Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Mr. Samuel D. Zagoria on September 5, 2007, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with ...
Sandra Stewart Holyoak: ... Sandra Stewart Holyoak ...
Jessica Ondusko: ... Jessica Ondusko ...
Ben-Zion Jaffe: ... Ben Jaffe ...
SI: ... Also in attendance is ...
Sylvia Zagoria (SZ): ... Sylvia Zagoria.
SI: Thank you, both of you, very much for coming up here and spending so much time with us.
Samuel D. Zagoria (SDZ): We're delighted.
SI: To begin, could you tell us where and when you were born?
SDZ: I was born in Somerville, New Jersey, not far from here, on April 9, 1919.
SI: Can you tell us your parents' names?
SDZ: My father's name was Nathan and my mother's name was Rebecca. The last name was Zagoria.
SH: Can you tell us a little bit about your father and his family background?
SDZ: Well, my father was a man who was always interested in learning. He started out as a rabbi. He was trained at one of the prominent yeshivas [religious schools] in Europe, in Latvia, Slobodka Yeshiva was his, and he came to this country smuggled in a burlap bag on a ship. ... This was a time when Latvia was part of Russia and the Cossacks would swing through a city and grab every able-bodied person and impress them into the Czar's Army, and there was a great deal of anti-Semitism as well. ... As a young Jewish lad, he and his several brothers were very vulnerable. They lived in a small farmhouse on the edge of town, where their father used to get milk and cream from a dairy and would walk through the streets with a horse and cart and dole it out for sale to housewives, but my father, somehow, was always interested in reading and in learning. ... It always impressed me that, even in the most arduous of times, physically, in terms of what he did in this country, he always found time to read, and not only books, but also newspapers. ... As someone who later became a newspaper person and worries about the future of that profession, it's something I think back [on] with some pride, that he thought that was part of becoming Americanized, of learning how things were done and to become a part of that society, and he had an interest in politics, in government, and he had leadership qualities. Years later, ... well, he actually ... had a rabbinical post in Plainfield, New Jersey, and I think he had it for three months and he didn't get paid at all [laughter] and he decided that really was not a way to survive. ... He had a brother who had a fruit stand someplace in Plainfield and the family lore is that he used to stand there among the tomatoes and the housewives picking to see which were the firmest and juiciest and he, meanwhile, would be reading his books. [laughter] He was a little fish out of water, but he became, I think, in a modest way, a small businessman who went into wholesale fruit and vegetable business, and, on the religious side, he was elected the president of his Orthodox synagogue for thirty-some years. ...
SH: Where was that? Where was the synagogue?
SDZ: In Somerville.
SH: In Somerville, okay.
SDZ: And it's since been merged in. All together, there have been three different ones, but they're all one now, and we have a Reform branch, Liberal branch and Orthodox. When my father; ... I'm now taking one of the sidetracks. My father heard that we had joined Temple Sinai in Washington, when we moved there, after the war, which is a Liberal [synagogue]. It's the one that Robert [R.] Nathan, the economist, and ...
SZ: Justice Goldberg.
SDZ: Oh, Justice Arthur Goldberg, and who were the news guys?
SDZ: Ted; I'm getting my prompting.
SH: Ted Koppel?
SDZ: Ted Koppel, it was.
SDZ: Oh, and the Kalb brothers, Marvin Kalb, and I've forgotten what the younger brother's name was, [Bernard], but, [at] any rate, it was an elite one. ... I really hate to take up tape with long anecdotes. I could go on forever.
SI: This can record for a hundred hours, so, go ahead.
SDZ: Oh, okay, all right. [laughter] So, when we told them that, he says, "Well," he says, ... "you're getting closer to becoming an Episcopalian." [laughter] His idea was, if you joined a Reform congregation, that was a first step out, and, actually, it wasn't. It didn't work out that way, but one story I'm reminded of is when, many years later, I worked for Senator [Clifford] Case. [Editor's Note: Senator Clifford P. Case served as a US Senator from New Jersey from 1954 to 1979. Earlier, he had represented New Jersey's 6th Congressional District from 1945 and 1953 and served as president for the Fund for the Republic from 1953 to 1954.] ... There was a legislative proposal to clamp some limitations on Israel, because it had engaged in the war against Syria [in the Six-Day War of 1967] and the other Middle Eastern [powers], Egypt, Middle Eastern nations. ... Of course, the Jewish community, as a whole, was opposed to any strapping down of the Israeli Government, and so, they sent delegations in from all over New Jersey to visit with the members of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation and plead Israel's case. ... Later, there was a "report back" session in Newark and my father called me that night, at home, and he said, "Sam," he said, "did you have a group of rabbis and others come into your office and want to see Senator Case this morning?" I said, "Yes, I did, and they were a pest. [laughter] I told them the Senator was at a committee meeting and they should leave me their petition and I would talk it over with the Senator and make him aware of their point of view," and he said, "They were very unhappy with you. In fact, the report was made and the rabbi who married you and Sylvia was there and he told me that what they said was [that] they were met by an Italian anti-Semite named Zagoria, who wouldn't let them see the Senator," [laughter] and I told Senator Case this story afterwards and he roared about it. He was the son of a Dutch Reformed minister and he was very interested in all religions.
SH: Could we back up and talk about your father's leaving Latvia, because you talked about him being smuggled over in a burlap bag?
SDZ: Oh, yes, I'll tell you the whole story. He and a younger brother, together, saw the handwriting was on the wall, they had to leave, and so, in the dark of night, they left. They traveled by [various means], there were some horse and wagon [rides], eventually, they got to the port, ... and a lot of walking, to Riga, which was a port on the Baltic Sea, and, there, they had a brother who worked in a tailor shop, I think. ... My father was one of seven brothers, and, at the tailor shop, people from the ships would come in to have uniforms tailored and cleaned and repaired, and so forth, and so, through him, they found someone, not the captain, but someone close to the captain, of a small boat that was going from Riga to New York City, carrying mostly freight, but hidden away in the bowels of the ship were a couple of burlap sacks and inside was my Uncle Max and my father, Nathan, and it was a very tortuous [trip]. It took many days. It was more than two weeks, and the fellow who had collected the money from them, to smuggle them onboard and get them across the seas, got drunk and he was supposed to bring them food. So, all they had was what they had carried in their pockets, which was salty herring, which makes you very thirsty, and little pieces of bread. ... So, they were hungry, they were thirsty, but they couldn't leave; they were hidden away. The captain, I don't think he was party to this arrangement. The only thing was, there were pipes and ... there would be condensation on the pipes, which was moisture, and you could take your finger, my father described, and run it along the pipe, and then, lick it on your lips and that was their moisture. ... Do you want to hear more, of when he arrived in the US?
SDZ: So, they docked in the dark of night and they got off in this strange land. I think it probably was Brooklyn, was where they landed, and they didn't know quite what to do. They had a name and address in Plainfield, which was the brother who had the retail fruit and vegetable store, and they walked along the streets and they saw a newsstand and one of the newsstands had a Yiddish-language newspaper. They could tell from the type. So, they went and started talking to the fellow. [laughter] Well, he may have had Jewish newspapers, but he wasn't Jewish, and he couldn't really understand what the [men were saying], but, eventually, he got the ... idea of what was going on. ... He led them to his home and the wife let them sleep on the floor and they told them that what ... they had to do was get to the ferry and take [it], cross the Hudson to the train and the train would take them to Plainfield. Well, they did get on, I guess it was a bus, and they got to the ferry station, but they didn't really know what a ferry was and they sat in those chairs, which must have been the waiting room for the ferry, and waited for it to go and it didn't go. [laughter] ... Then, finally, somebody who noticed them sitting and sitting came over and by, I guess, mostly, hand signaling, got them on the ferry, and then, ... the problem was on the train. They showed the piece of paper to the conductor and he nodded and they thought he'll tell them when to get off, but, when you're on the Jersey Central, leaving from Jersey City, I guess it was, there's Westfield, there's Scotch Plains; [laughter] there are names that, particularly if you're from a foreign country, with a foreign language, are a little hard to grasp. So, each time they would come to a stop, they'd get up with their suitcase and get ready, and the conductor would [tell them to sit down]. Finally, they got to Plainfield, and then, they walked for a long distance, and that was the beginning of their life. ... Then, later, the HIAS, which was the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, intervened and took them back to New York City and Ellis Island, so that they could go through the process and become eligible to become legal citizens, which, many years later, he did become, but it was quite a saga. ... I really wrote this, [a memoir], in good part so that our grandchildren would have some idea of what others went through. One of the things that we have grappled with is kids that grow up with a sense of entitlement. They're the son of a journalist or our son the doctor or our daughter the lawyer and they think the car ought to be waiting in the driveway the day they're seventeen and, if they get a ticket, Daddy'll take care of it. Sylvia and I say, "You know, a little touch of poverty would be very helpful," and so, it was part of my motivation in putting this together, was to show [my grandchildren that] your ancestors really went through a lot for things that you take for granted and they weren't always here. Other people [and] I had to put you on that track. I was the first in my family to go to a college, to graduate, and that was a matter of great, great pride. My father used to introduce me to his friends, "This is my son, Sam. He's a graduate of Rutgers College." Then, it was Rutgers College. ... That was a satisfaction, that he had achieved one, at least, major goal in his life, very important to him, and that's part of my concern about this sense of entitlement. Our grandchildren, you know, they go to college, but it's almost casually, whereas, for us, that was a necessary ticket you had to get punched before you started a real life, with a wife and a house and your own children, your own careers. It was more meaningful, I kind of think.
SH: Of the seven brothers, there were three in the States when your father and his brother arrived. Did other members of the family come to the States as well?
SDZ: Yes, eventually, all seven. One was killed in a railroad accident, so, the six survived and, well, they're all gone now. ...
SH: They all did come to the United States.
SDZ: Oh, yes, very happily so, and they brought their parents over, eventually, yes. My grandfather died in a home for the aged in Trenton. My grandmother died in Plainfield, I think, yes.
SH: Were they here when you were born? Had they already all immigrated before World War II began?
SDZ: Yes, before World War II. ... I'm trying to think; when I was born, I don't remember much when I was born. [laughter]
SH: Do you remember what year your father immigrated?
SDZ: Oh, yes, it was two years before I was born, 1917.
SH: He got very busy.
SDZ: And then, he married my mother. I think they were introduced. I'm not sure they really knew each other very well at all.
SZ: ... Arranged.
SDZ: It was sort of arranged, and it really was, to put it in agricultural terms, apples and oranges. My mother was not a learned woman. His interests were quite different, but they managed, you know. ... In those days, marriage was for a lifetime. Divorce was some specter that you didn't [ponder]. Of course, in our family, we've had, not Sylvia and me, but among children, ... even grandchildren, divorces, and so, it's not as unusual or as awkward as it used to be.
SH: Can you tell us a bit about your mother's family and her background, please?
SDZ: I don't really know all that much. She was born in Zelwa, Poland. ... They came, originally, I think, to Canada, to Montreal. My computer [Mrs. Zagoria] is at work here. [laughter] What have I forgotten? so much.
SZ: She was a milliner and working. ...
SDZ: Oh, that's right, oh, and, eventually, she came to New York City and she worked in a millinery shop. ... I always had a particular respect for the fact that she had a younger sister, Sarah, who was the smart one in the family, or at least the bookish one in the family, and so, the routine was that my mother worked, made a living for herself and for Sarah to go to college. ... That's part of an illustration of the upward mobility, because Sarah became a teacher, a high school teacher, married a high school principal, and they lived in Brooklyn and they raised several children.
SZ: Yes, Naomi and the boy.
SDZ: Yes, two children.
SH: Do you know your mother's immigration story, or her family, other than that they came to Canada?
SDZ: I think they came to Canada originally. They had a relative in Canada. That's sort of the routine, one relative, and then, the others. How she got from Canada to New York, I don't really know. I'm much more tilted to my father's side. We went back to his town of Preli. We had good intentions. We wanted to talk to somebody about what the town, the village, was like, but they only spoke Russian and we only spoke English. We hired a cab driver who took us from Riga, it was about a ninety-mile trip, over very muddy, bouncy roads, and we got to the town. ... We flashed my business card, which had my name on it, figuring somebody'll make the connection there, but I think it was on a weekend and the town hall was closed, therefore, and we couldn't get to anybody who had any records. They did take us by a cemetery, but we didn't see ... our name there.
SH: Was the name changed at all during the immigration process?
SDZ: Well, we have one uncle whose last name is Z-A-G-O-R-Y, Zagory, and he has a son who's a retired doctor in San Francisco. ... It's just the happenstance of going through the Ellis Island [process] as to how they spelled it, and so, he came out with a "Y" and my father and ... all his other brothers were "I-A." I think it's pretty close to what it was.
SI: Do you know if there were any cultural differences between your parents, with your father coming from Latvia and your mother coming from Poland?
SDZ: I don't really think so. ... There was an old tradition about the Litvaks and the Glitzes, Galitzianer, that's it. The Litvaks were from Central Europe, from Lithuania, from around Latvia, Estonia. The Galitzianer, where were they from?
SDZ: Austria-Hungary, and I think my mother was of the Galitzianer and my father was from the Litvak thing, but I don't think it really made any impact on their relationship. There was a little sniffiness. I think the Litvaks considered themselves superior, ... and Sylvia's a Galitzianer, so, they thought they were really the superior part. Have you heard all of this?
BJ: It is the same thing. My father's side is Litvak and my grandmother's side is Galitzianer.
SDZ: I thought you might have had.
SZ: Mostly, they joke about it.
SDZ: You probably identify more with it. You'd know more about these things than I do.
BJ: Yes, I have Litvak heritage. There is some Polish and some Litvak, also.
SDZ: Okay, thank you.
BJ: It is the same thing in my family.
SI: In the end, it did not really affect anything.
SDZ: No, I don't think so.
SI: Were there any cultural traditions of the Old World, food or language, kept up in your home?
SDZ: My mother was a terrible cook. [laughter] As soon as when I was in high school, I started working a little bit on the local newspaper. I would cover things that happened at the high school, and then, gradually, it broadened out and I did other things, too, but that gave me some income, and then, also, I became a shoe salesman on Saturdays. I would work and sell shoes.
SZ: Stamps, collect stamps.
SDZ: Oh, yes, I also was in the stamp business. I was a stamp collector, and I'm really amazed at my own daring, now that I think back on it, but we actually, my brother and I, together, had a company, that we used to run little ads, and then, out of that, I developed into a columnist for Linn's Weekly Magazine in Columbus, Ohio, and I would write about things like first day covers. Do you know what first day covers are? It's when, the first day of a new stamp, they put it in the town that's responsible for the person on the stamp a day ahead of the rest of the nation, and there are collectors who buy envelopes that have the stamp postmarked on that day, ahead of the rest of the nation, in collections in books, and I also have first covers that had flown on the airship, the Akron [USSAkron (ZRS-4)], and some other earlier ones, right out here from Lakehurst.
SI: Like the Shenandoah, [USS Shenandoah (ZR-1)]?
SDZ: Shenandoah, and they were valued, but, at any rate, stamps, shoes. In shoes, the trick was to sell a lot of them, but, particularly, to sell the PMs [postmortems, outdated shoes]. I wrote about that in here. I always was tickled by that. I never knew it existed, but certain shoes that hadn't sold had a special rubber stamp on the box, and, if you sold that one, you got an extra quarter on your pay at the end of the day. ... You'd pull this pair of purple shoes out and the poor lady's sitting there in her bare feet, "This is the rage in Paris this year. We only have a few pairs. We don't have it in all [sizes], but, fortunately, we have one in your size and it's just, on your foot, marvelous," ... and there would come that twenty-five cents, right to my account, and I was pretty good at it, I must admit. [laughter]
SH: Was this in Somerville?
SDZ: That was in Somerville, yes, I worked. Mostly, it was a company called National Shoes. They were a chain in those days. I think they've since disappeared, and it's interesting, the guy that was the manager was a tall, handsome fellow and he was a lady's man. I mean, ... they always had a young woman selling pocketbooks at one of the counters, leather [pocketbooks], and he would be spending a lot of time there. I thought he was pushing pocketbooks, but I think it was the ladies, but, [at] any rate, ... many years later, we went to a Somerset County reunion in Florida, over in Boynton Beach, I think it was, and there he was, with his lady of that time, and we had a good time talking about the old days of PMs. [laughter] ... I'm sorry, that was an incomplete anecdote. The reason why I mentioned all those was that that gave me income and I became a steady customer at the Lenox Diner. I lived on hamburgers, French fries and, occasionally, I'd go to Liggett's Corner Drugstore. They had a tuna fish salad sandwich that was very nice, and those were my culinary attractions in Somerville. [laughter] Lenox Diner is still there, incidentally. ... The guy who ran the griddle, he'd be taking orders all the way up and down the counter, and, meanwhile, he'd be taking bets on the numbers, bets on a horse, or discussing politics as to who you should vote for and who you shouldn't, but he was a key personality in the community. ... We had a local barber, it was the same kind of role; interesting, in small towns, the way that develops. He would give advice, on how to win an election, how to get a new roof, how to beat the government out of Social Security, all the time, "Snip, snip, dot, dot." ... I remember these people very fondly.
SH: Tell us about growing up in Somerville, what your earliest memories are of the community.
