Kathryn Tracy Rizzi: This begins an oral history interview with Jeanne Fox on July 18, 2018, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with Kate Rizzi. Thank you so much for being here today.
Jeanne Fox: My pleasure.
KR: To begin, can you tell me where and when you were born?
JF: I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My mother said everybody from South Jersey was born there at that time, not at home. We actually lived in what is now Cherry Hill, which was Delaware Township at the time. That's where we had a house. I came back to that house right away.
KR: What is your birthdate?
JF: My birthday is May 30, Memorial Day, 1952.
KR: Please tell me about your family history starting on your mother's side.
JF: My mother was born and raised in Germantown, Philadelphia. Her parents were of German ancestry. Her great-great grandparents came over from Germany in the 1880s. She was the oldest of six with one younger sister and four brothers. My mother was really bright.
Her parents were both only children. My great-great grandfather, my grandmother's grandfather, and his brother painted the ceiling--they were artists--painted the ceiling of the Academy of Music, which I didn't know about until maybe ten years after I had gone there in high school. We went several times with our high school choir director, who sometimes sang in the opera chorus. We sat up in the very top balcony. There were all these beautiful cherubs and clouds painted on the ceiling. My grandmother told me that my ancestors had done that. That was pretty cool.
My grandparents moved to what is now Cherry Hill, Delaware Township, when my mother was a teenager, but she graduated from Germantown High School. Her youngest brother graduated from what's now Cherry Hill-West. Others graduated from Merchantville High School. They lived in the old part of Cherry Hill, right by where the Cherry Hill Mall is now--on Chestnut Avenue.
Cherry Hill was actually named after the Cherry Hill Inn, which was built on what we then called--when I was a little kid--"Cherry Hill"--which was actually an orchard near my grandparents' home. My Aunt Marie used to take me and my brother up there on a friend's horse to go through the orchard. Cherry Hill Inn was built there--on what was the orchard. Then the mall was built--I think the second mall in New Jersey. It was named after the Inn. I think sometime in the mid to late '60s, the town changed its name from Delaware Township to Cherry Hill.
Three of my mother's four brothers were in the military, like everybody was back then. My mom was really, really smart but very shy. My father was born on a farm in what is now Cherry Hill, then Delaware Township but on the eastern side, on a really old road--Springdale Road--that's off of Route 70. His family were farmers going back to pre-Revolution. In the very late 16th Century or early 17th Century, they came over from--there's a family dispute whether it's England or Ireland--and were always farmers in South Jersey. I'm basically related to almost any farming family in South Jersey. His father managed farms. My dad was the youngest boy of seven children, four boys and three girls (one was a younger sister). He went into the Army. All his older brothers were in the military. His oldest brother left as a Captain. His youngest brother, who was a year older than him, was a Marine and was killed at the age of eighteen storming the beaches of Peleliu. He was the closest one to my father; they were only a year apart.
So, my father quit Moorestown High School as a senior and joined the Army, but the war was basically over. Actually, he joined the Merchant Marines, went to Europe on a ship, got seasick on the way over, sick all the way back. He was discharged and immediately joined the Army and was stationed in Alaska. He did graduate from Moorestown High.
My parents met at a church in what is now Cherry Hill, which originally was first located in a firehouse on Route 38/Church Road Circle. That's where they met and started dating. She dated a couple of other guys, but she liked him best, I think, because he was so cute. They actually were part of the group that built the actual physical church--Merchantville Gardens Community Church--just off of that circle. I actually remember when I was a little kid watching my father help put the steeple on that church. We grew up in that church--never missed a Sunday! We went there all time until I was sixteen.
All of my father's brothers and sisters--as well as my father--are gone now. There's only one aunt, who was married to one of his brothers, remaining. There are a lot of Fox cousins still in South Jersey and a few in other states. My mother has three brothers left. The oldest is eighty-nine, who is my godfather. All three of them are in Florida. I try to visit them, one brother and my cousins, every year or two.
KR: What stories did your parents tell you about living through the Great Depression?
JF: My grandfather, the German grandfather, Walter Edward Ungerbuehler, Sr., was an accountant in Philadelphia. He actually had a job the whole time. They cut his salary in half. Tri-Acres was the name of their property on Chestnut Avenue in Cherry Hill because it had three acres. They had a big garden. They always had a garden--with vine grapes. I remember the garden when I was little, before they moved to Florida in 1960. So, they were okay. It was tight, but they were okay. My father grew up on a farm. So, they were also okay. They all were very frugal, as anybody of that Greatest Generation was. I have a lot of that in me--frugality--as do a lot of people who were raised by that generation.
It was really my aunts' and uncles' war stories and some letters that enlightened us. When my father died, we were going through his Army trunk and found the letters his mother sent to him while he was in the Army. She was in a state mental institution--I think Ancora--because his father, who was on the Moorestown School Board and a tough cookie--I never met him, he died before I was born--but he put his wife away. I think she probably had postpartum depression, from what my aunts told us. They told the story of when my father was a toddler, and one of the older sisters was holding the youngest baby, my father was clinging to his mother's skirts as they were dragging her out of the family home and taking her away. My aunts used to go visit her, as did my father and his brothers. She later would write to him when he was in the Army up in Alaska.
The day after my grandfather died, she got out. She was not at all crazy. Men could do that to women back then. My grandfather was politically connected and was on the school board. I think that any man could have done that. My oldest aunt was pretty sure her mother had postpartum depression. She only died maybe six or eight months after she was released, which was right before my parents' wedding. It was a sad wedding. I forget what the original question was.
KR: Yes, about the Great Depression.
JF: It was bad for a lot of their friends and family, but they shared food because they had food--in both family situations. It was tough. They were two very lucky families because they could grow crops. Both grandfathers always had jobs.
KR: Were your grandfathers supporters of Franklin Delano Roosevelt?
JF: My guess is my grandfather Fox was not; he was always a really hard-rock Republican. My mother's parents were supporters of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I think they were smarter. Obviously, people of that generation who cared about other people supported Roosevelt. I don't know about my Grandfather Fox, but my guess is he was a pretty rabid Republican.
KR: You talked about your father's military service. Do you know if, after the war, he took advantage of GI Bill benefits?
JF: Yes. [laughter] I think we get our brains from my mother. My father was smart, but he was one of these guys who are smart--practical--but totally non-academic. When we were going through his things, we found his report cards, which he had never told us about. He didn't do well in high school. Well, he didn't. He got a lot of "C's," "D's" and some "F's." A lot of red on his report card. He actually went to Rutgers-Camden one semester when my parents were first married. My mother did his homework because she was brilliant. In high school, she got all "A's". She was very shy and mousy in school. Then, she got pregnant. My brother was born nine months and five days after they were married. So, Dad had to get a job. He ended up pumping gas, and he dropped out of Rutgers-Camden. I don't think he would have made it anyway, unless my mother did all his homework, which she did that first semester. He didn't do really well. My mother should have gone to college. She was really, really smart and very good at math, just amazing.
KR: Your mother finished high school.
JF: Yes, she finished high school at Germantown. She stayed with her grandparents to finish high school. The younger aunt and uncles went to what is now Cherry Hill West or Merchantville. She had always had great marks, but she was shy and quiet, she would say. Her wonderful outgoing personality came out after she had polio, which was when I was little.
KR: What do you know about your mother's battle with polio?
JF: I was probably a year and a half. My brother was two and a half. She got polio when she was twenty-five and was in the hospital for a year. She was in the iron lung for six months of that time. She couldn't see my brother and me--children were not allowed near the polio ward. My father would obviously go see her. I distinctly remember when I was a little kid, probably two, my father holding us up in the parking lot--up to a window--where my mother was. She had gotten out of the iron lung so she could see her kids from the window. Iron lungs, have you seen those things?
JF: You're in there. It breathes for you. It's a long circular metal tube. It breathes for you. Only your head is out. That's it. You have a mirror over your head so that you can see people. That's how she lived for six months. She got out of the hospital. She wasn't supposed to be able to have kids anymore because she lost muscles. She didn't lose her leg muscles; she was lucky. She had a lot of friends that she made, almost all younger than her because most polio victims were in their teens or even younger. Actually, her brother, my oldest uncle, Walter, had polio in one leg, but not bad. He wasn't in the hospital.
I have a brother, Bob, fifteen months older. I also have three brothers, eight to eleven years younger. My mom had three miscarriages in those seven years after me; one of them at home, I distinctly remember. Then, she had one son, then another, then another. Obviously, the doctors were wrong on that account. She had polio in her one arm, and they did an operation to take muscles out of the other hand to put in the one hand, so both hands weren't great, which was a shame because she had been a really good pianist and typist. She could type 110-120 words a minute. She could knit, she could crochet, all that, but she couldn't do it after the operation, which meant I never learned how to do it either. She still would braid my hair. It was tough. She used to say she got polio because my father had chickens that he kept in the basement and the backyard because he was a farmer. The town told him he had to get rid of them, so he cut their heads off. I just remember the scene, which I described to my mom much later, me standing at the door as a little kid, looking at a chicken running around without its head, which actually was the case. He had to kill all the chickens. Then, there was all the chicken poop in the basement. He had my mother clean it out. So, she swears that's where she got the polio virus--who the heck knows? Because polio was everywhere.
KR: Jumping ahead, when you were a child, the polio vaccine was developed. What do you remember about the polio vaccine?
JF: I remember lining up. Everybody went over to what is the junior high school, but I was still in elementary school. We all lined up, and we got it. I think it was the sugar cube. I distinctly remember that. I remember later we got the shot. We were pretty little. I must have been in kindergarten or first grade.
KR: What did your mother say about the vaccine?
JF: You can see this one scar, it's huge, this is the polio vaccine scar. My mother was thrilled about the vaccinations because polio was so horrible. She was lucky she didn't die. She made good friends. We used to go visit the Niedermeyers. The oldest son had gotten polio when he was a kid. He was the oldest of a bunch of them. She made some really good friends, but she was definitely the oldest one that she knew with polio.
KR: Let us talk about your growing up. What are your earliest memories?
JF: Well, my earliest memories were when I was really young. They seem to all be scary memories, which I think would make sense for people. I remember when we're in Delaware Township--so I had to be a year and a half at the most--trying to get away from a "monster." It ends up--when I described it to my mother when I was twelve--I was trying to crawl over my brother--we were fighting/crawling over each other to get away from a monster. Well, my uncle, my mom's youngest brother, who was probably twelve years old at the time, would babysit for us. He used to scare us, but my mother never knew. Another time, I was hiding under a bed, trying to get away from somebody. My mother said it was she who was after me, I'd go hide under the bed and she couldn't get to me.
I also remember the two next stories, that I found out later were connected. I was in a crib, trying to get away from a lady in white and crying for my mommy. What my mother told much later was that when I was a year-and-a-half old at my Aunt Annie's, who lived in the next block over, I had a glass of water on the front porch and I fell. I don't remember that. I fell and cut myself right there, near my heart. So, they were rushing me in a car to the hospital. My mother said I was saying, "Red light, green light." I remember saying, "Red light, green light," and going fast in my mom's arms. She also said I was very afraid of the hospital nurses. There was a lady--it was a person in white. I remember a lady in white that I was trying to get away from, clutching my little green purse and crying, "Mommy." I have distinct memories of that. And, I remember the chicken running around without its head. The "monster." Short, sort of scary things.
Then, when I was just a little bit older, my mom went into the hospital and Bobby and I stayed at my Uncle Dave's farm, with two cousins, one the same age as my brother and one two years older than that. I was the youngest. We all slept together in two big beds, and we would jump up and down on the beds. I was afraid of the chickens because they would nip at me, but I loved the cows because my aunt and uncle, when milking, would squirt the milk at me. I'd try to catch it in my mouth. I was little. I couldn't have been but two. I remember the farm. I remember the corn. I remember the fence. I remember the cows. I remember jumping up and down on the bed and us getting yelled at. I also remember the big kitchen sink. Since I fell and cut myself, my mom always had plastic or metal glasses. My aunt gave me some water in a glass-glass. I'm at the sink and I'm seeing there's something in my water that I'm drinking. That's because it was a glass-glass and I saw my fingers, but I thought there was something in my water, so I wouldn't drink it. That was pretty funny.
I never learned how to tie my shoes because that's the age when you learn how to tie your shoes. My aunt and cousins tried to teach me, but I was the only left-handed person in the house. I taught myself how to do it. I still don't tie my shoes correctly. I also remember Christmas at my grandparents' in what is now Cherry Hill--the lit fireplace, the stockings hung there, singing "O Tannenbaum" and other songs in German and in English. That was a lot of fun because the whole family was there. That was fun.
KR: Describe what became Cherry Hill was like at that time.
JF: It was then Delaware Township and mostly a farming community. Cherry Hill is a geographically large town. The original Cherry Hill area of the township was where the mall is. That's where people started to build first, along Route 38. There's a development built in the late '50s between Chestnut Street by my grandparents and the then inn, the Cherry Hill Inn. It started to develop out that way. At that time, there were highway circles everywhere in South Jersey. Gradually, the circles disappeared. The development started in western Cherry Hill and along the highways, Route 38 and Route 70. The eastern part of Cherry Hill was all farms, as was Moorestown, Mount Laurel, all of that land east of Maple Shade. When I was a kid, there were farms everywhere. We used to get our produce there. Then, it just started to build up and build up and build up. Route 38, officially called Marne Highway, is an old road. Another old road is Route 537, which is Main Street in Maple Shade. It begins at the Delaware River in Camden as Market Street and it goes literally all the way out into Burlington County and through to the Pine Barrens and to the Atlantic Ocean. We are the Garden State. Campbell Soup was located in Camden because of all the tomatoes grown in Jersey. So, we really did produce for Philadelphia, New York City and much of the country.
I remember Camden, when I was a kid; that was the city. We wouldn't go to Philly very often. We'd go to Camden. There was a Sears, that was just knocked down last year or maybe two years ago, on Admiral Wilson Boulevard, which is where--I distinctly remember when we moved to Maple Shade, my father bought that house, and we went to Sears to pick out our wallpaper. I was probably three or four. It was a very serious decision. I picked out pink roses with some leaves and my brother picked out cowboys. That was a big decision for both of us. I remember that at Sears. I also remember going to Camden's Buster Brown and getting shoes. When I was a little bit older, probably seven, eight, we took accordion lessons on Broad Street in Camden. We also visited people. My mother's friend, Mrs. Carstairs, lived right across from the Ben Franklin Bridge. There was a whole line of row houses and a small park. My mother's best friend in Maple Shade Mrs. Claire Taylor's mother lived right on the river in a row house. We used to go there and play and run around by the river.
South Jersey is completely different now, obviously. In '67-'68, when things happened, people started to move out of Camden. Camden, which has a great location, was a great city, and it's starting to come back. It's getting better, but it was really nice back then. Same thing as Newark, Trenton. All those cities with wonderful houses, brownstones, row houses, really nicely done. They're gradually starting to come back now, but it's been a long time.
KR: What was your house like on Maple Shade?
JF: We moved to Maple Shade--630 Alexander Avenue--right off of Route 38--after my mom came home from the hospital (and Bobby and me from the farm). Because they could have no more children, my father bought a three-bedroom, one-bath old farmhouse right on the southern branch of the Pennsauken "Crick," as we called it. We didn't call it a creek; it was the Pennsauken Crick. On the other side was Cherry Hill, which was in Camden County. Maple Shade was in Burlington County. That crick was the dividing line. The property originally had been a small farm. Route 38 (Kaign Highway) is an old and major South Jersey highway.
From Route 38 and back, not a big farm. It was a house made of plaster and chicken wire, one story, white, attic and basement--neither finished. My father tried to finish the attic, and he fell through the floor, one leg. He did partly finish it. It was an old farmhouse with huge, old, beautiful evergreen trees surrounding its circular driveway. The house didn't have air conditioning, but it didn't really need it. Then, there was a somewhat steep hill down the back that went to what we called a swamp; it's now called wetlands. Past the swamp was the crick. Out front of our home was a lovely small pond that the farmer had built with stone and rock with a big flagpole in front and two loveseats. Lilies of the Valley surrounded the pond. There was a lovely stone/rock birdbath, too. The original owner, who sold us the house, had just built a house across the street for his oldest daughter, another next to us for his youngest daughter and another catty-corner to us for himself. So, we had a built-in friendly neighborhood! He also sold off the rest of his property. So, there were eight houses on Alexander Avenue, just south of Route 38.
It was a great place to grow up because there was the crick, swamp and "the woods." There were a lot of woods. There were other kids on the other side of the woods, including my best friend, Irene Becks, her brother Eddie, and the Ukstins. The oldest, Ronny, was one of my brother's best friends in elementary school. We had a great time playing in the woods, making forts, playing in the crick, sliding down the hill, going ice skating or shoe skating on the crick. When I was little, there were fish in it and other wildlife. They gradually died off, so there weren't even eels or anything else alive, which is, I think, one of the reasons I got into the environmental arena. I saw how that happened--a tool and die shop in Cherry Hill polluted the crick and killed off every living creature. I was one of the younger kids in our small neighborhood, so when running after the older boys, I once stepped into a hornet's nest in the ground and got badly stung all over. The older boys just packed mud all over me, and the stingers gradually came out. So, I was covered in mud all over me, but it worked! That whole ecosystem was really great because I knew what nature was. We often walked across the crick on logs. It was a lot of fun. I was a tomboy too, because there were only two girls out of the eight children in the neighborhood. I was a tomboy, but my friend Irene did everything "like a girl."
KR: How much acreage was there?
JF: Our property was less than an acre. As I said earlier, the original owner gave each of his daughters a new home. Their land, I estimate, was maybe one acre each. His house was smaller--less than an acre. Then he sold off the other properties--I'm guessing half to one-acre lots.
KR: When you and your brothers were growing up, what did your parents do for work?
JF: My father worked at Bell Telephone-AT&T in Philadelphia almost his entire life. He originally did a couple of gas station stints. He was doing that part time for a while, but he soon was working in Philly. He would take the bus--from the corner at Route 38--every morning and the bus home. He was a repairman-installer. His last assignment, for probably the last ten years, was City Hall in Philly. He and Frank Rizzo--did you ever hear of him? [Editor's Note: Frank Rizzo served as the police commissioner in Philadelphia from 1967 to 1971. He then served as the mayor of Philadelphia from 1972 to 1980.]
JF: Frank Rizzo was the mayor of Philly, but he had been the police chief before that. He was a "law and order guy." He and my father were really close. He actually brought me home a signed autographed picture of Frank Rizzo. I'm like, "You've got to be kidding me," because I was one of those hippies in college.
My mother didn't even know how to drive when she got married, but after the polio--with two little kids--she had to learn how to drive because we're in Maple Shade and there aren't the buses like she used to take in Philly and Delaware Township. My father said, "No wife of mine will ever work," when she eventually wanted to work, after my brothers were in school. What she did was get involved--again, she was initially very quiet--in PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) at the Mill Road Elementary School, which is now Maude Wilkins. She got involved in PTA activities and ended up being the president of that PTA. She also became good friends with Maude Wilkins, who later had the school named after her. Principal Wilkins used to bandage my knees all the time. She was a woman principal, which was, I guess, unusual back then, but we didn't know that. If you hurt yourself, which I did as a tomboy all the time, I'd go to her office, sit in her lap, and she'd put iodine on my knee and then a Band-Aid. When my younger brothers attended the same elementary school, Mom became Mill Road PTA President. She then was president of the Steinhauer Junior High School PTA. Then, she was PTA president of the Maple Shade High School. That was when I was in college. Then, she was on the school board and went on to become the president of the Maple Shade School Board. Over those years, she really grew in confidence because she was so good and so smart and so organized and so very good with people.
Also, my parents were very active in the church. It was called Merchantville Gardens Community Church, an independent Protestant church. Harry Schaffer was the first minister in the fire house and then after in the new church. Small church, small congregation. Pastor Schaffer retired when I was sixteen. Just about our whole life was at that little church. My parents were both Sunday school teachers. They were in charge of the youth group. My father was the head deacon. We were there for Sunday school, for church, for youth group at night. We frequently did church activities on the weekends. If they didn't have somebody cleaning the church, my family would go and clean it. A lot of our life revolved around that little church. When I was sixteen, Pastor Schaffer retired. My father was involved in hiring a new pastor, who ended up being horrible. He and my father disagreed over a lot, so we eventually left the church. I was then almost in college. Anyhow, it didn't work out for my father. What was the question?
KR: I was asking about your parents and work. You were talking about their activities.
JF: My mother was very active with the PTA. My parents were both very involved with the church. My father, in addition to work, was very active in Little League because I have four brothers. He was a Little League coach. My dad is really competitive, as am I, which is not necessarily good for a youth coach. I remember I went to the games--they didn't have organized sports for girls back then. I would go to the games because I played ball with the guys. At one game, Bobby did something wrong. Anyway, his coach--my father--really yelled at him. Then, Mrs. Taylor, my mother's best friend and our crossing guard, and her son, Tim, one of our best friends, was on the opposing team. I don't know exactly what happened, but I remember Mrs. Taylor yelling something at my brother, pretty rude. My brother, he didn't curse, but he said something that wasn't nice for a kid to say to an adult. My father went out and hit him really hard. It was a scene. But, generally speaking, Little League was cool. My dad stayed active through all four of his sons. He ended up being president of the Maple Shade Little League. My parents were involved in that kind of social activity.
KR: I am curious about your house in Maple Shade. You said there were three bedrooms. Did you get your own room?
