall, [who] died. Of the graduating class, we had some of the highest casualties of any that I can remember and I'd hazard a guess that somewhere around twenty-five percent of the boys in that graduating class died.
KP: Was it because they went on to become aviators?
GH: … Yes, but, Charlie Meyers, for example, he was in the infantry, the meat grinder unit, you know. So, … they died for various reasons. Eddie Clode, he went down to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, in the 69th, and that was an infantry division; he got it, too. So, all these people got it.
KP: You graduated from high school in 1942.
GH: Yes, June.
KP: You initially went to NYU.
GH: Yes. [laughter]
KP: How did that come about?
GH: My parents were leaning all over me. I wanted to be a tool and die maker. That was really what I wanted to be, was a tool and die maker, I guess, because my father had initially started off as a tool and die maker. I wanted to be that and, of course, the pay rate, in those days, was good for a tool and die maker. It is better than a college graduate today, as a matter-of-fact, and my parents would not hear of it. …
KP: They wanted you to go to college.
GH: They wanted me to go to college, because people of their … time period, my father only having had an eighth grade education, my mother having had, I think she only had about ten years, a tenth grade education, … they saw around them [that] the people that made it were the doctors, and the lawyers, and so forth. So, that group of people wanted their children to go to college, and, of course, one of the things, too, and this ties in with Rutgers here, in those days, when there was just Olde Queens and the Quadrangle here, no more, nothing across the river, only the very, very gifted and wealthy went to school, including Rutgers. I mean, this was not a state institution at that time, and so, the people who went to college were few and far between, and my mother wanted me to be a doctor … in the worst way. She said, "Oh, you've got narrow, little hands. You'd become a very fine obstetrician and gynecologist." I said, "What's that?" "Oh," she says, "you'll find out in time." [laughter] … So, they insisted and I went to NYU on the Heights, at that time. That's where that hall of fame is, [the Hall of Fame for Great Americans], and everything else, and all that, and I still remember going there. Of course, college was new to me. I didn't know beans about it, really, just [that] my parents were shoving me from the rear end, and, just backing off a second, … my parents were a great influence on me. Early on, my mother had said, oh, how she had gone to a concert in New York and heard Pablo Casals. "What? Who's he?" "He played a cello and I thought it was just so great," she said. So, I come up, a week later, I was a little kid, too, I said, "I want to play the cello, Ma." … This was down in grammar school, … Number 2 School, grammar school. They had a program there, and they went out of their way to not only have me school with a cello, but, they bought me a cello.
KP: That must have been expensive.
GH: Yes. In those days, you know, the pay scale of sixty bucks a week was top of the line, a manager of the A&P used to get thirty-four dollars, I remember that, and they bought me a two hundred and fifty dollar cello. It was a Russian cello, I remember that, Leningrad, it said on the inside, and I was schooled. … It got to the point where they sent me to New York, down to see, Professor Ebonn was his name, down in the Flatiron Building, and I took very highly specialized lessons, and then, I played in a trio, violin, cello and piano. We used to go all over the place, and then, we played in, oh, that hall over in New York, what the heck is the name of it?
GH: Carnegie, yes. We played in Carnegie, and they had a big cello concert there, as well, and I played in that, but, in any event, I played cello until the time I went into the military. When I came back from the military, … the first thing I went for was my cello. As a matter-of-fact, over in India, a cello was part of every Army band, this is not too well known, every Army band has a cello. Did you know that?
GH: And, dammit, they actually play the thing walking along. It's the doggonedest thing I've ever seen in my life. [laughter] In any event, they had them, and I thought that was the greatest, because, then, I could go and play the Army's cello, and I'd go over there, and, when I got back to the States, [the] first thing I asked for, after kissing my parents, was, "Where's my cello?" They said, "It's up in the attic," and they had placed it up in the attic, you know, where there's no air conditioning, no nothing, and I picked it up, and the thing fell into a million and one pieces, and so, I went over to Connie Schmidt in Hackensack … to have it put together. He told me it was going to cost seventy-five dollars, and I didn't have seventy-five dollars, and, eventually, the cello just disappeared, and I've never played it since.
GH: That was the end, yes.
KP: Do you regret not continuing? If the war had not come along, do you think you might have continued on professionally?
GH: I just enjoyed it. I just enjoyed it. That was all. I wasn't any great cellist, … I'm no Pablo Casals, but, … in tuning a cello, I can still hear those tones in my ear, A-D-G-C, you know, those strings. I can still hear them. So, your question, prior to my backtracking, was what? I forget what that was, now. Alzheimer's is creeping up on me, I'm sure. [laughter]
KP: In high school, did you take the college prep course?
GH: Yes, I took college credit courses. I also took shop, all the way through. …
KP: You really wanted to be a tool and die maker.
GH: Yes. I had six years of shop, as well as college prep, and I also played in the Teaneck High School orchestra as well, with my cello.
KP: It also seems as though your parents preferred to send you off to college, rather than the military.
GH: Yes. Well, it wasn't the case of the military; they wanted me to go to college, period, and so, a friend of mine in high school, Don Schwartz, he said he was going over there. I said, "Well, I might as well go over with you." So, I said to my parents [that] I'd go to NYU. So, I went to NYU and that's where … I got off track. I wasn't used to the college scene. I didn't know what it was. It was Greek to me and, of course, they had the indoctrination and all that razzmatazz, you know. I can still even sing the song, Violet, their song, [laughter] and they sent you to this camp on Staten Island, and you'd better learn that song or else. … It's interesting, too, as far as this interview goes, I went up there to see what the score was, up to the Heights, and so, they're trying to get people to take up aeronautical engineering. It was a new course, brand new, and they were looking for any recruit to take that, you know, and I mentioned this to my parents. They went right through the roof. So, I stayed with a pre-medical program, that's what I was taking, and, after about two months of this, and … you're a young kid, you're hearing all the press about what's going on in the war, and all these guys are leaving, and so forth, and here I am, sitting up in Washington Heights up there, looking across the river, seeing the Palisades, and I says, "What the hell? … This isn't for me." I said, "I'll just flunk out of this place as quick as I can," [laughter] and the only thing I didn't do bad in was English. I did good in that one, but, I finally flunked out of the place, and that's when my parents said, okay, they would sign me up. You had to have [your] parents' approval.
KP: You were not old enough.
GH: That's correct, and that's the way it was in getting in, in those days. [laughter]
KP: You really did not want to go to college.
GH: No, I really did not, and, as a matter-of-fact, again, backtracking, but, it's part of [my] … educational history, things were so bad in the '30s that, in the grammar schools, the teachers were not hired for a school year. They were hired for two days a week or three days a week, and so, of course, in the first and second grades, it didn't make much difference, really. However, when you started getting into more sophisticated courses, such as English, and mathematics, and so forth, it was really rough going from one teacher to another during the week, and, to this day, even though I graduated from Rutgers, twice, I can't parse a sentence if my life depended upon it, because, you know, … after I retired, I did teach, and I know what it is to be a substitute. … [Essentially], you had two substitutes teaching all week. You come in for a plan book, and you're going to teach like this guy or the other guy, you know, and it made it almost impossible for a student to comprehensively learn the English language and how to deal with it, and so, people ask me, how do I write so well? and I was, later in life, in Public Service, E&G, manager of economic research, requiring considerable writing, … "How do you write so well? How do you speak so well?" It's because I read a lot. That's what it is. So, this is just an interesting background in education. … I can remember (Herbie Morse?), up in high school, very delightful person. … He was the English teacher. He had a Model A Ford, and he lived up in Teaneck, and, in order to make ends meet, you'd see him go to work every day with his Model A, with the rumble seat open, with big bags of popcorn, 'cause he sold popcorn on the side, to make ends meet. People have no idea how rough it was.
KP: What else do you remember about NYU? Did they have any freshman hazing?
GH: Oh, yes, yes, and, you know, … they had the fraternities … putting in bids for you, you know, and … I listened to them all, and so forth, and so on, and then, I found out [that] there's a lot of hazing that was involved in this, and, to this day, I don't go for initiations. I really do not. I never became a Mason, because, back in the days of my father, as he would put it, "Well, when you get in, of course, you're going to have to ride the goat." I said, "What goat?" [laughter] … "That's the initiation." I said, "Well, I'm not going in for that." I still remember, to this day, when I was a Boy Scout, and that was another part of my life, which was very influential on how I operate. We went to camp, my father and I. They had a father's day; you go up to the camp [together]. … My poor father, they started this business, I still remember, around the campfire, and the poor soul, he was rather straight, and they said, "Well, now, we have to initiate you, Mr. Heinemann." So, they had him get down on his knees, in front of the fireplace, and say, " Ohwa, tagu, siam ," you know, "What a goose I am," and bow all the time, and then, at the end, they threw flour in his face, and it made me so damned mad, I couldn't see straight, and, from that day forward, I absolutely will not go into anything that has an initiation involved, because, … at this latter date, are you a Mason, by any chance?
GH: Okay. Well, they call a Mason's son a "David," that's what they call him, and, at the club I belonged to, by mere happenstance, a lot of them were Masons, basically, and they found out my father was a Mason, 'cause they saw his gavel in my house, and they wanted me to join. I says, "Come on, … I can't remember this crap. I can just about remember my own name." I says, "I can't remember a ritual," and so forth, and they said, "Well, you know, you're a David and you should join," this, that, and the other, and I says, "Well, I'm not going to go through this nonsense of an initiation," and they said, "Why not? It's a lot of fun." I said, "The hell it is." I says, "You do something to me," and, of course, they make you strip practically naked, I says, "Somebody touches me, I'm going to deck him." I says, "Make no mistake about it." So, I says, "I don't want to get hurt, and I don't want to go to jail, so, let's knock it off." [laughter] … I mentioned the Boy Scouts. In short, the Boy Scouts taught me one thing and that was honor. It isn't like the Scouts today. My son is involved in Scouting today. My son is an Eagle Scout. I never got that far. I got to be a … Life Scout and the reason I could never become an Eagle [was] because I could not swim. To this day, I swim like a rock. You know, you put me in the water, I go … right down to the bottom, but, one of the things was honor. That's something that's missing in our society today. In my day, and I was taught this to this day, if I say I'll do a thing, I'll do it. If I'm here on time, I'm here on time, no fooling around. If I can't get there, at least I have the courtesy to call. That's something you don't find today. I also feel that … you can hurt me, but, don't ever hurt my family, because, if you do, you're in deep trouble. I just won't countenance this, and I have decked people, and I will to this day. I make no bones about it. So, the Scouting, I thought, was a great movement of the day. They made you do a lot things, which were pretty rough for a young fellow, and you grew up that way. The Boy Scouting movement, I know this because I was involved in it for a lot of years, has eased up on all the requirements. … For example, you never saw an Eagle Scout, in my day, that was any younger than sixteen, usually seventeen. Today, they become Eagle Scouts at twelve and thirteen. This is ludicrous. I think the movement itself is great, because it initiates a boy into manhood, which is something that's lacking in our society, it always has, except for the Boy Scouting movement.
KP: How long were you active in the movement as an adult?
GH: As an adult, oh, I guess about (forty?) years. I was dean of merit badge counselors for Essex County, and I passed on your qualifications if you wanted to be a counselor, but, I think one of the greatest persons I ever came across, who was one of my counselors, was Dr. Emmanuel (Grunberg?), and he was not only a doctor, he had three PhDs, dig that, … in music, and so forth, and Manny, he was obviously a Jewish boy, he looked it. … He had a big tummy on him, and he was a caricature of a Jewish person, for good or ill, but, he would lead the Cub Scout pack down the street in the Fourth of July parades, and he had them all trained to play all their instruments, so, he was doing a great job. He was also an MD. … I don't know whether he's retired now, but, he was with Hoffman-LaRoche. He invented Librium. You've heard of that stuff? Well, he is one of the inventors. … At one point in my life, I had to have Librium, [laughter] and he says, "Oh, you want some Librium?" He comes up, and he gives me a couple of bottles, like that glass, full of Librium, and he says, "Here, George, … don't buy the stuff," he says, "I'll give it to you." He says, "Get the hell off it as fast as you can." I says, "How come, Manny?" He says, "Because it destroys your brain. That's why you're so calm." He says, "Calm down, … get with it, … and get off this stuff as soon as possible," he was a great counselor, because he would take the boys and initiate them into manhood, really, you know, try to make them responsible citizens, and, again, honor and truth were the big things. As a matter-of-fact, when I retired from Public Service, the whole legal staff and R.I. Smith, the president at that time, and the whole legal staff and counsel came by my office, wanted to shake my hand, and say, "Good-bye," and so forth. They said, "George, we never agreed with all that you had to say," because my title was Manager of Economic Research there. "We never agreed entirely with you, but, you were right most of the time, but, the one thing we could always depend upon was your integrity. You never backed down, ever," and I always went for what was right. [As] a matter-of-fact, in that connection, which is sort of old hat today, but, I remember this one fellow in Public Service, he was a dishwasher, … a black man, a little fellow, Gary (Hinton?) was his name, and he was a dishwasher at Public Service, and he went to college at night, just like I did, after World War II, and he worked and worked. He got himself a BS in accounting and Public Service, being very starchy at the time, would not do anything for him. They kept him on dishwashing. I heard about this, and I flipped out, and I went up to see the president, R.I. Smith, and I said, "This man has broken his chops to get this degree," and I says, "You're keeping him on dishwashing?" I said, "You've got a choice," I told this to the president, … "either you put him in a position … [that] is commensurate with his education or I leave. You've got your choice." He looked at me. He says, "Do you mean that?" I said, "I mean every word I say," and they did move him over to my division.
KP: How long did he stay with PSE&G?
GH: He stayed in the corporate economist's office up to the time I retired in 1980. I went to bat for several other people like that, and the word got around in Public Service that I was kind of a firebrand, and, as a matter-of-fact, later on, when I had to do a lot of computer runs, that's another story, too, you know the information system, or the keyword index, you know what that is, like you use in the library? … All you have to do is remember one of the words of your title and you type it in. That's my invention. I invented that one, and so, the upshot of it is that, in the computer world, … the studies that we were doing required making a lot of runs for William Scott, senior vice-president of finance, he wanted the answers to these runs quickly. These are, "What if?" type runs of corporate moves, and I had to go to Fairfield to run these things, and I'd come flying back at night, and the rule was that you took … your company car, and dropped it off at the gas pump and backed it up, and then, you'd leave it, and they would gas it up. Well, I was so hurried, I didn't quite get it up to the gassing point, and I started leaving with this big bundle of pajama paper under my arm, you know, to run up to see Bill Scott, and this black man …
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GH: … Who was in charge of the gas pumps, he comes running up to me. He says, "You back that car up," and I said, "No, I won't." I said, "I have to go up to see Mr. Scott," and with that, I took off, and he starts cursing me, something like you wouldn't believe. So, I quick went up to Mr. Scott, I dumped the report on his desk, I ran downstairs, I threw my coat on the chair, and ran downstairs, rolling up my sleeves. … When I got down there, this black guy was backing the car up, with the window open, and I grabbed him by the throat, I says, "You no good SOB. You don't use language like that on me," and with that, Mr. Snyder, who was the president of the company at that time, he comes wheeling around the corner with one or the other executives. I thought they were going to have a fit. I thought they were going to have a heart attack right there, 'cause here's a white man ready to chop a black man, and this was not too long after the riots, you know, in Newark, and things were pretty steamy down there. … Oh, my God, they were so upset, and, [of] course, I didn't hit him, because they had wheeled around the corner, and with that, a voice comes out of the PS garage, and it says, "Mr. Snyder, Mr. Snyder, Mr. Heinemann is entirely correct." He says, "Jess never should have used language like that on him." Another black man came to my aid and, of course, my name got around Public Service for being honest and fair. …
KP: I have interviewed several people who worked at PSE&G. They said it was very WASP-y in the 1940s and 1950s.
GH: Oh, boy. Well, it was worse than that, because, unless you graduated from MIT or Lehigh, you were out. They never hired anybody into their so-called cadet program unless they came from those schools. It was "the old school tie," you'd better believe it, and, after World War II, they couldn't get all these highflying degrees, so, they had to settle for people from Rutgers [laughter] and other institutions. So, that's the way it was. It was a WASP [company] like you wouldn't believe.
KP: That is why your story is so interesting. It was difficult even for a non-WASP Caucasian to get in and advance, much less a black worker.
GH: Oh, boy, oh, boy. I mean, if you weren't Irish, [you were out]; if your name was Irish or had Irish connotations, you were in, because McCarter, of course, was [from an] Irish background, and, later on, I got to know a lot of inside things in Public Service. For example, in the old building, Thomas N. McCarter, (he got things done), no ifs, ands, or buts, and he was, apparently, a very brilliant person, because, at Christmastime, he would have all the people in the general offices line up, boys on this side, girls on that side. The boys, as they came up, he'd give them a box of cigars, and shake their hands, and call them by name, and there's nobody in back of him saying, "This is the guy's name," and all the women got boxes of candy. He knew them all in that building. However, he would brook no nonsense or anything. If he wanted a right-of-way here in New Jersey, and I know this for a fact, [laughter] … one of the legal boys told me this, because that was his job, as a runner for Thomas N. McCarter. The first elevator toward the front of the building, old 80 Park Place, had two doors in it. Aside from the entrance, there was another door in the back. That other door went into Thomas N. McCarter's office, and, if he wanted something done, he had a runner, which was a lawyer, take money, enter through the back door, … and he also used that back door when he went down, so [that] he didn't get involved with the rest of the hoi polloi , but, the lawyers would take the money down to, at that time, … A. Harry Moore, who was the governor of New Jersey, and the money went down there to keep him and his mistress in happiness, oh, yes, and there was no question about it. He got his right-of-way or whatever it was; he got it. Subsequently, when I was serving in the field of economics, when they were building Salem Generating Station here, they had all sorts of problems with overrides, and overruns, and cost overruns. I says, "It's very easy. [If] you want to get it straightened out, I can give you the contacts in Philadelphia of the mafia; you pay them four or five grand, and you're going to get the job done on time." … Well, as you say, they were too WASP-ish, because they couldn't see that for all the tea in China. "We'll make the overruns, the over cost, hurt the stockholders, hurt the ratepayers, but, we will do it honestly," if you will. So, there's ways of conducting business.
KP: However, in the 1930s, Thomas N. McCarter paid off A. Harry Moore.
GH: Oh, yes, A. Harry Moore, oh, yes, no question about that, oh, yes, for sure. …
KP: How did you find out about this? Did one of his runners tell you this?
GH: Yes, yes. Harry (Mulhern?) was his name. … He was, ultimately, head counselor in Public Service and … other fellows confirmed it. As a matter-of-fact, the present president of Public Service Electric Company, oh, good Lord, my brain is going, but, he was also a runner, he would confirm this. He used to sit at the officers' table with him. The name will come to me eventually. …
KP: Going back to World War II, you flunked out of NYU.
GH: Yes, purposely. [laughter]
KP: Your family then enlisted you in the Army.
GH: … They would sign the paper. My father was … trying to get me into West Point, but, when he signed me up, my mother and father both signed it, he was crying, tears rolling down his cheeks.
KP: They really did not want you to go.
GH: No, sir, and when, you know, [you are in] the Army, big deal, you're on leave now for three days, so, when my father went over to New York, when I left for Camp Upton, I still remember seeing his face, through the bars. … Tears were just streaming down his face. He was crying, because he knew I had blown it, and I was a young kid, and I didn't know I had blown it. [laughter]
KP: You did not want to go to West Point to become an officer.
GH: … No. I thought that was terrible. No, I had to be "one of the boys;" [laughter] what a stupid ass thing.
KP: For most of the men I have interviewed, becoming an officer was their goal.
GH: Not mine. [laughter] Mine was not. I wanted to get in there and fight like hell. I wanted to fight, you know.
KP: Before the interview began, you mentioned that you wanted to join the Marines.
KP: However, there was a long line …
GH: … The long line, the miserable weather that day. I wasn't going to stand in line, get rained on, you know, to heck with that noise. I guess that's the only reason I'm alive today, really, but, again, my whole life has revolved around military type things, let me put it that way, to this day, and I've got my uncle's sword, his Marine Corps sword, and, again, childhood memories, one of the things that I remember about him, he fought in the Nicaraguan Campaign, in Haiti, and so forth. Ultimately, when he came back to the United States, he was in a guard unit up here in Picatinny Arsenal , the Marine guard unit. … My parents, of course, went up to see Uncle Lawrence perform and he was sergeant major. I still remember, he … got the Marine unit out there, and he got them to dress right, dress, and lined them up, and … he went, "Dress right, dress," and he said, "Present arms," and with that, he whipped out his saber, and he flipped it around in a very fancy fashion, and he threw it, "Zoom," right down the line, stuck in the other end of the line. That impressed the living bejesus out of me as a kid. Oh, boy, that impressed me. "Uncle Lawrence did that," you know. Ultimately, since we're putting this stuff on the record, my Uncle Lawrence, [laughter] he went down to Haiti, and, … apparently, he was caught in bed with the Colonel's wife, and for that, they gave him a DD, instead of a court-martial, … and he made little rocks out of big rocks out in the West Coast, in the federal pen.
KP: In the 1930s?
GH: Yes, yes. My Grandmother Barriett went out there to see him, because that was her son, her beloved, and that's how she got out to California. She got involved with William Randolph Hearst, very interesting family. [laughter]
KP: Your uncle, who you were so impressed with, was stationed at Picatinny Arsenal .
