Sarah Morrison: This begins an interview with Mark S. Morrison, Rutgers College Class of 1964, on September 23, 2009, New Brunswick, New Jersey. Also present are Sarah Morrison and Sandra Stewart Holyoak. [Editor's Note: Sarah Morrison is Mark S. Morrison's daughter.]
Sandra Stewart Holyoak: Thank you very much for coming. I would like to begin the interview by asking you to tell me where and when you were born.
Mark S. Morrison: I was born in Manhattan, in New York City, Jewish Memorial Hospital, March 10, 1942. The hospital has since become a condominium, I understand.
SH: You started it off right.
MM: One of the great mysteries in the family, which I never understood, my parents lived in New Brunswick, it was wartime, yet, they got in a car, Mom and Dad, and went to Manhattan for my mother to give birth.
SH: Was there family living close by, perhaps?
MM: I don't really know, don't know. The hospital's all the way up in Manhattan, is near Columbia University. It was there. As I say, it's a condo [now].
SH: Tell us about your father, his name and a bit about his family background, if you would.
MM: Yes, my father's name, Jacob Morrison. He had one brother and, if I can count my aunts, I think four aunts [sisters]. They were immigrants from Russia, from ... what's called Belarus today. I found out, very late in life, which Sarah is aware of, of course, that my great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, my father's grandfather, was a very famous Hasidic rabbi. So, the roots are from Russia. My Uncle Sam, my father's brother, saw to the immigration of the family. My father came over in 1904. The purpose of ...
SM: The paper says 1900.
MM: No, Daddy was born in 1900.
SH: He came over when he was four then.
MM: Was four, and the family left to escape encryption [conscription], if that's the right word, from the Russian-Japanese War, because anybody that was going to go in, my grandfather and my uncle, weren't going to come out. [Editor's Note: The Russo-Japanese War started in February 1904 and lasted until September 1905.]
SH: Did you say your father's father came here first?
MM: ... No, my uncle. Uncle Sam had relatives on [this side]. The family name is (Tomorrison?). It was Anglicized at Ellis Island, as were several hundred thousand, a couple of million, more people. There were relatives called the (Sykings?) who lived in lower New York State, and they were the sponsors to bring Uncle Sam over. He then went back and brought my father, my aunts and himself, and my grandfather and my grandmother, to the country. They immigrated through Boston. So, it's been somewhat hard to identify the exact boat. ... What was also unusual for Russian-American people of the Jewish faith, Russian people of the Jewish faith, [is that] they wound up in Brooklyn, in Greenpoint, and my father grew up and went to [William Cullen] Bryant High School in Brooklyn [Queens?].
SH: What was your grandfather's trade? How did he provide for the family?
MM: Yes, Grandpa Frank was a housepainter, and he also served as what we call the shamash, the caretaker of the synagogue in Greenpoint. I don't think he was paid for that, but he was a housepainter.
SH: Did your father remember any stories of the immigration and what they went through?
MM: He never mentioned them to me. He was four, and I believe the boat was the Bremen, but I don't think he told me that. ... I have one document which has every ... passenger name for our family, in Cyrillic, which I've gotten partially translated. That's the old Russian language, I guess. So, I ... don't have anything specific to tell you that ... he told me.
SH: How did they manage to get out of Russia?
MM: The Bremen would have sailed, I assume, from Germany, and the Russian-Polish border was very fluid in those days, to say the least, if Poland even existed in 1904. So, somehow they got out and made transport to the boat. [Editor's Note: Poland, which had lost its independence in 1795 after being partitioned by the Prussian, Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires, would not regain its independence until 1918.]
SH: I was just curious if they had any family stories that went along with that.
MM: I don't have any to tell you, no.
SH: How many brothers and sisters did your father have?
MM: Aunt Rose, Aunt (Tessie?), Aunt (Sadie?), Aunt Marsha, he had four. Did I skip anybody? four sisters and one brother.
SH: I assume your father was the youngest.
MM: ... He would have been, I think. The oldest ...
SM: Aunt Anna.
MM: Aunt Anna was oldest?
SM: No, she was the youngest.
MM: She was the youngest, and I think Daddy was, I think, possibly the oldest--maybe Uncle Sam was older.
SM: I remember you saying he was the baby of the family.
MM: Okay, I'll have to [check]. I can get those dates very easily.
SH: Okay, I was just curious as to where he fit in.
MM: Yes, yes.
SH: Were there any stories that your father told of what it was like to learn English? Was it something he picked up very easily?
MM: What's fascinating, since you asked that, is my grandmother on my mother's [side]--well, three grandparents were deceased before I was born. My grandmother from on my mother's side spoke fluent Yiddish and very little English. My parents, when they visited Grandma "Bubbie," [an affectionate term for grandmother], spoke Yiddish. My father, in the house, both my parents, spoke English, even though, ... as you get to my mother's side, ... because I'm first generation, they were both immigrants. The Yiddish wasn't present ... on my father's side, in the house, and he was fluent in English.
SH: We have instances of people who were forbidden to speak their native language and required their children speak only English.
MM: Right. I don't think that was the case here. ... Conversely, I find it very unusual, since you're bringing these questions up, ... that he didn't speak Yiddish to his sisters or his brother.
SH: Because they were busy getting Americanized, as they called it, that kind of thing.
SH: Did everyone become naturalized citizens?
MM: I believe so. I have my father's paper, and I don't specifically have my aunt's documents, but I believe so, and I think I have Uncle Sam's also.
SM: You do.
SH: Did your father go on to school or to a trade school?
MM: He went to--look, two things. I have some early possessions in the vault. One is a PSAL, Public Schools Athletic League, relay, track relay, medal. ... My father was a very, very quiet, unlike myself, quiet man, and his modesty and my mother's modesty [affected what was] transmitted to me. He never really told me anything, but the medal was there. He went to a school for awhile called Eton, E-T-O-N, Prep, for about a year. This was, I think, after the issue of going off to Europe, because of the war, went away. Beyond that, he didn't have any, what we would call today, a higher level of education.
SH: What did he wind up doing for a profession?
MM: He was what we would term, and it's really a derogatory term, so, I use it with that caution, blue-collar. He had a series of, call it clerical positions, but, for a long period of time, worked ... as a superintendent of my Uncle Sam's, call it a factory, which was first in Long Island City, and then, we quickly transitioned to Milltown, in New Jersey, where he moved it. Uncle Sam had patents on compact frames for women, ... or compact holders and pocketbook frames, right. During the war, he turned out bullets, and it was called (Metalfield?). ... A few years ago, when I was gainfully unemployed, I had plenty of time to go to Milltown City Hall to see if I could trace down the actual patents that are in Washington. ... The answer came back that he didn't own the building. This is, if you know Milltown's Washington Avenue, that huge building across from City Hall, which is now condos, was owned by Michelin Tire Company. It was their factory.
SH: That was their big industry there.
MM: Right, yes. So, when the factory moved, he moved with Uncle Sam, met my mother. This is, now, we've jumped up from 1918, in high school, to the late 1930s, but, in-between time, he was with his family. They'd moved from Greenpoint to Riverside Drive in Manhattan. Then, they moved up to Amsterdam Avenue, in around 155th Street. I found my father's synagogue, which is now a church, a few years ago at Amsterdam and 157th. My father was a New York Giants baseball fan, because Coogan's Bluff was two blocks away. This was a hill that you walked down to ... the old Polo Grounds. So, he was a Giants fan. My sister and I are Yankee fans, and my mother was oblivious to baseball completely. So, this is how we wound up in New Jersey, was because he was working for Uncle Sam. Later on, after Uncle Sam sold the factory and died and my father took ill, he worked for a ... fairly long period of time at, no relation, Morrison Steel in New Brunswick. That was owned by the (Hamolsky?) Family, and then, he retired, and then, he passed away in 1968. So, I lost him pretty early. I was twenty-six.
SH: I am sorry. Let us talk about your mother and her family background.
MM: Yes. My mother would have been probably nine months when they came over, the (Langer?) Family, from the Ukraine, a small what we called a shtetl, a small town, called (Shyshkovtse?). They were, I would say, secular. My Grandpa (Selig?), who I'm named after in Hebrew, and that's what the "S" is for, had many brothers and my mother had one brother, Uncle Morris. They migrated to the Bronx in a classic scenario of moving uptown. Probably in the ... late 1970s, I took my mother back to where my grandfather's synagogue was, on a small dead-end street called Beach Terrace. It was still there. About two years ago, I went to [the] Yivo Institute of Research on 16th Street [in Manhattan]. Somebody had prepared a book, I guess it was a book, on synagogues of the Bronx. ... That's when I passed up going to Chaim's wedding. I had to go to find out whether I should go back and see if the synagogue was still up. It wasn't listed. So, they [the family] moved from Brook Avenue to Anthony Avenue, and my grandmother's last place of residence--she passed away in 1971--was 195th Street and University Avenue. So, I always considered myself to be a Bronx person. Grandpa (Selig?) and his brothers and my Uncle Morris had a bricklaying company, where they would, forgive me, use Italian immigrants to build buildings with brick. Grandpa (Selig?) also died young. He was forty-nine. He died in 1929. My grandmother, who Sarah is named after, lived to 1971, was a huge gap, but my Uncle Morris became very wealthy, for good or for bad. (Langer and Langer?), the construction company, did Co-op City in New York, [a large-scale cooperative housing development built in the north Bronx in the late 1960s and early 1970s]. Uncle Morris owned a lot of hotels. My cousin, Joel, his son, did Revlon on Route 27 in Edison, [New Jersey]. So, from an immigrant [origin], where my father's side, economically, never became wealthy, on my mother's side, not my mother, but my Uncle Morris, certainly, became wealthy. What was an immigrant situation in the classic, true, pull-yourselves-up-by-the-bootstrap scenario, Uncle Morris struck it rich, literally.
SH: What about education? How important was education for either family?
