Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Edward P. Scott on April 11, 2014, in McLean, Virginia, with Shaun Illingworth. Thank you very much for having me here. I really appreciate it.
Edward Scott: Thank you, Shaun.
SI: To begin, can you tell me where and when you were born?
ES: Yes, I was born in Somers Point, New Jersey, December 17, 1937.
SI: Okay. What were your parents' names?
ES: My father was Harry and my mother was Gladys.
SI: Okay. Starting with your father's side of the family, do you know anything about their background or where the family came from?
ES: All I know is that my father was born in Troy, New York. That was his original family home. His father and he lived in South Jersey, in the Atlantic City area. I never met my grandfather on my father's side, that I can remember. I think he died either before I was born or very early into my life; same with my grandmother on his side.
SI: What town did they live in outside of Atlantic City?
ES: I think they lived in Atlantic City.
ES: I don't know the address, though.
SI: What about your mother's side of the family?
ES: My mother grew up in Pleasantville, New Jersey. Her father and mother had a place on Delilah Road.
SI: You were telling me about your mother's upbringing.
ES: Yes, she was raised on Delilah Road in Pleasantville. My grandmother and grandfather lived there. She got married very young to my father. She was sixteen and she had my brother when she was seventeen, my older brother, who's also a Rutgers graduate.
SI: How did your parents meet?
ES: I don't know exactly how they met, never did hear that story, but it must've been a very short romance, because they were so--well, my father was in his early twenties. My mother was sixteen when they got married.
SI: What was your father doing work-wise at the time?
ES: I think, at the time--well, at the time I was born--he was a manager for a company called American News. This is before the Internet, of course. They used to deliver magazines and newspapers to newsstands all around the Atlantic City/Atlantic County area. He was a manager, an assistant manager, for that company in the '30s and early '40s. [Editor's Note: The American News Company, founded in 1864 by Sinclair Tousey, distributed periodicals until it abruptly went out of business in 1957.]
SI: Had your father been in the service?
ES: No. Actually, that job, the news service, was deemed essential.
ES: So, plus, he had three kids. I don't know if that factored into it. I don't know about the draft in World War II, if that kept him out of it. My uncle went in the Navy. His brother went in the Navy.
SI: Did your mother ever work outside the home?
ES: No, she did an awful lot of volunteer work, but she never worked outside the home, no.
SI: How much older is your older brother than you?
ES: Four years.
SI: Okay. Are you the youngest or are you the middle child?
ES: I'm the youngest.
ES: Sister in-between.
SI: Tell me a little bit about some of your earliest memories of growing up in Somers Point.
ES: Okay. In 1944, I knew I'd always remember it because it's the year I learned how to ride a bicycle. I was seven years old. I thought that was the greatest thing, or I was becoming seven that winter; had a very good lifestyle back then. Kids were pretty much on the loose. There was very little in the way of organized activities, except that the chief of police in our hometown--his name was Bill Morrow and, a few years ago, they built a monument to him at the beach in Somers Point--the chief of police ran a thing called the boys' club. It was his own invention. I mean, he just ran it, did it all himself. I'm sure he threw in money of his own for jerseys and things like that. It was primarily a basketball league through the winter. It was held in the little gym that we had at the elementary school, which was less than a block-and-a-half from where I grew up. Bill was a feature in everybody's life, because he used to have this thing organized. [Editor's Note: At Somers Point, a section of the beach is named William Morrow Beach, along with a monument dedicated to Chief Morrow.] We were broken up by age and had a good little group of friends growing up in Somers Point. We had a lot of our own little traditions. We had a baseball field where we could play in the summer and, when we could get together, we would do that. We played basketball in the winter and we'd play touch football amongst ourselves in the summer, early fall. There used to be a traffic circle at Somers Point, right where the bridge goes over to Ocean City. There was a traffic circle there. We used to have the Clam Bowl there on New Year's Day every year, which featured the Uptown against the Downtown. We had an arbitrary line in the town. A bunch of us, all ages, would get a team of about eight or nine and Downtown'd have a team of eight or nine. For some reason, the Downtown always had better athletes. We always had this Clam Bowl game on January 1st.
SI: How would you describe the neighborhood you grew up in, in terms of economics and ethnicity, that sort of thing?
ES: Well, for its time, I guess, it was middle-class. I mean, we weren't poor. We had meals, we had good clothes. We had dress clothes to go to the Sunday school and we lived fine. My father had a car. So, we were middle-class. We were comfortable.
SI: Did your father still work for the news association?
ES: No, by this time, after the news service, a friend of his in Somers Point had a fuel oil route, fuel oil and kerosene delivery to homes, and he had more business than he could handle. He split the part of the business off and I don't know what the arrangements were, whether he just gave it to my father or what, but my father had a truck, which I remember right around '45 or so. This truck, he would make deliveries of kerosene and fuel oil. A lot of homes had fifty-gallon drums outside their houses and some of them had, like, two-hundred-gallon tanks under their porches and stuff like that. I very frequently, during holidays or Saturdays, things like that, would go out and work with him on that truck. We used to deliver the kerosene. A lot of the kerosene, we would deliver in five-gallon cans, which was good exercise, [laughter] five-gallon cans, and then, we'd put a funnel up on top of a kerosene drum and dump it in there until we got the thing full. That was an interesting life. He just did that for a few years.
SI: How old were you when you were doing that?
ES: I must've been nine and ten.
ES: Probably right after the war. In the war, I can actually remember a little bit of the war, I can remember listening on the radio to reports on the war, particularly Gabriel Heatter. He'd say either, "There's good news tonight," or, "There's bad news tonight." I think it was he that said, "Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. America and the ships at sea," something like that, real good memories of that time in World War II. All the comic books were war related. I had no idea what comic book makers were going to do when the war was over. [laughter] Everything was about the war. I remember rationing stamps and rationing things like sugar. [Editor's Note: Gabriel Heatter, a news broadcaster for Mutual News from 1935 to 1961, used the catchphrase, "There's good news tonight."]
SI: Did your family have a victory garden?
ES: No, we had a chicken coop.
ES: [We] didn't have a victory garden. We had a chicken coop, where we used to raise our own chickens and we used to sell some chickens, not very often, but we did sell some chickens to a local meat market.
SI: I have heard that raising chickens is a lot of work.
ES: It was a lot of work picking them.
ES: Getting their feathers off. [laughter] Raising them, I didn't do too much with the raising them, but I used to pick them a lot. We used to boil them, put them in real warm water until they got real wet, and then, you would be picking the feathers off of the carcass.
SI: Do you remember any of the major events towards the end of the war, when you were a little older, like V-E Day or V-J Day?
ES: I remember them as being very happy. Before that, I remember Franklin Delano Roosevelt's death. I remember that being very sad and I remember just seeing the first report of that in the newspaper. They had huge headlines about his death. [Editor's Note: President Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945.]
SI: Was your family interested in politics? Did they support one party or the other?
ES: Yes and no. My father took pride in saying that he never voted for anybody he didn't know personally, which meant he never voted for a higher office than the Mayor of Somers Point.
ES: So, he never voted for anybody for Congress or the Senate, or for the President. My mother was a pretty staunch Democrat. I was surprised to learn [that] some of my friends were Republicans in grammar school. [laughter]
ES: Then, the funny thing is, I'm a lifelong Democrat and the guys that were Republicans in grammar school were lifelong Republicans, very strange.
SI: Was Atlantic County Republican-dominated then?
ES: It was very Republican-dominated, yes. It was run by--Hap Farley was the big name at the time. He was the key Republican figure then. He was quite a few years after Nucky Johnson, different job, too. [Editor's Note: Frank "Hap" Farley, a New Jersey State Assemblyman, then, State Senator for over thirty years, ran Atlantic County as the Republican machine boss, having gained power after Enoch "Nucky" Johnson, the Republican political boss during the early twentieth century, was jailed for tax evasion in 1941.]
SI: You mentioned that your mother was very involved in the community. What would she do as volunteer work?
ES: In World War II, she used to sew bandages. The church would have these sessions in the afternoon sometimes and they would just get together and sew bandages. I don't know how they [did it], I don't know what the bandages were like, but they would sew them and they would get shipped off for the war effort. She did that. She volunteered quite a bit in church. Later on, she was a hospital volunteer. That was her main activity, volunteering in hospitals and just a very supportive friend to a lot of people in the community.
SI: Which church did your family go to?
ES: My family went to Bethany Methodist Church. It's since become Bethany United Methodist Church, after some Methodist churches were swept up into the United Methodist Church. The one thing I remember, that I'll always remember, about that church is, when I was very young, it started out as a very small church with an asbestos-shingled exterior. [It] probably didn't fit more than fifty or sixty people, but, then, they built a church with free labor, all volunteer labor. My father and my brother and I volunteered some. I wasn't much use as a volunteer, but my father did quite a bit. There were two guys in my hometown, George Johnson and Bob Evans, who were in their twenties or thirties. They were two of the main makers of that church. Another guy, Smith, also played a role. The Smith Lumber Yard, I think, gave the church a good deal on a lot of the materials that went into the church, but it was built and it still stands. It's since been taken over by the Shore Memorial Hospital, which used to be down the road, on the same block as the church, but the hospital just grew and grew and, eventually, it took over and turned the church into part of their offices or something. That was some time ago. [Editor's Note: Shore Medical Center, formerly known as Shore Memorial Hospital, is located in Somers Point, New Jersey.]
SI: Would you say that church activity was a big part of your life growing up?
ES: Oh, yes, we were a very church-oriented family, yes, sang in the choir. On Sundays, I would go to Sunday school, church, youth fellowship at six-thirty, and then, church Sunday night. We had Sunday afternoons off to eat. [laughter]
SI: I do not know if Methodism has the equivalent of an altar boy, but did you take on any roles?
ES: They have ushers, but I was basically too young to be an usher back in those days.
SI: Going back to the World War II period, you mentioned rationing. Do you remember things that your family had to do to cope with rationing? Did you have to go without certain things or were there different dishes they had to make, anything like that?
ES: I remember we had a lot of molasses, which was a substitute for sugar in a lot of things, Brer Rabbit Molasses. Other than that, I can't remember much from the rationing of foods. I remember we had to be careful with the car. I remember that, living near the shore, the car's headlights, the top half of the headlights, had to be painted black. They didn't want ships at sea to be silhouetted against the lights on shore. There were times when they would have brownouts, where, at night, lights had to go off. They'd blow a siren and that'd be a signal for a brownout. My father was actually something like--it wasn't Civilian Air Patrol, it was something [else]. He would go up in some watchtower sometimes, once in a while, where they would just watch for planes.
ES: [laughter] Just sit there and watch for Germans.
SI: Like plane spotting?
ES: Yes. I mean, as far as I know, he did a very good job--none of them ever came. [laughter] Submarines were a big deal. There were a number of ships that were sunk off of Atlantic City, out in the ocean, freighters, that sort of thing. Later in life, when I did scuba diving, I actually had a chance to dive a couple of them, just old ships, doing nothing but going up and down the coast, delivering cargo, but the Germans would pick them off if they had nothing better to do.
SI: Do you happen to remember seeing anything wash ashore, like oil or wreckage?
ES: No, I never did that. The other memory I have though is, the Pomona Naval Air Station--it's now the Atlantic City Airport--was a pretty big naval base during the war and they would, I think, stage a lot of planes. You'd see these big squadrons, or wings or whatever, big flights of naval planes, presumably flying out to go onto aircraft carriers offshore, but Pomona was a very active base. [Editor's Note: Naval Air Station Atlantic City, technically in Pomona, New Jersey, was constructed in 1942. Around 1960, it ceased to be a naval air station and has become the Atlantic City Airport.] They flew PBYs [an amphibious plane built by Consolidated Aircraft, also known as a flying boat], which was a patrol boat, to look for submarines. They flew out of there, also. I remember, we had a guy in our church, who his name is Al Clunn(Clung?), he was a Navy pilot. After the war, he used to fly those PBYs. They used to fly them looking for Russian submarines after the war, [laughter] but they're a big, old, lumbering thing, that they would just go out and look out over the ocean.
SI: Did Somers Point have a big tourist trade? Did it grow significantly in the summer?
ES: Somers Point was pretty unique, in that there was a population somewhere around 2,500 when I was growing up and there were twenty-one bars, which is a pretty huge density for 2,500 [residents], [laughter] but it was because Ocean City, right across the two-mile causeway, was dry. You couldn't buy liquor or any alcoholic beverages in Ocean City. So, Somers Point was liquor stores--and the liquor stores weren't counted in that count of bars--and entertainment bars and restaurants, for mainly Ocean City. Yes, it was quite a thriving business and they had a couple of places that were quite big, Tony Mart's and Bay Shores. They'd had--one of the first bands I remember was Mike Paddison, it's an old name--but Frankie Avalon and Bobby Rydell sang in Somers Point. They also had a Gateway Theatre in Somers Point. I remember Cab Calloway played in that. That was back when I was very, very young.
SI: It sounds like you were pretty interested in music growing up.
ES: Well, it was just there. You just see the billboards and the signs and stuff and just know what it was, but, yes, I liked music.
SI: Did you ever play an instrument?
ES: I can play Five Foot Two on ukulele. That's it. [laughter] My brother and sister can both play the piano. We had a piano teacher come to the house, Mr. Oldfield. They both learned to play. I took lessons from him for two years and he eventually told my mother he wasn't going to come anymore. It wasn't worth his time, it wasn't worth her money, for me to continue. [laughter] So, I dropped out of the music business pretty much. I did have one [activity]--I was in the glee club in high school. I actually tried out for the Rutgers Glee Club, which has very good singers--had them--even in my day, they were very good. One of the most embarrassing moments in my life was auditioning for the Rutgers Glee Club. Soupy Walters or Waters was the director at the time, the legendary name. [Editor's Note: From 1946 to 1983, F. Austin "Soup" Walter, Rutgers Class of 1932, served as Director of the Rutgers Glee Club.]
ES: For the Glee Club. The guy before me sounded a little bit like Ezio Pinza or Pavarotti [opera singers] and I sounded like somebody who wasn't ready for the Grand Ole Opry or something. [laughter] I had this weak, little voice and it was just awful. It was so embarrassing, trying to run the scales after having heard that guy do it. So, I didn't make it, but we had a glee club in our fraternity and we actually won the glee club competition once or twice. That was a lot of fun, singing in the fraternity glee club.
SI: We will actually have to talk more about that when we get to it.
ES: Yes, that's way far down the road. [laughter]
SI: Growing up, you said you were in the choir in church.
ES: In church, yes. Yes, we used to have practice some afternoon or evening during the week.
SI: You mentioned you played a lot of sports, but it sounds like it was mostly pickup games.
ES: Yes, I played pickup games and intramurals.
ES: I had asthma my sophomore year of high school and it was pretty bad. My doctor said not to play any sports that year. I never really got into shape for playing sports. After that, I did try out for basketball and I could've been on the basketball team. I would've been about the eighth or ninth player on our high school basketball team. Our coach, Dixie Howell, it was obvious he played five players the entire game. Once in a while, if somebody got in foul trouble, the sixth guy would come in. I wasn't going to be number six, maybe seven. Anyway, I didn't see any future in riding the bench, although it would've been fun. The reason he did that is, he wanted the team to excel in the postseason. When I was a senior, our team actually did win the Division I, or Group I, the smallest, State Championship. That was a big deal. That was huge.
SI: Tell me a little bit, before high school, about your early education.