GH: Yes, and that stuck with me all the time. You know, childhood memories, one of the things, we always played … cowboys and Indians, and so forth, and the other thing you played was war, and I can still remember my uniform, for what it was. It was a dishpan on my head with a string under my hat, you know, the old World War I type helmet, and we used to make what were known as dust bombs, take a piece of newspaper, and put the good, old, dry, New Jersey clay in it, all crumbled up, and tie it on top, and then, we'd have these great, big slingshots, I mean, between two trees, with inner tubes, and shot them at each other. That was great, you know. … My parents were not military oriented. As a matter-of-fact, I guess my mother put up with it for the first few years, [laughter] but, her original sweetheart was killed in the Meuse-Argonne, he was a Marine, before she had met my father, and she was not too happy about firearms, and, of course, like any other child who is pushed in one direction, they oppose it and go in the other direction, and I can still remember, to this day, … if I had a cap pistol, when I was six or seven years old, and she caught me with it, she'd take it and break it over the garbage can. Mom must have thrown away a thousand dollars worth of cap pistols, by today's standards. You know, they're cast iron. … She kept doing this, and the upshot of it was, when I was something like eight or nine, I've still got this piece at home, I made my first gun. I made it. I went to the Teaneck Library and I was reading the books. "This is how it's done," you know. So, I went down in the cellar and I made the doggone thing. …
KP: Your parents were not too pleased.
GH: No, they weren't pleased, until, finally, when I got into [the] high school level, I made a little cannon. I've still got that at home. It's about a quarter-inch long, a little cannon with four wheels, and it shot. It shot No. 9 shot, and I'd bring it to school, like any kid, you know, fool around, and I'd load it with about three granules of black powder, put a No. 9 shot in it, and … the whole thing would go, "Ping." [laughter] The teacher would want to know what was going on, and then, the teachers were enamored with this thing, too. Pretty soon, I got into the high school newspaper, with a picture, you know, and somebody gave it to my parents, and [they said], "Oh, we've got a celebrity on our hands." Well, they started thinking a little differently. To the very end, my mother, very reluctantly, gave tacit approval to my owning firearms. My father never really said anything, one way or the other. He just was neutral, but, to this day, I'm a great gun type person. I still shoot. I'm seventy-one now. I can still hit a woodchuck, or a ewe, or anything else, at two hundred yards, no problem at all. I enjoy it. I think it's the basis of our American freedom, but, that's another thing. I don't want to get involved in that, because people have very strong opinions on that, but, you can write all the laws in the world and have all the lawyers in the world, but, unless the common people have the right of redress, ultimately, through firearms, or any other weapon, you have no laws. … All these so-called educated people today? All you have to do is go back and read Thomas Jefferson's papers on this matter, and when you read Thomas Jefferson, and when I get the opposition against firearms, "Take them away," and so forth, and so on, you know, you point out, "You're going to take something away from me without financial redress." I says, "That's against the Constitution," and I said, "More importantly, Thomas Jefferson said these things, and you're going to say [that] he doesn't know anything today? If he was here today and wrote these things today, you'd say he's stupid or something?" but, again, I don't like to get into this, unless you want to open … up a can of worms here, [laughter] but, I was so proud of going in the Army. … My serial number was 1218881. … Do you know anything about the numbers on the serial numbers? Okay, the first digit, an officer was zero, the first digit. If you had a digit of one as your first one, it meant you enlisted. If you had a digit of three, it meant you were drafted and, believe me, it made a big difference in the Army. When it came to where you were assigned, a guy with "one" got the better assignment, invariably.
KP: How quickly did you pick up on that?
GH: I learned that after about three or four months.
KP: The "one" was quite valuable.
GH: Yes, I found that out.
KP: You enlisted in New York City, in Grand Central Palace.
GH: … Yes. There's no place here, in New Jersey, to enlist, that I knew of.
KP: Where were you sent after you enlisted? After your three-day furlough, where did you leave from?
GH: Then, I left from New York City and went to Camp Upton, Long Island. That was a reception center, and that was my first great disappointment, [laughter] I'll tell you that, because, I remember, we were all herded off the train, that was okay, and they stood around this great, big hall and told us what was going to happen is, "You're going to be read the book of courts-martial before sundown," because that was the rule in the Army. The book of courts-martial, are you familiar with that one? It always ended up with … forfeiture of all your pay, six months in the can, or death. That's, … generally, what it always ended up with, and they meant it, because they did hang guys, and they did put them in the can, which impressed me mightily, and, here, we have all these civilians there, and [laughter] [the] first thing they pulled was a "short arm" inspection, and three guys left, they took them away, and I said, "Where'd they take them?" … "They had gonorrhea." [I] said, "What's that stuff?" I was pretty innocent. Those were the days of innocence, I'm telling you, and I says, "Hmm," and so, during the course of that day, they issued me a uniform and a raincoat, because it started to rain, and it was getting dark, and you couldn't see too well, [laughter] and [everyone is] pushing, and shoving, and so forth. What I didn't see was, there's a post, and I was pushed over the top of this post, and, when I went over the top of the post, here are my clothes in my hand, I've got this raincoat on, it ripped my raincoat, right up the back. Well, they wouldn't give me a new one and I had to take adhesive tape and put it together, a strip on each side, and then, cross pieces to hold it together. Well, for about two years, I had this stupid raincoat. It looked like a kite tail, … this dark green thing with this white kite tail up the back, and, boy, they could always pick me out, real fast. [laughter] I regretted that. … So, I get my uniform and I go back to the barracks. I was so proud. … Of course, my uncle had told me about the Marines and how things ran there. Well, the Army was not run the same as the Marines, because, in the Marine Corps, they gave you a proper uniform and they gave you a proper rifle, with a real ceremony. "This is your rifle. You take care of it, it will take care of you." … In World War II, I'm not sure if it was this way, but, this is the way it was with my uncle, and he says, "And then, you took your rifle, and you had … strings, and you tied it underneath your bed." It was not on the gun rack. So, here, number one, I got this uniform, and, number two, I didn't get a gun. "What the hell is going on?" and I was a crack shot at that time. I was a captain of the Teaneck rifle team. … "What's going on?" So, then, I couldn't wait to get my civvies off, 'cause they'd say, "Take off your civvies, put them in a box. We'll ship them back to your parents." I put on this stupid uniform. Well, the pants came about four inches up from the tops of my shoes. They were blanket pants. You know what blanket cloth is? It's like you take an Army blanket and cut a pair of pants out of it. They were terrible. The jacket was tighter than a drum. It was almost as tight as my shirt, … I'm getting bigger and bigger, but, the buttons, you know, it'd be like that, like, I popped my buttons. …
KP: This ill-fitting uniform must have made you look ridiculous.
GH: Oh, it was so ill-fitting, and the overseas cap, [to] which I says, "I don't get a garrison hat?" "No, you've got to get an overseas hat," you know, and, oh, it was so bad, and then, these Li'l Abner shoes that I was wearing, you know. I looked absolutely ludicrous and I stood in front of the mirror, because every barracks had these big, long mirrors in them, so [that] you could see yourself dressed properly. I was so disappointed. I was totally disenchanted. At that point, I knew my father was right. I should have gone to West Point. … They had an initial classification, and, from there, we went down to Sea Girt, and I didn't know where we were going at the time. Nobody knew where we were going, and the sun was setting, and this was the last part of November. We got down there [on] the old Pennsylvania Railroad, which were … dark red, dirty coaches. "Where the hell are we?" … We crossed the railroad tracks and marched into this camp, and they were all very low barracks, concrete structures, and we go up the company street, on the left side are the mess halls, on the right side are the barracks, and the guys have just finished eating. Do you know what a salamander is? When you came out of the mess hall, they had three garbage cans. … The first one was filled with soapy, hot water and had what was known as a salamander. It had this unit that's stuck into the can, and it had a big stovepipe that came out of the top, and this thing was fired by kerosene, and it would keep the soapy water hot. The guys would come out, and dip their mess gear in there, and scrub it off, and then, two clean water dips, and so, we were … walking down the street, and you could smell the kerosene. Oh, God, it was sickening. We moved up there, and, as I said, the sun was setting, it was getting dark, and, good Lord, we go into our barracks, … of course, Sea Girt is right on the ocean, and all the lights in the barracks were painted half black, … for blackouts, and, of course, it was very real, because, I know, one of my first experiences there was, in the middle of the night, fire sirens go off. There were trucks coming, wheeling down this company street, in the middle of the night, full tilt, with 105 mm howitzers on the back, and they had spotted a submarine off the coast, and they wheeled down [to] the end of the range there, and the next thing [you know], "Ka-boom." … The barracks would vibrate like hell.
KP: They had actually spotted a submarine.
GH: Oh, yes, oh, yes, because, in those days, the United States Coast Guard, their main function, other than invasions, was, they would walk up and down the Jersey Shore, and, I guess, all other shores. They'd have police dogs with them, German shepherds, and they would spot these things, and they would give a call in, and, sure enough, they'd blow them up. As a matter-of-fact, many, many years later, we had friends of ours who were skin-diving and they came upon some of these submarines that were sunk out there. They brought up artifacts. Well, in any event, we get into the barracks, and, you know, "What's going on?" It's miserable. We hadn't eaten and so forth. We didn't eat 'til the next morning, and with that, an old Army guy comes in, a buck sergeant, three stripper, and he says, "Okay, you miserable bastards, … we're going to shape you up," just like the DI you read about or see in the movies or TV. "We're going to shape you up," and he looked wiry and tough, and he says, "My word is law around here," and he says, "Anybody who's going to argue about it, let's go down in back of the latrine now and straighten it out, who's going to be boss," and he meant it. One guy, who had been a former Bell Telephone guy, he argued about it, and he took him down to the latrine, and he beat the hell out of him. After that, that guy was quite docile, and so, this is my first introduction to real Army life, … this guy, and the next morning, oh, about four-thirty in the morning, the charge of quarters comes wheeling down through the barracks with his Billy club on the end of the iron beds. "Come on, you guys, wake up. Let go of your (whatsits?) and grab your socks. You're out," and so, off we go, and we're standing out there, nearly freezing to death, and he says, "Okay, everybody get in a straight line. We're going to police up the parade grounds." He says, "All I want to see is assholes and elbows, and I don't want to see a butt on this place when you're finished, or you'll do it all over again." I mean, this guy was rough and tough. In any event, he did straighten us out and we became well disciplined.
KP: He had you perform close order drills and so forth.GH: Oh, yes, and our lieutenant of our platoon, and he had just gotten … fresh out of OCS, so, this was his first command, and my company commander was a former New Jersey State policeman, he was tough but fair, and this Lieutenant, he was an awfully nice guy, and he was trying to make his platoon a show platoon, because he wanted to show [that] he could command, and so, when it came to the range, why, we didn't have Springfield rifles, even. We didn't even have M-1s. We had P-17 Enfields, which were World War I issue, and they looked like they were pregnant, ready to drop their cartridges any minute, big, heavy son-of-a-gun, and, now, I had a gun in my hands, oh, boy, and so, we fired, and you had to go through a lot of dry firing exercises, and Lieutenant come up to me, and he says, "Heinemann, what's the matter with you?" I says, "What's the matter?" because I'm left-handed, and, when I fire, I have to duck my head as I manipulate the bolt. The gun comes down. You see, a right-handed person keeps the gun to his shoulder and operates the bolt, and their head stays in position, but, a left-handed man cannot do that, and, up until very shortly before that period, the Army made you shoot right-handed, but, during World War II, they let you shoot left-handed as well, and he says, "What's the matter with you?" I said, "What do you mean?" He says, "You've got blood all down the front of you." It was so cold down there that I didn't feel that I had split my lip, right down the middle. An extracted cartridge hit me and split my lip. So, he took care of me, and then, he would take [care of] these other fellows, and he took care of his platoon real well. As a matter-of-fact, there's this old guy, oh, I should be that old, he was forty-two years old, and he was from New York City , and he couldn't shoot. He never had experienced any of this stuff, and he was so shaky, he couldn't even hold the gun up, so, we'd hold it up for him, so [that] he could shoot. So, eventually, … the Lieutenant put up a prize, a can of tobacco, a big, … pound can of Bond Street Tobacco, I still remember it, [for] the guy who shot best in the platoon, and I did, and I got it, and, oh, I was pleased, and then, I got [the] Expert Shooting Medal, and … it was presented by Brigadier General [Edgar L.] Clewell, … a big ceremony. I got this medal. Oh, boy, I was so proud, the first medal I'd ever gotten in World War II. [laughter] So, that type of thing was interesting, and then, from there, we went to Camp Wood .
KP: You had to choose between …
GH: Cryptanalytic or pole assignment, and guess which one I took, after seeing these guys slide down the poles?
KP: The poles were covered with ice?
GH: Ice, and everybody's getting cut up. I said, "To hell with that noise."
RG: It was the lesser of two evils.
GH: It was the lesser of two evils, you've got it. [laughter] I said, "Cook and baker's school, maybe?" He said, "No, no, that's not open either." [laughter] In any event, [I] went to Camp Wood and this is, more or less, a place [where] you just waited, really. You just sort of waited there until they shipped you out and we had to march from Sea Girt, New Jersey, to Camp Wood, which was a distance of, I think, somewhere around fourteen or fifteen miles. In any event, our lieutenant had broken his ankle in the process of training us, and he was hobbling along on a cast, dig this, for this distance, and, finally, he stumbled, and we fellows picked him up, we did a cross arm carry, you know, this type of lift, and we took turns carrying him into Camp Wood, because we thought so much of the man, because he was a true leader, not like the other guys that shout and scream. The guys would have gone any place for this man. That's what we thought of him. … It makes me a little mildewy in the eyes, thinking of this man. Also, in that connection is part of New Jersey history. The basic camping place for Sea Girt, New Jersey , was Allaire State Park , what you call Allaire State Park , now. At that time, there was no Allaire State Park . There was the village of Allaire , which was a deserted village. It was something like out of an old English story of the … Eighteenth Century. All these homes were still as they were, deserted, little gnome homes, that's what I called them, and that was before the state took it over. That was an interesting place, because we saw it when it wasn't. So, from … Camp Wood , I was assigned; immediately, I became a corporal, oh, boy, whoop-dee-doo, because I was going to crypto school, whatever that was. So, we get down to Culpepper , Virginia , on a train. We get off the train, snowing like hell; I still remember the snow coming down on the light over the station, "Culpepper." … The station wasn't any bigger than your office here. A GI six-by-six pulls up, backs up to the place, drops the tailgate, "Okay, guys, get your crap in here." So, we got in, and then, we go over "hill and dale," through the country. "Where the heck are we going in the snow?" You can't see nothing, dark, 'cause there weren't any streetlights or anything. Finally, we see floodlights. Now, here is the inconsistency of the Army. We come … up this slight hill, and here are floodlights, and there's a double fence, and in-between the fence, there was a military policeman walking, with a submachine gun over his shoulder and a police dog. Talk about Stalag 17, this was it. We go in and we get into this barracks, this greenish barracks, one-level job, three potbellied stoves, glowing bright red. They were warm at least. There were no latrines. There were just slit trenches. This was a brand new camp. "What the heck is this?" So, we get in there, and I start talking to various people around there, as you will, inside this barracks, and I find out [that] all these people are well educated, you know. I had flunked out from NYU, and, here, we had these guys with Masters degrees, and to tell you the level of people that were at Vint Hill Farms Station, 'cause that's this place, … the former Dean of Latin of CCNY was a permanent KP. [Does that] tell you something? So, all these guys were what you would call bright, if you will. I was the only joker in the barracks that didn't have a degree. So, I says, "What the heck is this crap?" you know. Well, in any event, the next morning, I wake up, we look out, they get us out on the little parade ground there, and, here, the parade ground, if you will, was covered with antennae, and they had taken three telegraph poles, and coupled them together with a metal coupler, one, two, three, one on top of the other. It went up ninety feet, with guide wires running out from each one of these couplings, and then, these were all connected with the antennae, up [at] the top there, and the name of the game of this thing was, it could intercept any message, short-wave message, whatsoever, any place on Earth, and the thing that impressed me was, as we fell out, and I saw this thing, … "Jesus, they've got everybody from all over in this place." They had British Marines, they had British Naval personnel, they had American personnel of various branches of the service there. I said, "This is an interesting place. What is this, anyway?" So, I found out what it was. It was the interception and breaking down of enemy code and we were read the riot act. We were told, "You cannot talk about what you've done, anywhere, anytime about this, or you will be subject to prosecution by the Federal Government," and my parents wrote me a letter, and they said, "We had the FBI at the house, and up and down the street." I had to have FBI clearance.
KP: That must have shocked your parents.
GH: Oh, it sure did, because … I couldn't tell them what I was doing. So, in any event, they started the schooling. The schooling was very, very interesting, because it was luxurious by any standards, because … I'd been to school, sure, but, I was never given a Morris chair, a leather-covered Morris chair, to sit in, and with Coke and everything else provided, cigarettes, Coke, candy bars. Man, I was in heaven, and you'd read the manuals on crypto, you know what crypto is? breaking down of enemy code, and it depends upon letter frequency of the particular language you're dealing with, and so, … I might add, this ultimately provided me, aside from Rutgers, with the capability of earning a livelihood at Public Service [for] the rest of my life. So, you know, I was doing fine. You read so much, and then, you take a test, and go on, and on, and on, various levels of proficiency, and so, then, it comes out, … you know, if you were then assigned to a unit. Once you got out of crypto school, [it] didn't mean you were assigned to an Army unit. You could be put on a boat, you can [be] put anyplace as a crypto man. … Then, it would come out, whether real or fancy, it didn't make much difference, but, we were told that, you know, if you were assigned to a shipboard duty or if you were assigned to a military duty with another unit, didn't make any difference, and the commanding officer perceived that his unit was going to be overrun, it was his duty to kill you, to shoot you.
KP: They told you that.
GH: Yes, they told us that. I said, "This is a hell of a note." I says, "Here, I'm a young guy. I volunteered for this Army to save my country." … That was another thing. When I told my grandparents, who were German immigrants, that I was going to join the Army, they cried, "You're going over to fight your cousins," and everything. I said, "Yes, but, that's their problem. … They're following Hitler. … I'm doing my thing." They cried, you know. I says, "Here, my grandparents, I'm fighting for my country, against my cousins in Germany," and so forth, because I didn't know which way I was going at that time, and I said, "By God, … this is a hell of a note. You're going to shoot me if things get rough." So, I says, "Screw this." With that, I sat down. … I wouldn't do anything again, and the Lieutenant come up to me, and he says, "Come on, George, let's do it," you know. I said, "No." He says, "That's a direct order." I says, "Go ahead, shoot me. You're going to shoot me anyway." [laughter] So, in any event, finally, I bugged out of the school, and so, now, I'm waiting for shipment elsewhere, and this is the truth. … So, they put me on temporary duty, doing this, that, and the other, and so, … it took only about four or five days for this to happen, but, one day, [we] fall out, and … the commanding officer says, "Anybody in the unit here know anything about locks?" Well, by that time, I was a gunsmith, I still am, to this day, and I said, "What the hell? Locks aren't any different than a gun lock." [laughter] … I raised my hand, anything to get out of the cold, and they said, "Okay, follow this lieutenant." He took me down to the officers' club, beautiful inside, downstairs, and here is this great, big, humongous brick room, with a humongous safe door. I mean, the safe door was around four feet across and he says, "Can you fix this lock here?" I said, "If it's open, sure. I'll find out what's the matter with it." He says, "Fine." So, I sit down there and, of course, I goldbrick it a little bit. I admit it. I took the thing apart. It has a four-tumbler safe lock, no big deal. The thing that had broken was this … annular spring on the inside. So, all I had to do was make another spring. So, I took a piece of wire off a milk crate, which had sufficient spring to it, and I shaped a new one to duplicate the old one, put it in, yes, fine, great, you know. It worked, but, of course, I didn't let him know that, and, finally, after three days, he figured I was goofing off, so, he says, "Come on, either you get this thing fixed or else, out." So, I says, "Well, I just happened to finish it, right now. Let's see if it works, okay," and, of course, I don't know how much you know about locks, but, the inside tumblers, they're disks, and they have the numbers on them, … where the notches are cut in them, and you can read what the combination is. So, you know, I did it and it worked, opened and closed. He says, "Okay, how do you change the combination?" I says, "You can't. … That's fixed at the factory [by] the notches they cut in there." He says, "You're sure?" I says, "Yes." I showed him. He says, "I guess you're right." He says, "Well, I hope you can keep this to yourself," he said, "because this is going to be the officers' liquor store." [laughter] I says, "Oh, yes, … you can trust me," and, suffice it to say, I shipped out by that evening. [laughter] … They shipped me out and they shipped me up to Fort Monmouth , New Jersey . I was post ordnance man up there for a very short period of time, because, one day, I come in, and my commanding officer called me in, and he says, "How'd you like to go to college?" I says, "Fine. That's okay with me." He says, "You'll have to take a break in your rank, … down to private." I says, "So what? … T/5 to private, no big deal." So, from there, I went to CCNY and took a lot of competitive examinations, and, again, I guess, seeing a little more of the light of my parents, I took the examination for pre-professional, and this was for doctor or dentist, and this is the type of test where you read all this crap [to] see how much you could absorb in a certain period of time, and, I still remember, the article was on osteoporosis, [laughter] and so, I read the full thing, and I didn't know what it was until I read this thing, and then, at the conclusion of which, I took the test, and, at the bottom of the test, it said, "What would you prefer to be, if you are accepted, a dentist or a doctor?" Well, my mind's going eighty miles a minute. I says, "I don't want to get called out in the middle of the night. I'll become a dentist, so [that] I can make my own hours." So, I put dentist down there. So, we stay there a few more days, and then, we were told, "There isn't any pre-professional programs for doctors or dentists at this time and, if you care to, we will send you to a university to take engineering, until such time as the pre-professional program was open." "Why not?" So, they sent me to Syracuse University . … This was an accelerated program. … You had dinner at six o'clock . … You're at class at eight o'clock in the morning, straight through 'til five o'clock, and then, after dinner, you had 'til seven o'clock, and then, at that time, you sat at rigid attention at your desk, with your desk lamp, and you studied 'til ten-thirty, lights out at eleven, and that was it, and, sure enough, I had taken basic engineering, and the pre-professional program opened up, and so, they transferred me to that immediately. There were thirteen of us that went into the pre-professional program for dentists and doctors and … I was one of thirteen people in the United States chosen for this. Again, I didn't know why, if it's any (moment?) to you fellows here, my AGC [Army General Classification] Test was 135, and, apparently, that was the cause of all this trouble. I took pre-professional.
KP: At Syracuse ?
