• Interviewee: Perlmutter, Philip A.
  • PDF Interview: perlmutter_philip.pdf
  • Date: March 24, 1999
  • Place: New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • Interviewers:
    • Tara Kraenzlin
    • Hadrian Mordecai
  • Transcript Production Team:
    • Hadrian Mordecai
    • Bojan Stefanovic
    • Philip A. Perlmutter
    • Sandra Stewart Holyoak
  • Recommended Citation: Perlmutter, Philip A. Oral History Interview, March 24, 1999, by Tara Kraenzlin and Hadrian Mordecai, Page #, Rutgers Oral History Archives. Online: Insert URL (Last Accessed: Insert Date).
  • Permission:

    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.


Tara Kraenzlin:  This begins an interview on March 24, 1999 with Philip Perlmutter, done by Tara Kraenzlin ...

Hadrian Mordecai:  and Hadrian Mordecai.

TK:  I would like to begin by asking you a few questions about your father.  Your father was born in Jersey City?

Philip Perlmutter:  Correct.

TK:  He became a dress manufacturer?

PP:  Yes.  Well, he did ... in the clothing line.  He also had a retail store.

TK:  Did he finish high school?

PP:  No.

TK:  Did he learn dress manufacturing before going to high school?

PP:  I really don't know.

TK:  While you were young, was this the business that your father was working in?

PP:  Yes.  He was working in New York.  I ... don't remember, but apparently, he was in that field.

TK:  Did your father have a store of his own?

PP:  No.  ... I think he was a dress salesman at that time.

TK:  Do you know where your mom was born?

PP:  ... The whole gang came from Jersey City, and ... her father was a builder and a carpenter.  ... [She had] two sisters and ... they all married Jersey City boys.  We lived in Jersey City until I was around eight or nine years old, then, we moved to Brooklyn.  ... I went to ... public school in Jersey City, and the one thing that I'll never forget was that there was a boys' orphan asylum across from ... the public school that I attended, and the one thing which I never forgot was, when we came from Easter vacation, Christmas vacation, we were happy and excited, and these little boys would come back, quiet, docile, and unhappy.

TK:  They had been there the whole time.

PP:  They were there, yes. 

TK:   What do you remember about grade school?  Do you remember liking to go to school?

PP:  Oh, yeah, I enjoyed it.  ... [I] had a nice time, a lot of friends. 

TK:  Did any teachers stick out from the rest?

PP:  Yes, in public school, Miss Murray.  She was a gym teacher, that should've been a Marine Sergeant. 

TK:  [laughs] She was good at the drills?

PP:  No.  ... It was very, very regimented.

TK:  Yeah.

PP:  ... You dared not do anything wrong.

TK:  So she kept you all in good shape?

PP:  Yes. 

TK:  When you moved out to Brooklyn, what do you remember of Jersey City at that time?  Do you remember its layout?

PP:   ... I know that we lived in a two family house and the police commissioner lived in the next house.  My mother would say, "If you're bad ... " [Laughter]

TK:  "He's gonna come get you."  Do you remember your move to Brooklyn as a big change in your life?

PP:  I think I was too young to do that, because it was a good school.  ... There was a lot of nice boys and girls, and we had a big play yard there.

TK:  What neighborhood did you live in?

PP:  This was in ... I don't recall, East 21st Street and Ocean Avenue.  I don't know what section that is.

TK:  Did you attend private school in Brooklyn?

PP:  No.  Then, ... after I graduated public school, I went to Erasmus Hall High School and I graduated in June of 1942, and then, we moved right back to Bergen County. 

TK:  Which subjects do you remember enjoying the most in high school?

PP:  Probably history.  ... The next month we moved to West Englewood, New Jersey, where my grandmother lived and my mother's sister.  ... That was around July, and I was attending  ... a technical school in New York City, and  I got a job at American Airlines at La Guardia Airport.  I had to leave the house at 5:30 in the morning, to get to work at 7:30.  [It] was quite a safari.  ... Then in December, I got a notice from the draft board, that they were going to draft me in January, and I enlisted in the Army Air Force.

TK:  A lot of people say that.

PP:  ... All of my friends didn't do that and they went in the infantry.

TK:  To back up a second, what do you remember hearing about the war in Europe while you were in high school?

PP:  ... I don't really recall that period of time.

TK:  Your parents did not talk about it at home?

PP:  ... I don't recall.  You know, that's a long time ago.

TK:  How about the attack on Pearl Harbor, which took place during your senior year of high school, do you remember where you were at that time?

PP:  No.  Very vague.

TK:  During your senior year of high school, do you remember having any realization that this might mean that you would be drafted, that you would go in the service?

PP:  No.  I never thought about it.

TK:  So for you it was like life as usual?

PP:  ...You know, a boy of seventeen, I don't think you have the maturity to understand what is going on. 

TK:  What were you doing at La Guardia?

PP:  I was an instrument technician, ... aircraft instruments, or what we call C-47s, the Army used them, too, DC-3s.  ... The first thing that they did, when they got me there was, I had to join their union, the Airline Mechanics Association, and you had to wear your button.  Very ...

TK:  How did you feel about joining the union?

PP:  ... I didn't have any choice.  If you wanted a job, you had to be a member of the union. 

TK:  Living out in Brooklyn, do you recall at all going to the World's Fair in 1939?

PP:  Yes.  My father took me to Ebbets Fields and [it] was an exciting time, at that.

TK:  Do you remember any of the exhibits? What was your impression of the Fair?

PP:  Well, ... I'm positive that I loved it, ... positive.

TK:  Did your whole family go to see the World Fair?

PP:   ... Yeah. 

TK:  Do you remember it causing quite a stir in New York at that time?

PP:  Vaguely, I just know everyone enjoyed it. 

TK:  So, for how long did you work at the airport?

PP:  Just a few months, and then, I enlisted in December, because I would've been drafted in January.

TK:  Did you have an interest in flying or was it just a means of avoiding the infantry?

PP:  Well, ... I guess I was interested in aviation.  I was working with airplanes ...

TK:  Had you thought about becoming a pilot before?

PP:  No.  ... That was not my concern. 

TK:  Where did you sign up?

PP  ... Newark.

TK:  At the Armory?

PP:  Well, I ... don't remember.  I just know they told, I must have signed some papers and they said report to the Newark train station at a specific time.  I think it was December the 16th, and there we were, a group of a hundred fellas.  They put us on a train and took us to Camp Dix, and then, I think they sent us out to New Mexico for basic training, Camp Luna, Las Vegas, New Mexico.  Now ... that's deceptive.  I think, "They're sending me to Las Vegas."

TK:  Right.  It's not like this at all?

PP:  It was ... .

TK:  All desert?

PP:  No.  It wasn't desert.  It was ... an area they just put up a military base in the middle of nowhere. 

TK:  Before going into the military, had you traveled much?