ES: I had what I thought was a very good education, studied hard and I was a good pupil. Everybody passed every year in our school, our class. I went to Dawes Avenue Elementary School, which, I said, was just a block-and-a-half away and we had the boys' club in the gym. The main feature of our gym was that we had about eight to eight-and-a-half-foot high baskets and the ceiling was, at most, ten feet. In-between these big girders, which were, like, nine feet, nobody had much of a set shot from beyond ten feet, [laughter] because you would hit the rafters, but I guess it taught us playmaking and weaving the ball inside and getting close and rebounding. Anyway, we had our leagues there my whole youth. The other thing we had there was just make-up boxing. Chief Morrow bought some boxing gloves and we would get in the locker room and spar. I remember, one time, boxing the toughest kid in town. I've only been knocked out twice. That was one of them. [laughter] He made me a little dizzy, but we picked up and played that. The main thing that I remember was being able to just play whatever we wanted when we could get a group together, "Let's go down and play some baseball," or something, or, "Let's go play some basketball." We'd just go do it and pickup games just all the time, very loose, very unorganized, but a lot of fun and very good, strenuous exercise. It was very cool.
SI: Were there any other activities, like Boy Scouts or anything else?
ES: Yes, I was in the Boy Scouts. I actually got one merit badge, the Pathfinder Badge. The main thing I remember about Boy Scouts was camping out. I made it all the way to Second Class, which is the lowest thing you can attain after you have attained nothing. We'd camp out and I would get asthma. So, about two or three o'clock in the morning, I would start wheezing. I just couldn't wait for the sun to get up, because, when the sun came up, that means we could get out of the tent, get out and start breathing regularly. When the sun came up and I got moving around, the asthma would dissipate. So, I didn't camp much. Just a few nights of that, that was enough.
SI: Did the asthma eventually go away?
ES: Yes, eventually, it went away. The funny thing about curing or treating asthma at the time was, we actually had a doctor who made house calls, Dr. Cameron. If I would get an attack of asthma at two o'clock in the morning at home, he'd show up and he'd give me a shot of adrenaline. My heart would start racing a hundred miles an hour, but, within less than a minute, the asthma would be gone. Adrenaline was just an amazing cure. I don't know whether they still use it or not or would use it in an emergency, but, boy, that cleared it up fast. Yes, so, I had it throughout my youth. I had a lot of skin tests for different allergies and it turned out I was allergic to house dust and some animal furs. That was about it, but, in college, I think I was exposed to so much dust in the dormitory and our fraternity that I built up immunity. It never really bothered me in college. So, whatever immunity I built up, it probably built up before then. That was just a joke about there being dust in my dormitory or fraternity room. [laughter]
SI: Going into high school, what were your favorite subjects and what interested you the most?
ES: I really didn't have a favorite subject; maybe Spanish was my favorite. We had a very dynamic Spanish teacher who was a lot of fun, Mr. Russo. Miss Bradley was a very good math teacher and I liked math. Latin was a very rough teacher, but I did well in that, too. I did okay in all my classes in high school, so, I really never had a favorite.
SI: When you were a teenager or high school age, did you have to work outside the home, work part-time or summers?
ES: Summers. Yes, I remember, I used to mow lawns when I was a sub-teen. I used to caddy a fair amount; was a terrible caddy. I could never follow the ball. Golfers who didn't hit fairways didn't like me much. [laughter] In the fall, even if they hit the fairway, when there were leaves, it would be hard to find the ball, but I used to caddy a fair amount. Then, my first salary job, I guess that was when I was fourteen, when you could get working papers, was on an asparagus farm, just across a little stream called Patcong Creek from Somers Point, inland a little bit from it, in Steelmanville, New Jersey, an asparagus farm. I worked there for two of the hottest summers I've ever lived. All I did was hoe and pull weeds. It was the first two years that asparagus--what I was told by the guy who ran it was--the first two years that asparagus wasn't big enough. They really didn't harvest it until the second or third year. At the end of the summer, I was out of there. So, I never saw any of it harvested. It was a very unsatisfying job, but that was a salaried job. I actually made money; that was a big deal.
SI: Did you have to give that to your household or was that for you?
ES: No, that was my spending money. Yes, it wasn't a lot, but I had it [for] movies and stuff.
SI: What kinds of things would you do for fun when you were a teenager, other than sports?
ES: We used to hang out at an ice cream fountain, a soda fountain. There were a couple soda fountains in my hometown and, once in a while, you'd hang out with three or four guys, maybe a girl, too, or two and just drink a couple sodas and spend some time, and then, go on home. On Friday nights, once in a while, we would go watch stock car races. They were somewhere inland, inland from Pleasantville, New Jersey. This was the predecessor to NASCAR, on a dirt track with beat-up jalopies, but that they were made to run as fast as they could, because they definitely wanted to win.
ES: They were pretty exciting races. I remember the name Joie Chitwood. He was a big-name racer and I can just see these guys. [Editor's Note: George Rice "Joie" Chitwood was a racecar driver and stunt man.] We were in the stands and these guys coming around with, I thought, the wheels turning the wrong way as they skidded around the turns, and then, once they got around, snapped the wheels back for the straightaway, but you always had to steer into the way you're skidding in order to get control back. The other thing way back from then was listening to the radio. I was a big boxing fan back in those days and there was a boxing training camp in Pleasantville, New Jersey. I think Jersey Joe Walcott actually trained there. [Editor's Note: Jersey Joe Walcott, from Camden, was the heavyweight champion in 1951.] Ike Williams, who was a lightweight champion from New Jersey, also had trained there. At times, then, once in a while, we would go to fights. They would have fights on Friday nights.
SI: At the camp or somewhere else?
ES: At the camp. They had a real ring there with a big, bright overhead light and very small stands. My father would take my brother and me to watch the fights once in a while. My father had boxed when he was a kid, a youngster, and he had a friend who boxed, also.
SI: Were there other activities in the town that your father was involved in, like community activities or social activities?
ES: Outside of church, no.
ES: But, church was; once in a while, potluck suppers and things like that. So, you had a community in the church. All our friends, a lot of our friends growing up, in the family, family friends, they were also going to the same church or to another church a town away that were friends of my father or worked with my father. On Sunday nights, typically, we would have people over for coffee and dessert. So, like, Sunday started with Sunday school and it would end with, after church at night, very often, people would come over to the house and have coffee and dessert. I remember those get-togethers very well, too.
SI: You mentioned earlier the Clam Bowl, was it?
ES: Yes, the Clam Bowl.
ES: We also had a Turkey Bowl.
SI: Okay. Uptown and Downtown played each other. Was the Downtown area significantly different, in terms of economics or anything, or was it just an arbitrary line, like you said?
ES: The Downtown was Shore Road, had City Hall, it had four or five shops, which included the soda fountain, sort of a soda fountain-luncheonette-newsstand sort of place, a sundries shop, which was next-door, and two grocery stores; for a while, probably just one. So, that was the shopping area, was Downtown. The only thing Uptown was the funeral home, which was half a block from where I grew up, and Lingo's soda fountain/luncheonette kind of place. Otherwise, there wasn't anything Uptown much.
SI: Would you go to Atlantic City often?
ES: Once in a while. When I was a little kid, the family went once in a while, mainly to the Steel Pier, but we'd also walk on the boardwalk. I look back and they had the diving horses and they had big-name entertainers. In high school, some of us would take dates, go on dates to the Steel Pier, where they would have some of the biggest names of the day, would show up there. Tex Beneke, whatever the big-name bands were, very often, they would show up at this dance floor with a bandstand on the Steel Pier in Atlantic City. It was as big a draw then as it is now, back in the '40s. It hit a dry spell later on, obviously. [Editor's Note: Tex Beneke was a saxophonist and band leader.]
SI: You would have been in high school from 1951 to 1955.
SI: There were a number of things happening at that time. Early rock 'n' roll was coming out. Were you a fan then? Did you get into that type of music?
ES: Yes, we all did. You reminded me of another social event and that was Saturday night dances at the fire hall, where we'd sort of have dim lights and people would play 45s [records] and there'd be a lot of dancing. So, that was the other aspect of social life. So, yes, I followed music quite a bit. I used to know the words to a lot of songs and did a lot of dancing--that was the way you met the girls.
SI: I know churches led a lot of anti-rock 'n' roll fervor. Did your church have any position on that or did your parents have any opinions on rock 'n' roll?
ES: No, actually, I was before rock 'n' roll, like the '50s. You really didn't get into rock 'n' roll until you got to Elvis Presley and that was, I guess, my freshman year of college. I remember, my freshman year of college, it was hearing Elvis Presley played in our room with nine people, but, in the '50s, it was Johnnie Ray, it was Jo Stafford, Patti Page. It was all just stand-up singers, not very much in the way of quartets and stuff, but they came a little later. The Four Seasons even, I think, were a little later. [Editor's Note: Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel, his first gold record, was released in 1956.]
SI: Also, there was growing concern about the Soviet Union.
ES: Oh, with the church--I wanted to go back to the church.
SI: Go ahead.
ES: Our church had no problem with music. I never heard anything, but the twenty-one bars--I was in a Methodist church, that was a nondrinking church--really took a dim view of all that drinking. The area around the circle, which I had mentioned to you before, the circle that was right at the causeway that went over to Ocean City, so, there's a big concentration of bars there, which we knew as saloons. That was known as "Hell's Half Acre," that part of Somers Point. So, they took a very, very dim view of the consumption of alcoholic beverages. If they could've voted the town dry, they would've. [laughter] I'm sure they didn't have anywhere near the votes for that.
SI: At the time you were in high school, there was the threat of the Soviet Union and Communism.
SI: The Korean War was being fought. Do you remember these things being present in your mind or discussed a lot?
ES: I used to read about the Korean War every night. In the afternoon, we would get The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin delivered and, pretty soon after it came out, just reading the first page, just reading what I could, I followed the Korean War step-by-step. I remember it very well.
SI: I would imagine your brother probably would not have been of draft age then, or was he just on the line?
ES: My brother volunteered for the draft. He went in a little after the Armistice. [Editor's Note: The Korean War ended with the signing of the armistice on July 27, 1953.]
ES: We still had troops in. So, while he was in, it was definitely a very highly tense time. There was a pretty strenuous Cold War at the time. So, he served then. He served down in Virginia. I remember that very well, too, but, yes, we had our bomb drills in school. I don't know whether we had them in World War II, [laughter] but we sure had them during the Cold War, get under the desks, protect yourself from the atomic bomb, sort of a joke. Maybe we actually ran down in the cellar, if we had time in the fire drills, but we did have fire drills. I remember them very clearly, yes, them and vitamin pills.
SI: Was your brother in the service in-between high school and going to Rutgers?
SI: Yes, okay.
ES: Yes, he actually went to night school at Rutgers-Camden. I was in high school, so, actually, he served right after the Korean War, because, when I was a senior in high school, he was at Fort Eustis, Virginia. He was at both Fort Eustis and Fort Story, which are down here near Norfolk. [Editor's Note: Fort Story is a sub-installation within Fort Eustis.] In my senior year, Easter, I hitchhiked down and visited him there and spent a few days. He played basketball. This was an evening activity, but he had a team that he played with in the service. Actually, he had a reunion with a guy that he played basketball down in Fort Story with, back in the '53-'54-'55 era, who lives near Buffalo. My brother is a sports nut. He drove to Buffalo to see four games in the NCAA Basketball March Madness, got together with that friend from when he played basketball, who lived near Buffalo, and he had stayed in close enough contact--I guess you can find him in the white pages these days--but, anyway, I think he'd seen him once since 1955 and he saw him again just this past year. That was interesting. That's part of my high school memory, because I actually drove a DUKW. You know these amphibious things? You see them in cities now. They take you out in the rivers and stuff. Anyway, they put me in uniform and I was on this DUKW driving around and we went out to a boat offshore. Son of a gun, an officer started coming down to get in the boat, into the DUKW. So, my brother and his friends made me sit way in the back and keep my head down, [laughter] so that the officer wouldn't get suspicious; they had a non-military person on the DUKW who was out there for a joyride. That was fun. I also got to see him play some basketball down there. That was very nice, a nice experience for a high school kid. [Editor's Notes: The DUKW, or "Duck," built by General Motors, could ferry troops and supplies from water to land, then, drive on land.]
SI: Was that time period stressful for your parents--and for you and your sister, but primarily for your parents--where they were worried about the Korean War or anything happening? Did that impact you?
ES: It didn't show.
ES: I remember the whole family going up to Fort Dix. That's where he did his basic training. We're up there a couple of times, but the fighting in Korea had stopped and we were just occupying at that time. I wasn't worried, because the war had stopped and he had never gotten orders to go overseas. So, it looked like he was going to be stateside and wasn't going to be a problem for him. So, no, there was no real impact from that, no worries.
SI: When you were in high school, what did you see for yourself in the future? What did you want to do?
ES: I didn't have the foggiest; I really didn't. What I do remember, as a little kid, going up to see the Phillies and staying with some friends we had in Philly and driving through a bad part of town and seeing a fight outside of a bar. A guy got hit with a punch bad and he hit his skull on the pavement and he bled a lot. Somebody in our crowd, either my father or my father's friend, called them a bunch of bums. The one thing I knew is, I didn't want to be a bum. I didn't know what I was going to be. I had a lot of respect for anybody who had a family and was working and had enough money so that they could eat and have clothes and a warm house. So, I thought, "Those people weren't bums." You did see bums, people panhandling and stuff on the street, far fewer in those days and people had a far kinder attitude toward them back in those days. My father told me that he never passed one up. If anybody came to him on the street and needed money, he said, "I always gave them something." He said, "Because, if they're doing that, they really need it." I don't know, these days, people run little businesses panhandling. So, I don't know.
SI: Was that only in the cities, like Atlantic City and Philadelphia?
ES: Yes. While we lived in Somers Point, I never saw a panhandler in my life, but in Atlantic City, you would encounter them or, if it was in Philly, once in a while, you would encounter somebody. Anybody like that, you figure, was down on their luck and just couldn't find work and really needed the help or just had some problems that kept them from working. So, you didn't have a terrible attitude toward anybody in that position, but that was a different time.
SI: When you were going through high school, were they encouraging you and most of your classmates to look towards college?
ES: Yes, I would say, at Ocean City High School, we had an orientation toward college. My best friends all pretty much all went to college.
SI: Did they only have a college prep track?
ES: No, no, they had no college prep track.
ES: Everybody took everything.
SI: Okay, there was not any industrial or college tracks.
ES: No. I took shop.
ES: In high school--I was terrible at it. The only "D" I ever got in my life was in manual training in junior high school. [laughter] You're talking about our classes--when I was in the eighth grade, everybody had always gotten promoted every year. Some people have said that we were probably the best class that they had had at Dawes Avenue Elementary School. Then, they made it a junior high school, which meant that we weren't going from the eighth grade to Ocean City High School. We were going to spend another year at the elementary school as the first junior high school class, ninth grade, and we became the worst class they ever saw. [laughter] Just for some reason, our attitude toward school changed dramatically. It was very funny. We had some people who really acted out that year. Then, we all went to Ocean City High School and forgot about it.
SI: How big were the classes, both at Dawes and Ocean City?
ES: I would say, at Dawes Avenue, our class was somewhere around twenty. Ocean City, we were just under a hundred. My graduating class, I think, was ninety-five, ninety-four, something like that.
SI: Were there other things in high school that interested you, like student government or clubs?
ES: I had a little interest in the school newspaper, but I never really got big into that. It was mainly sports and studies and dating, glee club.
