Sandra Stewart Holyoak: This begins an interview with Dr. Charles L. Zukaukas on October 31, 2006, in Westwood Avenue, Long Branch, New Jersey. Thank you very much, Dr. Zukaukas, for taking time today to speak with me. To begin the interview, could you tell me where and when you were born?
Charles Zukaukas: I was born in Newark, New Jersey, July 26, 1921.
SH: Can you tell me please, starting with your father, a little bit about your family history?
CZ: Well, my parents were immigrants from Lithuania and they're sort of interesting. My father originally came over to escape conscription in the Russian Army, and he arrived in America. He worked for about a year or so and was very unhappy, so he went back to Lithuania and he joined the Russian Army where he remained in service for about three years. I think ... his education profited from being in that service. He became a sort of a non-commissioned officer there and then he realized that America was really the place to be and he came back to the United States. ...
SH: What year was that, you know, that he first came and then returned? Do you remember?
CZ: I don't really have the years. I would say that he was probably about; well he must have been seventeen or eighteen years old when he first came, because that's when he would be conscripted. You see the Russian Army did not take the oldest son but every son thereafter would have to go into the Russian Army and he was the second born son and ... it was probably about 1898, 1899, or maybe 1900, somewhere in that, and then followed these different episodes until he remained permanently in the United States. He had two brothers who also were over here. One ultimately was in the United States Navy and the other one was in the US Army.
SH: Now did your father bring them over here?
CZ: No, they came about the same time that he came, ... when he came over the second time, and then, he, ultimately, married my mother who was substantially younger than my father and they settled in Newark. It's of some interest probably that my father, who was a carpenter, he worked for Public Service Utilities, now Public Service Electric and Gas Company, in those days, years, was a utility for everything and they were in charge of all the transportation in the city and suburbs. In those days, the buses and the trolley cars were manufactured from wood and it was his job as a carpenter, to maintain these buses and trolleys when they had problems. However, when ... everything changed and the trolleys became metal and the buses became metal and, of course with steel, he was no longer needed, and, so, he was let go from his work with the Public Service Utilities and subsequently, he, looking for a business of some sort, ended up in Long Branch, New Jersey. ... I grew up for the first eight or nine years of my life in Newark and then, ultimately, ended up in Long Branch where I spent pretty much the rest of my existence.
SH: Your mother's story, she's from Lithuania, as well, you said.
CZ: My mother is also from Lithuania but, about her story, I know very little aside from the fact that, ultimately, she married my father and they had two children, my sister and myself.
SH: Now are you the older?
CZ: No, I'm the younger of the two.
SH: Did your mother come with any of her family to this country?
CZ: Yes, yes. She had two brothers, correction, I have two uncles, both were in the service, in the United States Army. ... They both saw action in World War II and one of them remained in the Army. He stayed in the Army and was a career soldier.
SH: Interesting, because your father would have served in the Russian Army prior to World War I, and would then have been, obviously, too old for World War II.
CZ: Right, right.
SH: Did they talk about what it was like to live in Newark and then have to move like that especially with the Depression...
CZ: Yes, it was, it was very difficult and we spent the Depression years in Long Branch and they relied pretty much on ... tourists and vacation people for their business and in those years people didn't go on vacations and travel much, so it was difficult. ... It was very tough in those days, very tough.
SH: What was their business in Long Branch?
CZ: They had a little rooming house and boarding house, yes.
SH: So that meant your mother provided meals for anyone who came in?
CZ: That's correct, but we also had a few little apartments that she rented out in the summer. It was not a winter business. We had no heat in the house so it was only for the summer and we survived through the winter [laughter] but, ultimately, they made enough money in the summer to live through the rest of the year, but that was about it, and then my father did some carpentry here and there and that was it.
SH: So the business was already established when they bought the business?
CZ: No. ... It was sort of, yes, they bought sort of, it was established to a certain extent, but they expanded it and made their home bigger and improved the situation.