MM: Well, Mommy went to Theodore Roosevelt High School. I have what's left of her diploma. It's falling apart. She went to Hunter College for one year and married, had my sister, got divorced. So, in the '20s, that was a scandal, and she didn't have an opportunity to go, out of, let's say, economic necessity. The subsequent generations on both sides, starting with me and my cousins, and my first and second cousins, well, ... particularly my second cousins on my father's side, are college educated, and each generation gets better. She's done more in one-and-a-half years at Rutgers than I did in four years. ... Believe me, ... I had a good time and got a lot out of school. So, we see the progression of the generations on both sides. There wasn't undue emphasis. I was a very good student in high school. That's not because my parents were hammering me, "You have to go to college."
SH: That was an expectation.
MM: Well, it was--instinctive, I think, is too strong a word. First of all, I went to Highland Park High School, which was ninety-nine percent college prep. You were stigmatized if you were in the shop courses, not going to school. There was not a vocational technical system high school in the '50s. So, the pressure was on to get the grades and go to college. College fees weren't what they are today. My family was classic middle-class. I think, in the '50s, if my father earned ten thousand dollars, it was a lot of money. They had the roof over their head and the food was on the table. So, again, it was this ongoing theme of "Old World" values, which I think I carry forward until today.
SH: How did your parents meet?
MM: ... I'm not sure. ... We have gaps in our family history. This is one of them, but, somehow, my mother, my Uncle Sam and my father lived in North Brunswick--not the North Brunswick we know today, but close to the factory. ... Somehow, my mother wound up there, and they met and they socialized and they got married. Remember, my mother had the stigma of being a divorcee, but her grounds for adultery, in addition to the Jewish faith, ... the grounds were adultery in the State of New York. ... My father then lost my grandmother, (Lucia?), his mother, and he waited the year until my parents married.
SM: The year is a traditional period of Jewish mourning. After you lose a parent, you wait eleven months before moving on with your life.
MM: ... Yes, so, but I don't know how they met, and the frustration, in my old age, is to find someone in the family who may know. I have one first cousin, who is reclusive in Nevada, who didn't answer letters years ago, and I'm not close to my sister, to be polite. ... She would know. Obviously, she was there. Marcy would have been about fourteen when they married, thirteen to fourteen, yes.
SH: Okay, because that was the next question I was going to ask.
MM: Yes, which is?
SH: She would be your half-sister.
SH: Was she part of the family?
MM: Yes. It's interesting you use that term, as we shed family history here. Marcy married when I was six, which was 1948. She went to New Brunswick High School, worked for Mr. (Miglarini) of Rutgers Chevrolet, which was a car dealer on George Street. We have to talk about New Brunswick at some point in the context of Rutgers then and the town then versus now. I think it would make a good comparison for the history. So, Marcy was often out of the house ... when I was six. I didn't know she was my half-sister, because my parents never told me. Our next-door neighbor, (Catherine Higgins?), did, one day, on the stoop, [laughter] and I said, "That's interesting," and I went in and I said, I asked my parents, "What's going on here?" So, I was told that the rabbis told them, "I," quote, "didn't have to know," whatever that meant. ... My poor brother-in-law, of blessed memory, Jack, had to fly up from Dallas to tell me, "This is the case." Okay, so, I found out. The fifteen-year gap and, frankly, my mother's favoritism towards me always was a separation barrier between myself and my sister.
SH: Do you know if your mother had lived with her parents after her divorce?
MM: She must have, because Uncle Morris did until he got married. So, I believe, when Mommy went off to work, Grandma Bubbie raised Marcy as a kid, as a pre-teen, and, until the time that they moved to New Brunswick, Grandma would have stayed in the Bronx. So, again, this vaguery of how she got here and got to the factory to meet my father, she must have had some sort of apartment here. My parents originally lived on Sandford Street, but that's when they were married.
SH: Your mother worked for the same factory that your father did.
MM: As far as I could ascertain. ... These things weren't discussed, not that there's any secret or embarrassment here, but they were reclusive in the sense of discussing all this history, let alone about my great-grandfather. This is a big feather, you know, whereas [the] Lubavitches, our friends up the street [at the campus Chabad House], and they know it--they're looking for books for me in English, because I can't read Hebrew without vowels, about Great-Grandpa Bliner. He was the assistant to the Lubavitch Rebbe Maharash, right? ... [Editor's Note: Chabad-Lubavitch is a sect of the Hassidic Movement that conducts Jewish outreach at university campuses. Rabbi Shmuel Schneersohn (1834-1882), known as the Rebbe Maharash, was the movement's fourth spiritual leader.]
SH: You have said that your mother's family was more secular.
MM: They were, definitely. They were secular, yes.
SH: What about your home as you grew up? Was it kosher?
MM: ... We may have to explain this, or I have to explain this to you--it was kosher by 1950s standards, okay. People didn't walk around Highland Park and New Brunswick wearing yarmulkes. ... We didn't have a sukkah, which is over here [at the Rutgers Hillel House].
SM: You were not openly Jewish. It was sort of assumed, and there were not organizations that could declare what was kosher and what was not. You sort of knew these things. I think that is what you are getting at.
MM: Right. There were multiple butchers in New Brunswick--a great example. My father's love is for the synagogue that I and Sarah, for the holidays, still go to, which is Congregation Poile Zedek on Neilson Street in New Brunswick. The building is still there, but that part of New Brunswick was heavily Jewish in terms of the religion of the families. The people had trades there, and, in the immediate area, there were four or five kosher butcher shops. My father was on the informal committee from the synagogue to go around and make sure everything was okay, and, if it wasn't, it was a five-dollar fine. That, he did tell me. All our synagogue meeting books, the beginnings of which, because the synagogue goes back to 1900, ... were in Yiddish, are also archived. We made a decision, a couple years ago, they were at somebody's house, and my good friend, Ira Gang, who's an economics professor here, got them into the library, downstairs. So, these huge books are there. ... It was like magic, Yiddish up until whatever year, and then, it became--either Yiddish, no, it had to be Yiddish, wouldn't have been Hebrew.
SM: It would have been Yiddish.
MM: Right, then, it became English. So, there was a Jewish presence, but not visible, [unlike] today, where I walk around, when I'm casually dressed, with the tzitzit hanging out, but there were four shuls, synagogues, over here. Anshe Emeth was always up on Livingston Avenue, but the entire area south of George Street was shop owners, residential people, [who] lived, worked and went to a synagogue in the immediate area. So, my mother lit Friday night candles. ... They didn't observe Sabbath the way we do now, by ceasing all ...
SM: It could be referred to as a traditional house. If you want to use today's terms, it can be referred to as traditional. You do certain things, but you do not go to the fullest extent of the law, and that was the way it was back then.
MM: I was unobservant most of my adult life, up until before the time Sophie and I married. ... There was a campus presence--we could segue slightly--there was a campus presence for Hillel, but not like today. The building was actually across the street from the synagogue on Neilson Street. ...
MM: Yes. Rabbi [Julius] Funk was the founder of it, longtime leader of the Hillel, but not for [the] Rutgers current population, which I think is at least five thousand Jewish students. It was a much smaller school and it was not a campus presence per se. The Chabad phenomenon, worldwide, wasn't in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, either. So, we didn't deny our faith, but it wasn't a visible manifestation of the observance and the appearance of, quote, "being Jewish."
SH: Were you bar mitzvah-ed?
MM: Yes, yes.
SM: That would go along the lines of traditional Judaism--major life cycle events turned back to tradition. That is a strong trademark of traditional Judaism.
MM: ... There are certain requirements that a male assumes at age thirteen. Today, by contrast, it's become much more of a social event, but I was bar mitzvah-ed in a Conservative temple in Highland Park, for whatever reason. ... At that point, I was still going to Hebrew school there, had gone to Hebrew school in Poile Zedek, and then, I dropped out.
SH: Basically, you were raised in New Brunswick, not Highland Park.
MM: No, Highland Park. When I was born, my parents were on Sandford Street. The other tenant was Rabbi Raymon, which was convenient. Then, they moved to Montgomery Street and South First Avenue in Highland Park, where my mother stayed until her demise. So, we were there from 1948 to 1993.
SH: Was your father too young for World War I?
MM: ... He had turned eighteen on January 15th of 1918, which made him eligible for whatever the word was, conscription, I guess, because there was no lottery system or classifications, and then, the Armistice was November the 11th. So, he didn't serve.
SH: What are your earliest memories of growing up? What do you remember?
MM: Yes. I'm extremely sharp today. [laughter] I can give you lots of early things. Two stick in mind, because, to this day, I am a model railroad and real train person, hobbyist, buff. She's looking at me suspiciously. Somebody saw your Father's Day card in the office yesterday and was in near tears.
SM: Yes. [laughter]
MM: When we lived on Sandford Street--so, I was a little tyke--my father would take me up to the railroad tracks to watch the "choo-choo" go by, and that started me on this lifelong passion for trains. When we moved to Montgomery Street, he bought me my first Lionel, because I think my mother was passive with this. In addition to my turtle, which died in the sink one day, ... he bought me a Lionel train set, which was a #262 Steam Engine and tin plate, what they called tin plate, passenger cars. ... It doesn't matter, because I'm a hobbyist, not an E-Bay-er, you know, wise guy--it's probably worth about ten, fifteen thousand dollars today.
SH: On, my gosh.
MM: Right. Then, I had another set of trains, ... Lionel trains, when we moved to the south side, to South First. Kindergarten, I missed the six months' introduction to kindergarten. There's no pre-school, for good or for bad, probably good. So, I didn't start until a half year later, and so, I was, I think, the third oldest in my high school graduating class, and went to Lafayette School, where I was a--what do you call it when you're at the corner with the badge?
MM: Crossing guard, thank you.
SM: See, I know what you are talking about.