PP:  Just to New England.  ... My relative owned a children's camp and all the boy cousins were waiters there. 

TK:  In which state?

PP:  Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, and that got us away.  ... We took care of the children, and then, on weekends some of the parents would come up, and we worked for, you know, on the parents,  and you could go swimming. ... It was a rural area and it was very nice.

TK:  Where was that?

PP:  ... Near Bennington, Vermont.  Brattleboro, now wait a minute, Wilmington, Vermont, Wilmington, a little town.

TK:  What did you think of the Southwest, while you were there for the first time?

PP:  I didn't like it.  We were there, January and February is very cold and, you know, it was a new experience, and ... I wasn't particularly happy, you know. 

TK:  What was it that was tough, was it being in this new area, or was it being away from family? 

PP:  No.  It was, you are in the middle of nowhere, and the basic things, like if you had to go to the bathroom, it was two hundred yards, and if it's snowing out.

TK:  So, really there was no town around this space.

PP:  Nothing there, there was nothing there.  There were probably, many military bases like that.

TK:  Right.

PP:  They picked an area and ...

TK:  So, you really didn't get the chance to meet any people from the area?

PP:  No.  ... We never got off the base.  [There was]  no place to go.

TK:  What did you think about the people you met in training, from different parts of the country?

PP:  ... Well, we formed a little group and we stayed together for several years, and they came from all over the country.  The guy that talked the most, was a boy from Texas.  The only place in the world, a real pain in the neck. ... There were no blacks in our outfit.  It was all white.  ... From there, I think they sent us to California.  Yeah.  ... Well, we went to school in Long Beach, California at the Douglas Aircraft Company, and we went to school from four to midnight.  They had another class, that went from eight to four.  ... We lived about thirty miles from there and it took an hour and a half.  Now, I was out recently in California, and you can do it in twenty minutes now, because they have all the super highways.

TK:  You took local roads?

PP:  ... No, at that time, ... they had no superhighways.  It was just the old roads with millions, you know a lot of cars, trucks, and it just took a long time to go there, and on Saturday night we had ... dances in Venice, the midnight dances, ... you know.  There were a lot of girls working at the aircraft factories, and we would dance, let's see, we got home, one, two o'clock in the morning, and danced until six.  I looked forward to that. 

TK:  Were these USO dances?

PP:  I don't know what they were.  ... It was in a big hall. 

TK:  Were there local girls there?

PP:  ... I guess so. 

TK:  Did anyone ever meet up, start dating?

PP:   I really don't know.  Well, actually that was the only time we had off.  ... Shall we just say that it was a routine, a break for a few hours.

TK:  So, it was something you looked forward to?

PP:  The only time they didn't bother you, was on Sunday, and then, ... they had us running in, our hotel was right on the beach, and we had to run in the sand with our shoes on, which is, ... it's tough, you know, do your calisthenics.  Then you would have your lunch, and then, at two o'clock you got on the bus.  It must have take[n] two hours to get there and ... you left there at midnight, you got home at two o'clock in the morning.  Oh, one other thing, there were a lot of girls at the aircraft factory, and when, if they passed they would throw rivets at you. 

TK:  Was that a sign of good luck?

PP:  No.  ... They just wanted you to know that they were around. 

TK:  Women working in the factories?

PP:  Yeah.  There were a lot of them.

TK:  So where did you go from there?  You went to New Mexico, and then, to do training in California.

PP:  We went to the aircraft, the Douglas Aircraft [Headquarters], and we learned about the aircraft.  And we were specifically trained in dropping paratroopers and carrying gliders, which we never used.  Then they sent us to Florida, for I don't [know], some type of training I guess, and then, from there we went to New Orleans and got on a boat and went overseas. 

TK: What was your first destination from New Orleans?

PP:  Our first stop was Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where we assembled into a convoy, and we proceeded south, and eventually we landed in Natal, Brazil, which is at the bulge.

TK:  So you didn't actually get to see Cuba?

PP:  ... We also stopped in Trinidad, there on the ... road there.

TK:  Did you get to see any of the islands during your travels?

PP:  No, it ... you were in the port, we were not allowed off the boat in Guantanamo.  We used to have Marines, that would ... climb up and down the side of  ... the boat, practicing.  They would throw over special nets, and they would get on with full [gear].  They were practicing getting on and off boats.

TK:  Right, right.

PP:  ... Then ... in Trinidad, ... we were allowed to the outskirts of the seaport, but you couldn't go in further.  We had two fellas that took off for two days, and then, they were put on bread and water for a couple of days ...

TK:  So no one decided to follow them?

PP:  No.  It was ... stupid, all right.  You know a lot of stupid people. 

TK:  So you actually end up in Brazil.  Did you know the reason as to why you were there?

PP:  Well, this is very interesting.  In 1940 President Roosevelt knew that we were going to get involved, and he ... went to the head of Pan Am, which was (Juan Trique?), he says, "I want you to build some airbases down in South America and ... request the Brazilian government the permission for land."  ... Then ... there was a ... third thing that they needed, which was the Ascension Island.  I have a picture here.  The Ascension Island, this [is] Africa, this is South America, in the middle is the Ascension Island.  I don't know if you've ever heard of it.  You have heard of it?  You never heard of it?

HM:  Yes, I've heard of it.

PP:  You have heard of it, and you would fly from the United States down Puerto Rico, Trinidad, some bases in Brazil, the Ascension Island, then they flew to Dakar and over to the Far East, Burma, or north to England.  So, there were thousands of aircraft that came down this way, so it was a very important ... mission, to take care of it. It was primarily taking care of these airplanes. 

TK:  What was your actual duty within the crew?

PP:  An aircraft mechanic.

TK:  What kind of a relationship did you have with the people you were most familiar with?

PP:  Well, we got along as a ... group.  They were all fellas eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one years old, came from various parts of the country, and then, you had a couple of old sergeants at twenty-five, twenty-eight years old.  ... I remember we had a Captain (Zin?), who ... was in charge of us.  He was fair.  ... They had another section at the base, which I was at, that was near the Amazon River.  Belem is the mouth of the Amazon River.  ... What did we do?  ... I forgot what I was saying.  Well, anyway, ... they had our section, and then, for the crews that came in, they had another section that ... was primarily officers.  They didn't come over with crews, just a pilot and a co-pilot, and they ...  would arrive in the early afternoon, and they would take off the next morning.  They ... just had to feed them and ... give them a place to sleep. 

TK:  As a mechanic, did you stay mostly in one spot?

PP:  Well, in ... Belem, it was one spot, and then, they assigned me to the Ascension Island. 

TK:  How long were you on the Ascension Island?

PP:  Three months.  I wouldn't recommend it.

TK:  Tell us about it.

PP:  Well, I'll show you a picture of it.  ... [It] is owned by Great Britain

TK:  Ascension Island.