SDZ: Well, it really was a nice place to grow up. It was small enough so that, you know, I remember, ... may give you one insight, if you went down Main Street and you wanted to buy something, there was M. H. Burke, was the big store. You'd go in there; you didn't need money. You were Nathan Zagoria's eldest and that was good enough credit, and only in a small town could you have this. You know, they knew my father, they knew that I couldn't do something that my father wouldn't rescue me from, and I think that was a very nice part of it, and I think ... there were all sorts of cultures. There was a little strip that was [where] Polish families lived. There certainly is a small strip where black families lived, not so much mixed in in where they lived, but in terms of schools and the movie theater, it was all [integrated]. You know, everybody was together. It wasn't segregated, isolated, and I think immigrants, maybe because of their status, they're a little unsure of themselves in a new country, they had respect for one another. It was kind of a nice background for growing up. I remember, my father, he had two trucks and he used to deal with D'Allessio's gas station and, with him, it was a matter of principle. "These people are not just a supplier, these are my friends," and he would refer other people to him. There was none of this business of looking, "Well, this gas is six cents less over here, there; you deal with D'Allessio." When I was growing up, I knew that when I got a car, I'd be dealing with the D'Allessios, and there were two brothers on one corner, there was another brother with a restaurant on the other corner, and, if somebody got sick, somebody from the restaurant would man the pumps over here and vice versa. It was a togetherness that was rather nice to see. I don't know, what else can I tell you about it? I played a little tennis.
SI: Was it a working class town?
SDZ: Oh, yes, definitely. On the one end of town, the next community over was Manville, which was the headquarters for Johns Manville. They made asbestos brake lining there and a lot of people worked there. There also was a Sherwin-Williams Paint factory in nearby Bound Brook. There was a lot of industry, and then, years later, there was an Army depot at one end of town. ... There was a little town next to us, Raritan, which is still there, which was largely an Italian town, and that's where us "big townies" from Somerville got introduced to the joys of pizza. [laughter] They didn't have pizza in Somerville. You had to go to Raritan, and it was the real McCoy, or the real; that's not the right name. [laughter]
SH: What about going to school and the Boy Scouts? Were you involved in any other activities?
SDZ: ... I was a Tenderfoot and that's as far as I got.
SZ: High school, teachers.
SDZ: And there was one central high school for ... about half the county. Busses would come, stream in from farms way out. You know, it was kind of interesting growing up in that setting. Sunday night, my father would say, "You want some corn for dinner?" and we'd go out to the farm, Wolfing's Farm, I remember, in South Somerville, and you'd go out in the field and you'd pick your own corn. I mean, fresh was really fresh, ... but the relationship that would permit that was something good to have. Now, what was the question?
SH: I was just asking about your high school.
SZ: How your teachers knew you.
SDZ: Oh, high school. Oh, yes, well, I had some marvelous teachers who really were very inspirational and supportive. Particularly, there was Gertrude Cranston, who was my English teacher, and she also was the faculty advisor for the high school paper, and, over time, I became the editor of the Valkyrie News and she was always there for me when I needed a reference letter for college or something else. I had a math teacher, Fenstemaker, I still can remember, oh, and particularly, I had ... an English teacher who was also the debate coach, Frank Durkee, and he taught me a lot about [debate]. Ours was a championship debate team. We won the state championship. There were some good people on that, and, again, that generated my interest. When I came to Rutgers, I was on the debate team with Richard Reager and, let's see, David Potter was the assistant coach, but, [at] any rate, ... we did pretty well in college. Other things in the high school; let's see, I don't know, it was the usual. We had a band. We had a football team. The prize player was a black guy whose name I now can't remember. You know, Somerville, briefly, was the home of Paul Robeson, before he lived in Princeton, and he was on the high school football team there.
SH: When did you decide, or when did your family start encouraging you, to go to college?
SDZ: Well, I think, with my father, that was a foregone [conclusion] that that was essential, and he just assumed it. For me, I think I was interested sometime during high school. I think I knew, quite early, that I wanted to be a journalist, and it's interesting, our own grandsons, they're not sure what they're going to do when they go to college. It's so different. I mean, for us, we knew we had to get the credentials, and we had to get out and get a job and go to work and start a family and that was life's expectations.
SH: What about the Depression? How did that impact your family, and your father's brothers?
SDZ: Very badly. It was in the Depression. I'm not sure my father saw it coming; I'm sure he didn't. He had a small business, but he was approached by this very nice fellow, James Butler, who was an Irish immigrant who'd come and started a chain of grocery stores, largely [in] New York City, New Jersey, and I think one or two in Connecticut. ... He had supplied his stores from central warehouses and he'd made a decision, [that] he would subcontract. He wanted people like my father to take on ... the commitment to supply fruits and vegetables to a whole region, about half the State of New Jersey, and, on the strength of that, my father enthusiastically went out and bought another truck and hired another driver and expanded his activities, and, for awhile, everything was good. Unfortunately, the elder James Butler died and his son, Jimmy Butler, took over. Jimmy, at that time, was the head of the Empire City Race Track, [now Yonkers Raceway], out on Long Island, which was much more his interest than selling groceries and fruits and vegetables, and so, ... there was no really active management and it went into bankruptcy. ... That confronted my father with bankruptcy, but he really was very determined, and I always honored him for that, [that] he was not going to be like other people who declared bankruptcy, and then, out the back door, they take all the goods that they have in supply and sell it and, meanwhile, claim that they had no assets to meet the bills that they had incurred. ... It took my father a long time, I think as many as eight or ten years, to pay off the debts that had been built up during the Depression, and there were little side losses. One was, I didn't go to Princeton. My father had started a bank account that was known in the family as "The Princeton Account," but he needed that money. ... Actually, when we got married, we had a wedding in Brooklyn and a lot of people, knowing what shape we were in, handed us little envelopes with checks or cash, and, at the end of the wedding, we totaled up what the take was. We had to figure out whether we had enough gas for the honeymoon trip, [laughter] and we found there were several hundred dollars. ... We'd mentioned it, somehow, to my father and we had our first internal marital difficulty when I said, "It's only a loan. He just needs it now. He'll pay it back."
SZ: Pay him out. [laughter]
SDZ: Sylvia didn't like that one iota, and, gradually, he did pay it back, ... but it was slow. Money was very tight, but I think, with a lot of people, my father included, there was a matter of honor that you didn't go on welfare, in other words, let other people pay your tab, or have these hokey bankruptcy declarations where you really just robbed the assets out of a failing company, but nobody could ever get him to expand again after that one. [laughter] He suffered that.
SH: Did your mother work at all in the business or outside of the home?
SDZ: No. She wasn't really able for that. ... I used to help my father. ... My father didn't drive on Saturdays. He would go to the synagogue, and all his life, but, you know, there's a small element of hypocrisy. He didn't mind that I delivered an emergency order that might come up on a Saturday, and, oh, yes, my father, sometimes, would have trouble collecting from some of his stores. He had them all the way up to Clinton and Glen Gardner and Washington. ... He'd get me to sit down at his big roll top desk and he says, "Now, write him a strong lawyer letter," and there I was, I must have been all of fourteen or fifteen years old, [laughter] sitting there, trying to write a strong [letter]. Sometimes, it worked, sometimes, it didn't. I laugh now, because we have a daughter, the lawyer, and she knows how to write fifty different kinds of "strong lawyer letters."
SH: What about your siblings? How far apart were you?
SDZ: I was three years older than my brother and my brother was about three or ...
SZ: Four years older.
SDZ: Four years older than my sister, and that's all we were. My brother was a bombardier and navigator in World War II. He flew ... out of Italy and was in on the Ploesti oil refinery raids and he succeeded [in completing] more than fifty, what do you call them?
SDZ: Missions, and came home and we were all so pleased that he, ... by then, had become a captain, ... captain, I think, and he had a wife here, ... but he wasn't feeling well one day and he went into the Yale Medical Hospital. They lived out in Connecticut then. He had a small typewriter sales and service place in New York City, right near Bloomingdale's, and they diagnosed it as leukemia and told him he had a year to live and, almost to the day, that's what happened. He had a very hard life. He didn't go to college. He was a musician and he played with some good bands. You wouldn't know Claude Thornhill, but that was [a Big Band leader], Glen Island Casino, and he played at Frank Dailey's Meadowbrook. He played clarinet and saxophone, but you don't earn a living that way, and so, he got into the typewriter business and he was pretty good at that. He wound up with two places. ... My sister, Etta, who is still alive and well, and we just saw her last week, she went to Parsons, was it?
SDZ: NYU, and she learned interior decorating and she has counseled us. We don't always listen, at least I don't always listen, but she was one of the best dressed women through the years. ... She had to go to some big prom and she went to my brother and she said, "I really need a new prom dress and Papa doesn't have the money." So, he gave her some money. Then, she came and told me the same story and she collected, and then, she also collected from Papa and, by the time she got it, it had all the spangles that it needed. ... Yes, she was really the apple of my parents' eyes, that's true; [to Mrs. Zagoria] thank you. [laughter] ... I was supposed to be the smart one, she was the pretty one, and I think that was true.
SZ: She was the girl.
SDZ: And poor Herman got lost in the middle.
SDZ: What was the question?
SZ: You started to say who she married.
SDZ: Oh, she was married to a cytologist, Dr. Ira Kline, and he was at the National Cancer Institute, but he died a few years ago.
SDZ: Fourteen years ago, and they have a daughter who's a cytologist now, and, also, they have a son who's a veterinarian over in Mooresville, North Carolina, and she traveled around with us. When I came back from overseas, Sylvia and I were stationed in California for a year and she came to visit us, and then, later, she got married to a hometown boy, who we had known and his parents knew my parents and all. ... She's great. [For] some people, widowhood is very dissembling, but she managed to put it all together in a very sensible way, and she doesn't look for much help from anybody else. Oh, her husband, after the war, wanted to go to college and he applied at American University in Washington.
SZ: First, at Rutgers, and there was no room.
SDZ: Oh, that's right. He applied first at Rutgers and there was no room. So, he applied at American University, with my encouragement, because I was then a reporter on the Washington Post and I'd written a long article about how American U was such a melting pot of people and it was growing. It was all plus, puffy stuff.
SZ: And had vacancies.
SDZ: And it had vacancies. Well, sure enough, ... after they considered it, they turned him down, and I went to my principal source and I said, "What the heck's going on here?" and he says, "Well, they have filled the Jewish quota." I said, "What?" [laughter] I was a great reporter; I'd missed that part of it all together. I said, "Look, I'll tell you right now, if he doesn't get in, I'm going to sit down at the typewriter and you're going to have a story you're not going to like," which was about as brass knuckles as I think I've ever been in my life, and it worked. He called back, said, "We found a vacancy and he's in," and he graduated and he stayed on. He got the PhD there and, thank you, I forgot that.
SZ: It's a good story, how things have changed.
SDZ: We're full of good stories. [laughter] ...
SI: It brings up an issue. When you were growing up in Somerville, do you think you experienced any anti-Semitism, either overt or subtle?
SDZ: I don't think there was any overt anti-[Semitism]. ... You sort of moved in that circle. I knew, from my father, ... it was an absolute, it wasn't an argument, that I was to marry a Jewish girl. I mean, there were no limits as to what she would look like, where she'd live or what income, but that was [assured], and we never did that with our kids, [laughter] and they're not married in the same religion. ... You know, considering his background, his training, I don't think that's surprising. I suspect it may be true in a lot of families, probably in Sylvia's family, too.
SI: Did you ever feel like there were places you could not go in town?
SDZ: No, never. It was really quite a nice small town. No, there were people who were president of the Elks Club, there had been a town councilman, I remember, who were Jewish. ... It was a very peaceful relationship.
SH: When "The Princeton Fund" had to be used for other things, tell me about how you made the decision to come to Rutgers and a little bit about how you made your application, and graduating from high school.
SDZ: Well, I don't really remember much detail. I remember, I came over and talked to somebody. I've forgotten who was dean then. I think it was Fred Merwin [who] was dean then, and we chatted awhile. ... By then, I'd been a stringer for the Somerset Messenger-Gazette, for the Plainfield Courier-News, and I knew some of the lingo for the thing, but, yes, one of the things that put me in Rutgers was that I could commute. You know, one of the big chunks of cost is dormitories. So, I commuted for three-and-a-half years, but the second part of my senior year, I was so busy with so many activities. I was managing editor of the Targum, I was associate editor of Scarlet Letter, I was an editor of Anthologist, I worked for Thatcher-Anderson Printing Company, doing proofreading, and I worked nights at the Home News. ... So, I moved into a dorm and my dorm mate was a fellow named Jules Plangere.
SZ: Do you know him?
SI: I interviewed him, yes.
SDZ: And he became the publisher of the Asbury Park Press, and, just a few months ago, we were in Florida, he called. ... He lives in a town just a few miles from ours and we all went to lunch together and talked about our days at Rutgers. [laughter] Jules is a lovely guy.
SI: Yes, he is.
SDZ: He wasn't majoring in journalism. It was happenstance for him that he got involved with the Asbury [Park Press]. Did he ever tell you the story? You've had an oral history with him.
SI: Yes, I am trying to remember. I remember how he got to be in charge of the newspaper.
SDZ: He got out [of the US Army after World War II] ... and his father introduced him to the bank president, for a job at the bank, and they didn't have a vacancy, but the bank president said, "There's a vacancy over at theAsbury Park Press, in the publisher's office," and they made a call and he became almost father-son with [Wayne McMurray]. ... Wayne McMurray and Irving Reimers were the two people that ran the paper. He really became part of it, and I think he got a lot of it in the will, from Wayne McMurray's will. As I remember it, Wayne McMurray didn't have any children, and so, Jules fit the bill. ... I almost stayed. I had started out working on theSomerset Messenger-Gazette and I was really quite friendly with Wally Conover, who was the editor there for many years, and Wally, when I was finishing at Rutgers, I went in to say hello. We're very friendly. I knew his son, too, and he said, "You know, you ought to think about coming here," and I said, "No, I've got my eye on theWashington Post, the Washington scene," and he said, "You know, here, you could be a big frog in a small pond," and he was the epitome of it. He was the fire chief, [laughter] as well as the editor, and nobody would run for office without getting Wally Conover's blessing. Without it, you would be in trouble, and, ... you know, if I'd been more oriented economically, I'd have realized that this was a growth opportunity, the growth of so many people who work in New York, and the whole Metropolitan area, living in Somerville, and the shopping centers going up. That's pretty good for pay. The Messenger-Gazette's been a profitable enterprise, and I missed it.
SZ: We turned it down.
SDZ: That's true. [laughter]
SZ: We did talk it over.
SDZ: We did talk about it.
SH: Were there other schools that you applied to besides Rutgers?
SDZ: I think I talked to Syracuse, but, you know, I had to figure out the bottom line. I didn't have any money to speak of. Syracuse, they offered me a small scholarship, I think maybe a hundred dollars, ... but Rutgers, because I could live at home, was by far the most achievable and, you know, Rutgers had a good name. It was a neighbor and a lot of people I knew had gone to Rutgers.
SH: Really? There were others.
SDZ: One of the guys from my high school was Eliot Shteir. He later became a dentist and also a lawyer, brilliant guy. He won a big prize on a TV quiz show.
SDZ: Twice. What was the show, ... $64,000 Question? He was a very smart fellow. He died, unfortunately.
SZ: You said he was the smartest one, and he came from a farm and he was the smartest one in your class.
SDZ: Yes, he definitely was the smartest.
SI: What do you remember about your first few days and weeks at Rutgers? What was it like being a freshman your first time on campus?
SDZ: Well, I was nervous. I had thought that yesterday, when we arrived here and I saw all the young students just starting their career, [I thought], "Oh, boy." I didn't know what to expect, really, and, also, there were some things that really rubbed me wrong. In those days, you had to wear a dink; not a yarmulke. It's, I don't know, a green cap, I think it was, and you were supposed to know some things, if an upperclassman stopped you, that you would recite, and I thought, "That's kind of childish," [laughter] ... but I went along with it. I think I wrote editorials against it, at the Targum, [laughter] which probably were straws in the wind that blew away quickly, but I really liked some of my classes. I mean, I really [liked them], particularly the journalism ones. I was very fond of Ken Jennings. He ran the Rahway Record, which then was, I think, a weekly, and his whole approach to journalism was very workman like, I mean, none of this high-flung philosophy, which I got in other courses. His was very down to Earth and, really, armed with the tools that he gave me, I could sit down at the Home News, which I did during my college years, and I could write a headline, I could write a story, I could edit a story, I could have story ideas. ... He was such an earnest, decent guy. I liked him immensely, and then, through him, I got to know his wife, Viola, who was the women's editor, and I think she kind of liked me. She'd always call me and say, "Could you cover this for us?" knowing that I was getting paid by the inch at first, that the more inches, the better off I was, but they were wonderful people, and I liked Fred Merwin. I had one embarrassing moment with the Journalism Department that you may get a chuckle out of. There was a guy named Frank Hutchinson who taught there and he also ... was executive secretary of the New Jersey Press Association, and I was working nights on the Home News, which then was; ... what's the street beyond Albany, runs parallel with Albany? That's where the Home News building was. [Editor's Note: The street was Church Street.]