MM: And I remember most of the names. I remember my grade school teachers quite vividly. I remember the addition on Lafayette School. I remember getting picked on by certain students, and then, because this tracks to Rutgers, believe it or not, it was in, I think, the sixth grade--well, fourth grade, I have an amusing anecdote. ... Ms. or Mrs. (Prine?) was the school nurse and they checked your eyes every year, and she asked me to read the chart and I said, "Which wall?" So, at that point, I deduced [I had a vision problem], and about another year later, I'm still down in the park, playing baseball, hitting the ball, but I couldn't see where the eye chart was. So, then, I got glasses. The sixth grade, ... we had to tell what our career interests were. This is, like, sixth grade. So, I went up to the board and said, "I want to be an engineer," and they said, "What kind of engineer, civil, whatever?" I said, "No, a railroad engineer," and then, I'm up there discussing the virtues of the GG1 Engine, drawing the overhead wires, the catenary system. Everybody's looking, "What, is he out of his mind?" but I really was so enamored of trains that that was my career path. We did seven years at Lafayette. We went one year to the eighth grade, where, having pulled out a lot of what we call yerushe from under the steps, a couple months ago, Sarah found out I was a recipient of the Daughters of the American Revolution History Award. [Editor's Note: This scholarship is awarded to students dedicated to the disciplines of history, law, nursing and education.]
MM: Yes, yes. She's still fascinated. It's a prestigious thing and, believe me, they didn't know who I was. [laughter]
SH: We have to talk about the colleges you got accepted to later.
MM: Well, we'll get to that later. That may be the second, third two hours. [laughter] Then, we went to Highland Park High School. ... So, again, I remember Mrs. (Lawn?) and Mrs. Cook and Mrs. Woodruff, ... Miss (Fortna), Miss (Grey?), the first year, because you have all my report cards, where I was in exemplary deportments and did well. Eighth grade was the first culture shock, because we grew up in the south side of Highland Park, near Donaldson Park. I spent most of my life in Donaldson Park, actually, and the "snooties" were on the north side of Highland Park, which is still true today. [Editor's Note: Donaldson Park is a large public park in Highland Park, New Jersey.]
SH: Still true. [laughter]
MM: It was like a class distinction. Remember, this is a homogeneous, Caucasian town, but you were better than anybody else if you came from the north side. Then, if you were really slobs, you came from Irving School, near where I live now. You were really [at the lower end]. (Nancy Austin?), you had her as a teacher, Mrs. Carkhuff, she told me, in high school, that as far back as high school, that they're looked down upon because they went to Irving. It was like the poor side of town.
SM: It is first grade.
MM: ... No, no, they went all the way through the eighth grade.
SM: Irving School did?
MM: We didn't consolidate until high school, okay.
MM: So, high school was, I forgot, I think maybe 150 kids. It's a small high school, extremely white, very middle-class. Our principal left in the sophomore year. I lost Mrs. (Keesling?), our biology teacher. She passed away in our sophomore year, but I was a recipient of the first generation [of] Highland Park High School teachers. Spinsters is a terrible word, so, we'll edit that out, but they were dedicated to the kids, much as I saw with some of the schools she went to. Teachers were dedicated to the kids--"He pounded his fists on the table."
SH: Was Rutgers a presence in Highland Park?
MM: Not to the extent that it is today, because so many professors, so many faculty, and probably administrative people, live there. ... We knew that Rutgers was there, but, at least in my family, we didn't grow up wondering about the prestige of where I was going to go or which college was necessarily better than others. I will tell you, I was accepted at Penn, Pitt, Carnegie Tech and Rutgers, because I still thought I was going to be in engineering. She still shakes her head. ...
SM: Columbia, remember Columbia.
MM: This is into college, not graduate school. You're rushing our interview here. [laughter] So, I have plenty of time. I wound up fourth in my class, with a ninety-two average, because I was a "booker," but I loved sports. I didn't play at a scholastic level, but I quit--ah, a childhood memory--I quit the piano when I was eight. Mrs. (Freeze?) had the metronome and some degree of halitosis. She's back and forth, "You have a weak right hand." So, I said, "I don't need this," and hung up the piano, to my mother's regret, because she played piano. ... We had the piano in the house and I went down to [the] park to play baseball. ... Donaldson Park was all seasons, okay, and then, when it got too cold, we didn't have a gym. So, there was a basket on the back of Lafayette School and we used to go in our coats, shovel the snow off and play basketball out there. So, sports was and is [important]. When we get through current Rutgers and my years at Rutgers, you'll see that. So, we had good high school teams. I supported all high school teams, but I was the classic booker.
SH: Did you participate in any extracurricular activities?
MM: I was National Honor Society in my junior year. I was in, to her hysterics, the (Piyorin?) Society.
SH: What is that?
SH: I must ask.
MM: A poetry reading group that Miss (Paterson?) thought I was suitable for. [laughter] So, I and a few of my associates joined, with some trepidation, but it was a great thing. Honor Society ... was junior year. I can't remember, I must have belonged to some other type of club, but I'll have to look in my high school yearbook and refresh on that.
SH: Did you participate in anything like the Boy Scouts?
MM: I was a Cub Scout. I didn't follow through to Boy Scout. I was a Cub Scout through the temple in Highland Park, yes, but I was--and this impacts my decision where I went to school--shy. I know you find that hard to believe, but I've had a startling revelation in personalities since my teenage years, [laughter] but I was really [shy]. I was then my father's personality. He was a very quiet man. I grew up, to my everlasting benefit, with two good parents, which is a hard thing to say, certainly in today's society. My mother was a bit of the yenta. ... Yes, she was more outgoing. My father's very quiet. He would go ... out on the porch and read a book; it's the way he was. He also had a heart attack when he was fifty-four and, having had the same experience a few years ago, [the] treatment was completely different. He was in the Princeton Hospital for months, because, in those days, you had to lie on your back, and it was not the type of thing, "Get out and get going," type of thing. So, he became, I think, more withdrawn because of that. My mother went to work to support the family.
SH: What did she do then?
MM: She was a long-time bookkeeper for a company called Charter Welding, Charter Welding Supply, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, in North Brunswick, and then, they moved to Piscataway before she retired. ... We used to walk to school. We didn't have the Lexus to transport us to school, but, when I was a kid, I used to go home and make lunch for myself, and then, go back to school, because it was a five-block walk. ... When it came time to go to high school, there were, like, fifteen of us in a train that would all walk. We'd meet at various corners and, if you were late, you were out of luck, okay. ... Then, after school, we had to play basketball, outside the high school, and then, go home, but, at night, I studied, in addition to listening to music. My musical tastes--we'll segue to WRSU, believe me. Lou invited me last night, because we went to the thing, to come back and do another show, but we'll talk about that later.
SH: Good. We will have to.
MM: Yes, oh, no, for sure. So, you have to imagine me as ... a lot being a loner, very shy, had, ... at the time, a close group of friends, but a small group. It was a very competitive atmosphere. One of the three people ahead of me was Melvyn Motolinsky, who went here, was a Henry Rutgers Scholar, died at a very young age, and there's a foundation in his memory. One of the other people was the daughter of a surgeon who, ironically, when my father had cancer, did the biopsy. Dr. (Rosenberg?) did the biopsy. She went off to whatever college, and the other person was, I think her first name, her name, was Nancy (Winter?). She wound up, in her sophomore year, a nervous wreck. She went to college and had to drop out. So, it was that type of high school, got to do it, got to do it, very competitive, you know. "Oh, yes, you got an eighty-four on that test? You're stupid," you know, that type of thing, but I thrived in it and history was an early love, which went into poli. sci. [political science] when I was here. ... Taking courses in politics is a commentary all throughout my life.
SH: Did you have an afterschool job?
MM: ... Yes, in the summertime, not after school. Again, Morrison Steel wasn't ours. My father, at that point, was at Morrison Steel, and I started working when I was fifteen. Unfortunately, I'm still working, [laughter] but we're working hard to make the three days a week down to zero yet.
SH: What were you told about the reactions to, say, Pearl Harbor, granted that you were born well after that?
MM: I don't know if World War II was ever discussed.
SH: That would be my next question; was it?
MM: Yes, and let me think. On my mother's side, there was the one brother who was killed in the war.
SM: A cousin, right?
MM: My mother's cousin was killed in World War II, when I think of the family tree that I've drawn, because I'm pretty good on that side. It was wartime. I've seen my sister's high school yearbook from 1944 and a large portion of the men--I don't know if any of the women, girls, went--they went right into service after high school. So, that was an impact there. My mother was pregnant with me at the time of Pearl Harbor, but we didn't discuss the war and its implications, particularly for people of the Jewish faith, until much later.
SH: Okay, because that leads to my next question.
SH: When was the Holocaust first discussed, that you were aware of?
MM: I think, the impact, I don't know if we ever sat down and really talked about it, but, so, I'll jump a little bit chronologically. For one thing, on my father's side, my cousin Ruth's husband, I mentioned in the document, Herschel, was in the OSS, Office of Strategic Services, and the forerunner to the CIA, but without any political nonsense attached. That was the government wartime agency. Herschel had Wernher Von Braun, who developed the rocket system, surrender to him. [Editor's Note: Please see Mr. Morrison's second interview for a clarification and more information on his cousin's wartime service.]
MM: Yes. ...
SM: I never knew that.
MM: It's in there, apparently. You caught the fact I don't know your birthday or my wedding anniversary, but [he] absolutely did. ...
SH: When did these stories start being related to you?
MM: When I was an adult, okay. ... There was definitely no discussion of ... the Holocaust in the household. The earliest thing I can remember talking about would have been ... [the] Korean War, but Herschel and my cousin, Ruth, who were not observant, but committed to causes of the faith and to Israel, they discussed [it] with me, when I reunited with them in the '70s. Herschel had seen ... the lampshades that were made out of people's skins. He had been to the camps, okay. That committed them to make sure that it was never going to happen again. ...
SH: Has he ever documented this? Has he done any kind of memoir writing?
