Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with the Honorable Adrienne Abramson Mandel on June 17, 2016 in Silver Spring, Maryland with Shaun Illingworth. Thank you very much for having me today.
Adrienne Mandel: My pleasure.
SI: Alright. To begin, can you tell me where and when you were born?
AM: Certainly, I was born in Irvington, New Jersey, September 30, 1936.
SI: For the record, what were your parents' names?
AM: My dad's name was Nat, or Nathaniel, or Nathan--he had a couple of first names--Abramson. My mother's name, her maiden name, was Florence Lebovitz, and she was referred to as Flo.
SI: Were your parents born in the United States or did they immigrate to the United States?
AM: Both of them were born in the United States, both of their parents had connection to quote, "the old country," yes.
SI: Starting with your mother's side of the family, do you know anything about their background and where they came from in Europe?
AM: Yes, my grandmother on my mom's side, Pauline Lebovitz, came here as a young woman, thirteen, fifteen, something like that, from Austria-Hungary. Her husband also came from Austria-Hungary, Sobrantz area. His name was Emanuel. We called him Pop Manny. They both were in the late 1800s, early 1900s wave of Central European immigrants.
SI: What about your father's side of the family?
AM: My father's side, my grandfather, Morris Abramson, was born in Ohio and I even have 16-millimeter films of his mother in a nursing home when I was about two or three visiting Grandma Rose there, my Grandfather Morris' mom. My grandmother came from Russia, as I recall, and they met here somewhere.
SI: From either side, did any stories come down through the family about what happened to the family in either area of Russia or Hungary?
AM: Not in their particular era, other than that we kids knew that my mom's side was from Hungary, but neither of those grandparents ever described to us, any experiences, negative or positive in their homelands, and the same for my grandmother from Russia, but often through their cooking they would say, "This is a dish that their mom used to make," or, "This was the style of food that I was used to," meaning they were used to when they were growing up, but nothing quite beyond that. No, the grandparents were not much storytellers.
SI: Do you remember any of the examples of the foods they used to share a little bit of their tradition?
AM: Yes, I think that Grandma Pauline Lebovitz, she made a goulash and we learned a Hungarian way of cooking. My Grandmother Ida Abramson, was known for her rolled cabbages, which were sweet and sour rolled cabbages and that we understood was the Russian style, quite different I learned later from the Hungarian sauerkraut style of the stuffed cabbages. But those are the two things that came to mind. Also, Grandma Ida made something she called ptcha, and it was a jellied fish or meat of some sort. Again, later, I learned that that was part of the Russian style of cooking. So those are the two things I do recall, but in general, they were both women who were definitely family-oriented. Do you want to hear more about my grandparents?
SI: Of course.
AM: Okay. My grandfather owned and operated--my father's side, Morris Abramson--owned and operated a sort of retail distributing place in downtown Newark called the National Dental Supply Company. He was the middle man for supplying all the dentists in the areas with what their needs were to take care of their patients. His wife, from what I recall, was never in the workaday world. She was a homemaker, five children, and she was the one who enjoyed me as the first and eldest grandchild. So, we spent a lot of time with Grandma Ida. On my mom's side, her father owned a tavern and restaurant, near McCarter Highway on the corner of Vanderpool and South Broadstreet right across from, I believe it was a Mack Truck Factory. The Traveller's had a big shuffle board. My sister and I used to love to climb up on a chair and play shuffle board. There was a small seating area for a restaurant in the back. My Grandmother Pauline did the cooking in the tavern/restaurant, one dish a day for the working people who would come in usually after work at Mack Truck. It was a treat for us kids to go down to Grandma Pauline's restaurant, we called it. Later, we understood it really was a tavern where people came for beverages. I remember my grandfather taking me down into the basement to see how the beer was in a big keg and how the tubes ran up. When you came upstairs you could pull a lever and the beer would come out. I didn't like that much because there were little critters running around in the basement, probably rats, and I didn't care for that. But we spent lots of time, my sister and I, during our growing up years with both grandparents. It was a warm extended family, which we enjoyed.
SI: You were in Irvington that whole time?
AM: Living in Hillside.
SI: Living in Hillside, yes?
AM: Well, actually, I think my mom and dad had a small apartment on Hedden Terrace in or near the Weequahic section of Newark. I was born in Irvington General Hospital because I guess that's where their doctor had privileges, if that existed at that time, I don't know. But when I was three, in 1939, we moved to a home in Hillside, 271 Dorer Avenue, between Liberty Ave and Maple Avenue, where I lived until I was twenty-two. It was a nice little town and right on the border of Newark. We would walk to Chancellor Avenue, which was Newark, and go by the Public Service bus "downtown." I have fond memories of Downtown Newark because my dad's place--oh, my dad worked for his father for many years as did his brother and his sister, and it was a family affair in "the office." It was an office, but it also was a place where dentists could come in and look at equipment. I remember the rows of teeth; you could pull out drawers and you'd see all these teeth lined up.
SI: Do you know how far your parents went in their educations?
AM: Yes. They were both high school graduates. Dad, I believe, was Southside or Westside Newark and Mom was definitely graduated from Southside. I remember she was a swimmer and she had some medals. They lived in Brooklyn originally and then migrated to the Newark area.
SI: Was it Weequahic?
AM: No, no, it wasn't Weequahic High School, definitely not. Her parents lived originally on Maple Ave and later on Fabyan Place, somewhere near Lyons Avenue, close to the Weequahic section, but not right in that section.
SI: Did your mother work outside of the home?
AM: That's a great question. Mom was working in Bamberger's before she was married. She always said she was in hosiery and gloves, women's hosiery and gloves. After she was married, she did not work at all, except every two to four years because I remember the precinct official in Hillside, in our little town, would sit with Mom on our front porch and I would find it very interesting. She would be an election judge, so she would be gone from six thirty in the morning until eight thirty at night, and she'd be one of those people who would sit at the polls and help people register as they came in and pulled the curtains and levers. That's what she did every election that I recall. She did a lot of volunteer work in the synagogue sisterhood and things like that, PTA, but she didn't have any full-time occupation outside of the house.
SI: It is interesting the election judge position that your mother had, given your later experiences, but were there other ways your family was involved in politics in the Newark area?
AM: Not really. My uncle, my mother's younger brother, was an attorney. He had a great influence, I believe, on my life. Do you want me to get into my school years at this point?
SI: We can jump ahead and then come back, yes.
AM: Okay. In sixth grade--actually, it was the teacher in the other sixth grade. There were two six grades in George Washington Elementary School. The teacher started a debate team. I didn't know what that meant. She explained to us what it was and I'll never forget the topic. It was, "Comic Books Cause Juvenile Delinquency." I think of it often as different eras arise and young people are totally immersed, either in writing, or television, or Internet now, and there's always the assumption that's what is causing problems for the young people. But that was a debate topic. The teacher was studying for her master's degree at State Teacher's College. I'm not sure if it was Newark or one of the surrounding communities. She taught us how to debate and how to see both sides of an issue, and then she took a little team--I think there were six of us--to the school and we were her project for her master's degree. My uncle helped me write my opening argument and emphasized how important it was to be able to foresee what the opponents would say and be able to answer that, even in opening arguments. So, he had a direct influence on my looking at policy and public issues and becoming interested in them. I also got very interested in the United Nations and internationalism. That was very important, especially even when I was at Rutgers. I don't think any of my direct relatives were involved other than Uncle Arthur Lebovitz. There was a story, and I don't know if it was an old wives' tale or not, that my grandfather Morris, who was from Ohio, used to stand on a soap box in Ohio and make arguments about local issues there, but I never verified that.
SI: Do you happen to remember which side of the comic book debate you were given? [laughter]
AM: [laughter] Initially, probably I was given the pro side and then I was also given the con side, because we had to be able to do both and know both arguments and research and learn how to research.
SI: Going back to your parents' generation, had they talked about how the Great Depression affected them?
AM: Yes, somewhat they did. It wasn't very much a discussion, but when they would refer to people they would say, "Well, so and so were very surprised we even got married," because we were just coming out of the Depression in '33, and that was a courageous step for people to take. My understanding is although I never really heard my mom or dad articulate it, that mom and dad went to the Catskill Mountains and sort of eloped and got married there because having a real wedding was not in the cards at all financially at the time. That was my understanding of what the Depression did. I also heard discussions of how certain relatives' businesses failed during the Depression, but not much more than that. I think kids of my generation were pretty much shielded from "negativism," and the bad things happening in the world.
SI: Yes, you would have turned five when Pearl Harbor was attacked.
SI: What do you remember about that period and the impact of the war?
AM: Sure. The impact of the war was--we had what we called a breakfast nook off the kitchen, a little alcove, with built-in benches and the radio was there. My dad's schedule was such that he expected dinner at the same time every night. He was not a demanding person. He was a very low key person, but he did expect his dinner to be available on the table by his wife at a certain time and we kids were expected to be there too. But we were also expected to be quiet so we could listen to the radio, because he had a brother in the Pacific sphere and my mom had a brother in the Atlantic sphere. My Uncle Arthur, with whom I was very close, was an intelligence officer in London, during the war.
SI: Was he the attorney?