SDZ: No, not George. George is right angles, but parallel. I can't think of it now, but it had a very steep set of stairs to the second floor, where the newsroom was, and, one night, it must have been one, two [in the morning]. I worked until about three o'clock in the morning, then, I'd go to [the] Silver Meteor Diner and finally get my dinner. ... That's gone now and I'm sorry. I would have liked to have had dinner there last night, [laughter] but I was at work there and a voice boomed up from the foot of the stairs, "Anybody here know Frank Hutchinson?" and I said, "Yes, he's one of my professors." So, I went to the top and it was a cab driver and he had an inebriated person in his vehicle who couldn't pay the fare, and so, I went down. ... In those days, it was a little hard to put out five dollars or so, and I was trying to figure out, "How do I get back the fiver without embarrassing him and telling him I'd seen him drunk?" and so, I went to my "rabbi," [laughter] so-to-speak, to Ken Jennings, and I said, "This is what happened, but I don't want to make any fuss about it, but I'd sure like to get the five bucks back," and I think it was five. It may have been more or less, and he said, "I'll take care of it," and, next day, there was an envelope and I had my five dollars, [laughter] but that was funny.
SH: Your freshman year, you talked about not wanting to wear the dink. Did you go right into work with theTargum as a freshman? Did you start right then?
SDZ: I think so, I think so. I was eager to be among people that worked in [newsprint], and there was a marvelous guy who was the editor. In 1940, he was the editor, [Joseph] Harry Joffe. He came from Long Branch, New Jersey. He was just a sweet, decent, very able person, and he gave me advice and help and we became social friends. Mel Welles was also in that circle, and we used to drive down to Asbury Park. There was a beer and pizza place near the boardwalk and we'd sing songs and drink too much beer. ... He was supposed to be best man at our wedding and, unfortunately, he was already in the service and was killed. So, he wasn't there.
SZ: Never came home.
SDZ: Never came home. He married a girl who had been the editor of the NJC paper, Irene something.
SZ: Eby, [New Jersey College for Women Class of 1939]?
SDZ: That's it, Eby. Oh, you're great, wow, [laughter] and she went into advertising with an ad agency. I lost track of her, but she was a very capable person also. Yes, I miss Harry.
SI: From studying the Targums of the time, it seemed like they were very focused on collegiate issues, football and fraternities, not quite like today, where they have a broader scope, state and national coverage.
SDZ: Well, for one thing, it's a daily now. In my day, I think it came out once a week, and then, subsequently, maybe twice a week, ... but, you know, we did focus on some social issues. During my years there, ... there was an honorary agricultural society on the other campus. What's the farming one?
SI: College of Agriculture?
SDZ: College of Agriculture [now the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences], called Alpha Zeta, and they wouldn't accept blacks as members and we editorialized. ... Eventually, they yielded, but it was quite a struggle, but the whole fraternity thing, I don't know how it is today, but, then, it was sharp swords. I was definitely anti-fraternity. I was part of the independents; is that what we were called? ...
SI: The Scarlet Barbs, [the Scarlet Barbarians]?
SDZ: Scarlet Barbs, exactly, thank you. You weren't here then. [laughter]
SI: No, but I read all of the Scarlet Letters.
SDZ: Is it still here, Scarlet Barbs?
SDZ: God; well, there I am, with a head of hair. [laughter] [Editor's Note: Mr. Zagoria is looking at his picture in the Scarlet Letter.]
SZ: That's when I knew him. ... We got married after that, ... but we were engaged.
SDZ: Yes, we were married six months after I graduated.
SH: Please, continue with that story, because it sounds really interesting.
SDZ: ... Well, there were people, for example, the editor my year was Charles Prout, who's a fraternity guy, and there was seesawing. There was a Targum Board that made the selection, and it really was, "How many fraternity guys are on? How many independents are on?" as to how [they made choices]. It was not an accident that I was the managing editor and Charlie Prout was the editor. Charlie later went to work for Vicks VapoRub. He really wasn't a journalist, but he wanted the title and he got it. ... I continue to hold my belief, fraternities may be nice when you're sixty and you need an Elks or Eagles, but I'm not really strong for them in college. Anybody here in a fraternity? Well, I'm safe. [laughter]
SI: Was that the main reason why you were anti-fraternity or were there other reasons?
SDZ: There was a snobbery involved, and it also was an economic level thing. I mean, to belong to a fraternity, you had to pay the monthly dues. Sure, you got some living space, but it wasn't at the same price as a dormitory would be or some rooming house, like, then, Louie Stollman's, that kind of thing. ... You know, in my thinking, it's really a part of this business of, "You've got to send your son to Harvard to get anyplace." Well, I've met journalists that I respect very highly, and when I ask them where did they go to school, it's some little school, sometimes, one I [have] never heard of, but, you know, if you've got something and you apply yourself, [you will succeed], and the fraternities seemed to sort of take on that status of it's more elevated and one of entitlement, oh, and, also, there was discrimination. For example, in my day, there were three Jewish fraternities, and the other fraternities didn't take [Jews]. ... I shouldn't say without exception, but I didn't know of any Jews who were in the other fraternities.
SZ: Certainly not blacks.
SDZ: On the other hand, I didn't know of any Christians who were in the Jewish fraternities. ... There was discrimination, and I think some of the discrimination was not necessarily religious, it was economic. I mean, you had to have some resources to stay in a fraternity.
SI: Do you think this dynamic between the fraternities and the non-fraternity people affected what got into theTargum, what kind of stories were run or were not run?
SDZ: Targum, in my days, I thought, was pretty accurate and pretty principled.
SI: For example, did the fraternity guys push to have more fraternity-centered stories put in, anything like that?
SDZ: No. I think there was pressure in terms of who was selected for editor or business manager. In those days, there was a profit at the Targum and they would split that up among the people who were working on the paper, and, if you were the editor or the managing editor, you got a bigger chunk of it than somebody who was a reporter or a columnist. So, you know, you wanted not only the honor on your resume, but you got a bigger chunk of the take.
SH: You got paid for the work that you did on the Targum.
SDZ: Yes, and you also had, as editor, you got due bills. You know about due bills?
SDZ: You'd have a hotel in New York City, I remember, in particular, the Taft Hotel. It's around Broadway and 50th Street. ... George Hall was the orchestra [leader] and Dolly Dawn was his singer, and the Targum would run an ad for the Hotel Taft, but it wouldn't collect in cash, it would collect a due bill, which was, you got fifty dollars worth to use at the [hotel], and that's how I got my wife. [laughter] ...
SH: Fifty dollars to use where?
SZ: At the hotel.
SDZ: At the Hotel Taft. It was only good at the Hotel Taft. ... Instead of making payment, you were due that much there, but it was only the top guys, like the editor, the managing editor, the business manager, who got their mitts on this thing. Sylvia and I met at a summer camp in my junior year. ... What do they call it?
SZ: Rising junior.
SDZ: A rising junior, that's it. [laughter] That's a good phrase, and it was Jack and Jill, it was called, outside Poughkeepsie, New York, a little crossing in the road called Billings, New York, and she was a dancing counselor and I was a swimming counselor, and we both knew it was just a summer romance. She was the best looking one there and that was the one I was out [for], and we clicked on, but, somehow, when I got back to town and somebody handed me a due bill, she was the only one I could think of that I wanted to call and go tea dancing at the Taft [with]. [laughter] ... So, I called her and she was honored and delighted, because her idea of the traditional Brooklyn date was a movie and an ice cream soda at, what was the place?
SZ: Myer's Ice Cream Parlor.
SDZ: Myer's Ice Cream Parlor, and here was this guy who had a car and a due bill at the Hotel Taft. [laughter] So, we danced our way into matrimony and it stuck. We've had sixty-five years.
SDZ: And I'm on good behavior and [we will] try to make it sixty-six.
SH: Good for you. [laughter]
SDZ: But, that was the paper. The magazine had very diverse stuff.
SI: The Anthologist?
SDZ: Roy [E.] Darby, [Jr., Class of 1941], ran it and he liked to encourage experimental writing. I remember, I wrote a piece for them, "I Was a Shoe Dog" was, I think, the title, about my hours as a salesman selling shoes, but there was fiction; I don't think there was any non-fiction. The Scarlet Letter, ... the editor of that was Charlie Prout and that, he really enjoyed. He liked that. It was methodical and you had to get all the details in, and I was glad to work on that with him. The debate team, we traveled all over the East Coast. I had problems working in the dates with my other obligations. Sometimes, I'd have to get somebody else to cover a football game for theHerald Trib [Tribune] because I was going to be out of town, but we managed it all. Other activities, let's see, I don't know, what were my other activities? You've got it in there, [the 1941 Scarlet Letter]?
SH: Were you a part of an honor fraternity or honor society?
SDZ: There was a journalism honor society, I think, whose name escapes me now.
SI: Pi Gamma?
SDZ: Oh, Pi Gamma was our own little organization. It was really interesting. It was about eight or ten of us, all of whom were stringers for various publications, Newark Evening News, ... I think it was then the Star, it was theLedger, and it wasn't the Newark Star Ledger then, and they had somebody in the [New York] Times and theTrib, and then, there was something called Standard News Service, and I was a stringer for them, but I didn't do much for them. [laughter] They didn't want much, and we would meet and we would exchange war stories about what we had done or not done, but, also, we would help one another, exchange story ideas, [if there was] somebody out of town, cover for him. I've had some interesting times covering. I was trying to think, when I was on the Post, I was on an out-of-town assignment and the guy from the Star got drunk and I wrote my story, and then, I had to write an entirely different version and file it for him.
SH: Who was your favorite professor?
SDZ: ... Oh, Ken Jennings, by far, but we had a wonderful philosophy professor, [Houston] Peterson. He lived in Greenwich Village, which sounded so Bohemian and exciting. [laughter] I'd never been there until I met Sylvia. She led me to those "gardens of iniquity," and we had some great experiences. [laughter] We went out one night in Greenwich Village and I had all, I think, of five dollars in my pocket and they had a guy out in front of Club Gaucho, and he was wearing the baggy pants, and so forth, and he grabbed me by the arm. He said, "Come in here, good place." I said, "Is there a cover charge?" He said, "No, no cover charge." "Minimum charge?" "Well, you've got to ... buy one drink." So, we went in and we got the one drink and we started dancing and we sat down. ... While I was sitting there, fiddling around, I picked up the serving plate. There was a little card underneath, said, "At ten PM, the cover charge is imposed," of two dollars or three dollars or something. I said, "Sylvia, time to go." [laughter] They were real hustlers, some of those doormen.
SH: When you wanted to write for the Targum, was there also any kind of academic oversight? Was there a professor who was assigned to the paper?
SDZ: I don't think we even had a faculty advisor. ... No, I don't think so. I think, years later, they did. There was some fuss and the administration wanted it. ... Oh, you talk about favorite people, another one I was really very fond of was Earl Reed Silvers, who was the Director of Public Relations and he was a "Mr. Chips" type. I mean, people could sit down and confide in him and ask advice. ... Again, years later, his son, Earl Reed Silvers, turned up in Boca Raton, Florida, a few miles from where we lived. In-between, he'd worked for Grand Union stores and what's his name? Shield, Lansing [P.] Shield, who's a Rutgers guy and on the board here, and a good friend of Senator Case's, but small world. ... I was very fond [of the elder Earl Reed Silvers]. He rescued me once. ... One of the problems of working at night is, it's very hard to get to an eight o'clock class in the morning, and one of the mandatory courses for graduation, at least then, in journalism, was "Recent American History," I think it was, taught by the chairman of the History Department, [Irving S. Kull]. ... Unfortunately, because I worked until three and the class was at eight, I missed an awful lot of classes. So, we got near the end of the semester and I got word that I wasn't going to make it and, if I didn't make it, I didn't make the diploma either, and I had visions of marching in the alumni parade [as the] Class of 1941-and-a-half, [laughter] which wasn't in my plan. So, I talked to Earl Reed Silvers. Kull was a very dignified, somewhat remote person. He wasn't the kind you'd feel comfortable sitting down [with], telling, you know, "I'm a working man's son and I have to do things and it's hard to [make it]." At any rate, through Silvers, there was an agreement that, ... I guess I must have flunked the final exam, but he would give me another final exam, an oral question, I think two questions, and it was up or down on that, and I made it. [laughter] So, I got the degree, I got the certificate. It was a few nervous days.
SH: Chapel was mandatory.
SH: Can you talk about how that was?
SDZ: One day a week, at lunchtime, ... and one of the speakers at that, by tradition, was Norman Thomas and he was, oh, he was so; maybe that's why, what's his name, Talbot Smith thinks I was a Socialist. I really did like Thomas and admired his courage and his ability.
SZ: Was chapel religious?
SDZ: He's the guy who said I'm a Socialist. ... Oh, hey, this is where I ought to straighten that out.
SI: Go ahead.
SDZ: There's another oral history in circulation in which someone in the Class of 1940, a person I never knew, never had any contact with, a football player and a fraternity president, I believe, in his days, which were two circles I never mixed in, said I was a Socialist and that, later, I went to work for the Senator. Well, he was right, I did go to work for a Senator, Clifford Case, and I'm very proud of that association, but I never was a Socialist. There never was a Socialist Party on the Rutgers campus, far as I'm aware of it, at least certainly not in my years. The closest thing to liberal was the Democratic Party, which, in those days, was Franklin Roosevelt, which seemed quite acceptable; thank you.
SH: Was chapel mandatory for religious services or just for the convocations, the coming together of the student body?
SDZ: You know, as I think back, I mean, we're talking now, for me, sixty years ago, I don't think there was any religious [content]. It was in a chapel, but I don't remember. If there was a prayer, it was ecumenical. I mean, it was no particular sect, no mention of Jesus Christ, for example, that I remember. [It] seemed to me we were exposed, once a week, to someone who had some ideas, some ideals, and I think the hope was that it would germinate with us and that we would take time out. I'm sort of partial to these kinds of meetings. Years later, when our oldest son was at the Friends School in Sandy Spring, Maryland, I was made president of their association. ... As a Quaker group, they would meet and there'd be a silent period to start it with, about, oh, ten minutes, ten long minutes, where you had time to ... rid yourself of the day's ugly occurrences and think of higher things, and I found it refreshing. I used to look forward to those meetings ... for that reason and I think chapel was a good experience.
SZ: Went to Star Island.
SDZ: Oh, yes.
SH: They took attendance as well, right? Was chapel mandatory in that way?
SDZ: I'm trying to remember. ... [There] may have been a yellow pad passed down the line. It was mandatory, so, I guess they must have. Yes, you're right.
SH: What about ROTC? Did you do your two years?
SDZ: Yes. The first two years, we had ROTC. I was [the one], when you saw a moving picture of it, I was the one out of step. [laughter] I didn't like that. I guess I was ... anti-military and this was a part of [the] military. On the other hand, I think it was a good influence. It helped me some when I was in the service myself, but I didn't have any desire to make a career in [the] military or become a commissioned officer or anything of that kind.
SH: In 1937, when you entered Rutgers as a freshman, how aware were you of what was going on in Europe?
SDZ: Well, I don't think I was typical of most students, because I worked at a newspaper, and there were times when I was the telegraph editor. I would handle the stories about events outside the local area, and I think I was pretty sensitive, at least aware of things that were going on abroad. We had one economics professor who I was fond of. I wish I could think of his name, [J. Wilner Sundelson]. Well, I liked Gene Agger, the chairman of the department. He was another "Mr. Chips" type, was a lovely man, and we later got to know his daughter, Caroline, who's a prominent lawyer in Washington. ...
SH: As things are developing in Europe and since you are involved in the newspaper, you are finding that your interests or your knowledge is a little bit broader than some of the students, did you bring that into your writing here in the Targum?
SDZ: Targum didn't cover things like that. It might cover if there was a rally here. I was pretty sensitive to the thing, because I was Jewish and this was the rise of Nazism, and that led me, and a number of others, fortunately, to create an organization to try and do some small part and rescue at least one fellow college student from the Nazis.
SH: When did you start this? When did you first get the idea?
SDZ: If you asked me the precise time, I can't tell you. ...
SH: Was it before Hitler invaded Poland or was it after 1939?
SDZ: I don't know. I can't answer that.
SI: In your memoir, you mentioned it was around the time that Austria became part of Germany.
SDZ: Oh, well, then, that does it. ... This, I looked up facts. [laughter] ... If I'm going to tell my grandchildren, I want it to be quite accurate, but it was an interesting kind of development.
SH: Can you talk about how you came into that?
