Rutgers Oral History Archives

Jackson, Linda

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  • Interviewee: Jackson, Linda
  • PDF Interview
  • Date: October 19, 2015
  • Place: Teaneck, New Jersey
  • Interviewers:
    • Shaun Illingworth
    • Kevin Heck
  • Transcript Production Team:
    • Fantastic Transcripts
  • Recommended Citation: Jackson, Linda. Oral History Interview, October 19, 2015, by Shaun Illingworth and Kevin Heck, Page #, Rutgers Oral History Archives. Online: Insert URL (Last Accessed: Insert Date).
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Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Ms. Linda Jackson on October 19, 2015 in Teaneck, New Jersey, with Shaun Illingworth and--

Kevin Heck: Kevin Heck.

SI: Thank you very much for having us here today. To begin, could you tell where and when you were born?

Linda Jackson: I was born in New York City. I was born in Manhattan Hospital, July 17, 1953.

SI: What were your parents' names for the record?

LJ: My father is Bernard Hampton Jackson, Jr. My mother is Hazel Evelyn Booth Jackson. We lived in the city until--I forget. We lived in a couple places in New York and then we moved to New Jersey early '60s.

SI: Starting with your mother's side of the family, what do you know about the family background? How did the family come to the New York area?

LJ: Well, my mother's family is from Upstate New York, Goshen, Middletown area. I'm not really sure how everybody got there. I know going back a couple generations, there's some Indian blood and some Hungarian blood on my grandmother's side. But that's basically where that side of the family is. My mother was an only child. She was very close with her cousins. My grandmother had three sisters and a brother. They all had children, so those were my mother's sort of siblings, as it were. Unfortunately, she's the only one of that generation that's still alive. She was just ninety this past summer. My mother's generation mostly stayed up there. Then, in my generation, we're all over. A few of us are in this part of town. I have two cousins actually who were here yesterday in Hackensack and also in Bergenfield. A couple are still upstate.

SI: Your father had been born in the city.

LJ: My father had been born in the city. My father had one brother, who was born in the city. Actually, my mother was born in the city, too. My dad was raised principally in Harlem. On his side, I know more about the fact that that side of the family came from a family of slaves because my great grandparents were born into slavery. My grandmother was the first generation that wasn't a slave. The family had a farm in Virginia that my father used to talk about going to as a child with his brother. In the summers, he used to go there. Principally, they were in New York. Both my father and my uncle have passed. My uncle was very involved with New York City social politics and things like that. My father did everything. He was a cop who went to law school, very close friend of David Dinkins. [Editor's Note: David Dinkins served as Mayor of New York from 1990 to 1993.] He was always part of the New York City black Democratic Party surroundings. He was an attorney. He worked for the NFL [National Football League]. He was a Deputy Director of Commerce at one point, did a lot of private practice, became a judge and eventually retired as a New York State Supreme Court Judge. Did a lot of arbitration when he retired almost up until he died.

SI: Did your parents ever talk about going to college in that era?

LJ: Not really. I know that they both went to City College. They both worked while they were going to school. I don't know much. I know that my father worked as a policeman when he was going to Brooklyn Law School. We used to always joke about the fact that the reason I'm a late night person is because when my dad would come home and study, I would be up with him as a baby. Not so much about their experiences at school. My mother talks a little bit more about her experiences at school because she was one of the first classes of women that went into City College and they met with a lot of resistance with the guys coming back from the war and things like that, about women being in school. She said a lot of the professors were sort of hostile about the fact that they were women. My mother always talked about the fact that she had wanted to be an engineer, but being a black woman at that time, it just wasn't going to happen. So she became a schoolteacher. She was a good teacher, but she was a regular elementary school teacher, and an arts teacher. My mom was the one who used to fix things around the house, like when the toaster broke and stuff like that. She always said she wanted to design bridges.

SI: Do you know if it was a conscious decision to be one of the first women to go into what had been a men's school?

LJ: It's funny. My mom, she's talked about it a lot recently. She said she was just working and some woman she worked with had told her she should just go to school. She didn't go right after high school. She worked for a while. She said it was something she never would have considered except some woman she was working with had said, "You know, you should try going to college." At that point, City College was free. A lot of people got their degrees at that point because City College was free. She says, "I never had planned to do it."

SI: Did they meet at CCNY?

LJ: No, they met through a friend. They met through a friend.

SI: You said your father had been in the service.

LJ: Yes. He was in the service. He was a policeman. I want to say he was stationed in the Philippines or something. He was at the very, very end of the war, so he didn't really see a lot of combat. Then he came back. He was a cop. I don't think he was a detective. I don't think he made it that far because he went to law school. My dad had a pretty amazing career because he was an ADA [assistant district attorney] with Bobby Kennedy and then with Bob Morgenthau. In the last few years, I learned a lot more about my dad because we talked a lot more about things. He got to know Bobby Kennedy when he was an ADA. Through him, he met Sargent Shriver. Literally, there's very vivid memories I have growing up. One of them is my dad was getting ready to fly to California the day after Bobby Kennedy was shot to join the campaign so it didn't happen. In the last few years before he died, he and I talked a lot about how different our lives would have been had that happened. I probably--not probably--I know I would have probably gone into politics. I'm sure I would have. If we'd gone to Washington, I'm sure I would have gone to law school. I'm sure I would have gone into politics. Also, I remember there was a very short run of a play about Martin Luther King that starred Billy Dee Williams. It must have been in the late '80s. I remember going with my dad. We were at the premiere and people were seated by type, so we were sort of sitting with the politicians like Dave and Basil Paterson, people like that. During the course of that play was the first time that I consciously realized that--my dad used to go down South for voter registration. I remember sitting in that play and being struck by the idea that my father might have been killed. Never occurred to me before. Then--I don't know--it must have been, I guess, ten years ago now, one Thanksgiving, we were with some friends. He started telling stories about going down for voter registration and all the things that they told them not to do, like don't go out at night, don't be seen with a white woman. He was telling this story about being out at night for dinner one night with a white woman who was another attorney who had gone down for voter registration. He also, when he went down, said that he later found out that Bob Morgenthau had called down to the authorities and said, "Keep an eye on my guy for me." Then he worked for Bob for years as an ADA. Then Civilian Complaint Review Board for the police. Then totally sidetracked, went to work for the NFL. He was a special assistant to Pete Rozelle with another partner and they did a lot of security lectures to football players. This is during the period when the drug registration for players was started, when the Black Players Association was started. He did that for a while. Then from there, he went back into the law. He was head of Hugh Carey's office in the city when he was governor. Then there's some holes in there. Like I said, he was a Deputy Director for Commerce under [President Jimmy] Carter, which would have lasted longer if Carter had stayed in office. Then went back into private practice. Then he started doing the bench. He was mostly criminal law, both Bronx and Manhattan and then eventually State Supreme Court. Pretty busy guy.