MM: No, he's deceased for a few years, but ... that's one to remind me to look up, because Mark, ... my second cousins, would know. I do have, and I want to call it just a death thing from the paper, [an obituary]--the City of Chicago, Herschel became extremely active in political events. When it came time for glasnost, if the Russian Symphony Orchestra was playing in Chicago, he was the head of the picket line, okay. He became the first Jewish head of the American Cemetery Association and, actually, I have Ruthie's--what we're doing now, my cousin, Ruth, did with one of Mark's sons, Robert, I think, and I have the CD. Well, I put it on DVD, audio, but I have the VHS someplace. I can play that back and see, because my cousin, Ruth, is also deceased, to see if there's anything specific that he had ever done in memoirs, but his background, at least, was well-known in the community around Chicago. They lived in Rogers Park for a long time, which is a section of Chicago, ... but I'd have to find that out. That's a homework for me. You'll take a note, please, because I'll forget, [laughter] but we should be able to find something, but that was their background. ... Again, both sides of the [family], my mother's uncles and my uncle, her brother--well, I'll tell you that my cousin, Joel, my Uncle Morris' son, he was bar mitzvah-ed in an Orthodox synagogue in Mount Vernon, but, ... let me be candid, as their financial wealth increased, their observance or recognition of Judaism went down. With my cousin, Ruth, and her husband, Herschel, it was, I'd say, a steady line, but the thing that triggered it was his experience during World War II. ... If I can get you something to add to this, that would be terrific.
SH: I wondered if there were any of those who were involved in the Zionist Movement or other committees.
MM: Herschel's father was a poet, a Zionist and is buried in Israel, yes.
SH: Was that discussed around your dinner table, at family gatherings?
MM: No, no. If they didn't discuss who my great-grandfather was, this didn't come up. My cousin Ruth's [father], my Aunt Marsha's first husband, was in the ... Yiddish theater, Max (Vodnoy?). He was famous, within the [community]. So, there was this secular aspect. I don't think they were avowed Zionists and, at that point, it was, of course, Palestine. This is pre-1948, but they lived in Israel, Herschel and Ruth, for a long period of time. Ruth had asthma. Believe it or not, there was pollution there. So, they moved back to Nevada, and that's where I caught up to them, between Chicago and Nevada, but that's a good one. We'll look something up for that. ... You never knew that, about Wernher Von Braun?
MM: We should talk more often, I mean. [laughter]
SH: Did your family travel at all? What were vacations like?
MM: The vacation was to Asbury Park, to a big, old barn of a hotel called (Weiss's?) on Eighth Avenue. So, my youth, not misspent, was in Asbury Park, and I'll come back to it, but we'll fast forward to when I took Sarah to a bat mitzvah event a couple of years ago, dropped her off and I said, "I have to go revisit Asbury Park." ... I broke down on the boardwalk and cried, because this was, and still--well, it's better now--this was the peak, when everything was destroyed. The boardwalk was gone, the town was gone, Tillie, the thing [a mural] that they saved outside the carousel, was in disrepair, and my heart choked, because, from the time I was a teenager through the middle '60s, that was my family's vacation. If they didn't go to the Catskills, which wasn't that frequent, they went to Asbury Park and stayed at this [hotel], with my grandmother, because she always came for the holidays, ... this big, old hotel. ... I used to hop the bus to go back and forth, and then, when I learned how to drive, I took the car, because they were self-contained, and I grew up [there]. My initials were carved in the cement at Monte Carlo Pool, which was a square block pool with a passageway to the ocean, and Asbury Park was a beautiful community. ... It's just tragic what happened, and there's been some impetus [to rejuvenate the area], but, then, the latest rebuild is down. So, being modest folk of modest means, that was their standard vacation, two weeks in the summer.
SH: How often would you go to New York to visit your grandmother and other family there?
MM: Weekly. We would go in on a Sunday. After my father took sick, my mother had to do the driving, and then, I took it over. We would go in and visit Grandma Bubbie and they would sit and talk in Yiddish and I would kind of understand them, and then, ... most days, we would then go visit Uncle Morris, who lived up in Mount Vernon. So, we made a family trip. At that point, as far as [relatives still living in] New York, my Aunt Marsha had a chicken farm in Hightstown, [New Jersey]. My Aunt Rose lived on Bennett Avenue [in Manhattan], so, we would visit her. Ruthie was [in] Chicago. She has a brother, Joseph, who was already, I think, in California. Aunt (Ann?) lived in Metuchen and Aunt Tess ...
SM: Really? I never knew that.
MM: Yes, yes. That's why Melvin (Hankin?), my only surviving first cousin, would know about how Daddy and Mommy met, but he doesn't want to [talk]. ...
SM: Is he crazy or something?
MM: No. ... Well, maybe he is; ... nobody knows.
SM: Did Ruthie say that?
MM: Ruthie said, "You're going to ask him all these questions, he's going to know all the answers and he's not going to respond to you." If I'm sixty-seven, Melvin must be--and he served in the Army. He must have served in the ... Korean War, because I remember pictures of him in his uniform. So, he's in his seventies, if he's still alive. I'm segueing, ... trying to think who else was in the [city]. Uncle Sam was deceased in 1953, so, we would have visited my Aunt Rose. Everybody else, at that point, I think, was no longer in New York.
SH: You would go to Hightstown.
MM: Frequently, yes, and my Aunt (Sadie?) never married. She lived with Aunt Marsha. So, it was a small radius, either Hightstown or the Bronx, went to Yankee Stadium many times.
SH: I was just going to say, with your love of sports, did you attend any games?
MM: Yes, I did. I've become a first class Yankee hater, but, as a kid, I grew up as a Yankee lover. In my Grandma Bubbie's building was a kid that was going to high school. They used to get what they called a GO card, a student card. So, for fifty cents, I would go down to the stadium, after packing in a good meal at my grandmother's, of course, and that carried up through graduate school. Among many regrets I have was not being closer, in terms of the number of visits, to my grandma, the one grandparent that I knew. In turn, because I'm old and decrepit, she [Sarah] only knew my mother. The chain from my grandmother to my mother to my daughter--don't blush--they had good neshomahs, what we call good souls, and you could see the heritage. The genes are being passed down, okay, but you can't go back, so, you go forward.
SH: Well said.
MM: But, we had a weekly trip to New York. Grandma Bubbie always stayed with us for the holidays. So, we had the smell of the gefilte fish in the pot [at] four o'clock in the morning. She lived, thank God, to be eighty-nine.
SM: Fish in the bathtub.
MM: ... In the Bronx, she had a fish ... in the bathtub, and Marcy, my sister, was living with her and my mother. So, ... what they call (nishaclop?), to make sure the fish was fresh, she used to hit it with a hammer--it was still swimming in the tub--or a mallet, and then, carve up the fish, right. [laughter] She was what we call a balabusta cook.
SM: Welcome to Jews.
SM: Really, welcome to Jews.
MM: This was a standard trait for ...
SM: A Jewish grandmother.
MM: For a Jewish grandmother. We don't make any of this up. [laughter] She never wrote any [recipes down]. ... I don't think she ever went to school in this country. How she got away with it, I don't know, and we did some research and found that Uncle Morris was living with her in, like, 19-whatever, but I don't think she ever went to school. She was one of the smartest people I ever knew. She had what we called saykhel, four thousand percent common sense, and just a beautiful person, but she would hit the fish, and she was a world-class cook. My wife is as good, and probably a better baker, bakes more things, but Sophie, my wife, has five thousand cookbooks, okay. Grandma Bubbie had it all in her head. She knew how to do this, do this, do this, and, when she made the gefilte fish, the pot was like this, enough to feed an army, you know. ... My mother inherited a lot of that, but didn't bake. ... She had phlebitis towards the end, and then, eventually, I guess what you would call dementia, to use a strong word, but, up until then, she was as sharp as a tack, running around. ... I took Sarah back to the old neighborhood, which is now totally Hispanic, which is fine, showed her the apartment house, "And this is where the deli was, with the herring in a barrel and the pickles in the barrel." So, I was the product of all this 1950s Jewish-American environment, a lot of which had to do with food, and still does, okay. ... Then, in the butcher's shop, the guy was in the back with a knife. The chickens were alive, okay, and the shochet did this and Grandma Bubbie would [buy it]. It would get partially de-feathered, and I still can smell, over her gas burner, [in] her little walk-in kitchen, the edge of the feathers being burnt, okay. Today, you look at an Empire [Kosher Poultry] package, you know, it's not the same thing. Believe me, it's not the same thing, and that was every store. Every other store was Jewish on Kingsbridge Road. Now, I think it was all Puerto Rican, whatever it is, but it was intact. The burning of the Bronx didn't get that far up, and it was maybe twenty blocks away, south of Fordham Road, but this was my visiting with my parents, my grandmother, very strong--as you could see, I'm gesturing with the hands, which you can't translate--to this day, but that was growing up in the '50s.
SH: What about the Civil Rights Movement and its impact on that area, or even here?
MM: ... We'll get a little bit into campus life. The demographic, if that's the right word, of the campus then was not what it is today. It was heavily Caucasian, middle-class. It was a suburban type of environment, even though it was in the City of New Brunswick. The Civil Rights Movement exploded while I was in school, but there was no, in quotes, he gestured, "racial unrest" per se on campus. I don't know if there's any bigotry, because, even in high school, I had one African-American student in my entire class. Everybody else was Caucasian, and I'll segue a little bit into campus and New Brunswick. New Brunswick was markedly different than what it is today. Again, the synagogues were still here. ... George and Albany was shops one after another. There were no malls. There were five movie houses in New Brunswick--comes as a surprise to you?
SH: No, because I have heard other stories.
MM: Oh, similar stories, okay. The Opera [House] burned down, I think in 1950, and then, there was the Strand, the Rivoli, the State and the Albany. The Albany was where J&J [Johnson and Johnson Company] is now, and it had a classic art deco front that survived for years and should have been saved. ... So, this was really a college town where the students had an opportunity to go into town and not have to look at, ... frankly, a Burger King and a lot of store fronts. It was completely different. There were clothing stores, one after the other, frankly, owned by Jews who lived in New Brunswick. We were, start my first story, ... 1,610 successful applicants, but we have to back up and explain how I wound up at Rutgers.
SH: I was going to say, perhaps we should do that.
MM: We'll slow down, okay, but you asked me about [the] Civil Rights Movement, which jumped to 1963, Martin Luther King. ... It didn't have an impact ... because of the makeup of the students. There wasn't any, to use a word, violence on campus.
SH: You graduated from high school in 1950.
MM: ... '60.
SH: 1960, okay
MM: Yes, yes.
SH: Was there anti-Semitism in Highland Park?
MM: There was no overt anti-Semitism in Highland Park.