JF: First of all, I was born on Memorial Day, which used to always be May 30th. Back in those days, we always had that day off. Memorial Day was May 30th, no matter which day of the week it fell. I forget exactly when they changed it, but a lot of holidays were changed so that the U.S. would have a three-day weekend. We used to have both Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays off, but they were combined into one Monday "President's Day." I don't recall when they changed it, but for a long, long time, into my, at least, early teens, we always had off for my birthday. I think part of my ego involved being "special." My parents' best friends, the Oorlogs, had seven kids. We had five. On Memorial Day, we always went to their house on Cooper River Park Boulevard in Cherry Hill and had a big Memorial Day picnic. They made homemade ice cream. She, Mrs. Oorlog, would make a big birthday cake, strawberry shortcake, a chocolate cake or whatever. It was just for me. I would also get some presents. It didn't happen for the other eleven children--only for me. I think that was part of why I thought I was "special." Also, I was the only girl in our family.
KR: Did you have to share a room?
JF: I was spoiled, to put it bluntly. In our home, there was a bedroom in the front by the living room, which was small. Then, there was another bigger bedroom off of the living room that had two closets. There was a bedroom at the back that had one closet, which had a mirror on its door. My parents got the two-closet bedroom. Obviously, I got the one with the mirror, which was also bigger. Bobby got the little room. I had my pink flowered wallpaper all over it. It was in the back of the house, so there was the crick out the back and all the trees and all that nature. It was very nice--just loved my bedroom.
Our first younger brother came along, and they put a bunk bed in Bobby's bedroom. Then, the next brother came along. I always had the baby, by the way, in my room because I had the bigger room. I had the crib. I would get up in the middle of the night and do the feedings and change them. It was no big deal. They finally had two bunk beds in the front bedroom. I had the big room in the back with the pink flowers. They had the cowboys. When I was sixteen--and that was the hippie time--I said, "I'll let the boys have my room, if I can paint the little room whatever colors I want." My parents thought that was pretty cool. So, the bunk beds went to the back room. I painted my walls white, but I painted the woodwork, the doors and furniture--a single bed and a dresser and a chair and a desk--because I was going to go to Rutgers--all bright black enamel with red enamel trim. It was a pretty wild bedroom. I kept a little two-by-one foot strip of the cowboys as a mural on the wall because I like historic representations. I had the bigger bedroom, but I volunteered for the smallest because I thought it was the fair thing to do--at the age of sixteen--and I got my room painted red and black and white!
KR: You mentioned playing baseball for fun and not being able to play organized baseball.
JF: Girls didn't have any organized sports, like Little League, outside of school.
KR: Did you want to?
KR: Were you a good athlete?
JF: Yes. I was a jock. There was no Title IX until I was actually at Douglass. [Editor's Note: Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 requires gender equity in any educational program or activity that receives federal funding.] I was a jock. I played all the sports, except in softball, I would play with the guys and I was the only left-handed person in that group of eight kids. They all had right-handed gloves. I could have asked my father for that, but I didn't know they had left-handed gloves. So, I would play without a glove. In elementary school, I played without a glove. But in junior high school, you had to play by the league rules; you had to play with a glove. My father bought me a glove, but I just couldn't get used to it--I would throw the glove down and catch like I always did. I stopped playing because I had to use a glove and I just couldn't do it with a glove.
Basketball was my sport. I played that seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth grade. Junior high school was seventh, eighth and ninth. I loved it. Basketball for girls then was different. Six players, three on each side. Only two from each team could cross the half-court line--the roving guard and the roving forward; I was one of them. The other rover, who was the smartest kid in our class, Barbara Ackerman, she's now a surgeon. We both would sometimes play basketball with the guys. With the guys, you could dribble the whole time. Our first year in seventh grade, we would get called for traveling because if you took more than three bounces before you passed, it was "traveling." Luckily, in eighth grade, they changed that rule. We could dribble the whole court length. Girls were finally allowed to do that. We were much better that year because we weren't called for traveling. It was a lot of fun in junior high. Then, came high school--tenth grade. I was annoyed because while I started J.V., I was only first off the bench for varsity. Barbara was playing varsity because she was definitely better than me. I was really annoyed though because there was a tall girl, who was very smart and I liked her, but she wasn't a jock. They had her start, but I could jump higher than she could, even though she was five [foot] eleven [inches] or whatever she was, and I was five [foot] six [inches]. That was annoying.
That summer--after tenth grade--I was playing basketball up in New York at camp. I creamed my knee when I was dribbling fast down the court with the ball and--it was a freak accident--two girls from the other team, one pushed the bottom part of my leg and the other the top. Anyway, you could hear my knee go. It was agony. My father came up and I remember the doctor telling my father over my head--I'm sixteen, I'm not a child--"Well, the only problem she'll ever have with her knee is when she's pregnant, it may be difficult."
When I went back to school in September, my basketball coach, Mrs. Edna Scott--there were two women's coaches, one for lacrosse and one for basketball--the basketball coach was not my gym teacher. My gym teacher was the lacrosse coach, Miss Kathy Pazden. When we were outside for gym, I reminded the gym teacher of the doctor's note I had given her saying that I wasn't supposed to be doing anything that might harm my knee. Well, I loved to run, and she said, "Oh, you can do it. Not a problem." So, we all ran up and down the field--forward and then backward. It was great to run again! Then, she had us do the sideway run, which was my favorite run, except I had severely damaged ligaments. I'm running full force, and my knee went [imitates breaking sound]. Mrs. Scott was the head gym teacher and later reprimanded Miss Pazden. Anyhow, after that, I couldn't play basketball. I couldn't do any sports. I never skied. The class would go skiing; I couldn't do that. I couldn't play volleyball, that kind of thing. Then, I totally destroyed my knee in 1985 at a DeMicco brother-in-law's wedding, where my husband Steve [DeMicco, RC '78] and I were dancing and it just went. So, I had major surgery in '85. So, my junior year is when I got into student government.
KR: You mention lacrosse. I have thought of lacrosse as being a more recent sport for women. It is very popular. I am curious about your high school team.
JF: Our high school in Merchantville had lacrosse and hockey teams for girls when the guys had soccer in the fall. We both had basketball at the same time. We both had softball/baseball and the boys had track and field in spring. Tenth grade was the first time I ever tried lacrosse. It was a pretty cool sport--American Indians played it. I played it in gym class, but I didn't want to be on the team. I think I got hit by a stick once, and I didn't like it.
KR: Did you play field hockey?
JF: I also didn't like hockey because you had sticks and I'd get hit by it. I don't like getting hit by these sticks. Basketball, you can only get hit by the ball. I did break my nose playing basketball, but that was completely different. I don't like the stick sports. Baseball was different because you have a stick, but it is only to hit the ball! When people could hit you with sticks, which sometimes they intentionally did, not good. You'd get bad bruises, and it hurts like hell. I note that I would have done girls' soccer, but that didn't start until after Title IX.
KR: Going back a little bit, I want to talk about your elementary schools. What are your memories of elementary school? You did talk about Maude Wilkins. What were your academic interests?
JF: I loved the SRA. It was "scholastic reading aptitude" tests. It was competitive reading! I loved to read and I was competitive. I would read everything and anything. We had a 1919 edition of the Britannica Encyclopedia. This is in the 1950s, so a lot of it wasn't accurate, but I still literally read it from A to Z. I read all of Charles Dickens except for The Pickwick Papers by the time I was twelve. I tried Pickwick Papers a couple times. I just couldn't get through it, so I put it down. I read all the time. I read the Bible straight through twice before I was in high school. I loved to read. So, SRA was great because I was competitive and it was reading. It's the best of both worlds! I was always the first one to get up and get a new color. It was a lot of fun.
We also had school plays at the elementary school. Robin Bailey, who was one of my elementary school good buddies, and I had the two lead parts--Spring and Mother Nature. I remember the cafeteria and the ladies in the cafeteria. I remember square dancing in the gym was always fun. We played outside, what kids do outside, girls and boys, tag, kickball and all that kind of running around. That was fun.
I was athletic, but if you look at my hands and wrists, I have thin lower arms with an extra inch at each wrist, which is actually useful for basketball. If you looked at that, you would think that was a really thin person. (I'm not.) Because of that, my wrists were weak wrists. I remember the third grade teacher telling us all to cross the monkey bars. I said I couldn't do it, because I had tried several times before, "I can't do it." Yet, he told me that I had to do it. After about three or four bars, I fell down and sprained my wrist. I was really angry at that teacher. You know what your limits are if you're athletic.
I liked elementary school a lot. I remember the drills for nuclear war--I assume it was the Cuban Missile Crisis. We didn't go under our desks. We went into the hallway, faced the wall, and had to be quiet.
I remember really feeling badly about a girl that was teased and called names. I didn't do that, but I didn't help her either. "Boog-Boog-Boogie" is what they called her because twice somebody saw her doing that, picking her nose. It was just horrible. I would say, "Hi," to her, but I wasn't her friend. No one was. I always felt bad. I'm hoping the kids who did that felt really bad about it, too.
I loved school. Junior high school was great. I had a really wonderful childhood. However, my parents broke up after their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. So, for my younger brothers, it was a little bit different, but my older brother and I had almost a perfect childhood. I feel guilty because you find out later in life that a lot of people didn't have good childhoods, but when you're that age, you think almost everybody does if you do. I found out much later that certainly wasn't the case.
KR: What teachers or administrators stick out in your mind?
JF: Other than Maude Wilkins, Miss Zubel, who got married two years later, but I forget her married name. She was very cool. She was our second grade teacher. Most of our teachers were good. We didn't have advanced courses or anything like that, except for middle school, where we were grouped by reading ability. That was the best time because we moved along quickly. Maple Shade is working class. Merchantville was more than working class back then. They had some special classes. That's where we went to high school, Merchantville, where we also had some really good teachers.
We had good English teachers at Merchantville. Mr. Walter Brant, our tenth grade English teacher, was exceptional. For instance, he would give us a word a day that was a "big" word that we would have to learn. Actually, a lot of those big words came in very helpful later, useful throughout life. We found out after college that Mr. Brant was gay. It would have been helpful to a number of my classmates in high school who I later found out were also gay.
Another wonderful English teacher was Mrs. Miriam Coffee. I didn't really learn grammar in Maple Shade. But, because I read so much, I knew grammar, I knew how things should be, but I didn't know why. She gave us a test where we had to correct a problem in a sentence and also identify what it was. I corrected various mistakes. She's walking around and looking at people's papers. She asked me, "Well, that's right, but what is it?" It was a "dangling participle." I literally had never heard of any dangling principle until she said the term, but I corrected it. When I said that we never had that, she was flabbergasted that we had never been taught dangling principles in Maple Shade. She was really very good, too.
However, our chemistry teacher, Mr. Morria Hulsizer, was not such a good teacher, but he was a nice person. We had fun in chemistry, I got all "A's" but don't remember much except that Pb is lead. The only time I ever cheated was in chemistry class; it wasn't for me but for one of my best friends. I was later in her wedding party. She was popular and fun, but she wasn't academic. She sat behind me in chemistry class. I would give her, not all the answers, but I would give her enough answers so she would pass, thinking that the teacher didn't see this. For the final exam, he has a desk set up next to his desk. He says, "Miss Fox?" "Yes?" "Will you come up here and sit next to me?" I'm like, "Okay" and went up front. Every once in a while, I'd turn around and look back at her. She'd just be looking up in the air. I think she flunked the final, but she still passed the class. The teacher knew the whole time what was going on.
The physics teacher was also our geometry teacher. Mr. Norbert Golinksi was a good teacher. I liked him and almost always got "A's" in math. For senior year, there were three of us who all ended up going to Douglass, who were at the top of our class. The three of us all signed up for physics. We had all had him for geometry and got "A's". He calls us into his room--just the four of us--and says he would like us to drop physics because he doesn't have girls in his physics class. Colleen Murray wanted to be an actress--she had starred in all the school plays. I wanted to be a lawyer. Neither of us really needed physics. We just always took the recommended college classes. Barbara Bala wanted to be either a nurse or a doctor, which for a girl back then was even more unusual than being a lawyer. Colleen and I said, "Yes, sure. Okay." And Barbara kept the physic class. I felt badly later because Barbara was out of physics within two or three weeks because they basically harassed her. She had a mother, who was either single or divorced, and a sister. She really knew no boys well. Colleen had a brother and a father. I had a bunch of brothers and my father. We were both in sports and dated. Guys didn't intimidate me or Colleen. Colleen and I felt really badly that we didn't stay in there to help Barbara out because we didn't think that would ever happen--I really didn't expect such blatant sex discrimination. I wasn't allowed to take shop when I was in junior high school, things like that, but it wasn't a big deal. I should have taken physics. First of all, there's a lot about physics that would have been helpful in my career. And, secondly, that was really rotten of him to do that to Barbara. She dropped out and she ended up taking it at Douglass. That was a rotten thing for a good teacher to do to a smart, sweet girl.
Otherwise, high school was great. I was in the band and the chorus in junior and senior high school, as were two of my brothers, and I played the French horn. In junior high school in Maple Shade, you were allowed to start band in seventh grade, and they supplied the instruments. My brother Bobby was playing the tuba and the sousaphone. We had both played the accordion together. The teacher asked me, "What do you want to play?" I said the drums. This is a hippie-looking music teacher--a woman with long, straight hair, very cool, but she said, "Girls don't play drums." I said, "Oh. How about the flute?" "We have enough flutists." I said, "The trumpet?" She says, "Girls don't play trumpet, but if you want to play the trumpet, why don't you play the horn?" That's how I got a mellophone for the first year and then the French horn. I played French horn all the way through twelfth grade.
I loved marching band. I just loved marching band. I got to Rutgers and I couldn't do it because girls weren't allowed in the band. This is in 1970, September 1970. I wanted to join the band. I loved it so much because for four years my brother and I were together in the marching band. For two years, I was the lead for parades on the front left side, he on the front right side. We had a great time because we were sort of in charge of the marching lines being straight. I loved it. I had to give it up because girls weren't allowed, at Rutgers, to be in the marching band. Two years later, they could, but not when I started. High school was great, except for destroying my knee. I tried helping the coach as a manager in eleventh grade. I couldn't take it because I couldn't play.
KR: Who were your heroes?
JF: There weren't really any women. I didn't know much about Eleanor Roosevelt. Obviously now, I do. I read up on her after law school. She was an amazing woman! My Facebook picture for a long time was of me with the statue of Eleanor Roosevelt. I've changed it since. My mother really certainly helped formed me because she learned from when she was sick that the purpose of life is to help other people. When she had polio, she actually died and came back--that type of thing--saw the light and people at the end of the tunnel. My mom always did things for people all the time. She had tons of friends. When she died, that church was packed with, I don't know, four hundred, three hundred--a lot of people. People would get up and tell wonderful stories about how she helped them, mentored them, encouraged them, etc. She was a very special role model for me.
I almost died when I was at college. Obviously, I didn't. But they sent me home to die two days before Christmas. I had lost twenty-five pounds. And it was my worst Thanksgiving ever! When I was sitting in the hospital--Rutgers Medical School Hospital--at that point off of Route 22 in Greenbrook--I watched a lot of I Love Lucy, three times a day. Basically, I was there for a month and I'd been in the infirmary before that for two weeks--I went into Douglass infirmary the day Nixon was re-elected. Not a good day overall! At the time, I was vice president of the Government Association. The student government sent me a big Raggedy Ann doll--who watched TV with me. I had multiple tests, dozens of chest x-rays and three different lung biopsies. But I didn't die. I went back to school that next semester, and Douglass College really helped me out a lot. The purpose of life is to help other people, right? I think that had a lot to do with it because that's what my mother did. Why am I still alive? Why am I still here? I think that reaction happens to a lot of people who get into that life/death situation. What was the question? I'm glad you have your questions written down!
KR: I asked about your heroes.
KR: In literature, society.
JR: I read a lot, so I really liked--well, obviously, I really like Gandhi and Mother Theresa. As a teenager, I loved A Tale of Two Cities, but at the end--what the hell is this about--you can get the girl, but he loved her so much, he sacrificed himself for her? I really loved that. Wuthering Heights I liked. Again, I didn't like the ending. I would always rewrite endings, but I don't know--heroes. Jesus was my hero, because he cared about all people. "What would Jesus do?" is a question all Christians should regularly ask themselves. It wasn't until I was out of college that I realized how very special my mom was. Since that time, she has been my hero. I don't know if I really had any heroes other than that.
Mentors? [Edward J.] Bloustein was my major mentor, and a man named George Barbour from my hometown of Maple Shade was somewhat my mentor--he gave me my first position at the BPU [Board of Public Utilities], but there were no women mentors at all at that time. Bloustein having two daughters and me being basically their age probably helped. He was definitely my mentor. [Editor's Note: Edward J. Bloustein graduated Phi Beta Kappa from New York University (NYU) and earned his Ph.D. and law degree from Cornell University. He served as a professor at NYU and president of Bennington College, before coming to Rutgers. From 1971 to 1989, Bloustein served as the president of Rutgers University, during which time Rutgers became part of the Association of American Universities.]
Heroes, it's probably Jesus, with all honesty. I really like Gandhi. Later on, Martin Luther King. My father was a Republican until I converted him much later to be a Democrat. When I was growing up, people back in his age, the "Greatest Generation," weren't raised with African Americans. In working-class Maple Shade, we had one Black girl in our class for the whole school system. She was a cheerleader and very popular. It was when I got to Rutgers that I got to know a lot of people of different races and backgrounds, which is really good for people in New Jersey who were working class and raised in white communities to get to know other people.
KR: What were the political discussions like at home when you were growing up?
JF: Oh, boy. Vietnam, whoa. So, my father was a pro-Nixon guy. My father is a Republican, like his father, but is a union guy--CWA [Communications Workers of America], active union. I remember when they were on strike when I was probably in junior high school or high school--I was still at home--watching on TV and seeing my father. My father was only like five [foot] seven [inches], little guy, cute, but little. One of his best friends in Maple Shade via Little League also worked for Bell, and he was a Bell Telephone manager in my father's area. On TV, my father basically punched out his much bigger friend, who was management and crossing the picket line--that was very interesting! My father was very pro-union but also very Republican because his family always was. He was pro-military because of World War II, and his brothers were all in the military and losing his closest brother and all that. We had discussions about Vietnam.
We also had a few discussions about race relations. I don't know where I picked it up. Maybe it was just from reading papers or watching the news, but I remember in high school saying to him--there were no Blacks in our high school but the one girl--what if I were I to date a Black guy and bring him home? He was not happy about that at all.
When my brother graduated--he graduated in '69--they were still doing the draft numbers. I distinctly remember sitting in front of the TV for a few years, when there were people I knew that were draftable, waiting for the numbers. It's by birthdays. My brother had a really good number, i.e., a high number. He wouldn't have been drafted. He tells me--because he's my best friend after my husband--he says, "Well, I'm going to join up." I said, "You've got to tell Dad." He said, "Well, I'm just going to surprise him." I said, "No, I think you really should tell him," because I didn't want him to do it. I remember being there--my mother wasn't there--when he tells my father. My father's reaction was, "No, you're going to college." Bobby said, "But Dad." My father said, "No. They killed my brother. They aren't going to kill his namesake," because he named my brother after his brother who was killed at the age of eighteen, Robert Hinchman Fox.
Dad made Bobby go to college. My brother wasn't academically inclined. I mean, he was actually smart, but he took advantage. He was a "B" student. He went to Camden County College for two years because Burlington County College didn't exist at the time. Then, he went to Rutgers-Camden and got his BA degree. Then, he went to Philadelphia College of Bible--because we were a religious family--and got a degree in Bible. Then, the draft was basically over.
Talking about race was pretty interesting because my father wasn't into Martin Luther King. In high school, I started reading up on the civil rights movement and watching even more TV. There wasn't much on TV. You only had three channels. The civil rights era was happening in full force. My father did eventually come around on race relations. I would talk with him through it. I spoke with him about the parties, that Democrats support working-class people and unions; Republicans are corporate, that kind of thing. When I was in law school, I actually wrote him in on the ballot and he became a Democratic committeeman. I was involved in local and county Democratic politics when at Rutgers-Camden Law School. I convinced him that if he's for the people and he's for unions, he can't be a Republican. Obviously, the country was coming around on Vietnam at that point time in time. It had changed because of the real stories that were coming back.
Race relations--my father was not happy when people were killed in the South. He was very upset when anybody was killed for any reason, but he believed the J. Edgar Hoover stuff about King. The Black Panthers drove him up the wall. Black Panthers, I wasn't sure about while in high school, but with Dr. King, because I started reading his writings, that's a whole other thing. I talked to my dad about that. He eventually came around because he was a very emotional person, which is where I get my--I'm very emotional. Actually, all five of us are. We get that from my father. My mother was not a very emotional person. I saw her cry but not a lot--she was normal! Dad would get very emotional about just about everything, which, unfortunately, all five of us do. He was upset about Rev. King's assassination.
KR: When did you start reading Martin Luther King's writings and speeches?
JF: Probably junior year in high school.
KR: After his assassination?
JF: Yes. I think part of it was maybe Bobby Kennedy. My father didn't like the Kennedys, although he cried when John F. Kennedy was killed and he cried when Bobby was killed and he cried when Martin Luther King was killed because my father was a good Christian. You just don't kill people. He was a preacher at heart. After Dr. King was killed, Bob Kennedy was immediately out talking about it. My father was really upset when JFK was killed. I mean, really upset and angry and was just devastated, like any decent person would be, even though he never voted for him. He was so-so on [President Lyndon B.] Johnson because of the war and the information they put out. I'm not sure, but I think it was probably after Martin Luther King was assassinated that I started reading his writings. It was so Gandhi-ish, which was, to me, Jesus-like. Gandhi was the same way, even though it was a different religion than King. You've got to remember they were putting out a lot of crap--especially Hoover--about King because they were taping him--about running around and all that kind of stuff. My father never liked the Black Panthers though. I got to understand them a little bit better because I started reading about the Black Panthers in college after I was reading King.