ES: We had to go to glee club practice and we performed here and there. Both in junior high and in high school, I did a couple of plays or variety show-type things. So, they took up some time. So, I forget about them, because they never formed a part of my life. It would've been nice to have been a big-time singer.
SI: You said you worked on the asparagus farm the first two years of high school.
ES: I worked there the first years I had working papers, fourteen and fifteen, so that would've been, like, my sophomore and junior years.
SI: Okay. Did you work anywhere else after that in high school?
ES: Not in high school, no.
ES: The year after I graduated--the year I graduated from high school, I had just gotten my driver's license. So, I really wanted a job where I could drive. I got a job as a driver for a combination laundry, dry cleaners and diaper service. So, in a sense, we drove a diaper truck that had a little bit of laundry and dry cleaning business in it as well. I did that one summer, not the sort of job you wanted to do too much. That was back before Pampers and stuff. Everybody had cloth diapers and the lazy ones would have a diaper service, a little can, like a wastebasket with a lid that would pop up when you would step on the lever. My job was to go in and pull that bag out and put a new one in and replace the air freshener and throw the bag of half clean diapers--people were supposed to rinse them off, they'd rinse them off, right--up on the roof of the truck, from which I would unload them after they had sat up there a whole summer day at the end of the day. [laughter]
SI: That does not sound very attractive.
ES: It wasn't real attractive, no, but it was driving.
ES: I drove from--my route was Cape May Court House, Wildwood, Stone Harbor, Cape May, different days on different parts of that route, Ocean City, a little bit of the mainland there, but I was driving; almost worth it.
SI: Were you saving up for a car?
ES: No, I wasn't. I was saving up to defray college expenses, although I did buy a car. I forget exactly when I bought it. Oh, the other job I had was working for my brother-in-law. I forgot that. I worked in the gas station. My father had gone from the route that he had with fuel oil, which was with Gulf, and then, he had a bowling alley. I was a pinsetter, part-time, did that a fair amount year-round, especially when he needed it. Pinsetters were not the most reliable workforce. As you can imagine, a lot of them were actual derelicts that had, like, three or four teeth and were very warmhearted, fun guys to work with, but they had behavioral issues, alcoholism and others. Anyway, so, my brother and I would set pins once in a while. We did that for a couple of years. Then, my father went into the tires, batteries and accessories business for Gulf, where you delivered tires, batteries and what-have-you, all the rest of the things, sparkplugs, whatever else you find in a gas station. He would have that. He had that route in South Jersey for Gulf stations. He had connections, so, he could get my brother-in-law, my sister's husband, this Gulf station in Northfield, New Jersey. So, I worked there a couple of summers, or winters, I don't know, but I worked there quite a bit. I guess it was winters and summers, before I could drive. Those were the days when everybody pumped gas for you--not like New Jersey, the only place [now]. Well, they advertise full-serve and all the guy'll do is stick the gas pump in your tank and that's it. We used to run out, start washing the windshield and, while you're doing that, you would ask the guy, "Fill her up? Five dollars' worth? One dollar's [worth]?" whatever, and then, immediately, start putting the gas in, and then, finish up the windshield, offer to check the air in the tires and oil and water. I mean, you would do all that stuff whenever anybody drove in. A lot of times, people wanted it. They needed to have their oil checked and you'd actually check the water. You wouldn't dare check the water these days. That was a fun time. I used to do everything on cars--lubricating, change oil and wax cars--but what that led up to was an interest, and right behind that gas station was a guy who restored cars. He used to turn out some really fine-looking cars. He had a 1922 Nash he was trying to get rid of and I bought that for two hundred dollars. That was my first car, 1922, seven-passenger limousine, that I worked on for a couple of winters and sold for two hundred dollars, [laughter] because I was going to college.
SI: Did you go to Rutgers because of your brother?
ES: No, I went to Rutgers before my brother.
SI: Okay, all right.
ES: It was the only school I ever applied to.
ES: It was the State University, a good education, a good reputation and a cheap education for a New Jersey resident. So, I went there. Tuition was two hundred dollars a semester. I never paid. I had scholarships for academics, and financial need, I guess, but I had scholarships. I was very grateful for that and that launched my Rutgers career, but that was all I was interested in. It's the only college I ever applied to.
SI: Is there anything you want to talk about in your life before Rutgers?
ES: I had very good friends. Chick McDowell and Joe Kennedy were really good friends. Joe went on--I think he went on to be an admiral in the Navy. He was in this service they call underwater demolition.
SI: Like a SEAL?
ES: It was like the SEALs, except they didn't go around and attach bombs to things. They went around where the bombs were and disarmed them.
ES: Or dealt with mines. They went and sort of cleared the waters, which is even riskier in some respects than being a SEAL, because you had to do some very tricky stuff. He actually was a specialist of such high regard that he would be called out to Las Vegas for bomb scares, things like that, because he could do the disarming of demolition-type devices. So, he had a very interesting career. He survived this, still alive, still lives over here in Mount Vernon.
SI: We are back. Thank you very much for lunch; I really appreciate it.
ES: Not at all, my pleasure.
SI: To begin, I want to ask you about your first few days and weeks at Rutgers. What were your first impressions of the campus, being away from home, that sort of thing?
ES: The main thing I remember about going away to college was being afraid. So, I knew I was going to study as hard as I could in order to make the grade there. I mean, college was--I was the first person in my family to go to college. I had known a couple people who had gone to college, but it was really a mystery to me. It was a bit intimidating. The second thing was the friendliness--the nine of us down in Hegeman Hall, in one room, which I thought was really cool, in order to get half-price for housing. It was very friendly, it was a very good atmosphere, and then, meeting up with some very nice guys. We all went over and a few of us pledged the same fraternity and became very good friends right away. I remember that as being a real standout thing. One of the guys didn't stay at Rutgers, Jack Bicknell. He was a quarterback. I forget the reasons that he didn't stay at Rutgers, but he transferred out. He later was the head coach of Boston College, some years when they were really very, very good. [Editor's Note: Jack Bicknell, Boston College's head coach from 1981 to 1990, led his team to win the 1985 Cotton Bowl.] I remember Jack Bicknell as a good, big, strong guy. I don't know why he didn't pan out as quarterback for Rutgers, but Jay Hutton was one of my good friends. He played up close to the line. He wasn't a tailback, he was what they called a wingback in the single wing and he was the fastest guy on the team, Jay Hutton was. None of them played when they were freshmen, but, when he was a sophomore, Rutgers had the longest-running scoring streak in the entire nation. Somehow, they never got shutout. There were a couple games where, late in the game, they just gave the ball to Jay, who would be the fastest guy on the field, the fastest guy on Rutgers, clearly, and he would just run crazy. Connecticut finally stopped him. It was funny, [laughter] to get late in the game and being shut out--the team wasn't really good that year--and, somehow, give the ball to Jay and watch him go. That was a lot of fun. Jay was a good guy, went on to be a Nazarene minister, had knee problems. Back in those days, they used to cut your knee open and a big surgery, and then, sew it up and you'd get a big Frankenstein scar. He was plagued by that throughout his college career. He was a fabulous athlete; it was just too bad about his knees. Those early friendships, with him and Bill Austin, and another guy that played football, Dick Howard--[laughter] I was the only guy, really, who didn't play football--and we hung together. Dick Howard was in my same dormitory, but on a higher floor. I think he was a guard on the football team, also a very good, close friend, but we had a lot of fun. We were very, very good friends. That was my early impression, that and really enjoying classes. Fairly early, I decided to become an economics major, because I really liked my professor of economics. I just took a generic batch of courses my freshman year, English, history, economics, some other stuff, but he stood out as a very, very energetic, very funny guy. So, I thought, "Well, economics, that's really interesting." So, I became an economics major.
SI: Do you remember his name?
ES: No, I don't.
ES: I remember the name of the textbook, but I don't remember his name, son of a gun.
ES: No, the guy who was very energetic in 1955, '56. Other than that, I don't know. A lot of professors, I don't remember their names.
SI: I was going to ask if any other professors stand out in your memory.
ES: I really liked my English professor. His name was Young, think it was Arthur Young, I'm not sure, a very thin guy, very slight of build, very intellectual, and he could give you an appreciation for the finer things, because he was very, I guess the best word was erudite, and knew how to project that sort of intelligence and that sort of interest in good literature.
SI: You said you came in very motivated to study and do well.
SI: Did you find that your high school prepared you well? Was the transition okay?
ES: Well, I did okay. I studied a lot harder and a lot longer in college than I had in high school. I guess I crammed everywhere, but I was a more steady studier in college than I was in high school.
SI: This basement area where you stayed your freshman year, you said there were nine guys altogether. Was it basically like a barracks?
ES: It was like a barracks, yes.
ES: Yes, but regular beds, same beds you'd have found upstairs.
ES: So, they weren't cots.
SI: What was dorm life like back then? I have heard different stories about pranks or different things going on.
ES: Not a whole lot of pranks. The pranks were things you did about Douglass or there were things you did in the fraternity about other fraternities or there were things you did about Princeton, trying to paint things on one another's campus. That was very, very infrequent. If there was any sort of organized thing, it was trying to pull off a panty raid or something like that on the Douglass Campus. So, there wasn't--the pledging and the hazing that went on in fraternities then were the biggest thing that would come under the pranks umbrella, I suppose.
SI: Which fraternity did you pledge?
ES: Phi Gamma Delta.
SI: Okay, that is Fiji.
ES: The Fijis, yes.
SI: Okay, where was the house then?
ES: It was at 76 Easton Avenue, at the corner of Easton and Hamilton. It was a wooden structure, burned down several decades ago, been replaced. It was a very good chapter. When I was a senior, in the house, we had a trophy for the best Phi Gamma Delta chapter in the country, which, of course, my class hadn't won. It was the Class of '58, had won that for the fraternity, but, as Class of '59, we were proud to have it, but it was a very good fraternity, a very good mix of academics and athletics and nonathletic extracurricular activities, like Glee Club and whatever, you name it, a very good variety of guys there.
SI: What goes into determining the best chapter? Was it grades and activities?
ES: It was a combination of grades, athletic achievements, the administration of it. You had to file reports with the national and you had to run--you operated the house. We served meals and had a couple people that were employees, cleaning and preparing meals. So, it's how well run it was, administratively, and what a good job it was doing in terms of the books, and so forth, together with all the campus life, which was athletics through everything else. So, that was generally how they called that up. It's a black box--I never knew exactly what went into it, except that my class didn't win it. [laughter]
SI: Can you tell me a little bit about the pledging process in that period?
ES: Yes, the pledging was sort of wide open at the time. Campus life was a lot different than it would be now. It was marked by two things--one was that pledging involved a lot of physical stuff and a lot of harassment. It was always on this side of the line in terms of being abusive or being too harsh, physically. It was always tinged with a sense of humor, like, pledges would line up before dinner. Back in those days, everybody wore a blazer or other jacket and a tie for dinner. So, the pledges, dinner was [at] six o'clock, pledges would have to line up twenty minutes, half-hour, whatever, before dinner and a brother or two, or three or four, would come in and harass them a little bit, but it was actually an opportunity for the brother to show what a humorous joker he was, doing sort of an imitation [of] basic training in the military sort of thing, where you'd say funny things or mock somebody in a humorous way, or, if they screwed up, "Drop down and give me twenty," or whatever, push-ups, that sort of thing and a little bit of give-and-take on that, but not a whole lot. The brothers wouldn't tolerate too much. So, it was harassment, but in a good-natured way, and you formed a good friendship among the class being harassed. Very seldom was there any sort of bad feeling that would arise out of any of it. So, it was, you do things like kidnap somebody and try to drop them off somewhere that'd be difficult for them to get back and that worked both ways. Everybody tried to hide who did it, so [that] they didn't get punished, but, so, I was out a few nights. It was real cold. I remember it being really cold some winter nights when we're still pledging. I also can remember having had a cold at the start of Hell Week. One of the things that we did, did a lot during Hell Week, was make you eat onions. Some of them you had to eat on your honor, but I was fighting a cold, so, when I would eat, you would have to take a couple of onions to class and eat them on your honor, report back that you did it. I think all the onions I ate there, I got rid of a cold during Hell Week. [laughter] So, it was a pretty harmless environment, but you can see how those things get out of hand. The other thing, people got drunk on beer a lot on Saturday nights. I never drank until I was out of law school and into the service for a couple of years. So, I never drank. Jay Hutton and I, the other guy I mentioned before, who is a Nazarene and became a Nazarene missionary, he and I didn't drink, so, we were sort of buddies a lot at parties, but we'd always be at the parties and playing thumper and everything else, not drinking the beer. They were always a lot of fun, our parties, but you could see the drinking can get out of hand.
SI: At that point, were the parties chaperoned or not?
ES: We had a housemother.
ES: Sudie Lumpkin. She didn't go downstairs, where the tap, the keg of beer, was and the thumper games were. She'd stay upstairs. She mainly chaperoned the rooms upstairs--did a spotty job, I think, on that. [laughter] Everybody loved her. She was a lady, she was great.
SI: Did you have a job in the fraternity or an officer position?
ES: Well, a lot of us had the job in that we served meals and Beulah Jackson was the chef. Her husband, Ralph, would assist her in it. He was sort of like the sous chef to her executive chef, but she would do the real cooking, but serving and doing the dishes, those were jobs that were open and I used to do those quite a bit. [If] you did them, you'd get your meals free. I don't think you ever got money for it, but you could earn your meals that way. I would say, out of a fraternity of eighty people, there were probably thirty who did a lot of the waiting and washing dishes and stuff like that to earn their meals.
SI: Did you get involved either running for office or involved with the pledging process when you were a full member?
ES: My senior year, I was the vice president and treasurer. The president was Bill Austin, the year that he was an All-American. So, he was a pretty busy guy, but a very good leader. So, we had our room free. We had our room at the top of the stairs the first flight up. That was where the president and vice president/treasurer had their room. So, that's why he and I were roommates our senior year. Before that, if I had an officer job, I don't remember what it was. It seems like the seniors had most of the jobs that were worth anything other than working in the kitchen.
SI: Being the vice president, did you guys have to deal with the administration often?
SI: No, okay.
ES: No, this was the '50s, again, and people stayed shy of doing things that would get them into serious trouble. I can't remember a single chapter of any fraternity being suspended or put on probation or anything like that. They're all pretty much what we would call "straight arrow" types of organizations. They just weren't very radical. Everybody was middle-of-the-road.
SI: Do you remember, in general, having any contact with--was it Cornelius Boocock who was the Dean of Men then or was he later?
ES: Boocock sounds a little familiar. [Editor's Note: Cornelius B. Boocock served as Dean of Men/Director of Student Life at Rutgers from 1949 to 1963.]
ES: It doesn't sound right, though.
SI: Were any of those folks in Student Life or the Dean of Men's office?
ES: I think the Dean of Men was Phi Gamma Delta. [laughter]
ES: We never got in trouble with him. I'm pretty sure. I forget his name, but he helped some guys. I remember, he helped one guy in the class behind me get into medical school. No, we had a very good relationship with the administration of the University. Part of it might've had to do [with] that we were quite, pretty good academically. I think we had a pretty good reputation for that. We won the glee club competition, the fraternity glee club competition. I think we had a good reputation for that and we had a lot of the really good athletes my junior and senior year and had a really good reputation on that score, too, and the athletes were good guys, very good students, engineer, pre-med. My roommate was an English major, not much of a major, but we can overlook some things, [laughter] and me, an economics major, which I never used. It was a good bunch, pretty good, yes, a couple of engineers, actually.