GH: At Syracuse , yes, … during which period of time, I had my neck broken. I was in the hospital for a month, but, I've got all the documentation in this stuff here, … newspaper articles.
KP: How did you break your neck?
GH: Oh, as I said, I can't swim. To this day, I can't swim. [I am] like a torpedo when I hit the water, and so, the Army is hell-bent to make you swim. You go down to, it was Archibald Gym, up in Syracuse , … "Today, we're all going to swim." "You're all going to run," "You're all going to swim," whatever it was for that day, and this was swimming, and they said, "All the people that can swim, down this end, the deep end, and you swim for one hour, without touching the bottom or touching the sides, and the rest of the guys [go to] … the shallow end who can't swim." So, I go up there. They're going to teach me to swim. So, the first thing was to do the dead man's float, and I couldn't do that, so, they get us up there, and they're going to show us, "Well, [if] you can't float too well, you do this racing dive, you know. You kick off from the side and use your hands as a plane." Well, they didn't say anything about holding your hands up and my hands went down. I kicked off, and I went right straight to the bottom, in about three-and-a-half feet of water, and I hit myself on top of the head. I come out, and I was out like a light, and I broke the third cervical vertebrae, whatever that is up there, and I was in Rome Army Airbase Hospital for about a month there, on a board with the sandbags. … Finally, the Lieutenant comes running around, … Captain (Monkoff?), I should say, came around, and he said, "Here's your paycheck, … but, you'd better get out of here, because if you don't, you're going to be dropped from the ASTP program." Next day, I said, "I'm fine." Well, I tell you, I supported the Bayer Aspirin Company for the next … year. I get back to Syracuse, and all the professors are very kindly, because they took me under their wing, and [they] said, "Well, we'll tutor you for the month that you lost," and here I am, wandering around with this big, goddamn frog in a jar, Rana catesbeiana , [American bullfrog], I think, was the name of this thing, you know, it was in formaldehyde, and I'm cutting this thing up at every minute I could, to catch up on my biology program, and I got home one day, or I was on my way home, and I'm sitting in the New York [Grand] Central Station, and here I am, carving up this frog, and everybody's watching me, you know, and one of them happened to be a reporter, and I've got the article in there. [laughter] … In any event, after taking the equivalent of two years of pre-med, 'cause, in-between terms, they would send us home on leave, and I'd come back from leave, and I might also add that, in order to get into this pre-dent program, when I was taking my engineering, now, in order to get in the pre-dent program, they sent me down to Columbia University, to Dean D.J. Faigle, he was the head of the dental school, and we had a very nice, comfortable conversation, like we're having, and he hands me, at that time, an old dental drill, and he says, "Can you take it apart?" I said, "Sure, I'm mechanical." I take it apart. I says, "Oh, this is a collet arrangement on the end here." I pulled it all apart, put it together, and he says, "Yes, you're dental material. You can do this." So, with that, I entered the dental program. So, after taking the pre-dent, now, I had a good two years worth under my belt, that was good enough to get into any dental school, I had three more months to go with my buddies, and we come back … from leave, and, lo and behold, they call our names out, and there was, I remember, Bob (Foltz?) and myself. I don't remember a few of the other guys that had said they wanted to be dentists when they got out of this. We all step out and they say, "Okay, you're going to ship out. You're going to Camp Barkley , Texas , as litter bearers." "What?" because we were told, as soon as we got out of this program, we'd become first lieutenants. I says, "This is a heck of a note," and so, you couldn't do anything about it. The next thing we know, we were on a train. We're headed for Camp Barkley , Texas , as litter bearers. [laughter] …
KP: You must have been quite disillusioned.
GH: To say the least. … I know how my father felt, you know, you asked about the parents, because … I told him, "I'm going to be a first lieutenant," and so forth, so, by God, … he gave me an Army officer's sword about 1950, … he said somebody else had given it to him, but, I know they didn't, he'd gotten me an officer's sword, an Army officer's sword. He was going to give it to me on my graduation and, you know, it was kind of hard on him, I'm sure. So, you know, I went down to Camp Barkley , Texas , and lived amongst the horn toads and whatnot, and I won't detail, unless you want to, life in Texas , but, it was no fun.
KP: Had you ever been to Texas before?
GH: No, no. I was never in Texas before. I'll tell you, it was the wildest place I've ever been in my life. I understand it's changed vastly. …
KP: What was Texas like when you were stationed there?
GH: Abilene was the nearest town, … when we got our first leave. It was so dusty down there … that you'd make up your bed in the morning, which would have a blanket on it and a sheet, and, when you came back, there was a quarter of an inch of Texas dust on the bottom sheet .
--------------------------------------END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO-------------------------------------
KP: This continues an interview with Mr. George T. Heinemann on August 1, 1995 , at Rutgers University in New Brunswick , New Jersey , with Kurt Piehler and …
RG: Rheka Gandhi.
KP: You mentioned that you were in Abilene .
GH: … Yes. When we got our first pass, we come into Abilene , it was a revelation to me, because it was like something out of a horse opera. There's one big hotel in town, which we couldn't afford a room in. There's several small hotels, and, I remember, we stayed in the Longhorn Hotel, a Connecticut State policeman and myself, and his name was (Lacardi?). He was a former state trooper from Connecticut . We come in, we've got this room between us, and we come up … on the porch of this place, and, believe me, … the big porch is to shade the people, with a wooden hitching rail in the front, and these old timers would be sitting there, with their feet up on the rail, and they really were carrying six guns, … no ifs, ands, or buts. They were real, they were loaded, they had these big, handlebar mustaches, they wore sombreros. I mean, this was unreal.
KP: It was like a movie come to life.
GH: Yes. I figured Roy Rogers was going to come down the street any minute, you know, and, as it turned out, again, I was a sweet, innocent guy, I really was, because the place we stayed in, if you looked at it from an aerial view, was U-shaped, and the first floor went across the U, and so, I went to town. There was a Mexican quarter down there. I went down to see that, wandered around town, for what there was to see, and that wasn't too much, except for these old timers, and that was very interesting. I wish I had talked to them, but, I didn't. So, at night, I come back, I go to go into the room, and (Lacardi?) was there, but, the door was locked shut. "What the heck's going on?" I tried to get in. He says, "Get the hell out of here," through the door. I said, "Oh." So, I go out on this first floor roof, with this U. I'm staring, looking at the stars, and, of course, down in Texas , the stars, the skies are gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous. So, I'm standing there, sweet innocence. I happened to look around, and here are windows on either side, and, here, the girls are wandering around in the all-together. We'd ended up in a bordello, of all places. Well, I didn't partake of that situation, I'll tell you that, nor anyplace else, until long after World War II, because that wasn't my cup of tea, [laughter] and so, I didn't go back to that town too often after that, because I wasn't there that long. Camp Hood was not too far distant. The terrain was very rough down there. … It was just about like New Jersey is now, [hot]. … Again, things that I remember distinctly, I feel very emotional about it, we had very realistic … war games, … because the next step was overseas, and we had these arroyos down there, which, I guess, did for trenches, and we were there, and the war games were going on, and, you know, a thirty-two-mile march, with full field pack, an 03A3 [1903 bolt-action Springfield] rifle slung over your shoulder, because, by that time, medics were being shot at, and so, now, the medics were armed. So, you carried all your medical gear on your side, your surgical stuff, and this, that, and the other, your full field pack, gun, and eighty rounds of ammunition, with a steel pot on your head, and … doing thirty-two miles, it was not particularly any fun, and you did three fifteen-mile speed marches a week and one big long timer like that.
KP: This was during the summer.
GH: We were there in the summer. … Texas is a very unique place, because it's the only place [that] I know of [where] you can choke on the dust, it'll rain, and, now, you're up to your legging tops in mud, and the mud starts to dry off, and, now, you're choking on dust. … You're sucking your feet out of the mud, you know, and it's so pathetic, we were laughing. It was so pathetic. [In] any event, the thing that I distinctly remember about that was, one, the extreme poverty of the people outside of Abilene, where the families would be running around in the all-together, except, there'd be one person that could wear the overalls to town. That's all they had, (crude?) shacks; it was pathetic. That impressed me. Having come from a place like Teaneck , I was deeply impressed with that.
KP: You did not realize how relatively wealthy you were.
GH: No, I didn't, and so, part two was in this training I was telling you about. [I] found out, real fast, that you've got to learn how to forage and eat off the land, so-to-speak. So, they would give you an egg and coffee, … raw coffee, and a piece of bacon. Now, you're supposed to cook it up yourself and I had no problem, since I was a Boy Scout. I had all the training, and, here, my good friend of mine, he come from New York City , the poor, dumb son-of-a-bitch, he didn't know enough to boil water to put the coffee grounds in. He just warms it up and puts the coffee grounds in and he starts drinking. He's sipping it through his teeth. When he smiled, he had all the coffee grounds in it. [laughter] He didn't know how to cook an egg, you know. I soft-boiled it in my canteen cup and he's sucking the egg out, because he didn't know how to cook it. It was pathetic, you know. That's the difference between being a Boy Scout and not, I guess, but, the thing that really impressed me is, now, … after these war games, bombs going off, here, there, and everywhere, they would take a certain number of soldiers and say, "You're a casualty," and, with me, I was supposed to be a first aid man of some sort. They had me in the battalion hospital tent. "Everybody take off your shoes and socks." Those guys that had problems with their feet, calluses, bunions, or whatever, "You're a casualty," and it was my job, then, with others, to whittle away on their feet and fix them up, and, I still remember, the bandages we were given were four-tail bandages from World War I. You crack them open, the glassene thing, … and, sometimes, when they opened up, they turned to powder, it was something else, again, but, then, to get us used to the sight of blood, this is pathetic, every platoon had a dog. We had this one that was a mixture of Doberman Pinscher , his name was Shadow, and he would go along with you every place, nice dog, and they picked him. … They took the whole company, they're sitting around, … and this fellow, he's a dentist, … that was his job, and they put this dog, poor dog, on a stretcher, and they strapped his feet down, face up, so-to-speak, belly up, and then, they put ether on him, so [that] he was knocked out, and then, they cut his femoral artery in his leg, and they said, "See, this is blood." … "So what?" and with that, the thing starts jetting out, because it was an artery. It's jetting and they say, "Now, you're going to see this dog go into shock," and, sure enough, the dog started quivering. The poor dog bled to death and, after five minutes, they said, "Well, it's all over guys. Now, you've seen a person go into shock. You know what it is all about." The poor dog is dead. I felt very bad about that. I still fancy dogs, or any animal, for that matter, … but, that was part of our basic training. …
KP: How much medical training were you given in Texas ?
GH: I believe it was … eight weeks of training.
KP: What did you learn? What were you capable of doing for a wounded soldier?
GH: Anything up to an appendectomy. I still remember McBurney's incision. You know what that is?
GH: Okay, you take your hand like this, take your index finger and drop it, put your pinky on … the hipbone, the thumb on your navel, and where your index finger goes, you put iodine on it, and you go like that. That's your incision point for an appendectomy. Shock, heat exhaustion, how to stop bleeding; you know, it's a standing joke, but, it's done, you know, "What do you do with a guy that's bleeding profusely from the head? You put a tourniquet around his neck." There is such a thing. You take a four-tail bandage, you put a stone in it, and put it against the carotid artery, and tie it up under here; that stops the bleeding. In those days, of course, … being antiseptic was not a big thing, because they had sulfa drugs at that time. Sulfa drugs went into everything. So, your skill, if you will, was to stop the bleeding. That was the name of the game, stop the bleeding, not so much worry about the dirt, but, stop the bleeding, any which way you can. If there are broken bones, compound fractures, anything like that, just splint it up and get the guy back to a first aid station. That was the name of the game, 'cause, see, we were supposed to go with the line troops.
KP: You mentioned that you were armed.
KP: How much infantry training did you receive?
GH: A lot. You had to fire, you had to fire and prove yourself out with a gun. Again, backing off, military stupidity is … what'd they issue you when you went overseas? They issued you an M-1 rifle, which had no bearing at all with the workings of an 03A3, had no bearing whatsoever, and what I want to back off on, when I said, "Stupidity of the military," on Vint Hill Farm Station, I told you this, [there were] floodlights around this place at night, you know. You couldn't get in, you couldn't get out. As a matter-of-fact, we were in there for thirty-some-odd days before we got a pass and the place was hush-hush, beyond belief. They had barracks built around trees. It was that hush-hush and, yet, they had floodlights around it. I mean, you couldn't miss it. It was a beacon, you know, [laughter] the inconsistency of the military, … but, there you go. You know, the Colonel says, "We'll have lights," and the General says, "But, we'll have secrecy," ridiculous. [laughter] Yes, we got a reasonable amount of training. You know, we had to go over an infiltration course, you know. I've gone over that, where they would flood it down with a firehouse, make it real muddy, and so forth, and … you stand in the trench, they have a trench for you, and then, in back of the trench, they've got white canvas, I guess it was canvas, … and you're down in this trench, and then, they say, "Okay, are you ready to start guys?" "Yes, we're all ready." With that, the machine guns, about 150 yards away, started opening up on you and they opened up, because you heard, "Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop," things hitting the canvas. You knew it was for real. They were shooting about eighteen inches above your head, and, as a gunsmith, and I'm aware of these things, "What the hell happens if they burn out the barrel and the bullet doesn't run true?" So, then, you're going through the mud, … and the name of the game was, you held your gun in the crux of your arms, here, and you inched your way forward, and, when you got to the barbed wire, you rolled over on your back, and you lifted this stuff up, again, with the gun on your chest, in your arms, and then, you kept inching your way through. The only problem was, when you laid on your back, your helmet got stuck in this mud, and then, it was this big suction cup, and you couldn't move any place, and I went to lift the barbed wire, and it parted company, right between my hands. I said, "Whoa," you know. That was enough of that and I says, "To hell with this noise." … I rolled over on my belly, and I took my gun, I just kept throwing it ahead of me, you know, and [laughter] getting the hell out of there as fast as I could, and, when I got to the end of the line, the Lieutenant was very upset with me, and he says, "You can't do stuff like that." He says, "I think I'm going to have you do it all over again." I said, "Go ahead, shoot me." [laughter] He says, "Okay. … Clean the thing off and get it out of here, will you?" So, from there, I went overseas.
KP: Were you sent overseas with the same unit?
GH: No. That's the joker. … See, at that time, … there had been whole families and whole communities [that] were virtually wiped out, that went as units, and so, there was some Naval family, all the brothers were killed on some [ship], [the five Sullivan Brothers were killed when the USS Juneau was sunk by the Japanese on November 13, 1942]. That was the turning point, and they said, after that, "There will be no longer any units gathered as such, from towns," and this, that, and the other. "We're going to go on a replacement depot basis," and so, the units that were existing overseas, they would send in a requisition for so many people of this, that, and the other stripe, and they were filled from these replacement depots. … If your number never came up in time, what they did was, they would send you back for retraining. You went back for another eight or thirteen weeks training, to keep you going, to keep you fresh. So, this was a replacement depot thing. … I came to the replacement depot up here in … Indiantown Gap , Pennsylvania , and I stayed there, and one of the things, as a side issue, was, there, they had German prisoners of war, and these were from the Afrika Korps. They were built. You talk about Adonises and muscles like Charles Atlas, these guys were built like a BSH, and they knew it, and they would … come around there on garbage can detail. They'd come around, take a garbage can that weighed about 150 pounds, they'd just take it up like this, and they'd see if we were watching them, you know, and here we were, little, skinny guys. I've got pictures of me in there; you'll see what I'm talking about. I weighed 132 pounds, soaking wet, and they'd lift these garbage cans, … lift them real slowly, instead of heaving them, then, … they'd smile at us, [laughter] and we'd be looking at them, you know, "Oh, my God, we're going to fight these guys?" 'cause, at that time, I didn't know which way I was going. So, from Indiantown Gap, the next thing I know is, I'm on the West Coast, and, from there, [laughter] … overseas, I figured as a medic, and before you went overseas, everybody was inspected, medically, and here is this long line of GIs, literally thousands, big, long lines, queued up, I think, in four or five queues, and there's a chair there. … I remember the doctor, he's a major, he had his gold leaf on his collar, he's got the chair turned around backwards, and he's leaning over the thing, like that, and all he said was, "Assholes, assholes, assholes." That's all he could say, because, literally, when you got there, you're told to turn around, spread your cheeks. They're looking for hemorrhoids, because you couldn't go overseas with hemorrhoids, [laughter] and that's all he could say, mutter, to himself, was, "Assholes, assholes, assholes," and then, you went to this other doc, and he'd say, "Cough," for a hernia test, well, he says, "You've got a hernia." I said, "Yes, I've had one since before I got in the Army." He says, "They didn't discover it?" I says, "No." I says, "I want to go overseas." He says, "Well, you can't with that. … Do you want to get it fixed?" I said, "Sure." So, they sent me inland, I got fixed, and then, back again to go overseas.
KP: How long did it take to fix your hernia?
GH: All told, in those days, the fellow who did it was Major Hancock, he was from Shrewsbury , New Jersey , and he said, "If this ever breaks again, you've got a free operation on me," and it took six weeks, in those days. Six weeks, because, the Army is not like today, in and out of the hospital with the way they do it, and they had the recovery program where, as soon as you come out of the ether, they start exercising your hands, and you had to start exercising, and then, they would put you on a program of rehabilitation, and, you know, it worked out well, because I never had to go back to him again. It's held. So, from there, I went overseas.
KP: When did you finally leave the United States ?
GH: Oh, God, was it 1945, I guess, '45, yes; '45 or the tail end of '44, I forget which now. My mind isn't that good. …
KP: You had spent two years of the war just in training and being shipped around.
GH: Yes, shipped around, from pillar to post, and back again, and so, then, when my time came to go overseas, now, I'm real proud. "Ah, boy, I'm going to make it. I'm all repaired. I'm all fixed up and ready to go, and I'll spread my cheeks for them, and they can't knock me off," you know. Then, I find out, who am I going overseas for? I'm going over … as a replacement for a convict.
KP: What had he done wrong?
GH: I don't know what the hell he'd done wrong, but, he was in the stockade, and they were looking for a replacement for him. I says, "This, again, is a hell of a note. Here, I sign up for my country and I'm doing all this stuff. … I'm trained as a post ordnance man, as a medic, and so forth, fully trained for these things. I'm reasonably college educated, at this point, and they're going to make me a convict replacement?" So, we left San Pedro Naval Base. I guess it was the summer, because it was hot out there. … I visited Riverside , California , and it was hotter than the hind hinges of hell, and the only other people wandering around there, other than GIs, were Italian war prisoners. They were perfectly free, loose as a goose, had little overseas hats with " Italy " on the thing. [laughter] They were making love to all the girls, … as well as the German prisoners, incidentally, [who] made more telephone operators pregnant that a dog's got fleas, out in Indiantown Gap, because any girl who saw these guys went crazy for them. Here we are, a bunch of "Sad Sacks," running around. … In any event, I did go overseas, and, on the way out, we get on this great, big troop transport, and we're the first people on there. People like to think, well, you know, my own children, particularly my daughter, thinks I'm a cross between Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun, you know, the peacenik generation. She's a baby boomer, and she's a peacenik generation [child], and she thinks people just couldn't wait to get on the boat to go overseas. Well, you know, there are military police there. [If] you didn't get on the boat, you got blasted. It was that simple. They escorted you up the gangplank. So, we left San Pedro Naval Base, and the weather was really rough, and one of the things they gave you were these little pills, Dramamine pills. They said, "Please take them and you won't get seasick," and a lot of the strong guys, they didn't want to; "Oh, we wouldn't take this stuff, oh, God, no." Little George, I'm taking all they'll give me, you know, [laughter] and I had a whole package of these things, and I took a whole pile of them. I didn't wake up for two days. [laughter] When I woke up, it was equally as rough and I found out [that] I was going to be a butcher, all the way overseas. That was the job that was assigned to me, and so, they figured, [if] I had medical training, I'd make a good butcher, Army logic. So, the next thing I know, I'm down in the deep tanks, that's on the very bottom of the ship, just above the keel, where the refrigerator unit was and the butchering unit was, and I was instructed by a real, live butcher, and he spoke with a German accent. He, " vas a German butcher, but, I'm going overseas ." That's, again, the way the Army worked. If you had a German sounding name, you went to the Pacific. If you're a Nisei , you went over to Italy . See, so, that's the way they worked it, or, if you had an English sounding name, you went over to the ETO. So, if you had an Italian sounding name or a German name, over to the South Pacific you went. We never knew where we were going at that time. So, I'm down there, learning to butcher, and I did learn to butcher. It stood me well in latter years. I butchered my own deer and whatnot. In any event, the ship is rolling like a son-of-a-gun, and, you know, I'd put the piece of meat on the counter, and I'd go to cut it, and it rolls away from me. Well, [after] about an hour of this, … I start feeling very peculiar and, pretty soon, I had to get out of there. I was seasick. I wasn't the only one. Now, the ship that I was on, the troop transport, was large. This was what was known as a C-3 transport. That's the one that has the stack on the rear end of it. I've got pictures of it in here, and I don't know how far above the water the bow was, it was a good forty or fifty feet, but, in any event, when she dove into the water, the bow went into the water. We hit this hurricane. You know The Caine Mutiny , Captain Queeg and so forth? We were in that hurricane that was written about by Herman Wouk, I think was his name. We were in that and, boy, that was a thrill. I'll tell you, that was a real thriller, because it had two bridges. One was up forward and the other was in the stern. … By that time, I'd gotten used to the water, and I'd go up and get some of this good, old Navy coffee, like this, you know, and stand out on the stern bridge, and we would take solid water over the bow, over the forward bridge, and into the rear bridge. Now, that gives you some idea, because, when you go back to our quarters, which you had to arrive at internally, … you go upstairs, where you'd normally come out, which is all dogged down, and we had the anchors on either side of us, and every time the ship would ride up, like that, and then, come down, the anchor flukes would go, "Boom." It's like being on the inside of a kettledrum, and you'd go up to the porthole on the deck, and [the ship] would come up, it'd be light. Then, you go down, then, you'd see the water foam over the porthole, then, it'd get light green, dark green, and, finally, it'd be almost black. Then, the whole ship would shake like crazy, and then, come back up again, and the screws, the propellers in the back, they were, you know, pounding away. They'd go like mad when the tail end of the boat, the stern of the boat, would come out of the water. So, we went through that and it ended up that the boat did break a seam, a forty-foot seam in the bottom of the boat. … We got through, and we went to Australia , and we pull into Perth , Australia . … Once we got into the real Pacific, it was very pleasant. It was delightful, and, you know, they had these bunks down below, and I've got pictures of those, which are canvas on steel piping, laced in, you know, … four tiers high, and it got kind of toasty when we got down around the Equator, … and it was too hot to sleep below, and I used to sleep on the crosstrees. You know what that is, the mast is up and there's a crosstree on it? I used to climb up there at night and they had a little railing, about that high, around it. I used to sleep up there and I used to lay up there, look at the Southern Cross. It was the most magnificent sight I've ever seen in my life.