KF: What do you remember about John F. Kennedy's assassination?
JF: Sixth grade. Betty, the bus driver. We lived on one side of Maple Shade. The junior high school was on the other side. We got bussed from sixth grade through high school. Betty, the bus driver, would pick us up. Unfortunately, in the morning, my brother and I were the first to get on the bus. We had to go around and pick up everybody else around all the highways in Maple Shade. We were on the bus for an hour every morning, so we got to know her really well. I come out of sixth grade. The school has sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth grades. We were separate from the junior high, but it was all the Maple Shade sixth graders together. I'm the first person to the bus. I get on the bus, and she's crying and she was a tough cookie. I said, "Betty, what's wrong?" She said, "The President was killed." It didn't even register. I said, "What President?" She said, "President Kennedy." I was in shock. It just didn't seem real. Then, some of the other kids got on the bus and we went home. I just remember sitting in front of the TV with my parents and my brothers. It was just horrid, just horrid. I think most people, that's what they did. My father was crying more than anybody. You just don't kill the president in this country. It was really horrible, the whole thing. You watch the whole thing more than once--over and over. It was just the worst. You've got to remember, back then, he was the first Catholic president and some of the stuff against him was--and we were Protestant--some of the things during the election were that the pope would run the country and all that kind of crap. Maple Shade was a very Irish, Italian Catholic town, big Catholic church--actually, it's not that big, but to me it was huge because our church were much smaller. It was just horrible. Who could believe it? Then, [Lee Harvey] Oswald was killed. That week was just the worst.
KR: Were you watching when Jack Ruby shot Oswald?
JF: I think I was, but I'm not sure. Because you watched it so many times, and as research shows, our memories are really bad and you change what you really know. So, I'm not sure. I think I was, but I might not have been. If I was in school, if he did it when I was in school, obviously, I didn't. We were in front of that TV all the time that week, when we weren't in school. So, I'm not sure. I think I did, but maybe I didn't.
KR: We have talked about a lot of world events from the time you were growing up. Is there anything else that sticks out in your mind that we haven't discussed?
JF: With Rutgers, with Vietnam and Cambodia, and whatever we did here at Douglass and Rutgers, we can always talk about.
I loved summer camp. I went every summer from the age of six. It was always a Christian camp. A number of our church's kids went. We went for one week. Now, I love nature because of where I grew up--with the woods and the crick--and also because of camp. The first year was the only time my brother and I went to the same camp at the same time--he was seven, I was six. The boys and girls were there at the same time. I knew nobody else. I only would see him in the dining hall, but it was fine. I was fine.
Then, from seven until fifteen, we went to the same Camp Sankanac, a Christian camp in the Poconos. The girls' camp was for half the summer and the boys' camp for the other half. It was just definitely girls. It was divided into girls aged six to twelve and then thirteen to eighteen. I remember a lot about that.
When I was eleven or twelve--so I was one of the older girls in the younger girls' camp--on the last night of the week, Friday, they always gave out Camper of the Week awards, one for a younger girl and one for an older girl. For a couple of years, I'm watching people get awards and I'm thinking, I'd like to get the award sometime. Well, this year there were no other girls from my church. I decided, very sneakily, I'm going to win this Camper of the Week award this year. It was my strategy and my plan. I was very nice to everybody in the cabin, in the dining hall, in all the programs--to staff and to other girls. I was very helpful. I really stood out when there was a bat in our cabin. Everybody's going, "Ahh… Ooh …" Well, I wasn't afraid. I got a broom and I got the bat out of the cabin, which was very impressive, if I think about it now, for an eleven or twelve-year-old. Also, every evening after dinner, they had a church service. It was all the girls together, from six up until eighteen--we would sing songs and hear a short sermon. Plus they would always have several "Bible drills," where the leader at the podium would give a Bible verse, e.g. John 3:16, and the first girl to stand up and read that verse was the winner. Well, Bible drills--cool! Well, I knew Bible drills and I was fast. I actually was probably the only girl ever, I think, at least for the weeks I was there from the younger group, to actually win a Bible drill first before the older girls. That was pretty impressive. I actually got "Camper of the Week" for the younger girls, which, as I said, was very intentional. I remember I have a picture of me with the lead counselor of the junior girls' camp and I was so proud of myself! I have on this plaid skirt and I have on a striped blouse--my outfit was so horrible! I did that and I really loved that. My award was a Bible that I keep on my dresser to this day.
I'm twelve, I'm in the big girls' camp now, I can go canoeing. I would watch the older girls all the time. You couldn't canoe when I was a young camper, so I was really looking forward to being able to canoe! The first day at senior camp, I'm like, "Okay, I want to canoe." "Well, can you swim?" "No." "Well, you have to know how to swim. You have to swim from one end of the pool to the other and back." "Oh, shit" (the only curse word my mom ever used). They had a nice big pool. I didn't know how to swim, so, literally, that day, I taught myself how to swim, so I would go up to the deep end and back. The next day, I took the test, and I was in the canoe. I'm a horrible swimmer. I never had a swimming lesson. I just taught myself. I watched other people and I taught myself because I was getting in that canoe. I loved it.
When I was in, I guess it would have been, seventh through tenth grade, you slept out in the open air one night up at the top of the mountain in your sleeping bags with a campfire, s'mores, singing and storytelling. It was so cool. I did that three times. It was just magnificent, all those millions of stars. You wake up, you're covered with dew. It was just great. So, that's how it really got me. Growing up with the woods and crick but also going to those camps got me into the environment big time. There was some horseback riding, not a lot. I liked that. Camp was big for me. I was lucky, once a summer, that my parents let me do that.
KR: Besides camp and going into Camden, what travel did you do with your family?
JF: We drove to Florida a number of times because my grandparents moved there in 1960. My father would drive straight through in the station wagon. My mother is in the front seat with him, my brother Bob and I are in the back, and we have these three little guys with us. Bobby and I were on changing diaper duty. Bobby and I were raised the same, which is why I didn't really experience much sex discrimination, because my mother was the oldest and she was responsible for everything in her family's house because she was a girl and she couldn't go to college--she went to work and then got married--but my parents raised us the same. If I set the table, Bob washed the dishes, and we took turns. We babysat the younger guys together and we both changed the diapers, except I had the baby in my room because I had the big room. I had the option; I wasn't giving it up then. Anyway, we literally, most of the time, drove straight through, and we, Bobby and me, always wanted to stop at South of the Border, which was the big place to stay. Everybody seemed to have South of the Border bumper stickers. It was billboard advertised like two hundred miles north of it. Finally, one time, Dad said he would stop at South of the Border. We get there at two in the morning. They're sold out. We slept for like three or four hours in the parking lot at South of the Border!
We went to Florida a number of times, straight down Route 1 because there wasn't a Route 95. My father got a ticket once in a small southern town at four o'clock in the morning. There's nobody around. Cop pulls him over, gave him a ticket. Out-of-state-Yankee! Another time he had a flat tire in the tunnel in the middle of the night. I remember that stuff. We stayed with my aunt who was down there, my mom's sister. That was always fun because of all the cousins, my grandparents, it was great. Other travel--we'd go into Philly once in a while--to the zoo or to a museum. We once drove to a suburb overlooking Pittsburgh to visit my mom's friend, who was in her bridal party and for whom I was named. We couldn't see the city below due to the pollution!
In high school, we had two trips. The senior trip was to Washington, D.C., which was fun. When I was in seventh grade, the eighth graders went to the 1964 New York City World's Fair. There was room for two other kids to come. Two of us from my grade went with the older kids. It was so cool. I was hanging around with Henry Baron, who's still one of our best friends, who's my brother's age, who later went to the music school that Princeton later acquired, Westminster Choir College. I knew him from band and choir--great voice, played the baritone horn, was 1969 Class Musician. I was hanging out with him. Later on, when he told Bob and me when we were all in college that he was gay, it was no big deal. He says I was really the only girl he was ever interested in. That's how much of a tomboy I was, I guess. Great guy. I hung around with Henry up there. You got to see Michelangelo's "Pietà," which at that point was right there. Now, if you go to St. Peter's Basilica, you can hardly see her. Well, you could literally go up close and see the entire sculpture up close and personal. This was before the arm got broken off. That was a magnificent opportunity.
The funniest thing is Henry and I were in "It's a Small World After All" ride--have you ever been in that at Disney World or Disneyland? "It's a small world after all." It's horrible. Since then, I hate that song. Henry and I were in the back of a three-seat "car," and there were three girls, who weren't in our group, in the front seat, and one of our teachers and two students were in the middle seat. We got stuck in "It's a Small World After All" in the boat. Our boat got stuck on the back of the one in front of us. They had to come out and get us loose. Meanwhile, we're in there forever--likely ten to twenty minutes [imitates the song]. It was just horrid. So, the ride guys came and they jumped up and down and they finally got it loose. Well, the girls in the front row got soaking wet. The teacher and the two students in front of us got their feet wet and we didn't get wet at all, but that was memorable! I hate "It's a Small World After All." I will never go in that ride ever again. I don't care who wants to go.
Then, I remember riding the cable car ride across the fair, up in the air, looking down. It was kind of hairy, scary. I have a fear of heights, not because I'm going to fall, but because I'm going to jump. I'm one of those people who, when young, thought you flew. I didn't realize until I was twelve, I really hadn't, so that's my concern for heights. It's for flying and jumping. I remember all the rides were just fantastic. That was a great experience doing that.
There were two trips when I was maybe six to eight--we went through New York City to Long Island to see my uncle in Montauk, but the city was pretty--we drove around there for a few hours one night. And, then, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. My oldest aunt, Aunt Dot, lived in Rochester Mills, which is maybe thirty miles from Punxsutawney. My father's oldest sister married a farmer, who had been at Fort Dix in the military. That's where they met because the Fox boys were at Fort Dix, and the family was near there. She married him and moved out to Rochester Mills to his farm. We would drive out there usually every year to stay for a long weekend visit. It was great because they have two farms up on the top of this mountain.
They had milk cows as well as beef cows. Our oldest cousin, Shirley Sue, had mink she was raising for money. They had a couple horses. It was very cool. We would drive out there and, going through the tunnels, it was really pretty neat.
We used to roll down the big hill. Going down the hill would be great for sledding or sliding, but it's where the cows were so you had to try to avoid the dung! That cousin, Shirley Sue, was the oldest Fox cousin. We used to play in the haystacks, where we would hide, build big forts in the haystacks, check out the cows. It was a big barn. It was a heck of a lot of fun rolling down the hill, which took forever because it was a big hill. Climbing up was a pain, but rolling down was fun. That was a lot of fun, going up to Punxsutawney with our little bit unusual uncle. My aunt---wonderful--you would walk in--she baked bread every day--the smell. She was a great cook--and pies. The smell of her bread and her pies were just to die for.
I remember my aunt's husband, my uncle, when Bobby and I were with my father. So, it was my uncle, who's not the blood relative, my father, my brother, who is year older--maybe we're seven and eight, something like that, six and seven--I remember my uncle saying to me--it's an electric fence where the horses are--"Grab hold of that." I wouldn't do it. My brother, who's a kiss-up, says, "I'll do it." He grabs the electric fence with both hands. Oh my God! My father sticks his thumb into the dirt and pulls him off.
When we first went there, for the first five or six years, we had to go out to the outhouse to go to the bathroom. Now, for a little kid, going out to an outhouse, was not real pleasant. I didn't do it very often. When they finally got indoor plumbing, this uncle would still use the outhouse.
Well, horribly, this uncle killed himself probably when I was in my twenties. Shirley Sue was their only child. She found him when she went over--she lived in one of the two farmhouses. My aunt had moved in with her daughter after they had broken up. She goes over to visit her father with her kids. He had blown his brains out with his favorite shotgun all over the living room. He was always a little strange, and it was so sad for Shirley Sue and Aunt Dot.
KR: I'm so sorry to hear that. In terms of other travel, did you go to the beach?
JF: Usually, my mother would take us. My parents went down with us for a full week once. I think it's when, in hindsight, I think it was when probably my father had had an affair when I was seventeen or sixteen that none of us knew about until much later. He rented a room in Ocean City, New Jersey, which is where they went for their honeymoon for a week and where my brother was conceived. It was all of us. We all had one queen bed. The kids all slept on the floor, which we didn't really care about. We went to the beach every single day. Other than that, my mother would take us down, the five of us, plus Irene and Ronnie would come or sometimes Tim Taylor. We would go to the Steel Pier in Atlantic City for the day. We'd go to see Lucy the Elephant in Margate. Have you been there?
JF: You have to go. She's cool. Lucy the Elephant [is an elephant-shaped building]. Then, you could pay a little money and walk through her.
The Steel Pier. You would see the movie and you would see the show. You would see the diving horse. You would go into the diving bell and walk on the boardwalk and get cotton candy. My mother did that every year with us. I had the youngest brother. My brother Bob had the oldest of the little guys. Irene would get the guy in the middle. We lost him once. We did find him--by the diving horse! The diving horse was fantastic. The shows were great. We saw Herman's Hermits down there. That was always fun. Once a year, we did that. Also, when we went out to camp in the Poconos, we always stopped on the way there at Valley Forge. We would play there for three, four hours, running up and down the hills, around the forts. Going to Valley Forge was a lot of fun. That's probably about it.
KR: When your family would travel, where would you stop to eat? Do you remember what restaurants you would go to?
JF: No, they were just diners and stuff. I do remember the first time I saw a "Colored Only" sign.
KR: Where did you see that?
JF: Some place in the South.
KR: On your way to Florida?
JF: Yes. I just didn't understand that. I think I was heading that way because I didn't know what "Colored Only" meant. I was told by some lady I couldn't go there because it's for coloreds only. I asked my mother or my father, I don't remember which. I'm like, "This is just weird." We often would go to Camden, obviously, there are Black people living in Camden and it was fine because we played there. We got to play with some of the Black kids who lived down along the river when we were kids. I remember when I was little and the first time I saw a Black baby was in Camden. I thought they were much cuter than white babies. I didn't get this--because my father, while he was in many ways racist--was raised that way--he never really talked about it until I was in high school and civil rights was happening. He believed the government all the time. It really stuck with me seeing this. I still can picture it to this day, this "Colored Only" sign. I just thought it was really weird.
KR: What did your mother tell you?
JF: She said they do things differently in the South. My mother was never racist.
KR: Did she have any social justice message along with that?
JF: No. How old would I have been? Seven, maybe eight. I guess I was eight. There were no "coloreds" around. I never heard the word. What did my father call them? I only heard him say "n*****" once, which shocked me. I was probably about twelve. I think he usually called them "negroes." I never saw it used like that. We really didn't have a lot of discussions before the civil rights movement. I distinctly remember that.
I also remember, on our trips to Florida, I used to throw up because I had motion sickness. I didn't realize. Sometimes, I would just throw up out the side of the car. He'd have to pull over if he could. I didn't realize until I started dating that if I sat in the front seat, I didn't get motion sickness, which was a good thing to know. [laughter]
KR: [laughter] You were coming of age in the 1960s, at a time when society was drastically changing.
JF: Completely changed.
KR: What was it like to be in middle and high school during that period?
JF: Again, we only had one Black girl in the school system who was in my class. We were a very segregated town. Merchantville was all white. Maple Shade had the one Black girl who lived in the new apartment complex on the other side of Route 73. Now, those towns are completely different, as is the state.
For the first Earth Day, which was when I was a senior in high school, we did actually do something out in the parking lot for Earth Day. I forget exactly what we did, but I helped organize that. Also in high school--what I do during my whole life is I organize other people of like mind. There was a really, really cold winter. Now, I take the bus. You stand up at the highway and you wait for the bus, really cold, seventeen degrees or something. I have this warm hat, I have this big coat on with gloves, but we all wore short skirts. That's all you wore. You're a girl; you have to wear skirts. We've got these freaking miniskirts, which is all you could wear. Then, you've got boots, but you've got this much of you exposed. We asked if we could wear pants. They said, "No," because we're girls. So, we asked if we could wear culottes, which were longer back then. The culottes were down to here. They said, "No." So, we had a protest. It was my first protest. There were 225 in the class, so about half were girls. I'd say about forty of us wore culottes all in one day. We didn't get suspended or anything. They started letting us wear culottes and later pants.
I was co-editor-in-chief of the yearbook. There's two pictures I did specifically that--unless you knew what was going on and remembered why were they important--one was five girls, including the first student council president who was a girl, Linda Ganassi--I was her campaign manager--standing on the front of the steps of the school with one leg up on another step, so you could see they had pants on. You look at it today; nobody would have any clue what that meant. That's what that meant. I did a picture of the three guys who were both in the band and the chorus with me, with the longest hair--which was probably not really long, but back then was really long--standing next to the two pictures in our auditorium of George Washington and Abe Lincoln, who had longer hair. I had those guys stand in between them. Both of those pictures were in the yearbook. Nobody now would have any clue what they meant, but in fact, boys/men had short hair, and a couple of the really cool guys, who were musicians that were friends of mine and my brother, had the "longer" hair. It was a change. Times were a-changing.
Driving to school--when you were a senior you could. My father gave me an old car, my brother an old car. I don't know what it was, but it was an old black--it was the first automatic, but it was called a Powerglide. After I was driving a couple months, it wouldn't go in reverse. So, I would have to park it, so I could get out--I was at school--sometimes I had to have friends push me out because I couldn't get out of the space.
KR: What brand was it?
JF: I don't know. It was American-made. My father only bought American, so I don't know if it was a Ford or a Chevy, but it was a big old black heavy steel thing. Then, a car he bought for my brother, that I never drove because it was a manual--was a huge pink Dodge with wings--that my brother put in red shag carpet, on the back shelf, all through it, red shag carpet. It was so cool. Actually, my father tried to teach me how to drive stick with that baby when I was in college or law school, but I broke my ankle, so I couldn't do it. I never drove a stick. Anyway, we always had an old car to drive to school when we were allowed. My brother did it for a year and I went with him. Then, I did after he graduated.
I had a great childhood. I had a great time in high school. I always had a boyfriend. I was active in a lot of groups, but it was always the girl activities. I was co-editor of the yearbook. I was co-captain of the girls' J.V. b-ball team. There were all these high school clubs in which I was a leader, but mostly in the girls' ones. In the band, I was the secretary of the chorus. My one serious boyfriend was class president. The other boyfriend was--not at the same time--student council president. I would hang out with my brother, because we were a year apart, and with his friends. I had a really great childhood all the way up through school.
KR: You said you were a hippie and you mentioned some of this activism. What other activism were you involved in, in high school?
JF: In high school? That was probably it. I was still active in church. [laughter] I was a Brownie. My first protest was when I was a Brownie. In Maple Shade, we were still going to that little church in what's Cherry Hill, but the Brownie troop I went to was at the Maple Shade Lutheran Church. It was two grades. I think it was fourth and third. I was in it for two years. The two leaders' daughters were a year younger than me. In school, we always had tryouts for plays. Robin Bailey and I had the leads for two years. You'd figure in Brownies they'd have a tryout. I'd get a lead; that's cool. But they didn't have tryouts--they assigned roles. In the Brownies, you get your wings and "fly up" to the next level. There were four of us getting our wings; the rest of the troop were younger, including the daughters of the leaders. The leaders' daughters got the leads. The four of us that were "flying up," who were the ones who were graduating, played trees. We didn't have a line. We were in green tops, brown pants, and we're still like this--as trees. That was all we did. I was really upset about that because again, I had an ego--because of the Memorial Day thing--and I was spoiled when I was a girl. So, you have juice and cookies with the mothers. I don't think any fathers were there when we did this little show. Afterwards, I spoke to my friends who were also flying up. I can't imagine the leaders telling people about this later on because you've got a girl who's in fourth grade with a couple other fourth graders very seriously saying to you--as we hand our wings to you--"We are quitting the Girl Scouts and we're joining the Baptist Church's Pioneer Girls because in school we have tryouts for plays. You didn't have tryouts. You gave it to your daughters. It wasn't fair, so we're leaving Girl Scouts." I can't imagine these women's reaction to this kid who has the chutzpah with the other girls standing behind her. None of us were Baptists, but we had friends who were. Pioneer Girls was just like the Girl Scouts, but it was somewhat religious. Two of my friends were Catholic. None of us were Lutherans. We all joined the Pioneer Girls. I've been very active in the Girl Scouts since the early '90s. I love telling that story. I don't tell it to the girls, but I love telling that story to the other adults because kids aren't stupid, except some of them aren't as gutsy as I was. We did the Pioneer Girls. That was fun. We did that for a long, long time. It's just like Girl Scouts, but you also have religion involved. So, I don't know how I got to that. This is why you have to keep us focused because I go off into segues.
KR: It is great. Thank you. I am curious about the role of women in society at this time. You had teachers who were saying to you, "No, you can't take physics," when you were a student.
JF: A male teacher, but the female teacher told me I couldn't play drums.
JF: I would have been a great drummer!
KR: Yes. When you came to Rutgers, you could not play the French horn. There are these messages being sent to you, but they were conflicting with the messages that your parents are teaching you.