SDZ: Yes, I was about to. There was a fellow, John Ludlum, who later became a minister. ... His major was theology, and he was one of the independents, Scarlet Barbs, and we talked about, "What could we do?" and the idea germinated of, "We should try and fund one student," and we went, I think, to Earl Reed Silvers and talked about whether the University would absorb the tuition for him. ... After paperwork and time, we got an okay on that, and then, the question was how to provide sustenance. There also was a little thing that, at the outset, we didn't know and that was that, in order to bring someone into this country, someone had to be financially responsible for them, [so] that they wouldn't become a welfare charge, and here were these two students, running [the committee]. John and I were co-chairmen of this committee. I've forgotten the name of it now, but that was the purpose, and, somehow, we got in contact [with a European student]. I'm not even sure how we got Walter Sokel, but we did. ... As graduation approached, ... we talked to Walter about, "What are you going to do next, after you get your degree?" thinking, "Well, if he doesn't go to work and earn, we're liable to be footing the bill here," but it worked out happily. He was a very good student in the History Department, that was his major, and he got a job at Princeton, teaching, and then, I lost touch. He was not one for corresponding and, frankly, I was busy with other things, ... but we felt the business of raising funds from fellow collegians, none of whom really have a lot of money, was pretty uphill. ... I've forgotten what the goal was, but it was large, but I had had a favorite high school teacher, George Shay, who later went to work with Governor [Charles] Edison in Trenton. ... George Shay was friendly with Doris Duke Cromwell, that was her married name, and she had a big estate right outside Somerville. So, through Mr. Shay, and I knew Mr. Shay's wife, she was my French teacher, she was a lovely woman, but he arranged for me to be invited to dinner at the Duke Estate and meet with former Ambassador to Canada James Cromwell, her husband, and Doris Duke. ... In preparation for this, you know, I'm a country boy by comparison with the circles that they move in, I rented a tuxedo. It was summertime, and I remember I had a white jacket and dark pants, and I went and I got there maybe a little early and her secretary met me and ushered me into this huge library room, books from floor to ceiling, and she said, "Mrs. Cromwell will be down soon, and then, Mr. Cromwell, and rest here, wait here." So, while I was there, I pulled down one of the books from the shelf; they hadn't cut the pages. These were books that were not read by people. They were interior decorating; they were the right color. [laughter] I don't think these were two scholars I was meeting, and it became clear as the evening went on. Well, a few minutes later, she came down this big, circular stairway and with a long gown, and I was thinking, "Oh, boy, I'm glad I got the tuxedo. I'd have been out of here," ... and then, we made small chit-chat and I started explaining the committee and the goals, and so forth. ... Then, she said, "Well, we'll wait for my husband to come down before we go into dinner," and I waited, and then, I see a guy at the top of these grand stairs, [with] shorts on and some loud, flowered sports shirt coming, bounding down. ... That's the dignified former ambassador, but, at any rate, as a result of that, she volunteered to match, dollar for dollar, every dollar we raised from the students. ... It turned out to be very big.
SH: How did you identify the students who were willing or could come? Do you remember how that was done?
SDZ: I think there was some sort of student association that we appealed to. I think John Ludlum did most of that work. He's got a place Upstate New York, and I'm not sure whether he's still alive or not. I wasn't so much involved in that. I was more in the fundraising end. [laughter] He did the actual arrangements.
SH: How old was this student, Sokel, that you brought over?
SDZ: He was around our age.
SH: Was he?
SH: Where was he housed? Do you remember?
SDZ: I don't. I can't tell you. I don't know. I don't remember. I have a little vision of some connection with Stollman's, but maybe that's where he ate. I don't know where he lived.
SZ: Maybe the dorms?
SDZ: I don't know. ... Maybe it was the circumstances of it, he was kind of a loner. He was not an outgoing person and I think we sort of; what does it [Walter Sokel's 1941 Scarlet Letter entry] say?
SI: 81 Easton Avenue; is that Stollman's?
SDZ: Well, that sounds like one of the; maybe it was a fraternity. I don't know. Let me see, you've got the picture of him?
SI: Right there.
SDZ: Yes, that's interesting. I'd forgotten. He's got a draft number, spent most of his time at his history course, that's right, spare [time] reading, music, yes. It was interesting. Years later, I was teaching. I've carried on teaching a little for many years, in many places, to subsidize whatever I was doing, but this last one was at ... the Babcock School at Wake Forest University. It's their MBA program and I had an Austrian student in my class and I asked her if she'd known him, and she said, "It's a big city." She didn't know him. [laughter]
SH: Were there women in the journalism courses with you?
SDZ: Yes, yes. We had some very pretty women. I remember, one was a blonde. [laughter]
SZ: And you've kept in touch with Mary.
SDZ: Yes, I've kept in touch with one of them, Mary Hance, who married a fellow Rutgers person. She's not in good physical shape. She's had a lot of problems and lost her husband. Let's see, who else? There was a guy who became a professor at Long Island University, was it Jacob Jaffe? Have I got that right? and he helped administer some award.
SZ: Oh, the Polk Award.
SDZ: The Polk Award, oh, you're great, [laughter] and I went and spoke at one of their dinners, and the presentation, he arranged it. Yes, that's him, Jacob Jaffe.
SH: We are looking at Mr. Jaffe's picture in the Scarlet Letter.
SDZ: Yes, he was a very serious guy. Yes, that's a good thing; I should have looked at that instead of this to prepare.
SZ: Yes, we have that [the Scarlet Letter] at home. ...
SH: It was interesting. Because you were the managing editor of that, I looked through that yesterday. I may tell you, that is a very nicely put-together Scarlet Letter.
SDZ: Oh, thank you. Yes, we put a lot of work into it. There's a lot of detail to pack in that. I'm not sure I could tackle that at this age.
SH: On campus, you were a Scarlet Barb, you were a commuter student, so, you were set apart, as you said, from the fraternities in a certain way. What about the students from the Ag School?
SDZ: Well, we knew them, but, you know, they spent most of their time a couple of miles away. They weren't as integrated into this campus, but that was always a fascinating place for me. I got a lot of inches out of the Agriculture School.
SDZ: I remember, they were testing, yes, some insecticide and ... they had a wooden, I don't know, sort of a board that they would spray the insecticide on, and then, they would let loose a certain kind of mosquito or something at the top and see how [they reacted]. ... I gave that a name which ... made a headline, and I sold that to one of the Hearst publications, "Suicide Track," or something, "For Bugs," [laughter] but they had some good people out there. They had the soils expert, Dr. [Jacob] Jaffe, ... and [Selman] Waksman, who developed streptomycin, was there. They were a rich place for a journalist, a lot of stories you could get out of there.
SI: Did you cover the Rutgers tomato when that was debuted?
SDZ: I wrote about that, too.
SZ: We met the man who developed it, somehow, I vaguely remember.
SDZ: He was in my class. There's a guy in my class who became a big tomato expert and, at one of our reunions, he talked about it. Did you interview [him]?
SI: Was it George Johannessen?
SDZ: That sounds like it, yes.
SI: I just interviewed him a couple of weeks ago in California. [Editor's Note: Professor Lyman Schermerhorn, Sr., developed the Rutgers tomato variety, which was introduced in 1934. Dr. George A. Johannessen studied under Professor Schermerhorn during his time at Rutgers (1937-1941), then, went on to his own career in tomato development.]
SDZ: Oh, did you? ... He was from California.
SI: He became the head of tomato production.
SDZ: When you're interviewing these guys, would you mind asking them why they didn't come to the ... sixtieth reunion. There weren't enough to have a reunion dinner with. ...
SDZ: Sixty-fifth, sorry. ... Sylvia and I drove all the way up from Florida for that. We got here and they said, "There is no reunion."
SZ: No, we didn't get here. We went to our home in North Carolina, fortunately.
SDZ: No, that's right, and, when I checked, they said, "Nobody has signed up. There is no dinner."
SZ: Isn't that terrible?
SH: I think Mr. Owen had been so involved.
SZ: Yes, he was the one.
SDZ: That's right.
SH: Mary Hance Owen's husband, Robert, had been very instrumental in getting your class together.
SZ: Oh, absolutely.
SDZ: Yes. When he died, I don't think since then, we've had an active president.
SH: I think Ken Kaiser is now.
SDZ: Well, he's the columnist. ... He said he'd like to have a [class reunion], and he and I have been trying to raise a little funds and noise about it.
SH: You can read Ken Kaiser's and Mr. Owen's story online.
SDZ: Oh, really? Oh, I'd like that. Yes, Ken was a journalism major.
SZ: And Sam said, "We'll come even if they don't have a reunion."
SDZ: That's right. ...
SI: Since we were talking about Dr. Johannessen, when I interviewed him, he talked a lot about the debating team and Richard P. McCormick, the debating team advisor.
SI: What do you remember? Can you talk a little bit more about the debating team, where you went, what the debates were about, that sort of thing?
SDZ: I wish I could remember better. I know we went to a lot of places and I know we were very successful. ... Reager, the coach, was a very dynamic fellow. He really gave us a lot of good ideas. I can't even tell you who was on the team with me anymore.
SH: I wonder if the photograph would show.
SDZ: Oh, yes.
SI: I will look that up. Do any of the debates stand out in your mind, any of the issues that were discussed?
SDZ: No. [laughter]
SI: Being that this was on the eve of World War II, was international policy or isolationism debated?
SDZ: No, I don't think they went for that. I think they tried to stay; you got on to things about whether there should be a national medical plan, that kind of thing, I remember vaguely.
SZ: ... We're still debating that. [laughter]
SDZ: ... I wasn't on the varsity debating team? I thought I was.
SH: You may have missed the picture.
SI: Maybe they would list it in the 1942 yearbook.
SDZ: I'll be darned. I thought I was. [laughter] Maybe I dreamed it all.
SI: It depends on the time of year, when they take the picture.
SDZ: Yes. I thought I was. I certainly remember Reager. Well, you may have to improve on my memory.
SH: With the schedule that you had, reporting and things, it would be not uncommon that you would not be in the photograph, I would think.
SDZ: Yes, that I'm not sure. ...
SH: We can look at the ...
SDZ: Class of 1940?
SI: You would not be on the freshman team.
SI: Probably, you just were not in the picture.
SZ: Maybe you got too busy.
SDZ: Maybe I wasn't in in the last year, but I should be ... in the '42 picture then, right? No, '40 is the one I need. ...
SH: You were not pictured in 1942.
SDZ: Try '40. I think that's a better bet. It may be that I dropped off in the senior year, because I really was a busy boy then.
SI: Do you recall going to West Point with the debating team?
SDZ: Not really. I've been to West Point, but ... I don't know. I don't remember. Now, I'm starting to sound like one of my witnesses in one of my arbitrations. [laughter]
SZ: Sam still works.
SDZ: Oh, yes, I do labor management arbitration cases. ... Did I make '40?
SDZ: Not either. ... Maybe I'm not sure about debating. I thought I was on it. I was certainly in the high school debating [team].
SH: I think it lists debating next to your senior picture. At some point, you had to have been on the debating team.
SDZ: Oh, well, okay, I was there, okay. Well, I don't mean to mislead or give false claims.
SI: No, it is in the record. ...
SH: For the record, we have located Mr. Zagoria on the varsity debating team in the yearbook for 1939.
SDZ: Oh, thank you, that's a relief. [laughter] I thought I'd just dreamed it all up. Okay, onward; at the rate we're going, we're not going to finish.
SH: When Hitler invaded Poland, there were people here at Rutgers who were isolationists, America First supporters. Did you cover any of that debate at all?
SDZ: I'm not sure that it got to a public level. Obviously, there were, you know, discussions at Winants Hall, when you're eating, or in dorms, ... but I don't have a recollection of a really formative [debate]. I have a feeling that many were sort of just accepting this was bigger than anything we could control, and we've got to do well at our immediate personal assignment, get graduated. Of course, they were already pulling draft numbers, and that was an ominous thing. When did I have a draft number? Was it before we were married? Did you know?
SZ: I don't remember.
SDZ: I don't remember exactly either, but it's funny. I now am very critical of our grandchildren, that they don't read a daily newspaper, but I don't really remember much of the facts of events. I was aware they were happening, but I'm not sure I read it day by day.
SH: You talked about your father, who read the newspaper every day.
SH: When you would go home, but one of the questions we ask is, what were the discussions around the dining room table about what was going on? Obviously, you were aware of what is happening because you were bringing this student to this country, of the persecution.
SDZ: I'm not sure we talked about it much. I mean, my father assumed, and correctly, that I had the same view of things that he had, and I was unhappy about them. Most of our discussions were more dealing with, "Well, what are you going to do about the tuition bill next month?" and, "How's your car holding up?" and things of that kind, and, also, a lot of, you know, father-child things, "What grades did you get?" and tell about some little honor that had come your way and some hope for the future, and so forth.
SH: When you were getting ready to graduate in 1941, had you already proposed to Mrs. Zagoria?
SDZ: I think so.
SZ: Well, we knew we'd eventually get married, I guess. There's no formal proposal.
SDZ: Yes. We'd been going together two years by that time.
SH: Mrs. Zagoria, you were in college at the same time.
SDZ: I used to sign her report cards, even after she was married. They weren't all good. [laughter]
SZ: They were so. [laughter]
SDZ: They were really very good. She was smarter than I was.
SH: You were at Brooklyn College.
SZ: Brooklyn College, yes.
SH: What was your major?
SZ: Social sciences. I ended up being a social worker.
SDZ: She worked for OSS [Office of Strategic Services]. You're sitting in the presence of one of the spy teams of the United States.
SZ: Right after college, I went to Washington. Sam was already overseas.
SDZ: Sylvia's worked as a flesh peddler, too. [laughter] That's another story.
SH: I was just going to say, we may need a little clarification on that, Mr. Zagoria. [laughter]
SZ: That was for a television news show, to get celebrities.
SDZ: Sylvia used to produce Washington notables to appear on a TV program called Ladies of the Press. It was similar to the Meet the Press, except this was [where] they gave the ladies a chance to ask the questions. The moderator was an old friend and Sylvia worked with him ... at Mutual Network.
SDZ: WOR, ... and they had a Washington bureau, and he was the Washington bureau and Sylvia was his assistant.
SZ: They'd be more impressed that I worked for Izzy Stone. I bet they all know him, I. F. Stone. I was his researcher.
SI: At PM?
SZ: At PM.
SDZ: She was so good, Izzy wouldn't let her go to have a child. I had to go see Izzy, said, "Now, look, she's delivering and you've got to let go," but, at any rate, how did we get on this?
SZ: They asked if you had proposed.
SH: After graduation, what were your plans and how forward looking were you in 1941?
SDZ: Well, my goal was to get to Washington in journalism there, and I pretty much knew I wanted to be on theWashington Post. Washington then had several newspapers, about five. We had, one was [Eleanor Josephine Medill] "Cissy" Patterson's paper, [the Washington Times-Herald], which I knew I didn't want to work on, then, there was a little tabloid, the Washington Daily News, there was a Washington Star, and, of course, there was the Washington Post, and that's the one I wanted to get to. I wasn't sure how I'd get there, but ...
SZ: Anyhow, you didn't get there until after the war.
SDZ: That's true. Oh, what I did in 1941; okay, I'll focus. 1941, so, I had already been working at the Home News here. It then didn't own the Tribune, it was just the Home News, and Elmer [B.] Boyd was the publisher and he really built a housing subdivision ... right in the Brunswick area, low-cost housing. He was very friendly with Eugene Agger, who was the chairman, on the sidelines, of the New Brunswick Housing Authority, a marvelous man. When we got married, he handed me a gift, a check. He was in that pile we gave my father. ... So, Elmer Boyd had a nephew, Hugh Boyd, who took over as publisher around the time I was graduating Rutgers and I guess we're pretty much the same age, and Hugh asked me to help him do some things. One of the income makers for the paper in those days was special sections. There'd be one on boating and they'd sell ads that were geared that way, and I would write the copy around the ad, something that would fit in with it. ... It seemed to me, about every two weeks, they would have a special section and I'd become a specialist in a brand-new field, ... but Huey and I got along very well and the result was, one result was, that he was appointed; New Jersey, when the war was threatening, started a New Jersey State Civil Defense Agency in Trenton, headed by Audley H. F. Stephan. He was a retired general, and the big business was to figure out how to alert people of an air raid; the big debates about it [were] whether it was two blasts and one whistle or one whistle and two blasts. A whole new world opened up for me, but Hugh asked me to work for him, and, therefore, for the state government, in Trenton, and I wrote pamphlets and stuff under Hugh's guidance. He actually was too busy. I was in Trenton, but he was mostly in New Brunswick, and that was kind of fun, and then, somehow, I got acquainted with a fellow who ran the New Jersey Office of Government Reports, which was a tiny agency. It later became part, was absorbed in the Office of War Information.
SDZ: If you didn't live through the war, you don't know all this "alphabet soup," but it was never quite clear to me what the mission of that agency was, but I was told to look into Nazi Bund camps in Northern New Jersey. ... As a reporter, I'd had some idea of [how to investigate] and write reports on what they were up to, which meant I had to keep an eye on the public media as well as try and visit, talk to people, [and] so forth, and I did that a few months, and then, Uncle Sam said, "I need you," and so, I think I was only there a couple of months.
SZ: Yes, because you went into the service.
SDZ: It was the Military Park Building in Newark, and then, I went into the service at Fort Dix and it was a little awkward, because, ... while I was at the Home News, you know, Fort Dix had been expanding by leaps and bounds and I did a series of stories on the Fort Dix, and most of them negative, about how the tents leaked, how the stoves gave off cinders that created holes and, therefore, they got wet, and it was muddy and murky, and here I was, coming in, but I don't think anybody put two-and-two together.
SDZ: But, then, I was there, I'm now going chronologically, and I was there for several weeks, and then, we were summoned to a roll call, and I thought, "This is my first weekend pass." I then had a wife who was sitting in an apartment in Trenton, in somebody's attic, [on] Atterbury Avenue.
SH: You had married after ...
SDZ: We were married December 21st. The invitations, with the gold lettering, were all already mailed out and done when Pearl Harbor happened. ... The rental on the hall had been placed and all that. [laughter] ...
SH: We can back up and talk about that. Where were you when Pearl Harbor happened?
SDZ: Driving in a car, someplace. ...
SH: Were you together?
SDZ: Oh, yes, I think we heard it on the radio.
SH: Knowing that you had already sent your wedding invitations out.
SDZ: Well, it was a lot of discussion about what to do, ... but I really wanted to get married before I went into the service. I knew I'd be going into the service when I heard that.
SZ: You asked about when you got your draft number; they let you finish college. You knew that you would be drafted.
SDZ: Oh, I could finish college before I got a draft number.