SH: So your home was in the boarding house and you lived there as well
SH: To back up a little bit to your early memories of Newark, you obviously went to school, what, first through third grade?
CZ: I think up until the fifth. I think it was the fifth grade.
SH: What were some of your memories of ...
CZ: ... It's interesting that I remember so many things about Newark, so many things. At that time Newark was the largest, it was the twelfth largest city in the United States and ... the corner of Broad and Market Street was the busiest traffic situation in the United States, and I had a lot of, many, many memories and adventures in Newark in those days. It's funny how it ...
SH: Do you remember where you lived and how you got around?
CZ: Oh sure. We lived Downneck, in the Ironbound section of Newark, and, as a matter-of-fact, I meet people from time to time and I just met a couple the other night at the Football Letter Winners Association dinner, a fellow from the high school, which was a block away from where I lived, as a matter-of-fact, and we had a nice little chat about the old place, the Ironbound section. There were two motion pictures houses there, one of which cost ten cents to get in and the other one was fifteen cents, and they always showed double features and they were usually two cowboy pictures that we went to see. ... My mother would give me, if I was lucky, twenty-five cents, and that was ten cents to get into the movie, and five cents for a hot dog and a drink, five cents for a drink, thereafter, and as it was, we were very happy.
SH: How much older are you than your sister?
CZ: No, she's older than I.
SH: I apologize.
CZ: That's all right, she was eight years older than I was.
SH: So you really kind of traveled in separate ...
SH: Your father was working for the utility but your mother was she doing ...
CZ: No, she was strictly a housewife.
SH: Now was there a large Lithuanian community there?
CZ: Yes, in Newark there was a large Lithuanian community and our life pretty much centered around there. When I grew up, ... this is interesting; in my early growing up period, I couldn't speak American, I could only speak Lithuanian. In my first four or five years of my life, we spoke Lithuanian at home. Then, of course, I started school and then I only was speaking American English and my father was noting that I was losing my ability to speak Lithuanian so he insisted that I go to the church school, which was a Lithuanian church, and the school, the Lithuanian school, was run by Lithuanian ... nuns and so I had to ... finish day school and go there after school and, of course, that was torture, so to speak, because you couldn't get out in the street and play baseball or football.
SH: Had your sister had to go through the same as you?
CZ: Well, no, she went through high school there and I don't know whether she had the same problem as I did. As a matter-of-fact, I don't know ...
SH: I just wondered if they had sent her to a Lithuanian school as well.
CZ: No, I don't think so. I don't think so, no.
SH: Do you remember the street that you lived on?
CZ: Oh, sure. We lived on Walnut Street.
SH: Were there games in the street or ...
CZ: Oh, absolutely, that was your playing field was the street and, you know, there weren't that many cars that went by in those days and as a matter-of-fact, originally, the street that I lived on was made up of, what do you call the blocks ...
SH: Bricks or cobblestones?
CZ: Cobblestones, was made up of cobblestones and we lived through the period when they changed the cobblestones to asphalt and, oh, that was a big help because we could play ball much better on the asphalt than the cobblestones. [laughter] We lived near a park, nearby, it was right around the corner from us and it was very lovely, but we didn't use that that much, we used mostly the school grounds, the school playgrounds. ... In those days, you got to school very, very early so that you could play baseball before school started, and at lunch time you ate very quickly so that you could play ball, again, and then after you finished, you played ball, again, after school.
SH: Did you have a favorite subject or activity in school?
CZ: No, not at that time, no, no.
SH: Was your family involved with the church activities other than your schooling?
CZ: Yes, the church activities, but nothing as far as the school was concerned.
SH: How soon did you learn to dance or were there other Lithuanian activities that you were involved with?
CZ: Mostly, most of the activities that we were involved with were church activities, going to church and Sunday School and usually a lot of weddings that were held in the church, and you pretty much got to all of them, and Lithuanian weddings were like Polish weddings the same thing, they were lots of food, lots of drink, and very wonderful, lots of dancing.
SH: You talked about only speaking Lithuanian until you did go to school.