JF: I really didn't see any sexism at home. My brother and I were treated the same. The only difference was when I was in high school, probably a junior and he was a senior--and I always had boyfriends. I didn't really think about this. We both had to be home during the week by nine o'clock, but on the weekend, I had to be home by eleven and he didn't have to be home until midnight or something. Now, he is a year older. Maybe I had to be home sooner. It didn't make any sense to me. I remember when I was a senior--and obviously, they didn't want me to have sex and have a baby--when I was a senior, I was out with my boyfriend, who was in the band and chorus with me, and we were sitting on the hood of a car and we're having philosophical discussions with his best friend, who was also in the band. We would talk about philosophy and all kinds of things like that--what we were reading. I get home at two in the morning. My father was waiting up. He was not a happy man. Now, I've already been accepted at Rutgers, Livingston and Douglass, which were the only ones I could apply to on the same fee. I thought I'd go to Camden because of money, like my brother did. I said to him, "If you can't trust me now, in six months, what are you going to do? You're not going to wait up for me." That was the last of that. Other than that, we were always treated the same, except for those couple of things in school.
I hung out with the guys all the time. They basically treated me the same. I didn't realize how bad sexism was. I was really lucky to go to Douglass. If Rutgers College had been coed--it wasn't until '72--I would have gone to Rutgers College. I did not want to go to Douglass because I always hung out with the guys, I was a jock, I always had a boyfriend. I didn't get it, because I didn't have that experience, except for those few things in school. Most of the teachers liked me. I was a goody two shoes. I never lied.
I didn't take typing, college prep typing. Junior year, you meet with the guidance counselor, "What are you going to take?" "Well, I'll take whatever you're supposed to take to go to college." So, I signed up for physics, but later left. I didn't take college prep typing. My guidance counselor asked, "What do you want to be?" I said, "A lawyer." "That's what I thought. There aren't really many women lawyers. If you go to a law firm for a job, they're going to ask if you can type. If you can type, they're going to make you type for the men lawyers. So, you have to say, 'No.' You need to lie about that or you don't take typing." Well, I was goody two shoes; I didn't lie. I would now. I would have after that, but I didn't lie. So, I didn't take college prep typing. I type with two fingers to this day, because I was such a goody two shoes.
KR: Your guidance counselor actually gave you that advice.
JF: Yes, oh, yes. She only knew of a couple women lawyers, and they all had that experience. I think she knew two or three of them. I asked her later about it. They all had that experience. Two of them ended up--one of them lied and two of them ended up typing for the men lawyers. If you think about Marie Garibaldi, who was the first woman on the New Jersey Supreme Court, she was really good in school. She ended up doing wills and estates because women weren't allowed to do other areas of law. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I first heard her at Rutgers. She was just fantastic--first in her class at Harvard and then Columbia. She couldn't get a job in a law firm, which is why she freaking taught at Rutgers Law School. A Maple Shade woman who went to Rutgers-Camden Law School, Ronnie Barbour, back in the '50s I guess, maybe in the late '40s, top of her class, she couldn't get a job. Her husband, same class, closer to the bottom of the class, ended up being Assembly Majority Leader, President of the Public Utility Commission--this is how I got there. She couldn't get a job in a law firm because she was a woman. It made complete sense back in 1969 for the guidance counselor to tell me that. She should have told me I should just lie, but a guidance counselor isn't going to tell a student to lie. I was stupid and didn't take college prep typing.
KR: Why did you want to be a lawyer?
JF: Because I wanted to get married and have a family. In Maple Shade, there weren't many lawyers. I probably should have been an architect. I didn't even know what an architect was. I knew doctors and lawyers. That was probably about it. There's school teaching; I didn't want to do that. I wanted to do something else. I wanted a family. I figured being a lawyer I could have an office in my home, that kind of thing. You set your own hours. I wanted to get involved in politics because I decided that's the most direct way to get things done. When I hurt my knee, I did student government. Actually, I did student council as a homeroom rep for quite a while. I figured that was the way to do it was to be a lawyer. I was pretty good at arguing. People used to think I was lawyer-like. Of course, after I became a lawyer, people didn't think I was lawyer-like. Anyhow, that's why I wanted to be a lawyer because it was the only profession I really knew that could give me those options.
KR: You mentioned taking a trip to Washington, D.C. in your senior year. That was 1969-1970.
JF: Yes, the spring of '70.
KR: What do you remember about that trip and what Washington was like at that time?
JF: We just had fun. It was great weather. We were there for, I guess, two nights. You're that age. You can move fast, unlike when you get older and the people you're with can't move fast. It was just a lot of fun. Washington Monument, we actually climbed the stairs, most of us. I certainly did. Of course, it was competitive who could get to the top first. I wasn't the first one, but I was close. The picture on the Capitol steps, which was one of those panoramic pictures with all of us, was very cool. I remember in the hotel and sneaking to rooms and stuff like that, which we weren't supposed to do. It was just a lot of fun. It was a great time. It was very impressive. The Smithsonian. They have so many museums. We went to a bunch of them. The thing I remember most about that trip was--it's one of those ugly things I think they got rid of--they had a big human leg, had to be this big around, from maybe above the knee, but at least the knee down--elephantiasis. Did you ever hear of that?
JF: In, I guess, whatever they store it in. I was there for fifteen minutes staring at this freaking human leg. Blew my mind, the elephantiasis. I really liked Washington a lot. We were lucky. The Lincoln monument, I was the last person to leave that because I was reading all of the words that he said that was on the walls there. When I go there--it was just two years ago for a wedding and they did a bus night tour, which I suggested for the people on a Friday night, at night, to the monuments. My husband and I actually walked back to the hotel because I wanted to read it all again. He did too. Lincoln was just amazing. Seeing the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and the archive there, I started to cry. It's just amazing what this country has done. Those places are what really hit you with that. It was fun also. We also got a tour of the Capitol, where the original Supreme Court chamber was. Remember, I wanted to be a lawyer, so this was pretty cool. There was the original Supreme Court chamber. We did go into the Supreme Court. It was just a great trip. It was really a great trip. I think only a couple of us had been there before. I certainly wasn't one of them.
KR: Do you remember studying any of the major Supreme Court decisions when you were in high school?
JF: High school, no.
KR: I want to ask how the Vietnam War impacted your community.
JF: In Maple Shade and Merchantville?
JF: Well, it was divided like the rest of the country was. My father was pro-Johnson, pro-war because the government hid so much from us. It just didn't make sense. Our friend up the block, his brother was--there were two boys up the block; one was three or four years older than us. Our friend was two years younger. I don't know if he got drafted or if he enlisted, but when he came back, he was crazy. He was a completely different human being. We didn't know him really well, but we knew him because we're up playing with his brother and he would talk to us--joke around with us. He was a fine guy. He came back. He was completely nuts. So, I don't know what it was, what caused that, but that did not make us feel really good about the war. I was still in high school when he came back. I didn't really know anybody else that well when they came back. I've met people since then.
It didn't make any sense what I was reading. My father read two newspapers every day at home. I would read them because I read everything and we would watch on TV all the news that they had. He always read the papers and he always watched the news. Most of the news going out was really Johnson, Washington news. To me, it was personal because you had people getting killed, getting damaged, like the kid up the street. That made no sense because we weren't going to win this thing. We did talk with my father about the "Domino Effect" and all that kind of stuff. I remember that. It just made no sense to me that we're just losing all these people and they were losing people. Then, when more facts came out, which I think was probably more like when I was in college, with what we were doing over there, when reporters started reporting those stories like My Lai and that kind of thing, that was later, when I was in college. [Editor's Note: Lieutenant William Calley commanded an American unit that massacred over five hundred Vietnamese civilians in the village of My Lai in March 1968.]
There were three of us from Merchantville High School, Colleen Murray and Barbara Bala, who were eventually going to attend Douglass. I had not yet accepted Douglass--the other two had already accepted Douglass. They wanted me to go to Douglass with them, so we drove up. I didn't drive. One of them drove because my car was too old, and it couldn't back up. We went to the Douglass-Cook Campus first. It's just magnificent, right? We drove through Rutgers campus, not much because you can't go here. Then, we went over to Livingston. I was pretty confident I would go to Livingston because I had gotten a thousand-dollar-a-year scholarship. Now, tuition in 1970 was four hundred dollars a year. Room, board, tuition fees were twelve-hundred dollars a year. I applied to Rutgers-Camden, which is where I knew I was going to go and I would commute because I didn't have the money. But I got a thousand-dollar a year Anna Vincent Scholarship, which was for the Delaware Valley area. They only gave a couple of them out. I was the one that our high school put in for our school, and I got it. So, I now could go up here--to Rutgers-New Brunswick. We went to Livingston after we went to Douglass and Cook, and it was a mud hole. It was literally a mud hole. There were the new buildings that were there, and there was almost no grass or trees. You know how I like trees and grass. It was like, "Okay, I'm going with you guys." I was really, really lucky that Livingston was still a mud hole and, at that time, was so ugly and that Rutgers College wouldn't take me.
Douglass really made me a really strong and confident leader. I was a leader among girls in high school, but not so much in society; it was always the boys. When I got accepted to Douglass, that summer, they sent out a letter asking for self-nominations for class officers. You had president, vice president, secretary, treasurer. I said, "I'll run for vice president. I don't want to be president." Seven of us ran for vice president. Only two ran for president. I didn't win; I came in second or third, which was good because then I ran for student government here. I was a jock, but I couldn't do sports anymore. At that time, women didn't get athletic scholarships, unlike today. Thank God for Title IX.
KR: Yes. To go back to when you were in high school and you are thinking about college, you applied to Rutgers-Camden and the three schools at Rutgers-New Brunswick.
JF: Two schools in New Brunswick. That's it.
KR: Right, Douglass and Livingston.
JF: I knew I was going to go to Rutgers-Camden, but it was the same application fee at Rutgers. You could apply to three. There were only a couple of large scholarships given out in the Delaware Valley. I had really good grades. My SATs were okay. They weren't great. They were 1280, because when I knew what it meant, I don't test well. I got a 1280, which wasn't great. It was good, but it wasn't great. They should have had me apply to other schools because I was really, really active in high school. I mean, really active. I was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" and was a liked and recognized girl leader. I applied nowhere else. I fault the guidance counselors for that. Again, it's a working-class town. I'm sure I would have gotten into other places and I would have likely gotten money from them, but it was never a thought. I never thought about it.
KR: What initially attracted you to Livingston College because it was brand new at that time?
JF: Because it was coed and it was living away, and I could afford it. That's it.
KR: When Livingston College was created, the founding dean Ernest Lynton …
JF: He was great.
KR: ... Envisioned this experimental institution. Did you know about that?
JF: Yes, I knew about that, and I was interested in it because of Vietnam, civil rights and all that kind of thing. It was primarily because it was coed. You had Rutgers-Camden coed, but I had to commute and it wasn't as pretty as campus back then. I have a nephew that's down there now, and Bob, as well as one of my younger brothers, went there. I go there a lot because I have family still down that way and am a Trustee Emerita. It was really because it was coed and I could afford to live on campus. I liked the "progressive ideas," but that had really nothing to do with the decision-making. I had a choice between three, and it was pretty clear that I wasn't going to go to a mud hole.
KR: What did you do the summer before college?
JF: Had a great time. My parents, bless them, didn't make me work. My brother had jobs. I did help my mother. That summer, she was in charge of a Maple Shade summer day camp. She always was in charge of the Bible school, but that was only a week. She ran that with one of her best friends forever, Ruth Johnson. Mom also was in charge of a municipal day camp in Maple Shade and got some money for it. So, I helped her out with that, which was two or three weeks, which is just a day camp for local Maple Shade kids. I just had a good time.
We went to the lake, Columbia Lake, that we could walk to in Cherry Hill. It was maybe a half an hour walk, so a bunch of us would go up there. It was closed down later for environmental reasons, but there was no EPA at that point. [laughter]
I didn't start working until college. I had to work and I worked a lot. I'm on student aid and I qualified for work-study. They had a job assigned for work-study at the Douglass College Center. Then, I found out from friends who were working in the dining hall that they made more money. I said, "Drat, I don't want to do work-study. I need to make more money." So, I worked in Cooper Dining Hall. I don't know if you know where Cooper was, but it was one of the first buildings here. It's a big, old, Victorian house that had been added on to, added on to, had been a dormitory, had been a NJC office building. It was the only college dining hall for decades. There were still offices in part of it. It was not air conditioned. You got assigned hours. That was the only university dining hall, plus Neilson that still had white table clothes and table service. I learned how to waitress like this, with ten plates of food on a big tray. That was only for dinner. That was pretty cool. You also could check people in, which sometimes I did. Then, sometimes you got assigned to the dish room. No air conditioning. The dish room would go up to 110-115 degrees; nobody wanted it. I took other people's dish room duty. I was probably working twenty hours a week. There was this guy working there, Al, who had a lower IQ; a really sweet guy. I worked there with him a lot, which was actually good for losing weight. I worked a lot in the dining hall. I worked there my first two years. That was fun.
We were at Corwin. Do you know the campuses over there? We were in Corwin-X the first year. I got assigned a roommate from Union City, Ann Catherine McNeal, who's now a neurologist. Everybody in that class was really smart; they were all at the top of their high school class because Rutgers College wasn't taking any women yet. I believe it was the smartest class Douglass ever had. We were all not just a cheerleader but cheerleader captain or captain of the team and first, second, third of the class, all that kind of thing, really smart people. Ann was extremely bright, ended up getting all "A's" at Douglass, got into medical school after three years. She could have gone to Harvard if she stayed another year, but she wanted out. She went to Stony Brook.
We were in Corwin-X. There were only four first-year students, then some sophomores, with a total of sixteen in the dorm. We were lucky because we then had in loco parentis and "parietals," where you had to be in by, I don't know, ten o'clock during the week and eleven or twelve on the weekends and no guys allowed after a certain time. But because we weren't in a big dorm, our sophomores let us get away with that easy. We didn't know that until the first time we were late. They said, "From now on, just knock on the window, whatever." We said, "Okay." What was I talking about, the dining hall?
JF: I worked in the Cooper Dining Hall those first two years. The second year, we were lucky enough to end up being able get Corwin-X again--this time the top floor, where you have two rooms. There were four of us. It was very cool. The next year, my roommate wanted to be a house chair. For house chairs, you pick numbers and then you pick your dorm assignment in the order of those numbers. She got the second worst number out of all. I am there with her, freaking out, because all the Corwins are gone, all the Gibbons are gone. We ended up getting the big dormitory with a first-year wing. We got forty kids in this big hall, all first-year students. I couldn't work at the Cooper Dining Hall. I had to work at Neilson Dining Hall. But, I really got to know a lot of people. I think I got elected treasurer of the Government Association because everybody knew me from the dining halls. So, we went over to Katzenbach.
This is in 1972. I was having physical problems. We had dining hall meal cards and we'd stick it in a machine and punch them. It had your picture on it. A dining hall worker would punch the card and give it back to you. When I was doing the meal card check-ins at Neilson, my hand would get stuck in a position. In addition, I was out of breath a lot. I thought it was just because I was a jock in high school and I wasn't really exercising, although at Douglass you walked a whole heck of a lot. The day Nixon was reelected--November 7, 1972--luckily, I voted by absentee--I could not walk. My ankles were swollen and in intense pain. I limped over to the infirmary, Willets Health Center on the Jameson Campus. It really hurt to get there. I didn't leave Willets for over two weeks. I had a high fever. I was given morphine for pain. I lost a lot of weight. They did all kinds of tests, found out what I didn't have. They called my parents up, and Dr. Helen Davis said to my parents, "We don't know what it is. She doesn't have this, this, and this. We don't know what it is." "Well, we don't know anything about what to do. What do we know? We don't know doctors, except our family doctor." So, Dr. Davis hooked us up with the then Rutgers Medical School. I was there for over a month.
I went in two days before Thanksgiving. It was the worst Thanksgiving of my life because for your meals, the day before you check off what you want to eat the next day. The first day I'm there I got food and I had to check off for the next dinner, which was Thanksgiving. For Thanksgiving, they had listed only turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and a couple of vegetables to choose from and then two breads. I thought you would get it. I only checked off where there was a choice. I didn't get any turkey, any mashed potatoes, any gravy. It was just horrible. Anyway, I had three biopsies there. My breathing capacity, my lungs only had fifty-five percent breathing capacity. Forty-five percent of my lungs didn't work.
They assigned me to a doctor who had started several years before as an associate professor, Norman Edelman, who ended up later being dean of the medical school. He was a pulmonary doctor and assigned because of my lung capacity. He was my doctor for a long time after that.
I got blood tests every day. I had X-rays a lot. I loved seeing the second-year medical students. They didn't know what I had, but they sent me home the day before Christmas--to die, basically. They put me on progesterone, mega doses, the biggest you give a living human being. It worked. I had gone down from 140 pounds to 115 pounds. I always had a big butt. There was no butt there. It was really weird.
Nancy Richards, who was the associate dean of students, I knew quite well because she was responsible for the government association. I had been treasurer, and that year, I was vice president. Dean Richards thought I shouldn't go back to school yet, but I wanted to go back. I was on scholarship. To live in a dorm, you had to be a full-time student. I had incompletes in all my classes. I may even tear up with this. We had our own Douglass faculty at the time. I was afraid of Margery Foster, who was the Douglass dean. They actually went to the Douglass faculty and got me--I'm probably the only one in the history of the university--I became a full-time student with a "reduced load." I could stay in the dorm. I could keep my scholarship. They moved us from the big dorm to Jameson, literally, right next to the infirmary, to Willets. My poor roommate, who wanted to be the house chair but was pre-med, who had never been sick her entire life and still hasn't been, moved with me, luckily. We were in a double in Jameson, literally right across the roof from Willets. I was taking a lot of medicine because of the prednisone. I was taking literally fifty-some pills a day, and was chugging Maalox. I was chugging liquid potassium, all kinds of stuff, and seeing Edelman every other day and then every week for a while and all that kind of stuff. [Editor's Note: Margery Somers Foster served as the dean of Douglass College from 1967 to 1975.]
I dropped two classes. Two classes I kept. I had to finish them by March 15th. I took one other course. I was still vice president of student government. They said, "You've got to take this particular pill timely, the prednisone." One night, I was one pill short. I figured, "I'll get it the next morning." I wake up, two in the morning, in agony. I had to pee badly because of water retention pills. I couldn't even walk, my ankles. The pain was too much. I couldn't even get to the trash can to use it. It was horrible. I didn't want to wake up Ann. She woke up about six o'clock. They actually got the campus police. He carried me across the roof into Willets. I found out later that it's a very rare blood disease. It was written up that next semester as Lymphomatoid granulomatosis. I was mentioned in the article, very rare. Most of the other people who got it died. I was mentioned because I didn't. [laughter] I really owed Douglass and Rutgers a lot, but it was also good that I went back. When I went back, I was on crutches. That next summer, 1973, I broke my ankle while carrying mail in Delran, because prednisone makes your bones very brittle. When I went back, I was in a wheelchair. You didn't have the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] yet. I just wheeled along. If I asked, somebody would help me up the curb, that kind of thing. That was huge.
KR: The treatment was effective for you.
KR: Was that treatment used going forward for people with the same disease?
JF: I don't know. I assume so. Dr. Edelman would probably know. I kept in touch with him. That was when I was a sophomore. I should have graduated in 1974. I didn't graduate until '75 because I was the Government Association President the year after at Douglass and then decided to go on because I wanted to take as few credits as I could, just because I wanted to get my grades up. I ended up staying five years. That last year, I was University Senator and Student Rep to the Board of Governors. I was allowed to have a car on campus, too, because I had to get the doctor. I saw Dr. Edelman until I graduated Douglass. Then, when I went to Rutgers-Camden Law School, he hooked me up with Dr. Israel at Jefferson in Philly. I saw him every couple of weeks, then every month as well.
KR: Let us take a break.
KR: We are back on and recording. Let us talk about your years at Douglass. I want to go back to your freshman year and ask you what you remember about moving in.
JF: Well, it was a cute little house. My parents and a couple of my brothers came. Corwin-X was one of the last houses on the second horseshoe. I can't remember if Ann was there first in our room, but I think she was. I'm not sure. The house chair, I actually ran into her a couple of years ago at an AADC event. We're in touch. Donna Blumenthal [Chlopak, DC '72] was really very sweet. She was a junior. We actually later went to her wedding in Hightstown. Corwin-X was just a nice little house and there were only seventeen people. We had sophomores, we had juniors, and we had seniors. There were only four first-year students. We had the two bedrooms downstairs. After the first semester, one of us dropped out. So, Cindy White Cassibba, Ann, and I moved our furniture around--without any permission because we were in a little house--and we got away with it. Ann was pre-med and Cindy was into computers. We had all gotten all "A's" in high school--the Class of '74 were all at the top of their high school classes. We moved all the beds, three beds, into one room, got the other bed and put it in the basement, and made the other room, the study room, with the dressers and three desks. That was really great. Corwin-X was just a lovely place to be. The next year, Ann, Cindy, and I, with Cindy's new roommate, were in the third floor of Corwin-X. It was perfect!