SH: You talked about the difference between who lived in the north and who lived in the south.
MM: Right. That wasn't based on religion as much as socio-economic standard, okay. The most overt anti-Semitic incident occurred at Rutgers, which I believe I've told you. ... Ironically, where the Chabad building is, there was a fraternity house and they used to hang out of the window the cover for the Torah scrolls. You look shocked.
SH: I am.
MM: Well, it was there, and it was there more than once. ... Somehow, I don't think we organized a protest, but they used to hang it out the window at the corner of College [Avenue], across from "the Barn."
SM: College Avenue and Senior Street.
MM: College and Senior, and I have a great deal of ironic pleasure that Chabad is there, because, when they built [it], they tore down the [fraternity house]. I forget which house it was, and it didn't matter.
SM: They were kicked out for hazing a couple of years before Chabad was built.
MM: That particular fraternity?
SH: Did you attend any of the athletic events here at Rutgers as a young man in high school or junior high?
MM: ... Yes. Starting in the eighth grade, up through the time that either I became Sabbath observant or they split the track meets, I was in Rutgers Stadium for the New Jersey state championship track and field events, from the eighth grade well into my twenties. I was taken--tell your mother that I'm very sharp today--I was taken by somebody who didn't want me to come along, but was a friend, I think, of my father. I don't remember the circumstance. A young couple got stuck taking me to a Rutgers-Fordham football game when I was maybe twelve or thirteen and they didn't want a third wheel, if you know what I mean. ... We sat on the Fordham [side], on the away side. So, whoever this person was, whatever the connection was, I ... got to go. I'm trying to remember if Bill Bradley was in college--he was in college--if I was in college when Rutgers played Princeton at "the Barn," but I was certainly at basketball championships and other games in "the Barn." My initials are in "the Barn." [Editor's Note: "The Barn" is a nickname for the College Avenue Gym on the Rutgers Campus.]
SH: Are they?
MM: Yes, they are. ...
SM: Your initials are appearing everywhere.
MM: Everywhere, and, when we get into a much later discussion of my support for Rutgers athletics now, I'll be back in "the Barn" for volleyball after the holidays are over, something like October 12th.
MM: Later, much later. ... So, I was on campus for athletic events, the stadium and "the Barn," yes.
SH: Okay. With all these different universities having accepted you, why Rutgers?
MM: Yes, here's the story. ... In all candor, I was not socially prepared to leave the house. Remember, again, and we'll talk about my disastrous freshman year, I was still going for engineering, hence, Carnegie Tech, which is now Carnegie-Mellon. Pitt gave me, ... gave me, gave my parents, a partial scholarship, something like five hundred dollars, which was a lot of money, and Penn didn't. So, it was probably relatively unaffordable. That wasn't the issue. I was afraid to go out of town and became a commuter, to go to Rutgers. It wasn't that Rutgers was last choice academically. A lot of my [classmates], at least two of my classmates, maybe three, went here and did well, Bobby Palmer and Melvin, and I think (Jackie Blaine?) went here. So, it was perceived, correctly, to be a good academic institution. We thought of ourselves as Ivy League, academically, and, when we get into this discussion of athletics, similarly, that's who we played in sporting events, along with other academic colleges, but it was looked upon as a good place to go to school. ... It was my "comfort zone," because I was not prepared, as an eighteen-year-old, to live out of state.
SH: Did your high school teachers help direct and advise you at all?
MM: Yes, we had an advisor who discussed career paths. I'm trying to think of his name, if I come up with it. He told one of my friends, Ronnie Rosenberg, "You're not made for college. Don't go," and Ronnie never went. So, I don't know about the quality of his advice. Ronnie, I think, was quite capable of school. There were no junior college alternatives. There was Union Junior, and one friend, (Howard Ellenger?), went there, I think for two years. "UC Juicy," we used to call it, because it was looked down upon. You know, "Oh, you didn't make it to college? ... Hmm," you know. So, whatever this fellow's advice was, but there was no doubt I was going to go, not because my parents were pile-drivers, but because of the competitive environment I was in and the fact that I assumed that my education wasn't going end at the end of high school. ... It's the first time I probably ever said that, and I'm very old. [laughter] So, the first time, you know, it was assumed I was going to go. If I were in a different high school, that may not have been the case, because my parents were working-class citizens and, in retrospect, there was nothing wrong with that; should've become the railroad engineer.
SH: [laughter] That is right.
MM: I would have retired at fifty-five with a huge pension and I'd get to ride the train for free. Now, I've got to pay New Jersey Transit, which is ridiculous. [laughter]
SH: Do you get the senior citizen discount?
MM: I do. ... I pay less than half price. [laughter] That's right.
SH: How does the Raritan River figure in for you as a young boy?
MM: Oh, let me tell you. Since we lived in Donaldson Park, Johnson [Park in Piscataway] was too far. ... I'll tell you the story about my two-wheeled bike adventures later. We were constantly [in there]. How [are] we doing on time?
SH: I think we still have a good forty-five minutes.
MM: Okay. We could even go maybe a little more, and definitely another session, because we haven't even started to talk about school.
SH: [laughter] I know.
MM: But, I talk a lot. You can tell I've changed. [laughter] The river was an open sewer. So, when we went down [in] the park, not only was the stench effusive, so was the material flowing down the river, and we won't discuss Johnson & Johnson, because they had the open pipe from the factory on Water Street to the river. There was a reason it was the most polluted river in the United States at one point. It was a disgrace. There was an area cut out near where the basketball court is now, where those guys play all the time. That was cut out, was an old barge landing, and it was infested with rats and, at low tide, to be polite, "muck." The pollution of the Raritan led me directly, or maybe indirectly, to, at one point in my checkered work career, become the first controller for the Environmental Defense Fund, which, forget their political orientation or not, I met some of the best--this is 1975 to 1978. [Editor's Note: The Environmental Defense Fund, established in 1967, partnered with businesses to find practical environmental solutions.] I met some of the more dedicated environmentalists that I, [or] you, would ever want to come across. EDF banned aldrin, dieldrin, a lot of chemicals, one way or [another]. That's all they ever did. He'd banned the SST because of air pollution, and people like that, but my [affiliations], ... I am a member of the Chesapeake Bay organization. [Editor's Note: Supersonic transports (SSTs) are aircraft that flew close to Earth's ozone layer and emitted nitrogen oxide, which contributed to the greenhouse effect.] I belong to the Pinelands Preservation Society. It all started because [of] the river, where we were forced, as kids, to look at that river, and then, I used to walk to the synagogue from First Avenue, Highland Park, and see the stuff floating down the river. It was ...
SH: There were never any canoe trips.
MM: You wouldn't, you wouldn't. You'd glow if you came out, no, no.
SH: What was the Rutgers Crew like?
MM: The crew was there--a sport that shouldn't have been cut, [laughter] but we'll talk about that later, perhaps. The boathouse was there from when I was a kid. [Editor's Note: In 2006, Rutgers eliminated six Olympic sports as varsity sports, including men's crew, relegating them to club status.]
MM: So, somehow, they survived and didn't have health [problems]. The further upstream you went, the better. The crew races, up until they stopped, was from near the railroad bridge to the boathouse. Donaldson Park was around the bend and it narrowed and the channel was pretty well dissipated. There used to be a canal where the trees are now. If you're going into Highland Park, you come across a little rise. That used to be a drawbridge that opened up and there were horse-drawn, mule-drawn or whatever; we boring you? ...
MM: Stay awake.
SM: No, I am here. [laughter]
MM: [laughter] In the old days, there were horse-drawn and mule-drawn barges that came up there, okay. That got so mucked with stuff, they filled it in, but ... boats used to come and dock in New Brunswick and they would have--[in] the middle of the river was probably a thirty or thirty-five-foot draft. When you came around the bend to Highland Park and Donaldson Park, that kind of went away. So, to keep this polite, the pollution was a lot more visible for the length of the park.
SH: It sounds like it.
MML: Yes, yes, but nobody would venture on a casual boat ride, or would have the wherewithal, but the river was empty.
SH: How was your first year at Rutgers?
MM: Yes. So, I was going to be a civil engineer and I was, as good academically as the HPHS [Highland Park High School] was, ... ill-prepared, to be polite. Kids that were coming from New York City high schools, which was then [the] premier high school system in the country, probably, had a full year of calculus going into Rutgers. I had three weeks of solid geometry in my senior year. I was below number one. There was a professor who had [the] utmost sympathy for me, and I think his name was (Harry Goddard Owens?). He was either a mayor of Metuchen or councilman in Metuchen. The setting was, opening night, let me say, we were in "the Barn," 1,610 boys, because we certainly weren't men, [laughter] no girls, right, of course. "Look to your left, look to [your right]." I'm sure Mason Gross [President of Rutgers from 1959 to 1971] was there and whoever, whatever dean. "Look to your left, look to your right. One of you won't be here in four years." You know what? They hit it. We graduated eight hundred out of 1,610. So, we go up to the Engineering Campus. Livingston didn't exist.
MM: The only Busch engineering building, because I have pictures of it--photography being another hobby--is the one with the cement jagged edge. [Editor's Note: Mr. Morrison is referring to what is currently the School of Engineering Building on Busch Campus in Piscataway, New Jersey.]
MM: A lot of that wasn't built; forget the Werblin pool [the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center], forget all of that, not there. We were in Quonset huts [pre-fabricated World War II buildings], and one of my students [classmates] was much older than me, than us. He was, if not a Korean War vet, he was an Army vet, smoked a lot. I don't remember his name. He knew this stuff cold, and I'm trying to draw for Professor (Owens?) a crosshatch of something and had no clue what I was doing. I struggled through both semesters and realized, ... remember, I'm coming [from being] number four in my class, big shot, ninety-two average, I was going to flunk out of Rutgers, and who knows what the consequences would have been? I went to summer school. I took statistics. I took, with Rabbi [Julius] Funk, Hebrew, because that was going to, frankly, be an easy "ace." If I remember, our scoring system was, like, "1" to "4." ...
SH: It was.
