Howard Goldberger: I was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, June the 18th, 1921.
SI: What were your parents' names?
HG: My father was Leo A. Goldberger, my mother, Cecelia Goldberger.
SI: Starting with your father, what do you know about his side of the family and where they came from?
HG: To the best of my knowledge, they originated in Hungary and I have no idea when they came to this country, but I'm sure it had to be in the late '80s--not of the 1980s, but the 1880s, but I think it was somewhere around then--and they lived in Perth Amboy. They had a family of, let me see, it was Nathan and a daughter, two daughters, three daughters--a son and three daughters--and they're all gone.
SI: Did you ever hear any stories about what life was like in Europe, in Hungary?
HG: Never, no. I never got into any of that. Interestingly enough, my grandfather began a trading stamp company in Perth Amboy and his opposition was S&H [Sperry and Hutchinson Green] Stamps. Well, there was a time when stamps were very popular, especially after the Depression kicked in, and they had themselves a little business and, good for him, he bought property. I don't know how he did it, but he had a home that was set up on an elevated area, looked over Raritan Bay, and he accumulated several other parcels of property, which was fine. How he did it, I don't know, but it was wonderful. ... The family, most of them, are all gone, except some cousins that I have that are about my age, and I don't know what else to tell you.
SI: What did your father do for a living?
HG: My father, I knew very little. He died when I was, I think, before my teens. ... I must have been somewhere between six and eight years old and he was an insurance adjuster and, other than that, I just don't know what he did. ... I was pretty young and I never got into questions like that.
SI: I understand he was a World War I veteran.
HG: He was.
SI: Did he ever tell you anything about that?
HG: ... An interesting thing, he was in World War I, as you said, and his brother picked up a 3-D photo of what he was sure was him from somebody who went door-to-door selling the device to look at it with and a group of pictures. ... One of them was a picture of several men in a shell hole and he said, "That's my brother." ... I think he was in as a paramedic or a medic. I think that's what he was enlisted as, but I showed the picture to somebody once and they said, "Well, they all wore mustaches." [laughter] So, I don't know, I think it was him. I still have the picture, but it was, like, a terrible place to be, yes, and that's as much as I really know about him. My mother, she went to what was called a normal school and I think it was in Trenton, after high school, and I think it was a two-year course and she became a teacher and she taught in Perth Amboy. ... Then, when she got married, she stopped teaching, and then, I'm trying to think in terms of the years, because it had to be around the Depression. My father had died and she got a position in South Amboy, where we were living with grandparents, in South Amboy, and she got a position as a teacher and she taught for many, many years and, at one point, she moved to Perth Amboy. My grandfather and grandmother died and I know that she taught in Perth Amboy for a while, but I can't tell you if it was in her later part of her career or in the beginning. I have a feeling it was in the beginning of her career and she was a very well appreciated teacher. I remember her telling me they gave her a class--she taught sixth grade, at that time--and they gave her a class that nobody else could handle. There's one after another that they hired and the children were very unruly, but she got them into line and she was very well appreciated in South Amboy. Her mother and father, my maternal grandparents, where we lived in South Amboy, my grandfather opened up a general store in South Amboy and they carried everything you can think of, from boots to linens to--I'm sure you know about general stores--and he, too, did very nicely. He bought the building he had his store in. They lived upstairs, and then, he bought two buildings around the corner and moved into one of them and, interestingly enough, I managed, I think it was through Google, I got a picture of what the house looks like today.
SI: It is still there.
HG: It's still there, minus a porch that went around from one side to the front, ... but it looks much smaller than I thought it ever was and, well, when I was little, I grew up in that house, it seemed so big, [laughter] but I've been back to it several times in the years. I'd drive by and it looks small, ... but I lived with them and my grandfather had a stroke and he lived about ten years after the time he had a stroke and, my grandmother, she lived after that some years. She was really a wonderful lady, well-loved in the neighborhood. I can remember, in the Depression times, people would walk from house to house trying to get food and they must have marked the curb or something, because they came to our house and she'd give them food. They'd sit on the back steps and she'd feed them. ... She came from Germany and my grandfather came from Germany and they came over, as young people, in, probably, 1870 to 1880, in that period, and then, how they got to Perth Amboy, I don't know, but they must have had some relatives that got there first, because they must have come to New York first, and then, looked for a place to go live and make a living, and she died of cancer. She had a tough ending and, by that time, I was married. My mother was living alone with her and, at that [time], when that happened, she realized she couldn't live in this house any longer and she moved to Perth Amboy, to an apartment, and that's where she lived. She was killed by a hit-and-run driver. She lived near a temple that she attended, that her father was one of the founders of, and she and another lady were walking after going to a luncheon at the temple. They came out and they were crossing the street and a car came around the circle and hit them both and she died that night. How much more I can tell you about her, I don't know.
SI: Tell me a little bit about that neighborhood you grew up in, where you lived with your grandparents and they owned the general store. Just describe that neighborhood and what it was like and who the people were that lived there.
HG: Well, I grew up there and, naturally, went to high school there, and then, from high school, I went to Rutgers. It was pretty much a working-class, blue-collar neighborhood. There was a family across the street from us who owned a funeral parlor around the corner and they employed the only Negro, the only Black American, in South Amboy and there was a small Jewish population. They had their own synagogue. There weren't really many Jewish people in South Amboy. What else can I tell you? I don't know. ... Most of my friends, except one I can remember, were not Jewish.
SI: Did the two groups get along? Was there any anti-Semitism?
HG: Oh, there was. ... Well, I had it when I went to school, but I think it was more just picking on me. I don't think there was anti-Semitism, but I have never wiped from my mind--the only thing you had then was a radio. We were very fortunate. My mother's brother gave us a radio, and I can remember my grandmother sitting and crying as she listened to Hitler's speeches over the radio. In those days, I don't know how they did it, but they managed to get those speeches and broadcast them and she had to have family that were still in Germany, and I can remember her weeping. Other than that, I don't know, I lost track of where I am now. What about the neighborhood?
HG: Well, first of all, we lived, oh, maybe a hundred to 150 yards away from the railroad. It was a railroad that came out of New York and Newark and ran down to the seashore. When the trains came in, with those big steam locomotives, the house would shake. [laughter] When I got married and I had my wife come out with me to stay overnight, she wanted to know, "What's going on with the building?" [laughter] because I didn't warn her and never thought of it. You get used to it, you don't pay any attention to it, but it was an old house, had coal heating and the heating system had to be put in after the house was built, because the pipes that carried the steam were all out and not enclosed in the walls, and there were also a couple gas fixtures that were still there. It was almost like before electricity. I don't know about that, maybe it was just emergency [lighting], but they were there, but it was a very nice house. We had a funny incident, once. If you don't like what I'm [saying], cut me off.
SI: No, this is good.
HG: We lived next door to a physician and our house had a side door. ... The physician, his house must have been constructed there about the same way and he had side door, too, and he had an office in his house and people who used him came in the side door. They didn't go in the front door and they came in there and sat in his waiting room. ... In our family, my mother, my uncle and my aunt, they were two sisters and a brother, were very close and they used to see each other almost every weekend. Even though the sister lived in Brooklyn and the brother lived in Elizabeth, they still seemed to get together. Well, one weekend, the uncle from Brooklyn was in the--the way the house was built, it had a dining room, a living room and adjoining the two was, like, a sitting room and the side door. So, he comes downstairs one morning of the weekend and there's somebody sitting there and he wanted to know who he was and he's waiting for the doctor. [laughter] He was in the wrong house and that never left me, silly things that you recall, and then, I had a Jewish friend. The store that my grandfather opened, ... he lived upstairs there, he sold that store to another Jewish family and they had a son the same age as me and we became good friends, until we got to college and after college, and then, we just disappeared from each other.
SI: What was the name of your grandfather's store?
HG: I can't tell you. I don't know. ... I don't know that he had any name there.
HG: ... It was just a general store. Eventually, my uncle, my mother's brother, had become a very successful businessman. He managed to reach up to the top echelons in W. T. [William Thomas] Grant. That was like a Woolworth, in those days, and, somehow, he had a connection from his business world and he sold that building to what was then a sort of A&P. James Butler was the name of the business and they re-fixed the ground floor and they became a grocery store. ... I think I can remember that, sometime after that, one of the grocery chains came in and built a then-day supermarket, but it was only a ... store-size thing. It wasn't anything like you see today, but they had multiple things and you sort of served yourself, or maybe they waited on you, too, I don't know, but it was sort of a beginning for supermarkets, that I remember. There was one movie theater there and I can remember going Saturdays to the serials. I don't know whether any of this is ...
SI: No, please, go ahead. I want to know about everyday life in that time period.
HG: Yes, yes, well, I mean, maybe you've heard this from other people, too.
SI: Everyone's experience is different.