SZ: No, you had the draft number, ... but, in those days, they let you finish college, I think. Didn't they?
SDZ: Oh, that's it.
SI: Did you have to go talk to a draft board?
SDZ: Well, I had to tell them I was in college somehow; I'm not sure how I did it. I wasn't on intimate terms with the draft board. That was some remote, all-powerful agency. [laughter] ...
SH: In this research that you did on the Bund, what did you find out?
SDZ: There were active German-American groups that met and discussed ways of helping Germany invade the US. It was serious stuff. The Germans were very clever at capitalizing on their German-American friends and there was a sense of loyalty. You know, there were many Germans, at least in New Jersey, who really weren't sure that the US should go into this thing, and there were reports, every once in awhile, of a sighted submarine. ... I'm never sure how accurate [they were]. There was one landing off of Long Island, I think, that actually took place and they captured people. A good part of the activity of the Bund was fundraising, getting resources to send to Germany. ... I have to dredge my memory to go back to what else was in those reports.
SI: Would you gather this information by interviewing Bund members themselves or people in the area?
SDZ: No. ... They had certain places. It was in Northern Jersey, I can't [recall], rural areas.
SI: Andover? [Editor's Note: The German-American Bund operated a camp in Andover, New Jersey, called Camp Nordland.]
SDZ: That sounds right, that sounds right, and what you could do was, first of all, get newspapers that circulate in that area, weeklies. If it told about a marching drill or something, that would go into your report, but you'd also go there and you'd talk to local townspeople, some of whom were delivering milk to that camp, [and ask], "What did you see?" or, "What are they doing?" or you'd go to neighbors, neighboring farms, "What are they doing? What do you think?" and that kind of thing. Meanwhile, in Washington, I'm sure they were tapping phones, radio, [monitoring the] use of radio for international messaging. I just never was clear, and I'm not clear today, what OGR did, you know, ... where we fit into the picture. I'm sure that information was fed into Army Intelligence, eventually, but, I don't know, it was a nebulous group to me; maybe that's my conservatism.
SI: There was never any contact with the FBI or sharing of intelligence.
SDZ: No, I did not. That wasn't our lines of communication. I think we fed into what became OWI. ...
BJ: When you were doing research on the German Bund in Northern Jersey, how did you feel doing that research, as a Jew? Were you afraid? Did it give you more motivation to do it?
SDZ: I don't think anybody really knew or asked whether I was Jewish. As far as I was concerned, I was really glad to do that research. It gave me a feeling of usefulness in that whole period. ... I'm trying to recall that period. I think I was shocked to think that there were such things as Bund camps. ... Until I went to work in that agency, I wasn't aware of it. It wasn't in my neighborhood and I just hadn't heard of it and I hadn't thought much about it, but it had some ominous threads that really made me concerned about the future. Now, they were up to no good, that this was not a summer camp for kids, this was [that] they were really trying to buckle down to military tactics, and what the real fear at OGR [was], I was told, was that they would be doing undercover information gathering, about target sites and things like that. You know, we're a very open society in this country and you could drive down Route 29 and see there was an oil tanker repository. Well, that's a beautiful target if you [ever] got a bombing plane overhead, but they have to know where they are, because they may be fifty thousand feet up when they're releasing, and that's the kind of information that would [be valuable]. The same goes for railroad yards, where you can get a lot of railroad vehicles all at one time, and shipping, docks are particularly vulnerable. If you're trying to stop an army from replenishing its supplies, all these transportation centers and fuel centers are very important, and I think we were worried about the next step from what they were doing. Does that answer your question?
BJ: Yes. Also, personally, as far as your Jewish identity, if it was out in the open, would that have caused some apprehension?
SDZ: You know, ... not only there, but in anything, I didn't go out of my way to say, "I am Jewish," and, if somebody asked me, I'd be happy to tell them and proudly, ... but I didn't flaunt it. I've never tried to trade on it, ... and I think Sylvia and I have probably tried to make sure our social life is broader; true? ... You know what my father said, ... "three day a year religious;" we go for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and we add on now, because Herman, my brother, I go to his yorzeit (the anniversary of his death).
SZ: We're not very observant.
SDZ: We're not very observant. My father, who had a sense of humor about things, he really was very accepting. When our daughter first came and told us she wanted to marry a fellow named David Olds, they went to visit him and, after he visited my father, I asked my father, "Well, what did you think of David Olds?" and he says, "Ah, he's a very fine boy. He talks very well. He's almost nice enough to be a Jewish boy." Well, that was his way of tweaking us, but ... I don't know where I got off the track.
SZ: Oh, that's a good point, ... that he was very accepting.
SI: When you would do these investigations, like you said, if you would interview the milk person, for example, would you identify yourself as being from the government or from the Office of Government Reports?
SDZ: Yes, I had a card, and it's not a badge, but, ... you know, you have to establish your credibility with the person you interview, so [that] they don't think you're just some troublemaker or idiot, that there is a reasonable purpose to be served by them answering your questions, and so, I would do that. The guy who was the director of that office was a fellow named Russell Philips. He was the one who hired me, and he had had a career with, I think it was US Shipping Lines. ... He knew a lot about docks and things like that, and one of his first questions to me, when I came back from one of these trips, [was], ... "Did they say anything about ships and docks?" That was a particular focus of his, I remember now. He was a nice fellow.
SI: That was also a big concern, about sabotage at the docks, particularly after the SS Normandie burned.
SI: You mentioned, when you were still reporting for the Home News, that you did this series of articles on Camp Dix. Were there any other war-related articles, like anything on Camp Kilmer or rationing?
SDZ: Kilmer didn't exist then.
SZ: No, there was no Kilmer.
SI: Oh, Kilmer was not there yet.
SDZ: Kilmer came; there was an exodus from Hungary when the Russians moved into Hungary and a big group came to Stelton, which is where Camp Kilmer is, and they built a camp, and then, later, when the Army was expanding, they used that site and those facilities that were left. [Editor's Note: Camp Kilmer was opened in 1942. In 1956, an influx of refugees from the failed Hungarian Revolution were housed there.] ... That's not far from Hadley Airport, where, as a kid, I used to go with my father and mother to watch airplanes take off and land. That was the eastern terminus of the US Air Mail, ... all the way from California. They'd stop a few places, ... and, as a kid, that was very exciting. I think that's what really started me ... on the notion that I wanted to be a flyer, and it still is an unfulfilled ambition. I'd like to be a pilot.
SZ: Sam applied for pilot training.
SDZ: Yes. ... It's funny, ... my Jersey connections, you had to take a physical, and my blood pressure was up and that would knock me out of any training. So, there was a guy there, a flight surgeon, from Newark, New Jersey. ... We talked about New Jersey a little. He says, "Come, lie down here, stay [still] and don't think of anything exciting, ... think of green trees and calm rivers, nothing that'll be upsetting, and I'll check your blood pressure a few times." You know, blood pressure changes every five minutes. [laughter] If you bend over, that's going to change your blood pressure. So, after a half-hour of this, and he'd taken a couple of readings, [he said], "You passed. Your blood pressure now comes within [the limits]." So, they sent me back. ...
SZ: From Australia.
SDZ: And I went from Australia, and that was traumatic.
SZ: He'd been [there] two years.
SDZ: They put me on a hospital ship. Well, the whole business, you know, you're part of a convoy and you can only go as fast as the slowest vessel, and you see a shadow and you think, "Ah, Japanese submarine," or you see a blip, "A plane." It's a nervous [situation]. It's not like a pleasure boat that goes directly and you get there in seven days. This is, you're talking twenty-two days. I think, going over, it was twenty-six days, but, at any rate, my hospital ship was bringing a big batch of homosexuals who had been found and declared, and, [in] those days, there was, I don't know what the rules were, but they were giving them a discharge. Many of them were from Hollywood. They'd been makeup men and things like that, and I had had very little experience, as a country boy, I don't think I even had known a homosexual, but they flaunted it. ... There was a business of making dates with each other and meeting on the top deck at night, all lipstick. These are guys, and, to me, that was difficult. ... Sylvia was a lot more ...
SZ: Tolerant. [laughter]
SDZ: Cosmopolitan about it all, but I was glad to get off that ship.
SI: They were not restricted in any way; they were not in jail.
SDZ: ... It was their ship. I mean, people like me were the exceptions.
SI: Did you talk to any of them about what brought them to that point?
SDZ: I think I was a little bit, not intimidated, but ... it wasn't my dish of tea, and then, when I got back, I went to Keesler Field in Mississippi, where we had our first taste of Ku Klux Klan-ism. We went to rent a room. Biloxi was, you know, overflowing with Army Air Force people and their relatives and all that. It was hard to get a place to stay. So, we stopped at a guesthouse right along the Gulf [of Mexico] and women greeted us and we said, "We want to spend a night," that I was going to report there. ... Then, we noticed there was a plaque on the wall, "We Admire the Ku Klux Klan." ... Sylvia, meanwhile, had used the bathroom and she whispered to me, "The cockroaches are two inches long in there," [laughter] and so, we quickly beat a retreat and went looking further down. We eventually found a room, and then, Sylvia got a job at the real estate office downtown.
SZ: In order to get a house.
SDZ: [For] Mr. Geist, who later became a mayor, and I knew him when I worked with the Conference of Mayors, and, as a result of her working in the real estate office, we got an addition of somebody's house. It was really the former garage, and they made it into a bedroom, but it was one block off the Gulf.
SZ: And it had a private bath.
SDZ: And it had a private bath, and my buddies on the base, after I reported in, they loved to come to our place, change clothes and dash down the block ...
SZ: It's a beautiful beach.
SDZ: To the beautiful beach on the Gulf, and [all] due to my wife's foresight. She did good work, in the right places. Sylvia also worked for the Santa Fe Railroad. [laughter] She worked for a divorce lawyer. This mother would come in with a little girl, all of sixteen. She's here to get a divorce and the lawyer would say, "But, she's already been divorced once." "It didn't work out." I mean, they treated marriage and divorce like you buy a candy; you don't like it, throw it [out], two cents.
SI: Is this still down in Mississippi?
SDZ: ... That was in San Bernardino, but, then, after that, you went to work on the base.
SZ: Yes. You didn't tell them about your [training at Keesler Field].
SDZ: Oh, when I got to Keesler Field, ... first of all, you've got to be processed in, and there was a long line of us, from all over the world, coming for pilot training, and a grizzled first sergeant was [at] the head of the line. He knew everything, and he sent whispers all the way down the line, "Whatever they ask you, whether you've had basic training, rifle training, you had it. If they say, 'But, it's not in your records. It doesn't show you had it,' tell them your records were lost in Australia. This is a new set of records and they don't have the old stuff." So, I went through a whole war and never had basic training. ... I never shot a rifle, didn't kill anybody. That's why, one reason, I was reluctant to do this, because this was geared to World War II. My World War II experience you could put on the back of a three-by-five file card.
SI: Just from what we have talked about so far, that is not true. I am sure we will get more into your Australian experience, if you want to talk about that. You certainly have a lot to say about World War II.
SDZ: ... There isn't really that much to tell, okay.
SI: I think we would all disagree.
SDZ: Yes, okay.
SZ: And a lot of people didn't ... do combat.
SI: Yes. I believe it was less than ten percent that were actually in frontline combat.
SDZ: Well, at Keesler, they tell me, "We [have] got more pilots than we've got airplanes," so, no training.
SZ: So, Sam never completed [flight training]. You were two years in Australia.
SZ: Two-and-a-half years. ...
SI: To go back, you had been drafted into the Army. You were in Camp Dix. You had been apprehensive about the fact that you had written this expose on Camp Dix and, now, you were in it. What happened from there?
SDZ: Right. Well, I wasn't at Camp Dix very long. Six weeks later, we had a roll call. I thought I was getting a weekend pass, but, instead, fourteen of us, ... our names were called and we were given shipping orders to San Francisco. ... We reported there to what had been a public playground, Funston Park, with barbed wire fencing all around it. We lived in tents there until we shipped out from the docks, which were just maybe a mile away from there. ...
SI: You said you had been in Camp Dix for six weeks. Was that just training or were you just waiting there?
SDZ: I don't think I really did much of anything. I was just waiting for orders to go someplace. They didn't do training that early, and the fourteen was a mystery. One guy was a lawyer, one guy was a phys. ed. coach at a high school, another guy worked in a grocery, and I was among them. I'm not sure of the other ones, but there never was really an answer to why these particular fourteen [were selected] and we spun webs of, you know, "We're a secret taskforce that [is] being welded," and so forth, and so on. ... I must tell you, ... many years later, when I was a newspaperman in Washington, I was working on a story about somebody who was ... throwing up a big scare about Social Security, "It won't pay you and you've got to lobby for changes," and so forth, and he was the retired adjutant general of the United States Army. His name was [James A.] Ulio something, Italian. You've heard that name?
SI: Yes. I have seen it on many documents.
SDZ: Yes. He was on all our orders. So, after we'd had a drink and we'd talked about his program, which was borderline, legally, but he'd taken me to the Army-Navy Club and I could see he thought he'd snow me with [some special treatment] and I'd get off the kick about writing a story on it, ... I said, "You know, your name was on my orders and thirteen others. What'd they have in mind?" He laughed and laughed. He said, "My name was on thousands, millions of orders, and I don't know what they were planning to do with you," but we wound up in a part of a convoy, I think fourteen ships, very slow, landed in Melbourne, Australia. They asked for volunteers to unload the garbage, which was plenty after that many days. You'd get to get on land quicker that way. I was one of the volunteers.
SZ: Oh, you never told me this.
SDZ: And, yes, it was true, and so, we had an evening in the town after we did our unloading and I looked [around]. I still remember that neighborhood right there, Saint Kilda, because, months later, I went to a temple service right near there. At any rate, then, we were trucked to a place about fifteen, twenty miles outside of town. It was an Australian Army camp, Camp Darley, and the US Army was using it as a replacement depot and, in other words, we were a bunch of men and they didn't know exactly what to do with us, but we were there. The first thing we were eager to do was to get a shower, because, onboard ship, all they had was saltwater, where you can't lather with it, you can't shower very well, and so, they said, "We got showers," and they led us to this open area. It had, I think, a concrete base, but it was just big sheets of curved sheet metal around, ... nothing over [the] top, wind whistling through, but there were showers and we were glad to have them, freezing there. ... For me, there was a real pleasure in that, during my time at Camp Darley, I went to a Salvation Army tent, where they served hot tea or coffee. It was a local charitable endeavor, and I met a guy there and we started talking and it turned out he'd been editor of his college paper, the Emory Wheel in Georgia, and his paper had done a major revision of their type layout, and so, I was eager ... to introduce some of those ideas into the Targum. We corresponded. We'd never met each other, but, then, we met at this Australian Army camp and we're close friends. We still see each other. They live over in Chapel Hill. ... While we were at Camp Darley, I was assigned to the motor pool and I did clerical work in it. I'm not a mechanic. For some reason, in that job, I had to ride a motorcycle, which I'd never done before, but I did it and I decided, "I'll never ride a motorcycle again after I get out of here." ... I didn't really like it, and then, I got orders to go to Sydney, Australia, and that camp was at the Ascot Race Track. Race tracks were a favorite place for these emergency tents that they put up, an open green area and they had some bathing facilities, and so forth, and I was there for several weeks. I was assigned, then, I think, already to the United States Armed Forces in the Far East. General [Douglas] MacArthur had two headquarters. One was GHQ, General Headquarters, which was for the Allied [Forces], it was Australians and Americans, I think that's all we had there, but USAFFE was sort of; it's US Armed Forces, Far East, that was his US assignment, and, essentially, we were support forces for the GHQ operation, but the name on a lot of the orders was MacArthur's. ... I don't know how long I was in Sydney, but the next move, they sent me to Brisbane, in Queensland, and, by that time, I was part of the war bond division of something, I think the finance office, and my job was to write pamphlets, posters, circulars, promoting the sale of US war bonds among the Armed Services. We were next door to the offices of the Australian version of the magazine, Yank Magazine, and ours was called Yank Down Under, since it was the Australian [version], and so, I met several of the correspondents. ... Since I'd been a small newspaperman in New Brunswick, we chitchatted, and Calvin Kytle, my friend from Emory days, was there, but he was in a different section. It was a great job. Sylvia's seen a picture of the staff. It was mostly civilian employees.
SZ: All those beautiful women.
SDZ: And one was Lady Cynthia Travers from England. She had come to Australia and she was an expert typist, and then, there was another one, a beautiful blond, her name was Walker, not sure of the first name anymore, but there was also an Australian among the typists. Her name ...
SZ: Thelma, you're thinking of.
SDZ: Yes, Thelma; what was her last name? [Editor's Note: It was Carne.]
SZ: I don't know her last name. It's a wonderful story.
SDZ: I can't think of it, but, [at] any rate, one of the guys who worked on Yank Down Under was Bil Keane and, if you read the comic strips, there's one called The Family Circus. It's a panel cartoon. He spells his name with only one "L" and the Keane has an "E" on the end. Thelma's last name was Carne, C-A-R-N-E.
SZ: She was only seventeen.
SDZ: And just a sidelight, after the war, and her parents wouldn't trust her to go out, she was only seventeen, ... with a Yank. There was only one thing they were interested in and the parents didn't [want that], yes, ... but, after the war, he went back. He married her. They had a flock of kids, six kids, and one of his sons is now associated [with the cartoon]. If you watch the cartoon, some days, it'll say, "Bil Keane," some days, it'll say, "Bil and Jeff Keane," some days, it'll just say, "Jeff Keane." They take vacations. ... They live in Paradise Valley in Arizona and, each year, we get a cartoon calendar from Bil. Unfortunately, poor Thelma now has ...