SI: Your mother went into teaching. How long did she teach?

LJ: My mom taught until--I want to say it's '85. I know there's a plaque downstairs I keep staring at, but I always think 1985. She always says she taught until she knew she could retire. Then she retired. After she retired, she was a mentor for several years. So what she would do is go in and work with new teachers to help them learn how to teach. My mom was like the flower child to my dad. My mom, one summer, announced she was going to yoga camp and took off. My mother is an original Trekkie. From the first time Star Trek came on, my mother watched that. She's always been into things like Tarot cards and yoga and stuff like that. She was taking tai chi for a while.

SI: That's interesting. You were the oldest child.

LJ: Yes. There are two of us.

SI: You grew up in the mid-'50s, late '50s. What are your earliest memories of where you were living?

LJ: I don't remember very much about our first apartment. I keep watching Limitless thinking if I could take that pill I'd remember a lot of stuff. I remember our second apartment, which was in Marble Hill in the Bronx. That's where we grew up. There are things I remember, like the bakery we used to go to, to get bread and stuff like that. There was a big park in front of the apartment, where all the kids played. We were friends with kids in the apartment and so we were always hanging out with them. It's funny. You know there's things--I remember things like, I have a cousin who's six months younger than I am exactly. My mother and her mother used to joke they're just like twins, which used to make me crazy. [laughter] But we were there and then I know that I went to PS-122 in the Bronx, very strong memory of that. Then we moved to Teaneck. We moved to Teaneck when I was in the fourth grade. I remember I had to take a test because I was in fourth grade in the city. [Telephone rings]

[Tape Paused]

SI: We were talking a little bit about when you were growing up around the time you left the Bronx for Teaneck.

LJ: We moved here and then they put me in the third grade because that's how old I was. Then I had to take a test and then they put me back in the fourth grade. [laughter] Pretty much Teaneck; grew up in Teaneck. At that point, that was when Teaneck was still sort of a model community because it was--my years in Teaneck, even more so than my brother--my brother is three years behind me--were very special. There's a book called Triumph in a White Suburb and it was about the integration of Teaneck. Then there was that Clearasil commercial. I don't know if you ever saw it. There was a Clearasil commercial.

SI: I know about the book, but I don't know about the commercial.

LJ: There was a Clearasil commercial that was filmed in the cafeteria at the high school, which has always been funny. It was during that time. Everybody I grew up with was either black or Jewish and it was very, very mixed. We were friends--in fact, our reunion was this weekend, which I didn't go to. Growing up, I went to as many bat and bar mitzvahs as I did sweet sixteen parties. It was a special time because it was the '60s and we were all friends. A lot of interracial dating at that point, which was kind of unheard of in some ways. We were all protesting the war even though everybody else wasn't. All of the churches were doing a lot of--beginning of a lot more social outreach programs. It wasn't just Bible classes and stuff like that. It was an interesting time. It started to become a more conservative a little bit after that. My best friend in high school, for her sister and my brother it was like a whole other generation beginning. I always think of people who graduated in '70 as being the lost year because we were literally between generations of stuff. There were things that--we were at the end of some stuff. Then right after us, the class right after us, there was a little more social consciousness. Kids were starting to get into the ecological things. I remember having the assembly where they showed us that movie The War Game. I don't know if you ever saw the movie The War Games. It was a British movie about the bomb going off and what happened. I remember that. It's funny actually. The other day I was laughing with somebody about "duck and cover." When we were in elementary and we used to duck under our desks in case there was an atomic bomb, like that was going to help. [laughter] Teaneck High School was good. I had a lot of friends. I did a lot of shows there. I was very active in my church group.

SI: You've had a long career in production in the arts, but at that time, were you in front of the curtain, behind the curtain?

LJ: No, I was always back. I was helping build scenery and costumes and doing all that stuff. A lot of set decorating. Another really good friend of mine--I still laugh--always argue about the correct way to hang bunting. I hate to say it, but I used to cut school. I always used to cut school and go see Broadway shows and go to the museums. Most people cut school and go to the beach. We went to the Natural History [Museum] and Broadway shows.

SI: At that time there was also a lot of social activity and marches in the city. Would you go in for things like that?

LJ: No, that's what I'm saying. I always remember my senior year in high school, we had an assembly--and Teaneck was a progressive high school in many ways. We had an assembly program and I remember somebody who came back from their freshman year in college to talk to us about what was happening on college campuses. I think we all went to college thinking that we were going to part of demonstrations and stuff like that. There was a little bit when I got to Rutgers, but it wasn't what it had been. Now, we graduated in '70. We graduated right after Kent State. [Editor's Note: On May 4, 1970, members of the Ohio National Guard fired upon a group of anti-Vietnam War demonstrators at Kent State University, killing four students and wounding nine. Exemplifying the divisiveness of America's involvement in the Vietnam War, the incident provoked a backlash on college campuses nationwide, fueled the already fervent anti-government sentiment that existed in the student protest movements, and added to growing public distrust of the government.] I guess that's part of the reason that not much happened there because Kent State really did change the way protesting was happening and what was happening on campus. It had an incredible impact on what happened. I remember my freshman year.   I remember one time the railroad tracks got laid down on and stopped the trains, the one downtown there. That's about it. The only other thing I remember was a bomb scare.

SI: Was that at the Douglass library?

LJ: Yes. They were all the time, but there was one night when all of the Douglass campuses got called. I swear every frat tapped a keg because we all went across town and drank. Also, when I went to college, the drinking age was eighteen. Everybody just partied all night because we were told to get out of our dorm. What else are you going to do? Just drink, right? [laughter]

SI: [laughter] I want to step back a little bit. You said around the time you were ten, eleven, twelve, your father was going down South as part of the voter registration drives. Would that be a topic of conversation in your house?

LJ: No, that's just it. That's what I'm saying. He was going. "Daddy's going away for a couple days." That's why it was so profound when it finally hit me he could have been killed. Then when he started telling stories about it, like oh my god, you're crazy. But it truly did not have that kind of--it was just he was going away for a few days. If my mother was scared, she never in any way made us feel that that was the case.

SI: Growing up Teaneck, what other things would you do for entertainment? You were very involved in the theater, but were there other organized activities? Anything like that?

