Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Thomas W. Maclin on December 4, 2007, in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, with Shaun Illingworth. Thank you, Mr. Maclin, for having me here today. To begin, could you tell me where and when you were born?
Thomas W. Maclin: ... I was born on February 12, 1935, in Brooklyn, New York, in a hospital that I don't know exists anymore. I can't find it.
SI: What was the name of the hospital?
TM: [Carson] Peck Memorial. Of course, I don't remember any of that. I was a little bit too young.
SI: What were your parents' names?
TM: My mother's name was Evalyn Fermine Suits and my father's name was Russell Chevis Maclin.
SI: Starting with your father, can you tell me a little bit about his side of the family? Where was the family from?
TM: Actually, ... well, he never told me much about it, primarily because, apparently, he was on the outs with his older brother, who had passed on before I was born, just before I was born. So, I never really knew there was a brother and I didn't even realize that ... the brother had a son, and that son has had a son. Now, sadly enough, as I said, the brother died and the son has since passed away in the last two years. The grandson, who is my nephew [cousin], is alive, living on Prince Albert Island in Canada. His wife is Canadian and he had a stroke at an early age and was not yet eligible for Medicare. I did get him on Social Security disability, but he couldn't get any medical insurance, couldn't afford, you know, that by himself. So, he lives in Canada, because his wife, being Canadian, gets Canadian medical insurance and he is included, as her husband. He does come down to, I'll guess Maine, to the Veterans Administration, once in awhile, you know, but he's not sick enough to be in a VA hospital, but he does need some help. ... Those are the only two, and I knew very little about the family. It was almost like we existed in isolation. After my transplant, you'll hear about that later, but, after my transplant, I became interested in the family and I have actually found out where we came from. ... The family history really starts in Brunswick County, Virginia, in the late 1600s, and was primarily down there, and then, my father's grandfather moved toBrooklyn, for some reason. ... So, one little wing of the family was in Brooklyn. As I said, there's this cousin up in Canada, and there's some in Texas that I've discovered, and I'm in communication with periodically, and some in Tennessee, so that there are Maclins around, but I didn't know that as a child. In fact, I only discovered that long after my father passed away. ... As a comment on life in general, I think you'll find that, well, you being maybe an exception, most young folks aren't particularly interested in their family trees and all that sort of stuff, and it's when they get to be my age, and maybe the end is more in sight than it is at your age, that you become more interested in that sort of stuff. None of my kids are particularly interested. I do have one, maybe two sons, who are beginning to say, "Hey, Dad, I'd like to look at this stuff," you know, but, generally speaking, people aren't. So, I didn't know there were any Maclins, and, since my father didn't have anybody; his parents had passed away in the influenza epidemic ... right after the First World War. ... He was raised by a maiden aunt, who I don't know whether she particularly liked men or not, but she was always a maiden lady, schoolteacher in New York. I think, she'd actually retired by the time I was born, which shows you she was pretty old. ... So, my father went off to college, off to Rutgers, early, at the age of fifteen, and, as I said, we sort of existed [in isolation]. So, the family was more my mother's side. My mother, I don't know her history in great detail, but her grandparents came from the Central New York area. Beyond that, I haven't been able to find anything. I'll have to admit, I haven't pressed it all that hard, but I haven't been able to find anything, but my mother had a sister and two brothers and we all lived in the same town, at least early on.
SI: That was Baldwin.
TM: Baldwin, Long Island, which is a South Shore community. My father commuted to New York City every single day of his life, where he worked, and it was a nice, not rural town, a commuter town, you know, a bedroom community, for New York City, primarily. Not everybody worked there. There were people who worked locally and it was still a small town, you know, with a meat market and a vegetable store and a small supermarket and all that sort of stuff. All of that has since changed. Yes, it was a small town, with, you know, a local grade school. You walked to school. I walked to high school. It was not a very wide town, it was long and narrow, with two towns right on either side of it. I mean, there was no farmland in-between or anything else.
SI: Did your father ever talk about his early life? It seems remarkable to me that, given that background, he would, one, go to college and, two, pick Rutgers, in another state.
TM: ... He didn't live in Baldwin as a child. He lived in ...
SI: In Brooklyn.
TM: So, he was more of a city kid, and I don't remember which high school he went to. I probably could look it up. I think I have it, but he went to one of the better high schools in New York City. ... To be honest with you, he never told me why he went to Rutgers. ... We have found a couple of pictures of him at Rutgers. He was a DU [a Delta Upsilon fraternity member], and I don't know whether DU still has that house. The only thing he ever said about it was that they had, built into that house, when they built it, secret compartments in which to store booze during Prohibition. ... We only went there once, I think, ... before high school, other than the interview before getting into college myself, but, I mean, we only went there once and I'm not sure we went to the DU House.
SI: Do you remember why you went? Was it a football game?
TM: No, I think we just drove over to take a look at it. Maybe he was trying to get me somewhat interested; I'm not sure. My father was a very quiet guy. I mean, the discipline was provided by my mother. My father didn't have a really tough working environment. He caught the train at approximately eight o'clock in the morning, so, he didn't have to get up until six-thirty or seven, you know, and he was home by six o'clock at night. So, it wasn't one of these [routines of] jump on the Long Island Expressway and drive to work for three hours in each direction, you know, or come in from way down in Central New Jersey, as people do today and, you know, spend three or four hours commuting in each direction. He had a really easy commute and, ... at least the time that I remember, which is when I was old enough to remember things, more or less, he worked for Merrill Lynch, at the Merrill Lynch headquarters in downtown New York, and it was an easy commute, you know, jump off the train, take two subway stops and you're there.
SI: He was a broker.
TM: I would say he was probably more of a research analyst. He was never selling. He provided support to the salesmen. ... I remember a couple of stories. He, for example, discovered that the Navajo Indians had lots of money because the Federal Government was mining, I think, uranium off their property and paying, obviously, a commission, but, then, they were investing the money in federal funds and, while federal funds are very safe, they don't necessarily pay very much. ... My father went through the big rigmarole of getting the approval from two Senators and an Indian [Bureau of Indian Affairs] agent, and all this bureaucracy, to go out and actually, along with a salesman, went out and talked to the Indians. ... He said it was like going back in history, because it seemed like some of them had fought Custer. Of course, the Navajos didn't fight Custer, but it seemed like that. Some of them were really elderly, on the council, were really elderly gentlemen, but the council chief was a young, college-educated Indian, who understood what my father and the salesman were talking about, and, apparently, they got some business out of that. ... He also was involved with the Johns Hopkins trusts and all that sort of stuff. So, he tended to work for the [big trusts]; his interest was institutional sales marketing, you know, big trust funds, all that sort of stuff. ... He never really talked much about it. He didn't come home and, you know, [discuss it]. ...
SI: He was in the National Guard, also.
TM: He was in the National Guard prior to World War II and, actually, [was] made a sergeant major of the Seventh Regiment, New York National Guard, which is known as the "Silk Stocking Regiment." Their uniforms are the same as West Point's, and I have been told by some that West Point's are modeled on the Seventh Regiment's uniforms, not the other way around, which I had always assumed. ... In 1940, when they federalized the National Guard, he didn't pass the physical, [was] very upset about that. ... I mean, I've heard that, from my sister more, who talked with my mother more than I did, and that's where that came from, that he never said to us he was upset or anything else. ... I mean, I was only five. I probably didn't even know what was going on, you know, and then, in 1943, they tried to activate him under his 1927 ROTC commission from Rutgers, and that's when they discovered he had kidney problems. So, he didn't get in then, either, and so, he never actually served, but he was in the National Guard and had gotten to be sergeant major. I actually have two of his swords, presentation swords. ... My sister has told me that, in college, he was known as "Military Mac." He was very interested in the military, but, sadly enough, my father was not the kind of guy to sit around and tell stories, you know, or any of that sort of stuff. So, a lot of this is filling in blanks from talking with my sister, you know, and all that sort of stuff, and I never really sat down with him. It's too bad. I really would love to have sat down and said, "Hey, Dad, here's a lot of questions, and what do you know?"
SI: Did he join the Guard pretty soon after he graduated from Rutgers?
TM: No idea. He had to pay to belong. I mean, it was a club, in those days, and the National Guard Armory still exists in New York City. It's one of these big barn-y kind of things, you know. I don't know what unit drills there, I think a unit still does, but it's not the Seventh Regiment anymore. I mean, it's got some other name.
SI: Would he have to go to meetings often?
TM: Well, apparently, he went to meetings, you know. He had to actually pay to belong. I think it wasn't so much paying to participate in the drills and stuff like that, I think it was paying the bar bills, you know, because they all had bars and, you know, an enlisted men's club, if you will, etc. They were much more prevalent in the military [then]. In fact, they were prevalent up until maybe the last ten years. There are still clubs on the bases, but they're very inactive. The military frowns on people drinking nowadays, which is ridiculous. They just don't drink in the clubs; what they do is all drink at home. So, I mean, you know, they haven't stopped anybody from drinking. If you don't want to drink, that's fine; if you do want to drink, that's fine. It's not a good idea to get drunk, but, you know, the good old government shouldn't be legislating people's habits, you know. It's like Massachusetts recently wants to ban spanking of little kids, you know. [The] big question is, "How [are] you going to implement that, put cameras in every house, you know, wire the kids?" ... I mean, it gets ludicrous after awhile, when they try to [legislate behavior], you know, but that seems to be the way society's going. I'm not saying that's going to happen, but I'm just saying that society is much more, you know, [attuned to] setting rules about people doing this and, you know, "Don't eat too much salt," and all that sort of stuff you keep reading about in the papers. It's not good. ... So, I really don't know ... why he got in the National Guard; I just know that he was in. I know that he had a couple of swords and he had some books that were Army field manuals, you know, that kind of stuff, never saw him in his uniform, that I can remember, but, ... you know, he would have been in uniform prior to 1940, and, in 1940, I was all of four, I mean, you know.
SI: It is also unique that your mother was a college-educated woman.
TM: Well, she went to a normal school, as they called it.
SI: Still pretty rare.
SI: Is it now part of New York University, or was it then part of NYU?
TM: I don't know what it was then. No, she never talked about it much. ... She talked more about the fact that she was on the New York State Woman's Field Hockey [team]. You know, of course, in those days, the only sports that women played were, more or less, women's field hockey, and that's it, you know. ... She was on the New York State Women's Field Hockey team, and, apparently, in those days, whatever the number of players were, they were the players and nobody else got to be substituted, unless there was a major injury or something or other. She talked about how cold it was and all that sort of stuff. She was a small woman. I don't think she was ever more than five-foot-one or two, and I've got some pictures of her and my father was ... a solid six-footer, and, you know, she was this small, diminutive person, but, probably, on the field hockey, she was pretty darn good. She was a pretty athletic person. I mean, she was very spry, even up until the end.
SI: Do you know how they met?
TM: Nope. ... People didn't talk about those kinds of things. I know that they were married in Baldwin and the reception was in Oceanside, which is the town right next-door, but where they went on their honeymoon, I don't have any idea, you know.
SI: They did not work in the same area.
TM: Well, my father was a commuter to New York City, and, no, ... amazingly enough, when we cleaned out the house, after my mother passed away, my father died two years before my mother, when we cleaned out the house, my brother was living in Florida, my sister was living in Syracuse and I was living in Wilmington, Delaware. ... So, the house is on Long Island. So, we all came up for a weekend and we sort of cleaned out the house in one weekend flat, and so, I don't think we were very careful about it, in looking back. So, there were probably some things we just threw away when we shouldn't have thrown them away, because we didn't recognize the value. My brother took a lot of the furniture. Other furniture, we had sort of a yard sale and got rid of some of the furniture, at ridiculously stupid prices, and things like pictures and all that kind of stuff, we just sort of threw in a trunk and my sister took the trunk and it sort of disappeared, in a sense, that she had the trunk. ... She probably knew where it was, but she didn't do anything with it until, oh, ten to fifteen years ago, when she sent me a whole box with stuff and in it were a whole bunch of letters that my father had written to my mother, and then, letters that my mother had written to my father, but none of them, they never dated anything. "It's Wednesday," but they didn't say what month, what year, you know, what day, etc. So, it was very hard to figure them out and it was even harder to try to put them in some sort of sequence. ... The problem further was compounded by the fact that ... the letters from my father to my mother ... were in one year, apparently, because my mother worked at a girl's summer camp, as a camp counselor, I think as the head counselor, and the letters that she wrote to my father were in a different year. So, you couldn't match anything. They were all unrelated to each other and they were typical short notes, you know, "Today, ... the girls did this," or whatever, you know. ... They basically said how much they missed each other, but, ... without anything else, they're very hard to put in any sort of context. ... There were some pictures, and so, I'd have a couple of pictures of my father in uniform and a couple of pictures of my mother ... when she was much younger, you know, and dressed as a girl of the '20s, if you will, and all that sort of stuff. ... Sadly enough, there's not a lot to go around much of it, you know.
SI: Do you think they [the letters] were from before they were married?
TM: I think. ... Yes, I'm sure that the letters were from before they were married. So, they knew each other for a couple or three years, ... but how they met, I have no idea.
SI: When did they get married?
TM: Oh, I don't know the exact date, but ... I guess it was 1933 or '34. It was certainly before I was born. [laughter]
SI: You put 1933 on your pre-interview survey.
TM: Yes. I actually have all that, because ... I got interested in the family tree and, when I got interested, I started to reconstruct it and I used a thing called Family Tree Maker, which is a [software] tool designed to do all that sort of stuff for you. ... I actually got to the point of going to the town hall in Hempstead, New York, which is a big township in Long Island, which Baldwin is a part of, and that's where there were certain records of the family. ... So, I have my father's and mother's birth certificates and death certificates, and probably a copy of their marriage license and all that sort of stuff. So, I actually got that, but that still doesn't [tell the story]. I mean, they're just pieces of paper, if you know what I mean. ... My mother's family was much more extensive. Her last name was Suits and her father was Richard P. Suits, but he married a woman by the name of Rosetta Fermine Thomas and the Thomas Family was a big family with a lot of history in Baldwin. ... At one point in time, a couple of her uncles owned a good half of Baldwin and weren't very good money managers and lost some of it during the Depression and, other times, sold it off, probably for next to nothing, because they didn't recognize the worth of it, etc. So, the Thomas Family was a lot more extensive and, as I said, all of my life was more associated with my mother's side of the family, because it was my uncles who had, you know, the July Fourth party, the Memorial Day party, where everybody sat around and talked about this and that, you know. It was my uncle who had the polo ponies and all that sort of stuff. So, you know, my father was there, obviously, but, you know, he didn't have any family. ... My great-aunt, my Aunt Bess, who was the woman who had raised my father, came out to Baldwin maybe twice [a year?], and it usually had to do with her 1940 Ford, which she would bring out and my father would put it [away], store it for the winter, because she didn't use it in Brooklyn. She lived in Brooklyn. She didn't use it in Brooklyn. She used it in the summer to drive up to a summer cottage on Cape Ann, which is the cape north of Boston, where she had an oceanfront piece of property. I've been there, I used to summer there, I've been there, it still exists. She rented it for 125 dollars a season and they never raised the rent in forty-seven years. That's the wayMassachusetts people are and she passed away, oh, a long time ago, but, since she passed away, there's only been two other renters. So, in other words, [if] you rent it, you got it for as long you want. You have to tell them, "I'm not going to come back next year," you know. Otherwise, they assume you'll be back. People come up and stay the summer, you can wake up with the sun coming up out of the ocean, and a beautiful place. Anyway, so, that's what she used the car for. So, the only time she came out was to bring out the car, and we would take it over to an uncle's garage, who had plenty of room, and we'd put the car up on blocks, you know, and leave it for the winter. ... Then, she'd come back out in the spring and, come out on the train, my father'd pick her up, get the car, and she'd drive the car back into Brooklyn. ... Then, probably, within a couple of days, she would drive up toMassachusetts, ... because she went for, like, early May until late October. I mean, the place was unheated. It was a really summer place, unheated, it didn't have electricity, I mean, you know, it was kerosene lamps and all that sort of good stuff, but it was fine with her. ... She continued to go after she stopped renting the cottage, when she knew that she couldn't stay there alone, and she stayed with another woman, where it was a heated house and all that sort of stuff. So, yes, she drove back and forth in that car of hers probably for twenty-five years. ... When I finally bought the car from her, it had all of about twenty-five thousand miles on it. I mean, you know, it never went anywhere. So, she didn't come out for Christmas, she didn't come out for holidays, she probably sent her birthday card, but, you know, she was a true spinster and she liked her privacy, I guess. So, you know, that didn't help in trying to find out anything else about the family, you know. Everything has been reconstructed to a large degree. I found out that my great-aunt had a couple of brothers and sisters and all that and I know their names, but I don't know anything about them, you know. ... They came from New England, but, again, I don't know much about them. So, I know, day to day, I know much more about my mother's side of the family. ... My mother's brother, one of them, had two girls, my cousins, and one of them is out in Colorado now. We hardly ever see her, and then, my other cousin lives out on Long Island, no longer in Baldwin, but on the island, and she had two daughters and they've got a number of kids, but we don't see them very often. Going out to Long Island's a pain. I don't know ... where you're from. ...
SI: I am more from Central New Jersey.
TM: Yes, well, driving out on Long Island ...
SI: I can imagine it must be a long trip.
TM: Well, it's a long trip, but, more importantly, the traffic is atrocious. Traffic can really be bad now. I mean, I've seen traffic jams at three o'clock in the morning, when most people are in bed, but not in New York, you know. ... I mean, I still remember it enough that I know how to get around, but, you know, Long Island is a long, narrow island and you don't have many options. You have to go east-west to get, you know ...
TM: Yes, and so, we don't go back out there anymore, but that was my mother's side of the family, was the more important side of the family.
SI: First, your parents were married, in 1933, and then, they had your sister first.
TM: No, me.
SI: You were first.
TM: I'm the oldest.
SI: Can you tell me your siblings' names?