AM: Yes. My Uncle Jim, my dad's youngest brother, was somewhere in the Pacific and I can't tell you where, but it's his wife, ninety-six years old Hermines, the remaining member of our family, whom I'm going to see in a couple of weeks. I'll ask her where Uncle Jimmy specifically was in the Pacific. It was either Hawaii or one of the Japanese Islands. And we had to listen to the radio very closely to learn what was going on in the war. Now, I also remember going to the movies, not every Saturday or Sunday, but we walked down a big hill and we'd cut through a big lot and the parents were a little uneasy with cutting through this big empty lot. We'd come up on the theater and we'd go to the movies at the Mayfair on North Broadstreet, Hillside. I remember the newsreels. Because I knew that I had family connected to the war, I was very interested in watching the newsreels. A lot of the kids just wanted to talk and eat their popcorn or whatever, but I was always very interested in following the newsreels. Fortunately, we were blessed, both uncles came home, but I do remember ration books. I also remember going down the basement, my sister and I stomping on tin cans because the "Rag Man" would come around, collect worn clothes and rags, newspapers--that was, I guess, the first recycling--but of course, it was for the war effort. So, that's the awareness of a six, seven, eight-year-old kid. I had a more specific awareness later. I guess it was either sixth grade or junior high. I guess it was junior high. A young woman, and I remember her name, Marina Lowey, came to school and didn't speak English. In my mind's eye, I can see the library. It was in George Washington Elementary School. I was assigned to sit with her in the library and help her learn English. Her name popped up again in 1994 when my friend Myrna Cooperman Lomozoff (now Loman) who lives in Florida and went all through junior high, high school, and college, Rutgers with me who offered to contact all my high school friends to see if they would contribute to my first election campaign. She came up with the name, Marina Lowey, which I hadn't thought of since I was twelve, fifteen years old. With a contribution, Marina wrote a very nice note, which I'll unearth from my archives someday, saying how positive an impact I had on her life in teaching her English; we were told by the teachers that this young lady had come through the war. I believe she was from Romania and that she finally was able to get to America with her family and to survive the horrible things that were happening in Europe.
AM: So, that was an interesting side note. Then we'd see our uncles come home in their uniform before they were mustered out. Also, as a late teenager I spent some time at Fort Dix because I was dating a guy who knew some young men who were still stationed there. I got a smattering, but it wasn't until I met my future husband that I really got to know, in depth, the impact of the war in Europe.
SI: Other than meeting this woman who, at the time was a refugee child, were you aware of what was happening to Jews that were living in Nazi controlled areas? Or is that something your family sheltered you from? Was it discussed?
AM: I think during the actual happening, it wasn't discussed with the kids. But as the war concluded, I would overhear conversations with my grandfather who died in 1952; I was twelve. He had family who were in Europe who didn't survive. I'd overhear those discussions among the adults when I was nine, ten, eleven, twelve. The reference term used was "greenhorns". I learned about a cousin, a young cousin of his, who was coming to America. Grandpa Manny and his brothers were all here and were helping this young "greenhorn" get over here to America because his parents, his whole family, was wiped out in the war. At the ages of eleven or twelve--I think, Alex arrived before my grandfather died; Pop Manny died quite young. That's about the extent of what we kids were exposed to in my parents' household. I had a cousin four or five years older than I, who became a soldier and it was a little bit unnerving for me to see cousin Roy in a uniform. His mother and father were butchers and when the war was over they would deliver meat to us, from Newark, Weequahic section--not really directly in the Weequahic Section but Lyons and Aldine Avenues. We used to be able to walk there. My mom didn't drive until I was married. Dad always used the car because he was "on the road." Even though he worked for his dad, he later was able to "purchase" the business from his father, and he took in a couple of partners because he didn't have the funds to purchase. A couple of partners, he and two or three other men, bought the National Dental Supply Company from my grandfather. They eventually moved to the corner of High Street, again in Newark, and expanded the business. When I was married, Dad's partners, I remember, were at the wedding.
SI: When you say he was on the road, do you mean he was out selling contracts or material?
AM: Not contacts but dental supplies. He had his route. He didn't like in-office work. He liked to be out and about. He also liked to drive. He would call on his dental clients, go into the offices, "How are you doing today? What do you need? What orders can we place?" Some of the orders came through on the telephone into National Dental directly, but the dentists liked to see the new equipment that was available and the new products that they could use on their patients, and Dad would be there. I could tell you an aside story that ties in to my later years at Rutgers. Mom told me when I came home from school one day that Dad was bringing a new dentist from town, not necessarily Hillside or Newark, but one of the contiguous towns around us, to dinner. The dentist had just moved to the area and he was staying in a hotel, so Dad said, "Come on to our house." Mom said this was going to be a little bit of a concern because he was a "negro," a "schwarta" (Yiddish for "black" and often used as a perjorative) and there were no negroes in our neighborhood and no negroes in my elementary or junior, or high school. We were a quote unquote, "suburb" of Newark, and that inviting a negro home was sort of unheard of. She didn't know how the "neighbors" would react to seeing a negro man come into the house. It was okay with me. I didn't care one way or another but I remember there was tension in the house, that Dad, without asking Mom, had just decided to ask this person of a different color to come into our house. I don't think there was, that I recall, any impact on neighbors, whether or not they saw or they didn't see. But that probably was my first exposure to somebody of different skin color being different and the fact that there was tension because of different skin color. I was sort of comfortable when I got to Rutgers and I was working in the library and right next to a black man, fellow student. We got along fine and I felt no difference or tension at that point. Maybe that experience in my house propelled me to write an essay for the Hillside High School newspaper. Now, that I think of it, you're triggering different thoughts in my head. I wrote an essay about brotherhood because we celebrated/marked something called Brotherhood Week. I don't think it was focused solely on skin color, but it was focused on being good to those people who didn't grow up in the same communities that we did, who came from across the ocean and things like that. It was Brotherhood Week and I wrote an essay. In fact, if I looked for it, I probably could still find it today. I was asked to represent Hillside High school (because the essay helped the school win a prize) at the Freedoms Foundation of America. I went to Valley Forge where the Freedom Foundation Medals were awarded and I took home the one medal for Hillside High School (HSS) for its Brotherhood Observances--February, yes. That was the first time I really took a trip without my parents. I went to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, with one of the teachers. My granddaughter reminded me the other day, because I was telling her what I was doing here with you today; there was a printed program and it was signed by Vice President Nixon and Cecil B. DeMille.
AM: I gave that program to my son, who gave it to his daughter, who is now living with us over the summer , with those autographs, live autographs on them. So, it was my Brotherhood Essay that helped the school win a prize, and HHS asked me to go to the award ceremony.
SI: Let we pause for a second.
SI: Well, it is interesting, the commentary about the lack of diversity or that sort of thing in the area. How would you describe the makeup of your neighborhood? Was it all one ethnicity? Was it a melting pot area?
AM: It was quite a melting pot. I had two friends when I was a young kid, seven, eight, nine, with whom I that we played outside together. One was Catholic because she went to a Catholic school; she was not in a public school. And another, I don't even know her religious identity or her ethnicity. But the one who was Catholic, I got to know her and her family. Her father owned a candy store, chocolate candy, on Chancellor Avenue, which was quite near the Hillside border, and we could walk there. I remember--I guess it was spring, yes, Easter time. Her father brought home molds that they poured the chocolate into to make chocolate bunnies. My father, in the dental business, dental supply, had plaster. He suggested if we put some cooking oil in the molds, we could make plaster bunnies. So, Barbara Ames--that was her name--and I, under my dad's supervision and her dad's approval--these were metal molds that they poured the hot chocolate into--we made Easter bunnies. Then, my dad brought home rubber molds. I remember Andy Gump was a comic strip character. For some reason, he got his hands on some Andy Gump molds and we made lots of little characters out of plaster of Paris, and poured it into the mold. My sister and I went selling the molds in the neighborhood, I guess for a nickel, a dime, whatever, around Easter time. I'll tell you a story that she would not like, but I'll tell the story anyway. So, we got home and Mom said, "What did you make?" to me, meaning money. I guess I gave her thirty-five cents or something, and I said, "I made thirty-five cents." She said to my sister, four years younger--I was about ten at that time--"What did you make?" My sister said, "Me made in my pants because she wouldn't let me go to the bathroom." We tell that story. It's a family tale now, all the kids know it. So, it was a mixed neighborhood in which I lived. Now, I can't tell you ethnicity in terms of grammar school, George Washington Elementary School. What I can tell you about George Washington was Phil Rizzuto, the baseball player, lived in Monroe Gardens right behind the school. We kids would get out of school and of course our dads were into baseball and Phil Rizzuto living in Hillside. We'd try to catch a glimpse of him and that used to be very important to see if we could see Phil Rizzuto either out walking or somehow catch a glimpse of him. The other thing about George Washington Elementary School is when my daughter was five, ready to enter elementary school, we were visiting my mom and dad in Hillside in the house in which I grew up. School was starting there, and at that time, we were living in Detroit. I wanted her to start school. She knew she was kindergarten ready. I walked down to my elementary school with my daughter. I was totally blown away that the same principal who was there when I was still there and the same swan murals in the kindergarten room were still on the walls. So that's something I remember, but they wouldn't take her for three days. They told me I could sit in the kindergarten room with her everyday if I would be willing to do that; we didn't do it because I wanted her to have the separation experience of going to school. They wouldn't start her, but that was George Washington Elementary School. In sixth grade I was asked to give the graduation speech, when we left sixth grade and went to junior high school. I could probably find that too if I looked hard enough in my own personal archives.
SI: What did you think of the quality of these schools and your teachers?