LJ: Not really. Until I got to high school, we just played on the block. We were one of the first black families to move into this block. Growing up, most of my good friends that I hung out with were white. In fact, my brother's best friend is white. They've been best friends since forever. They were best men at each other's weddings and everything. Then when I got into high school--I always went to Sunday school. Then I got very involved in my youth group. I had all these friends who were doing years abroad and I could never convince my parents. Then I found out that the church was sponsoring this trip to Japan. It was for a group. I applied and I got accepted. The church helped sponsor it and everything. I spent a summer in Japan between my junior and senior year in high school. But that was because I was very involved with my church youth group. We just did projects. We used to get together. I don't remember. We did pancake dinners and things like that for fundraisers. The Teaneck Presbyterian Church--a lot of the ministers who work at the Interfaith Church Building on Riverside Drive, 475, went to our church. So I grew up around a lot of young progressive ministers, like anti-war, the whole thing. My best friend in high school's father was a minister, [and] my brother best friend's father was a minister. So just knew all these ministers. Our youth groups were always--the head of our youth group, we always had somebody from Union Seminary who came and was our counselor. I actually was planning to go to seminary. I really wanted to go to Union when I graduated from college. I remember going to Union one night. We went over and spent the night with one of the counselors and discovered the tunnel under--what was that, Broadway? You can get from Riverside Church to Union Seminary completely underground. There's all these tunnel systems. Running around at nine o'clock at night. So I did that and then the plays. Those were my activities, the church stuff and the plays. I was eventually president of our youth group and I was a junior elder at the church. We did one play and one musical every year in high school.

SI: What was that summer in Japan like?

LJ: It was great. It was nuts. It was crazy. There were sixteen of us. We flew over on a charter flight that was full of high school and college students all going to different places in the Mid East. There was a group that was going to Hong Kong, I guess, one that was going to Taiwan. We were going to Japan. I don't remember if anybody was going to Korea. Probably not at that point in time. No, it was great. The first week we were at a youth hostel. Then we were all assigned families, so we all lived with families for a week. Then we went to Okinawa for a week. In fact, it's funny because this year's one of the anniversaries of the--what was it, the 45th anniversary of the lunar landing. Is that right? The few of us are still in touch. We emailed and everything that day. We took a ferry from the mainland to Okinawa and we were literally pulling into port as the men landed on the moon because I remember we were all downstairs in the tatami room watching the men landing on the moon as the ship was docking. So we spent a week in Okinawa and that was cool too, because one of the kids in the groups who had long hair and he wore a derby and his mother had said, "When you go to Okinawa, look up your uncle whatever." His uncle ended up being the deputy director of the armed forces for the whole South Pacific. We all got invited to the Army base, which was great because I remember we all got to eat hamburgers because we'd been eating Japanese food for two weeks and we were so excited about getting hamburgers. From Okinawa, we went to the Kobe region and we were with families there. Then we went north to Hokkaido, which is more farm area. We spent a week working on a farm, which was awesome. The only problem with that was the day that we traveled was there's a traditional day in Japan where everybody returns to their homeland for the celebration. That was the day we were going and we were on a bus traveling from Tokyo all the way up. The bus, it was four seats across with an aisle, but then there was a jump seat in the aisle, so there was no aisle. The buses of course were small and we were all Americans and we were tall. So I just remembered we had this eighteen-hour, ridiculously long bus ride, but it was fun. Then we were there for a while and then we came back to Tokyo before we left. But it was great. We met a lot of kids there. I don't know if it's still true, but then in order to graduate from high school, you had to speak English. So we met all these kids who wanted to practice their English with us. So we never learned any real Japanese while we were there which is kind of sad. It was a pretty good trip. Saw a lot. I want to go back at some point to see what it's like now.

SI: I know in other parts of the world, Americans were feeling a backlash because of Vietnam.

LJ: Well, it wasn't so much that. Believe it or not, because we were all taller, everybody just assumed that we were all of legal age to drink. So I spent the summer drinking. We would try to go in places and they wouldn't let us in because an American serviceman had been in and broken up the bar with a fight and stuff like that. So there was a lot of that kind of hostility. Then we visited a couple of orphanages. One of the things that was very sad was the number of mixed Japanese black children that were in the orphanages. They weren't kept at all. I don't know that any of the white mixed, but the black--beautiful, beautiful children, mixed race kids that were there. There was a lot of resentment. When the war was over and [Douglas] MacArthur was stationed there, every day at lunch, he would leave the Embassy to go to lunch. He had a motorcycle patrol that followed with him and peeled off. Literally, traffic stopped every day while he drove to lunch. It was an incredible show of imperialistic--there was a lot of resentment from that, too. It was just bullshit. He's proving that he could do it. But for the most part, not really. We were kids, so nobody was really necessarily--we were with missionaries, too, so that I think had a big difference about where we went. We went to Nagasaki and we went to Hiroshima. Those were pretty moving.

SI: Were all of your hosts members of the same denomination?

LJ: I don't know. [inaudible] The first family I stayed with was Chinese, which was incredible and actually very good, because that's when I found out about the racial tension between the Japanese, the Chinese and the Koreans. The Chinese, in some ways, were very--it's very weird. It's kind of like the Chinese were very superior to Japanese. The Koreans were really looked down on. Then the other family we stayed with--actually, there were three of us staying there. That father was very wealthy, so that was a really nice house that we stayed in. I don't remember. We must have done some church services, but I honestly don't remember that. There was a minister and his wife that were with us that were our chaperones, who were very cool. But yes, we were there two months. It was a long time. I missed Woodstock.

SI: Getting into coming up to the time you have to choose where to go to college, I would imagine your parents, they're probably encouraging you very strongly to think about college. How did you make the decision where to go?

LJ: I don't remember where I applied. I know I applied to Radcliffe. I know I applied to Douglass. I must have applied someplace else, but damned if I can remember. I didn't want to work that hard. It seemed to me that the point was to go to college and get an education, but it also was to have a social life as well. When I got rejected at Radcliffe, I was very excited because I didn't really want to have to work that hard. I was so glad I didn't have to go. I don't want to say I was lazy. I just didn't want to have to work that hard. My feeling was that I would rather be involved in a lot of things and have a really strong B average than be an A student and not be aware of what was going on. I just knew that going to Radcliffe I would be working my ass off. So I must have applied someplace else, but honestly now I can't think. I actually wanted to go to Chapman College because that's when they still had their campus afloat. You did one semester on a boat, but yes, my dad wasn't hearing that. I probably also applied to University of Wisconsin, Madison because of the theater program. No, it wouldn't be because of the theater program, but I did want to go there. Then, there was someplace else out of state. One time my dad was driving back to school and I made the mistake of saying, "College is great. It's like a four year paid vacation." Boy, that was a mistake. [laughter]

SI: [laughter] Well, tell us about coming down to New Brunswick and what your first few months were like at Douglass?