TM: Okay, ... I was born on February 12, 1935, and my sister was born approximately two years later, and it was Betsy and Tom and my parents. ... We lived in a house in Baldwin, up until about just before the war. ... We then rented the house and moved in with my grandparents, because they had rented this huge, big, old house, had about, I don't know, ten or twelve rooms at least. ... There were bedrooms for my grandparents and there was a bedroom for an aunt who was unmarried and an uncle who was unmarried, and then, my parents had a suite, which was two bedrooms and a bathroom in-between, and there were two living rooms and a study and a huge dining [room] and it was a great place. ... Of course, it had a spiral staircase going up the front, and then, there was a servant's back staircase. So, you know, the kids would just run up one set of stairs and down the other set of stairs. It was a great place. ... We were there for, probably, two, two-and-a-half years. We didn't stay all that long, because, during the war, it took a lot of oil to heat it and you couldn't get the oil. It was rationed, or it was hard to get, very expensive, I'm not sure what, but my grandparents decided to move to Jamaica, New York, which is part of New York City. An aunt went with us. So, the three of them moved to a very nice apartment inJamaica. My uncle got married and moved into his own apartment and my parents and I and my sister went back ... [to] the house that my parents had rented. We, you know, cancelled the lease, or whatever it is, and moved back into that house and along came my brother. So, my brother is eight years younger than me. ... It's almost a different generation, but there is a brother, too.
SI: He was born during the war.
TM: He was born in '43, yes, so, he was born during the war, and he was probably one of those babies that came along because you moved. I don't know, you know, a lot of kids seem to come along that way. ... You know, my sister lives in Sedona, Arizona, now, in a retirement area where it's nice and warm, and, in the summer, she lives right on Lake Ontario, you know, a little cottage right across the road from the lake, but only in the summer, because it's not heated and, you know, winters are pretty fierce up there. ... My brother now lives in Florida, well, continues to live in Florida, but, in the central Florida area, Del Ray Beach, and we see each other infrequently. I see my brother more than I see my sister, because we go to Florida in the wintertime. So, we make an effort to, obviously, see each other. I don't see my sister very often. It's a long drive to Lake Ontario and an even longer drive to go to old Sedona, and so, we just don't get together very often.
SI: Did your parents, or any other members of the family, ever talk about how the Depression affected either the family personally or, maybe, the town?
TM: Not really. ... The only thing I know about the Depression was that my father worked through most of it and that, on one occasion, and I don't know who he was working for, because he had a number of jobs during that period. Between the time he graduated from college and approximately 1945, when he finally went to work for Merrill Lynch, he had had a number of different jobs; he worked for Brooklyn Union Gas Company, a couple of brokerage firms, etc., New York Stock Exchange. He did say once that, right before Christmas, all the employees were called into the office and they were each given five hundred bucks. ... The guy said, "We're out of business, and I'm giving the money to you rather than my creditors. You need it more than they do," which I thought was a pretty nice gesture, and he may be able to survive on five hundred bucks for half a year or so, I don't know. Things were cheaper, as you probably know, in those days. Did we ever suffer during the Depression? no. We always had a roof over our heads. We always had food on the table. Yes, you heard things like, "Clean your plate," you know, and all that sort of stuff, but, again, during the Depression, I wasn't alive. Well, I was; I mean, I was born in the middle of the deeper second Depression, [the period following the 1937 Recession], but I don't remember much of that. So, my remembrance is about cleaning your plate and eating all your food, and [the experience with] limited foodstuffs was all more based on World War II than it is the Depression, but I don't think my parents had any problem. I know my mother said she wouldn't drink gin, because my grandfather'd made bathtub gin and ... she had gotten violently sick, ... but she enjoyed scotch, you know. ... So, I don't think they ever had a problem. I know that people, in those days, even during the war, you didn't go out to dinner very often and you didn't have people over for dinner. You might have had people over for dessert, but you didn't have people over for dinner, you know. So, was that caused by the Depression? probably. You know, people couldn't afford [it]; they could afford to feed themselves, but they couldn't necessarily afford to feed anybody else. ... They lived in the rural part of the [island]; ... Long Island then was still rural enough, especially one of my uncles had a big area where he ... had a stable for two horses and in back of that was a big plot and, during the war, my uncle farmed that. It was probably an acre or two, you know. So, they had a lot of food on the table, and we even had a garden. Now, the trouble was, the people next to us had a big backyard that was mainly trees. They had never really cleaned it out much. It was the original, and the problem with that was that my father's garden was pretty shady. So, we didn't have as good, anywhere near as good, a garden as my uncle did, but we still were able to grow beans and a few other things, you know, tomatoes, etc., rhubarb. So, I don't think we ever suffered from that point of view and, as far as I know, my father, except for that one short period of time, always had a job. So, you know, I don't have many recollections of it; I have no recollection of the Depression.
SI: Did your mother ever work outside of the home?
TM: Oh, yes. Probably some time in the '50s, she went to work for a guy who owned a jewelry store and she was sort of the clerk. ... In the beginning, she was, you know, not very knowledgeable, etc., but, by the end, she was both a clerk and a salesperson and was able to handle people [who would] come in and said, "My watch is broken. Can you get it fixed?" you know, and she knew what to do, and she could even change batteries in watches and stuff like that. I mean, she got to be pretty good at it. ... The nice thing about it was, it was very part-time. So, it was probably ten to two. You know, it was after the kids got off to school, before Russ had to come home from school, you know. I, by that time, was already in high school, but, you know, so, yes. ... It kept her busy and gave her a certain amount of extra income. I don't think we did it because of the need for money. I think she did it to keep busy.
SI: During the Depression or the war years, she did not do any outside work.
TM: Not that I know of.
SI: Were your parents involved in any community activities, like clubs?
TM: Yes, they were very [active]. ... It all revolved around the church. My father was in the church choir. Guess what? I was in the church choir, at least until my voice [changed]. I never learned how to read music or anything else, so, you know, I could be in the kids' choir because none of [us] had to read music and we just followed everybody else and we all sang along, if you know what I mean. My father could read music and had actually been a choir boy as a child, I understand, for some church in New York City. We were Episcopalians, and we had a pretty rich tradition of singing in the church. It was not a huge congregation, but there was always a small choir, and, after I was a choirboy, I became an acolyte, an altar boy, if you will, and did that. ... At one point in time, there were only two [of] us, two altar boys, and so, you know, you ended up having to do it every single Sunday. ... You'd hop on your bike and race over there for the eight o'clock service, ... which is the service I preferred, and so, that's what you did. My father would always sing at the eleven o'clock service, along with three or four other men and maybe eight ladies, or something like that. The church founded a group called the "Two-By-Two Club," which was their parents' organization. ... They apparently got together at least once a month and did something. In the church, somewhere in the, maybe the late ... '50s, early '60s, we built a new church right next to the other church. ... So, the old church, which was pretty small, became the church community center, you know, and it was fine for that. ... The "Two-By-Two Club" then sponsored a kids' club, if you will, a teens' kids' club, called the "One-By-One Club," and that's where I actually met my first high school sweetheart, if you will, a girl I went out with for four years in high school, on and off. We would have fights and stop going out with each other, ... and she is a woman I am still in contact with ... many years later. She lives out on the West Coast, but, I mean, we still talk once every six months or so, you know. Anyway, I often thought that, that somehow my parents had arranged for me to meet her, you know. They may have thought that she was a pretty nice kid, and she was, but, I mean, you know, she also had the right church and all that sort of good stuff.
SI: How diverse was the town? Was there a mix of Episcopalians and other religions?
TM: Yes, there was a large Catholic church, a big Catholic population. There was a Methodist church in town, traditional all-white, tall-steppled Methodist church, where I went to Boy Scouts, because they had a big hall in the back of the church. One of my uncles belonged to that church. We went to the Episcopal church. There was a synagogue in town and there was a Jewish population that lived up in one corner of the town that was a little bit more Jewish than the other areas. The town was primarily white; some people would tell you entirely white. Some people will tell you that they wouldn't rent or sell to blacks. Whether they did or not, whether that was an unwritten or official policy, I have no idea, but I certainly never saw any in high school. The town was primarily people who commuted to the city. I mean, if you went up to meet the 7:57 to New York, the train would come in empty, a thousand guys would get on and head off to the city, and the 8:02 would come in five minutes later and pick up another thousand guys who went into the city. So, we probably had, in a population of twenty-five thousand people, if there were ten thousand men working, probably eighty-five hundred went to the city. There were other people who worked in the local stores, because there were lots of different kinds of stores, you know, and there were some attorneys and dentists and doctors, and all that typical stuff that makes a town work, and there were a few people that worked at plants in the area. There was Grumman, [which] was big out there during the Second World War, and Republic was big out there. ... Grumman made all the Navy's fighters, and that's where they made them, in Grumman, out on Long Island. ... Republic [Aviation Corporation] made, I don't know what they made during the Second World War, and they continued in business for a long time after the war, too. So, there were people who worked at those plants, but, ... probably, less of them came from Baldwin than did from other towns, and the town closer to the city, which was Rockville Center, the next town towards the city, was more Jewish than Baldwin was, and I would say as white as Baldwin was. The town on the other side, Freeport, was more black. You had a pretty large black population, you know. We played each other in football and basketball and some high school sports, and other than that, nobody had much to do with anybody else. My parents' big, if you will, recreational activity is, they played bridge with a couple of couples, primarily one couple, at least one ... Friday or Saturday night, every single ... week of the year. ... They also played some bridge games with other groups, too, but they played with ... these two couples. They'd come over, ... they'd either go over to the (Hellreagles'?) house or the (Hellreagles?) would come over and they'd sit and play bridge. ... My father and my mother loved to play bridge and I loved to play it for awhile. I don't play it anymore, but I did for awhile. I played it in college, along with hearts, you know, but, I mean, I played it, too. ... I found out that I'm not the kind of guy that gets good cards. I always seemed to have mediocre cards. They're never bad, but they're never good. You know, you get one hand you can really make a nice bid [on] and you get two other hands that maybe you'll bid on, and then, everything else is ick, and so, you sit there for twenty-two hands, you know. My wife loves to play bridge. She plays bridge at least once a week, if not two or three times a week. So, that was their activity, you know, and I don't think people had big parties. I think, during the Second World War and during the Depression, I don't know about the Depression, but during the war, I don't think people had a lot of parties. As I said, on Sunday afternoons, we would, oftentimes, go to one uncle, or they would come over to our house, for coffee and cake. ... They'd all sit around and talk about how bad Franklin Delano Roosevelt was, you know, or ... which of them was more Republican than the other, if you know what I mean. ... They were always very staunch Republicans. ... One of my uncles was the deputy town clerk of the Town of Hempstead, and it doesn't sound like much of a job, until you realize that, even in those days, the Town of Hempstead had a million people, and so, it was ... a pretty big job. ... Of course, in those days, Nassau County was Republican and, to be the deputy town clerk, you had better be a pretty staunch Republican and, you know, political patronage is not something new. It's probably existed ever since there were politics. [laughter] ... So, you know, they did a few things like that. My uncle had a boat; one of my uncles had a boat. We went out on it periodically, you know. The other uncle still played polo on weekends, all the way through the war. I mean, they could always find enough hay for the horse, you know, and whatever else the horses got, and I had the typical childhood activities. I was a Cub Scout, then, I was a Boy Scout, and I had the opportunity, in 1950, to go out to Philmont, which was the huge Scout camp out West, which is the place to go, and it was. [Editor's Note: Philmont Scout Ranch is the largest Boy Scouts of America camp in the world, both in size and in number of participants.] I was away for thirty-five days, as a fourteen-year-older. ... The camp was, essentially, twenty-two days of camping. ... You can't afford to go to Philmont nowadays, for twenty-two days. A week costs you three or four hundred bucks, twenty-two days cost me sixty-two, you know, but, then, we spent a week or so getting out there and a week or so in getting back. We went to Pike's Peak, Niagara Falls, Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, went swimming in a river in Texas that the locals all thought was terrific and we all, especially all the kids from Long Island, sat there and sort of laughed and said, "This is swimming?" [laughter] It was mainly mud, you know. It was not what you and I would call swimming. So, you know, I had a good childhood, I thought, played a couple of sports. I wasn't very good at either of them, and probably was wasting my time, in a sense, looking back at it now.
SI: Which sports did you play?
TM: I played football and wrestled, was a better wrestler than I was a football player, and I probably shouldn't have played football and probably should have applied myself doing something more worthwhile. I think school came a little bit too easy for me. I didn't have to work at it very hard, you know, and, as a consequence, sometimes, got mediocre grades, because I didn't work at it hard enough, ... but I always got through and that was, maybe, hindsight being what it is, that was a waste, but, I mean, you know, at the time, it seemed fine.
SI: What did you think of the school system in Baldwin at the time you were going through grammar school, or even early high school?
TM: Well, I went to a little, eight-room schoolhouse, which had been built as the high school back in 1907. It was a very old building with eight classrooms and had eight teachers and a custodian who came in late in the afternoon and cleaned the place up, and it had a school principal. I don't know that she even had a secretary. Yes, towards the end, I think probably by sixth or seventh grade, there may have been a specialist who came in to talk to you about something or other, but, basically, it was your teacher and you. ... You never changed classes or did any of that sort of stuff. ... Still, you know, once a year, we would have hearing tests, where they'd bring in all these thingies, you hear little pings or numbers, or something or other, and all that sort of stuff, and we had eye tests and they covered all the basics. ... Basically, school was very simple. It was reading, writing, arithmetic, you know, and they'd pound it into you. I mean, you could do [worse]. I was pretty good at all the fundamentals and I learned to love to read and I still read and I read, probably; well, it depends on the book. Right now, I'm reading a book about the Italian Campaign in World War II, just a recent book, came out only in the last year, and so, it's pretty heavy reading and I'm working my way through it, but it's going to take me a week. Other times, if I'm reading novels, I'll go through two or three in a week, and I don't ever feel comfortable without books around, waiting to be read. ... By the way, the grade school is no longer there. They finally tore it down. They had added to it, probably after I had graduated, maybe even after my brother graduated, he went to the same school, as my sister did. Somewhere along the line, they added a gymnasium or a multi-purpose room, if you will, a gymnasium, auditorium, etc., etc., because we didn't have any of that sort of stuff. ... While there were some rooms in the basement, the biggest room was used as the wrestling room for the high school, because the high school was right across the courtyard. The high school is also gone, but it was a much more modern school. ... We changed classes. It had, probably, twenty-five classrooms, and you had a section in the school that was devoted to freshmen, and then, another section for the sophomores, juniors and the seniors. It had some wonderful teachers. We had a math teacher that was probably the best in the State of New York. So, I took calculus ... in high school, and we had woodshop and all that sort of good stuff, and, again, I didn't really apply myself very hard, because I didn't seem to need to, I mean. ... The thing I did most poorly in was languages, because I should have spent more time [studying], but my parents told me to take Latin, because it was a great foundation; what a waste. ... She was a very poor teacher. I should have taken a more practical language, Spanish or German, or something or other, but I took that, and, of course, I took the minimum. I didn't go on, because, you know, I think the minimum was two years of a foreign language, or whatever it was, and because it wasn't [spoken], you know, you couldn't see any use for why in the world are you ... learning Latin? ... I think if you're going to be a language major or going to be in the language arts area somewhere, maybe Latin is a good idea, but it isn't for somebody who just, you know, needs to know. So, you know, but I did well in sciences and I really enjoyed history. ... They would pass out the history book at the beginning of the semester or the beginning of the year and I'd have it read in two days, and then, I'd read it again about a week later and I'd have read it twice, which was twice more than most of the students read any of the books. ... So, I'd sit in the back of the room and sort of doze and all that sort of stuff. Teacher'd get mad, and then, give me a test and I'd get a hundred and, you know, and she'd get all mad and all that sort of stuff, ... which basically shows you, if I had applied myself, I could have really done well, but that's hindsight. You don't have hindsight when you're [young]; you know, it's too bad, but I enjoyed high school. It was a good high school. We had a pretty good football team, we had a pretty good reputation, we had a great wrestling team, the years I was there. ... So, I really enjoyed it and I enjoyed being a high school student. In those days, [the] drinking age was eighteen, and so, [on] Long Island, you could get away with [it at] fifteen. So, you know, you went to high school and drank. So, we could always go to the pizza parlor, you know, and have our pizzas, and my sons get absolutely amazed when I said, "Well, your choices of pizza were the tomato and cheese pie or a tomato and cheese pie or a tomato and cheese pie." You couldn't get anything on top of them, you know, but they were cooked in a brick oven and you had old Italian waiters who wore black pants and white shirts with garters and a white apron, and they'd come up and ask you what you wanted and you had a tablecloth, believe it or not. ... So, for a dollar and twenty cents, you could have two beers and a pizza, you know. Of course, a dollar-twenty was a lot, worth a lot more in those days, but, still, that's where we went, and then, there were, depending on the class year, ... always soda shops, for right after class, you know. One year, it was this place, and then, it was (Snooky's?), and then, it was the Pink Panther and some other place. It seemed like, you know, the freshmen couldn't get into this one, so, they'd start their own place and, of course, they'd continue to go there for the next four years and the next freshmen would go somewhere else, and they moved around town. Everybody would congregate there, maybe get a soda, maybe get a glass of water, and, of course, the jukebox would be going full blast and everybody'd be talking about this and talking about that, and all that sort of stuff. That was sort of fun, too. So, I enjoyed school.
SI: That was the early days of rock and roll.
TM: No, actually, rock and roll came in, I think, when I was in college. So, no, we were still a lot of Glenn Miller and, you know, that kind of stuff was still around.
SI: Big Band?
TM: Big Band, all that sort of stuff, yes.
SI: I want to step back to when you were younger, in the World War II period, and ask a couple of questions about how the war might have affected your family or the town. Before Pearl Harbor, was the war ever discussed in your household? Did you know about what was happening?
TM: Probably all the time, but I don't remember what they actually said. I'm sure, because, as I said, on these Sunday afternoon get-togethers, with all my parents' [siblings] around, they all had opinions. ... They were probably all pretty much pro-war, if anything, I would guess. Certainly, my father would have been, and I have a sneaking suspicion that they all tended to think that way, but I don't remember anything being said. ... During the war, there seemed to be very little impact. There seemed to be. There was no impact; well, let me go back. On December 8th, one of my uncles enlisted in the Army, based on Pearl Harbor. ... He was probably thirty-eight or thirty-nine years old, and the Army kept him for six months, and then, threw him out, [for] being too old. He was infuriated, and he basically complained that he could do more pushups, run faster, do more, and, knowing George, he probably could have. He was a very athletic [man], he was built the right way, you know, etc., etc., and he probably could have done better. ... By the Summer of '42, he was home and he worked in some industries that were defense related. He worked for some company that packed stuff in huge boxes to ship overseas, I mean big, you know, big like containers today. My father continued on in the financial world and my uncle, my other uncle, continued to work in the local government. So, from that point of view, nobody was affected. My father was an air raid warden, to the extent that we had any air raids, you know. Yes, we did have blackout shades, if I remember correctly, and he did walk around, and he had a big fire extinguisher in the basement and he had his white helmet and all that sort of stuff. ... I guess he went out and patrolled periodically, but I don't think that went on for very long, you know. There was one defense plant in the town and it was called a star shell plant and they actually made star shells, which were, basically, naval shells ... that, you know, would illuminate [a targeted area]. ... They were over on the other side of town and, you know, nobody talked much about them. The local newspaper, called The Baldwin Citizen, doesn't even exist anymore, never, well, may have, talked about it, I don't know. I don't remember.