PP:   ... At that time, there were fourteen people on the ... island.  They were working for cable and wireless, because there was a cable that went to the Ascension Island to South America.  When we came in, the engineers built an airfield.  They did it in three months, and since the wind was always in one direction, they only had to put one runway up.  The big problem was water.  They had to distill the water, and it was very short, and ... you couldn't go swimming, because, the water would be at your feet and a minute later you'd be over your head.  It was unpredictable.  ... We slept in two man tents, and when it rained we'd get naked and take a bath, which wasn't too often.  Water, water was critical.  You [needed] ... drinking water.

TK:  Was your duty on the island the same as it was in Brazil?

PP:  Basically, yeah.

TK:  How well were you able to get to know these other fourteen guys?

PP:  I was in a different group then.  I was with a different group, and then, I was sent back ...

TK:  Were you relieved to get sent out of there?

PP:  Yeah.  Well, they ... didn't keep you there too long, because, it was very difficult, very difficult.  ... By then they had an instrument trailer sent down, and I was in charge of the instrument trailer, but they forgot one thing, they didn't send me any tools.  I made my own tools.  I still have them.  This is one of the things that happens.  They're so perfect, but they forget a major, major component.  It was air-conditioned.

TK:  But you didn't have any tools.

PP:  No.  I mean this was wonderful, ... but as I said, you did not have basic tools, so some of them I made.  It ... restricted me ... quite a bit, because, if you order something it could be six months before you get it. 

TK:  What did you think as far as the whole hierarchy of the Air Corp itself?  What were your relations with your commanding officer like?

PP:  Very, very separate and distinct.  He, I don't even remember seeing him very often.  He ... probably, was involved with the personnel that was, ... you know, coming from the other airfields.  ... Pan Am had one flight a day coming in.  They had one fellow that was very helpful, friendly, and ... that was about it.  ... Then we'd go into town occasionally, generally on ... I think Saturday night or something like that, and they had a casino there, and you could ... gamble at the roulette wheel for a quarter.  That's when I was introduced to gambling.

TK:   ... Right, and how much gambling could one afford to do on a military salary?

PP:  Well, ... to me it was just a little fun on a Saturday.  I'd lose three to four dollars and let it go at that.  The big gambling took place payday night, and it was ...cards and ... dice.  I didn't get involved in that.

TK:  Was it just amongst the different soldiers?

PP:  Yeah, that took place on the Ascension Island and ... there, and it ... you know, to me it was stupid, but a lot of these people, they went crazy.

TK:  Do you think the stress at the time had anything to do with it?

PP:  No, no.  There ... wasn't too much that you could do.  ... Gambling is something, it's like a disease.  Starts off, and  you build it up.  You have any questions, Hadrian?

HM:  Yes, I do.  I remember reading about a ritual associated with "crossing the line."

PP:  Yes, I'm going to get to that.  I'll get to that.

HM:  Did you have to go through any of that?

PP:  ... For hundreds of years, maybe thousands of years, it started with the Greeks and the Romans took over, and the Romans' god was King Neptune, and when you crossed the equator there was a ceremony with King Neptune and Queen (Aphrodite?), a man dressed as a woman, and they would dump you in the water, and it depended on what ship you were on, how roughly they ... treated you.  They turned the fire hoses on us, [laughter] and as you walk around, the guys would hit you with a strap.  You didn't forget it.

TK:  This happened the first time you traveled from Cuba to Trinidad?

PP:  This was when we crossed the equator from Trinidad, on the road to Natal.  ... As I say, we were in a convoy, and apparently near Trinidad, the convoy broke.  Some of them, I think, went to The Panama Canal, and we only had a Canadian Destroyer escort as a convoy.  Prior to that, it was a large group.  Oh, the other thing was when we were in Trinidad, there were three ships that were alongside of us, with big torpedo holes, huge.  The size of this room.  So we knew ...

TK:  That it was serious.

PP:  That it was dangerous.

TK:  Right...

PP:  I have more material on "crossing the line."

TK:  We can do that as we come to it.  What were your thoughts when you found out that you were going to this area of the world?  Were you relieved?

PP:  We didn't know.

TK:  You didn't know.

PP:  We didn't know where we were going.  We got on the boat and then, the one thing, we were on a boat that was forty or fifty years old, maybe eight or nine hundred fellas ...  six high.  Again, water was of crucial importance.  They had a guard at the water counter, and in the morning, when you got up, you got a helmet full of water.  We had our helmets, ... you brushed your teeth, washed you face, did what you can, and that was it, and then, you were allowed to drink water.  If you wanted to take a shower it was saltwater, and they gave us saltwater soap.  Now the, when it came to washing clothes, the simplest way I found, was to tie all your clothes in a knot and throw it over the side, and it would hit the side of the boat and it would get clean, and then you would let it dry. There wasn't very much that you could do, it was very hot in the ... hull of the ship.  In the daytime you could smoke cigarettes and practically all of us did, it was a nickel a pack,  ... but the minute it started getting dark, no cigarettes. 

TK:  Right, no lights.

PP:  Blackout. 

TK:  But you must have figured out at some point that you were going to be in Brazil for a while.

PP:  I had, we had no idea what was going on.  You've got to remember ... that you're here, and then, they move you far away.  We got to Natal, which is a big, which is a major airbase in that area.  We were there a day or two, and then, they flew us up to Belem.  ... Very hot there, and every day at three o'clock it rained, and then, you had the rainy season where it would rain for days.

TK:  Not just at three o'clock?

PP:  No, but I'm saying you could tell time by it.  ... The other thing, at night you cold see the Southern Cross in the sky, which is certain stars, which you can only see below the equator. 

TK:  Right.

PP:  How do you know that?

TK:  From other interviews.  While you were in Belem and other cities, did you ever have any contact with Brazilians?

PP:   ... Well, we had people that worked on the base, and then, when we ... when I went into town on Saturday, ... I picked up a little ... Portuguese.

TK:  Portuguese.

PP:  ... It was ... an old Portuguese town.  There was [a] certain area, there was no part of town where we couldn't go.  They had a whore house section, too. 

TK:  Yes, of course.

PP:  ... The funny thing was [that it was] enlisted men in the daytime, officers at night.  They didn't want us to mix.

TK     Oh, there was this protocol.

PP:  ...Yeah.  ... We had it in daytime, they had it at night.

TK:  Was going into town your only contact ...

PP:  ... I have always been interested in photography and ... I would take some pictures.  I would bring it into town.  I never ate in town, as I recall, because, the water and the things like that.  You can get sick there. 

TK:  Did you take pictures throughout the war?  Did you document them?

PP:  No, no ... most of them I lost.  ... I have a few of them but,  ... you know, over a period of time they get lost. Or the ... most of them were small pictures.

TK:  Right.

PP:  ... I had a cheap camera, so unless it was, you know what, in wartime you're not allowed to take pictures of a lot of things, so you have to ... take a picture of your friends or something like that.