HG: Well, in those days, they used to have serials. Every Saturday, you'd go to the movie, see the next chapter, and one of them, I can remember, was Red Grange [(1931)], who was called "The Galloping Ghost," and I don't know if he was from Notre Dame [University of Illinois] or some other school, but he was a famous football player and they made a whole thing about him. They had this movie house. It went through a period where, to get customers, they gave away dinnerware. One night, they'd give a saucer and, another night, a cup and it brought people into the movie. I don't know what else I can tell you about that. There were a number of churches in town. The Catholic church was a very big [entity], had a big congregation, very big church and a school. They had their Catholic school as well and, aside from that, I have to tell you that there was a relative of my grandparents' who also came over from "the other side," as they called it, and he started out with a pack on his back. He built a big store that was a very big general store and he owned that and he owned a big house across the street from it and he bought property, too. ... He bought property in a nearby area, whether it was Sayreville or some other nearby area, that wasn't worth anything, and, also, property near the Raritan Bay. Well, the property wasn't worth anything, except that they discovered clay. So, he bought something that was nothing and it all turned into money, and then, he had an area down by the bay that he bought and, eventually, some of it was used to put up a power-generating building and accessories. ... The other, many, many years later, they put in a multi-theater, somebody did. I don't know who, but, if you ever go down the seashore on those roads, when you come over the bridge, over the Raritan River, you can see it on the left-hand side, the property that became a theater complex, but it wasn't anything like today. Nothing was, in those days. I can remember going over a bridge, from South Amboy to Perth Amboy, where the floor of the bridge was all timber. I mean, you would bump along from one piece of timber to the next, and then, eventually, they built a bridge across, and then, after that, they built another one high up in the air, so [that] they didn't have to have a turntable to close the bridge and let shipping go through, and, now, there's a companion to that high bridge.
SI: They just finished redoing that whole area.
HG: Did they?
SI: I lived in Hazlet, close to that area, and I am very familiar with it. When you were there, though, they would have to open the bridge for sea traffic.
HG: Yes, yes, it rotated, it turned, but I don't know what you called it, a drawbridge. ... I was very young at that time, when they had that one, that the surface of the bridge was planks and it went from South Amboy to Perth Amboy.
SI: Do you remember the name of the man who owned the area?
HG: His name was Wolff, Henry Wolff, W-O-L-F-F, and his daughter married an adopted son. He adopted a son, brought him into his house and his daughter married the son and the son ran the business, and the grandsons, there were two grandsons, ... when they grew up and were old enough, they went into the real estate business. One of them, one of the grandsons, was Melvin (Safran?). Melvin was a graduate of Rutgers and his brother, Ira, went to Dartmouth University. They both passed away, but both of their wives are still alive, still alive, and, oh, they must be in their nineties, at least. I'm getting afield, I know--I can see what you're talking about, but it starts to come back for me. In South Amboy, there was a beach along Raritan Bay and nobody really ever went there, but there was a beach. It was called "the mini-ditch." Lo-and-behold, a friend of mine had a granddaughter, or a grandson, that was married and, about ten years ago, they bought a townhouse that was built on the mini-ditch and, you know, it overlooked the bay. ...
SI: They really developed that whole area, yes.
HG: Yes, but, ... when I lived in South Amboy, it was, like, a mile square. I think that's all, and the population, there wasn't any place, really, to build. They built outside, in Sayreville and various places like that, Morgan, but it was pretty well developed, as far as empty property, then.
SI: As a child, getting into your teenage years, what kind of things would you do for fun, or would you have to work? Did you have to help out in your grandfather's store?
HG: No, actually, my grandfather was out of that business, as I remember. So, there was nothing like that, of helping him, but the first thing I can remember is selling magazines, used to go from house to house. I didn't make a big thing out of that, because, eventually, I gave it up, but, Saturday Evening Post and I don't know what other magazines, I sold, but I used to get a kick out of them delivering it to me, and then, me going out and selling to people. We used to play ball in the street. We used to play baseball and we had a garage that was not attached to the house and my mother had somebody put up a basketball ring and a backboard on it and we used to play basketball there, and then, across the street, by the railroad station, there was a small semicircle piece of grass property. My friends and I used to go there and play football, and I can remember going to a junior, I guess it would be a junior high school, on the other side of town. In those days, we walked to school--there was no school bus--and it was about, like, almost a mile away, and I remember going to that school and the long side of it was a little side street that was not very long. It might have been, maybe, two houses long, but, when we had recess, we'd go out there and the game, at that time of the year, would be football. ... The idea was, they'd pass the ball to somebody who had to run through the whole crowd and that was fun, but it was a sandy-covered street. It wasn't, like, paved. So, it was a soft landing. What else did I do? I took piano lessons; never became a pianist. I loved music. A man came around door-to-door and said, "If you can get to take lessons with me, I'll give you a free banjo," and I told my mother and, sure enough, she signed me up and I did that, which brings me to another part of my life. My mother sent me away to camp with some other relative's children in the Poconos and I started out, I was there for a month, and I liked it and I went back for about four or five years, I guess, wound up being a waiter there. In those days, if you wanted to be a waiter, they gave you free summer [room-and-board], or you paid a minimum amount, but I think it was free, and that was fine.
SI: Which camp was it?
HG: The name of it was Indian Lake Camp and it was near Stroudsburg in Pennsylvania. I can remember going on a Saturday with a counselor to the movie in Strasburg and we saw the Lost Horizon [(1937)], and [I was] very taken about that. You can imagine how old that picture was, and I had nice summers up there. ... Eventually, when I was at Rutgers, I took two years and I was going to go to dental school and they said I needed a credit in organic chemistry and I was going to go to summer school after my second year. ... A close friend that lived in New Brunswick called me up about the 1st of July, or 2nd of July, would I want to come out to a New Jersey camp? He went there and he was a head waiter there and one of the waiters never showed up, and would I want to come out there for the summer and be a waiter? So, I didn't go to summer school and I went to the camp and I met my wife there, yes. ... This friend that got me out there, when I get later in the story about dental school, but he didn't get accepted in the ASTP [Army Specialized Training Program] program and he went through dental school at the University of Pennsylvania, along with me and everybody else. ... Unfortunately, after we graduated--and he was sitting on top of a very lucrative practice, because there was nobody--I mean, they were drawing dentists into the service and, if you opened an office, you were, like, automatic, and the poor guy died. I was in my first half a year out of Rutgers, out of dental school, and I got news about him dying. It was very unpleasant, because he had such possibilities and he was a great guy. I got far away, didn't I? What else can I tell you about South Amboy? go ahead.
SI: You told the story about how people would come to your grandmother for food during the Depression. Can you tell me a little bit more about other ways the Depression affected both South Amboy as a whole and your family in particular?
HG: Well, we were very fortunate. I think the uncle that I have, that I told you did well in big business, his office was in New York, he was an excellent son to his mother and he helped her out and we kept that house all that time. I'm sure it was paid off. That was another interesting thing. People, in those days, when they mortgaged a house, a lot of times, it was the seller who mortgaged the house and they paid back the interest. It was like this balloon mortgage that you can get nowadays, and that's how he recovered that store that he had sold to another family, or a husband and wife. They couldn't pay off the mortgage. They paid the interest and the property came back. So, that was an interesting thing. Help me, where am I now? What did you ask me before I got off?
SI: I asked about the Depression.
HG: Oh, the Depression, all right. Let's see, I told you about the theater and I can't really remember being in a bad way. We were fortunate enough that we had food and we did things. I was lucky enough that my mother contributed so many things to me. She used to drive me to Newark, which was a big ride in those days from South Amboy, to an orthodontist. I had my teeth straightened when I was ten years old, I guess, and she would drive me in once a month, or whatever it was, to this dentist in Newark. ... So, that was the thing. Then, in the Depression years, she even found a way to do that. I can't remember anything, like clothing or things of that sort, that you suffered through. I don't remember that, and I can tell you this, has nothing to do with what you asked me, that we lived two doors away from Broadway, which was the main street of South Amboy, and the main street of South Amboy, in that area, paralleled the railroad. I was that close to the railroad and, Sunday morning, when I would look outside, so many times, I'd see men lying in the street. In those days, there were, like, three taverns on each block, and then, they all drank and they'd drink up Saturday night and they'd pass out after that and be lying in the street Sunday morning, but, yes?
SI: Were these speakeasies or was this after Prohibition?
HG: It had to be after Prohibition, because these were not speakeasies. They were right on the main street and glass fronts that you couldn't see in, but, like, a normal store would have a big glass window in the front of it. ... In those days, they had a poorhouse for the people that lived in the area, in South Amboy. If things got so bad for them, they'd put them in the poorhouse. They took care of them that way. ... What else can I remember from those years?
SI: Was religion important to your family?
HG: Funny thing, it just came into my head. I was going to tell you that.
SI: Sure, go ahead.
HG: You're psychic. [laughter] We were Jewish and we didn't belong to the synagogue in South Amboy. My grandfather, in South Amboy, was a founder of a synagogue and they called it a temple, in Perth Amboy. ... They went there all their life and we followed in their footsteps. I went to Sunday school over there. I went to Hebrew school, near the time of my bar mitzvah. I was at my bar mitzvah over there. That's an interesting thing. Bar mitzvahs today, you must know something of, the big celebrations--when I had my bar mitzvah, I think it had to be that Saturday, in the afternoon and evening, all the family and friends were invited to the house where we lived in. They didn't have an affair in a catered place and the house was full of people and, you know, there must have been, like, fifty, a hundred people in that house for that celebration. I have a film from those [days], from that bar mitzvah, that my uncle took motion pictures of. He had a big thirty-five-millimeter camera and he took pictures in the afternoon. Everybody would take turns standing in the backyard, and so on. Nothing at night; there were no lights for it, and his son, who's not alive, many years ago, had it transferred onto, I don't know, it wasn't a CD, it was a tape, maybe, so that I could see it. ... I'm not really sure I can find it, but I had it. ... All the family was there and all the young and the old. ... People that you were close to and friends, they were all there, but that was the biggest celebration. Next one I had was when I graduated high school. I was the valedictorian of my class, which was nice and all, but ... there were a lot of kids there that I grew up with that they weren't interested in studying and they were more interested in athletic things, and so, it wasn't that big a deal. When I got to college, I found out I wasn't a valedictorian anymore, that there were a lot of people who were much brighter than I.