SI: Do you remember seeing a lot of people disappearing from the town?
TM: No. Well, you know, everybody disappeared from town, because they all commuted to New York City. So, I mean, you know, I didn't see any. There was a big ... board put up, at least after the war. Whether it was put up during the war, I don't know, but it was put up after the war, which listed everybody who went off, and it had a couple of thousand men on it. So, a lot of guys went, but do I know anybody, did I know, did my parents say, "Gee, Charlie just got drafted?" no.
SI: What about the day of Pearl Harbor and getting that news? What do you remember about that?
TM: I don't remember anything.
SI: You were not in the same town, but near where the Grumman factory was.
TM: Oh, no, ... the Grumman plant was probably out in Bethpage, and so, it was a good twenty miles away.
SI: Okay. There would not have been people in your area that were, say, the workers for those plants moving in. Did you notice people moving into the area?
TM: No, no, ... not that I know of, and I don't think there was anything built right around us. ... For one thing,Baldwin was pretty grown up, except for the very southern part of the town. The big expansion in Baldwin that occurred, after the war, was in the southern part of the town, where, essentially, they got away with going out and taking these wetlands, [like those] that you crossed over coming in here, they went out and put in canals, and then, piled up dirt on top of the wetlands and built communities that had [the appeal of], "Oh, you've got your own canal." You couldn't even get anywhere near doing that today. That's all against the law, but they did it. So, that's where the expansion took place. The regular part of the town was pretty well [developed]. I'm not saying there weren't lots available, that people didn't live on a piece of property that could even have been subdivided, but, essentially, no, there wasn't any place to expand. If you went north three or four miles, well, maybe a little bit more than that, maybe, let's say, five miles, you got to Mitchell Air Force Base. [Editor's Note: Mitchell Air Force Base is located on the Hempstead Plains of Long Island, New York.] That was a ... big Army Air Force installation during World War II, and around that, after the war, you could go by and see all these barracks, wooden barracks, that had been built. They were interesting, because they're roofs, it was like, "Gee, we didn't have enough of the gray asphalt shingles that go on the roof, so, we did some gray here and some dark red here and some green there." Well, it turns out they were really for camouflage, supposedly. I don't know that it would have worked, ... and so, that was where you saw the impact of the war, in the way of buildings. To be very honest with you, I don't know whether Grumman; it certainly wasn't like the PBS series The War, [Ken Burns' 2007 documentary on World War II The War], where they showed the huge expansion in Mobile, Alabama, where some guy was hiring, [originally] had 150 workers and it went to fourteen thousand. None of that occurred inBaldwin, and I'm not even sure how much of that occurred at Grumman. I'm sure some must have.
SI: Were GIs coming into the town at that point?
TM: No. There were no military bases anywhere near us.
SI: Not even Mitchell?
TM: Well, no. I don't think they would come into Baldwin.
SI: No USO or anything like that?
TM: No, no, none of them, none of ... that kind of stuff went on. We were far enough away that the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which was a big activity during the war, [and] all the other military facilities around New York, were just too far away, you know. The troops that were loaded and taken overseas all went out of bases in New Jersey, as opposed to Long Island, with the exception of Brooklyn Army Terminal, ... but that was way in Brooklyn and that was right near the piers. So, you know, other than that, on Long Island, there are a couple of forts, you know, which were probably manned, and I do know that in a certain section of the city, I think the Coast Guard had a big training facility there, but, you know, nothing anywhere near us, nothing that I, as a kid, would have seen and said, "Oh, wow," you know, none of that.
SI: Do you remember any changes in children's culture, in going to the movies or toys, that they became more war-related?
TM: I remember that we played guns a lot more, but kids played guns in those days anyway, and one of the kids had a machine gun, I mean, a semi-automatic; well, it was a machine gun. It wasn't a Thompson, but it was one of those clip-fed [guns], not a real one. It was made out of wood, ... and it was beautiful, really was very realistic, and he used to love to run around with that. ... I actually had an old First World War [Lee] Enfield rifle, you know, without the firing pin, that I used to play with, but, you know, we would dig a foxhole, but, ... you know, I don't remember seeing, I hardly ever remember seeing a soldier, to be honest with you. It certainly was not a town where there were a lot of taverns or anything else, you know. ... There were a few taverns in town, but there weren't that many, and so, it wasn't a place that soldiers were going to come when they went on leave or liberty, you know. It wasn't near the water, where any ships would pull in. So, you didn't have that kind of crowd, and I'm sure that soldiers that came home, even though the requirement during the war is they weren't supposed to wear civilian clothes, I'm sure they put on civilian clothes to hang around at home, if they came home on leave, and I don't know how many guys got leave, to be honest with you.
SI: During the war, did you feel afraid, because you were following the events of the war in the news, or was the war just something distant?
TM: Distant. The only ... way you got the news was through the radio, and we did have a radio. We didn't have a TV set until I was sixteen or seventeen. We were late in getting a TV set, and my father would, every morning, when he would go into the city, ... buy the Herald Tribune and read the Herald Tribune on the way in. It had a great financial section, which is what he was partly interested in, but he was well-informed. ... He might bring home the financial page, you know, the stock market listings, but, other than that, he didn't bring that paper home, but, on the way home, he would buy the World Telegram or one of the evening papers and bring that home. So, I always got it, and I was a paperboy during the war, and so, I would bring home the Nassau Daily Review-Star, or whatever it was called, and I probably remember reading the headlines and I remember pouring through Lifemagazines, because Life magazine was still a big deal in those days, and we kept them. That was one of the things we got rid of when we closed up the house, after my mother passed away. I mean, upstairs, in the attic, there were probably fifty Life magazines, and I can remember reading about them. So, I was probably very well-informed about the war. I just don't remember it. Now, let me give you a fact that maybe explains part of this. I had a liver transplant in 1998. Before ... I had the liver transplant, I was a pretty sick puppy for six months and, because the liver was not functioning correctly, I had a build up of ammonia in my body, and ammonia does not do well with your brain. ... So, I forgot a lot of stuff and I did some things, in a sense; I mean, I used to drive, believe it or not, before my transplant, up until the end of 1996, and I had the transplant in early 1998, I used to drive every single week from Stone Harbor, New Jersey, to Arlington, Virginia, because I was working as a consultant down there. ... I was driving back and forth, and, apparently, on the highway, I weaved like this all the time, you know, and I had some other things. I discovered that I would get very sleepy, and the reason I only worked through the end of '96 was because my boss said, "You fall asleep in meetings," and I basically said, "They're government meetings. That's what you're supposed to do," I mean, and she would say, "I know, but you're embarrassing my company and me," and I said, "Well, what about all the rest of the work they do?" She says, "It's the best, but I'm going to let you go." Well, I got very upset at the time, but I couldn't have worked six more months, and so, consequently, some of what I remember about things like World War II and all that sort of stuff, they may be affected by the fact that I had this build up of ammonia. I don't know. ... Anyway, so, that may affect some of my remembrances, but I do remember my father bringing the paper home. I don't remember particularly my sitting down and avidly reading it, and my father's and my mother's ritual, when he came home, is, he would walk in the door and they would sort of stand around the kitchen while she was preparing dinner and review the events of the day. Now, whether they talked about what went on in Merrill Lynch or whether Tommy was good, bad or indifferent, or my sister, or whatever, I don't really remember, but they always went through that. In fact, that continued practically until he retired, and he retired the year before he died, and actually tried to go back to work. He went on sort of a medical leave, and they would stand around, and, in the beginning, maybe they'd just stand around, and then, after he had a heart attack, in '47, they would drink wine, and he used to buy wine in the gallon jugs, you know, he'd buy, not cheap wine, but buy the port or sherry, you know, sweet. You didn't have to refrigerate it, but, as they got wealthier and his salary went up and all that sort of stuff, you could notice that they stopped drinking wine and started to drink Manhattans and martinis, etc., but they would always stand around and they would talk about the events of the day. Now, whether the events of the day talked about [were] what the current President was doing or what the war was doing, I don't know, but they certainly did that. So, they went through the ritual and they had the opportunity. What they talked about, I don't remember.
SI: What about scrap drives?
TM: Well, as a Boy Scout, we collected newspapers, you know. I'm sure there were scrap drives. I can seem to remember that my mother would save grease and all that sort of good stuff, you know. ... They were important, but they weren't vital. They were done, very shrewdly, by the government to get people to recognize that we were in a war. That's more of the reason. I mean, they rationed gasoline, but not because we had a shortage of gasoline, they rationed gasoline because we couldn't get rubber, and DuPont hadn't yet invented synthetic rubber. I mean, they were getting close, but they weren't there yet, and, until they did, which was probably '43, you know, ... we had a big problem. We didn't have enough rubber to go around, and what rubber there was was all held by the Japanese, you know. So, yes, there were things done, that I'm sure my parents participated like everybody else did. I certainly participated in collecting papers and I know we had an old barn over in a section of town that, boy, we had piles. All the troops ... would bring their papers down there. So, there was this big pile of papers over here that belonged to Troop 127, another troop would have their big pile, because the guys who picked it up to be processed didn't want to come and pick up a hundred pounds. They wanted to pick up twenty tons, you know, and so, they would say, "Save it and save it and save it," and then, suddenly, they'd all come by and the warehouse would go from full to empty and we'd start again. So, yes, we collected papers, and maybe collected some other stuff; I don't really remember.
SI: Did you buy war stamps and save them in a book?
TM: Oh, yes, we did that, yes, take your dime into ... school and whatever it was. Yes, we did some of that.
SI: Did the school suffer from shortages because of the war?
TM: No. We were so basic that we didn't have anything, I mean, you know, ... it wasn't that, suddenly, the gym teacher went off and gym was cancelled. It wasn't that you couldn't do this; ... we didn't have that to start with, I mean, you know.
SI: I guess you would not travel for sports.
TM: Well, I was still in grade school. See, I didn't start playing in sports, where we traveled to play another team, until the last three years of school, and that was '50 to '53. Okay, by that time, all the shortages were well over. So, I don't remember that.
SI: What do you remember about the end of the war, either V-E Day or V-J Day?
TM: Don't remember anything, which sometimes interests me, because ... I'm sure that everybody thought it was great, but, I mean, I'm not sure, certainly Baldwin didn't have a big celebration that I know about, that I remember, but maybe they did.
SI: You entered high school in 1950.
TM: Well, '49, really, graduated in '53.
SI: Did you take any time off between high school and going to Rutgers?
TM: Nope. I graduated in June of '53, from Baldwin High School, and went off to Rutgers in September of '53. ... I was actually Class of '57 for a long time.
SI: Okay. Does anything stand out about the Korean War period? Was it something that was discussed a lot in your high school? At that age, did you know people who might have been involved?
TM: ... No. I didn't know any more people involved and I didn't know anybody who even got drafted to go into the Korean War. ... A couple of my guys that I hung around with in high school got drafted, probably during the Korean War, but neither of them went anywhere. In fact, one of them, at least one of them, was declared 4-F [not qualified for military service]. The other guy went into the Army, but I don't think he went anywhere, and a couple of other guys that I knew went into the military, but ... I don't know of anybody that actually went to Korea. I knew a few people who went into the service and either were lucky enough to stay in the States or went toGermany, or wherever they went, but they certainly didn't go to Korea. When I went off to Rutgers, in September of '53, the big influx of Second World War vets had already passed through and were pretty much gone, and so, the fraternity was a bunch of young guys. We had one guy who came back. He had been in school, probably in the earlier '50s and had basically been spending more time in drinking and sleeping than he had doing his studies. ... He suddenly woke up one morning and said, "I'd better do something about this or I'm going to get thrown out," and he always told the story that he went over and said to the Dean of Students, "I'm leaving school," and the Dean said, "Good, because we were going to throw you out anyway," but he had completed two years, and so, he was able to go into the Air Force. ... He became a pilot, fighter pilot, and I don't know that he went to Korea, but he certainly came back a much more mature individual, and he was smart enough, when he came back, to stay in the Air National Guard, and so, here he is, going to college, he's doing well with his studies, because he's grown up, but, more importantly, he's doing well financially, because he was flying one weekend a month, you know. ... As a matter-of-fact, often times, guys who fly can fly just about any time they want. If they can get a plane, you know, the Air Force will almost always let them come in and fly, and so, he was making quite a bit of bucks and he was, you know, doing something that kept him interested, etc., etc. He was the only guy that I remember that came back like that, one. I don't know why we didn't have more, but we did have one guy who came back from the Korean War, ... you know, but we didn't have anybody, I don't think we had anybody, ... in my fraternity that was drafted out of college, you know, that wasn't able to get some sort of exemption. We all had exemptions, because we were going to school or whatever. ... The big question we all had was, when we graduated from high school, pardon me, from college, "What were we going to do?" So, I don't think that it was ever talked about, that I can remember, during my five years at Rutgers, about, "Gee, what are we going to do? We're going to be drafted." ... The Korean War was going on, but it didn't seem to impact my fraternity or school life very much. The impact was, a lot more guys got into ROTC and more, probably, decided that they would try to stay in for the second two years, you know. The first two years, in those days, were mandatory. So, I was in the Air Force ROTC program, and then, in the second year, you take a test, to see if you have the aptitude, it's an aptitude test, as opposed to a knowledge test, to see if you have the aptitude to become an Air Force pilot, and that's what they were screening for, pilots. They weren't screening for anything else, because everybody who didn't make it, ... everybody who went into pilot training and didn't make it, could fill the ranks of all the supply [officers] and whatever else they needed, you know. So, I didn't pass that test, so, I wasn't eligible, and I hadn't been in Army ROTC, so, I basically didn't do any ROTC for the second two years. So, now, it's my senior year and, suddenly, everybody's sitting around, facing the big decision, "Am I just going to get drafted? Am I going to be 4-F? Am I getting married tomorrow or so, so [that] I can have a deferment for being married? Is my skill critical, so [that] I'm deferred for that reason, or do I have to find some other opportunity?" So, in my case, I wasn't going to get married, I didn't have a deferment, I didn't have ... any of these other things. So, I started looking at the services and I applied to both Navy and the Coast Guard and got accepted by both, for their OCS programs, and so, another roommate from college and myself decided to go in the Coast Guard, and that was primarily to avoid going in the Army. You know, the Army in those days was not the Army of today. You have to understand that. You talk to guys who were in the Army, if they didn't go to Korea, and, in those days, nobody was talking about Vietnam yet, if you didn't go to Korea, you might be lucky enough to go to Germany, but a lot of times, you just sort of stayed home and you spent all your time picking up cigarette butts and painting rocks white and doing that crap. You didn't train. The government didn't spend a lot of time training draftees. I don't think they had the facilities and they didn't understand that a really well-trained military guy is of benefit to both the government and to themselves, because they'll probably stay ... safe, if you know what I mean. They didn't do a lot of that and, if you read a lot about the Second World War, we sent off guys with minimal training, you know. They learned ... the ability to fight Germans and Japs on the job, not through great training back in the United States. So, anyway, I chose to go in the Coast Guard.
SI: Before we get into your military career, can we step back?
SI: I have some questions about high school and Rutgers.
SI: When you were in high school, what plans did you have for the future? Did you see yourself going on to college?
TM: Yes. I would say that most of the students at Baldwin High School, their parents were what you and I would call "white-collar workers." They worked in the city, most of them. They worked in the Wall Street, the financial, advertising, publishing [fields], you [name] it, but it was in New York City, and so, they were all commuters who would jump on the 7:57 ... every morning, or whatever, and they would commute to New York City, go uptown, downtown, wherever, and work. I didn't know anybody who was in warehousing or pier operations or any of that kind of stuff; you didn't even hear your parents talk about that kind of stuff. They were all white-collar workers. So, as a consequence, you tended to think of yourself, I think, more in that line, and I had always thought that I might want to be a civil engineer. I don't know why I got to that conclusion, because I'd never really thought much about it, but I always thought that I would be an engineer, and so, the courses I took in high school were college prep courses. I took, well, ... English was pretty standardized, as was the history, social studies that they called it then, were all pretty standardized, and you took four years of each of them, and then, you had to take a language for two years, if I remember correctly, and then, you had to take so much science, and so, of course, since I was going off to college, I took whatever ninth grade science was and I took biology, and then, I took chemistry, and then, I took physics. You had to take a woodshop and a metal shop course. I think they were each six months. You had gymnasium, gym, periodically, and then, you had to take so much math, and I took the full load of math. I probably took, in some years, two math courses. Because we had such a wonderful teacher, we just roared through those math courses, you know. I took all the math I could get, all the math that was offered, and I took drafting and a few other elective courses that you could add in, and my summer jobs [were], out on Long Island, there's a big state park called Jones Beach. It's a huge facility, twelve miles of beach. It's on, more or less, a barrier island, a little bit like this island, except nobody, well, at least where the beach is, where the state park is, nobody lives there. If you go on, there are a couple of small communities, but they're real summer communities. There's no stores or any of that kind of stuff, and that's where I worked for many of my summers, but I worked at night. I worked in the ballpark. I cleaned the ballpark and I shagged balls and did all that sort of stuff, and so, my parents basically said, "Well, you know, that's fine, you know, that's a good job, etc., but you are not going to lie around the house all day long, doing nothing." So, I went to summer school every year and I took driver's training and two or three other courses that interested me. So, I graduated from high school, maybe not with the greatest marks, but I did have a pretty robust education from the point of view of [that] I covered a lot of content, and I think, in some cases, I learned quite a bit, other cases, maybe not enough, but, you know, that's hindsight. So, I would say that I was well-prepared. The school was a well-run school. We didn't have a lot of discipline problems; we didn't have a lot of the other problems that seem to plague schools nowadays. If you got in trouble, you went and visited the football coach or the wrestling coach, and they would pretty much straighten you out. If you got into fights, you'd end up down seeing the same coaches, who would hand you boxing gloves and say, "Okay, guys, you wanted to fight? Now, go to it," and, of course, the gloves were the heaviest gloves in the world, because they were so padded. You couldn't hurt anybody and, very quickly, you ran out of steam, because the gloves were so heavy. I mean, if you weren't in condition, you couldn't box and, in addition, the police approach, in town, in those days, seemed to be one of keeping an eye on everybody, but being very benevolent. So, you didn't see guys getting arrested and all that sort of stuff. You would see cops who would counsel the kids, to mend their bad behavior or whatever, and there weren't gangs in town and all that sort of stuff. There were cliques of guys, or cliques of girls, you know, but there didn't seem to be battles between the cliques or any of that. Everybody seemed to get along pretty well, and I think that's ... the way the school wanted it. There was not a lot of pressure on kids to do this or that, or anything else, and maybe we were lucky, I don't know. I thought, you know, maybe, looking back, we were very lucky, I just didn't realize it at the time. So, high school was, to me, pretty quiet, you know.