TK:  So after coming back from the Ascension Island you went back to Belem again?

PP:  Right, then I got ... then in May, April and May prior to D-day, we were inundated with aircraft.  A couple hundred a day, and we started working eighteen hours a day.  At night we'd work in a hanger.  Now, the only light that we had was spotlights, and that attracted the bugs, and that's when I got malaria.  We were changing an engine on a B-17, and my first malaria attack, I'll never forget it.  You are, you wake up in the morning, and you don't feel well, and then, you are freezing like they have thrown you in a bath of ice cubes, and then, two minutes later, ... you're in an oven.  ... I had twenty malaria attacks over a period of time. 

TK:  Did you have to go to a hospital?

PP:  Then they finally sent me to Recife, which is below ... Natal.  A wonderful climate.  They had a hospital there. I was there, I think, three times, and then, they sent me back.

TK:  So each time they would decide that you were well and send you back?

PP:  No, no,  ... you would get cured, and then, you go back and it would occur again.  Malaria is a recurrent ... condition.  Then they sent me back to the United States.  I was in several hospitals.  I spent a year in different hospitals.  The last one was Atlantic City, and I've written about that.  ...  You, most people say, "You were lucky, you weren't in combat," but in the Tropics there's a lot of things that can happen to you. 

HM:  What were your experiences in the hospital like?

PP:  Yeah, well, you're very, very sick.  Very, very sick.  As I say, you're an ice cube or ... in an oven.

HM:  Were there a lot of other people there?

PP:  No.  Well, you're not concerned with that.  You're just laying there, you're very sick, and they gave you atabrine.  That was the drug that they used at that time.  ... You're pretty sick for a while, and then, they sent me, as I say, to Recife, and I'll never forget, I had to wear pajamas there all the time.  I have never worn, I only wear pajamas when I'm in the hospital.  I never wore pajamas, I would never wear them.  Recife is, ... as I say, a magnificent area, beautiful beaches, and things like that.  I understand they have a large ... area for fishing, and lobsters, and things like that...  We didn't eat any of that, because, we were at that hospital.  ...The hospital was not that crowded, maybe a dozen ... patients, and it ... was nice.  Good food, no complaints.

TK:  How pervasive was malaria in that area?

PP:  Very common.

TK:  Yeah, very common.

PP:  Well, you can get any type of condition in the tropics.

TK:  So it struck a lot of people on that base?

PP:  Well, the jungle is here, and this hanger that I'm talking about, was twenty yards away.  Now one of the things about the jungle, when you are flying over it, it doesn't look like anything, but if  you go into the jungle six feet, you can't see anything.  You can't see the sky, you can't see anything.  This is unbelievable, that the sun can't get to the ground but, everything is growing like crazy.  You can get lost in there very quickly.

TK:  Did you ever go any further inland?

PP:  No.  Well, I did flying with ... pilots around there.  ...  You know, they tell you, "You wanna take a ride?" Yeah.

TK:  How often did you get an opportunity to fly?

PP:  Oh, I flew quite a bit.  Just ... I'd ask them, or they would ask me.  So I've flown in ... B-17s, and ... A-20s, B-25s, C-47s, C-46s, and ...  that was fun.

TK:  How did it finally come to be that you would be sent back to the U.S.?

PP:  After my third trip to Recife, they decided that they better get me out of there.  They flew me back to Florida. I think it was Boca Raton.  I was in a hospital there.  I had lost a lot of weight.  ... My father came down to see me, and ... there I was, in my pajamas, my bathrobe.  It took a lot of time to get my health back  They sent me [to] several hospitals after that.

TK:  You came to New Orleans?  

PP:  No.  New Orleans we left from. 

TK:  So where did you came back from?

PP:  After about the third, they sent me to some place in Alabama, and some other place, and then, they sent me to a recuperation center in Atlantic City.  Now, I have here in this book, my experience in Atlantic City, and I tied it in with when I went to Atlantic City when as a kid and my children's experience, and what happened to Atlantic City when it became a gambling, casino, and then, an unusual thing happened.  Someone that I knew, his wife died, and left him a hundred thousand dollars, and he gambled it away, and I wrote about it.  Gambling is a disease.  They can't stop.

TK:  So when you went back to Atlantic City in more recent years you would see that ...

PP:  I didn't go back for thirty years.


TK:  Really?

PP:  It was too difficult.

[Tape Paused]

TK:  You didn't want to see that town again?

PP:  I'll read you this section.

TK:  So this time in Atlantic City was very trying for you.  When did you get out of the recuperation center?

PP:  Well, ... I think I was there a month or so, and then, they moved me to ... an airbase in Detroit, and then, a couple of months later, the war was over. 

TK:  After the war was over, did you leave the service immediately?

PP:  I was discharged in November.  I was in thirty-five months. 

TK:  Did you have any idea what you wanted to do after that?

PP:  No.  I was sick.  I was not well, and I wasn't sure what I wanted.

TK:  Where were you living at the time?

PP:  I was in West Englewood.  ... Finally they, I decided that I had to something, and I heard about Rutgers and ... I came down here and guess they accepted me.  And I stayed at a ... the college recommended a certain place for me to get a room, and my mother insisted that the lady give me breakfast every morning.  [laughter] ... You know, I was not well.  ... The first year I lived there, and then, I moved.  I think to a dorm. 

TK:  Which dorm did you live in?

PP:  God knows.

TK:  One of the Quads?  Pell?  Leupp?

PP:  I think it was Pell. 

TK:  What were your initial impressions when you came back to Rutgers?  Did you see a lot of other servicemen?

PP:  Yeah.  Well, one of the things was I became aquatinted with a fellow in West Englewood who had a Packard, and ...we would go home occasionally.  We had to go [on] Route 1 to Jersey City through Union City.  In other words, you had to make an "L".  Today you can ...

TK:  Go straight through.

PP:  Well, the New Jersey Turnpike, and I remember the gas was ten or twelve cents per gallon.  I used to pay for that.  And in summer, ... we had to go to summer school, I think one or two years to catch up.  I was not a good student.  The reason for that is if you're working with your hands, you're not using your mind, and now it's exactly opposite.  I did not have good study habits.  ... My grades in school were not that terrific.

TK:  So they recommended a summer course?

PP:  No.  We had to take it.  They had to take it.

TK:  What subjects did you have to take?  Was it basic writing and math?

PP:  Well, ... I took a business course, and whatever course we had to take at that time.  One of the courses I enjoyed the most was music.  Believe it or not.

TK:  Classical music?

PP:  Classical music.  ... I had not been exposed to that, which was very good.  ... No, I had friends here.  I was manager of the soccer team.

TK:  How did you get involved in soccer?

PP:  ... I knew one or two fellows on the soccer team, and they said that they needed a manager.  So, ... I think I have a picture of that. 

TK:  Uncle Phil is the coach?

PP:  No, here's the coach, I was the manager. 