SI: Tell me a little bit about your education, where you went and what you were most interested in.
HG: Okay, well, I went to Rutgers, as you know.
SI: I was referring to before Rutgers, to your elementary and high school education.
HG: Oh, well, the elementary school, I can remember the name of the first grade teacher, Applegate. Delaney was the second grade and, after sixth grade, I went across town to the school that was a little less than a mile away and I was there for a couple years, and then, I came to South Amboy High School, which, eventually, was called the Harold G. Hoffman High School. He was the Governor of New Jersey. [Editor's Note: Harold G. Hoffman (1896-1954), a Republican, served as Governor of New Jersey from 1935 to 1938.] He was a very good friend of my mother and my uncle and he became Governor of New Jersey. ... He had been head of the motor vehicle department before that and he ran for Governor and he became Governor and he had a very nice reputation, but he got in trouble. I don't know whether it was money trouble, but they found him dead in a New York hotel and it took until, maybe, five or ten years from before now that they changed the name of the high school. [Editor's Note: Amid an embezzlement scandal, Governor Hoffman died of an apparent heart attack on June 4, 1954, in a New York City hotel.] They decided they were going to get rid of that, but ... I knew him. He had a fabulous memory. He was a great politician, ... but he used to tell stories when he would be electioneering and he could run through a story one item after another, in the story, and I never could get over his memory. One day, he saw me on the street in Perth Amboy and he was riding by in his Governor's car and he stopped and he said, "Where are you going?" I said, "I'm going back to South Amboy." "Hop in," he took me to South Amboy. So, he knew me, but it was a big disappointment when he passed away, because ... he was the one that went into the jail in Trenton, I guess it was, and interviewed Bruno Hauptmann. Does that mean anything to you?
SI: That is the Charles Lindbergh case.
HG: Yes, and he got a lot of bad publicity, because he went, actually, into the cell and talked to this man, but he wanted to help and see if he could save him from the electric chair, and he did not. [Editor's Note: On March 1, 1932, the twenty-month-old son of celebrated American aviator Charles Lindbergh was abducted from the family home in East Amwell, New Jersey. The child's body was discovered not far from the home approximately two months after the disappearance. After an investigation of more than two years, Bruno Richard Hauptmann was tried and found guilty for the crime and executed by electric chair in 1936.]
SI: Was your family interested in or involved in politics at all?
HG: Not at all, not at all. No, they never got into that. I can't tell you much more about my education. I was the president of my class and, at that time, the classes, as they got into their senior year, would go to Washington, DC, on a trip. So, we spent two to three years raising money for the trip to Washington, which we made, and we had a very good time there. You were going to ask me ...
SI: I was just going to ask what your favorite subject was or what you were most interested in studying.
HG: Well, actually, I always liked numbers, but I never headed in that direction. I can't really tell you that, a subject I took in college that, really, I liked better than any other. I can't help you with that. I remember, in high school, we had to take Latin, you know. Latin, it was like taking English. You had to take Latin if you were going to college, and I took that and some French, algebra and trig, things like that, I remember. I don't remember anything about--I'm sorry if I'm interrupting you, because this noise behind me, it might be because I'm picking it up in my hearing aid.
SI: Would you like to take a break?
HG: Yes, take a break for a minute.
HG: I joined a fraternity in Rutgers, Phi Epsilon Pi, was at 4 Mine Street. It's funny how these things come back. My first year in Rutgers, I signed up for a room for two and my roommate, in my freshman year, was Herbert Bilus and we were very good friends, close friends, through all the years. Second year, our sophomore year, I moved into the Phi Ep House and I had two roommates there, and they were Herbert Bilus, and Sy [Seymour] Silberberg and, now, you start to see how we got to know each other, and so, I was three years in New Brunswick. I think the second and the third year, I worked as a waiter there for a man who ran the kitchen. His name was Ringel, his last name, lived in New Brunswick, and he ran the kitchen and you had three meals a day in the fraternity house. I think I got meals for working there, and then, I was off to Philadelphia. I got into the University of Pennsylvania Dental School. This'll be a longer story, maybe.
SI: Before we get into that, let us go back.
HG: Yes, okay.
SI: In high school, had you always planned on going to college?
HG: You had to make some decision, at some point, "Are you going to take a general course or a college preparatory course?" I don't know if there were three. I think there were two, and the general course prepared students for so many things in life that would come up that they didn't need a college education [for], accounting and things like that. Latin, they didn't have to take. I guess I always planned, or it was, like, an automatic thought, "You're going to college, aren't you?" and so, that's what I did. I don't remember applying to any place besides Rutgers. Rutgers was an economical school, whether I remember correctly or not, but I think it was, like, four hundred dollars a year, or maybe four hundred a semester. I'm not sure, but it was economical, if you were a state resident. It was before it was a state university. [Editor's Note: Founded in 1766 as Queen's College, renamed for Colonel Henry Rutgers in 1825, Rutgers University became the State University of New Jersey with the enactment of the 1956 "Rutgers, The State University Law (NJSA 18A:65-1 et seq)."] ... I wanted to be a physician, but I didn't think ... we had the finances to get through medical school, just didn't. So, this was close to it, so, I became a dentist, and what else? I don't know. Before I tell you about dental school, you may have something else you want to know.
SI: You entered Rutgers in 1938.
SI: What were your first few days and weeks on campus like? Was it a big adjustment to go from high school to college?
HG: Well, it was a big adjustment. ... It was getting used to such a different way of life and where everything was, but I don't remember any difficulty with it at all and, being in so many different classrooms, got to know a lot of people and, you know, they were usually all your classmates of your year graduation and I got to know a lot of people. There was one man who was in our class. He used to come and study over at our Phi Ep House. He rode a bicycle, because he lived someplace else in New Brunswick, I don't know where. He was an agricultural student, but he knew what he was doing. If he went to Ag School, it was cheaper and he could get into medical school with the qualifications you needed from Ag School. He became famous. There was a ... professor over at the Ag School that discovered streptomycin. His name escapes me, but I know if I hear it ...
SI: It is Selman Waksman.
SI: And Schatz.
HG: And Albert, this man in my class that I was talking about, Albert, whose last name escapes me, but, tomorrow, I'll know it.
SI: Schatz. [Editor's Note: Dr. Selman Waksman and his graduate student, Dr. Albert Schatz, discovered streptomycin in 1943. Waksman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1952.]
HG: Schatz, yes, Albie Schatz. He worked under Waksman and he wanted to be listed as a co-discoverer of streptomycin. Many, many years later, there was a lawsuit. He wanted to recover some of the money that Waksman supposedly had received from discovering this wonderful drug and he, Albie, I think, became famous in his own right. At one time, he had some theories about dental caries and he was going around lecturing on that, but he was, like, different. He was so smart. He was brilliant, a brilliant man. He had, like, a photographic memory. He was something else, but that's about all I can remember. I can remember the fraternity houses. There were two other Jewish ones that I remember, the Sammys [Sigma Alpha Mu] and the Tau Delts [Tau Delta Phi], and, around the corner, was Deke [Delta Kappa Epsilon] House, from the Phi Ep House. Other names, I don't recall.
SI: At that time, how important was it to be part of a fraternity?
HG: Very, it was very important. At that time, there were also a lot of students who traveled to school and traveled home. They didn't live on campus and they didn't get involved in fraternity life, but it was very important and you wanted to be asked to join and, you know, they looked you over. That brings up "hell week." "Hell week" was a week that we all had to go through and it was a miserable week. ... It wound up in a night, I guess near the end of the week, where there was a lot of paddling going on. ... I can remember, they take you one at a time and they'd all be sitting around in the dining room area and I can remember them asking, saying, "Repeat this phrase after me: Speech is silver, but silence is golden," and, if you said something, you got wacked with a paddle. "Well, do it again." "Speech is silver and silence is gold," until you caught on, don't say anything--then, that stopped. We had to wear an onion on a string around our neck and, when we came home, came back to the fraternity house, for lunch or whatever, they'd ask you some crazy question about [something], do pushups or some other thing like that. "You didn't do enough--take a bite out of the onion." Well, you tasted onion for a week after that and, eventually, it was over and you had to wear it all day long. You went to class, you had an onion hanging around your neck. I don't remember too much about that, but I liked college. I liked it very much. I think that, basically, I liked it better than graduate school. ...
SI: Did you get involved in any other activities on campus? I know you were involved with the track team as the manager.