AM: I guess because I've thrived and achieved, in looking back, there was quality. Did I think about it while I was going through it? No, because I had no sense of comparison. We were all good kids. We were twenty-eight or thirty in a classroom; no parents complained. I remember there was one boy who did not achieve and he was asked literally to sit in a corner. I even remember his name; I don't even want to repeat it. I mean, he might be a shining star today. I had close friends in the community with whom I walked to school. There was a candy store up at the corner, the major intersection we had to cross to get to school. We walked to school every day. We walked home for lunch every day, but Rhoda, Alper, Blake, and I, and Myrna Cooperman Loman, Ellen Dubow Alpart and I are going to see each other in a couple of weeks, the end of July. We try to get together at least once a year and we correspond and are electronically and telephone connected. Rhoda is the closest friend of my life. We met in kindergarten. It was a close-knit group. You asked about ethnicity. When we got to high school, we realized that--only one high school in Hillside--the high school was pretty much split between Jewish kids and non-Jewish kids, but all white. No other Hispanic or Asian, or black, all white. The high school took people in Hillside, from the Westminster section, which was the economically upper-class section. We lived closer to the Weequahic section of Newark. We were all dumped together and Myrna was the person who joined our group from the Westminster section. Sixth, seventh grade, some of the Jewish kids and I included, started going to what was known then as the Jewish Community Center. It was in Newark. It was close to where we lived. We formed a club, and the girls had jackets. It was very important. We were the Debs and then another group formed, the Aquans. It wasn't strictly just Jewish kids because Jenny Robotozzi, who--I just got an e-mail from the Hillside High School website—passed away just this week. Jenny was not a Jewish girl; she was a part of us and there were a couple of others as well. So, religious observance and practice--we heard that the Catholic kids went to catechism and the Jewish kids didn't. We went to synagogue on certain holidays and certain ritual days. There was no schism because of religious identification that I recall. We had these two clubs and there was also something called Young Judea. I remember being in the basement of the synagogue. That's where the Young Judea met. They were very much attached to what was going on in Israel and raising funds for what would become Israel, Palestine. We learned that a new state--I learned it at Young Judea, a new state had just been formed. We didn't know why, when and how, but that was the birth of the state of Israel, through Young Judea.
SI: Yes. So, did your parents talk about the Zionist Movement at all? Did they encourage you to join this group or did you just happen to join?
AM: No, it was just there were two or three of my girlfriends in Hebrew school, after-school-learning about Judaism, and the language and prayer, and things like that. They probably joined Young Judea through the synagogue affiliation. My parents were not affiliated. However, my mom was affiliated through the fact that she thought the Sisterhood was doing good works and she would participate as a volunteer, doing different things in the Sisterhood. How do I remember that? Because when she'd be volunteering at Sisterhood, my sister and I would come home from school and we'd find a note written by her and left on in the kitchen counter: "Help yourself to some snacks. I'm at Sisterhood. I'll be home at five," or something like that. Every once in a while, when I look at my handwriting, I see my mother's handwriting, especially if I ever sign Abramson. It looks just like my mother's writing to me. Eerie, but true. I don't know how those things happen, but I see her handwriting. My father was not an observant Jew. He knew about the holidays. His parents knew about the holidays. They were not heavily practicing Jews. My grandfather, on my mother's side did; he died when I was twelve. That was the first thing I really knew about death. I remember I was told to sit in the car while the service for his funeral was going on. I don't remember who they assigned, but they assigned somebody to sit with me. We began to learn, I think, about Israel, the formation of the state of Israel and the Holocaust, a bit in Young Judea and then a little more in B'nai B'rith Girls, BBG, because I joined BBG when I was in eighth or ninth grade.
AM: A bunch of us girls from Hillside High School in eighth or ninth, I don't exactly remember, joined B'nai B'rith Girls. B'nai B'rith was an international--basically, it started as a men's organization, like a fraternity and it became international, all over the world, a philanthropic service organization and they started a youth arm. It was Aleph Zadik Aleph, AZA, for the guys, and BBG for the girls. So, we joined BBG and we were known as the largest chapter in New Jersey. We had over a hundred young girls in this chapter in seventh, eighth, ninth grades. One of the programs was that Dr. Lillian, a physician who lived in town would be a speaker for BBG. His daughter was at the high school as well. She was a great piano player, I remember. Dr. Lillian would come and talk to the girls about sex education; he did that. Do I remember what he told us? No. But it was probably the first that we had ever heard of what is sex education, and what you should be careful of, and how you should respect people, and that kind of stuff. But there were a hundred young girls in the George Washington Elementary School auditorium, packed in there. I guess the parents who all knew Doc Lillian were happy to turn over that responsibility if they thought it was a responsibility at all to Doc Lillian and that's the first I think we ever heard or talked about sex. But I do remember my twelfth birthday party in my folks' living room. We were playing--we had boys and girls--spin the bottle and that was when I guess I was first kissed by a boy at age twelve. I didn't think anything of it. [laughter] I had been kissed by uncles, fathers, grandfathers, so it sure was a different era. I get the feeling "I've come a long way baby."
SI: Yes. [laughter] I have some questions about expectations for women at the time. It might lead into one aspect of what we wanted to talk about.
AM: Sure, okay.
SI: When you were in high school, were you parents encouraging you to think about college and a career afterwards? What did they expect from you and your sister?
AM: The expectation was that we would go to college. I guess junior year we started talking about it. Dad told me that I could quote, "go away to school." He could guarantee two years, that's all, economically. He asked me where would I want to go, what would I want to do, and I guess by that time already, my junior year in high school, I was thinking of being a lawyer. I knew Uncle Arthur and he seemed to be successful. He had taken me when I was quite young to his office. It was very impressive with all the books on the wall shelves. I wasn't sure I knew exactly what lawyers do but they made speeches in court and tried to help people who had problems with the law. So, I decided I would be pre-law. We started looking at colleges. I guess my connection to B'nai B'rith Girls made me interested in Brandeis University, because I believe the first president somehow had a connection to B'nai B'rith International. So, we looked at Brandeis. I don't even think we went there, we looked at brochures basically, but we did go into New York, to Barnard College of Columbia University, I remember that. My dad and mom's reaction was, "She's not going there." Dad had just remodeled our house and had taken out the radiators, the hot water radiators that were in every room to heat the house, and the coal bin also. There were those radiators in the dorms at Barnard in New York. Dad was not going to put me back the ten years that he was working so hard to get rid of and he put in an oil furnace in the house and no more coal chute and coal bin and radiator heating. So, that was not very pleasant for them to see that their daughter would be going, in their mind, to that dingy little room at Barnard. I guess I applied to Columbia, even in spite of what they said, and Brandeis, and of course Rutgers because Hillside High School was telling people that's a good school and we should apply and we should also apply for scholarship if we're eligible. I applied to Douglass because there was a separate application as I recall, for Douglass and for Rutgers in Newark. After I was awarded a four-year full-tuition scholarship, there wasn't any question. I didn't even hesitate. I knew that that was a gift and then I would have four years, whereas, if I went to Douglass, I would only have two and who knows what would happen afterwards. That was the evolution of what I did. I never regretted it. I truly never regretted it. Because with the focus on government and politics, which I had at that time, from what I read in the brochures about the faculty--maybe I was just convincing myself because the scholarship was there--it looked as though there were more substantive professors at Rutgers Newark at that time than at Douglass. Maybe I just sold myself a bill of goods because we had a friend, Ellen, who went to Douglass but Myrna and I were very happy going to Rutgers. I must tell you, the first day of getting on the public service bus, taking me downtown to Rutgers, getting off near the campus-Military Park, but I'm not sure. I remember the feelings of the first day. It was not one of comfort. It was, "Wow, what next? Here I am alone. I don't know anybody." I mean, I knew Myrna would be there, but we didn't travel together. She came from a different part of "great big" little Hillside. I remember that first day and remember standing in line at the bookstore; but Rutgers was very good to me.
SI: Living in Hillside, had you ever been to the campus before?
AM: No, I cannot say that I had been. It was, as I recall just reading the directions of how to get there. I don't remember if it was walk up Chancellor Avenue and catch the bus or walk down to Maple Avenue in Hillside and take the bus. Now that you're asking me, I remember the number 48 Maple and 14 Chancellor. Everybody went everywhere by bus. Mom didn't drive. Dad needed the car for work. Mom and I used to go downtown shopping to Kresge's, Ohrbach's, Bamberger's--later Klein's, Klein's of New York. That was big stuff. Mom used to stop for coffee at Chock Full o'Nuts. That's when I started drinking coffee with her. We'd eat date and nut bread, which we'd later buy in a can, a Chock full o'Nuts can--date and nut bread with cream cheese. We went everywhere by bus. Going by bus myself, I would go with a girlfriend, downtown sometimes, when I was sixteen, seventeen. But Rutgers by myself was a very new and good experience.
SI: Well before we get deeper into Rutgers, I want to ask a few more questions in high school.
SI: It sounds like you were involved in a lot of activities. Can you talk a little bit about those? You were on the paper I think.
AM: Yes, I was on the high school paper. I played the clarinet very poorly. Never really learned how to blow that instrument, but I wanted to be in the band because that was sort of a nice thing for a young girl to do and wear the cute little cheerleader and marching band outfits. The band instructor in the high school, I remember. He told me when I was really struggling with the instrument: "Listen, just stick it in your mouth and march; you look good." So, what was I to do? That's basically what I did. Every few notes I'd blow a note and hope it didn't take everybody else off-key. I was also on the Hiller, the high school newspaper. My friend Ellen was the editor and I was the feature editor. We went to a high school student editor press conference in New York. Harry Belafonte, I'll never forget, was the featured singer that day at that conference and that was a big deal to hear Harry Belafonte. He was probably just beginning his career. I also participated in debate in high school and traveled south to the college of William and Mary. I had to climb in the dorm window at night because if curfew and I had gone out to meet somebody. In high school I did thespians, newspaper activities, and debate, and I learned a lot too. English teacher was superb, absolutely superb. You saw a lot of mistakes in the notes that I sent you. They were written originally only to me and I wasn't concerned, but my kids were never happy when they would come home with their school papers and I'd be looking at their punctuation and spelling, but Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Callendar were excellent teachers. What did we do with sentences? We diagrammed sentences.
SI: Yes ...
AM: Yes, yes. The nouns, the pronouns, the verbs, yes, and the lines--very good teachers. I also took Latin for two, maybe three years. Mrs. Rudolph was a tyrant. Mrs. Johnson was the good English teacher. High school were good years.
SI: Did you get involved in student council then?