LJ: I went to Douglass absolutely planning to probably go to Union when I graduated. Then I was in Corwin campus across from the Little Theater. So I thought, well, at least I'll go volunteer while I'm here since it's right there. I went over to find out about volunteering and the TD [theater director] at that time, Will Stackman, was trying to fill his theater class. He said, "Why don't you just take this course? You need an elective anyway." So I did, and that was it. Then I ended up sort of getting stuck in the theater department. My freshman year was the first year that the theater department was separated from speech. It was Jack Bettenbender's first year there. So I did a lot of--I just got involved in the theater stuff. You take all the electives and everything. I mean, I hadn't really decided. I started looking into English. I actually then was trying--it was '71. I remember [John] Lindsay was mayor [of New York City] at that point and was starting to make noises about maybe running for president. I remember calling my dad to say, "If John Lindsay runs then I want to go work on the campaign. Would you be okay with me jumping out of school for a while?" And he was actually pretty cool about it. But then he didn't run, so I didn't do it. I took all the electives and then at some point, I decided I was going to be an attorney, but I don't know when that was. The woman who eventually became my sophomore roommate and I, we lived in a house with a woman who was dating the pledge chairman at Sigma Alpha Mu, who decided that he wanted to see what would happen if women tried to rush a fraternity. So he talked the two of us into doing that. So we rushed Sammy that year. Then the person who then became my best friend in college, who was a Sammy member, and I had one of the biggest arguments ever in life about the fact that he didn't think women should be in a fraternity. I remember driving back from--there was one of those rush parties and we showed up and met everybody. Driving back to campus, he and I were screaming at each other in the car about it. It's very funny.

SI: How many women decided to rush?

LJ: Just the two of us.

SI: Just the two of you.

KH: Did you eventually get into that fraternity?

LJ: No. Although, Mark told us eventually--he said, "You actually split the character committee vote," and I was kind of proud about that. But no, that was--I don't even know that women were accepted until after I graduated. But what happened [was] my freshman year, the Sammy house had burned down or something. So the guys were eating their--they were using the back dining hall on our campus for dinner. So we just knew all the--I mean, I hung out at Sammy a lot. It's weird because Sammy's this Jewish house, but it had a black prior when I was there. So [inaudible] I know a lot of Sammy's. It was kind of fun, actually. Yes. Then I started working. I decided to declare an English major. Then I did a double major. I was working on [shows]. It was hard because you're working on shows late at night [and] English classes all meet in the morning. [laughter] You're writing lots of papers and doing shows and lots of papers and doing shows.

SI: Do any of the professors stand out in your memory?

LJ: All of them do. Jack Bettenbender was the department chair. He had just come there. He was great. Jack was great. Jack really was my mentor. Joe Miklojcik was there then as the designer. I haven't talked to him in a while. I was in touch with him for a while. Joe Hart was there. Joe actually was the reason I got my first job in New York City. He had written a play that I ended up stage managing right after I graduated. (Bea O'Donnell?) was one of the faculty members there. I had a good experience in that department. Jack really taught me how to stage manage. Jack ran the department as a professional theater company, so that when I graduated and started working professionally, I didn't have a big learning curve. Everything I learned about stage managing and producing, I learned at school. My senior year, he said, "You need a project." He said, "Take over the cabaret," because I ran the cabaret my senior year. That was my first experience as a producer. Learned a lot.

SI: Any anecdotes stand out from putting on these shows?

LJ: No. They were just fun. I ended up having to go to each campus to raise money to cover the expenses. So I went to the student advisor person on each campus to get some monies for the cabaret. Then we had to come up with a menu and how we were going to serve it and what hours we were going to run, and deciding who was going to be the show--who was going to do the different shows. I don't know. They were all different. The funniest thing though is I moved to Cooperstown in 2010 to work for Glimmerglass. [Editor's Note: The Glimmerglass Festival is a summer opera program that takes place Otsego Lake in New York State.] We were at a picnic. Somehow, I was talking to some donors and we got on the subject of Douglass. One of the women said, "Oh, I went to Douglass." We were talking, and she said, "Oh, you should meet Gretchen Sorin. She went to Douglass." Or she asked me if I knew Gretchen. I said I didn't. She said, "Well, you should meet Gretchen." Then that afternoon, I was back in the office. Gretchen actually came to the office and we were standing there talking. I said, "Oh, I went to Douglass." She said, "I went to Douglass, too." I said, "When did you graduate?" She said, "'70." I said, "I graduated in '70, too." Well, anyhow, Gretchen's black. We're truly literally like two of the only the black people in Cooperstown. There's like, a population of six black people in all of Cooperstown. There's me and Gretchen, who both graduated in '70. We were both house chairman in Corwin the same year. Why we don't know each other is still a mystery. But on top of it, her husband doesn't like to dance, so for her wedding, she ended up hiring part of one of my cabaret troops to perform at her wedding, which I didn't find out about either until I met her. So we laugh about that.

KH: Small world.

LJ: Yes, very small world. We laugh about that a lot. They were just fun shows. At one point, we were having a whole thing about--it was one production one night--because different groups would produce different things. There was one cabaret where there was just a lot of tension between all the groups. I remember going to Jack and him saying, "Look, this is what you do as a producer. You have to figure out how to make everybody work together." That was my first lesson in that. At that point, we were on Gibbons campus. I don't know where the cabaret is now. That was fun. I liked that a lot. I loved medieval literature, so that was sort of my focus when I was in English. When I graduated, I was like, "I could go Columbia and apply to Columbia and study medieval English or I could go to Union or I could go to NYU and be a theater person." I ended up going to NYU for a year. I did. But I did get the application for Union; it sat on my desk for a really long time. Then I decided not to pursue it. I think I got very frustrated. As I get older, I just find organized religion very hypocritical. I don't know. I did think about law school. I did seriously think about it. Like I said, I didn't want to work that hard. [laughter] I didn't want to study that much. Then like I said, Joe had written this play. I got a job working off off-Broadway and I just started doing little gigs in the city. Then eventually, I got into opera because Lee Schlosberg was one of the TA's at Rutgers. Jack had been at Oberlin before and he brought some faculty people with him to help build the [graduate program] because he was bidding for the graduate program in theater at the time. He brought Avery Brooks, who was one, and Ginny Lynn, who eventually was, for a long time, the secretary of the United Scenic Artists Union. Lee Schlosberg as a stage manager, went to Houston, called me up, [and] said, "I need help." I ended up going down there. That's how I ended up getting into opera. That was all through a connection from school.

SI: You spent most of your time with the cabaret.

LJ: My senior year. Before that, every year, I stage managed shows pretty much the whole time I was in school.

SI: What kind of shows were they running at the time?