SI: Earlier, in the 1940s at least, there was religious segregation in the fraternity system. Jews could only join three fraternities. Had that broken up by the time you were at Rutgers?
SI: No, it was still the same.
ES: That had not broken up. Nationally, Phi Gamma Delta was segregated by race, also. My junior year, I went to a convention of Phi Gamma Delta up in a town outside of Boston, a resort town, Swampscott. We had a hotel, we had representatives from all the chapters. I was one out of, like, three or four people who voted against segregation of the fraternity, voted against continuing segregation of the fraternity. Even then, I just couldn't see that. I don't know how long it ran. Obviously, it broke down at some point along the line, as did the religious, I suppose, but, no, we had Sigma Alpha Mu, the Sammys, a few others. They were strictly Jewish fraternities.
SI: I know this by looking at the yearbook, but my understanding is that there were not that many African-Americans on campus at the time.
ES: Oh, there were very few, goodness sake. Almost none on the football team and none on the basketball team--I think this is an entirely different era. It's just so foreign, the way things were. I had a very good friend in the dormitory who was a black guy and I've seen him at reunions. I've never talked to him about his experience as a black undergraduate, or early graduate years, his experience at Rutgers, but we used to get together. He was a very funny guy. We used to get together and tell stories and he was a good joke teller, a good storyteller, just a really good guy, pretty smart guy, too, a lot of fun.
SI: When you were a freshman, ROTC was still mandatory.
ES: Freshman and sophomore years were mandatory. The others, the junior and senior [years], were optional.
SI: Why did you choose Air Force ROTC over Army ROTC?
ES: I wanted to be a pilot, didn't pan out. My eyes didn't hold up for pilots. Nevertheless, I never pushed it with my eyes, either, try to appeal or to see what could be done, but, going into my senior year, they changed the commitment for pilots from three years to five years. So, when I had to make a choice of career, if I was going to pursue the pilot [training], which meant--a lot of the seniors in Air Force ROTC who really wanted to be pilots, most of them took flight training or went to flight school their senior year, but I opted out. Three years was enough, I thought. I wasn't going to put five years on the line in a career I wasn't sure I was going to pursue. So, I went the three-year route.
SI: What did the training consist of in Air Force ROTC?
ES: Classes once a week, I guess, and they were sort of military tactics as seen through the eyes of the Air Force, very light--I mean, it was not a strenuous course--then, drill, but we had to go out and march, and summer camp. That was about it.
SI: Were there any, I do not know if you call them field exercises, but things other than drill where you would go out and have to deal with a problem or anything like that?
ES: No, not in the Air Force one, no.
ES: I don't know if the Army guys did or not. I don't remember them doing it. I had buddies, fraternity brothers, who were Army ROTC. I don't think they did anything in particular that we didn't do. They would go and take the classes. I guess the Army stuff was more applicable or more amenable to classwork than the Air Force stuff. I mean, the Air Force stuff, the jets and the mechanics and the aeronautics and all that sort of stuff is not suitable for [a classroom]. I mean, you don't train people how to take care of a jet engine, but, with the Army, in terms of field tactics and how you line up battalions and how you would move into a battlefield and all this, the strategy and tactics of warfare, I guess that'll lend itself more to the Army. It was a more serious subject. The Air Force was sort of light. I was in the Queens Guard, which was the Air Force drill team back then. That was fun. That was almost like being on an athletic team. We had to practice a couple times a week and we did some pretty interesting stuff, nothing like what they do now with drill teams, but it was fun. It was a good extracurricular activity.
SI: Did you compete?
ES: No, we didn't have much of that. We would, like, show up for a parade in Rahway or Elizabeth, do those sorts of things, and we'd give a demonstration here or there, but not a whole lot, mainly just practiced. I do remember that we came down to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC, one year. That would've been either the Spring of '59 or the Spring of '58. That could be researched by someone with an interest in climatology or whatever, because it snowed on April 10th that year. I remember riding out of DC with a snowfall on the ground.
SI: What did you do there? Did you march in a parade or did you have a demonstration?
ES: Yes, we marched.
ES: We marched and, at the reviewing stand, did a demonstration of what we could.
SI: Going back to general campus life, you mentioned Douglass before, across town. Was there much of a relationship between the Rutgers men and the Douglass Campus?
ES: Yes, there was quite a bit. A very large proportion of your dating was with Douglass girls, yes, no question about it. I did--my serious dating was with women from Rutgers, rather Douglass, yes--and that was true for quite a few others. Others were dating townies, local women, or women from not too far away. Now, I never did date girls from other colleges. Some of the guys in the fraternity did. Of course, I dated my wife my senior year. I had been dating my wife, didn't during the school year, because she was at Penn State and I was at Rutgers. So, I was dating someone else then. We only got serious after I graduated.
SI: How did you and your wife meet?
ES: That's another interesting story; through a Rutgers guy, actually, through a fraternity brother. The guy behind me in the fraternity, a year behind me in the fraternity, Johnny DelCorio, was a graduate of Ocean City High School, a year behind me. His home was right across the street from where my wife's family had a summer home. My wife and her sister and mother would spend the summers there. Her grandmother and grandfather were there, too, in a little house in the back, and my--well, he became my father-in-law--he would come visit them. He was working in Syracuse, New York. My wife and her sister, along with the woman who became my mother-in-law, would spend all of their summers there, right across the street from Johnny DelCorio. Johnny DelCorio used to date my wife, when she was not my wife, of course. One summer, we wanted to go out together; I didn't have a date. He asked Jane if she knew anybody that wanted to go out with us that night. So, she went and got a friend of hers and I liked her friend and we dated a few times in the Summer of '57. Then, the Summer of '58, Jane and I started dating a lot and started going steady, except that we went to different colleges. So, that's how we met, through a high school chum and college friend and fraternity brother. I just talked to him last year, still down there, still in the same county, very nice guy, became a social worker.
SI: When you would go to Douglass, did they still have the strict rules on socializing or going into the dorms?
ES: [laughter] You didn't go into a dorm.
ES: The women I dated were all in the Horseshoes, they called them, the houses.
ES: The little houses, and you didn't get any further than the living room of any of them, ever, unless you were on a panty raid, and I don't know one where I ever actually went anywhere on one of those. Anyway, you'd pick your date up there and you'd drop your date off there and you never went inside.
SI: Where would students usually take dates in that time?
ES: Most often to something going on at the fraternity or going to a movie.
ES: Those would be the norm, or something at the little social hall they had at Douglass. I forget the name of it, but it was a student center, a pretty nice student center, on the Douglass Campus. There'd be events there once in a while, dances or other things, go to them.
SI: When you were a student, was the student center over on George Street, what they called the Ledge?
SI: Was there a lot of activity there?
ES: No. For someone who was involved in the fraternity and lived at a fraternity, there was nothing.
ES: I had a friend--I had two friends--who I'd meet once in a while at the Ledge, a cup of coffee or for lunch or something like that, or drop by after a class, that sort of thing, but no social life around the Ledge at all.
SI: Do you remember seeing a lot of acts come in, musical or otherwise?
ES: I remember Count Basie. For the big dances and big weekends, Military Ball used to be one, Junior Prom used to be one, probably a couple others, but big events like that, they used to come. One or two other Big Bands along the same level as Count Basie, that well-known, were there. They were quite enjoyable. Yes, people used to dance to those. They're nice events. [Editor's Note: Count Basie was a composer and pianist of swing-style jazz.]
SI: Were there a lot of South Jersey guys that you ran into at Rutgers or were you in the minority?
ES: Oh, a distinct minority. The only ones, I knew a guy from Millville--oh, I knew two guys from the fraternity, one from Elmer, one from Millville. They were both in the fraternity. Then, I knew two guys, three guys, from Ocean City and that was it, as far as people I knew from South Jersey, the whole time I was there. Everybody else was middle New Jersey or our fraternity had quite a few guys from Ohio. There was this one high school, Shaw High School [in East Cleveland], that was a feeder school for football players.
ES: The quarterback in the Class of '58, Bill Whitaker, Jay Hutton in my class, I mentioned him before, and a few others, very smart, good football players came from this high school. I don't know how the pipeline started, but it was a good one, but, no, no guys from South Jersey much at all.
SI: During lunch, you brought up the Hungarians that were in the area.
ES: Yes, I never met [them].
SI: You never met them. You just knew.
ES: I just knew about them, yes.
ES: Yes, and knew that they were at, as you pointed out, Camp Kilmer there, at Camp Kilmer, but I didn't have any encounters.
SI: Okay. This was also, during your years, the time that Rutgers officially became the State University in 1956. The mascot changed. Do you remember any change on the campus, a sense of pride even, in attaining that status?
ES: It was seamless as far as I was concerned. I thought we were the State University when I went there. So, anything that was going on, I was oblivious.
ES: I just thought it was funny that we weren't RU, we were RTSU, RTSUNJ, I guess, [laughter] but, no, I was oblivious. Nothing like that penetrated. I was going to class and studying and that was it, and having fun.
SI: For example, like at a football game, what would be the typical events surrounding a football game or the tradition?
ES: Well, I think they were free, at least for students. The stadium fit twenty thousand. I'm not sure whether we filled it or not; didn't pay attention to that. It was a very pretty stadium at the time and, of course, was the open end zone. The end zone that was closed, the north end zone, had two big fields with just ivy growing on the ground and a little end zone section, if there was any at all, and then, the sideline seats. It was a very pretty, natural little bowl. It was a very nice setting for football games. The big thing was finding a ride out to the stadium. Everybody went--everybody I knew--went to the games and it was mainly students who were in the stands. Guys were the cheerleaders. I had one friend who was a cheerleader. I remember, those who drank would take a flask or something in their hip pocket to the game.
SI: Would people dress up for the game?
ES: Oh, yes.
ES: Yes, I think you always put on a coat and tie. Most often, you took a date, or very often at least, you took a date, and the away games covered vast distances, like Lehigh, and Lafayette--we didn't play Bucknell--Princeton, Columbia. Then, the far games were Colgate. Nobody ever, hardly anybody, went to the Colgate games. Most of the people that I knew went to the Lafayette and Lehigh games, just over in Eastern Pennsylvania.
SI: I heard the Princeton games were very popular.
ES: Oh, everybody went to the Princeton game, my goodness, yes. Yes, they're a lot of fun. That was a real rivalry, Rutgers and Princeton; at least it was from the Rutgers standpoint. We were very enthusiastic about it and I think they were, too. We were both similar philosophies as far as the way football players were handled and they lived regular campus lives, like anybody else, other student. It's just that they had scholarships that paid for their room and board, and books, but I guess Princeton had that sort of thing at the time, I don't know, but those were good games and a good, good rivalry. It carried through in basketball and lacrosse, baseball, everything.
SI: Did you follow the other sports as closely as football?
ES: I followed basketball a little. I actually tried out for basketball. Here, again, I was on the bubble as a sophomore. I think they took ten men as a traveling team. I wouldn't have been on the traveling squad. I could've been on the home team, the team when we were playing at home, but this one other guy beat me out for this last spot on what would've been the traveling team. I eventually felt the time away from the studies just wasn't worth it to me. I was too worried about studies, still, but I did, I went out as a sophomore, almost made it. I actually wish I had stayed with it and it was a bad choice to give up on it, but I played intramurals, basketball, played intramural football and all the rest.
SI: You mentioned before that your fraternity won the glee club award. I know that there was an overall fraternity cup. Is that correct?
ES: Yes, probably was. I'm not sure.
SI: Okay. I know there were other parts of the competition besides singing.
ES: I don't remember there being a top fraternity, as such, for the campus back then. I just don't remember that being--we'd have been in the running for it, us and Chi Psi and the Dekes and Beta Theta Pi.
SI: I was curious if the intramural sports were part of that.
ES: Well, they had intramural sports for sure, for the fraternities, yes, used to compete. We had a bowling [team], intramural bowling, too.
ES: I remember I did that, having been a pinsetter. [laughter]
SI: Yes. Was there any boxing at Rutgers?
ES: There was wrestling for sure. We had some wrestlers in the fraternity. Guys would starve themselves to make sure they didn't move up a weight, yes, and swimmers.
SI: You went on to law school after Rutgers. When did you start thinking about law as something you wanted to do?
ES: I thought about, I think, law and seminary my senior year and I actually went to seminary. I was the co-president of the Wesley Foundation, which was the Methodist student organization, combined between Rutgers and Douglass, that met at the Methodist church right down there, where the--what's the name of the hotel that begins with an H? [Editor's Note: The Wesley Foundation, United Methodist campus ministries, is found at many universities and colleges across the United States.]
SI: The Heldrich?
ES: Yes, the Heldrich.
ES: There's still a church there.
ES: Right there was where the Wesley Foundation used to meet and I was co-president of that, and Jay Hutton was active, although he was a Nazarene, which was the more fundamentalist branch of Methodism. They had actually broken off from the Methodist Church. Anyway, so, I had been thinking about law school, but, then, I decided to go to seminary. I went to SMU for most of a semester, decided I didn't want to be a preacher, a local preacher, and dropped out and went to law school the next year. [Editor's Note: Southern Methodist University is a private university located in Dallas, Texas. Its Perkins School of Theology is one of thirteen seminaries of the Methodist Church.]
SI: Can you tell me a little bit more about that time at SMU?
ES: Well, I had my choice between Perkins School of Theology at SMU, which was a very good school, and Drew University, which would've been another few years of school in New Jersey, and I opted for SMU, to go to Dallas for a different experience. I'm sure I was not influenced by the fact that it was Don Meredith's senior year playing football, which I enjoyed watching, [laughter] got to be a Don Meredith fan, a Dallas Cowboys fan thereafter, based on that experience, but got out and I was going steady with my wife. She didn't want to be a preacher's wife, either, but I was the first one to announce that I wasn't going to be a preacher, before she announced that she wasn't going to be a preacher's wife. So, that worked out well and I went on to law school. [Editor's Note: Don Meredith, a three-year starter at quarterback for SMU, played with the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1968. After retiring, he became a popular broadcaster, most notably for Monday Night Football.]
SI: Does anything stand out about being in the South at that time, having grown up in New Jersey and lived there your whole life?
ES: No. Again, it was in an academic environment and there was nothing much happening in Dallas, that I could see, in terms of Civil Rights or segregation.
SI: Or just the difference in culture?
ES: Oh, there was a different culture, people's pace of life and attitude towards life. I guess it was more relaxed, but it wasn't too relaxed. My roommate was from Princeton [laughter] and he was a pretty intense intellectual. I don't think he went on to be a preacher, either. He was a pretty rigorous intellectual and had a bit of a skeptic in him. I'd lost track of him. He was interesting. So, being an academic, having a Princeton guy as your roommate, I was in Dallas from September through January and that was it.
SI: That was January of 1960, and then, you went to the University of Pennsylvania.
ES: January, yes, and then, I got out and applied to law schools and only applied to two. As soon as I got accepted to Penn, that was it, went to Penn.
SI: Tell me a bit about making the adjustment to law school and what that first year was like.
ES: Well, first of all, in my senior year at Rutgers, I was a Henry Rutgers Scholar.