AM: I think I did a little bit, yes, but that wasn't the sole focus. I can tell you a story about National Honor Society. I could tell you two stories. We did an annual April Fools issue of the high school newspaper. Somehow, our April Fools issue did not pass muster with the principal. I couldn't tell you now why. Maybe there was an innuendo or sexual references or something that wasn't appropriate. He called about six or eight of us into his office and he said, "Each one of you are eligible for"--I'll never forget this--"National Honor Society. You're good people, you do well, academic achievers. I'm withholding that from you because how dare you do such an April Fools issue. It was terrible. I'm calling all your parents." Well, when our parents got that call from the principal of the high school, that was doomsday for all of us. I guess the parents made an appeal to the principal and there were a group of students who did get their National Honor Society Key and did get on the rolls of NHS. A "hundred years" later, my two granddaughters talk about being eligible for National Honor Society and they both were. It still exists; I'm amazed. I said to the first one, who is three years older than the one who is with us now, "How about I give you my key and you can wear it?" She said, "Oh, no. Kids don't wear those things anymore." [laughter] This one who hopes to be a doctor someday, said, "Well, I'll take it." She's a little kinder. She says, "Well, I'll take it, but I don't know that I'll really wear it," and she didn't wear it. We've been to both of their high school graduations. But, we were threatened with really disruptive, terrible behavior for whatever we wrote in the April Fools issue of the Hiller high school newspaper. But you were asking more about--
SI: Student government, I think
AM: Student government. I don't really remember what I was doing in student government. I guess I'd have to look back at the yearbook.
SI: You said in the material that you sent me, around this time you were learning about Eleanor Roosevelt and what she was doing.
SI: She was becoming a hero of yours?
AM: Right, right, a heroine! I remember reading her columns in mom's Redbook magazine. Mom had a subscription to Redbook. I remember getting very much involved in the United Nations business when I came to Rutgers. They gave me a funny title on student government. I was Cultural Activities Chair at Rutgers. Looking back at the Rutgers yearbooks, there were so many clubs and activities. I wonder if kids ever went to class. [laughter] But so many really. It was a time of socialization, not just academics, and that was part of the learning experience too. I guess, they were pretty wise to be able to see that kids had various interests and needs and they grouped together and there was that cohesiveness. People got to know each other through those kinds of clubs and groupings. I guess it was after Roosevelt died that Eleanor Roosevelt came into her own and she was my first role model, I guess, for a woman who could do everything. She had an, not an overt, but definitely an influence on my life. I was always fascinated with reading. I remember I would sit on the dining room floor because Mom had a breakfront and two cupboards on the bottom and she would bring her library books and put them there. Sometimes she'd even buy books and I would sit on the dining room floor reading her books and she didn't mind--Pearl Buck, and things like that. But I also made it a point of reading Eleanor Roosevelt's Redbook column, I guess, it was every month, not every week. Yes, definitely had an influence between Eleanor Roosevelt and my uncle and my parents who were very supportive. When I was in high school, Mom's friends would say, "Well, what's your daughter going to be a teacher? Is she going to be a secretary?" Those were things that women were positioned to do, be teachers or secretaries or nurses, which never interested me. It didn't interest me at all. Teaching didn't really interest me either. "Oh, my daughter's going to be scrubbing floors at the White House." Now, she said that with a smile and with a twinkle in her eye, but I guess she was saying that I have grand visions and visions of grandeur. She was always supportive, my dad too. When I was very active in BBG I became a president of the district, which was four states; New Jersey, West Virginia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. I would travel with the paid staff member for BBG and AZA. I remember Dad didn't like it, but he picked me up from school and I knew I had to get to a train to go somewhere and I would change my clothes in the back of the car. Oh, he thought that was terrible. He was quite a conservative man in many respects. Mom would hold up the dress that I had to be wearing and I'd take off my shirt or blouse, and change my clothes in the back of the car. He didn't like that at all, but they were supportive. So, I became a president of the district and did a lot of travelling and giving speeches. I guess, Uncle Arthur didn't have to help me for I remember one of my speeches started with "whereas" and "whereas" and "whereas," and then "therefore," and then "be it resolved." I was using that format already. [laughter]
SI: Tell me more about your activities with B'nai B'rith Girls. You talked about the philosophy behind the group, but what would you do on a typical week or month?
AM: Before I was the president and went traveling?
SI: Yes, from when you got into.
AM: Actually, there were three levels; there was the chapter level in Hillside, this huge chapter. Then, there was the regional level of other chapters in New Jersey. Then there was the district of the four states. I sort of got pretty busy in the regional level and didn't do that much on the chapter level. There was a regional office in downtown Newark. When I was fifteen, sixteen, I could already use the buses and get downtown and go to the regional office. We planned--I'm looking for the word, Universities My husband would remember because he was involved in AZA in Philadelphia. I met him through BBG and AZA. I planned weekend events where kids would get together, training events on leaderships, on Judaism. I guess leadership, training, and Judaism were the main parts of what we planned. We would bring together leaders from different chapters. I guess that was an important part of my leadership training as well. Very, definitely now that I look back and think about it.
SI: Anything stand out that you learned there that you used a lot later?
AM: Yes, I would think so: there's a structure to organizational life; learning about the responsibilities of leadership offices; volunteerism, writing and delivering speeches; helping those who are less fortunate than you. I think those kinds of concepts, broad concepts they are, but broad concepts really stayed with me, very definitely. I think I benefited greatly. As a result, I had the first plane ride of my life, but that came later when I was sixteen, seventeen. I was out in Scranton or Western Pennsylvania someplace, speaking because I was the president of the B'nai B'rith Girls District at that point. It was at an adult B'nal B'rith event, a conference of some sort. It was running late and I knew I had to be home to get back to high school on Monday morning first thing. I was very upset and worried because the trains either weren't running or I had missed the last train back to Newark where my parents were to pick me up. A man by the name of Philip Klutznick, who was one of the known B'nal B'rith Men's Presidents and later served in a cabinet position in federal government, told me, "Don't worry, we're going to get you home." I had no idea how he was going to get me home, but he somehow had some people take me to the local airport and put me on a mail plane, M-A-I-L, a United States mail plane that was ferrying mail to Newark. They called my parents and they told them to meet me at Newark Airport. I could hear my mother's total astonishment to this day. "Did you drop out of the sky?" "Yes, I dropped out of the sky. I was on an airplane." That was the first plane ride I had ever had. Mostly, when we travelled around the district--and when I say, "We," Manny and I, my husband and I are still in touch with the man who was the boys' president called Aleph Godol, of the boys' district organization. He, Elliot Rothman, and I and the District Staff Director would travel to different communities together. It was a very good experience, very positive. I learned a lot. I guess that helped build my future.
SI: How long were you the president?
AM: One year.
SI: One year?
AM: One year, during my junior year in high school.
SI: You and your husband met through that connection.
AM: Through the organization, right. The district office was in Philadelphia. I would train into Philly and got to know another BBG active woman there, and I would stay at her house and go downtown to the Philadelphia office. We had a newspaper and I would write articles for the newspaper as the President of District Three BBG before our big conference, which happened every summer at a camp in Starlight, Pennsylvania. When the leaders from all over the four states would come for a conference in training, I would go into the office and I would bring my typewritten speech and they would mimeograph it, that black stencil thing. As an historian, you would remember. There was a guy sitting on the floor with a couple of other guys, dipping keys--they had hundreds of keys, in cans of paint, because the theme for the national convention or maybe for even our own district convention was--we were District Three--"In District Three, the member's the key," and they had gathered these keys from all over. Everybody had some keys that they didn't know what they were for but were lying in drawers. They were dipping the keys in paint and he was helping run the mimeograph machine. So, Manny and I met when we were sixteen, seventeen years old. We didn't date until we were twenty-one, but we were friends and we corresponded, pen and ink. I didn't make a long-distance telephone call from Hillside to Philadelphia. It was long distance and cost money. Yes. I'm glad you asked about BBG because that truly was definitely part of my learning and leadership and responsibility era of my life and certainly had an impact. I guess now that I look back it definitely did. At the time I was doing it because I enjoyed it.
SI: Were there other groups you got involved in to that degree?
AM: No. No, it was just BBG. High school years and school activities and BBG.
SI: I want to get into Rutgers. The student life at Rutgers Newark really fascinates me because when I originally started doing interviews, we would only get a certain type of person who went to Rutgers Newark in the '40s. For example, they were working and they would go to class and there really was no student life that they would talk about. But I have been looking at the yearbooks now, particularly in the '50s, '60s and '70s. There seems like a thriving student scene. What was the first thing you wanted to get involved in on campus?
AM: I think it probably was not just one thing. I think I knew I'd be interested in the newspaper, in the debate team, and in the Mummers. That had an appeal for me, very definitely. And I did a couple of the plays with--we called him Dr. Mann, but now when I look back at the yearbook, he did not have a PhD. at all. No, it wasn't Mann, it was Moore. Mann was the music teacher. Moore was the theater arts teacher. So, those three things would be my, what we refer to as, extracurricular activities at Rutgers. I really did immerse myself in them, even though I, like everybody else there, was a commuter student. But, it was a different world in terms of safety and travel. If I got on a bus at seven or eight o'clock at night it was nothing, no big shakes. I felt secure and confident that I'd get home and I'd often walk from Chancellor Avenue home or phone my Dad to pick me up. When we were in elementary school there was a murder at a bar. From my home I used to go over three, four, five blocks to my girlfriend Rhoda's house on Williamson Avenue. I'd have to walk past that bar even in later years but I would cross the street not to have to walk past the bar directly. That's the only kind of frightening thing I recall--it wasn't an experience, a direct experience, but we knew that somebody had been murdered at that location. But thinking now that I was a commuter student and I really immersed myself in many activities and also carried a full course load--I was probably carrying eighteen credits each semester and doing pretty well. I think the educational quality there was excellent.
SI: Well, let's start with the student government.
SI: You became the president of the freshman class. How did that come about?
