Polinsky, Aaron

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  • Interviewee: Polinsky, Aaron
  • Date: January 12, 1996
  • Place: New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • Interviewers:
    • Melanie Cooper
  • Transcript Production Team:
    • Jennifer Lenkiewicz
    • Melanie Cooper
    • G. Kurt Piehler
  • Recommended Citation: Polinsky, Aaron Oral History Interview, January 12, 1996, by Melanie Cooper, Page #, Rutgers Oral History Archives. Online: Insert URL (Last Accessed: Insert Date).
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    Permission to quote from this transcript must be obtained from the Rutgers Oral History Archives. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Melanie Cooper: This begins an interview with Melanie Cooper on January 12, 1996 in Tucson, Arizona. I guess I would like to start out asking you about your childhood. You grew up in Jersey City.

Aaron Polinsky: I grew up in Jersey City, right. A very good part of my early life. In fact, even when I attended Rutgers, my ... home was still in Jersey City.

MC: Right.

AP: The fact that I didn't commute, I was not a commuter. I lived, actually, I lived off-campus. I did not live in any of the dormitories. I lived off campus. I lived, at one time, I lived on 202 Somerset Street, way up by the Hungarian Church, right near the Europa Theater, if that's still in existence, I don't know. And then, later on, I lived on Easton Avenue, I remember. Those things are coming back to me. And eventually, I graduated.

MC: Your parents had immigrated here?

AP: Yeah, they were immigrants; they were immigrants from Russia.

MC: Right.

AP: Yeah. My father had come earlier. My father had come to the United States about 1910 or so. Or between 1909 and 1910, because my brother, one of my brothers before me was born in 1909. And my mother followed, and came here in early 1921, delayed because of the Bolshevik Revolution and I came upon the scene at the end of 1921. [laughter]

MC: Your father came and left your mother behind?

AP: [He] left her in the Ukraine, yeah. He came here, and, of course, when my mother came over, she already had a home to come to. He had already bought a house and she came right in.

MC: Was your neighborhood primarily Jewish?

AP: No, no.

MC: No?

AP: My neighborhood was, in fact, not very Jewish at all. Of course, there were Jewish sections around, it was very close. My neighborhood was kind of a mixture of many, many people. In fact, when I ... think back on the situation I'm very, very happy about it, because I'm very, very much of ... an inter-cultural person, inter-faith and what have you. Because, here I'm very much involved with what you call IRCSA (Interreligious Council of Southern Arizona), which is the inter-religious community, of southern Arizona. I'm very much involved with that. In fact, my closest friend, believe it or not here, my closest friend is a Roman Catholic priest, not a Jewish rabbi.

MC: That's very interesting. Did your family find it hard? Obviously, you said that you enjoyed the inter-cultural aspects of the neighborhood. Your parents being immigrants, though, did they find it difficult? Did they speak the language very well? Did they find it hard to fit in?

AP: Yes, well, they had linguistic difficulties. Of course, I spoke Yiddish with them, which was the language that they understood. And, in fact, I taught them English, myself. And they were able to get along very well.

MC: Did you have any brothers and sisters?

AP: Yes, ... I had, of course, no longer, two brothers and a sister, who are now deceased. I do have a younger sister, who lives in Houston, Texas, right now, with her family.

MC: How did the Depression affect your family?

AP: I'm trying to think. Well, I don't think there's too much effect. I mean, you know, they struggled, but I don't think there were any dire effects. I'm of the impression-- my father was a carpenter, he always had work to do, and somehow I don't think the Depression really hurt him too much. ... And 1929 to 1933, about that time, my God, I was just a young kid myself.

MC: Did you work as a child?

AP: No, not really.

MC: How did you find the Jersey City school system?

AP: I thought the Jersey City school system, at the time, was excellent! It was top notch. I don't think, I don't think some of the schools that I have been associated with since that time even compare to what the Jersey City schools were at that time.

MC: What made them so good?

AP: Pardon?

MC: What made them like that?

AP: Well, I don't know. In other words, we had excellent faculty, students who ... of various cultural backgrounds, who were very much interested in education, because most of the students who were there, for example, in both the elementary and high school, were from immigrant families who were very, very happy to be in this country, and to take advantage of what this country offered. And so, the students were serious. And they learned. I know, when I graduated from high school, I was the salutatorian of my class. That's the second highest. It was Ferris High School in Jersey City.

MC: Were you involved in any sports or clubs?

AP: I was more ... well clubs yes, of course, some of the cultural clubs, such as the French Club, and Debating Society. As far as athletics are concerned, I was involved in track, track events. But French, of course, was my-- Latin also, because I studied Latin for ten years, really. And French, of course, ... French is my major. Of course, my doctorate is in French.

MC: Yes.

AP: From Columbia University.

MC: Did your family push you to go to school? Push you through high school, to prepare you for college?

AP: They didn't have to push me. I was very much interested, in other words, ... somehow I just took to it. And there was never any kind of force, because ... I was interested. I was interested, and why was I so interested, because the teachers were interested in me. The teachers encouraged me. Teachers were my friends, and so forth. And [I] didn't need any further encouragement from my family. In other words, they were delighted that I felt the way I did.

MC: Did they support you?

AP: Oh yes. Very much so, very much, very much.

MC: What about your brothers and sister?

AP: Well, the only ... education that they received, well my brothers, who were already more advanced in age. My older brother, of course, was already, I don't know how old he was. Let's see. My sister, I don't really know their ages. But they were, they went to school. They went to-- I think they were old enough when they came over to be enrolled in high school programs. But I don't remember if any of them ever graduated. I don't think so.

MC: What did they do after high school? Work?

AP: Well, my older brother was an electrician. My sister is a housewife. My sister passed away, now, of course. Her children, her children who are grandparents now, too. And ... the other brother of mine was, well he was more or less involved in sales. For a time, he owned a ... kiddie shop. He never did very well though. There are certain things I don't remember anymore. [laughter]

MC: Anything else on your childhood before we go on to Rutgers ?

AP: My childhood?

MC: Were there any outstanding events that you feel are important?

AP: Well, of course, I was always involved, let me put it this way, as a child, I was always involved in religion, as well. In other words, religion was uppermost, as far as I'm concerned. I learned the scriptures, at a very, very young age, even before Bar Mitzvah, if you know. At the age of thirteen, when that came along, I was, it was just second nature. It was just natural. I knew the scriptures, I knew, I could read Hebrew. I could understand Hebrew, I could interpret it. I could speak Hebrew, and so forth, already at age thirteen. And so, religion is uppermost in my life.

MC: Your family was very observant?

AP: Very, very observant. We were an Orthodox community.

MC: What brought you to Rutgers University?

AP: Well I had made applications to a number of places. I was very much interested in Rutgers. I came down to visit. And fortunately, I was one of the early recipients of a state scholarship. In other words, when they just started about the year before, I think with the class of '40 and '41, they just started. And I had a four-year scholarship.

MC: A full scholarship?

AP: ... The only fees that I ever had to pay when I went up to the cashier's office at Old Queens, is it still there?

MC: No, it's gone. It's Records Hall now.