SI: Were you impacted by the Cold War? Did you have atomic weapon drills?
TM: Yes. We had a couple of them. We would ... actually be marched from our grade school over to the high school, where we would sit in the halls, and, you know, long rows of kids sitting next to the lockers and all that sort of stuff, didn't do that very often, thank goodness. I mean, we were not paranoid in our town about it, no.
SI: Was there paranoia?
TM: ... No. I don't think the town was paranoid about the whole thing. I think ... either the school system said, "You know, this is all a bunch of bull," or, "There's not much we can do," the schools, you know. Maybe everybody said, "We're so close to New York City that if it's going to be a big thing, we're all going to be killed anyway, so, why worry about the whole thing?" you know.
SI: Do you remember following the McCarthy trials on TV? [The Army-McCarthy Hearings, which ran from March to June of 1954, were televised nationally and led to the demise of Senator Joseph McCarthy's political career.]
TM: We didn't have a TV. No, remember, we didn't have a TV until I was; I think I ... may have gone off to college, but maybe not, but it was right about the time when I was going off to college that we got a TV. In fact, I think I was already in college and I came home and my parents had finally gotten a TV set. I remember going over to some other kid's house, where we would all sit in straight chairs, like this, and look at a TV that was about a nine-inch screen, but we watched movies and we watched wrestling and that kind of stuff. We did not watch the news of the day, you know, and so, maybe I was pretty naïve. We were pretty oblivious to that kind of stuff, I guess, and, if my parents were concerned about it, they never talked about it, that I remember, but I don't think they ever talked about it.
SI: It sounds like it was a pretty Republican town.
TM: Yes. I would say it was a pretty Republican town.
SI: How did you decide on Rutgers? Was it just your father's influence?
TM: Probably, without knowing about it, because I applied to Pratt, I think, Institute in Brooklyn. I applied to RPI [Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute], Lehigh and Rutgers, and I was accepted at all of them. The only ones we visited were Rutgers, and I probably went there partially because it was where my father had gone, but partially because I got a small scholarship, too. It was like two hundred dollars a semester, or something or other, wasn't huge, but it did help. It helped, and I went off to school.
SI: What was your first experience like at Rutgers?
TM: Well, I'd already been [away from home], you know. I mean, I'd already gone, when I was fourteen years old, went on a thirty-five-day trip out West with a bunch of Boy Scouts and, yes, we had two supervisors with us, but we were pretty independent kids, and I worked at Jones Beach. So, that means I jumped on a bus and commuted to the beach every single day. So, you know, being away from the family was not a big deal for me and I had gone to summer camp, I had gone to Boy Scout camp, every summer since the time I was twelve, and, each year, it got longer. I started off with a week, and then, I went off for two weeks, and then, I finally went for six weeks, and then, I went off to Philmont. So, being away from the family was not very difficult and I think I was pretty independent. When I got to Rutgers, I lived, for the first semester, in Demarest Hall. I don't even know if it's still there. Is it still there?
SI: Yes. It is still there.
TM: It was a new building. I mean, ... at that time, it was a pretty darn new building and you moved in with a whole bunch of kids. I had a roommate who was never there. He would stay there ... during the week, most of the time, but he went home every weekend. He was not a very friendly guy, did not associate with people, so, I hardly knew him. I knew other guys in the hall better than him and, you know, we were all pretty naïve and we basically still had to wear our Rutgers tie, ... you know, couldn't wear our letter sweaters or jackets from high school. We couldn't do any of that sort of stuff, not that I had either of them, but, you know, I mean, there was still pretty much of a little bit of a hazing ... [the] first few weeks you were there.
SI: What did that involve?
TM: Well, by having to wear a little beanie on your head and having to wear a tie and, you know, supposedly, showing a certain amount of deference to upperclassmen and all that sort of stuff. ... Rutgers, in those days, when I went there, was still Rutgers University, but it was the men's college was the only thing. Douglass was totally separate and the Ag [Agricultural] School was just the Ag School. It didn't have its own name, [now the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences]. There were three thousand students, maybe. There was the beginnings of expansion ... at the Heights Campus [now the Busch Campus], but the only things up there were the Institute of Microbiology and the Wright Chemistry Lab, and everything else was Second World War Quonset huts, and most everything you did was on the main campus. There was no bus system, there was none of that kind of stuff. If you had to get out to the Heights Campus, man, you'd better know how to ride a bicycle, which was a long bicycle ride, or find somebody who's going up there in a car, because, otherwise, you didn't have any way of getting out there. ROTC drill was held in a park. It's on; I don't even know what the name of the street is anymore.
SI: Buccleuch Park.
TM: I guess, you know. We would march over there, all two thousand of us. ... Everybody just sort of stood around. It was very lackadaisical, you know. We didn't do a lot of marching. We would just go out there and be organized into companies and we'd stand there, and then, probably spend fifteen minutes marching this way and fifteen minutes marching back and that was the whole day and you're done, you know. The upperclassmen may have gotten a little bit more out of it, but I don't know [if] they got that much out of it. ... So, I went to classes and I did reasonably well on all my classes, with the exception of English. ... When I went to high school, we were taught how to; high school English, when I went to school, spent much more time talking about literature and stuff like that, as opposed to how to diagram a sentence. I didn't know how to diagram a sentence, and so, consequently, my English comprehensive, from the point of view of where a comma went, where a period went, was atrocious, and so, consequently, ... they gave you an English screening test when you first got there, they may still do that, I don't know, and I flunked it, and I continued to flunk it, even though I went to remedial English, because ... nobody got through to my brain. The teachers that would try to get you to learn something weren't good enough to get you [to learn it], because they were probably all students themselves, you know. They were grad students or whatever and they weren't adept at teaching and they just sort of threw the information out and didn't really care. So, nobody ever got through to me and I finally got through, after about three or four times. I may have even had to stay around that summer, after my freshman year, to finally get through it. It was very difficult and it was mostly me, but it was partly the way they taught it and a few other things. ... It was certainly very poor preparation, but I could read a thousand words a minute and I could comprehend what I was reading, far better than most anybody else, but, man, I couldn't diagram a sentence, and I don't know which was more important. I think, ultimately, it turned out to be reading and comprehension and not diagramming a sentence, because computers do that for you nowadays, okay. Of course, we didn't have computers in those days. Anyway, so, that was the only bump in the road, was good, old remedial English, and I was going to be an engineer and I took pre-engineering courses and that was fine and I did well in them. Some of the teachers, believe it or not, there were a couple of teachers at Rutgers, when I went there, who had taught my father. That's how damn old they were. Well, they weren't very good teachers anymore. A couple of them fell asleep in class. I mean, they were pretty atrocious teachers, but they had tenure and all that sort of stuff. So, ... Rutgers couldn't do anything about them, ... but they made them teach freshmen, because, you know, we had to be taught and they weren't wasting any of their [efforts]. ... The fact that they couldn't teach very well didn't matter for freshmen, whereas it might have mattered for a junior or a senior, you know. ... Basically, you know, you took the courses, but they didn't do a lot to motivate you. It was probably not a great experience. I didn't play sports with Rutgers and, in those days, at the beginning of the freshman year, probably after three or four weeks, and maybe a little bit later, they suddenly had [where] you could join a fraternity, and so, you went to the various fraternities, where they would wine and dine you and tell you why they were better than anybody else and all that sort of stuff. ... I went to three or four different houses, including DU, but DU didn't seem very interested in me, ... even though I was a legacy, and I went to Beta and it was a good house in those days, and it turns out that a couple of kids from Baldwin were in the Beta House. ... They're the ones that convinced me to become a Beta, and I did, and I really enjoyed that, and so, actually, I moved into the house. Because the house had room, I moved into the Beta House in the second semester, right, and it was a better experience. Well, it was certainly a better experience and it may have been a little bit cheaper. I may have actually saved some money, some of my parents' money, I should say, but I actually moved into the fraternity house in the second semester of my freshman year, which, in one way, was probably bad, because, while it didn't affect my freshman year, in my sophomore year, I didn't do very well in school. ... I didn't do it because I was mainly spending too much time in bed and sleeping and all that sort of good stuff. So, I actually had gotten into some academic trouble and went over and talked to the dean, who, by the way, had played bridge with my father in college. I've forgotten what his name is, Howard somebody.
TM: Crosby. Is he still around?
SI: No, but I think he was around up until the late 1980s.
TM: Was he really?
SI: Yes, I think.
TM: Well, he had played bridge with my father in college. Anyway, I went over to see him and he basically said, "Well, you know, maybe you're not cut out to be an engineer. Why don't we do some testing?" So, they sent me to the testing center and I took a whole range of tests, and my father came down and we met with the guys who had given me the test, and with Howard, and, basically, the results were, "You could be anything you wanted if you put your mind to it, except for maybe languages," and so, well, we took the easy road out and switched to business. In the long run, that was probably better, because ... I went into a trade, if you will, that colleges didn't yet teach, which was computer science, which was what I did for most of my career, and I was very good at that, but, you know, they wouldn't have prepared me for it any better than anybody else did, because the business itself didn't know what it was doing, if you know [what I mean]. They were sort of stumbling from here to there as they grew up.
SI: It was better to have a more general background.
TM: ... Well, I don't personally think that backgrounds helped one way or the other. Having a good general background ... and knowing how to learn things, yes, that was probably the most important thing. So, anyway, I switched to business and I did reasonably well, but I never spent, to be honest with you, I never spent much time studying. ... I can look back now and say I could have done so much better if I'd applied myself a little bit more, but that's hindsight again, and you don't recognize those things until it's too late, in a sense, but I got through. I had a few problems with languages, because I had to take a language, and that was Spanish, and I had some problems with that, but, other than that, I just sort of breezed through without much effort and had a mediocre average. I was very active in my fraternity. I, you know, waited on table and worked in the kitchen and was the social chairman and another officer or two, and, you know, did all that sort of stuff, lived in the fraternity house for four-and-a-half years and had a good bunch of friends. As I said, since I didn't qualify for the Advanced ROTC courses, I didn't continue on. So, I ended up, after four years of college, with a business degree, a general education, and had to find something to do. ... I interviewed with a half a dozen different companies, because they had, you know, their recruiting programs and all that sort of stuff and I was offered a job by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, but, you know, before I actually started work with them, I had to do something about the military, and I consulted with them and I said, "I'm going to go into the Coast Guard," and they said, "Fine. Your job will be here when you come back," which was pretty nice of them, and so, I went off to OCS. I don't know what more I could tell you about college. It was pretty interesting. Rutgers was a completely different school in those days. It was this small men's college "on the banks of the old Raritan," if you will, and we were all over there on the banks of the old Raritan. I mean, they had built those three tall dormitories right on the banks, [Campbell Hall, Hardenbergh Hall, and Frelinghuysen Hall, also known as the "river dorms"], and I went to a number of classes in the basements. I guess they had classrooms in the basement, if I remember correctly.
SI: Yes, still do.
GF: And so, I went there and we had classes in other buildings on campus that are now, probably, used as administrative buildings, but that's pretty much where it was. I had only a couple of classes up at the Heights. In fact, my freshman summer, because I was still in engineering, I had to take a course on surveying. It was a pretty interesting course, and we did all of that up there. We actually went out and ran lines and, you know, would use a transit and all that sort of equipment, back in the days when you didn't have laser-guided stuff, which is what they do nowadays, of course, but we had to lay it out and we developed, ... essentially, we laid out a railroad and had a huge drawing. I mean, the darn thing was as big as this table, where we had to plot everything and all that sort of stuff. It was pretty interesting, and that was the one thing we did up at the Heights Campus, and we did it in one of those old Quonset huts that are all gone nowadays. ... In fact, you know, we had married students who lived up there, in old Quonset huts, which were pretty rough living, but, if you're young and married and, you know, you're a vet and you're just back after Vietnam, or, pardon me, Korea, or even World War II, that probably still seems pretty luxurious, although I know a couple of guys who had some problems because their wives didn't like to have sex when they could hear sex going on in the next [trailer]. You know, because the walls were so thin, you could hear it going on next-door and they got worried about that, got upset about it, and so, a couple of guys ... had a little tough time. The tough time was that they had to sort of limit their sex to weekends, when the other couple was away. ... I [recall], you know, the drinking issue was no big issue, because we had already been drinking on Long Island. New York had a lower drinking age. It was eighteen; other states were twenty-one. So, when I got there, I had already ... drunk beer for a long time and wasn't any big deal, whereas some of the freshmen were out from under their parents' control and, "Gee, now, we can have a beer," and it was the first beer they'd ever drank. The first couple of weeks in Demarest Hall were pretty tough, a lot of drunk guys, a lot of upset guys, a lot of sick guys, ... big problem for awhile, but, you know, they got used to it pretty quickly. They finally grew up pretty quick, and that all calmed down. ... I could comment on that for a long time. I lived in Europe for four years, where you drink when you're two. So, drinking is no big deal. The United States approaches it all wrong, and still do, you know, and they approach it in a bad sort of way. They try to control it, as opposed to educating, you know, but that's another story. ... College was an interesting time. I think I was well-prepared, in a general sort of way, for careers in the future, but, to be honest with you, the career I ended up in, they couldn't have told me a thing, because they didn't know anything either at the time, you know. So, that was my college. You probably have more questions. ...
SI: Yes, I have a number of questions, but we might want to just jump to OCS. What was the relationship like between your fraternity and the Rutgers administration?
TM: It was pretty friendly. At the time, Rutgers didn't have enough dormitory space to take care of twenty percent of their students, maybe. I don't know the number, but it was certainly awfully low. So, the fraternity houses provided a useful housing facility. I think the University was happier with the fraternity buildings that they owned and had some control over and weren't so happy with those independents, and we were an independent, in the sense that we owned our own building, as did DU and, probably, Chi Psi and a few of the other houses that had been built as fraternity houses, but they had a whole row of houses that were actually University-owned buildings that there were fraternities in, and they did fine by them, too. ... So, I thought there was a pretty good working relationship between the fraternities and the University, I thought, and that's the way it seemed to me. I think fraternities were a pretty positive feature on the campus. Whether they are today, I don't really know.
SI: From talking with other members of your class and alumni in the years before or after, it seems like, then, theTargum's stories were about things happening at the school, primarily about the football games or what the fraternities were doing, as opposed to today, where more state and world events are covered. Did you see the school as being insular or worldlier?
TM: I think the school was pretty insular, ... but I think that, frankly, was a good thing, and I think Targum, the school newspaper, should have focused on what was going on at the University and not focused on what was going on in the world, you know. Yes, we live in the world, but ... Targum can't compete with the New York Times, they can't compete with USA Today. They shouldn't try, but they try. They didn't try in those days. They tried to be the University newspaper, and so, they wanted to report on what was going on with the football teams or on fraternity row, or, you know, that kind of stuff, as opposed to, you know, what's going on in the world, and the world, when I was there, yes, Korea was going on and the Cold War, and the Russians and the United States weren't getting along very well, ... and we were still recovering from World War II. Let's face it, during those years that I was there, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower were our Presidents and they were very different characters and very different personalities, but they, I think, recognized that there was this huge need for growth in the United States, that there had been many years of the Depression and the effects of that, and then, the war and the effects of that, and people hadn't had a chance to grow in themselves and to attain some of the things that they had been waiting for, cars and all that sort of stuff, you know. My parents drove used cars until right towards the end of their lives. I mean, they always were buying somebody else's car, because there weren't new ones to buy and there weren't new ones that they could afford. ... Anyway, I mean, I think Rutgers was a pretty good school and we had ... a pretty close community and I spent a lot of time there. I didn't go home very many weekends. It wasn't hard to go home, but, ... I mean, it wasn't easy to go home, either. You had to take the train to Penn Station in New York, and then, take a Long Island Railroad home and have your parents pick you up. So, it would take four or five hours to get home, and there were a couple of guys, especially one fraternity brother, who had a car, who lived in Baldwin, and I could get a ride home with him, periodically, but he didn't go home very many weekends either. ... So, we tended to live on campus and we tended to sit around the fraternity house on weekends and play cards and sleep and go to Sally's, or wherever else, for a few beers and all that sort of stuff. You know, it was a pretty quiet time.
SI: Were there other things that you would do around campus, or even in New Brunswick, such as attending concerts?
TM: No, not that I remember. There may have been, but I don't know. I don't remember partaking in any of them. You know, everything pretty much revolved around the fraternity and what was going on at Rutgers, and Rutgers was still a pretty small school and, you know, going over to Douglass and going out with the girls, ... but they had rules, you know. You couldn't spend the night with them and you certainly didn't ever think of going off to a motel or anything else. They had an honor system over there. I don't know whether they still do, but they had an honor system, and so, they'd have to turn themselves in if they'd done something naughty, and so, consequently, they didn't anything naughty, you know. ... So, you could go out with a girl, but she had to be home at eleven o'clock during the week and one o'clock on Saturdays, wow, you know, and I didn't have a car anyway and, you know, you needed a car to do a lot of stuff, and most guys didn't have cars. ... I mean, there were half the guys in the fraternity who probably did have cars, but the rest of us didn't, and I didn't have a car until, I guess I had a car in my junior and senior years, and even then, you know, ... even as inexpensive as gasoline was in those days, it was still an expense. ... So, as a consequence, you didn't tend to drive around campus and do that stuff. You drove the car down from home and parked it out in the back of the fraternity house and there it sat, for the rest of the week, probably, and, you know, you tended to walk around campus and walk to class. ... The fraternity provided all your meals and provided a place to sleep and a place to watch TV and a place to study, and you could walk around the corner to Sally's. I don't know what it's called now, but it was a tavern right down the end of the street, on the corner of Union Street and whatever that street that runs down ...