SDZ: Alzheimer's, but that was a lasting friendship that's carried on all these years. So, while I was in Brisbane, they wanted me to go up to New Guinea, to Port Moresby, first, where I gave a talk urging buying war bonds. My kids think [of] my war career, "The bombs are falling, Dad is typing, typing, 'Buy war bonds.'" [laughter] They have a very jaundiced view of my military career, and they're right, but I also went, somehow, to one of the islands, Woodlark. There are a group of little, tiny islands off the coast. Well, I went to Milne Bay. ... There, you could set your watch by it, there's an afternoon shower every day at a certain time. It lasts about fifteen minutes.
SDZ: Rain, and that's it, and, also, you had to get used to the natives there. They chewed betel nuts, which made their teeth turn black, but it's something, I guess, like marijuana. It's a narcotic and they got high on it. ... The D'Entrecasteaux Islands, if you look on a good atlas, you may find it, one of those was Woodlark Island and we landed on Woodlark Island. I landed with a Navy; what do they call their construction bunch?
SI: CBs [construction battalions, nicknamed "SeaBees"]?
SDZ: No, Navy something. At any rate, it was very interesting. They landed a little plane and take out from that little plane little grids of steel, which, when you clamp them together, that becomes a landing field, and this was a coral island. It was sort of mostly white coral and the rumors were, at one end of it, there was a gold mine. ... When you see the show South Pacific [a Broadway musical], it talks about the old planter at one end, it's a very similar kind of thing, but it was dangerous to go into the water from there, because the coral had sharp edges and, unless you wore boots, you would get cut up to bits. So, at Woodlark, I was with these Navy SeaBees, Navy Seabees. They were the ones that did the building. First thing they built, unloaded, was a refrigerator, and so, there I was, in the Air Force, but they had the cold Coca-Colas, they had fresh frozen meat flown in from the mainland. I was living when I was with them, and then, I went back to Brisbane and resumed work and it was in Brisbane, well, I got to know people there. Some nice people would invite us to their house for a Sunday afternoon tea or a glass of beer. ... The bars were only open a few hours a day, because the supply was limited, but the Americans would go in there and slug them down, and then, they'd [feel it fast], because it was much more powerful than American beers. ... Oh, there were parades of the returning Australian soldiers, all of whom were seven or eight feet tall. [laughter] They were really husky, well-built guys. [In] Brisbane, we had a little club, a non-coms' club, run by Sly Grog Willy Moore. He had been a steward on the Matson Line, and the boat I came over on was the Matsonia, which was the, what do you call it, the master ship of the [fleet]?
SI: Flag ship.
SDZ: Flag ship of the line. ... [laughter] Well, Willy, he was terrific. He was a short, stocky guy and he had arranged, with some of his former colleagues on the line, when they deposited a whole load of soldiers in Brisbane, they also would deposit some cartons labeled, "For Sergeant Willy Moore," and it was all the stuff that the Australians were short in, Kotex, silk stockings ...
SZ: Toilet paper.
SDZ: Toilet paper, watches, and then, he would be selling. ... He rented a store downtown; it was a non-coms' club. They had a jukebox playing and he would sell drinks in there and we would hang out, play cards, this and that, and, years later, he came to see us in Washington. He tracked me down. I wasn't sure I wanted to continue the connection. [laughter] I was sure he was headed for a prison one day, but, so it was, and that's when I applied for my pilot training. Oh, MacArthur's Headquarters; we were in the T&G Bank Building in downtown Brisbane, right in the business section. The next block over, there was a different bank building, AMP, and it was the headquarters for General MacArthur. When he would come into the lobby, all three or four elevators were stopped until the great man got on and went up to his destination. Many years later, when I finished at the Post, we went on a round-the-world trip and I wanted to show Australia to Sylvia and where I had fought the war. [laughter] ... So, we visited this building and they said they didn't have any record of it, but there was a club at the top floor; Petroleum?
SDZ: I think so, and we went up there and we said, du-dah, du-dah, and they said, "Oh, yes, used to be here. It's now floor number seven-and-a-half. The elevator doesn't stop there, but we'll get the key," and then, they took us down, and I remembered that room, because all around on the wall were maps and photographs for the retaking of the Philippines. It was planned in that room and a lot of the stuff was still on the walls, but there was no plaque, there was no marker. [Editor's Note: The MacArthur Museum Brisbane, opened in 2004 and situated in what was then known as the AMP Building when General MacArthur's headquarters was located there, has since rectified this situation.] ... We traveled into several cities in Australia. We were in Sydney, we were in Melbourne.
SZ: And Brisbane.
SDZ: And Brisbane. It's interesting. The Australians were scared to death that the Japanese would actually invade their island, but, after World War II, ... all the monuments that you would see as you traveled around these three major cities were the ANZAC ones, World War I monuments. Somehow, they wanted to get rid of that memory of American troops housed there, and it was really kind of; we went to Coolangatta, which is a lovely little town on the coast, oh, right ... near the borderline between Queensland and New South Wales, and we inquired, "Where was the Red Cross building?" They said, "Oh, yes, well, ... the foundation is left there, but the building rotted, and so, we took it down." ... What else did I forget?
SI: In general, how did the Australians treat you?
SDZ: Oh, very well. We were very well [treated]. I think some of the parents, as I indicated, were a little worried about the intentions of some of the Americans, but they liked Americans and they were very grateful that we were there, ... but it's something in the psyche about these wars. ... World War I was their war and, somehow, World War II was thrust upon them, and the Americans, you know, in some ways, were a problem, because they created as much luxury as they could wherever they were. The Australians were a heartier type. They were more used to very fundamental kind of living, but, oh, no, they were very nice to us. I remember, there was a fellow who ran the local five-and-ten cent store downtown, and Calvin would probably remember, we were invited to come spend the day there and they'd lay it on, and they were very, very warm to the Americans.
SI: Were you given instructions on how to act in Australia, what to do and what not to do?
SDZ: I don't think so. Incidentally, in Brisbane, we were housed on the edge of the business section, on a hill. It was called Dreamland or Pleasure Land or something.
SZ: That was a dance hall.
SDZ: It had been a dance hall and we had rows of mattresses that we lived on in Dreamland; I think it was called Dreamland.
SDZ: And we inquired about it when we went back.
SZ: It had just been torn down.
SDZ: It had just been torn down. I liked the Australians.
SZ: ... After Keesler, you had another assignment.
SDZ: Oh, yes.
SI: I just wanted to ask a few more questions about Australia, and then, we will get back to your return to the States.
SI: It sounds like, in a typical day, you would be doing a lot of office work and writing up the press releases and speeches.
SI: Would you say it was like a nine-to-five job or was it more than that?
SDZ: Mine was. You had to do certain elements. You know, you had to stand roll call in the morning, you had laundry days, and I said, "Well, what do we do?" The guy said, "Turn your underwear inside out and wear it that way, been laundered down." [laughter] That was a standing joke there.
SI: Do you remember if there was a standard pitch in these war bond efforts? Do any of the campaigns stand out in your mind?
SDZ: I once had a scrapbook of some of the things I did there, but I think it's up in our attic. I haven't looked at it. I really don't remember. We had some administrative chores in connection with that that we did. Some people got it deducted from their pay. ... We were encouraging that. I remember, that was a big thing to promote. I really don't remember too much of it. [laughter]
SI: Did you have officers above you?
SDZ: Yes. I had a warrant officer. He was from Rochester, New York. I can't think of his name, very nice guy, very capable guy, and then, above him, ... there was a major. I can't think of his name anymore either; Gomon, G-O-M-O-N. That's right. That's all I really remember.
SI: It does not sound like there was a great deal of oppressive military presence.
SDZ: No, no, oh, no. We could have been civilians, sure.
SI: What did the average soldier think of MacArthur?
SDZ: A stuffed shirt, pompous, overbearing, but I think, deep down, they had to acknowledge he was a very smart military man. A lot of my reaction to MacArthur is based on what happened after I'd left there. I mean, you remember, he had the run-in with Truman and I thought that was really a terrible trespass on the civilian authority over the military. He could have easily gotten us into a war with China. He was almost itching for it, and Truman was the Commander-in-Chief, and so, I think a lot of my current feeling is colored by that, rather than when I [was in Australia]. I didn't know MacArthur at all when I was there. He lived in a hotel, the Lennons Hotel. It was right near the town hall for Brisbane and the Lennons Hotel had the marble interior. ... Then, we heard stories that there was some island [Leyte] that we recaptured and they told the troops that were landing there, no, they couldn't go up. They had to wait until the photographers could get up on land and catch a picture of MacArthur wading through the water before it was official, and I was inclined to believe the story. Interestingly, when we were at Keesler Field, his former wife was married to the commanding officer there. ... I don't know, must have been something in the marriage genes, but he was known for riding around in a jeep with his riding crop and pointing, "Speed it up over there. There's some trash over there," [laughter] not my idea of a military leader, but I'm prejudiced.
SI: Earlier, you explained how you came back home. I am not sure if we asked this then, but what motivated you to apply for pilot's training?
SDZ: For pilot training? I guess two things; one was my brother, who was a bombardier/navigator, and second was, I guess, from those childhood days of watching planes landing and taking off at Hadley Field in Stelton. I really wanted to learn, and I still even talked about it when we lived in Maryland, but, somehow, never quite got to it.
SI: Were you disappointed when they said pilot's training was all full?
SDZ: Yes, yes. I wanted very much to do it, but it led to a very pleasant experience in California, which I might not have [had otherwise]. You know, the whole business of being in the military, it was my first trip on a ship, it was my first time in an airplane. I was a country boy. I didn't know from these things, and the California experience, I'm not sure it would have happened without my military assignment and it was a wonderful time. We were there more than a year, I think more like a year-and-a-half, ... but it was just so very good. We worked about five-and-a-half days a week.
SZ: In those days, I think you worked six days.
SDZ: I think maybe just five.
SZ: No, six.
SDZ: And then, the weekends, we were tourists. We could go to Lake Arrowhead, ... and you made friends. Somebody had a cabin that they weren't using, you could use it, and, [in] Hollywood, I met Lucille Ball. She was walking down a street on the opposite side of me and I said, "Hi, Lucille," and she said, "Oh, hi, soldier." [laughter] People were very friendly and warm, and then, we had, on the base, [to Mrs. Zagoria], I'll bet I know what you're writing, [laughter] Dorothy Lamour was married to our Special Services major. His name was Major [William Ross] Howard [III]. He was from a lumbering family outside of Baltimore and she was neat. She had a real personality and a sense of humor and she would show up at some of the functions, and, now, I'll tell you one of my favorite stories about my time in the Army. We had a major in charge of the outfit I was in, forgotten his name, but he would sit at the pay table. Once a month, I think, we got paid, and alongside would be a large dinner plate, empty, and you'd come and you'd get your pay and he'd point to the plate. The plate was for funding extra amenities. Foods that Uncle Sam didn't provide, they would buy them, and so forth. ... It was Major Murphy. He did his job so well that the plate was overflowing by the end of the payroll period, and they had a sergeant, ... a mess sergeant, who was terrific. He'd put on great food, but he didn't use up all the money, and so, they would declare, "We're going to have family Thanksgiving. Come, bring your family," and they'd have a turkey dinner, at the end of which they'd give you a box of chocolates to take home. [laughter] ... We were very impressed and very happy with the thing, but, during our time, somebody kept an eye on this mess sergeant. He had a pickup truck and he had a general store up the road, and that general store had beef and all other things to sell, some of which had the markings of the US Air Force on it, [laughter] and he eventually was court-martialed. ... Oh, yes, I was assigned to do public relations when I was at San Bernardino. I did it awhile, and, in the course of getting my press releases printed in the local paper, they decided to hire me to be their night city editor. So, I would write my release, and then, go down to the only local paper, make sure it got good coverage and a good spot, good headline, I'd write it. ... It was owned by a fellow named (Guthrie?), whose son led the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra, but his father wanted him to do newspapering and he came back and was the publisher of this thing, and I was very close with the editor, Earl Buie, who ran the Orange Show each year, which is a very big thing in San Bernardino. It's around the orange harvest season. Sunkist Oranges has its national headquarters right near there, in Redlands, California. ... So, he offered me a job when I got out of the service, but we decided we had two sets of parents in the East and we were going to have kids, and so, we'd better stay East, but I've always had a yen for California. ... Many years later, when I was finishing up at the National Labor Relations Board, I was approached by one of these headhunter outfits to apply for a job in San Francisco with the Pacific Maritime Association. That's the employer group that negotiates with Harry Bridges' Longshoreman's Union, which is not an easy task, and so, I went out, flew out there for an interview, but they had already made a selection, and so, that didn't happen, but that would have been an interesting time. As it was, I'm sort of jumping ahead, but, when I was with the Conference of Mayors, I was hired by them to administer, I don't know how many millions we had, more than one, from the Ford Foundation to set up a training program for mayors, councilmen, city managers, and then, it turned out to include county officials, state officials, and then, later, school boards of education, superintendents of schools. The problem was that collective bargaining boomed in those postwar years and the people representing the union side were experienced and trained and they knew how to negotiate. As somebody, one mayor said it, "They took away city hall," you know, they just negotiated it out, and so, you had to try and take these former real estate men, lawyers, doctors, and reorient them to this other [mindset] and the terrible thing about school negotiations is that ... they usually appoint the superintendent of schools to be [the lead negotiator] and, in a school of education, like Columbia Teacher's College, which is probably the leading teaching school, there's no course in labor relations. So, on one side of the table, you've got people who know what they're doing, on the other side, you've got people that don't know. The first thing they know, they're tied up in contracts that really don't pay. ... San Francisco decided to give us a contract whereby I flew out one weekend every month ... to do a training [session] for their top 150 officials, department heads, etc., tied in with a college that was called ...
SZ: Golden State.
SDZ: Golden Gate, Golden Gate University, which was a downtown, no dormitory college, and they gave them a degree. So, there was a real incentive for the people to really attend and make their mark and that was great fun. ... I enjoyed San Francisco very much. Where was I?
SI: We were talking about during the war, when you were originally in California.
SI: You got sent out there to do public relations for the Air Force.
SI: What did that entail? What kinds of things would you be preparing?
SDZ: Press releases about things going on at the airbase. That's really about what was entailed. I guess if somebody needed a proclamation or something, I would write it for them. I may have helped on some reports. I did one little thing on the side that was kind of fun. ... There was a test pilot, Al Fischer, who took planes up and tested out various bits of equipment. We were the Air Technical Service Command [ATSC] ... at San Bernardino, and so, he would test it, but he wanted to get more publicity for his experiences in aviation and he couldn't write worth a darn, and I enjoyed going up in a plane. So, we made a deal. We didn't spell it out, but that's the way it worked, that he would have an idea and I would write it, and then, he would place it some place. ... Meanwhile, he'd let me go out into the nose of a B-24 while he was flying it, things like that. It was fun.
SI: Was that unusual, for a serviceman to go into their Air Force job in the day, then, go to a civilian job at night?
SZ: Oh, yes. [laughter]
SDZ: Yes, I think so, but I met two needs. ... The newspaper needed somebody and manpower was still short then, and the airbase wanted the publicity, and I got both.
SI: Your superiors at the airbase knew you were doing that.
SDZ: Oh, sure. They encouraged it.
SZ: They were thrilled. [laughter]
SI: I do not want to give anything short attention, but we want to get through more material.
SDZ: Oh, sure.
SI: Is there anything about your time in the service that you think we should go over more or should we talk about your postwar career now?
SDZ: I think, postwar, ... there's a lot of stuff.
SI: In 1945, you were discharged.
SI: You were part of the discharge staff.
SDZ: Oh, I was a separation counselor for awhile, and that, to me, thinking back on it, is really nutty, where I was responsible, with several others, for advising people about to be separated from the service, but they would come to me with all kinds of very real, basic questions. "Should I leave my wife? She was unfaithful." "Should I change my career? I think I've taken an interest in this." "Should I go back to my hometown or should I stay here?" and I was a young, callow youth. I shouldn't be advising. I could barely make decisions for my own situation and, also, beneath it was a little note of irritation. I had more points which entitled me to separate than some of the people I was sitting advising, but, because I was considered an essential classification, I didn't get out for several months beyond the point where I should have been. So, it wasn't terrible, but I didn't really think I was qualified for that.
SI: Where did you do the separation counseling?
SDZ: Fort Dix. Well, I got training at Louisville, Kentucky, I think two weeks, and then, I did it at Fort Dix.
SI: Was there a lot of pressure to get people out as fast as possible?
SDZ: I wouldn't know that I'd say pressure; there was a steady stream of them. ... There was a guy I worked with there who was a psychology professor.
SZ: Oh, (Kline, Jay Kline?).
SDZ: Yes, (Jay Kline?), from [the] University of Pennsylvania or Temple. ... I think University of Pennsylvania. Now, he could give some advice. He had had much more worldly life experience than I had had, but I didn't feel very qualified with that. I tried, you know. I was honest and I'd tell them what I thought. ...
SI: Did you have to instruct people about the GI Bill, or did you give people a pitch to stay in the Reserves, perhaps? Was that part of your job?