I probably should talk about smoking pot because everybody back then--I don't know anybody who was at Rutgers College, Livingston, Cook, Douglass who did not smoke pot in the early '70s. Even the ROTC students who I knew smoked pot. There was a guy by the nickname of Loomus that I was seeing at Rutgers our first semester. My roommate and I went over to see him. He had some, and we were smoking it. We were listening to the comedy album Fireside Theatre, which I'd never heard of. Ann and he are laughing really hard at this stuff. I didn't think any of it was funny. We smoked quite a bit. I didn't smoke cigarettes. I didn't drink alcohol. And this was my first time with marijuana. We left, and Ann and I went to the Rutgers Student Center. I had, I don't know, a cheesesteak or something, a whole one. Then, we went back to the dorm. I was literally "starving"--Corwin-X had a refrigerator in a little mini kitchen--I was eating everybody's food in the refrigerator, I mean, everything. I left a note, "Sorry. I'm really hungry. Jeanne." The next day, the sophomores were hysterically laughing because they told me how, when you smoke pot, you like to eat--a lot. Well, I ate so much, you just can't even imagine. That was really pretty interesting. It was the first time I smoked pot. It was actually a good experience.
At Douglass, we had to walk a long distance to the dining hall and the classes, so we got exercise! The major classroom building, you'd have to walk over to Hickman Hall. Hickman was really where most of my classes were back then. Basic classes, some of them, were also in the chemistry building. It was a good experience. I ran for Government Association treasurer and I won, I think because I worked in the dining hall and everybody knew me. It was a good experience. In high school, I'd only got mostly "A's" and a few "B's", except in Spanish III where I got a "C" on my Spanish III exam, pathetic; I thought I flunked the exam. I also got a couple of "B's" in Spanish. I got maybe one or two "B's" in other classes before I got to college. Otherwise, I always got "A's". My first semester I got three "B's" and a "C". Ann got all "A's". Cindy got all "A's". I'm like, "What the heck happened?" Well, I know what happened. I was partying all the time and I didn't study.
The only Douglass course that I got a "C" in was with Professor Johnson, who was the chair of the religion department. I was thinking about being a religion major. But, I didn't go say anything to him. What he had the class do that semester was three papers. You got two grades on each. My first paper was a "C/C+". The second paper was a "B/B+". Third paper was an "A/A-". So, you figure you'd get a "B". He gave me a "C". I'm like, "Shit." I didn't say anything to him until years later when I'm "the big person" on campus. I knew him because I went to the faculty meetings and had worked with him on some issues. He was a great teacher. So, I'm talking to Dean [Margery Somers] Foster, who was the dean at the time, at the senior picnic. He comes over, and the three of us are talking. Somebody comes over and starts talking to the dean. This is May 1975, and I had him for the class in the spring of 1971. He says to me, "I remember that I had you for 'Religious Ethics.' I thought you were going to be a religion major, but you changed to something else." He didn't know what. I said, "Yes, philosophy." He said, "Well, how come?" I said, "Because I had your class and I got a 'C'." He said, "I do remember that. You were the only first-year student in the class. I knew you were thinking about being a major, so I thought you should work harder." This is a guy I really liked and admired. I'd worked with him on things throughout the years. I think he might have been on the University Senate too. "I should have gotten a 'B'." He said, "Well, I wanted you to work harder." I said, "It was the only 'C' I got and it kept me out of Phi Beta Kappa." I turned around and walked away from him because I started to cry. This was a really good professor. He was a chair of the department. He was a good person as a faculty member in the University. Why didn't he talk to me about this?
The next year, Bloustein is the president. We had an acting president my first year. It was a big deal because Mason Gross was a great guy and had moved on. Bloustein decides he's going to teach a course "Philosophy of the Law" second semester sophomore year. I wasn't a philosophy major yet. I was thinking about American studies. So, all these student government types signed up. Soon, the Rutgers College guys, who, at that time, had to get Rutgers College Academic Dean Reg Bishop's permission to take a Douglass course--so we had a class of maybe twenty, twenty-five people, probably three-quarters of us student government types. It was "Philosophy of the Law." He was a great professor. He had us all do just one final paper. It was a ten-page paper, but I spent hours and hours researching this paper. I have it somewhere. No recollection of what it was about, but I spent a lot of time on it. I spent much more time on that paper than I did on history papers, political science papers that were twenty, twenty-five pages. It was really good. I get the paper back and I get a "C" or a "C+". I'm like, "What the heck?" I told myself, "This is not going to happen to me again," because I knew it was a good paper. I made an appointment to see him in Old Queens. I had never been in Old Queens. I went over to see him. I walk in, waited for him. I'm from Maple Shade, right? Houses are really tiny. It's Old Queens. He opens up the door and he says, "Oh, Jeanne. Thanks for coming in to see me. When you asked for this meeting, I looked at your paper again. I realized yours was the second paper I graded. I expected better of Rutgers students. So, I compared yours to the other papers and changed your grade to a ‘B'." Now, what I should have done was--because he wrote comments in the margins. This was the only time he ever did this, grade the papers himself--because it was his first Rutgers class. He wrote comments where he was correcting things. I had re-researched all his comments. All but two of his comments I could argue against. What I should have done was argue for an "A," that's what I should have done, but I was so shocked that we just sat down and we talked for, I don't know, a half an hour or more just about other stuff, which is how I started to bond with him. I learned right away you got to stick up yourself!
Now, in high school, when I got the "C" in the Spanish III exam, I thought I had flunked. I was happy with the "C" because I didn't know anything. That day, I went home, told my parents that I had flunked, and cried. It was two weeks before we got the final grades. I said, "I flunked. I can't believe I flunked." Then, I got a "C". I went home and said to my parents, "If I got a 'C' and I didn't know anything, how could anybody flunk it?" It taught me a lot, that you have to have confidence in yourself and sometimes push back against authority, which was the first time I did it with Bloustein, but he did come around really quickly.
KR: What was your interaction with Bloustein like after that?
JF: It was great. The next year, he taught "Philosophy of the Law" again, but it was a different course number, so I took it again. I think I did get an "A," but I don't really remember. I was then vice president of the Government Association. I got sick and all that. We knew each other but not that well yet.
The next year, I was president of the student government. I got to know him better, got close with [Dean] Foster. Rutgers went coed in 1972 when I was on student government [as] treasurer. The big discussion at Douglass was whether Douglass should go coed. Well, Rutgers College went coed for economic reasons; guys weren't going there--they wanted coeducation. One of my best friends, Melanie Willoughby, was in the first class of women at Rutgers. She was the Rutgers Student Government Association President, first woman. There wasn't another one for eighteen years, which shows you how sexism continued at Rutgers College.
When I was president of the Government Association the year before, I formed the University Student Caucus because I wanted to, in large part, try and get exams before Christmas. The caucus had meetings before the University Senate meetings, which were at that time, held on Jameson Campus. I was living in Jameson--right next door. So, we would have a Student Caucus meeting in our living room before we go to the Senate meeting. It would be student University Senators--Camden, Newark and New Brunswick--except most of the Rutgers College guys usually didn't come, because they thought they were "more important" than anybody else. We would plan on how we're going to vote on issues together, basically in a block. We tried to get exams before Christmas that year. It went down, even though students voted for it and some faculty voted for it. Administrators were against it and some of the faculty, so it went down.
The Senate, at least at that time, set the University calendar. Bloustein knew me from the Senate and as the Student Caucus leader. The next year, I went to Katheryne McCormick, who was Rutgers Dean Richard McCormick's wife and Dick Jr.'s mother. She had taught, but at this time she was the University Scheduler for all the classes in New Brunswick and Piscataway. I said to Mrs. McCormick, "Rutgers could save a lot of money," because we had the energy crisis. "We could save a lot of money if we shut down the buildings for a month." She helped figure all that out for me, which is why I loved that woman so much. She actually went to the Senate with me the next year and pointed out how Rutgers could benefit. We got exams before Christmas, which I wanted because I knew I was going to go to Rutgers-Camden Law School. [Editor's Note: Richard P. McCormick spent his career at Rutgers as professor of history, University Historian, and dean of Rutgers College. His son, Richard L. McCormick, served as a history professor and the president of Rutgers University (2002-2012).]
I have a big family. I infrequently studied at Christmas. We sometimes drove down to Florida over the holiday break to visit family. My sophomore year, I took "Accounting" pass/fail. We went down. I opened the accounting book up by my aunt's pool once. I closed it up. I never looked at it again. All I needed was a "C". I had gotten two "B's" on my tests. I figured I only needed a "D" to pass. Well, there's no way I got a "D" on that one. I was the last person out of the classroom. I was in tears when I handed the professor--because I needed to pass--I handed the professor my exam and told him that I had flunked. He said I was crazy because I previously had gotten two "B's". What I routinely would do is to sign up for the maximum credits, go to the first classes and drop all the exam classes I could and keep the writing classes. I did that because I'd get sick, literally, physically ill, for written exams. I could write, so I didn't mind writing papers. For exams, I would throw up before I left the dormitory. I would throw up on the way to Hickman Hall. I would throw up at Hickman. That's why we needed exams before Christmas because at Rutgers Law School, it's all exams and they were after Christmas and I wanted to enjoy my holidays with my family. It wasn't fair because students who didn't have families just studied all the time, and the rest of us--well, you've got a problem. So, we got exams before the holiday break through the Senate. Yeah!! By the way, the professor passed me.
Also, because of the Student Caucus, there were other situations when I had contact with President Bloustein. My last year at Douglass, I was a University Senator as well as the Student Rep to the Board of Governors that last year, '74-'75. I worked very closely with him, Ed Bloustein, and I used to take him drinking and dancing with the Douglass students at Moscow's, which was a bar a quarter of a mile from Douglass that Douglas students used to hang at. They had music and it was legal to drink. Because of the Vietnam draft, you could drink at eighteen. He was a real "party animal" and always had a great time. The campus police, or the Campus Patrol as they were called then, would drop him off and he'd drink and dance and party. I didn't drink, but he would drink and dance and party with the students. He was a really good partier and loved to dance! I would drive him back in my car to the President's House and usually go inside with him. He, Ruth Ellen and I would sit down and talk. It was just wonderful. I was really the age of his two daughters, too. It was just very comfortable. I loved his wife. She was a pediatrician, I think. She was a doctor. She was really cool. They were quite wonderful together!
What was interesting is the first semester on the Board of Governors, in the fall of '74, there was no Open Public Meetings Act. It was passed that year and became effective January of '75. I saw the Board of Governors--with eleven members--go from no Open Public Meetings Act to Open Public Meetings Act. What they did was, during the first semester, they would discuss it with all eleven of them--what the issues were--and they could do it in closed session. Well, after January 1st, they can't do that, right? So, what they switched it to was, each committee would have five members on it. The committee would make the decision, but it wouldn't be a majority. They could legally do that and then recommend it to the full board, where there had to be open discussion. That was pretty interesting.
There were two things I stopped Bloustein on that year. The one of substance was--this is where I told you before, he taught me that you can be good friends and have significant arguments over matters of substance but not take it personally, and that was good. I think because he was a philosopher is why I was a philosophy major--because of him--and a lawyer, not because of him. President Bloustein had really wanted one big university graduation. I was on the Education Planning and Policy Committee as a student that year. The committee approved what he wanted, which was that Camden, Newark, everybody in New Brunswick at the stadium, sort of like we do now--PhDs, everybody--getting their diplomas together. He did not want to do what we do now, which is you can still have your separate college/school ceremonies. I was totally against that. During the committee discussion, I argued against it. It was not a unanimous vote out of the committee to the full board. Then, it was presented on the Board's public meeting agenda. The table was rectangular. It was [in] the Commons, in one of the top rooms. I would sit next to Ralph Dungan, who was the first Chancellor of Higher Education. He and Bloustein did not get along. I got along with both of them. So, the chair of the EP&P Committee does a presentation on the Rutgers University-wide commencement. A couple of the other members talk. You usually didn't stand up--you talked from your seat. I'm sitting down. I got recognized by the chair and talked about why it wasn't good, that faculty would rather be there with their students. Obviously, the parents helped put them through, it was important to them, because a lot of them didn't go to college. For the students, this is a big deal, and you want to be with your college classmates.
Bloustein, who was also somewhat of an emotional guy and he was a bigwig, stands up and he gives this diatribe for one big ceremony. He concludes with, "Rutgers is The State University of New Jersey, its commencement ceremony is not for the faculty, is not for the parents, it's not even for the students. It's for the State of New Jersey." He had wanted the Governor to be there and all that. I'm sitting down--down the other end--and I say, loud enough that people can hear me, "Oh, give me a break." And, the motion went down. Two weeks later, he was back at Moscow's drinking and dancing with the Douglass College students. I drove him back to his home and Ruth Ellen and he and I talked, and we talked about that. That's when he specifically said to me, "Hey, look. I'm still unhappy. I think it's better for the state, but you have legitimate points of view. We can argue about these things. I'm not holding it against you personally." He was a great man. There are other things like that.
KR: You said there were two issues that year. What was the other one?
JF: The other one was rather minor, except for the Douglass Campus. It was really Bob Ochs, who was the Vice President for Public Safety. He handled all the issues like parking and the Campus Patrol. I had a good working relationship with him. This was really more of a Bob Ochs thing. They needed more parking. Rutgers College students were allowed to have cars. Douglass students, unless they had a job off campus and they got a note type of thing or they were seniors, couldn't have cars. The busses were as bad as the busses are now, although President Barchi has improved it some.
They were going to pave over the old Cooper lot to put parking there. The big, old rambling Cooper building had been knocked down. It's the heart of campus--at George Street and Nichol Avenue. It's between College Hall and the Douglass College Center and the Dean's House. We didn't want that done. Actually, I worked with Ochs. Bloustein said we had to--because everybody's allowed to have cars now, is what he decides the policy was to be. At that time, I was Student Rep to the Board of Governors and senator. So, I met with Ochs, and I found enough places elsewhere on the Douglass Campus. So, the Gibbons lot, you could put in another twenty spaces. Hickman lot, they were going to make that a lot. Anyway, I got them to put more spaces there and the berms and trees. I found them spaces over at Cook, a couple more spaces some other places. The deal was they would not do that Cooper lot. I did talk to President Bloustein about it once, but it was really Bob Ochs that handled it.
The deal I had to make is--and I convinced the Government Association to go ahead with me--is that we would still keep it commuters, seniors only, people with jobs, that not everybody could have a car, which a lot of students obviously wanted to do, but that was part of the deal. I had talked to him about that. Ochs was okay about it but wanted to make sure that he wasn't in trouble with Bloustein. He knew we had a good relationship. That was minor--I didn't embarrass him at a public meeting like I did with the commencement issue.
What we did though was--Jeanee Sacken was the president of the Government Association at the time and Kate Finnegan was her vice president. They were both good friends of mine. There was a for sale sign somewhere off of Ryder's Lane. We put that for sale sign in front of Bloustein's home in Piscataway. Honestly, this is a horrible thing to admit. We also pulled up all the stakes that were put in for the soon-to-be Hickman parking lot. We pulled them all out and put the sale sign in front of Bloustein's house. They actually got some calls about the property. It was pretty funny. Bloustein actually thought that was funny. Ochs wasn't happy about the Hickman lot because they had to go out and re-stake it.
KR: You said that when Bloustein passed away, you spoke at his memorial. Can you talk about that?
JF: Don Edwards had been his executive assistant when I was in college. Then, he got promoted, but he was still in Old Queens. He was the closest person to Bloustein. I forget exactly what his last title was, but he was a vice president. I was Student Rep to the Board of Governors and then the Board of Trustees. I was active in the Alumni Federation and co-chaired the Government Relations Committee. I would see Don during those sessions because he often represented Old Queens. We set up all the alumni-government relation actions, which I keep on saying we should do now, because Bloustein understood the importance of Trenton, where we had annual receptions and we met with legislators, etc. I was in touch with Don and Bloustein really through all that.
While President Bloustein was on vacation in the Caribbean, he had a massive heart attack, dead at the poolside. That was on December 9, 1989. It just tore me to pieces because I loved the guy. He had serious heart issues. I knew he had heart issues, but I didn't know they were as bad as they were.
Don Edwards called me up and said, "We're going to have a service for him at "The Barn," which is the largest venue we had, I think it was in December. I can't remember. "The family wants one of his students to speak and they want you to speak." This was on a Thursday or Friday he called me. I just started crying. I said, "Well, I'll think about it."
When I was a sophomore, I wanted to run for office, so I took a speech class pass/fail at Douglass. The professor was a British guy who spoke from "down here." I was the only person from South Jersey, except for Miss New Jersey, who was from Mount Laurel, but she had moved there when she was in high school. So, I'm the only one in the class that has a Philadelphia/South Jersey accent. The professor nicely points out at the beginning of the semester that I talk funny, that I say my A's, my O's, my E's differently, and I also have a slight lisp. When I would give a speech, on basketball for instance, the class would snicker or laugh when I would say an A, O or E funny. I actually started stuttering just a little bit. I wanted to run for public office, so I decided if anybody ever asked me to speak, I will say yes. That was sophomore year.
This is now 1989. I'm director of the Water Division at the Public Utilities Commission in Newark and active in politics. Don asked me that on a Thursday. I said, "Why don't you call me on Monday? I'll think about it." I thought about it; I thought about it. I talked to my husband about it because he also knew Bloustein well. On Monday, Don called me. I told him, "Yes." I had a month or less to prepare.
I am clearly not a good speechwriter. I write down all of my thoughts about Bloustein. I'm trying to organize it. A week and a half before the event, it still wasn't any good. I said to Steve--because Steve had written a speech for Coretta Scott King the year before that she used verbatim, down at the [Democratic National] Convention in '88 in Atlanta. He's really an excellent writer. I gave him the speech. I said, "Can you put this into better shape?" He really did it and did it beautifully.
Then, I spent the next week reading the draft aloud. I removed phrases if I would cry. It got shortened by about a third. It was really a very beautiful speech because of my husband. It included all my thoughts about Ed Bloustein. It was very personal, like he taught me you could be friends and still argue, that kind of thing. It was at The Barn.
That's when I asked Tom Kean to be president of Rutgers because he was a really good governor for higher education. He was speaking at the ceremony about Bloustein. I talked to him beforehand. It was really funny because I knew him kind of. He said that he would be honored, but he already has something in mind that he'd made a commitment to. When I was at the Environmental Protection Agency, I went and talked to his class a couple times at his school. He had already committed to go to Drew [University]. He told me later that he did that because he could still be involved in politics while at a small school. He would have been great at Rutgers. Anyway, it's the president of Princeton, Governor Kean, Governor-elect Florio, I think the head of the faculty here, and me. [Editor's Note: Thomas "Tom" Howard Kean, Sr. served as the governor of New Jersey from 1982 to 1990. Kean went on to serve as the president of Drew University from 1990 to 2005. James "Jim" Florio served as the governor of New Jersey from 1990 to 1994.]
When I got up, my knees were literally knocking. It's the only time that's ever happened to me! Luckily, we had the robes on, so no one could see. I stupidly looked down at his daughters very early on and started to tear up. So, I just looked up into the balcony. I did this great speech for him, for Ed Bloustein. Thank God for my husband, it was just magnificent. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, literally, the hardest thing I've ever done, because I loved the man so much. He was a "character." He certainly wasn't perfect, but he was one hell of a president. He understood the purpose of the State University serving the state, he understood politics and academics, he understood people, and he thrived on it all!
When they named the Bloustein School after the man, it was perfect. Bloustein School Dean Jim Hughes was the only guy who--and obviously, the Agricultural Extension people understand--you've got to serve the state. Dean Hughes just recently retired. I think our last two presidents since Bloustein, Fran Lawrence and Dick McCormick, didn't get the concept that this is a State University, you have to serve the state. Barchi understands that, and obviously Bloustein understood that. He actually liked Trenton. Fran Lawrence and Dick McCormick don't. He actually liked Trenton. I don't know if he respected them or not, but he worked really well with them, but that was sometimes difficult. [Editor's Note: In 1967, Rutgers established the Department of Urban Planning and Policy Development (UPPD) at what would become Livingston College when it opened in 1969. In one of his last acts as president, Bloustein established the School of Planning and Public Policy, which was named in his honor in 1992. James "Jim" W. Hughes, University Professor and Dean Emeritus of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, served as dean from 1995 to 2017.]
Ten years later, somebody was talking about Bloustein's ceremony, and they said, "Oh, I was here. That was great. I think Christie Whitman gave that wonderful speech. She was the head of the BPU." I said, "No, no. It wasn't Christie Whitman. She was in fact the president of the BPU at that time, but she did not speak there. It was me." It was the most personal thing. Out of all the people speaking, I was the one who knew him best. I was really good. His wife died later. Steve and I were active with Planned Parenthood in Middlesex County, as was Ruth Ellen, so we helped raise money--because she was a medical [professional]--to name the facility after her in New Brunswick. Good people. They were good people. They had a great relationship, the two of them. I just loved being with them. I was lucky I got to know them well. [Editor's Note: Christie Todd Whitman headed the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) from 1988 to 1990. Whitman served as the governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001. Jeanne Fox served as a civil servant staffer from 1981 to 1991 and then on the Board of Public Utilities from 2002 to 2014, during which time she held the post of president from 2002 to 2010.]
KR: I want to ask you about some of your other classes that you took at Douglass. What sticks out? What professors stick out in your mind?
JF: Well, I wasn't an American Studies major, which I thought I would be because the chair of the department, who was excellent, scared the bejesus out of me when I met with her.
KR: Who was that?
JF: Linda Brown. Very well known. One of the first in the country doing American Studies.
JF: Yes. Michael Rockland was there, too. I really liked him, but she scared me. She was really a very good faculty member, but she scared me when I met with her one on one. I was going to be a religion major, but he did that to me, so I didn't.
