SSH: This begins part two of the interview with Dr. Paul B. Jennings on March 28, 2000 at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Dr. Jennings I'd like to thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule. And I thought it was rather apropos that we have this interview on the day after the Lady Knights were able to win in the NCAA sectionals, because I know sports is a passion for you. Our last interview covered many subjects, and I know you brought notes and if you want to start with your notes and tell me what's on your mind.
PBJ: Okay, there are a couple of things that I thought of after I left. One was a very amusing story that my mother told about when she was a student at NJC. It turns out that three girls got caught smoking and they were banned from leaving the campus. So one of the assistant deans felt sorry for the three girls and took them to a Rutgers swimming meet. And they were sitting there at the swimming meet and, all of a sudden, the door of the locker room opened and there were two or three nude men standing there. So the girls, of course, looked. And she said, "Better you should smoke." So it gives you an idea of what the campus was like in 1920. One other memory that my mother told, I don't know if I told you about Paul Robeson and the debate. My mother was a debater at New Brunswick High School. She was captain of the debating team. And they always had a Rutgers debater come as a judge. And she said she was sitting there waiting for the judge to come and she said this giant appeared. It was Paul Robeson, who was actually the head of the Rutgers debating team and very famous for his debating. And so, she knew of him because of his football prowess and she was very excited that he came to judge the debate. So they had the debate and my mother said New Brunswick High School won, for which she was very happy. But she said the most important thing was that Paul Robeson, after the debate, critiqued each of the members' presentation. He spent a lot of time and went over what you could have said, what you did say, this would have been better, or another way to put this. She said it was just amazing that he took that much time. So that's why as I say that Paul Robeson is my hero. Another thing, when at a reunion a couple of years ago, they passed out a, it was Paul Robeson's hundredth anniversary, they passed out a little pin. So, my wife had one on and she, after the alumni parade and luncheon, she went to get her car washed and she was waiting for them to wash the car, and this black woman came up to her. She said, "I see that you have a Paul Robeson thing on." And my wife said, "Yes." She said, "I want to tell you a story. When I was a young girl, I went to a small black college in North Carolina and Paul Robeson was the speaker. And I was actually sitting on a bench and I must have looked very sad or very lonely. And Paul Robeson came along and saw me and sat down on the bench and he put his arm around me and said, 'Why are you depressed? You have the whole world ahead of you. The whole world is yours. Just go to school, get good grades,' and he gave me this pep talk." She said, "I couldn't believe that he took the time and effort, which shows you the kind of man he was." And so my wife gave the woman the pin. She said, "Would you like this?" "Oh, I'd love to have that." She said, "I often think of that." Unfortunately, my wife didn't get her name and address and so forth. But it was just another little Paul Robeson vignette.
SSH: Paul Robeson the educator. Were there other stories that you had?
PBJ: Let me look quickly at my notes. No, actually I mentioned my first associate, Estelle Kleiber. And my wife commented that when I was telling her that I mentioned her, about an interesting sidelight, basically on the gender situation. She was, as I told you, the first woman cardiology fellow at Belleville Hospital Cornell Division and so forth. And when she'd been in practice a while, she got a letter asking her to join the Women's Medical Association. And she wrote a letter back, which I wish I had a copy of, where she said, basically, "I'm not a woman doctor, I'm a doctor. And I worked all these years to gain equality. I do not want to sequester myself with the women. I want to be considered an MD, period." And she wrote this letter back to them, which must have shocked them. But it gives you an idea on her depth of thinking on the whole gender issue back in, this was, probably, in maybe the '60s or '50s, when she wrote this letter. Okay, that's all my notes that I can think of.
SSH: Thank you. Anytime, please interject. Well, I wanted to go back and ask a little bit more about the campus that you encountered here. Could you explain to us how you saw the effects of World War II at Rutgers as a student?
SSH: I understand that we're looking at it fifty years hindsight, but just …
PBJ: Well, I think everyone was a serious student. And everyone knew that service was inevitable. And everyone was trying to cram as much education as they could in as short a period as they could. And I really, there was very little campus activity. It was, you know, a nine to five job, including nine to twelve on Saturday, and, of course, homework after that. It was all business. But it did show that you could get an awful lot of work done if you did it that way. And I think it was probably good preparation for medical school, where there is a limited amount of time for everything. You have to know how to budget your time to do well in medical school. And for example, I took a course in embryology with Jim Leathem, who was a marvelous professor here at Rutgers. And there was a book the title of, the author of the book was Arey. And we spent a whole semester, which was a quarter, at that time, going through that book, basically page by page. And in my first year of medical school, they referred us to the same book and said, "You'll be responsible, in your exams, for that book, but we'll have no lectures on it." So, you know, there it was. We had gone through it page by page. So I think Rutgers prepared pre-meds very, very well. I think they had a very small but energetic and erudite faculty and they really did a good job of preparing us, I think.
