Casey, James A.

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  • Interviewee: Casey, James A.
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  • Date: November 20, 2012
  • Place: New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • Interviewers:
    • Shaun Illingworth
    • Katie Ruffer
  • Transcript Production Team:
    • Fantastic Transcripts
    • Molly Graham
  • Recommended Citation: Casey, James A. Oral History Interview, November 20, 2012, by Shaun Illingworth and Katie Ruffer, Page #, Rutgers Oral History Archives. Online: Insert URL (Last Accessed: Insert Date).
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SI: This begins an interview with James A. Casey on November 20, 2012 in New Brunswick, New Jersey with Shaun Illingworth and--
KR: Katie Ruffer.
SI: Mr. Casey, thank you very much for coming today.
JC: Okay.
SI: To begin, can you tell me where and when you were born?
JC: I was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1933. The name of the hospital was Louis Memorial Hospital.
SI: What were your parents' names?
JC: My parents' name--well, my dad was Thomas B. Casey. My mother was Mary Catherine (Lavin?) Casey. Her maiden name was (Lavin?). They both were residents of Chicago originally, when they grew up.
SI: Starting with your father's side of the family, what do you know about his family background, his family history?
JC: Well, my grandfather, who I was named after, actually died in Denver, Colorado when my dad was four years old. Then, my grandmother and his brother and his sisters moved back to Chicago. They lived on the south side of Chicago. My dad attended Wisconsin University and became a civil engineer, which back in those days was highly unusual to be a college graduate back before World War II. It was a good thing because I come from a family of nine children. My mom was also a college graduate. She graduated from--back in those days, they called it normal school for teachers. I don't know. I think it was tied in with the Board of Education in Chicago at that time. Those schools were where they trained teachers.
SI: So, your father's family had just temporarily been in Colorado.
JC: They were in Colorado. They were originally from Chicago and my grandfather contracted tuberculosis. So, they moved to Denver. I don't know exactly how many years they were in Denver but it was probably ten years or better because I can remember stories from my aunt about her seeing rides in stagecoaches and seeing the Indians and all that. But they moved back to Chicago.
SI: Did he work while he was out there or was he just recovering from tuberculosis?
JC: No. I don't know if he was working or not. I take it at the end there, he had tuberculosis and was pretty--and my aunt who was, I think eight years older than my dad, contracted tuberculosis, but they removed one of her lungs and she recovered from it. It didn't seem to bother her through her life because she became a teacher. In fact, all my aunts, were teachers. I mean, it was back--it's not nowadays, but back in those days, they have two parents that were college graduates.
SI: That is very rare.
JC: My mom and dad had nine kids. All of them attended and graduated from college, which was unusual.
SI: Yes, that's quite an accomplishment. Did your father or mother ever talk about what motivated them to go to college?
JC: Well, I know it's probably because all those aunts were teachers.
SI: Education was highly valued.
JC: Education was valued and he had to work his way through Wisconsin. In fact, he weighed cattle in Chicago stockyards. That's how he worked his way through Wisconsin.
SI: Let me pause for a second.
[Tape paused]
SI: So, when we took our break, you were talking about how your father worked his way through Wisconsin. Did he ever talk about what it was like going to college in those days?
JC: Yes. In fact, he was quite a track star when he was at [Wisconsin]. In fact, he ran the hundred yard dash at the Drake Relays at something like nine-four, but back in those days it was four-fifths. It's the way they timed it from what I understand. But that was the last--I mean, he used to talk about Wisconsin won the Drake Relays, which was the big, big ten thing. But he lettered, I know, four years track at Wisconsin. After he graduated, World War I was underway. I understand his whole class went--they were engineers and they sent him to Paris, France and trained him on the French seventy-five weapons. They were artillery people in World War I. My dad also did some observing in these biplanes. He didn't fly them, but he flew as a spotter for their artillery and he was after that--he was just death on airplanes because he thought all these pilots were flying these bi-wings were nuts, [laughter] and they probably were. People in those days, it was pretty hazardous.
SI: Do you know if he had been in ROTC at Wisconsin, if they had that there?
JC: No, I don't think so. I never heard that was in ROTC.
SI: So, he earned his commission once he went in the service.
JC: He [didn't] take it because he is college graduate. They gave him lieutenant's commission. I think they kind of enjoyed their trip to Paris [laughter] because they used to--when I was growing up, when I lived in Chicago, this group would have a reunion every year at a club in Chicago and I tell you they had quite a party.
SI: Was he involved in the American Legion at all?
JC: No, no. But the only thing I know was this group that they--
SI: Yes. So, the group was all people from Wisconsin or were they from all over?
JC: Yes, they were all Wisconsin engineer graduates.
SI: Did he ever talk about being involved in any battles other than the observing?
JC: No. Just about how these pilots were--[laughter] because it was a long time before he'd get in an airplane, but he finally broke that, [laughter] but after he came back, [his] first job, in fact the only job he had outside the State of Illinois was here in New York with a company called the Foundation Company of New York. My dad built bridges, power plants. He also was the project engineer on what they call the Illinois Waterway, which was financed originally by the state of Illinois and they constructed--reversed the Chicago River, I don't know, and made it navigable to New Orleans for barges. They had to build, I don't know, six or seven locks and damns. He was involved with the State of Illinois down to Florence, Illinois. Then, after that, when the [Great] Depression came in '29 and the State of Illinois went bankrupt on this, the [US Army] Corps of Engineers, federal government took it over. The State of Illinois hired him as the consultants to watch to see what the federal government was going to do with this project. He actually worked for the State of Illinois on temporary contracts from, well, I think '32 through 1942, '43. They finally gave him the department. They made him Chief Engineer for the Division of Waterways. He spend the rest--actually, retired from the State of Illinois, but he oversees that project and also all of the water projects the State of Illinois had.
SI: How long was in New York before he moved back to Illinois?
JC: Probably five or six years. Wait a minute. Trying to think. Maybe not that long because two of my brothers were born out here, one in Brooklyn [laughter] and one over in New Jersey. Is it Chatham?
SI: Yes.
JC: Chatham, [New Jersey], I think that's where they lived when they moved over to--but he probably was spending most of his time out in Illinois even when he was living here. Their headquarters for the Foundation Company was here in New York City, but he was on these projects. I know he worked up in Bismarck, North Dakota, building a bridge and he also worked down in Mexico City, building a power plant.
SI: Going to your mother's family history for a minute, you said her family was also in Chicago.
JC: Yes.
SI: How long had they been in Chicago?
JC: Their whole life, as far as--I think originally, from what I heard that--I don't know the exact dates, but most of the Irish that came in, went to Kenosha, Wisconsin, because Chicago at that time was a swamp. I don't know if people realize that. I think around 1900 is when they built that lock and damn at Lake Michigan and reversed the Illinois River or reversed the Illinois Waterway because it really was Chicago River and ran into the Illinois River, but that's when they started populating, really populating Chicago when they--
SI: Did they live also in the south side?
JC: South side, yes. Well, it was back in the--they were all ethnic neighborhoods. They went from the south side--and when I was born, actually born on the north side in Rogers Park, which that's where all the Irish migrated to. That's all changed up in Chicago now, but back in the early time it was all broken up into ethnic groups and I'm sure New York was the same way.
SI: Yes. Did your mother ever tell you about her life before she got married, what she did for a living?
JC: She was a teacher.
SI: She was a teacher then.
JC: Yes, she was teaching in Chicago public schools. She was teaching home economics.
SI: Did she continue to teach after they got married?
JC: No. Well, I shouldn't say that, because when we moved, I lived in Chicago from '33 to '38. We moved to Springfield when my dad looked like he was going--after signing these contracts every six months, he moved the whole family down because he was commuting every weekend all over the state back into Chicago and we had--even with that, I was number six.
SI: So, you were about in the middle.
JC: Well, yes. My mom had seven boys in a row. We were, I think, eight and a half years apart. Then, my two sisters came. They were born in Springfield.
SI: According to your survey, your oldest brother was born in '27 and youngest sister was '41.
JC: Yes.
SI: So, quite a gap.
JC: Yes. Well, the gap was really between the boys and the girls. [laughter] She did. She was, I don't know, some kind of--was bedridden for a year, I think. Some kind of disease and I never did quite get what all that was about. I was so young. I was five years old when I moved to Springfield.
SI: Did your mother ever talk about the World War I period for her, what she remembers of World War I?
JC: Well, no. Not so much that, but they used to talk about supporting the Revolution in Ireland. [Editor's Note: The Irish War of Independence was fought between British security forces and the Irish Republican Army and took place between 1918 and 1921, which eventually resulted in the Anglo-Irish Treaty, granting independence to Ireland.] [Laughter] They called it the [Irish] White Cross, I think it was. [Editor's Note: The Irish White Cross was a relief organization established in Ireland in 1921.] I tell you, my grandmother was--I don't think my mother was active in it, but I think my grandmother was involved with the White Cross. That was when [Eamon] de Valera had started the Revolution after--they said the biggest--
SI: The Easter Rising. [Editor's Note: The Dublin 1916 Easter Rising was an attempt to overthrow British rule and create an independent Irish republic. The fighting took place between April 24 and 29, 1916. The revolt failed to gather widespread support and the British executed the Irish leaders of the uprising.]
JC: Yes, they said the big mistake the British made was the Irish that they has enlisted during World War I to go to their continent. They sent them home with their rifles. The British said that there was biggest mistake was when they sent the Irish home with their rifles because the Revolution started after that. They did get all, but the six counties.
SI: Do you know how your parents met?
JC: Yes, through one of my cousins. I'm trying to think which one, but one of my aunts was a (Murphy?) and one of her daughters introduced my mom and dad and I heard that story. That was in Chicago.
SI: So, you spent the first five years of your life in this neighborhood in the south side of Chicago.
JC: North side.
SI: I'm sorry. Rogers park you said.