KP: Was the typhoon your scariest experience up to that point?
GH: Yes. It was something else. … It was my first … heavy water experience, you know, and only yo-yos, today, the environmentalists, … and this holds true at Public Service, they were going to build an offshore unit. I says, "You are nuts," and they ultimately did not, because they're talking about waves only occurring fifteen to twenty feet high, and, ultimately, … in post-war years, I became a navigator and [became] very much involved in nautical stuff, and, you know, there are records, in the [US Navy] Hydrographic Office, Publication 214, of when they had these tsunamis, you know, and things like that, where the Coast Guard station up in Alaska, something like a hundred-and-some-odd feet above the water, was completely obliterated, disappeared. …
KP: PSE&G was considering building an offshore nuclear plant.
GH: Yes. I says, "You're crazy." … "Well, this is the Atlantic , not the Pacific." I says, "Well, how about the Eddystone Light[house], off England ?" I says, "Four or five ton boulders go through the windows up there, periodically." I says, "Don't tell me it doesn't happen." So, they checked into the matter and they backed off on the thing, Public Service. So, yes, … that was the scariest thing that had happened, at this point. … I had all my faith in the ship's captain, the ship's crew, and then, we got out … [to] Australia . Now, my faith started to fail, because we pulled into Perth , Australia , and it was to refuel, this, that, and the other, and supplies. Inside my little book here, … I think I've got my Australian crap, and so, we were in there, and, as we pulled in, … the Aussies had a band there, and they were playing Waltzing Matilda and a few other good pieces, and they ended up with the Star-Spangled Banner , for lack of better music, and so, we're in there [for] a day, refueling, and we had a submarine base there, too, and it was a very small Naval area. It was a quay line. It was just … about as long as a football field. So, we're in there awhile, … for one day, and then, it went over to a second day, and the Lord Mayor of Perth went to the American military and begged them to let the troops off, and they said, "No, we're not going to let the troops off." He says, "Well, all our townspeople have gotten this good food, and it's melting, cake and stuff you guys have not had, and it'll go rotten. It's up in the rugby stadium up here." [laughter] So, the American military conceded that they would let us off, providing that the Aussies, as well as what American military and shore police they could muster, would form a line on both sides of the street, up to the rugby stadium, from the ship, and what wasn't provided by Americans would be provided by Aussie soldiers. So, they did. About every five feet, there's an Aussie soldier, an SP, or a military policeman, and so, we marched up, whiz-bang, to the rugby stadium, and they had pound cake for us and milk. Oh, my God, we were in heaven! We had fresh oranges and stuff, you know, and the people were delightful, you know, utterly delightful, and then, I don't know what started it, [laughter] but, all of a sudden; … on the way up, the officers were being fed this black opal beer, which is powerful stuff, and they had been at sea for about twenty-some-odd days. Well, they were looped as high as hoot owls. … Our American officers weren't feeling too much pain, and, all of a sudden, whatever started it, I don't know, but, the fellows started taking off over the stadium top and out, and what officers that were sober are hollering, "Come back, you'll be court-martialed." With that, the British Aussies started laughing up a fog. They said, "That way, mate, that way, over you go," [laughter] and they were helping us over, you know. It was wild. So, we had our little day, day-and-a-half, in Perth . … Finally, they got us rounded up and we went back to the ship. So, then, as we leave Perth, and this is World War II thing, we get out of Perth, and they had a tugboat, with about a mile hawser behind the thing, and there was [what] … looked like an enormous pup tent on a barge, and the gun crews on our ship, they had these big gun tubs of five-inchers. [They] happened to be American artillerymen. They weren't even Naval [gunners]. They didn't know about the ship going up and down or anything like that, or compensating for it, and so, these guys were assigned to target practice … on this target. Well, the first shot goes way over. "Well, bracket it in." The next shot goes way under. "Well, the third shot is for sure to get it." The third shot damn near hit the tug, and then, they had a heliograph, and, of course, we had Signal Corps guys with us, and they read the heliograph that says, "For Christ sakes, get your azimuth correct," you know. [laughter] So, after a lot of firing, it became abundantly clear, as they would say in any college classroom, that these guys couldn't hit the broad side of a bull's ass if they were sitting on his back, because, now, we're going up into Japanese submarine water, from Perth, head up to the Bay of Bengal. So, then, they also let loose these big balloons, and they had these Oerlikons, 20 mm Oerlikons, and they're pop-popping away. They couldn't hit the balloons, either. Boy, that gave us a lot of confidence and, now, we're wearing life preservers, these little [things that] looked like an inner tube you blow up around your waist. So, we got out of Perth [after] about two days, I guess it was, and it was sunset, the classic time, and, all of a sudden, you know, everybody's laying around on deck and whatnot, and they see the radar, which goes round, and round, and round, all of a sudden, "Bang," it stopped, and, off in the distance, you could see this little, white plume of water, holy Christ, and, at the same time, … one of the two ships engines went dead.
KP: You were not in a convoy.
GH: We were not in a convoy. … The horns go off, the guys hit the gun tubs, everybody's aiming at the thing, and, holy God, here we go into shark-infested waters, holy Moses. … With our one engine, we were going in circles, as best we could. Our normal speed was around seventeen knots and we were lucky if we could do about eight at that point. Well, apparently, they sent out a radio message that we were in trouble, we needed help, and, apparently, over the horizon, we were lucky, we had two Australian … corvettes come literally flying over the horizon, and they circled us like mad. Another one comes over and starts dumping depth charges, … holy Moses, and they escorted us all the way up to the Hooghly River , which you know as the Ganges River . They escorted us all the way up there, and were we glad to see them, I'm telling you, and, as it turned out, the turbo on our engine went sour and had to be fixed up in India . So, that's how we arrived in India , went from there to … Camp Kansharapara . That was the replacement depot place there, and, of course, one of the things that … keeps you in line in the military was the fact [that] they had a stockade there, and it was open for all to see, all these poor buggers in there, dying from the heat, … making little stones out of big stones, and, you know, you didn't want to get involved with that. From there, I was sent out. … Again, I was a replacement, and I met one of my high school buddies there, because the guys that arrived that day would be put on a bulletin board, and Philip Emmons, my high school buddy, looked me up. "What the hell are you doing here?" he says, "Well, I'm here, too," [laughter] and so, from Camp Kansharapara , … they assigned me as a crane operator, of all things. I'm a crane operator? I worked at the King George Docks. … It had a lock in there, and, when they bring the ships in, once the lock was closed, the tide never went up and down. It was never affected, one way or the other, and I spent most of my time in India there, and the camp I was stationed at was Tollygunge, and that was out by the racetracks. I never participated in that, either, but, I said, "While I'm here, I'm going to enjoy it," and there's three shifts a day. Our unit, the port battalion, holds the world's record for unloading material, and we got two Presidential Citations for this, and I operated up to a forty-two-ton crane, which did me no good when I got into civilian life, because I didn't know unions, but, it was a very interesting experience, because, in India, as I said, any time I wasn't on duty, because they rotated the shifts, I went into Calcutta, or wherever I could go, to meet the people and see the people, because this is something your people would not do. I hobnobbed with the Maharajah of Burdwan, on one extreme. On the other extreme, I'd go down to the dock wallahsand smoke beetle nut cigarettes down there. … They're just human beings like us. They had a wife, and they had kids, and you learned a lot about them, and, during those years, Communism was very heavy in India . As I said, Episcopalian-wise, one of the places I went to was the Temple of All Faiths , about thirty miles outside of Calcutta . I don't know whether you know anything about that area or not, but, you go there, it was built by some very wealthy Indian person, who said, "Anybody of any faith can come here," and it was a beautiful place, and then, what really impressed me, at that time, and I never saw it when I went back again, was the rickshawwallahs . The rickshaws were very prevalent in those days.
RG: Actually, they still are, in some parts of the country.
GH: Is that so? because I was up in Delhi , in that area, that you didn't see them. …
RG: Some parts of Bombay still have them.
GH: Okay. … I never got over to Bombay, but, in any event, these poor, little rickshaw wallahs , with the little cue of hair coming down the back, you'd argue with them about the price of your trip, and so forth, and some Americans, quite bluntly, were the "ugly Americans," and they would get involved with these guys, and these poor, little rickshaw wallahs , they were of the Hindu persuasion, and the Americans started beating them up, and they would never offer a finger of resistance, because their religion says non-violence, which is what Gandhi preached, and I started thinking to myself, even in those early days, "What the hell is the matter with our country, where we've got Jews, we've got Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, and, if you say something wrong to them, they'll punch you in the nose," and I says, "These little fellows, you can literally beat them to death, and they believe in their religion that strongly." So, I started investigating a lot of this stuff, the Hindus, and the Muslims, I'm not too thrilled with, because, ultimately, … that's part of this other story, going over to Chittagong, but, there [it] is the " Koran or the Sword." At that time, they really meant it, and they had all these different groups that … I would meet, the Thuga, which would come down in the winter months, and the people from Tibet used to come down, and they'd have their little gold, here, there, and everywhere, all over them, you know. It was a very interesting country and you get used to certain things. I hate to say it, but, you get used to certain things, like, going down back streets and finding female babies in the garbage can, newborns. You got used to that; you got hardened to it after awhile. I can remember, during the famine of 1945, I guess it was, … there's Firpo's Restaurant. Firpo was one of Al Capone's boys who'd got out of the country and stayed over there, and his restaurant was known for the fact that you could get a decent steak, and you could get a real, live ice cream soda, and I can still remember stepping over corpses to walk into this place, laying on the doorstep, during the famine, and you get used to it. It doesn't take long, but, you get used to it.
KP: A number of the men I have interviewed who have been to India , particularly Calcutta , hated being there and did not find Indian culture particularly interesting.
GH: I think that's stupid on their part. I found it utterly fascinating.
RG: It seems to me as though most people are horrified by the poverty and the horrors of every day life.
GH: … Hey, look, all these people are trying to hack it, … because, in those days, the caste system was in place and hard, it's still in place today, but, not quite as hard, but, in those days, it was very much in place. You know, for example, they would see the ladies making cow dung patties and splatter them up on the walls, see, and they would sell them for one pi each, as fuel in the wintertime. Well, this disgusted the Americans. Well, hey, man, that's all you had to run as fuel. [For] some people, that's all they could afford, so, you do the best you can with what you got. That's my attitude to[ward] the thing. … It was of such moment, the beauty of the people; they were sweet beyond belief, I mean, really, really lovely, lovely people. There's a flip side to the Indian, too, there's a flip side, and the flip side is that their society is so rough on them, so rough, that they're always … on the defensive, to the point of being a little sneaky. I find this with Indian people today, who I still converse with, and so forth, and do favors for, very nice people. … The second time we went over, we offered to bring several Indian people over here and we did. Once they got over here, … they didn't want to know us from shinola, but, be that as it may, I did find the people delightful. I found the culture delightful. As a matter-of-fact, you know what type of ring that is on the pinky there? star ruby. You don't see those around in this country. You see star sapphires, gray ones, but, this is a star ruby. My hobby, if you will; … by that time, I had risen to the rank of T-5, a corporal, technician. I was supposed to have had a warrant officer grade for running a forty-two-ton floating crane, but, they said that the table of organization was filled, i.e., you still remain a T-5. What am I going to do about it? So, with all that, I had to do something with my time, and, as I said, I'd go to these teas of the Maharajah's, in Calcutta, and it was delightful, a delightful person, obviously wealthy as all get out, but, he had Raphael paintings nailed to the ceiling, … I mean, real beautiful stuff. Their artwork, I thought, was superb. I thought their temples were interesting, a little gaudy, maybe, by our standards, but, still, within their parameters, okay. I thought the food was excellent.
KP: What did you know about India and its culture before you arrived there?
GH: I'd read the Book of Knowledge , from cover-to-cover, about five times, so, I had some idea of what to expect.
KP: When you were growing up?
GH: When I was a kid. Instead of watching the idiot tube, the boob tube, like the kids do today, and watch Howdy Doody and crap like that, I read the Book of Knowledge , all twenty volumes, from cover-to-cover. When they stopped, I started all over again, … and then, when I got to high school, I read the Encyclopedia Britannica , from cover-to-cover, and, believe it or not, practically all that I know came from those two books. … Obviously, Rutgers gave me something, but, not that much. I had a good basis. So, in any event, India , I learned about the people, this, that, and the other, and it was delightful. I never got sick, never had a problem, because … we did eat, mainly, in the GI mess halls.
KP: However, you savored some of the local cuisine.
GH: Oh, yes, sure, sure, and I thought it was delightful, particularly at the Maharaja's place. He'd have these little goodies, you know, like crackers or whatnot, all the different chutneys and what-have-you. Oh, they were delicious as all get out, you know, and, not withstanding, you know, when I'd go down to the dock wallahs , I made friends with them. You know what the term dock wallah means, do you? … A dock wallah is a fellow who hangs around at the docks and, of course, he has a family. He may live on a little boat or something. You go down there, and I would smoke these bedle nut cigarettes, and it'd be between my fingers, here. That's the way they smoked, they smoked it this way, the original Indian filter, cigarette standing straight up, and you, "Puff," like that. I chewed bedle nut with them, when it was offered. My lips got just as red as theirs, and so did my teeth, and I didn't insult them by spitting it out, because that was not kind. I learned about their families, some of their problems, and we had problems, too, and I indicated they have problems, too. The food, … and even their food, which was mainly rice, good rice, … it would be highly spiced, because they didn't have any meat, I mean, on their level. You go up [to the] Brahman level, you know, you got a little meat in your dinner. So, in any event, I spent time there, doing this sort of nonsense, and, finally, the war was over, and, when the war was over, we were held there for quite awhile, because we had to load stuff, crap, to come back to the United States , and we were held over. So, they had a mass meeting, finally, and I've got the newspaper clipping in there on that. The first time my parents had heard from me in about a year's time [was] when I was on the front page of New York Times , at a mass meeting in which … [they] asked if any GI has any complaints, "Yes," and I got up, and I said, "[The] gosh darn Army is not sending enough GIs home. They're sending back rotten candy, rotten tent pegs, and junk from the Army that doesn't deserve to be shipped back," and I was up on the stage when I said this. [laughter] That's the truth. I said, "They could use the space to send GIs home, as quick as possible." So, I get down from the stage. Oh, the guys are cheering like mad, you know, and, oh, boy, oh, boy; I get down off the stage and this guy, he looked like an Army officer, but, he wasn't, he was a correspondent, wanted to know my name. So, I gave it to him, and, here, he wrote the squib up for the AP, and it got into the New York Times . That's how my parents found out about me. Well, about three days after that, [they] called out my name and I thought I was going home. No, I wasn't going home. I was sent down to the 697th Quartermaster Group at Camp ( Hooghly ?). "What the hell's that?" I go in and see the CO. …
------------------------------------END OF TAPE TWO, SIDE ONE---------------------------------------
GH: They transferred me to a new unit, so, I didn't know what it was. I go over to the barracks. I think I've got pictures of this thing. It was beautiful. They were all up on concrete, beautiful concrete barracks. When the monsoons came, you didn't have to worry, because there were walkways between the barracks, all concrete. [I] walk into the barracks and … there's a beautiful bed, with a mosquito bar over it and a Simmons innerspring mattress! Up to this time, I'd only slept on a rope bed, and so, "What the heck is this place?" Well, I found out in short order. I think there were twelve or thirteen of us, Graves Registration Unit. Our assignment was to consolidate all the bodies in the main military cemetery at Calcutta .
KP: I have been told that that was one of the worst assignments you could get in the military.
GH: Well, they gave it to me, to exhume bodies. So, I didn't think too much of it at the moment. … We had to go up to Ondal. You know where Ondal is? Asansol, upper Bengal . There's an air depot up there, with a cemetery. That was my first initiation into this nonsense. We flew up there. It was the first time I had flown in a big plane. It was a DC-3. I look out on the wings; you know, as you fly over India, each of these villages is made by digging out the ground, that makes a puddle, where they grow snails, and then, they make the mud into the houses, you know, and every time you went over one of these doggone puddles, the plane would drop, like that, and come back up, and, at the same time, wings are going like this, you know. … I was used to model airplanes, which was fairly rigid, but, Jesus, here's a DC-3, and the wings are flapping up and down, you know, and I looked down at the base of the wings, which was painted black with big, red letters, "Do not use standard sized bolts on this wing, since this has been made from spare parts and broken up planes." [laughter] I says, "Oh, my God, are we ever going to get there in one piece?" Well, we got there at Ondal, … [the] Asansol area, and it was Ondal Air Depot, and got quarters up there, and, the next day, we went up to the cemetery. Well, the Sergeant who was with us, and the Lieutenant, of course, they had been hardened to this type of thing. It was the first time I'd ever seen it. So, the GIs did not do the digging, they used the local people for the digging, but, the moment they got to the body, that's when they hopped out. It was our job to go down, and get the body out, and re-inter it in another casket, and then, take the casket, and bring it back to the airport, and, from there, they would fly it back to the main depot, and the first one I saw was the worst. I don't know whether you want me to burden you with that type of nonsense.
KP: These bodies had been in the ground for awhile. Also, the Indian climate is quite warm.
GH: Yes, they had … saponified. In other words, the fat that was in their body had turned to soap, by and large, and the first one we came across, all the ones I dealt with were Air Force people [who] had gone down, and they were all wrapped in their parachutes, so [that] it was like a shroud. They were not even in a casket, they were just laid out, and so, the Sergeant hopped in down the hole, he took his pick axe, and he stuck it right behind the throat area, to lift the … body up, and with that, the guy's ribs all came out. … It was a big, fat mess, like soup. So, we got him up and out and I didn't get nauseous. It was just [that] this was different, you know, this was really different, and I did my share. We had one fellow that absolutely, under no circumstances, would go down to do it, absolutely, and he had been with Merrill's Marauders. He says, "I'm not about to go down there, no way. You can shoot me and do what you damn well please. I will not go down there." So, the Lieutenant was very kindly and understanding. He says, "Okay, you take care of the truck then." So, we put these fellows [in new caskets], … and they'd have a dog tag in a little, plastic … jug, and we'd compare the dog tag there with the dog tag that'd be on their cross, or Star of David, or whatever, and make sure they agreed, and then, we'd take that one dog tag and nail it to the top of their new casket, which was wood this time, albeit not a casket as you know it, it was just like a wood packing crate, and they'd be shipped out. It was never really driven home to me until I was down in the hole, and I'd located the little thing, and who was it but my high school buddy. I had to take him out.
KP: That must have been very shocking to see your friend's body.
GH: Yes. So, that really drove it home to me.
KP: Do you remember his name?
GH: Yes, and I'm afraid … that experience has borne very heavily on me, my whole life. For example, I don't like to go to funerals. I think they're rather stupid. I have a different feeling about dead people than perhaps you folks do, because of this experience. … You know, today, they'd be whining, and groaning, and moaning, and saying, "I've got traumatic shock," and go to the VA, looking for a handout, but, in those days, you didn't. It wasn't the thing.
KP: How long were you with this Graves Registration unit?