LJ: My freshman year--music my freshman year with Marat Sade. I don't remember the rest of the shows that year. But on those shows, I was just building costumes and scenery. I'm just trying to think through this. My sophomore year, we did Man of La Mancha, which was a big show. It had a lot of problems. I actually was a light board operator on that and follow spot operator on that. But there were a lot of problems with the show and we all had to pitch in to make it happen. Prime of Miss Jean Brodie--I'm trying to think what other plays we did. My first big show that Jack gave me was The Devils. I always remember opening night; he came back stage and said, "Okay. It's all yours now." I went, [gasps]. That was my big [show]. I guess it was my sophomore year. Then Italian Straw Hat. We did Cabaret. We did Fiddler on the Roof, a play I can't think of [the name of] about Thoreau. I can't think of the name of it--On Walden Pond. Stuff like that. Theater. We always used to do a little showcase too, in the spring with one night one acts. Worked on those a lot.

SI: Was there any kind of experimental theater?

LJ: Yes. There was the Little Theater in Jameson. You know there's a theater on Jameson campus. I don't know if it's still there. It's a little black box. I designed lights for a show in there because I ended up having to run it myself. That's the only time I worked in the theater. Most of the time I was in the Little Theater. Most of the shows I did were in the Little Theater. Trying to remember what the--the one acts, I think, were in the theater too. My freshman year he let one of the guys do--I don't know if you ever heard of the Theatre of the Ridiculous in New York. We did a production of Lady Godiva, in which somebody actually appeared on stage nude. It was a big deal. Interesting. It was a lot of work though. It was a lot of hours rehearsing. I used to do all my stage credits in the costume shop. Did a lot of costume work. Did a lot of costume building. Realized that I wasn't a designer. It's not in my nature. I'm a good producer, but I'm not a great designer. It was plays, musicals. On Wounded Knee--there was a play that one of the professors wrote about the massacre at Wounded Knee. It was very intense. Had another friend from Rutgers who, for some class, had to do a film. I remember working on the film. He had to do this film. I remember he made this movie. He took the song "American Pie." I remember running around campus singing that with him. That was fun. It was just all kinds of stuff. We did a lot of stuff. Like I said, Jack really made us run a professional theater. When I first started working in the city, I knew how to stage manage.

SI: You mentioned that you were involved in the student government at Jameson.

LJ: No, I wasn't involved. My freshman year, on the list of things that I honestly can't remember why I decided I want to do this, but my freshman year, I decided that when I was a senior, I wanted to be the chair of freshman orientation. That's why I need the pill, because I don't remember why I decided that. I got to be very good friends with one of the assistant dean of student advisors. I had told her I wanted to work on freshman orientation. What happened was my senior year--I guess it would have been my junior year--they were getting ready. She said, "Well, you need to work on student government." [inaudible] I got introduced to the person who was going to be running freshman orientation the next year. I was going to assist her. I can't remember her name. Then she ended up dropping out. So then I ended up doing freshman orientation. I got a bunch of friends and we--god, this is so crazy. I had met the rugby chairman at Rutgers. Because that was the other thing, I had some friends [and] we were going to try to start a girls rugby team, but then we didn't. Anyway, for freshman orientation what we did is we bought a bunch of Rutgers rugby shirts. So the entire orientation staff had rugby shirts, so that people could recognize us on campus. We did a bunch of different things, but I don't why--like I said, to this day I don't know why I wanted to chair freshman orientation. But because I did that, I ended up being part of the Douglass student government for that one year, which was the only year that I ever did anything with Douglass student government. But because of that, I got to know Dean [Margery Somers] Foster really well. It was fun trying to figure out how to teach people how to get around campus and all that stuff. Student government. But otherwise, I wasn't involved in student government. That was the only [activity].

SI: In all the eras that we interview Douglass women or New Jersey College women before that, up until the mid '60s, there's a very paternalistic atmosphere, controlling the students' lives and morality. What was the atmosphere at the time you were there? Was there the sense that the administration was trying to keep a lid on what students were doing?

LJ: I don't know that I ever felt that. It's funny because I remember my freshman year, we still had to--you still had to have tables for dinner. I always remember our house chairman because when she was a freshman, they always had to have skirts on when they went there. She was a field hockey player. I always remember she would run home from field hockey, throw a skirt on over her shorts to go to the dining hall. We didn't have to dress, but you still had to have a table. You still had to have at least four or five people in order to be sat at dinner. You couldn't just go by yourself; you had to wait until the tables were full, which was gone by the time I graduated. Other than that, I don't ever remember feeling like school was--I don't ever remember feeling that, but probably because I was a theater major. I spent so much time at the theater. There were no rules there. We were just rehearsing and doing shows at all hours. So other than just going to classes, that was kind of where my social life was. Like I said, I wasn't really all that involved in student government. There are things I know about college that I knew even then. I knew that I was at school with women who wouldn't have excelled if they had gone to a co-ed college. I was very conscious of that. I was very glad that I went to a women's college because there are women that I know would not have been as aggressive if they had been surrounded by men. I know they wouldn't. That's one of the things about Douglass that I always loved. I guess school's different now. I guess women aren't feeling as beat up now or limited, as we were when I was in school. It was very clear to me. It was very clear to me that it was very different. I only took one--all my courses were co-ed because I was a theater major, except for the English courses. Then there were a couple of English courses--like the best Shakespeare professor at Rutgers was at Douglass. No. Is that right? Maybe he was at Rutgers. Wherever it was, that's where I took my Shakespeare class. That was one of the most co-ed classes I had. My English department chairman taught a couple courses at Douglass that a lot of guys came over to take because they were really good English courses. That part of it--that was the thing that was nice about Rutgers, the fact that the classes were co-ed and yet, your life and your student government, and all that was all female. Like I said, I think there were a lot of women who were in student government. I don't know that they would have run for offices if they had been in a co-ed school. I just don't know that it would have happened. I think back. We had a woman, who lived in our house, who was dating a guy at one of the houses. He used to beat her. I think back. I remember her coming home with a black eye. I remember when we first met, he was charming and wonderful and everything. You watch Lifetime movies and I go, "You know what? I knew that guy in college." Because she used to go to the frat parties and she was hit. She was very meek about it. I don't know if they ever got married or anything because she was a senior my freshman year. She left. I don't remember. I think back on it and it's kind of like there was something wrong about that, but we all didn't really do anything or say anything like we would now. Then being a theater major, and then ending up in not-for-profit where the world is totally different, I remember going to--I guess it was my tenth reunion. There was a woman who had been working in business. She was talking about being able to wear a dress to work, a red dress to work for the first time, because she'd been in the corporate world and she could only wear business suits. I thought, "God, I'm glad I didn't decide to do that." That would have been what? '84.

SI: '84.