JC: Rogers Park. My parents were both in--
SI: They were both from the south side. Do you have any memories of growing up in that neighborhood before you moved?
JC: Just very ... one thing I can remember, we lived [a] couple blocks from Lake Michigan and I remember going swimming and stuff, and just playing. It was different than living in Springfield because we had--I remember, I still call them icebox, where they icemen come around, put the twenty-five pound block of ice in the back of your refrigerator. That was the way they refrigerated food back in those days. We used to the chase the ice away because he used to chip ice and give it to the kids and I remember that. It was all down in alleys, which in Chicago they all--which we didn't have in Springfield. We didn't have the alley society, but everybody played. They'd play in the streets. They played in the alleys, kid did. I remember that.
SI: Was this Rogers Park neighborhood, was it mostly Irish?
JC: Yes. It was--
SI: All Irish?
JC: Yes.
SI: Yes.
JC: We lived right next to Loyola University there on the south side of Chicago. Had one aunt that had an apartment, was right on the lake, which we used to go over there. When we went swimming, we used to go to--[laughter]
SI: What was it like for you resettling in Springfield?
JC: Well, we moved in there and I can still remember my dad took us to this grade school, Bless Sacrament grade school. He registered six of us [laughter] in one day. I remember that. I started out in kindergarten there. My oldest brother, I think, was in the seventh grade. We had one in almost--and it was very modern. It was almost a brand new school that had been built on the west side. It was Catholic, but I can remember it had a gymnasium and an intercom system and all this, which back in the late '30s was really up to date. That was ahead of its time because I can remember there's a big ... after a couple years that they put all this stuff in the public schools because the Catholics ... then all the public schools had to have a gymnasium, sound systems.
SI: Was there a particular order that ran the school?
JC: No, they were Ursuline nuns that ran the school, yes.
SI: Did nuns mostly teach you or were there lay teachers as well?
JC: None. Every one of them was a nun. We didn't have any--in those days, there weren't any lay teachers, except for the PE. We did have a cop that used to come in and give us--his real job was a policeman, but he did the physical education there, PE ...
SI: When you moved to Springfield, did your family move into house or was it an apartment?
JC: We moved into a house before that. We rented it. Well, during the War, everything just came to a halt and we didn't even--my dad, after the war was going to build a house. Well, he got to the--after the war, the people we were renting from all during the war, this guy wanted to sell the place. My dad didn't want to buy it because he thought it was overpriced, but he found the one down the block and he bought it and we moved out, just moved a half a block down the street and stayed in the same school. It was a little smaller house, but my brothers at that time were starting to go to college ... My oldest brother is a Jesuit priest and he's been a college professor most of his life at Regis [University] and the University of Seattle.
SI: What role did the church play in your life growing up?
JC: Well, it was very--my mom was a very religious woman. My dad, we had it. I went to high school, we went to a Catholic High School which was taught by ... Most of them came from Ireland. It was all boys. It wasn't any girls. There was two girls schools there in Springfield and just one boys high school, Catholic. But it had a very good reputation, somewhat. Ninety-eight percent of the kids coming out of high school went to college. In fact, one who was there about ten years after I graduated, there was two years there that the valedictorian at the University of Illinois was a Cathedral graduate.
SI: Were you involved in your local church?
JC: Yes.
SI: Altar boy?
JC: Alter boy and the whole bit. In fact, we went to church almost every day.
SI: Would you go for morning mass?
JC: We did. Normally, on Saturday we wouldn't have to go, but my oldest brother, for some reason, thought his little brothers ought to go on Saturday, which got to be sort of a contentious thing. [laughter] So, it was a very religious upbringing.
SI: What was the name of the church you attended?
JC: Bless Sacrament.
SI: Same as the elementary school.
JC: No, the high school was the Cathedral Boys High School, which is now--they've changed the name. It's Sacred Heart Griffin in Springfield. It's co-ed now.
SI: What was that neighborhood like in Springfield that you grew up in?
JC: Just a regular, all single family homes. No apartments or anything like that. It was a lot of kids and stuff and during the war a lot of them went--a lot of the older--when you're eighteen, back in those days, you were drafted. You went into the Army. When I came out of high school, I went to a year and a half of college and they drafted me, but that was [the] Korean War.
SI: Before Pearl Harbor, in those years in the late '30s when the Depression was still in effect, do you have any memories of the Great Depression affecting your neighborhood in Springfield?
JC: Oh, yes. I remember people, WPA workers. They laid streets and I remember laying one highway out there with bricks, which you can imagine building a highway with bricks, but they did. They did a lot of park work and stuff like that. Because I remember my dad--there's a place there called New Salem, which is a project that was done by WPA. They enlisted my dad to replace the grist mill. Somebody came up with the original blueprints or diagrams on that and because of his engineering water ... they asked him to consult on the building. I remember going to New Salem and seeing the grist mill that he was involved with.
SI: Did your father spend a lot of time on the road when you were growing up?
JC: Yes.
SI: Yes.
JC: All over the state. Then, when I grew up, I worked for the Division of Waterway. Worked on both the Illinois River and Lake Michigan. So, I got very familiar with what he did. It was quite--he accomplished a lot in his life.
SI: Did he ever take you or any of your siblings out with him or could he only go alone?
JC: Oh, yes. I can remember when we were kids, there was a flood down on the Illinois River, Alton, Illinois. He took us down there and I can remember German prisoners loading sandbags down there [laughter] during the floods ... down there. During the war also, he was in constant contact with the Coast Guard on stages in the Illinois River because they were building submarines up in Northern Wisconsin and transferring them on floats down to New Orleans through the Illinois Waterway. They used to call him night and day and wanted to know stages of different places in the river, which he kept.
SI: You were about eight when Pearl Harbor was attacked?
JC: Yes, it was in 1941. Yes, it was eight. Yes.
SI: Do you have any memories of that day?
JC: Oh, yes. I remember Roosevelt going--all we had then was radio. I remember him going on.
SI: Was it a shock to you that this had happened?
JC: Oh, yes. Shock to everybody. It was amazing how it pulled the country together because the Depression started in '29 and I always said he took an eighteen month recession and ran it into a thirteen year depression because they weren't any better off in '41. Actually, it was almost--it was December when everything came together. All of the young guys went to war. If they were anywhere between eighteen and thirty-five years old, they probably went to the Army if they were fit. A lot of them got exemptions because they were valuable to the war works. But that's when the women went to work. I remember that we had ammunitions factory near Illiopolis, right outside Springfield. I remember a lot of women went to work down there, putting out munitions.
SI: Women from your neighborhood?
JC: Yes, people we knew. Family friends and stuff. Also could remember that the fairgrounds there in Springfield was turned into a training thing for the Chinese and they bought a bunch of Chinese in from China to teach them how to assemble bombers. They were shipping these bombers to China on ships and probably through Burma and that area. Chinese were assembling them over there, but they had these people in Springfield training them how to put these planes together.
SI: I'd actually heard about that with folks who served at Chanute Field. Is Chanute Field anywhere near Springfield?
JC: Yes.
SI: Okay. It's not too far.
JC: It's down by Belleville. We had two of them, because one thing we used to experience--some of the people in the neighborhood were stationed up there. I'm trying to think of the Air Force base near Champaign. I can't remember, but there was another one that--Chanute Field is down by Belleville. These guys were being trained on B-29s and they used to buzz us. They'd come over and buzz the neighborhood. The (Roberts?) kids, I remember lived down the street from us. Two of them I know were in these bomber crews and we were pretty sure they were buzzing our neighborhood.
SI: Could you see the war impacting the home front?
JC: Oh, yes.
SI: How did it affect your family?
JC: Well, we had rationing, which we had so many kids and go so many rations books, it really didn't bother us. They put out ration books for each person in the family and we had nine--well, eleven actually. We got ration books. [laughter] But a lot of things you couldn't get, like butter was--and I don't know why that was because we had plenty of cows around Springfield. But they used to save grease, which went into munitions somehow. I don't know what they--but when they fried eggs or fried, they pour the grease into a can, they'd take it to the grocery store and, I don't know, they deliver it to somewhere. These munitions factories used it somehow. What else? Tinfoil. They used gum and stuff. They used to wrap the tinfoil up and they turned that in. Stuff like that. We had air raid warnings. I don't know if they called them air marshals or something, but where they blow off the horn, everybody closed their drapes. You had to have what they called lightproof drapes to close and you could put a light on. If you didn't, you had to turn all your lights off. They had these air warden or marshals or whatever they were, went around the blocks and checked to make sure everybody was--but nobody everybody thought they were going to--Germans or Japanese were ever going to get to bomb Springfield, but they weren't taking any chance with people.
SI: You said a lot of people from the neighborhood went into the service. Were there any ceremonies for when people would come back?
JC: Oh, yes. One thing you noticed is you would see a lot of what they called silver stars in people's windows. They lost them--
SI: The banners ...
JC: They lost a son or something. They got to post a--and you saw those in the windows and you knew that they lost one of their siblings. When the war ended, there was parades and I was actually at camp when the Japanese surrendered and I remember that when we had a big party at CYO [Catholic Youth Organization] camp I was at. It was in August. Also, after the war, even I went to work when I was fourteen on a farm for ... was made, hybrid corn. Because all of the kids that were eighteen and older were in the service that I actually got my driver's license because I was driving a tractor when I was fourteen years old.
SI: That was in the summers.
JC: Yes, I did summers.
SI: Before that, had you had any part-time jobs, like newspaper routes?
JC: No, I caddied when I was ... Also, the best job I had was working in a bowling alley checking bowling balls. Weekends, this bowling alley in Springfield had a tournament every weekend and people come from in all over the state. They'd check their bowling balls. They just wanted me to give them chit, they get slips like you would in a check rooms, so they could get the right ball back, but they used to tip me. I'm telling you, I was making a fortune until the owner found out. Then, he put a tip box out there and put me on salary, which I didn't think was very nice. [laughter] It was his place; he could do what he want. What else?