SH: What were some of the customs that you know now looking back that were, say the way you celebrated a holiday, or whatever, that you remember with fondness?
CZ: You know, I think that probably the things I remember most were Christmas and, as I mentioned, the weddings. They were fun and Christmas was a delightful time although my father wasn't one for big gift-giving so, but our family got together and we had a wonderful time and gave gifts, and so forth, and they were, of course, very moderate.
SH: Were your uncles and aunts on either side involved with ...
SH: They lived in the same community?
CZ: Yes, my one uncle did. He lived about a block away from us, early, but then he was more Americanized than my father was, and his wife was very, more American than Lithuanian and they moved out to one of the suburbs, East Orange, and my cousin, who was the same age as I, he grew up in East Orange pretty much.
SH: But they would come together then for the holidays?
CZ: Oh, yes, it wasn't that far away. You could get there for a nickel. You know, the trolley car on Ferry Street, you could get right up South Orange Avenue and it would take you there for a nickel, yes, and even though it was far away.
SH: Did your mother's family join in with this? Were they living close by or ...
CZ: Not really, no. My mother's family [would] visit us rarely. ... I don't know, it seemed that they just weren't close. Geographically they weren't close and so we never got together that much, no. ... You might be interested in, I don't know whether it's interesting or not, but my one uncle who was in the Navy, he was on a, I don't know, destroyer or something, but he was on a gun crew and, I think, they had six or so fellows on the gun. So when they were training and whatever, they couldn't pronounce his name because it was pronounced differently in those days and so they said, "Eh, we'll call you Johnson." So when my uncle got out of the Navy, he liked the name Johnson, so ... he legalized it and he became known as Johnson and so I have an uncle, who's my father's brother, but his name is Johnson, ... for whatever interest it might be, yes. I'm sure that happened with a lot of people probably.
SH: I think it did.
SH: I mean, we have interviewed people who actually change their own names because of ...
CZ: Various reasons.
SH: ... Your mother's and father's parents were still in Lithuania.
CZ: Oh, yes, yes.
SH: Do you remember them writing back and forth, or sending letters ...
CZ: Yes, they had letters going back and forth, and I have a picture of my grandfather. I don't think I have a picture of my grandmother. I never saw them of course, no, and as a matter-of-fact, I have lost all touch with any relatives that I might have in Lithuania.
SH: Because I thought perhaps maybe you had visited ...
CZ: I wish I had, now. ... That's one of the things that you regret, you know, sort of.
SH: All right then let's talk about how traumatic it was, or how delighted you were to make the move from Newark to Long Branch.
CZ: Oh, I didn't like it at all, because where we lived in Long Branch. At that time, we lived right near the ocean and there were times when during the day, a car wouldn't go by the house. In the winter time I'm talking about now. In the summer time it was very different. But in the winter time, cars wouldn't, so we could play hockey on roller skates in the streets and a car wouldn't go by, you know, it was very nice. So it was very dead and ... also where we lived there were no neighbors, because we lived in sort of the hotel section of the town and it was not where the town was heavily populated. So in order ... for me to carry on what I learned in Newark, I'd have to kick the football from one side of the yard to the other, go up and kick it back again, you know. ... So aside from school, where we, of course, did participate in athletics.
SH: What time of year did you move to Long Branch? Was it in the summer? Did you come down right for the busy season or did you come down in ...
CZ: You know, I really don't remember. I don't know, no.
SH: Where did you go to school?
CZ: I went to Long Branch Junior High School, no, Long Branch Grammar School, then Long Branch Junior High School and then Long Branch Senior High School.
SH: Your sister had already graduated?
CZ: ... She was already working at this time, yes.
SH: Did she make the move down here with you?
CZ: Yes, she came with us but ... she didn't live with us, but she ... spent her weekends with us because she had a job with Western Electric, which was a big utility company in those days. She was a secretary and so ... she was able to support herself, actually, during the Depression. She was the only one that was really making a decent living, I should say, yes.