HG: Yes, yes, you remember well. [laughter] I tried out for the swimming team in the freshman year and I couldn't keep up with them, so, I dropped out of that, and one of the things the fraternity did was, they emphasized [that] you had to be in some other activity besides going to school. You had to do something like that and, you know, if you didn't do what they told you, they'd drop you out of the house. So, I did that. Then, I got on the Targum, the newspaper, which I think is still there, and I was doing copy work. I don't [recall] what it was called, making headlines for different columns, and I used to do that. Other than that, I don't think I did anything. Well, a couple of my friends, one was on the tennis team, another was on the fencing team. They kept up with it through the higher grades and that's about all that I can remember.
SI: What would you do as the manager of the track team?
HG: I don't remember, I don't remember. I don't know. I can't remember whether you set up things for them out at the track. I didn't have anything to do with scheduling meets or anything like that. That may have fallen into hands other than students or students who were senior in school, something like that. I don't really know what [I did]. I don't even remember clocking anybody. I haven't thought about that for a long time.
SI: Do any Rutgers traditions stand out in your memory, like having to go to chapel, or things like that?
HG: I can remember going to the chapel and there was a dean of men [Fraser Metzger] who insisted you must go to chapel. [If] you were Jewish, didn't make any difference--so, we went in our freshman year, but I don't really remember after that. I don't remember, but that was something. I can remember they had a choral group. I never had anything to do with that. I'm trying to remember the name of the chapel.
SI: Kirkpatrick Chapel.
HG: Yes, I was thinking Knickerbocker and I know that's wrong, but I couldn't get to Kirkpatrick.
SI: Did you resent the fact that you had to go to chapel?
HG: Yes, yes.
SI: All right.
HG: And it wasn't a big philosophical thing. It's just [that] there were things there that were foreign to me, and none of us wanted to go, to tell you the truth, and you had to tell him you were working as a waiter, be excused, something like that, but, no, I didn't like it. I didn't. I'm a little more open-minded today, because, here, I live in a setup where ... Jewish people are very outnumbered. There may be 125, 150 of us here, but there are fifteen hundred altogether, ... but we find each other, strange thing, how we find each other, wherever you go. At one time, I had a problem and we had to go to Morocco and I went to the US Embassy and I told them my problem. ... They said, "Well, why don't you go see this man?" He had some kind of a business at the seaport, that he controlled exports, I guess, and not that he really controlled it, but people who wanted to export something had to go through somebody who could give them space on a ship someplace that would fit their need. That's as much as I know, and he was Jewish. I'd never met him. He was a Jewish man. He helped me, took me into his home to eat. It was, like, something that Jewish people have that maybe others do. I just know that ... they extend themselves to other Jewish people. He came from someplace in Europe. His father was a physician, took them to Morocco--it must have been Casablanca, that was the big city that we were in--and he established himself there into this so-called business of directing freight onto ships, but it was a wonderful thing. ... We kept up with him through the years and, at one time, I got a phone call. He was in New York, in a motel, and he was there with his wife, who, by the way, he married--she wasn't Jewish--he married her and she was a model. She was a gorgeous girl and he was in New York because he was going to Baltimore, to Johns Hopkins. His eyes were in such bad condition. ...
SI: Go ahead.
HG: I can't give you his last name now. I can remember his first name, was Georges, and he called me from New York and he said he's headed to Baltimore. I said, "Well, I'll take you there." So, I think I went in and I picked him up. I have a married daughter who lives nearby here. She's lived in Springfield with her husband for many years and I figured, "Baltimore, I can go visit her, too." So, I picked him up. I had an Airedale dog, so, I had to take the dog with me. So, he and his wife sat in the backseat with the dog, who was very well behaved, and I drove them to Baltimore. I took them to visit [my] daughter and son-in-law and I don't know whether I took them back to Livingston, where I lived. I don't remember the end of the story, but I really don't think he was successful with the trip. It was a famous doctor there that he went to.
SI: When did you first meet him in Morocco?
HG: I'm trying to place it with something else. ... I would guess it must have been around 1965 or '67, something like that.
SI: Were you on a family trip?
HG: Yes, it was a family trip that I can't go into with you, because of this thing.
SI: All right.
HG: And I'm trying to think of anything else about him. He was absolutely a wonderful person. He said something to me I never forgot. When I met him at his office down at the seaport, when I first got there, he said, "Well, why are you standing? Sit down, doesn't cost any more." ... I thought that was funny. [laughter] ... He's buried in Paris, in a very famous cemetery [(Père Lachaise]. One of my daughters had been to Paris sometime, a few times, and she's an intellectual girl and she knows that cemetery. She knows where it is. It's, you know, where poets and celebrities are buried. He's buried there. The wife lived on. I don't know what happened to her. We lost her. It was a great experience to know him, because he went out of his way to help us in what we were doing and he didn't have to do anything, but he did. My wife misses him to this day. She really loved him. He was such a great man. Okay, I'm getting lost now.
SI: That is all right. I wanted to go back to World War II. You mentioned that your grandmother would hear these speeches by Hitler on the radio and get very upset by them. Before Pearl Harbor, did you know a lot about what was happening overseas? Was it a big part of your life?
HG: No, no, I never picked up publicity on what was really happening in Germany. I just didn't and I don't speak German, so, I didn't understand any of the speeches, at that time. I know a little now, but not much, but I didn't know what was going on, and I can remember the war starting for us. [Editor's Note: Japanese forces attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, thrusting the United States into the Second World War.] I was a freshman in dental school and I was sitting at a desk and studying, and I guess the radio was on where they interrupted and they mentioned Pearl Harbor. I didn't know where Pearl Harbor was. It didn't mean anything to me, outside of what they said, it was in Hawaii, ... but everything was Pearl Harbor, Pearl Harbor, and it took me a little while to find out where it was, but, actually, what was going on in Europe, I didn't know. ... There were a number of family people that were here in the country that came from Europe, and there were some that were in Manhattan. That family leader was a butcher, but he had a high-class butcher shop. He had the sort of thing that people who were better off would shop in his shop and they used to bring people over from Europe, ... because people couldn't get into the United States without somebody vouching for them. ... They brought Jewish people over from [Europe], younger ones, I don't remember any older ones, and they would come out to South Amboy, from New York, bringing these immigrants, "greenhorns," they were called, and bring them out to visit family, because they had to know each other by name or by writing letters or whatever, but I can remember that. ... Of course, whenever they came to South Amboy, they brought a whole bunch of meat. [laughter] They brought all kinds of things out there and it was a nice visit, but ... I'm losing track.
SI: Were you able to get anything from these people about their experiences? Did they talk about it at all?
HI: Well, the only thing I can remember, really, I don't remember anything about the Nazis that they mentioned at all, because it had to be before that. I graduated high school in '38--it had to be '35 or '34, '33--but they could smell what was going on over there and they knew to get out, and the only thing I can remember about [them], there were two young men, he says, "There's no place over here to ski," because, in Europe, it was commonplace to go skiing. ... Like, they weren't putting America down, but they were, sort of, making some sort of suggestion, and it turned out that skiing became popular here, not because of them, but a lot of things happened that were going on in Europe, like that, that finally arrived here. I can remember, on a trip to Europe, going to various countries there where I'd see women carrying little mesh, oh, come on, carryalls, the mesh thing, to go shopping in the shop, a butcher shop, a grocery store. Look how many years it took that to come here, that they want us to go to a market and use our own little carrying thing. It's amazing that nobody wanted that to happen years ago, but I don't remember them saying anything else, I just don't. It was, like, a Sunday visit, and then, they drove back to New York. What else?
SI: Let us talk about going from Rutgers into the University of Pennsylvania Dental School.
HG: Into dental school. Well, I remember an interview with the dean before I was accepted, and then, I was accepted at Penn and I remember going there. I don't know how I wound up in ... a boarding room house. I don't know whether I did it by myself, or I don't think anybody went to Philly with me, but I wound up in a rooming house right near the school and I think my roommate was this man I told you that didn't qualify for the ASTP. [Editor's Note: The Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP), established in 1942, was an officer training program that serviced over two hundred thousand enlisted men in several specialties, including engineering, medicine and dentistry, psychology and foreign languages, at 227 colleges and universities.] I think he was my roommate, but the floor we were on, there were three bedrooms and they were all dental students there, all in the same class. One wasn't; he was a senior. I liked what I was doing there. I liked working with my hands and I enjoyed being in the school and, eventually, I got into a fraternity there, my freshman year, and we used to eat in the fraternity house. I can remember when we had lunch and there were people, whether they were my friends in my class or upper or other--they must have been in my class--but you could smell the chemicals on their hands from being in the--I fight for words--we had to take anatomy, that's what it is, and working on the corpses. It was an odor and you'd smell it when you [came in]. They were all in the room with you and you'd have lunch. I liked school. I enjoyed it. It was hard. Now, I was a freshman there a few months and the war broke out, and then, we started hearing stories that they were going to take over the membership of the classes into the Army and, sure enough, by the beginning, I think, of the sophomore year, they had this ASTP program and we took physicals. ... Some weren't accepted, most everybody was, and they took over the fraternity house. In the morning, we would come outside and stand there, "All present and accounted for," that sort of thing. We used to go to the Palestra [the University of Pennsylvania's basketball arena] to eat. I just saw the name Palestra in the sports page and I thought, "My God, is that still there?" and they took over the Palestra, which was a big basketball field house, and they had a whole buffet, I say, but it wasn't a buffet. It was, "Take your tray and pick up your food," and that building, eventually, was torn down and they built a new Palestra. They called it the same name. I picked that up in the sports article I was reading, but we were in uniform and I don't remember too much about what we had to do. Most of it was to go to school.