SI: Your older brothers were not old enough to go into the service then--
JC: During the Korean War--
SI: During the Korean War they did, but not during World War II.
JC: No. The one that came the closest was Father Tom, but he went in the Jesuits ... and that was in 1945, I think about two months before the war ended.
SI: You said that you were able to get a job much younger because all the other men were in the service. Did you see them getting jobs that they normally wouldn't get?
JC: Oh, yes. ... A lot of the women worked on farms too and stuff, which was not unusual, not before that when--because most farm families had big families, a lot of kids and they worked on the farm, but when the war came and they all went--then, when they came back, they got the GI Bill and most of them didn't go back to the farm either. That's when they really started mechanizing. They started with tractors. Because I can remember before the war, they were still using mules and these buckets, like when they dig a foundation for a house, they used a bucket and a mule and they didn't--but, after the war, a lot of the technical stuff came because of the war effort. The cars, they came out after the war, were nothing like what we had before the war. They were so much advanced and all of that came from the ... During the war, all of them, General Motors and Chrysler and whoever, any car manufacturer, was working for the government making war vehicles.
SI: Did your family have a car at that time?
JC: Yes. We had a '39 Nash we kept all the way through the war.
SI: I know some people had to put their cars up on blocks and that sort of thing. Were you able to keep it going?
JC: No.
SI: Tell us a little bit more about what you were doing as a young teenager at that time, what you did for fun, what your average day was like.
JC: Well, the average day during the school year was going to school. In the summertime and when I was younger, just playing, but I don't know, it was a little different back then because organized sports, you started normally in the sixth grade. That's when I started playing basketball and I got quite interested in playing basketball and my brothers did too. It was a house we were renting there, had an old garage there. It was about ready to fall down. My dad asked me--he tore it down. They used the slab to build a basketball court. [laughter] So, we used to--with my brothers, had some battles out there.
SI: I know basketball is the big sport out there.
JC: Oh, in Illinois and Indiana, that was it.
SI: Did you play through your school or through a CYO ... ?
JC: I played all the way through junior college.
SI: What position?
JC: ... Guard. In fact, when I went to junior [college], I played guard with my brother, with my brother John that was guard in the junior college.
SI: Do you have questions about this period?
KR: Going back to when you were in high school, you went to a Catholic school, was there a sister school involved with that?
JC: Yes.
KR: Were you able to go to dances? Did the school have stuff like that?
JC: Yes. Ursuline Academy was just two blocks away from us and guys used to go over and sit on their lawn until the nuns ran them off, [laughter] but they did. The high school organized dances. Also, back in those days, the big thing in high school, they had the CYO dances at the KC [Knights of Columbus] every Friday night. So, everybody went. They used to have--the girls' schools had their proms and we had a prom at the high school we invited--I did it my freshman year and had a miserable time. One thing I got a kick--when we did that, they went in formals and we went on the bus. The kids just wouldn't do that nowadays. [laughter]
KR: It's a very different time period.
JC: Well, that was a part of times. They didn't have--all we had was radios and jukeboxes and movies. We used to go to the movies. Saturday afternoon, it was a nickel matinee [laughter] and you'd get two movies and the newsreel and normally a couple serials like Don Wilson in the Navy. So, you got a lot for your nickel. For another nickel you could get popcorn.
SI: Were there a lot of movie theaters in town?
JC: Oh, yes. We had, I don't know--Springfield was about eighty or ninety-thousand people during the war, and they must have had seven or eight.
SI: You mentioned these plants that were in the area, munitions plants. Did you notice a lot of people from the outside coming to live there temporarily during the war to work in the plants?
JC: Yes. Well, one thing that happened, ... Electric was there and a family called the (Llanfair's?) and a bunch of British people moved into Springfield because the government moved this--were making sonars for submarines and they moved it from England to Springfield because they wanted--in case Germany took over, they wanted these--that was a highly secret project. We had it and the Germans didn't. They couldn't detect another sub with sonar, which the U-boats could not. So, that I can remember that the--I knew people who went to work for ... Electric.
SI: You mentioned seeing more military folks in the area, these Chinese trainees at the local field. Did you ever have servicemen over to your home for dinner? Would you invite them in your house?
JC: Oh, man. ... Our house, I met--because most of them weren't in town. Most of the servicemen were either at some camp or overseas. So, there wasn't many military people around Springfield.
SI: There weren't any USOs or Red Cross clubs?
JC: There probably was, but I wouldn't--I know that the railroad stations and stuff like that, you'd see USO, which used to help the troops. If they needed any help they--but I don't remember any large groups of military around Springfield. We'd see the Chinese. [laughter] The only reason you notice them because those were the only Chinese around there.
SI: Going back to your neighborhood, you had come a very Irish Catholic neighborhood in Chicago. Was it a more mixed neighborhood in Springfield?
JC: A little more, yes, but there was, I'd say, half and half. Half Catholics, half Protestants. Most of the people that migrated to Springfield were either Italians or Polish. What else? There were some--well, where my wife grew up was in New Berlin, outside [Springfield] and that town was almost 50/50, half Irish and half German. They had two churches, the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church. There was only six hundred people, but they were all farmers.
SI: Was there any tension between all these different groups or did they all get along?
JC: No, they all got along. ... On St. Patrick's Day, they used to get on North Avenue and all the Germans and the [Irish] get on one side and they used to yelling--but I don't think they ever had any real big brawls. Just more of a good-natured thing.
SI: Do you remember any Irish traditions being kept up in your household?
JC: No. Well, it was all us--but I wouldn't say really Irish. More American traditions.
SI: What would those be?
JC: Well, I don't know. We were a very close family. We had big--for any holiday, Christmas, New Years, Easter, something like that, my mom always probably had twenty people in the house. Then it got worse than that when the grandkids--[laughter] we used to go up there for holidays and your mom and your--used to go and Timmy and we'd take him up almost twice a year. We'd drive from New Orleans, so we'd get to go to the parties.
SI: In school, what were your favorite subjects? What interested you the most?
JC: Probably the sciences, originally. I started out first year in junior college, I went and took pre-engineering, but when I went in the Army, I had to decide what my major is going to be. I wanted to get into international transportation. The reason for that was that in--I graduated in 1959. 1958, the Great Lakes opened up. My idea, that I was going to back to Chicago and get in the steamship business because I knew they--and I can remember when I sent out resumes, it was all to steamship companies, with the exception, I did send a couple to airlines and never got an offer. The only offer I got was from American Airlines, but they wanted me to wait until January to go as a management training program, American Airlines. That's when your mom was--they let me out of Georgetown. I was supposed to stay there that summer, take one course, and I applied to the dean and he waived the course. So, I got out in a big hurry. I think I found out in April I was going to graduate in June. So, I had in my--we were planning on having your mom in Washington, DC. Well, we moved back to Springfield in June. She was born in July. I went to work. My dad knew a guy in Chicago who worked for a barge line and he asked him to set up an appointment with a steamship company down in New Orleans. Well, he did and asked me to come up to Chicago. I met with the Vice President of this barge line and he offered me a job. I took it. [laughter] (Kara?) was about to be born. I went to work July 1st. She was born on the 12th. So, that's how that--
SI: Just going back to the period when you were in high school. You mentioned you played basketball. Were you involved in any other activities?
JC: Freshman year, I played football, but I found out I was too small. I did play baseball. I played back when they called it the American Legion League, which went up through high school.
KR: Were you involved in anything like Boy Scouts or other clubs or activities?
JC: No, not Boy Scouts. Trying to think. You say activities. A lot of things at the high school, I was--we had a variety show every year, but I couldn't sing, so I couldn't--but I did participate in those. That was a big thing for us every year. We put on this variety show. It ran for about two or three weeks. We ran it on weekends down at the KC. We got some pretty big audiences. It was a lot of fun, a lot of goofing around. I don't know. Mostly, it was sports.
SI: Who was your big rival in high school?
JC: Well, the other school. In Springfield, there was four public high schools. No, at that time, three public high schools. We played them and some of the towns around there, smaller towns around there, we played. They had a football schedule, about ten or twelve games a year. We had one good player. Went to Notre Dame after that. (Pauly Reynolds?) was--he was good, but he got hurt his second year, his back, at Notre Dame. He was going to replace [Johnny] Lattner. I don't know if you--
SI: I'm a little bit familiar with that name.
JC: He was a famous running back for Notre Dame, but they actually--Paul, they made him a coach at Notre Dame his last two years. But he was a smart kid, too. He was a ... [laughter]
SI: How long were you at the junior college before you went into the service?
JC: A year and a half.
SI: Did you live at home then?
JC: Yes, yes.
SI: Were you working at the same time or were you just going to school?
JC: Mostly just going to school, but I probably had some odd jobs. I used to park cars at the bowling alley. I can remember what all--but most of the jobs they had summertime.
SI: What was your thinking like when the Korean War broke out? Did you immediately think it was going to affect your life?
JC: I really wasn't worried about it. It was a lot of guys that--older guys that had been in World War II were worried because they thought they were going to get recalled. A lot of them did. Some of them, after they came out [of] World War [II], they joined the Reserves. Well, once they joined the Reserves, they were subject to recall and a lot of them did get recalled. I know there was a lot of scrambling, those guys trying to get out of it. But everybody was in the same boat with me. When we got drafted, I knew--when I went to the induction station down in St. Louis, they put us on a bus in Springfield and took us down there. I knew most of the guys on the bus. So, you're all doing the same thing, so you didn't really worry about it. There wasn't any way--well, the funny thing about it was my brother John was at St. Louis [University] at the time. He got his papers, I think, in September. The draft board gave him a deferment until the following June. I got my papers in December. They gave me a deferment until January the next year. My dad was going to complain, but I said ... It didn't make a difference. I went in. He went in a couple months later. I ended up better because I ended up at Fort Bliss, [Texas] and he ended up in Korea. [laughter]
SI: Before you went into the Army, did your father say anything to you, what to expect or what he was thinking at the time since he had been in the service?