SH: You would have moved down here in like 1930.
CZ: That's about right, about 1930.
SH: Other than the depressed financial restrictions on your life, did you and the fact that no one was coming to Long Branch on vacation as they had in the past, what were some of the other evidences that you saw of the Depression in the neighborhood or in your family?
CZ: Well, it was tough. I mean, our clothes were, you know, not much. Shoes' soles were pretty much run down and food was pretty tough. It was difficult ... and there were very few indulgences. I think maybe, Mother would scrape up some money, ... so I could go to the movies, and stuff like that, but, ... you really didn't need that much in those days to enjoy yourself. I mean, you played sports, you had friends and you found little odds and ends to do. We built some model airplanes and you still have fun, you know, really. My model airplanes were exhibited in the school library. They were wired to illustrate the World War I "dog fights."
SH: In other words, you were not the only child in the elementary school that was suffering from this as well?
CZ: Oh, no, no, no. The whole school, everybody was suffering. There were very few, there were some people, who by virtue of the work that they did or the positions that they held, you know, who lived reasonably well but even they were hard-put for things. In 1932 and '33, they were tough years, tough years.
SH: In the community here were there any other Lithuanian families?
CZ: Originally, there were not, but as time went on, there were some more. But I believe ... originally, the only Lithuanians that we had, who were in the area, were Jewish families, Jewish people who came from Lithuania, and they would all come to our house because they wanted to speak their native tongue, Lithuanian, you know, and so the business people, ... sales people, they used to love to come and talk to my mother and father, have a drink with them, and so forth, yes.
SH: Did your mother, during the Depression, did she try to find some kind of work?
CZ: No, she did not, no, but my father did.
SH: You said that he worked as a carpenter.
CZ: Yes, he did, he did odd jobs in the neighborhood for people, and they paid.
SH: Did you have a church that you worshipped at?
CZ: Yes, ... in Newark, the Holy Trinity Church that was on Adams Street and it was, it's still there as a matter-of-fact, but ... it's not a Lithuanian Church anymore, although I'm also not sure of what's happened to that church in the past few years. That area has been taken over by the Portuguese people and I understand they, it's the one real good area in Newark and the businesses that have sprung up there have been very profitable and some of the Portuguese restaurants are famous as a matter-of-fact.
SH: You're talking about your church in Newark.
SH: In Long Branch, where did you worship?
CZ: Oh, no, in Long Branch there was the Star of the Sea Church, which was the closest to our residence. We never owned an automobile so every Sunday my father and I trekked half a mile to church.
SH: Were you involved as an altar boy or anything?
CZ: No, no.
SH: I note the smile. [laughter]
CZ: Well, ... I look back and I think of how wonderful it was that there were altar boys, but, at the time, that was one thing you didn't want to be was an altar boy.
SH: Unless your mother made you, or something ...
CZ: Well, something like that, yes, but ...
SH: It was more fun to play.
SH: When you came down to Long Branch then and began school, were there any memories you have of people who made an outreach to embrace you in friendship or ...
CZ: Oh, yes, yes, later on though, not early, no.
SH: So it was really tough to get involved with the school when you first came down.
CZ: Well, no, not really. I moved in and, actually, in Newark we didn't have different grades in a single grade. In Long Branch there were three classes of grades. There was A, ... there was one, two, first section, second section and a third section, so the top was the A, B, and the C. So when I arrived from Newark, they put me in the C class, which was the lowest and all the toughest guys were there; all the real hard knockers and tough football players, and so forth, were in that C class. And I got in there, and I was placed in C class and so I was going to get beat up and kicked around a little bit. We had a gym class in those days, so when they lined you up all the football players, all the tough guys, were on one side and all the little kids and the sissy kids were on the other side and, of course, they put me over with the sissy kids. So, the first day that we played, I got the football and I ran through the whole bunch and so their eyes popped out, you know, and then also in class ... my work was so far ahead of what I was working with and so I was in school, I don't know how long, but they realized that the work was too easy for me so they moved me into the A class and I stayed in the A class then forever, yes, and then went through school, and my work was always A. I had all As everywhere I went. I think in all the years that I was in school, I think I had one B and everything else was graded A, yes.