MM: Right. See, I'm not totally senile. I've got you there. [laughter] So, I ... was borderline, in the "3s" someplace, not looking good, probably got a notice, "If you don't pull it up, you're out." So, I took enough credits over the summer to survive, and the last six semesters, five were dean's list and one cost me--one professor of philosophy cost me, because he gave me a "3-plus," instead of a "2-minus." I argued with the chap, nice, young man. We read Emmanuel Kant and people like that, not knowing the consequences of what I was reading, to be [honest], tell you the truth, and he wouldn't give it to me. ... This was in a "river dorm" classroom, I still remember. [Editor's Note: The "river dorms," Campbell, Hardenbergh and Frelinghuysen Halls, are dormitories on the College Avenue Campus along the banks of the Raritan River.] [laughter] So, five out of six, I did fine, and we'll get to the critical last semester, but I did, I enrolled. ...
SH: Did you change your major afterwards?
MM: Oh, no, I had to. I was not going to be allowed to continue. I was going to flunk out of engineering. ...
SH: Who called you in? Did you go to the Dean of Men or Dean of Students?
MM: I think I got a notice.
MM: I don't remember sitting down with anybody, but, like, "You are in danger of [not] continuing," whatever the words were. [laughter] So, I took a hint, and I then went to become a business administration major. It was, frankly, ... where you went if you didn't make it in engineering, but ... there wasn't a business school. It was at 60 College Avenue and it was within the Economics Department, very small. ... From there, I started to take business and accounting courses as the core major, but what really started to round me out--I'm still living at home, of course--was art, poli. sci., soc [sociology], the true liberal arts courses, where I got a great flavor of what the school could offer in other areas. There was nothing wrong with the business courses. I did well in freshman English. You going to stay awake?
SM: No, I am fine, I am fine. [laughter]
MM: If I remember, no, one of my basic core business classes was six credits. Let me tell you a couple things.
MM: We didn't have these semester breaks; forget that. I would have finals on--I was not observant, so, I don't think I [objected]--I don't remember if I had tests on Saturday, on Shabbos, or not. We would have a test on a Friday and, Monday, the next semester started. We didn't have this month off [nonsense]. "What? Are you serious?" [laughter] It was, I think, fifteen-week semesters. One of the business courses was six weeks, but I knew I didn't belong in engineering when I was getting at least a "2" in freshman English, and that was freshman comp. ... We did a composition once a week, okay, and midterm and finals, you wrote and you wrote and you read and you read. ... I was doing well in that and not doing well in the other stuff. So, I managed to [do okay]. I mean, I graduated in four years, so, obviously, I had survived some of my freshman credits. I don't know if I got any true, true failures, and I will confess something else. This may or may not go [in]; [laughter] this could go in. We had compulsory phys. ed. for at least two years, which didn't bother me, except for swimming, and I'll have to tell you why. You [Sarah] know part of this. [Of] course, remember, I loved sports, did sports. I played. The basket is still at the house, in the driveway, even though I'm short, etc., etc., but swimming, I had a fear of deep-water swimming. I went to overnight camp in Massachusetts in 1952 and I got pushed in for my deep-water test. Now, I loved to swim. I'm not a good swimmer and, one summer, Sarah and I went to the Douglass pool, and me for rehab and she wanted to swim, and she's actually a good swimmer. [laughter] We had to not only go deep water at the pool in "the Barn," we had to go naked.
MM: I didn't tell you this?
SM: That would stand out, no.
MM: Wait a minute.
SH: That was the way it was.
MM: That's the way it is and was. You stripped down, you had to go on the high diving board and dive into the pool. I cut every one of those classes. God was with me early, I guess, because I got an "S." The prof, the jock, whoever he was, figured I had quit school. This is what somebody, Bobby or somebody, told me afterwards, that, "Oh, I'll give him a satisfactory, because I don't want to hurt his record. He's trying to transfer." So, the worst experience at Rutgers was that, but I avoided it. [laughter] I avoided it.
SH: I love that story.
MM: ... It's a true story and, if I had to do it again, I'd do it again, because I still don't go in over my head. I love the water. I love the ocean. I paid for it with this arm popping out one year, down the shore, and I still have to be careful with it and it's a long time ago, but it wasn't that ... the school was bad. I was clearly miscast as an attempted engineer.
SH: Was there any hazing for freshmen, between sophomores and freshmen?
MM: ... I don't think we wore dinkies, ... which you call beanies. I don't think I did. Remember, I was kind of autonomous, because I wasn't living on campus. There was plenty of hazing if you went the fraternity route, plenty, some seriously bad stuff, ... a lot of which was cut back. ... You mentioned whatever chapter that was, and DEKE; ... not Bishop, what's the next street?
MM: Seminary and College, there's a big brick building, if it's still there.
SM: It is a grad students' dorm now.
MM: Oh, that was a frat house that got in a lot of trouble. Okay, they made you [do] all the worst things you could think, but there wasn't hazing per se. ... I didn't experience any of it that I could remember.
SH: What was interaction like as a freshman with the Douglass Campus?
MM: Minimal. You went over there if you wanted to get a date--very few boys, no busses, no nothing. If you wanted to get over there, you walked, but New Brunswick was thriving. You could walk over there. I don't think I ever had a girl in a class, and a couple of the guys, "Oh, I'm over at Douglass with the chicks," you know, that type of thing, very rare.
SH: Was there a place to hang out if you were a commuter student?
MM: We hung out at the Student Center, yes, the one on George Street. This one [on College Avenue], I don't think was built, no. It's where WRSU is, but we'll get to that, we'll get to that. [laughter] So, we hung out at the Student Center or we bag lunched somehow and ate on College Avenue. ... We had a full schedule and I was on campus, but, ... again, in the engineering was mainly up at the Heights. Other than that, I was here, yes.
SH: Although mandatory convocations ended after World War II in the 1940s, were students still required to go to convocations once or twice a week?
MM: I can't recall that. I know the first night, I told you about--I don't think we had that. Mason Gross would talk frequently, and I think we went. ... Everybody could fit in "the Barn." Okay, the Barn is the affectionate term for the Gym.
MM: Where, you know, I hung out.
SH: In the College Ave Gym.
MM: The College Ave Gym, right, ... but I don't think so. Dress was casual, sort of like this, chinos, what we called chinos, and a shirt--not sloppy, not, forgive me, like it is now.
SH: Did you attend any of the dances? Was ROTC a presence?
MM: ROTC was a presence. We may not get into it tonight--the defining moments of the four years was Kennedy's assassination, Goldwater and the Vietnam War.
MM: Okay, we'll get to those highlights. ... I was too shy to intermingle with girls, so, I didn't go to dances, but I was, of course, participatory of all the athletic events. ... This will come as a complete shock to you, if I never told you--not only were we allowed to bring beer into the stadium, we brought glass bottles.
SM: They take away the caps at the stand next to the entrance now. [laughter]
MM: Sorry. We used to bring the stuff in by the case, okay? [laughter] I think guys probably had small kegs, if they existed, okay, and we played Columbia, Princeton, Bucknell, Lafayette, Lehigh, Colgate. It was true intercollegiate athletics, and the one year, I think it was my ... sophomore year, when we went undefeated, people were sitting in the ivy the Friday after Thanksgiving because it was limited. That one end was open and the other end was ivy and, "R-U, Rah-Rah." [Editor's Note: Mr. Morrison is referring to the Rutgers University song, The Bells Must Ring.] We all came out to see the undefeated season, and then, we had mock parades up and down College Avenue, that we should go to the Rose Bowl, okay, but we played Ivy League or Ivy League level schools. [Editor's Note: The Rose Bowl is an annual American collegiate football game that traditionally takes place in the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California.] ... I will contain myself for this entire interview about that. [laughter] Suffice it to jump ahead and say, briefly, I've already seen three soccer and one field hockey games this year, before classes started. I support a large aspect of Rutgers intercollegiate athletics.
SH: Okay, thank you, but I want to go back.
MM: Let's go back. [laughter]
SH: To after your freshman year.
SH: You went to school in the summer to basically get back on track.
MM: Stay in school, [laughter] literally stay in school, yes.
SH: When you started school in what would have been your sophomore year, it must have been 1961.
MM: ... September of '61.
SH: Can you talk a little bit about the election? Were politics discussed on campus? Also, by this time, you were a business administration major. Did you have a minor?
MM: The minor would have been every accounting course I could have taken.
MM: I don't recall, as Sarah's looking to do, to declare, you know, multiple, not multiple, but, you know, a double major. I think it was all under the umbrella of being in business administration, but, again, I started to branch out. I had--I just came across his name in the Internet--(Stanley Herman Freiderbound?) as my professor, in this old building across the street.
SH: Bishop House?
MM: Yes, yes, where it was forty-two below in winter and 138 in May.
SH: My office was there. [laughter]
MM: Right, ... really? Okay, I didn't know. He apparently published. He's not at Rutgers anymore, and I envisioned him as, frankly, being deceased, but he used to get picked on because of his style of teaching. Guys would make fun of him and they'd say, "Oh, that's most irregular," [laughter] one of those guys, and my favorite professor, Sidney Irving Simon, we'll get to him. ... I'll have to see if I can [find my transcripts]--I must have my transcripts, under the steps, unfortunately, because it's all buried behind dishes and stuff. I had to get my transcripts for a job interview, years ago, at the securities and exchange industry. So, I should have them and what I took. I know I have my NYU graduate ones, also, but it wasn't as structured. You could pretty well take what you wanted.
SH: Were you able to take several liberal arts courses?
MM: Absolutely. One of the best things I ever did was take at least two levels of art, be it Scott Hall for "Elementary Art," "Introduction to Art," and then, I took at least, I think, one other course. ... To this day, the reason I can go to a museum and discuss an El Greco versus somebody else is because of Rutgers. It opened up a huge ... horizon for me, to go to New York, go to Philly and discuss, within limits, at this point, but, you know, different paintings. I still love impressionism, cubism, all this good stuff.
SH: Was this more of an art history course or were you actually painting?
MM: No, art history.
SH: Art history.
MM: Right, the big Janson book that everybody used, [History of Art: The Western Tradition by Anthony F. Janson].