ES: So, I did a big piece on United States' aid to the industrialization of India, which I had done a pretty decent job of research on, and the biggest outcome of it for me was when I did my orals for that. When it was over, my advisor said, "You can really write well," and I thought, "Woo, nobody ever told me that." That was a big boost and that gave me [confidence], that carried over into law school, sort of that confidence, that, at a fairly high level, that I could be recognized. I had a good academic record at Rutgers. So, I guess I was a little more confident going into law school than I had been going into college. College was more of an unknown. Law school was my third--Rutgers, SMU and Penn--it was the third of the three. One interesting thing about my freshman year at [Penn] was, I met a guy who only stayed at Penn for one year, but later went on to the Eagleton Institute, Ross Baker. [Editor's Note: The Eagleton Institute of Politics, located at Rutgers University, researches politics on the state and national level. Rutgers Professor of Political Science Ross Baker regularly publishes editorials in the New York Times and LA Times and also contributes to NPR's All Things Considered.]
ES: He was a classmate of mine at Penn. He had been an undergraduate at Penn. He was a political scientist in law school and that pretty much summed it up, very interesting guy in class discussions.
ES: But not legalistic, more of looking at it from the standpoint of the political aspects and the overall policy issues, rather than the legal issues and the procedural issues, everything else you learned in law school, a fascinating guy. I've kept in touch with him here and there, bright guy and a very good guy.
SI: Yes, he is the go-to guy for politics.
ES: Oh, yes, the New York Times all the time and writes, yes.
SI: About your Henry Rutgers thesis, what got you interested in the topic of aid to India?
ES: It was my sort of altruistic bent, which I had gotten from the Methodist Church, colored a lot of my life. So, the US being a good guy and trying to help a big, struggling nation was very attractive to me. So, that's how I got into it, from the standpoint of, "Were we doing this for good reasons and were we doing a good job? Was it a good example?" Those were the thoughts in my mind; they didn't come through in the paper. That wasn't the questions I was asking in the paper. The paper was all about effectiveness and what was behind it, but that pretty much explains it for me, the altruism of Methodism.
SI: Getting into your time in law school, did you find a particular interest in the law that you were interested in pursuing?
ES: No, I never really did. I worked hard at it, but really didn't know in law school what I would eventually pursue, except that I didn't think I was going to be a criminal lawyer. So, that was it. I didn't even block out corporate law, at first.
SI: How competitive was Penn at the time, not so much to get in, but the everyday culture of being in law school then?
ES: It was not a competitive atmosphere. It was competitive, but that it didn't affect your relationships with any of your colleagues, the other students. You're friends with everybody and good classmates. You're trying hard and, even in classroom discussions, you'd try to do your best. You'd get class rankings and some would be on Law Review and some wouldn't and some would do this and some would do that, but it didn't color anything. Everybody was friends with everybody.
SI: You got on the Law Review.
ES: Yes, I was on Law Review.
SI: What did that entail?
ES: It involved--after you got on, which was based on your first year of grades--in your second year, you had to write what were called case notes. You had to find a case that made some sort of movement or took the law a step in a particular direction and write an intense analysis of it--would only fill up two or three pages of the Law Review, but you'd have to do two or three of those your year, your junior year. The editors for that were the officers of the Law Review. There were a couple of case editors, and then, there were a couple of notes editors. Your senior year, your last year of law school, you would write a note, which would be a longer piece on a particular subject, was far ranging and very intensive. There would be a classmate of yours who would be your notes editor for that. It was a very time-consuming endeavor to be on Law Review, just piled on top of everything else.
SI: Were you still going out with your wife or did you get married at this time?
ES: Oh, I got married after my first year of--we got married the year before I entered law school.
ES: So, when I went to law school--oh, wait a minute, no, we got married in '61, I'm sorry. [laughter]
ES: She graduated in '60. We got married in '61. I've got this screwed up. '59, I entered seminary. '60, I entered law school and she was at Penn State and I was a proctor in the freshman dormitories at Penn while she was finishing up at Penn State. At the end of my freshman year of law school, we got married, had a wedding up in Syracuse, New York, two days in the Poconos, over to Penn State for her graduation, then, down to Ocean City for that summer.
SI: Wow. Did your wife work while you were in law school?
ES: That was the plan. She worked more than a semester. Then, in the spring of my sophomore year, she delivered our son, Eddie. So, we got married in '60, June of '60, and, in May of '61, we had Eddie. She didn't work very long. She didn't. So, I had to borrow money to get through the tail-end of my second year of law school and my senior year in law school.
SI: Does anything else about your time at Penn stand out?
ES: No, it was a good experience again. It was a good intellectual experience, met a lot of interesting people. One of them became a lifelong friend. I worked with him on a number of occasions, but that was it for law school.
SI: I also wanted to ask ...
ES: It was in law school that I learned there were schools that did a good job of educating people outside of Rutgers. [laughter]
SI: You were there when Kennedy got elected. Did you follow that election?
ES: That was the first one I voted in.
ED: Yes, so, I voted for Kennedy and was interested in it. I didn't do any work. [Editor's Note: John F. Kennedy won the 1960 Presidential Election and was inaugurated on January 20, 1961.]
ES: Didn't do anything for the campaign.
SI: Because, later on, you would go into the Peace Corps and other activities.
SI: Did what he was putting across appeal to you then?
ES: Oh, I thought he was fabulous. I thought he was just terrific. So, I was a big follower of his and I found him inspiring. His sense of the nobility of public service, if you could say that, had a big impact on me.
SI: You went from graduating law school in 1963 right into the Air Force.
ES: I had to clerk a year.
ES: In New Jersey, you had to clerk for nine months in order to qualify for the bar. So, I clerked for Nathan Jacobs, who was a Supreme Court Justice, with his offices in Newark, New Jersey. There were four of the justices who had their offices in the same suite of offices. So, they shared a library in Newark and the other three were scattered around the state. One was in Asbury Park, as I mentioned. [Editor's Note: The Honorable Nathan L. Jacobs served as a New Jersey Supreme Court Associate Justice briefly in 1948, then, from 1952 to 1975.]
SI: What did being a clerk entail at that time?
ES: Book research and reading the briefs and the transcripts from the trials below, just a thorough combing of the case and your own independent research of the legal issues that they were raising and research of the record of the trial with respect to any factual issues that were being raised at that level. So, you scoured everything and did the best job you could do in terms of making a recommendation for the Justice and that would be based on his assigning stuff to you, maybe going back to you on a particular point of law and saying, "I really liked this research," or, "See if you can find this slant," or, "Could it go this way or that way?" They'd be giving you ideas as to what would be interesting or productive to look into further. The thing about Jacobs is, he was one of the smartest. He had a reputation for being really smart and a really good justice. That's why I went with him. While I was there, I learned that he was ethically very pure and very insistent. He was very critical of what he saw as possible ethical lapses, either among members of the bar or people on the bench, anywhere. He himself lived a rigorous life. He had no private investments. His money was all into things, no bonds or whatever, that he felt he would not be involved in a conflict of interest ruling one way or another, just a very, very puritanical guy in terms of his view of how a justice ought to conduct himself. I was very impressed by that, too. He was a good guy. He, incidentally, had always had Harvard grads. He was a Harvard grad. I was his first non-Harvard graduate as his law clerk. I got a kick out of that. [laughter]
SI: What was the working relationship like between him and his clerks?
ES: He was very intellectual, not really very chummy, although I remember, our daughter was born there and, at a very young age, she had climbed up a chest of drawers. My wife had called me at work and told me about that. I, for some reason, felt free to go in and tell him [laughter] and see if he had any advice for what to do with a kid that would do that. That was just a funny aside. [laughter] We weren't buddies, but, intellectually, I had a lot of respect for him and he appreciated my efforts as well, on a legal, intellectual basis.
SI: After you completed your clerkship, you went into the Air Force.
SI: Okay. Was that because of your commitment from ROTC?
ES: Yes, they gave me a deferral to go to seminary. Then, they gave me a deferral to go to law school.
ES: Deferred my active duty.
SI: Let me just pause for a second.
ES: Yes, clerking, had to use my writing. You really had to write as well as you could for the Judge, to lay things out for him. You didn't want to disappoint him. You wanted to give him the best scholarship and the best writing you could all the time.
SI: By that time, you had two children at least. Did you have other children?
ES: We had two children.
ES: Eddie and Laurie.
SI: Tell me about going into the service. It must have been difficult to leave your young family behind.
ES: Didn't leave them.
SI: They came.
ES: We all piled into the Volvo station wagon, which I had bought without involving my wife in the decisional process, which turned out to be my first big mistake in my married life. I bought a stick shift. She didn't do stick shifts. So, I bought this Volvo station wagon, was very nice, was white with a red interior, and she cried. That was very sad; [laughter] don't ever buy a car without consulting your wife. We all piled in that and drove down to Biloxi, Mississippi. They'd ask you where you want to go and I had put down Japan, Europe and the West Coast and I got Biloxi, which I guess was probably the geographic center of where I had requested.
SI: Once you got down to Keesler Air Force Base, what were your daily duties like?
ES: There were certain areas. One involved handling administrative discharges. If the Air Force was going to discharge someone for failure to adjust or for some misbehaviors that didn't warrant sending them to jail or through a court-martial process, or it was mainly personality disorders or whatever, they'd get administrative discharges. They would be assigned a lawyer to represent them. So, you'd work for them, to try to get as good a discharge as you could, or, if they wanted to stay in, to try to get the action against them dismissed and keep them in. That was one thing. One that was a little bigger was that I and another fellow with an equal amount of time in the service, another ROTC guy, there were three of us, would alternate back and forth between prosecutor and defense in these special courts-martial. So, they were typically for AWOL [absent without leave], barracks larceny, a fight, things like that. So, you'd either prosecute the guy for that or defend the guy for that. That was a large part of it, a large part of what you would be doing. Then, my other big assignment for the time I was out there was legal advisor to the base procurement office, the base [unit] that gave out contracts for maintenance or construction of a new building here or there or repaving, all those sorts of things. I had to approve, signoff on, contracts and stuff like that. That was an interesting part of work, because I had never done any work like that before. There were two guys who were the contracting officers for the base, who would oversee that process. That was the other major part of it, that and any other legal issues that would come up, where the base commander, squadron commanders or anybody would come to the legal office and say, "What do we do about this or that?" and they would ask for advice.
SI: Are there any examples of those special problems that come to mind?
ES: No, they don't, actually. That makes me think of another thing--we would help the base commander with taxes. [laughter] Rank has its privileges. There were two other things we would do, actually. One was be a legal advice [resource] for anybody. So, the wife of the base commander once came to me for legal advice, or just any airman would come in and say, "I've got a legal problem." Then, you'd try to help him with it--couldn't represent him in court, but you could just give them legal advice and write things up for him or help him with some documents, that sort of thing. That was another thing we did. Then, there was another one--can't think of it right now.
SI: You had graduated from law school in 1963, then, you did the nine-month clerkship. Was this the Spring of 1964 that you were down in Mississippi?
ES: August of '64, went down to Mississippi.
SI: Okay. If I remember it correctly, that was the time of the Mississippi Freedom Summer.
ES: There was a lot going on down there at the time, yes. [Editor's Note: In the Summer of 1964, African-American Mississippians and out-of-state volunteers went across Mississippi to register African-Americans to vote. They were met with opposition from the Ku Klux Klan, police and state officials.]
SI: Did any of that affect your work at all or were you aware of it?
ES: I was very much aware of it, because we lived off-base. We met some people that were sort of typical of why you would've thought of Mississippi at the time of racists and apologists for segregation, which is quite astonishing, other friends that were just very hospitable and very nice, people we're still good friends with, and some who just weren't either way. So, we had a mix of our relationships with people in the community, but I'm glad we lived off base in order to have that opportunity. I was the base--I guess, I was there three years and I think the third year I was there, maybe the third year or maybe the last year-and-a-half--I was the Equal Opportunity officer for the base, in terms of off-base treatment of military folks, Air Force folks. So, if anybody had a complaint about any part of society, a restaurant or the way they were treated by the courts or by the sheriff, I was the guy who would go out. I didn't have any business. Keesler Air Force Base is located in Harrison County. The big business in Harrison County is tourism. People who have tourism businesses don't want any trouble. Harrison County was the first county in Mississippi to integrate and it went off without a hitch. Harrison County was united in not wanting to screw things up. So, you'd think, "Hey, you're in Mississippi, these freedom riders are being killed, bombs are going off in Pascagoula, Mississippi," which was in the county where I lived, "Equal Employment officer," or the equal rights or whatever you'd call it officer, "on base had no business." I was "the Maytag repairman." I had one complaint. I mean, I had one complaint that I had to actually go out and see somebody and I went out and saw them and they said, "We'll fix it. Sorry it's gotten this far and we know how it got this far." I think they fired somebody. There was never any other complaint against them. It was a very, very strange phenomenon.
SI: Was this position, this duty, created by the Air Force or did something else create it?
ES: It was federal. [Editor's Note: Equal Opportunity legislation was included in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and has grown since then.]
ES: I think it was nationwide.
ES: I think federal installations, or I think all military installations, probably, every one of them had an official in a job like that. If I'd have been in another part of Mississippi, it probably would've been a bigger deal, like if I had been at the Naval Air Station up in Meridian, Mississippi, that might've been a bigger deal.
SI: Did you know that you were going to be at Keesler for all three years?
ES: Well, when I went there, I thought I'd probably be there for all three. People didn't transfer in and out of the legal office there, at my level, very often. Career folks would come and go, but someone who went as their first assignment, that was it--three years there and they didn't go anywhere else.
SI: Was Vietnam a concern for you, possibly being deployed there?
ES: No. I thought about it, in terms of whether I'd want to volunteer for it, but, from conversations I had, it seemed to me that they weren't going to send somebody with three kids to Vietnam. There were a lot of single guys that they could send to Vietnam to handle legal issues for the Air Force over there. It's a big deal to take care of a family in the States. They wouldn't send a family over to Vietnam, obviously, but, no, the idea of a married man with three kids being sent over there to do legal work was pretty far-fetched. So, that really was not a concern.
SI: At that time, as an officer in the Air Force, did you have any feelings or opinions about the war in Vietnam?
ES: I was pretty much an apologist for it. My thinking changed over time, but there were a couple of things that I couldn't understand. One, I couldn't understand how you could have an Air Force base--how the United States could have an Air Force base or anything else in Vietnam--that would be vulnerable. I mean, how could a country with our military might have difficulties in Vietnam? I couldn't figure out why it was a difficulty for us. Obviously, I knew nothing about the culture or what was going on there and what things were like beneath the surface and the civilian community there or anything else, like any other American. I remember, the Russians made me angry and the North Vietnamese made me angry. I thought, "Why can't they leave the South Vietnamese alone? South Vietnam's not trying to take over North Vietnam and the Russians got nothing. I mean, why are they making life miserable for these people? We're just good guys trying to defend them." That was pretty much my thinking--became a minority [laughter] with the American people's thinking later on--but the powers-that-be just couldn't see things clearly, I guess, thought we would win that thing easily, didn't turn out. I later on in life had some relations--I mean, he and I weren't buddies--but I did come across Robert McNamara later in life with some things. He was an interesting character, his reflections on that period of time. His reflections on World War II are also [interesting]. He once said to Curtis LeMay, "You know, if we lose this thing, we'll be prosecuted as war criminals," because of the fire bombings of civilian populations in Tokyo and the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as being potential war crimes. [Editor's Note: Curtis E. LeMay, an Army Air Forces, and then, Air Force general, commanded the firebombing campaigns against Japan during World War II and later served as Chief of Staff of the Air Force.]
ES: Yes, but Robert McNamara, he was the planner; he was Curtis LeMay's planner of bombing missions over Japan. Curtis LeMay would say, "I want to do this," but, then, somebody's got to do the nuts-and-bolts of putting the project together and that was Robert McNamara. He came to regret it.