SH: Fantastic, and did all the other things that I know that you did, it is amazing.
CZ: Played football and basketball and anything that I could get my hands on, we played.
SH: Great. What about jobs after school or chores in the house?
CZ: I never had any jobs, yes, later on I did, but early, in early school, I didn't have any jobs after school, no, I never did. But later on, during the summertime, I worked all the time.
SH: What were your jobs then?
CZ: Well, they started out, I was a waiter and a bellhop. ... At home my parents made me wash the dishes [laughter] and that was my chore, was washing the dishes and cutting the grass, that's what I had to do, but I didn't want to do that so I got a job as a waiter in the hotels and a bellhop and then, ultimately, I got a job as a locker boy in one of the beach clubs and I then became a lifeguard. As I grew up and got stronger, I became a lifeguard on the beach and that's where I met my wife. ...
SH: Oh, really?
CZ: Oh, yes, on the beach.
SH: She found your station and hung around there?
CZ: Yes. Oh, I have to make this comment, for what it's worth, whether you use it or not. My own feeling is the best occupation in the world is being a lifeguard on the ocean. There is nothing better.
SH: And why do you say that?
CZ: Oh, because you had two things that were very desirable. You had girls and you had food. The girls brought the food, [laughter] to try to, you know, interest you, and it was just wonderful. ... You know what else was there? You got the sun, you got the beach, you got the ocean, and you got girls galore and lots of food.
SH: Now did you teach yourself to swim in the ocean?
CZ: Sure, right, ocean and pools. They had a couple of pools around here that were nice.
SH: Your interest in athletics and your ability in the classroom must have made you quite a stand-out as far as your teachers were concerned. Did anyone begin to mentor you as to where you would go to school or encourage you?
CZ: Yes, yes, and I get emotional. There were two people that I consider were very, very important in my life and with whom I probably couldn't do without. One of them was my English teacher in the ninth grade. She recognized something that was in me, and the other one was my high school football coach, and those two people were instrumental in directing me and helping me. The first teacher, her name was Edna Gordon, she got me into drama, into the stage. She asked me ... what course I was going to take in high school and I wasn't going to take anything [in] particular, but she got me to take a college preparatory course and I said, "Well, but I don't have Latin." She says, "Well, we're going to get you to take Latin." So I ... had to take Latin to get into college, that was a requirement. So I added that to my overall program and I took the Latin, and I got all As in everything that I took, and so she made me be the graduation speaker when we graduated from junior high school. She made me be in plays, acting, and I might just interject here at this particular point ... so I won't forget it, but my second choice of a career, oddly enough, was the stage, yes ... and that all started at this particular time, maybe even before that. I was on the stage on numerous occasions because my voice was, carried pretty well and so the teachers, that's what they needed was someone who could speak out. So she got me to start thinking about college, and I really hadn't thought too much about it up until that time, and then she realized that I didn't and she directed me and helped me through that period of my life. Then later on, my football coach. I was [an] average football player, I was no star when I got to high school. A lot of that had dissipated during the years after Newark until I got to be a high school student, and when it came to going to college, well ... after I left junior high school and got into senior high school, then I was taking college courses. ... At that point, ... there weren't that many scholarships available academically and only the real top-ranking students received scholarships, so I didn't ... although I was second in my class in graduating class, by decimal points, ... and I had no background at all as far as money or finances, or anything like that, and so my coach, Mr. Buck Weaver got me, ... he said, "Well, look here, you apply ... to Rutgers. You apply here, here, here, put your applications in," and in those days, also, you could apply to different schools, it wouldn't cost you anything. The cost was minimal, so you could apply to a number of schools. So here and there, I would get a scholarship here, which was nothing, or I'd get some financial help, some loans, or whatever, but nothing that would carry me through for the whole term, or the whole school year. So when they had the, ... at that time, there were the test at Rutgers, I forget what they called it at that time but it was like, what are the tests that they have now?