SSH: How much of a connection was there between the faculty and the pre-med program? Were there contacts between Rutgers faculty and other medical schools?
PBJ: I think Rutgers had a very good reputation in the medical schools. I think Thurlow Nelson, who was the head of biology, and Professor Boyden, who was an internationally known geneticist and so forth, were all names that impressed medical school faculty. NYU, where I went to medical school, was particularly kind to Rutgers graduates, 'cause they said they never had one fail in their history, back to the '20s.
SSH: Did the Rutgers faculty encourage you to go to any particular school?
PBJ: Not really. There was virtually none of, virtually, there was very little in the way of counseling or advising, the way Bob Jenkins does now over at Livingston. And, no, you learn from your colleagues, really. I wasn't even thinking about applying to medical school, yet. And other people kept saying, "I got accepted here and I got accepted there." I thought, "Oh, my goodness, I better get going." So I began to fill out applications. But it was really up to you, which is, I don't know why it was that way, but it was. But they were very cooperative in writing letters and they clearly wanted, your success was their success, 'cause they, you know, a pre-med faculty is gauged by the success rate of the admissions to medical schools, and they were not unaware of that, I'm sure. But things were in such turmoil and things were moving so fast. I think that they just got out of the usual, I had a freshman advisor. But we had no problems, and I guess, after that, I didn't really have any advisor, except the faculty that I spoke to. So there wasn't much, really, there wasn't much help in that.
SSH: You said it was a good but small group of people and I wonder if you had …
PBJ: They really left applying and being interviewed and so forth up to you, which, I guess, is not unreasonable. It's your responsibility not theirs.
SSH: We had talked about the medical school at Seton Hall. Was it in existence when you were going to school here at Rutgers?
PBJ: No. No, that started in the '50s, I believe. No, it was not in existence.
SSH: What did you think of the idea that Rutgers College would become co-ed and Douglass would remain a women's college?
PBJ: Well, I really had no problem with it, okay? But it sort of interested me that Douglass has remained a single-sex school. And I was walking in the woods in Maine one time, I ran upon the Emeritus President of the University of Maine, and he had a house around the end of the cove, and he and I used to meet in the woods every once in a while by accident and have long discussions. He had his Master's, he was a Ph.D., in agriculture, and he had his Master's degree from Rutgers. And he asked me one day, "Do they still have a women's college down there?" And this man had been president of the University of Maine for sixteen or eighteen years. And I said, "Yes." "Well," he said, "if I was an eighteen or nineteen year old young man in the state of New Jersey, I'd sue. That whole suit would take thirty seconds and it would be over and Douglass would no longer exist." And he said, "Why doesn't that happen?" And I said, "Well, I don't think any males particularly care about getting into Douglass. And I guess they're not as interested in establishing precedence like you are," and so forth. But it made me think that he's probably right. It is reverse discrimination, if you want to call it that, or whatever you want to call it. I don't think it would stand up in court. The argument, of course, is that it's part of a bigger university and so forth. But I really don't think it would stand up in court. And by the way, I took a course at NJC when I was at Rutgers and I did it because it was a good course, but I also did it because of the shock value, because the course was called Comparative Anatomy. So I loved to tell people that I'm taking Comparative Anatomy at NJC. It turned out that the professor I had, her name was Dr. Rohn. She was a very attractive, blond, German woman, and lo and behold, in my senior medical school, she turned up as a freshman at NYU Medical School. Pauline Rohn, her name was, and she went on to get her MD and became very active in Hunterdon Medical Center. And she and I talked on the phone frequently, because I was in charge of physical diagnosis at St. Peter's and she was in charge of physical diagnosis there. But I did take her course. Three or four of us went over and took the course. I got a one and we did very well. So there were men taking courses there in those days. And it was only because of the war, however, that they allowed us to do that. Because there were a limited number of courses available at the university and they ran Comparative Anatomy. I had had Cat Anatomy at Rutgers and I decided to take Comparative Anatomy over there, which was basically, you know, comparing the anatomy all the way through the species. It was a very interesting course and she was a marvelous teacher.
SSH: How were you received by the NJC women that were in the course?
PBJ: Mostly okay. But I think that there was some appropriate, and I think of the word acrimony, not dislike, concern, because they could see that women with the same grade point average were not getting in a better medical school, and men were. So there was an appropriate jealousy, I guess, maybe, is the right word. Appropriate jealousy. Because in those days, we had a class of 150 at NYU, which was considered a liberal school, and ten were women. So this was the ratio. And now, at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, it's more women than men. The women outnumber the men. So it's come that far in fifty years.