SI: Yes. I am just curious, since you brought that up, do you think he was sincere in his regret?
ES: Oh, yes.
ES: Yes. I mean, Vietnam veterans hate him for his very late in life saying that we screwed things up in Vietnam. They say, "Oh, geez, fifty-eight thousand of us died and look at everybody in wheelchairs and missing limbs and all. Hey, now you think it was not the right thing to do?" I can understand their anger, but I think he was sincere. I mean, he just--he was part of that and later regretted it and, if you later regret it, he admitted it and I think he was very sincere. [Editor's Note: During World War II, Robert McNamara held a supporting role in Curtis LeMay's bombing campaigns as a statistician. He served as Secretary of Defense from 1961 to 1968 during the escalation of the Vietnam War. In 2003, Robert McNamara appeared in the documentary The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert McNamara, where he discussed the wars he was involved in and revealed his regret and remorse.]
SI: I want to go back to your daily activities at Keesler. You said that a lot of your time was taken up in small courts-martial.
SI: Lower level crimes. Do any of them stand out in your memory, any memorable cases that you were involved in?
ES: Oh, this was actually a general court-martial that stands out. It was pretty minor for a general court-martial. The guy had passed some bad checks and he had a drinking problem. He was African-American. The day of his trial, he said he had just been on the phone with Martin Luther King, who had been talking to him about whether he'd been treated fairly down there. [laughter] I got a rise out of that, but he was a character, fell asleep.
SI: Were you defending him?
ES: I was defending him. Yes, I was more trying to get him a light sentence. There was no way of getting him out of it. I mean, he had signed the checks and signed confessions. They were bad checks and he had known it. Basically, he had embezzled the money, felt he needed it, but that was the only way to get it. He was a character. He fell asleep the day of his trial. He had been drinking and I wrestled with the issue of, "It's not going to go well for him if I go in and say, 'We want a postponement because my client came to court drunk this morning,' or just go in there and tough it out," because, basically, he wasn't going to testify anyway. It was basically about sentencing. So, I just went ahead with it and, if he fell sleep, I woke him up; tough ethical judgments. On the administrative cases, the most memorable one was a guy who was a cross-dresser in his wife's clothes. He had been seen on base, I think, in female garments and he was being discharged for a personality disorder. I'd done everything I could for him. I was friends with the psychologist on base and he had examined him and was ready to testify that this guy really was motivated for an Air Force career, wanted to stay in and had been very cooperative in treatment and he felt like he was a good bet. We were all ready to go with resisting his being discharged administratively, because he wanted to stay in. So, we were going to try to keep him in. They show up in my office the day of his hearing, both of them, in tears. His wife had come home the night before and found him in her clothes.
ES: Good thing we did; better to do it then than later. So, I think we got him a general discharge and he got out all right.
SI: Were you involved in any cases against gay or lesbian airmen or officers?
ES: I don't remember prosecuting them. I remember defending--these weren't criminal, these were administrative discharges. The only one I can remember was an administrative discharge. I thought, at the time, that it was, at best, unfortunate. It was a gay guy. He was a sergeant. He had been in for a while, but he was being discharged for homosexuality and he eventually accepted it and we didn't go to a hearing to try to fight it, but I thought that was unfortunate.
SI: Did they give him a general or a dishonorable?
ES: No, he didn't get dishonorable or anything like that. He got a general discharge.
SI: Okay. I know some services really went out of their way to give a dishonorable discharge, stigmatize.
ES: Yes. I don't know what the Marines would've done with him, but the Air Force was more relaxed, although not tolerant, either.
SI: You were down there for three years with your family. What was their life like? Did they have good quarters, that sort of thing, for families?
ES: Yes and no.
SI: You said you lived off base.
ES: When we went down there, they didn't have base housing for us. So, the first thing I did was rent a trailer. It was like a steel box without air-conditioning, in August in Mississippi. It was horrible. I was a Phillies fan--I remember going down and sitting in the car and picking up the Phillies when they were playing in Houston, sitting in the car with the doors open, listening to baseball games outside. We had a guy who was sort of a guardian angel for me, I guess. He was a captain in the Air Force and sort of took my family under his wing and we went out to his place often on weekends. One of the best feelings I've ever had in my life was walking into his air-conditioned home, in Mississippi in August or September, and being able to sit down and relax with him and his family for a while. They had two kids, roughly of age, very close, to our children. We had two kids at the time. Then, we bought a house right next door. Well, there was a house in-between. So, two doors away, we bought a house in that same development, which was very nice. It was a nice, little, three-bedroom house and we had another kid, we had a daughter, while I was on active duty. On the other side was an Air Force sergeant, a very nice guy, and his wife. Our kids loved them and it was a nice little community.
SI: Was there much of a line between officer and enlisted man socially?
ES: Well, socially, we didn't socialize with them. In other words, they were older than we were. I don't know whether that [was a factor], but we socialized with the guy who was my [neighbor], whatever you call him. So, our socialization was with that other family and with other guys in the office, other lawyers in the office, and this guy was in a different line of work. He was in electronics. Keesler Air Force Base was the Keesler Technical Training Center. The training was in avionics, all the electronics that have to do with bombing and fighters and all that sort of stuff. So, they taught that technical aspect and he was one of the instructors on base, but we didn't socialize. We didn't go out with them, probably had them over for dinner once or twice, that sort of thing, but they were very good with our kids. The kids loved them.
SI: At the end of your tour, how did you come up with what you wanted to do next in your career, decide what your next move was going to be?
ES: I don't know exactly why I picked Washington, DC, as opposed to New York City. I guess it seemed more livable to me at the time, so, I picked it. It was the only city where I interviewed law firms. I knew there were good law firms and you could do well in the law business in Washington, DC, even then and came up here and interviewed with maybe two or three firms and took a job.
SI: Which firms?
ES: I interviewed Covington and Burling and with Hogan and Hartson. They're still here. The other was Arnold and Porter. I went to work with Arnold and Porter, which had just been Arnold, Fortas and Porter. Chief Justice Fortas had been with the firm. His wife was still there. [Editor's Note: Abe Fortas became a Supreme Court Justice in 1965. In 1968, Lyndon Johnson nominated him to become Chief Justice; however, he was not approved by the Senate.]
ES: Her name was Carolyn Agger. She was a piece of work, too, a very strong personality and very good lawyer, smoked cigars, [laughter] in the '60s as a lady lawyer.
SI: Tell me about what you did at the firm in those first years.
ES: Well, I was there one year.
SI: You were there for one year.
ES: One year. I mainly did Civil Aeronautics Board work. [Editor's Note: The Civil Aeronautics Board regulated civilian air travel from 1938 to 1984, when its duties were taken over by the Department of Transportation.] The firm represented Braniff International Airlines and they were based in Dallas. We used to handle their presentations to the Civil Aeronautics Board, where they were trying to get a new route or they were defending a route where others were trying to come in, that sort of thing. Everywhere airlines went, it was because the Civil Aeronautics Board had given them a route. It was all regulated and it was all supposed to be--routes were given out in the public interest. This was the best service to the public. The public interest was the lodestone of it all, supposedly. That's the way it was designed. So, we used to work with executives from Braniff, putting together their case and presenting it to the Civil Aeronautics Board. That was over half of what I did. The other was--one's very interesting now, especially in light of the Malaysian Airlines incident--some company in Boston had developed a mapping system for the ocean floor involving computers, one of the early computers. I mean, this is '67, but they had, through the use of computers and sonar and have all these waves bouncing back and forth, been able to map things, so that they would know the contours of part of the ocean floor. They're using similar stuff trying to find that airplane out there now, but this was back even then. I forget what their issue exactly was, but, anyway, it involved a couple trips to Boston. [Editor's Note: Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared over the Indian Ocean on March 8, 2014.] Another one I remember was a Swiss manufacturer, a watch manufacturer, of course, because they don't make arms, but they had a contract with the Department of Defense for fuses for bombs. They didn't want the disclosures that would've been involved in the reporting requirements the DoD was imposing on them. So, we were working with them, trying to somehow get around the reporting requirements that would expose this Swiss company to being found out as a manufacturer of fuses for bombs, which, as a neutral country not involved in armament selling, they didn't want that. So, there were some interesting cases and there was another case involving an aircraft engine that was being imported there, worked on some. So, it was an interesting variety of things that I worked on there.
SI: Working with the CAA, did you find that it was difficult to get through what you wanted?
ES: The Civilian Aeronautics Board.
ES: I mean, it's been gone for so long, obviously, you're not going to be familiar with the alphabet soup. It was competitive. You'd be in there--you'd be making your case, American Airlines would be making their case, Eastern Airlines would be making their case, along down the line. Frontier was a very aggressive airline at the time. So, it was a very competitive environment. Everybody had to put together the case showing the air traffic that they would be bringing to the route and what an essential part of their new structure would be and how well they would serve all these people feeding into it. So, it largely involved airline economics, in terms of people being served and served well and where they're going to and from and matching up schedules, a lot of studying of schedules and all this economic stuff. A lot of it was boring, but it was okay work. It wasn't like you were bogged down in the bureaucracy trying to get in--it was the fact that you had to fight the others.
ES: To try to get it and, very often, American Airlines or Delta, we would fight Delta, because we were the eastern part of the United States, and they used to fight back and forth. TWA was a big east-west carrier, Eastern was a north-south carrier and American was east and west and they would all fight about, "We're bringing stuff in like this." "No, we're bringing it in like this and it's going to serve this in this community." It was a big mess.
SI: At the end of that year, what happened?
ES: Toward the end of that--during that year, I lived out in Beltsville, Maryland. A friend of mine, a classmate at Penn, was the Deputy General Counsel of the Peace Corps. Another friend, the General Counsel of the Peace Corps was the year ahead of us at Penn--the three of us commuted and we would talk about what we were doing. [laughter] Their work was much more interesting to me.
ES: From what I was doing. I saw mine as being just corporations fighting about an issue that either the government was going to get some money for them or they were going to get something from the government or they were going to get something from another big corporation. It was just impersonal. It didn't fit my idea of service at the time and there was an opening at the Peace Corps in the General Counsel's office. I just thought that that was very attractive and went over there. [Editor's Note: The Peace Corps was created in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy's Executive Order 10924.]
SI: When you went over to the Peace Corps, what kind of cases did you deal with? What does a counselor do for the Peace Corps?
ES: Before I go over there, Paul Porter was the name--it was Arnold and Porter.
ES: I had done work with Thurman Arnold. He had been Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Attorney General in the '30s, when he was known as a big trustbuster, breaking up these big conglomerates that were anti-competitive. He was the big trustbuster. So, he was sort of a very well-known figure and I actually worked with him on a discharge case, a kid in Fort Meade whose father was a client of the firm. So, I worked with Thurman Arnold in going over and interviewing this kid and working with the people over at Fort Meade about getting this kid a good discharge. He didn't want to be in and they didn't want him, but it was the idea of working on a good arrangement for him, and then, getting him on out. So, that was interesting, having had the opportunity to work with Thurman Arnold. [Editor's Note: Thurman Arnold was Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Anti-Trust Division from 1938 to 1943.] Not many people--I also, at one point in my life, talked to Eleanor Roosevelt.
ES: That's another story. Then, when I went to leave Arnold and Porter, I had gotten to know Paul Porter pretty well. At six o'clock, he and a few people would gather at what they called the garden room and watch the six o'clock news, the network news. Back then, everybody used to watch the network news. So, we would sit together and sit there and watch the six o'clock news. So, he knew me pretty well. Then, when I left--the people I worked with knew that I was going to go--he called me to the office and he had a really gruff voice, he says, "Hey, Scott, what's this I hear about you going to the priesthood?" I said, "No, not the priesthood. I'm going to the Peace Corps." He said, "Oh." He says, "Why do you want to do that?" He was a funny guy, big, garrulous, bigger-than-life sort of character. Anyway, over at the Peace Corps, it was legal issues involving contracting. We would contract with universities, contract with the suppliers of materials of one sort or another, materials for training programs, agreements with countries to have a Peace Corps program had to go through the General Counsel's office, personnel issues, both involving the volunteers or personnel actions might involve legal issues and they would come. So, there were a variety. I was good friends with the contracting officer for the Peace Corps, as I had done the contracting work down at Keesler Air Force Base, also, so that the idea of government contracts carried over, because that was a field I was familiar with. So, I did quite a bit of that, too. One thing that you might find surprising is, we did the background work on security clearances. Volunteers always got a full background check from the FBI and some of them would raise some concerns about some of their behaviors or their associations or whatever, in terms of whether they would be a good idea as a representative of the United States in the Peace Corps. Some of those involved a lot of intensive work. The funniest thing I found out about them was that the knottier the issue and the more time you put into them and you came out on the side of giving them a chance, the quicker they left.
ES: [laughter] So, you could sweat bullets trying to figure out the best way, the best outcome of the case. If you decided to keep them in, in a month or two, it would be all gone and they wouldn't have made it through training or got in-country and didn't like it, that sort of thing.
SI: What were the red flags that would get thrown up on these cases?
ES: Well, there was associations of various sorts--I forget how we dealt with homosexuality; I think that would come up--just little brushes with the law, shoplifting, maybe, or assault and battery, any sort of thing that got you arrested would be flagged, or drunk driving or just any sort of thing that would come up would raise a red flag, probably would get around to our office. Some of the minor stuff wouldn't make it that far, but we had to deal with a lot of it.
SI: When you say associations, do you mean like if they had been with a Communist group or something like that?
ES: Yes, Students for a Democratic Society. Remember, it was the time of unrest. It was a lot of the SDS. They would all come to us, because Peace Corps didn't want to get burnt by having a real firebrand, by having a guy protesting against the federal [government], the United States government, when he's serving in the Philippines or in Mali or wherever. So, we would have those issues, but ninety-nine percent of the time, they would be resolved in favor. Hey, these are vibrant, inquisitive people. Kid says he wants to serve and he's qualified in all other aspects, by and large, we'd let them go, unless we'd find something aggravating in the case to warrant not giving a clearance. That'd be typically the sort of thing. The strangest one was one that didn't come up in the background check. This was while I was in Korea. We had had a kid in training and he had gone to Korea with a conditional clearance until his FBI thing was finished. Then, we got a telegram or something--the kid had been in the Ku Klux Klan. He was from Georgia.
ES: So, I brought him in, "It says you were in the Ku Klux Klan." I said, "What happened here?" "Yes," he says, "I was. I was in there." He says, "I was in high school and I was a redneck like anybody else in my high school and a couple of my friends were going in. So, I [said], 'Hell, yes, I'm going in.' So, I went in. I says, 'I went right back out, too.'" He said, "Those people are nuts," [laughter] so, cleared it up, trusted him. He was a good volunteer, but those are the sorts of things, I mean, just anything can come up. When you're dealing with thousands of people, there's no telling what you're going to find, as you can--you've dealt with thousands of people. [laughter]
SI: What did you find most interesting about this job?
