Kurt Piehler: This begins an interview with Mr. Peter M. Sarraiocco ...
Peter Sarraiocco: Sarraiocco.
KP: ...Sarraiocco, on March 3, 1995 with Kurt Piehler and...
Chris Everly: Chris Everly.
KP: ...at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. And, I guess, I'd like to begin the interview by bringing you back to your parents.
PS: It's interesting, March 3 is when I [was] inducted into active duty.
KP: Oh, really, March 3, 1942.
PS: Yeah. '40 ... That's interesting. What year, what was it now? I don't know, '43 or '44, something like that. '43 or something.
KP: Yeah, you have on the survey March, 1942. So, this is an anniversary date.
PS: '43, I think it was.
KP: I guess, I want to start with your parents.
PS: All right.
KP: Your father and mother came from Italy.
PS: They came from Italy. They came from a little town called Casoli. It's a little hill town. We visited that in the seventies, and, at that time, had about nine thousand people. I suspect, when they lived there, it must have had five, six, seven thousand people. Now, it's in a little province of Chieti. C-H-I-E-T-I. And, there's a city of Chieti, which has about 55-60,000 people, industrialized kind of a city. It's near Aquila. Most people know of Aquila, because that's a large ski resort in the Appenine Range. It's a very mountainous region. And, the location is just about due east of Rome. That would be an indicator of where it is, roughly, near the Adriatic Sea. Pescara is the nearest large seashore resort from where they were born. Now, my father came to America as a boy of fourteen, by himself, in 1900, the year 1900. And, he went to Port Richmond, in Philadelphia. I don't know if you know the Port Richmond area of Philadelphia. It's the northeast section of Philadelphia, where there's a little enclave, which still exists, of Italians. It's kind of squeezed between a large Slavic, Polish, mainly, group of people, and, towards Lehigh Avenue, a large number of Irish. But, this little enclave was a very interesting little enclave, because it was composed of two major groups, those from Abruzzi (the province of Chieti is in the Abruzzi region) and, those from, from, mainly, the area that might normally be called, people from Apulia. If you know where that is. Because, my wife's parents came from Gravina, which tells you something about the terrain. It's not a mountain type of city, it's in a ravine, like. So, they were in the southern part of Italy, and near, about sixty kilometers west of Bari, the seashore city along the Adriatic. But, anyhow, that's too many things to tell you.
KP: Oh, no. But, what you were saying about Port Richmond, he arrives at Port Richmond, which is divided between these two Italian communities...
PS: He began to, he lived with a family from Casoli. The obvious question, well, what's a fourteen-year-old boy going to do? Well, you know, he went to people that he was aware of, and, he rented there, I suppose, he was a border. He had a ... I mean, I can't even remember all the things he did. I mean, he went to Canada, and, he went to this place and that place. He was a boxer, he became a boxer, among all things. He did all kinds of things, because there was no one there to tell him he couldn't do it. And, he always used to tell me how to box, you know, "Look at the feet, that'll tell you what your opponent will do." You know, all kind[s] of strange things. Ultimately, around 1916-17, something like that, he went into the Army of the United States. He became a citizen, and, went into the Army.
KP: So, at sixteen, he was in the, he was in the Army before he was eighteen.
PS: No, no, no, he was fourteen when he came to America, but, I'm saying, in 1916...
KP: 1916, yeah...
PS: So, sixteen years later, he was already ... whatever that is, thirty-years-old, I guess. But, he went into the Army, and, he was based at El, no, wait a minute, Del Rio, Texas, under Pershing. And, he used to tell me about going into Mexico, because, at that time, Pancho Villa was a problem. And, Pershing, you know, took expeditions into Mexico and tried to overcome the problem with Pancho Villa. And, I couldn't believe that, I would say that, I wouldn't dare tell him, but, I thought, "Well, he's just mistaken." After all, we were fighting in Europe. We were fighting Germany in Europe, we weren't fighting in Mexico. 'Cause, see, he knew, he experienced it. And, nobody realizes that we were having a little, the Germans were very interested in starting up troubles in [Mexico]. Well, you're a historian, you know more about that ...
KP: What did he say about his experiences?
PS: Well, I know one thing he said, he was a very short man. He said, when he played football with the men in his unit, he was a fullback.
KP: So, while they were chasing Pancho Villa, they would break and play football.
PS: I thought, I didn't want to express disbelief at these "stories" he told me. I'm sure they had fun with football, and things of that nature. No, he didn't say too much about exactly what he did, but, he remembered Blackjack Pershing. And, I thought, well, that's interesting, but, his stories didn't make sense to me, based on my, then, understanding of the war with Germany. He thought the man that was really the great general was the, I forget what his name was, Marsh, I believe. The fellow was the, I suppose, the equivalent of the Chief of Staff, like Marshall was. I forget what his name was, but, you know, Pershing got a lucky break, just like Eisenhower did.
KP: What else did he say about Pershing? Did he have much contact with him?
PS: No, he didn't really have contact, but, I suppose, he didn't really have negative things to say. After all, he had a job to do and he did it. But, after that, he came back to the Philadelphia area, and, I have to tell you the other side of the story, about my mother. My mother was engaged to marry his brother, whose name was Peter. And, Peter was in the Italian Army and, near the last day of the war, fought and was killed at the Battle of Caporetto. You know that story? ... The tremendous defeat, and, he was killed. And, I guess, the families must have communicated. And, my father said, "Well, then, I will marry her." And so, they married by proxy. He was here and she was there. They married by proxy.
KP: Had he met her?
PS: Well, I suppose, he knew of her and, of course, her family. At the place he was living, the people knew the families of the town (Casoli) very well.
KP: But, he had never personally met her?
PS: But, maybe he had. I don't know, but, I doubt it. I don't how he could have met her. He was, then, let's say, this must have been, I'm going to guess, around 1920. So, that's twenty more years, he was about thirty-three. They married when he was about thirty-three-years-old, but, my mother used to say, "Well, see, he was as old as our Lord was when he was crucified." [laughter] So, he was about thirty-three, and, she was about twenty-two, at the most, twenty-one-twenty-two. So, he probably, he knew the family. They both came from the same town, which is interesting, yeah. I went there and I tried to find where they lived, and, I found where they lived. My mother used to always say, this is a side issue, that they lived under the church. And, I thought, "How did they live under the church?" And, sure enough, where their little house was, the large church was at the very top of the town. And, sure enough, it was strategically shadowed by the church. So, anyhow, so, they married by proxy, and, she came over. I thought that was interesting. So, when I was born, I was named Peter, because that was his brother's name and the name of the man that she normally would have married. That's why they named me Peter, interesting, yeah. I suppose that happens, in those days. It happens more often than we think.
KP: The way your parents met, I mean, they were married before they met.
PS: In effect.
KP: In effect. And, how did that go? What was their relationship like?
PS: I suppose, it was just about what would be expected. The man in the Italian family normally was quite an authoritarian figure, but, my father really wasn't that authoritarian. My mother really ran things. My mother was very intelligent. She was uneducated, but, she was very, I mean, she had tremendous intuition and was a very strong person. I suppose that was very valuable. Because, although, they were poor and had little money, they were fortunate that he began working for, what was then, the Vacuum Oil Company, in Paulsboro, New Jersey. That is a story in itself, what he did. But, so, he had kind of a steady job, but, when the Depression came, we barely made do. The most interesting aspect to the whole thing is, I guess, they realized that I wanted to educate myself. One of the biggest lacks during this time, and into adulthood, was the lack of a mentor. My parents, in effect, couldn't really be my mentors. They had a limited education. They never stood in my way, but, they had no way of guiding me. Well, what should I do? What field? They didn't have the background. And, in the school system, I must admit, I used to think ... well, the teachers, they were adequate teachers. There was nothing wrong with them. Some of them were better than others, some weren't. But, I always used to think, "Well, why are they just teachers, why aren't they really doing something more in the world?" you know. When you're young like that, you think you're going to go out and you're going to just change the world. Well, the world doesn't want to be changed. [laughter.] But, I really thought that. I never expressed it very vocally, but, I thought that. I thought, "Well, when I get out there, I'm going to do something." What? Who knows? But, I didn't give them much credence. Now, I must admit that, being in a spot where you can influence children is very important. As a matter of fact, that's one of our big problems. We're not influencing our children enough in the right direction. I don't know what your feelings are, but, I feel that way very strongly.
KP: Just to back up very quickly ... Do you think your father would have wanted to go back to Italy when he was living here? Because, he was single, and, he didn't have family?
PS: Well, no, not really. The only thing that did occur though is when he was very old. When my son was ready to graduate high school, they both had decided, he and my son were going to go to Italy, you know, for a trip. That's about all he really wanted to do. He really never thought about going back, per se. Well, in the first place, he left as a child. And, I mean, ... I think I have to give them a tremendous amount of credit, all these people, because they left the homeland never expecting to return. I mean, spiritually, they must have been very strong people, to be willing to give up the comfort of experience of home to go to a new, strange land, never to return.
KP: Because, a lot of Italians, a lot of single males did go back to Italy.
PS: Anyhow, about the time my son did graduate from high school, my father became very sick and they had to cancel their plans to travel to Italy. Soon after, my father died. He was seventy-eight-years-old. Well, now, I have to give you the story about my wife's side. What happened there was, yes, I'm trying to remember if her grandfather came by himself first, and then, I'm not sure whether he came over by himself first, and then, had the children come. But, anyhow, they finally did come, and, the interesting thing that occurred was that, in those days, (you could do it today, too) you can have one passport with the names of the parents and all the children. Unfortunately, they left off one child's name by mistake, so, she couldn't go. Well, she was, I'm going to guess, around sixteen or seventeen, something like that. So, she had to stay behind. And, shortly thereafter, the grandfather sends her money to come to America. She decided she didn't want to go, because she had a boyfriend, and, instead, they married. So, when we went back to Italy for the first trip, 1968, we saw her in Gravina, Angelina, her name was. She had raised her family, and so forth. ... They, ultimately, had a bakery in the town. So, they did okay, you know, but, it was a strange set of circumstances. The whole incident is actually more complex than I have described. The grandfather of my wife was actually the step-father of Angelina, because her father had died earlier and the twin brother of her father then married her mother (my wife's grandmother). At the time, there were eight children, four had been born from the marriage with the first husband and four with the second. The second husband died in the late 30s or early 40s. My wife's father also came from Gravina and he was also much older than my wife's mother (thirteen years.) They were married about the same time my parents were married and they also lived in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia.
KP: So, that's how your parents met. They grew up in Port Richmond, or they lived in Port Richmond.
PS: Yeah. Well, no. We didn't live there very long, but, we always would go back. What happened was, for a short time, I don't know how long, and I don't remember the details, they went to Conshohocken, near Philadelphia, stayed there for, probably, less than a year. Then, came back to Port Richmond. And, I know the house where I was born. It's on the corner of Thompson and Somerset streets, the corner row house. But, shortly thereafter, they moved to Paulsboro, New Jersey. Because, I think, mainly, because of the job at Mobil. But, I'm a little confused about that, because he had a younger brother who was here, and, this brother died in the Thirties. His name was Camille. And, I think, he was trying to be involved in a soft drink manufacturing operation. And, I think, the idea was, that my father would get involved with him, too. And, they went to live in Paulsboro, a little town, on a street called Jefferson Street. But, shortly thereafter, the plans of my brothers never materialized and my parents moved to a farmhouse out of town. There were a couple houses that a farmer, by the name of Grasso, had outside the town of Paulsboro, near Gibbstown, and, we were there about a year, I suspect. The reason I remember that is, I remember standing out on the adjacent highway, waiting for the school bus to come. I was four-years-old, and, I wanted to go to school. And, they wouldn't take me, because I was too young, and I was distraught.
KP: You were very eager to go to school.
PS: Oh! To me, I can't, I can't ever understand anybody saying that school is no fun. To me, school was the brightest spot in my whole life. I just loved school. I mean, to me, to learn, learn, learn, learn that was a tremendous experience. I still feel that way. I'm still trying to learn. I'm still reading all kinds of things that I probably shouldn't be reading. [laughter.]
KP: What about your brothers and sisters? Did they feel the same way about school?
PS: Probably, very similar, not exactly the same. As a matter of fact, my sister just recently said to me, you know, she and my brother would say, "I don't think Pete was really our brother. Pete must have been adopted, because he's so different." [laughter.] I talked to her on the phone about that. I had to get down deep and dirty on that, and, find out about what they really thought about me. My brother was about a year and a half younger than I was. Unfortunately, he was killed in ...
KP: In the invasion of Guam.
PS: Guam, yeah. And, I went to see his grave there. That's a little story in itself. Because, when the incident happened, we wrote to the chaplain to get some details. Now, the lieutenant, his name was Buenos Young, wrote, said, "Well, this and that happened." He went to save two men that were wounded, and, in the incident, why, he was cut down as well, and, he died. So, but, we never got word from the chaplain. When I went to the grave, two or three graves over, was the chaplain's grave. He had been killed as well, but, we never found out the details. I suppose the letter got lost. When I found that out, I wrote home, and I told them. No wonder the chaplain never answered, he was killed as well, you know, in the invasion, presumably. At home, I must admit, I probably browbeat my brother quite a bit. [laughter.] Because, I remember, I'd have him carry my books and things like that, you know, which, I think, now, was terrible. [laughter.]
KP: What about your sister?
PS: My brother looked up to me. I had to admire him, you know, I thought, "Boy, he was a good soul." My sister, she was five years younger, and, that was a tremendous difference. I mean, we knew that she existed, that's about it. [laughter] She was a good student and all that, and, that part was good. But, you know, she was just an also-ran in a sense, you know, to us boys. We were involved in our own fun and games. But, anyhow. We've had a pretty good relationship, but, it had not been very close until just more recently. It's been closer because she just lost her husband this past year. He died. And, you know, we've been talking much more than ...
KP: ...Than when you were growing up.
PS: Right, yeah. I mean, we'd communicate, but, that's strange. That five year difference was significant.
KP: Whereas, you and your brother were very close growing up.
PS: Relatively close. We slept in the same bed. And, I still remember, we converted our bed into a fort, fighting wars right and left. [laughter.] Things like that. But, you know, we had good experiences as kids.
KP: Your parents moved down to Paulsboro because of the family connection.
PS: Because, basically, because of work. In other words ... I began telling you, he went to the farmhouse, and then, after one year, we moved to Capitol Street, which is right next to the Paulsboro High School. I have to tell you about Capitol Street, that's an interesting story in itself, too. Because, he began working for the Mobil Oil Company, which was originally the Vacuum Oil Company. Then, it became Socony Vacuum, then, Socony-Mobil, and then, Mobil. I mean, it went through all these transitions, you might say. And, he, basically, was a laborer, but, he was in the ... I don't know what you'd call it, the filling department. He did some maintenance work, pipe fitting, things like that. He went here, there, everywhere when he was working for them. And, somewhere in the early Fifties, he retired. So, it was good, in that respect, he had a good, steady job. Now, I'll tell you about Capitol Street. Capitol Street was a one block long street. And, there was another street right next to it, called Roosevelt Street. But, mainly, Capitol Street is important because, except for maybe two families, they were all Italian families. And, they were all friendly. It was a nice street, because everybody behaved themselves. We played out in the street, played all kinds of kid's games. But, there were close family ties. And, it was interesting. A few years ago, they had a reunion of the old Capitol Street and Roosevelt Street people. They had a reunion. My sister told me about it. So, the next year, they had another reunion, so, we went to the second reunion. And, we met all the old families, you know, that had lived there, and, talked about the kids and all that. Then, we didn't do it again after that. But, I thought it was interesting, because, they were only held together because they originally had come from Italy. They didn't come from the same place. There were two or three from Abruzzi, two or three, a fair number from the southern part of Italy, one was from Rome. My sister and I were trying to figure out where they came from. And, there was one, I remember, the one Polish, Slavic, I presume it was Polish, might have been Lithuanian family. The oldest son was John Michalski. I remember playing checkers with the fellow. He was about two or three-years-older than me. He always beat me. I couldn't stand that! [laughter] Two or three years, when you're like twelve, or eleven, or thirteen, that's very significant. It's amazing how your mind improves its acuity in a short time. But, anyhow, he had two or three brothers. So, that was one family. We all got along very well. And, there was another family next door to our house. And, I still remember an old, what, to me, seemed like an old man, and, I'd go there, and, he'd be reading a Polish paper. He'd says, "You want to read it?" And, I said, "Well, you know, I'll read it." So, I would read it, phonetically. "Oh, that's interesting," but, I didn't know what I was reading. [laughter.] I didn't mind trying. But, they lived there for a while. I never kept track of what happened to them. But, basically, all the others stayed on the street for a good while. My aunt and uncle, they lived a couple of doors down the street from us, so, that was good, because, then, holidays we'd get together. Christmas time was especially a nice time, especially for the children. They had more children. I had a sister and a brother, but, they had two boys, one, two, three girls, five children. So, we got along very well with them. I remember the one fellow, Fred. He's still alive. He's about seventy-six, or something like that. He was a junior, no, yeah, ... when I was a freshman in high school, he was a junior. And, we'd go to the auditorium, waiting for classes to start, and, we'd do cryptograms. You know what cryptograms are? They're lines of letters which are mixed up. You're supposed to figure out what it really says. So, naturally, what you start out doing is, count the number of letters, the one with the most, you think that's an "e," because "e" is the most common letter. By the process of elimination, and so forth, you solve the puzzle, in effect. We would do that, everyday we'd do that. I reminded him not too long ago and [he] said, "Yeah, I remember that." Just a mental exercise, and we'd have fun. Then, the bell would ring, we'd go to class. But, that street was a nice experience. We didn't realize it at the time, but, it was a good experience, because, in a sense, it was self-controlling.
KP: What about the other streets in Paulsboro? And, the rest of the people in high school and elementary school? Where did they come from?
PS: Well, they came from Paulsboro. And, in those days, in high school, they brought in a lot of people from outlying districts, which, now, have their own high schools, like Deptford, West Deptford, like Bridgeport, Gibbstown, a whole large area would feed into Paulsboro. It's hard without looking it up. I would guess, at least maybe about one-third, or more, of the students were coming in by bus.
KP: That area was very agricultural.
PS: Yes, it was. I remember working on the farms. I would, as a kid, in the summertime, I thought, "Well, I have to work. I want to earn some money." So, I would go out to the farms and work pickin' peas, or beans, tomatoes. One year, there was another fellow who lived on the same street, Joe Minniti. He, ultimately, became a doctor. But, he and I thought, "Well, let's go together," and, we found a woman who had a little farm. And, we agreed to pick all of her tomatoes on this particular farm. I don't know how many acres it was, probably had to be two or three acres. So, for a couple of kids, it was nice little work. So, that's what we did, we'd go there at five o'clock in the morning, six o'clock, pick the tomatoes, and, by twelve, one o'clock, we'd be finished, and we'd go home. We used bikes to go. This was near Clarksboro. So, it must have been ... five miles distant, maybe, something like that. It wasn't very far. When it rained, I don't know if you know anything about tomatoes, you couldn't pick while it was raining. The next day, it was almost impossible, because, then, there'd be too many ripened tomatoes. You'd have to really work, I mean, it would be a tremendous task. So, we'd hire. I had my brother, and he had a brother, John. So, we'd hire the brothers. And, we couldn't understand why they didn't have the same feeling about picking tomatoes that we did. I mean, they dawdled. We were paying them by the hour. And, I learned about enterprise, then. When you're doing things for yourself, man, you'll work your backside off. But, if you're just working for a little pay. [laughter.] It was a tremendous lesson in labor, you know, and, at the time, we couldn't understand that. We would pick twice as much as they would pick. And, they were only, well, a year, or so, younger than we were. It wasn't that they didn't have the physical stamina to be able to do it. The attitude was different. So, that's what would happened then.