SSH: At that time, were you aware of any programs that would allow women at NJC to take more science and mathematics courses? We've been asked that question by other researchers.
PBJ: I don't think it was the way they've done it recently, with their "Douglass Experiment" or "Douglass Project" or whatever they call it. I don't think it was that formal. But the women that I was taking that course with, all had two or three years of chemistry, they all had physics, they all had, basically, the same courses that I had. And some of them did get into medical school. But, in fact, one young lady who was the daughter of the professor of chemistry at Rutgers, got in Columbia Presbyterian. She was a Phi Beta Kappa and she was a brilliant woman. So I don't think it was as formal, but I think those courses were available, but there was probably a limited number of women who were taking them.
SSH: In science research and engineering, the researchers are asking us this question, is there no evidence that the universities along the East Coast were asked to open up their departments and try to direct women into these positions, because there was such a drain with men? Was it to keep the courses open or was it to open up avenues for woman?
PBJ: I don't know …
SSH: I wondered whether you were aware of it.
PBJ: Yeah. I was not aware. I went to Highland Park High School and there were girls in my class in Highland Park High School who were so unbelievably smart, and they were very smart in physics and in chemistry and in geometry, in particular, and solid geometry and trigonometry. And I was never aware, or maybe it was just the high school that I went to, I was never aware that women had a problem. And the two girls that I'm particularly friendly with, both went to the Women's College of North Carolina and graduated with high honors. And they didn't major in science particularly, but I always, the women that I met along my career were even as good as the men in science and very much as interested. There weren't as many, is probably the answer.
SSH: I wanted to ask again about the Doctor's Draft during the Korean War. Had you thought, when you first heard that this draft had been enacted, of going forward or did you wait to be drafted?
PBJ: No, I joined the United States Public Health Service.
SSH: Were you drafted to that or did you join?
PBJ: No, I joined it.
SSH: Did anyone recommend that to you?
PBJ: No. I don't think so. I just thought that, I knew, I mean, I always knew. I mean, it seemed appropriate that I was going to serve in a branch of the service, because I had been deferred during my college and medical school days. Actually, I guess, if the Korean War hadn't come along, I never would have been. But I was, it always seemed that that was inevitable. And I just felt, that if, by the time this happened, by June 1950 was when the Korean War broke out, I was already a second year resident at Atlantic City Hospital. And so I decided if I was going into the service, I might as well go into a branch of the service where I knew that I would do medicine. So I joined the United States Public Health Service, which, two or three of us did that, as a matter-of-fact. And it meant, actually, it worked out very well. I was stationed, as I've told you before, in a federal prison in Atlanta. And I was immediately made chief of medicine, with only five doctors on the staff. So it wasn't very hard to be chief of medicine. And it turned out, that when my training was over, to take your boards in internal medicine in those days, you needed three years of residency and two years of practice before you took your boards. Well, I took a year of Cardiology Fellowship after I got out of the Public Health Service, and, so I was able, because I was doing medicine, I got a letter from my chief medical officer down there where I was doing medicine, I was able to use my two years in the Public Health Service as my two years of practice, which meant that I could take my boards before I forgot everything I knew. The sooner you take them, the better, okay? So it was, if you will, countable medical experience, too, as well as, I was doing medicine. I was doing different medicine, dealing with inmates, but it was still medicine. They're people and they get the same diseases as everybody else gets. Because of the situation, you had a lot of malingerers and a lot of people who really had to go in sick-line to get two aspirins. They couldn't go to the drugstore and buy something. So they legitimately had to go through the system. So you saw a huge number of people, in a relatively short period of time, only a few of whom were sick. But there was a 100-bed hospital there, inside the walls of the prison, and they did major surgery. It was amazingly good medicine practice there.
SSH: Did the inmates help as orderlies or nurses?
PBJ: Oh, yeah. Sure. We had a man named McGivney and he was, obviously, an Irishman who had been a longshoreman. And he was serving time in the federal prison for murder. And you don't usually serve time in a federal prison for murder because that's not a federal offense. But he committed murder when he was a member of the Merchant Marine, which during World War II was considered a branch of the service. Well, the murder was, he was in a barroom brawl and hit a guy and the guy hit his head on the bar and died. And so he was sentenced [for] quite a long time. I don't know what his exact sentence was. And he worked in the operating room, and two different surgeons, who were board-certified surgeons, said that this was the best assistant [that] they ever had in all their lives. He could, without a question, he could do any of the major operations with no problems at all, on his own. They were sure 'cause that's what he did everyday. And it was like a perpetual surgical fellowship or residency. And he was a big, rough, tough Irishman. And, you know, it was one of those unfortunate things, you know, he was in a barroom brawl. And he was not a mean person, he was a very nice guy. I never knew what happened to him. I got out before he got out.