AM: It came about because I ran to be a vice president and for some reason, the president who was elected either left or resigned very early on. The ladder was there and I became the president. So, I wasn't elected the president, but I assumed the office. What I didn't know about Rutgers, what I didn't realize at the time, was that, this was 1954, September, and the school had become part of the Rutgers university only about twelve years before.
AM: I had a cousin who told me she went to Rutgers too. She was ten years older than I. She had been there even before the affiliation with the State University. That was not part of my thinking when I went there that this was a new place just evolving as part of a greater university. To me, it was no different than New Brunswick. Great courses, and good professors, and lots of great activities to get involved with. So, if I had analyzed and thought about it, I might not have gone there. Put the scholarship aside, I might have decided, "Well, Douglass has been in existence for quite a while," and I might have ended up there.
SI: We talked about how important the scholarship was and how it led to your going to Rutgers-Newark. Was it a State Scholarship?
AM: Yes, it was a four year, full tuition, State Scholarship, which means it gave me the confidence that I could finish college, where my dad and mom said that they could only--these were their words--guarantee me two years "away." It certainly worked for me. I remember that there were some students who were older and they were identified as returning veterans. Richard Bauersacks I think was a veteran but I'm not sure.
SI: Were they veterans from the Korean War or World War II?
AM: Korea, sure. I don't think there were WWII soldiers there that I recall. I remember that on McCarter Highway, there was a sort of diner, restaurant. We'd run over there for lunch sometimes. There were two buildings on Rector Street, major building which had been a brewery and one of the--I think it was--psychology professors had pigeons on the top floor of that building. He was doing some kind of experiment with pigeons and there was another, smaller classroom building directly across the street. I remember posting of grades in a cabinet with a glass front. We'd all have to crowd around to see the grades posted there. I also remember working in the library in the main Rector Street building because even though I had the scholarship, I felt it was important to have some spending money. My parents were willing to give me spending money for books, and car fare, and lunches, and things like that. I don't really know what motivated me, but I decided I would work and there was a job available in the library, not my freshman year; I guess, maybe the end of my sophomore year. I did, maybe twelve hours a week in the library. It was nice. It was quiet. Pretty much not much to do, but just to see that things were going okay. I read the Kinsey Report in the library. I remember that. I got to know this African American guy; we would whisper behind the desk and talk. It was good.
SI: Did you work at all during the summers?
AM: Yes. Yes, I'm glad you asked that. I'm trying to remember the years exactly, but one year I was a recreation department supervisor at a playground in Hillside. I worked for the Rec Department in Hillside and supervised the kids coming to the playground every day. It happened to be at a location right across the street from the high school where we, when we were high school students, used to ice skate because they would flood that area, but that was the area park, a small park across from the high school. So, I did that one year. I was a camp counselor at Pine Grove Camp, New Jersey, another summer. The third summer I didn't work. I used the money that I had accumulated from the two prior jobs and the library, and I did something that most people thought was very daring. Looking back, I'm really appreciative that my parents gave me these wings to fly. I went into New York with Myrna, because after college--and we were already juniors--we were thinking we'd go into New York and find jobs. We went into New York to the National Student Association, NSA, and they were offering summer tours of Europe. I became a tour leader, which meant any headaches that any of the group that I was going with were having would come to me first. I'd be the liaison to NSA of New York. For that I think they gave me a hundred dollars, which was a lot of money. So, I became an NSA student tour leader and went to Central European countries in '57. One other young woman, that I knew, Joy Zuckerman--I went to elementary school with her sister-- had just signed up to do the NSA tour with a different group and our parents knew each other. My mom and her mom played canasta together. So, Mrs. Zuckerman told Mrs. Abramson that she had checked out this organization very well and it was okay. So, Mom said, "Okay, go," and that's what I did one summer. That was the summer of '57. Manny and I rendezvoused in Venice because he was travelling. He has his own history, which I could mention to you. Manny is a Holocaust survivor. So, I learned an awful lot when we first began to date, he had a card in his wallet and it was a green card and it said, "Perma Res." I said to him, "Where is Perma Res?" He had a Permanent Resident card before he became a citizen. We met through the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization, AZA and BGB.
SI: Which countries did you go to with the NSA?
AM: We went to Holland, the Netherlands; to Germany; to France; to England; to Switzerland and to Italy, yes. I'll tell you something about Germany. The local guide in Germany, I'll never forget his name, and I guess I gave away--I used to have an interesting hat collection, but I gave away Hans Prichinski's beanie. It was sort of a French beanie, and he gave it to me. Berlin was a very memorable experience because the wall had not yet been established between East and West. We went both into East Berlin and West Berlin. In East Berlin, I saw piles of rubble higher than this fifteen foot ceiling. I was thinking construction site, they're tearing down a building and they're going to build a new building. Hans said, "No, no, that's left from the war." When he said the war, he meant WWII. That was my first real experience looking at results of war, other than the newsreels that we saw on the bombings and destruction. He said, "It will take East Berlin a long, long time." Of course, later, we got to understand and know the sectors in Germany and the divisions, the French, and the English, and the American and Russian sectors. We kept in touch with Hans for quite a while, for many years after that trip in 1957. We've lost touch since then, but those were the three summer "jobs".
SI: How many people were on the tour?
AM: I would say probably a little over twenty. We took a boat, Holland-America Line to the Netherlands. Most of the additional travel was by bus. In Switzerland, I remember that at two or three of the locations, we stayed in private homes. In Switzerland, I happen to wear red rayon, silk--whatever they were--pajamas. We were staying in a home where everything was washed by hand. Hot water was restricted and we hung laundry out on the clothesline to dry. There was a big furor in the neighborhood about, did the lady who owned the house, all of a sudden get herself some red pajamas? She didn't advertise that she was hosting some students from America. So, I remember that. I also remember--getting back to Rutgers for a minute--after the first or second year, my uncle, whose law office was downtown, came to visit me for lunch, Washington Street Building because that is where the cafeteria was and then there was a big student lounge downstairs from the cafeteria. I remember the point on the stairway that before he was leaving, he said to me, "I want to tell you something." "Yes?" He said, "Be very careful what you sign." I said, "What do you mean, Uncle Arthur?" He said, "This is a funny time, these '50s. Be careful what you sign." The point of the story is, this was the McCarthy era. [Editor's Note: Senator Joseph McCarthy's accusations of Communist infiltration in the US government led to a nationwide witch-hunt in the 1950s to unearth alleged Communists. Many institutions required employees or members to take oaths of loyalty.] There were recruitments at Rutgers and many other university campuses for what we later learned were Communist cells. They were trying to reach out to young people to get involved. We later found out--and I don't know how valid this is--that NSA was somehow connected to "red" Communist era Russia. I've never validated that.
SI: It is interesting. I was going to ask about that. I thought the NSA was sponsored by the CIA. I was going to ask if there was any overt patriotism or anything like that.
AM: No, none of that was imposed. I remember the offices in New York, very small little office where they gave me a packet to read, as the NSA tour leader, youth tour leader, and there was no proselytizing of any sort. Not "Yay, America," or, "Come join us in our people revolution." But somehow it came to me later on that there may be--I don't know how it came to me, but I remember hearing later that there was some kind of NSA covert affiliation with the communist cells that were proliferating in the United States for a while. But as I say, never validated. So, this is a piece of history that will remain for me a puzzle, unless somebody can do the research. Maybe one of your students can look into it. That was my work life. Library, camp counselor. I was the drama counselor at Camp Pine Grove. They had a lot of sand dunes around there I remember. We used to climb the sand dunes. I did Brigadoon with the campers, the younger campers. They were good summers.
SI: Well, what about some of the performances you did at Rutgers-Newark? In looking at your yearbook, I was not sure if they were done with the Mummers or independent of the Mummers?
AM: Definitely with the Mummers.
SI: Okay, all right.
AM: Yes. The Mummers were Professor Moore's baby. He was a very dramatic man and he knew how to direct and how to encourage. I think we all had just a great time. We were exposed to literature that we would not have otherwise been exposed to. I mean, yes, The Glass Menagerie we would know and we would learn, but some of the more esoteric plays in English and American literature, we were exposed to in that kind of a setting and it was fun. I'll show you some pictures in our photo album later.
SI: What was your favorite role to play?
AM: I can't even think of a favorite role, although I loved the part of Colombine in the "Everyman" play. An anecdote I can tell you tied that acting activity into something more recent for me. When I retired from the Maryland State Legislature, it was winter time, it was October, November; I was going to get my flu shot in the doctor's office here in Rockville, my internist. I walked into the office and I had been in the same practice for years. Susan at the front desk said to me, "You're Mary." I looked at her and I said, "Susan, you know who I am. I'm Adrienne. I'm no Mary. What do you mean 'I'm Mary'?" "Well, the doctor has just finished writing a play at the Bethesda Writer's Center and he's casting for that play. Would you like to be Mary?" I said, "I don't know what you're talking about." She said, "Well, did you ever do theater?" I said, "Yes, in college, in high school." I said, "Do you know how many years ago that was?" Short and long of the story is I did perform for Dr. Anchors in his own self-authored play; I had a great time. It was fun. I did it for a really compelling reason, not because I wanted to be on the stage or in theater. I was really afraid that my brain would go to mush after I retired from the legislature and memorizing a part would keep me and my brain actively involved. It worked, it really did until I got very heavily involved in other volunteer kinds of activities, but you asked me about a favorite role. I guess they were all fun roles. There was Everyman. That was sort of a Middle Ages little drama. Then there was one of the plays in which I played a 1920s flapper. I don't even remember what the play was. I know my friend Myrna was in Blithe Spirit, and I did some of the work behind the scenes for that one. I don't know where we found all the time to do this and other extracurricular activities. I recall I studied often past midnight for my course work. Remember, everybody commuted at least a half an hour. I think I commuted closer to forty minutes a day. Actually, it was eighty minutes both ways, plus at least four, sometimes five, classes a day. It's a good thing I wasn't taking any labs, but we did it.