ES: Well, the job in the General Counsel's office was a little more, I would say tedious, than I had wanted, but I still had a really good feeling of public service and I had a real good feeling about the Peace Corps. I liked the people I worked with a lot, very good people, very idealistic, for the most part, some people who weren't. Then, Nixon was elected President and, let's see, I went to the Peace Corps in '68. [Editor's Note: Republican Richard Nixon defeated Democratic candidate Vice-President Hubert Humphrey in 1968.] That was the year that Nixon was elected, okay. Then, so, the guy who had hired me, Jack Vaughn, who was Sargent Shriver's successor, real good guy, he was gone in fairly short order, like February or March of '69. Then, so, we had Republicans coming in and they were a bit of a mixed bag, by and large. [Editor's Note: Sargent Shriver served as the first Director of the Peace Corps from 1961 to 1966. Jack Vaughn served as the second Director of the Peace Corps from 1966 to 1969.] I think the most fun I had working there was that a few of us in the General Counsel's office felt that, and I forget the exact dynamics, felt that the organization was being politicized by the incoming administration and that they were bringing a lot of people in and they were pretty--but I forget the precise issue. Three or four of us sort of wrote an ultimatum to the Director of the Peace Corps expressing our real concerns about certain actions that had been taken and we almost resigned. Somehow, the situation got defused, but we were feeling very self-righteous on our white horses at that time. That was a very interesting part of it, because emotions were high and we're working hard, but those things sort of evened out, because I went over to the Peace Corps in Korea during the Nixon Administration. I had to admit that the Nixon Administration did all right by the Peace Corps in terms of their budget. It was just the personnel actions that seemed to me to be too political. That's what we were complaining about.
SI: That is interesting to me, because for other departments, there is a certain level of continuity, even though the administrations change and the politics change, whereas the Peace Corps was born wholly out of a Democratic policy. From what you are saying, it sounds like the Republicans at least kept things going.
ES: The thing about the Peace Corps is that anybody can go at any time. There's no Civil Service in the Peace Corps, so, you don't have a stable bureaucracy. In fact, there's also a "five-year flush" rule. You can't work more than five years in the Peace Corps, as a normal rule. You have to get a special exception on certain specified grounds personally from the Director of the Peace Corps in order to be kept beyond five years. So, in fact, I met a friend of mine from law school on the street and he says, "You know that where you work, the Peace Corps, that's a very interesting place." He said, "Practically everybody there is in this non-Civil Service category and they could all be gone. We could put hundreds of people in there." Whoa, they caught on to that quick. This was before the inauguration. He was on the transition team and he had been looking at the Peace Corps. That was sort of a chilling experience for me. It never got to a crisis point, actually, and things worked out okay. I wasn't a big fan of the new Director of the Peace Corps then, but he didn't hurt it. His successor, another Republican, was a really good guy and the Nixon budgets were okay and I moved from being Deputy Director of the Peace Corps in Korea to Director of the Peace Corps in Korea. [Editor's Note: Four Directors of the Peace Corps served during the Nixon Administration, Joseph Blatchford, Kevin O'Donnell, Donald Hess and Nick Craw.]
SI: How did the opportunity come up to go to Korea?
ES: Going to Korea?
ES: The way it started was, there are two Peace Corps conferences, one in Hawaii and one in New Delhi, India, for two different regions. These are Peace Corps country director conferences, where they call together the country directors, meet with the regional director and the regional director's staff about issues that they were dealing with, personnel issues, policy issues, country specific issues, all of those things, a big conference, and how we can run this better, periodic conferences like any organization would have with regional offices. The Director wanted somebody from the General Counsel's office to be there. So, I got assigned to these two. This must have been in '69. I met the Director of the Peace Corps in Korea. I found him to be a really competent, able guy and I think he was the new director. Then, I went from Hawaii to Hong Kong and that was the first time I'd been outside the country, other than Canada, and just was blown away. "Holy cow, an overseas experience would really be something." Then, I went to Thailand, visited the Peace Corps program there. The country director showed me around a little bit, got a little more flavor of that, then, went on to the conference in India, and then, back home. I just knew then that I just wanted to be with the Peace Corps staff overseas. So, I started looking for a position and I really liked the guy who was the Director of the Peace Corps in Korea and signed on with him when he had a deputyship opening up, looking for a new Deputy Director. So, I went there.
SI: What was it like moving your family overseas and getting settled in this new job?
ES: The time change, it floors you. [laughter] We had an interesting experience getting there. We were moving out of our house and the Peace Corps packed up the household goods that we could take over to Korea--no, no, we put stuff in storage, because we couldn't take your furniture, anything. So, it was mainly clothes we were going to take to Korea. So, our other stuff was being picked up and put into storage and we're flying out of BWI [Baltimore-Washington International Airport] the next day. Anything that this company had not taken had to leave the house and go to Korea with us. So, I went out that night and was buying extra suitcases. So, we got something like fourteen suitcases that we loaded in the car and went over to--I guess we took a cab. I forget how we got there; somehow, got over to BWI, stayed overnight at a Holiday Inn or something, then flew out of there the next day with our two kids, oh, three kids, and fourteen suitcases. It was snowing. We landed in Hawaii because there was a Peace Corps/Korea training program that was just finishing up in Hawaii and getting ready to go in-country. So, we stopped there and met with them, and then, went on into Korea a week later. I think it was three or four days that we were in Hawaii, and then, went into Korea. It wasn't a week. Getting there, we stayed in a hotel for a few nights. The guy whom I was replacing as Deputy Country Director was very hospitable and was--this is the word I was looking for before--a mentor. He was the mentor for me in showing me the ropes. So, we got taken care of very well moving in. So, we adjusted pretty quick. The first day I went to work, had to go to the toilet, my orientation was so lacking, I opened the door to the stall and there's a hole in the floor. "What? Where's the toilet?" So, there was the toilet. That was an interesting aspect of it. Interestingly, I had done about three months of Korean language training at night before going over there, but the practicality of something like that hadn't [come up]. Volunteers, of course, got training in all those sorts of things, everyday things, but I hadn't gotten that until I got there.
SI: In your work, did you use the Korean language or was it mostly in English?
ES: It was in English.
ES: I could get around some in the Korean language. The Korean language is very hard. They said that Farsi and Korean were the two hardest languages for the Peace Corps; that included Thailand and some of the other Asian countries. It was very tough, a very tough language. I could swear to that, but I continued studying it while I was there. So, I made a point of just getting as good as I could, starting up, but I couldn't do business in it. If I went out in the field, I was going into a school, the regional director, either a Korean staff member, or an ex-volunteer who was a regional director on the staff of the Peace Corps who was fluent in Korean, would go with me. So, anything that had to do with how the volunteer was getting along or any issues the volunteer had, I would have to use an interpreter to do business, same with the ministries in Seoul. I had to do all that with an interpreter, but I would, like, give a ceremonial speech, that was written out, that I practiced a lot. I could do that and I could get around and do friendly stuff, but I couldn't do business.
SI: Can you give me a sense of what the size of the Peace Corps' operation in Korea was then?
ES: We had over two hundred volunteers. While I was there, we moved all of the training into Korea. This was an idea of my predecessor, but we actually implemented it after I had become the Director. So, we would have somewhere around three hundred to 350 people who were either trainees in-country or volunteers in-country, plus training staff, which we would hire them for training programs. So, they would be on, like, eight or twelve-week contracts for that. Then, we had a staff of twenty, twenty-five. So, taking everything into account, you could have north of four hundred people. So, it was not a big operation at all, but it wasn't tiny. That's a lot of people in-country to have some responsibility for in various aspects, but nothing like a military base, where there are thousands and thousands and thousands of people, but they're mostly out in the field, too.
SI: What were some typical jobs that you would have to perform as the Deputy Director in Korea? What would you do on a typical day?
ES: Well, on a typical day there, you'd have to do the normal administrative stuff, supervising the administrative office and the regional offices--personnel reports, budget proposals, work with the program officer on the design of new programs, because there were always new programs with a two-year stint. There'd be a program leaving every two years and we'd have, oh, six or seven programs at any one time. So, at the end of a year, three or four programs would be ending and three or four would be coming in. So, there was that constant turnover, redesigning, tweaking programs, so that they work better and do this or do that, and the organization of the training programs and all the administrative arrangements that go into that, just a host of details regarding the operation of things, very few you were personally responsible for, but you had to oversee and approve of. So, I would share those responsibilities with the Director. Then, some personnel issues would come up, I'd deal with directly and, sometimes, an issue with a volunteer would come up, or a volunteer wants to terminate early, interview him or her, see if he or she really wants to leave, "Is there some way that he or she could stay if some adjustments were made?" or, "Was he or she looking at it in the right way?" so, just a jillion things, but it's a very personnel intensive environment, the Peace Corps.
SI: When you say programs were ending and new programs were coming in, would that be like a group of so many volunteers would be coming in to do a specific job?
ES: Yes. The big programs that we had there were teaching English in the middle schools, which we were evolving more toward teacher training. So, we were trying to work with the Koreans to not have the volunteer focus so much on classroom teaching of Korean kids as holding workshops for the Korean teachers of English and improving their English skills, along with teaching in the classroom, because as far as the Koreans were concerned, that was the big payoff for them. For us, it was always maximizing the input of the volunteer and having the volunteer work his or her way out of a job by training somebody in Korea to do that job. Well, in teaching English, it's a constant push and pull in that and you could just go so far, but we went quite a ways, getting our regional directors to work with the school systems on setting up these workshops and, if they were in a particular school, working with the other teachers there. Then, that would involve cultural aspects, because you'd get a twenty-two-year-old woman come in as a teacher of English as a second language relating to a forty-five-year-old male teacher who'd been teaching English for twenty years, who had a crummy accent and wasn't doing that good a job. So, the responsibility's on her to work with him. So, it's all going to depend a lot on his motivation, but you're always trying to improve aspects of the program like that. Then, the next biggest program was teaching English teachers, where the volunteers would actually be in universities where they were doing teacher training or teacher education, like being at a teacher's college in the United States. Usually, they would be working in the English departments in those schools. Then, we had a lot of health workers. They were primarily tuberculosis workers, out in the field working along with Koreans with tuberculosis control, which they were more or less doing the same job as their counterparts on the Korean side. They were very good Korean language speakers, because they had to deal with, day in, day out, with people taking their medications and coming in and spitting samples and being diagnosed and that sort of thing. Well, they had to pretty much function as a Korean in that program.
SI: Did you have to work closely with other US government agencies in Korea?
ES: No, we didn't work very closely at all. As Country Director, or as Deputy Director when the Country Director was gone, I'd have to go over to weekly staff meetings of the ambassador, where they would just run through things and you'd give a report on how your program's doing, but there was no real working relationship with any other part of the US government. Peace Corps had always wanted to have a very separate identity, so that it wasn't thought of as a government program with policy or political objectives like other parts of our government overseas. It was more of a people-to-people program sponsored by the US government, but it was really all about the volunteers and their work in the communities and the staff. The staff had to live off--we couldn't live in the community of foreigners or where the State Department employees lived or on a military base. We had to live in the community and be part of the community, both the staff and volunteers. So, we tried to have that sort of identity. You may recall--I don't know if you'd recall it or not--but, back in those days, Peace Corps was suspect as part of the CIA, where we would have people in countries where they were being spies and reporting back to the CIA. So, we had this real sharp line between any involvement with any sort of intelligence activity or anything like that. That actually came up once, where the political officer at the embassy asked me if I would--he either wanted to talk to some volunteers or he had talked to some volunteers, where he wanted something in the way of information from volunteers or me. I thought, "No, no, that is way off base. Nobody from the embassy should be talking to the volunteers about what's going on over here," because they wanted to know what the Korean government was doing, because it was a pretty rocky time as far as an oppressive Korean government in those days, with the Korean CIA in the communities and spying on Koreans and a whole lot involved in restrictions on freedom of expression like that. The embassy was interested in those sorts of things and this one guy saw, "Holy cow, we've got the Peace Corps here. These people are all out in the field, they're in these little villages--they're going to know everything." I said, "No, no, you can't use them as sources of information like that. That's intelligence." So, that didn't get anywhere at all.
SI: Did your volunteers face any difficulty on a local level, where people thought maybe they were spies and they would face some kind of violence?
ES: No, they didn't have any problem. We're talking about Korea?
ES: But, there were no issues of that. The other issue was on the other side, the Korean CIA, with its spying on their coworkers and, they thought, spying on them as well as part of an oppressive, this Korean CIA, being a part of an oppressive regime. That was a morale issue at times, with the volunteers being just so disgruntled with the Korean government. The most interesting thing along those lines, again, I don't recall the absolute resolution of it, but we had a very good program in Libya before Gaddafi took over. [Editor's Note: Muammar Gaddafi led a coup d'état against King Idris I in 1969 and ruled Libya until 2011.] They were recognized as the happiest volunteers of any country in the world. They were all out in little towns. None of them were in cities like Tripoli or Benghazi or anything. They were all out in towns as teachers and with tremendous job satisfaction. Along comes this mandate that all of the teachers have to make a contribution to Al Fatah. Al Fatah was a Palestinian organization. It wasn't the PLO, but it was identifiable as something like that. [Editor's Note: Fatah, a Palestinian nationalist and political group, was founded in 1959. One of its founders was Yasser Arafat. Fatah joined the PLO as a faction in 1967.] So, the volunteers were being asked to contribute, out of their stipend that they got from the Libyan government and they're supposed to live on, like the other Libyan teachers to Al Fatah, which they were all doing. It involved a very sticky issue with us, in that we'd always said, "You're going to go over and live in this foreign country. You're going to be with a coworker. Your life is going to be like that coworker's. This is going to be a shared experience. This is the cross-culture--you're going to understand them and they're going to understand you, because you're going to share all the experiences." Well, was this an aspect of the experience that they can't share? Is the Peace Corps going to make itself stand out? I forget how it eventually got resolved, but it was a fascinating issue, and there were some Jewish volunteers there...
ES: Yes, contributing to Al Fatah. I think we eventually said they didn't have to, or, as far as Peace Corps was concerned, they didn't have to. We made that clear to the Libyan government that they didn't have to. This was one aspect where we're going to break from that. They're going to be different.
SI: Could any of your volunteers, just in what they did or by speaking their mind, run afoul of the Korean government or officials? Did that ever happen in your memory?
ES: Well, there was some pot use that came to our attention. I'm not sure they ever got nailed by the Korean police, but we never had any major incidents of criminal behavior or anywhere where they actually ran afoul of the law; can't think of any incidents of that. Sometimes, the length of their hair or their facial hairs--we had our own Peace Corps policies against, "Look like your co-teachers. Don't take advantage of being the American and having a beard or a mustache. Korean teachers can't do that and your counterparts can't do that and you can't have long hair." That was a continuing point of contention, that we'd have to talk to the volunteers about a lot. We'd get complaints about that, but running afoul of--no, nobody got thrown out of the country because they had done anything illegal.
SI: What about other international organizations? Was the health program working with the World Health Organization or anything like that?
ES: No. If there had been any contact, it would've been at the staff level, to arrange some cooperative relationships, but it was just us and the Korean government in all the programs. Then, we had special placements. We had one couple that came over. He was a nuclear engineer, so, he was teaching and he was working, doing part-time advisory work, with a nuclear reactor that they were building. His wife was the only audiologist in Korea. They were a fascinating couple. Then, we had some special education people. We had a nurse or two. We had people with some good credentials who had what we called special placements. Peace Corps Washington would come to us and say, "Hey, like, we've got a nuclear engineer. We're having trouble. You've got a place for him in Korea?" Our program officer would go over and talk to whoever and say, "Hey, what do you think? Can you guys use a nuclear engineer for fifty dollars a month?" or whatever? "Hey, I guess so."
ES: Korea was a little unique from that standpoint.
SI: You mean because ...
ES: Korea was getting more advanced.
ES: By the '70s. It was just the fact that they were involved in nuclear energy that early was sort of a tipoff, although how far they've come, it just blows my mind.