SSH: What sort of press did the Doctors' Draft get?
PBJ: Oh, it was, I think, it was very favorable in the beginning, because they felt very strongly that the physicians who had been deferred should serve, and the fact that there were no doctors in the service, as I said the last time, they had sent everybody home. But I think they began to get all the letters to the editor and the types of things I told you about last time. And they began to realize that it was not a very even, well thought out [plan]. It was something Congress put through in a hurry, without giving [it] a lot of thought, which Congress is known to do. And when they add it up, but they basically straightened it out by counting your prior service, and, as I said, people got out, but it took, you know, they were in, anywhere from six months to a year or year and a half, before they finally got out. Some of them were serving a second time. Basically, if you will, [they were] discriminated against because they went to medical school. But, I guess, nobody got really harmed by it. It just slowed some careers down. That's what it amounted to. But I think the press recognized this. And in the second year, after the draft, they began to realize that there were a lot of very strange things happening. But it righted itself. In fairness, I don't know whether Congress corrected it or they just reinterpreted the law. I don't know how it happened.
SSH: Do you know if there was any pressure exerted by the American Medical Association?
PBJ: No, I don't think so. I think it would have been counterproductive for the AMA to fight this because they fought to get physicians deferred, and I think it would have been very two-faced if they fought to keep them out.
SSH: I just wondered how …
PBJ: No, I don't think so.
SSH: Okay. What did you think of Vietnam?
PBJ: Well, I obviously, I think like everyone else. In retrospect, I realize that Vietnam was an ill-conceived war. I think, during it, I had very, very mixed feelings. What bothered me was the fact that, or made me think [that] there was a reason for it, was the fact that, I don't know how many presidents all supported it, and they were on both sides of the aisle. They were both Republicans and Democrats, who thought we had to do it. But deep down, you wondered. I mean, you can't, I don't think, by military means, force your ideology on other people. I think that, and I think every time we've tried to do this, including the Marshall Plan, it's failed. You know, we gave zillions of dollars away, and the people we gave it to didn't like us, they hated us. And I think the Vietnam War was pretty much the same thing. And I think we, I think the arrogance of this country, which it can be, didn't recognize what France did when France got out of there. That this was something that they just had to get out of. And we walked in there with, "Well, we'll take care of this in ten minutes." And we found out [that there] was much that we didn't know about the whole situation, I think, the political situation there. I don't think we really understood it, because we went in to solve it.
SSH: How was the conversation around the Jennings' dinner table about this subject, considering all the experiences of your various family members?
PBJ: Not really. I don't remember my father expressing an opinion, particularly about that or not. I'm sure he read up on it, because he read everything in the newspaper. He was, he read the board of education meetings, he read the council meetings, and he would say, "You know, Old Bridge is a funny community over there. They're always arguing about things." And he would, even in towns that he would hardly ever visit, he would recognize by reading the council meetings. I ended up doing the same thing. My son worked for the city of Old Bridge. And I keep telling him about the police chief fighting with the mayor and so forth. And he knows about it, he works for the police department.
But he's always amazed that I presented him with this about six-thirty in the morning, "Hey, did you see the latest from Old Bridge?" So my father trained me well. And he said you could tell the communities where there were problems by just reading [this stuff]. Because he wrote this, he covered the board of education, he covered council meetings, he covered all those things in his days working at the newspapers. So he was very aware. But I never actually discussed the Vietnam situation with him. I don't know why, but never did.
SSH: How old were your children at that time?
PBJ: No, they were too young. But it was a, I mean, again, in retrospect, it was obviously, and it did raise some eyebrows. People like Muhammad Ali were raising questions about it. And people were very critical of our president for not serving. But, again, it's hard to be critical, because if you were a young man of draft age at that time, it was very different from World War II. In World War II, we were fighting for survival. In both the Korean and the Vietnamese War, we were fighting to put our ideology on someone else. The Korean War followed World War II so closely, I think, that nobody stopped to think much. It was almost an extension. But it really wasn't, if you stop to think about it, because the communists were our allies in World War II. And five years later, we're fighting them. I don't know why.
SSH: Did you have any dealings with the VA? What was your opinion of them?