AP: It used to be up in Old Queens, upstairs. The only fees, I used to stand in line, when I used to pay, I think each semester, or something like, nine dollars. That was the student activities fee, for my little booklet. Outside of that, everything was paid for. Of course, the only thing I had, what I did have to pay for had nothing to do with Rutgers. It was for my room and board, $10 per month, you see. Although, I did talk to you about that, room and board. I was working, ... I don't know if they have it anymore, the NYA program, National Youth Administration, where they would ... pay a certain amount each month. I don't know if it was ten dollars a month or something rather. And I used to work in the library. I was in the library, as a worker. And also, I'm tired of these things coming back to me; also, at football games I was one of the parkers, who used to park cars, and they'd give us five dollars for each Saturday. So, these, you know, a few dollars here, and a few dollars there, and so forth, it helped. Because the room, my room, I remember my freshman and sophomore years, when I lived on Somerset Street, was two-fifty a week. $10 per month. Two dollars and fifty cents a week. Wow!

MC: Wow!

AP: So, you know.

MC: Yes.

AP: I was able to manage very well, you know. And I loved Rutgers. Rutgers, in other words, I'll never forget Rutgers. Rutgers was very, very good to me. It was good to me.

MC: Where else had you applied?

AP: Oh, I applied to Columbia, to NYU, where else did I apply to? I think Johns Hopkins, if I remember correctly. ... Well, I can't remember any others. Particularly, you know, particularly in the metropolitan area, you know, Columbia, NYU, and so forth. And Princeton. Incidently Princeton, did give me a partial scholarship.

MC: Oh?

AP: Yeah. But somehow I preferred Rutgers.

MC: Did you find it hard when you were living off campus your freshman year?

AP: No, oh no. No, not at all. Of course, there were so many, so many others who lived off campus.

MC: There were?

AP: We had no problem, no problem at all.

MC: I hadn't realized that.

AP: Yeah.

MC: Did you find your classes challenging?

AP: Oh yes, oh yes. We had a very fine faculty. I'm trying to think of some of the courses I took. I think ... I had a few of my transcripts around here someplace.

MC: Really!

AP: Yeah, here's one of the transcripts. Oh, I had general chemistry, English composition, French, of course, all the way through, history, contemporary (CCA?) as they used to call it. I don't know what they call it anymore-- Contemporary Civilization, Development of the U.S., that's ... American history. A lot of French courses, a course in Shakespeare, educational psychology, sociology, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. And I loved my grades, I think they've changed the grade system now. I think they're pretty much consistent with other universities, where number four is the best.

MC: Yes, 4.0.

AP: One used to be ours.

MC: Yes, I've heard that.

AP: If you look at this, you see the grades. This was my ... junior year.

MC: Yeah. Yeah, now all those ones ...

AP: Ones ...

MC: And two's wouldn't look so good.

AP: This was my junior year.

MC: It just ...

AP: My freshman, well there's two's and a couple three's, you see.

MC: Yeah. Well they are typical freshman grades.

AP: ... I made Phi Beta Kappa anyway.

MC: Yes, yes. What activities were you involved in that shaped your career at Rutgers?

AP: At Rutgers I was involved pretty much in, I guess you would call, I don't know, ... the cultural activities. I was not involved in athletics at all. I was involved with the various language clubs. And, I'm trying to think of anything else I was involved with. I don't remember anymore. [laughter]

MC: What made you choose not to join a fraternity?

AP: Cost.

MC: That's a good reason.

AP: But I used to attend functions. I was always invited to functions. I remember, I'm trying to think of a few of them there. ... Most of my friends, let's say fraternity friends, were Tau Delta Phi. They were there, Tau Delta Phi. And there were some also in Phi Epsilon Pi, they used to be on Mine Street. They used to have that nice building-- I don't know if that building is still there. Right off College Avenue, there on Mine Street. And there was another one. But ... most of my time was spent with people; they always invited me at Tau Delta Phi.

MC: Was that the extent of your social activities at Rutgers? Did you do anything else?

AP: Well I used to go to ... in fact, I attended almost, through the years, I attended almost every one of the ... hops and balls, and so forth. The sock hop, the junior prom, the senior ball, and so forth. I think, for four years I attended almost every one of them. In other words, ... let's put it this way, I was a dancer.

MC: That's what you said, you were fond of dancing.

AP: Very fond of dancing, always, to this day. But I don't think I have the energy anymore. [laughter]

MC: Did you remain very observant of your religion during your time at Rutgers?

AP: Yes. Yes, I did.

MC: Did you find that difficult?

AP: No, not at all. Most people respected my beliefs, and so forth. And I had no difficulty at all with any of the non-Jewish friends I had, and so forth.

MC: Where did you worship?

AP: I'm trying to think now, where I ...

MC: I can't think of one near us now that ...

AP: I don't know.

MC: Except for the campus, you have Hillel.

AP: On campus, of course, we had Hillel, at the time. But Hillel didn't come in until later on. In other words, Hillel was not organized yet, even nationally. We used to be called the JSL, it used to be called the Jewish Student League, at one time. And then it became part of Hillel. And we used to meet ... at the temple. There was a temple on Livingston, ... there's a reformed temple. And we used to have occasional meetings there, and so forth, all of the Jewish Student League. And I'm trying to think of where the ... the synagogues were downtown. The Orthodox synagogues, one, two right, a block or so from ... each other downtown right off, what's the name of the street now?

MC: George?

AP: George Street. ... That's right, because Albany crosses it. Albany goes into Highland Park. That's the one shown in this picture here. [laughter]

MC: Who was your favorite professor? Do you have any outstanding memories to remember?

AP: Well, my French professors, of course. There was Professor Turner, first name was Clarence, but we never ... we used to call him Terry Turner. We used to have in history, a wonderful guy, a comedian, I'm trying to think of his name now. Wonderful, I had him for one course in American history, darn it! What's his name? I can't remember now. I can't remember their names anymore. In fact, my memory is just not what it used to be.

MC: Did you have any opinions of the administrators, the president, the Dean of Students?

AP: No. In other words, ...

MC: Did you encounter any of them?

AP: The president at the time was Clothier, Robert Clothier. And he somehow or other was very much liked by the ... student body. It was a nice relationship. And, there's one-- the Dean of Men was a bit of a character. People referred to him as a little bit odd, and, of course, some of the Jewish students were a little bit resentful of some of his invocations, in which he invoked, of course, certain personages, and what have you. Because we used to go to chapel, so at Kirkpatrick Chapel, in other words there for a while, it was required, and you could've been excused, but I didn't want to be excused. I wanted to be part-- in other words, this is what I say, inter-religious. His name was Fraser Metzger.

MC: Right.

AP: Do you know that name, Fraser Metzger?

MC: Yes, there's a building named after him.

AP: And he was the Dean of Men, at the time. Of course, eventually, there was another one. I don't know whether he was Dean of Men or what? But he was with the class of '41, just before us. He was ... Crosby, Howard. Is he still around?

MC: I'm not sure, but there is a building on Busch Campus named after him.

AP: He's class of '41. I think he, he was ... to be Dean of Men later on, I think, yeah.

MC: Where were you when Pearl Harbor was attacked?

AP: December 7, 1941, you know, that was in my senior year. And soon thereafter I was drafted. I was able to graduate though.