SI: Where were the plays put on?
AM: Some were in the classroom stage setting. Some were at a room in the Newark Museum, yes. I think by that time, Rutgers had its own little stage. It was in some building, maybe the Law School, I can't tell you what building. It wasn't Rector Street and I don't think it was Washington Street either, where the Business School was. Maybe it was in the Washington Street building. I'll have to ask Myrna when I see her at the end of July.
SI: How did you decide on your major?
AM: It was sort of decided already in high school. I think my yearbook says pre-law. I knew to get into law school I should take history and political science, and of course, the requirements, the English. I didn't have to take a language and I didn't have to take math. So, that was very helpful. I guess I took those exemption exams. They weren't AP courses then in high school, but you could get out of taking your basic freshman core courses by taking exams, and I took a Spanish exam, I remember, and a math exam. Math was my absolute worst subject but somehow I was able to get out of taking math. So, I took a lot of history, political science. English I enjoyed and I took the standard biology. You said it was okay if I looked back in the yearbook, so I did that. I'm thinking of the name of the professors. I guess the man who really had an impact on me at school was Stephen DeWitt Stephens. He was the Division Director of the English Department and he was, even then, what I considered an old-world gentleman. He may have taught just one English course, but because I was with the student government as Cultural Activity Chair; we brought an India-based dancer and lute player, cultural activity, to school and he was very impressed with that. With Dr. Mann, who was the Music Professor, and Dr. Moore--again, whether or not these people were PhDs at the time, that's the word that spills out of my mouth because that's what we called them, professor or doctor. There was a woman in my class, Devy Barnett, magnificent operatic voice, and she did the modern opera, Gian Carlo Menotti's Telephone, at Newark Museum. Dr. Stephen DeWitt Stephens was very impressed with all this going on at the school. We also did the Messiah. Devy again was the soloist at Newark Museum, and this was because of the Rutgers Cultural Activities Committee. It wasn't me alone. It was many other students as well. But maybe Stephen DeWitt Stephens was an advisor to the Committee. I don't really recall. I had a lot of contact with him and with Dr. Fuhlbruegge, who was the Director of the Division of Social Sciences. I must tell you my favorite professors were probably two: Stringfellow Barr and Dr. Blumnethal. Does that name, Stringfellow Barr, mean anything to you?
AM: Okay. Stringfellow Barr came to Rutgers in '55. So, he was new there. He taught only seminar courses. He had come from the University of Chicago and brought with him the Great Books Program, where the hundred great books would be the basis of the students' education at Chicago and he brought that to Saint John's College in Annapolis as well. Somehow, Rutgers got him and he taught Great Books in seminar courses--six, seven students, sometimes ten or eleven. He would assign readings from the great masters, Greek, Roman, French philosophers, historians. He would be reading it in the language in which it was written. Greek, Latin, French, whatever, you name it, Stringfellow Barr was reading it. He was a Rhodes scholar, fascinating man to talk to. Later, he wrote a book called Purely Academic, a great book, a little quick read--you should grab it sometime--where he demonizes athletics in universities. I think that's a big piece of his book as I recall. He had a Philosophy of History seminar that I will never forget, and the theme that carried with me for life is, "Do the events of history make the man?"--that's the generic word man--"Or does man make the events?" We did a lot of reading in the philosophy of history realm. Of course, the discussions were just wonderful and it showed me complexity and that there's no easy answers to hard questions. That there's often times, no definitive way to say, "Oh, yes, that's it," or, "No, it isn't." So, I must have taken every seminar course that he offered when he first came, I guess, '56, and '57. I wasn't eligible for seminar courses until junior year and senior as well. He was a favorite of mine. He was president of the World Federalists. He thought there could be one world eventually. Unfortunately, how wrong he was. He initiated the Great Books program, as I mentioned, at Saint John's in Annapolis, and my office in Annapolis was right across the street from Saint John's University, or College. At one point, I learned that Saint John's was doing a retrospective of their Presidents. I walked to their main entrance and spoke to the provost and a couple of the faculty at Saint John's and told them what I knew about Stringfellow Barr, because they just had the written history and what a wonderful man he really was. He died in the early '80s. He was in a nursing home in Maryland. I kept telling myself that I would go to visit him and I just never made it before I read that he had passed. There's this little piece of rhyme that, I guess, everybody's heard--"Around the corner, I have a friend in this great world that has no end. I say tomorrow I'll visit my friend but tomorrow never comes and the friend ends before"-- I've always regretted that I just didn't get over to that nursing home to visit Stringfellow Barr because he was a unique professor and human being, who had vision. This experience that I had in his seminar classes at Rutgers, I'll cherish always, really will. Also, I think of Dr. Henry Blumenthal, who taught history. The one most significant learning experience I remember from Blumenthal's class was the difference between substance and procedure. If you're able to focus on separating that, realize that there are some aspects of history and governance that have to do with how things are operating and that's just the procedure and then you have to sort of dig a bit to get to the actual substance of the issues and the back stories. That was a significant learning experience. Then, there was Dr. Sydney Zebel; he was a lecturer in history. I think it was one of the first C's I ever got in a course. I went to talk with him in his office to tell him I was shocked I got a C. He said, "Oh, I gave it to you for a reason." I remember him sitting there. "Yes, because I guess you thought that's what I deserved." He said, "Nope, I gave it to you because I know you can do better." I'll never forget those words, and he was right. I think I was too scattered in my focusing between the extracurricular activities and social life and academics, and I didn't produce what he thought I should be able to. I appreciated that he put it that way and motivated me to be able to do better. I'm trying to think of some of the others. Henry Seelbach was in government and history, and Sydney Greenfield in biology. There was another small building right across the street from Rector Street, the big building, the brewery where the sciences were. [Sydney] Greenfield was in that building and he taught biology and geology and rock-ology, for those who weren't very much interested in sciences. There was another professor, and I wish I could remember and I don't know that I ever will. Robert Gutman taught psychology, and he asked me if I would want to work for him and he would pay me to do a special project. This was probably in '57, maybe even '58, (because I know the core curriculum requirements were in freshman and sophomore year). This was not a core curriculum psychology course. He was very good in his approach to teaching psychology. It wasn't just the textbooks. He asked me to do a special project that had to do with the--I'm not even sure I'm going to say the word correctly--Guttmacher Institute in New York, and that was women's health. That was one of the first women's health issues I encountered. I think I was doing some research that related directly to a women's access to reproductive rights, abortion. I don't remember completing working for him or completing the project, but it was an offline relationship with Professor Gutman. It was his project and I was doing a little bit of research and writing for him. Those are some of the highlights of the professors whose impact on my life has remained for all these years.
SI: That is something the university would not really try to tackle the '90s and 2000s, getting the students directly involved in research.
AM: Right, right.
SI: How would you even go about looking into a subject like that at that time, particularly with abortion being illegal?
AM: He would give me sources to contact. The Guttmacher Institute in New York is the only one that I remember that was doing research into women's reproductive health. I would read their journal articles and summarize it for him and then give him that. I guess it was probably '57 because I worked in the library for the first two--John Cotton Dana Library. Gertrude Prestup--I have to show you this letter--Gertrude Prestup Memorial Award, signed by Dean Durand for "most valuable contribution to student life." It was supposed to be hanging in the John Cotton Dana Library. Maybe thirty years ago, Manny and I went back to Rutgers when the new campus was just developed off the Washington and Rector Street areas. We looked for it and it wasn't there. What a disappointment. [laughter] Anyhow, I think it was twenty-five plus years ago or was the last time I was back on campus. I do keep in touch through with the Alumni newsletters. Every time I think about going back for an alumni weekend or something like that, it happens to be a time in which I'm busy here, April, May. If you have specific questions about Rutgers, I'd be glad to answer.
SI: You were President of the freshman class. Then you had this position as the Cultural Activities Committee Chair, I guess.
AM: They called it Cultural Activities Chair of the Student Government, yes.
SI: Did you have any other positions in the student government?
AM: I may have been a secretary one year. Let me see, I made some notes about that. We can look in the yearbook. I really don't recall. I know I got involved in bringing some of the political leaders in the state to Rutgers Newark. Governor Robert B. Meyner came under the auspices of the student government and I was involved in that. Harrison "Pete" Williams, Congressman, later Senator, I think he was the first who endured a scandal-gate.
SI: Yes, Abscam. [Editor's Note: Abscam was an FBI operation in the late 1970s, which unveiled illegal bribes that were being taken by government officials, including some congressman. The 2014 movie, American Hustle is based on the scandal.]
AM: Abscam, yes.
SI: But he also created OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] and other stuff.
AM: Right, yes. So, we were very proud to bring him to the campus. Maybe I was doing all that under the auspices of the cultural--it wasn't quite cultural, but activities chairman at the university. I guess Mummers and--oh, two United Nations Day programs. I worked with Dean Woodward to bring speakers from the United Nations to Rutgers, and we really got great turnouts at those events. I mean, the students were interested in things that were going on in the world. That's what interested me in trying to get a job after college at the UN [United Nations] Association of New York. I did go into New York and I got as far as one interview, but didn't get the job. What other questions might you have about Rutgers?
SI: Well, I am going to ask about The Observer and your work there.
AM: Yes, yes.
SI: You got started there when you were a freshman, as well?
AM: Yes, absolutely. I started writing for The Observer right away. Was I the feature editor there too? I think so. I'm not sure. I get confused between high school and college.
SI: What kind of stories would you write for the paper?