I took two philosophy classes. I took the basics, the Plato-Socrates-Aristotle, which I loved. I took something else in philosophy. I can't remember what it was. I took Bloustein's course. I really liked that. Bloustein was a philosophy guy and a lawyer, so I figured, "Okay, I'm going to do philosophy." I wasn't a serious philosophy major. One of the courses I hated the most was the senior philosophy seminar, and you had to take it. I had taken a logic course. It was a word logic course; it was philosophy and I loved it. It was the only course at college I ever tutored because I was very good at word logic. That helps, actually, with law; it makes a lot of sense too. But the advanced logic for our senior seminar, I hated every minute of it because that was just stupid stuff to me.
There was a class that we had--what the heck was her name? It was amazing. Because the early '70s was where there were race issues going on. There's a lot of stories about that because Rutgers was starting to bring in a lot of people of color, a lot of African Americans especially. We had some real issues in the early '70s with that. A lot of the women who were involved then were African American, I'm involved with now, and we'll talk every once in a while. It was something that had to be done. The war was still going on. The civil rights movement was still going on. The women's movement was starting. But she had a class where we talked about that, to a degree. I'm trying to think. She was a very well-known sociologist. What the heck was the course? That was really pretty interesting because she was talking about that with Black and white students in the room. That was something; that was a really good course. I remember--Emily Alman--she was awesome!
I loved the basic philosophy courses. Professor Malcom Greenaway and the chair of the department, first Richard Henson and then Fadlou Shehadi, both top professors. I had them both for courses. They were great. When I was in the hospital, Shehadi actually came and visited me and brought me some stones, "worry stones." I still have them, which was really very sweet of him. They were a good group.
Also, the other class I really, really liked was a political science course called SimSoc, "Simulated Society." Have you ever heard of that? So much fun.
JF: So much fun. You divided it up into maybe four/five teams. It was in Hickman Hall. We did it for, I don't know, maybe a month. It was a game. The goal was to get points, but you had to negotiate. So, some had more land. I don't remember all of the components, but it was different cultures and societies. You had to negotiate. Whoever won at the end had the most of whatever. There were rules, so we followed the rules, but you could always stretch rules because this is politics. So, my group ended up winning based on actions that I did that were not illegal. I don't even think they were unethical. They were just not normal. Some kids on two of the other teams wouldn't even talk to me forever, but that was really fun because that was hands-on, real politics with "real resources" to a degree. That was a lot of fun. I think that was political science. I don't think it was philosophy, but I loved that course.
Then, I took a course at Cook, an environmental course, which I really liked, but I can't remember what it was about because they were just starting to do more of them. I took a course up at Livingston--what was that on? Shoot, I can't remember. I was just talking about it last year. It was a large class. I took it with another Douglass student. We sat up in the back. It was a really good-looking African American young professor. So, I'm working at the [Public] Utilities Commission twelve, fifteen years later. This guy is an attorney, had been an attorney at the PUC but left and was working for a utility. He looked really [familiar]. Ten years later, we're talking and he, Walter Braswell, taught that course--he was the professor! So, I told him how I went to class and I really liked it--I didn't cut classes because he was so good looking. I told his wife that too. That was a lot of fun. He actually was a really good professor, but I can't remember what the heck it was about.
We did try to go over to Rutgers College once because a couple of us at Douglass wanted to be lawyers. It was a pre-law meeting. It was at Rutgers the first year it was coed, 1973. One of our friends at Rutgers College told us about it, so we went over because he was also there, but we sat near the back of the room. The professor--I don't think it was McCormick, Sr., I don't think it was the dean, but it might have been--told us we had to leave because we weren't Rutgers College students.
KR: When we were off record before, you talked about the process of cross registration. Can you talk a little bit about that? I think people nowadays going to Rutgers do not know what it used to be like taking classes at the different colleges.
JF: Oh, yes. It actually makes a lot of sense at the time. So, all the colleges--Rutgers, Livingston, Cook, Douglass--had their own faculty. That was changed under Bloustein, probably like in '81. Also, when I started, each had their own admissions offices, their own registrar, their own dean of students. That was changed in '76, '75, when they unified all administrative services. The colleges still had their own faculty until the early '80s. They had faculty meetings, each of them. Douglass always had a student go to the faculty meetings, and I would go when I was GA President and then University Senator. Each of those colleges had a dean, and then there was an academic dean, who was usually the number two dean. So, Charlie Woolfolk was the only male dean at Douglass, who ended up later marrying the Dean of Students, Nancy Richards. I'm still in touch with them. He was the academic dean. If you wanted to take a course--I guess it would have been maybe until '72--at another college, you had to get the academic dean to sign off on that one course for you to take at the other college. That's a lot of power. They had a lot of other responsibilities. There was the first woman vice president, I think, at Rutgers University, a woman named Alice Irby--very cool. I think she was southern. She had really well-coiffed hair. She dressed really well. She had a slight accent.
My husband, Steve DeMicco, was on the Rutgers Student Government Association. He worked with Alice Irby, Vice President of Student Services, to allow cross-registration without getting sign off, automatic cross-registration. We didn't have computers back then. They had to do registration all by hand. It's the first time I saw my husband because he got my name from somebody I knew at Rutgers College. He called me. I was treasurer of the student government. I got a bunch of Douglass students to go over there because we were getting paid minimum wage and we all could use the money. So, you had a room full at the Commons, one of the big rooms up top, a room full of students like me with boxes of three-by-five cards, or five-by-eight cards, or whatever they were, doing courses and setting up people's courses by automatic registration. That's the first time I saw him and I had a crush on him for years, but I didn't ask him out for a long time. He was very active and worked closely with the vice president, as well as with Dean [Howard J.] Crosby, who was the beloved dean of students at Rutgers College.
You couldn't take a course, up until I think it was 1972, without getting your academic dean, the number two person in your college, to sign off on that course at another one of the colleges. That [would] change completely. So, in 1972 or '73, you could "automatically" register. I took two courses at Livingston. I took two courses at Cook. All I did was sign up for it like I did for my classes at Douglass, but before that, you couldn't do that.
KR: When you started college, you were in the Class of 1974. Then, you graduated in the Class of 1975. How diverse was your class at Douglass?
JF: That class coming in, the Class of '74, was pretty diverse. It had not been much before that. Actually, because I'm very active at AADC [Associate Alumnae of Douglass College] and as a Trustee Emerita, I just saw some numbers on this, this past year. It really made a significant change. Now, we have the Rutgers University African American Association, the alumni group. A lot of the people active at Douglass, I knew them. An awesome woman named Wilma Harris, who was Class of '66, was an assistant dean of students when I was there, then went to Prudential and retired as a VP for human resources. She's a Rutgers Trustee now. She's a very active person. She was one of the leaders back in her Class of 1966. It was starting to increase then because of the civil rights movement and a lot of other things going on.
It is The State University. Bloustein certainly understood that, but I think Mason Gross did as well, who was the president before him. That class was pretty well diverse. It became more diverse under Bloustein, but they were making a concerted effort. EOF [Educational Opportunity Fund] was just starting out. I worked at the Department of Higher Education the summer of '74, I think, and actually wrote the first EOF brochure. Again, there were no computers. I did it all by typewriter, cut and paste, and all that kind of handwork. I was very proud that they used that for ten years. EOF officially began in 1968 but really started big maybe around '72-'74. That helped a lot because while we're supposed to have a "thorough and efficient education" per the State of New Jersey Constitution, it's pretty clear that some public schools are a hell of a lot better--some of the best in the country compared to other public schools in the state.
I know when I took my required math course--I had "A's" always in math through school. Then, I get to college, I was going to be a lawyer. I only needed to take the basic math course. I did not have calculus in high school. It was not offered. There were kids in my class, my Douglass math class--again, it was just basic math--who had that in high school, in public school. All of us had "A's" in high school. There were kids from Irvington or Newark or Trenton who also had "A's". They were at the top of the class. I had to work really hard, and I just made a "B". I was helping out some who were from bad school systems, African American, who needed to squeak by and they might get a "D". We were almost all public-school students. That was disconcerting to me. I learned very early on that while the Constitution says "thorough and efficient education," it ain't happening. It's not the same, which is why a school like Rutgers is necessary and why the EOF program is necessary and other special courses like that, which we do a lot more of now. That started really under Bloustein (and Dungan) and grew dramatically because they understood the necessity of that, that the education system wasn't equal and the universities have to do something about it.
KR: You were very involved the governance of Rutgers. What about activism? Were you involved in civil rights protests, women's rights protests?
JF: Oh, yes. It's interesting. Well, the Vietnam War protests were huge. There's also things like streaking and bomb scares and all that in the early '70s. There was the Cambodia bombing that all of us came out against publicly because we were actually there illegally, but the public didn't know it. This would have been probably in '71 . I don't remember. There was a big march from the Rutgers College side of campus, downtown. Now, remember, George Street at that point, from '68 on, was not exactly a really nice place to be. They marched down George Street, over to the Douglass Campus, marched down to Corwin, which is a half a mile off of George Street, walked around Corwin, picked up people, marched down over to the other campuses of Douglass, other dorms, and then back down George Street to Old Queens. That was a lot of walking, but it was a lot of people that they picked up. That was huge.
Another time--and I don't remember what it was--but it was about Vietnam or Cambodia or the draft, the ROTC building at Rutgers on College Avenue had a big protest going on. A lot of the student activists went inside. Now, I was at a meeting for student government with Nancy Richards, who was the associate dean of students at the time, who handled the Government Association. It was the Executive Committee. She gets a call, and Douglass students are involved in this. She gets a call, and we go over, the group of us with Richards, to the ROTC building. [laughter] They had gone inside. The activists had gone inside and taken papers out of the files. There was no violence because Mason Gross, when he was here--and there's a good story about him when this happened before I was here--and then Bloustein understood students and understood where they were coming from. Thank God for Rutgers. We would have never been a Kent State under either one of those presidents. [Editor's Note: In April 1970, President Richard Nixon authorized the bombing campaign and ground invasion of Cambodia. Protests, strikes and shutdowns spread to hundreds of college campuses nationwide, including Rutgers. On May 4, 1970, Ohio National Guardsmen fired on students at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine others. Some of the students had been protesting the U.S. invasion of Cambodia, while others had been passing by or observing the demonstration. On May 14 and 15, students at Jackson State College protesting against racial harassment were fired upon by state and city police, resulting in two deaths and a dozen injuries.]
However, my college roommate, Ann, who was pre-med and studied all the time, and Cindy White, our other kind of roommate and good friend, were studying in the main Rutgers library. When the group went into the library, they got people to come out. They wanted to see what was going on. So, Ann and Cindy were inside the ROTC building. These are two non-political people. I would go to demonstrations; they really wouldn't, unless they went with me. There was a Targum camera guy taking pictures. I saw one of them inside, so I told Richards.
Anyway, she got them out, but the next day, I got up early. I think I was working in the dining hall. Their picture was in the paper. The headline was, "Activist leaders taking ROTC files." I'm like, "Oh, no," because Cindy was dating an ROTC guy. She was oblivious to this stuff. I had a car because I had been sick. I got in the car, and this is six, six-thirty in the morning. I told them I couldn't come into the dining hall, and I actually went to every place where they had the Targum and I took all the papers and threw them in the trunk of my car because I didn't want Eugene seeing Cindy being a radical leader, because she wasn't, and my college roommate, who wanted to get into medical school, because she wasn't. I stole all the Targums that day. I think very few people got their hands on that day's Targum.
I was supportive, and I joined marches. I wasn't a leader in it, but I worked with them as a student government leader all the time. I usually prefer people to my left to work with than to my right just because typically the people on the left care more about people. So, I usually play the middle ground a lot. That was certainly one of them.
KR: How much of a civil rights movement was there on campus?
JF: There was a lot going on. I think the administration handled it probably as best as they could. They were starting to hire more people of color. That's mostly African American. There was a lot of tension because a lot of New Jerseyans, still today to a degree, came from segregated high schools, for economic and other reasons. There were a lot of whites here who had not gone to school with Blacks, like me. There were African Americans who had not gone to school with whites. There was so much going on in the civil rights movement that there was some hostility at a couple points in time that was not good. I think it was necessary, and I think everybody learned from it.
When I was working the dining hall--and this is probably the Spring of '71 because we still had the white tablecloth--a friend of mine, Colleen Murray, who was one of my friends from high school who came here, wanted to be the actress, she lived in the Corwin-A circle. Her roommate was African American. They were very good friends. They would do each other's hair. I would go over, we would talk. One of her African American friends would come over and talk, but on campus, you couldn't say hi to them. If you said hi to them, they would ignore you or act like they didn't know you because they were with their Black friends and they couldn't do that. It was really kind of--we would talk about that in the room, but that's just the way it was. There was a real division.
In the dining hall--and it had to be that first year--I heard from one of my Black friends that there was going to be a demonstration in the dining hall that night at dinnertime. She told me the time it was going to be, and they were going to basically make a mess of the place. I got to the dining hall early. I told--what was her name? She was great--the head of the dining hall for all those years. She was really very good, who was British. I told her what was going to happen. We did everything like normal. We set the white tablecloths.
I had a table of Black students that I was serving. They ordered doubles of everything. I knew what was going to happen. First of all, the tray is really heavy. It's a silver tray, but ten plates is really heavy. You serve them the food. At exactly six o'clock, whatever the time was, where the Black students were located, they stood up and pulled off the tablecloths and all the food went flying. Mrs. whatever-her-name-was was standing in the middle of the dining room, going, [claps her hands slowly for maybe a minute]. She probably told her major supervisors about it, but nobody else knew. It was amazing. It was a mess. There was some of that, but I think it was really--I felt badly because Colleen and her roommate were really good friends and one of her friends, they were really good friends. The people in the dining hall I worked with were African American obviously, and we were friends. I tried to [say] hi a couple times in public and they would completely ignore you. We talked about it later. They said, "I can't recognize you because I'll get in trouble for hanging out or knowing a white person." That only happened really that one year, I think. It got better after that. I felt badly for everybody. I understand their anger about stuff going on, but it was hard. It was hard for everybody.
KR: As a student at Douglass, what were your perceptions of Livingston College?
JF: I liked Livingston. They were trying to be a futuristic college, based on everybody getting along, race relations, for instance, but it wasn't viewed as Communist or anything like that but the "new" education system. The faculty members and the deans who were there were there intentionally. Some of the students who were there were there intentionally for that reason. Others couldn't get into Rutgers College, so they went to Livingston. That didn't help because their academic standards weren't as high as Rutgers or Douglass. That was an issue. I had some friends over there. They were obviously more progressive than certainly Rutgers College people were. I took two courses over there. It was nice. The campus had gotten some grass by that point and a few brand-new trees. It was still a pretty ugly campus. It didn't get treated well--Bloustein was okay; he got the trees and other landscaping put in. Now, it's a gorgeous campus. Then, it was not, because Rutgers College always thought that they were better than everybody else.
KR: What were your perceptions of Rutgers College?
JF: They always thought they were better than everybody else. My husband went to Rutgers College, and Melanie Willoughby, who was in the first class of women in 1972, as I mentioned to you, she was the first woman Student Government Association (SGA) president, but there wasn't another one for eighteen years. There weren't as many women then in that class. I've talked to her about it. It was interesting. She was student council president in high school. She actually just got a job with the Murphy Administration as Director of the Business Action Center. She was a lobbyist in Trenton forever--BIA [Business & Industry Association], Food Council. She's really one of the best in Trenton. She got along with guys. She has two brothers.
Rutgers College people, I know when I was in the Senate, when I was doing exams before Christmas, they really weren't helping. There were a couple people that I worked with. Bill Huneke was a University Senator from Rutgers College, and a couple other people. The guys from Targum, I got along well with. Dean Paranicas [RC '73, NLAW '76] was editor of that. Paul Brown was an editor. One of my husband's best friends, John Berard, was sports editor.
My husband was unusual in Rutgers College SGA. My husband actually had the student government shut down. The SGA all quit except the president and treasurer. This was back in, I don't know, '72 or something, because he had proposed to have a government for Rutgers College that would include faculty, students and administrators. It was on the Rutgers College ballot but went down by a few votes; it was close. The whole SGA quit except for the president and the treasurer, Ted Molitoris and I forgot who the other guy is. Most of the guys active in the Rutgers Student Council, like Bob Torricelli--I knew him when he was a student here--it was more about them. They were pals. They were pals from the very beginning. It was different at Cook. It was different with the Livingston Student Government. It was different from University College Student Government, certainly Douglass and Camden and Newark. I worked with all of them. Rutgers College always thought they were better than everybody else, which was really annoying because they weren't.
KR: What were the discussions going on about Douglass possibly going coed at that time?
JF: I was treasurer of the student government. A woman named Sara Douglass was the president. There was a lot of talk about that. Margery Somers Foster, who was the dean, strongly and rightly, was against it. The student government was divided. I can't remember who the vice president was. I think she favored it. Sara was against it. I was against it. We took a vote, and the government association was against it but not unanimously. Some people thought, "Well, we should be equal and equal is going coed." No, no, we're far from equal. The faculty at Douglass were strongly for staying single sex. Bloustein came from Bennington, which was a women's college, and he has two daughters. He understood it, too. We were okay, but there was a push for that.
I found out later, for Rutgers College, it was an economic thing because a lot of guys wouldn't go to Rutgers College because they wanted to go to a coed school. So, they were losing guys because they were going to coeducational schools. For Rutgers to stay strong and maintain high scores, they had to go coed. Unfortunately, there are a lot of women that I know who went to Rutgers College, like I would have if I could have, who could have used Douglass to build up their self-confidence because, at Douglass, it's a community where, at that time, the faculty, the staff and the administrators, women's education was the priority. You were part of that community. That wasn't the case at Rutgers College. I would suggest it still isn't the case, although I think President Barchi and others would disagree, in this University. It still is the case at Douglass College, which is why the alumnae association fought so hard ten, twelve years ago to keep it when McCormick was eliminating the colleges, which was a huge mistake for the university as a whole because people are committed to their college community. The University is a great university. It's too big to be a community, especially where we're so geographically diverse. Rutgers University and the Rutgers Foundation lost a lot of contributions. When McCormick eliminated the colleges, the reduction in giving to [the] University by alumni went down significantly because they lost their connection to what was important to them. You are Rutgers. I was always very proud to be Rutgers. My brothers are Rutgers. I went to Rutgers Law School. Rutgers is my university, but Douglass was my community where I had the personal connection. People have loyalty to their smaller communities, like fraternities and other organizations. That was a big issue.
KR: I wanted to ask you about the traditions at Douglass College. Douglass has a bunch of traditions that continue to today. What were your favorite traditions?
JF: Well, we don't have Dad's Day anymore because I guess that's sexist. Dad's Day was fun because our dads would come and we'd do things with our dads. Obviously, Yule Log continues, which was pretty cool. That's really done by the students. It's a little bit different, but it's the same. Sacred Path, originally was really--it's still done, but it's done differently. Sacred Path is the path going basically from George Street up to College Hall, which was the original Douglass building where the first class lived and studied, and came back down to George Street. It's an oval going up from George Street. The first-year students weren't allowed to walk on Sacred Path until they were sophomores. At the Sacred Path ceremony in the spring, after that, they were allowed to walk on the path.
When I was there my first year--actually, you've got to talk to this woman, Kay Turner, actually, the first out-lesbian I ever met. She's so cool. Such an artist. Just a really cool person. You really have to [interview] her. She's one of the coolest people, probably the most unique person at Douglass ever. Very cool. Very smart. Our first semester, we're walking to the library, the three of us, Ann, Cindy and me, and there's nobody else around. Kay is there in her fur coat with her long hair. She puts a microphone into our faces, and she says, "What does your heart sound like?" I'm like, "Whoa." Luckily, my college roommate who is pre-med gives a heart sound. Cindy does and then I do too. I have no idea! So, that was Kay. She was in charge of Sacred Path our year. It was completely unique. She had elephant footprints in bright paint colors all the way up and down this asphalt Sacred Path. Then, she had a pig roast. It was really wild. That was the wildest Sacred Path they've probably ever had. That tradition ended sometime in the '60s or maybe before that, where you couldn't walk on it, but they still did the Sacred Path ceremony at the end of every spring semester. They still do it now. Alumni come. The classes "move up." That's pretty cool. They do it differently, but they still do it basically at the same time of the year.
There are a lot of things that we don't do now, mostly which are good and stopped--when I was there. In the dining halls, you had the white tablecloths. You also had to wear skirts. That stopped in the late '60s because what the women were doing then--I guess '66 to '69--they wore jeans. So, in old Cooper Dining Hall, in the basement, they had all these bookshelves that nobody used anymore and coat racks. They would have these ratty skirts they'd throw behind these things and they would roll up their jeans and put the skirt on over the jeans. So, that stopped in the late '60s. When we got our notice about coming and what we were supposed to do our first year, in September of '70, we were told to bring white gloves for the dean's reception and for the president's reception. Being goody two shoes, I was one of probably six or seven people out of the whole class, and there were, I don't know, six hundred or seven hundred, that brought the white gloves. What we did was, those five or seven pair of gloves, we handed them down, one glove every other student, so that when they shook Dean Foster's hand they had a glove, but they all used the same five or seven pairs of gloves. That was the last year that happened. There were funny things. The president's reception, we just didn't take the gloves. We went over to Bloustein's--was it Bloustein's house? Who the heck was the acting president? Whoever the acting president was because Gross was out. It was somebody who was acting. Bloustein came in a year later.
KR: Maybe Dick Schlatter. [Editor's Note: Richard Schlatter served as the provost from 1962 to 1971. He served as the acting president of Rutgers University after Mason Gross retired and before Ed Bloustein became president.]