TK:  ... Okay.  You just look so much older because you're dressed up, compared to everyone else.

PP:  ...Well, this is the Shellback Association, started when I met an Australian in Baltimore at a like a convention, photography convention.  ... We had members in seven countries.  We had them in the United States, Canada, England, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and the Netherlands.  ... These fellows would send me stories and I put [in] pictures?

TK:  How did you get the members?  How did you find out who had crossed?

PP:  ... I had, well the first one that we did, we put an ad for the Pearl Harbor boys.  I had a fellow that was the New York state chairman for the Pearl Harbor boys, and then, ... some of them were the Guadacanal submariners, and it spread.  ... I got fellows in Australia who got me fellows in New Zealand and South Africa.  ... Not, not many.  The cost of mailing them was too expensive.  My chairman was, ... my co-chairman was [a] fellow by the name of Billy Budd, and I have a letter that he sent me.  ... These fellas were in the service from 1939.  You know, we think we were hot stuff, [but] many of the Europeans, ... Canada, and Australia, New Zealand, they were in the Army, in the Navy six, seven years.  ... It's ... as far as the, how badly the Americans got hurt, compared with the rest of these, we got off very lightly.  Very lightly.

TK:  So for a while you were organizing a newsletter with other people's stories?

PP:  Right, and I have some of them here.

TK:  We'll submit those to your file.

PP:  Now what, I'll be very frank with you.  These stories will have you crying.  These stories are written by college graduates, who know how to write.  Professional writers, their personal experiences or events that they saw, so it's, it ... should come out.  Mine is not in their league, but it's, I thought the most important thing, [the] reason I came down is I wanted to give you this stuff here.  You want stories about World War II, I got them here.

TK:  Well, we're interested in the whole picture.  In your whole life. 

PP:  It's [the] experiences that I met, when I was chairman of the Westchester County group.

TK:  The Westchester County Veterans Association.

PP:  Yeah, Veterans Association, I made it a point to speak at every one of the veterans groups.  Do you know how many there are? Do you know how many there are?   

TK:  I don't.

PP:  Dozens.  You got the Purple Heart association, the Disabled Veterans, the VFW, the Marine Corp League, this that and the other thing.

TK:  So, the Veterans Association covers all of them.

PP:  All of them.  Yeah.  We had members in all of these groups, and the most important thing we accomplished, we got a nursing home, took us eight years.  We got twenty-five thousand signatures ... if you ...

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

PP:  ... A nursing home, for these older people, and they would not move an inch.  So, we got every veterans group to get signatures, twenty-five thousand.  Then they moved. 

HM:  How long did it actually take to get it through?

PP:  It took New York State eight months.  The federal government, it took eight years.  We just got the money.

TK:  Where is that?

PP:  That'll be near Ossining, New York.  It ... taught me that if you fight hard enough and ... the stories we got. Well, Albany needed more than we'd, (Elmira?) was [in] terrible shape, that was, you know, you're fifth on the list. I had given up that we would ever ... It's gonna [be] built next year. 

TK:  So the home will be run through the Veterans Administration?

PP:  Yeah, the Veterans Administration.  Yeah.  For six, it cost twenty-four million dollars.  ... Working with government agencies, they, they're so difficult.  They [have] got so many objections.  So many people have to approve it.  ... Then our group was dissolved, because, we had a fight with some of the people in the veterans group that ran the veterans organizations for the county.  They wanted to take over the group.  We had fist-fights ... in the meetings.

TK:  Oh, no.

PP:  Oh, yeah.  Unbelievable.

TK:  Which group?

PP:  This is the Westchester County Veterans Advisory Board.

TK:  What did they want?

PP:  The people that worked for the county, two men wanted to run.  They... sat down there, and I sat up here. Then they moved up here with me and ... they wanted to start, you can't do this and you can't do that, and it led to.

TK:  What position were they in the county government?

PP:  They were in charge of the veterans for the county.  These are political positions, you can't get them out, and it created a lot of problems.  One of the saddest things that happened when I was chairman, was we had fellas from Vietnam, Korea, World War II, and one of the fellows was a ...Vietnam veteran who had been wounded a few times, and he had a speech problem.  I think he was hit in the head, and ... [he] had four or five kids.  He killed himself.  Shot himself, and I went to his wake, and ... I ... wasn't myself for two or three days. 

TK:  So, in a way you carry a certain emotional burden to get all these people's stories out?

PP:  But beyond that, you see a guy at [a] meeting on Tuesday, and then, on Friday he kills himself.  ... It ... it's very difficult.  You know, you get close to these fellas.  When you read some of these stories that these fellas write ... one of them is (Afi Yam?), he didn't sleep for fifty years.  He had bad dreams.  I ... mentioned before that some of these guys will not talk about it, and I can see why they won't talk about it.  It's too difficult. 

TK:  Were you able to talk about your war experience?  Were you the kind of person who initially didn't want to talk about things?

PP:  No.  Well, I was not in a combat area.  So it ...

TK:  It was not difficult for you?

PP:  No.  It's not difficult for me at all, but, if you were with a group of twenty, and sixteen of them were killed, and you were wounded twice or maybe a prisoner ... it's, maybe you don't want to talk about it.  You don't want to talk about it.  As a matter-of- fact, the guy at a meeting that blows off the most, we disregard him.  The fellas that went through the worst, never talk about it.  This is the one thing that you have probably already observed.

TK:  We have noticed that.

PP:  That's why these stories will be very valuable to you.  ...What else?

TK:  What year did you start up this Shellback organization? 

PP:  This, ... Shellback group is about four or five years old.

TK:  Was it a spur of the moment thing?

PP:  I had been thinking about it, and I got help from people on the Intrepid, the aircraft carrier ...

TK:  You did a reenactment of sorts there.

PP:  Yeah, we had a, we had a reenactment ... about a year ago, two years ago of many fellas that were on troop ships, never went through the ceremony.  I got fellas seventy-five years old, we went through it.  ... My grandson turned the hose on them. 

TK:  So, describe a little bit what the ceremony actually includes.

PP:  Well, the ceremony is ... in the Navy, ... they don't tell them very much about, they don't know what's going to happen.  Suddenly they are told to appear on deck, and there is King Neptune dressed in ... with a beard and a ... some type of hat, with a cloak on, and one of the fellas dresses as Queen (Amerada?) or whatever her name is, and the others, and they bring you up on charges, being a pollywog.  That's the other name, and sometime they cut their hair off.  They make them run a circle, and the guys hit them with that.  Throw them in water, turn fire hoses on them, make them eat bread and water.  What they did with the ship's officers, they put them on bread and water for two days.  You know, the commander of the ship.  ... In submarines, they had services, it's ... very difficult to do it in that respect.  And this was in every nation that we had.

TK:  There was some similar ritual.

PP:  Yeah, it was a very similar.  ... I have pictures of it, but I didn't know if you wanted them.  ... It ... you never forget it.  Then they give you a card.