LJ: I remember thinking, "Oh, gosh. That's horrible. How could that happen?" Growing up black, you end up having such incredible radar and antennae out for people in terms of racial prejudice. It wasn't until I went to work in California--I went to work in Orange County. Orange County is weird because it's all these people with lots of money and they've moved in there and they've settled there. It's like Vegas; it grew out of nowhere. I never felt out of place because I was black, because clearly I was there. I was the right social status. I had a very impressive father. Because at that point, my father was working for a very huge arbitration company, who actually had offices out there. So that wasn't an issue. But I would go to board meetings and people would just ignore me. The person who had hired me got fired and I became interim. Our production manager, he and I both became interims and we were running the company. I finally got to the point where I would say, "Okay. I don't have the time, the energy. We need to get this stuff done. Here, this is what you need to say at the meeting because they're not listening to me because I'm a woman." That was the first time I was ever really conscious of sexism. The radar had been out for the race thing for so long; I sort of missed the sexist thing. Same thing at Hartford. Hartford is an incredibly sexist city. It's just [unbelievable]. I guess it's gotten a little bit better. But when I first went there, I was the only one of any of the arts organization heads that was female. Everybody else was male, which was just the opposite, because I'd been in the Berkshires just before that, where all of the heads of the arts organizations were women. So I was used to it. There's still a lot of shit out there that you don't realize until you get into a situation. I don't know if I would have been different if I'd gone to a co-ed school. I don't think so. My parents were very pushy about us, growing up.

SI: During your years at Douglass, was when Rutgers College went co-ed. Was there any reaction to that? No?

LJ: It didn't affect me at all. Not that I'd be conscious of. I'd be curious. I never had that conversation with Gretchen. I don't know if she feels differently about that or not. Because she was in a different field and a different major. But not really. Like I said, for me, so many of my classes were coed, it didn't really seem like it was that different than being in a coed college, other than that there were things about it that were just us, that were really nice. A lot of traditions and things like that too. I worked for years at girls' camps. Again, same thing. Working at a girls camp was very--I mean, we had a brother camp, a couple of brother camps. My brother worked at a co-ed camp and it was very different. There's something very nice and unique about being in all-female situations. In some ways, I think it's healthy. I know it doesn't happen as much as it did then, but I do think there's something healthy about it. Like I said, I think it allows--there are some women who sort of need that segregation in order to be able to excel and prove themselves a little bit more. They don't feel as--it's not like you got to wear makeup to class because it doesn't matter.

SI: My wife teaches at an all-girls school. She said basically the same thing. You don't have the pressure there, so you can excel in other fields. It's high school level and some are intimated in coed situations.

LJ: It's not just intimidation. It's also your perception of how you're supposed to be, how you're supposed to act. My favorite crazy woman story is I remember going to my gym once. I was coming out of the locker room, and I pass this woman. She's on the exercise bike. Now, what do you do on an exercise bike? You ride [and] you sweat. I walked passed her. She said, "Excuse me." I said, "What is it?" She said, "Does my make up look okay?" I thought, "Really? Are you really asking me this question?" But that was the thing. There are a lot of women out there who still feel that way. They're the ones who don't think Hilary Clinton should be president.

SI: You mentioned earlier there were not many African American women at Douglass at the time.

LJ: Yes. There weren't a lot. I don't remember. Again, the ones that I knew were the ones who were in the theater department. A few on campus. I don't think I consciously thought about it in terms of--because of what I was doing and where I was. Again, being in the theater department was just isolated. It was just different. But I realized it when I went down for my Douglass Society initiation. Then I went down for another [event] a couple years after that. Do you know who Wilma Harris is?

SI: Yes.

LJ: I remember I went down and it wasn't when I was initiated. It was two or three years after. I went down and I was sitting in Voorhees Chapel. I was looking around Voorhees Chapel going, "Oh my god. I can't believe the rainbow here versus when I was there." She and I were talking about it. She said to me, she said, "Yes, it's pretty different, isn't it?" It really was. It wasn't just that there were black women there. There were women there who were clearly Muslim, too. Their heads were [covered]. I don't think I knew any Asian people when I was going to Douglass, if there were any even there. I don't know that there were. It's funny, because I was thinking about that in terms of high school, too. Teaneck's going through all kinds of weird stuff now, too. I'd have to go through my high school yearbook, but I was thinking about it, I'm not sure there were any Asian kids that were in school with us when I was in high school. It's just different times. The sad part is though that I don't know that things--things are better, but they're not. That's the scary part about it all.

SI: What do you think was better about your time?

LJ: I'm just talking about in general, relationships and race relationships and how people relate to each other [inaudible]. It's all very different.

SI: There's less interaction between groups?

LJ: It depends on where you are. The other thing that's really interesting is we moved my mother into assisted living last year. One of the hardest things we had to eventually deal with was the fact that there just are not people of color at assisted living facilities. It's more of a family tradition to bring somebody home with you. A lot of my parents' friends moved to Florida. I knew it was going to be an issue. I don't think my brother quite realized the way that I did until my mom said something about it. In the process of doing that, I thought back. My mom was a schoolteacher in the Bronx. It's not like my mother lived and worked in a segregated setting at all or anything like that. But I realized that first of all, all of my mother's friends, her close friends, she had known since she was growing up. My mother's friends were her friends for sixty years. Most of her really good friends have passed away. But then I also realized that all of my mother's friends are black because of where she grew up, who she knew, who her friends were. Her close friends were people she had grown up with, she knew from Harlem, she knew from City College, she knew from upstate. So there is, for her, a very--she's [having] a hard time with this place. I don't know if it's fear. I think there may be a little bit of fear there. I don't know. But she feels uncomfortable around them, as opposed to me. I've been working in opera for the last thirty years. I have maybe two black friends. The rest of all my friends are white. My boyfriend's white. It's very different. My brother's probably in the middle. He's got a big, huge mix of friends, both black and white just because of what he does. It's interesting the way things have changed. Like I said, there are things about going to Douglass and Rutgers, and a perception of how black students may have been treated that I was just oblivious to just because I was in the theater department. That's where I spent most of my social hours, was hanging out with performers and stuff like that. There just wasn't an exposure to a lot of stuff. At the parties and the bars, I hung out with people that were actors. It's just different. It's not that there were a lot of theater department either because there was a whole group of black theater students that I didn't really get to know because they tended to do different stuff. I was mainstream. I was right there with my department chair when I was lead stage manager. It was very different. It's interesting because I remember the first time I met Avery at school. He scared the hell out of me. I never did a show with him or anything like that. Then we connected again about--I guess it's been almost five years ago now because I was trying to hire him to direct a show for me up in Hartford. It's a whole new connection that we didn't have when we were in school because we were doing different things.

SI: I want to understand the theater world a little bit more at Douglass. Would it just be Douglass students or was it students on all campuses?

LJ: No. All campuses. All campuses. I have another really, really close friend who lives out in California. She was a Livingston student. She's an actor. She was a Livingston student.

SI: It sounds like all the action would center on the Douglass campus.

LJ: Yes, because that's where the theater was.