KP: This farm, who owned it? Was it an Italian family who owned it?
PS: No, no. It was just a woman. I don't remember her background, or anything, but, she wasn't Italian. For some reason, she had a farm. And, it was interesting, she had a few cows, two or three cows. And, we'd have lunch. In our family, there's a little story, about six sandwiches. When I'd go, my mother would give me six sandwiches, and, that's my lunch. Six sandwiches. Well, the reason was, I'd normally have three or four, and, it wasn't enough. I was too hungry. So, she began to make six. [laughter.] You can imagine how much energy, we'd expend. A lot of energy, we'd, you know, work very hard and fast. So, the kids couldn't get over that, especially our grandchildren. When we talk about six sandwiches, right away, they know what we're talking about. But, interestingly, the farmer asked if we wanted any milk. So, I said, "Yeah." So, she gave us a quart of milk every time for lunch. And, we drank that at lunchtime. [laughter.] When I think back, I think, we must have been pretty hungry. But, of course, we'd attack everything with a will. And, it worked out very well. We enjoyed it.
KP: Was there any sort of conflict with the farm people, between the people that lived in the outlying farm areas and the people who lived in Paulsboro? Was there a division?
PS: No. Well, nothing that, as a child, that I'd be aware of. But, I remember, the kids that were in school. For example, there was a dairy south of Paulsboro called Pobanz. And, his son, he came to school and was in my class. I think his name was Otto. I don't know if he died recently, or not. So, we would meet these children of farmers in school, but, you know, it didn't really interfere with our relationships in any way. If there were any political aspects to it, I wasn't really that much aware of it.
KP: You didn't look down on the farm people?
PS: Not really. No, I mean, I respected the ...
KP: I guess, from your picking ...
PS: Yeah. I remember, one time, we topped onions. I have to explain what that is. Onions are in the ground, just barely in the ground. You pull them up. And then, you take the remnant of the leaf off, and, the root, with a knife. Just cut it and put in a basket. And so, we'd try to do it as fast as possible. You'd get very little, you might get, I don't remember what we got, say, three or four cents a basket. One year, there happened to be an irrigated farm on the way to Clarksboro, from Paulsboro, where they had these onions, and, they were ready for picking. And, they were so profuse that, in about that far, (about 18") you could fill a basket. That's how each row was so profuse with onions. And so, Joe and I, we took a job doing that. We just really worked so hard, and we made a lot of money, for those days. We might have made ... seventy-five or eighty cents an hour. We added it all up. And, that was fantastic. The typical employee at, say, Mobil, which was known to be a pretty good paying enterprise, might be paying forty-five or forty-eight-forty-nine cents an hour, at the time. See, so, we'd be very proud to be able to say to our parents, "Well, we did very well today."[laughter] But, there were other sides of the story, too, and I remember, I remember, I ... there was a railroad that goes through the town, and then, it crosses Mantua Creek. And, just before it crosses, there was a place where the locomotives would stay, maybe change a freight car, or what have you. And, I had noticed that they would drop coal. And, the coal was bituminous coal, and, when it burns, there are some coals that don't burn through. And, it becomes coke. In other words, only part of the burning has occurred. That's how they make coke. I mean, they take out certain ingredients. There's a light mass left which still has a lot of heat energy in it, it's coke. And, there's also slag and what have you. I saw that, I, I said to my mother, you know, "I'm going to bring my wagon over there. I'm going to get as much of the coke as I can. We can use it." Because, at that time, we had a coal stove. And, that's what I did ... It wasn't a big deal, but, I suppose, I don't know what coal cost in those days, but, I suppose it was an expensive item.
KP: Your mother appreciated it, then?
PS: Oh, yes, she did.
KP: Did you maintain a garden growing up?
PS: Yes, I had my own garden. I learned by reading about it, and, I thought, "Gee, I'm going to make my own garden." Typically, what happened, the springtime and early summer, everything in the garden was perfect. Then, other activities would come into the picture, maybe it was work, what have you. By the end of the summer, the whole thing would be overrun with weeds. But, the point is, I did go through the effort. And, I had a little place for peas, little place for, naturally, radishes. They come up very fast. I don't if you know anything about gardening, but, radishes come up fast, and, lettuce and ... you know, a combination of things. And, I'd have a division in the middle, where you could walk, and then, separate little places for each vegetable. Funny, my brother never got involved with it, ... nor my sister.
KP: What about your parents?
PS: Well, to some extent. The thing that my father liked, we had a grapevine in the back, an arbor like, a pathway to the back where, where the garden was. And, ... he made the vines cross over, so, it would be like a passageway. And, he would raise these grapes, and, periodically, he'd make wine. In the basement, he'd have a little winepress, and, he'd make bottles of wine. Sometimes, he tried beer, too, and, sometimes, root beer. I never liked the root beer as much as the store bought, because, you'd have the carbonation in the store bought and he didn't bother with that. It didn't come out as well. And, he didn't make that much wine. He made enough to satisfy the household needs. It wasn't too bad, I suppose, as wine would go, but, another thing I did, too, is, I began raising rabbits and guinea pigs. And, that was interesting, because they wouldn't last very long. Ultimately, they would get sick and they'd die, but, I started out with a couple. How old I was, I don't remember. I must have been, I'm going to have to guess, around ten, or eleven, something like that. These were good experiences, because, you learn things that you'd never have learned otherwise, and we built a hutch, hutches, you know, little compartments for these rabbits. Every day, I'd go there and feed them greens, vegetables, leaves, or what have you, but, ultimately, they'd die. Finally, after I got tired of it, that was that. But, they were strange animals ... For some reason, I guess, genetically, like, sometimes, the fur would be different, one from another. Why that occurred, I wasn't aware. At that time, I hadn't studied enough to know.
CE: Was your dad one of the few people in the neighborhood who had a steady job?
PS: Yeah. Well, most of them, I would say most of them did. Most of them worked, either at Dupont, or, at Mobil. Now, I'm sure that there were others that worked elsewhere, but, most of them worked there, you know, and, it would be hard for me to know. I know that there was a widow, Midilli the name was. She had lost her husband, how I don't know, illness, or what have you. And, she had, at least, two boys and a girl. And, the boy was a-year-older than I was in high school, a very good student. And, Sam, I remember him, he was a year or two younger than I was. And, they managed, I mean, they struggled, but, they managed ... What kind of help she got, I don't know, but, you know, they lived good lives. Unfortunately, what happened to Nunzio, he was the older, just about the time he graduated from high school, he, (now, we know what it is), was manic depressive, big cycles. And so, ultimately, he had to be hospitalized. I don't think they had lithium in those days to handle it. Much later on, they were able to handle it. So, that was rather tragic, because, he was a very good student, a very top-notch student. And, normally, he would have gone on to college, and so forth. I remember going to their house, to listen to baseball over the radio, and, he'd be there. In those days, when you listened to the baseball game by radio, you kept score, and you kept the tallies, the way you would normally do if you went to a game. But, I still remember that. I must admit, I don't know what happened to him subsequently, but, I know that he had to be hospitalized. Sam, Sam worked for Mobil, but, ultimately, he left and began to sell insurance and has done very well in insurance. So, he worked out to become rather successful.
KP: How steady was your father's work? Did he worked reduced hours at all during the Depression?
PS: Well, he was ... I don't know. They reduced the pay in the middle of the Depression, I know that. I mean, almost automatically ... they reduced the pay to some minimal level, I forgot what it might have been, maybe twenty-five cents an hour, thirty cents an hour, something like that. But, he still worked.
KP: But, his work was steady?
PS: Yeah. But, I know, I seem to remember that there was a period there, either, he got sixteen dollars a week, or, sixteen dollars for two weeks, you know, for a period. God rest her soul, my mother must have had a hell of a time trying to make it do. [laughter.]
KP: Did your mother run the finances of the family?
PS: In effect, yeah. He would give her the money, and, she'd dole it out. [laughter.] I remember, I remember scrubbing the floors. My brother and I had one job, automatically, no question about it. We had to wash and dry the dishes. So, we made a game out of it, to try and see how fast we could wash and dry the dishes, and try to beat our record from the next day. So, one day, I would wash, I don't remember how we worked that out, whether I washed, you know, we'd shift around. One day, I'd wash, he'd dry, and, the other day, I'd dry and he'd wash. But, so, that way, the job was done rather fast. But, the movies, naturally, kids would want to go to the movies, because that was good entertainment. And, I'd have to scrub the kitchen floor, and, we also had a little, like a half bath, it was a toilet facility, right adjacent to the kitchen. It was an unheated floor there. And, I would try to convince my mother that if I were to scrub that floor, that, maybe, she would give me a dime to go to the movies. Sometimes, it would work. I liked to do it, anyhow. But, there were times when I could convince her to part with the dime, so I could go see a movie, you know, which, normally, occurred on Saturday. I suppose that's a common story.
KP: Your parents, did they speak Italian at home, or English, or a little of both?
PS: Mainly Italian. A matter of fact, I remember, when I was six-years-old, writing letters in Italian to their parents in Italy. My father would kind of guide me, and, I suppose, I must have written the words phonetically because Italian is a fairly easy language. The letters mean things. It's a shame that most Americans don't realize that. Like, g-l-i is "lia", automatically. For example, there's a fellow I know, and, his name is Spagnola. In English, we say Spagnola because, "g" has to be pronounced, but, that's not the way it is in Italian. The "g," before another consonant like that, infers that, I don't know what you would call that part of the language. It would be "?a". In other words, there are little rules like this. Not many of them, there are little rules like this that help you. And so, it's a rather easy language to write, or speak. Also, if there is a double consonant, that means that syllable is emphasized, typically. And, usually, the next to the last syllable is emphasized for a word. So, with these little rules, it makes the language not too difficult.
---------------------- END SIDE ONE, TAPE ONE--------------------
KP: Your father, was he ever in a union while he was working at Mobil?
PS: No, I don't think they had a union. Ultimately, they did have a union. Whether it started by the time he had retired, I'm not sure. But, if it did, it wasn't a very strong union. In other words, the people, generally speaking, the people in the town liked Mobil. Mobil and Dupont were very high paying companies, compared to the rest of the area. The parents would try to get their sons to work there, and so forth. A family kind of arrangement, if it were at all possible, because they had a good system. Ultimately, I began working for Dupont. When I left Rutgers, and went to school at the College of South Jersey, I went at night and I worked during the day. And, I worked at, what was then called, the Physical Testing Laboratory, for making neoprene. They made neoprene down in Deep Water, New Jersey. I don't know if you knew that. Ultimately, the operation went to Louisville, Kentucky. And, here's what would happen, I'd go there, I could go there dressed. I'd go to a locker, and, I'd take all my clothes off, get my work clothes, go through a shower area, to another locker, where I'd have my work clothes. In other words, I had two sets of lockers with a shower area in between. The work clothes would be in one and the other clothes in the other. And, in effect, when I got through work, I'd take off my work clothes, take a shower, and so forth, go the other locker, and be all dressed to go out on a date, or what have you. [laughter] I mean, it was a pretty good deal. And, that was back in the, you know, ... early Forties. So, they were quite advanced in the way they handled the situation with their employees.
KP: So, both Mobil and Dupont compared well to other employers around that area.
PS: Yes, they were very good. And, that's why I think, if it were generally to be stated, the people liked that. They enjoyed their relationships.
KP: Were your parents active in churches and any other organizations?
PS: Not really too much. I was more active in the church than they were, really. My father, ultimately, later on, he would go to church. My mother hardly ever went, but, I would. I became an altar boy, for example.
KP: Had you thought of the priesthood at all?
PS: I'm sorry.
KP: Had you thought of becoming a priest?
PS: No, no, but, ... frankly, I didn't particularly like the priest that we had there. I thought he was reclusive and he kind of looked down on people. I hated that. ...
KP: Was he Italian?
PS: No, he wasn't.
PS: I don't remember what his background was, but, they shifted priests around, of course, but, I didn't especially like that attitude. The obvious question is, why'd I become an altar boy? Well, other boys were, you know, and I enjoyed that. Then, in those days, of course, the responses were in Latin. That was interesting, because I began using Latin before I even studied it in high school.
CE: When you were at home, did your parents talk at all about the politics in Italy, like Mussolini, for example?
PS: My father-in-law did more, but, even that was not that great. One thing, I have to bring up, ... we'd go to Port Richmond. My godmother was there, on Edgemont Street, and, we'd go there every year. Mainly, when the Feast of Saint Anne would occur, which is roughly around July the 25th. There was a Church of Saint Anne, but, that wasn't the important thing. The important thing was, the Italian people there would celebrate. And, they had a band, ultimately, they had two or three bands, made up of young boys, and, I joined one of them, myself. A brass band, you know, in effect, with trumpets, clarinets, tubas, baritones, clarinets, piccolos, what have you. [It was] very interesting, because, what did we play? We played symphonic marches, and, we, also, played at nights when there would be concerts. We'd played arias from the operas. And, I just recently went to see La Traviata. And, it was an emotional experience for me, because, the whole opera was filled with arias that we had played when we were children. I thought, "Oh, what an experience." I ... just reminisce about going through that. I didn't appreciate it at the time. But, I thought, "Jeez, the music was so interesting." But, I already was familiar with the music. And, I thought of my brother-in-law, because, he's a little younger than I am. I thought, "I'm going to have to get him to go to that opera, because he'll just love to hear the same music that he was playing." I played the trumpet, and, he played the trumpet, too, at the time. That was an interesting experience, because, we learned a lot about music. Matter of fact, when I was sixteen, I composed a symphonic march, and orchestrated it, for the band. I had never had the formal education to do it. I thought, "Well, I'll figure it out." And so, the maestro, very willingly, had the band play it. And, naturally, it was difficult, because, when you go through it a first time, it's not easy to do. But, I thought, "Well,"... To me, it was an interesting learning experience. See, and it was easy for me to worry about the treble clef, because that was what I was ... learned in, you might say. But, then, I had to figure out, how do you handle the bass clef? It's different than the treble clef, so, I had to figure it out, because music for certain instruments is written in the bass clef. So, it worked out. I then wrote out all the parts for the various instruments: trumpet, tuba, and baritones, French horns, clarinets, flutes, etc. And, I made enough copies to pass around to the band. And, we played it. Now, you ask me, what happened to it, I don't know what happened to it. I lost it.
KP: What other activities did you engage in? Were you a Boy Scout?
PS: No, but, we played baseball, softball. Actually, I had a very prolific, creative time when I was sixteen: As I mentioned, I composed the symphonic march. I also wrote a treatise on the muckrakers and a treatise on painting (art) in the United States. I had forgotten all about them when, one day, a few years ago, my sister gave them to me, since she had kept them all those years.
KP: Were you on any high school teams?
PS: Track team. I tried to run, wasn't too successful. But, you know, I was small and young. Those days, I was seventeen when I graduated. Of course, that was not unusual, that was the rule, rather than the exception. Although, a lot of them graduated maybe a little later, eighteen, or so. But, I tried, and I enjoyed it, but, I just didn't have enough to be good. But, interestingly enough, by the time I got into the service, we also ran in the service. I got into the Air Corps cadets, I guess, we were, I'm trying to remember where we were, either in Santa Ana, or one of those places ... I thought I was, a miler. But, when I was in the service, I always won those races, because, I was practiced enough, and, I, now, had gained a few years and had become more robust, and, I was able to do a pretty good job running the mile, you know, while all the others would tag along. The mile is an arduous run. You've got to be in fairly good condition. It's not like a 100 yard dash, or even your 220, where you get a spurt of energy, and then, you're done. The mile, you have to kind of conserve your energy, to be able to last. So, that was interesting. I never thought about it 'til later. I thought, see, I probably developed, so that, I would be able to do a better job as I got to be nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, and so forth. In high school, I just couldn't do it. But, I, religiously, every year, I'd go out for track and try. Internally, we had the normal, you know, wrestling and intramural sports we'd participate in, but, summertime, we'd play softball. I did very well with softball. We enjoyed that. We had a team, and, we'd play other teams. That was pretty good
KP: What did your parents think of Franklin Roosevelt?
PS: Oh, they thought he was great.
KP: Your neighbors?
PS: The same thing. I mean, most of the people there were Democrats. I suppose, I started out being a Democrat, politically. Ultimately, I was too interested in entrepreneurship, and so forth, so, ultimately, I shifted to being a Republican. But, I can understand, I can understand the background, the reasoning. It's a fine line between helping people and disabling them. It's one thing we haven't learned yet, in our society, and, maybe, we'll never learn. It's a difficult thing. I mean, the idea of being your brother's keeper is a very deep philosophical item, because ... I've come to feel, to keep my brother, the best thing I can do for him is to enable him to pick himself up by his own bootstraps, and be able to be free and independent. The worst thing that could happen to him is for him to be dependent on others, and lose his sense of identity. And, we've done too much of that. Now, ... I can speak that way, because, I had to do, whatever I did, I didn't do that much, but, whatever I did, I did on my own. My parents never stood in my way, and others didn't either, but, I was willing to take the gambles. And, I lost some, won some. But, it was a beautiful experience, and, I still feel the same way.
KP: Did your parents own their home?
PS: Well, that's an interesting situation. All the homes on Capitol Street were rented, for reasons unknown to me. I can just surmise. We knew a Realtor in Paulsboro. His name was Chesney. And, for some reason, I guess, he must have liked our family. He asked my parents, "Why not buy a house on Commerce Street?" That was about 1935, I would guess. No ... '37, '37. So, sure enough, they bought a house, and, I was involved in the purchase. I mean, the one thing my parents did, they would, even though I was young, they would confer with me about decisions that seemed to be significant. That was one of them. I still remember being in the Realtor's office and going over the details.
KP: Why would they want to confer with you? Why do you think?
PS: Because, they thought I had an ounce of intelligence. Not that they were dumb.
KP: But, they ... thought you could contribute something to this?