TK:  An ID card?

PP:  No.  You get a card, which is similar to the one.  This is what I'd give our members.  I'd give them this, and the ... other.  Let's see what else I have here. 

TK:  Did this card indicate that you were a member of this association?

PP:  No.  I don't have anything else.  No, that's about it.

TK:  What made you get involved with the veterans organization initially?  Did you always remain active?

PP:  No.  ... Actually, I think I was active after the war, some group for a year or two, and then, I dropped out of it, and then, one of my ... wife's friend's husband said, "Why don't you come down to an American Legion meeting, in Bronxville?" which is the next town.  ... I joined then, and about a year later they asked for volunteers to join the Westchester County Veterans Advisory Board and I went to a meeting and ... three years later I was elected chairman.  ... And then you ... as you meet more veterans and become more involved in different groups, and because of the Shellbacks, I got involved with the ... Guadacanal campaigners.  They made me an honorary member, and submarine groups, and the fellas in Australia, in New Zealand.  ... I had one fella that was an American, married a New Zealand girl, and went over there.  ... I attempted to get a convention going in Las Vegas, it never went off. 

TK:  Oh, really?

PP:  Yeah, because most of these fellas are eighty years old, and they are sick. 

TK:  They are far away?

PP:  No.  They ... in the United States, and ... it was interesting, the postage, South Africa and Holland, [and] the rest of these places. 

TK:  Maybe we can back track a little bit, back to Rutgers.  ... You decided to major in Business Administration, what made you choose that?

PP:  Right.  ... I was not that good in math, and ... many of the courses seemed to make sense to me.  So, as I went through it, and as the years went by, I became a better student.  My health had improved, and things started straightening out, and from there I went into the insurance business with my uncle who had an office in Jersey City, and I didn't do well with him.  He was not a teacher.  He ... was a wise guy.  "Hello, George," you know, that type of thing.  So after a couple of years I left him, and at ... every organization has good contacts, so Life Underwriters had meetings and baseball games, and I became acquainted with some people with the Monarch Life Insurance Company, health insurance, disability insurance.  This to me, interests me.

TK:  Right.

PP:  ... When we moved to New York, my ... sister graduated Syracuse, she was taking courses at Columbia.  We moved back to New York, to Manhattan, and ... now I had broken off with my uncle, and my mother was very angry about it, but I, we didn't get along, and I wrote this company and they, they hired me in the New York City office, and I had a wonderful trainer, Mr. (Lyndowp?), and it changed my life.  My earnings went up, I was happy. ... I was very successful with him, I was in an area where I did well.  He, you know, they told me what to do, and how to do it, and my own personality developed there.

HM:  Was this training within the company itself?  Did you get outside of the ...

PP:  No, his ... meetings, his instructions.  ... I'll put it in simple terms: suppose you had Byron Nelson teaching you golf, or Jack Nicklas, "Don't do this, do that."  You would be ... you would have a very good chance if you had the talents to become a good golfer.  ... The ... a very energetic sales group.  My best friends were in this.  They were all like I was, twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty years old, and ... our market was professional men: doctors, lawyers, dentists, veterinarians.  ... It was very exciting, very profitable, then I got married.

TK:  How did you meet your wife?

PP:  That's the other interesting story.  One of my clients was a dentist, who ... I would meet him about once a month and I'd take him to a restaurant in Greenwich Village, buy him lunch, and he would give me a couple of dentists to see, and then, he said ... "How's the girlfriend situation?"  I said, "It's all right."  So he gave me three or four names and two of them were airline hostesses, you know, they were a lot of fun, and six months later, I had injured my arm, I was going away to New England.  I called my wife up and we spoke for an hour and a half.  She had just come back from Mexico.  ... We made a date, and three months later I was engaged, and a few months later we got married.  Terrific girl.

TK:  So, a blind date of sorts?

PP:  Right, but I had her phone number for six months, and she was the first girl that I ever brought home for dinner. 

TK:  To meet your parents?

PP:  Yeah.  They don't do that anymore.

TK:  Oh, sure they do.  So, they knew that this was serious?

PP:  Oh, yeah.

TK:  Where did you eventually move after getting married?

PP:  She lived on Central Park West, and I lived on Riverside Drive, and we moved into the Bronx, and I moved to an apartment house up there.  ... Then we moved, we had our first child there, then we move to Mount Vernon. She had a job in Westchester, she's a French and Spanish teacher, and ... it was very convenient because there was a train into New York City just two blocks away, and then, we moved into New Rochelle, twenty-one years ago.  I bought a house.  A big house, it's a hundred years old. 

TK:  Have you been there ever since?

PP:  Yeah. 

TK:  Were you always working in the city at this time or did you move out to Westchester?

PP:  Well, ... the firm that I was with, Monarch Life, got into trouble.  They decided that you get out of your area and go into another area where there's a lot of money, and they got killed. 

TK:  They tried to be too big.

PP:  Well, they, they went into another business that they shouldn't have, and they loused up the company.  They were, the state took them over.  Then I had, then I did business with another life company, Mutual Benefit of New Jersey, and they were taken over by the state, the same thing, stupidity.  Then I went on my own and I start[ed] selling group insurance to counties.  I sold Westchester County, I sold Bergen County, group policies and ... you know, dental insurance.  I was the first dental, Delta Dental, salesman in New York.  That's what I sold in Westchester County.  ... I was a pretty good salesman.  I was ... I would write, I spoke before Bar Associations.  I was on the faculty at ... Fairleigh Dickinson Dental School.  I gave it to them the way it should have been given. You know, no bologna.  This is, this is it.

TK:  Straight forward.

PP:   ... This is unusual, you know, very unusual.

TK:  In that line of work?

PP:  No.  ... When people, I told it to them as it was, and ... they liked it, and ... I found that honesty was the big difference. 

TK:  Going back again to Rutgers, besides being the manager of the soccer team, were you interested in going to the football games?

PP:  Oh, yeah, we went to the football games, and ... I tried out for the lacrosse team.  I never made it.  ... I was on the squad, but I never played.  ... Funny thing, ... in Baltimore, the kids start playing lacrosse when they are five years old.  I went on the team trips, we played Princeton, and some of the others.  ... There was a comradeship with the fellas and these fellas here...

TK:  The soccer team.

PP:  It's a strange thing.  I don't know what happened to most of these fellas here.  He was a very, that's Coach George Docket, ... he was in the Physical Ed Department, and he ... was a very good coach, and ... we had some fellas that came from foreign countries.  You know soccer is not a game that is American, you know, it's ... played all over the world. 

TK:  Except here.

PP:  Well, some of these fellas probably played in high school, and now little girls are playing it at five years old. 

TK:  Yes, I played at five.

PP:  No.  ... I was very surprised.

TK:  It became very popular in the seventies. 

PP:  It still is.