SDZ: I don't think [so]. I think we probably mentioned the GI Bill, but I was not part of recruiting. No, it didn't work that way, and I guess that you were right with your question. I think the momentum was to get them out and I guess we helped fill out forms involved in the discharge process. So, we had a constructive role, but the idea of being an actual advisor, needed more training than two weeks. [laughter]
SI: I had read about how Walter Winchell had these campaigns on the radio about this issue, "This base is not letting men out fast enough," really pushing people.
SDZ: Oh, I'm not aware of that. I don't know about that.
SI: It was in 1945 that you got your discharge.
SI: You decided to come to Washington, DC.
SDZ: Yes. I had a friend, a Rutgers friend, a Targum friend, Al Reitman, who was active in the CIO [Congress of Industrial Organizations] Political Action Committee. Have you done his [interview]?
SZ: He died.
SI: Is he Dr. Norman Reitman's brother?
SDZ: That's right.
SZ: Yes. He's dead, [Al].
SI: We interviewed Dr. Reitman.
SDZ: Oh, Dr. Reitman.
SZ: Alan's dead, I think.
SI: I believe so, yes.
SDZ: I think so, yes. He's the younger brother, but he put me in touch with the National Consumers League. There was a lovely lady, Elizabeth Magee, in Cleveland, Ohio. She was the executive secretary. It was a letterhead organization. They didn't actually physically meet. Bishop Sheil, the auxiliary bishop of Chicago, Bernard J. Sheil, was the chairman and Elizabeth Magee was the secretary and we had some notables on there.
SDZ: Eleanor Roosevelt, and we had Leon Keyserling, who had been Senator [Robert F.] Wagner's administrative assistant, and, later, I think, headed up FHA [Federal Housing Administration], and William Leiserson, who had run the [National] War Labor Board. [Editor's Note: Leon Keyserling did not head the FHA but did serve in several capacities in the US Housing Authority, the Federal Public Housing Authority and the National Housing Agency from 1937 to 1946.] There's a lot of people I wish I'd actually got to meet, [laughter] some of which I did. I met Leon Henderson, I met Keyserling, and I met Mrs. Roosevelt, but the idea was that this committee, which got some support from the unions, who were very eager to increase the minimum wage. I think, then, the minimum wage was about forty cents, and we were trying to get it up to sixty-five, and I wrote pamphlets and I wrote speeches. When the legislation was introduced, I wrote the talks that some of the Senators and Representatives made about why they were doing it and, one night, I was there in the Senate and five of my speeches were delivered in the Senate, which was quite a night. They may have modified it somewhat, [laughter] but it was basically the same thing. ... It's the National Committee for Fair Minimum Wage. ... One of the participants in it was the National Consumers League, which has headquarters, now, in Washington, DC. [To Mrs. Zagoria] Yes, you're right. What else can I tell you about?
SZ: How that led to the Post.
SZ: It was a temporary job.
SDZ: Oh, so, I did that for a year, but I always had my eye on getting on to the Post. ... One of my activities that year, yes, one of my side activities, I became active in the American Veterans Committee. ... Have you heard of this?
SI: A little bit, but please tell me.
SDZ: Chuck Bolte founded it. He was a guy who lost a leg in the war and he ... became head of the Book Publishers Association. I don't have the title right, ... and then, he had some very interesting guys with him, Chat Paterson, who became a building developer in the Denver area. ... Well, at any rate, it was the liberal veterans' group, which believed in political action, not limited to veterans' benefits. They were broader gauged. Oh, Franklin Roosevelt, Jr., was very active in it.
SZ: Was the vice-president [of the organization].
SDZ: ... And Robert Nathan was the chairman of their largest unit, which was Washington, DC. There were a couple of chapters in Washington, but he was number one and, through his activities, I became the vice chairman of it and we became pretty friendly. Well, Bob Nathan was friendly with Phil Graham, the publisher of the Post, and, when I told Bob that I was interested in getting on the Post, he said, "Well, let me make a phone call," and just like that, he picked up the phone, he called Phil Graham. Graham said, "Send him over," and I went over and we chatted and he took me down to the city editor, Ben Gilbert, and they agreed to hire me. I had to take a pay reduction from my lobbying. I went from a hundred bucks a week to sixty-five a week, [laughter] but it was worth doing and, nine months later, I managed to get back up to a hundred, I got a raise, and I was at the Post for nine years. ... First, I was a state editor, I was suburban editor, I was assistant city editor, I was the assignment editor, and then, I covered the District Building, which was probably my longest tenure, which is our city hall in Washington, and that led to my being part of the team that covered the Senate and the House, the Capital Hill group, and I did that for about three years. ... Then, I got a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard. That's fifteen, twelve US guys and three from the Commonwealth Nations, come to Harvard, take any courses you like, all prerequisites are waived, not necessarily for a grade, although you could do that, and, meanwhile, there are weekly meetings of the Nieman Fellows. They were from all over the world, so, you [could] exchange ideas and they'd bring in big-name speakers for formal dinners at the Signet Club.
SZ: Very exciting.
SDZ: And it was ... good living, and I learned a lot from it and made some lifelong friends there. ... So, I was on the Post until that came up.
SI: That was in 1954.
SDZ: '54, and then, I got a [call]. We were at Thanksgiving dinner with our landlord, who lived in a lovely, old mansion in Newtonville, Massachusetts. We lived in the butler's house in the back, where we had a little apartment, but they had a swimming pool, they had a motorcycle, a Cadillac and an airplane. He'd go on a weekend and flip me his keys and say, "Have a good [time]." They had children the same age as [we did], then, we had two.
SZ: And they had two also.
SDZ: And they had two older ones, one at Radcliffe, one at Harvard, who sort of, you know, since they were parents, they were remote from them. So, the parents used to ask us things about what's going on at Harvard and we would tell them [about] their kids.
SZ: Also, we took care of the little ones. ...
SDZ: But, he was a marvelous landlord. He liked being sort of "team doctor" for the Niemans. The Niemans would come to our house and we'd have beer and pretzels and sit around and talk, and Dr. Gahm would come in and he'd say, "Oh, come on back to the house," and we'd go up to the house, which had an organ, had a bar, and it had a dispensary, and he would take the whole gang of fifteen, [and ask], "What drugs do you need?" ... So, he took good [care of us], and then, we'd have a tour of Boston with the ...
SZ: Oh, the Niemans would include him.
SDZ: Yes, and we'd include them. ... How did I get on this?
SI: You were describing your living situation when you were at Harvard.
SZ: ... And why we were, yes.
SDZ: Why we were at Harvard.
SZ: And why it ended.
SDZ: Oh, we were having Thanksgiving dinner, in the big house. [laughter] ... They had a servant with a white jacket.
SZ: "Houseboy, houseboy."
SDZ: Houseboy, yes, and I got a call from; the last big story I did at the Post, before I left on the Nieman, was an unusual filibuster, thirteen days and nights. It was an issue between TVA [Tennessee Valley Authority], public power, and the private power. Dixon and Yates were two guys that headed up two private power companies in the South and they wanted to block further expansion of the TVA and there was a group of liberal Senators then, believe it or not, from the South who were backing TVA, and so, I covered that dispute. The lawyer for the Southern Senators, the advisor, was a fellow named Joe Volpe, a Rutgers graduate, and Joe was a close friend of Clifford Case's, had helped him in his campaign.
SZ: One of his closest.
SDZ: And he'd been general counsel of the Atomic Energy Commission, he'd been a close friend of David Lilienthal, who was the very prominent chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, and Joe called me and he said, "Sam, I'd like for you to consider going to work for Senator Case," who'd just got elected. I said, "Yes, I read about it." I was on the air with a radio program, [laughter] with Louis Lyons, and I was predicting he was probably going to lose and he won, which was better, and so, I said, "Joe, you know, I'm on the ladder at the Post and I like it and they like me and I want to be a newspaperman." So, he said, "Sam, do me a favor; just go down as a courtesy, since I've mentioned your name to him. Talk to him," and so, I did, but I had been elected chairman of that year's crop of Nieman Fellows and, as chairman, you get the opportunity to introduce the guest speaker. That night, it was to be [James Barrett] "Scotty" Reston of the New York Times and that was a guy I certainly wanted to introduce. So, I booked a plane into Newark and a plane out, I think two hours in-between. I figured, "That's enough for courtesy, and then, I can go back to Boston and meet Scotty Reston," and it didn't turn out that way. I got to talking to Senator Case, and it was an unusual interview in that present was this young woman sitting there, and the Senator, after he saw I was trying to figure out who this is, he said, "This is Frances Henderson and she has been my assistant at the Fund For the Republic," which was the Ford Foundation group that the Senator headed up after he left the House of Representatives. Frances Henderson was no small potatoes. She was a pilot, a motorcycle driver, a Time Magazine writer and researcher. She had a terrific background.
SZ: And a lawyer.
SDZ: She was a lawyer, I shouldn't, yes, overlook that, ... and so, in effect, she was to pass judgment on me as the administrative assistant. The Senator was from the old school, that you don't hire a young woman as administrative assistant, not so much that he didn't think women were important, because he did, but because people might talk.
SZ: And they did.
SDZ: There was one Senator of his party, the Republicans, from New Hampshire, whose administrative assistant was a woman. That was in the daytime, and he also knew her pretty well in the nighttime, and people buzzed about it, and so, Clifford Case, ... in those ways, he was very circumspect.
SZ: And Frances agreed.
SDZ: And Frances agreed to it. She became my deputy, but, at any rate, he offered me the job and I said, "I didn't come here thinking to accept it," du-dah, du-dah, du-dah. ... I had made a commitment, as most Nieman Fellows did, that I would go back to the Post for at least a year after the Nieman, because there'd been a record of a number of Niemans who went to Harvard for that year, and then, just did some job shopping and they didn't go back, or one guy went and wrote a novel, The Big Sky. Do you know that book?
SZ: Yes, by [A. B.] Guthrie, [Jr.]. ...
SDZ: His name was Guthrie and Harvard didn't like it and his newspaper didn't like it. So, I flew to Washington, and they were very complimentary, "You're too good a reporter to quit now," and dat-da-dah. Then, finally, Phil Graham said, "Sam;" he really was one of the guys I really looked up to. He had taken that paper and, by shrewdly putting it together with the Times Herald, had changed it from about number four to number one, and he really managed it. They kept the title of the Times Herald, but, every day, it shrunk a little, until, finally, it was theWashington Post, and he started with four pages of comics. Anybody who read the comics of the Times Heraldcould still read it in the new combined one [paper], but, gradually, over time, the four pages shrunk to two pages, but you have to do that very methodically, so that it works and you don't offend people and lose readers and, therefore, lose advertisers, because you have fewer readers to put into the equation.
SZ: You were saying about Phil Graham.
SDZ: So, Phil Graham said, "Sam," he says, "I hate to lose you, but I have to admit that even though I'm an active Democrat, I contributed to Clifford Case's campaign, because he's the kind of guy we need in the US Senate."
SZ: He was a special man.
SDZ: ... Phil had been remarkably nice to me. I don't know how many of these anecdotes to get into. When I was a young squirt reporter, barely knew enough to blow my nose, the Post had an annual Christmas party for the employees at the Hotel Statler, big fat food and drink session. ... We had lost our first baby almost at birth and I volunteered to the editor, I said, "You guys go, have a good time. I'll man the desk, listen to the police radio, fire radio, dispatcher, photographer, needs be, recruit if you have to, [if] some emergency comes up," but I was just sitting there, reading a newspaper. ... I felt this arm around my shoulder and I looked up and it was the publisher. ... You're talking about from the fifth floor to the ninth floor, which is the way it is at the Post, and he said, "Kay and I lost our [child]. I know you're feeling blue and down. Kay and I lost our first one, but you'll go on and you'll have more children. ... We did." It was just such a show of kindness and thoughtfulness and I've never forgotten it. When I was leaving for the Nieman Fellowship, the Nieman program tried to pay each participant roughly the equivalent of what they got from the newspaper, but it's never enough. Living in Boston, particularly on a short-term basis, can be pretty expensive. So, as I was leaving, he gave me an envelope with a check in it for five hundred bucks.
SZ: That's a lot of money in those days.
SDZ: And, when I left for Senator Case, there still was some money left, and they gave Henry Shapiro, he'd been the Russian correspondent for United Press, ... but, at any rate, he got the rest of my slot, including the remainder of the five hundred from Phil Graham. [laughter] So, that covered that. Now, where's that get us?
SI: To Senator Case's office.
SDZ: Okay. Well, that was a whole new [arena]. You know, I thought I knew Capitol Hill. I'd worked around it, but I'd been on the other side of the desk and, now, I had to [learn on-the-job]. Nobody tells you how to recruit and formulate a staff, how to manage it, how to create this correspondence factory, to answer all the letters and all the phone calls, and it was a challenging experience.
SZ: But, you enjoyed it.
SDZ: I worked hard at it, long hours. The main thing was that the Senator said, right from the beginning, and he never varied from it, "Sam, it's your staff; you run it." Every once in awhile, I'd have a problem. There'd be bickering between [staffers]. There was a black secretary that I hired, first one, and there was one woman that didn't like that, came to me with a report about misconduct, and it was really a bunch of junk, and I had to pat her on the wrist and keep her calm. The irony was, this white woman later developed cancer and a number of us visited her in the hospital and saw her, but, one day, when we were visiting, she said, "You know, the most faithful person to come visit me regularly, week in and week out, was that black secretary," and she was a good-hearted soul, very decent, but the woman that we had was terrific on handling cases. We had a staff of about fourteen or fifteen, I think, but we also spliced in various internships. We had an arrangement with Antioch [University], we had an arrangement with Rutgers, we had an arrangement with Princeton, where we'd get interns, and the Senator really treated interns fully. He would have them in his office and he'd say, "Well, I have to vote on this," and he'd explain the pros, he had a yellow pad, like good lawyers do, the plusses and the minuses, ... and he'd encourage and really invite them to [contribute]. I remember, we had one guy, he was the son of a fellow who later became Secretary of Commerce, John [T.] Connor. He'd been the head of ...
SDZ: Merck, and he started telling the Senator, after a question like that, "You ought to do one, two and three." [laughter] The Senator smiled, but he wrote it down. Some of them, you know, were a little more outgoing than others. [laughter] He's become a good lawyer, that son. ... Oh, yes, well, the Senator and I, it really became as close to a father-son relationship as [possible]. He taught me a lot of things. I remember, for example, one night, we were working late in the Senate. The Senate was tied up in knots over what I considered a "fly specking" operation by a Senator changing a comma, a period. Of course, it could be critical, but, in my judgment, which was limited, ... it wasn't, and I said, "How in the world did a guy like that ever get to the Senate?" and the Senator gave me a little pat on the shoulder. He says, "He managed, no matter ... what his intellectual capabilities are, to attract one vote more than his opponent did." It was really a lesson that, you know, you can't judge these people by the way they act on the [Senate floor]. They had to have something, they had to have the fire in the belly and the know-how to get elected, to get nominated, and then, to get elected.
SZ: But, he was a very special man.
SI: Yes. You mentioned in your memoirs that Senator Case was very shy and modest, and that he would give credit to other people.
SI: As a human being, that is great, but, from a public relations standpoint, how did that make your job more challenging?
SDZ: ... Well, to get back to that business of giving credit, he gave me credit for his community college amendment, which I was very proud of, and it's a result of my California experience, where I saw and I fell in love with [the community college system]. The community college is really, you know, if you're trying to get more bang for the buck, no dormitories, and you have a school which fulfills not only a help to get an academic degree, but, also, one that can give you training for certain kinds of fields where you only need two years of college work, and, for our community, in San Bernardino, it was the cultural center. That's where you had the lecture series, the concert series, the visiting ballet company, and so, at any rate, we encouraged it. ... I was amazed, when he was talking to a group of constituents, that he said, "Sam wrote this and has pushed me this way and that way," but, you know, as I thought about that, I think that enhanced his status with that group. They thought, "You know, this is a man. He's not just one of these publicity, credit-grabbing people." ... It certainly made me feel good, ... but Senator Case was not driven by ambition. The Senate was a place that he'd loved and enjoyed and his only real [regret], or my regret about it all, was that the way things shape up in a Senate office, and I'm not writing any books about it, although I think it deserves it, is that the amount of time that a Senator actually has to do his primary work of deciding what legislation to sponsor, what to amend, what to vote for or against, is very limited. They get closed in by meetings of their own party, by meetings with constituents, particularly special interests of one kind or another, with meeting media requests, television, weekly radio, whatever it is. All these things eat up in time and, sometimes, he'd say, "Sam, do you mind going to the Legion breakfast?" There were breakfasts, there were luncheons, there were dinners, there were cocktail parties. He was the one fellow I know who could go through a cocktail party holding a glass, the same glass at the same level, for an hour, but he had shaken hands with everybody. Everybody in that room knew he had been there. That's the point, to register your presence, your interest, but, in terms of hours, [it was demanding]. ... What he would really enjoy, ... he made it plain to me, was getting home to Ruth, where he would make, he liked martinis, but it's not with all the fancy shakers-schmakers. He had an old quart milk bottle and he poured the gin to a certain [level], the vermouth to a certain level, chill the glasses, and then, pour. Everything was sort of low key and that was Clifford Case. His campaign, the year that I was his campaign manager for reelection, , was against Thorn Lord. ... He once confided in me, or I guess it was really Ruth, his wife, confided in me, that Thorn Lord's family was a wealthy one and had given a suit away to some ...