MM: Yes, I think I may even still have it. Yes, did you take the course? Yes, it was great, it was really great, colored plates in it, probably a five-dollar book for us in those days, 150 [dollars now]. It was huge. It was like this.
SH: It is.
SH: Even the paperback edition is still huge.
MM: Yes. So, that was one major step forward, and taking American history was another.
SH: Who was your professor?
MM: I don't remember his name. I will tell you, and we can keep this in, when Kennedy was assassinated--as I've told you, I have my bluebooks under the step, too. If you really want to put up a memorial, not, God forbid, a memorial, [laughter] an honorary wall, I have stuff, especially if I ever get the yearbooks found. I was on College Avenue when the word came, ... 1:10 in the afternoon, that he was shot. ... I don't even know if we knew ... that he had died.
SH: It happened in 1963.
MM: '63. I've gone quickly up to '63. I passed my American [history] professor, youngish fellow. He was not upset, and I have that memory--she can't believe it, but, to this day--he was not upset. You look astounded. ... We're not mentioning his name, but I said, "You know, President's [shot], maybe is dead;" very nonchalant, brushed it off. It was amazing, amazing.
SH: These are the stories that we are trying to document, to see what the reactions were to some of these events.
MM: Right. Well, that one was utter shock, for two reasons, the event and his reaction. I mean, I can recall his facial expression, non-committal emotion, to this day. Whether you liked Kennedy or not, I remember telling my dear cousin Bruce, we were watching the funeral at my parents' house, or somebody's house, later, I said, "Take a good look at that, because you don't ever want to see that again." Bruce was, at the time, ... a teenager, and then, right after that was Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy and everybody else, you know.
SH: How political was the campus before Kennedy was assassinated?
MM: I don't think it was as liberal, if I may say so, as it is now. ... If there was Young Americans for Freedom, YAF, I think it was here. [Editor's Note: Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative and libertarian youth group, was founded in September 1960.]
SM: There was.
MM: And, again, this is part of the void, because I wasn't on campus, but, no, I didn't sit around with people and have hot political debates. Kennedy, when he was elected, I was just out of high school. The issue was his Catholicism, okay, and then, I lived through the assassination, and then, I was certainly here for Richard Nixon. ... '64 was Nixon, yes, first term, and I don't think I was--I don't think, I know--I was not as politically astute as I am today. [Editor's Note: Richard Nixon was elected in 1968.] In a way, the campus is still kind of blasé in a lot of aspects. That's kind of a Rutgers tradition. [laughter]
SM: To be blasé? oh, for sure.
MM: ... Yes. To be passive, more interested in, "Where's the beer? Where are the girls?"
SH: That is right.
MM: Yes, yes.
SM: [laughter] That is Rutgers.
SH: The priorities, yes.
MM: Yes, but his assassination made everybody aware of the real world, and then, the war was, at that point, my senior year, is starting to lurk, yes.
SH: Before we get to your senior year ...
MM: Yes, we were jumping ahead.
SH: No, no.
MM: I'm back in my sophomore year. [laughter]
SH: What do you remember about your sophomore year? Was there a huge relief after you declared a new major?
SH: And this new focus.
MM: Yes, I was clueless. ...
SH: We will set another date then.
MM: Okay, how's this going?
SH: We are going to start now with your sophomore year.
MM: Yes, what I can recall of it. ... Are we [on]?
SH: We are on.
MM: We're on. The relief was, obviously, euphoric and I turned it, the last three years, starting with the sophomore year, into a very positive academic experience, paralleling my enjoyment of Rutgers athletics as well. Okay, so, I was not in a total cocoon here when it came to the athletic stuff. Another example, there's no spring football practice. The football players played lacrosse. So, I went to the lacrosse games, and there was Rutgers track. ... Jumping a little bit, the ... 1964 Olympic trials were in Rutgers Stadium.
MM: Yes, because they put down a material called (anthracnose?), which was this new surface, and Bob Hayes, who had a long career as a Dallas Cowboy football player, ran [the] hundred and two hundred, everything was in yards, or meters, in Rutgers Stadium.
MM: Because your father was there. My initials are in the old seats, not the new seats.
SM: Are they actually?
MM: In the old seats? I probably said, "I was here," or something, yes. [laughter]
SH: Would you be timekeeping? Were you involved, or were you just a spectator?
MM: I was a spectator. High school, I actually kept the shot chart for the basketball team, used to go on the bus, and that's why I got on the bus rides. I also was a conspirator in high school. We took the "R-U, Rah-Rah" chant. A group of us, we went down to South Jersey, because I was brave that day and went out of the house, and we went on a bus and we went down. ... Highland Park [High School] played Palmyra High School. ... The cheerleaders got upset, because we were going there, "H-P, Rah-Rah, H-P, Rah-Rah, hurrah, hurrah, H-P, Rah-Rah." We took that from Rutgers, because, again, that's how far back that goes.
MM: So, in college, no, but, yes, back in high school, I did, kept the shot chart.
SH: Some people talk about getting a job, such as selling tickets or doing other work, to be able to attend the games.
MM: I should have done that. It's one of those "should have" type things.
SH: No, I meant ...
MM: You know, I'm not going to break down and cry in front of you. [laughter]
SH: No, I just wondered.
MM: But, again, I had the pressure of staying in school, and that curtailed a lot of things. Again, what she's done, in terms of the radio and Hillel and things like that, is just terrific, plus; yes?
SH: You were going to ask a question, Sarah.
SM: What was the story about the house where you kept a stopwatch? It was where you kept time for track.
MM: ... Yes.
SM: Was that at Rutgers?
MM: Well, the one.
SM: I am not sure why that connected with the stopwatch and the shirt.
MM: The one that Nanny gave me, she got in the aisle, my mother, in the '70s. I certainly had a stopwatch, yes.
SM: I thought you were doing something with track.
MM: No, I would time all the events. ...
SM: Was it for fun?
MM: For fun, oh, for fun; no, I wasn't a passive spectator.
MM: I could quote you times and, you know, like only your father would know that a man named Eulace Peacock--you can't forget that name--had the long jump record in New Jersey from something like 1928 up until very recently, and he passed away [at a] ripe old age. ... There was somebody, like, whoever the broad jumper was from New Jersey, but I knew all that stuff. ... Somewhere in the house, I also have those track programs.
SM: That, I remember.
MM: Right, right. I used to go to the indoor track meets when I was in college, the IC, what was then the IC4A [Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America], Championships in Madison Square Garden. I have those.
SH: The university archivist is going to love to meet you.
MM: You know, the truth is, I have a lot of stuff, even the bluebooks. I mean, I don't know how personal that gets, but the other stuff, certainly. The synagogues records are there. You can have my items, but I've got to dedicate some time to dig it all out. The mystery is what happened to the four yearbooks. I've looked for three days.
SH: You probably have them in a spot that is very special and you just need to find that spot.
MM: Yes, they were next to the high school yearbooks; I don't know why I moved them. I must have had too ... many records on the shelf. I collect vinyl.
SH: Do you?
SH: Was that something that you started back in college?
MM: Yes, 1958, and it blossomed into college. ... I kept all my vinyl and I still collect music by recording it, and I'll tell you how I supported and have supported and will support WRSU, and I've been invited for my third [on]-air appearance by my good friend Lou Rallo. [Editor's Note: WRSU-FM is the Rutgers University radio station, founded in 1948.]
SH: What type of music were you interested in?
MM: ... Yes. Well, the vernacular term is doo-wop, which I can't tolerate, urban group harmony, rhythm and blues, music that came from blues in the church and became classic group singing, particularly a cappella. [Editor's Note: Doo-wop is African-American vocal-based rhythm and blues music popularized in the 1940s.] Since I can't sing with my voice, the other influence being ... [that] our religious services don't have any musical accompaniment, the cantor sings, and so, that, coupled with telling the story, I inherited my sister's little Emerson radio and that got all the, call it African-American, the black stations, because the music was segregated. ... So, I grew up with all the classic disc jockeys of the '50s and '60s and went to see Ray Charles and the Drifters on the Princeton Campus when I was in college, that type of thing. ... [My hobby] became very dormant until I went to Hi-Fi Haven on Easton Avenue in New Brunswick, got my first (FM?) equipment, found out the music was still out there, and I've taped off air ever since. I have an Excel spreadsheet that is about thirty-two thousand line items deep. [laughter]
SH: Backing up to Rutgers.
SH: Who was your favorite professor and in what subject?
MM: Sidney Irving Simon was my favorite subject in two levels of accounting. The most memorable end of semester day was, Memorial Day, we had a class--forget we were off--might have been the final, and Sidney Irving Simon comes in in his dress Navy whites, to the titer of most of the class. ... He was in [the] Naval Reserve. As foggy as I am, I can picture him as having a mustache and rimless glasses, and he spoke from notes and the notes had the original notes from 1901 [in them], [laughter] and then, he had annotated handwritten notes around the border. So, Sidney would be standing up, if I may, and he'd be discussing some accounting issue and he'd go like this, [as if pointing to a spot on a page], because that's where he put his note, okay. He was a lovely man. He gave me my love for accounting, because I wound up in public accounting, although I have an odd job now at NBC, you might say, but it's still accounting and, currently, auditing. ... Sidney left a huge amount of money to the Economics Department. Ira told me. I don't think he ever married--doesn't matter. Either way, he granted the eco department--Ira's, I guess, an assistant professor or assistant dean, he told me--he didn't tell me how much, but I think it was at least seven figures.
SH: Wow. That is amazing.
MM: Right. So, I loved him. I just had a hot flash that ... either the business administration or the English prof was a guy named (Vickery?), and we were in one of the old rooms. ...
SH: Down on the Voorhees Mall?
MM: Yes, and, if you were ten minutes late, you were allowed to leave.
SM: Right, the professor.
MM: The professor, right. So, he parked in the same spot. So, I don't think we needed binoculars, the parking lot was pretty close, and it'd be seven-and-a-half, eight-and-a-half minutes and, as soon as we saw him, there was a collective, "Ahhh," [laughter] but he either did the business [administration or English course], six credits a semester. You know how many times a week we met and for how long?