MC: Right.

AP: Graduated May the tenth, 1942. I remember that. And, it happened to be on a Sunday, Mother's Day. And my parents on that day, ... I'll never forget that, brought me a copy of what they called, "Greetings from the President of the United States." That was a draft notice. That was in June, and August the eighth, I was inducted into the U.S. Army, and I had two weeks of ... furlough, so to speak, before I had to report in, and August 22, I reported for active duty at Fort Dix.

MC: Well, I'll get back to that, but I want to keep it more about Rutgers. [laughter]

AP: I'm just moving ahead.

MC: That's okay. Did you date? Did you have girlfriends when you were in college?

AP: Oh yeah. Oh sure. Oh yeah.

MC: Yeah.

AP: That was no problem at all.

MC: From where? From NJC or from home?

AP: Oh NJC, mostly NJC, well, I don't know, and some from the city of New Brunswick. And Highland Park, of course, yeah.

MC: How did you meet?

AP: We met at the various parties. ...

MC: And dances?

AP: And dances, and so forth, and so on. And NJC ... had quite a few dates at NJC. Could go walk[ing] to the various campuses, I'm trying to think of the campus names now. What were they?

MC: Jameson?

AP: ... Well Jameson ... was the big apartment building. But the others were what? It was ...

MC: Gibbons?

AP: Gibbons ... was on the far end.

MC: Corwin.

AP: Yeah, that's it.

MC: Was it Corwin then? It wasn't Corwin then, the houses though.

AP: No it wasn't Corwin. Yeah, yeah the houses.

MC: Yes they're Corwin now.

AP: You used to go, ... you'd go and ring, you know, the bell, and they'd come out, and so forth. I could still picture that.

MC: Did you go home a lot? Did you go back home on the weekends?

AP: No, not very much. Maybe once a month. No, I was having too much fun.

MC: That's difficult, very difficult. How did you find the ROTC program?

AP: ROTC? I was in the ROTC program for one year.

MC: One year?

AP: You're supposed to do two years. But, unfortunately, I had surgery, hernia surgery, at the end of my freshman year, and the doctor insisted that I not continue in ROTC; of course, this is one regret that I have. I wish I could have. And I continued, of course, I was excused from ROTC, after one year. But as I say, ... I think one of the regrets, because I would've gone for four years.

MC: You would have?

AP: Yeah.

MC: Oh, that's interesting. You got drafted into the army?

AP: Yeah.

MC: Would you have enlisted?

AP: I don't think so. I don't think, not ... immediately after graduation. I would've given myself a little time, perhaps as I think back, I probably would have enlisted a little later after I had caught my breath a bit, after graduation.

MC: So you were enlisted during your senior year? Is that right?

AP: ... No, I got my notice during my senior year.

MC: Right, so then you, you got ...

AP: Senior year, in other words, I graduated May 10 and I was already inducted on August 8, 1942.

MC: So you did not have plans for after graduation, because you had been drafted.

AP: Well the funny thing is I had made applications to graduate schools. Despite all that, I still had ...

MC: You did?

AP: Yeah, I had applications to graduate schools. I had one to Columbia, of course, that's where I went eventually after the war. And Princeton, and where else? And a couple of others out there. NYU, and so forth. And, of course, I was drafted and couldn't do anything about it until I got out. I got out in January of 1946. And I started redoing applications, and, of course, with the G.I. Bill of Rights, I didn't have to worry about expenses. It took care of everything.

MC: Did you spend that summer at home? Did you work during the summer?

AP: I don't remember if I did or not. I just don't remember. But I went right to graduate school. I went to Columbia. ... In other words, I went to Columbia and ... maybe I should've chosen Princeton, when I think back about it, you know. It would've been a better program. But I went to Columbia and I got my master's in Columbia. And then, of course, I went on for my doctorate. I continued right on, of course. When I went on for my graduate work, I was already teaching. I was already in various schools. I was already teaching.

MC: How did your family feel about you being drafted?

AP: Well they weren't very happy, but they understood.

MC: Did they feel it was your duty to the country?

AP: Yes, yes.

MC: Is that how you felt?

AP: In fact, I felt that way and they did too. They felt that ... this country ... had been doing a lot for them. And they felt that we should try to do better, we should try to help to put an end to this scourge that was occurring in Europe at the time.

MC: Your brothers did not serve in the war?

AP: No they were ...

MC: Older.

AP: Yeah older, yeah.

MC: So, you went to Fort Dix first.

AP: Fort Dix first.

MC: For basic training?

AP: No, Fort Dix was the induction service. It was a brief time and then, of course, the assignments were made. And from there I was sent to Camp Grant, Illinois, where I had basic medical training.

MC: Did you have a choice to go into the medical corps, or did they just put you there?

AP: They just put me there.

MC: They did? Do you know why?

AP: I haven't the slightest idea. But ... I'm very thankful for it. In the medics ... right, and [with it] came such training. In other words, the training in both surgical and laboratory technique, which, of course, has helped me to this very day because, you know, of all the hospitals in the city here, we're very much involved. Medicine and spirituality combined. [laughter]

MC: How long was your training?

AP: Training, I think, was, if I remember correctly, three months.

MC: And that was off base in Illinois?

AP: That was in Illinois, right, Rockford, Illinois.

MC: Rockford.

AP: Camp Grant, now it's Fort Grant today.

MC: Did you get any sort of leaves to come home during this work?

AP: Yes, yes.

MC: You did. How long was it for?

AP: Oh, I don't remember that anymore. No, I just don't remember.

MC: It sounds like you preferred the training with medical corps over basic combat infantry training?

AP: No, we didn't have any. As I say, I didn't have any basic combat training. I was very happy about that, you know. Yeah, yeah.

MC: Did you find it difficult?

AP: No, not really, not really. It was enjoyable, really.

MC: Then where did you go, after Illinois?

AP: Oh, I'm trying to think.

MC: Well actually, in Illinois did you visit any of the nearby towns?

AP: Yes, Rockford, Illinois. Occasionally, ... Chicago, you know.

MC: How did you find those towns? Were they very different from New Jersey?

AP: At the time, I don't think I really knew any different, you know. For I was just a young person. What was it 1946? What was I, just 25 years old [in] 1946. And ... then I'm trying to think where'd I go after that? I'm trying to think, ... I have to look at my resume here, to remind me, of course. The resume doesn't include everything either. Yeah, I went in the army from August of '42 to January of '46, yeah. And ... I had applied for officers' training, I remember, to go to OCS. And at that time, at that particular time there was another program that was being developed called the ASTP. Now, did I indicate that someplace?

MC: It is on your survey.