GH: I was with them for about four months, I guess, until I left, December until the first part of April, . … Now, one of the things that's of extreme interest, which I think I've skipped over was, I'm sorry, … after the war was over, … Christmas is coming up, and the officers came to me, and they said, "Hey, look, we don't have Christmas trees around here." They knew I was an artist, and I'll show you some pictures I have here, "Could you paint us a Christmas tree, to make a decent celebration? All you enlisted men are invited over to the officers' club. We're going to have a whiz-bang time." So, I painted a very lovely Christmas tree. It was higher than this room, it must have been about fourteen, fifteen feet high, with candles on it and Christmas balls, and it was done to the nines. I no sooner get the thing finished, and I asked the Lieutenant to come over and see it, and he approved, "Oh, this is great, George, … but, I have some bad news for you." I said, "What's that?" He says, "You're not going to be able to attend the party." I says, "A-ha, typical officer, you know, you're going to screw us good." He says, "No, … that isn't it at all." He says, "You're bound to go out on a ship, but, not home." I says, "Oh, … what is it all about?" He says, "You'll find out when you get there." So, he says, "You'll get good, Stateside butter, and you'll get good coffee, and good stuff, good food." He says, "That's the only thing I can tell you." Well, I hadn't seen Stateside food in so long, it wasn't even funny, and we had a Lend-Lease situation, where, with the British, we got Lend-Lease [food]. Well, we got water buffalo, with maggots still in it, but, we had to eat them. They're good for you, I guess. So, in any event, the boat that I got on was a Liberty ship, the SS Christy Mathewson , and we went over to Chittagong , Burma . At that time, it was in Burma . [Editor's note: Chittagong is currently the second largest city in Bangladesh .] So, we pull into Chittagong , and I say [that] this was a peculiar ship, because they had, like, wooden doghouses built on the ship. That was our quarters, where we slept, and, each hatch, it had five hatches, … had a runway off the starboard side, with railings on the side, and it was obvious that you were going to dump something. So, over in Chittagong , we had a good time over there, a real good time, because we didn't do anything. The ship was pulled up along the quay line and the Indians, at that time, loaded poison gas bombs on the ship , 110-pounders and 500-pounders. They would come up on a pallet board, with sandbags between them. … My hobby, since I was poor as a corporal and most of my money was sent home, was, I'd go around looking for stones. In those days, star rubies were fairly common in India , they are no longer, and real rubies, and stuff like that, and, in Chittagong , I picked up a beautiful ruby, which my wife has now. … Of course, we weren't gemologists, and our way of testing whether it was a real ruby or not was to take it, and the little Indian fellow would have a piece of charcoal and light it, and he'd blow it, with a little pipette, until it got red hot, and he'd put the stone in it. Then, you'd get that thing nearly white hot, and then, if it didn't melt, we figured it wasn't glass, and then, it must have been rubies. So, then, we'd take the stone from there, and walk over to the railroad track, and put a one anna piece on it, and wait for a freight train to come by. When it ran over, if it pressed … the stone down into the track, we figured, "Well, it's a real stone." [laughter] That's the way I bought it. My wife wears it to this day, … a two-and-a-half karat ruby. So, we were over there, and I was doing stuff like that, looking for stones, and that's where the ruby came from, … Chittagong . So, we get back to the ship, when it was loaded, and, now, we head out to sea. Then, I found out what my job was. Since I was a crane operator, the Army, through its sheer brilliance, figured that I'd make a good winch operator. In those days, with the Liberty ship, it had two masts and it would have two booms each, okay. Those booms were guyed out, so that the number one boom was directly over the hatch you were working with and the other boom was over the side, so [that] when both cables went down, you pulled straight up on this right-hand one, then, you pulled it out, and up, and over, and these were operated with steam winches, and the Army, again, in their great wisdom, figured, "Why use two men, one on each winch, like the Indians did? We'll use George. He's college educated," and they tied a two-by-four to each one of these steam winches, and I had to operate both these winches at once, with the ship rolling. Now, you might ask about poison gas … and, again, I've got a picture here to prove this. This has never been in [any] war records, but, we unloaded four ships that were loaded from the deep tanks on the keel right to the top, five hatches each of Lewisite, Chloropicrin, CK gas [Cyanogen Chloride], … it's [nick]name is "puking gas," makes you throw up, and ammonia, and mustard [gas], and, if the A-bomb had not worked, that was what was going to be dropped, using [the] Indian Air Depot from Ondal. The bombers were up there. If they hadn't used the A-bomb, this is what they're going to use. … The flight plan was to drop the ammonia gas first, and the ammonia starts rotting the bladder, makes the rubber permeable on a gas mask, followed up by CK gas, which is this puking gas, making the person throw up, vomit, and pull off their mask, and then, they'd be hit with nerve gas, Chloropicrin, or mustard, and that was my first experience, really, with mustard gas, because the Army puts you through this training, you know, smelling the different types of gasses. It was just an odor; it was not the real gas. Mustard gas has a very distinct garlic odor and two of our guys got hit with it, unloading these bombs, because … the mustard gas was supposed to be transferred to another bomb every two years, because it rotted through. As a matter-of-fact, mustard gas is so deadly and of such long life, there are parts of France [that were gassed] in World War I [that] you cannot go in, because of the mustard gas in the soil. It's still there and it's bad. It does not die. In any event, this fellow, we had gas proof clothing on, albeit, but, … when they brought him up, a drop of mustard gas, … the fuse end had broken off and the stuff had splattered somehow, and he got a drop on his so-called gas proof clothing, about the size of a pin. By the time he got up, which was only a minute or so, by the time he got up to the top; we laid him out, the MD, we had an MD on each one of our ships, he came down and he cut his fatigues away. By that time, there was a blister on his knee and it was about three-and-a-half, four inches in diameter, about an inch thick. I'd never seen anything like it in my life. Another chap; … we were told, the fellows who were working down there, 'cause, see, we were all American soldiers doing this, to wear your trousers in the cuffs of your boots. Well, of course, it gets hot down there, it's hot, and he pulled his pants out, and they subsequently found [that] a bomb had broken loose, again, another mustard gas [bomb], and the gas worked up his legs, did a job on his private parts. I'll tell you, it was something else to see, unbelievable. So, this is very real.
KP: This was in December of 1944.
GH: No, … December of '45.
KP: What did you do with these bombs?
GH: They were dumped into the Bay of Bengal . That's what I was telling you I did.
RG: They were just dumped into …
GH: They were dumped into the Bay of Bengal . … It's criminal, it's absolutely criminal, that this stuff was dumped into the Bay of Bengal on the verge of rotting out anyway and mustard gas comes to the surface. … It's like oil, it's lighter than water, and any place that [the mustard gas] touched on a beach, forever, if somebody stepped on it, they're in trouble, big trouble. …
KP: In other words, when you got out to sea, in the Bay of Bengal , you just dumped this stuff over the side?
GH: That's right. It's deep-sixed, as the term goes.
KP: Was there any secrecy involved in this operation?
GH: Not really. … They didn't tell us what we were doing until we got out there and I never heard anything more about it, because, when I got back, shortly thereafter, I went back Stateside. [Mr. Heinemann looks through his papers]. There's the ASTP symbol, emblem, the sword and the lamp of learning. Here it is; this is the actual picture of our group, with the names of the fellows, "Poison gas dumping detail, 12/30/1945 , SS Christy Mathewson , Bay of Bengal , out of Chittagong , two trips." This is the CBI emblem, incidentally; here's the patch. Here's this article about the frog. [laughter] Here I am at the Maharajah Burdwan's palace. See how skinny I was? [laughter] You get a chuckle out of that.
KP: Do you remember which paper this article on the frog appeared in?
GH: I think that was the Syracuse News , or something like that. This is the Graves Registration pass. That was the good part about being in that outfit, "This is my pass." I was authorized to be anywhere in the CBI Theater, any time I was not on duty.
RG: You could travel all over.
GH: I traveled all over.
KP: You were able to see a good portion of India .
GH: Oh, yes, I did, yes, and you read about this India-Burma troop thing, I guess that you read that? See, here's my emblem here, the unit emblem. So, in any event, I did my thing with Graves Registration and [went] back to the States, went back to Syracuse University , and the Dean welcomed me with open arms, and I said, "Well, … I haven't got enough money to live up here," and with that, he changed drastically. I said, "I want to change my educational background." I said, "I want to become an engineer." He says, "Well, this is the liberal arts school. … You have to go see the Dean of Engineering," you know, real frosty, and so, I went home. About that time, Rutgers picked me off the streets [laughter] in their wonderful program, … post-World War II program.
KP: I have a question about the January 13th meeting in Calcutta , which was reported on by the AP.
KP: "India-Burma troops accuse War Department." I will read it for the record. " Calcutta , January 13th, AP. Five thousand India-Burma theatre GIs, in the second mass protest meeting here in four days, heard charges today that the War Department and theatre authorities were confusing the demobilization issue and that nonessential items were being loaded for shipment home."
GH: That was our big bitch.
KP: "The soldiers adopted a resolution demanding that Congress 'stimulate the demobilization of all military personnel and effect the immediate repatriation of all men not absolutely essential to the fulfillment of our overseas duties.'" "A soldier-appointed group is compiling a list of what the troops insist are instances of "waste of manpower in this theatre." "Thunderous applause greeted the reappearance of Norman Owen of Brooklyn , New York , who was released from the 142 nd General Hospital , where he had been taken for examination after appearing distributing handbills announcing last Thursday's meeting. Owen presented the new resolution, copies of which are being sent to the Senate and House committees. The charge that non-essential items were being sent home while soldiers waited was made by T-5 George T. Heinemann, 55 Garden Street , Teaneck , New Jersey , [laughter] a crane operator at the King George Dock. PFC Harold (Loren?), 853 Walton Avenue , Bronx , New York , told the demonstrators that Washington authorities had heard already from (Franz Mueller?) and were going to hear from us now, until we get something done." What you were doing was pretty unauthorized.
GH: You better believe it.
KP: The military does not take well to criticism.
GH: To use a military expression, "TS for them." [laughter]
KP: Also, this was not a small, twenty to thirty person get-together.
GH: Oh, heck, no. It'd fill up your stadium.
KP: How was this meeting organized?
GH: I don't know. It just said, "They're going to have a meeting today," and everybody hopped on the truck and went to town.
RG: Were you involved at all in organizing the meeting?
GH: … I was not involved in organizing it. I was just involved in opening my big mouth and putting my foot in it.
KP: Your spontaneous comments were, in fact, spontaneous comments.
GH: Oh, you bet, because they asked, "Does anybody in the audience want to talk?" I raised my hand, "Sure." … I hadn't learned the old Army routine of, "Keep your mouth shut and your bowels open and take your orders." … I hadn't learned that yet.
KP: The issue of demobilization was very controversial. Why do you think the military was dragging its feet? Was it incompetence? Do you think that they wanted to keep you there because the military want to maintain a presence in the region?
GH: No, no, I didn't think they wanted to keep a presence at all. The big problem, I think, as far as the military goes, was, you see, the CBI Theater, which I was in, … was a deversionary theater, as it turns out, after World War II. It was a deversionary theater, but, in that connection, they had sent over a tremendous amount of material, and quite a few fellows, and at the conclusion of which, I remember, up in Ondal, seeing P-38 planes, on their noses, stacked up as far as you can see, with a big bulldozer running over them, because the military … didn't have facilities for bringing them home, and I'm sure there is some reason, you know, looking at it now, as an older person, but, from the viewpoint of a young kid, it looked different. … How many people can you fit on a Liberty ship? I mean, with facilities, latrine facilities, just in the simplest essence, unless everybody wants to make a moon off the stern, you know. It couldn't be, really, done. I think the military's hands were tied, in the amount of troopships that they really had available for this purpose.
KP: You realize this in retrospect.
GH: Oh, yes.
KP: However, at the time, you did not feel that way.
GH: … You got it. You know, age gives you some retrospect on this thing and, also, the facilities; like, I came back through Camp Stoneman in California, up in the San Francisco area, and, you know, they had limitations on how many people they could handle, and coming across the country, as well as going out, we went by train, … the Army transport trains, and, you know, what was it, seven or eight days to cross the country? It was horrendous. We had things chalked all over the side of the train and so forth, but, you know, when we went overseas, we'd go through towns that had candy factories. We'd have the conductor stop the train and we'd try to wheedle some candy out of them. … The facilities were limited, really. I can understand this now. I could not understand it then, neither could they, and everybody was really PO-ed, and, you know, quite frankly, the war was over in August, and here we are, still sitting around in April, and there were guys that got out later than I did, and so, we were really PO-ed at the whole situation. …
KP: Did you feel as though the military was singling you out? You were given two very nasty assignments, the Graves Registration duty and dumping the poison gas ordnance.
GH: … Yes, I know I got shafted on both of those. Well, the poison gas dumping was before the mass meeting, was it not?
KP: Yes. You were not being singled out for your comments.
GH: I wasn't being singled out for that. … The Graves Registration definitely was a slap on the hands, and, again, the military, as well as the officer class, … they had their own way of doing things, and, I remember, when I came home, I had a Japanese rifle, it was brand spanking new, and a bayonet, and some other goodies, and I started to bring them onboard, and this captain comes up to me, and he says, "You can't bring this back." … Well, he was a liar, I could've, and he says, "Give it to me." [laughter] I says, "Just a minute, yes, I'll give it to you." I put the gun between two stanchions on the dock and bent the barrel around in a U. I says, "Here." I thought he turned about as red as that Tylenol bottle over there and was so mad, he could eat nails and spit tacks. He was just after my stuff. It was a great experience, I'll tell you that.
KP: You were stationed in India shortly before the country received its independence. What did you think of British rule and India 's impending independence? It may not have seemed that important then.
GH: No, I saw quite a bit of it. As a matter-of-fact, … having seen this picture in the 1930s, The Lives of the Bengal Lancer, , with Gary Cooper, and so forth, Franchot Tone, the greatest thrill of my life was, when I was down in this Camp (Hooghly?), to see the Bengal Lancers, wheeling around the corner, with their lances up there and their little red and white pennants flying, you know. Boy, that was a thrill. No, I saw the British Civil Service in action over there, and, again, … I really have mixed feelings about this, because, if it wasn't for the British Civil Service, both with the actual British and the Indians that they had trained, India would be nowhere near where it is today. I went back to India and I didn't go back there for a seven-day junket. I was back there for … three weeks and change, and I asked, and I moseyed around, and I made it known, I wore my CBI jacket and so on. That's nothing. The Indians, they forget very fast. Only two people recognized us. They said, "Oh, my father," or, "my mother told me about you fellows." You know, that's what they said, but, this was down in ( Varanasi ?).
KP: You were very comfortable with Indian culture, enough to go back to India .
GH: Oh, yes, very comfortable indeed, very comfortable, but, the second-go-round, Montezuma's revenge hit me, [laughter] even though I took …
RG: The malaria pills?
GH: No, no, no, I didn't take that, but, what I did do was, purposely, I had my canteen from World War II, and I got one for the wife, and … they're still hanging up in the garage now, but, I took water purification pills with us, and, in spite of that, that's all we drank, the fact of the matter was that the food handlers, they're trying to be clean about it, there's no question about it, but, there's a certain amount of bacteria that's around, and once it gets … on the food, you've had it. You've just bought the ticket, and, of course, once you're ill, then, you see an Indian doctor, and he takes care of you real fast, but, for the last few days I was over there, all I could eat was yogurt, [laughter] but, their yogurt is much better than ours, I'll tell you that, oh, yes.
KP: What had changed the most about India , in your view, and what had stayed the same?
GH: Okay, the thing that has changed in India is, like, … I was in Delhi , and Rajasthan, and up in the Kashmir , … the government offices are all still there and are all still operating, the Indian people have come a quantum leap forward in their economies, as well as with the way they treat each other, and human beings in general. Yes, you did see the occasional leper, but, … so? We've got them over here, too. They've come a long, long way. I mean, up in Delhi , they have an underground shopping mall. Why is it underground? to keep it cool. It was neat. Why haven't we thought of that? …
KP: Did you expect India to be so modern?
GH: I had no idea. I thought I'd go there with an open mind. That's what I did, too, and I was very much impressed. The Tata Steel Mills, they're going like crazy, you know.
RG: India 's industrial advances and creature comforts impressed you.
GH: … People did not look quite as down-in-the-mouth as when I was over there. People with their saris, the ladies with their saris, they were colorful, lively. You went to the stores where they'd sell the material for this, you know. Well, you didn't see too much of that in World War II. At best, they had white saris on. Of course, if you're the Maharaja's wife, you had something better, but, the average, run-of-the-mill Indian woman had a hard row to hoe. The people looked reasonably well fed. They were not abundantly filled up, like me, [laughter] but, neither did they look as ravaged by hunger [as] when I was first over there. A lot more cars; as I said, I didn't see a rickshaw … the whole time I was there, but, I didn't get to Bombay .
KP: There must have been very few vehicles when you were stationed in India .
GH: That's correct, except [for] the American military vehicles. Again, I've got pictures of all this stuff, like, … this poor soul, this low-caste wallah . He's got this cart that was as long as this room, filled to the top with cases of gin, and he's pulling this thing, got big, three-and-a-half foot … wooden wheels. He's pulling this doggone thing. In the meantime, the cows are wandering around, eating coconut husks and what-have-you, wandering around here and there, and they're not making this cow work. They're making the poor soul work.
RG: The cows are still allowed to roam free. Coming from America , did that aspect of Indian culture strike you as unusual?
GH: I figured it was within the context of their religion and, from that standpoint, I respected it. What else could you do, really? Similarly, when they would go to make a sacrifice, the (calion?) would slit the goat's throat. I wasn't too happy about that, either, but, that's within the context of their religious belief.
KP: You were, and still are, fascinated by Indian culture. How did the other GIs take to Indian culture?
GH: They went to the racetrack. That was their big hobby, going to the racetrack and getting soused up.
KP: No one joined you on your excursions.
GH: These were all individual junkets, because I didn't care to get looped, because, in reading my Book of Knowledge , one of the worst things you could do in the tropics is drink. It's one of the worst things you can do. So, I says, "I won't drink," but, I did, ultimately, take a drink with some British soldiers who invited me, and that was another interesting thing, after I went back, because I had a few drinks with them. It was "Carew's booze," we used to call it, made by the Carew Gin Company. Well, when I went back to India, about ten years ago, I was just curious, … because, you know, in a lot of parts of India, you can't buy alcohol, and this was up in the Kashmir country, and, sure enough, here's a place that sold alcoholic beverages, and I says, "Do you sell Carew's booze," and he says, "Oh, yes," … and I says, "Well, I might as well buy it and see if it tastes the same," [laughter] you know, and they had such interesting things as Old Panther Piss [Whisky], [which] showed this tiger leaping over and taking a leak, you know. [laughter] That was pretty wild stuff, but, I did not really get involved with drinking, which a lot of guys did. … I was curious; I was a curious fellow. You know, I've seen the Indian rope tricks, so-called, in Victoria Park, which was interesting, too, because, the way the British had it laid out, it was like a piece of England, including their Episcopal Church of England, … like a piece of England. It was gorgeous, the … Royal Victoria Park, and the way they had it laid out was such that the existing street ways going through it, like, you talk about Central Park, were used as runways by the British fighter planes, and they were sandbagged. The planes would be there, with sandbags around them, and, [if] they had to take off against the Japs, "Zip," up they went. … It was a very interesting place, to see it from that standpoint, but, again, most of the fellows went to the racetrack. I would go looking for jewels, and stones, and little gewgaws that I'd send home. I talked with the people. I was with the people. I'd go up there to the jeweler. I remember his name, Vraj Lal, … 23-A Beadon Street , Calcutta , and I still remember his name and his address. The human mind beats a computer any day of the week, as far as memory recall goes, but, you know, in making this thing [the ring] up, I'd talk to the gentleman, and, you know, he spoke English, very good English, "Vedy, vedy good English. We speak vedy, vedy good," … very gentle people. It was quite an experience. I have a lot of pictures. … I don't know whether you want to look at them or not or [if] you want to ask more questions. You want to look at the pictures first?
KP: You drew these pictures.
GH: Yes. … That was my hobby. … I carried a set of Windsor and Newton … paints. Incidentally, that one you just passed, that was the hobby on going overseas, playing bridge. The guys were nuts for playing bridge.
KP: You did not gamble.
GH: No. I never played bridge, either. To this day, I will not gamble.
KP: This was your camp?
GH: That was where I lived in Tollygunge, yes. That was my basha , with a Banyan tree out front. That's a picture [of] out on the shooting range down at Sea Girt and … that tells what it is.
KP: "George, the galleyman on the Christy ."
GH: Yes, he was the galleyman on the Christy Mathewson .
KP: Also, the water boy in Kanchapara.
GH: … I used to carry a set of Windsor and Newton paints in my fatigues and every time I got a break, I'd paint. That's the "Indian Lawnmower," you see in there. You just passed them awfully fast. [laughter] No, that's a Ghurka guard. There's another one, "Indian Lawnmower." He was given a Gillette blue blade, and he would cut the grass, one at a time, and, again, things have changed. These are paintings that are done of friends of mine who were there. His name was Kenny. This guy was with Merrill's Marauders.
KP: He was the one who refused to get in the trench.
GH: No, no, … that's not him. This is one, which I sent home to my parents, it's called "Maggie's Drawers." When you're down in the rifle pits, when a guy would miss and a ricochet of dirt would come cascading down, it was called Maggie's Drawers, because you'd wave the red flag. [These are] cartoons I would send home. [laughter] I got to the point where … I'd sketch a guy's picture and, also, caricature their face, and I'd give them a copy of this. …
KP: This picture is of an MP who looks black. Did you encounter any black soldiers in the service?
GH: Oh, yes, sure. Sure, we had blacks in the service.
KP: Were any MPs?
GH: He's an MP.
KP: "The Apprehension, No Pass," does this highlight a particular incident?
GH: Yes, that was an incident, out in Harrisburg , Pennsylvania .
KP: Did it affect you?
GH: Yes, I spent time in the can for it. [laughter] I spent overnight in a cooler and I nearly froze to death. I never went back in one again, I'll tell you that. Again, these are pencil sketches, here, of various friends, if you notice the resemblance, because you may wonder, "Do these guys look like the pictures?" Here's a pencil sketch and there's the same picture of the same guy laying in bed, sound asleep; notice the resemblance. Here's a guy in a lounge, just reading, which was the main preoccupation of a lot of guys. They read, played cards, and were bored to tears. … Here's another cartoon, you'll love this, [laughter] you will in particular.
KP: You sent these home to your mother.
GH: Yes. Again, an occupational hazard, sack time; that's just another Maggie's Drawers, another range. These were all painted in (situ?). … When I went overseas, there were these amphibious raiders. They were killers. They were real killers, and I started this picture of this guy, and he never let me finish it up; take a look at the look in his eyes.
KP: Yes, I see, he was very intense.
GH: Yes. This is, again, two pictures of the same guy, Al (Niditch?), well-educated man. He was a very nice man. Okay, that was another place, this is up at Kanchapara. That was my home for awhile. You'll get a bang out of this. [laughter] You've heard that expression, "A guardhouse lawyer," a really brassy know-it-all? look at this guy, [laughter] and this is just a mood piece. As I came up the Hooghly River , going to Calcutta , I painted that, when we [were] laid over there. Does it look like it?
RG: I have never been to Calcutta .
GH: Oh, you haven't? You're a Bombay-ite, oh, boy, okay. Yes, there's another one. I guess that about winds it up, really. [laughter] Can you imagine wearing a mustache like this over in India ? holy crow. …
KP: I wish I had known about these photographs and paintings when I was putting my exhibit together.
GH: That's an engineer, this other fellow, which you saw previously, " Guinea ," we called him. He's Italian, obviously. He's from tough New York , but, that's the end of the month. He didn't have any more money. He got good, old Bull Durham cigarettes, [laughter] roll your own. Those are my medals, for what they're worth. That's about it. …
KP: I assume that you did not consider staying in the military.