SM: Five days, three hours is my guess.
MM: Something like that, for two semesters. That was the core business administration [course], and the English was pretty close to it. ... He was my other favorite professor, very eccentric, typical, clichéd college prof. I had him. I had Jack (Specter?), I think his name was Jack (Specter?), for soc [sociology]. That was the gun incident. We'll have to tell you about that.
SH: Tell us.
MM: Oh, well, [laughter] really, Mommy will not believe I'm this alert today. We were at Scott Hall, where I had most of my classes, in those rickety chairs that Sarah tells me finally got replaced.
SM: Just got replaced.
MM: Just. I'm sure they're the same. My initials were on those chairs, too.
SH: And a lot of others. [laughter]
MM: Yes, yes, it was either psych [psychology] or soc. Maybe I took psych.
SM: I think it was psych.
MM: It had to be psych.
SM: It was psych. You said psych.
MM: Can you imagine? It was obviously before Kennedy was assassinated, so, maybe my sophomore year, junior year--have to look it up. I could probably still go to Winants Hall and get my transcript. Do you think they would have it?
SH: Not in Winants. [laughter]
MM: Oh, I'm dating myself?
MM: Oh, Winants is gone? no.
SH: No, Winants is now used for other purposes.
MM: Oh, okay. Someplace, I could probably ask.
SH: We will talk about that later.
MM: Okay. So, in the middle of this large lecture, I guess a student, or maybe an assistant, runs in and fires a gun. I'm not [lying], don't make this up, religious man. [laughter] Everybody ducked.
SH: Everybody was in the hall.
MM: We were in the hall, in the middle of the lecture. Everybody ducks under their seats. His point was to show you how you would react to that situation. Can you imagine, today?
SH: He had someone come and do that for him.
MM: It was like a starter's gun in a track meet. ... Yes, like I say, I don't remember who fired it in the air, but it happened. That's outrageous. That's a college experience for you. Not everybody, no kid on campus today, [laugher] could even relate to that happening. It happened. [laughter] So, that was psych, and (Freiderbound?) and business administration, and I took economics. That was before the Laffer curve, so, we probably learned--oh, but we used [Paul A.] Samuelson as a textbook, [Economics: An Introductory Analysis]. So, I don't remember if it was Keynesian or not--it probably was, because it was a liberal campus--and Stanley Herman (Freiderbound?), because that was his name, you know, across the hall. ... I can't remember too many other professors, but I had to take, what was it, 120 credits? I got out. Five out of six semesters, ... I'm pretty sure five out of six, were dean's list, had to get all "2s" and better, I think, right? yes. So, I did well. ... Maybe when we come back, we'll get into my decision as to where to go to graduate school. ...
SH: All right, let us finish your Rutgers years. We have ten minutes.
MM: Yes, well, yes, five or ten minutes, but, again, the Vietnam situation overrode all our senior years. Remember, I'm carrying ...
SH: It was already kicking in in 1963-1964.
MM: Right. I don't remember, ... I have to look it up, and I will for next time, when the Gulf of Tonkin happened, because it was, I think, '64. [Editor's Note: The Gulf of Tonkin Incident was a naval battle between the United States and North Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin on August 2, 1964. Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 7, 1964, authorizing the President to take retaliatory action against North Vietnam.] I think it was. Whether I was still here or in graduate school, I don't remember, but we were all carrying 2-S deferment cards.
SH: Because you were students.
MM: Yes, and we knew that we were going to go into the Army if we didn't go to graduate school, to be blunt. Yes, I am. I don't think--I know--I didn't have a political view of the war, but we knew that we were going to visit Fort Dix sooner than later if we didn't keep the deferment.
SH: The draft and everything was ...
MM: Prominent. ... We would have been drafted probably the month after we graduated, and I kind of skipped my junior year, because I don't really remember too much. [laughter] I will tell you, graduation, by the way, was in Rutgers Stadium, one of the most beautiful events you can imagine. We filed down the steps and went on the football field and Mason Gross--you had to bring a dictionary when Dr. Gross came--gave the speeches and everything and that's where we did our cap and gown thing. We also went to Kirkpatrick Chapel, [on Rutgers' Old Queens Campus], which I think they still do. I don't know how everybody fits in there.
SM: Walk through the gate?
MM: No, we went into the chapel, had a service. It was kind of non-denominational and I was sitting in the chapel.
SM: I do not think they would do that.
SH: There were eight hundred in your class.
MM: Eight hundred made it, and, well, we'll talk about Newark-Rutgers in context to career, ... to graduate school, but you just have to imagine everybody coming down the steps in cap and gown. Stadium didn't look anything like it looks now. The ivy was in the back and, where the humongo scoreboard and new seats are, that was open.
SM: Oh, you had actual ivy?
MM: It was U-shaped.
SH: That was what he meant by the ivy.
MM: Right. That was built during the Depression. That was a "shovel-ready" stimulus project, to draw an analogy. Did you find when it was?
SH: We can turn this back on.
MM: Yes. So, just to start the discussion, I had done well, as I said. ... In all candor, I don't think it was--it definitely was not--a political view about the Vietnam War on campus, because, first of all, first, second and third of all, it ... hadn't escalated, but it was there. We knew we were going to be drafted. Okay, it certainly wasn't 1968, and I was accepted to Newark-Rutgers graduate school, but had seen--we just talked about this the other day--their tests. Their tests, frankly, were our homework in accounting. ... How should I phrase this? The academic challenge wasn't going to be there. I was accepted to NYU, where I went, and that's a story you may or may not want to get into. [laughter] I was conditionally accepted to Columbia and I recently showed my offspring the letter, because I have it, and the condition was, I had to maintain, I don't think it was a "3.0," I think it was something higher, in my ... second semester senior year, in order to go.
SH: Here at Rutgers, you had to maintain that.
MM: Yes, they didn't want me slacking off.
SH: That letter is often received.
MM: Received. It was a crap shoot, a risk, okay, if I didn't make it, and I did, because, being the booker and still the shy person, not the extraordinary extrovert that I am now, I was fearful of not being accepted. So, I went to NYU, and we'll get into it next time. NYU Stern School of Business, whatever it was called then, didn't hold a candle to Rutgers. I was taking subject matter, probably in statistics, being a great example--I'll give you a couple of examples. Let me tell you how well-prepared I was coming out of Rutgers, what a good school it is and was. Told ... Sarah this story--my thesis, at the graduate level, was going to be, ... the funds flow statement is the third major financial statement. In those days, it wasn't under the certification of a CPA firm. At this point, well, I was going to go into personnel administration--showed up the first day to find out the major was wiped out. So, I backed into accounting, fine. My adviser, whose name fortuitously escapes me, was the adviser for Abe Beame and his  mayoral campaign and I didn't see him until well into my preparation of the thesis. ... The gentleman sat down, looked at it and he says, "Are you a member of the Institute?" I remember the tone, "Are you member of the Institute?" American AICPA [American Institute of Certified Public Accountants]. "No," straight out of college and I can't sit for the test, Mr. Whatever-Your-Name-Is, without two years [of] public experience. "Well, you can't do this." Well, I wound up doing it and have never gone back to an NYU event under any circumstances. My probability and statistics teacher--subject matter I already had at Rutgers--was either him or the basic accounting guy, where I'm repeating what I did as an undergraduate, used to come in and say, "I'm not prepared to teach this class today." ... He said that with great rapidity, frequency, and I said to myself--myself, because [I am a] very quiet guy, still--"Then, why am I sitting here, paying this school money, to hear you say that?" Then, I had an unfortunate experience with my roommate, which we'll go to next time. So, NYU, ... I went through the Summer of '65 in order to get out of that school as fast as possible. So, I didn't go to Newark because I don't think it had the academic level of Rutgers. I had the condition for Columbia, and whether I supported or do support the Vietnam War, the radicalization of that campus, I would have been totally uncomfortable with. Okay, no matter what my view was, it was just not the purpose of college, not to the extreme of the violence that was happening, and then, I started to look back on my Rutgers experience as being, you know, really positive.
SH: Before you went to Rutgers, had there been any student demonstrations or anything like that?
MM: No. ROTC was a presence on campus. There were no [calls for their removal], as there had been at many schools--currently, [I] think Yale still doesn't allow ROTC. A lot of guys were in it and they were getting their stripes to go in, okay, but it was part of the Rutgers environment. It was not frowned upon, sneered upon or anything else. Again, it's essentially a blasé, laid-back, apolitical campus to begin with and the political heat about whether we should be there with 350,000 soldiers, whatever the final number was, after [the] Gulf of Tonkin, it preceded that demarcation point. Also, we didn't have cable TV. You didn't have this type of coverage. You read a newspaper.
SH: What about the Bay of Pigs? Was that something that was discussed on campus?
MM: No. I don't remember, in my circle of people that I knew, that it was discussed. The one fellow in engineering, and this is before that, was a vet. ... I think the campus had a fair number of vets, not as much as after World War II, but the thing I want to emphasize is the intimacy of the campus and the relationship to the town. It was one unit, much smaller, no EE bus. ... I saw [one], I don't know how they get that many kids on a bus. ...
SM: Welcome to my life, every day.
MM: I keep telling her, you know, because ... I love trains, I'm a latent bus person, and [I] know that Academy has, like, a five-million-dollar contract with the school and the kids are squished in here like it's on a subway.
SM: Welcome to Rutgers. It is part of the experience. [laughter]
MM: I had the '55 Chevy. If I had a class downtown, we went up. I don't even think we had permit parking. I may have had commuter parking, but not to the extent of today. So, you know, I'm good for what I could tell you, but, if there were these type of discussions on campus on a Saturday night, I wasn't part of it.
SH: That is fine.
MM: You know.
SH: I think, in light of the time, perhaps we should end here. We can talk about the Civil Rights Movement and the war next session.
MM: ... Yes, Martin Luther King's assassination was another benchmark, which made us cognizant of saying, "How did we do?"
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Reviewed by Rosa Jeong 3/1/11
Reviewed by Andrew Provinsal 3/1/11
Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 11/21/11
Reviewed by Sophie Morrison 1/29/12