AM: I'd walk around and talk to students, find out what was on their minds, sometimes go into current events and interview students and find out their response to what was going on in the world. In addition to that, I think I did one feature on our veterans, from--it was Korea, most of them--who were at school and how the learning experience there at Rutgers was of such value to them. They were on the GI plan and their schooling too was being paid. And Rita Knoll Penn was the newspaper editor-in-chief. Whatever assignment she would give me I would go out and get. I reconnected with her back in 1992, '93; hadn't seen or heard her name, but never knew she was living six, seven miles from where I was. She helped me in my first election campaign. The newspaper was a nice vehicle, first of all, to get to know people. When you're running around as a reporter for a newspaper, people will talk to you most of the time. I think I also did some kind of a feature on the bridge players in the Washington Street Student Lounge. Some of them were very intense bridge players. In fact, I hear of and know of one of them, Phyllis Leon Siegel who married Howie Siegel, who was a kid that I also dated at Rutgers. He went to law school. They're no longer married, but Phyllis is now a master--I don't know what all the levels are in bridge playing, but she has become a master bridge player and travels on cruises and teaches bridge. But playing bridge in the student lounge was a big thing and some people even missed classes to finish that one trick, as they say. I think, in retrospect, the activities at Rutgers in which I could immerse myself were as important in many respects as the academics.
SI: Tell me about the sorority as well.
AM: Yes, that was fun. That was really exposing me to young women from many different walks of life who were at Rutgers. We were a group of about twenty-five, thirty, sorority sisters. Delta Phi Delta, I understand had been in existence somewhere, someplace. It was told to us that it was a service sorority. It really wasn't. It was more of a social sorority where we would host dances and parent faculty, student teas in the afternoon. We were the first sorority at Rutgers Newark to have "a house." The house was a basement room--actually, it was two rooms, but a large room, maybe fourteen by sixteen and a small room behind that, below Dean Durand's office in one of the brownstones across the street from 40 Rector. This was 37 Rector Street. How we ever got that opportunity I'm not sure, but our advisor was Dean Durand's secretary, Mary Feravado, who had just completed University College at Rutgers Newark. She became Dean of Students Durand's administrative aid. I'm not positive they were using that terminology. Maybe it was still secretary, but Mary was our advisor. We did some good work going into the public schools, volunteer work, but the sorority for me was more of an opportunity just to get to know other female students from many different places--Roselle area and Newark and Irvington and Elizabeth. There were students from all around Rutgers Newark, anybody who could commute.
SI: You had said earlier that you went into Rutgers with the idea that you wanted to go to law school.
SI: How did that evolve over time, your career aspirations?
AM: I think that I was on the train and I didn't know how to get off. It was satisfying to be on that train. I was probably either late high school or early Rutgers. I think it was probably late high school. Mom and Dad decided that I should go for vocational testing and I went, they paid for some vocational tester to tell me that women don't usually go to law school. Basically, that's what they said, but I could write and I could teach. I told my mother and dad, whatever they paid, I don't think it was worth a nickel because I was going to be a lawyer. I was on the train. I knew where I wanted to go. During Rutgers, I think I got encouragement from both the professors and fellow students. Like, why not? You can probably do it if you want to do it. I did apply to Rutgers Law School. A piece of me tells me I was accepted, and a piece of me tells me I withdrew the application. In '57, I told you, I went to Europe with the National Student Association and either they were a CIA or communist run organization, we don't know. [laughter] Manny, my future husband, and I had known each other through AZA and BBG, and he was travelling that summer as well. We got together in Venice and we decided that our relationship was not platonic any longer. The pattern for women in the early, mid '50s, even the late '50s, was get married. I think the late '60s and '70s sexual revolution had a lot to do with letting the steam off that motivation--finish school, get an education, get a job, get married. The early '50s pattern also was put your husband through graduate school if that's what he wants to do. So, Manny and I got engaged in the late summer, fall of '57. No, '57 was the summer we were travelling and we rendezvoused. I went back to Rutgers. Although I had a lot of what my mom and dad called "beaus," B-E-A-U-S, I decided this guy was the one for me. We got engaged and decided to get married in November, after I was graduated, in '58. But what was I going to do, graduating in May, June? I did apply to law school figuring, "who knows." What happened was I also applied to the Department of Institutions and Agencies for a job. What a horrible name. I don't know, is it still the same in New Jersey? [Editor's Note: The New Jersey Department of Institutions and Agencies was created in 1919. In 1977, it was divided into the Department of Corrections and the Department of Human Services.]
SI: I am not familiar with it.
AM: It was the Department of Institutes and Agencies. This was not the 1930s or '20s; this was 1958. I applied for a position and they were offering many different options. Social services case worker, parole officer, and I thought, "Oh, this parole officer thing seems interesting." I had taken some course that related to criminal justice and I thought it might be an interesting thing to do and they had an office in Camden, right across from Philadelphia. Manny was applying to graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania. So, I thought this just might work and I got the position. I basically decided to trade that LLB [Bachelor of Laws] for an MRS. I thought about it now and then afterwards, but I never really regretted it. I had no real regrets, especially when the opportunity came for me to run for public office, because as my kindergarten girlfriend, Rhoda, said to me often in later years, from her perspective, it was never if Adrienne would be a public official, it was always when. I think the fact that I had a career path of going to law school and deviated from that, for what I decided were good reasons and then got back to being able to look at public policy and issues and help people--because constituent service, for elected officials are as important as the policy and the writing of the laws--I think that it sort of all came together and worked out okay. During my years in Rutgers, I was thinking more actively about going to law school. There were maybe two or three women in Rutgers Law School at that time. I knew a lot of the guys there, because I dated some of them--Gary Skoloff. This is a person who is in the law profession and Rutgers probably knows him. Basically, the answer to your question was, yes, I was on that track. I knew the direction in which I wanted to go, but I was not dismayed that I chose to take a different way to eventually get to where I wanted to be.
SI: Did you and your husband live in Camden or did you live outside of Camden?
AM: We lived in Philadelphia.
SI: You lived in Philadelphia?
AM: We lived in Philadelphia, Philly proper. The first six months or seven of our marriage--November, December, January, February, March, April--Manny didn't know exactly where he would be going to graduate school. So, we lived with his folks. When we found out he'd be at Penn, we took a lovely little apartment, the second floor of a single-family home which is unique in the Philadelphia area; they're mostly row houses, but we found this little corner near the outer boundary of Philadelphia where he could take a train directly downtown to Philly, half a block walk to this second floor of the house we were renting. The interesting juxtaposition of information, the people we were renting from, he was an art teacher in the Philadelphia school system and he also was a noted artist who worked in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He was hit by the McCarthy Era and asked to leave the school system because his wife had once attended a meeting which later turned out to be one of those "red" cells. Later, he had a heart condition and the protocol, the medical protocol, of what do you do after a heart attack in the late '40s, mid '50s, was you don't walk stairs. So, he converted the second floor of his single-family home with a beautiful garden to an apartment. We had that second floor. We were married in '58, in November, and our daughter was born in June of '60. Manny was in graduate school. Big shock that, all of a sudden, this child was appearing.
SI: So you had been working as a parole officer in Camden.
AM: I was working as a parole officer in Port Elizabeth from June through November 1958. Elizabeth was my office and female officers were assigned mostly to adolescent offenders, even though the adolescent offenders were in the Rahway State Penitentiary. They weren't mixed in with the adult offenders, but that's where they were. When I had to go to the Rahway Prison to interview offenders, young offenders ready for pre-release to the community, I had to first do a pre-release interview and report with their families or whomever they were going back to. But I would have to be accompanied by a male officer, an armed male officer, to go into the Rahway Prison. They didn't allow female parole officers go into the prison unless they were accompanied. I had interviewed for--I took this New Jersey State Civil Service Exam and was offered this job. I decided it was interesting, and I would take it. I interviewed and the lead supervisor said yes, he would like to hire me. For the first day of work, I remember my mom and I went to Bamberger's or one of the big department stores in downtown Newark, and I bought a black suit, a cotton jacket and a cotton skirt, very severe. I put my hair up in a bun in the back because I was going to be a Parole Officer—and, of course, I wore high heels. I wore high heels all through college. I'm a short person and I felt better in high heels. I don't wear them anymore. [laughter] So, I came into the office and the supervisor there said to me, "What happened to you?" I said, "What do you mean what happened to me?" "You look different than when we interviewed." I said, "Yes, I assume this is professional dress for the purpose that I'm here." Right away he said, "Listen, lady. We hired you because we liked the way you look and you can relate to these young people. Let your hair down and put on something that looks not like your grandmother's old suit." I'll never forget that first day introduction to the job. I did that for, June, July, August, September, October, and the beginning of November for nearly six months. I applied for work in the parole office in Camden because I knew we would be living in Philly at least until Manny would decide where he would go to graduate school. What happened was there was no opening in parole or probation. There was an opening in the department of social services and I was not a social worker, but I wanted a job. So, I took the job in the Department of Social Services in Camden and worked there, child welfare basically. Aid to Families With Dependent Children – AFDC. That was the late '50s and those national programs were still in effect.
SI: Looking at the time you spent in Elizabeth, any memories or impressions of the inmates that you worked with?