GH: We were offered that when we got back. You know, they'd give you a jump in rank and all these promises but, you know, by that time, I wasn't too stupid, I had learned a little, and I didn't trust the Army's promises. So, I bugged out of the Army. That was it for me. I'd had it. … That's a good marching unit; that guy in the little circle, that's me, way back there. [laughter]
KP: When did you draw this?
GH: That was at Syracuse University .
KP: You marched in the town of Syracuse .
GH: Yes, marching down the main drag in Syracuse , big deal. You know, one of the things that I remember, which you may not have heard of, at this point, was, since we were going to college and only becoming college boys, you know, … our commanding officer, our colonel, was an ex-West Point man who was, "Going to do it like we do it at West Point ." He figured that, you know, just studying wasn't enough. You had to help the war effort, and so, we were sent out on bond drives in Syracuse , and Syracuse , at that time, was very ethnic. There was Tipperary Hill, where the Irish lived, there was a Polish section, there's an Italian section, there's a German section, and so forth. … I'll never forget, the longest day I live, I feel bad about it, to this day, … my particular group was sent to the Italian district and we would go knocking door-to-door, just asking if they had bought [or would] buy war bonds. Well, these poor Italians, which had come over in the 1920 migrations, here, all of a sudden, two Army men come pounding at the door, they didn't know whether they were going to go to a concentration camp next. I felt very bad about this, to this day I do, just putting undue pressure on these people.
KP: Did they feel pressured to buy bonds?
GH: Yes, oh, yes, and that's our (ace?) port battalion. …
KP: Where did this article appear?
GH: That was in this Army newspaper.
KP: You were assigned to the 497th Port Battalion in Calcutta .
GH: Yes, right.
RG: You did not get to use your first aid training and all that.
GH: No, I didn't get [to use] any of my training.
KP: The Army spent a lot of time and money training you …
GH: Well, it's like any corporation today. [To] corporations, … your college education means precious little, other than teaching you to use a computer, and, hopefully, you know the same language that your corporation is using. You jump in and you learn. That's the way the Army was in those days, when it came down to actual cases. You jumped in and learned. … I've often said, and I have lectured in college, I might add, at Amherst and a few other good places, there are very few corporate jobs that can't be learned in a day's time, well. … Again, I'll always be grateful to Rutgers University for opening up their University extensions, because, right after World War II, unless you went to the university first, they didn't want to know you. They really didn't want to know you. Then, Rutgers opened up their extension program and I started off in West New York . I went, from there, over to Englewood , Dwight Morrow High School , and then, I got married. … People today have no idea how short cars were then, and all I could afford was a 1937 Ford, and that was stolen, [laughter] and I was going to Newark , at that time, at Rutgers . I didn't have any more money. I had to quit school. …
------------------------------------END OF TAPE TWO, SIDE TWO--------------------------------------
KP: This continues an interview with Mr. George T. Heinemann on August 1, 1995 , at Rutgers University in New Brunswick , New Jersey , with Kurt Piehler and …
RG: Rheka Gandhi.
KP: You mentioned, during the break, that you received a "Dear John" letter in Calcutta .
GH: Oh, yes.
KP: Who was it from?
GH: It was a girl I had been going with at Syracuse University for a number of years and I guess she couldn't wait. She "Dear John"-ed me. The First Sergeant, he got his "Dear John" about two weeks later. [laughter]
KP: Had you thought that you might marry this girl at Syracuse ?
GH: Oh, yes, yes. I'd given her a hope chest and everything else, at that point in time, but, she was willing to give me the hope chest back. I says, "Go keep it." [laughter] I wasn't that hard up.
KP: You came back to the United States later than most veterans.
GH: … That's correct, so, it was very difficult to get into any school, really.
KP: They would have taken you back at Syracuse .
GH: They would have taken me back at Syracuse , or they would have taken me back at NYU on the Heights, and I didn't want either one. It was just too much of, in one case, a commute, and, in the other, I couldn't afford the expenses of living away from home.
KP: How crucial was the GI Bill for you in terms of going back to school?
GH: It was crucial to the point of, yes, you took advantage of it. As a matter-of-fact, I had enough credits to get a PhD. However, as I said, I got married, and I was going to Newark to finish up, and, regrettably, the person who was teaching statistics in Newark, you could barely understand him, which I understand, today, Rutgers has a test you have to pass on your ability to speak the English language and communicate, but, in those days, it wasn't, and, I don't know, this guy was Greek or something like that, and, Jesus, you just couldn't understand him. So, I wasn't doing too swift there, and then, my car was stolen. Now, how am I going to get from Union City over to Newark ? and, at the same time, I'm working down at Ford's in Edgewater, and it just was an impossible situation. So, up to that point in time, I'd used the GI Bill of Rights, but, when … the FBI got my car, found it in Brooklyn, and the thing was almost a total wreck, I had to have another engine put in it, and, quite honestly, my wife says, "Well, you know, you're going to be a father soon," and I had other things to do other than go to college, quite bluntly. So, I dropped out at that point. My career, for that, was slightly checkered, in that I worked at Ford Motor Company, and then, I worked in the cost accounting division, and then, also, [some] rumors came that they were going to consolidate the place. Well, I didn't think too much of it at the time, and then, we had a luncheon with Henry Ford, II, who had just taken over from his old man, Edsel, and he loved his booze. He loved double martinis, as fast as you could fill 'em up, and then, he'd toss them down. Well, when he got [drunk], he lost control of himself. He says, "Any time I," bear in mind, this was back in 1948, … "pay a son-of-a-bitch $25,000, if he doesn't get a heart attack in one year, I'll fire him." I said, "Whoa, this is some outfit," and the net result was that he had a major consolidation on their overseas division … at Harborside Terminal, and we wanted to fight the thing, get unionized, but, it was far too late. We went to St. Peter's College, and they advised us there [that] it was way too late to get unionized, and so, I lost my job there. So, now, what are you going to do now?
KP: What was your job at Ford Motors?
GH: I was a cost accountant.
KP: You were thinking of unionizing what is usually considered a management position.
GH: I wasn't, somebody else was, to save the jobs, but, it was too late. It was far too late. So, the upshot of it was that we did lose our jobs, and I went to dear old Rutgers to see what kind of jobs were available, and it so happened that … they sent me down to Westinghouse Electric Supply Company, down at 528 Ferry Street in Newark, and the chap who was in charge of the credit department was Jack Laursen, a former Rutgers graduate. So, you know, [I was] his old school buddy, and he gave me a job as assistant credit manager, and … you have to put this in [the] proper framework. This is 1949, now, and we now are headed into another depression, a major one, post-war depression. So, I was damn lucky to get the job. I got forty bucks a week, "Wahoo, whoop-dee-doo," and [I had] a wife with a baby on the way, and so forth, and, after a year or so of this nonsense, why, I was getting something like a two dollar raise, "Wow," and I said, "Well, things have got to change." … One of the things I did do when I was in the military, I saved every cent I could. I took advantage of all the freebie cigarettes that are given out by the various unions. That's another thing, we can get back to it if you want to, about the feeling of the American public with regard to the soldier, as opposed to today, or in contrast with today. … So, I've saved my money, enough to get a house up in Haskell , New Jersey . That's up just above Pompton Lakes , big deal, the whole legal closing costs, this, that, and the other, four hundred bucks. That meant more to me than the GI Bill of Rights, it really did, because I was able to move my wife and family into a place for four hundred bucks.
KP: Did you buy your house with the GI Mortgage?
GH: Yes, I did, and that got us really started, because, then, here I am, commuting all the way to Newark from there. That's a long haul. I had a Model A Ford by that time, and I was commuting, a terrible commute, and I was looking for something more local, and so, then, I got a job down [at] an instrument specialties company in Little Falls, New Jersey, they made (beryllium?) copper springs, and I got a job there as a night inspector on the second shift, … all surface plate inspection. I was doing pretty good in that, and, Jesus, it was a great, big jump for me, because I was making sixty-five bucks a week at that, "Wow," and so, while I was there, I did what is known as first piece inspection. … I was the only real person of authority there in the evening, and one of the guys that was working there, it was obvious [that] he was a bus driver, Bill (Bering?) was his name, and so, I got to talking with them, because I'd go around adjusting the machines, when they'd go out of tolerance, and so forth, and so, I said, "What are you here for, Bill?" Well, his house had burned down in Little Falls, and he didn't have it insured, so, he's trying to make money on the side, to get his house back together. So, he starts telling me about bus driving. Well, [from] all he tells me about bus driving, I found out it was a hell of a lot better than what I was doing, or what Rutgers could offer me, or what Westinghouse could offer me, so, I said, "Gee, I'll become a bus driver." So, I put in my application, and, after a short period of time, why, Public Service called me, and they sent me to bus driver's school, and I'll tell you, it was a real emotional come down when I sat in the saddle of that bus the first time, and they had an instructor, and you went over to Pompton Lakes. I pulled into the bus stop there and Miles Mirtha was his name, a very pleasant soul. He says, "Well, how do you like it?" I says, "Okay." I'm sitting there, saying, "What the hell am I doing here, sitting in a bus driver's seat? You're college educated, you're one of thirteen selected in the United States for medical training, and you're ending up in the goddamned saddle of a bus," and then, my second mind says, "But, you've got a wife and one kid here and the other one's on the way. What else are you going to do? You've got to follow through on it," and so, I became a bus driver, for five years, with Public Service. The worst type of driver you can get is a college educated person, because his mind is going elsewhere. I had so many accidents the first year, not serious ones, but, you know, the type of thing where I'd come too close to the pole, take the light off the top of the bus, you know. …
KP: Also, driving a bus is not that easy.
GH: No, it's not, and you learned. … Public Service is a very dear company, as far as I'm concerned, in this respect, because, at that time, the triangle in the circle was "Transport, Gas and Electric," and transport, originally, carried the whole company, but, like many of the corporations today, in order to succeed, you don't create a big profit for the company, you downsize, i.e., you save money, so [that] you're a big deal, and they were doing that back in those days, but, all the things they taught you in school was how to handle people, you know, if a person is a drunk, or something like that, how do you handle him? … I had people, … this one woman, she was loaded to the eyeballs, she abused me all the way from Pompton Lakes right down to Newark, hanging out … [in] back of me, you know, abused me the whole way. … The people of Public, by and large, were a good lot. They really were.
KP: Fortunately, you got out of driving a bus. What was your big break?
GH: Well, what happened is, the downsizing started occurring in the bus [department], and, theoretically, see, … Bill (Bering?) told me, you know, you worked the board. You're an extra. You worked the board, you have a guaranteed minimum of sixty-some-odd dollars a week, and, if you can make more than that a week, you make more. … After awhile, two or three years, you're going to have a run, and maybe [if] you run a few trippers in it, you were good for several hundred dollars a week. I said, "Wow, whoop-dee-doo, this is better than college graduates are ever getting today." So, I went for it, but, with the downsizing, I kept staying at the bottom of the extra board. I says, "Well, this is nothing for me." I says, "You know, I've given these guys five years to do something." Actually, this occurred in my mind about three years after that, and then, I heard that Rutgers was opening up the Paterson Division, and I made inquiries, "Could I still go back?" and they said, "Oh, yes, you can come on back. We've got your record," and so forth, and I finished up down there. I had come within, I think it was, fifteen credits of graduating, at that point, and so, I finished up my fifteen credits. Now, I'm a college graduate, late in life. Now, I go out to look for a job. Well, I found out, because of my age level at that time, I was something like twenty-seven, the only jobs that were open to me was [as] an insurance salesman, or the FBI, or anything else, as a dishwasher. That was about the size of it. So, I went over to the FBI, in Newark, and, at that time, the FBI's policy was, you know, they would take on accountants, or physical education instructors, and lawyers, and accountants, and so, I qualified. However, their policy, at that time, was that they would move you if you had been on a case, a significant case. At the conclusion of the case and the prosecution of it, they would move you elsewhere in the United States, or, at a minimum, every three years, and I've got a wife and two kids, and … my wife wasn't too thrilled about that, and since when we were very first married, up in Branch Brook Manor in Belleville, … where we really first started our married life, with a child and so forth, there's a whole covey of FBI agents that lived right in our little quadrangle, and so, I had some idea of what went on. So, I said, "Well, you know, this isn't for me." So, in desperation, I went across the street to see Public Service, and … they gave me some tests, this, that, and the other, and they said, "You know much about math or anything like that?" "Oh," I said, "yes." "Have you had statistics?" "Oh, yes, I've had that," you know "Oh, I think we have a function for you." They sent me up to electric system planning. They interviewed me up there, and the next thing I know, the big boss up there, Mr. Hollis Sells, he says, "Okay, we can make you an offer," and it was significantly higher, it doubled my salary, right away, and he says, "Do you want to go on vacation?" Like a dumbo, I says, "I just had my vacation in Transport." He says, "Well, that doesn't matter. We'll give you a vacation now." I said, "No, I'm 'Honest George,'" [laughter] you know. So, I started in electric system planning in Public Service. Now, my function there, initially, and for about fifteen years or thereabouts, was forecasting the electric system loads on the system, substation-by-substation, switching-station-by-switching-station, for three years into the future, and, ultimately, ten years into the future, because the lead time on constructing these things varies.
KP: In fact, after 1945, the demand for electricity skyrocketed with the suburban boom.
KP: I once spoke with an engineer who had to deal with the load problems in Essex County .
GH: Who was that?
KP: I do not remember his name.
GH: 'Cause I'm like you know what; I got all over the place in Public Service.
KP: I have interviewed several people who worked for Public Service, but, after a hundred interviews or so, some of the names slip my mind.
GH: Yes, okay, this is so, and that's why I finally got in there, because Public Service, as you say, it blew wide open, and they couldn't get people from MIT and from where they wanted to hire people for their functions, because the thing in Public Service [was], up to that time, you say they were starchy, they were very starchy. … Mr. Francis Keane, he was VP in charge of finance, he was, originally, an engineer. Everybody had to be an engineer, and then, "We'll train you for whatever we want you to be." That's the way it was, until after World War II, and then, things changed significantly. That's the way it was. So, the first part was forecasting electrical system loads. That's all I did. The name of the game was that if you missed your mark by one percent, you're out of a job, that's how tight it was, and I was involved with demography here in the state. As a matter-of-fact, the State would come to me for my figures, rather than vice versa, and, ultimately, I got into a lot of computer work. You know, when the IBM 360 came in, we thought we were in heaven with a computer, which was used for engineering functions, and then, I used it for statistical functions, and … I served as the secretary of the energy forecasting committee there. I served with PJM, which was the Pennsylvania-Jersey-Maryland Interconnection, in making load models, and you know [how] you have the weather index today? That's what we invented, the THI [Temperature-Humidity Index] concept. …
KP: With, for example, air conditioning, there was this incredible load that they never would have anticipated in the 1920s and 1930s.
GH: No, in the '20s and '30s, but, they did anticipate air conditioning load, say, about 1955.
KP: That was when they …
GH: They started to take off, and the question was, what kind of a curve was it? 'cause it started like this. Was it going to become asymptotic or … was it going to go straight to the moon in a geometric function? They really didn't know, and they opted for a logistic curve, which doesn't quite become asymptotic, but, darned close to it. So, I did this, and then, … apparently, I made a name for myself, good, bad, or indifferent, and I got involved with the finance department, under Bill Scott, senior VP of finance, and I started getting involved with financial modeling, and he gave me leave to go with General Electric, and we created this interest rate modeling program, which worked out beautifully. You could forecast the interest rates out three to four years in the future, month-by-month, within less than one percent, … one percent of five percent, for example. It could do it that close. In other words, we did, and were able to, assign what were the variables and make some sense out of it, and we used various modeling techniques, very sophisticated statistical techniques, and we would model these things, and, as I said, now, you have to input. Now, you have a model that's viable, and you'd update this month-by-month, but, once it's viable, now, you have to put in input data, and that worked out okay for me, because I was an economist, and I used to go to Washington for these economic get-togethers and what-have-you. … I made sensible inputs; so did General Electric. I (could?) call them "Generous Electric," … the credit corporation, up in Connecticut here, and that was fine, and we did do very well. As a matter-of-fact, I called the tremendous rise in interest rates under the Carter Administration. … It was going [at] about five or six percent. I said, "It's going to go in excess of ten percent," and Bill Scott, when he saw this report, he nearly flipped out. He says, "It's impossible," because he had come from a banking institution in New York , and he said, "It can't happen." Well, it did happen, and then some, and he called me up to his office. He says, "How did you know this?" I says, "Well, that's the way the input variables were indicated," and, to the day I retired, he kept that report under his desk blotter. … [laughter]
KP: You had scored a major coup.
GH: Yes, yes, and so, in any event, I got involved in that type of thing. I got into additional modeling, for example, in management planning, which has not been totally accepted today, for other reasons, and that is, are you familiar with the term "an algorithm?" formula, in other words. … If you can tell me what project you're considering, such as, they were talking about aquaculture, which PS did go into, I'd go to every resident expert that's involved in that type of a project and I asked him for such-and-such an item, bolts, or trout fingerlings, or whatever. "What's your cost?" "Well, this cost, today, such-and-such." "What's the lowest cost you can see?" He gives me a figure. "What's the highest cost you can see, possibly? That's it? Okay, fine." Now, with those three points, you can get a distribution, which may be skewed left or right, or truncated, or leptokurtic, doesn't make any difference, but, you have established this by talking to the resident expert on this particular thing. So, for simplicity's sake, and for this little talk here, if you have ten variables, now, you've got a formula, this, plus this, minus that, plus this, times that is going to give you your ROE, your return on equity. That's your formula. Now, for each of those, if one can conceive that for your number one variable, somebody has given you a distribution on this thing, by those three points, and, now, I'm going to take a bunch of Ping-Pong balls, … whatever variable he gave me as the mean value, I'll paint it that way, and then, you have a frequency distribution, and you paint the appropriate number of ping-pong balls with the appropriate numbers and put them in a wastepaper basket. Now, shake it up, and, now, you pick a ping-pong ball out, and … you record the number, okay? … Now, put the ball back, we shake it up, and repeat this three hundred or four hundred times, and, pretty soon, we get a distribution, [the] most likely distribution for that variable. It is not necessarily a normal curve. That's the joker. So, then, you do the same thing for the second variable, the third variable, and then, you add the whole cockamamie thing up, and, now, you have a distribution return on equity for the whole thing, with a proper distribution, which may not and was usually not normal, unlike most corporations that say it has an equal probability of winning, or losing, or coming down the middle. So, now, you can make an intelligent decision as to whether we should go forward with this project. … The chances, which you can determine, are such-and-such that you will succeed, … over a certain level or under a certain level. So, we applied this to the aquaculture project in Public Service, and it looked like it was a go situation, and, sure enough, it was, initially. Now, this same type of procedure, obviously, can be put on a computer. We have an (integrative?) process that does this for us. [laughter] So, they go through the project. … I remember, … when I was living up in Summit, here, in the freezer chest, was trout with the PS sunburst on it, you know, "Oh, boy, this is great," you know, and they had orders like you wouldn't believe from Germany and France, for our trout, from the fingerling thing out in Tulpahagen, Pennsylvania. They're great. The only trouble is, when they went to send them to Germany , it wouldn't go, because the mafia would not let them load it on the docks unless they were paid off, and Public Service, being starchy assed, would not pay. What happens? The fish rots on the docks. So, the project went down. So, I went up to talk with Bill Scott on this and I said, "Well, you know, the thing is that … the plan worked. There's only one problem. The person who put that together, the original algorithm, didn't put in the factor of the transportation situation and the interface with the mafia. They didn't put it in." So, I said, "You can hold that person to account for that and ask him, 'Why?'" I don't know what happened after that, but, in any event, ultimately, the project was killed. They used the warm water effluent coming out of the generating station for growing shrimp and it worked great, except [that] you couldn't move it any place, because the mafia wouldn't do it without a payoff. So, subsequently, Mr. Ed Outlaw, who became [the] president of Public Service, my immediate superior, was pushing for the use of this procedure, this gaming procedure, for management decisions, and so, Mr. Outlaw, I give him all the credit in the world, an engineer. … He wanted to talk to me, and, before talking to me, he went and read I don't know how many statistics books, Croxton and Cowden'sGeneral Applied [Applied General] Statistics , you name it, and then, he had this talk with me. He says, "It's only going to be a five-minute talk." Well, it ended up [as] something like three hours and the sum and substance of it was that this technique is great for making managerial decisions. The only trouble is, it puts the searchlight on the person who's goofed and this, they didn't want.
KP: They did not want accountability.
GH: 'Cause I said, you know, "It's great." I said, "If the project flies, great. If it doesn't fly, at least you know why it didn't fly, and if the person's giving you wrong information, then, you ask him why," and, of course, the whole purpose of good management today is, everybody makes a mistake, everybody. There's no person that doesn't and the only reason you're called a manager, or head of a department, is because you make more good decisions than bad decisions. That's the only reason. I said, "So, therefore, the function of management is, if you goof, just make sure it doesn't happen again, or minimize its happening again, not … hit a person over the head." Well, I never got through to them. From their standpoint, it's either throw them out or eliminate the program. [laughter] …
KP: It sounds as though you have a mixed view of PSE&G. There is a lot that you admire about the company.
GH: … Oh, yes, there's a lot that I admire. For example, it used to be the function, up until, oh, maybe about 1975 or thereabouts, that as a man got to be sixty years old and on a managerial function, they generally kicked him upstairs one notch and sideways. As a matter-of-fact, there's one fellow there, Ed (Timmy?), he spent the rest of his days playing golf in his office. It was a gentlemen's club, a real gentlemen's club, or you were asked to read the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal and report on it; well, you know, big deal. … On quite a few occasions, because of the man's experience over the years, they would be called in to make final decisions and give their views. So, it wasn't totally lost, but, the point was, they recognized that, after sixty years old, some people start slipping their marbles, which some did. I'm slipping my marbles, I'm not ashamed to say it, and it was a real gentlemen's club. They always helped. If somebody made a mistake or [had] a problem, it wasn't a case of stab-you-in-the-back. They covered up as best they could, or slid it under the rug, and did the best they could. It was a real gentlemen's organization. It is not that way today.
KP: No, it has become much more competitive.