AP: ... Yeah, the Army's Specialized Training Program, which had a priority over OCS. In other words, both programs would lead to a commission, ... you know, an officer's commission. I applied to both, and I was accepted, the ASTP program had various specialties. ... There's an engineering group, and then ... there is something else, I remember, and language. In other words, they were very much interested in language personnel. I had gone through a whole battery of tests, and so forth, and what they were interested in very, very much, since French was my major and I studied Latin for a long time. I was accepted in the ASTP program, and I was sent first, I remember, to Salt Lake City, to the University of Utah. And that wasn't to be ... a final place. I could still remember Salt Lake City [and] the University of Utah, and from there, of course, ... they interviewed us and what have you. And ... divided people up according to their languages, and since I had French, they felt that [I had the ability], they tested me and so forth. And I showed my proficiency in French, my ability to speak, and so forth and so on, which they felt would be very, very useful in any kind of European encounter. And ... since you know French, I also knew, at that particular time, I also knew a little Italian and I also knew German and so forth. What happened is, they felt, well I had those languages, there's no sense repeating, they had various levels. In other words, they had beginners languages, advanced languages and so forth. I felt ... that I was so far ahead on all these languages, that they would give me ... a choice of three other languages: Hungarian, Bulgarian, or Japanese. When I think back, I made a mistake, I think. I should have taken Japanese. [laughter]

MC: Probably. What did you take?

AP: I took Hungarian. And why did I take Hungarian? I figured, that they were telling us that eventually, we would-- those of us in the ASTP program would probably be officers in the army of occupation, should we be successful in this war. And I took a look at the geography of Europe and I said, "Well Hungary is central Europe. Budapest, its capital, is just about central, and if I'm going to be in the Army of Occupation eventually, and I'm going to have, in other words, ... from that central position, time off I could go almost anywhere." You know, that was my logic at the time. In other words, ... Bulgarian, of course, was very much like Russian. I knew a little bit of Russian too, because of my parents. And so I took Hungarian. And, of course, I went through a nine month program in Hungarian. They sent me from the University of Utah to the University of Denver; I was in Denver. We were not on the campus at the University of Denver; the sponsorship was the University of Denver. We were in a place at the other end of ... Denver. A place called El Gebell, it was a ... shriner's temple. A shriner's temple, right across the street from one of their ... big ... parks. One of these amusement parks. Not too far from there. And I came out, I was the top person in the Hungarian program after nine months. And what happened suddenly? They {the war department} decided ... [that] they were going to eliminate this program. But we were able to finish it. And, because of that, none of us received commissions. If it had gone another couple of months, we would have been commissioned. And so I lost out, as far as officer's concerned. We resented it, very much.

MC: They took you to ASTP out of Illinois?

AP: Stripped from Illinois. In other words, yes. And they sent me to Utah. In other words, it was kind of a reception center, in a sense, you know. To find out exactly what we're qualified for, and what have you. But as I say, OCS was ... secondary. In other words, ASTP had priority over OCS. If I had gone to OCS I would have been commissioned, without a doubt. And here's a nine month program and it just died. As I say, we completed ... the program, and then orders came from Washington, and so forth, that they're being disbanded, and ... from that point, we were sent to various infantry units. And I ended up-- ... where'd I go on the third week? ... Because I don't have it in my ... resume. I'm just trying to think. From there I was sent to a clearing company, in Texas. I don't know if I mentioned that at all. 606 Clearing Company.

MC: 606.

AP: 606 Clearing Company. And there I worked mostly as a surgical and lab technician. And it was the 606th that went to Europe. And I was with the 606th, and we were a clearing company, in other words ... a medical group was broken up. First you had your Battalion A station, which was right at the front lines. Then you had a clearing company, which is second level. Then we, rather the ... not the clearing company, it was another company, and then the clearing company, where patients would be sent back. I was very much involved with the clearing company. And there was a lot of ... the medical training I had back in Illinois came in handy. You see, that's what they used.

MC: Did they put you back into the medical corps?

AP: Yeah, they put me back into the medical corps, but I was able, fortunately, to use my-- the language. In other words, when the 606[th] went to Europe, ... I didn't have any kind of officer rank, or anything like that, unfortunately. But I had a ... lot of courtesy, you know, a lot of respect because of my education. They had, they knew I was educated. And as we landed, I remember our group, well, we went to, we flew to, how did we go? We went to England first. Then from England we crossed the channel into Normandy. And I remember getting off ... that ship into those-- the landing barges there, where water up to our hips and so forth. Getting onto the ... French shore. And then marching, practically all the way in heavy rains and everything else. But then eventually, as we were moving through Northern Europe, as the armies were ... advancing, I had the good fortune of being asked to ride with the officers in the first vehicle. This was not only for the 606 ... Clearing, but these were various army units. Not only medical unit[s], but army units. But moving along, what would it be-- progress of the war. And I was in, usually in the first vehicle so I could get out every now and then, in various little towns to try to arrange with the mayor of the town for billeting, for any of the troops, for staying overnight, what have you. This was in France, you see. It was all in France. ... So here I was using my French, and so forth. And ... when we got to-- Belgium in the same way, you see.

My particular organization happened to be ... in Belgium as part of a battle, called the Battle of the Ardennes, was the official name. But it was more popularly known as the Battle of the Bulge. And we were involved there. And that was in the city of Arlon, A-R-L-O-N, which is just a few miles down the road. We were on our way to the city of Bastogne, B-A-S-T- ... which was surrounded by the Germans. But, of course, we couldn't get through. And in the city of Arlon, I had a lot of friends, amongst the Belgians. I had a lot of Belgian friends, yeah. And, of course, and I was able to, some of my soldier friends used to follow me because I knew that I ... had some nice connections, you know. And then eventually we got into Germany. And I was able to use my German language, too. In fact, ... even though I ... was [a] medic all the way through. See, it was medics. But it got to a point, where, of course, we had some German prisoners of war, who were wounded and so forth. And we had other German prisoners of war, when the war ended. When the war ended, they had what they called re-deployment camps. Re-deployment camps were back in ... France. That was in a place called Camp Baltimore. I'm getting ahead of myself. ... They asked me to interrogate German prisoners of war that we had in our medical units. So I was able to use my German then.

MC: How were the prisoners of war treated?

AP: Well what I saw was, they were treated very humanely. Very nicely. And I remember in Camp Baltimore, we used to have the ... prisoners of war who ... had certain jobs to do for, you know, the re-deployment camps like, you know, house cleaning jobs, you know. ... And I used to have to walk some of them back to their cells and so forth. And despite the fact, that they knew what my religious background was, I was able to get along. And we used to talk on the way in German. ...

MC: Were they hostile, how did they react?

AP: I found no hostility in my own particular case. They may have felt that way, but they never ... showed it, you see.

MC: The bulk of your time was spent in France and Germany?

AP: France and Germany, yeah.

MC: And you did encounter a lot of civilians in the towns?

AP: Yeah.

MC: Did you see a lot of devastation in the areas that you were in?

AP: Any what?

MC: Devastation in the towns.

AP: No, I don't think so. No. You know the things that ... I can't remember anymore.

MC: Yeah. How did the townspeople treat you? I mean you spoke their language ...

AP: I spoke their language and, of course, I never ... went around divulging my particular religious background, and so forth. And got along very, very well it seems, in other words. Naturally, they were devastated by the fact that they were defeated. But we did not mistreat them.

MC: Right. Did you treat medical wounds?

AP: Yes.

MC: You did. What were the majority of cases that you saw?

AP: Oh, I can't remember anymore. I used [to] treat them, of course. And then most of the time, I did treat-- it wasn't that much, but most of the work I did was assisting, for example, assisting in surgery, as a surgical technician. That was most of it.

MC: What were the camps like?

AP: Pardon?