SI: Did the pace or the intensity of the education pick up?
HG: Yes, yes, the education went right through to the summer. If, normally, it was, like, September to May, didn't stop in May--you started the next year in June, went through the summer, very hot in Philadelphia in the summer, in those days, no air conditioning. ... I don't know whether we lived on the top floor or not, but it was hot, but everybody accepted it. I mean, that was the only way to live. You didn't have anything else, so, you just rolled with it and I got out in, like, I guess, three years, three-and-a-quarter years. I graduated in October--wait a minute now--late September '44, and I started there in September '38. That doesn't make sense to me.
SI: No, you started at Rutgers in 1938.
HG: Rutgers, okay, I left out Rutgers, and then, it makes sense. We didn't do much else, except go to school, I'll tell you that, but I can remember one man who was a junior or a senior, ahead of me, in dental school and he brought his mother down to Philadelphia to live and he was able to pay for the accommodations, and so on. He worked in a nightclub in Philly and he said that the patrons, especially when there was a large table, would get so mixed up, they wouldn't know what they drank, what they ate. ... He switched bills with other people, other tables, and so, he made so much money on the side, he could support his mother in Philadelphia. [laughter]
HG: He was very clever at that. I don't know his name. ... I moved into the fraternity house, was right across the street from where I lived as a freshman and down the street from the dental school, and, well, we had a nice life. ...
SI: Could you see how the pressures of the home front were affecting the city and the university?
HG: No, no, I don't remember that, but what I do remember, that I didn't mention before ...
HG: Okay, what I remember, going back to wartime, is that people were struggling. I didn't mention this to you before, when we were there, that so many things were rationed. Gasoline was rationed, so, you only got so much gasoline. Meat was rationed. There was a black market for meat, and, I guess, for gasoline, too, and, if you paid more for it, you got meat without your ration slip, but that rationing went on all through the war. ... You know, you survived it, but it made your living a little different from what you were used to. Back to the dental school, my soon-to-be wife came down and visited a number of times. That was another thing, we graduated late in September, we had a month off and, in that month, I took my state boards, which I passed, got married and had a honeymoon. We compressed everything into one month, and then, my wife came to live with me at the various places that I was assigned to, for a while, until I was sent overseas. ... Going back to the dental school, I don't know what else I can tell you.
SI: Given that you had a long career in dentistry, were there things that they taught dental students then that were different or that stand out as being different from now?
HG: Very, very. For instance, with an X-ray machine, there was a whole series of changes. When you were in school, I can't tell you if I know the exact sequence, but, ... if this were a patient and this were an X-ray machine, you were taught to stand over here, there. That way, you weren't in the direct flight of the rays. Well, after that, we started to learn, maybe after I graduated, you don't stand there, you stand in back of the machine. Then, after that, you had to have a lead apron over the patient, and what was an X-ray machine when I was in school, it had a high tension wire that ran across the top. You're not supposed to hold onto that and that, if it ever got near other metal, it shorted the machine out, but all that changed as everything got developed. ... When I was in school, I remember taking a course in medicine where we were told that there's a secret antibiotic that the government has for the Armed Services. It was penicillin and it was secret, at that time, as I remember, but we heard about it in school. [Editor's Note: Alexander Fleming initially discovered penicillin in 1928, and Howard Florey, Ernst Boris Chain and Norman Heatly, a group of Oxford researchers, developed it into an effective medicine in the early 1940s.]
SI: Did they train you to use it at all or did they just tell you about it?
HG: We didn't use it, no, no, but just speaking about it. I can't remember too much about school. Things changed so much, though. ... The big thing in school, when we went to school, was gold, being able to make gold crowns or gold fillings, called inlays, at that time, and it was not expensive, like today. It was, like, thirty-five dollars an ounce, and, today, it's 1,140 dollars, but it was believed to be the finest, and probably still is, the finest material to use in the mouth. There was a new material that came on while I was in school, acrylic, and that was the preceder of the fillings that are used so much today, that are the color of the teeth. They've improved tremendously since then and they've become very hard, able to withstand the pressures, but they also have defects that, sometimes, they leak and they get decayed underneath. A good gold inlay or a good gold crown never, never leaked, unless whoever made it wasn't careful that it was an exact copy of the model on which it was made, that that was exactly right. There was no leakage. That was about the only thing I can remember. In those days, if you did a root canal, ... there was a leading root canal man at our dental school and he believed that you had to sterilize the canal, that you removed the nerve, the pulp, from [it], and so, you had to put it in, dip a little paper point in the canal, take it out, and then, keep it warm, in a warm atmosphere, and see if it produced bacterial growth, and they don't do that anymore. They just take the pulp out, fill it and finished, that's all. There were no implants then; there was no such thing. Silver amalgam was the big filling material. Dentures were made with a material called vulcanite, that was ugly, and that was replaced with acrylic, when I was in school, which became very popular. I mean, there's nothing else. It was gum color. That was good. What else? ask me something. [laughter]
SI: I was actually just reading about a transit strike in Philadelphia in the Summer of 1944. They brought the Army in to take over the transit system. I was wondering if you remembered that at all.
HG: I don't.
HG: I don't remember it, but I remember trolley cars. All over Philadelphia, there were trolley cars and that was the mode of transportation. There had to be some buses that ran on the trolley lines, too, but I don't remember that strike at all.
SI: You do not remember soldiers being on the trolleys or anything like that.
HG: No, no, I don't remember that. ... We never had to do anything like that. We were, like, separate. We were in the Army, but we were still separate and we never did that.
SI: You graduated in September of 1944.
HG: I think it was September. I'm figuring, because I got married in October, so, ... if there was a month in there, I had to graduate in September. We also, my class, did not know, until the night before graduation, whether we were going to be commissioned as an officer or we were going to be drafted as a private, and we didn't know until the night before. Turned out, there were, then, too many dentists for the Army and the Navy, and so, we would wind up in replacement pools, but that all got ironed out, but we didn't know where we were going, didn't know how to make a plan or whatever. You want to go into the Army part any more?
HG: Yes, all right. Well, when we graduated, we got our orders and the first place I had to go to was [Thomas M.] England General Hospital in Atlantic City and that had become a rest-and-recreation center, like Florida, like Miami, and I was assigned to a dental clinic in the general hospital, which was in a hotel. They took over the hotels in Atlantic City and they put a dental clinic in this one and a whatever in that one, and it served its purpose well. So, I was in a dental clinic there, for a while. We lived, my wife and I lived, in a rooming house, and there were other people in there, too, that were in the service or working there, and they had a common kitchen. They had a kitchen and all the people, the wives, would go down there and cook, make supper, and they'd have a place to store what they wanted. I don't know how long I was there, three months, something like that. Then, I was sent to Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania and that was in the middle of the winter. It was snow the whole time I was there on the ground, never saw the ground, and that was a department of the Army. That was, like, a medical teaching area and, there, they told you--well, they taught you how to be a soldier, I guess, in a way--and we went to lectures. We sat out in bleachers in the cold. [laughter] It was so cold there and we sat in bleachers while they marched different parts of the Army in front of you. This is a company, this is a battalion and all the soldiers that were there, regular soldiers, had to be part of that whole thing, to march out. Then, it was lunchtime and we dashed for our cafeteria and everybody had hot chili. That was the thing you had to have, and it was nice. I remember, there were restaurants in town and, now, this was Carlisle Barracks, but I don't remember the town there, whether it was called Carlisle. I don't know.
SI: I think there is a Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
HG: Yes, I think it might have been.
SI: I am not sure if there is another town there, but I know there is a Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
HG: No, and we went to town. You could get a steak like this for a dollar in a restaurant and it was delicious, and I came home from there to my wife's home a couple times, maybe over a weekend, got a pass, and travel on the trains was terrible. You couldn't get a seat. You couldn't find a seat and you had to go from there into Newark, ... but we enjoyed ourselves and there also were medical people there, while we were there--it wasn't just dental--and some of them were joining the paratroopers and I couldn't figure this out for the life of me. "You want to be a paratrooper?" but they wanted to be in the middle of everything, and the next thing, next orders I got, was Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and went there. My wife came along and we rented a bungalow with another couple that was from my dental class in Penn and we stayed there for a while, and then, I had put in for government quarters. ... They had townhouses that they took over or built, I don't know, but it cost you thirty dollars a month to live in a townhouse and you had upstairs, downstairs, and I don't know that we bought furniture. We might have bought furniture, rented it, something like that. When I first got there, we took a room for a couple days and it was with a veterinarian. One day, one evening, he grabbed me, said, "I've got to go out, got a problem with a cow. You want to go?" I said, "I'll go along," and the cow had given birth to a calf, but the afterbirth had never come out. So, he sticks his arm in the vagina and gets all the way up in the cow, pulls out the afterbirth. [laughter] He was a nice couple that owned that house. Then, I got this bungalow with this other man and we worked in a dental clinic there. We were assigned to the dental clinic in Fort Bragg and we just kept taking care of the troops. They'd come in, they'd have to sit and wait their turn and you had to do everything you could do. If you had to, you worked the whole day on one man, and then, I was there for a while, until sometime around June, I guess. ...