JF: Maybe. Beautiful house, that's what impressed me, but we didn't do the gloves there. Well, obviously, you had in loco parentis. We have to be in by eleven or ten o'clock, whatever it was, on weeknights, by midnight or something on the weekends. In Corwin, it wasn't so bad because it was a small house with seventeen students, and there were only three or four first-year students. So, we got away with it after the first night when we tried to sneak in a window. Then, the sophomores said, "Just knock on the door, we'll let you in." In the big dormitories, it was tough because you got in trouble if you came in late. We never had that problem. Then, they eliminated the curfew after the first year. Same thing with the dining hall and the tablecloths, because at all the dining halls at Rutgers, people wanted raises. Obviously, we were serving less meals because we were serving them for dinner, so that ended in the fall of '71. What else? That was a lot.
KR: The discipline system was called the honor system.
JF: Oh, yes. The honor system. That stopped basically because of Rutgers College guys and cross registration. So, we had the honor system, which means that you're not to cheat and you're supposed to report somebody if they're doing something they're not supposed to, by the honor code. That's what you did. A lot of schools had that, male schools and women schools. When we started the cross registration though, like in '72, I remember I had a music course, a classical musical course. So, you go to the laboratory, you listen to Beethoven, Bach and all that. Then, at the exam, they played you selections. You have to say who the composer was and I think maybe what the piece was. You had these Rutgers guys from some frick and frack fraternity sitting behind me trying to cheat off of me. This is one of the big halls in Hickman. So, I got up and moved. We had to do away with the honor system because some of the Rutgers College students cheated. The Douglass College students didn't cheat. That's basically why we had to do away with it. We also had a judicial board that would handle those, but there were other violations as well, but it was really due to the cross-registration thing that the honor code went away in my mind.
KR: Interesting. Did you have a junior "Big Sister" when you were a freshman?
JF: Yes. They gave us a pair of red underwear that they crocheted into it--what the heck did it say? It's really a very cute, funny saying. I can't remember it. I've got to write that down and let you know that because that was funny as hell. "Wisdom and self-control." "Wisdom and self-control," and this red pair of underwear that your sophomore sister would needlepoint into. "Wisdom and self-control." That was the last year for that. I got mine in September of '70. I still have it somewhere. It was definitely a pair I wouldn't wear because it was a very flimsy red. It's red underwear and it's, "Wisdom and self-control." Mine was an African American woman who lived on the second floor. She was just wonderful and now I can't remember her name. That gift was pretty funny. In our house, in Corwin-X, there were so few of us that really everybody helped us. It was harder for the--in the big dorms, they weren't just all first-year dorms yet, so it did work better with those. We were basically taken care of by the whole house.
KR: Earlier, in the 1960s and the 1950s, incoming freshmen had to wear a costume.
JF: The dinks. I had my green dink. I still have my green dink. It was the last year for green dinks too, I think. Red dinks, I think were for sophomores. Green dinks were first-year students. I think that Class of '74 was probably the last class to have dinks.
KR: Would you have to wear it when you went to class?
JF: No, but we thought we did. Same thing with the white gloves. Stupid people like me, who are goody two shoes, you believe all that. I bought the white gloves and I actually got the dink. A lot of people, I don't think, got the dink. I bought the dink. The dinks went by the wayside. The early '70s was just a huge change in the University.
KR: What would you wear on a typical day when you were a student?
JF: That was real easy. Except for my husband, everybody wore blue jeans, typically bell-bottoms, and t-shirts. Some women would go braless. Some people wore bras. I tried braless; didn't work. I don't have a big chest, but you need bras. I tried bare feet. I had long hair, parted down the middle, no bangs, straight down. I could almost sit on it.
KR: Wow, yes.
JF: That's what most people wore. Somewhere in October, I stepped on some glass, so I started wearing flip-flops or sneakers, but that's what almost everybody wore.
My husband, interestingly enough, at Rutgers College, never wore jeans. It was polyester back then, I guess, typically bell-bottoms with a belt, but he also would wear button-down shirts. He didn't wear t-shirts. He was a weird dude, very cool though. We all thought he was very cool. He had really long hair pulled back and the beard and the whole thing, but a well-groomed beard. Everybody else wore jeans and t-shirts.
When I had to go to University Senate meetings--in GA meetings, I would still wear jeans--I went to University Senate meetings and then I went to the Board of Governors meetings. I obviously had to buy some clothes. I didn't have a lot because I didn't have any money. I did dress decently for them because I was representing students and you don't know what the faculty and the administrators would think of you, so I dressed decently for that. But for classes, you just wore jeans and t-shirts. I had a lot of underwear because there was a washer and dryer in the basement, but I would go home every two months. I had easily thirty pairs of underwear. I had a couple pairs of jeans. I probably had maybe eight or ten t-shirts and some bras. That's about it. You didn't need anything.
KR: How often did you talk to your mother and father?
JF: Well, we had a payphone in the house for seventeen people. The first year, the four of us, and then three of us the second semester were on the first floor. We had to answer the phone and I'd yell for people. I would talk to them once a week. The first semester, I had a boyfriend at home, so I would go home maybe once a month. My parents would pick me up. Then, we broke up, or he broke up with me. Then, I didn't go home that much, and I was getting involved at Rutgers. I would take my wash home. My mother would do it for me. It's not like today.
I've been going to graduations at Douglass since 1990, I guess. It's fascinating to watch how shoe styles change. Right now, they're back to, actually miniskirts are back in, as well as the wedge shoes. I have a pair of wedge shoes that I technically wore for my wedding reception because I had to wear white heels, but I used them during the reception because they were comfortable. They could be shoes today. I really liked graduations because you see what people are wearing. The smart ones aren't wearing heels because they're walking on grass. I know for my first date, I actually went downtown and bought a pair of corduroy bell-bottoms, a leather, brown buckle belt, a striped shirt with a couple buttons. I bought that for my first date. Everybody wore basically the same thing.
KR: That first date, was it with a Rutgers College student?
JF: Of course. It was always with a Rutgers College student. I dated a bunch of guys. Jim Klein was my first date--actually, my second date. The first guy was Loomis, which was the private school he went to, which is where we smoked the pot, first semester. I was seeing him, but it wasn't really a date. My first date was with Jim Klein who was a really nice guy, second semester. I actually got to go with him and his fraternity--first time I was at Carnegie Hall--to see Chicago. It was a great concert. I'm into music and brass. I had wanted to play the trumpet. We had great seats. I guess one of their alumni from the fraternity got them. That was pretty cool. I dated a couple other guys. Nothing really heavy duty because I carried mail the summer of '71 in Wildwood--first female letter carrier ever. I've got stories on that one. I met a guy, Brian Russell, who was from Wildwood Crest, grew up there, who also worked, [and] started dating him. He went to Dickinson. Actually, that year I wasn't dating anybody my sophomore year because I was seeing him every once in a while. I didn't date a lot because I was really busy with college.
I asked my husband out the spring of '75. I had a crush on him for a while, as did my other friends--student government people and others. We all thought he was living with someone because when you would call his apartment a woman would answer the phone frequently. I might have mentioned that he was in charge of the anti-tuition increase movement, so everybody knew who he was. We figured he was living with a girlfriend. Ends up, it wasn't his girlfriend. It was John Berard's, who was the sports editor of the Targum, girlfriend, Diane Kiesel, who was a Caellian editor at Douglass, who is now a criminal judge in New York City. It was her. When I found that out, I'm like, "Cool." So, I actually asked him [at] a University Senate meeting to go see, I think it was, War and Peace in the Rutgers Student Center, and he stood me up. He had an excuse. I thought he was lying at the time, but he had a good excuse. I had a private dining room set to meet with my friends the next day at lunch to tell them how the date went. I had to go and tell them that he stood me up. That was not easy. He had a good excuse. I found out later, when we started staying together, which was quite a bit later, he could sleep through anything because he's one of fourteen kids. So, he was sick and had slept through my calls.
KR: When was your first date with him?
JF: Two weeks later, we had a real date. That would have been March of '75. I asked him to the 25th anniversary of Rutgers being The State University. They had a big dinner at Brower Commons, the whole downstairs. Because I was Student Rep of the Board of Governors, I was invited and sitting with the Board of Governors, and I was allowed to bring somebody. So, I brought Steve. This is our first official date. I got along with all the members of the board. I actually walked out--Rutgers gives you something to remember the event by--I walked out with six of the special keepsake glasses because I asked some members of the Board of Governors if I could have theirs. We went over with Bloustein to the dance marathon, which was then at The Barn. Bloustein and I were dancing with the dance marathon people. That was a lot of fun. Then, we went back to Steve's apartment on Huntington Street, and we got to know each other better. This was when I found out he was one of fourteen, and we talked a lot. That was pretty cool.
KR: That is really interesting. What music did you listen to?
JF: I didn't have any money. My first year, the only albums I bought were James Taylor and Carole King. Those two albums, I know every word to every song. My roommate had a couple other albums, but I was really into those. I listened to Chicago. Somebody had Chicago. Who else is big? Well, Moody Blues. Van Morrison. Who sang "Bye, bye Miss American Pie?"
KR: Don McLean.
JF: Yes. He had a concert at The Barn.
KR: Did you go to it?
JF: It was so cool. The whole Barn, 2,500, three thousand, whatever fits in there, was singing that with him. It was amazing. Van Morrison was also at the Barn. At the Rutgers Stadium, there was a really good one with a really famous group from back then. Who the heck was it? Was it the Moody Blues? I don't know if it was the Moody Blues. It was somebody else. It was a great concert at the stadium. I would go to all those. I also went to every single Rutgers men's basketball game because there wasn't really a famous women's team. There was a team and most of them were Douglass students, but Title IX was in '72 I think. So, it started getting--obviously--we have really great Olympic teams and soccer teams and all that's because of Title IX. We would never have them but for that. At that point, I was in student government, and I had a bad knee. So, I didn't do any sports. I think I went to one Rutgers women's basketball game because a friend was playing, but it wasn't like it has been in the last thirty-some years. I went to all the men's games. I went to almost all the football games, because they were free.
KR: Do any big moments stand out in basketball or football?
JF: Oh, yes. That was THE basketball team. The Rutgers BIG team was then. We went to the Final Four when I was in law school. They were really, really good. I remember one game--the games at The Barn--I feel sorry for the other teams that come into The Barn because it's nuts. One game, I don't remember who it was and I don't remember what year, but the Rutgers fans, every time the opposing team would dribble, you would count the dribbles, "One. Two ..." The whole Barn would be doing this. It really threw people off. The next game, the officials come out, and they announce this happened at the last game. [He] announces, "If this happens this time, Rutgers will forfeit the game." So, we only did that one game. When I was sick and I was in the infirmary, I listened to the games on the radio. You could still visualize it because I loved basketball, Phil Sellers and Eddie Jordan--they were just fantastic. Actually, one of them is on the Rutgers Board of Trustees, Hollis Copeland. He's obviously a big guy, but he's really good too. I was so happy when Phil Sellers … [Editor's Note: Two-time All American Phil Sellers and Hollis Copeland, RC '78, helped lead the men's basketball team to the 1976 Final Four. Sellers is the all-time leader in scoring and rebounding in men's basketball history at Rutgers. Tom Young coached the men's basketball team at Rutgers from 1973 to 1985. Richard "Dick" Lloyd coached the team from 1971 to 1973.]
JF: [Dick] Lloyd was the first coach. He had been a college player. I talked to him a lot after he left coaching. Also, Gene Armstead--his wife is a Douglass grad. You might want to talk to him. He actually did a talk for the AADC on family history, how to search your family history, genealogy. He was on the team when it started to go big time.
JF: And Hollis is great. He's a trustee and he's a great guy. Rutgers basketball was really fun.
I actually remember when I was in law school, Princeton and Rutgers were playing. It was, I think, a really big game with both teams ranked. It was a really bad snow storm. I'm driving up from South Jersey up 295. It was at Princeton. Ice all over 295. I saw three jackknifed trucks that were already jackknifed. I saw one truck jackknife, and I decide to get off, except I skidded past the two exits. I couldn't get off. I figured I might as well keep going until I have my accident because there were cars all over the place. I actually got to Princeton without an accident. There were a lot of people not at the game, but I went to that game. Rutgers dramatically won! I just loved basketball. I knew basketball. Even on the radio, when I was sick, you could actually see what was happening [because] the announcers were so good. They were a great team. They were just a great team. I don't know if it was Dick Lloyd or who was the coach, but boy, that was an amazing year--couple of years, actually.
KR: What else would you do for fun?
JF: I did the sports spectator thing. I did the student government. I would dance. I would go party. I never liked sororities. Douglass never had nor needed them. I never wanted to have sororities. I really didn't like fraternities that much either because they're little clique groups, but I went to the fraternities that I had a couple friends in and that had good bands. I would go with a couple of girlfriends, and we would dance with ourselves. A guy would cut in, and we would dance with him. I loved to go and dance. I went to whatever football or basketball games they had. I did go to some rugby games, which they did on Antilles Field at Douglass--vicious sport, really hard-hitting. I didn't like it that much because I thought people were going to get hurt. I went to talks and Little Theatre plays that they had. If they had a concert, I would go--concerts were always free back then. I went canoeing a couple times on the canal but not a lot. I always meant to, but you had to get somebody who had a canoe.
I had a dog for a while because I saved her. She was laying in the middle of the street, Nichol Avenue, when I was going to the dining hall. I took her out of the street. When I came out after dinner an hour later, she was back on the street. It was before Thanksgiving. I put my scarf around her as a leash, took her back to the dorm, and kept her overnight. I called up the SPCA [Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals]. I called the police. I thought she was pregnant. She was a big hound dog. It ends up, she was just old and had been fixed. I thought she was pregnant. It was a week or so before Thanksgiving. They had a rule. They would keep [her] for x-amount of days, like seven days or ten days, and then they euthanize [the animal]. Thanksgiving was coming. I was going to be picked up. I said, "Can you hold her for whatever days and then my mother will take her home?" because I talked to my mother. The guy says, "No, we have a rule." So, I said, "How about if I take her home and if somebody claims her, she can go back to her family?" The guy didn't want--so, I talked to the boss's boss, and we took her home. Nobody ever claimed her. I had Shayna for a while. One of the women in Corwin named her. She was Jewish and it was Shayna [Maidel] something, but I couldn't remember the something. It means "nice little girl" in Yiddish. My mother had that dog, Shayna, forever. I brought her back a couple times, but technically you couldn't have a pet in the dorm. You'd walk around campus. It was a really good time in my life.
KR: I wanted to ask about your interactions with Dean Foster.
JF: Margery Somers Foster. I was afraid of her for the longest time because she was in the military, and she was [an] economics professor. She was tough. She looked intimidating. Her house, the Dean's House, is one side of the street and I would walk down from Corwin. If I saw her, I would make sure I was on the other side of the street.
I got to know her really well because when we were fighting to save Douglass College from going coed, I got to know her a little bit because I was treasurer of the student government. The Executive Committee met with her, but I was pretty quiet. I got to know her really well after I was sick because she went to bat for me with the faculty and it wasn't any problem. I cat sat for her for two years. She was in that beautiful, beautiful house. I would cat sit for her, I guess when I was GA president and then when I was [on the] Board of Governors because I liked cats and it was a gorgeous house. I used to slide down the bannister. Once, when we had a blackout on campus--I don't think I ever told her about this--I let students from Jameson sleep on the floor of the Dean's House. I don't think I ever told her about it. She got me to drink sherry. First time I really got to talk to her--did you ever hear of Ruth Dill Johnson Crockett?
JF: Okay. Douglass grad. She was one of the Johnson brothers' wives. Do you know about her history?
KR: No, I do not.
JF: So, Jimmy Neilson at Woodlawn was her uncle. She grew up in the Caribbean somewhere--Bermuda, I think. When she was eighteen, she came to stay with Uncle Jimmy. She met the Johnson boys and married one of them. The castle across the river--have you been there? There's a castle. Now, the nursing home is next to it, and they're building some houses. That was their property. He built that castle for her when they got married, with the gates and a little gatehouse. Most of his kids were her kids. Then, he divorced her. He then divorced his second wife for the maid. Ruth got some money, but she also got all that property. She went back to school then, which is almost unheard of back then. She went to Douglass. Obviously, she commuted from her castle.
Dean Foster took five of us student government officers over to their place. She had married Phil Crockett. Phil Crockett, a really smart guy, Rhodes Scholar, Oxford, no money. She had the money. We had dinner with the two of them and the dean. I bonded with them somehow. They invited me back. For the next couple years, and even in law school, I would go over and have dinner with them. The second time I went to have dinner with them, just me with them--I'm from Maple Shade--we're sitting at the table, she rings this little bell, a woman comes in and puts a plate of food in front of each of us, and there is liver, scalloped potatoes and Brussel sprouts. Now, I like Brussel sprouts now; I hated them then. Scalloped potatoes were okay. I hated liver. My father liked it. I would not eat it. I ate it all. They were just a lovely couple. Foster set me up with them. Ruth Crockett was amazing, as was her husband. He lived to 104.
KR: What would you talk about with her and her husband?
JF: Everything. Actually, the first time I flew on an airplane, actually, was when I was sixteen. I took the train to Florida to stay with my grandparents and I flew back. That was when I was sixteen. Other than that, I'd never flown.
One day, Mrs. Crockett got a car service to pick us up, took us to Newark Airport. We flew to Boston for the day. We walked the Freedom Trail, had a nice lunch, and then we flew back, [and took] car service back to her place. Very cool lady. Still beautiful. If you look at her picture over at the building named after her, the Ruth Dill Johnson Crockett Building, she was just a beautiful woman. You can see why Johnson fell in love with her. She was very funny and really smart. But Mr. Crockett, when she wasn't with us, would talk to me about, "You need to go to a law school where the rich people go because you can love somebody with money as well as you can love somebody without money." I know that they were clearly in love because I spent time with them.
He wanted me to do what he did and marry rich. He was so funny. I had Steve come over to meet with them when we decided to get married. Mr. Crockett, when I saw him later when she went someplace, told me, while Steve was a nice young man, how disappointed he was. [laughter] So, [Steve and I] invited them to our wedding, which was at Kirkpatrick [Chapel], but they didn't come. They sent us a very lovely gift. What the heck did they send us? I don't remember. It was a very lovely gift, but they did not come because Mr. Crockett was not happy.
I would still go visit him afterwards. She died when she was eighty-seven or eighty-nine. He still lived there in the gatehouse. He went blind. This was a guy who read all the time. I talked to him about Braille books. He wouldn't do that, but I took him books on tape because they were starting up back then. He still did all his books on tape. Then, he sold the property to the Parker Home, and they built a new senior facility there. He got his own room. He was there until he died. Well, he didn't die until 104. Dean Foster and I went over twice to visit him, the three of us. I would go visit him every month or so because our birthday was the same birthday, May 30th. He was also a Memorial Day baby. I took the dean over twice, but the first time we went over--and he had been blind for years--I'm talking to him. I said, "I have somebody special with me." He said, "Who's that?" Margery Somers Foster was sitting next to him. She picked up his hand and said something to him. He just got a big smile on his face because he was just--the two of them were just great. They talked for an hour or more. It was very sweet. So, it was kind of sad when she left him.
Dean Foster told me that she brought Bloustein here. He was from Bennington, so he understood women's colleges. He had daughters. He had a professional wife. [It would] be good for Douglass. She met him on a plane and talked to him on a plane or at some conference, so she got him to apply. Ironically, she left Douglass because of Bloustein--and she fought to keep Douglass separate. They were fighting over dormitories. Cook wanted one of our big dormitories because Cook was growing. She was fighting him on it, and she lost. She finally left Douglass when Bloustein took away the faculty from Douglass. We did form the Cook-Douglass Pub, and she supported me on that. It was at the Douglass Center for a long time and beat out the dean of students of Cook. What was I saying?
KR: You were talking about Dean Foster bringing Bloustein in.
JF: She actually left as dean with my class in '75 because she was so angry at Bloustein because of the faculty merger. I think there were other things she was concerned he was going to do. So, she taught at the business school in Newark for a while. And, she was an honorary member of the Class of '75, but she wouldn't talk to him after that, which was a shame because they were both really good people. I guess she didn't get the concept of substance and taking it personally or maybe she just was sick of the substance part because he was the boss; she wasn't.
She had a family home in Francestown, New Hampshire, where she lived after she finally retired. She also had a home in Big Sur, California. She also had a home on an island off of Portland, Maine. Helen Davis, who was the head of the Willets Center, the doctor in charge of the Willets Center, when I was sick, I was very friendly with her. Ms. Foster actually has a big rambling home--I have not been there, although she invited me many times--in Francestown. So, Helen Davis was there in one part and Foster in the other part. Helen was a little bit younger. She was a doctor, so she also helped her out.
Foster was just so cool--a good sense of humor. I remember the first time I ever tried sherry. She was into sherry. She had a sherry cabinet. When I had the students stay there that one night, some of them drank her sherry and I got very upset because I didn't have the money to replace the sherry. I told her I had some people over. I didn't tell her forty students. I said, "I'm sorry, Dean, but somebody drank your sherry." She was kind of a formal person. I think it was probably the military part of her. She was really smart and she really understood, I guess because she was in the military, how women are so discriminated against. She was a really good economist, from what I'm told. She was impressive. But for Foster, we probably would have been coed.
KR: Dean Jewel Plummer Cobb came in after that. Did you ever meet her or have any interaction with her?