MC: What were the camps like where you stopped to do the surgery? Did you have a lot of equipment there?

AP: During the war?

MC: Yeah.

AP: Well during the war, I mean, not the camps. During the war it was within ... our own units. We used to ...

MC: Right.

AP: Within the tents. You know, ... we had our tents set up and so forth.

MC: Well how was the equipment in the tents and did you have up-to-date equipment? Did you find things you were lacking?

AP: Well, for that particular time, we did very, very well. In other words, ... the physicians ... were outstanding, as they ought to [be]. The training I had in surgical technique, and so forth, ... I ought to move back a little bit. I just happened to have my surgical ... technique training happened to be in Denver also. In other words, I came ... back to Denver. I had my surgical technique training at Fitzsimmons General Hospital, in Denver. And then, later on, of course, as I indicated, I ended up in Denver in the ASTP program, you see.

MC: So you assisted basically?

AP: We assisted basically there, yeah. Of course, we were able to. If anybody was wounded and so forth and so on, we knew exactly what to do. For anything ... minor, but naturally when it came to any kind of surgical technique, we weren't qualified to do it.

MC: Did you lose a lot of the troops in your unit?

AP: Pardon?

MC: Did you travel with any other units?

AP: No, we traveled, I traveled with our Clearing Company. This was our Clearing Company.

MC: Right. And through different sites?

AP: Yeah, tried.

MC: Okay. Did you see a lot of losses for our side?

AP: I saw losses. I wouldn't use the word a lot. ... Because I did see losses, yes. I'll put it that way. I'm not gonna say a lot, a few or something like that. I don't remember, I can't go into numbers.

MC: Right. Right. Well you only saw what you saw. How did you keep in touch with home?

AP: Home by letter. Yeah, letter.

MC: Did they keep in touch with you?

AP: Oh yes, oh yes, I got letters. Of course, sometimes the mail wouldn't come for quite some time, you know. In other words, the mail didn't follow us immediately. [laughter]

MC: I would think that. You served for your whole time. Where were you when you were taken out of Europe? What were the circumstances?

AP: Taken out of Europe?

MC: Was the war over when you left?

AP: Oh yes, oh yes. Well we were in camps, so-called re-deployment camps. The war was over.

MC: Okay.

AP: Re-deployment for us. In other words, we were ... sent to these various re-deployment camps in France and to eventually, be sent back to the United States, you see. You know, while we were there, of course naturally ... we did what we could as far as ... my particular case medical training. And eventually, you know, our number came up as far as being shipped back to the United States. And when I came back to the United States, I was sent to Fort Monmouth, which is a signal corps camp. And I was discharged from the U.S. Army at Fort Monmouth in 1946, January.

MC: How did you feel about the bombing of Hiroshima, at that time?

AP: I don't remember how I felt. I'll be very honest, I just don't remember how I felt.

MC: How did you hear about it?

AP: Well, of course we ...

MC: Well, you were home.

AP: Yeah.

MC: And the Holocaust must have affected you?

AP: It affected me terribly yes, because I, while I was in Europe, I did, in other words, ... I did find out a number of people who were involved in the Holocaust. ... They knew what my background is, and I was able to somehow bring comfort to them. And try to remember when, in parts of France and parts of Germany, Belgium too. I was able to see the miserable conditions at Dachau Camp near Munich where many Jews died.

MC: Did you see towns that were obviously, that the population had been taken out of the towns?

AP: I don't remember really, I don't remember that.

MC: When you got home to Fort Monmouth, did you come back to Jersey City after that?

AP: Yes, in fact, my parents came for me, with my brother of course. They couldn't drive so one of my brothers came along and brought me back to Jersey City.

MC: And then what did you do after that?

AP: Well ...

MC: You got married after that.

AP: Well I got married in May. It's going to be 50 years now, on the May the 19th. It'll be 50 years that we're married. Because, I had met Helen, actually before that, you know in other words, when I came home on furloughs and things like that. I had met her, yes. ... Well actually, ... I was going out with a friend of hers, ... and somehow something happened.

MC: Did she stay in touch with you during the war?

AP: Oh yeah, yeah. I got a lot of letters from her. Yeah.

MC: And then you came home. And then you got married.

AP: Got married. And we had two children and unfortunately in ... November of 1992, I lost my daughter here in town, yeah. Two grandchildren, whom we couldn't see for a while, I don't know if I indicated that. The son-in-law, who is a physician in town, ex-son-in-law, just because we wanted to see her when she was ill. She had a brain tumor, and he kept us from her. We used to argue with him, and so forth. This is our daughter, we want to see her, and so forth. We want to be with her, and what have you. And he would make all kinds of rules and regulations about us coming over, and naturally we couldn't take it. So he was willing to take it out on us when she passed away, "You'll never see your grandchildren again." And we didn't see them for, let's see, until, for a couple of years. Two girls, who are now fourteen and ten years of age. And it just so happened that when I was over at the university medical center here, to minister [to] the patients-- one of the patients ... was an attorney, and he asked me how things were, and I told ... him. He had had a heart transplant. And I had trained his daughter for her Bat Mitzvah, I don't know if you know what that is, Bat Mitzvah. You're not Jewish?

MC: No.

AP: Yeah. And when he found about it. He said, "You got to do something about it." So he started the ball rolling. And we took him to court. And we won. So since March of this, since 1995 March, mind you, we see our grandchildren for the first Sunday of every month. We're supposed to see them for six hours, from eleven to five. We're supposed to see them for four hours on various festivals.

-------------------END SIDE ONE, TAPE ONE------------------------

AP: And on the week of their birthdays ... birthday December 24th, and he was supposed to make arrangements for us to stay, but he did not. We notified our attorney. And our attorney contacted his attorney. And it's now, something is in the works right now. But he's been trying, there for a while he, earlier he was harassing us something awful. We reported it to our attorney, who wrote to him and warned him, "Should you continue, we will have you back in court on criminal and civil charges." So ...

MC: It's a shame that happened so close to you ...

AP: So close, right.

MC: Where does your other daughter live?

AP: My other daughter lives in Rochester, Minnesota. ... Her husband works for the IBM Corporation. She is ... an audiologist. With two children, two grandchildren with her. Three, what am I talking about two, three! Amy's going to be fourteen next month, one of the boys is twelve and one is ten. Yeah. We were up there Thanksgiving.

MC: Going back to when they were children ...

AP: Okay.

MC: That's fine. In early years of your marriage, what did you do?

AP: I was teaching ...

MC: You were teaching, where?

AP: Okay. In 1946, well, just for a short period of time, I was teaching at the Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, New Jersey. I taught there for a while. I taught French and I taught history. And then I was offered a job at Rutgers. And I taught at Rutgers from about 1947 to about 1951. Then where'd I go after that? Do I have it here? No.

MC: Well, while you were at Rutgers, you mentioned that you lived at University Heights.

AP: Yeah, well. While I was at Rutgers with-- of course ... when I was married, we lived at University Heights, yes. In other words, we had ...

MC: Were your daughters born yet?

AP: Yeah. Yeah. Our daughters, yeah we had our daughters. And they had to be born. Let's see, my one daughter was born in 194-- Let's see, Ruthie is going to be 47 years old. She was born in 1949. And the older one who passed away was 1947. So, yes. So we were there. ... I still remember the address 316 Cooper Lane. I don't know if you know Cooper Lane up that way.