SI: What was a typical day like?
HG: What was a typical day?
HG: Well, we didn't have anything like fall in formation or anything. We were officers then, so, we didn't have to do that, but report to the dental clinic and, next thing, they'd send you a patient. ... I think they would have been surveyed before we got them, so that you knew what you had to work on for them. Some of them weren't so young. They were taking in older men in the artillery branch that they were finally getting to. They passed through young ones and these were older men and some of the dentists who were working there were people who were dentists in private or public life, whichever, and they were offered commissions to come into the service, which they took. ... They gave them commissions according to how long they were in practice. I remember, specifically, the one who was in charge of our clinic. He was--I don't know, I think he was a captain. He was from up in the Boston area. (Sullivan?) was his name and he was as Irish as Irish could be. He tried to get me into a fight once and I didn't fall for it, because, if you get in a fight with an upper grade officer, you'd get court-martialed. You can't do that. So, he was mean and he sent me overseas. ... Whatever happened, I remember going to an officers' club, they had an officers' club, and, you know, I guess a drink was a quarter, something like that. The officers took good care of themselves, but the West Point officers, they didn't care much for the other officers who came into the service. If you weren't West Point, they didn't hang around you, at that time. ...
SI: Was there any kind of anti-Semitic sentiment?
HG: Only this guy who was ...
HG: (Sullivan?), that was the head of the clinic, yes, and we all knew him for it, too. I don't remember anything else. Where there was anti-Semitism was in the Navy. Going back to the time we had to get a physical to come in the ASTP, well, they had that program with the Navy also [the V-programs], and so, I went down to the navy yard with my friends, whenever the time was, to get the physical and we went down there and there was only one man in my class, from our fraternity house, that was accepted in the Navy. Now, his name was (Howard Heron?)--doesn't sound too Jewish--and they, apparently, didn't know he was Jewish, because in the Gentile [student body], if you don't mind me using that expression, they took whole fraternity houses, took them all, and only one from our house and I don't think any from another Jewish house. It was very much anti-Semitic and I think that one of the people I went to college with, that went into the program for creating officers in the Navy, one of the men, he never let on that he was Jewish. He was an officer, he was on a ship. ... He didn't let on he was Jewish. It was very strong in the Navy. I think that's gone away, but, at that time, a lot of hate, but, in the Army, ... it was there, it had to be there, but I never ran into it much. So, I had some time off and I went back to Newark with my wife and she stayed there with her parents and I took a train to report to California. It was a three-day trip in a coach all the way across the country. I guess you could have flown there, but ... it wasn't a big activity with the public, you know, flying on TWA [Trans World Airlines] or whatever, Pan-Am [Pan American World Airways]. It wasn't like today. So, I got to California and I'm not sure if the name of the camp was Camp Beale. It was in California, but it was a replacement depot and I got assigned to the dental clinic there and I worked there quite awhile. ... At one time, this was in the Philippines--did I say something else, where I went?
SI: You said you were going to California.
HG: I went to California. Okay, so, we stayed in that camp until we got orders that we had to go to a portside camp and board a ship. We didn't know where we were going, but, eventually, I found out and we were on a ship about thirty days and there was one place that we anchored for a while and I think it was Eniwetok and it was a beautiful harbor area. It was so big. There were hundreds of ships. There were hundreds of ships there. I couldn't believe what I was seeing and they were getting ready for Japan and, as we went further on, we got the news that they dropped the atom bomb. So, they were already preparing and that's why they were shipping us over there. They were shipping all they could ship over to the Philippines. ... I came into the Philippines. We landed in Manila and I was sent to a replacement depot and I was assigned to the dental clinic there. One day, a guy walked up to me that I knew from Elizabeth, New Jersey. He was in the service there. ... I lived in officers' quarters in the Philippines and I lived with a physician and I think, from there, I got orders to go to Korea. I didn't know where Korea was. I had no idea.
SI: What were the facilities like in the Philippines?
HG: Oh, for the officers, it was very nice. It was. It was, like, bamboo, not huts. They were bigger than that. I don't know. We had a room just for ourselves, and then, there'd be another room. ... They must have built them. They must have been built for just what they were using them for and I can remember hearing earthmovers there, all day and not in the night, but all day. They were digging, fixing, making roads or whatever there, and it was a big camp, and they had these USO [United Service Organizations] things come there, into enormous, enormous areas, that the soldiers would sit to watch.
SI: Did you have adequate dental equipment?
HG: Not quite, not like we were used to, no. I think I had an aide that worked with me and he had to pedal, like a sewing machine thing, for the drill to operate. It wasn't good, but it wasn't terrible, either. At one time, after the war ended, they brought in a lot of prisoners from--I don't know where they brought them from. I don't know.
SI: Were they Allied prisoners?
HG: They were ours, they were English. ... On the grounds, there were Japanese prisoners, too, that were kept in a detained area, but the thing that I noticed with the [Allied] prisoners, who, I presume, lived on rice and nothing else all the time, there were very few cavities, very few. They didn't have all the stuff that we accuse of causing cavities, but we worked on them for a while and I don't know where they went.
SI: From what I read, they had a lot of gum damage, though.
HG: Gum damage?
HG: I don't recall.
HG: No, I don't. I know you would think, without fruits, like, I don't know, beriberi, what the sailors used to have without having fresh fruit.
HG: But, I don't remember that at all, no, and I remember one thing. An Englishman told us that, "You know, the British had jets long before you." They knew that the British had jet airplanes and they're over there someplace in a camp. They find out. The news creeps around and they were very proud that England perfected that before America. I don't know what the time was that they really perfected it or what, but it was [new], because, at that time, everything was propellers. ... Then, I got orders to go to Korea and I had a dental friend that had to go there, too. So, we went together and we got on a plane, flew to, well, to Okinawa. We stopped there and I was a courier, would carry stuff from there, and then, up to Tokyo. I think the airfield was Atsugi, and he had a friend in a hospital. So, he hung around with that friend and I wandered around by myself and, lo and behold, a soldier came up to me. I worked on him in the dental clinic in Penn. [laughter] He remembered me, and so, we were there a week or two. It was very interesting. I remember these big baths. They had enormous baths by the airfield that they filled up with hot water. It was part of a Japanese custom and you'd go sit in it and the water was, like, up to here and you're sitting in that and that was that, by the airfield. ... Then, we were going to Korea, so, I had to get on another plane and these were propellers, the C-43s or C-3s [C-47s], something like that. ... I think we laid over one place in Southern Japan, because the pilot had a girl that he knew down there. He wanted to see the girl. Well, it was like we went to report to our next base. We went to Japan on the way to Korea and we hung around in Japan. It wasn't like you had to be there and you had to be there this minute; just killed time, just walking around, and so, we took off. We landed in Korea, near Seoul. There's an airport at Seoul that they used, and then, I got transported to a replacement depot. I'm not sure, I'm not sure--I don't think so. I got transportation to a quartermaster unit that was outside of--I can't believe I'd forget this, it was a port, a famous port, on the west coast of Korea.
HG: Inchon, I couldn't think of it. I have that trouble.
SI: That is okay. I forget things all the time.
HG: ... So, I reported to this quartermaster unit. Now, there, there was something that you asked me about before, but you were referring to me, about race. The quartermasters were almost entirely African-American. They were driving these GMC trucks and transporting whatever it was, whether it was food or what, and they had white officers, usually, but that's how they segregated them. When they were in New Guinea, they were segregated down there. There was all-black units. That was before they ever got integrated. That happened after the war, sometime. So, I was working in this unit, I don't know, 473rd, I think, to remember. I'm not sure if I wrote it down.
SI: That is what you wrote here, the 473rd Quartermaster Group.
HG: ... There was a medical dispensary where there were two medical officers and a dental unit and that's where I worked, and these two medical officers were very good friends of mine. They were fine, and so, that's where I went. Every morning, I'd go there and [treat] whoever reported in, if they did report in or they didn't. Sometimes, they'd bring a Korean in with a toothache, something like that, and I'd work on them. The two medical people, they were very nice and I think they both were from New Jersey, but I'm not [sure]. One was from New Jersey, I'm sure. I think his name was (Barbaro?) and I lived in an area that was taken over by the Army, the quartermasters, and I had a room there. It was in a long building and I had a room, and it wasn't a tent or anything, and there was, I guess, a kitchen-like area. You could take water and wash out of your helmet--you'd use that for a sink--and the latrines, I don't remember at all. I don't come up with anything, but I lived with a bakery officer in the town of Inchon, upstairs over some kind of store, and I was there for a while, and then, they gave me orders to come live in the quartermaster area. ... If you wanted a shower, you had to drive up to a place between Inchon and Seoul and I think it was called Ascom City. I'm not sure, but it was a big area, military, and we'd drive up there in a jeep, go in, get a shower, and it was a very cold, cold place. When I was in Japan and waiting to go over there, I saw a guy with a big overcoat-like thing he was wearing, and [I asked], "Where are you from?" He said, "Korea." I said, "You have to wear that over there?" He says, "That's the coldest place you ever want to go to," [laughter] and, if it was cold [then], when the Korean War broke out [in 1950], you can imagine what it was like for the troops that were up there, marching through the snow and they had to march down, back down. ... Okay, I was talking about the medical dispensary clinic.