PS: Yes ... They thought a lot of me. I thought, they thought a lot more about me than I thought about them, I must admit. It's only, I have to tell you a little experience about that. You see, it's a matter of what love is. As a child, you don't really know what love is. What tells you what love is, is when you're a parent, and this happened to me. My son decided to go to California, in the 60s, after he had graduated from high school, after working for Sears, and so forth. He and another fellow decided, "We're going to go to California." And, we thought, "Well, all right, they go California, they'll never come back." And, I remember, four o' clock in the morning, he was leaving, and, I just couldn't stand it. I mean, I just bust out crying, and, I said to my wife, you know, "Now I know, now I know what love really is." You don't realize what love is until you feel it so deep that it's emotionally upsetting to you, and, that's what it was. When he was leaving, I thought, "Man, I'll never see him again," you know. And, when you're a child, you don't understand that. I mean, you think you do. You think you love your parents, but, it's not significant until the hand gets in there and crushes your heart, and, you know, you can't do anything about it. Then, you understand, but, then, you're a mature parent ... adult. So, I tell that story, occasionally, because ... See, my son, now, he's got a kid that's at Trenton State, another kid was accepted at Rutgers. I wanted the older son to come to Rutgers, but, he chose another school. I thought, "Well." [laughter] For his own sake, 'cause, you know, there are things at this school that you can't find [elsewhere]. He's studying physics. And, he doesn't know ... I still think he's trying to find which way he should go, so. What Rutgers offers is that you have a tremendous opportunity to shift here, there, what have you, and, not hurt yourself. But, I don't know how we got sidetracked there. But, I'm sure I loved my parents. I mean, to me, they were important people, my mother, especially. I have to tell you an incident. I told this to the grandchildren, not too long ago. You have to tell little stories, so they can be impressed, so they'll remember you. When I graduated, I was the salutatorian, and, I had to give a talk. I wrote my own talk. A faculty advisor said, "Well, you shouldn't do this." So, we modified it. I had to give it before the student body first. And, I gave it, but I was so nervous. I mean, I went through it, no problem, but, I was absolutely overwhelmed, you know, in the difficulty of the task. That evening, we had the graduation. And, I remember, we walked in. I was the last one in line. In the first row, on the first seat, was my mother. And, as I passed her, she put her hand out, and I grabbed it, you know, and, naturally, she was beaming with pleasure that I was there and all. And, you know, I didn't think about it at the time, but, I know, what happened ... that just calmed me. Because, when I gave the talk that night, it went absolutely smooth. And, I thought, it was just as if nobody could deter me. I never realized, probably, what happened is, that she was the one influence that made the change. And, I told that to the kids, I said, "Well, you know, just shows how love could reach out and affect you." And, I believe that was the case.
KP: My father, who was Catholic, grew up in northern New Jersey. One of his distinct childhood memories is the Klu Klux Klan trying to drive him out.
PS: Now, that's interesting, yeah. In South Jersey, there was a lot of, I'll say, anti-Catholic prejudice. A fair amount, I would say. Now, I was a youngster, I still, I remember the discussion about incidences of crosses being burned. Now, I never saw them, you know, but, that it was run rampant through the community. They would say, well, that this happened, you know, what have you. But, I didn't notice any overt acts, though, I'm sure there were.
KP: You wouldn't be surprised if you learned later that there were.
PS: Yeah, I'm sure, yeah. Now, see, we were Italian. Italians, in those days, were not looked upon as especially good people. I mean, there was an inherent prejudice. I remember, I began working for GE [General Electric]. Now, GE is a pretty good company. I still like them, very nice company. I was an engineer. And, I remember working with the engineers there, and, I'd always try to go to lunch with a group of them, and, we'd have discussions. All kinds of discussions. I'd always lead a discussion about something. Not necessarily about engineering subjects. Although, sometimes, that was the case, too. But, I remember one engineer who lived in Clifton, and, he had a problem, apparently. He told about problems in the area. He was saying something about, "Well, you know, they were Italians, so, what do you expect." He didn't realize when he said it that I was Italian, and, he said, "Well, I don't mean you." I didn't say anything, but, I thought, see, that's unfortunate, because he generalized. That's the problem, the generalization from a specific ... You know, we all face that. I mean, you're losing hair there, so, people might have a prejudice about bald heads. [laughter.] So, how would you feel, it would be terrible. Or, short people, I mean, I noticed that, incidentally, I'm short, and there's a natural bias against short people in the service, for example. I noticed that. I mean, who would be chosen as a sergeant, at the end of the line? The guy that was tallest. He had no other attributes. He would just happen to be tall. And, I would rail against that. I couldn't stand that. I thought that's a horrible thing, to make a selection on that basis. But, you know, that's the way life is. You have to stand the gas some way. I don't know anything about Reich, the fellow that's ...
KP: Secretary of Labor.
PS: Secretary of Labor. I mean, he's a little midget. I must admit, I have to respect him. But, he must have really been a very superior being to be able to get to where he is, because, normally, he would be ignored. I may be overstating the case, but, I'm not so sure I'm overstating it, too much.
KP: You mentioned earlier that one of the advantages, or disadvantages, to you, your parents loved you a great deal and were very supportive, but, they did not know very much about education and about the opportunities that were out there.
PS: Right, I said to them, "I want to go to college," and, they said, "Well, you're going to have to do it on your own." I remember ... I came to Rutgers because I took a competitive examination for a scholarship, a full tuition and fees for four years. And, I was fortunate enough to win. I don't know how many they had in those days, they didn't have very many, throughout the state. All right, so, now, here I was going to go to college, I didn't have any money. So, I had to go to the bank, and, the doctor, our family physician had to co-sign a note for $250. So, I had $250 to be able to have some money to go to college. And, I remember another, I have to ... mention these things, because, in today's terms, they look so foolish, so insignificant. But, I remember, I would buy a $5 meal ticket at ... the cafeteria used to be at ...
KP: In Winants, Winants Hall.
PS: Winants Hall, yeah. And, the idea behind that $5 ticket was that you got $5.50 worth of meals. And, I would have to try to make that last for the whole week. And, I'd go in the line, they'd have twenty cent meals, twenty-five cent meals, and thirty-five cent meals. I never bought a thirty-five cent meal. I'd look at it, and it would be wonderful, you know, but, I couldn't buy it. It wasn't in the budget. And, typically, I'd buy twenty and twenty-five cent meals, and I'd try to stretch it out. But, we didn't only do that. For a variety, we'd go to various places. And, one of the interesting things, three or four of us would go to a little restaurant. The first thing that would happen, and, the waiters would know, the waitresses, they would know, we'd sit down and we'd eat the bread, before we even ordered. Then, we'd say, "Well, we need some more bread." [laughter.] We were so damned hungry, you're growing. You're eighteen, nineteen-years-old, and, you're hungry all the time. So, we'd eat the bread, and, we'd ask for more bread and butter, and we'd order whatever it was we'd order, and so forth. They would know it, but, I'm sure that ... they probably spent more on bread than anything else, you know, but, I can still remember that. Then, we'd go through another idea: We'd say, "Well, maybe, we could save some money if we bought the bread and the ingredients ourselves," and, we'd try that for a few days to see how we could stretch our funds.
KP: Where did you live at Rutgers?
PS: I lived on Easton Avenue, 15 Easton Avenue. It was owned by a couple of women. They might not have been as old, but, I thought they were very old, you know, but, they might have been, who knows, 40s or 50s, and, they had rooms on the second floor and third floor. The second floor, she had a sophomore there, and, while we were freshmen, and we were on the third floor.
KP: Do you remember who the sophomore was?
PS: No, but, he was kind of, wilder than we were. We were kind of conservative, I'll put it that way. I remember, the fellow that was my roommate, his name was Charlie Smith, and, he came from Pitman. And, he, also, was in chemistry and I noticed, a few years ago, that he had retired, sixty-five. I thought, "Gee,"... and he's back in Pitman. I thought, I'm going to have to go see him. Before I had a chance to see him, he died. I saw his obituary. And, the other two fellows were Charlie Zukaukas, he'd become a doctor in Long Branch. He's probably still there. The other fellow was Bill Prout.
KP: Oh, yeah?
PS: You know Prout?
KP: Yes, in fact, he's in the list of people who sent his survey.
PS: No kidding. Well, that's interesting, because he, ultimately, was in the service, became a colonel, and he went to Sweden. The family had originated from Sweden. He was in the diplomatic corps, an attaché, I think, in Sweden, if I'm not mistaken. But, I haven't seen them, either of them, for years. They probably won't even remember me, you know, but, ...
KP: Did you know, it's a digression, but, did you know Ralph Schmidt? Because, he was a chemistry major when you were initially here.
PS: That's possible, you know, it['s] possible. Same year?
KP: Well, he was a sophomore, but, he was a chemistry major, and, he also played on the football team.
PS: Well, Schmidt, I might remember that for that reason. I remember buying an algebra book from Bill Tranovich, they called him Big Train. He was a fullback on the football team.
KP: Vinnie Utz?
PS: No, not Vinny Utz. No, Big Train, because his name started with a "T," like, I was going to say ... Oh, God! I should remember that. He was two or three years ... He was, like, maybe a junior, or a senior, when I bought the used book from him. It was algebra, I think it was, or a math book, anyhow. But, if I remember it, I'll mention it. He might still be alive, I'm not sure. 'Cause, he'd have to be like seventy-six, something like that, seventy-seven. It's hard to remember. The one fellow I remember ... I came back in '49. I remember Fred deSieghardt, because we used to drive back and forth, he had a car. That was good. What I would do, before the war, I'd hitchhike to get back to Paulsboro, yeah, which wasn't too bad. Get out on 1, 1 and 130. In those days, 130 was open.
KP: It was the main road.
PS: Right, and, there was nothing there, only the farms on either side. One day, I went down to South River, by mistake. A couple of women picked me up and they said, "Well, we're going down to South River." I thought, "Well, okay, I'll go to South River." And, I ended up in South River. I couldn't get out of there, to go south. [laughter.] I finally got out. I don't know how I did, but, it's off the beaten path, to go south. But, that was an interesting experience, because, you usually meet somebody going down towards Camden. Once I got into Camden, I could always take a bus, if I had to. In those days, they had a lot of buses running along 130 South. They have some buses now, but, not like it used to be.
KP: You mentioned, before we started the formal interview, you had mention that you had toyed with the idea of being a history/political science major.
PS: Oh, I would have just loved to. I mean, to me, every subject was beautiful. I mean, I loved history, I loved all subjects. So, I thought, well, I would love to get into that. Then, by the time I got here, I thought, "Well," you know. My mother wanted me to go into medicine. I thought, "Well,"... I didn't want to go into medicine. And, it was terrible, because ... I was fighting her desire, and, it might have been a good idea. But, I wanted to do what I wanted to do, even though it was wrong. Maybe, that's [a] typical relationship. But, what prompted me to change was, I thought, "Well ... " Unfortunately, I had to face reality. Once I got through college, I'd have to get a job, and do something, to earn a living, see. So, I thought, if I go into chemistry, it would open areas that wouldn't be open. It's not true, but, at that time, I thought it was true.
KP: Do you think that you thought that partly because of Dupont and Mobil being so prominent in your early life?
PS: Yes, yes, I think so. Looking back, I think that was influential. Nobody told me. I could see the handwriting, you might say.
KP: Because, it sounds like the better paid people were the chemists at Mobil and Dupont.
PS: That's right. That's true. I mean, in hindsight, I mean, I love liberal education. I mean, what I mean by that is, I think it's important for everybody. Because, ultimately, in the Fifties, I got involved in Great Books discussion groups. You know about Great Books? And, I became a discussion leader. We ended up in Johnstown and I became a leader. I thought they were tremendous, they were great, you know what I mean? The interchange of ideas, and, listen to people. Oh, I thought that was tremendous, and, still is for that matter, and I stopped, ultimately. I taught at Drexel, for a while, management, and finance, and so forth. I loved that, because we'd have people there that were married. They were going to school at night. And, you know, they had all kinds of problems, and situations, and what have you, and I really do feel that the more you learn about everything, than the better chance you have to be a better citizen. Too little emphasis today. I see what the grandchildren study. They seem like they're overwhelmed. I would think, what are they overwhelmed about? Because, when I went to the College of South Jersey, I had a full time job, and I took five subjects. I took thirty credit hours, in one year, at night, and, did well in them. I had no problem with it, but, that says more about me, probably, than the student. But, I can't see a kid going to school and not glorying in it, because, you know, it just makes him a better person. I mean, the more he knows, the more he is able to expand. He's much more able to accomplish something, with his fellow citizens, if nothing else. It doesn't matter if he makes money. That's incidental. Now, I'm at an age where I can see that.
KP: But, at the time, you ...
PS: Oh, at that time, it was very important, because I could see how my parents struggled, you see. I mean, there was a real problem.
KP: You mentioned, before we started the formal interview, also, that you worked while you were here, initially, in the 1930s.
PS: Oh, yeah. As a matter of fact, I passed the library ... The new library is still there isn't it?
KP: No, the library has moved up the street.
PS: What's over there on the corner that used to be the library?
KP: It's now the art gallery, a very nice art gallery. [The Zimmerli Museum.]
PS: Oh! See, because, I remember working in the library in the stacks.
KP: At the end of the interview, we should take you up to the new library.
PS: Yeah, I'd like to see that, because I remember working in the stacks. I learned a lot from working in the stacks. The NYA had a program, twenty-five cents an hour, you'd work. I'd go there, you could work, maybe, I forgot what it was, fifteen hours, or twenty hours, a week. And, what I'd have to do, I'd have to file the magazines. And, we'd get magazines from all over the world. The Economist, I still remember The Economist. The Lancet, and so forth. I learned about this just from working. What we would do, we'd take the new issue and put that in the open area and remove the old one. Ultimately, the oldest one would go into a storage area, where it would be stored with maybe a year's worth of magazines, and then, ultimately, they would be put into some file that would only be touched by researchers, I suppose. But, you might say, what's the big deal? Well, naturally, while we were doing it, I would see what was involved in the magazines, and see the contents. You learned something from it. And, I worked in ...
KP: You mentioned you worked in the town, a night shift.
PS: Oh, well, that's when I, you know, when I went to, yeah, I worked at the Nash Tower.
KP: What was your job there?
PS: Well, making hamburgers and French fries, and taking care of the customers, and then, clean up the place, and what have you. And, I worked there ... five to ten at night, and then, sometimes ten to three. And, it wasn't a good job. It was a difficult job. As a matter of fact, I would be criticized when I'd be trying to study. The manager would say, "What are you doing?" "Well, there's nobody here now." "Yeah, but, you're not supposed to be doing that," you know. So, well. [laughter]
KP: So, you much preferred the library job, the NYA job.
PS: Oh, yeah, that was ... I remember, another fellow and I ... Do you remember the Dutch Colonial Reformed Church? That's still here, isn't it?
PS: Well, they had a place there, and, they used to have dinners, for one reason or another. And, the one time, we got a job there. I guess ... there must have been, like, a work office, and, they'd said, "Well, if you go there, they have a job for you." And, we had to wash dishes. It was about a seven or eight hour job. Oh, honest to God ... They had a baked dinner, must have had hundreds of people. We had to wash and dry all these dishes. Oh! We were so sick of doing it. It lasted a very long time. I still remember that, because, it was such a long duration. I also worked at the Engineering Department. They'd have to make signs, you know. They'd use LeRoy lettering. I don't know if you're familiar with that, it's an artificial means of making letters, you know, with India ink. I'd do a lot of that for them, make lettering on drawings, or what have you. That was another job that I would do. Ultimately, when I got back, then, after the war, I had other kinds of jobs. I worked at the YMCA, for example, all kinds of hours there. We, ultimately, lived, I guess you'd call it, an estate. The General Counsel and vice-president for Johnson & Johnson was Kenneth Perry. He had this seven or eight acre estate. Kenneth Perry was the, the one thing you might be familiar with, the campaign manager for Senator Case.
KP: Oh, Clifford Case.
PS: Clifford Case, yeah. But, he had pigs and chickens in an area, on this little estate. And, the deal was, I would take care of the pigs and chickens, and, I would get my rent. Rent was, like, $65 a month, something like that. So, I would work, taking care of the pigs, you know, feeding them, and what have you, and, the chickens, too. Then, he would deduct the time worked at an agreed rate from the rent, which was very good, because, at that time, I had two children. I was married.
KP: This was after the war?
PS: After I got back, yeah. So, I did that, worked at the YMCA. And, at times, he would also take me to school ... In the day, he'd go into work, and, I'd go in with him. And, he had a Ford, and a Cadillac, or a Lincoln. He'd often have us use the Ford, if we wanted to go here, or there. My wife got along with his wife very well, and, they would go many places. My wife is not like I am. She's a very open, very likable. She had a lot of empathy with people. She's very much a people's person. So, she gets along very well. I'm not really a people's person. I'm too self-centered. [laughter.]
KP: What did you think of chapel, and Dean Metzger?
PS: Oh! Chapel, chapel, you have to remember, I was a Catholic, and, at the time, theoretically, I wasn't supposed to [go], but, I went, and I enjoyed that. It was good. Dean Metzger was pretty good. I remember, I didn't realize this then, but, I had to borrow some money from them, and I paid it back. He wrote a nice letter to my parents, I found this out many years later, you know, thanking me, and them, that I had the obligation, and I paid it back. I suppose, a lot of kids never did, but, I never thought that would be the situation. That made a big hit with me. He was not a person I would consult with very often, obviously. But, I had nothing, no negatives about him. But, I remember, by the way, I remember ... what's his name now?
KP: President Clothier?
PS: No, the one that was the Dean of Men there, for a while, they named ...
KP: Crosby. Dean Crosby.
PS: Crosby. See, he was a student, when I was a student. He was two years earlier than I was, '41, I think. Was he '41? Something like that, about that time. So, I remember him from that.
KP: Yes, what do you remember about Crosby?
PS: Nothing, except they called him Bing, naturally. [laughter.] But, yeah, he was like any other person. I mean, subsequent, incidentally, subsequent, did you ... have you been in contact with Frank ... Long?
KP: No, I don't think so.
PS: He was editor of the Targum when I was here in '49, '48, '49. I met with him later, when I was in business.
KP: I don't think he's replied. We haven't heard from him yet.
PS: Yeah. You don't see the students you've been with very often, normally. Now, I was involved with Gamma Sigma, you know, the Georgian Society, so, I, occasionally, write a card to Rene Ellinger ... I really, Rene Ellinger, he's got to be, I guess, eighty, or so, now. That was an interesting experience, because, when he was in the 30s, he didn't finish high school, because his father either got ill, or passed away, something happened, and, he had to go to work. So, he began to work. And then, he went through service. He got the high school equivalency in the service, and, he wanted to go to college. And, he came to Rutgers. He applied to many places which turned him down. He applied to Rutgers, and, they said, "Well, we'll take a chance, we'll have you." He did very well. He was a Phi Beta Kappa his junior year, and so forth. He was an excellent student, a very nice guy. Anyhow, so, he, I guess, proved that they had good faith in him, and, he was able to show that it was well worth while. But, I'm in touch with him now. He was probably instrumental in me joining this Gamma Sigma. 'Cause, we were a formative group, a dozen of us. But, I very seldom have met any of the others, except for Rene ...
KP: Was this a fraternity in the making?
PS: Yeah, it started then, post-war. The criteria were rather simple. In other words, the criteria was, well, the person should be valued on the basis of himself, performance, what have you, not with regard to religion, color, or creed, or what have you. It worked out pretty good. I suppose it was an oddball group, that's for sure, compared to the other fraternities.