MC: No, I don't think it's ...

AP: So the little houses up there, you know, in the circle, up in University Heights. I don't know if they still have them. Maybe they're not there anymore.

MC: They're not there anymore.

AP: No.

MC: I am not exactly sure where University Heights was ...

AP: It was right by the stadium.

MC: Right.

AP: It was, you know. It was just a block or so from the stadium, you know.

MC: No there's no houses there, now.

AP: Yeah, I'm trying to ...

MC: I had to do a paper that involved University Heights and, it seemed that they were kind of primitive. The whole area ...

AP: Well, primitive is-- you mean the housing then?

MC: Well ... it was just the running water ...

AP: We had no problems ... with the water. We used to have, of course, these all stones, all furnaces that we used for heat, and so forth. They're primitive, if you're gonna call that primitive. ... I think it was very nice. We had a nice fellowship there, a lot of ... faculty. In fact, we have faculty living there. yeah. I taught, let's see, I'm trying to look to see if I remember. From 1946 to July of '47, I was at Dwight Morrow High School. Then in July of '47 to September '51 I was an ... instructor, and an assistant professor of romance languages at Rutgers. My office, let's see, our office, the main office was on College Avenue. I don't know if it's still there, 60 College Avenue. ... That's a big porch.

MC: It's yeah, the house is still there.

AP: And my office was on the top floor of Winants Hall.

MC: Really.

AP: Yeah, we had a number of offices upstairs in Winants, yeah.

MC: In this period, were there a lot of GIs on campus?

AP: Oh yes. Oh yes. Oh yeah.

MC: Did you find them very different from the other students?

AP: I found they were more serious.

MC: Really?

AP: Yeah, they were more serious, yeah.

MC: Did you notice any differences from when you had been a student at Rutgers?

AP: I don't think so. No. Then, of course, ... when I wasn't teaching in these years, as I have it in my resume, you know, I was involved in the business world, as you know. I mean in the industrial world, if you wish. These were the office manager, comptroller. You have all that information.

MC: Yeah.

AP: So yeah, yeah.

MC: Did you find that the war had affected Rutgers in any way? You had been there only a year after the war had ended.

AP: ... No, except the GIs who came back, of course, were very, very serious, and very willing to learn. You know, there's no fooling around, put it that way.

MC: How were your colleagues? And faculty?

AP: My colleagues were great, great people. I don't know if ... one of them is still there. He ... became head of the French Department. I don't know if he's still around. He's in the Class of '41, Milt Seiden, I don't know if you know Milt Seiden, S-E-I-D-E-N. He may have retired, too, by now. And then you had ... Jerry Blertin. I can still remember. He's another one that taught French. And Amaral, Senor Jose Vazquez-Amara used to teach Spanish. These were some of my colleagues at the time.

MC: Did you teach introductory level classes or upper level?

AP: I taught introductory and advanced ones, both. I taught ... pretty much at all levels.

MC: Give me a general size of the department. How many people? How many instructors?

AP: Instructors, professors, and so forth?

MC: Yeah. It can be very rough.

AP: I'd say roughly anywhere between ten and fifteen.

MC: Oh okay.

AP: Yeah.

MC: I don't know for that time, but now that's pretty small. So what brought you to leave Rutgers?

AP: To leave Rutgers?

MC: Yeah.

AP: Let's see, where am I, you, well I was, you mean, full-time Rutgers teacher? Let's see if I remember.

MC: You had written something on here.

AP: I think it may have been that they were cutting down. ... I think I was one of those affected by the cutback. Yeah, yeah. And I think that's when I went into, back into industry. But even though I was in industry, I used to do some part-- you know, teaching here. You know, I think I indicated there. Yeah, everywhere, Ridgewood, New Jersey, adult school, of course, I taught at Ridgewood High School for a long time, too. You have all that information. For Ridgewood High School, because when I retired I taught at West Essex, which is in North Caldwell, New Jersey. If you know that area in Essex County. That information you have, so it's, you know.

MC: Well that's okay. I mean, you know, you can always restate it.

AP: I also taught for the ... New Jersey Department of Education. I've got that on my resume too, methods and materials for teachers of all languages. I taught that back in 1966. I'm trying to remember the various things. And then I also taught French at Tufts, the Summer of '65. I'm trying to think of all the things I knew I had taught. I haven't looked at my resume in a couple of years now. [laughter] I mean since, I sent ... this in to you.

MC: Right, right. When you left teaching full time, did you find it difficult?

AP: For a while I did, yes. Because I loved to teach. ... That's why, ... even when I was in industry, I always sought to do some part-time teaching. You can see ... it in my resume, that I was doing some teaching even while I was in industry.

MC: Did your wife work?

AP: Yeah. She was IBM trained. She was a key punch operator, and very much involved in ... pre-computer age, in a sense, you know. I mean, she doesn't know computers. And she was involved, she was-- rather we were living in, of course, when we moved here, we lived in River Edge. You know where River Edge is? River Edge, New Jersey, between Hackensack and Paramus. We sold our home there, too-- when we came here. ... She worked for, at that time, it was called People's Trust Company. And then it became, oh what was it called again, after that ... UJB, United Jersey Banks. And she was ... the head of the department. She was department chairman of, well I guess, today it would be the computer department. But she was key punch operator, very much involved there. And she retired from there, in fact, she's still getting a lot of benefits from there, you know. In fact, a lot of her medical benefits, in addition to medicare.

MC: Did she work while your children were growing up?

AP: Yes. Well, not immediately. In other words, when they were very young she didn't work. In other words, when they were at an age where they could go to school, and so forth and so on. That's when she went back to work, back to work. She did not go to work when they were just growing up.

MC: The industry that you went into, could you go into that a little bit more? What was it?

AP: Yeah. I worked, first I worked with Premo Pharmaceutical. It's a pharmaceutical outfit. For a while, I was the assistant production manager. I worked with the man who was the production manager at the time, happened to be a brother of one of my wife's cousins. Something like that. That's how I got in. And I learned an awful lot about pharmaceuticals. And eventually, what happened, unfortunately I don't know, I forgot how much I got ... how long I worked there. I don't remember anymore. It was Premo Pharmaceutical, do I have that down? I guess I did.

MC: I think you did. I don't have it here.

AP: ... Eventually, ... I became, when the office manager resigned, they came and asked me to be the office manager. From assistant production manager, I was the office manager. And I worked there for a while. But I wasn't particularly happy about it, because ... the owner of the company was a tyrant. I can still remember. And I used to argue with him occasionally, and so forth and so on. And then I ... saw a notice about the Cellofilm Corporation, which at the time was a subsidiary of Universal Pictures. And the office manager there was leaving, and I came over, and interviewed and so forth, and they hired me. And that's when I worked those various years at the Cellofilm Corporation, in Woodridge, New Jersey, if you know where Woodridge is? And then I went back to teaching.

MC: Yeah. What brought you back?

AP: I was always interested in teaching.

MC: Right.