SI: Was the facility on par with the one in the Philippines?
HG: I think the one in the Philippines was better. I think it was better. ...
SI: Can we take a quick break?
SI: All right.
HG: All right, now, I was someplace in Korea.
SI: We were comparing the ...
HG: Comparing the living quarters.
SI: You talked about the living quarters. Then, we were discussing the dental clinic and the equipment available to you.
HG: Oh, the equipment was better in Korea. I think it was electrified and ... it was only one chair there. That was the only chair. I was the only one and I think it was better there. The living quarters were better in the Philippines and the clinic in the Philippines was better. ... I don't know whether it got electrified in the Philippines before I left or not, but it was a big clinic. They took in a lot of people. There was a very big replacement depot. Other than that, ... I guess you never did anything at night, you know, which is lucky. You didn't have to do anything.
SI: You did not have to be on duty or on call for any nighttime emergencies.
HG: No, no, if there was, I don't remember. It wasn't anything like that. Somebody had trouble, they came during the day, and the same way with the medical people. I remember having to wait to go home. That was the big thing after a while. The war was over, and then, how much service you had and points and whatever they were, ... every time there was a ship coming in, everybody'd get a little excited, that maybe they'd be drawn to be on the ship. Well, one time, it must have been December; must have been November, I think, November of '44.
HG: That works out with what I wrote to you?
SI: I think you were still in medical school in 1944, or in Carlisle Barracks.
HG: Oh, geez, isn't that awful? There's something wrong with that, because '44, I got married and, '44, I graduated from dental school. So, I'm wrong. It was in late '46. I'm sorry.
SI: No, that is okay. That is why we have the transcript.
HG: And then, after this happens a few times, then, a ship comes in, but the big news was, Inchon had an enormous difference in low tide and high tide, enormous. It was like no place in the world. I don't know why or what. So, when this guy, captain, was bringing his ship in, he wouldn't let the port representatives come out. ... He could come out, but he couldn't handle the ship, and, sure enough, he ran it on the rocks, the captain. So, then, that laid up there for a few days, didn't turn right around, and then, they only took a very light load, because there's a hole in the bottom of the ship, and so, I was lucky to get on it and it was fine. ... We had a state room. When I went over there, we were sleeping in, like, bunk beds, about three or four high, down in the hold. It was a troopship, but this one, we had excellent quarters and we made it all the way back without a stop and we landed in 'Frisco. ... I'm losing track now. I think we landed in 'Frisco and we left from LA. We landed, when we came back, and went under the Golden Gate Bridge, and then, someplace along the side by piers, there was a welcome sign, but that was the only welcome we got. [laughter] There was nothing else, and then, from there, how did I get back to the East Coast?
SI: Were you discharged in California?
HG: No, Fort Dix. I don't know how I got back; might have flown. I don't know, can't remember it--anyhow, went to Fort Dix and that's where we got discharged and that was the end of the service. I had, I don't know, a month-and-a-half, two months of time coming to me, so, I really got discharged in, like, February, and that was it.
SI: Did you have to stay in the Reserves?
HG: You were offered the option, "Do you want to stay in the Reserves and you have to serve two weeks in the summer?" and I was very glad to get out of the service and, I remember, there were a couple dental friends of mine that stayed in and they had to go to some sort of meeting at night, some time, ... once a month or whatever, and I think they got paid, too. I'm not sure, and then, they went away for a couple weeks at a camp and served there, and then, they got promoted, and some of them got to be colonels. Being in the Reserves, I don't know if they ever got called up. That was another thing I didn't tell you--I got promoted to captain when I was in Korea, much to my surprise. I didn't know, but they had tables of order, if they're called that, that, if there's a unit, it's got to have one captain, two lieutenants, and this, a medical officer, he can be a captain or a lieutenant, that sort of thing. So, they had an opening for the dental officer. So, they made me a captain, which I liked, and that was it. Then, I came home.
SI: When you were in these different locations in the Far East, the Philippines, Okinawa and Korea, did you have much interaction with the local populations?
HG: In Korea, somehow, I got with some other men and we went up to Seoul and we had dinner at some Korean's house. I don't know how, I just went. ... We were all on the floor, sitting with our [legs underneath], with a cushion, maybe, I don't know, but not in chairs, and we had a meal and we didn't know what we were eating. At one time, when I was in Korea, I got a rest-and-recreation trip to Shanghai and that was a nice trip, went over in some small ship, ... not big [one] at all, and so, I saw Shanghai. One time, I went with another guy and we took a jeep and we went to the East Coast of Korea and below the 38th Parallel, but we were near it, where Seoul was, was near that, and went through a village and we stopped. There was a little girl, little child, ran in the road, and they think, "Eh." The girl was nothing. If the child was a boy, it was important, but the girls, they didn't give a damn about, and so, we got all the way over to the East Coast and we turned around and came back, but Seoul was sort of a modern city. The railroad station was, I don't know, I guess, a normal railroad station, but a big plaza, a piazza, big plaza, and there were hundreds or thousands of Koreans waiting in line to get a train ride, all lined up outside of there. ... Of course, in Korea, they had "honey wagons," that [held] all the feces that they collected and you'd take it to the areas where they raised vegetables, and the Filipino girls were very pretty. The Korean girls were pretty, but not as pretty as Filipinos, and you had some interaction with them. They got to speak English and I had a houseboy, that's what I had, in Korea and I got some pictures of him. Kim, his name was. Everybody was Kim, it seemed. ... So, he took care of my quarters, where I lived, and, I don't know, these things jump back into my head, but I liked that ride home. I came home by ship and I don't know how I got to the East Coast. It had to be a plane or a train, and I don't remember the train. Maybe I do. I think it might have gone through the south part of the States. When we came to go to California, we went through the northern part, through Chicago, and so on, okay.
SI: Once you were discharged at Fort Dix, what did you want to do next?
HG: After that?
HG: Well, I came home and I lived in my in-laws' house with my wife. When I was in Fort Bragg, I bought a car, ... a used car, while I was there and I had driven that back when I was on that sort of sabbatical between being in Fort Bragg and going to the West Coast. I drove it back. My wife couldn't drive. I taught her a little bit. After I left, she learned how to drive and she used the car. After I lived in her parents' apartment for a while, I was very anxious to get into practice and, through someone I knew--I must also interject that to get into practice was very difficult, because people that made dental equipment didn't make it any more, because of the war. Everybody was making something else and you couldn't get equipment and you couldn't get a place to open up. Somebody gave me a dentist's name and he was a young guy, something like me. For some reason--he was married--he wanted to move out of East Orange to Ohio, where his wife was from. I don't know why. Maybe he wasn't satisfied with the practice, whatever. So, I bought the practice, and along with it came an apartment, in an apartment building around the corner. It was good. So, we moved in there, bought some furniture. It was like a one bedroom, one living room thing. The kitchen was just a little closet thing, closed off with glass doors, bigger than a closet, by the way, and we lived there for a while. ... So, I took over his practice and it was very quiet and very difficult, and, eventually, we got to get quarters in Irvington, New Jersey, where a first floor was opened up for us and we moved in there and, not long after that, somebody was building a garden apartment not far away in Irvington. ... I went over and I took a ground level apartment and moved out of East Orange and had a dental office setup in the garden apartment. I was there for, oh, God, how many years? I have to work back. I think I was there about ten years and I saw an office in Millburn, New Jersey, for rent, was a medical office, and the population was changing in Irvington, and I took that office in Millburn. I was there six years and the landlady who owned the building wanted me out. She said, "I'm getting rid of the professional men." There was an orthodontist across the hall from me, there was a physician in the next wing, was getting them all out, too much trouble. She wants traffic--whatever it was, she wanted us out. So, then, I looked for another office and I found an office in Short Hills and that's where I finished up. I put in about twenty years there and I sold it to a young dentist, a lady, and she's still in it. She's still going and, in the meantime, I moved--living with my in-laws, and then, living in an apartment in East Orange--then, I moved to Irvington. ... From Irvington, we bought a house in Livingston. We lived there thirty years, and then, we moved to Basking Ridge. I lived there ten years and I had gotten the idea that maybe everybody's going to Florida, maybe I'll have a place down there I can run to for a couple of weeks, a month or whatever, and I bought a place in a gated community. ... After about a year of going to it, I started looking around at, maybe, I'm going to buy a bigger place than the apartment. I bought a bigger one, and then, I decided to get out of the dental practice, sold it to this lady, young lady, and we moved to Florida, put in ten years there, and then, my daughter, here in Burke, Virginia, started working on me, that she wanted--she didn't want, no--she thought it would be a good idea if the two of us moved up closer to her. ... We did do that and that's how I got in here. We had to wait two years to get in here. Not today; I don't think it's that long a list to get in here, not from what I hear, and we waited two years, and then, luckily, I sold my place in Florida. The last two weeks that I was in Florida, I was going to move and leave it and let a realtor take care of it and sold it, and prices had diminished by that time, but not as bad as they were. They eventually got worse and we came up here and we're very happy here, very. We enjoy, and we see our daughter and son-in-law frequently. She's very good for us. She helped us come in, she helped us pack, and that was a big job, to pack in Florida and come here, throw it out and keep, and she ... did everything for us, found this place. ... We see her two or three times a week, eat with her once a week or every other week. She's been a wonderful daughter and you should have a wonderful daughter like we have when the time comes, [laughter] and a lot of people in here are parents of people that live here, in this area, or they lived in this area and moved in, a lot of military, a lot of government people. They have everything here you could imagine, pilots here from the war, male and female, and it's very well kept, kept up nicely, and we're very happy here.