KP: Why? Had some of the other fraternities discriminated on various degrees, like religions?
PS: Well, the other fraternities, there were so-called Jewish fraternities, and the others. I don't know how much limitation there were for Blacks, or Orientals, or Jews, or what have you, in the other fraternities, but, it was obvious, if you had two or three Jewish fraternities that there must have been a problem.
KP: This group you mentioned, this fraternity, was sort of an oddball group. In what way?
PS: Well, because, you know, we didn't use, what you might consider, the normal criteria.
KP: So, what were the backgrounds of the members?
PS: Well, they were ...one or two football players, but, most of them were pretty good students. They were in Rutgers College of Liberal Arts. I don't now if I was the only engineer or not. I might have been the only engineer. There might have been one or two others. But, they were from all areas, journalism, you know, maybe even history/political science, English major, I know. John Gentile, he was basically an English major. We didn't have a place. We used to meet at, what used to be, the Psychology building, downstairs there. Then, ultimately, they got a place, I guess. I don't know if it's the same place they have now or not. They're on 19 Union Street, I think, now. But, by that time, you know, I was getting ready to go, so. Now, as you may know, they have women there, too. See, that's a little unusual. I mean, they're attempting to treat people as people, rather than as particular kinds of people.
KP: It sounds like you're very fond of this fraternity that you started.
PS: Well, I had no reason not to be. I think it was an innovative venture, and, I don't see why, I mean, I would say, it's been basically successful. They minded their Ps and Qs. I don't know how much acceptance they've had, by the other fraternities, or the administration, per se, but, you know, I'm proud that they made it work. As a matter of fact, what's occurred, I don't know if you know this, what's occurred is that, they've had to disassociate themselves with the national, because, the national apparently didn't like the idea of men and women being in the same, I don't know what they call it now, presumably, it's not a fraternity ...
KP: In a fraternity, in fact.
PS: Yeah, but, what I'm saying is, fraternity infers men, see. So, they had to, they wouldn't permit them to continue, so, they thought, "Well, all right, we were independent to begin with, we'll go back to being independent." Apparently, that's what they've done. I get some communication from them, once in a while. One day, I'm going to [go] back there and raise the roof. [laughter] I mean, but ... I would say, you know, it was a good experience, met nice, good fellows. No reason not to like them.
CE: When you were in Rutgers, in '39 and '40, did a lot of students talk about the war, at all, in Europe?
PS: Well, the main thing that occurred, '39 to '40, was the America First thing. In other words, before '41, there was a tremendous effort in America to keep us out of the war.
------------------------END TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO-------------------
KP: This continues an interview with Mr. Peter M ...
KP: Sarraiocco, on March 3, 1995, with Kurt Piehler and ...
CE: Chris Everly.
KP: At Rutgers. We had, unfortunately, cut off in mid-sentence, but, you said, there was the America First, that was ...
PS: Yeah, I suppose, if push came to shove, the average kid would say, "Well, I don't want to go to war," you know. They wanted to go along with their own lives. But, I don't know that we were that active, one way or the other. We just kind of followed whatever was happening. Two things I want to mention, when you talked about my name, and so forth. I took German in my second year. I ended up with an honors course in German. Charlie Zukaukus and myself, and, we belonged to the German Club. We just happened to be good students. We did pretty good. But, they had this German Club. One evening, we were supposed to give, like, a poem, or something like that, in German. I didn't have enough preparation. I had to give the prologue to Faust, Goethe's prologue to Faust ... [Mr. Sarraiocco quotes from the prologue in German]. I remember some of it now, but, when I was trying to say it, I didn't remember it at all, and all these professors, they knew it. Naturally, they would say, "Well, give me the next one." And, I was so damned embarrassed. I thought, "Oh God!" Another couple of hours, I would have been prepared. I just wasn't quite prepared. I still remember that incident. I thought, "Isn't that a horrible thing?" I should have remembered, when I'm not prepared, to say, "I'm not prepared," period. I still remember that horrible experience. The other thing was, we had a German professor, who had come from Germany, and he had asked us about, and, he couldn't understand why I was in chemistry, because he had, when he went to school, studied the classic languages and liberal arts. In the first place, he didn't say this, but, I knew it to be a fact, only a few were able to go to higher levels of education in Germany. His theory was, and, it was a correct theory, that everyone should take, really, a liberal picture of education for themselves, not worry about concentration until later. In a way, he's right, theoretically, but, I had to look at the practicality. I remember that. I don't remember what his name was, but, he had a rather autocratic air about him, and so forth.
KP: What happened to him?
PS: I don't know. I really don't know.
KP: Do you remember his name?
PS: No, I don't. I'd have to look back at the records, I mean, I don't know. But, it was interesting that he thought we were all wrong, because, I suppose that we had engineers, and chemists, and what have you, in our class. And, in a long run sort of viewpoint, he, probably, was right, you know, but, we were faced with the reality of the moment. And, the other thing, about my name: the real name, the name really was Serraiocco, S-E. Now, why was it S-A? I'm going to tell you. My father told me this. And, I had forgotten all about it until I went back to Italy to visit. When he came to America, to Ellis Island, they asked him what his name was. He said, "Serraiocco." So, they said, "Spell it." So, he said, "S," they put down "S,"... "A." In Italian, "e" is said "a", so, he said "a," and they put down "a," which he noted. Then, he said "R,""R,""R." Then, he knew the next letter was "A," so, he saw that when he said, "A" for "E," they put "A" down. So, he said, "A", and, they put the "A" down. "E" for "I," and so forth ... So, that's how his name was changed from Serraiocco, which, the way it really was, to Sarraiocco. Now, why is that interesting? Because, when I went back to Casoli, we tried to find remnants of the family, and I had forgotten about that. And, they said ... "Well, there is no S-A, but, there is S-E." Then, it came to me, "Oh, my God!" Now, I remember the anecdote that my father had told me about. And, I found a Peter Sarraiocco there, Serraiocco, who spoke English. The reason he spoke English was because he had been a prisoner of war, in Great Britain, for about three years. He was a tailor and he made clothes for the British officers. And so, he spoke English fairly well. And, we found this place, and, you know, fortunately, we were able to communicate. And, we had dinner at his place, and, one of the other brothers, I forgot what his name was. And, there was a little skepticism on whether I was really part of the family, until, there was an old aunt, she must have been close to ninety, and, I mentioned the family, you know, and she said, "Well, yes ... " They found the relationship. My father, I didn't tell you this, there were thirteen sons, no daughters. And, Camille, the one that died here in America, was the last one. Others had ... either died of disease, or were killed. They fought, there was a Turkish war of some sort, in the early 1900s. [Italy fought the Ottoman Empire over the Dodecanese Islands from 1911-12.] They fought there, and, some were killed, and what have you. But, for, that many, there weren't that many left, you know, so.
KP: Of your father's family, all these sons, how many came to America?
PS: Only the two of them.
KP: Only the two of them.
PS: Yeah. As far as I know ... only the two.
KP: How well did you do, academically, your first year at Rutgers, in 1939 and 1940?
PS: Fairly well. Not as well as I wanted to. But, all of a sudden, I see a student, I remember, in an English class. There was a fellow ... and he didn't look so intelligent, but, he did very well. I thought, "Boy, you can't go by appearances," you know. [laughter.] Course, all the students were, really, pretty top-notch students. And, my high school, I would have to say, was not an especially great high school. It was adequate. I always forced the teachers to teach me. That's what it amounted to, in some sense. I wanted to learn typing, but, I had no time available for typing. I was all scheduled up. So, I went to the typing teacher, I said, "Look, I want to learn typing. Can I come here and, do all you teach at night, for an hour or so?" She said, "Okay." So, that's what I did. I went there for an hour, and, I got up to about thirty-five words a minute, using the method that she would teach. And, I said, "Well, that's good enough." Just enough to enable me to type, if I needed. I remember, my, I don't know, junior or senior year, I had an empty period. I said, "Well, maybe, I'll go back to Latin." I went back to the Latin teacher, I said, "Can I come into your class and relearn Latin again?" So, I did, for a while. The trouble was, it was too easy then, so, after a while, I stopped. But, on the other hand, they had courses which we don't have now. For example, they had a course in Economics. Most schools don't have Economics. They had a lot of History. A lot of [schools] don't have much in the way of History, today. I don't know if you know that, which is very disturbing, I think. The students don't even know, from History and Geography, they hardly know where they live, or where we are in the scheme of things, you know, which is rather unfortunate. But, at least we had some attempt, in those days. I mean, the teachers didn't get much pay, but, they were reasonably dedicated, you know, to do a good job.
KP: You mentioned that you had to go back home, before we'd started the interview. And, it was partly, even though you had a state scholarship ...
PS: I just let it go. I never asked if I could recover it, because, when I came back, I went on the GI Bill, so, it didn't matter. But, I never asked whether it would still be available to me.
KP: You mentioned that your sister had an eye problem?
PS: Yeah, she, actually, she, really, lost the sight of that eye. The other eye is corrected. So, she was able to get over it. It took her about a year plus. She missed a whole year of school. So, it was a rather difficult time.
KP: You must have felt, given how much you loved school, you must have felt a little sad that you had to go back home?
PS: Yeah, but, you know, I did what I had to do. I just did it. I didn't think much of it, but, I thought, well, "I'll get a job." And, ultimately, I got a job, and then, as soon as I could, I went to the College of South Jersey, and enrolled there. That wasn't a problem, and began going to school there.
KP: The College of South Jersey, what do you remember of that? Because, it becomes, eventually, a part of Rutgers, but, not at the time.
PS: Yes, yeah. Well, it was a pretty good school. They had ... most of the school occurred in a bank building. I'm not so sure if it's still there. It was on Federal Street. Ultimately, they moved over to Penn, or, you know, other streets parallel, towards, closer to the bridge.
KP: Yeah. In fact, I've been to Rutgers-Camden.
PS: Is that right? I haven't been there. But, I know, I've played bridge with people, one of the fellows that was on the faculty there, who retired not too long ago. He liked to play golf a lot Evan Lemley. I think he retired, maybe, about four years ago. But, it was interesting. We had, class size might have been, you know, fifteen to twenty-five, something like that, depending on what the course was.
KP: You mentioned that you were, there, pursuing the liberal arts.
PS: Well, that's what they had available, you know, you know, History, Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology. I think I may have taken, I'm not so sure I took a course in Math, I probably didn't need it, but, German ... I can't even remember what I took. Composition, probably.
KP: And, you were going at night at the time.
KP: And, you were working a full day.
PS: Yes. I was working at this Neoprenetesting laboratory, which was down in Deep Water, which was about thirty miles south of Paulsboro, and, Camden was about fifteen miles north of Paulsboro.
KP: And, how did you get there? Did you have car?
PS: I would drive, yeah.
KP: That's a lot of commuting.
PS: Yes, it was, no, no. A matter of fact, sometimes, I'm just trying to remember now, sometimes, I would take the bus to school, but, I think, I drove a good portion of the time. There were times that I could take the bus. They had a bus, I don't know if it was every hour, or every half hour, probably, every half hour. So, that wasn't so bad, because I remember being on that bus. And, I would stand up, because, I know that if I'd sit at a seat, I'd fall asleep. [laughter.] I wouldn't be able to get off, I'd forget. So, I stood up, I figured, "Well, I'd fall." [laughter.] Boy, that was really funny.
KP: You were working when the attack on Pearl Harbor came.
PS: Let's see, December '41. I was, I know where I was. I was on Roosevelt Boulevard, in Philadelphia, with the woman who now is my wife. We were taking a ride, and, that's when we heard it over the radio.
KP: When the 1940 peace time draft came up, did your number come up, or were you worried about that draft, the peace time draft, in '40?
PS: No. I guess, I wasn't old enough, I don't know if I was ...
KP: You may not have been old enough.
PS: I don't know what the limits were, to tell you the truth. I don't remember being concerned about that. But, I do remember when I was going to go into law school. I ended up in September, I guess it must have been, '42, enlisting in what was called the Enlisted Reserve Corps, because, I thought, "Well, I may as well get into that, because, otherwise, I would be drafted, ultimately." And, I wouldn't want to be drafted while I'm right in the middle of things. But, at least, if I was in the Enlisted Reserve Corps, I'd get a bit more of the education in. It didn't work out too well, because, I ended up, going in, not too long after, but, the idea was sound, apparently.
KP: When did you enter law school? When did you decide?
PS: September of '42, when I finished the College of South Jersey.
KP: So, you spent a year, and then, decided ...
PS: Well, not quite a year. In other words, as soon as I finished the College of South Jersey. I only went there a year, basically. And then, I had other credits, and, I was able to get my Associate Degree. And, I went right into law school ... Then, in March, I went to active duty.
KP: So, you spent a semester in law school. How did you do?
PS: Oh, yeah, a second semester. Well, I did very well. I liked law. It's very good. I mean, you know, it was very interesting, to me.
KP: No, it sounds ...
PS: What isn't interesting? I mean, you know ...
KP: Even contracts and torts were ...
PS: Right. We had bankruptcy law, we had ... I can't remember them all now, but, you know ... I had, probably, four or five different courses. And, they were interesting. Most of it was done by cases, and, ultimately, when I taught at Drexel, I used the case method quite a bit.
KP: That left a distinctive impression on you, the case method.
PS: Yes, I thought that was a, relatively, good method, but, nothing substitutes for real experience. But, at least the case approach attempts to describe an experience which ended up in a decision of some sort, see. So, in the business world, it's a similar situation. I mean, you're making decisions. The difference, in law, presumably, it's not that way, yet, I'm not so sure it isn't. That is, in the business world, you never have all the facts. That's why we try to teach the people. You're always making decisions, and, you're always making decisions with incomplete information, but, you got to make the decision. Because, even if you don't make the decision, you've made a decision, see. And, the world goes on based upon what you either decide or don't decide, you see. So, presumably, if you want to control your destiny, you make the decision. And, many times, you, when you make the decision, you know, it could be one way, or the other way. You have to, you can't say you want both, because you can't have both. That's a very maturing experience to have do that. It's very difficult to get that across, because, how do you really get it across, unless, you ask them to participate in the actual experience, you see? Well, the case method provides that, in a way, for class operation. And, you know, we'd have, you know, we'd have discussions about why they chose a particular way. One of the things I would often do, too, ultimately, after everything was done, and they all made their decisions, and all that. Then, I'd say, "Let's change this thing a little bit. Let's suppose it's your own money, not somebody else's money, actually your money, that you have to make a decision about. That the expenditure, or whatever the situation is, is going to come out of the funds that you happen to have, and once it's gone, it's no longer there. Now, what will your decision be? Will it be the same? Or will it be different?" you know. Well that's, you know, that's, seems like Leason didn't care. I suppose it wasn't his money. [laughter]
KP: The trader that brought down Barring Brothers?
PS: See, that's the thing. ... The young people, one thing about young people that we all know, the world's their oyster. They can't go wrong. And, it doesn't matter, because, they don't get hurt. Obviously, it's not true, you know, we can all be hurt. The people who are in that field sometimes don't have the realism of it being something that really affects them, intimately. They may think so, but, I don't think Leason thought that way. [laughter.]
KP: You mentioned you enlisted in the Enlisted Reserve, in part because you would have liked to finish your law degree.
PS: Yeah, I thought, I presumed, that they would not call us to active duty that early.
KP: But, you were ...
PS: But, I was called. But, we were wrong about a lot of things. When we went overseas, we said, "Golden Gate in '48." In other words, "Well, we won't see the Golden Gate again until 1948." Cause we had, being involved, you didn't have a concept of what the generals in Washington [were thinking]. The generals in Washington, they were already thinking about the end of war. In other words, as far as they were concerned, the war was already won. Once they got, they had the motions of the economy oriented that way, and the personnel, and so forth, they could see that they were going to overwhelm the enemy, and they would win. I've been reading some of the works. I like to read biographies, and history. I've read some of the, like, about Marshall, and Eisenhower, and so forth. They had the ... in a sense, they had it won, it was just a matter of time. But, we didn't know that. We were going over. And, all we knew was, we saw, facing us, you know, conquered lands. The Japanese had conquered this place, Wake Island, Singapore, Burma, what have you. And, it was going to take a long time, the Philippines. And, we thought, "Well, Golden Gate in '48." Well, as it was, it didn't take long. Oh, now, I've got to tell you about the little situation, about the Enola Gay. It's not the Enola Gay. We were in Nebraska, in training for the B-29s.
KP: And, this is what year?
PS: Well, this was when, after I became a navigator, and all that. And, I ended up there, ultimately, to be able to get a plane and go overseas. So, we were going through a transitional period, I guess you might say. And, we were in a particular group, I don't know, 502nd, or something like that. And, there was another group that had been there before, 506th or 509th, I forget what the number was. There was a rumor, they had been there for two sessions. In other words, we would be there X number of weeks, but, this particular group had been there X number of weeks, and then, they were held back to go another, same number of weeks, again. And, the rumor was, "Well, they were doing that because they had fouled up. They weren't ready." Later on, I found out, it was the group, the squadron, or whatever, the group was, that was the one that had been trained to drop the bomb. And, that's why they were in training. I think, after that, they went to Seattle, or someplace like that.
KP: But, at the time, you all thought they were screw-ups.
PS: Right. [laughter] So, it was interesting, you know, so. Rumors have a way of distorting reality.
KP: When you were called up, where were you called up? You were called up March of 1943, you had said earlier. Where did you report to?
PS: Yeah. Fort Dix.
KP: Fort Dix.
PS: Yes, and, I was in the infantry.
KP: For how long?
PS: Well, I was there for about a week, and then, they took me down to Camp Wheeler, in Georgia. ... In the interim, either at Fort Dix, or at Camp Wheeler, probably Camp Wheeler, I applied for the cadets, Air Force Cadets. And, it took twelve weeks for it to come through, because the whole period at Camp Wheeler is thirteen weeks. I went through the whole training, except for one week, before they transferred me.
KP: So, you had your almost complete basic for infantry.
PS: Right, yes.
KP: How did you enjoy that?
PS: Well, it wasn't bad, I mean. One thing, I noticed, very quickly, you became acclimated, physically, became quite acclimated, because, we would train in, it would be wet weather, and we wouldn't get sick. I mean, in other words, very quickly, we'd gain resilience, and stamina, and what have you. It wasn't especially pleasant, but, you know, we were learning things. [laughter.] We had very basic meals, you know, potatoes and meat, no esoteric gourmet food, naturally. To tell you the truth, the best food we ever had was where food had to be imported in. You know where that was? Las Vegas. Las Vegas had a base there for air gunnery training, and, all the food came in from California. And, we had all the milk we could drink. The food was great. I don't know why. Maybe because of the chef, I don't know. Because, the typical fare was, you know, rather mundane. Simple, plain fare. But, there, it was unusually good. And, yet, all that food had to be transported into Las Vegas.
KP: Camp Wheeler, what do you remember about your drill instructor?
PS: I don't remember him at all. We had, we would do, we had to train in the various instruments of war, you know, the rifle. I had to learn, I never had a childhood rifle, myself, became expert though. Expert. You know what that means? They have classifications.