AP: And I went back to teaching. That's when I went to River Dell. River Dell which is in Oradell, New Jersey. I went back. In fact, I discussed it with my wife. At almost 50 percent less salary than I was making. Which shows how interested I was in teaching. But I progressed pretty much in ... my salary. I taught at River Dell for a time, and then from there I taught at Ridgewood. ... I taught at Ridgewood for about ten or eleven years or so. I went from Ridgewood from West Essex and that was it.

Mc: You mentioned that you were an assistant to the superintendent?

AP: Yeah.

MC: During that time, you did not leave teaching as well, did you?

AP: River Dell, yeah. No, I wasn't teaching then. Yeah, I'm glad you mentioned that. When I came to River Dell ... that's in 1957. I taught French and English. I didn't start teaching immediately. I was hired as an assistant to the superintendent. That's how it was. I was hired as the assistant to the superintendent, and I remember his name, Wendell Williams. [I was] assistant to the superintendent. And I kept begging him, I could remember, to give me a chance to teach one class while I was there. I used to prepare a lot of the state reports and things like that for him. And I started to teach. And then eventually I got him to okay my full-time teaching and get somebody else to be the assistant superintendent. And I taught at River Dell.

MC: And when were you working towards your master's and your doctorate? During this time?

AP: Oh when was I working on that? It was during, yes. It was during ... my teaching time. During my teaching years. I was doing that.

MC: And you used the G.I. Bill?

AP: I used the G.I. Bill. Yeah.

MC: Did you find that difficult to teach and go to school?

AP: Not difficult, but time consuming. Yeah.

MC: Would you have rather worked towards your master's and your doctorate without having to hold down a job?

AP: I would have preferred that, yes. [laughter] But I had to support a family.

MC: Right. Right. Had you any desire to continue in the medical field, after being in the medical corps?

AP: Not really, no. But what I'm doing right now, I'm very much involved in ... medicine. [laughter]

MC: That's right. Also, I want to go back a little bit to the war. How did they come about and what did you do?

AP: Well the good conduct medal, everyone gets that. That medal was also for, I can't-- I'm trying to think of the names. I have them here, I can show them to you. It's what they call the American Theater. In other words, having served within this continent, there's a medal for that. There's a medal for the European Theater. And then there was a Victory Medal, that we all got. I think it's all I got ... I don't know, did I get any more? I don't remember. I've got 'em here someplace.

MC: Your daughters both went to college?

AP: Yes.

MC: Did you want either of them to go to Rutgers?

AP: We never ... even discussed it. Let's see where did my older daughter go? I'm trying to think.

MC: Did she go to Connecticut?

AP: Yeah, Connecticut. ... She was in Connecticut. I'm trying to think where she went. ...

MC: Southern Connecticut.

AP: Yeah, Southern Connecticut State College, right, in New Haven. ... You have to remind me. [laughter] Southern Connecticut State College, yeah. She was in special education. The one who passed away. [She] was in special education. And the other daughter went to, where'd she go? She went to a university. She went to the University of Maryland.

MC: And that was during a pretty turbulent time on college campuses.

AP: Yeah, yeah.

MC: Did they say anything? Were they involved in protests?

AP: No, they weren't ... involved. ... Remember they were very serious. They did their work and there was no ... involvement in ... any of this upheaval. I had given you all this, I forgot.

MC: Your alumni file in the archives gave me a lot of information. I feel like I keep jumping ahead but what brought you out to Arizona?

AP: Well, number one, my daughter had been living here for a while. And, also, we wanted to get away from some of the weather conditions of the East. Which were very, very ... much in ...

MC: Still there.

AP: Now in fact, weather is something I'd like to show you right now. I had ... a snow blower and I had an accident in River Edge.

MC: Yes, that would do it.

AP: I slipped onto one of the chutes, and I lost my fingers, you know. From a snow blower accident ... and driving in snow and driving in ice, and all that stuff. And we said, ... let's get to some warmer climate.

MC: Weather like this.

AP: And the fact that ... the daughter was out here and so forth, we figured well this might be a good place to come to. So this was in 1982. We are here since ... June of 1982. It'll be fourteen years.

MC: And you had retired previously?

AP: Well I retired from West Essex High, retired completely. And, of course, I was pensioned from New Jersey.

MC: So when you came out here you became involved in ...

AP: Immediately I was involved. When I first ... came out here, ... before I retired, we had come to visit our daughter. And I didn't want to, in other words, I retired yes, but I didn't really want to retire. And what happened I noticed that there was ... an ad in one of the private schools here, St. Gregory. St. Gregory High School, it was a private school here. ... And I went over for an interview and they hired me. And I taught there for about a year or so. And I left. I left because of anti- Semitism. In other words, I wouldn't be subjected to that. And from there I went right into the rabbinate. I was involved, and since then I was very much involved, all the way.

Taught for the meantime, for example, I taught the committee on ... the Committee on Aging, and so forth. And I taught French there to, you know, retired adults, ... at one of the synagogues, which it is a real big synagogue. I taught all the children Bar Mitzvah, and so forth. I taught 'em all, prepared them. Out of hundreds and hundreds of 'em a year. ... And, of course, since that time, I had individuals come to me, but I put a stop to it. No more. It's was just too much. The last one I had was just a few months ago. And then I left the synagogue, ... I'm still a member there, but I left the employ. I was the assistant to the Rabbi. The Rabbi's assistant, actually. I have ... all the rabbinic qualifications. I have them all, the ones that I got through, in New York City, through Yeshiva University and Jewish Theological Seminary. Courses that I never even mentioned, that I [had] courses in theology. Did I mention that to you?

MC: No, you did not.

AP: That I'd taken courses in there. I went to individual rabbis, and so forth, and I had all the training. I was never ordained, see, in other words. I never sought ordination, but I had exactly the same training that every rabbi has. But I'm too involved in the secular world to, you know, go through all these final steps. So I'm still considered now, you know, ... I'm a Jewish community chaplain as Reverend not Rabbi. I'm a chaplain of this Jewish community in all the hospitals, and counseling, and so forth. So from, ... when I left the employ of Anshei Israel, I just, I was just asked if I would be the chaplain for the community, for the various synagogues. And I'm serving as the chaplain for the community. ...

MC: So what does that entail for you?

AP: It entails visiting the sick in the hospitals and nursing homes, and wherever they might be, in their homes. A lot of counseling. A lot of comfort. And I'm official U.S. chaplain at the VA Hospital. Not only that, the funny thing is I haven't too many Jewish patients there. I've also been assigned, somehow or other, that's been very successful, I've ... also been assigned to all those who have no religious preference. Christians, or Muslims, or so forth. I don't know if I should say this, because it sounds almost like I'm ... tooting my own horn, you know. And I don't want to have that, you know, and so on and so forth.

MC: That's fine, well somebody's got to.

AP: But I kept saying to some of them, well why don't you, you know, we have Protestant chaplains here and so forth. They said, "No. We'd rather have you." They know it. They know ... my religion. We feel more comfortable with you, so ... I'm that way. ... So I see perhaps, I'm there on Tuesdays and Fridays. When I first started at the VA Hospital, I was on volunteer status. And eventually, they gave me ... a special contract, four hours a week. Not bad. A very, very ridiculous, hourly rate. And I hadn't received any kind of payment since the end of September, because of what is going on in Washington. The money has been funded, but they funded for October, and November, and December, but I haven't received it yet. And I'm not the only one. It's all of us who are on contract haven't received it yet. (laughter) So ... that's another source of income for me right now. Something I didn't even expect. ...