PBJ: Okay. It's a good question. In fact, one of the things that I always applauded, but it never happened, was when Eisenhower was president, he wanted to, basically, combine all military hospitals. And he pointed out [that in] the city of New Orleans, for instance, there was a naval hospital, an Army hospital, a veteran's hospital, and all of them were less than fifty percent occupied. And he suggested combing all of these under one medical system, basically under the USPHS hospitals, or under the auspices of the United States Public Health Services. Well, Eisenhower, of all people, should have recognized that this was almost impossible to pull off, because each one of those places had a chief medical officer. And if you have five hospitals and, now, it became one hospital, that means that there is only one chief medical officer and these four other guys were gone. And, having been in the Army, he must have understood that. But he also understood that it was a very smart idea. But it never really happened. I think the quality of care that I've seen, and I had a little bit, in my dealings with Rutgers Medical School and its affiliation with the VA Hospital in Lyons. And they were doing some very interesting stuff out there. I think they took care of, particularly, of veterans with psychological problems and so forth. So, I think the VA system has been pretty decent. In fact, somewhere along the line, I was accepted for a residency, I guess, while I was waiting to get into the Public Health Service. There was a period of time [when] I was in limbo. So, I decided to go down to the VA Hospital near Baltimore. And the chief of medicine there was a man named Perrin Long, who was a very, very well-known infectious disease guy. And I was going to go there, and then my orders came through and then I couldn't go. But it was a very, very good training program. So I think the VA has been decent, with decent medical care.
SSH: We talked about the people who have fallen through the cracks in medicine, like during the Reagan years, when people with mental problems were turned out of medical facilities and things like that. How do community hospitals like St. Peter's handle those types of situations?
PBJ: I think both of the community hospitals have been very, very humanistic, in the sense that they take care of people and ask questions later. You know, you hear horror stories about people being turned out of emergency rooms for not having any money or insurance and so forth. I've never seen anything like that in New Brunswick, I really haven't at either hospital. Or at Muhlenberg or Perth Amboy or any hospital I knew something about. I never found that. I think that they've been very good. They really never have been repaid for this. They've had an awful lot of charity patients, there's no question. And they, as I said last time, the truly indigent are getting good medical care. I mean, I worked in clinics all my life and the people who work in the clinics of the two hospitals are the highest caliber physicians of the staff, because it's part of their makeup. If you're in it for money, you won't work in the clinic, okay? But I still walk through the clinic areas of St. Peter's and have people come up and say hello to me and hug me and say, "Remember me?" And I do often. I remember one woman, I still see sometimes, a black woman who had one of first plastic valves put in her aortic valve. And she's still alive, not well, because she's had a couple of strokes, but this was probably in the mid-'50s, early '60s. And she never fails to come up and say hello to me and so forth. And I think that, you know, I had a very good relationship with a lot of clinic patients. And I thoroughly enjoyed them. And I probably shouldn't say this, but I enjoyed them more than the Johnson & Johnson executives.
SSH: What do you think about this generation of medical students? Are they taught to look at the clinics in the same light?
PBJ: You know, I think we bottomed out. I base this on teaching Physical Diagnosis. And since our last interview, I did midterm exercises with a young woman, who is a second-year student in Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and she was as good at the mid-point of her training course, as almost everyone I ever saw who was at the end [of theirs]. She did an absolutely impeccable [job], I observed her do a history and physical. And you just sit there in a corner and watch. She was outstanding, she had great rapport with the patient, and she was a sympathetic person. And I mentioned this to one who is now coordinating the course, an Indian woman, Mena Murthy, her name is. And she said, "You know, the last year class and this year's class are so much better, as far as their humanism, than the ones we had before." I wonder if, it's purely speculation, but I wonder if it's the fact that medicine does not have the financial rewards that it used to have, and people with science backgrounds are going to higher paying jobs in physics and chemistry and other research fields in biology rather than medical school. And I think that, perhaps, there was a generation in there, or half a generation, who went into medicine because they thought they'd make a lot of money. And now, since the world seems to know that they're not going to make a lot of money, you're getting more people going in for humanistic reasons. That's purely speculation. I mean, physicians all live very well, but there is, you do make more money faster in a lot of other fields today. Whereas twenty-five years ago, I think, it was one of the highest paying professions. And I think that people were drawn to it for that reason. We had a period in which I was sort of disappointed in the fact that the students were not humanistic and they weren't really that great, okay? But this young woman restored my faith in humanity. In fact, I just saw her last Thursday and was kidding with her. I said, "Hey, you're great." I said, "You know, I got bad news for you, though." And she said, "What's that?" I said, "You're never going to be rich." She said, "Why not?" "Because you spend too much time with the patients." And she laughed and so forth. I said, "You like people." "Oh, I love people." I said, "Well, that's the name of the game." So, I'm hopeful that we've bottomed out. But I do think we had a period of time [where] the students were not that thorough, okay? I taught students during [their] wild rebellious ages and they were good. They were wild, but they were, and of course, we had concerns about their dress, which was always a problem during the so-called "hippie" era. But you know, you were dealing with conservative people in the hospital, you can't have them coming in looking outlandish. We had some flaps over that. But they were a very, very dedicated, idealistic group of people. So I think most of them probably made very good doctors. It was an interesting era. Then, there was the period in which I think the caliber of students did not measure up. Now, I think we're back where we ought to be.