SI: There were no facilities on the other campuses.

LJ: No. I don't think there's anything there now either. Because now everything's over at--

SI: Mason Gross.

LJ: --Mason Gross.

SI: Well, there's still stuff on Douglass, but then there's new stuff for Mason Gross.

LJ: No. We had basically the Little Theater and that theater in Jameson. I can't remember the name of it, but that little black box theater. That was it. Then the cabaret. When I had it, it was at Gibbons. I don't know where it was before that. All our classes, the design classes and everything--design classes were someplace on campus. All my costume classes were in the theater. All your shop time was done in the theater because you're working on building shows and putting those together. As a result, we used to go to that bar. I can't remember the name of it. You could walk there from Douglass.

SI: It might not be there anymore.

LJ: It's probably not. I lived at that bar. There was a bar and that's where we all hung out because it was so close to the theater. That's when I realized it was time to graduate, because I would pass people on the street and I couldn't remember if I had a class with them or if I met them in a bar. I thought, "It's probably time for me to get out of here."

SI: You mentioned earlier how earlier in your life and high school, you were not as aware politically. Did that change at all in college? Did you become more aware of what was going on?

LJ: It wasn't that I wasn't aware. I just wasn't involved. In college, not really. Once Nixon got in the office and I got really involved in the theater, I sort of didn't. I made a conscious decision to stop going to church. I had a big fight at church when I left, because my senior year, our minister, whom I loved, decided to leave. He was going to another church. I was part of the search committee for a new minister. I remember going to these meetings with people talking about, "We want someone who's going to preach the gospel and not worry about these social things." That same year they cut our mission funds, because the church decided to get a new organ. Oh, god. I was just crazy. My minister had to talk to me down on that one because I was like, "How can they do this? Those people need the money." I also did an antiwar petition, where you go knocking from door to door. I remember getting to the home of a couple that were part of our congregation. They were like, "Of course we support the war." I was like, "How can you support the war? Aren't you [Christian]?" Then I realized that I needed a break, so I stopped going for a while. Like I said, I find it very hypocritical. I just have a hard time with the organized religion. The war, it got crazy. Like I said, I was involved in theater. Once I got really involved in theater--because once I graduated and started working in the theater, I sort of read the news and sort of knew what was going on, but a lot of times, I didn't. My father would ask me what I would think about things and I would just make shit up because I hadn't read about it. I always remember him saying to me, "I don't know what I would do if you had done to me what Senator Ed Brooke's daughters had done to him." I was like, "Yes I understand." [whispers] And I thought, "I have no idea what you're talking about." No, not so much. Now, only a certain amount.

SI: There was a lot of antiwar movement stuff happening at the time. Did you ever wind up at marches?

LJ: Like I said, by the time I got to school, there were maybe one or two protests. Everything just sort of stopped.

SI: After the [inaudible]

LJ: By the spring of '71, most of the college campus stuff had died down, certainly at Rutgers. Like I said, I only remember the bomb scares and stuff like that. By my sophomore year, it was sort of gone. Look at us now. I'm trying to figure out what happened to all of us. I keep wondering if there's going to be this resurgence once all these boomers start retiring and we've got nothing better to do except protest.

SI: Let me pause for a second.

[Tape Paused]

SI: You explained to us how you got your first job in the theater. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience?

LJ: The first thing that happened was I was living here. I was going to NYU. Joe Hart had written this play. It was at CSC. I can't remember what that stands for, but it was in this little theater. I went to stage manage. It was an off off-Broadway show and I went to stage manage it. It was fascinating. I met the person who was directing it, who was a good friend of Joe's. Then ended up getting a bunch of work through him. My very first opera I ever worked on was with him. It was these two little ladies who ran this little tiny opera company in the city out of churches. It was a production of Cinderella. To this today, we still laugh about it all the time. Then I got a job and I went to graduate school. I went to NYU for one year. I went in for costume design and realized I wasn't a costumer designer. But I had a great stage management course with a great stage management professor. Then while I was in school, Albert got me a job. There was this couple who did a two person show called Shakespeare's Lovers. I toured with them as their stage manager for a while and then came back and decided that one year at NYU was enough, so I dropped out. It's really a design school. It wasn't really a stage management program. That was '75, '76. Then, I worked on a show, one that was closed by Actor's Equity. There was a period [where] there was a big Equity thing and we got closed. So that sucked. I did another show down at the Cherry Lane. Interestingly enough, it was a David Mamet play, really early on with David. Then I was working on another show that was written by a guy I'd gone to school with and Jack was directing it. He hired me. I went to work. I got hired because the guy misread my resume and thought I was a member of the union, so he hired me. What happened was then Lee called me and so I ended up leaving Jack's show to go down to Houston to work at Houston Grand Opera. But Lee called me the week before I was supposed to take the GREs, because I was going to apply to Yale, because Yale did have a stage management program. I got to Houston and they told me I could take the test down there. I think I got my name right. Don't you get points for spelling out your name? I scored horribly. Yale, of course, you have to have decent scores, so I didn't get accepted. Then I was hired to go to Houston for three months. It turned into three years. I just stayed in opera because at the time, there were a handful of us that were professional stage managers in opera. I knew I'd get more work than I would if I went back to straight theater, because there's a lot of theater stage managers. So I ended up staying at Houston. Subsequently though, my boyfriend was in that Yale class of stage managers. When we first met, there was somebody who got accepted who never showed up. They were always one person short in that class. The joke was always that I was the person who should have had that spot. It was supposed to have been me. I eventually met everybody in that stage management class through him, that I would have been in. He was going to Yale as a stage manager the same time I was working professionally. We've always had this ongoing argument about which one of us had the better training as a stage manager. He did his through school and I did mine in life. I started stage managing down there. I didn't know anything about opera. Lee just said, "I don't care. You know how to stage manage. I need help getting these shows up." Just baptism by fire.

SI: You said you decided to stay in opera to get more work, but is there a big difference between how you stage manage plays and how you stage manage opera?