JC: No, no. In fact, he try--they were going to give him a commander's commission in the Navy, to help form the Seabees which, I don't know, but that was the first time in World War II they came up with--was like an engineering outfit for the Navy. They wanted to him and he almost went, but he was in his forties then, but he would have got a good commission, but when they found out he had eleven dependents, they turned him down, but he would have gone back in.
SI: That's interesting. So, tell us about that process of being inducted, going down to St. Louis.
JC: They told us to report and got a letter from President Truman. [laughter] Told me to report to the bus station at a certain time. I think about seven o'clock in the morning, I remember, and they put all these guys, probably forty on a bus and took them to St. Louis to this induction center where you actually took your physical. The thing I got a kick about the physical, because it lasted all day long. I was pretty sure I was going to pass, but the guy who was right behind me was a guy named (Leland Freike?) and he'd just been in a car accident. They took his spleen out. He had a scar that ran all the way across his body. We started that physical, I don't know, about nine o'clock in the morning. It was two o'clock in the afternoon before anybody asked him what the scar--[laughter]. I always got a kick out of that. As soon as this doctor asked, they rejected him. ... damn spleen, but they made him go through this thing all day long. But I knew a lot of the guys. In fact, I went to high school with them. It was only seventy guys in my graduating class. I could tell you every one of them by name. It was at night. After we finished their physical and they told you whether you were accepted or not, they separated. They sent us to the railroad station there in St. Louis and put us on a train to Fort Custer, Michigan. That's where the--I don't know what they call--they had a center there for where they got these guys--put them in the Army. They issued your uniforms and the only thing they did was they had close--they had guys there teaching you close order drill. We were there for, I don't know, a week or so, maybe two weeks. They put us ... us out one morning and told us--put us on a bus and took us to an airport. Didn't tell us where we were going or anything else. Put us on a plane. Flew us to El Paso, Texas to Fort Bliss. I spent the rest of my time at Fort Bliss. I took my basic training there.
SI: How did you adjust to going from civilian life to the military?
JC: ... I had fun in the military. In fact, that's where I got integrated. That's when the--Truman's the one that integrated the troops. [Editor's Note: In July 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, ending segregation in the Armed Forces. Special Regulations No. 600-629-1, issued on January 16, 1950, reinforced this policy within the US Army.] They did it by alphabetical order. Went into this training center and there were five-man huts. Well, I ended up--I was the only white guy, [laughter] but we had--and it was funny because they were more scared of me. ... from the North and Springfield, I went to school with blacks. These guys, you know--they thought I was strange because I wouldn't--I didn't object because there were a bunch of southerners.
SI: There were some southerners who had a problem with serving ...
JC: Probably just never had--for some reason they had an attitude they were better. [laughter] But it was--went to sixteen weeks, I think it was, for basic training.
SI: Was the five-man hut at Fort Bliss or Fort Custer?
JC: Fort Bliss.
SI: Fort Bliss.
JC: At Fort Custer, I can't remember what we had--barracks that were probably fifty or sixty in a barracks. But I don't know why the training center that was set up with five man huts. After sixteen weeks, we got to be pretty good.
SI: Does anything stand out about the drill instructors?
JC: [laughter] Well, one thing. One of the guys I was hutting with, was a guy named (Lucky Campbell). He was a professional boxer. This one day, the battery commander asked anybody that wanted to challenge him to a boxing match. [laughter] Lucky did. That battery commander wished he hadn't made the challenge, but that was funny. We trained on anti-aircraft weapons. When we went there, that was what Fort Bliss did. We fired [M45 Quadmount] machine guns and quad 40s were anti-aircraft ... and even up to 120mm shells going up, which could probably go up ten thousand feet. Afterwards, when I got through with my training, I requested I wanted to go to Germany. But the two guys that were fixing up the orders at the headquarters there at the training center were high school buddies of mine that I had played basketball with. They had worked for this captain and they thought they were doing me a favor getting me assigned back to Fort Bliss because it was the first guided missile battalion that the Army ever had. Before that, they had what they call an ordnance thing up in Huntsville, Alabama, which was quartermaster. When they brought all these guys, they brought two thousand men into Fort Bliss in a week and it was the most disorganized. They got a bunch of master sergeants in there. Within a week, they had the whole thing organized, training units. I spent most of my time in the next two years going to school on missiles. We started out, which was very interesting, firing V1 and V2 rockets that they had brought over from Germany. Also, when they brought them over, they brought over twenty-seven German scientists that worked on the missile program in Germany. That was the basis for starting. One of them was Wernher von Braun. I don't know if you know who--
SI: Yes. Oh, yes.
JC: He was the guy that put the first moonshot together. He was out there, but I ended up after--first they put me in an outfit called 259, which was a firing battalion. We started out firing--at Fort Bliss, they only went a hundred miles. That's all we've arranged it for. I think they would go farther than that. But we fired out of White Sands until one day, one of the guys put one of the corporal missiles that we were training on backwards on the launcher and it went into a graveyard in Juarez, Mexico. [laughter] That's when they moved us up to a place called Red Canyon. Fort Bliss is the largest military reservation I think in the country or the world, but it's 157 miles long and something like sixty miles wide. So, they sent us up to a place called Red Canyon and we fired south towards--we were firing just short of White Sands, but that was after I put in for--I put in a couple times to get transferred to Germany. One day, one of these inspector generals showed up and they interviewed me. He wanted to know what I didn't like about the outfit. I said, "Nothing." I said, "I just want to go to Germany." I said, "My brother's over there and he's having a great time." [laughter] The other two bothers went to Korea and my brother Bobby went to Germany. That was the place to go. So, he got me transferred out of 259. He couldn't transfer me because of my MOS [Military Occupational Specialty]. I had a guided missile MOS, had priority. He said, "The only place that you can go to is Sandia Base, which was atomic energy, where they put the warheads together for--and I didn't think that would be too safe. [laughter] So, they put me in this training battalion in 3rd Battalion and I stayed there the rest of the time.
SI: That was also in Fort Bliss?
JC: For Bliss, yes. I just moved from barracks to the other, right next to--but the training at it was a lot better because it was almost all engineers. I think we had only something like eighty people in the training battalion and over fifty of them were graduate engineers. They took every engineer and I went to a year and a half of pre-engineer, is one of the reasons they put me in there. But I ended up as battery clerk and my chief job was filling out paperwork to get some of these guys transferred out of other bases because they sent us--somebody said, "Send us engineers." We had guys that were all different types. All we wanted was mechanical, electrical engineers and they sent us all kinds. We had guys who were specializing engineers in clothing, which I didn't know--they sent us a bunch of those. We had to get them transferred, which the department ... when they found out the mistake, they did, they transferred them out.
SI: Well, I want to go through each step a little bit more in detail. When you were in this initial training, you mention the Germans. Did you have any interaction with the German personnel?
JC: Yes, we had fire--when we fired the V2 and V1 rockets, we didn't--our officers talk to them. We just did what we were told. But they were there. We didn't act. But once I got in the training battalion, there was two guys that--a guy named (McCutcheon?) from Scranton, Pennsylvania ... and I were dedicated to give orientation talks to all the VIPs coming through. Believe me, almost every week, we had a--we called it a dog and pony show for some kind of VIP from--Canadians or Russians or you name it, coming through and they're showing them our missile program. I don't think the Russians were at that time, but almost every foreign company came through there with officers and stuff. (McCutcheon?) and I made the orientation speech to start this program off. We did get to talk to some of the Germans. They were always around for this. The lived up in Alamogordo, [New Mexico].
SI: Can you describe the (watcher?) you were working on and what your role was in operating it?
JC: Well, my ... I was battery clerk, but I did--
SI: When you with your with the unit at White Sands?
JC: Firing?
SI: Yes, firing.
JC: I ... battery clerk there, too. My job was in the headquarters. The firing wasn't actually--sometimes, all you had to do was press the button. [laughter] I got to do that a couple times. We primarily on the corporal missile, which didn't last very long in the Army, but we also fired Nike missiles, which was ground-air missile. That was a little more--and we did participate in one big air show, where we took a Nike missile and shot down a B29 plane that was remote control. We shot it down with a Nike as a demonstration. I can remember that the Secretary of Defense was out there for that.
SI: I was going to ask when you were doing these firings out in the missile range, were you trying to hit planes?
JC: No, they'd give us a spot.
SI: Like ground to ground.
JC: We could put a corporal missile within a meter of what they call ground zero.
SI: So, it sounds like you had a lot of confidence in this system.
JC: Well, one thing--it did at first. We had all kinds of trouble with--the prime contract on the corporal missile was Firestone. The biggest problem we had--they had these low pressure tires on this erector that we carried the missiles on, 157 miles north and those things will go flat about every twenty miles. We had big wreckers and everything to change those tires out, but we kidded those guys at Firestone. Said, "At least you guys ought to be able to make a tire." [laughter] One thing, my assignment, besides being bad at clerk, I did drive what they call a battery charging truck. It was a five-ton truck and I had to go a couple of days to learn to drive a truck. But that was--when we went north, I drove the battery ... That's the only time I saw it, when we were moving. The rest of the time it sat in the motor pool.
SI: So, it was a truck for charging batteries?
JC: Yes, it had batteries on this thing. The corporal missile was quite unique because it was actually developed by JPL, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, during World War II, but the engine on that thing only weight 125 pounds and it was ... I don't know if you know what hypergolic is. That's when you put two materials together and you have an explosion. You put aniline and red fuming nitric acids. So, all you had to do was open the ... and you had an explosion. The thing took [laughter] and it was all--but one of the things that was kind of interesting. I became battery clerk in that train battalion. About halfway through my service, my captain told me we're going to San Antonio, to our meeting. That's when we were introduced to the transistor. Nobody was highly--in fact, I was out of the Army a couple of years, before I ever heard anybody mention transistors. But before that, when missile units were loaded with what they call a vacuum tube, plugged in and you had to lock them in and everything and it really wasn't all that reliable. When they got transistors, it just made it so much easier. Two months, they had all the components changed over to transistors.