SI: You and your family were living in Seoul.
SI: What was that like for you?
ES: That was a very interesting environment. Our kids still love talking about it. They had a great time there. Their schooling was in a place called Seoul Foreign School. It was an English-speaking school for the children of foreigners living in Seoul. It was a very good school. They liked that and they liked the environment in the communities where we were. They liked being out with the street kids, the Korean kids, playing in the street--they weren't street kids, just that's where they played, in the streets. They liked going to markets and they had a lot of freedom to do what they wanted while they were there, so, just a very good experience. It didn't start out that way. The first place we lived--we lived in two places--the first place we lived was in a very congested neighborhood, just very crowded. It was a very old Korean-style house, had a little courtyard, which Korean houses typically had. Both our daughters were blonde. Eddie was blonde, too. If they went outside the gate to play, there's a crowd of thirty or forty Korean kids would come around, look at them, and they would just talk amongst themselves and point. They would just be an object, no interaction. So, we spoke to our cook--we had a cook--and said, "Could you go out and bring a couple of kids into the courtyard for ours to play with?" So, she started doing that and she brought two little boys in. One didn't stay and the other stayed, and then, he started living with them. Then, they came to us and said that he's having a hard time. He was a middle school student. I think he was in the sixth grade at the time, maybe seventh, but, "He needs ten dollars for supplies in order to stay in school." So, "Oh, my God, of course, yes," so, we paid for him, paid that for him, and then, he then moved in and started sleeping in my son's bedroom and just got tighter and tighter with him. Eventually, he is our son. We adopted him toward the end of the time we were there. He's a good guy, but he's the oldest of our children. Then, when we moved, he went with us to the second place we lived, which, when we were there, wasn't as crowded. He went to a very good middle school out there and he's become quite successful back here, doing well.
SI: Was it difficult to adopt a child in Korea at that time?
ES: No, it wasn't.
ES: His circumstance was special, in that he had no natural parents living. His mother and father had come from North Korea. They were refugees. They were living in Seoul and the father was in Chuncheon. I don't know if I'm going to get this straight, but, anyway, his father was diabetic. His mother died a few months after childbirth. That's what it was. His mother died of complications not very long after Young was born. His father was having a hard time in Seoul and he went up to Chuncheon, a city north, and worked there for a while and he met his second wife. I don't know whether he met her in Seoul or in Chuncheon, but, in any event, he came back to Seoul, had Young there and was together with this other woman. His father said to this other woman, "I'll marry you if you'll sign the registry as Young's mother." So, Young had not been registered yet. His mother had not been healthy enough, or whatever, for whatever reason, had not signed the papers as his mother. So, his stepmother says, "Sure, I'll do that." So, she signed the papers as his mother. So, his father later died of diabetes and he was essentially raised from age three or so to the age when we took over, near twelve, [with her] as his mother, but she had problems of her own. She had a little sewing business and she had had a nervous breakdown and her business had gone belly up. She couldn't bear all the responsibilities for him. There were some sad stories of him being left on the street by himself, real poverty, in the sense that once he saw the opportunity to move in and live and eat with this other family, with our cook, he did that and moved in with us and we supported him in school. Those things led him deeply into our family as a really good friend and a nice young guy. The other interesting aspect of this is that we had a woman on our staff who--I had gotten my law degree at Penn--she had gotten a social work degree at Penn. The difference between the two of us was, she is a Korean citizen. She was a social worker in Korea. Once we decided we wanted to adopt and talked that over with her, she handled the adoption. She talked with Young's stepmother, who had the capacity to sign him over as the natural mother. She signed the papers, even though she wasn't. As far as the Korean government was concerned, she was the official mother. So, she signed the papers signing him over and we worked the adoption through her, sort of a lucky coincidence, having somebody on the staff that could do that.
SI: When did you become the Director of the program?
ES: In the Spring of 1972.
ES: Somewhere around March, April. My boss, previous boss, the Director, was back in Washington for confirmation proceedings to be the Director of the Peace Corps worldwide. So, he, like, came back in March and it wasn't until after that confirmation process was completed that the paperwork was actually done for me to be the Director, but, as a matter of fact, I was the Director of the Peace Corps from about March on, for a total of sixteen months, I guess, until July of the following year.
SI: I want to ask you a little bit about your directorship, but did you leave at that time because of the five-year rule?
ES: I had done two-and-a-half years in Washington, two-and-a-half years overseas.
ES: And the extensions were, at the time, only for former volunteers who were in a job that had to be done by--there was nobody else who could really do the job, if they wanted to extend then beyond five years for us. Then, the five-year flush was automatic.
SI: When you became the Director, did you set certain goals that you wanted to achieve? What did you want to do during your time?
ES: Well, the big project was--well, there were two projects--one was moving the whole training programs in-country. We formerly had training programs in a place called the Experiment in International Living in New Hampshire or at the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii. So, we're bringing them all in-country, so that their training with Korean culture, it was in the Korean culture. We thought that was a more logical way to do it and a better way to do it. Plus, it was more economical than having the kids live in Hawaii or New Hampshire for six or eight weeks, then, send language instructors back to the United States to do their training there. So, we brought it in--having it work smoothly and move it in-country was one thing. The second thing was just to make the programs better. There, there was no specific things, but the guy I was working with, the program officer, was a very good guy, and so, that was important. The second thing was making the staff more Korean. We had just hired a Korean doctor and we had a Korean nurse on staff. I don't know whether he was the first host country national who was the doctor for the volunteers or not, but he was certainly one of the first, Dr. Cho, and making that work successfully, so that the volunteers, if the volunteers had a complaint, they no longer went to see an American doctor. They would go see Dr. Cho and he was very good. He was very good with the volunteers, a very good personality. The next thing was, we had an administrative officer who was leaving, who was an American, and I wanted to replace him with a Korean and brought him on. Then, also, all of our regional staff were Koreans at the time. So, I wanted to make an increasingly Korean staff for the American Peace Corps there, so that it was [more balanced], because the Koreans were so capable that I thought it was just natural that they would take over, could take over more and more responsibility and be more interconnected with Korea. The bigger the Korean face we presented, I thought that was very good for the program. They're very capable people that we hired.
SI: Obviously, the war in Vietnam rose, and then, America exited the war during your time in Korea. Being an American living overseas, particularly in Asia, did you face any hostility as a result of the war?
ES: Not in Korea.
ES: The only hostility--I never really faced any hostility--I was in San Francisco once while I was in the Air Force, in uniform, and somebody was hollering something in my direction, but it was no big deal.
SI: That was while you were still in the Air Force.
ES: That was while I was still on active duty, yes. There was a tiny smattering of anti-American attitude in Korea, but I thought that was more caused by "big brother/little brother" sorts of things and the possible arrogance of the big brother or just the feeling, the essential feeling of a nation occupied, in a sense, with a very large military establishment from another country. There, those sorts of resentments are going to build up, but even those, boy, I'll tell you, it was so seldom. I found the Korean people, by and large, as overwhelmingly very friendly and hospitable, really good to work with.
SI: Does anything else about your time in Korea stand out that you want to discuss?
ES: Nope, I don't think so.
SI: Okay. It would be some time in 1973 when you came back.
ES: It was ...
SI: Was it 1974?
ES: It was '73, Summer of '73.
SI: All right.
ES: Came back, yes, definitely, came back and went to work for the Mental Health Law Project.
ES: Which was part of the Center for Law and Social Policy, which was an interesting organization. It was run by--it was an organization of lawyers, all of whom had been working with the biggest, richest law firms in DC, but people who wanted to make a social contribution. They started the Center for Law and Social Policy, dealing with issues of poverty, voting, Civil Rights, whatever. [Editor's Note: The Center for Law and Social Policy was founded in 1969.] They're just very bright, motivated lawyers who wanted to make a positive change. They were sort of anti-establishment. One field that they started in was the mental health field, where they had two test cases in the District of Columbia. One of them established a constitutional right to an education, that if you were handicapped, that didn't change it, that as a handicapped individual, whether it was mental or whatever, you had a right, if necessary, to an Individualized Education Plan where your potential would be maximized. [Editor's Note: Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) are accommodations and services provided to students who have been identified to have a learning disability.] Another was--I guess it was against Saint Elizabeth's [Psychiatric Hospital] or somebody--that was a case that involved the right to treatment. If you're being incarcerated and you were mentally ill, you have a right to treatment. The one education case in the District of Columbia went on, eventually led to the federal education legislation that we have now, building off of that constitutional right. The other was a case that a circuit court judge, the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, the Chief of that court brought in one of the people at the Center for Law and Social Policy and said, "There's this guy. He's being held as a criminal. He's at Saint Elizabeth's Mental Hospital and it just doesn't seem fair to me. What do you think you could do for him?" So, Charlie Halpern brought this case of right to treatment. Well, this led to more and more cases in the realm of mental disability, whether mental retardation or mental illness. So, they eventually formed this Mental Health Law Project that I went to work for, some of which involved test case litigation where I was involved in litigation, that one of them was Wyatt v. Stickney, where we had sued the State of Alabama and we'd won the case. This was a fascinating case, where the judge in the case was from part of Alabama which was the only county in Alabama that hadn't seceded during the Civil War. It was up in the mountains and they didn't have any slaves up in the mountains, so, they didn't really see where they had an interest in seceding from the Union, but he was the Civil Rights judge in Alabama. He had desegregated the schools in Alabama and whatever else, public accommodations--whatever it was, Frank Johnson [Judge Frank M. Johnson] had done it. He was the most hated man in Alabama, in terms of the numbers of people who would hate a particular federal judge or employer or whatever--of course, beloved by Alabamians who wanted to be moving forward. He handled this case, Wyatt v. Stickney, that involved the right to treatment of people in Alabama's mental retardation institutions. [Editor's Note: In 1970, a complaint was filed by patients at Bryce Hospital in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Ricky Wyatt was the main plaintiff and the defendant was the Alabama Department of Mental Health, led by Stonewall Stickney.] So, I got involved in that in the implementation phase, after he had made his ruling that, "You've got to have some standards." They had had no standards. So, there was agreement to bring in standards, national standards, or standards that could be adopted nationally, and put those on the institutions in Alabama and make them move toward implementation of them and, also, do other things, like get people out of institutions that didn't have to be in them and set up community-based housing and community-based programs, where they could be dealt with in the community. So, I was involved in it at that stage. It was very satisfying work, in terms of implementing stuff that the really bright guys had gotten started by winning a lawsuit.
SI: Were you helping to write the policy or were you going out to the institutions and saying, "You have to do X, Y, and Z?"
ES: What I was doing was checking on implementation.
ES: I would go out into the field with experts and they would make an assessment of how things were being done in the field at that time; like, I had a pharmacologist who was at an institution for the mentally retarded. He was going through the various prescriptions that people were being given and saying, "They shouldn't be giving this guy this. They're doing it for their own convenience now. They're doping people up." I even got into things like using Selsun Blue--guy's got a little dandruff and they're giving him this harsh shampoo just because it's easy, but it's going to do long-term harm. They shouldn't be doing that. So, he would go through records and find deficiencies in what they were doing. So, then, I would put that together, file papers with the Judge and ask for further orders from the Judge for implementation of the standards. Also, unsuccessfully, as far as I could see it, not holding--George Wallace was the Governor at the time--but the Judge never held his feet to the fire in terms of requesting an adequate budget to implement everything. [Editor's Note: George Wallace, a four-time Governor of Alabama, was then amid his second tenure as Governor, from 1971 to 1979.] I mean, look at his budget and, if he's supposed be making improvements in the facilities, he's not asking for an increment over the previous year. Basically, he was doing standstill budgets, not trying to convince the Judge, but the Judge didn't want to get that far into state politics, at least not at that point, in terms of his overseeing of implementation. So, we never really made the hay with it I thought we should have made in holding George Wallace's feet to the fire--very few people's feet I would've rather held to the fire, but couldn't get him there.
SI: How did you first become aware of the opportunity to work at the Project?
ES: I said I had been working at Arnold and Porter.
ES: One of my good friends there was Charlie Halpern. He left Arnold and Porter while I was in Korea and, with the other guys, founded the Center for Law and Social Policy. When I came back and started interviewing, I interviewed with a couple law firms, I interviewed with Charlie about what they had going and they were starting this Mental Health Law Project. "Whoa, that sounds like a really good opportunity." So, I went there.
SI: This is obviously a nonprofit.
ES: Yes, it was a nonprofit.
SI: How did they support themselves? Did they have foundation support?
ES: They had foundation [support]; I think from the Ford Foundation, they would get grants for individual projects and, some things, they could get lawyers' fees, I think. I'm not sure what they were getting out of the State of Alabama, because they were enforcing constitutional rights in a state. They might've been able to get something out of Alabama for that, but I don't know how they handled it. I wasn't very much involved in that end of the business, except that I did work one project. That was the Mental Health Legislative Guide, where I put together a book on mental health laws, covering everything from guardianship to civil commitment to education, the right to education, etc., write the actual laws, what they would look like, with a narrative explaining whether they were justified or required as a constitutional matter, that sort of thing, in the discussion. So, I worked on that with them and that was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. So, that was one source of funding. So, that kept two-and-a-half of us going.
SI: Let me pause for a second.
SI: Okay. You told me about two major initiatives you were involved in, writing the handbook and implementation in Alabama. Were there other initiatives that you were involved in while you were working there?
ES: I used to do a lot of brief writing. We used to [write] amicus curiae, friends of the court, briefs. We would very often file those in cases at courts of appeal or even the Supreme Court, but I was researching the law and just writing a position, trying to add to the arguments in favor of an outcome that we thought desirable, either in terms of civil liberties or right to treatment or right to better standards of treatment. The other case I was involved in personally was where we sued the sheriff of Chickasaw County, Mississippi, over the civil commitment laws, which we felt were overly broad and subject to abuse. I went down to Mississippi and argued that in Jackson, against the sheriff of Chickasaw County. I thought that was a pretty nifty name for a lawsuit. [laughter]
SI: What kind of abuses would they be committing?
ES: Just the standards were so loose that if you didn't like a family member and you could get a doctor to say he was mentally ill, it was just too easy to civilly commit someone, that it could be done by someone who had some sort of gripe against you or had been in a fight with you or something, would just lock you up and put you in a mental hospital. It was just--the standards weren't high enough.
SI: Did you enjoy this work with the project?
ES: Yes, I did, yes, it was all good work, yes, good colleagues doing it, also.
SI: At the same time, back in the government, this was the age of Watergate and people are starting to distrust the government. Looking ahead to what we will talk about the next time, what were your feelings about government service at that time?
ES: I always had good feelings about public service and that government service was part of that. I always had good feelings about government service. I never had a negative attitude based on government misbehavior, that I would be opposed to it, as opposed to serving in it.
SI: Okay. Are there any other subjects you would like to talk about now?
ES: No, that pretty much does it.
ES: The transition over was that we ran out of money.
ES: Temporarily, as it turned out--the Mental Health Law Project is still in operation. By leaving, I took a pretty good financial burden off of them, when I went over to work in the Senate.
SI: All right, we will pick up with that.
SI: Thank you so much for all of your time today.
ES: Not at all, thank you.
SI: Your hospitality, I really appreciate it.
ES: You do a good interview, keep things moving along.
SI: Thank you; you are a very good subject.
ES: You're thinking ahead.
SI: All right.
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Reviewed by Jesse Braddell 6/24/2014
Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 4/13/2015
Reviewed by Edward Scott 4/21/2015