AM: Yes, I do have one. The offender's names was George Manga, M-A-N-G-A. In my mind, he was such a little boy and it was very emotional for me. He probably was seventeen, eighteen, something like that, and his offense was some kind of stabbing, but he seemed like such a gentle little boy. It was very difficult for me to deal with him. He was explaining to me that he didn't want to go home. I guess that's why it stays with me. I had done the pre-release report with his family. It was a little unnerving, more so for my parents than for me, to walk around in some of the Port Elizabeth areas because they seemed to have more crime than little suburban Hillside. Yet, his family was looking forward to his return to home and jobs. We had to do workups as to what kind of jobs we could refer those parolees who would be released. George didn't want to go home. I never was able to get into the reasons, but it had a lasting effect on me. I think things like that are still happening today. People are afraid to be released to the community because they haven't received sufficient support in order to be able to operate in this very difficult environment in which we all live today. It was simpler way back then, but this child didn't want to go home, but the Department of Institutions and Agencies had no provision to take care of something like that. There was very little mental health counseling in our prison system back in the '50s, probably non-existent. Not very little; it actually was worse than that. It was non-existent. So, I remember George fondly and I really don't know what happened to him. All I could do was report to the supervisor that this child was not interested in any pre-release reports or going back to his family, and somebody else probably took over and started working with him. Said, "Kid, you got no choice. You got to go home. There's no place else for you." That's work in Port Elizabeth and Rahway. I did go to a conference in Atlantic City, I guess, during the summer. That was a good learning experiences that the Department had prepared. But because I couldn't get a job in the parole office in Camden, I was given another option. Somebody was resigning in the NJ Department of Social Services. Basically, I did child welfare casework for about a year and a half before I was told I was no longer welcome. I was pregnant and the Department would not accept a pregnant woman working. I guess it was maybe my sixth month or something like that, and I began to show. So, that was the mores of the day. I started working, because I needed to work. Manny was in graduate school. He did not want to tap his parents for their limited resources and the pattern was the wife would work, help the husband go to graduate school. I left my New Jersey job and started working at one of the big hospitals, Hahnemann. There was a project there, some kind of a research project about ultra violet lights in the operating rooms. Haven't thought of that in years. I'd go around from operating room to operating room to make sure that they recorded information and I'd bring it to a research office in Hahnemann Hospital. I remember being very pregnant and walking up and down those subway steps in Philly. We never had any subways in New Jersey, so it was a new experience for me.
SI: Do you have any memories of the people you helped in Camden? Was it just in the city or was it countywide?
AM: It was countywide. It was basically an office where people would come for their daily re-eligibility certifications. They didn't call it the Women, Infants, and Children, the WIC program, which came into existence federally later, but the child welfare was basically a food stamp and rent for single women who were raising children and the husbands had either never been in the home, the child's biological father had never been in the home to begin with, or had left. It was women and children program that particular Camden office was focused on. Do I remember the cases? No, not really. I was not as engaged in the whole process, as I was as in the parole office. I felt that I was more productive in helping the young people. I think there was a lot of scamming going on at that late '50s era of how there was abuse in the child welfare program. "My husband deserted me." "Yes, really? I saw him there last week when we would do home visits." So, I really can't tell you of any particular cases there. I guess I was biding my time rather than being totally engaged in the job.
SI: When was your first child born?
AM: June of '60. Married November '58. June of '60. Unplanned of course. Surprise!
SI: Did you continue working after that?
AM: No, at that point, my employment was full-time mom. Manny finished graduate school and we moved to Cleveland where he had his first job soon after school. So, he was in school in '59, '60, and piece of '61. I guess, end of '61, '62, we moved to Cleveland with baby, yes. We had two, three, years in Cleveland and then we spent ten years in the Detroit suburbs.
SI: During that time you were raising your children?
AM: Yes, and doing volunteer work. I got involved in League of Women Voters in Cleveland. In Detroit, I was doing part-time work. The Detroit school system had just integrated and they were busing black children into the suburbs to help suburban integration. Our daughter, at five years old, started going to kindergarten and she'd come home every day and say, "Oh, Mommy, today I taught Johnny how to zip his jacket." Then the next day she'd come home and she'd say, "I taught Susie how to tie her shoes." I would say, "And what did you learn?" And she'd change the subject. So, Manny and I went to talk to the principal of her elementary school. I look back now; she probably was maybe ten years older than I, but she looked like an old bitty. She threw up her hands and said, "Well, you know what the problem is." We didn't know "what the problem" was. Our kid wasn't learning; she was teaching everybody to do whatever she knew. The Kindergarten teacher didn't last through that whole kindergarten year, at least in that classroom. The teacher was asked to leave and a new principal came in. We made an appointment to go see him and we got to see him. He was a black man. He said, "Well, people, you have three choices. You could do what I did and send your kid to private school. You can be patient and wait because I'll get this place shaped up the way I think it should be, or you can move out of Detroit." Well, we didn't want a private school education for our kid. We were both very committed to public education. We weren't too patient as most parents wouldn't be. We moved to the suburbs. We lived in Farmington Hills, which was in the mid '60s and early '60s, pretty much a lily-white suburb. Later, it began to get more integrated. We had first come to the area, to Oak Park, Michigan, it was the spillover first suburb to be more integrated, but it was interesting, very interesting. The old biddy principal said to me-- before she just threw up her hands, "Do you have a degree?" You're bringing all these thoughts back to me now. I said, "Yes, I have a degree." "Did you ever teach?" "No, I'm sorry, I didn't teach." "But could you come here and help us? We can use some good substitutes." I said, "I have a young child at home." David was two or three. She said, "Bring him with you. We'll put him into the kindergarten." I said, "Sorry, he's not ready for kindergarten. He's a two or three-year-old." "It's okay, he'll be fine." I did that a couple of times until one day--my son and I would have lunch together in the lunch room and he said to me, "I can fight them, Mommy." I said, "Fight them? What do you mean?" "Oh yes," he said, "I can fight them. I was fighting them today." This little three-year-old was fighting some five-year old's and then I stopped substituting. But it is very interesting that you bring back all these memories that I haven't thought of for years.
SI: When you say you got involved with the League of Women Voters and others, were you supporting particular candidates?
AM: No, the League doesn't do that.
SI: Yes, yes.
AM: League is clearly a non-partisan organization, but it tries to register voters and I did that. I did a lot of voter registration. It also, even that time, that early on time, was circulating candidates' responses to questions and I would help to edit and write some of the responses. We would distribute the responses. I don't think they were doing calendars, but there was some communication way we got this information to our membership and to others. When I did work, when we got to Detroit and we finally got our kids situated in a suburban school system--no, I was doing this even before, I think, even when we were living in Detroit. The Detroit schools needed more teachers and substitute teachers, and in the high school they had a program whereby they were encouraging students, especially the juniors who were looking to be in college, to do a lot of writing, essay writing on particular topics they'd give out. But the teachers didn't have enough time to really sit and analyze the essays that the kids were writing, and they farmed that out. So, I was a theme reader. I haven't thought about that in a long time either. That's a job I got with the Detroit Public School System, a theme reader for high school kid's writings. I would read and comment and make corrections and suggestions for the high school juniors mostly. I would go to the school, pick up a bag full of papers, take them home; I worked from home and continued some volunteer activity with League and also with B'nai B'rith Women, then, those two organizations.
SI: What was your husband doing at the time?
AM: He finished graduate school in two years. He owed B'nai B'rith to years of his work life. They had scholar-shipped him for graduate school and he owed them two years of employment. So, in Cleveland he was the Director of the Cleveland B'nai B'rith Youth Organization. He got a graduate degree in social work and that's what he was doing. He was always interested in adolescents. Then in Detroit he was the Regional Director of B'nai B'rith Youth Organization, AZA and BBG. So, it wasn't only Detroit; it was Detroit and across the bridge in Canada. One of the donors to B'nai B'rith in Canada was a man who owned a winery and he donated his summer home to the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization on the Lake St. Clair shoreline. We would often go over there for small conferences of B'nai B'rith Youth Leaders. I remember we went one winter because something was wrong with the house and it needed something. Our kids even remember this. They were quite young, but they remember that the lakes of Sinclair got a lot of heavy snow and we could hardly reach the house, but we finally did. We took the snow and put it in a small coffee pot and heated it on the stove and that's how we were making drinks, out of melted snow in the dead of winter in Lake St. Clair. We were in the Detroit area for ten years. But we definitely had our eyes on coming back east because we had four parents here and we wanted the kids to get to know their grandparents. I'm glad we did.
SI: That might be where we wrap up today.
SI: But you were out there until about '72?
AM: '72, yes. Manny moved in '72. We couldn't sell our house. We had a lovely single-family home in Farmington Hills, good schools for the kids. In fact, I was helping in the schools as a volunteer in something called Bucket Brigade for what they called, "Slow Learners," in first and second grade. This would be additional enhancement during the school day. The students would be taken out of class and volunteers would work with them on their early learning math and writing skills, whatnot. My husband was offered a position in the National Office of the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization [BBYO] as National Program Director. He said, "You want to take it? Let's go." I said, "Washington? Sure." I had that glean in my eye. It would be great to move to Washington. I could envision myself on Capitol Hill. So, we moved, but we couldn't sell the house because all the suburban areas were becoming integrated. School busing was going on in the Michigan, Detroit area, and why would people want to buy a nice house in the suburbs if the schools there were going to be integrated. It was a very scary time and it took a while until the house sold. So, Manny moved to our original home where we lived for forty-two years in the Layhill, Bel Pre area of Silver Spring, Maryland, just seven miles north of Georgia Avenue from where we live now. He moved there with a cot, a pot and a television and that was it. He knew some people here through the B'nai B'rith National Office and they all were very helpful and invited him for dinner. I guess it took four, five months, maybe more. Our daughter was in seventh grade and she didn't want to move. Seventh grade was a difficult time to move a kid. Our son was in third grade or fourth. We could see the elementary school he would be attending from our home's backyard window and he would resist going to school every day. I remember standing on the kitchen chairs watching him after lunch as he walked up the hill. I wanted make sure he went straight ahead rather than into the woods. But we all adjusted.
SI: Is there anything else you want to add for this session?
AM: No. I think I will take a look when you finally put it all together and see when I got stuck on that BBYO leadership university; it's called, The University. Manny helped fill me in.
SI: Sure, yes. For the record, I want to come back and ask you more about your political career and your later life after you relocated here to Maryland.
SI: For today, thank you very much. I really appreciate it. It has been fascinating.
AM: My pleasure. I'm glad to be on the record. I truly am. I think this is a value for future generations.
SI: Thank you. Me too. All right. Thanks.
--------------------------------------------END OF TRANSCRIPT-------------------------------------------
Reviewed by Molly Graham 6/18/2017