SI: I know that computers were originally developed in large part to do firing tables for artillery. ...
JC: The first computer I ever heard of was University of Illinois, it was IBM. I saw that. That building covered a complete block and it was--I understand it was classified, but that's when they had the old, I don't know, punch cards. But it's amazing what I've seen in changes because I can remember working for my dad in his engineering thing. We had what they call a mechanical calculator. This thing you press the keys and this thing goes, "Chunk-a-chunk." It did it, but it was slow and drive you nuts ... That's one thing that made me decide not to be an engineer was that. You learn that for one summer all summer ... but going through that, if I had been smart, I'd have stayed in this when I got out of the Army because everybody out there, every contract that was out there--Fort Bliss was offering us tremendous jobs, but I wanted to go back to the college and I wanted to get into international transportation. I wasn't thinking about--but there's a lot of guys that were--those engineers and things, got tremendous offers from these missile companies because nobody knew where the missile was. It was all classified and you had the clearance, you could go to work for them out in California. I probably been smart about it--[laughter] learned more about the computers, because that was the birth.
SI: How were these fired? What was the whole process?
JC: We took them in a launcher, which was--these things were seventy feet long and we put them in clamps. This launcher would raise it up and it had four big, huge tires that carried this thing. They were low pressure and moved it probably two miles an hour, about as fast as you're going to get this unit to move. So, to get it into place, it--once you got it surveyed in and set for firing, it moved it up and they would load it with aniline and red fuming nitric acid. Then the trick--one thing that was quite dangerous was it took air pressure to put this stuff through. They used air tanks on there and the next thing I can't remember, but it was something like 20,000 ... In fact, we lost three guys up there when they had one of these lines. They used to go from the truck that put the pressure on it to the missile and they would put those lines down with sandbags. Well, when these lines got loose and cut three guys in half. Just whipped. I didn't see it, but I was up there when it happened. When they put it up there and they have this countdown, and the thing was fire and it was actually pre-programmed--really mechanically it timed to go so many distance. Once it broke, the inner atmosphere--it didn't get it [to] outer space, but it got into lower atmosphere. You couldn't do much with it. It was on it--but when it came back in, you could change directions on it a little, correct for. That was all done by radar. We also used, which was highly secret too, was Doppler's, which measured distance. We first set those Doppler's off at White Sands. It knocked every TV in El Paso out. So, we had them--that was another reason we moved North was to get away from El Paso because Fort Bliss was running on the outskirts of El Paso. White Sands was maybe twenty or thirty miles north of there.
SI: I was going to ask you about that. Did they use firing tables or how would they target whatever they were trying to hit with the missiles?
JC: Celestial navigation with these. You had to know the points where you were firing from and where you were going and you could guide it through the celestial navigation, but you had to have a base point to operate from because later in my life I got involved with General [Francis H.] Griswold when I went to work for the barge line. They had the idea of SAC (Strategic Air Command), was in Omaha. Had the idea of putting missiles on barges. This was when the Cold War was--they were running up and down the Mississippi River. They were talking to my boss, Vice President, John ... I didn't know anything about it. He told me what they were going to do and I said, "It won't work." Two weeks later, he told me that we're going to Omaha and we did. We went the next day. We went to Omaha and went in and saw General Griswold himself and John ... was sort of a character. There must have been ten field grade officers at this conference table, all his staff. John ... pops up and he says, "Now tell this guy why it won't work." Then, when I told him and they wanted to know where--and I told him I'd been in the first guided missile battalion and I knew how this stuff operated. So, then, they started listening. They did. They gave it up. That's when they went to silos because they had to have a fixed point. They could have done that, put pads along the river, but those barges move so slowly. At seven knots, everybody would be dead by the time they got off the ground ...
SI: They were going to use the barges for ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missile] or anti air missiles?
JC: Usually, intercontinental ballistic missiles, would go to Russia. Because that way they could move them around and the Russians wouldn't know where they--because they were doing this--assuming the same thing probably find out where--but then when they come up with these silos where they couldn't take them out because of the way they were built.
SI: How long after your time in the service was that, that you had this meeting?
JC: Well, I went four years. It was probably in the early--got out in '59. It was probably '61 or '62. There's a little bit of history. [laughter]
SI: Yes, yes. One of the high points of the Cold War.
JC: It's just putting two together. I finally had some experience with the barges and I had an experience on the missiles.
SI: In working with the missiles, the firing part, were there any other types of accidents? You mentioned these guys that were killed.
JC: Yes. We had a couple killed because of aniline poisoning. Got a leak on the--they were loading aniline and it was poisonous. When I was in basic training--when I went to Fort Bliss, that was in--that place had been operating since World War II, had never had a training accident. In my two years at it, twenty-one [accidents]. The first one that I remember was a guy froze with a grenade, which to me, I can't believe it hadn't before. But this guy froze and I knew the sergeant that tried to take it out of his hand. He got injured, but it didn't kill him, but it killed the guy. Then there was another one where they were--there was a halftrack which had quad 50 antiaircraft weapons on it. The guy that was running it, they had this whole bleacher full of trainees there. I don't know. They were giving them some kind of lecture about training on this thing and somebody in there turned that tractor right on the bleachers and killed, I don't know, seven or eight guys. Then there was just a dumb mistake. A guy didn't know what he was doing. Then the guys with the aniline and the guys with the air hose. I can remember that. By the time I got out of there, there was twenty-one accidents.
SI: Were there every any cases where the missiles exploded on the pad or exploded on the launcher?
JC: Lots. [laughter] The first time we fired a V1 rocket, this is in training and we set out here and we had guys out there. I wasn't involved, but they're surveying this thing in and the Germans were helping, I remember, on that, and make sure this thing was on the launcher correctly. General (White?) who was in charge of the whole missile operations at Fort Bliss decided he'd come out and witness this first firing of the--and he comes out there and he looked at that V1. He says, "It's not level," [laughter] after surveying it. They tipped the wings, I don't know, maybe just two or three degrees. He thought it was level. They fired it off. That thing went maybe two or three hundred yards tipped on that wing, blew up. [laughter] General (White?) got in his staff car. Didn't see him anymore. On one of the V1 rockets we almost hit Ruidoso in New Mexico, because it went about forty-five miles farther than it was supposed to, but luckily, it hit a mountain and destroyed itself.
SI: You mention this one case where the missile was fired backwards and hit Mexico. What kind of reaction was there or aftermath?
JC: Well, luckily it went into a graveyard and I saw the hole; it was twenty-five feet deep. It wasn't anti anti-warhead on the--but just the impact of that warhead going in there and I'm sure that the Army compensated the Mexicans.
SI: In a case like that, would your commanding officer be removed or reprimanded?
JC: It wasn't his fault. Some guys that set the--these fins were marked very--and whoever was setting it on the launcher just set it on backwards. What was north was south and south was north. [laughter] But they say that between that and the trouble they had with the Doppler, that's when they moved us to Red Canyon.
SI: What were your conditions like in the different places on Fort Bliss that you worked?
JC: Red Canyon was--I mean, all that that was rattlesnake country. This is dessert in New Mexico. Our big pastime up there was killing rattlesnakes. What they'd do is in the nighttime, those things would go into the--they had sand dunes in the dessert there and snakes would go in there and we get a bunch of guys together and we tear the sand dune up and snakes come out and we'd freeze them with a C2 fire extinguisher. That's all we had to do. The other funny thing was that every night, a Coors truck came up there. We probably had maybe five or six hundred men up there, maybe two battalions up there firing. They'd sell that whole truck because the only reason Coors--Coors had to be refrigerated back in--I think it's still some of their beers have to be refrigerated all the time, but they had refrigerated trucks. They'd sell a whole truck off every night.
SI: I wanted to ask, as a battalion clerk, what were your daily activities like?
JC: ... doing any ... keeping the captain and the first sergeant happy. But it was a pretty soft job because I didn't--one thing, I didn't have to fallout first thing in the morning. I don't know why they got exempted but when you start doing favors for the captain and the first sergeant you get [laughter]--
SI: What would you do for them?
JC: I'd tell you, one of the biggest things we did was transferred--making out paperwork, send to the Department of Army to get these engineers that were transferred in that shouldn't have been there. The only reason I got the job was because one of the only few guys [who] could type. [laughter] I don't know why I took typing in high school.
SI: But you were also the clerk when you were at the firing unit.
JC: Yes.
SI: Was it mostly the morning report and that sort of thing put together?
JC: Morning report, yes. The way I got that job was that I--the first sergeant ... needed help with making out his income tax and I showed him how to do it. That's how I got that job.
SI: So, it was in the training unit that you had all the engineers.
JC: Yes, yes. The other one was the--there was some engineers and it was kind of funny because a lot of--they trained all of these sergeants when they came back from Korea, sent them to Huntsville, Alabama, put them in quartermaster, trained them on missiles. But these guys were supposed to tell these engineers what to do. Didn't work. The engineers, they had ... these sergeants were smart enough to take care of the discipline, the petty stuff and let those engineers do what they do best. They worked out very well. They had a good understanding between them.
SI: So, was this unit, the firing unit, was it going to be deployed anywhere or was it just to test out the ...?
JC: They were talking about deploying at ... but not when I was there. The only thing we had--they had what they called Honest John missiles, which was nothing more than a long-range artillery piece you put on the back of a truck, a rocket. You could fire at forty miles. I think those units did go to Korea, but I heard that after I got out the 259 went to Germany. But I wasn't in it. ... went over and they weren't ready to go. Corporal missile was--you'd be dead before you got there. I remember seeing the inaugural parade for Eisenhower and they had a corporal missile in there and it really changed. It wasn't anywhere close to what we were. It was smaller, probably because of the transistor, but it was--growing up ... I've seen a lot of changes in my life. People like to knock the military, but I'll bet that eighty percent of the luxuries we have in this country right now were probably developed by either the military or NASA.