SI: Easton Avenue?
TM: Easton Avenue. There was a corner tavern right there that we used to go to all the time. In fact, I'd go there every night at eleven o'clock and close it, until two, not a good idea, but, ... you know, you'd sit there and talk and you'd drink three beers. I mean, it wasn't like you went there and just drank and drank and drank. You nursed that beer for a long time, [laughter] because ... our fraternity had good parties on weekends and there might be some beer left over in the keg, but we didn't particularly encourage guys to drink in the house during the week. I'm not saying we discouraged it either, but we certainly didn't encourage it, you know. ... So, you didn't go down into the bar in the basement, which is where we had a bar, and see guys sitting around every night of the week drinking beer, because we didn't have any beer to drink, and, in fact, if the kegs weren't sitting in a cooler or anything else, they got to be pretty darn bad after the next day. [laughter]
SI: When you went to local bars, such as Sally's, was it mostly Rutgers students there?
TM: All Rutgers people.
TM: No, no townies. Townies and Rutgers guys didn't get along very well, and the University didn't have their own police force in those days, so, they relied on the New Brunswick cops, but they pretty much left us alone. ... There was always the rumor that Dean Howard Crosby knew every guy in class, and, if he would go to a ruckus and remember having seen you there, then, you were probably in trouble, and whether that was true or not, I don't have any idea, but, boy, people believed it, and that's all you have to do, you know. ... I remember, one time, there was a big spring ruckus going on, supposedly panty raids and all that sort of stuff, you know, and they were all gathering together to do something, whether it was whatever, and I can remember Howie Crosby went over there in time. ... He said, "You know, guys," and he just sort of said a few things, and he said, "I'm going to ... go back to my office tomorrow, and, if I remember any of you guys, you're going to be in some form of trouble." Fifteen minutes later, there was nobody there.
SI: Where was everybody gathering?
TM: Oh, they were gathering over in the ... Student Union, or the building. Beta was on the corner of Mine andUnion Street, and then, there was a residence right across the street, and then, there was a sort of vacant lot, and then, there was a University building, which is where [Dean] Crosby had his office, right on Union Street. ... In back of that building, there was a whole path and some vacant areas, went down over to College Avenue, and the Deke House, if I remember correctly, it was, or one of the fraternity houses, was right there, and that's where everybody used to collect. There was a big parking lot there and that's where all this was going on, and the Dean just walked over and, more or less, he broke it up in five minutes flat, based on his reputation. Whether it was true or not, I don't have any idea, but it was certainly a better way of handling it than the cops from town coming in and doing anything, and, basically, the town kids stayed away from the University, in those days. I don't know whether they do today, but they pretty much [kept separate]. The University had nothing to do with the town and the town had little to do with the University and, frankly, the railroad, you know, that big raised railroad, created a barrier that sort of kept the town separate from the University, which I think was a good thing, because, on our side of the barrier, there was J&J and us, and J&J was a pretty benevolent kind of company, I thought. [Editor's Note: Johnson and Johnson has its headquarters located on George Street in New Brunswick, New Jersey, right next toRutgers University's College Avenue Campus.]
SI: Aside from working in the fraternity, did you have any other jobs while you were on campus?
TM: No, no. ... Every once in awhile, ... J&J would put out these things and we would come out and wear Band-Aids on our backs and that kind of stuff and you'd make fifteen bucks, whatever. The railroad, ... one time, in March, there was a terrible snowstorm, which nobody predicted, and the high-speed railroad, I mean, got shut down. ... It was shut down because they hadn't planned for it and they hadn't turned on the heaters and the switches and all that sort of stuff, and so, by the time they recognized they had a problem, it was too late. ... So, they hired about sixty of us and we went down there and took brooms and shovels ... and cleaned out all the switches, so [that] they could turn the heaters on. ... It was nice, because they paid us well, but, more importantly, they took us to one of the local restaurants in town, and it was actually a diner, I think, and said, "Whatever you want." Well, I saw guys who would have three main meals. We ate like it was going out of style, and it was good, healthy diner kind of food, you know. ... Meatloaf is great when it's cold [outside] and you're damp and tired and, you know, I wasn't looking for something really fancy. I like meatloaf, and meatloaf and mashed potatoes and ten cups of coffee, or whatever, really helped, and so, that was a couple of the other times. ... So, I always was financially reasonably well-off, and I suppose, by the end of my senior year in college, I owed my father seven or eight hundred bucks, of money I had borrowed ... from him to feed my beer habit, or whatever it was, but it wasn't a big demand, you know. ... I paid part of it back and I guess the rest of it, he forgave or whatever, but it was a pretty good time. ... At Christmastime, I would go home and work in a men's shop. So, I would leave maybe a few days early at Christmas and we got off, I don't remember, it wasn't Christmas Eve, but we got off three or four days early for Christmas holiday, and so, I would leave even a little bit earlier than that. You were allowed to do that, if you asked the University, and so, I would go home maybe a week early and work for a week in a men's shop, and probably put in twelve-hour days, work for a long time, which earned enough money to buy presents for my parents and my brother and sister, that kind of stuff.
SI: If there is anything you remember about Rutgers that you want to say, go ahead and say it.
TM: No, ... but I enjoyed it. It was a good school and I had a good time there. We were transitioning, of course. We were leaving the world of being a small, private men's college, if you will, sort of Ivy League, but not Ivy League, to becoming the big state university, but we still weren't a big state university, even though we had, maybe, the name of it by the time I left, I graduated, but we weren't a big state university yet. You know, there were two buildings on the Heights and a whole bunch of ramshackle Second World War Quonset huts. Married students lived in Quonset huts. They didn't live in any married students' quarters and there weren't very many good dormitories on campus. They had built those three tall buildings, yes, but other than that, and Demarest Hall and Ford Hall, which I don't even know whether Ford exists anymore, they weren't much. ... So, the fraternities tended to provide a good place for housing students, that the University knew where they all were, and, yet, there were a lot of students who lived in residences, you know. They would take rooms with somebody, but I think, ... when the students lived in those residences, where they rented a room, A., they weren't as good and, B., I don't think the University had a good idea [of] where they lived, you know. They might have known they lived in that residence, but they didn't have much control, and so, I don't think they thought that was a very happy relationship. I think the students thought it was okay, but I don't know that the University thought it was okay. I think they preferred to have the students in dorms and in the fraternities and, if they had their druthers, they would have preferred it all be dorms, but they couldn't do that, you know. So, it was good. I enjoyed college, and I think I got a reasonably good education. I think I could have done better, but I think I was reasonably prepared to face the world.
SI: You had applied to both the Navy and Coast Guard when you had to make a decision about the military and you chose the Coast Guard.
TM: And why? I don't particularly know, probably because I didn't think I was planning on staying in. If I had planned on staying in, I should have chosen the Navy, because you would have had more opportunities, because they had more ships and they had more different kinds of jobs, but it turns out the Coast Guard was not a poor choice, you know, I mean, especially if you were just going to be in the Reserves, and I hadn't even thought about that. ... I hadn't even thought that through. I was just taking care of the immediate situation, okay. Let's take a break. ...
SI: We were just getting into Officer's Candidate School, for which you went to New London.
TM: Yes. ... At that time, the Coast Guard's OCS program was at the Coast Guard Academy, in some old World War II buildings in a corner of the campus that don't even exist today. The Academy, the Coast GuardAcademy, at the time, and it's still at the same place, was pretty small. There were, oh, a half a dozen permanent buildings and a pier facility and a football field and drill field, and a few other things, and a long pier, and at the pier was moored the Eagle, which is their big sailing bark, although when we got there, it wasn't there. [Editor's Note: The USCGC Eagle (WIX-327) is a barque used for training cruises for Coast Guard Academy midshipmen.] It was out sailing, and, when we got there, which was in June, essentially, there weren't any, or weren't very many, of the Academy trainees there. ... So, we were pretty much there by ourselves, over in this one corner, and we were pretty green and we had no idea what we were doing. ... We were a pretty big class, and, luckily, in our group, there were two or three chief petty officers and one boatswain mate, who are actually regulars. In other words, they were going through OCS to become commissioned officers, but they were regular enlisted men. Well, of course, they had some big benefits, and one benefit is, their uniforms looked perfect and they were all outfitted and, more importantly, the chiefs were very competent guys, as was that boatswain mate, and, luckily for us, they helped us along, because, essentially, what the Coast Guard did was, they provided you with a whole bunch of dress white uniforms that weren't altered and didn't fit, didn't have the right stripes on them, and you had black shoes that had absolutely no shine and had never been shined in their lives. ... You had to start doing all that, and so, for the first three or four days, you really sweated, trying to get your uniforms in shape and show up with the right kind of uniform, and they gave you a little bit of grace during the first three days, but it wasn't much, and so, consequently, you were sweating a lot, trying to get yourselves in shape, physically and uniform wise, and learning how to put the right foot in front of the left and all that sort of stuff. So, it was a little bit tough, but, luckily, these three or four enlisted guys, who had been ... enlisted for a number of years, especially the chiefs, and were pretty fine guys, because they wouldn't have been selected for OCS if they weren't pretty fine guys, were big helps to us. ... Of course, what we had on our side is, [what we] could contribute to the pot, if you will, was, we didn't have the military [experience], but we had the education. So, we were all pretty smart guys, but we didn't know anything at all about being in the military, and they were pretty darn smart guys, too, who didn't maybe have so much formal education, but they knew a lot about the military. So, luckily, we were able to work out a sort of accommodation, if you will, and ... we helped them out and they helped us out a lot, okay.
SI: Aside from those four enlisted men, were most of your class members like you, recent college graduates?
TM: Almost all of them were recent college graduates, some of whom had their master's degree, and I think one actually had his doctorate, but most of us were just guys with a recent bachelor's degree in some form ... and were there to avoid the draft, to a large degree. Some of us joined because we wanted to be in the Coast Guard. A lot of us joined because the Coast Guard was an interesting option, as opposed to the Army or the Air Force, but we were there to do our duty, but not particularly because we really wanted to be in the Coast Guard, and [we] didn't have any plans on staying in the Coast Guard. ... So, we went through OCS and got a basic education in seamanship and navigation and all those things that the Coast Guard thought you needed to know to be a junior officer.
SI: Had you had much experience with seafaring activities?
TM: Well, because I lived on Long Island and because my uncle had a boat and I had done some clamming in my career, I knew port from starboard and the bow from the stern and a few other things. ... Yes, I had some basic knowledge, but not much.
SI: It was not totally new.
TM: No, it wasn't. So, it wasn't totally new, right, right, and that's one reason I chose the Navy and the Coast Guard, or the Coast Guard, as opposed to being in the Army or the Air Force, yes, ... wanted to be at sea, as opposed to being on land. Of course, it didn't really work out that way, ... I mean, in a sense, but, you know, that was one reason. That was my motivation, and OCS was not terribly difficult, but not really easy, either. I mean, you had, A., discipline and, B., you had marching and that kind of stuff, and the courses were different and reasonably easy, in most cases, but some of them were a little difficult, and you were constrained. You didn't have liberty at night and you didn't leave the base and all that sort of stuff, although we had a lot of weekends free, and so, I went home on a lot of weekends, because they didn't know what to do with us on weekends, and we didn't go out on cruises every weekend. We had a ship that supported us, but it didn't hold everybody and everybody would have been in the way, for one thing, if you went on it [all at once]. You needed a ship that was small enough that if you were going to do certain things, you could do them in a way where you would learn something. In other words, if you were going to navigate so [that] you got the ship from point A to point B, you can't do that with twenty-seven guys. You needed just one or two, you know. You needed a couple of lookouts and you needed a guy who acted as the officer of the deck and you needed a guy who would say, "Okay, we're going to set a course to go from here to there," and try to do it. ... You certainly weren't far enough out at sea on this little ship to be wandering around in the big ocean where you didn't see anybody. We were basically in Long Island Sound, and so, you were navigating in fairly restricted waters from point A to point B, where you were looking for a buoy or looking for a lighthouse or looking for some sort of object on the land that you could say, "Well, I know that is here, and so, I know if it's here, ... I can figure out, if I'm there, where I am." Okay, it's called piloting, and so, you can't have a big crew. So, the class was divided into three companies or three sections, and those sections were somewhat subdivided, and I think it was only the subdivided group that got to go. So, it was just a small [group] out of [the larger group], and I don't know exactly how many guys we had in my class, but only maybe fifteen or twenty guys would be on the ship and some would be standing watch in the engine room and some would be working on the bridge, etc., etc., ... but we didn't do that very often. ... We had some pretty good weekends off, which was nice, and you would go home in your white sailor suit and you would get home and change into civvies [civilian clothing] immediately and, you know, go back. So, you'd go home on Friday night and come back on Sunday afternoon. I think the Coast Guard would have preferred to have us onboard, but they didn't know what to do with us, and because we were at the Coast Guard Academy and we were considered enlisted men, I was wearing a white sailor suit, they didn't like us to associate too much with the guys who were going to the Academy, the actual midshipmen, ... because they weren't wearing officer-type uniforms. ... So, there was a lot of friction back and forth, which they didn't work out, and hadn't worked out, and I don't know what they do today. ... In point of fact, they moved OCS out of the Coast Guard Academy down to a training center in Yorktown, Virginia, shortly after I graduated and it stayed down there for a number of years and it has finally moved back to the Academy, but I think it's different, and I don't know how it's different, but I think it's different.
SI: Would they only have one class at a time?
TM: Yes, it was only one class.
SI: All right.
TM: ... There was a whole group of midshipmen there in four classes, but there was only us, and, in point of fact, in June, they weren't there. They were off sailing the barque around, or they were off sailing on ships with engines, if you will, and not sails, or they were on leave at home, or maybe they were off somewhere else in the Coast Guard, getting some experience, okay, because they had a whole variety of things they could do, and some of them may have even been training with the Navy or the Army, okay, although most guys who went to the Coast Guard Academy were going in the Coast Guard. That's not true of every other service. If you are going to the NavalAcademy, you can go in the ... Marines or the Navy, and, when I was there, you could actually go in the Army, but you can't do that anymore. ... So, you got a variety of experiences, but, when I was there for the first beginning bit of OCS, there weren't any large numbers of midshipmen at the Academy. It was pretty quiet. There was just us and the Academy staff, which consisted of officers and enlisted guys and the staff to train the OCS guys. So, that continued, probably, for June and maybe July, maybe a little bit of early August, and then, suddenly, ... all the Academy guys came back. The Eagle came back from its cruise and actually was decommissioned. They would essentially prepare it for the winter and it just sits there, and it hasn't got anybody aboard, well, maybe one or two watchmen, but, basically, there's nobody aboard. The yardarms, [a horizontal bar sails hang from], are all taken down, the sails are stored and the ship is idle for the entire winter, because, ... well, it's too difficult and a little dangerous to sail in the wintertime, okay, and the guys who are at the Academy are too busy going to other things anyway, and us OCS guys are busy with class. So, the Eagle just sits down there and the midshipmen are doing what they do and we were doing what we did, okay.
SI: What kind of ship did the OCS cadets train on?
TM: It was a 125-foot Coast Guard cutter, very old, very old. It was 125 feet long and, during the Second World War, it actually had a gun on it, and probably carried depth charges and did some patrolling, looking for submarines. It wasn't very fast, [but] it was very maneuverable. It had two engines, two propellers and three rudders, so, it was very maneuverable, but it was very old. I don't know when it was built, and it was fine for training OCS guys on, because ... it had a fairly large bridge and you can have a number of guys up there, and there was enough space to have guys who could be observers and guys who could be lookouts and all that sort of stuff. It was a class of ships that, probably, by the time I went to OCS, there were very few left, maybe one or two. The rest had all been scrapped, because they were old, okay, but that wasn't the big thing. The ship wasn't the big thing. The big thing was all the classroom work, and you took classes on seamanship, you took classes on navigation, you took classes on military history, to some degree, you took classes on the relationship of [the] Coast Guard to the rest of the military, to the rest of the world, and to various activities that the Coast Guard would perform, which are a lot. The Coast Guard ... [has] probably got their fingers in more pots than anybody else, and you had to have some idea about all those things that the Coast Guard did, maybe not in depth, but at least in general, okay, and so that was what OCS was primarily involved in, and, when you got finished, you were prepared to do a number of different things, at least a little, but not well, at all, at any. You weren't an expert in anything, but you had a general background, you knew something about being an officer, you could march, you could salute and do all that sort of stuff, but, basically, you were just barely prepared, okay, and that's pretty much true, I think, of OCS for anybody, okay.
SI: Did anybody wash out of OCS training?
TM: Oh, yes, half a dozen guys, some guys because they were too smart, but not very military ... and a couple of guys because they weren't very military, but smart enough, and a couple of guys because they just didn't give a damn. That's always, I think, the way it works. Some guys [failed] because they got too many demerits, and we had one guy who was actually about two rooms down who just couldn't seem to figure it out and I think it was because he was too smart, you know. He just couldn't get down to our level, which was pretty nitty-gritty, I guess, you know, probably do very well in some other career, but not in the Coast Guard, and, of course, the former enlisted guys just breezed through. It was easy for them, because they had the military down pat and because the amount of things they had to learn weren't that difficult. So, they breezed through, which I think is what was expected anyway.
SI: How much of a role does tradition play in the Coast Guard? I know that in the Navy and the Marine Corps, it is very strong, in the Army and Air Force, maybe a little less so, but, in the Coast Guard, what was it like?
TM: The Air Force is less so. I don't know about the Army.
SI: It depends.
TM: So, I think that that's really true in the Army, but tradition is important, but it's not that important, because there are so many things, I think, that the Coast Guard does that are important, but, I don't know, it's hard to say.
SI: Did they bring in traditions that helped you get more of a feeling of esirit de corps for being in the Coast Guard? Were there any unique traditions that the Coast Guard carried on?
TM: Only partly, only partly, and let me explain why.