TK:  Yeah.

PP:  It doesn't cost much money, you need a pair of shoes.

TK:  One ball for eleven people, or twenty-two people.

PP:  You know, what position did you play?

TK:  Fullback.

PP:  Oh.

TK:  I had to watch things out, it was not  the glory position.  Did you have any favorite professors, anyone who sticks out as being excellent at Rutgers?

PP:  ... I don't recall.

TK:  At that time you had both men coming back and studying on the GI Bill and guys coming straight out of high school, what do you remember about that?   

PP:  We had very few coming out, it was ninety percent World War II fellas.  It was an older group, in their twenties.

TK:  How would you describe the attitude amongst the guys that were back from the war? Was it just back to business and back to studying?

PP:  ... Some of them were very, the engineering students were the real hard workers.  A lot of the other fellas didn't work that hard.

TK:  The engineers will be happy that you said that.

PP:  No.  It was, well, they had probably tougher courses than we had and ...

TK:  Did you belong to a fraternity?

PP:  No.

TK:  What did you think of fraternity life and its role at Rutgers?

PP:  ... I was never excited about fraternity life.  To me, it was, you were in a corner.

TK:  Yeah, yeah. 

PP:  With your twenty or thirty guys.  That was not ... what I was interested in.

TK:  Did you mostly meet people through class or where you lived?

PP:  Through class and fellas that were in the dorm and the athletic teams.  Fellas that ... I knew a lot of people and ... it was pleasant. 

TK:  Did you have much contact with the women at NJC?

PP:  No.  I had very little.  ... It was mostly the fraternities that ...

TK:  That went over there.

PP:  ... Were over there 'cause they would have parties and dances. 

TK:  Right, mixers.

PP:   ... We did not.  ... But most of us, on weekends would go away, go home, or in the summer we would go down to the Jersey Shore. 

TK:  Where would you go?

PP:  I think we went to Long Branch.  One of those towns there, and ... we would rent a room some place, and go out on the beach.  It was nice.

TK:  I was going to ask you to describe a little more about New Brunswick, and what the city looked like at the time.

PP:  Well, that's one of the things I found fascinating.  I think I came to a couple of football games in the early sixties, and then, I did not come to New Brunswick again until 1988, 1999, 1989, for our fortieth, and we are having our fiftieth in May, and now that I'm back here, I don't recognize it.  I'm lost.  It's as if a city had grown up ...  

TK:  So, it was much smaller at the time?

PP:  It was ... fifteen hundred students, male, and then, the girls over on the other side.  Now, I understand you have fifty thousand students.

TK:  Yes, between the campuses.

PP:  ... You must have an awful lot of girls here.

TK:  I think it's almost equal now, half-and-half.

HM:  Yeah.

PP:  Cause I noticed at the restaurant there were a lot of girls in the ...

TK:  Where?

PP:   I ... ate in that little French restaurant, the bakery.

HM:  Au Bon Pain.

TK:  Yes.

PP:   ... All of them were eating a sandwich, and doing homework or reading. 


TK:  Yeah, it's the place to hang out. 

PP:  What is the Student Union like?

TK:  The Student Center you mean?

PP:  Yeah.  [tape paused]

HM: Were you proud to be at Rutgers?  There's a lot of tradition associated with Rutgers.

PP:  Yes, I was very proud to be a Rutgers man.

TK:  Did you learn all of the songs?

PP:  Oh, yeah, I knew them all.

TK:  So, going back for reunions is a big thing for you?

PP:  Well, the fortieth, now it was interesting for the fortieth.  We would sit around the table, and let's say there are eight people at the table, six of them had heart operations, I was so surprised, I was so surprised.  The ... It caught up with them, and ... but they all apparently, and then, a lot of the fellas died, but no one had a record of it.  We have no records of a lot of these fellas. 

TK:  Yeah, they try to keep track of people.

PP:  But, I don't think they've done a ...

TK:  Great job.

PP:  Now, my wife went to Columbia, ... she's active on their, several of their student boards.  They have a lot of them.  Boy, do they take in money ... and ... they keep a very, very accurate record of everybody.  Who died, who they married, we did not do that here.  They had more money to work with, that was the basic difference.  I know they could put ten people in there and five computers, [it] would probably take them ten years to do it here.  So a lot of these people ... that I would, I bought one of those thick books of the various members, the people that ... and there were a lot of fellas that I knew that never even filled out the form, so I assume they died.

TK:  It might just mean that they didn't get back.  So you went back and are you planning to go back this year for your fiftieth reunion?

PP:  Yeah, I'm on their committee. 

TK:  So your children were born in the early sixties? What did you think when they were about to graduate from high school?  Did you hope they'd go to Rutgers? 

PP:  No.

TK:  No.

PP:  ... I have two girls, and one of them went to Fordam, and one of them went to Iona.  Iona College is in New Rochelle and ... one of them, the older one, has two children, she lives in Stamford, she's married to an executive with Reuters.  That's a British firm and they work in Stamford.  The other one, the marriage didn't work out, and she went to California, and she's on TV, she's a TV announcer, and trying to get herself straightened out.  She had a bad accident in Greece, a year ago.  She fell on a piece of glass, it went right through her hand.  ... She didn't have full use of her hand.  ... We were active, my wife and I are both active in New Rochelle, the ... Council of the Arts, we just had the hundredth anniversary party, dressed like a hundred years ago, you have the girls in the dresses ...

TK:  In costume.

PP:  We're putting up a ... show about Harlem.  ... When we started this we had a lot of complaints that no money from the City of New Rochelle.  Now they are showering us with money because we're accomplishing things. Crazy, very crazy.  Five years ago, ten years ago, they wouldn't give you a dime, now, "How much do you need?" "Sure, we'll take care of it."  This is one of the strange things about it.  In ... New Rochelle you have a lot of beach clubs.  ...  Westchester is a pretty rich area, in case you [don't know].

TK:   No, I do know.

PP:  ... We have a lot of golf courses and beach clubs and things of that type, and you know, a lot of restaurants. And ... the average, you can't buy a home there in many of these communities unless you've got four hundred thousand dollars.  ... It's crazy.  Many of the people now are going out, and out, I mean, they'll spend half their life commuting.  They can't afford to get in close.  It's a bad situation. 

TK: One question that I passed over earlier was what, if anything, do you remember of how the Depression affected you father's work and times at home while growing up?

PP:  Well, I remember that when I was young ... I was an usher at a movie theater and the ... let's see, I think I was fifteen, so that would be what?  Thirty-nine, and they gave, the fellow in the apartment house we lived in gave me the jacket.  He ... the kids used to come on a Saturday for a movie and they gave them an ice cream cone, or an ice cream bar.  Let's see, what else did I do?  ... I used to stand in front of the A&P, and I would take people's packages home, with my bicycle.  We also had ... a little athletic group.  Baseball and football.  It was, ... everyone was very friendly.  We ... got along nicely.  Yeah, I like[d] athletics then.  I was a first baseman  for the, the Trojans.  That was the name of our little ...