SI: It sounds like there was some actual, on the ground relationship between the military and the people that were making this equipment.
JC: We had contractors out there from various companies that on the equipment, if something happened, we'd get--they had to tell us what to do to fix it.
SI: Would you say you had a good working relationship?
JC: Oh, yes. Yes. They wanted to hire us. [laughter] The Army wanted me to stay in. I wanted to get out.
SI: What rank were you?
JC: Well, I started out as a private. Then the highest ranking I got was corporal. They offered me, if I'd have stayed in, just re-upped, they'd have made me a warrant officer. They did several times wanted me to go to OCS, but if I did, I would have had to sign up for five years. It didn't ...
SI: What did you think of the officers you served with?
JC: Very good. Yes. Most of them.
SI: Did you know if they were West Pointers or if they were OCS?
JC: Yes. [laughter] Well, some of them were. We fired. I remember when we were in basic training in 2nd, we were firing 120 millimeter anti-aircraft. We fired against the West Pointers out there in the summertime. I think it was June or July. They came out there in air conditioned buses and they got all the ice they wanted in their lyster bags. Well, they didn't have those lyster bags too long because they were confiscated by the GIs out there. They didn't know who did it or they'd have probably--we did beat them in the competition. Of course, we'd been doing it a couple weeks and they just were starting. But my battery commander that I worked for was a West Pointer, very nice. In fact, he had his master's degree in mathematics, from I think, Southern Methodist, not West Point. Really sharp. In fact, he'd been a math teacher at the War College before he came to--Captain (Powers?) and he treated me nice.
SI: Did you get the sense that this assignment, being in the first guided missile battalion, was something that the career guys saw as a positive thing with their career, that they wanted to be a part of this unit?
JC: Well, I think the regular Army did. Those engineers did not want to--a lot of them were probably--a lot of them I know were getting paid by their companies while they were in, probably making more money than a battery commander. I know there was one guy in there that went to MIT. I heard when he got out of the army, he patented seventeen changes ... corporal missiles, which I don't know--he got taken to the cleaners on them because they knew where he got the experience was in the Army and that would be their proprietary--but I know I heard he tried.
SI: You mentioned this one demonstration where you shot down a remote-controlled B29. Was that with the Nike missile or with the corporal missile?
JC: Nike. Nike.
SI: Nike. Okay.
JC: Corporal was surface to surface. Nike was surface to air.
SI: Was that also a new system or had the Nike system ...
JC: No, they had ... well, it was new, but after I got out, they were employing Nikes all over the--
SI: Yes, they were very widespread around the cities.
JC: There in Washington, DC, they got the first ones. I understand they're getting a little more sophisticated than that. What's going on in Israel and I saw some of us knocking those rockets down, which it's crazy if they can build a defense like that. Why they don't do it, I don't know.
SI: With a test like that, obviously you want it to go perfectly, particularly with the Department of Defense head right there. Were there any extra steps taken? Was it a high pressure exercise? What do you remember about that?
JC: I'll tell you one thing I know they did is a B29--they charged one of the gas tanks with explosives. When that missile got within so many feet, which they knew on radar, they set that explosion off in the gas [tank].
SI: Okay. All right.
JC: We saw the films. They had high speed films, cameras watching this stuff. You could see the wind coming off before the missile exploded, but the missile did. I want to tell you, the missile did hit the--
SI: So, it would have worked anyway.
JC: It would have wiped it out, but they weren't taking any chances with all the brass out there.
SI: For something like that, would they have the outside press come in or was it just the brass?
JC: I don't know. There probably was, but most of that stuff was classified, so they probably--in fact, they threw me out of the missile grounds the last two weeks I was in the army because they couldn't find my clearances at Fort Bliss. I found out the day I was getting out, they had found it in Washington; they had a copy, [laughter] but they actually would not--they took all my badges and everything else. I'd been going in there for two years and they wouldn't let--it was fine with me. I'd just stay ... go to town, for the last two weeks I was in the Army.
KR: Were you able to get weekend passes where you were able to leave?
JC: Oh, yes. We had fun. Every long weekend we had, we probably went down to Chihuahua City or Ruidoso, New Mexico or some place like that. There was ten of us in the service. They bought two cars and we didn't have it, but Biggs Air Force Base was right next to it, had an auto shop over there and these engineers, we took those cars over there and almost rebuilt it. The Air Force would sell us the parts for cost. So, we had two good running cars that we only paid two hundred dollars originally for them. When we got out, we sold them ... and they were still running for two years. We used to take them all the way to Chihuahua City, which was about 225 miles south of El Paso, Juarez. We used to go up in the mountains to Ruidoso, ... New Mexico. We spent almost every weekend in Juarez, because first of all, we could drink on the post, but we couldn't drink--Texas was dry then. So, we had to go to Juarez to get a drink. It was funny because I never got in trouble, but the GIs over there were getting in trouble all the time. The federales over there would pick them up and they put them in the stockade and normally fine them for whatever they had in their pocket and then they'd call Fort Bliss in the morning and tell them how many deuce and a half trucks to send over. They did. It was a regular routine. They sent them back the next day. If it got too bad over there with people messing with the GIs--I remember General (Mickelson?) who was the post commander shut it down two or three times when I was there. They had people in Juarez would ... like a stuffed pig, because that was their livelihood. When I was out there, there was forty-thousand trainees in the training center and probably another forty-thousand GIs on the post. So, that was a lot of troops, a lot of business for Juarez. Then, back in those days, nobody thought our relationship with Mexico was--always kidding. Tell the grandkids, "I was down there. We didn't have any trouble with Mexico." [laughter] In fact, back then, the Rio Grande, they didn't know where it was. The border through El Paso and Juarez was not established. It wasn't until Johnson became President that they--I don't know what the Corps of Engineers--but they did something to reroute the route and reestablish the border. There was people living in El Paso that had been living in Juarez, but the Rio Grande River had cut a new channel. [laughter] Everybody down there knew it. Nobody worried about it because back in those days, the Mexicans could go fifteen miles inside the US border and we could go fifteen miles inside the Mexican border with just a driver's license and nothing--in fact, when we went to Chihuahua City, we didn't clear customs until we got fifteen miles south of Juarez. Relations were really good because they liked the GIs. Their prices were--I can't remember, but I know at the end of the month, they advertised they could get what they call tequila con lemon.
KR: What is that?
SI: What does that mean?
JC: Tequila with lemon and salt. Four cents. [laughter] But beer was a peso. That would be now. Back in those days, it was twelve cents. When I was there, it was twelve cents for a beer. Little more expensive in the PX [post exchange].
SI: You mentioned that integration was what they were trying to do when you first entered the military. Did you notice any segregation when you were in south?
JC: No, no. Well, yes. After I got out, I remember when I went to work. When I first went to New Orleans, they still had segregated bathrooms and I used to go in the colored [bathrooms] and the colored people [said], "You can't go in there." [laughter] Used to, when we were working in Chicago, we went to New Orleans. We went down there on the Panama [Limited], which was on overnight train ride on a ... I mean, really--night we get on there, have a few drinks, play cards and have dinner. Then, sleep the rest of the night and the next morning, eight o'clock, you were in New Orleans. Was really nice. But all that went by, but it was segregation down there. But it was funny because I felt more segregation in Chicago than I did in New Orleans, because I finally got transferred to New Orleans. My boss, ... my original boss was from Brookhaven, Mississippi and there wasn't a prejudice thing in his--in fact, he left his money--when he died, he never did get married and he took care of his mother, but he donated all of his money to the Boy's Club in Jackson, Mississippi, which was black. He had a two thousand acre ranch down there in Brookhaven, which raised cattle. He donated all that to--money, all that went to the--he set up a trust.
SI: He was your boss when you were in New Orleans?
JC: Well, he owned the company, but he was from Brookhaven, Mississippi, but I started working for him in Chicago. Our headquarters [were] in Chicago.
SI: You said segregation was more prevalent in Chicago at that time?
JC: Well, people in the North would not talk to a black person. You went to New Orleans and a white down there would not pass up a black without saying hello to them. It's just a whole different--
SI: It was a de facto segregation.
JC: New Orleans is--there was probably places, but I remember when I got transferred to New Orleans and one of my jobs--we used to move a lot of paper products, barges for International Paper, Georgia-Pacific. They had paper mills all over the south. A lot of places I had to get something to eat was a black town. It was all black. They thought it was strange that I would--but, I never thought anything of it. My mom and dad were not prejudiced. If I had been, she'd have probably--my mom would probably kill me. That's why I get how they can think every white guy is a slave owner just doesn't make good sense to me. But that's the way they think or that's the way they've been taught to think by Jesse Jackson and your friend up here, [Reverend Al] Sharpton.
SI: Do you have any questions about the military before we move on?
KR: ...
SI: Is there anything about your time in the military that we skipped over or that you want to talk about?
JC: I was glad to get out. [laughter] No, I had a good time. I was in the military, but I was never in harm's way or anything.
SI: Were your already looking at Georgetown when you got out or were you in the service?
JC: No. When I was in the Army, I researched where I could go to school and get a degree in international transportation. Georgetown's the only university in that state at that time. They would give you--the foreign service school would give you a degree in international transportation. So, that's why I went there. Probably should have gone to the University of Illinois because Illinois had a great transportation school, but it was geared towards railroads.
SI: I was curious if it was because of the Catholic tie that you went to Georgetown but it was because of this reason.