SI: I wanted to ask you a general question about your career. Given that you were a dentist for so long, what were the biggest challenges or the biggest changes that you saw over the course of your career?
HG: Well, I think the biggest thing that happened to me happened after I left practice, because it seemed to me, in Florida--and it might be here as well, it might be all over--that dentists weren't so happy to do fillings anymore. They wanted to do crowns, they wanted to do implants, they wanted to do bridgework, root canals, but ... I was a general practitioner and I never found anything I wanted to specialize in. I was happy doing all of the things that I could do and I did them all, but it's gotten so expensive, compared to what it was when I was in practice. It's, like, impossible. There was one time--I picked up a paper, who knows, three, four, five years ago?--and dentists were making the most money of all the professions, of anything, unbelievable. ... Until you get in need of something, you don't know it, but that's the way it is, but, during my practice, what did I see change? Well, in the beginning, everybody practiced alone. You started upstairs over a drugstore and, eventually, the practice moved downstairs, and then, as it was in places like Florida, with all the strip malls, dentists starting operating out of stores. ... They rented or leased a store and converted it into a dental office, all on the first level, and others, of course, went into medical buildings, which are many. What else? but most of it was single, and then, as time went on, people would take in an assistant, become a partner. The original one would leave and the other one would stay, and then, it got bigger, got bigger. ... I noticed down here, when I was looking for my son-in-law--he's a podiatrist, he was looking for an office--I'd see, like, three names on the door, dental office, and think, "What is this all about?" He said, "They have many offices. They have two or three offices. They work in one community and they work in another. They share the expense." ... I don't know whether they didn't do that well in one, [so], they went in the second, but it was a big change for me, because I only knew that there'd be one person, one dentist, operating in an office. What else can I think of? Dental hygienists were a thing that occurred when I first went into practice. When I first was in practice, there was a movement on to have dental hygienists licensed and permitting them to do work at the chair, cleaning, and it didn't go over big with the periodontists. They didn't want to lose that business, but it was passed and it took place. I go to a dentist here; he's got three girls, three hygienists, in his office. That became a big thing, training them, but that was a big change, because the periodontists didn't want that to happen. Then, they were glad. After it happened, they were so glad, because, as periodontia grew, they needed people to come in and do the cleanings, so [that] they didn't have to do it. So, they welcomed it after a while. What else? I don't know. That's a tough question; should be easy. The materials we worked with, as I said before, changed and you had to adapt to it. There were all kinds of machines that came around in the drilling field. I remember, at first, there was one that fired sand, sand particles, on the tooth to prepare a cavity. Well, that was wonderful. That was really great, except that it also clouded the mirror. You couldn't look in your mirror and see what you wanted to see; then, came another one with white sound. They were selling systems that you could set up with earphones and the patient would hear white sound and wouldn't have any pain--didn't work, didn't work. Then, there was hypnosis. Hypnosis was very big back at the time I started and they were taking out teeth without anesthesia, without bleeding. ... That's still around, but not for dentistry. I don't hear any use of it for dentistry, but ... it, like, snowballed. It was all [the rage]. Everybody was talking about hypnosis. ... After the white sound, then, they came in, I think the next thing in line was the high-speed drill and with the bearings in the hand piece, and so on, and that high-speed is still around and it's still the only thing that you can use that's satisfactory. What else?
SI: Did you ever try the white noise and the hypnosis?
HG: I never tried either one, no.
HG: I went to lectures about it and I watched hypnosis. I remember going to Florida, one time, on a vacation, and we were in a motel, which was the only thing, like, in Miami Beach. There were high rises, but there's a lot of motels, and they had entertainment and there was somebody hypnotizing people and my wife got hypnotized. I think she was tired from [the trip]. We came on an all-day, twenty-four-hour train. I don't know, but she claims that she was hypnotized, but, when you see them hypnotize somebody, it's still fashionable, they do things you wouldn't believe, and that was another change. Gas, I got into nitrous oxide. That was very popular and it faded a little bit. I don't know if there are many people who use it today, but it was very good for certain people, and Novocaine changed. It was originally Novocaine. The improvement in the product, Xylocaine, came on the market. ... See, it got much stronger. It wasn't that you used it a different way. It still had to be injected, but it got stronger, and what else? The X-rays changed; the machines got perfected more. I had a machine in my office, ... it's almost like what they have today. Today, it's better, but I could put a wand in the patient's mouth and whatever I was looking at would come up on a TV screen and you could show the patient something that was wrong there, that they weren't aware of, ... but, now, they do that with an X-ray machine. They X-ray a tooth and it's right there on the TV screen. It's amazing. What else? I don't know. You have good questions.
SI: Thank you.
HG: You're very welcome.
SI: Is there anything else that you would like to talk about in this session? Would you like to say anything about your family?
HG: Well, I'll tell you about my family. I told you about my daughter that lives here. ... Her husband's a podiatrist and, by now, she must be wondering where I am. ... She went to New York yesterday, where her two daughters live, in separate apartments, and one of them, the older one, was thirty years old yesterday. So, she went to New York to surprise her and she's coming home today. So, they live nearby. ... There are two granddaughters that live in New York, two granddaughters of us, of ours. One is thirty and the other is going to be, I believe, twenty-six on May the 3rd. They both work there. The older one is in advertising. She was in a firm called Ogilvy, that's a big house there, and she worked there five or six years after college, and then, she got another job and she's been doing very well. She goes on trips and they go out [on] what they call a "shoot" and I learned some of their language and she goes to California a couple times. ... She did something out there lately for Chase [Bank] and it isn't going to be on the TV until summertime, but it's something about a whole new business, whether it's going to be that you can deposit a check by having a little machine and it goes through your computer. You don't have to go make a deposit. Now, that's my idea. They tell me things and I don't know what they're talking about, and the other girl is working with EMI [Electric & Musical Industries Limited], with records, musical records, and so on, and I have another daughter. Those are the two granddaughters. Another daughter lives in Manhattan. She has a co-op over there and she's the brilliant one in my family. She went to four or five colleges and she went to Europe and she lived over there and she married an Italian man and got married here and she never really could find herself. She tried, but I don't know, never clicked, and that's all I have on her. Other than that, there are not too many left in my family. I have two cousins in Florida, another cousin in Hilton Head, and, ... at my age level, that's it. That's about it. So, that's enough of my family.
SI: Okay. Is there anything else that you would like to add about any aspect of your life, be it the service or Rutgers or your career?
HG: Well, I never really felt as attached to Penn University as I did to Rutgers. I don't know whether it was the people I was friendly with, I lived with, close to home or what, I don't know, but I felt closer to Rutgers, and I never did much with reunions. I went to Rutgers reunions the first five or, maybe, seven years, and then, I dropped out of that. I don't think I ever went to a Penn reunion. ... I told you more than I planned to tell you and more than I expected to tell you and you shocked me when you said it may take two, two-and-a-half hours, because, right now, it's three hours, and I can't believe I talked that long. I really did. [laughter]
SI: I am very glad you did and it was a wonderful interview. If there is anything you want to add to the transcript later, you can also do that.
HG: Get in touch with you, Shaun. Shaun, it's been very nice to be with you, I'll tell you. It's nice. You're easy to get along with.
SI: Thank you very much.
HG: No, that's [fine], either here or over the telephone, either one, made no difference. It was no problem, and I had no interest in doing this, none at all, until somebody put you in touch with me, because I really felt it was all about the war and I didn't get any knowledge that it was before and after. ... I didn't think I had anything compared to other people about the war that was noteworthy, that anybody would want to read or hear, but we did it.
SI: People are interested in all aspects of World War II, the home front, medical training.
HG: Oh, really, yes?
SI: I know, at Carlisle Barracks, they have a history division within the Dental Corps and they are looking at all different resources on Dental Corps veterans and what they did and all aspects of their work. I have interviewed dentists who served in the United States, who served overseas, and it is very interesting to get all the perspectives on what your job consisted of, what was available to you. If anything comes to mind in the future, you can put that in the transcript or add notes.
HG: Add it in, yes. Well, if it does, I'll get in touch with you, but, Shaun, you were very easy to work with, and you may want to cut that out, I don't know.
SI: I appreciate all the time that you gave me. I know you only thought it would be an hour.
HG: I've got a lot of time. I didn't have anything else, but you want to eat now?
SI: First, I will conclude the tape.
HG: All right.
SI: This concludes an interview with Dr. Howard K. Goldberger on April 30, 2010. Thank you very much, sir.
HG: Thank you.
-------------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW--------------------------------------
Reviewed by Jessica Ondusko 8/30/2010
Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 9/12/13
Reviewed by Howard K. Goldberger 10/15/13