KP: Yeah, yeah.
PS: Expert's the highest. You hit a target 200, 300 yards out, you know, in the circle. You learn, first, you go through the training of squeezing the trigger with no ammunition, and so forth. Ultimately, you actually go on the firing range and fire. And, you do the same thing with the pistol, the .45, and BAR, I guess. And, the mortar, now, see, that was the last week, I missed that. The thirteenth week, I missed the mortar, and whatever other weapons there were. And, of course, there was a lot of class training concerning discipline, you know, marching, and, what have you.
KP: You got fairly well acclimated to the infantry and to the Army.
PS: In effect. Yeah, because, I wasn't going to make waves. I was interested in going into the Air Force. I mean, I thought, well this was just an incidental byplay, for a while.
KP: The men in your infantry training unit, where were they from? Do you remember anything about them?
PS: Well, there were, I guess, a fair number that were in the Enlisted Reserve Corps, but, others weren't. But, I guess, we created a problem for the system. We were intellectually oriented. So, that created a little bit of a problem, but, I'm not so sure it was that great. Different.
KP: In what way did that create a problem, or, what was the difference in terms of training?
PS: Well, I suppose there might have been more questions, you know, lack of desire to fit in to the niche.
KP: When you learned that you got into Aviation Cadets, did you report first to Nashville?
PS: No, we went to, I went to Keesler Field, in Mississippi, for one week. I think the Air Force made a mistake, sending me there, but, that's beside the point. Because, what was it? Keesler Field was like a transitional place. And, who was there? The ones that washed out, as well as the ones that were going in. [laughter.] So, I would hear all these stories from these fellows that had been found wanting for some reason, you know ... I thought, "Well, what could I say." They were going, presumably, they would be going back to wherever they came from. But, after a week ... if I'm not incorrect, we probably went through a series of test, and so forth. And, I guess, we had a choice to make, and, I decided I would go into navigation.
KP: You didn't want to try to become a pilot?
PS: Not really, I didn't think I would do that. I think the tests showed that would be okay, too. I thought navigation would be, probably, a better thing. Whether it was, or not, who knows.
KP: You obviously must have been fairly good at math, because navigation involves complex calculations.
PS: I was, fairly, well, yeah, it was ... matter of fact, in that stuff, I noticed, there was a little piece of paper about a particular way of finding the line of position. [laughter.] I must admit, I wouldn't understand it now. But, for some reason, it was stuck in there, you know, it was still there. But, anyhow, from there, then, I ended up going to, I'm trying to remember where I went, I think I went to Lincoln, Nebraska. I'm not sure, Lincoln, Nebraska. For just a, it must have been, like, just ... Oh! I know what happened, Oh! I don't know if I went to another base, and then, went to Creighton University, or, went directly to Creighton University. They decided, for some reason, they decided, we should have a little bit more education. Physics, Meteorology, and what have you.
KP: So, you went back ...
PS: I went to Omaha, to Creighton University, actually to the University. We lived in the dorms. And, I mean, that was easy for me. [laughter.] I mean, I was a top student. Because I was a top student, I would get an extra night off. [laughter.] I was married, and, I had my wife come, and she lived down the street in the home, we had a room, the home of Mrs. Kelly, her name was, she had a couple of young boys, say, twelve and fourteen-years-old.
KP: How did you meet your wife? When did you marry her?
PS: I met my wife like this. I just loved following one of those bands playing during the Saint Anne's Festival. It was the band organized by the Tezzi-Reitz Post, probably VFW. It would march down the local street while playing. I'd be following them [as] they were marching down the street. And, I saw this girl. She had a white skirt and a red blouse. She was about twelve-years-old, at the time, not quite thirteen, very pretty, of course. I was fourteen, myself. And, that's how, and I, then, I found out her brother was in the band. So, I met the brother, his name is Peter. And, that's how I met my wife. I mean, I, ultimately, made myself known to her, and got to go see her for a long time, and, ultimately, ... Well, I have to tell you about our marriage. We eloped. And, we eloped, mainly, because we just didn't see how it would be possible for either family to handle a wedding, at the time. The war had already started. We thought, "Well, we'll just take things in our own hands," and, we did. We went to Greenville, South Carolina, by bus, because in Greenville, you didn't have any waiting period. Because, if you went to Maryland, a possible alternative, you had to wait three days, and so forth, after tests, to be able to get married, after you got your license. So, that's why we went to Greenville. I found where you could go, and, [we] went to Greenville.
KP: So, you were married in Greenville in 1942, or '43?
PS: November 7th, that's when we were married. The name of the, it was the justice of the peace. What was his name now? I remembered his name. I'll remember it. It doesn't matter. But, we encountered things that we had never seen, like "Colored Only." Things like that. That was new to us, we thought. As a matter of fact, later on, even 1963, or so, when my son went into the Marines, he went down to Parris Island. We decided to go there for his graduation. When we got into the South Carolina area, there were still remnants of separation. It was quite marked. Little by little, it's disappeared, but, it was still present in the 60s.
KP: So, your first experience in the South was not in the military, but, taking a bus down to get married. [laughter.]
KP: But, you had known each other for a while before you got married.
PS: Oh, that's true. By that time, I was just turning, I was twenty, I would have been twenty-one, and she was, I guess, nineteen, would be twenty. And, we lasted for quite a while. We've been married fifty-two years now, so, I guess, we did something right. [laughter.] As a matter of fact, I have a theory. I have a theory that, perhaps, we should insist that part of the license for marriage be a course in marriage given by older people who have experienced the process, to enable these people who are married not to divorce 50% of the time. Because, I think that's a travesty on our whole system. I don't know your status, but, I don't think it helps to, presumably, have the institution of marriage if it's not meant to be serious. Anyhow, that's an aside. [laughter.]
KP: Do you think the war hastened your decision to marry at all?
PS: I don't know. But, one of the big questions was, I'm sure that the families thought this, marrying, and then, going to war, you know, that's a hard decision. Maybe they did. I don't know if they did or not. I think we felt we had known each other long enough. We had to either marry, or not. We felt we should. And, my wife went along with it. I don't know why she did. [laughter.] I mean, I was, I'm sure, the more forceful part of the thing. So, we married. Then, we ended up living in Collingswood, temporarily, in a two room apartment.
KP: Where did your wife live when you went down to basic down in Georgia?
PS: Well, then, ... We got married and we lived in Collingswood. And then, we finally got another, larger apartment in Camden, which was a second floor of a house, which was a little better. But, then, we had no sooner gotten furniture, and so forth, when I was called to active duty. What happened, incidentally, is that, because we did what we did, her father, in effect, said to her, "You're not allowed to come back to our house." He didn't want to have any part of her. Well, her minister got involved. At the time, she wasn't a Catholic, she was an Episcopalian. So, the minister went to see the father and said, "Now, you have a bad situation here. I mean, here is the husband serving the country, and, she's alone, and, you know, it's a bad world out there, and, you don't want that to continue." And, he convinced him to have her come back home. So, she was able to go home. A little psychology on the part of the minister.
KP: It took the intercession of an Episcopalian minister.
PS: Well, ... Maybe, he might have been convinced, anyhow, but, that was the way. They knew that her father wouldn't treat him with anything but respect, anyhow, which, apparently, worked out okay. But, then, every opportunity, she'd come to live with or near me at the base location. Now, for example, she came down to Macon, Camp Wheeler's in Macon, in Macon, Georgia, she came down to Macon, to stay there for a while, while I was in training.
KP: How did she like Macon, Georgia?
PS: It was interesting. [laughter.] Well, I have to tell you a little incident. The Dempsey Hotel was the best hotel in town. I couldn't get any rooms there. So, I got a hotel room at the, I think it was called the name of the county, Briggs, or Biggs, or something like that. I didn't know anything about the hotel, so, she went to the hotel, waiting for me to come. People knocked on the door, and, in effect, they wanted to know if she was interested in any "business." [laughter.] She told me this after, and, she was very frightened. So, she stayed there only the one night. Then, we went to the base. It was a rather unfortunate experience, but, you know, I guess, those things happen. She was very young. Then, they had, on the base, they had a visitor's place where they had room, but, you could only stay there, I forget how long, two or three nights, a very limited time. So, we went into town to find a place in Macon. The first place we found, for one night, where we went up to an apartment house. And, there was no room there, but, the woman said, "You can have my room." So, one night, we had a room there. But, we kept on looking and we finally found a room in an area which was called Vineland, you know, which was interesting because there was a Vineland in South Jersey. She got a room there, and, she stayed there, and, she even got a job somewhere, temporarily. But, that lasted until I had to go, and then, she went back home again. The next time she came was when we were in Omaha. She came there. And then, later on, when I became a navigator at Hondo, Texas, she came to the graduation, and then, stayed there while I was an instructor for a while. That's about it. Oh, no, wait a minute ... Then, ultimately, I was in Geneva, Nebraska, which was adjacent to Fairmount Army Air Base, I guess it was, where I was going through this B-29 training, and so, we got an apartment there, and, we stayed there. No, first, we were in a room. It was interesting, there were two rooms there in this house which were rented. One room, there was a young student who lived out on a farm, but, she was there during school periods to go to school. A woman that had the house was our landlord. And then, we had the other room. While my wife was walking around town with another friend, they saw a place that was being built, an apartment house, or apartments. And so, they asked about it, and, they were able to rent there. The other woman was a wife of a sergeant, who was in our same training crew. We lived there, too, until we had to go overseas. We went by the way of Independence, Kansas to pick up the plane, and then, went to Mather Field, California, and flew overseas.
KP: Your training, your navigation. The first question, did you have pre-flight training?
PS: Yeah. We went to Santa Ana, California.
KP: And, how long did pre-flight training last?
PS: Well, I'm going to assume it must have been, you know, six-ten weeks, twelve weeks, something like that. And, from there, we went to gunnery training, a few weeks, at ...
KP: At Las Vegas.
PS: At Las Vegas. Then, we went to navigation training, which was Hondo, Texas.
KP: But, before all this training, you went to Creighton.
KP: Creighton University.
PS: Well, we were there, I'm going to guess, two or three months. The courses were concentrated, you know, like a summer course here. So, it worked out all right. The interesting thing is, that, I was reminiscing with my wife about this, the cadets would go to eat at the YMCA, that's where they had the meals, and it was being handled by the mothers. So, we ate very well. I mean, mothers of men who were, not mothers of that group, but, obviously, they had their own children who were in the service. We'd walk, we'd march down from Creighton to the YMCA, about, you know, four or five blocks, and, we'd sing. We'd sing, you know, all kinds of songs, which was nice. I mean, we enjoyed it. I guess, the people enjoyed it, too. What brought the subject up was that, when I was in school, grammar school, we had a lot of music. Much of it had to do with the songs of the First World War, you know, like "Over There," "It's a Long Way to Tipararee." There must have been a dozen of them. And, the kids just loved it. Every year, we'd be singing, you know, but, they don't seem to do that much anymore, now. Then, later on, when we picked up other songs that we would sing. Oh, I can't even remember what they were. Everybody knew them. Now, what they would sing, I don't know. We seemed to have lost that, either that, or, I'm just too out of touch. [laughter.] But, that, we thought, was an interesting experience. I played a bugle there, too. Because, if I played a bugle, I'd get an extra night off. [laughter.] So, I decided to play, you know, for, "Taps" and, "Reveille," so, I took that assignment on and played the bugle. I mean, I ended up, in a typical week, I would end up being with my wife maybe three or four nights, which was not to bad, considering the circumstances.
KP: How many other married men with you, at either pre-flight or gunnery school?
PS: I imagine a fair number, but, ...
KP: Most didn't have their wives following them.
PS: No. Some did, some did though, because, I remember, some did ... I could only guess, maybe ... a quarter, or third, might have been married and, maybe, half of them might have had their wives come along.
KP: How many people washed out at the various stages of training? You mentioned your first introduction to the Air Force.
PS: Well, you know, I must admit, I don't remember. I just didn't pay attention to that, I mean ... All I knew was that, to me, that it was easy as pie. And, a guy who'd come to me and say, "Well, how about this, how do you do this?" you know. It was interesting. I don't remember, I don't remember if any of them were just dropped out at there, or at pre-flight, or gunnery, or navigation, for that matter, navigation school. I mean, there must have been some.
----------------------- END SIDE ONE, TAPE TWO-------------------
KP: Navigation is a hard job. It seems like it came easy to you.
PS: I have to tell you something about navigation. When I was there, I took an interest in ... celestial navigation. So, the first thing you do is, you learn how to shoot with a sextant, the position of the star, and, you do that on the ground, what you do, when you sight a star, you are determining its angular arc from the horizon. You take three star fixes, locations, and so forth. And, you become well practiced. By taking the angular position of three stars, each about 120° arc away from the other stars, you are then able to take data, after some computations, and plot the data on the map. In theory, the lines of position of each star you have observed should intersect into one point, which would be your position. Actually, the lines of position would intersect to form a triangle. This is true from a standing location. However, if you are flying, then you have to move each indicated line of position forward in the direction of the plane to compensate for the distance the plane has traveled between each sighting. Sounds complicated, but you learn quite quickly to know the system. And then, you think, "Well, when you're going to go up in the plane, it's going to be easy, no problem at all." That's the element of, remember, I mentioned about experience, the actual doing compared to the theory. So, we thought, the time came, finally, and, we went into a Lockheed. I remember it was a larger plane, Lockheed, with, maybe, could have been a dozen, up to a dozen students. Well, when you go into the plane, the reality is that, first, you've got a different set of circumstances. First, you've got plane vibration, and then, you know, people get sick. And, one unfortunate thing is, when you get sick, when one guy gets sick, before you know it, it affects everybody else. You're very uncomfortable. Not only that, there's much engine noise. There's always something going on, and so forth. Now, you're supposed to take the three star fixes. And, what happens, with the sextant, it would have a little disk, a wax covered disk. And, when, you know, you've got your star ... there's a bubble. You have to align the bubble smack in the center of the circle, knowing that you're, in effect, positioned properly, (actually, parallel to the horizon). And, when you know that, you click the lever to mark on the disk. What happens, typically, you keep on doing that for a period of time, thirty seconds, or a minute, see. And, when you're through, you'll have marked a wide band. Theoretically, you should have only one point. But, what happens is, you get the effect of the plane motion, you know, influencing the mark. So, I mean, in other words, there's everything interfering in the way of being able, for you, to be able to do your job. So, it becomes much more difficult than you think. And, you come off that flight, you think "Oh, my God, what an experience that was," you know. But, ultimately, what happens, you get over the sickness, I mean, after two or three flights, you don't get sick anymore. You just acclimate to it, and, you get focused on what you're doing, you know, so, that, in the end, you become, in effect, well-trained.
KP: You had some problems with motion sickness?
PS: Only right in the beginning. Once, or twice, that was it. See, the typical plane that we would use, I think, was the AT-7, which was ...
PS: Small ... A little cabin. It had a couple people in the back, and a pilot, and a co-pilot, and then, that's about it, but, that was a bit more of a problem. And, we used to have the compass cover as the place where, if you'd throw up, you'd throw up in the compass cover. Then, you had to wash it out when you land. [laughter.] But, what would happen, this happened maybe once, and that's about it, once or twice, and, ultimately, you get adjusted to it. Just about everybody became adjusted to it. Very seldom, sometimes, some guy would be sick for a long, long time, but, usually, you know, you just get acclimated. I don't know what it is, it's just a matter of, maybe, a lot of it's psychological. You're supposed to get sick, so, therefore, you get sick.
KP: Were you ever in an airplane before cadet training?
PS: Well, in Omaha, they had, while we were there in Omaha, they, also, had us, gave us lessons for flying. We didn't have very many of them. They were actually, ... like Piper Cubs. They had an instructor, and so, I had two or three of those lessons, too, to fly the plane. That's all. It's the first time I was in a plane.
KP: Which must have been very thrilling.
PS: Yeah. It was different. [laughter.] I mean, you know, the one thing I noticed was, you had to be positive. I mean, ... you tend to be a little tentative, you know, in taking the control. Wait a minute! If you've got to come down, then, you push down. It's a matter of experience. That was the first time I was in [a plane]. And then, once we got to Santa Anna, at pre-flight, there was no air. Ultimately, when we got to an airfield, I think, we flew B-17s, if I'm not mistaken, when we were in Las Vegas, B-17s. And then, the Lockheeds and the AT-7s, when we were in Hondo.
KP: What types of planes did you train on? You mentioned one.
PS: Well, ultimately, we were assigned to B-29s.
KP: But, you, initially, trained on a Piper Cub Glim, that had some fight lessons. Then, you had the A-7.
PS: The AT-7, the Lockheed, I forgot the ... they had a name for it, too.
KP: B-17 ...
PS: Ventura. That's it, Lockheed Ventura, I think it was.
KP: And then, you trained on the ... plane you, ultimately, flew in, the B-29.
PS: When we trained on the B-29, what we were doing was, trying to become proficient in it. And, one of the things we did was, we'd fly long missions, so-called missions, or flights, throughout the country. We'd, for example, it wouldn't be unusual for us to take off from Nebraska, go to the East Coast, then, go south to Florida, go over to California, then, come back to Nebraska. All in one flight. Then, ultimately, one time, we went down, because, it was, I don't know why they did this, but, they decided to have us go to Puerto Rico and do the same thing. We went down to Puerto Rico, to Borrinquen Fields, the western part of Puerto Rico, and, we took flights there, over water, same way. In other words, we'd go down towards Trinidad, over to South America, over to Nicaragua, (Capa a Dios), the promontory off the Yucatan Peninsula area of Mexico, and then, back over to, over Cuba, and then, to Puerto Rico, which would be a long flight. Long, twelve, or so, hour flight to get used to the idea of having long flights, and navigation, and everything else that would be required. So, we did that for quite a while. And then, finally, they had to actually assign a plane that had been built that we would take overseas. Which then occurred.
KP: These very long flights, the training flights, you'd pay a lot of money to take these flights now. How well did you do? Did you ever, in a sense, get, did the plane ever get lost? Not for long, because you made it back.
PS: We never got lost. When I was the navigator, we never got lost. [laughter.] Did I tell you, I started to tell you, why we took, ... you see, we flew our combat missions only at night, we had to take ... at least three, three star fixes. Now, let me explain why we had to do that. Very early, I thought, I began to say this. I guess, I never finished it, one plane got lost on the way to the target. And, he wasn't able to take celestial fixes down. He tried to use the Loran, and, it didn't work. They didn't find the target. They had to dump the bombs. From the General on down, they were absolutely furious, I mean, to waste, you know, this, to go through the risk, and all that, and have nothing accomplished. So, the decree came that, no, you had to have taken, three, three star fixes, to enable you to position yourself, in case the Loran wasn't functioning properly. But, I was doing it anyhow. I mean, one thing, most of the crews, most, even that was an aberration, because, most of the crews were very serious in what they did. The radio operator, he was very serious. The radar operator was very serious. The pilots were very serious. I mean, there was no playing around, because we were dealing with our own lives. The whole sense of, when you're involved in something that affects you, personally, you're going to pay much more attention. And, I always paid attention to them. Oh, you know, one thing, I was going to try to find, if I find it, I'm going to send it to you. I had the map of that area east to the Hawaiian Islands, which I used coming home. And, I still have it. It's hidden away, somewhere. If I can find that, I'm going to send it to you.