TM: For one thing, the Coast Guard has been involved in the lifesaving service for years. It goes back a long, long time, okay, ... and they do that still today. You've got to go out and save people, and you can see it on TV, periodically, and read about it and hear about it and even see it in the papers. ... You periodically hear about tragedies, about small boats that capsize and they lose a couple of people and all that sort of stuff, and, despite whatever, the Coast Guard can't save everybody. So, there's that tradition, and so, they talk about that quite a bit, and that has a relationship that is more, I guess, related to the enlisted man than to officers, because most of the small boat stations, which still exist, are enlisted guys, with one or two officers at a higher level, not at that station, but maybe one or two levels up, that keep an eye on these guys, but the station itself exists and is run by an officer in charge, who is an enlisted man, maybe a chief petty officer or maybe just a senior enlisted guy, okay, except that, when you get involved with the helicopter groups, they're all officers, at least the guys flying them, okay. The helicopters, for the guys flying them, and the co-pilot, are probably officers; maybe the next guy, who does the hoist work, or the rescue swimmer, they're always enlisted guys. So, there has to be a good working relationship, okay, but small boat stations are pretty much enlisted guys. The helicopter guys are piloted by officers. When you see some of the bigger white cutters show up, they're always officers, controlled by officers, with lots of enlisted guys, okay. So, it's a relationship for saving people that's heavily involved with a working relationship between enlisted [men] and officers and everything else. The big white cutters are always ... crewed by officer guys with a lot of enlisted guys. The helicopters are all officer guys, okay, and then, there's all these other things that the Coast Guard's involved in, port safety operations, security operations, ice breaking. There's so many other things the Coast Guard's involved in and there are a whole host of people that could be officer or enlisted, okay, and some of those things are very traditional and some of those things are pretty new, okay.
SI: One of the other traditions of the other branches of the service is the division between officers and enlisted men. I guess the pre-World War II Navy had very sharp distinctions, but, maybe, periods of war break that down to an extent. In the Coast Guard, were officers at one level and enlisted men below, in the sense of not being able to socialize with each other or be friends?
TM: That's still true.
SI: Okay, all right.
TM: Sure, but it gets glossed over. It's very difficult, and, in today's environment, as opposed to back in the older days, it has changed a lot.
TM: But, it's changed in ways that aren't necessarily noticeable to everybody. Let me explain; ... in the military, there is still a very big difference between being an enlisted man and being an officer, okay, and that's true no matter what service you are in, but, no matter what service you are in, any officer that thinks he can do it by himself is stupid. He can't do it by himself. He has to understand that a good part of the work is going to be done by enlisted guys and he has to understand the relationship between enlisted men, or enlisted women, and the officer corps, okay, so that you can't just act as if the other group doesn't exist, because they do, and they have to work together. I mean, for example, on a ship, the enlisted guys do a lot of the work. The officers provide guidance and leadership and have the responsibility. I mean, the captain's responsible. It's his butt, or her butt, that gets blamed when anything happens. She or he is responsible, okay, but he or she can't do it by himself, and they have to understand that part. Where it gets blurry, nowadays, is that, for example, there are clubs that are "all-hands clubs," because, maybe, the club isn't big enough, or [for] whatever reason, that it's not open to everybody, so, it's an all-hands club in the sense that anybody can go, as opposed to being an officers' club or an enlisted club, where there used to be a distinction. That's changed, but it hasn't changed that much.
SI: All right.
TM: So, it's still a world in which the responsibilities are pretty well laid out, I think.
SI: Okay, all right.
SI: Had you finished the OCS training cycle in August?
TM: No, October.
SI: October, okay, all right.
TM: Let's see. It was sixteen weeks. I went in June, July, August, September, ... ending October.
SI: Towards the end of that, did you get a chance to decide what you wanted to do?
TM: Oh, no; well, and that's not the way it works.
SI: Did they give you an option?
TM: You don't decide what you're going to do. Towards the end of it, you are being outfitted with your uniforms, you're going through all that sort of stuff, you are then allowed to ... put in what we used to call "your wish." You're filling out a card in which you are setting down what you would like to do, okay, and that card gives you an opportunity to apply to do different things. You can say, for example, "I would like a ship in the Mediterranean," or you can say, "I'd like a ship on the West Coast," or you could say, "I would like a shore station," ... or maybe a school. ... That's what's called the wish card. You can indicate your preferences. What you don't understand [is], ... there's somebody at Coast Guard Headquarters, or at Navy Headquarters, wherever, who's making those decisions, and, to some extent, he's managing your career. ... Of course, that becomes very important when you're a senior officer, not very important when you're a brand-new ensign, not very important, and, in my case, I was sent off to nuclear warfare school, which I hadn't expected at all. I mean, brand-new, I didn't even know, and they sent six of us ensigns to nuclear warfare school, well, it was called nuclear, chemical and biological warfare school, at an Army post. It was a Navy school at an Army post, very confusing, and I was a "Coastie," but it was a very interesting school, except that I don't think it had much relevance to the future, for me. It didn't seem that way anyway, but it was a very interesting school and it was the school I went to as an ... [ensign] as my first assignment, and it was interesting. It was very different. There were six Coast Guard ensigns there with a bunch of other junior officers, mostly Navy, I think they were all Navy, but maybe not. Maybe there were one or two Marines there, I don't know, don't remember. It was in Anniston, Alabama, [Fort McClellan?]. It was an Army post, at a Navy school, and it was a very interesting school. It was primarily about nuclear, chemical and biological warfare, more nuclear, pretty good chemical and some biological, okay. It was a short school. I mean, it wasn't that long, October until December. It was very interesting. If I remember correctly, I did very well; I graduated first in my class. We spent Thanksgiving up at an Army post, where we happened to have a fraternity brother, two of us, but other than that, you know.
SI: What kind of things did they teach you about nuclear, biological and chemical warfare?
TM: Well, they taught us, more or less, what it was and we ... got some courses and we saw a lot of movies and ... we did a lot of courses on nuclear warfare. ... "What is nuclear war?" and, "What is an atomic bomb?" and all that sort of stuff, and we did some courses on chemical warfare, which were primarily; I don't even remember too much, but I really remember that you spent some time talking about such things as, "How do you spread biological weapons around?" and, "What are they?" "What's germ warfare?" which was a very popular term in those days, and all that sort of stuff, and, "How do you contaminate?" and, "How do you decontaminate?" and, "What's nerve gas?" and all that sort of stuff. It was of interest, but, again, I don't know how relevant it was.
SI: Okay, all right.
TM: Okay, maybe because, to some degree, everybody thought that was going to happen. You know, that was all, to some extent, all the Cold War fears; I don't know, it's hard to say.
SI: It seems like the school was more about defense, such as how to decontaminate after an attack with these weapons, as opposed to how to use any of these weapons.
TM: Oh, yes, yes, it was a lot more about defense. I mean, it wasn't so much that you were going to go out and do it yourself, because I don't think anybody in the Coast Guard expected that we were going to do it, but we ought to have, maybe, some general idea about it. From that point of view, it was pretty interesting, but I couldn't see, and they never explained to me, at least that I understood, ... how it was going to relate to me in whatever job I was going to do in the Coast Guard or in the Reserves. ... It was a good school, it made some sense when we took it, but I don't know that it had much application, okay.
SI: All right.
TM: Not like some other courses I took later on, okay, and maybe that was because, ... again, it was so early in my career, and maybe, to some degree, so early in the military's career; that was back at a time when we still weren't very sophisticated about the whole thing. I don't think we had a good idea of how nuclear warfare was going to work, all it was going to be, and, to a large degree, in a couple of the war games that I played, later on in my career, we blew up the whole world, and that was a very disheartening thing, when you sit there at the very end of the game and there's nothing left, you know. ... We only played one game that was sort of like afterwards, and you were trying to get things started again. Even that was pretty unrealistic, okay. I don't think, at that time, that we really understood very much about the whole thing. So, we took a course on it, and it was interesting and we got a little feel for [it]. I knew what nerve gas was and I knew that stuff. We didn't talk much about germ warfare, because I don't think we understood it at all. Maybe other people did, but I don't think we did. You know, we didn't understand anthrax and smallpox. I mean, we knew what they were, but we didn't understand, to some degree, how to prevent them, how to contain them or any of that sort of stuff, and so, we just took the course. So, you know, it was just an interesting course that I took at the beginning of my career, I guess.
SI: After that, where were you sent?
TM: I was sent to, believe it or not, Pier Nine in New York City. I was sent, after my nuclear warfare school, after OCS, I went to this school for about; it was from, like, October until just before Christmas, and, from there, I went to a place called Pier Nine. That's what it was called. ... Pier Nine was a pier on the East River in Lower New York, which is where there was a Coast Guard station, was a big Coast Guard station. It was on a pier in very old World War II buildings. It was a big operation in the sense that we had twenty-two forty-foot boats, we had three ninety-five-footers, five 110-foot tugs, a bunch of sixty-four-foot tugs and a lot of enlisted guys, and a few officers, and our responsibility at the time was, if you will, the ninety-five-footers were involved in harbor entrance patrol. In other words, what we did was, we patrolled the entrance to New York Harbor, to prevent anybody from entering who had not given us notification, which, in those days, [what] was required was twenty-four hours' notification. Now, it's three days. We inspected piers for safety violations. We watched ships that were considered to be suspect and we provided a general group of guys who, if you will, stood watch and would respond to whatever happened, I guess I would say that. In other words, I don't know when it was, exactly when it happened, it was some time in that period, I was there until April, and some time, maybe in February, ... I don't know exactly when, an Eastern Airlines airliner crashed off Rikers Island, [New York], up near LaGuardia [Airport, Queens, New York]. [Editor's Note: Mr. Maclin could be referring to American Airlines Flight 320, which crashed into the East River off Rikers Island en route to LaGuardia from Midway Airport, Chicago, on February 3, 1959.] It was coming into LaGuardia and it crashed off Rikers, and, well, it crashed off LaGuardia, I guess, and we sent cutters up there to try to rescue people. Of course, it was too late. It was much too late, because we were so far away, and we didn't have a good helicopter rescue service at the time. So, we sent up a bunch of boats and, actually, a few people were rescued, but not by us, I don't think. I think they were rescued by local tugs that were passing through the area, but, while they were cleaning the mess up, we provided, the Coast Guard provided, security to keep traffic at a reasonable speed, because, normally, people would just rush by up there and that created a big problem from the point of view of wakes and turbulence and all that sort of stuff. ... We had a big operation going on, trying to bring up the plane and the bodies. ... So, we provided, if you will, the Coast Guard's effort was to keep traffic under control. The Navy was there to provide some divers and to help out that way. Everybody else was involved in investigation, you know, the NTSB was there, everybody was there, and a private contractor was there, trying to bring up the plane. [Editor's Note: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is responsible for investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States.] So, that's what we were doing during that operation, okay. It was a disheartening thing, because I think six people survived and everybody else died, okay, and that was what our job was. We were up there ... way up near LaGuardia Airport. [The] Coast Guard facility that we, I, worked out of was way down at the foot of Manhattan, [which] was a long way away, you know, and, luckily, we went up there by car every day, not by boat, because it was just too far away to go by boat, okay. That was a typical Coast Guard operation.
SI: How many days or weeks was that operation?
TM: Oh, it was about a week, a long time, I mean, a relatively long time, and I wasn't there at the very beginning, because it happened on an evening when I was probably home. The OD [officer on duty] at the time, the Coast Guard officer who was on duty at the time, probably was responsible for getting Coast Guard small boats sent up there and whatever else he could do to try to help, okay. We had that. I mean, that was what his typical job was, and we responded in whatever way we could. ... In a sense, it was a typical operation that the Coast Guard does every single day, in the sense that something happens and the Coast Guard tries to respond, whether it be from a Coast Guard cutter down here at Cape May, [New Jersey], that is going to send out a small boat to try to save some people, or find some people because their boat is reported missing in Delaware Bay, or wherever, or whether it's a Coast Guard operation that is responding to Hurricane Katrina, which got to be pretty big, but that's not the way it started out, I mean, at least, or whatever. I mean, that's what a typical Coast Guardman does, whether it's an officer on duty at Pier Nine, which is where I was, or whether it's an enlisted radioman sitting in Manasquan Inlet Lifeboat Station [in New Jersey] and he's the only guy around right now, sitting on the radio, and somebody calls in, "Help." ... Then, he tries to figure out where that's coming from, and then, he calls his boss, okay, or a more senior person, who comes down and tries to help him, and then, finally, decides to get the Coast Guard boat underway from that lifeboat station by calling up the crew and getting it underway. ... I mean, that's what the Coast Guard does typically everywhere in the world, more in, at least, the United States. If somebody responds to an incident and tries to gather resources to help in the incident or whatever, I mean, that's what, typically, the Coast Guard does and that's what we do and that's what I was trained to do and that's what we did in many different ways. Some of them were routine, every single day, going to various piers and looking at them, to see if they're keeping up with the various safety regulations, or whether it's whatever, and, you know, and that's what I did when I was on active duty.
SI: Would you be doing different things every day or did you have structured activities, more or less?
TM: ... More or less, well, during the week, ... pretty much five days a week, I would be doing, along with two or three other officers, we worked out of an office, okay, we would be doing pier inspections, ship boardings and that kind of stuff, with, usually, an enlisted man as a driver and another enlisted man who went along with us. So, there was usually a party of three in a car and going around New York City. New York [was] a big office, big operation, okay, working out of Pier Nine. That's what we would do five days a week. Sometimes, things would change. For example, one time, a very large passenger ship came in that had been in a Communist port, because ... it went on a world cruise and part of the cruise was to three different Russian cities in, let's see, the Black Sea, okay, and they had gone there, and so, as a consequence, when it came back to the United States, there was this big thing about, "They've been to three Russian ports, so, there must be a problem." That was [the type of] things they went through during the Cold War, you know. It was a thing we would laugh at nowadays, but things during the Cold War, that got to be pretty serious, and this British passenger ship, I've forgotten which one, had gone on a world cruise and they had been to three Russian ports. So, therefore, they were considered a suspect vessel when it came back to the United States and, therefore, the Coast Guard took a special interest in her. So, the special interest manifested itself by boarding her in a harbor, with a special group of guys who came aboard, enlisted and officers, who went aboard and looked at the ship's manifest to see where she'd been and asked the various questions of the ship's crew, the officers in the crew, anyway, and then, when she arrived at the pier, [we were] providing a certain amount of a security detail that kept an eye on the ship while she was there. ... Looking back at it, it was sort of silly, but, in those days, it wasn't considered to be silly, because we were ... in the Cold War with those Russians, those bad guys over there, you know, all that sort of stuff. I mean, you look back at it now and it [seems silly].
SI: When you say that there was concern, was the concern generated within the military or the public?
TM: [They were] always concerned in the military, ... maybe more at headquarters levels, because there was a feeling that ships that had visited Russian ports might be carrying, I don't know, nuclear weapons or whatever. I mean, ... there's always the scenario of the dirty bomb that gets brought in in a suitcase. [Editor's Note: A "dirty bomb" is a conventional explosive combined with radioactive material and would be used to spread radioactivity.] You know, you still hear about that even today. They still talk about it today, you know, and part of the concern is, if somebody was going to do that and they were carrying it in a suitcase and they were coming in on an airliner, are we going to catch it? You know how many passengers come in every single day, carrying how many suitcases? hundreds, millions. Well, guess what? It turns out, when you follow that scenario, that scenario can get very big when you suddenly discover that, in addition to those passengers coming in on planes, there's passengers that come in on ships. More importantly, there are crewmen who come in on ships by the hundreds, every single day, and guess what? They've all got suitcases. So, why would it have to be an airline passenger, or why even a ship passenger? Why couldn't it be a ship's crewman? Who is more suspect? It gets to be a very complex thing, and I guess, if you're playing in the Cold War, it gets to be a scary thing. Nowadays, eh, nowadays, we do a better job at screening everybody; I don't know how scared we are. I don't know.
SI: Are there any other incidents that stand out in your memory from your time at Pier Nine?
TM: Pretty humdrum, no, pretty humdrum.
SI: During the Eastern Airlines operation, what were you doing when you would go up there every day? Were you helping run the traffic?
TM: Well, we weren't helping running it. We were ... representing the Coast Guard. Primarily, I mean, we hadtwo forty-foot cutters, small cutters, with enlisted crewmen, who would try to [respond], you know, every time anybody would come through the area. Basically, the Coast Guard had sent out "a notice to mariners." A notice to mariners is an official instruction that this seaway, off LaGuardia [Airport], was a problem right now, and so, speed going through the area was probably restricted to five knots; in other words, no wake. You couldn't create any waves when you were coming through with your boat, and, every once in awhile, some tugboat captain or private boat owner, or whatever, hadn't gotten the message, which is typical, and they came through running at high speeds and they were creating a bit of a wake. ... So, our forty-foot cutter would go out and we'd turn the blue light on. Well, we didn't have blue lights in those days, but it's essentially, you turn the blue light on and tell them to slow down and say, "Thank you, ma'am, good-bye," and whatever. It was very low-key, but we were trying to keep the wake down, because it was this big barge. On the barge was everybody under the sun, NTSB, postal inspectors, Navy, Coast Guard, you name it, people were there, because the Navy had had ... two enlisted men who had been killed when the plane crashed, the Post Office was there because it was carrying mail, the NTSB was there because it was their accident, the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] was there because; you know, etc. All these various agencies were there on this barge that was going up and down like this, out in the middle of the harbor, ... off the island, in an area that was cold and dark and damp, wet. It was pretty nasty, and, you know, it was an uncomfortable time. It wasn't that bad, but, I mean, it was rough enough, and so, that's what we were trying to do, and my job, when I went out there, was to keep track of all these guys and provide [support], you know, keep things going in a steady way.
SI: Where were you quartered at this time?
TM: Oh, to be very honest with you, Pier Nine was a Coast Guard facility and there wasn't any space for me to live, so, I lived at home. When I was there during the day, okay, I ... worked in an office. ... The few times I had to stay on a weekend, they did have enough space to put up two or three officers overnight, okay. When I was out there and off the island, I was on a barge, and we would go back and, luckily, to be honest with you, luckily, the nearest, any facility, was the police boat [station on] the coast, and the New York City Police boat had a station right there. So, it was a small building that they used, and the Salvation Army, honestly, showed up and served us coffee and sandwiches, very nice guys, for free. Red Cross showed up and they charged you a quarter. Nobody bought them.