TK:  In Brooklyn.

PP:  In Brooklyn, yeah.  ... That was about it.  My grandparents lived in Hackensack, and ... they had a hardware store, and then, they retired and they bought an old house and it burned down, and they had to go into another house,  and they both died in their nineties.  My mother died in her nineties, which is good.

TK:  Pretty excellent. 

PP:  And everybody says you've got the right ...

TK:  Genes.

PP:  Well, that's true because in ... many families, you pop off early.  They pop off early.  So, now the principle thing that we worry about is our health.  'Cause I was recently very sick.  I nearly died a couple of months ago.  [I] got sick in Europe.  I had pneumonia and blood diseases, and this like that and it makes you change your philosophy.  You try to be more useful, helpful.  ... I am very, very pleasant with all people now.  ... I wasn't always.  I ... hold myself, when you might say something to offend someone.  I don't. 

TK:  Well, that's one good thing.

PP:  No, but it's strange that something has to happen before you ...

TK:  Come to that realization.

PP:  Change.  Like if we were in a restaurant, ... someone would come over, "Would you care for more coffee?" "No!" ... Now I say "No, thank you."  ... No, I mean it's, ... shall we say "growing up."  At seventy-five, you're growing up.

TK:  Well, it's the best thing to do.  One thing we didn't touch on directly, when you came to Rutgers, how did you finance your education?

PP:  Well, I received a pension from the Army, and I think they took care of it.

TK:  Did you make use of any of your GI Bill benefits?

PP:  Well, ... that was it.

TK:  But, you get separate money for your disability?

PP:  I got an additional, yeah, from my malaria.  They gave me a certain amount of money.

TK:  Did you use the GI Bill to own a home?    

PP:  No.  No, the ... well, I wasn't married so it ...

TK:  Didn't apply to you at the time.

PP:  But, I've known fellas ... that did that.  I remember I was working in Massachusetts, and a government check came in for five hundred dollars, and I bought a car. 

TK:  What was your first car?

PP:  It was a Chevrolet. 

TK:  What year?

PP:  It must have been fifty or fifty-one. 

TK:  Brand new.

PP:  Yeah, I ... don't think it was very much money in those days.

TK:  When you first lived out of college, did you have a television initially?

PP:  Oh, yeah.  We had televisions. 

TK:  Did you have it at college?

PP:  No, at home.  We didn't, no, they didn't have it here.

TK:  What did you enjoy watching?

PP:  Oh, Groucho, Jack Benny, Bob Hope.  I like the top personalities at that time.  It's ... I think it was better then, than it is today, it's garbage.  It is.

TK:  You don't watch as much now?

PP:  Very rarely, it has to be something exceptional.

TK:  Would you listen to the radio a lot while growing up?

PP:  Oh, yeah.

TK:  And what was good there?

PP:  ... Well, I liked ... the music of the forties and I, I don't really recall.  I do remember that my father bought theWorld Telegram, it was three cents and the New York Times, a nickel.

TK:  Would you read all those as well?

PP:  ... That's one of the things that scares me.  I was looking through and old pile of letters the other day, and I mailed ... a letter to my wife in 1960 with a four-cent stamp.  Now [they're] thirty-two.

TK:  Yeah, thirty-three.


HM:  Thirty-three, it just went up a penny.

TK:  Yeah, only a month ago I think.

PP:  Well, that is ... you know, when we talk about what we earned in 1950, and I tell the girls, my daughters and friends, "You know in 1950 I made such and such."  My wife was a teacher I think she made 3,000 dollars  a year, and they say, "Come on, they start at thirty, thirty-five thousand now."  But it buys the same thing.

TK:  It all works out in the end.

PP:  Yeah.  But the ... we're not ahead of each other.  We're not ahead.  We're not so smart and , I'm not happy with the way the country is going.  I personally predict in the next ten years you're going to have ... major problems, economic problems.  You can buy a car and a house with no money down.  No money down.  You can buy furniture or a refrigerator [with] no money down, pay in six months.  They're charging you eighteen percent interest.  Most people don't reckon, well what happens when things tighten up?  You're not getting any overtime, or maybe you lose you job.  You gotta take one a little bit less, because this, we have a ... many of these executives running these big corporations will sell this division, get five hundred million dollars for it, and ... will pre-pay some of this, "So we'll let five thousand people go," and because it will increase the earning of the company, he gets a ten million dollar bonus.  This is what is happening right now.  This is what's happening right now, and then, power of unions, some of them have become very crooked.  It's unfortunate.  You have a union here?

TK:  The professors have a union.

PP:  A lot of these, the money drivels away.  Drivels away.  What subject do you teach here?

TK:  History.

PP:  Oh, you teach history.  Oh, okay.

TK:  Let me ask you, is there anything more you would like to say specifically about the organization you've started or about any of your involvement in veterans' organizations because that's something we're really interested in?  Any final thoughts?

PP:  Most of the veterans today spend very little time with it.  You got a hand full.  ... It's unfortunate, too.  We have great difficulty getting them out on Memorial Day, [and] other events.  We have all types of special events where we give them dinner, this, that, and the other thing, at no cost, they don't even come.  A lot of them are in poor health.  They're dying at the rate of a thousand a day.  This is World War II.  Now can I dwell on this?  From him that I honestly think should be presented to the world.

TK:  These stories from this neighbor of yours ...

PP:  Yeah, in other words, he wrote stories for me.  He would tell me about them.  I'd ask him to write it, then I would, we would polish it up ...

TK:  So you helped this neighbor who was the most decorated veteran?

PP:  No, no, he, he's now eighty years old, he's about ready to go.  His wife, if you were a prisoner of war you're entitled to burial at Arlington, his wife died about a year ago.  He, he is ... got just about everything you can get wrong.  Let's see, I have three stories that he has written, and then, I have one I, a fellow that was in the Pacific, he was in Normandy and that area, it's the story of Roger Young.  He was the man that won some major medal of honor, and he was there when it happened, and he wrote it up.  What actually happened to this man, I think it was on Guadacanal or one of those islands there.  No, this was in New Guinea,  and I have ... "Simulate submarine life" it's a joke.  "Replace the closet door with a curtain, sleep on the shelf of your closet.  Six hours after you go to sleep have your wife whip open the curtain, shine a flash light in you eyes"..."Sorry, wrong rack."  I mean this is this ...

TK:  Is there anything you would like to add about the war?  About your time at Rutgers?

PP:  No, just tell me about the hotels.

TK:  This concludes an interview with Philip Perlmutter on March the 24, 1999, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with Tara Kraenzlin and ...

HM:  Hadrian Mordecai.

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

Reviewed by Bojan Stefanovic 9/29/00

Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 10/1/00

Reviewed by Philip Perlmutter 2/11/08