JC: No. Well, I shouldn't say because my brother, older brother is a Jesuit and it happens that all my brothers and sisters, with the exception of one, graduated from a Jesuit university. My younger brother (Dickey?) was an engineer and went to the University of Illinois. He's the only one of us that was an engineer. One thing I will say, my brothers--(Eddie?) went to Korea. He was in what they call the Capitol MPs. When he got drafted, they sent him to Fort Custer. It happened to be that they activated a National Guard Unit in Washington, DC. They called it Capitol MPs, which is sort of like an honor guard. They went to Korea to Seoul, Korea with (Seventh Army?) headquarters. Well, they sent my brother to--he was a corporal at the time to, I don't know if you know Panmunjom. It's where they had ... He spent six months up there with twelve MPs. We used to be able to see them on--you go to the theater, they had newsreels. [laughter] I could see my brother standing outside. He could tell you some stories. When they first went up there, the Chinese didn't even know what close order drills was and these Capitol MPs, they're doing everything by the book. You snap to and everything. He said, it wasn't six weeks ... the Chinese put the guys through the test and they were new uniforms and doing close order drills like the Americans. Twice they closed ... on that thing with tanks. He said they just get in their deuce and have them go back to the University of Seoul, wait until they--Chinese never did go in there, but they threatened a couple times.
SI: Your other brother also was in Korea.
JC: He was in. He went over there. In fact, he didn't get to Korea until right at the end. It [was] probably over. He was in a communications unit. It was I think about seven or eight guys in his outfit committed suicide. They were guarding supplies, not from the North Koreans, from the South Koreans. It was an Army Depot, but they had--and these guys, I guess, they did. They shot a couple of South Koreans. The guys didn't like the duty. He said the worst thing is all these committing suicide.
SI: That reminds me of a question I had earlier. In your duties as a company clerk, when somebody would die in your unit, would you have to do anything to notify the family or organize their effects?
JC: We never had anybody come close to--
SI: The people who died in these accidents.
JC: No. About the only thing I can think is somebody breaking an ankle, which kind of--because they sent them over to the medics and the medics put a cast on his ankle. They build it up, then they sent him to quartermasters. Quartermasters put an extra heel on his other boot and they put him back to duty, which I said, "At least they could give the guy the day off." [laughter] But they didn't. I don't remember too many guys, even family members ... people going. Because they would, if somebody died, they would let them go home for a funeral, but I don't think we had any of that.
SI: So, these guys who were killed by the air hose, they were in a different company?
JC: They weren't in the 259. I can't remember the name of the other unit, but they weren't in the 259. In fact, I was in the 3rd Battalion by then ...
SI: Tell us a little bit about moving out to the East Coast, to Georgetown and getting re-acclimated to college?
JC: Well, it wasn't hard to do. I just got on a train and went. My mom said I'd be back in six months, but I didn't. I ... out. I had a good time out there, too. Had some really good professors there too. Admiral [Richard R.] McNulty is one of them. He's the founder of Kings Point [United States Merchant Marine Academy]. He founded Kings [Point]. Admiral (Bull?) from World War II was the founder of MSTS [Military Sea Transportation Service], Military Sealift Command [MSC]. There were two of them.
SI: How many students were in the international transportation course?
JC: Probably about a hundred.
SI: Did you live on the campus?
JC: Well, there couldn't have been that many. Because we started--foreign service school, we started out as freshman. There was twelve-hundred freshman. We ended up with 125 graduates. [laughter] It fell off pretty good. That was in the foreign service crew. In fact, the biggest graduating class of Georgetown was the law school, which graduated about four hundred lawyers a year.
KR: Did you use benefits from the GI Bill to go to college?
JC: Yes, they had a Korean--the GI Bill for World War II was a lot better because they paid your whole college tuition, books, and gave you so much a month for room and board. Korean Bill gave me--I can't remember, but I think I got eleven-hundred dollars a month, which didn't come close. I had to work the whole time I was at Georgetown. I started out working for Capitol Airlines and then I got a job with the hotel there, (Standard Hilton?). The reason I took that, because they fed me two meals a day for five days, [laughter] and if I worked on weekends, which I had to do sometimes, which was--eating good was important. They let me--I could eat and this was (Standard Hilton?) was one of the top hotels back then in Washington, DC and I could eat in any room except the Empire Room, which was the nightclub.
SI: What would you do at the hotel?
JC: I started out as a night auditor and ended up as their beverage control clerk, which all I did, every ten days I counted the liquor. Believe me, Hilton could tell you how much the bartenders really got. I got the job because this guy, and I knew him, they were coming up short every night, about twelve bottles of booze. It came out of this one second floor banquet bar. This went on for a couple of days. Couldn't figure out why, but this fired this guy and hired me and next two weeks, I get the same figures he was. We're missing twelve bottles of booze out of it. They finally, after about a month, hired an outside detective to sit up in that banquet all night and they found two of these Puerto Ricans were crawling through the--had had a air conditioner, had a vent inside and out. They'd take the vent out, go in, take their twelve bottles out and they had the police raid their apartment. They found ninety-some-odd bottles of booze. I always felt bad because they'd fired this other guy because they thought he was keeping the books wrong. He wasn't.
SI: Were you also doing similar work for the airline? What were you doing?
JC: Yes, I was doing ticketing auditing, but when I left school, Hilton offered me a job as an international auditor, which I would have--the thing I didn't like was they wanted me to move to Buffalo, New York, which didn't sound too thrilling to me. I would have been going overseas because they wanted me to audit their international hotels. Grandma was pregnant with your mom. So, wouldn't have been ...
SI: When did you meet your wife?
JC: When I got out of the Army. Didn't meet her until I--in fact, I met her at that junior college. A friend of mine introduced me to--but I didn't know her. I grew up in New Berlin, Illinois, which was about fourteen miles outside of Springfield. I didn't know her. She's a couple years younger than I am. But when I got out of the Army she was going to junior college and that's where I met her. She went to Catholic girls school there, Sacred Heart. Was a boarder there for four years, I guess you could [say]. But I never met her while she--
SI: You got married while you were still in school?
JC: Oh, yes. We got married. I was a junior. I guess. Actually, ... because I got married in September. Supposed to get married in June, but the reason we didn't because my brother was being ordained and we waited until September. So, I could have all my six brothers in my wedding, which was kind of nice. We got married in New Berlin. Everybody in that town, I think showed up. [laughter] But I didn't. I was going to Georgetown. I got home, I think on Wednesday. Got married Saturday. We left Saturday night for our honeymoon. So, I didn't spend a lot of time, which wasn't very a nice way to do it because I didn't have to do anything. They did all the work at Springfield. But it was a good wedding.
SI: That's good. Does anything else stand out about your time in Georgetown? Any other professors that were influential on you?
JC: Oh, yes. ... Quite a bit there. The only thing, I had planned to go deep sea originally. Had no intention of going to barge line, but the barge line made me a better offer than any of the steamship companies. I did know working on the (LR, little bottom?). I wasn't a complete stranger, but I worked for them for seventeen years, through two mergers and then went on my own. I got into international transportation and I became an agent for steamship companies and barge lines, internationally. Worked mostly with the oil field, transportation, which was transporting decks and platforms and jackets and some of it by barge, some by ship. But I didn't learn any of that in Georgetown. It was strictly steamship. In fact, most of the guys from Georgetown went to work for the United States line over in Baltimore. I was dead set on going back to Chicago because I thought I'd break ice out there ... [laughter] but I found out they didn't pay a whole lot. If I'd been smart, I'd probably taken temporary and went with American Airlines. That would have been--with the management training program, probably would have been a better--at that time, but I couldn't afford to wait six months.
SI: You're in the same industry for fifty years. What were the major changes that stand out in your memory, the way your industry really changed?
JC: Well, it's just the way--strictly, when I got into it was break bulk. You didn't have any containers and everything was put in the hull of a ship or something and transferred in and out. The only thing that went in bulk, it was transferred automatically, [was] liquids. Then the containers came along, LASH [lighter aboard ship] barges, Seabees, where different types of units were loaded on ships and it just got bigger and bigger. Now, it's just the container ships are getting bigger. When they finished the Panama Canal, they get bigger ... most of the ports now are going to have to dredge to fifty or sixty feet to accommodate these new container vessels going through the Panama Canal. One of the biggest things relating to the missiles, I signed the first contract with NASA for moving missile boosters from Huntsville, Alabama to--then it was called Banana River Project which is now the Kennedy Space Center. We moved boosters for the original moonshots--not moonshot, but the astronauts came down in the capsules. Before they had any moonshot or space stations or any of that. But we had them, I don't know, for the whole time I was there. Signed that probably in early '60s and I left in '76. We were still transporting. The main reason we did is our engineers when I was working with ... Company and (Nickeling?) bought us, engineers came up with this deal of this booster was put in a barge, but the shed on it was forty-five feet high. I don't know if you know anything about ... but they push. They couldn't see around it. So, engineers came up with this idea of taking coaxial cables and putting a temporary pile house on the barge. Then they could--when the boat was behind, they could navigate it from the front of the barge, which solved the problem. The one thing, we were smart, we kept ownership of the pilothouse. NASA owned the barge, but if they wanted to change contractors, somebody had to build a new--so, we did that as long as I was [there] and even afterwards, the same. We handled that contract and in fact, I got a kick out of--last night, they were showing the space shuttle looping across ... I personally handled the transfer of that rocket. Down in New Orleans, came in from jet propulsion laboratories in California built that. They brought it through the Panama Canal at ... and we transferred it to one of our deck barges and took it to Huntsville, Alabama. I remember we had put it on this deck, but the wingspan was wider than our deck barge. So, we had to put two, I call blocker bars on each side, so nobody would mess up their wingspan. But I remember, personally going down Napoleon Avenue, handling the transfer of that. That was interesting.
SI: In your business career, were you mostly dealing with the government as your primary client?