TM: Yes. Well, it was "the ladies in gray," if you know what I mean. Have you ever seen the Red Cross in operation? A lot of these volunteer organizations, in areas like this, who shows up are the "ladies in gray," which are basically older ladies who are volunteering for the Red Cross, and they wear a little gray uniform that has a Red Cross up here, their white lapels, etc., and they're in gray. Well, the trouble is, they don't get a lot of funds. They don't; they're not like the national organization. Funds don't trickle down. They don't have any money. So, they go out and provide coffee and doughnuts, but they want to charge you, because they've gone out and [had to] buy it out of their own personal funds, you know. Well, the Salvation Army does a better job at managing that. They somehow get the funds down. So, they go out and buy plenty of coffee and good sandwiches, and make them themselves, or whatever, you know, do a much better job, but it's not the fault of the Red Cross ladies. It's just ... that seems to be the way it works, yes. So, anyway, ... that was the only way you could get a sandwich or a cup of coffee or anything, because our Coast Guard forty-footers didn't have galleys or anything on them. They were real small boats, open, mainly, big open boat, with an engine, you know. [laughter] In fact, we had trouble with them; I mean, not on that particular occasion. We had a lot of trouble with those boats, because we'd have these boats doing a patrol out there, you know, or keeping an eye on a ship, and they'd be two Coast Guardmen or three Coast Guardmen sitting on this boat, overnight, and they'd get cold as hell. ... So, we had a couple of cases where they stuff this, to prevent [the cold air from getting in], close this vent, stuff that in there, and then, ... we had a couple of them overcome ... CO2, because they ... weren't venting it carefully. I mean, you know, dumb, but it happened.
SI: At what point did you start thinking that you wanted to stay in at least the Reserve?
TM: Well, my obligation, when I joined the Coast Guard, my obligation was six months' active duty, plus my training, and then, the rest of my time, up to eight years, in the Reserves. See, it was a program designed to get a lot of officers into the Reserves, because, at the time, the Coast Guard had a huge Reserve organization, twenty-seven thousand guys in the Reserves, mostly draft-dodgers, essentially, I mean, in one way, guys who were avoiding the draft by putting their time in the Coast Guard. Well, they needed junior officers to help run this organization. So, they offered a program to persons with a college degree, "Go in the Coast Guard, get a commission, do six months' active duty, plus, your OCS," so, it's essentially ten or eleven months' active duty, "then, go in the Reserves and spend the rest of your time, up to eight years, in the Reserves." Well, when you spend eight years in the Reserves, by that time, you ought to be a lieutenant. That's the third promotion, a captain in the Army or lieutenant in the Navy and Coast Guard, and you've got eight years in, why not stay? I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the Reserves. So, I decided to stay. It wasn't a big decision. I didn't think I spent more than ten minutes thinking about it, and so, I stayed on, and, of course, ... I went to a lot of very interesting schools for my two weeks. What you did was, you did, essentially, a weekend a month, plus, two weeks in the summer, more or less [in the] summer, and that was your obligation, wasn't very hard, and I did my two weeks. My company gave me the time off. That was in addition to my vacation. They made up the difference in my salary. So, in other words, if I got paid two hundred dollars at DuPont, but only a hundred dollars in the Coast Guard, DuPont threw a hundred bucks in, and gave me the time off. So, it was nice, right, and I enjoyed the Coast Guard. I went to some very interesting schools, and I went to all sorts of schools. I went and I learned how to load explosives, I learned how to run booms, I did all sorts of crazy things, and they were all pretty interesting schools. They were, most of them, ... run at Yorktown, Virginia, which was a nice place to go on vacation. A couple of times, I took the family. They didn't go to the Yorktown [base], but they stayed in motels in the area, and we went out to various places, the kids did Williamsburg and all that sort of stuff. So, it was a good time, and, if you did a good job, you were slowly but surely going to get promoted, and I worked my way up to commander, which is the fifth rank in the officer corps, in the Coast Guard and the Navy. I got passed over twice for ... captain, which meant I was out, but, by that time, I had twenty-one years in, so, I retired. ... I personally think that if I had stayed in the United States, I probably would have made captain, but I was living in Europe, and they probably said, "What are we going to do with a Coast Guard officer in Europe?" and, since they ... can't select everybody in the eligible group to make captain, I fell out; okay. Quite frankly, at the time, [I] didn't care; I was having too much fun living in Europe. I didn't care.
SI: You obviously could not go to meetings or anything in Europe.
TM: [I] actually did go to meetings. I went to an inter-service training unit, which was a way of trying [to address that need], you see, because there were a lot of officers in Europe, for various [reasons], in various services, who ... had an obligation to do a drill. The Navy's obligation was, you had to do twelve drills a year, and so, we had a whole bunch of Navy officers who actually worked in the State Department and in the FAA and a couple of other departments, but were also Naval Reservists, who needed to get the time in, and so, they basically created this unit in Frankfurt, and we had guys from all over [who] came in. We had two enlisted Army guys, one Army major, two Coastie officers, and a whole bunch of Navy guys who belonged in this unit, and so, that's how they did theirs, but, I mean, most of the time [was stateside], and I had some very interesting schools. ... I spent one year in that unit, but, by that time, I'd got passed over for captain twice and I would have had twenty-one years or twenty years of service in, and the Coast Guard wrote me a letter and said, "Good-bye. You're done. You're retired, without pay, until you're sixty, and then, you start drawing pay," which I did, and then, at sixty-five, I started drawing my [benefits]. I got Medicare and I got TRICARE For Life (TFL), which is the military's retired ... medical system for supplementing. So, I haven't paid a medical bill in years, and I'm a pretty sick guy. You'd be surprised. I shouldn't say that; I have paid the co-pay on my meds, on my drugs. ... Luckily, DuPont paid for my transplant, that was four hundred thousand dollars, but I've had a whole bunch of procedures since then that the military's paid for, very nice of them, and, you know, I don't know what the benefit system is for Rutgers, and I don't know whether you're planning on staying there for the rest of your life, but, you know, ... you'll find out that when you retire, you get to be sixty-five, or whatever it's going to be by the time you're getting to that age, let's say sixty-seven, Medicare's going to cut in. That's good, but that still leaves you twenty percent that you've got to pay for yourself, and it may be that, if you're still with Rutgers, for example, they'll say, "Oh, well, we'll pick up that twenty percent." Good, you're totally covered, but, if you're not with Rutgers, if you're out on your own, you might suddenly discover that there's nobody and twenty percent ... could be a pretty big buck. If you go out and have a five-hundred-thousand-dollar operation, and, by the way, that's easy; you know, spend a week at Johns Hopkins, which is where I go, a week in the hospital at Johns Hopkins, that's twenty-eight thousand dollars, just in the room cost, and that's just room cost. I don't know if you ever looked at any of the bills coming out of these hospitals, but they're going to charge you for everything. They come in, give you an aspirin, they're going to charge you, and they're very good at keeping track of that. So, essentially, that's all free, and that's one of the big benefits of staying in the military. ... Anybody can make the decision to be in the military or not, and I don't want to tell you whether you should join or not, I mean, ... especially in today's environment. If it was World War II or something big, then, I might be a little bit more positive, "You better get in the military, and, if you don't want to join voluntarily, maybe we'll have to draft you." I'm not for the draft at the present time. I think it would be stupid, but, at a point in time in the future, who knows? but my point is that if you spent ten years in the military, you're stupid if you don't go in the Reserves when you get out. You're absolutely dumb if you don't. Protect that investment you've already made. You made a huge investment, you've got a huge pension coming, and, if you don't protect it by staying in the Reserves for another ten years, you're really not very smart. ... You'd be surprised at the number of guys that just drop out, and then, they suddenly discover, you know, they're a contractor for somebody or they're a painter or a plumber, or any of these things, and, now, it's suddenly time, they're going to go on Medicare, that's nice, that's good, but they've got a big liability for twenty percent, and there's nobody to pay for that, yet, there was. I don't know.
SI: Was there any point where you thought you might be recalled to active duty?
TM: Oh, yes, two or three times; Cuban Missile Crisis, a couple of other times.
SI: Were you hearing anything, were they saying you might be recalled, or was it just your personal thoughts?
TM: No, no, I was actually on one of my two-week training periods one time when there was some talk that they were going to, the President might declare a national emergency, and that automatically recalled everybody, but, you know, ... I don't know how close we ever came to any one of those things. All the time I was in the Reserves, ... in the Active Reserves, that meant I was in a drilling status, I carried mobilization orders that said, "You are subject to call within twenty-four hours, and, if you get called, here's where you go," but, when I went inactive, then, you don't carry those orders. What most people don't realize is, if you become a commissioned officer in the United States military, you are subject to recall until you're sixty. That's the obligation you take on, even if you're not drilling; even if you've got a commission and you haven't done a damn thing with it in ten years, they can still call you up. Most people don't know that, but, you know, that's how they tried to call my father up in 1943. He hadn't done anything with his commission. He graduated in '27, and, in '43, which is how many years later, I don't know, a long time, they tried to activate him, because he was a commissioned officer. So, you know, ... you can avoid that by resigning your commission, but that says you never were a commissioned officer. Most people don't do that.
SI: In April of 1959, your active commitment ended. At that point, did you have any idea what your next move was going to be?
TM: Oh, yes, ... remember, I had that job at the Met.
SI: Okay, right, that would still be there.
TM: So, I went to work for the Met, and I enjoyed it. ... Hey, you know, despite the fact that you start off as the lowest level clerk in the world, I mean, they came in and said, "Hi, Mr. Maclin, welcome aboard. You're going to be assigned to what we call the ordinary loan division." Ordinary loan division; "ordinary" is a word that the Met uses for their insurance, okay, and so, essentially, their division was the loan division that loaned insureds money on their policies that they had accumulated, because, you know, you're paying a premium to the company and some of their policies, when you pay that premium, you build up a certain cash value in that policy and you can borrow that, okay. So, if you want to come in, take a loan out, you can do that. You can borrow some of your money. Well, you either have to pay the interest on the loan, and, hopefully, they want you to pay the loan back, but you don't have to. You can just pay the interest on it. Okay, so, ... when you have enough insurance out there, ... that gets to be a pretty big thing. We had seven or eight hundred million dollars in loans out there, and so, we had to manage that, and that's where I worked, as a correspondent. Well, the day I walked in, they said, "Oh, no, you're not a correspondent right now. You're a tub file girl." [laughter] That's how they kept all [the records]. Anybody who had a folder or a file, if you will, and had taken out a loan, that loan went to a tub file, where there was all these papers, in files, alphabetically, I think it was, and they were filed in tubs, as they called them, and they had girls that managed the files. ... So, I spent two hours in the tub file, learning what the girls did, and then, I moved on to the next operation. I didn't do any of them. Some of them, I couldn't do. I mean, the gals that calculated the interest on that loan used a manual, I mean, a calculator that was a calculator but it was manual, in the sense that if you; well, it's hard to explain. ... They were old machines, made by Monroe Business Machines, I think, and they were mechanical, okay.
SI: The ones with the levers.
TM: Well, they weren't [antiquated] that much; I mean, yes, they were mechanical. They were essentially a keyboard that had every number from ... zero through nine in an array of numbers, maybe eight or nine wide, okay. So, there were all these keys you could [use], and, if you entered one, two, three, you could enter [them], push in a one, a two, and a three, and, on the thing, it would show one, two, three, and, if you multiplied, you would hold down [the button], and, if you wanted to multiply that by ten, okay, you had to hold down and press the keys in a certain way. Well, the trouble was, your early machines, they didn't move over. There wasn't any way to move over. If you wanted to multiply 123 by twenty-five, okay, it didn't work automatically. They weren't that sophisticated. So, they moved the registers around themselves. It was amazing how fast they did it. Other divisions had more modern equipment. I mean, some of that was pretty old equipment, and they had all these girls. We had seven hundred employees in just this one division. We managed a couple of billion dollars in loans, and, anyway, these girls could move these machines, and I couldn't do that, but I sat and watched them for an hour or two to find out how the hell they did [it], and they explained very carefully how they calculated the interest, or not, you know. I'm just saying that the fact that they used semi-automated equipment, semi-automated equipment, was pretty amazing, and I couldn't have done the semi-automated part. I hadn't learned that. I understood the theory. Then, I moved on to the next job. Well, ultimately, I was going to become an ordinary loan correspondent. I was going to write letters to the insureds about, "Why aren't they paying their interest?" or, you know, "You've paid too much interest," or, "You're not paying enough," whatever, all these various things, and that's what I was working my way up to, and I spent two weeks, or maybe a week, I've forgotten what, moving through each operation. ... As the operations became more complex, I spent more time learning, okay. I mean, everybody would sign a card. They would hand you a card, you know, "Here's your loan," and it's all (signed?) and all legal, and they would sign it, at the bottom, and the insurance agent would sign it, too, and they'd send us all these cards, okay, and we posted all these cards. ... When a loan was a thousand dollars and they decided they were going to pay it off in ten equal installments, every time they made a payment, we would post it to the card. This was back in the days before computers. Nowadays, that's all electronic, but you don't do that [then], not in the old manual days. Well, guess what? Now, the card, you've paid off two payments, what's this card worth?
SI: Twenty percent?
TM: No, it's worth eighty percent. The card is the original loan. So, the card is worth eight hundred dollars. That card is actually worth eight hundred dollars, okay. We had a vault full of all these card, which was supposed to add up to the seven hundred million we had in outstanding loans. Guess what? They never added up. They hadn't balanced those cards in twenty years, because there were that many little errors made, here and there, and they were always working on trying to [balance the books]. ... They had a staff of about forty girls that worked at just trying to balance that whole thing, and they couldn't get it to balance, and it was amazing. Manual operation; now, it's all automated, but, you know, manual (order?), and so, I went through every one of these operations to work my way through. ... Believe it or not, in the end, we actually did have another group of a hundred girls who actually entered stuff in the keypunch machines, punching ... holes in cards, which went into some sort of computer that did something, and they never did explain that to me, but we had a hundred girls that just did that. Well, I was going to become a correspondent, so, that's what I did, and so, I worked for them for from April until May of next year. The problem wasn't that you; well, the problem was the job. I was a management trainee. So, every third month, I would spend a month over in the management training section, where they were teaching me various things about managing the business, and they were much more [academic]. It was more like going to school for a month, and I can't even remember all the topics, except that it was different. When I worked in the ordinary loan division, I started at 8:35 in the morning. Well, if I was coming in from Long Island, if I was still living with my parents, getting in at 8:35 in the morning was a breeze, because there were so many trains, but, after I got married, to the gal that just walked through once or twice, that wasn't so hard [easy], because we lived over where she's going to college, in New Brunswick. Actually, we lived in Highland Park. You know where that is.
TM: Well, guess what? On the Pennsylvania Railroad, you couldn't get in at 8:35 in the morning. I could get in there maybe at 8:40 in the morning or maybe at 7:20 in the morning, but I couldn't get in at 8:35, and so, therefore, I tried to get in [on time]. Actually, in theory, I could have gotten in. In theory, I could have made it in by 8:35, but it turns out that I was late, oh, I don't know, every once in awhile, not very often, but every once in awhile, I would be late, because the train would be late, because the trains were old, Second World War, oh, prior to Second World War, equipment. They were really old cars. This was before Amtrak had become modernized. This was the old Pennsylvania Railroad, and I had a hard time getting in, not that one month when I worked ... in training, because my starting time was nine o'clock in the morning, and I could not only get in, I could actually have time to stop at a coffee shop and have a coffee and a bagel or a doughnut or whatever, but not the rest of the time. ... So, I kept [being late] and they would call me back, periodically, and say, "Mr. Maclin, you've been late again," and I tried to explain to them that I lived out in the suburbs. You know what they said to me, "You're not allowed to live in the suburbs. You're not high enough level." I was supposed to live in New York City, but I lived out in New Brunswick. Well, the problem was, I was in the Reserves; the problem, to the Met, was, ... I was in the Reserves, and my roommate, from college, he and I ended up back in the same Reserve unit again. That was sort of amazing, but we had gone to two different careers in the Coast Guard, went on active duty, ended up in the same Reserve unit, and he said, "Why don't you come for an interview with DuPont?" So, I did, and they offered me a thousand-dollar increase. Well, you know, when you're only making four thousand dollars a year, or forty-five hundred, a thousand dollars is a lot of money. I was out of there in a shot. [laughter]
TM: ... When I got that offer, I was out of there in a shot, and, when I went over and told the guys in management training that I was leaving, they said, "Why didn't you come over and tell us? We would have changed your job. We would have moved you into a different division where you had better starting times," ... but I left, probably a better thing that happened, because the difference was, I don't know what would have happen in the Met. I know some guys did very well. I don't know whether I would have, I don't know whether; whatever, but, at DuPont, while I was hired as an accountant, I actually started in the data processing field, and that's what I was in for the rest of my career, and that was a lot more interesting, a lot more relevant. ... So, okay, I don't know what more you want to know about that part of the business.
SI: Were you down in Delaware or still in New Jersey?
TM: Oh, I was in New Jersey. So, I actually didn't leave Highland Park. I continued to live right in Highland Parkfor another two-and-a-half years, and I was working in our plant in Parlin. You know where that is?