SSH: Have you been involved in any programs that recruit young doctors for programs geared towards low-income people?
PBJ: No, not really.
SSH: Speaking of the hippie-era, what were your thoughts during the '60s and the problems with Eugene Genovese?
PBJ: An amusing anecdote. Rutgers was still small enough, at this point, where they asked various alumni to go to the senior banquet. And you sat at a table with twelve or fourteen students, and you were the one alumnus at each table. And I sat next to a young man and he was very well dressed and very neat, he was an engineering student, a senior. And so I talked to him, I said, "What do you think about the hippie generation?"
He said, "Well, you know, I laugh at them." And this guy was a senior at Rutgers. "I laugh at them, because if one guy comes out of the fraternity house with green beads on, and he sees the guy with red beads on, he goes back in and he puts on red beads, and these are the people that are yelling about how we all should express ourselves and be different." He says, "They're the most regimented people in the world, they all have to look alike." And so I asked him, "What are you going to do with your summer vacation?" He said, "I don't have a summer vacation. I start work next week in engineering. I can't afford to have a summer vacation." So I think that there were a lot of very serious students on the campus. I have no, I was interested in the group, I think the people like, who really destroyed campuses like what's-his-name, at Columbia, Mark Rudd, yeah, whatever his name. I think that was wrong. But I think most of the ones at Rutgers were quite responsible. Of course, we all know that our Chair of the Board of Governors was a student leader during, Rich Levao, was a vocal student leader in those days. And he's now the Chairman of the Board of Governors and one of the most articulate people I've ever known in my life. But he was a, so that I think some of these campus radicals and dissidents or whatever you want to call them, had some good points. And I think that they were, and I think we were fortunate to have a man like Mason Gross as president of the University at that time. He was a very liberal person himself, and he could really relate to these kids, even though he was aristocracy from the word go, Harvard and the whole bit. He was also a very liberal guy and I think he was able to deal with them much better than some of the other university presidents who became adversarial. I think he listened. And I know, I've talk to Rich Levao about it. And he said that Mason Gross and Howard Crosby and some of the people who, "Even though they were on the opposite side of the fence, they listened to me and I listened to them. And we both realized that there were two sides to every argument. So I didn't feel too bad about it."
SSH: How did it pan out to the …
PBJ: Yeah, I was at Rutgers when he was here. And then I thought that was handled well. You know the worst thing that we could have done was to fire him. I mean, we all know …
SSH: What did Genovese do?
PBJ: No, all he did was [speak] against the Vietnam War and basically said that a Viet Cong victory would be good. I mean, he put it much more eloquently than that. And of course, he landed on his feet and he landed at Yale. And he's still teaching at Yale, they tell me. I think that harkened back to McCarthyism and would have fired him, and Mason didn't condone what he said, but he respected his right to say it. And, of course, as history went on, maybe he was right. He was basically saying the Vietnam War was a poor war.
SSH: Have there been other professors that raised the attention of the university?
PBJ: Well, of course, the two were fired for not, for taking the Fifth. During the McCarthy era, Professor Heimlich, who was in the College of Pharmacy and who never came back, and, [someone] who became provost at Rutgers, Dick Schlatter, and ended up coming back to Rutgers and became provost. But they were both fired because they wouldn't take the oath that [said that] they have not or never have been a member of the communist party. And I mentioned my friend Jerry Ronlik a few times, and Jerry's father was a Rutgers graduate in the late twenties and a physicist.
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PBJ: His father had a small cabin up in the Catskills, and he said [that] sometimes he would wake up at night and come down and see all these men discussing things very seriously. And then when the McCarthy era came along, these were all the guys. His father was obviously with, his father had died, I think, by that time. And so he said, he realized that his father was one of the physicists who felt very strongly that they had a right to say what they had to say. Jerry's kids all went to Rutgers and one of them was a Henry Rutgers Scholar. In fact, Jerry now kids me. He says, "You know, I think I've got more Rutgers graduates in my family than you do." Jerry went to Penn State, by the way. Anyway, that was an interesting era. And Rutgers, again, had, basically, I guess, no choice except to fire these guys in the McCarthy era. Apparently, they were both brilliant men.
SSH: In your tenure on the Board of Trustees, what has been the most difficult situation for you?