KP: We would love to have that.
PS: The plot of the flight coming back, and all that.
KP: You stayed on as an instructor, too.
PS: Yes. Well, they thought I was good enough. I did very well, so, they asked me to stay on.
KP: You hadn't even been overseas, yet.
PS: No. No. Instruction of navigation. And, I was green as hell. I mean, speaking in front of, you know ...
KP: I mean, you had just learned it yourself.
KP: And, even though, you were very good at it.
PS: But, you know, let's face it, I wasn't that experienced. But, as I was saying to the young fellow here, one thing about the conduct of that war, it was fought by very young people. And, they were asked to do what, today, might be considered super human things. Like, the, I mentioned to him, like the colonel of that whole wing, I think his name was Castallotti, he probably wasn't thirty-years-old, yet. I mean, he was probably in his twenties. And, he was asked to take on tremendous, I mean, when you look at it in a sense of important, big responsibilities, in terms of plane, and people, and what have you. We had, roughly, a nine, or ten-man crew. So, you figure, if you add it all up, that's a lot of people, and, plus, the ground's crews, and all that. It's a lot of responsibility, and, they were able to do it, because, they didn't know that you couldn't. You know, a lot of our learning is that way. That is, if we start out with the idea that we can't possibly do it, well, there's a good chance you won't.
KP: Would you have liked to stay on as an instructor?
PS: No, not really. That's one of the things, I didn't want to stay in the Air Force. When I left, when I was on Guam, they asked me, the major asked me, he said, "Well, you want to stay in the service?" And, I said, "No." He was amazed. He said, "Well, I don't understand. Why not?" I had very good ratings, and all that. I said, "No, I want independence. I want to be able to do what I want to do." I could see that it was rather limiting, you know, and so, I didn't like it for that. Same thing with the flying. I didn't mind the idea of instructing, but, I was in a format that was restrictive. It wasn't even like a university format. I mean, you have a relatively high level of freedom here, I would say, but, that wasn't true there.
KP: When did you join your B-29 crew? Where did you join them?
PS: Well, we went to, from there, let me just think now. Oh, from Hondo, we went to Lincoln, Nebraska. We stayed there a week, or so, to be assigned to a crew, and then, we went to ... We happened to go to Fairmount Army Air Base. And, there was also one in Hastings. There were a number of bases throughout Nebraska and, maybe, elsewhere, too. And so, we went there ... and, a crew was formed up. And then, we would fly. We would have a lot of class training, and fly with planes, which were already there. But, they were basically for training only. In other words, we weren't going to go overseas with them. We didn't realize, but, later on, we realized what they were going to do when we got finished. Then, we would go to pick up a plane that was going to be ours to fly overseas. And, that was, I'm pretty sure, that was in Kansas, Independence, or someplace like that.
KP: And, when you met your crew, that's when you trained strictly on a B-29.
PS: Yes. Then, we were going to be in the 20th Air Force, and, we became the 315th Bomb Wing. And, we were 15th Squadron, 16th Bomb Group, 315th Bomb Wing.
CE: Were all of you close in your crew?
CE: Were all of you close in your crew?
PS: Ultimately. But, when we first, when we met each other, we didn't know each other from Adam. I remember, the name of our airplane commander was Richardson. I forgot the co-pilot, I can see him, but, I can't remember his name. This one gunner was the husband of the wife, of the woman that my wife got together with and got the apartment. So, we kept up correspondence; we sent Christmas cards every year for many, many years. But, the others got lost in the shuffle.
KP: What about your captains? What were they like? Where were they from?
PS: Well, I don't remember where they were from. One thing I didn't like about Richardson. We had a rule, no drinking a couple days before flying. Richardson liked to drink.
KP: This was the captain.
PS: Yeah, the captain. So, we'd kind of ride him a little about that, because of, we didn't want, you know ... We figured, when we were flying, we wanted to be on absolutely tip-top mental acuity, because, ... it was a big plane. Not the target, so much ... I lost a friend, a fellow who was, who had been a teacher from the New York area. His name was Lester Nahouse. They took off, and, they lost power, one or two engines, and, they went into the drink off Guam. And, they tried to recover them. They recovered three of the nine, or ten. The rest of them died. He died. And, that was in friendly waters! You see, so, the big risk was the distance, and the ocean, because we didn't figure that much trouble over the targets. In the first place, we wouldn't have much opposition. It was just the longevity of the thing, you might say.
KP: I talked to someone who, in fact, just yesterday, I interviewed someone who had been a pilot in ...
KP: You know, excuse me, he was a bombardier, and he said, one of the things that always impressed him about the Pacific, in fact, is what you said, about the distance, where as, his bigger problem was anti-aircraft and fighter planes.
PS: But, he flew at day?
PS: Where'd he fly?
KP: He flew over Germany.
PS: Oh, well, see, that's a different ...
PS: That was different. See, we flew, where we were, we had long distances. See, Germany was close.
KP: Yeah, but, he said ...
PS: Although, Ploesti, that was pretty far.
KP: One of the things, he said, it's interesting. He said that there was a big difference between training and what actually happened.
PS: Oh, yeah! One of the things we noticed, in training ... like the maintenance. There would always be some abortion of the flight, for one reason or the other. And, we would worry, thinking, "What's going to happen when we get overseas?" We expect these planes to be top-notch. Once we got overseas, though, those field crews, the mechanics, they were absolutely top-notch. I mean, we never, we did have one problem, one time. We went over the target, and, we lost an engine. On the way back, we stopped at Iwo Jima, left the plane there, took another plane back. But, they were really worried as hell when that happened, because they thought, "What did we do?" They were very, very top-notch overseas.
KP: But, at home ...
PS: At home, maybe, they were training. They were really not as top-notch.
KP: Because, one of the things another person, who only flew one mission, but, he had trained for almost the entire war, he said that he just recounted accident after accident occurring during his training, planes crashing.
PS: Yeah, that's happened to us, too. I just came back from Hilton Head. I played golf with a dentist. He had been in the Air Force, too. We'd talk, talk, talk. And, he told me, now, "I had an uncle with a B-29, and, he was killed." Unfortunately, I got side-tracked, and, I never did find out, I wanted to find out, where he was. Because, I remember, when we went down to Puerto Rico, for example, we were coming in for a landing. We could see the remnants of a plane that had missed the landing field, you know, had, for some reason, it had crashed. This was not necessarily unusual. It happened. And, it wasn't very pleasant. You always hoped it wasn't going to be you. And, you tried to do your damnedest. I have to recount one thing, too. We were on Guam, and, we were about 2 or 300 feet, the field was 2 or 300 feet above the surface of the water, the sea. And, there were many times we had to take advantage of that. In other words, we lumber off, and then, for the pilot to gain speed, he'd dip down to gain a little speed that way, and then, begin climbing up. It's not like the jet engine. That jet engine goes, "Whoo!" like that. These were the old prop engines, and, they would just go very slowly. [laughter.] And, we were loaded up, we were loaded up full with gas and ...
KP: And bombs.
PS: And bombs. And, many a time, they had to take advantage of that, to be able to gain enough airspeed to be able to take off.
CE: During your missions, did the Japanese have any defenses at all?
PS: Well, they had defenses. We never encountered [any], except for the last mission of the war. Our personal experience was the last mission of the war, when we ran into the greatest danger. It was the longest flight that we ever took, up to Hokkaido. Are you familiar with the Japanese [Islands]? There's Hokkaido, Honshu, and, the third island, I forgot the name of it.
KP: And, this is the northern most island?
PS: The northernmost island. And, we were going to bomb, ... a oil refinery there ... We were on our way. As a matter of fact, we were ready to go, and we waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. Why? Because, we were hoping the war would end. We had already dropped the atomic bomb, both of them.
KP: So, this mission occurred after the dropping of the atomic bombs.
PS: This was the last, would have been, ... Obviously, we didn't know if the war was going to end, or not. We were still hoping it would, but, news hadn't come. So, we were waiting to take off, and, finally, they said, "Well, I guess, we'll have to take off." Japan hadn't surrendered. So, we took off. And, on the way, not too far from the target, we were going to cross a city on the coast, on the west coast. And, question was, should we go over the city, or not. We decided, "Well, let's go over the city." Sure enough, there must have been naval vessels, or shore batteries, there, and they shot at us. [laughter.] And, you know, the plane was buffeted all over. We were praying like hell that we wouldn't get hit. It would be ironic to get hit on the last stupid day of the war. Fortunately, we made it through, but, we thought, "Whoa, what an experience." We were just lucky that we didn't get hit.
KP: Was that the only time you encountered enemy fire?
PS: That was the only time that we encountered it, because, then, we dropped our bombs, and, on the way back, I guess, it must have been, maybe, 2 o'clock in the morning, something like that, when the word came that they had surrendered.
KP: You were on one of the last missions of the war.
PS: That's right. Well, there were others, too. But, that was the last combat mission of the war, of the physical war. We flew after that. We flew on mercy missions to Okinawa and to the Philippines. They had a tornado. We flew there to Clark Field, to provide food, and medical supplies, and what have you. We flew over Tokyo, too, over the prisoner of war camps. I remember seeing the sign, "Boyington is here," on a prisoner of war camp. Remember, he was a major, a marine pilot. And, he had been captured. We'd gone over Tokyo, so devastated, flying at 50 to 100 feet elevation to locate the prisoner-of-war camps. We flew after, but, they were like mercy missions. But, that was interesting. It could have been disastrous, but, fortunately, it wasn't.
KP: I just wanted to go back a bit more, to the crew. You mentioned that your pilot, there was some tension there because he liked to drink more. [laughter.] What about your co-pilot?
PS: He was pretty stable. The least stable was the radio operator, which we didn't realize until we were coming home. He was deathly afraid of flying, I guess. I mean, we're all, in a sense, we were all afraid. I mean, there was always that tension. My daughter was in the Air Force, too, my son-in-law and daughter. She became a physician, and she was a flight surgeon. And, she had to fly, and, you know, she mentioned that. There's always that tension. It's a big instrument, that is mechanical, you know, it can fail. And, when you're, you know ... failure is ...
KP: You can't get off.
PS: You can't get off at the corner stop. So, it's a risky proposition. So, it behooved us to do [everything]. And, they had good routines. In other words, they'd always check the external. Same with me, I would always check the navigation instruments, put them through their paces, make sure everything was okay. The sextant, the Loran, everything. The pilots, even today, they have a checklist. They have it by rote, but, they still go through the checklist, to verify everything, just to eliminate error, or the possibilities of mechanical failure, what have you. Still, things happen. But, the incident about the radio [operator]. We were coming home, and, we were leaving Hawaii, and we were all aboard, but, the radio operator wasn't ready--something happened. Didn't think much of it ... so, we came down. Ultimately, we discovered, he just didn't want to fly any more. He was afraid, and, we had to leave him off and get another radio operator.
KP: To fly home.
PS: To fly home. I mean, he was just, he had just had it, you know, he had just had it. While he had to fly, he did ... He just didn't want to fly anymore. I don't know what happened, whether he came home by boat, or what.
KP: Was that common?
PS: No. That's the only case that I, personally, was aware of, but, I'm sure, I mean, I know my feelings. Every time I went up in that plane, I knew that I was in the hands of the Lord, because, it's a mechanical device that was made by man, and, it could fail. We did fail, you know, one time, coming back to Iwo Jima. We had to lumber back.
KP: Were you scared at that point?
PS: Well, yeah. We hoped there'd be no problem getting there, we trusted that it would do, but, at what point is a disaster, you know? We had submarines, and, destroyers all along the path towards Japan, in the event a plane ditched, to try to [rescue the crew].
KP: How confident were you that they would be able to save you?
PS: Well, after the experience of the one crew that was lost right off the base, we knew that the worst thing we could do was ditch. I mean, in other words, that was the ultimate emergency. We would hope never to have to do that, because, the water was cold and it was very difficult to see. When we were in Puerto Rico, we also ran some search missions, where you take a pattern like this, you know, to search, to see. It's very difficult to see anything, because of the distance to the water. A raft is very small from a distance. In the first place, you have to find the person, let alone recover him.
KP: What kind of training did you have for ditching? What did you think you would do if you had to ditch?
PS: Well, we had training. We would go off on a destroyer. I'm trying to [remember] whether we did that off of Puerto Rico. It must have been Puerto Rico. And, they'd, we'd have our flight jackets on, and, probably, the parachute, too, and a Mae West, and they'd dump us into the ocean, and we'd have to inflate. And, oh, I guess that would, I'm just trying to think if they would have a, whether we'd have to inflate the raft, or, maybe, it was already inflated. We probably tried both ways. You'd have to come up and inflate your vest, and, get on to the raft, and, presumably, go on from there, but, they'd have that kind of training, so that you'd be aware, what to do.
KP: Were you at all concerned that you might crash over Japan?
KP: And be taken prisoner?
PS: We didn't worry about it, too much. We knew that they had prisoner of war camps there.
KP: Were you aware at the time, that some American pilots were executed?
PS: Yeah. We had one of the flyers from Doolittle's crew come to talk to us. He had come back. He was a captain. I forget what he was, whether he was a navigator, or a pilot. Probably a pilot. And, he came to talk to us, you know, about the experience. What could he say? He happened to come back; some didn't.
CE: What were your feelings towards the Japanese, during the war?
PS: Well, I didn't hate them. I mean, they killed my brother, but, that was part of the war. I just thought, you know, they were obviously misguided and the wrong people were in power. They were not especially civilized in the way they were handling things, but, I felt, "Well, it's an enemy, we have to deal with it, and hope that we could win." I mean, I didn't, I really didn't, I should have personalized it, but, I didn't. That's interesting.
KP: Even though your brother had been killed at Guam.
PS: Right. I must admit, I really didn't personalize it. I didn't say, "Well, now, I'm going to go over there, and we're really going to knock the pants off these people, because they killed my brother." I never, you know, I tried to be, I don't know what you would say. You can't say objective, but, say, non-emotional about it.
KP: Do you think the training had anything to do with that?
PS: I suppose. I mean, not necessarily the training there, but, the way I felt about things, in general. I just, I took kind of an open view about things. I was willing to look at the other side of various pictures, you know, not meaning that I accepted the premises, or the conclusions. I mean, Japan, let's face it, they had a difficult time, to be able to find themselves. And, they, ultimately, found themselves, but, unfortunately, it won't be there forever. They're going to do the same thing every other civilization has done, you know, up and down, up and down.
KP: Your plane flew solo missions. You were out there alone.
PS: Yes, alone. That's why it was important for the crew, everybody had to know what they're going to do, and they were going to do it, because, see, in theory, when you flew in formation, the head plane controlled what was done. But, we were our own head plane, you know, because, there was nobody else flying with us.
KP: So, you were really navigating.
PS: Right. It was important that I do the job properly. I mean, it was not unusual for the pilots to snooze, and take a rest, and put it on automatic pilot. And, I'd be navigating. If I had to make a correction, I adjusted the automatic pilot, you know, move it over a degree, one way or the other, what have you, because it was a long haul to get there.
KP: The bombardier I interviewed yesterday, he said that one of his concerns was, let's say something happened to the pilot. He wanted to, at least, know how to ditch the plane. By the same token, the pilots wanted to know something about how to navigate. It was similar among the officers. Was it a similar situation in your crew?
PS: No, we didn't do that too much. Although, we had a radar operator, I think he probably had some training in navigation. So, he could have probably handled that. And, the pilots knew dead reckoning, although, at night, dead reckoning doesn't mean too much. Do you know what dead reckoning is?
PS: Dead reckoning is, you, [pick] something, a landmark, and see what its position is, you know, and, if that can be related to your map, then, that tells you where you are. You have to note the time, for how much time it takes you to go from here to there, and which tells you the relative location on the map, see. In other words, you're taking advantage of what you can see. Well, at night, you can't see anything, so.
KP: And, you had flown only night mission, too.
PS: We flew only night missions, so, therefore, Loran was important, and celestial navigation. But, we didn't make an effort to see. I suppose, in a pinch, we'd land the plane, ditch it some way.
KP: But, you never actually practiced?
PS: No. We never went through the motions.
KP: You never sat in the pilot's seat for a while, with another pilot.
PS: I have to explain our radar. Our radar was different than the radar for Europe. We had a radar which was very advanced, had a 60° sweep, which was used in conjunction with a Norden bomb site, so that, we could get very clear view of what we were going to bomb. What we had to do was coordinate the speed of the plane with the way the radar was showing the target, so that ... we'd be able to open the doors, drop the bomb at the precise moment. So, it was an advance over the other radar, but, it was only a 60? sweep so, it was pretty important that you get to the target. If this is the target, and you're over here, then, you won't pick it up, see. So, you had to navigate to get to a specific point where the bombardier can take over, during the last minute. It was very important that you get to that specific point.
KP: You mentioned, in your survey, that your targets were oil refineries.
PS: That was our basic mission, oil refineries, I suppose, petroleum storage facilities.
KP: How successful were you in reaching these refineries?
PS: Well, apparently, we were very successful, because most of the facilities were destroyed.
KP: But, when did you know when they were successful, in terms of your particular, individual.
PS: Well, see, what happens, by flying at night, you'd see it. If you were the first one, you wouldn't see anything, you'd just bomb it. But, if you were second, or third, or fourth, you'd see what the results were. You'd see if there were flames, or what have you. And, when we'd go back, we'd be debriefed, and they would know how successful it was.
KP: So, you would go on missions, but, there would be successive planes, even though you're flying solo.
PS: Yes. In other words, I forget how many planes we had in our squadron, but, let's say, we had ten planes. So, ten would take off, roughly. We had two runways, one would take off here, thirty seconds later, another would take off here, thirty seconds later another would take off there. So, roughly, a half a minute to a minute apart. And, go on right through to the target.
KP: Did you ever wonder if your bombs ever missed? If they hit targets they weren't supposed to?
PS: I suppose. I mean, it never worried me. I thought, "Well, I'm sure, I have to assume that civilians were killed." You know, it would be impractical to presume that we would only hit physical structures. Certainly, they weren't military bases, they were refineries. They were manned by the average man and woman, you know ... I must admit ...
KP: At the time ...
PS: It didn't bother me, too much. I mean, I, kind of felt that ... it was a part of the theory of war, that, you know, war, unfortunately, has rules which are different than normal conduct of life.
KP: When you weren't on missions, what did you do?
PS: Well, we'd come in, the day would just be starting. We'd be tired as hell, so, after de-briefing, we'd go to sleep, try to sleep. Then, we'd have the whole night. See, we'd fly every third day. So, in other words, we'd land in the morning, that day would be free, the next day would be free. And then, we'd fly the night of the third day. See what I mean? But, days and nights would be mixed up, like shift work. In other words, ... if we flew during the day, then, [we] had two days off, that wouldn't be so bad. But, we'd always have our sleep pattern mixed up, because we'd sleep during the day, and then, the next time, we'd be sleeping at night, then, we'd be sleeping during the day again. That part was bad. Couldn't do much about it.