MC: But it seems like very little of a "job" for you. Like it seems like something that you enjoy, and you enjoy to do.

AP: It keeps me busy, because I could sit down and ... talk to a patient and his family. Or her family, of course, there are also women. Talk to them and somehow or other, bring comfort to them. It makes me feel good. ... And I go away, in other words, just feeling that I've done something. I've done something for another human being. And this to me is very, very important.

MC: You seemed to have been involved in a lot of civic organizations.

AP: Yeah, I'm a member of the Elks. I don't know if I mentioned that.

MC: No.

MC: I'm a member of BPOE, Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks in this community. I'm a member of Jewish War Veterans of the United States. I'm a member of the American Legion. What else am I member of? Who else do I pay my dues to? (laughter) Let's see. I have to take a look and see.

MC: Are you very active in American Legion?

AP: Not active in American. I'm active in Jewish War Veterans, but not in American Legions.

MC: Is there a local chapter of the Jewish War Veterans?

AP: Well the Jewish War Veterans, they have for example, two posts. They['re] call[ed] posts here. I used to be a member [of] one of them, but I'm not anymore because of politics. I don't like the politics they have. So I'm .. what they call, Member-At-Large, out of Washington, D.C., Post 100.

MC: Oh, okay.

AP: I don't go for the politics. What else am I? I'm a member of, here in town, the Pima County Council ... on Aging. ... The American Jewish Congress, that's national. I'm trying to look, to see. Because you know, ... a lot of things which are national, of course, I'm not involved with. I mean I'm involved, you know. I pay my dues. Hadassah Associates, my wife is a member of Hadassah and then, of course, ... that's a woman's organization, but I'm ... what they call an associate. A member of the Arthritis Foundation. Arizona, of course, this is the desert museum. I don't know if you know about the desert museum.

MC: The Sonora?

AP: Yeah, the Sonora Desert Museum.

MC: Yes. We went to the Historical Society.

AP: Yeah, yeah.

MC: Historical society, there.

AP: I'm a member of course. I've been a member since 1947, of the Knights of Pythias-- Deputy Grand Chancellor.

MC: Right. I saw that.

AP: Knights of Pythias. I was a Commander and Chancellor. Commander and Deputy Grand Chancellor and so forth in New Jersey. I'm still a member out of New Jersey, in other words, I've never transferred to ... the post here. ... I was honored by becoming a member of the College of Chaplains, ... clergy affiliated, that's a national organization. I am a member of the Elks, American Heart Association. A lot of these, ... I'm just a member of them, you know, I'm not active in, ... AARP, of course. You ... know ... what that is. Here's my Rutgers.

MC: Rutgers' alumni. Are still involved in any activities with Rutgers?

AP: As much as I can be, yeah. 'Cause ...

MC: Also I wanted to ask you, you were listed as the class secretary in 1977?

AP: Yeah.

MC: Were you active in that role?

AP: No. ... I don't even remember. No, I was secretary, but I'll be darned if I remember what I did, you know.

MC: Yeah.

AP: Well, you see, I'm still a member of Essex County Retired Educator's Association. I'm still a member of that, a life member, you see. I have to look it up.


AP: I'm a member of NJEA, see. A retired member. National Counsel of Senior Citizens. Elks Club, I have that down. I'm trying to think what I am. Oh this is Essex County -- this is Arizona County's Attorney's Sheriff's Organization. What else am I a member of? Jewish Historical Society of Southern Arizona; University Medical Center, of course, I'm a chaplain there; DMC-- I'm a chaplain. Chaplain all over town. That's about it, yeah. That's enough. I can't ... be actively involved in all these things, but at least ... if any service is needed, I'd get a call. They'll call me, in other words, if they want-- nursing home. The nursing homes will occasionally, they'll call me ... to talk to, you know, residents about Jewish traditions. And perhaps dealing with death and dying and festivals and things of that nature. I get called very frequently to various nursing homes to do that. To me it's teaching, you see?

MC: Yes, yes. In a lot of ways it seems like you have combined everything.

AP: Yeah, yeah.

MC: That you've had experiences in.

AP: Yeah. I'll tell you, this is what keeps me sane. At my particular age if I was just sitting around moping and doing nothing, I think I would waste away. 'Cause ... I'm in my 75th year. November I'll be 75.

MC: Does your wife keep active? What does she do?

AP: Yeah. She's very much [active]. She was involved with Hadassah, very frequently. She was involved with UOTS, United Order of True Sisters, a charitable kind of organization. She was involved with that. And I'm trying to think of anything else. ... She ... was involved also with the synagogues along with me. Yeah.

MC: Did you find it hard to adapt, coming out to Tucson?

AP: No not really, because we had come here several times to visit with our family. And by the time we came out here, we already had established friends and everything else, you see. ... So it was just a matter of coming out. Of course, when we first came here, we rented up in the Catalina Foothills. We rented for a while and then we purchased this town house. Yeah.

MC: What do you do with your free time?

AP: Free time?

MC: Yeah.

AP: What do I do with free time? I have free time now, you see. This is my free time, now. Well normally I do a lot of reading. I've been doing a lot of reading. And ...

MC: Do you travel at all, you and your wife?

AP: ... Not too much traveling. Talk about traveling. The last place we traveled to was Las Vegas. (laughter)

MC: How far is that from here? I was just there in May, but I came directly from New Jersey.

AP: I don't know how many miles it is. It's really a short distance, really. Took just about an hour and a half, the flight, or something like that. It's not very much. And ... Laughlin isn't too far. But I don't like Laughlin a whole lot. ... If you're gonna go for that ... particular purpose, Las Vegas is the place to go. We've been to Reno; I like Reno. I don't know where else we've been. Of course, we've traveled to see our daughter up in Minnesota. We were there Thanksgiving. And gone down to see my sister in Houston. ... I've traveled. But as far as going back East, that was at the reunion. And I hope, you know, I hope the good Lord's gonna keep me so I can make it to the 55[th] next year.

MC: Right. Well that is all the questions I have. Is there anything else you would like to add or things you think I left out?

AP: I don't know. I don't know how much I can remember anymore. I'll tell you, my memory is just not what it used to be. I'll tell you, even in my own particular field sometimes, I keep forgetting certain things. I'll watch a program on TV and think I know the answer. I'd watch something like Jeopardy, or something like that. And I say, "My God! I should ... know the answer to this, that and the other thing." But I don't remember anymore.

MC: It's sure to happen to most people.

AP: But ... I've got to keep my mind active. Because if I don't, I'm in trouble. I'm gonna keep it active until my last moment.

MC: Well, that's a good place to stop. 

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

Reviewed: 5/97 by Melanie Cooper

Reviewed: 10/6/97 by G. Kurt Piehler

Edited: 10/8/97 by Gloria Hesse

Reviewed: 10/16/97 by Aaron S. Polinsky

Entered: 10/22/97 by Melanie Cooper

Reviewed: 10/23/97 by G. Kurt Piehler