LJ: Yes. Stage managing opera is a little more hands on. The performers sort of don't do anything. You tell them when to go on stage and make sure they've got their props and things like that, whereas with actors, it's very different. Timing is different. Everything's done by computer now, but back in the days when you used to have to count out cues and stuff like that, you really have to recognize the rhythm of an actor so that you can stay with him, whereas with an opera, the music is there. It's the same night after night after night, so it's a lot easier to call those shows. I think stage managing opera is easier just because of that. A lot more people. A lot more people. I don't know. I just always thought it was easier. There's no flexibility at all. The score is the score. The story is the story. It's very different when you go into theater. When you first rehearse a play, everybody sits with their scores, they read through it. Over the course of time, everybody memorizes their lines [inaudible]. Opera first you come in, everybody knows their music. They start singing. The weirdest thing ever was going to my first orchestra rehearsal. The conductor stands up, he goes like this, and they start playing the music. It's like, wait a minute, when do you learn? But the learning happens outside. It's a lot of people. It's not as intense. Opera singers are great performers. Of dancers, singers, and actors, I love working with singers. They're just a little bit more--I don't know--flexible. Actors can be very intense. Dancers are very intense. Dancers are also more disciplined. Dancers are so much more disciplined. It's very rigid. A lot of that has to do with safety issues. Like ballet, there's no variance whatsoever. They're all very tightly trained. Singers are kind of--I got that job because of Lee. He left and I ended up staying there. Actually, when I decided to leave Houston the first time, Lee hired me again in Washington. I went to Washington at that point. Then I ended up going to Miami. I stage managed all over. Lots of places. Then ended up becoming a production manager and ended up running a company literally because my boss died.

SI: I know you have some questions you want to ask.

KH: Most of mine were already covered. Obviously, you've had a tremendous resume. What were the best places you worked at? What were the most fun?

LJ: I'd have to say Chautauqua. It's a small company. It's family. I was there for fourteen years. That's really where I learned how to produce opera. At Chautauqua, it's an institution. It's got all these arts organization. They say, "This is how much money you have, go do what you do." You don't have to do any fundraising. You just get to practice your art. I had good staff. It was an easy schedule compared to a lot of schedules. We played a lot, too. There was time for play as well as work. We did good work there and I feel good about the shows I did there. I produced some really good things there. Like I said, it was just family. I always felt like it was--by that point, I knew a lot of singers, so I could invite people to come and sing for me. I always felt like I was having a dinner party with my friends. They'd come and do the show for me. That was probably my favorite job. I liked the others. I learned a lot at the other places. That was my own company too for a while.

KH: You said you invited a lot of people to do shows for you. Did you meet them at Douglass College or elsewhere?

LJ: No. Just singers that I knew from working in the business. When I first went to Houston, they had started a training program for young artists. By the time I ran Chautauqua a lot of those people had established careers. So I would invite them to come sing leading roles for me. That was just nice. Opera is a weird field because of the way it works. You go someplace, you do a show with a bunch of people, and then you go someplace else. It's a bigger family because you might not see somebody for five years and then you work with them again and you're still sort of friends. It's like there's a set pool of people who do what they do.

SI: Can you tell us about the year you were with the New York City Opera National Touring Company?

LJ: Yes. Well, the first tour I did with City Opera was great because on that one I was stage manager. That was small. It was a smaller tour. We weren't out that long. That was a real one night stand, bus and truck, kind of thing, where we just traveling. We were on a crew bus. We would finish a show, we'd get on the bus, go to sleep, and we'd wake up in the next city and do a show. It was pretty simple. The second tour I did was bigger. We did ninety performances in sixty-three different cities. It was a lot of people. It was a two bus show. It had multiple casts. We had a lot of different cast changes. It's much more strict. Texas Opera Theater toured a separate entity. It had its own board of directors. It did its own fundraising. It was a much stronger company. City Opera tour was part of the City Opera main company. The demise of both of those touring companies came when the parent companies decided that the smaller companies were making money and they should help feed the big companies, which doesn't work. But the City Opera tour was really, really huge. It wasn't as much family. We had two buses. It was much more formal. I was also only the company manager on that. I was with the cast the whole time. The good thing about that was part of my job was going out every night and I had to watch the show and make sure it was intact and stuff like that. It was different. It was interesting. It was bigger. It was much bigger than the first tour. Much bigger than the first tour. We were out forever.

SI: Let me conclude for today, if that's all right.

LJ: If there's anything else.

SI: I might have more follow ups. I figure we get this transcribed and see where there are other questions and maybe schedule a follow up or ask some questions in the transcript.

LJ: Sure. Was there anything else?

KH: Just real quick. You mentioned that your father would call you and ask you about what was going on. Do you remember anything specific, Cold War-wise or having to do with the Cuban Missile Crisis? I know you were young for that. Anything that really stuck out to you?

LJ:   Not really. It's like I said, I just don't remember being consciously aware at the time, because I was so young. Every once in a while we would talk about something. Not really big stuff. When Dave ran for mayor, we would talk a little bit about that and how that was going and how it was going. It's funny. When I was in college, my father and I were very close. We used to talk a lot. What we talked about, I couldn't tell you. Sometimes we would talk about politics. When my father and I talk--when we used to talk on the weekends, we would talk about stuff that was going on in the news and things like that, but nothing that really stuck out. I do remember election night when Obama [won the 2008 presidential election]. I talked to both my parents. My dad was in Harlem with a bunch of people and my mom was home. It was a big deal for them. It was a huge deal for the two of them. It was a big deal for me too, but not in the same way as it was for them. They both were like, "Never in my lifetime did I imagine that this would happen." Even when Dave ran for mayor and won that was a huge thing. We got to go to the inauguration. That was cool. As impactful as it was for me and my brother, it was totally beyond the realm of possibility for my parents. They just never imagined that that would happen. The flipside of that is I have this little cousin. I love my little cousin. "Little cousin"--he's sixteen. He's huge now. He's playing football. He's a jock with all these muscles. I'm like, "Who is this little baby?" When he was growing up, all of his toys talked. I had this baseball hat that had Mickey Mouse on the front of it. I remember being at their house and I'd taken the hat off. It was sitting on the chair. He was three or something. He went over and he kept pushing the front of it because those things are supposed to talk. I look at him sometimes and I realize he has no reason to believe that anything's impossible in his lifetime. Then I look at my mom and it's like radio, television. When I was in Connecticut, we had a board member there. That's ten years ago now. She was in her nineties. She and I would go to lunch and she would talk about--she went to school to a boarding school. I think it was Idaho or someplace. She used to take the train out. She got into opera because she said, "Well, at night when we were at the school and we would sit and do our needlework and we would listen to opera." It was a whole other world. Just listening to things that didn't exist for those people that we take for granted now. Shit changes now within a year or two. This is outdated already. It's faster and it's different. It's funny because my mom never really learned how to do a computer. My father did a lot. He used to call me up. I would get these calls from him, like, "My screen went blank. What do I do?" I'm nursing my dad through writing decisions, because when he started doing arbitration, he had to file his decisions electronically. I'd get these calls--"I'm writing this decision." I miss my dad. I miss my dad a lot.

SI: Well, thank you very much for your time today. I'll be in touch, if there are other aspects of your career that we didn't touch on that would be good talk about. I'll probably look through and have more questions about Douglass years.

LJ: Fine. I'm around.

SI: Thank you very much.

LJ: Sure.

SI: I appreciate it.

----------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW---------------------------------------

Reviewed by Linda Jackson

Reviewed by Molly Graham

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