KP: You were based at?
KP: When did you arrive in Guam? When did your group arrive?
PS: I don't remember.
KP: It was 1945.
PS: Yeah. '45 ... As a matter of fact, I know one thing, we were the first plane to arrive at our field, and we had to fly around to wait for the colonel to land first. [laughter.] So, then, we landed, and then, we had to build our own Quonset huts to live in. First, we built the huts for the enlisted people. And then, we built the Quonset huts for ourselves. And then, we also built a very large ...
KP: Officers' Club.
KP: Officers' Club.
PS: Yeah, and, the bar was very large. [laughter.] The men built it all themselves. It was very interesting. I mean, they had talent.
KP: When you say the men built it, was this the ground crew that built it?
PS: Everybody who wanted to get involved got involved, officers, enlisted men, yeah. Our crew was composed of, let's see, one, two, three, four, four officers, maybe, five, or six enlisted men, but, we worked very close together. We didn't, it was different than, for example, the Army.
KP: Because, you had been in infantry, and there's a real separation between officers and enlisted men.
PS: Yeah, that's true, yeah.
KP: And, you didn't find that as much in the Air Force?
PS: No, we didn't have much separation, no. We respected each other, in terms of what they could do, what they should do ... I can't remember us ever having any, say, major animosities, or arguments, or the like. Just pitched in, did the job. Looking back, I think I would remember. The only thing I remember was the thing about drinking. But, that was because that was important. And, I'm sure, he, himself, knew it, too.
KP: And, under normal circumstances, his drinking probably wouldn't have even mattered.
PS: No, that's right. In this case, when you're going to fly twelve, thirteen, fourteen hours, you better be pretty top mettle, you might say.
KP: You mentioned earlier that the ground crews were top-notch when you were in Guam.
PS: Only by virtue of the results. They really kept any disturbances, you know, any failures of the plane, to almost non-existence.
KP: Because, while you, as a navigator, and your crew, was in harm's way just by the sheer distance, the ground crew is a pretty safe job, especially at this point.
PS: But, for some reason, I mean, I don't know how it occurred, whether the climate was established by the officers, or by the leaders, that it was really important for them to be concerned about their plane and crew. They seemed to be.
KP: So, you really respected ... it sounds like the ground crews were very respected and there was a cohesion there ...
PS: We didn't really know them, in the sense of knowing the ones that were in our crew, but, we knew that they cared.
KP: It sounds like there was a feeling that they were very important.
PS: Yeah. Oh, they were important. No question about it. And, some way, they got the message. How, I don't know.
KP: You had an officers' club. What else did you do on Guam?
PS: Well, we washed clothes. [laughter.] You know how that was. You'd have drums and you'd boil the water. They had a red dirt there that would never come off. But, we played volleyball, played a lot of volleyball. Oh, bridge. We played a lot of bridge. I played bridge a lot ... a lot of people, I'm sure, played ...
PS: Poker. But, I didn't play poker very much. I liked to play bridge. We played Culberson rules. Are you familiar with bridge?
KP: No, my wife keeps threatening to teach me. [laughter.]
PS: That's interesting, because, see, I don't particularly enjoy bridge too much, any more. I taught my wife. She loves bridge. She says, "How could it be that you used to play bridge so much and loved it and now," Well, you know ... it's interesting, but, it's just a game. We played a lot of bridge. And, outside, we'd play volleyball, or anything of that nature. Read a lot, you know, whatever we could. Makes me wonder, where'd we get our books?
KP: What about your movies? Did you get to see any films?
PS: Oh, we had movies.
KP: And, how was the food? Not as memorable as Las Vegas.
PS: No. It was, probably, adequate. It wasn't ... I guess, it was satisfactory. I mean, if it was unusual, I would have remembered. [laughter.] Wasn't that unusual, I suppose.
KP: After the war, how long did you stay at Guam?
PS: Well, until, about December, when they sent me back to the States. They had a point system evolve. I was trying to get home, because my second son, (I didn't know it was a son), was born in September. The war was over. I was trying to get the Red Cross, everybody else, to send me home. They wouldn't do it.
KP: When was your first son born?
PS: Well, my first son was born, during, when I was in, see, where was I? I think I was in Texas. It was February 2nd, now what was the year? It must have been '43 or '44, I forgot which year now. He died when he was three-and-a-half-years-old, of leukemia, unfortunately, while I was back at Rutgers. That was quite a blow. I was back here. That was a very sad experience. Yeah. That's another thing, that you don't know what it's about until you go through it. And, it's not very pleasant to go through it. Really hurt my wife quite a bit.
KP: No, I am sorry ...
------------------------- END SIDE TWO TAPE TWO------------------
KP: This continues an interview with Mr. Peter M ...
KP: Sarraiocco. Excuse me. [laughter.]
PS: No problem.
KP: March 3, 1995, at Rutgers University, with Kurt Piehler.
CE: Chris Everly.
KP: You were mentioning about coming home, you mentioned about the radio operator.
PS: Oh, that was one instance. But, the most important instance is we were flying from Guam, over Kwajalein, and over Johnson Island, and on to Hawaii. Now, I'm trying to remember, I don't think we landed at Kwajalein, we just went over it. Then, we went towards Johnson Island. When we had already passed over Johnson Island, we had trouble with our engine. No, what happened was, it looked like the engine was starved for gas. He checked the tanks; a particular tank was empty so, he switched over to another tank. And, we thought, "Wait a minute," ... now, you have to remember, this was not our regular crew. The crew was made up of those who were eligible to go back, see. It doesn't matter.
KP: So, you were not used to working with one another.
PS: Yeah, but, that shouldn't have mattered, anyhow. The important thing is, now, the question was, was that a false signal or was it true? I mean, we shouldn't have had that much gas used up. It shouldn't have been empty! What had happened? So, we had to make a decision, and, the decision was to go back to Johnson Island, and land. Good thing, because, when we landed, we had about three or four minutes worth of flight time left, because we had used up all the gas. What had happened, apparently, is, something happened in the engine, and it was using much more fuel than should have been used. So, we had to stay there a for few days, until they brought in a replacement part to repair the engine. And then, we went on our way. But, we almost went into the drink coming home, just by luck. How did we make that decision? We just as easily could have decided, "Ah, well, we're on our way to Hawaii, let's go home." And, we would never have made it.
CE: Another question about Guam. Was there a native population?
CE: Did you interact with them at all?
PS: Not much, but, I could see, they seemed to be pretty stable people. We went down to Aguana, two or three times, but, it was mostly destroyed, and, not much to see. They just lived the best they could, under the circumstances. Their way of life had been kind of distorted, destroyed in many respects, you know. They had been under the Japanese for a while, and so forth. It looked like, they were a pretty good people. It was an interesting island. The northern part, where we were, was really covered with jungle, or forest, I guess you might say. The air fields had been cut out of the jungle. There were two air fields, one for the 314th Bomb Wing, and one for the 315th. The 314th, I think, they flew the more standard missions. We were the only wing that flew at night only.
KP: The rest flew standard group missions.
PS: Right, they would fly during the day, you know ... bomb, and then, come back.
KP: Would you have preferred daytime flying, or night time?
PS: I never thought much about it. We were satisfied to do what we did. It was controllable. I don't know ... How would it have been to fly with a formation? I don't know.
CE: Did the day squadron have more casualties?
PS: I don't know, because it was the 314th, a different wing. We would very seldomly hear all the news. That's one of the things about the war, except for Time magazine, and magazines like that, where you'd get summaries, we wouldn't get much information, per se.
KP: But, around you, how many, in your squadron, how many planes, in the months you were there, how many didn't come back.
PS: Well, all of ours came back.
KP: In your squadron?
PS: In my squadron, yeah. We left our plane at Iwo Jima, then, ultimately, that came back.
KP: But, you didn't lose any crews?
PS: Oh, no, the one crew that crashed with Les Neuhouse on board. I think it was from a different squadron. But, I'm just trying to remember. There were three squadrons in the 16th Bomb Group. I think there were three bomb groups that made up the wing. So, that gives you an idea of the numbers. We had, say nine, or ten planes, per squadron. So, then, we would have had thirty planes per group, and, maybe, ninety planes, all together. Ninety to a hundred planes, for the whole wing. Maybe it was more than that, I don't know, but, somewhere in that number, in terms of quantity. But, I must admit, I never kept track of how many were lost, you might say, except for the one I mentioned. One thing was obvious. Time was against you. We flew, by the end of the war, we flew fourteen or fifteen missions. Let's say we'd flown fifty missions. Well, things, ultimately, catch up with you. Statistically, each mission stands on its own, but, there are certain things that come into play. Your ability to be constantly prepared ... the plane itself, you know, the ability of the plane to be kept in tip-top shape for an extended period of time. And then, there were all the other elements, weather, outside influences, the enemy, and what have you. I think the real tragedy with the Air Force experience is, they lost a lot of people, who were top-notch people in our society, who never had the chance to demonstrate what they might be able to do for the society. A little bit better than the average guy.
KP: You firmly felt you were a part of an elite force.
PS: Yeah, I felt that way, I really did. I mean, it may not have been true. But, there are certain things that are obvious. I mean, to do that, it was the unusual, different, risky, what have you, so, therefore, you could be said to be a risk taker. And, you know, I suppose, in a sense, my life has been that way, too. I consider myself an entrepreneur. I started with GE, and, I left GE, went to another company. Ultimately, got involved in my own business.
KP: What business did you have?
PS: Well, ultimately, I had a fabricating business, heavy plate, steel, fabricating. Ultimately, we had a couple plants, and so forth. We acquired a valve division. We got involved in construction. We did a lot of things. Some failed, and, a lot were reasonably successful. I didn't set the world on fire, but, on the other hand, I learned a lot, and did a lot of interesting things.
KP: Do you think your Air Force experience gave you a lot of confidence? Or, it sounds like, you had a lot of confidence coming to school. But, how do you think your Air Force experience helped?
PS: It didn't hurt me. I would say that. I mean, I don't know that it was necessary. I would have preferred that than the other fields. I mean, for example, the Navy, I think the Navy might have been quite limiting. I don't know, I just never thought. The infantry, I think there was a very great chance that I'd have been cannon fodder, because, you know, that eats up men too easily, unfortunately.
KP: We always think of Japan and Germany in World War II, but, initially, we were at war with Italy, too. Both your father and mother were born in Italy, and, you had family in Italy. Was there any sort of tension there?
PS: Not really too much. I always thought, and, I think, maybe, the family's always thought, that the war was with the governing body, not the Italian people. And, I've been to Italy, in the meantime, and, I came to a conclusion. The Italians don't like to be governed. Really, they just don't like [it]. My theory is that, they tolerate government because you're supposed to have government, not because it's necessary. That's interesting. You're a historian, you should look into that. In other words, they tolerate government as a necessity in our civilization, but, if you ask them for their druthers, they'd rather not have it. And, you know, they've conducted themselves as if that was the case, because, they really are still a nation of little city-states. Now, I'll give you an example of that. You see, when you go to Italy, every neighbor, and every neighboring town, is no good. The only good place is the place you come from. I noticed that, when we went down through the various towns to see my wife's folks, and so forth. We'd say, "Well, we went through such and such place." "Oh, those people, they're no good." In other words, they are very, I'll say, clannish and parochial towards their own little [villages]. In other words, that's their government, their little town. That's their civilization. The rest of [it] is incidental. And, I really feel this way. I feel that they have a unique look, outlook on life, in general. Maybe, it comes from results of the Renaissance, who knows? But, certainly, different than in America. We don't say, well, New York, for example, we don't have an antipathy to New York. Maybe we do, for certain things that are apparent there, but, we don't think about it same way the Italian would think of it.
KP: Most Americans, I don't think, don't think the rest of the country is terrible, except for the place where they live.
PS: Yeah, see. So, it's interesting. So, to get back to the question. I don't think we, my parents never expressed any concern about that.
KP: Were you and your brother glad that you were serving in the Pacific Theater, instead of the European?
PS: I never thought about that. I thought, frankly, I thought the chances of survival, I thought, if we went to Europe, might have been less, because, I knew that the enemy there was really fighting back very strongly, and, I just sensed that Japan was much more limited. But, you know, who knew how true that was. Remember what I said, our enemy was distance, and weather, and so forth, as well as the enemy, although the enemy, obviously, was an important [concern]. That didn't seem ... to be the problem in Europe. I think the enemy was pretty obvious, you know, it was the German ground batteries, and the fighter planes, and what have you.
KP: You came back to Rutgers with two children.
PS: Well, I was determined, I've always felt this way, I felt the mission of life is to learn. Always. Forever. Until your last breath. I have to explain. I really do feel that we have an obligation to use our talents to the utmost, until you absolutely can't find any other talent to use. And, to do that, the best way you could do that, is to learn, learn, learn, learn. And, they shouldn't stop with formal education, because [it] should continue forever. Because, otherwise, it's pretty hard to explain why we're here at all. I mean, just to be here, as a blob, doesn't make sense. We're, you know, essentially, sentient bodies. This is much more important than everything else, as we know. Although, we realize we have to keep this pretty straight. I have to say this, because, I'm just getting over an extended illness. First time I've been ill all my life, I mean, over an extensive period of time. It was about three-and-a-half or four months, I had fevers, and, the end result is, I was wasting away. And, they couldn't find out what the problem was. My daughter is a doctor. She was pulling her hair out. She said, "Why don't we go to this specialist, that specialist," checked everything, all the organs were okay. Finally, they found out it was what they call temporal arteritis, which is an inflammation of the vessels, especially, in the head region, which, apparently, gave me these fevers. Why? You ask, why? They don't know. Anyhow, they found ... they gave me a steroid, prednizone, to overcome the fevers, which it did. Almost overnight, I got rid of the fever, but, now, I have to wean myself off the steroid, which takes a long time. But, anyhow, that's beside the point. The important thing is the idea of being able to do something meaningful with your life. Otherwise, how do you explain yourself? Just to sit as a blob and say that's why you're here, just to take up space? It doesn't make sense. It's just not logical. So, I came back to Rutgers. If I hadn't come back to Rutgers, I would have gone somewhere.
KP: You were determined to go to school.
PS: Oh, yeah. As a matter of fact, I still remember the comment my son made, because, when I graduated, he was already older; he said, "Dad, weren't you," something like, "Weren't you a good student? It took ten years to graduate?" [laughter.] You know, he was right. I guess I was too dumb.
KP: Your children, you mentioned two of them went into the military.
PS: Well, no, he just went for that six months training period.
KP: But, he didn't serve.
PS: No, he didn't serve.
KP: But, your daughter went into the Air Force.
PS: Yeah, my daughter ... I have to remember how that happened now. Let's see. She went to Catholic University, she studied music. And then, she decided, between her junior and senior year, she'd rather go into medicine. Not that she didn't like music, she felt the opportunities would be different. So, you know, with trepidation, she talked to me during the summer. I said, "Fine, whatever you want to do, that's fine." She thought, maybe, I'd be concerned. I said, "No, it's okay." She took all the math, biology courses, and so forth, during the summer. Got a Bachelor's in Music, and so forth. Then, took a Masters in Biology, I believe. She was, ultimately accepted into medical school. Then, she got married. They were living in Trenton. She and her husband went to high school together, but, they had lost sight of each other. It was just incidental, years later, that they met again. He was becoming a dentist. And, he was going to, I don't know what you call it, in Newark, New Jersey College of Medicine.
KP: The University of Dentistry and Medicine, Medicine and Dentistry.
PS: Right. So, he would go up there, and she would go down to Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, which was in Philadelphia. She would take a train and a bus to go there. And then, when he finished his schooling, he finished before she did, and, he went into the service, down to Andrews. I'm trying to remember. They ended up both going down there together. She had just finished her regular training, and then, had to go through the residencies, here, and there. They ended up down at Andrews Air Force Base. That's what happened; she finished her resident training there, at Andrews, so, she was able to be with him there. Then, ultimately, they transferred to McGuire. And, they got out, somewhere around '80, '81, '82, something like that.
KP: Did your daughter make a career of the Air Force? Did she remain in the Air Force?
PS: No. She came out. Originally, she worked with a medical group, a short while. Then, she opened her own practice in Tabernacle Township. And, she did that for two, or three years. She has two young children, and, she was trying to work twenty-four hours a week. But, it doesn't work out that way. She was doing, maybe, twenty-four hours a week of medicine, and twenty-four hours a week of paperwork. So, she thought, while the children are that young, it's no good. So, she decided to take a job as a medical director in Philadelphia at Fox Chase. And, she was there a year, or so. And then, she took a job as medical director at Helene Fold in Trenton, same kind of, similar kind of job. And, that's the situation now. So, that way, at least, she's limited as to time, you know, while the children are growing. The one child is twelve, going to be thirteen, the other one's going to be eleven this month. So, five years from now, the whole picture might change. [laughter.]
KP: You stayed in the inactive reserve after the war.
PS: Only because they twisted my arm. That's interesting, because, I didn't want to stay at all. And, the major said, "Oh god!" He wanted me to be at least in the active reserve. I said, "No, I'm not going to be bothered." But, there is this inactive reserve. You don't have to do anything. You're going to be there for five years. "All right," with reluctance, I said, "All right, I'll join it." So, when the Korean War happened, and it was about '52, now, five years had long since past. As far as I'm concerned, the inactive service term was finished. However, they called me to active duty. They had me all set up to go to Japan. I didn't realize it was that serious, but, that's what they told me. So, we had just bought a house. My wife was pregnant with our daughter, and, I just had a change in job assignments, and so forth. "Oh, man!" I reported to McGuire, and, I never saw such a bunch of disgruntled people. 'Cause, they all had similar experiences. Some were just establishing their businesses, or what have you. They were very, very unhappy. I had all kinds of letters to try to get out of this situation. But, one thing that happened was that I went through a physical, and I had lost a lot of hearing in my left ear. At the physical, they found that I didn't have sufficient hearing in ...
KP: In your left ear.
PS: Yeah. So, they said, if I want to, I can waive that as a requirement. I said, "Well, what if I don't waive it?" He said, "Then, we'll reassign you to another ground assignment," which would mean they wouldn't need me. I said, "Well, I'm not going to waive the requirement." So, as a result, after three days, I was discharged.
KP: So, you did three days service during the Korean War. [laughter.]
PS: Yeah. It was interesting. I mean, for me, it was a practical thing to do. I would be devastated, under the circumstances, with a new birth forthcoming, a new house, a new job, and all that. I mean, it would be a horrible experience. I tried to be practical.
KP: I guess, we did mention earlier, but, we didn't put it on tape. You had mentioned, when you came back from the war, you became very interested in architecture.