TM: You do? amazing. [laughter] Okay, well, I was at our plant in Parlin. The plant is still there, believe it or not. It's not us anymore, but it's another division of DuPont. In fact, that administration building I worked in, most of the time, is still there, and so, I went to work for ... DuPont, at the plant, in the field of data processing. I started out as a computer operator, sorted cards. You ever want to do that for an exciting job; it's like watching bread rise [laughter] or any one of those routine tasks, but I only did that for a short period of time, and then, I went, actually was transferred out of the data processing field, into the accounting field. I went over into accounting and they immediately sent me out to the plant to help as a production accountant. A production accountant was a guy who didn't worry about money, he accounted for things. ... So, what we made was photographic film, and the way we measured it was, we counted square feet of film made, and so, I went out and learned how to calculate and account for the square feet of film made. Well, the good thing about that was, I got to learn the manufacturing operation, and I can sit here and I can, today, tell you exactly how we made the film, maybe not all the scientific terms, but, ... in an hour-and-a-half, I could give you a really good understanding of how manufacturing of film works, and, meanwhile, I was doing my accounting. ... I'd get the accounting done in square feet, and they'd say, "Oh, come on up and help us account for the dollars." I was doing two jobs, and then, after another six months of that, I was moved back into data processing, as a programmer, in a very basic language on the IBM's first stored-memory computer, which was the IBM 1401. They don't even make them anymore, very crude, but it was the beginnings of, you know, I mean, the people in the computer company, the computer companies were running, pretty much as everybody else did, how computers worked; they didn't know, pretty much. I mean, they knew in a general sort of way, but they ... didn't have a language that worked, you know. Their first business language conjugated for computers was called COBOL. You may have heard of it, COmmon Business-Oriented Language, invented by a Navy admiral, by a Navy officer, actually, and she became an admiral, first woman admiral in the Navy, and she actually created that language, and you should have seen how bad it was. [Editor's Note: Rear Admiral Grace Hopper developed the COBOL language. Alene B. Duerk was the US Navy's first female admiral.] ... It was terrible when we first started using it. It was wasteful of computer space, it was terrible; I mean, it was slow. Well, of course, as they learned, it got better and better and better, and, as the entire industry learned, they finally dropped COBOL as a very common thing. I mean, it's probably still around, [in use by] some people, you know, but, now, they use C and things even better than that, but we didn't have all those, any of those, tools when we first started. We had very crude tools. On the other hand, if the crude tool got the job done, in today's environment, some salesman'd come in and try to convince you to change, but, if your payroll hasn't changed and if you're still paying people in exactly the same way and ... everything else is still the same, you know, still use the same paycheck and all that sort of stuff, why change? Yet, some salesman's going to try to tell you to change. Sure, he's going to sell you the new, best whiz-bang to do the job. We used to tell them to go pound salt, because we were paying our people fine. You know, they were getting paid on time, they were getting paid the right pay, and, you know, they're getting a check they can understand. They were getting [paid], you know, but there were too many salesmen. I mean, that's the only way they can do things, is try to get you to buy a new widget to do the job a better way, and, sometimes, [it] pays to get the new widget, but, sometimes, it doesn't. Anyway, so, I started out with DuPont as a production accountant, then, became a real accountant for a short period of time, and then, I moved back into the data processing field, became a programmer for awhile, first on [the IBM] 1401 and on the IBM 360, which was the first, really, computer ... that began to have all the elements of a real computer; did that for awhile, then, became a supervisor. That's what I was for the rest of my career, well, various management positions within that, for the rest of my career.
SI: Did you stay in Parlin?
TM: I was in Parlin for thirteen years, and then, I went to Wilmington for seven months, on a special assignment, as they call it, and, actually, was traveling all over the United States taking and doing an assessment of where we stood in the field of data processing, and then, they were probably doing an assessment of me as to whether they would like me down there. I don't know. I'm not sure, and then, they finally asked me to come to Wilmington, in a supervisory position, and I moved to Wilmington for four years; four years? yes, four years, and then, moved to Europe for four years, and then, back to Wilmington for two, and then, out to Harrisburg for three or four, and then, back to Wilmington for a couple of more, and then, they retired me.
SI: What were you doing in Europe? You were in Germany.
TM: I was coordinating all [operations]; I mean, I was doing the same job I was doing in Wilmington. I was just doing it in Europe. I was coordinating all of the data processing activities for a division in DuPont called the Photo Products Department, and I was coordinating all their European activities, and the reason you did that was, when a company in the United States creates a subsidiary overseas, in a [foreign] country, they do it by country, they can't do it by Europe, because every country, or at least in those days, ... charges taxes, and so, therefore, you keep every subsidiary separate. So, we had a DuPont France, we had a DuPont Deutschland, we had a DuPont UK, DuPont Spain, DuPont Italiano, etc. Every one of them's a separate entity. Well, guess what? In a way, they're separate, but, in a way, they're all the same. So, you have to coordinate all their activities, and that's what I was trying to do. ... They get away with that. You know, it's partly a subterfuge, it's partly to keep the taxes separate, and so, my job, even though I worked in Frankfurt, was to travel primarily to France and the UK, Germany, of course, a little bit to Italy, once in awhile to Spain, once in awhile Scandinavia, to try ... to coordinate all their data processing activities for my department, only my department, and DuPont had many other departments. They had a plastics department, they had a textile fibers department, they had all these other departments. I only worried about photo products, but I also went to Geneva frequently, which is where we had DuPont International, because all those other departments had to work together, too. I mean, we all, in a way, had to work together. So, that's what we did in Geneva. We tended to meet with other individuals from other departments, and we would talk about common problems and all that sort of stuff. Some of them were Americans, some of them were foreigners; I mean, some of them were natives of whatever country they lived in. It was interesting. I really enjoyed it, you know. ... You met a lot of different people. You got to understand why they never got along with each other, you know. I just wouldn't say never got along, that's the wrong word, but, ... to some degree, they didn't trust each other, you know. The French resented the Brits for beating them in the Napoleonic Wars. I mean, that's true; I mean, they did. It was down deep in their psyche, but it was there. Nobody liked the Germans, because the Germans had beaten up on them so often in so many wars. You know, as we used to say, "The Germans didn't come to your country on vacation, they came to buy it or occupy it, more likely," and they did so often, and there was a certain amount of [resentment], you know. Everybody said the Brits can't tell a joke. Well, that's not true. I went to some great British plays and stuff that were funny as hell. British can't cook; that's also not true. The Italians are great lovers; well, maybe, or the French are great lovers, right? Well, the French birth rate is so low that you have to wonder whether they know how to love or [what]. [laughter] I mean, the French birth rate is really low. German birth rate, when I was over there, was up; now, it's down. So, you'll find out, if you listen to; I don't know whether you listen to PBS Radio. ... They, once in awhile, have shows on, you know, that tend to talk about the world other than, differently than, the Americans, American networks, do. Well, they had a show on, I went down to Johns Hopkins yesterday for some doctors' appointments, and, on the way back, I was listening to PBS Radio, and they were talking about [how] Germans now get, ... like, three years off when you have a child, if you want. Of course, you don't get paid, but, I mean, you can have the time off and still have your job back, because their birth rate is actually going down, drastically. So, it's amazing what they're doing to get people to have more kids. They're trying to pay them to have babies practically. I mean, pretty soon, they're going to come out and say, "Go have a baby. We'll pay you a thousand dollars," you know. They'll never do that in the United States, or at least they don't feel like they're ever going to do it here, because we have a birth rate that's still going up. So, you know, things are different over there, and I enjoyed sitting there sort of looking at it. I enjoy visiting and touring. When I got passed over for captain in the Coast Guard, I said, "Oh." You know, other guys might have said, "What can I do to solve the problem, you know, to get promoted?" I didn't care. I was living inEurope. I was having too much fun, you know, drinking good beer, drinking good wine. I drank in those days. ... I don't drink anymore, but that's because I'm diabetic, but, I mean, in those days, I could still enjoy a good German beer. ... You know, I get the big kick out of [when] Miller Light comes on, tells you how they're the ... best beer in the world, you know, and you join ... the club they have, whatever they advertise to try to sell more Miller beer. God, Miller beer is terrible, compared to German beer. Maybe it's not so bad compared to some other light American beer. ... We'd go out to lunch, ... this organization in Geneva, ... twelve guys would sit down and we would drink this coffee. Now, the DuPont folks in Geneva decided they were going to mimic the United States. So, they served, the way you got your coffee was, you go into a coffee machine that gave you a terrible cup of coffee, I mean, really bad, and we'd sit around all morning and bitch and moan at each other. Nobody could agree on anything, and then, we'd go out, ... there were about twelve guys, we'd all go out and have three bottles of wine. We go back in the afternoon, we solved everything. [laughter] You know, everybody was so mellow in the afternoon, because we also weren't drinking that damn coffee, [laughter] but, I mean, more importantly, you know, people did things differently over there. I mean, that's one reason I really enjoyed it. I would have stayed forever. My wife wasn't too happy. She wanted to come home. I mean, I shouldn't say that. She was very happy, but she thought she'd love to come home, and I think, by the time the grandkids came along, we would have had to come home, but, if we could have stayed another five years, we would have stayed.
SI: Were you ever able to go to any of the Eastern Bloc countries, like Czechoslovakia?
TM: Went to Hungary and we went to Berlin, only two, and, when you were in Berlin, you went into East Berlin, so, ... yes, we were in East Germany, interesting, very. [laughter] You know, you go through Checkpoint Charlie [nickname of a famous crossing point at the Berlin Wall], in those days, and you get over there and all the churches are nothing but rubble. Nothing had been rebuilt. It's covered with twenty years of dirt, twenty years of whatever. ... You take a tour of East Berlin, you're going to get an East German tour guide, and you think they're going to really push East Germany and tell you how wonderful the place is. They do the opposite, absolutely opposite. "This is a terrible place. Don't ever come here. Look at this building. It was built by the Russians. It's falling down. It's only ten years old," [laughter] and they'd tell you that right out in front. We go into Hungary and the first thing you got [was], the tour guide got on, something, she was waiting for us, she gets on, as soon as we came into Hungary, and the first thing she says is, "We hate the Germans. We hate the Russians." "Any Russians around here?" You know, you keep expecting that there's some Russian looking over somebody's shoulder, but there aren't, you know, and, boy, they were very outspoken. It was a very, very different kind of place. ... We enjoyed living in Europe. ... For one thing, they treat everybody differently, you know. My fourteen-year-old son discovered, the day he got over there, that drinking wasn't a big thing. ... We also discovered that drinking isn't a big thing because they don't make a big thing of it. There's no, "Well, you're ... not eighteen, you can't drink yet," you know. You've probably been drinking since you were two, at home. Sure, the wine is watered, I'm not so sure what they do with the beer, ... and so, consequently, their approach is totally different, but, you know, we enjoyed it.
SI: To go back a little bit, how did you meet your wife? Where did you meet her?
TM: I met, ... I guess in my junior year, I guess it was my junior year, maybe it was senior year; it was my senior year. [For] the Rutgers homecoming, fraternities were building, various fraternities were building, floats, and, of course, in those days, they were supposed to look like flowered floats, but nobody could afford the flowers. So, you did it by making a chicken wire mesh kind of thing, to represent whatever you were trying to portray, and then, you would take crepe paper and cut it into squares, or use toilet paper, or whatever it was, to fill in, to stuff it in all the little holes in the mesh. Well, our fraternity was building something, I don't even remember what it was, and we went over to Douglass and got a whole bunch of girls from one of the houses to come over. ... I have forgotten what house she was in. She was in Corwin, I think she was in Corwin, one of the houses, and we got a whole bunch of girls to come over and I went over and started talking with her. ... We brought them over and they were working over there, helping us out, and I went over, later on in the evening, one time, and started talking with her and got intrigued and called her that night, after I got home, after she got home, I should say, and dated her the next couple of days and that was it; didn't marry her for awhile, I mean, like, another year. We didn't get married until 1959, but [I] started going out with her in 1958, ... well, maybe even the Fall of '57, I'm not exactly sure when.
SI: Did you get married after your active service was done?
TM: Yes, we got married in October '59. So, I went in and I had gotten out of active duty in April of '59, I guess.
SI: Did you ever consider staying in the Coast Guard on active duty?
TM: No. ... I think if I'd ever thought about that seriously, and I never really had, looking back at it, I should have done that in the Navy. The couple of guys I knew who were in the Reserves who tried to integrate ... into the Coast Guard found it very difficult. They made you take a couple of exams, which I thought were ridiculous, you know, and it made it very difficult. I don't think that's so true [in the Navy]. The Navy had more programs. The Navy had a bigger Reserve contingent on active duty than the Coast Guard ever did. Most of the Coast Guard guys, who were on active duty, primarily, were very junior officers, not more senior officers. There were some. They were called RPAs, Reserve Program Administrators, but there were, like, oh, forty, fifty. So, everybody else who wanted to stay on, to become a Coastie permanently, had to become an active duty, ... had to lose their Reserve commission, had to integrate into the active [service], to the regular Coast Guard, and that was a pretty difficult procedure to do, whereas in the Navy, you just stayed on as a Reservist. They were called TARS, T-A-R-S, Temporary Active Reserve, something, except you weren't very temporary. I don't know.
SI: Is there anything else you would like to add about either your time in the Coast Guard or Rutgers or any other aspect of your life?
TM: I haven't thought of anything. You may think of some questions later on. I enjoyed the Coast Guard. I enjoyed staying in the Reserves. As I said, there were a couple of occasions when it looked like they might activate us, but, at that time; see, that's changed, all changed. When I was in the Coast Guard and in a drilling status, there was a big [gap]; we were drilling in Reserve units and I was drilling at a Reserve unit that had no relationship to the Coast Guard. Yes, if a guy went on his two weeks active duty and he was an enlisted guy, often times, he went to a local Coast Guard unit to do his two weeks, and I'm sure they pretty much appreciated him when he came aboard, but he was there for two weeks and I don't know what he did. Most of the officer guys went off to schools, and a lot of Coasties, a lot of regular guys, I mean, a lot of enlisted guys did, too. We went off to schools at Yorktown. So, we still weren't dealing too much with, if you will, an active Coast Guard. Well, towards the end, after I'd been ... in the Reserves for maybe ten years, [in] the Coast Guard, for one thing, the Reserves were getting smaller, because there was still a draft, but it was not as [portentous], and they weren't drafting as many guys. I mean, when I first ... graduated from college, almost everybody went in the military, and there was this big thing of this, [that] there was this Reserve organization sitting over here and there was the regular Coast Guard over here, and the regular Coast Guard began to realize that they are the Reserves sitting over here, doing nothing. They were being trained, but trained for wartime responsibilities, trained for things that didn't seem very realistic, and the Coast Guard was over here with a bunch of tasks that needed to be done and they needed to do them. So, what happened is, they began to say, "Hey, why don't you guys come over here and integrate with us more?" and we did that, and what we did was, in my case was, that I went down to Manasquan Inlet Lifeboat Station, became the CO [commanding officer] of the Reserve unit that was located down there. ... I mean, I had about thirty-five guys, maybe forty guys at the most, and a couple of officers, me and one other officer, and I said, "Why [not?] come in every weekend?" So, what we did was, we assigned our guys to show up every weekend. Every weekend, some ... of my guys would show up at a Reserve unit, at Manasquan Inlet Lifeboat Station. "Okay, what are you going to do?" "Well, we're going to do whatever you want us to do. You tell us what you want us to do." "Today, you're cutting the grass." "Okay, we'll cut grass." So, what we began to do is, we began to do whatever they were doing, and, if they were cutting grass, we cut grass. If they were running small boats, well, boy, we'd love to do that, really like to do that. Well, that said, "Hey, if you're going to run a small boat, you've got to have a qualified guy to run a boat." The Coast Guard says, "You can't just go running a boat. You don't just jump onboard and turn it on and take off. You'd better be qualified." So, we began to get our guys qualified. Well, it then turns out that, "If we had a qualified boat crew, why don't we run the boat?" Well, it turns out that when you're on your weekend inactive duty training, there are certain things you can't do, by law, okay, one of which was [that] you couldn't board a civilian vessel, that the Coast Guard does all the time, and give them a citation. Well, that was solved easily. So, instead of sending out a Reserve boat crew, we sent out two Reservists and a regular. The regular could issue the citation, right, or we'd send out two regulars and a Reservist. We'd help them out. We were integrating, and it's gotten to the point right now, where I guarantee you, if you go down here to the training center down here at Cape May, and you go to the lifeboat station that's based there, you can't find a Reservist. You can't find him because you can't recognize him. He's wearing the same damn uniform as the regulars are. He hasn't got any different insignia, there's no big "R" on his back that says, "Reservist," or anything else. He's there, but he's so integrated, you can't find him, and that's what we wanted to do. The Reserves, to a large degree, now have lost their identity. I'm not saying they can't be identified. I'm just saying, in a sense, at the operational level, well, they've sort of lost their identity. They may be as qualified as the regulars are to do the job, it's just that they do it on a part-time basis. That really helped. It helped the regulars, because they've got these guys that come in. You know, one of the things we found at the Manasquan Inlet Lifeboat Station was that, in the summertime, the regular crew was so busy, because there were so many things going on, that they never got any time off. They were working, like, seven days a week. So, they suddenly discovered, gee, when the Reserves came aboard, ... that would give them some extra hands to do something, maybe to catch up on some work or to say, "Gee, Charlie, why don't you go take the day off? We've got a guy here. He can do your job." In fact, I had one woman; this was before women were really active in the military. I had one woman in my group and she was the secretary, and she had become what we called in the Coast Guard then a SPAR, [a US Coast Guard Women's Reserve member, taken from the Coast Guard motto in Latin and English, "Semper Paratus--Always Ready."] Okay, they don't have SPARS anymore, they're just female Coasties, but she was a SPAR and she was the secretary. She straightened out that active duty training center, I mean, not training center, that active duty station CO so quick, it wasn't funny. He suddenly discovered that ... she could do the paperwork better than he could do. So, he just left her all the paperwork. He would get things arranged and leave her notes and say, "Hey," whatever her name was, "can you take care of this this weekend?" She typed his letters, she did everything. She loved it. For one thing, you know why she loved it? She was busy. ... I can tell you one thing, that Reservists and National Guard folks who come in to their drilling center on a weekend and sit around and do nothing but smoke cigarettes, pick up butts or do whatever, ... I won't say they hated it, but, man, they liked to be busy. They don't just want to sit in a classroom and sleep, listening to some [lecture], watching some old movie or whatever. So much ... better to be busy, and so, she found that doing his work for him, A., made her feel important, and, B., kept her busy, and she loved that, and he loved it because he got a quality job done. So, it's worked out well. The Coast Guard has really worked this integration thing to a point where I don't think you can really separate the regulars and the Reserves anymore. They're there, but it's hard to find them. That's good, yes.
SI: That is a good note to end on. I know you have a doctor's appointment.
TM: You want to get lunch or anything or you just going to head off or what? ...
SI: I am fine, thank you very much. I really appreciate it.
TM: Oh, no problem.
------------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW----------------------------------------------
Reviewed by Katelynn Dickstein 12/9/09
Reviewed by Nicholas Koval 12/9/09
Reviewed by William Nesson 12/9/09
Reviewed by Stephen Melton 12/9/09
Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 12/14/09
Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 12/21/09
Reviewed by Thomas W. Maclin 1/23/10