PBJ: I think the only roll call vote I recall in, I guess, almost twenty years, was on divesting in South Africa, divesting our stock in South Africa. And that was voted on twice. The first time we voted on it, we had, actually, gathered Rutgers police around the area. And it was pretty heated. And the vote was not to divest. And I think the one who persuaded us the most, with the most knowledge, was the ex-mayor of New Brunswick, who played basketball for the University of Connecticut. A tall black man, Johnson & Johnson executive, okay? Aldradge Cooper. Anyway, he had been to Johnson & Johnson's facility in South Africa. And he said [that] if we forced American industries out of South Africa, that's the last recourse the blacks have, that's where they get their medical care. If you're lucky enough to work for Johnson & Johnson or IBM or whatever, and one of the stocks we had was [in] the New York Times, and certainly to force the New York Times out of South Africa would not have been to the benefit of the black people. We tried to explain that to the black students. Ed Bloustein tried to explain it, and, of course, they weren't really listening. So the vote was not to divest. Now I had to sit out two years. In those days, you served a six-year term and then you had to sit out two years before you could be re-nominated for the board. During those two years, they voted again, and, at that point, Karcher, the Democratic leader from Sayreville, had gotten a bill through the New Jersey legislature saying that all state pension funds had to divest. And so they realized that we were next. So they agreed to divest. But Joe Whiteside worded it in such a way that we had five years to divest. So that actually, anything they sold, they waited for the market to be right before they sold it. So they actually didn't loose any money. And I was interested, because Harvard divested and the University of Maine was discussing divesting. And the Ellsworth paper, James Russell Wiggins, who was the retired managing editor of the Washington Post, runs the weekly in Ellsworth, Maine. And his editorials are outstanding. And he chastised Harvard for divesting and he maintained that when you are, basically, the caretaker of public money, that you should not loose money for the pensioners on a political issue. Because, as much as I'm in favor of the blacks in South Africa, what's next, abortion? Where do you go? When you start as a trustee of a university or trustee of a public trust, it's your responsibility not to lose money. I thought that was very interesting. So I supported our position. And I sent it to Ed Bloustein, and he wrote back to the governor of Maine and said, "Well, I got one friend in the world," or something like that. But that was the biggest issue. And as I say, I was glad I was not on the board when they [had] to vote, basically, with a gun to their heads to divest, because it really didn't make an awful lot of sense. You were basically going to punish the blacks in South Africa to make a political statement in New Jersey. And I think it was not a good thing to do. But that was the only, I always laugh about it, because I'm now a Trustee Emeritus, our standard line is, "We can't vote but we can speak." In fact, I'm always kidding Norman Rietman, because Norman was on the board for so long, and every time there is something [to vote on he goes] "Aye" and we say, "Norman, you can't vote." He goes, "Oops." And it doesn't matter. That's the only roll call vote I ever recall. There was one other issue, when the Board of Governors basically overruled the Board of Trustees on a matter, which was an interesting matter. And Ed Bloustein was on the trustees' side. But the Board of Governors overruled the Board of Trustees, and, in retrospect, they were 100 percent right. So they had more insight into the situation than we did. I can't tell you what the situation was, but they had more insight into it than we did. So they're the only two things. Basically, we're an advisory board. And we did get letters from faculty, letters from the deans, we do get, people's university do try to involve us in the political process. But basically, we are advisory, and I think some trustees have failed to recognize it. The president of the university has the authority to appoint deans, not the Board of Trustees, 'cause they get involved in that on a few occasions. And that really is, clearly, the appointment of a dean is a prerogative of the president. He doesn't need the advice and consent of, he does need it from the Board of Governors, but not through the Board of Trustees. But we had a few trustees who got their noses out of joint because they weren't consulted about a dean change.
SSH: Are you regularly consulted for your expertise or your advice?