PS: Oh, well. I wanted to go back to school, and so, I thought, if I want to go back to school, I'm not so sure I want to go back into law. And so, I thought to myself, well, what would I really like to get involved [with]. Well, you know, it wouldn't be bad to go into architecture, because, I thought, I would be able to physically accomplish certain things. And, I decided, therefore, I'd check with the University of Penn, I knew they had a school of architecture. And, basically, the response was, I don't remember the details, but, to the effect that, they were taking care of their own students, and they wouldn't have room for new students, which made me think that there might be room at Rutgers. So, I went, checked into Rutgers, they didn't have a school of architecture. So, I thought, "Well, all right, if they don't have a school of architecture, I'll go into engineering," which is not necessarily the same thing, but, it skirts the area. And, that's how I ended up going back into Rutgers. I was working at the shipyard, at that time. It's interesting how things go. I was going to go into mechanical engineering. Then, I thought, "No, I think I'll go into electrical." And, I ended up in electrical engineering. And then, I ended, deciding about '48, that it would be a good idea to take an additional degree, the degree in business. They really didn't have a degree in business administration here. They had one in Newark. But, they had economics, a lot of economics, statistics, and what have you. So, I was able to take enough of the additional courses required. As a matter of fact, when I finished, I think I must have had, I don't know, 240, or 50, or so, credits, all together.
KP: Because, you had been here in the late 30s.
PS: Yeah, I was a perpetual student, it seems. [laughter.] It didn't look to me that was the case then, but, I got my money's worth, I'll put it that way. You know, when I came back from the service, I was quite busy here. We did, I did all kinds of things. I was involved ... There was a fellow by the name of Balinki. Is he still here, or is he retired, in Economics?
KP: I think he's retired.
PS: Well, he got a few us together, and said, "Look, we should start a Rutgers Economics Honor Society," which, I think, still exists, and, we started it, back in '46, I guess it was.
KP: And, you were involved in starting a fraternity.
PS: Yeah, I was very active. I was working, too. I had a family. I just was a glutton-for-punishment. I just couldn't stop.
KP: Did you have much time for other aspects of campus life? Did you go to football games?
PS: I tried to go to some of the games. I remember going to one game, to work, and, I met a fellow who was working, too, and I was reminiscing about 1939. He said, you know, "I remember that game when we were playing Richmond." He says, "I was here as a Boy Scout," a Cub Scout or Boy Scout, "seeing that game." Well, I was working the, I don't know, the fliers, or whatever you call them, the programs, you know, during that same game. [laughter.] So, he thought, boy, I was old.
KP: It must have been a strange experience, to have come back from war, come back to school with a lot of returning veterans, but also, with kids who were eighteen and nineteen.
PS: That's true. That's right. I suppose the experience was worse for them, because, I still remember, when I was here, before, I took a course in drafting, architectural drafting. And, it happens there was an older student in there. I must have been, say, eighteen. You know how old he was? He was twenty-one. To me, he was an old fellow. I mean, twenty-one-years-old, he was. He didn't belong there. So, you can imagine what the nineteen-year-old, or eighteen-year-old, fellow thought with the fellows who were twenty-five, twenty-six or what have you, here. I must say, we were a pretty serious group.
KP: That's what a number of people have said. Now, I been told that it became very hard, the engineering program. That it was a very difficult program.
PS: Yeah. I imagine it was ... I must admit, I didn't really enjoy the engineering program. I didn't enjoy it. I mean, some courses I enjoyed, some I didn't. I knew I had to take them, and, maybe, that's what made me decide that ... I figured out, ultimately, that I'd like to have my own business, anyhow. So, I felt, the business administration degree would be valuable. Ultimately, I came back, and got a Masters, too, in business. Did I tell you that? I think I did. But, I certainly didn't want to be involved ... not that I wouldn't mind research, but, I thought, that was rather limiting. Now, as it is, I got involved in product development when I was with GE, and, I enjoyed that a lot. I mean, trying to redesign a furnace, for example. The objective was to cut the costs of production at least 40%, [and] at the same time, get a better product. That's quite a noble objective. Well, I was able to achieve it. Just by taking advantage of what had been developed, all the things that had come since the last time it had been developed. It might have been a seven, or eight-year-old product. It's amazing how innovations can play a part. With, going into the Masters' program, that was interesting. They really didn't have one here to speak of. Rutgers finally, started one in Newark, but, I didn't wait for that. I started at Columbia. I went to Columbia and began taking courses that would be helpful. And then, when, Rutgers opened the Newark thing, I got involved in that program.
KP: It sounds like you were very fond of school.
PS: Oh, I was. Well, this Master's program, we had a professor there who was from Harvard. He was pretty good. The problem was, I was working in management. I mean, to me, the courses that I was taking were so simple. I couldn't, it's terrible for me to say this, I had to steel myself, not to raise my hand. [laughter.] Because, you know, experience was better than the learning, because I was already experiencing some of that stuff. So, I got that in '53, and, that was the end of that.
KP: Did you ever think you'd want to teach? Well, you mentioned you taught at Drexel.
PS: Well, I had a neighbor who was teaching statistics at Drexel. And, he said, "Why don't you come over to Drexel and teach management." I was running a business, and all that. I think it was about 1966, something like that. I said, "Well, that's a good idea." So, he brought me over there and had me meet the department head who said, "Okay," and, I started in December of '66. And, I taught there at night, three hours a night, one night a week. Three straight hours, which was not so good. [laughter] It's a long session. My first time, I thought, how am I going to handle that? I had an outline. You know, you teach. It's not that bad. ... I did it for about fourteen, fifteen years, then, I stopped, because I figured, well, that's enough. I was getting tired. But, it was very satisfying. I enjoyed that. I mean, the biggest problem was, I'd be too tired. I'd have a day's work, then, I'd go there. The energy level, let's face it, wouldn't be the same as it would be nine o' clock in the morning, but, still, I enjoyed it. It was nice to see people who were very dedicated. I never had any disciplinary problem.
KP: And, you taught undergraduates?
PS: Right, and graduates, too, there were graduates, too. Some programs were more oriented toward graduates. But, the point is, they were all, they may not have all been married, but, most of them were married. Some had children. And, they were all working, more or less. Otherwise, why would they go at night? It was costly for them to do it, in terms of time. It might take them seven to eight years to get their degree. So, they weren't going to be messing around. So, that part was good, that we had serious students. Not saying that the undergraduate isn't serious, but, let's face it, the undergraduate is not focused the same way. So, that was a good experience. I enjoyed that.
KP: You mentioned that you struck out on your own, and, you enjoyed large parts of it, a great deal, being an entrepreneur.
PS: Oh, yeah! I mean, I worked with GE. I couldn't wait to be promoted. I still remember talking to the manager of the division, the engineering division. His name was Sam Levine, very intelligent, very talented person. I talked to him, and, I had been there only a few years, you know, three or four years, and I wanted to move up. He said, "You know how long I was a project manager?" He had been a project manager a dozen years, or more. So, he was trying to say, in effect, "You're asking me to ... see about promoting," when I had to serve my apprenticeship, in effect. Well, I was just too impatient. So, I ended up leaving them, and, went with a company called National Radiator Company, which was involved with heating and air conditioning products. Shortly thereafter, that was '54, within a year, they merged with a company which was one and a half times bigger than them, but, National was the surviving company. The other company was in Detroit, and they brought over some of the people. I had a good position there. I started out as a staff engineer, became the executive engineer, and, ultimately, I became the, so-called, Secretary of the Management Advisory Committee, which was composed of the officers, the key officers of the company. And, I was there as a secretary, and my job, in effect, was to carry out some of the things decided. That was a good spot. What I wanted to really do was become a general manager of one of the divisions. They had about eight, or nine divisions and they had, maybe, nine, or ten plants, throughout the whole country. It was a fair size company. I was able to do some very interesting things during my experiences with National. I built an Engineering Center. This came about because the Senior Vice-President, Engineering and Research, to whom I reported, said that he had wanted one built for many years, but, no one would stick to it and do it. So, I told him I would gladly do it. I surveyed our competitors concerning their laboratories and engineering facilities and went to visit about ten of them. I summarized the data, prepared a specification, had it reviewed, chose an architect, had drawings and detailed specs made, went out for bids, and proceeded to have the Engineering Center built. Another interesting experience was the appointment of Les Hotsenpiller, the Senior Vice-President, Manufacturing, and me, to turn around our air conditioning business, which was losing (based on today's dollars) $5 million annually. In six months, we had all the products redesigned, with significant performance improvements and lower costs; revised production lines to reduce costs; and new literature and sales plans. Within a year, the program resulted in break even, and soon after, we were back ion the profit side. But, ultimately, I could see I wasn't going to be able to get my way, put it that way. I thought, "Well, all right, I'll strike out on my own." I put a few bucks into a company called Reiter Engineering and Reiter Steel Fabricators, and I took over Reiter Steel Fabricators, and, I had a portion of both businesses. And then, after about three years, we separated. They bought off what I owned of Reiter Engineering, and, I took over the Steel Fabricator. And, ... I paid them for their stock. Got involved in that, changed the name of the company, and went on our way. Then, we added some divisions, and so forth. During this period, I bought a valve company, started a motor freight company, bought an abrasive saw and castings molding company, spun off our construction division into an independent company, bought a custom light fixture firm, which we ultimately stopped because of the need for too large a capital investment for long term viability, and expanded our plant and added a new plant. More significantly, I started an apprentice program, including an in-house educational program for employee self-improvement. I also started a scholarship program for employees who wanted to go to college at night. We paid full tuition based on a sliding scale: 100% if the grade was an A, 80% if a B, etc. Two men received their engineering degrees at Drexel University and have their own consulting engineering firms. One of these men just received his Masters' degree in engineering as well. Ultimately, I got out of that business, about '83, something like that. And, my son had been with us, so, he was looking for work, and I said, "Well, why don't you start a construction firm." We had had a construction division. So, I suggested he start a construction company, which he did. I've been working with him ever since, you know, part-time, theoretically, part-time. There's twenty-four hours a day, that means twelve hours, half time. [laughter.] But, you know, really very limited time. At least, I have the freedom of coming or going as I please. It's not been bad.
KP: Yeah, it sounds like you've had a very rich life and a very happy marriage.
PS: Yeah, oh, the marriage, I mean, we haven't traveled much, recently, but, we've traveled quite a bit, which I enjoyed a lot. I love art, and music, and history. I just still remember the first time, no matter what you read about, the first, we visited, for example, Florence and Rome. I just was in awe. I just couldn't, oh, I just couldn't, it just was overwhelming, you know, tremendous, what man can do. That's what it amounts to, what man can do. I wish we could do more of that and less of the fighting, because we have it in us to be able to accomplish a lot more than we have been able to accomplish. I mean, I suppose there must be some reason why 95% of our brain isn't used. It's waiting to be explored, right?
KP: Is there anything we forgot to ask?
PS: Oh, I'm sure there are a lot of things, because you wouldn't know what to ask, I mean, relative to the experience.
KP: Actually, there is a reason, because some of the surveys went out. We did a fairly large mass filing. We, actually, I had to feel more around for your career and some basic question was the fifth page. Actually, I should mark it.
PS: I took advantage of the GI Bill.
KP: Oh, yeah. No, I know. If you could just send this back to us, when you get the transcript.
PS: Oh, that ...
KP: Yeah, this last page.
PS: Oh, well, sure.
KP: Just because, part of it is to get a statistical summary.
PS: Oh, by the way, I repeat what I said about that survey, that somebody in the government did do. That might be a rich source of information.
KP: Yeah, I'm going to look into that.
PS: Of course, I mean, I suppose there's some Rutgers people in it.
KP: Yeah, in fact that would be a good source.
PS: It'd be interesting. That was the bad part of it. They never told us what they found. [laughter.]
KP: Yeah. No, and, I don't think it's widely known.
PS: I don't know. I find, myself, I must admit, I find myself, saying to myself, "Gee, I think I want do this, I want to do that." Then, I'd say to myself, "Wait a minute, I can't do that. I'm seventy-three-years-old, I can't start something fresh and new," but, the spirit wants me to do that. And, I think if we can impart that to all the graduates of Rutgers, that would be a tremendous achievement.
KP: You mentioned that you haven't talked much about the war.
PS: No. In passing, here and there, but, not much ... I don't think I really did very much.
KP: Yeah. Did you join any veterans' organizations?
PS: Well, I just ... when I came back, I joined, in Paulsboro, I joined the Veterans of Foreign War, but, when I moved out of Paulsboro, that ended. But, just recently, I joined the American Legion. I have to tell you why. Only because, I bought a Buick automobile, and, they have a provision that, if you're a member of the American Legion, they will give you $400 ... against the purchase. I thought, "Hey, that's a good economic tradeoff, to buy a $20 membership for $400." [laughter.] And, sure enough, so, I took advantage of that. Now, I'm a member of the American Legion.
KP: But, you're not active in a post.
PS: No, I'm not active, no. But, that was fascinating because the Buick people told me, but, I wouldn't have known.
KP: But, you wouldn't have known.
PS: No. So, in case you ever want to buy a car, think about that.
KP: Well, I think Chris probably has enjoyed this a great deal.
CE: Oh, yeah.
KP: And future students will be able to enjoy this interview.
PS: Wait a minute, wait a minute, tell me something about your lives.
KP: Well, I ...
PS: I think it's fair.
KP: Oh, yeah.
PS: You don't have to take as long as I took. [laughter.]
KP: I'll let Chris start.
CE: I'm History/English major.
PS: Why are you, why?
CE: Why am I a History major?
CE: Actually ...
PS: Maybe I shouldn't ask you in front ... the professor.
CE: No, no. The main reason, really, is because of World War II. Both my grandfathers, as I mentioned to you earlier, were in the infantry, and, they saw a lot of combat in Europe and North Africa. And, all my life, they've always told me their stories. And, as I got older, I would read about where they were, because I wanted to learn more. Like, my one grandfather was in the Battle of the Bulge. I know a lot about the Battle of the Bulge. My other grandfather was in several POW camps. And, I expanded my reading, so, I ... for someone my age, I think I know a lot about World War II. Obviously, not as much as a Professor Piehler, but, I know quite a bit, and, I just expanded into other areas of history beyond that. So, I love reading about all kinds of history, specifically, military history to be honest, World War II, the Civil War. I'm taking a class now about Vietnam, because I don't know enough about Vietnam, as I should. And, English, I've just always loved reading, since I was a little boy. I started in comic books, went from there. Still read comic books, actually. But, you know, I love Shakespeare, all the classics, then, you know, more modern stuff. I'm in the education program. I want to be a teacher.
PS: Very good.
CE: I'm going to certify to teach ...
PS: Where'd you come from?
CE: Oh, I live in Bridgewater. That's twenty minutes from here. I'm a commuter.
PS: Oh, close by?
CE: Yeah. I'm going to certify to teach English and History, but, I'd prefer to teach history, because I'm more interested in that.
PS: You're talking about high school.
CE: Yeah. Well, I'll be certified to sixth grade to twelfth grade. I want to teach in high school, preferably.
PS: Well, that's good, because I think the kids need it, to tell you the truth.
CE: The comment you made before, I mean, my mother's a teacher, so, that's kind of, you know, what goes on in public schools. And, the history isn't emphasized as much.
CE: It used to be. Most courses, schools don't have an economics course, for example.
PS: Yeah, I don't understand what bothers them.
CE: American history, it's kind of cursory.
PS: It's just as if they don't want to teach, which is a horrible thing to say, but ...
KP: Well, I ...
PS: So, what's your claim to fame, Professor.
KP: Well, I got my doctorate, actually, from Rutgers and I've done a range of different academic projects. This is, actually, my second project. My first book, which is coming out this spring, is How Americans Remember War. But, I've also done work on the early American Republic. This project was started ... I sort of was here, finishing my book on a post-doc. I'd been away for several years. This project sort of got developed by the Class of '42, and by Steve Ambrose, who had a role in sort of encouraging it, and I was sort of tapped to direct it, and, I'll be doing it for the remainder of this academic year and next year.
PS: How about that? Very good. Are you originally from this area?
KP: I was born in New York, in Nyack, New York, and, lived until I was seven in Queens. But, I've lived in New Jersey since then, ... except for two brief stints in Washington, once in college and once in graduate school.
PS: Good. Interesting.
KP: I should say one of my biggest regrets is when I was in college, a good friend of mine's parents lived in Rome. And, he said, "Why don't you come with me for Christmas?" and I didn't have the money. I would have had to borrow the airfare. And, my big regret, I did not do it.
PS: Yeah. Money is a problem.
KP: But, in that particular case, I was being penny wise and pound foolish. I could have stayed in his ... parents' apartment for a month.
PS: Well, you've got a lot of years, yet. Time, the world's a very interesting ...
--------------------END TAPE THREE SIDE ONE-----------------
PS: We've traveled a fair amount. People, many people say, "Well, I don't like those people," and so forth. But, we've never found people that we didn't like. We, I mean, I suppose it's the way we approach things. But, you know, even in France. [laughter.] I never went to Paris, but, we were in the southern part of France. I remember trying to get into Nice. And, we were trying to find a place to stay, and the route, and all that. We stopped at a gas station, and, the people were very helpful. The guy took the phone, and called, and so forth. I thought, "Well, this is very hospitable on their part," you know, because ... It has to do with language. Yet, in Seville, Spain, I met, I guess, you might call him a porter. He was bringing our bags up to the room. And, some way, we got into a conversation. Now, I don't speak Spanish, and, he didn't speak English. He knew a little Italian, I knew a little Italian. Theoretically, I know a little German. Anyhow, I was able to find out, in a very short time, you know, that he had been a prisoner of war, fought in the Spanish Brigade, was at Stalingrad, had been captured, had been a prisoner of war, and, ultimately, had been repatriated. Language is interesting, but, you don't have to, you know, ... I mean, with our little, back and forth, and hand signals, and what have you, little Italian perhaps, we were able to discover something about each other. Now, unfortunately, I have to tell you the other side of the story. I was in Italy, and, I had met some of the people, who were distant relatives. What you couldn't do, what I couldn't do, I couldn't talk at a level that was more esoteric, you know, having to do with philosophy and theory and complex subjects. One other thing, when I was there, Nixon was president, for example, and, they had a lot of negatives. The young people had a lot of negative things to say about capitalism, per se. They were basically, Socialist oriented. And, I couldn't, we couldn't, we couldn't communicate, really, too well, because, that requires a level of language which is a little bit higher than just the run of the mill, you know, daily living kind of language. So, I find a lack there that's unfortunate. So, I don't know what language is good now, but, it would be good, if you go overseas, if you know some of them. Very good, I'm glad I came.
KP: Well, no, we enjoyed it very much. We enjoyed it a great deal.
PS: The 20th Air Force had a world as its emblem. I remember this. I don't think we had an individual insignia. We only wore the 20th Air Force insignia on the jacket.
PS: As a matter of fact, I might even have that patch, yet, in which case, I'll send it to you. [laughter.]
KP: Oh, thank you.
PS: It might be on the uniform. I couldn't fit in that uniform. So, book's comin' out, huh?
-------------------------END OF INTERVIEW-----------------------
Reviewed by: Chris Hillary April 30, 1998
Reviewed by: Shaun Illingworth February 6, 1999
Edited by: Sandra Stewart Holyoak April 19, 1999