JF: Yes, some. I was on the alumnae board, the AADC board. I would go to a lot of Douglass events. I didn't know her well. I know people who are friends of mine who were her students. They all loved her. It was really good to have an African American scientist because you need those role models. She was a good person. I don't know if she was a great dean, but she was a good person. Nancy Richards was her dean of students, which was good because she had been there a long, long time. Charlie Woolfolk was still her academic dean, and he was really great. So, she was very well-respected. It was a shame she got dementia later on. She wasn't young when she got it, but it was still sad because you have deans come back for things and she couldn't, but everybody liked her.
KR: You talked about being a letter carrier one summer.
JF: Three summers.
KR: Three summers.
JF: I got through Douglass with no loans.
KR: Tell me about this job.
JF: I took the civil service test, which, for the post office, originally was the regular civil service test in 1970, and I got a ninety-nine. Now, the plan was that summer I was going to be in Wildwood Crest and Wildwood with my high school friend Colleen Murray, who went to Douglass, who wanted to be an actress. There were twelve girls, who all graduated from Merchantville High School together, with Colleen's mother. Crazy woman, but she was a great lady. She died eating scalloped potatoes from a can with her son there and choked to death, horrible. What a great woman. Anyway, she had a house, a big house, that she rented for the summer in Wildwood. So, we're twelve nineteen-year-old girls, a sixteen-year-old brother of Colleen's, who just loved it, and then Mrs. Murray, and her husband, who would come down on weekends. Several of us got a job at a brand-new restaurant that was going to open that hadn't opened yet. Colleen got a job at, at that point, the newest hotel that had a recreation program, being in charge of children's programs because she was dating the owner, Morey--Morey's Piers--his son, she was dating him. So, she had normal hours. I needed money, so I was also chambermaiding. I was going to be a chambermaid and waitress. That was the plan. I was chambermaiding for two weeks, and my friend Nancy Mitchell was my roommate. We shared a double bed.
I got a call from the post office because I came up on the list. So, I go down there, and they have me take a driving test. Remember, sex discrimination, I don't see too much of. The guy takes me out in this big truck, which luckily was automatic--they're all automatic, but I didn't know that because I thought I'd be in deep trouble--with the mirrors on the side. No rearview mirror because you can't see out the back. I'm driving around while he's telling me when to turn to see how I would drive. At one point, he says to me, "Okay. Make a left here." I put on my blinking lights. "Stop." He was having me turn left onto a one-way street intentionally, which I didn't see. I passed the driving test anyway.
I start at the post office. [I was] the first female letter carrier in Wildwood's history. For instance, miniskirts were in. Men carriers, at the time, were wearing Bermuda shorts to their knees. But, I couldn't wear Bermuda shorts because I was a girl. I had to wear a skirt. I was wearing miniskirts. The longest one I could find was here. Try to bend down at a postbox like that. I'm very competitive, and I was very athletic. Luckily, the supervisor was good. The union got on my case, but the supervisor was good. My first day, he says, "Okay. Here's your mail. Here's a map. Somebody sorted it all in order. You don't have to do that. Just deliver it. Come back at any time. The last guy that started two weeks ago, got back after nine o'clock at night. That door is always open. There's always somebody here. Don't worry about it." So, I'm moving fast. I get back, in hindsight, very stupidly, at five of four. They all check out at four. So, all the carriers are waiting at the clock to clock out at four o'clock. I come walking in--I'm not cocky or anything. I just said, "Hi," and went over to my locker. I'm getting my stuff and the head of the union comes over and starts screaming at me, that I am, "Making them look bad." The rest of the summer, I had one-and-a-half mail routes, plus the six AM mail pickup. I have a lot of stories about that.
Two years later, I carried mail in--was it Delran or Willingboro? I think Willingboro was next. My first day out, when I had two more blocks to do, I sat and read magazines for an hour and a half, and got back at five-thirty. I did that in Delran the next time too because I realized, "I ain't going to go through that again." It was a great job. There was sexual harassment to a degree. There was that, early six o'clock mail for which I did the top half of the island, so the center of Wildwood up to North Wildwood, all the mailboxes. Then, I would go and do my route. Have you done the Wildwood boardwalk at all?
KR: Yes, I have been there.
JF: Okay. In the middle of the boardwalk, it goes like this and there's a store there. At least there was. All glass window storefront, postcards, knickknacks and other souvenirs. Right where that is, there is a ramp going down. At the time, there were three, maybe four, telephone booths and the mailbox. It's the last stop on my mail pickup. Then, I go down the ramp, and the post office is four blocks away. I am literally--this is the end of July--setting a new record for the six AM mail pickup because I'm competitive. They all liked me at that point in time. I'm going ten miles an hour at the most. A bunch of kids, maybe four or five kids on bicycles come up the ramp. I'm like, "Shit." I just took my foot off the gas. I didn't break. I should have. I swung over to the right a little bit. The bumper hit the glass window at the bottom and it cracked from the bottom up. I'm thinking, "Oh, drat. Well, I'll just go back, get the mail back there and tell my supervisor." So, I back up to go, the whole window falls. It's a big window. Half falls into the store, half falls out into the boardwalk. I'm like, "Oh, drat." Store is totally open. It's seven AM in the morning. There are two older men on the boardwalk. One says, "Lady driver." So, I go to the telephone booth and I call my supervisor and get him and I tell him. He said, "Well, I'll come right over and I'm going to call the police." I said, "Please get here before the police." He didn't. So, the police got there. The supervisor got there. I took the mail back. It was a Monday or Tuesday. The rest of that week, the Wildwood police would follow me around on my mail route and with their loudspeaker would say to people, like at a shopping center, "Watch out for the lady driver." It was horrible. It was embarrassing, but it was a great job and I made good money because you make a hell of a lot more money. I did that two other summers.
KR: That is how you paid your way through college.
JF: Yes, and a thousand dollars per year scholarship and I worked in the dining hall. I was fine. I had no loans. Then, the post office was going more independent and they didn't do the civil service test, the regular one. They had the post office test. I took that to do the other two. That summer of '71, to celebrate this change in the postal system, all of the postal workers went to the Atlantic City racetrack for a Crosby, Stills & Nash concert. Though it poured rain, it was a lot of fun. It was a good job. The dogs could be a problem. I have a lot of dog stories. Other than those couple of sexual harassments and having to wear a skirt that was a miniskirt, it was a great job. Now, I was the first [woman] letter carrier in either Willingboro or Delran and the second one in the other one.
KR: You mention having to deal with sexual harassment. What were the incidents?
JF: Dealt with having to wear a skirt because I'm a girl was ridiculous--I should have been able to wear shorts--and that a girl could make them look bad. Now, if I was a guy, I bet it wouldn't have been that big a deal, right? It's that kind of thing. It was never anything direct.
My only direct sexual harassment experience was really something that I never really considered sexual harassment. When I was at the Board of Public Utilities, I was a law clerk there in '76, started as an attorney in '81, then became a deputy director and director. They used to have picnics. I chaired the picnic committee that whole time. I think I was probably director of the water division, but the guy who was the number two chief counsel, so I knew him when I was a law clerk in '76 and he was one of my bosses from '81 to '85, and he was a brilliant guy, went to UVA [University of Virginia] Law School, a brilliant lawyer, the best we had. So, he's on the picnic committee. We're taking a picture at the picnic, and he's tall, he's standing behind me. We had the picnic committee of maybe fifteen people. I'm in the front middle. He's behind me. Right when the guy takes the picture, he goes like this to me (put his hands around me and cupped my breasts). Now, he is a funny guy, and he meant it to be funny. It wasn't at all to be sexual. It was to be funny. I turned around and I said, "Come on, Mike. Give me a break." I didn't really consider that sexual harassment, but today it would be considered sexual harassment. I wouldn't have done it to a guy. That was really the only sexual thing that ever happened to me. I think it's because I might intimidate people. Like I said, my friend who was gay, we were friends from junior high schools all the way through when we were in high school, told my brother and I he was gay and I was the only woman he was ever interested in. I don't know. Or because I act like one of the boys. When there's stuff going on in Trenton with some state senator who was harassing a lot of women or was making moves on a lot of women, I know this guy--he never made any moves on me. Maybe it's just my personality, where I'm too guy-like. I don't know. I never really had any issues, except for the type of thing like physics, drums, that kind of thing, but never a sexual harassment. It's just biases.
KR: We talked before about how you played the French horn, but you could not play at Rutgers.
JF: Maybe I could have at the point when girls and women were allowed at Rutgers in '72-'73. It actually would have been '71-'72. I was already in student government, and then I was sick. I didn't have an instrument anymore.
KR: Were there any other incidents like that at Rutgers, where you were discriminated against based on being a woman?
JF: Well, when we weren't allowed to sit in the pre-law session that day. I don't think anything direct. Probably nothing that's direct. There's a lot of subconscious biases we have for women and for people of color. In our society, it's mostly a subconscious bias. So, I think most people aren't consciously biased. So, when I was in college, I saw a movie called Watermelon Man. Have you ever heard of it? [Editor's Note: Godfrey Cambridge starred in the 1970 film directed by Melvin Van Peebles entitled Watermelon Man.]
JF: You should watch it. It's from the early '70s, I don't know. The movie starts--I'm watching it by myself, maybe I was babysitting somebody, I don't know--he's in white face. He's a businessman in a suburban community. He has a wife. He has a dog. He has a couple of kids. He gets up in the morning. He shaves. He has a quick breakfast. Running out, his wife hands him his briefcase, and the bus goes by his suburban house. He runs through the suburban neighborhood to a bus stop, tries to beat the bus. He clearly does it every morning. Then, he's at work. Then, he comes home. The next day, he wakes up, he's going to shave. He's Black. "Oh, my God, what happened?" He says, "Well, I've got a lot to do today. I'm just going to go. I don't care." He says, "Hi" to his kids. They're like, "What the heck?" "I don't know. I'll talk to a doctor about it." The dog barks at him; never barked at him before. His wife gives him the briefcase. He said, "I'll call the doctor when I'm in the office." The bus passes and he runs through the neighborhood. He gets arrested by cops because he's a Black guy running through a white neighborhood. You get a "click" every once in a while. I got a click saying, "OMG, I must be racist. When I see a Black kid running, I think he's running from something. When I see a white kid running, I think he's running to something."
I realized later, after reading some studies/reports and actually a couple other things that happened, courses and programs that I go to, that I'm not racist, but I definitely have my biases. That's what we grow up with if you grow up in the American culture. Almost everywhere you've got those biases. From that point on, I try to keep it in the front of my head about it because you've got to remind yourself of it all the time. For women, we all have our biases and biases are still there when it comes to most teachers, whether it's in elementary school or colleges, that the teachers, even though they don't think they're anti-women, they still have their biases. They still call on boys more and all that kind of thing. I think most educated people, you have to realize that you have biases, that you were raised that way. My father gradually changed because in Philly he worked with Black guys. Well, those guys were great because they were his friends at Bell Telephone. He worked with them. It ended up, a guy who had beaten him up in high school was a Black kid from Moorestown. So, he had that bias. That's the only Black kid he knew. The guys he worked with, they were his friends, some of his best friends.
I took a course at Harvard in the summer of '91. It's a JFK program for executives in state and local government. Prudential at that time gave one scholarship for one employee from New Jersey to go--it's a three-week program. The Florio Administration's Chief of Staff, Jamie Fox (no relation), who was a friend, let me go. I was the only person from New Jersey. There were probably twenty-five, thirty in the class at the most, including the secretary of state from Louisiana, the head of welfare in Washington State, a councilman of Boston, who ended up being the first Italian mayor of Boston, Tom Menino. I hung out with those three guys. For a couple of days, the program head, the professor who put the program together, came in because there was a class in June and there's a class in July. We were the July class. The program did this racial bias session in June and had a white woman professor and an African American male professor do it together. They ended up fighting in front of the class. So, it was a heavy-duty thing. He--the program head--did it himself for our class. Out of those twenty-five, thirty people in there, almost everybody came out--and it was a couple of days on this--understanding their biases a lot better, but there were three white men in there, who came out, I think, more biased because they don't get it, they thought that they're not racist, all this kind of stuff, which clearly wasn't true, but it was real heavy duty. That's the kind of thing Harvard did back in '91 that we need to have done in more places. There are more places doing that now. It was an intense course. So, the people who realized that you do have those biases but that you shouldn't, it helped us, but those three guys who walked out of there, who were obviously much more racist, I think became more racist because they weren't going to admit to it. This country's got to deal with racism, including what's been going on for the last couple of years, we clearly have to deal with it. It's gotten really worse for some people.
KR: Is there anything you want to add about your years at Douglass, anything we skipped over?
JF: Let me see. Last night, I was waking up and I was writing stuff down.
JF: Let me see. Douglass. We talked about the president's reception, in loco parentis--oh, men in the room. In addition to in loco parentis, we could have men in your dorm. They had to leave at nine o'clock, whatever it was, but if a man was in your room, the door had to stay open, which obviously makes a lot of sense. Actually, men weren't allowed in the dorms for a long time--not until, I think, 1972.
Talk about bomb scares, bomb scares. Bomb scares were big. Bomb scares were really big. That's how I first got into my first fraternity. We had bomb scares fairly routinely. When there was a bomb scare called in, you have to evacuate the dormitories and then you have to go someplace. We'd go to the Student Center, but there's too many people. You ended up staying at a fraternity. I stayed at a fraternity, I think, three times during bomb scares. After a while, you get to be friends, and they just say, "Come on in." The bomb scares were interesting. The other thing that was interesting that wasn't just--I don't know if that happened at Rutgers or just at Douglass, but we had at least three to four bomb scares, maybe more. After a while, they didn't clear the dorm. Then, there was streaking. Have you heard of streaking?
JF: A lot of streaking going on. That was mostly at Rutgers, probably at Livingston, but at Douglass it happened a couple times. I'm in Jameson. I think I was the GA president. I was lucky my last two years because I was a "big person" on campus, I got a single room in Jameson, which could have held three people. It is the best room on campus. I had the same room two years in a row. It was right by the College Center and by Cooper Dining [Hall]. It was great. Somebody else, who had really long dark brown hair and I guess about my size, streaked or whatever it was around the tennis courts there and then into a dorm. Word got around it was me. Now, I freaking never would have done that. Although I got a kick out of people doing it, I never would have done that. So, I had to keep people [informed as to] where I was and all. But streaking was pretty cool. The bomb scares were actually pretty interesting. Let's see what else. When Colleen and Barbara Bala and I came up to see up to see the campus in the Spring of '70, it was shut down. There was a student strike.
KR: Right. The United States had just invaded Cambodia. It was the national strike.
JF: There was nobody around. When we were here, typically we were supposed to see some students. There was nobody here. That was really weird. You're walking around in May when students should be here. Beginning of May, I guess. Maybe it was the end of April. It was great weather. There was nobody here. Nobody here. It was an empty campus. Now, it's hot. It was really weird. There was nobody to talk to. We just walked around and couldn't get into buildings. I think that's probably it about Douglass. I sent you this one [curriculum vitae].
JF: I just found this, although I couldn't find the one that I had, which listed everything I did at the university. There were a lot of things I took off here because it's ridiculous. I was in law school after that. Rutgers University Alumni Trustee. Douglass.
KR: I have reached the end of my questions about your Douglass years. If it is okay with you, let us reconvene for part two. We will talk about your application process to law school, law school and your career.
JF: Okay, good.
KR: Well, thank you so much for coming in and doing this.
JF: It was fun. I love to talk.
KR: Thank you so much. Your stories are amazing.
JF: My husband thinks I'm crazy. When I had the questionnaire and [was filling out] information about him--I'm an extrovert, an extra extrovert. He's an introvert. He's a huge leader. He's an amazing human being. When I would sit in meetings with him before we were even dating, like PIRG, I'd be in a meeting on the tuition increase and everybody would be talking. I'm one of the first out of the gate. He would sit back for an hour, listen to people, and then he would summarize it all, putting all together what everybody said and coming up with the perfect answer. I'm like, "Shit." You know how people say, "What would Jesus do?" I still use that sometimes. I say to myself, "What would Steve do?" because he is a very thoughtful guy.
KR: Well, thank you so much. I appreciate you being so generous with your time, and your stories are wonderful. I look forward to part two.
JF: Thanks. Do you want to schedule it now or later?
KR: We are back on the record. Ms. Fox is going to tell us a story about Sonny Werblin.
JF: Sonny Werblin [RC '31] was on the Board of Governors when I was Student Rep to the Board of Governors and he's a great guy. The Werblin Center was named after him in '91. He was still alive, but he couldn't come. He died that year. He owned the [New York] Jets at one point. He's the one who recruited Joe Namath from Alabama because he was friends with the coach down there, Bear Bryant, I think. When I was at Rutgers-Camden, we formed the Rutgers Camden Community Women's Center. He actually got one of the players to come down for a fundraiser for that because he's just such a good guy. He actually was in charge of Madison Square Garden too. He knew everybody, but he was such a Rutgers supporter. He was so Rutgers. It was amazing. He was on the Board of Governors. Then there was Katharine White, who was an ambassador at one point. So, Ambassador White was there. She was amazing. Claire Nagle, who was an attorney from New Brunswick, went to Douglass College, one tough lady. I was afraid of her too. She was the Chair of the Rutgers Board of Governors. She was amazing. Linda Stamato, who was probably the youngest Chair of the Rutgers Board of Governors, also Douglass College. She seemed so young, but she was Chair of the Rutgers Board of Governors when I was in law school. She still looks great. She's a mediator and a co-director of the Rutgers Center for Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.
KR: She is very involved with the Rutgers Oral History Archives also.
JF: Yes. She's really, really good. Actually, she was the acting dean at Douglass. I was asked to apply for that position by some faculty. So, I went to see Linda because if she was going to apply, I would not have applied. I was at EPA at the time, so it was in the '90s. She was at Bloustein School. She said no; she wasn't going to apply. So, I did apply for the position. I was actually recommended by the search committee. I was their number one choice. They recommended two people. They were supposed to recommend three. The President of the University, Fran Lawrence, rejected the search committee's recommendations, set up an entirely new search committee and wouldn't let anybody in the old search committee come up with--but Barbara Shailor was that [candidate] and she was a great dean.
Linda had done that, didn't want to do it again because it's a lot of politics. She knows. She's a mediator, right? She knows politics. It can be a tough job. She was very close to Bloustein. Linda and I were both very close to Bloustein. I got to know a lot of people serving as Student Rep to the Board of Governors who were really great people. That's when I realized, even though I was working class, that I was as good as these really good people who were very well-meaning. We didn't have to agree all the time, but they're really good people and they were serving the University because they love the University and the state. I learned a lot that year.
Then, I did Student Rep to Board of Trustees for three years when I was in law school. It was a little bit different because it wasn't as intense, but I was on the buildings and grounds committee those years and got to know Joe Whiteside, who was treasurer, and Bob Ochs, who was in charge of all the facilities and parking. I got to know a lot of really good competent people and realized Rutgers is just so important to the state.
We're getting better. Bloustein started that, with the AAU [Association of American Universities]. He wanted to do that. He was getting it done. I was also on the committee in '90, when Fran Lawrence was president, and we looked at big-time athletics. I was the only woman on the committee--a couple members of the Board of Trustees, Board of Governors--all guys, except for me. We really spent all that time with Bob Mulcahy, the athletic director, for well over a year, looking at big-time athletics and whether it was worth it for Rutgers to stay in or not. The conclusion was if we didn't go big-time football, we can't do football because it wasn't economical. You had to go big time, like we ended up doing because if you went big time you could financially break even or do better if you're really good, but you couldn't do football otherwise. That's why they decided to go big. But then you had to eliminate other sports. Title IX did that because football is so big and has so many players on scholarship. It was a real hassle and got a lot of flak. They got rid of a lot of men's sports and a couple of women's sports because they had to equal women and men with scholarships and football is huge. There's ninety of them or something. That was a real problem and the University dealing with the fallout from the alumni who were supportive of their clubs that had been Olympic sports.
KR: Yes, like swimming. Swimming was eliminated.
JF: Swimming. Yes, a lot of them. Title IX was great for women. It was great for the country because it really helped us on an international level, like in the Olympics. It's amazing what our women can do. It probably wouldn't have happened but for Title IX and Billie Jean King. For Rutgers, it was tough because a lot of people, especially Rutgers College people, who tend to control the University--it's a little bit less now, but it still exists--are really into sports. A lot of people, faculty members, some students, certainly people in the public are not thrilled that we put so much effort into football, but unfortunately, the country and the state and elected officials seem to care about that, and certainly a lot of the alumni who are in charge of things. It's an issue that I don't think will go away, unless we actually--we're big-time football. I don't know if we really can put the money needed into it. It's a professional sport now, college football, at that level.
Anyway, Sonny Werblin was into sports, and it was so great. They gave out a letter opener when the Werblin Center was dedicated [in] '91. That's my letter opener. I use it. I use it for Sonny because he was a great guy. He didn't come to the wedding, but he gave the first Tiffany item I ever got. I got it delivered to us in one of those big blue Tiffany boxes. It had a crystal pitcher in it from Sonny. That was very sweet of him. He couldn't make it. He was somewhere, but he sent us a really nice Tiffany--my first Tiffany product ever.
KR: Well, thank you so much. We're going to reconvene next week for part two.
JF: Thank you.
--------------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW--------------------------------------------
Transcribed by Molly Graham 12/18/19
Reviewed by Kate Rizzi 1/10/19
Reviewed by Jeanne Fox 10/4/2020
Reviewed by Zach Batista 11/11/20
Reviewed by Kate Rizzi 12/14/2020
Reviewed by Jeanne Fox 4/17/2022