PBJ: Not on things that are clearly not our prerogative, if you will. I mean, the bicameral system, if you want to call it that, it takes every president since Mason Gross was here, I guess, or when the whole thing was set up, to really understand the role of the Board of Governors or the role of the Board of Trustees. In fact, there was some alarm, when Fran Lawrence came, that he was going to do away with the system. I don't think he ever considered it. I think that was just a false alarm. But it is sort of a strange thing, as you know, Rutgers is the youngest state university and the sixth oldest college in the country. And, in setting up the state university, they basically, the trustees owned the land and buildings. So all the buildings and land, obviously, all the land that was here when it became a state university, basically, belonged to the trustees, okay? But the governors govern, okay? So it's sort of a crazy situation. Now, buildings have been built since 1954 or whenever it was, they really, now, belong to the university and belong to the State and not to the trustees. So, I guess, as buildings deteriorate, we have less and less property. But we still own the land. We still own the land. Did I mention, I don't know if I mentioned, my father covered the sale of …
PBJ: Well, when the sale, when Piscataway and Raritan Township sold, what is now the Busch Campus, to Rutgers in the '30s, my father covered that meeting. And they were all, the council of Piscataway and Raritan Township, I think it was one council, before Raritan Township split up, were chortling over the fact that they put over a deal by selling all this land. And it was worthless land. I mean, this is the '30s, the Depression. Rutgers paid, what was considered a sizable amount of money, for it. And Robert Clothier, the president's retort was that, "I'm a Quaker, and to a Quaker, land is money." And boy, was he ever right. Was he ever right. Where would this University have been if we didn't have [land] across the river? And we had friends that we met in Cape Cod, and he was the vice president of Boston University. And when we played Boston University in football, he came down to spend a weekend with us. And we were parked where the present lacrosse field is, and were walking across there. At that time, it was the microbiology building, the Waksman Building, and there was a stadium and maybe a couple of other buildings there. And he was walking around and he says, "Rutgers owns all this?" And I said, "Yeah." And he said, "You know, we buy land in Boston by the square inch." He said, "This university is going to get greater and greater and greater because they had this room for expansion." So the Quaker knew what he was doing. My father thought he was right, too. But he said, money was big in those days. I mean, they, now, of course, Piscataway, the mayor of Piscataway, I'm good friends with the mayor and council, and they periodically gripe about all that tax-free land that they get no tax money. I said to Helen Merolla, "Hey, Helen, your predecessors gave it away and thought they got a good deal out of it."
SSH: Well, I have one last question to ask, unless there's something that you would like to add. In looking back, I'd like your perspective on how you feel that World War II affected the man you are today?
PBJ: Affected what?
SSH: Made you the man that you are today.
PBJ: Well, I think it was a very sobering influence. I think, what it did, you might say, it robbed me of my youth, okay? In the sense that I had to get very serious very early. And that's not, it robbed all of my generation of their youth. Some of them permanently, they were killed. So, I think, it was very hard to be frivolous. I knew, having been born and lived in that generation, I knew countless people that were killed. I mean, the number of kids that I knew from Highland Park who died in World War II. One of my four best friends and my other best friend's brother lived on North Fifth Avenue, and the famous telegrams came the same day. The Western Union guy stopped at 15 North Fifth Avenue, and delivered,"Alfred Paul was killed in action," and at 53 North Fifth Avenue, "William Leonard was killed in action." These houses are twenty houses apart, or fifteen houses apart. My other good, my four closest friends, another one's brother was killed. So it was very, very real. I mean, these were people that you knew very well. I don't think, the thing is, I think the value of what you're doing here, I don't think, as time goes on, people really understand what unbelievable things this war did. And not just the military, the mobilization of this country, 'cause we were very close to losing that war. And to mobilize, make planes, and the fact that the civilians willingly gave up meat, butter and cars and gasoline and all those things, which you really wonder if they'd do today. I think that everybody realized, you didn't have to be awful bright. If you just read the paper, I mean, we were very, very close to being annihilated after Pearl Harbor, we were totally unprepared. So, I think it made everybody grow up a lot faster. And I think it made us all realize how mortal we were. I think that was another thing. So it had, you know, in many ways, a positive action. I didn't have the so-called "campus life," but I would have been, I wasn't a fraternity guy or campus guy anyway, particularly. I probably would have played lightweight football, okay? I do, like my friend Carl Dilatush still talks about, okay. And [there were] a few things on campus I would have enjoyed. I did get to one campus dance and then they stopped having them, the Military Ball as a matter-of-fact. But then they stopped having dances. We had intramural athletics, which was fun and gave everybody a chance to play, rather than just the gifted athletes. But I think it really made everybody grow up fast, which is what it did. No, I have no regrets, frankly, of having lived through that era. I really wonder, as time goes further and further on, people are not as aware. I think the book The Greatest Generation, which I, my daughter-in-law gave to me for Christmas a year ago, I think that book points out a lot of these things. I mean, it points to the commitment that that generation had. The divorce rate is very low. The rate of suing people for frivolous suits is very low. I think these all were lessons learned. People realized what was really important in life. And I think that's what that generation understood. But I hope we don't have another war to prove it, let's put it that way.
SSH: Well, I thank you very much.
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Edited 8/6/00 Dennis Duarte
Edited 8/8/00 Sandra Stewart Holyoak
Edited 8/17/00 Sean D. Harvey
Edited 2/22/01 Paul Jennings
Edited 3/17/01 Kathryn Tracy