JC: No. Well, after we got the NASA contract, it was really kind of peanuts compared to what we were doing otherwise. Our biggest customers were the grain companies. It's common. In New Orleans you got two thousand grain barges in New Orleans every day and people don't even know they're there. There's a tremendous export business there. Most of that comes from Illinois and Iowa and Indiana and upper part of the United States. In fact, it's strange because I don't know what it is now, but Illinois used to be the largest exporter of the United States, any state. More than California or New York and they were sitting right in the middle of the country, farthest away from the oceans, but they could raise corn and soybeans and Caterpillar was one of the largest exporters out of the United States. All five of the Caterpillar plants were in Illinois. But that's not true anymore. The unions are running them out of there. In fact, they're moving to Texas. [laughter]
SI: How long were you based in New Orleans?
JC: Let's see. Came to Houston in '73 and I think probably '66 to '73 I was there.
SI: Then, after that, you were always based in the Houston area.
JC: Houston, yes. No, I worked for this barge line, ... barge line for seventeen years and then I went on my own and formed a company called (Texas Sea Trade Corporation?) I had originally ten partners, most of them up here in the New York area, handling--well, we started out handling three Japanese agencies. We also ... one US states line who operated out of San Francisco in the west coast and that's where we handled containers, but we were strictly agents, but we booked the cargo. Somebody would handle it. Did that the rest of my life, until--when did Timmy go into business? My son bought a barge line here in Staten Island, went into international barge business or offshore. They were US, but they were offshore and I spent the last, probably from 1998--or when did he--? Probably '98. Was only about seven or eight years that I represented him down in Houston. I was their agent in Houston. Then, I exclusively worked for--it was mostly with, because I had--originally, most of my work down in Houston was with oil companies. Timmy's work, all they handled was oil. So, it wasn't too hard to pick up the transporting oils with the oil companies. All of them were based in Houston. So, my job was just mainly taking people to lunch, which was not a bad ... seven or eight years. [laughter] You think I'm kidding. I used to entertain Exxon, ... River. I did, I think, some pretty interesting transports. Taking a jack--I don't know if you know what a jacket is, but that's the base for a platform that they put out in the water. On top of that, they got a deck section. First of all, they launch, and some of these things are a thousand feet long. ... series of pipes welded together, it looks like, and that's the base for the platform and then they come along and they'll put the platform on top of the jacket. They send their dad out to [laughter] see if there's any oil out there. We did all over the world. We moved a lot of rigs, drilling rigs. These were not submersible barges. We also used ships to transport some of them. They had submersible ships. But it was interesting. It was different. Nobody knew what we were doing. I mean, very few people. It was specialized. I really wasn't dealing mostly with transportation people in the oil business. I was dealing mostly with engineers because all this stuff had to be built and then when they built it, they got to figure out how they're going to transport it. We did ... I know we took sixteen platforms to the Cameroons, West Africa and took a lot from Burma to Southern California. The drilling rigs we took all over.
SI: So, you would get a job and part of your job would be organizing the engineers to design ...?
JC: No, all I'd do is if they had a transportation problem I would consult.
SI: Designing how to transport these things.
JC: Yes.
SI: Yes.
JC: You can build a jacket a thousand feet long, you got to know what you're going to transport it on, because you don't want to build it and sit in the fabrication ... and there wasn't too many launch barges in the world that could handle something like that.
SI: You had four children.
JC: Four children, right. The oldest one's her mother. She's in Angola with her father who works for Exxon. She went to Texas A and M. She graduated in Animal Science--what was it, Animal Science?
KR: Animal Science.
JC: Animal science. She got out and she couldn't get a job in Houston because she wanted to get married. She had already met your father and so she went to--took some accounting, went to work for the bank. She went up quite high in the bank, too. But she had to go to University of Houston night school to get some accounting. Well, really she got into investments, which is now part of Chase. Timmy also graduated from Texas A and M. He graduated in Finance, but all of my boys, I put on tugs working offshore down in the Gulf when they were going through high school. In fact, Timmy started when he was in high school, worked on a bunker barge down in Houston for Exxon. But he worked, came out, then he was working for a company in Houston in Jackson Marine, which was a tug and barge company. He went through, I don't know, two or three mergers and ended up with Tidewater. Tidewater sent him to New York because they bought two companies up here, one in New York and one in Boston. They sent Timmy up here to keep the books for these two companies. Well, outfit over here in Staten Island bought him out. Eckloff Marine offered Timmy to come on as their controller, and he did. After that, I don't know what, seven or eight years, he arranged a management buyout and bought out Eckloff and started buying companies. He bought about five or six different companies and ended up selling them to an outfit down in Houston called Kirby, who was probably one of the largest--I think it is the largest inland tank barge company. They don't handle any dry products at all, just liquids. That was the same true with KC. Used to be called Kirby Marine. That's all they handled was bulk liquids, but they do it East Coast, Canada, Gulf of Mexico, West Coast, Alaska, and Hawaiian Islands. So, you'd have to be a pretty good size. I think when he bought it, originally they had about two hundred and fifty employees. I think when he left it was over eleven or twelve hundred employees. Now he's got nothing to do. He's, what, fifty-one, fifty-two and he's retired. Well, I don't think he'll stay retired, but he got a buyout from the previous company and he cant' go to work until, I think, three years he's got to--he can go to work someplace else. Can't go to work in the barge business.
KR: What about your other two [children]?
JC: Then Danny graduated from Texas A and M in engineering and he went to work after that for US Gypsum, which is Gypsum wallboard building products company out of Chicago. He then went to graduate school at Loyola [University] in New Orleans and he went to the international graduate school, Thunderbird [School of Global Management] in Arizona. I don't know if you--
SI: No, I'm not familiar with it.
JC: Well, it's strictly graduate. No undergraduate at all. It's all international business. Well, US Gypsum brought him back. He went to Chicago. He quit, but I think they hired him back before he got out of school at Thunderbird and brought him back to Chicago. He got a better offer from an outfit called--I don't know, Hardie Board, if you're familiar. It's a wallboard company. They sent him to the Philippines. He came back here after he didn't like they were running that company and he started consulting with an outfit called Boral in Atlanta, which is an Australian building material company like US Gypsum. Hardie Boards strictly made siding. They didn't make all ... products like US Gypsum and Boral does, but now he consulted for a year and they hired him, Boral hired him. Then he sent him--now, they sent him to Malaysia and he's covering all of Asia. Right now he's in Australia. I don't know if I told you, but the guy that hired him in Atlanta is now the CEO for the corporation. I don't know what he's doing in Australia, but he's also, I know, made a couple of trips with the CEO because he likes him. [laughter] Then we got Bernie. He's the youngest. He went to Texas Tech. He had, I think, ninety-seven hours or something ... but he came up here working for Timmy when they were on strike up here, because they had to bring ... labor up from the Gulf of Mexico to operate these tugs up here, Eckloff did. They were on strike for seven years. That's where he started working on boats up here and he worked offshore probably ten or fifteen years. Then, Timmy brought him in and he's back in Staten Island, but he had been down to Norfolk. He worked there for a while and the Hawaiian Islands he worked for a while, all for KC, for his brother. But he's still with Kirby. He's still putting the place--back there over at Staten Island got flooded out and he's charged with putting the building back together over there. I don't think it's all that bad. They lost everything on the first floor, but the bad thing, they lost all their servers and everything, their computers. They have no power, but what they brought a tug in there and they're getting their power off that tug, all these tugs got pretty good sized generators. So, they just plugged the building into the tug and they're running--so, they're a interesting family. None of them like Houston. Even my granddaughter, they couldn't wait to get out of town. [laughter] Well, we got a very international family.
SI: Yes, it's interesting.
JC: (Eddie?) and I get to do quite a bit of traveling ... We haven't been to Angola. I don't think we're going to go to--because that's not really--but I think we probably will--we got to see where your parents get transferred to. I hope it's someplace decent.
KR: Me too. [laughter]
JC: They told me they were talking about Iraq.
KR: My dad won't go there.
JC: No, your mom would have to live in Dubai.
SI: Is there anything that we skipped over that you wanted to add to the record?
JC: No.
SI: You told that story earlier about the barges and the ICBMs. Was there ever any other time that your military experience came into play or just in general, do you think your time in the military affected how you did business or helped you in business?
JC: Well, I think the military thing helped me with the NASA contract because I did know something about boosters and most people in the barge business, they didn't know what NASA were talking about, the people ... and I can remember because we were ... up there with some gal in Huntsville. She was traffic manager up there and she was quite impressed that we even knew what Huntsville was and about this history about how the quartermaster people had started up there with the missile program and Wernher von Braun, that's where he went first, was to Huntsville. I knew all that history and that sort impressed--so, that war experience helped me, but it did with the Air Force. It was kind of nice meeting General Griswold who, I don't know, was quite a war hero and running SAC for years. I met him once and got in trouble. It was in Roswell, New Mexico. It was in the Army. I was hopping home. He just came in on his plane and was walking across the tarmac there and I saluted him, which--Air Force, I didn't know. They said, "You don't salute on a tarmac." I didn't know that. [laughter] I found out. He told me. So, I had met the guy before, briefly. But I was hopping home. The plane I was on stopped at Roswell and he was--I don't know what he was going in the for. I did meet him the hard way. I didn't know who he was until they told me ... the pilot on the plane I was with, he said, "You got chewed out by the best."
SI: Do you have any other questions, Katie?
KR: If there's anything else you want to tell us.
JC: I'm getting old. ... It's nice to see--at least, all my kids have done great. They've just been very rewarding and I'm sure my grandkids are going to follow. Katie's already proven that here at Rutgers.
SI: Certainly agree, working with her. It seems like you've kept up the tradition your parents started with education being a very core value.
JC: When I grew, there wasn't any question I was going to go [college]. That wasn't even--I wouldn't have thought about it, but all my brothers, it was just second nature. I think that comes through your parents. I was just lucky. I got two parents that were college graduates.
SI: Well, thank you very much. We appreciate all your time and sharing your story and it was very interesting. Thank you for service too.
JC: [laughter] Well, it was kind of fun, the service.
SI: Thank you.
-----------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW--------------------------------------
Reviewed by Molly Graham 3/4/2015