GH: [laughter] Oh, wear an armor suit, because, when you come home at night, you have to pick the daggers out of it. It's a no-no. The present president they have, Ferland of Public Service, I have very mixed emotions over him. He was brought in from an outside utility, because, up to that … point in time, I was telling you about it, the only way you advanced in Public Service was through the cadet program, and your class gradually worked uphill, and, finally, you got yourself a nice function at the top, always internal hiring; not since Mr. Ferland came in. … He brought in his own crew, of course, and his name of his game is, "Cutback, cutback, cutback," the retrenchment routine, which has some merit, because I do believe Public Service had too many little empires that had been built, and they needed to be whacked out, but, there are certain essentials that shouldn't be whacked out. I remember, when I lived over in Martinsville , [there was] a big thunderstorm, lightning, rain. Oh, it was horrible. Our lights went out. I called up Public Service, "Get over here, my lights are out," and so forth. Well, they said, "Go get your electrician." I says, "You get your ass over here," I says, "or I'll have you out in the street tomorrow. I don't want to hear any more crap," and, sure enough, they sent a line truck over, one guy in it, and he went up in a bucket truck, with lightning cracking all around him. … I put my slicker on, I went out, and I introduced myself, and I was helping this guy up in the bucket truck. He's up there in the tree, and I'm … getting tools for him and throwing them up, you know, and I had to go back in the house to get a flashlight, because the usual … line truck, when you open the doors on the side to get tools, and so forth, it has a little light that goes on the moment you open the door. All the light bulbs were gone. So, when I asked the guy about it later, he said, "Well, Ferland had them taken out." Now, the sweetheart deal, which you don't read about in the newspapers, is, when Ferland was hired, the agreement was, his salary was X number of bucks, and, for every dollar he could save, he would get a dollar. … So, if you're making forty thousand dollars a year and I fire you, guess who gets forty thousand bucks? [or] if I take all the lights out of the service trucks and cut down [on the linemen], because, normally, for safety reasons, they always had a minimum of two men, usually three, out on a line truck. … If I was not a utility man, what would have happened to that man if he was up in the bucket, and lightning struck him, and he had become paralyzed. What would have happened? This doesn't make any sense to me. As I said, I'm ambivalent about this. Yes, I can see cutting back unnecessary crap, because even when I was in Public Service, … my attitude is, "What are you contributing to the bottom line? I don't want to hear pajama paper, and all these studies, and all this crap, you know. What are you really contributing to the bottom line?" That was my attitude at the time, still is, and so, Ferland does have …
KP: You can see the need for some of his actions.
GH: Yes, exactly. … Like many other things in this world, when the boss says, "This, that, or the other," the subordinates tend to misinterpret it, or go overboard on certain things. I think that's where it lies, in part. Apparently, he's been doing okay, because he's kept his hat on his head all these years, but, in any event, when Public Service had their first early retirement, back in 1980, I took advantage of it, and Bill Scott called me up to the office, and he got the paper, that I'd signed up for [retirement], and he says, "Hey, you can't do that." I said, "Why not?" I said, "It's for everybody in the company, isn't it?" He says, "Yes." I says, "Why don't you take it, Bill?" He says, "Well, I'm making too much money," and I says, "Well, … if I retire, … I don't have to pay for a stripped suit to come to work every day. … I don't have to pay the … Lackawanna Railroad, Delay, Linger, and Wait." I says, "There's a lot of things I don't have to pay [for]." I says, "You're offering to pay all my Social Security until I'm aged sixty-five and my retirement, without penalty." I says, "Hey, Bill, … you're a financial man, I'm a financial man, [laughter] you've got to be an asshole not to take this. You'd have to be pretty stupid." My children could not see it at the time. "You'll go crazy, Dad. What are you doing? You'll go to the poorhouse." Well, I've done pretty damn good since I've retired.
KP: Do you miss it?
GH: Public Service?
GH: I miss the old Public Service, yes, I do.
KP: Do you think you would have done as well in the new Public Service?
GH: I probably would have done, you know, financially well.
KP: However, in terms of corporate culture, you were much more comfortable in the old company.
GH: Oh, yes. For example, the library in Public Service was gorgeous, in the old building. It was done in Corinthian style and that's the way McCarter wanted things, [how] things were done. You'd think you're in a Greek temple when you're reading, you know, had big, leather lounges, you know. I used to fall asleep. The librarian was kind; she used to come around and wake us all up, "Time for you guys to go back to work," you know, after I'd read something or other.
KP: I used to live in the old Newark News Building .
KP: I used to walk over to the old PSE&G facilities in Newark . You sound ambivalent about the company's new headquarters.
GH: … Yes, I don't care for it at all. The new one is not owned by Public Service, they lease it, and they lease it from the Rockefeller boys, and they foisted all those lousy paintings from "Rocky" off on the Public Service Building down there. They're terrible, … modern garbage, you know. There's good garbage and there's bad, those are all bad. [laughter] … I loved the old building. Believe it or not, one of the reasons they went to the new building was because of the maintenance on the building. It was terra cotta floors, all solid masonry, this, that, and the other. … Most of the fellows that did this were of Italian extraction or [came] directly from Italy during the 1920s. They're stonemasons, tile masons, and so forth. They could do all this stuff and, pretty soon, they started retiring. They couldn't get anybody to do the work, it was that simple, and, when you could, it was so horrendously expensive, for an outside organization [to do it], that it became prohibitive. So, that's one of the reasons they went to the new building. Also, as an interesting note, the trolleys used to come into that main building at Public Service, at one time, and there was a turnaround, underground, in back of the building. Well, one of the trolleys is entombed back there, now, when they put that new building over it. It's entombed forever under there, hidden. They couldn't get it out, because they didn't have the tracks, so, they figured, "We'll entomb it instead." [laughter] …
KP: You also served as mayor of Lincoln Park .
GH: No, I didn't serve as mayor. Somebody got that slightly screwed up. I ran for mayor.
GH: Yes, I ran for mayor in Lincoln Park .
GH: Oh, God, let's see, … probably about 1960-ish or thereabouts, and things had to be straightened out in the town, and the Republicans were not too thrilled, … as a matter-of-fact, they were crooked as corkscrews, and so, I went with the Democratic Party.
RG: You ran as a Democrat?
GH: Yes, I ran as a Democrat. I says, "I'm not changing my allegiance to [my] party." … They came to me, because there's some financial problems that had to get straightened out in the town, and I says, … "I'll run on your party ticket, but, … make no mistake, I'm still a Republican and will so vote." "No matter." So, the next thing I know, you know, the people of the Democratic Party got their little soirees together, and, of course, I'll be very honest with you, I've got an ego that's bigger than this room, and I says, "I really don't have to go to these goddamned tea parties and card parties," and, stupid me, I never realized they were being done in my honor, to raise funds, and so forth, and I only showed up [to] about half of them. I went out on a couple of little walks, shaking hands, but, I figured the best way to approach the people was through literature to be distributed, and so, I spent quite a good deal of time … preparing literature, and it was printed up, put through the mail, and they found the mail down in the sewers. I says, "Oh." So, then, I was told, "Would you like to go to a big affair down in Trenton , … dinner, and so forth?" So, I went down. … Senator Williams, he was part of that act, he went down in the car with me, and we met the Governor and his lady. It was very, very pleasant, a nice affair, and then, we're coming home. … Williams, who was running for senator at that time, said, "I understand you have some roads that have to be fixed in your town." I says, "Yes, they're in miserable shape." He says, "Well, I'm connected with this contracting outfit and we'd like you to consider us." I says, "Well, everybody's going to submit a competitive bid. He who has the lowest bid, consistent with quality and past track record, is going to get the contract." He says, "That isn't what I said," and I said, "What do you mean?" He says, "Well, you know." "Oh," I says, … "did you hear what I said?" He says, "Yes." I says, "That's what I mean, too," and I had some other introductions. …
KP: You probably were not surprised by Senator Williams's Abscam conviction years later.
GH: I wouldn't trust him as far as … [I could] take this desk and move it with my pinkie, even at that date, when I first met him, shifty-eyed character, whereas the Governor, … oh, he's so great, a great guy.
KP: Governor Meyner?
GH: Yes, Governor Meyner and Mrs. Meyner, Helen Meyner, delightful people, charming, and he's honest as the day is long, and I met him in the streets, in Public Service, after he stepped down as governor, shook hands, said, "Hello," and we'd chat, and so forth, very delightful person, but, in any event, I lost, by something like four or five votes, [laughter] without even trying, you know. Oh, golly, but, I've learned something about politics since then. …
RG: Did you ever consider running again? Was that it for you?
GH: The only thing I'd consider running for right now is President of the United States . [laughter]
KP: Your son actually did become a dentist.
GH: Yes, he did.
KP: That must have been fun for you, in some ways.
GH: Yes, it was. … He never was great in school, and, when he got into high school, … again, he suffered from interruptions in his schooling, early on, so, he never became a great scholar. He was more interested in playing soccer. To this day, he regrets he ever did it, because they hit him sideways and tore the tendons in his leg, and it's no fun, as a dentist, to stand, and so forth, with this. He's lived with it his whole life. I didn't want him to go into this, but, he did. Well, when it came to that point in time where a father has to talk to his son and say, "What are you going to do with the rest of your life?" the logic I used on him was, you know, "I don't care who you are, to become a professional, a true professional, you're going to have to spend at least a minimum of seven years [on your] education, formal education, on a college level, … no matter how you twist it or turn it, because you're either going to have an MD, a DDS, or you're going to become a lawyer, or you're going to [become] a PhD, and no matter how you twist it and turn it, it's between seven and eight years. With a law firm, you have to go with an apprenticeship. … With a doctor, you have to go an additional couple of years for an internship, especially if you're going to do anything with yourself." So, I said, "I don't care how you twist it or turn it, but, if you take an English Lit PhD, take a look at his salary [and] take a look at an MD's salary. There's a big gap. Both guys have spent the same amount of mental juice and everything else, but, look at the big difference." … Finally, he latched on to this. I says, "George, what do you want to do with the rest of your life?" He says, "Well, I want sports cars, I want this, that, and the other thing." Well, I says, "You damn well better become a medical person. … I suggest you become a dentist, not because I wanted to be, because," I says "number one, it's not too 'ooky-gooky,' for one thing. You can name your hours and, with the exception of a few emergencies, your time is pretty much your own. If you care to work three days a week, you can work three days a week, or two days a week; you can do that, too. A doctor can't, MD. He's on call practically all the time. You have to have somebody covering for you. It's a big hassle." So, he understood this and that's why he went for dentistry. So, he went Fairleigh Dickinson , as his own choice. … Obviously, I wanted him to go to Rutgers , because it was a lot cheaper, jeez. So, I made the deal with him, you know, "You make whatever money you can. What you can't make, your mom and dad will kick in on." That's what we did. He went to Fairleigh and he was accepted in Fairleigh Dental School . He was accepted at both of them, New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry and Fairleigh , jointly. The two places he applied, he got accepted in both places, and he preferred Fairleigh, and that's where he went, and that's where he graduated from, and, of course, subsequently, … the Fairleigh Dental School closed. Do you know why? It was because of the federal government. See, a lot of things are not always written in history books.
KP: That is why we are doing this.
GH: Yes, I know. Well, number one on the hit parade is, Fairleigh is backed by the mafia, not too well known, but, it's a fact. Ultimate decisions are always made by them. So, here, they built a brand new dental school, with the latest equipment. God, it was fantastic. In those days, I used to wear a little Van Dyke beard and a mustache. When I used to walk over there, they used to think I was one of the professors, but, I said, "No, no, I'm just over here for other reasons," but, it was a great place, and, of course, they did take in minorities, and they took in an unlimited number of minorities, mostly black, and the problem with them was, they couldn't graduate. They kept carrying them at a senior level and they're never getting out of the place, practically. One or two did, but, according to my son and others that I spoke to, these guys really didn't have the [credits?]. It was the open college period, when Rutgers suffered and a lot of other universities suffered. You know, … like the Army, as long as you're warm and breathing, you're in college, whether you deserved to be there or not. That's what happened there, unfortunately for these black people, because I felt for them. As I told you before, I have a feeling for all people and I'd feel sorry for this guy, because, here, he's admitted to the doggone college and, now, he can't get out of it. He's in a cage. So, then, the federal government leans on them and said, "You want federal assistance? X percentage of your entrance class, your freshman class, has to be black or minorities," and that's when the mafia says, " Vaffanculo to you." They closed it up. That whole operation on the other side of the Hackensack River was shut down. Can you imagine how many bucks were involved in that? but, they made the decision, and they ate it, and that's why Fairleigh closed their dental school, a little story, too.
KP: None of your children served in the military.
GH: No. …
KP: Do you have mixed feelings about that? Would you have liked for your son to have gone into the service?
GH: When my son got out of dental school, when he graduated, I tried to lean on him to go into the military. As a matter-of-fact, when he went into dental school, … I leaned on him to go into the military, and the Army would have paid his way through dental school, but, he didn't want any part of it, because of the peacenik generation at that time. Everybody's happy and sweet, and the world is full light, and hallelujah, as long as the six-gun's on my hip. He didn't want any part of it. I said, even, "Go into the United States Public Health Service." I says, "All right, you'll have to serve a couple of years on an Indian reservation and so forth, but, who knows? You may like it. You're doing something for people out there." No, he didn't want that. He wanted private practice. So, what's he do when he graduates? He goes out here and practices out by Augusta, New Jersey, with his newfound wife, which he's separated from now, and, after a year's practicing out there, he gave it up and went to Connecticut, where she came from. I asked him, "Why?" He says, "Because I got tired of talking to people [when] all they could talk about is cow's udders." He says, "They couldn't talk about anything." [laughter] So, he ended up in Connecticut . That's where he is now, but, he's out of practice now. He got Lyme disease, bad.
KP: What does he do now?
GH: He's at home. He's been out of practice for eight or nine months now, slowly recovering. Whether he'll totally recover or not, I don't know, but, no, we're the poor relations, let me put it that way. [laughter] I'm not worrying in that area at all.
KP: How did you feel about the Vietnam War?
GH: Okay. … Well, it hurt me in Public Service, badly, because I was very outspoken against it, for other reasons, though. … I said, "Instead of our wonderful Secretary of Defense McNamara, who says, you know, 'Everything can be done by computer and by bombing,'" you know, I was in areas, too, where it was jungle warfare, down in the Malay States, and so forth.
------------------------------------END OF TAPE THREE, SIDE ONE------------------------------------
GH: … In the Malay States, in the jungle area, and I knew something about the area. I didn't get over to Vietnam ever, but, I was on the western perimeter of it, and I said, "There's no way on hell's Earth that you're going to conclude this war by … air warfare, or by Vulcan machine guns, or anything like that." I said, "There's no way on hell's Earth it's going to happen." I says, "You have to get in there with the "queen of the battle," the infantry. That's the only way it's going to go, and these people are fighting for their country," and I says, "Paradoxically, Ho Chi Minh, when they put together the constitution of Vietnam , albeit, maybe, they call themselves Communists or whatever, but, what was it? It was a, virtually word-by-word, copy of our own, 'We the people,'" and so, number one, if you're going to go into a battle, this is one thing I learned in the military, and they taught this to you, [if you are] going in for a fight, you go in for the jugular. You don't fool around, like they're fooling around here in Bosnia . You go for the jugular and get it over with real fast. … They used to run a film in the military, Kill or Be Killed . You saw it once a month [for] all the time you're in the Army, and, in that connection, this type of war that they're running in Vietnam, [we] just … could not possibly win, because these people were fighting for their country, and I said it was patently wrong, period, and nobody told the true story, which was, Lee Radziwill, which was Jackie Kennedy's sister, the Radziwills had the tin and rubber plantations in Vietnam, and they wanted them protected, and they sent the Green Berets over as so-called … "advisory groups," and it started getting bigger and bigger, until old Johnson got in, [the], "We're going to have guns and butter," routine, and then, that blew it wide open. …
KP: Your criticism of McNamara and the "technocrats" is interesting, in that your work at Public Service was not dissimilar. You were creating formulas to aid the management, but, you could also see that it would not work in the case of warfare.
GH: That's correct. …
KP: Did you ever see any irony in that? You could do really incredible things with these statistical tools.
GH: Oh, yes, but, … I guess I didn't indicate that, then; the bottom line is, you look at all these results that come out of a computer, and beautiful algorithms, and everything else. Now, use some common sense, stand back from it for a moment, sleep on it, then, come back to it, and use a little common sense, … "Will it work or won't it work?" and that's what has never been done in corporations. American corporations, by and large, are knee-jerk operations, as compared with European corporations. They are not. They use genuine, long-range planning. The Japanese, in particular, use this. … As I say, it's sort of paradoxical, but, it isn't, because I would use some common sense. That's something McNamara didn't use and he admits to it today.
KP: Yes, in retrospect.
GH: … Again, there's a difference between World War II and prior and what we have seen in the Vietnamese situation and subsequent wars. Now, I just saw this show last night on PBS, which was the Normandy invasion. … Now, it's very well done. I don't knock it, I think it's very well done, except when they had who the commanders were, this monotonous music, [laughter] and then, … "These are the weapons." Well, what are the weapons? They're either ships or tanks. Nobody says why, only General Patton said it, … we won in Europe . It's because we had the M1 Garand rifle and the Germans had the turn-bolt K98. … Do you know the distinction? … With a conventional turn bolt, like the K98, you have to take a clip and load five down, and every time you fire, you've got to crank the bolt open, crank it shut. With the M1 rifle, you had a clip of eight rounds. You rammed it down, and you fired as quick as you could squeeze the trigger, and it was accurate as all get out. Furthermore, it did not kick like a mule, which the K98 did. The German gun kicked like a fool mule, and so, if you had somebody, perhaps like yourself, who'd been in the school environs all your life, never fired anything high powered, and you were kicked in the shoulder by something that was equivalent to a brick, a house brick, falling thirteen feet on your shoulder, so, you figure it out, you get pretty goosy about squeezing the trigger the next time, don't you? The M1 rifle is not that way, because it absorbed the recoil. It was a great factor in the winning of the war in Europe , a great factor, … but, the emphasis in World War II and prior was on accuracy. The standard Army course in World War II was a formalized shooting, 200 yards, and then, ultimately, out to 600 yards, over what was known as a variable range course. You had to figure out how far the guy was out, and then, pop out. … You're trying to hit something, as opposed to what transpired by the time of Vietnam, which was, spray the area and somebody's bound to get hurt. We're right back where the British troops were in the American Revolution. If you spray enough bullets in one direction, somebody's bound to get hurt and this is … one of the reasons we did not win in Vietnam . We had ground troops, but, nobody is firing at an object.
KP: You mentioned that you caught a lot of flak for your views.
GH: Oh, did I get flak. It cost me promotions and everything else, because it was supposed to be the patriotic thing to be for what Johnson is for. I says, "No, … I can't be," and I frankly told my son, … flat out, and I'll tell you this, I says, "You want to go to Canada ? Go to Canada ." I says, "I'll pay the freight and, if you have to stay there, eventually, I'll move up there." … I thought this was a horrible war, a horrible waste of money and personnel, of good American boys, whether you're educated or uneducated. I don't care which way you take it. It was unconscionable.
KP: You mentioned earlier that your father's family, the Heinemanns, were ambivalent about the need for the United States to fight Germany in World War II.
GH: … Well, not the need. They just didn't want me to go over and kill my cousins.
RG: Did you know for a fact that there were other Heinemanns there?
GH: Oh, yes, there were other Heinemanns over there. …
KP: Did you ever have any contact with them in the 1930s?
GH: Not really, not really. It's just that I knew that, up around the Bremerhaven area, I had cousins. That's all I knew. I didn't know them from shinola. I just knew my grandfather's brother, Uncle Chris. He would come over, every couple of years, to see him, but, that's all. I had no real feeling about the family over there.
KP: Lindbergh was the hero of the 1920s, but, in the 1930s, he would become known as a staunch isolationist and America First supporter. How did you feel about America First and the isolationist movement?
GH: My only feeling about Lindbergh was, one, he was a great man. Number two is that he was telling it like it was, … what he saw in Germany , and they were not listening to him back here, and he lost his colonelcy in the military because of this. I feel very bad about … how he was treated, because, … like this other general, … Mitchell, he was castigated, too. You know, it's the old military routine, starchy assed. That's what they are. "You don't do it my way, it doesn't exist." That's about the size of it.
KP: You never joined the American Legion or the VFW.
GH: No, I did not.
KP: I get the impression that you would not be compatible with the veteran's organization crowd, or am I wrong?
GH: … Well, yes and no. … Again, [in my] impressionable years, at Syracuse University, when I was taking Problems in American Democracy, and so forth, the professor there, whom we absorbed hook, line, and sinker, … [told us], "Don't ever join any pressure groups when you get out of the service," and I never did. You know, on your discharge papers, you have to assign some organization to represent you. It's the VFW. I've never joined them. It was only this year that I was put in touch with the China-Burma-India group, and we went to their brouhaha out here in Pennsylvania , out in Allentown . It was pleasant enough. They got together and it was not rowdy. It was pleasant, but, everybody's falling apart at the seams. I literally mean it. I mean, when you see some of these vets come in, they're wheeling their wives in in wheelchairs, Jesus K. Christ, you know. … Again, it was interesting; I come out there all primed to talk about my time in India . My son doesn't want to hear this and they're the first person I thought, … "Oh, [we will] talk [about] old times." They didn't want to talk about old times. Most of them were ex-fly boys, most of them, and that was the tone of that theater, as a matter-of-fact, but, you know, I just don't want to talk about your last reunions down here, at such-and-such an inn in New Brunswick , or wherever. … You know, they're eating down here. They met four times a year, something like that. I wasn't interested in that. I was just interested in getting together and talking about things, and so, I got myself a little bolo out there, and I have not joined. I'm a member of the CBI Organization, the national one, now, for the first time. I did not get to go to their great, big confab this year, out in Utah, because they've really got things all whacked out, in many instances, and rather than have me get up on my high horse, and, if you tell … a child, "There is no Santa Claus," the child will hate you for the rest of their lives, and that's where most parents end up, [laughter] when you tell them, "No Easter rabbit, no Santa Claus." So, I wasn't about … to go out there and tell them [that] some of their great ideas on things were full of crap, like, one of them is, one of the posts is named for Claire Chennault, the Chennault Basha , they call it. Never was there a crooked-er man that ever lived. He was crooked as a corkscrew.