SZ: No, boxes of clothing.
SDZ: Boxes of clothing.
SZ: To their family.
SDZ: And he was wearing one of the old suits from that, [laughter] but it was a "powder puff" campaign. Our daughter, the judge, used to ride a horse. In one wild moment, we bought her a horse, in College Park, Maryland, and Thorn Lord had a daughter who went to a private school in the Washington area. I've forgotten which one; Madeira. ... One night, there was supposed to be a debate between Case and Thorn Lord, in some League of Women Voters session, and Thorn motioned me over, in the back of the room. I thought he was going to talk about the rules of engagement or whatever, and he said, "You've got a daughter [that] rides a horse and I've got a daughter [that rides a horse]. Can't we get the two of them together to go off horseback riding?" [laughter] One of the newspaper guys saw us huddling and he says, "Sam, what are you up to?" and I didn't tell him, but he was a human being, Thorn Lord.
SI: Why did you call it a "powder puff" campaign?
SDZ: Because they really liked each other and they didn't really lay a heavy glove on each other. Clifford Case was not a flamethrower by inclination. ... The only flame throwing he ever did was Joe McCarthy, and, if you remember the history, when Case was first nominated for the Senate as a Republican, by the Republican Party, Joe McCarthy, a Republican sitting Senator, came into New Jersey and campaigned against him. That's an unheard of trespass on Senatorial courtesy and, of course, ... when he ran the Fund for the Republic, most of the issues they were involved in involved the outgrowth of McCarthyism. So, one day, after he was elected, Senator Case went before the Senate Government Operations Committee and urged them to reject McCarthy as a member. It didn't happen. The Senator didn't have the votes. It didn't come until much later, but ... [it was] the first time I ever saw him with his fist [clenched]. He really was [repulsed]; it was offensive to him personally.
SI: What was it like to work in the Senate during the McCarthy era? What was the atmosphere like?
SDZ: Scary. You know, for me, the McCarthy era started when I was still on the Post, and I remember, Phil Graham called us, the whole news staff, together and he said, "We're in a battle. McCarthy has called us The Daily Worker for Washington," or the Washington Daily Worker, the Communist paper, "and, if any of you have any things in your background that would make the Post vulnerable, I wish you'd come privately and tell me about it, so [that] we can be prepared," and McCarthy tried some little stunts, but nothing that really stuck at all.
SZ: The hiding of the pictures. ...
SDZ: Oh, yes, well, it affected us personally. We had a William Gropper painting of the Senate. It really was a characterization of; was it [Theodore G.] Bilbo?
SDZ: Yes, I think it was, Senator Bilbo, who was a prize racist from Mississippi, waving, you know, the bloody rag, and so forth, and Gropper was a left-wing artist, and so, in an abundance of caution, we took that painting and put it in our attic. [laughter] ...
SZ: That's when we went up to Harvard and we rented our house [out].
SDZ: Oh, we rented our house out and we were out at Harvard, hopefully for a year. ... We didn't stay a year, but, one night, we're walking back from the Senate with Senator Joe Clark of Pennsylvania. He'd been the Mayor of Philadelphia and he came from a blue-blood family. ... I got involved in Philadelphia; I mediated a public school strike there, with a couple of other guys. So, Joe Clark said, "Well, come on in, we'll have a quick drink before we go back," and so, Senator Case said, "Okay. [Do] you want to come?" I said, "Sure." I went in and there, over his fireplace, was a big print, the same William Gropper that we had. [laughter] I figured, if a US Senator can [display it], and, that night, we went up and we brought it down and put it back in our living room, but that's indicative of the kind of ...
SZ: That you should be afraid.
SDZ: There was fear.
SZ: ... It was terrible, and we had friends who lost their jobs.
SDZ: ... Oh, yes. One of the best reporters at the Post was Murrey Marder and he covered McCarthy, and, when he would come in to write a news story, sometimes, I would be directed to cover the night session of a McCarthy thing, and then, if something happened, I would make an insert in Murrey's pieces, and I didn't like that duty. I did it, but I didn't like the guy [Senator McCarthy]. It was a bad, bad time. It took the Senate a long time to get up on its hind legs and call it [to] an end. ... A lot of people were slow [to respond].
SI: I have one more question before we get on to your National Labor Relations Board career.
SI: You were also there when the Civil Rights legislation was drafted. Do you remember anything about that process?
SDZ: Frances Henderson owns a semicolon in the Civil Rights Act [of 1964]. It was a critical point. That was her baby, not mine. I didn't have anything, really, to do with it, but she insisted that it added a real effect on the bill. I can't give you the details, because I don't know them, but the Senator was very strong for Civil Rights. That was from his guts.
SZ: And he marched.
SDZ: Yes, we all marched. I walked with Ruth Case, and I think Cliffy was there then, too.
SZ: ... And the Senator.
SDZ: In the ... Martin Luther King Day [the August 28, 1963, March on Washington] and, "I have a dream," and Senator Case was very close, particularly on that issue, with [Senator] Paul Douglas of Illinois, and that really led to another chapter of my life. ... Paul Douglas was the number one guy on Civil Rights in the Senate, year after year, and he took a lot of abuse from Southern Senators, but, you know, he'd been in the Marine Corps, he was a tough guy, been a professor at the university; Roosevelt University, was that where Paul Douglas is?
SZ: It's in Chicago, yes. [Editor's Note: Senator Douglas was an economics professor at several universities; he is most associated with the University of Chicago.]
SDZ: It was in Chicago, yes, but his administrative assistant, Frank McCulloch, was really responsible for my being on the National Labor Relations Board. He had a lot to do with it. He became chairman of it, appointed by Jack Kennedy, and Senator Case was on the Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee, and so was Jack Kennedy, and Kennedy developed a labor reform bill that he was promoting. The Republicans, [which] included Senator [Jacob] Javits, Senator Case, ... they were a little slow about getting onboard and that would be helpful to Kennedy, to have a bi-partisan [support], and I was sort of the bridge guy. I knew the guys, the staff guys, there and we worked things out, to the point that, when Kennedy was elected President, my name was tossed around as a possible appointment to the National Labor Relations Board, and, for awhile, I thought I had it, actually, but, then, I got a phone call and they told me; oh, it was one of Kennedy's staff, Ralph Dungan, who became the Chancellor of Higher Education here in New Jersey, after Washington. Ralph was a good friend and he said, "Sam, Kennedy's not going to appoint you. There ... hasn't been a black man on the NLRB ...
SZ: Never, on any regulatory board.
SDZ: On any regulatory agency, and he's going to appoint someone, a lawyer from the Labor Department," and he did make the appointment, but it was still in the files. So, when Johnson came in and there was another vacancy, it became ...
SZ: And Dungan was in the White House.
SDZ: And Ralph was still there, and I'm sure he was pushing me, and I think Esther Peterson was then in the White House. She was an old family friend, so, she was pushing. So, I got it, and Jack Connor, actually, from Merck, was for me, and, in the end, so was George Meany.
SI: That was one of my favorite parts of your memoir, reading about how you met the President and all the back-and-forth in how you actually got sworn in. Could you tell that story for the record?
SDZ: Okay. ... I was called to the White House and told to come in by one of the rear gates and I met President Johnson and he talked. It was really a half-hour of him talking and me saying, "Yes, Mr. President, yes," and his favorite story, which later was used in an article in Newsweek, I think ...
SZ: Moyers told it.
SDZ: But, Bill Moyers told it. He told me, he said, "I want to tell you about so-and-so," some woman's name, and she was ...
SZ: Effie Boon.
SDZ: Effie Boon. She was in this little Texas town and a bunch of the young lads were hanging out ... in front of a store and there are wooden sidewalks and she tripped on it. ... She fell and her bloomers were showing and one fellow stepped forward to help her back on her feet, ... and everybody else was laughing. He said, "But, that's the kind of regulator I want you to be," and so, I remember that story. The guy after me was one he was nominating for the Federal Power Commission, Carl Bagge, ... and Bagge was a bit of; he was much smarter than I was. He pulled out pictures of all his children and showed it to President Johnson. President Johnson reached into his desk and had a gold coin, something special, one for each of the children, and Bagge came out, and we were friends, he'd been on the Hill, too, and told me about it, but, then, later, ... he had to negotiate with [Everett] Dirksen, who was the leader of the Republicans. ... He, Dirksen, wanted a more conservative person, someone out of the business community, which I was definitely not, ... but, finally, Johnson decided this was going to be it. I think Senator Case visited him and that was ...
SZ: Or called him on the phone.
SDZ: Or called. No, I think he went to see him and I think that was the final [straw]. The Senator was in my corner, although he said he [was] sad to lose me and all that. So, then, what happened?
SZ: Senator [George] McGovern called us that night. [laughter]
SDZ: Oh, yes. We went to; our son, the Sandy Spring Friends School was doing Pirates of Penzance and a fellow named Phil Potter, who headed up the Baltimore Sun [Washington DC] bureau, called me aside and he said, "I hear you're making a trip south tomorrow." I said, "What are you talking about, Phil? You know, what do you mean?" and he says, "It's okay. You've got my blessing. [laughter] ... I told them I approve." What it was was that I'd been called by the White House and told to be ready to take a flight early in the morning to the ranch, and, at the time, I don't think I knew that there were several other appointees onboard, or that Lady Bird [Johnson owned the plane]. It was Lady Bird's plane we were on, and so, we went down and they put on a lunch for us, and then, announced us, one at a time. President Johnson gave us a tour of the ranch in his [Lincoln] Continental, and Mrs. Johnson in the second white Continental behind him, and he would radio, "Overlord to Number Two, we're ready to start the tour now." I knew immediately who was "Overlord," and he gave us a bouncing tour and he pointed out this ...
SDZ: Bull hadn't produced and it cost him fifteen hundred dollars, and that fellow over there was his personal pilot, not the government pilot, who ran a flight from the Austin airport to this little one, right. What was the name of his town, something, named for the river that ran by? [I] can't think of it now, [the Pedernales River, near Johnson City], and he's fixing the fence when he's not running, flying the plane. He works on the farm, and so forth, and then, when we sat down, he said, "We sell what we raise. What we don't sell, we eat. Dig in." Then, he complained there was too much water in the black-eyed peas and Mrs. Johnson said, "Yes, Mr. Johnson." [laughter] He was a very colorful character and I must admit there are people who can be very critical of the President, for particularly his Vietnam War activity, but I knew him when he was Senate Majority Leader and he was terrific. I'd seen other majority leaders. He knew how to get things done, and he had the push and, also, I probably have a little better view of Bobby Baker than most people do. He was his clerk in the Senate. ... Senator Case might get an invitation to make a speech some place, let's say Chicago, that he'd have to be away a day or two. ... I would check with the Republican Secretary of the Senate and he would say, "Well, I don't know. There's four bills that may come up," and you don't want your Senator to miss an important vote or to be the critical one-vote margin on a controversial issue and be away, be out of [the Senate], recorded as, "Not present," and then, I'd go to Bobby Baker and he'd say, "Sure, he's okay until Tuesday. This is going to come up. It's going to be defeated forty-one to nothing. [laughter] This one is going this way," and the point to me was that he knew what he was talking about. ... He wasn't just blowing smoke rings, and Bobby also dispensed things like opening day baseball tickets, trips on somebody's yacht down the Potomac, but it all was part of the softening up process, to get the legislation moved along.
SI: There was a pretty congenial relationship between the parties in the Senate.
SDZ: More than today, I would say.
SZ: Oh, my.
SDZ: Yes, there was sort of an understanding, as the Senator said to me about when I raised the dumb Senator thing, they're here, I mean, that they've got something to offer and hear them out. You cast your vote, whatever way you want to go, but pay them the respect that they are a sitting US Senator. I think that's absolutely right. ...
SI: Do you want me to put the recorder on?
SDZ: Yes, okay. I think, you know, for somebody who listens to somebody else's life, it's important to know that to make friends and the right ones, ones who can really help you along the line you want to go, I was very fortunate to have my time with Senator Case. No place during that time I was with him, or since that time, when I mention my connection with Senator Case, I'm immediately given a level of respect and credibility that opens the door with anybody, even those who had a different ideology and point of view. He is a class person and that rubs off on me. The second one was Frank McCulloch. I knew him as a fellow administrative assistant, he with Paul Douglas, me with Clifford Case. So, we worked together on things, and then, he helped me get started on the NLRB. The very first session I went to, where they discussed a decision, I was being quiet and listening and trying to learn how it all works, but, when I finally was interested in a case and thought I had a contribution [to make], I was stumbling in making it clear, in making my case for my position. ... Frank, in his gentle manner, leaned over and he says, "Sam, let me see if I got this straight; what you're saying is..." and then, he'd paraphrase it in a beautiful, organized way, to the point where I thought, "Oh, he's going to vote with me." ... It turned out, when he actually voted, he voted the other way, but he thought it was his responsibility to make sure, it was his respect for me as a colleague, [that he would] make sure that everybody understood my point of view, and the funny, strange thing about that, it happened in the Senate Labor Committee, when Clifford Case introduced his community college amendment, more funding for them. Barry Goldwater was on the committee, and the Senator wasn't quite sure of it and he described it, but, then, Barry Goldwater said, "Now, Cliff, let me see if this is what you mean," and he proceeded to spell it out, and I thought, "Barry Goldwater, voting for an increase in federal aid for education? Unbelievable." Well, it was unbelievable. [laughter] When it came time to vote on reporting out the bill, he voted against it, which was certainly his right, but, again, it's the person, they're a whole person, they're what we call a "mench." They're not just trying to get a little advantage, a little edge. They're interested that an idea have its moment to shine and let people appraise it, but to understand it before they do. Well, let's see, after the NLRB ...
SI: You served on the NLRB for four years.
SDZ: I went to work for the Conference of Mayors and I was there [for] eight years ... and we set up workshops around the country. I wrote a series of pamphlets. We organized a newsletter and we organized the National Public Employer Labor Relations Association. We started with seventeen people at a meeting in New Orleans and, now, that group has twenty-five hundred members all over the country, who now have had some training in labor relations, so that they can get their case fully articulated, in negotiations or in processing grievances, and then, after the Conference of Mayors experience, I was approached by somebody in the Carter Administration about, "Would I be interested in an appointment to the Federal Elections Commission?" and I was mildly interested, but I'm not really so partisan, ... but it was poorly handled, to the point that the Republicans indicated that they hadn't been consulted in the appointment, and so, I withdrew the nomination. I could see, probably, there's going to be a fight and I'd probably lose it, and, after that, ... and the White House agreed, President Carter's people gave me a list of about five agencies and they said, "Would you consider an appointment to one of these five?" and one of them was the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and Sylvia had already done a lot of work in the consumer program. I knew a lot of the players in the field, and so, I went there. It was a seven-year term and the first few years were really very productive and useful, and I tried to develop a better program for recalls than they had and we ran a national conference on recalls that I was the ring leader of. I forgot to mention it; the NLRB, I was the one who started the twenty-five-millionth voter thing. I've always thought one of the most useful things the NLRB does is run secret ballot elections, where employees could choose whether or not to have a union and, if a union, which union. So, we ... figured out who would be the twenty-five and we had a national celebration, meetings, speeches in the Senate, pamphlets. ... It was quite a to-do, but, to get back to the CPSC, after awhile, really, during the Reagan Administration, it was a five-member commission and Reagan started appointing people, one in particular, that were really anti-regulation. ... I started getting a weak stomach the days I knew I had to go into a commission [meeting]. At first, my ideas were getting defeated three to two, and then, it became four to one, and just about that time, somebody at the Washington Post said, "We're going to have an opening for an ombudsman." The current one's term, it's a two-year term, was coming to an end, and the next thing I heard was a call from Ben Bradlee, "Come on over and have breakfast." Ben and I had been young reporters together and he'd gone on to other things, including Newsweek, and I had gone on to other [things], but, so, I did the ombudsman thing and, essentially ...
SZ: Explain what that is.
SDZ: I was interested in dealing with reader complaints, particularly ones about inaccuracy, unfairness or insensitivity, and I got a number of letters, phone calls, and I did a weekly column on this that appeared in the editorial page of the Post, and I did a daily critique that went on the computers of all the news staff. ... So, that came to an end, and then, we went off to Copenhagen, [Denmark], because I'd received a Fulbright Fellowship, and there I was supposed to do research, but they preferred teaching. So, I was a teacher and, actually, all along, I've done some [teaching]. I've been an adjunct at the University of Maryland, American University, Florida Atlantic University, and, now, Wake Forest University, more recently. So, that, we had a wonderful year, well, really, a full semester, in Copenhagen and enjoyed making a lot of new friends, and we've been back there frequently, and then, after that, I wrote a book about; well, I've written two books. One was, let's see, Public Workers, Public Unions [(Prentice Hall, 1972)], which is really a collection, mine included, of writings by different people, union leaders, employers, [and] so forth, which became the basis for a series of American Assembly Conferences. That's a Columbia University project, and the other book was The Ombudsman: How Good Governments ...
SDZ: Resolve Complaints [(Seven Locks, 1988)], based on the old Swedish concept of someone appointed by the legislative branch to ... take complaints from citizens and deal with the executive branch, and then, after that, I became an arbitrator and did some labor management disputes, and I still do a few of them.
SI: Again, you have had a very long, distinguished career.
SI: Unfortunately, we cannot get into all of it in the available time.
SZ: ... You did get to all of it.
SI: Thank you very much. This has really been a great interview.
SDZ: Okay. ...
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