KP: Why do you say that?
GH: Do you remember [that] there's a cartoon called Terry and the Pirates ?
RG: Yes, it is still going.
GH: It's still going? no kidding; oh, wow, whoop-dee-doo. [laughter] Well, in Terry and the Pirates , there's a lady called the Dragon Lady. Well, the Dragon Lady, in fact, was Claire Chennault's wife … and many of the people that were in that cartoon were very real people. As a matter-of-fact, I dug up some of them, Air Force people. Do you remember Flip Corkin ? Okay, his real name was Philip Cochran . I dug him up and a few others, but, in the instance of our friend Claire Chennault, are you familiar with him at all?
GH: Well, he was with the American Volunteer Group, the AVG. He was formerly an Army man, and he went over to the AVG, worked for China for a price, and he brought some of his compadres with him, which is okay, but, ultimately, what happened was, remember the Lido Road and the Burma Road ? Okay, we were shipping supplies up to the Chinese, and right down the road in Miehykina, a hundred and fifty yards, were the Japanese, and the Chinese were taking the money in-between. … Nobody's shooting at each other, but, that's what was happening. … Well, I'm not going to detail this for you, but, all I can tell you is, the CID, Criminal Investigation Division, went to Chennault, after World War II, and said, "You are an American hero. The press has built you up. As long as you stay in China with your wife, we will do nothing. You step one foot out of China and you'll end up in prison and [face] a court-martial," and that stuck. That's where he died, because his dealings were very, very shady.
KP: You seem a bit amused that these CBI veterans are honoring him.
GH: Yes, I'm amused by the whole thing and I'm not going to try to correct them, because they've been living with this for nearly fifty years. Who am I to tell them there's no Santa Claus; they've got to change the name of their group? you know. … I'm too old to fight for crap like that. [laughter]
KP: I get the impression that you have not talked much about the war since 1945.
GH: No, because a lot of people, particularly … my children, and so forth, they don't want to hear about it. As I said, I get on my horse every night, and I put on my rope hairdo, and I become Attila the Hun, you know. "I'm bloodthirsty," and all that sort of stuff, "I have no feeling for people." You know, they listen to these wackos. At least I don't have to take narcotics. … I've never smoked marijuana and I have no need for it. So, there's something to be said for that, too.
KP: It sounds like there was some tension between you and the counterculture of the 1960s.
GH: Well, I just looked at it [like], "What am I going to do?" You know, there's one thing in the military that I learned, again, I was in the military in my early, formative years: don't bloody your head against the wall if it's an impossible situation. If you have to, you make a tactical withdrawal to the rear, when required, because, then, you live to fight another day, and, similarly, with the hippie generation, you know, they're mouthing this crap of motherhood and apple pie, and who can deny either one? So, you know, if you want to go into it for sexual experimentation, if you want to go in for narcotics experimentation, like Timothy Leary and so forth, that's your thing. Now, what am I going to do to fight it? Why bloody my head? When push comes to shove, it's just like all the laws we have in this country today; … laws are interesting, to keep society together and keep 'em on track, but, when it becomes overwhelmingly the game of the lawyers, who are essentially the lawmakers today, then, you run into a hairy situation, and, you know, in spite of what comes out of this, the Waco situation, the Randy Weaver situation, this could not have happened back in the 1800s, it could not have happened, and, yet, the government is whitewashing this thing. So, it gets to the point where your laws say one thing, the cover-ups become another. This Vince … Foster, he was obviously killed. There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Put me on the stand; I'll give you a few forensic bits that will … chew up their ears, because there's no way on hell's Earth that he could have killed himself, with what evidence was presented. So, you have a situation today where I don't trust the government anymore, … honestly, for the first time in my life, after the Randy Weaver situation. During the 1930s, when gangsters ran rampant in this country, I used to go to bed at night shivering. I didn't know whether Dillinger was going to get me, or Pretty Boy Floyd, or whatever, you know, childish fantasies, but, after you grew up, you realized this was not the situation. Today, [with the] things that have happened, including just over in Pennsylvania , I don't know whether somebody's going to break into my house at night, called the BATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms]. I don't know whether they're going to rough me up, take all my property, which they have done to others. This is not a figment of [my] imagination. It's reality. I have actually seen it at some of the gun shows, which are perfectly legitimate, where they take all the guy's guns, valuable, you know, like, 25,000 dollars a gun, I mean, antique stuff, from the American Revolution, take it and throw it over the truck, purposely break it, and take the guy out in chains. I've seen this happen, out in Allentown . I mean, when the NRA used the term, "Jackbooted," they weren't far off the mark, because what's the definition of a jackboot? and, now, I go to bed every night, and I'm not entirely sure that somebody isn't going to try to break into my place, and this chap out in Pennsylvania, they not only took cash, over 10,000 dollars worth of cash, they took all the jewelry. They gave no receipts for anything. They took the guy's gun collection. He has not gotten any of these things back, as of this date. He has not been charged with anything, either. So, this, by any other name, is called robbery, Waco , by any other name, is murder, and nobody is being held to account for it. … The guy who led that thing down in Waco , the FBI boy, he was kicked upstairs, the second in command of the FBI, and only under recent pressure did they dump him. So, what's going on? I fought for this country, I love this country, but, I don't like the people that are running the show now. … I'm not going to say this; I will tell you that a lot of people I have spoken to say [that] the only way out; the so-called electoral process will never correct this situation …
KP: In other words, democracy will not work.
GH: As it presently is constituted. … I think one of the major issues today is, you can only have served, say, two terms as a senator. Limiting terms is very, very important.
KP: People cannot be trusted, in terms of reelecting people.
GH: That is correct. The people can be trusted. It is a question of the way that we've presently set it up, the Congress. They've got little empires built up, you know, like the Byrds, for example, the Byrds of [West] Virginia, been in there for so long, it's unreal. Senator Byrd, how long has he served? … It shouldn't be. We should be a dynamic government, not a static one, … do it my way. I don't think, you know, for example, with our present President, things are not that swift. I think he's well meaning in many ways. I think he has been very unfortunate in his selection of advisers, very unfortunate indeed, and I don't see how things are going to change, and Senator Dole, you know, whenever you see a picture of this guy, there's a thing called, in real estate, … street appeal, okay. To a house, it has to have street appeal. Well, Dole doesn't have any street appeal. He looks like a vulture every time he comes up to the speaking rostrum, and Newt Gingrich, you know, he's a jolly old soul, but, again, no street appeal, and, again, our whole society has been geared to give away programs, whining and wimps. Everybody can't be an Indian chief. You do the best you can, and you try to help out your brother as best you can, but, when it becomes [to] the point where the person who says, "I have a hard time," does so because they don't want to put themselves forward with a genuine effort, that's when I [disagree?]. As a matter-of-fact, very quickly, I'm thinking of moving out of the State of New Jersey . Why? because, when I take a look at my taxes, … in Pittstown, Alexandria Township is specifically where I live, I'm paying roughly three thousand dollars a year for schooling for children who really don't give a damn, and for a bunch of nerd instructors, a lot of good ones, but, there are a lot of bad apples, and why should I pay for them? You know, people paid for my education, I should pay for the younger generation, yes, but, schooling should be a privilege, not a right, and therein lies the big difference in our society today, because, [if] you go over in Europe , schooling is a privilege. Public schooling is a privilege, it's not a right, and that's something we have to give consideration to.
KP: I am struck by the fact that, in the 1970s, conservatives called for law-and-order and criticized the radical left for being suspicious of the government. Now, the situation has reversed itself. What do you think happened?
GH: … Well, when I was a little kid, backtracking, I remember, in Teaneck, I'd go to grammar school, in daytime, there'd be a policeman, in those days, not a little lady with a little hat on her head, but, a real, live policeman, and on his hip, of course, you're looking up at the policeman, like this, … would be a .45 Long Colt, with a seven-and-a-half inch barrel, in a holster, and he would stand there, and he'd hold his hands out like this. If you put your feet off the curb, he'd grab you by the ear and lifted you back up, and you would howl like a banshee, and he'd say, "Open your mouth once more again," he says, "and I'll send you home to your mother, and your mother will give you what for," and he meant it. Today, you don't dare do that. You'd have fifteen lawyers suing you. This country's become sue happy, but, in this connection, you know, how will I say it? When I went to Japan , I learned a lot, too, but, on every samurai sword, I don't know whether you're aware of it or not, but, there's a little nick on every one. Did you know that? There's no such thing as perfection. The Japanese recognized this. Philosophically, they recognize this. They'll make a beautiful blade, it'll be absolutely letter-perfect, then, the guy would put a little nick on it. It's now not perfect, 'cause nothing is perfect in this world. Similarly, … in our system of legal jurisprudence, there's no such thing as perfection. Since time immemorial, going back to the Egyptians, when a man came to trial, there's a certain number of innocent people that are going to get caught in the web, unfortunately. This is unfortunate but true, and we, during this period that you're talking about, went overboard in the other direction, "Unless you can prove it, blah, blah, blah, were not going to send him to jail or anything else." It's just gotten to the point where, if I had it to do all over again and I graduated from Rutgers , I wouldn't have bothered to go to the FBI. I'd immediately start a narcotics ring, because what am I going to get, a slap on the wrist? big deal, whoop-dee-doo. …
KP: However, by the same token, you are concerned that the ATF is not being held to the same standards as other law enforcement agencies.
GH: … Just to clue you in a little, I carry a sterling silver PBA badge, and that's some (pumpkins?), okay, for work I have done with police forces. The present day policeman, from the mouths of, like, (Orstia and Batista?) of the Short Hills Police Department, "We don't dare draw our gun on somebody, because we would be sued blind," and that's the problem, and, if you go into an actual firefight and you're afraid to draw your gun, your life is on the line, and you (lose scout?).
KP: Why do you believe the ATF has been allowed to run roughshod?
GH: Because the ATF, number one on the hit parade, in general, when they employ their personnel, are not of the same standards as, say, the FBI. You have to have a college degree. In the ATF, it's not necessarily so. Their training is not the same as the FBI, although the FBI, under Hoover , became so rigid that people's brains became fossilized. Unfortunately, you know, I've met a lot of FBI people, friends of ours, you know, their brains are fossilized. They think along Hoover lines and there's no logic … outside those parameters.
KP: I interviewed a thirty-year veteran of the FBI and I can verify that.
GH: Does that verify? [laughter]
KP: Yes. You could spot him a mile away.
GH: … Yes, exactly. It's ludicrous. … As I said, the other thing, too, with the ATF, particularly since Vietnam , see, formerly ATF, Alcohol, Tax [Tobacco] and Firearms, was primarily aimed at illegal stills, down in Georgia and what-have-you. That was their big thing and I don't think the educational requirements or the training was really too much, except, "Get the guys." As a matter-of-fact, [from] a lot of reading I have done in that arena, the ATF agents knew the moonshiners and vice versa, like, buddies, … "Well, yes, you caught me at it," and, "I'll break up the still, and, yes, we have to take you to jail, but, we're easy on you. We'll take you to jail and that's the end of it." There wasn't really any great jackbooting, if you want to use that term. There was the occasional shootout, but, not too often. What has happened since Vietnam is, you have a lot of people in there that had served in the Green Berets, or in the military, that were taught that the best defense is an offense. … "What should we use to take this place? Should we use tear gas? Should we use puking gas? What will we use? or should we use firefighting procedures?" That isn't the point; they don't do that. They were taught, literally, to kill or be killed, get in and get it over with, i.e., this is what happened in Philadelphia , when they went after that terrorist group. Jesus Christ, they blew away a couple of city blocks. … Is that necessary? You know, they could have starved these people out, that's an alternate, and a very real one, you know, put the rest of the people up in decent places. Nobody's going to get shot up, nobody's going to get hurt. … "When you guys get hungry enough, come on out." That could be done. That could have been done in Waco . It could have been done with Randy Weaver. It could have been done with this chap out in Pennsylvania, but, their attitude is, and this came out about two weeks ago, that these ATF agents had a good old boy shoot, did you hear about that, down in Tennessee, … where they had the targets marked, "Nigger," and another one was, " Wayne LaPierre ," I think it was, the head of the NRA, they had him on a target, and so on, and one of these militia people went in and took a videotape of the thing, with a camcorder, and dumped the camcorder on a senator's desk, and the senator nearly flipped out. It's a mentality in the ATF, … something that has to be remedied.
KP: Several years ago, there was a proposal to disband the ATF.
GH: Yes, under Reagan, yes.
KP: Their duties would have been assumed by the Secret Service. Do you think that would be an improvement?
GH: Yes and no. … The reason I hesitate on this [is] because the soundings that come out of Washington currently, under the present administration, is that he wants a national police force, to take the ATF, the Secret Service, the FBI, roll them into one, and, obviously, nobody's losing their jobs. So, now, you're going to get some rotten apples in with some better apples and they are all mentally fossilized on this jackboot routine. So, that's why I hesitate on that. I don't think we should have a national police force, because all you have to do is read history and see how Hitler came to power. … Basically, the American person is a coward.
KP: However, Canada has a national police force.
GH: Yes, and there was a time, only twenty years ago, when you had no problems with firearms in Canada . You now have it. … You know, if you're not going to use a firearm, use a crossbow. My God, I was at a show not too long ago, Barnett Crossbow had a hundred and seventy pound draw. It goes right through steel. What's the difference? … Our country has gone from a relatively unregulated country to one that they're trying to regulate every breath you take. I object to this. I really do. It's not the country I fought for. It really isn't.
KP: I am all out of questions. Is there anything that we forgot to ask?
GH: [laughter] "He's hopeless," that's what's going through his head, "He's hopeless, the old fossil."
KP: We have kept you here long enough. We have covered a great deal of ground.
GH: … Yes, well, I just hope things get better, instead of worse, and, … again, going back to politics, Republicans have got some good ideas. There's only one problem, to use your expression, … they're like Public Service was. They're rather WASP-ish, they're tight-assed, to use the Army expression, and they really don't know how to put points across. Communication is not one of their strong points, whereas it is Bill Clinton's strong point. He can communicate anything. He can tell you black is white and white is black and you'll believe it, if you see him on the TV. … The Republicans assume; they assume that you are as smart as they, and, therefore, they talk to you, but, they don't realize they're talking down to the vast majority of the American public, and the American public is not stupid, they know they're being talked down to, and they're going to react, and I'm terribly afraid we're going to get Bill Clinton the next time. I have no objection to Clinton , but, I certainly have an objection to Mr. Reich and Janet Reno. … If Janet Reno was an honorable person, she'd resign her position, but, she's not. So, I'm phasing out and it's going to be up to the rest [of you]. As I said a few years ago, you know, I defended my country during a period of time, and I stood by to defend my country at any period, up until about ten years ago, when everybody was saying, you know, I do have my little collection of goodies, and they said, … "If something happens," this was the time when … this cuckoo bird over in the Mid-East was going crazy, Saddam Hussein, and they said, "Well, if they send bombs over here, and so forth, you're going to help us, aren't you?" I says, "Hell no, go out and defend yourself." I says, "I've done it for long enough." That's just what I mean. … In any event, I want to thank you very much for the interview. It's one of the very few times, I've ever been able to talk about this stuff.
KP: We really enjoyed it.
GH: You know he's going to turn me over to the FBI. …
KP: When did you start participating in Revolutionary War reenactments?
GH: Back in 1976.
KP: Oh, the bicentennial.
GH: The bicentennial, yes. We went to Williamsburg and all the different battles, the Battle of Springfield, down at Williamsburg , that area there. We did that, when Colonel Wallace gave up. …
KP: Which group were you with?
GH: Morgan's Rifle Corps and Lamb's Artillery. That was quite exciting. We've got pictures of this. It's a great thing to see. It's a real thrill, the Battle of Monmouth, which, I understand, they're still fighting down there. [laughter] … They fight it in hot weather, like it was, and here are the women, carrying along their kids in the dusty road, barefoot, you know, and this is done just like it was originally, and my wife said to me, "My God," she says, "this is just like it was," [laughter] with the women hanging on, and, again, you've heard me say this a couple of times, or inferred it, one of the things that is not given enough PR, if you will, are the women's roles, particularly in the American Revolution. …
KP: No, they are only recently getting their scholarly due.
GH: Yes, it's about time, because, you know, as I say, in my reenactment, because I give lectures to groups, all gratis , I don't take anything for the stuff, I said, you know, "Suppose you are up around what is known as Pittsburgh right now, on the Allegheny, and your husband is doing his farming thing, and, all of a sudden, he gets the idea he wants to join up with … Washington's troops. You're out there," I said, "that was the frontier in those days. There were real, live Indians that really did take your scalp off, no fooling around," and I said, "So, your husband goes off to war, … what are you going to do with your three little kids and you? Stay home and get scalped. No, you go with your husband, maybe you have a few more kids on the way, and these were the women, the so-called camp followers, which were not prostitutes. They were family people, and the women washed the clothes, and so forth, to make ends meet, and Washington found them." Am I boring you on this one, because, if you know this history …
KP: Actually, I do know quite a bit about this.
GH: It was a great embarrassment for Washington to feed these people. They were given quarter rations of the regular trooper, and the flipside of the coin is, if your husband got blown away, what better place to find another man? right there. That's the way it was and they were kept in the back of the troops. The troops would walk forward, and they would go along with the baggage train, and that's why they were called, "A pretty, little piece of baggage." You aware of that?
KP: No, I have never heard that term used before.
GH: Okay, that's where it comes from.
KP: I was not aware of that.
GH: Yes, there's a lot of good things in the lexicon of the American language [that] people don't [know about]. It's just gone by the board.
KP: Have you ever taken part in any Civil War reenactments?
GH: No, I have not, although I have a very fine collection of original Civil War pieces; that, I have. With regard to [the] Civil War, since my relatives were involved, … I have always figured it was a very terrible thing, both ways, brother against brother; I couldn't see it. To this day, I really can't see it, very unfortunate situation. I'm very much aware of the battles, I'm very much aware of the equipment that was used, and so forth, but, I've not gotten dressed up either in a gray or a blue suit, and, incidentally, firearms-wise, in the Civil War, … as a matter-of-fact, this is part of the Congressional records, are you familiar with the accuracy of the guns?
KP: Not really.
GH: When this Army was going down to the sea, where Glory was [set], … the Army was going down there, and they were getting ready to do that act, attack, but, in the meantime, the Confederates are here, in their fortress, and the Union forces were over here, and they're looking at each other, about a mile-and-some-odd distance. So, nothing much is happening, initially, and so, the commanding general of the Union forces called up Captain So-and-So, and, again, it's in the Congressional record, … "We understand you're a fine New England marksman, you know, you went in for this target shooting stuff," and he said, "Yes." He says, "Well, go over to that wagon and pick out yourself a good target rifle." You know this story?
KP: He says, "Go out, pick out the best target rifle you can find, and have some fun shooting over at the Confederates, making them jump around a bit." So, he went over and he picked out a good piece. … On the stock of the gun, it had a heart. So, he's a very methodical person. He's a civil engineer, because that's all engineers were in those days, civil engineers, and he very methodically triangulated and found out that the distance was something like one mile, 152 feet, to the commanding general's tent over there, the Confederacy. So, he had the target set up exactly one mile, 152 feet, in the other direction, and he fired at it until the gun was targeted in. When he got it all targeted in, he went up and they built a gun pit. This gun pit was … such that when you fired the gun, it would suck the smoke back, through a venturi, and you couldn't see where it was being fired from. So, to make a long story short, he gets up there, he looked at all the sea gulls, the various birds, … the layers of air, which way they were blowing, he figured it all out. He ups with the gun, which had a telescope on it, and he fired, and, of course, it took quite awhile for the bullet to get there, but, he's firing at this sentinel, who's standing outside the general's tent, and with that, the sentinel comes to full attention, steps back, and who steps out but the general, got him right through the heart, right through his heart, and guess whose gun it was? It was a confiscated gun of the Confederate general and his name was Hart. That's in the Congressional record. That's a fact of life, paradoxical and interesting. [laughter]
KP: Thank you very much.
GH: … I could go on and on with this nonsense. [laughter] You know where the expression "lock, stock and barrel" comes from? The gun lock is the lock, the barrel is obviously the barrel, the stock is the stock, … you've got the whole shooting match, and the expression "flash in a pan," the mechanism, the flintlock, you know? Well, the bottom part, where you put the little priming powder in, is called the pan, and, if you didn't pick the hole out in the barrel, black powder leaves a lot of residue, every third shot, you'd get a misfire, because the fire would not go through the channel. So, what would happen would be, the gun would go off, as far as the cock coming forward, the flash occurring, but, the gun wouldn't go off, because it's choked up in the hole, and so, you're nothing but "a flash in the pan," and then, the last expression, and then, I'll take my leave, … metallurgy, in those days, was not great, and, when you pulled back the hammer in one of these flintlocks, there's a safety position, half cocked, and then, there's a full cocked position, where you fire from. Well, half cocked position is a very deep notch, and, because of the poor metallurgy, this middle notch would get worn, and, in the Revolutionary War Army, the order was given, "Load," then, "Present," and when they said, "Present," you brought your gun to your shoulder and brought the cock back to half cocked position. Then, they said, "Ready," and … you'd come back to full position, and then, they said, "Fire," and you squeeze the trigger, and off we go. Well, in the excitement of battle, and so forth, or deer hunting, or whatever you want to do, you'd have this thing at the half cocked position, and, when the order was given to fire, you forgot to pull the thing all the way back, you squeeze the trigger, the thing only had a slight amount of momentum and not enough to set the thing off. You went off "half cocked." [laughter]
KP: That is a good way to end the interview.
GH: [laughter] Yes, okay.
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Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 4/23/03
Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 4/26/03
Reviewed by George T. Heinemann 5/03 & 6/3/03