SH: The SAT
CZ: The SAT, it was like the SATs, and the girl who was tops in our class and I were slated to go to take these tests at Rutgers. ... We didn't have a car, we didn't own a car, and so I had no way of getting to Rutgers from Long Branch, but ... her parents were going to take her and they invited me to go with them. She, for some reason or other wasn't well, or something, and couldn't go. So I was stuck. So I hitchhiked to Rutgers from home. I hitchhiked, and in those days hitchhiking was easy. I mean, they'd see a young guy, they'd give you a ride, and I just made it in the door. There was a fellow there, who was from Long Branch, he was a senior at Rutgers, and he grabbed me by the collar and he pushed me in the door before they closed it, really.
SH: Really? What was his name?
CZ: His name was Harry Joffe, J-O-F-F-E, Harry Joffe, and so I took the exam, and so I made the application, and I applied for a state scholarship. So one day in the middle of the summer, while I was at work as a locker boy, there was a call, came into the beach club, which was sort of a swanky beach club and they didn't particularly cater, or, you know, weren't particularly happy about a locker boy getting a phone call, you know, on their main line. ... But, anyhow, they let me answer the phone and it was Dean Metzger, who was the dean of men at that time, and he says, "Charles," he said, "How are you? What are you doing?" I told him. He says, you know, he asked, "Would you like to go to Rutgers?" And I didn't want to go to Rutgers, and he said "If you would like to go to Rutgers", he said, "I can offer you a scholarship at this time," he said, "but you have to tell me right now whether you're going to come or not." So, I said, "Dean," I said, "do you mind if I have twenty-four hours to give you an answer?" And he said, "Of course." ... Then the special scholarship was that in case I didn't get the state scholarship, that I would have a scholarship ... and that was mostly because of football, and so I called up my coach. I didn't know what to say or anything, because I wasn't particularly keen on going to Rutgers, because nobody bragged about it and it was relatively close to home. ... So I phoned up my coach and he said, "Look," he says, "you tell the dean that you're going to come. ... You don't know what's going to happen in the future, as far as your other places are concerned." and I said, "no." He said, "You tell him you're going to come." So I did. I called him, the next day and I told him, "Dean, I'd be happy to come to Rutgers." ... I have to interject here, also, if I can, if I can get through it. So although I wasn't keen about Rutgers when I went, I had four. ... So like I say, whereas I wasn't keen about going to Rutgers, I had four of the best years of my life at Rutgers, and I really enjoyed it. It was just absolutely great and I think Rutgers, in those days, was just a wonderful school. My heart throbs whenever I tell this story.
SH: You had applied to other schools.
CZ: I had applied to other schools, but Rutgers was kind enough to accept me.
SH: Had you planned on playing ball at the other schools that you applied to?
CZ: Yes. Although Johns Hopkins, I don't think they had a football team at the time. ... Franklin & Marshall did, yes.
SH: You talked about your English teacher in junior high, did she also teach you at the high school level?
CZ: No, she did not. ... In years that went on, she became one of the beloved teachers of that school.
SH: Because of your applying to Johns Hopkins you had already began to look at a pre- med curriculum. Why did you decide on medicine? Was there someone who was teaching in the sciences or was there another medical person in your life that brought you to that decision?
CZ: Now this was a funny story. You know there's all these memorable stories. When I was very young, I guess, maybe eleven or twelve or whatever, there was a drugstore on the corner of Broadway and Second Avenue, that was the middle of town, and they had for sale in the window a big first aid kit with a big red cross on the front of it, and I said, "Gee, I'd like to have that." So I went in and I asked the druggist, I said, "How much is that?" ...
CZ: Do you really want to hear all these stories?
CZ: So I walked into this drugstore and I asked the man, I said, "How much is that first aid kit out there?" He says, "Two dollars and fifty cents." I said "Oh." I said, "That's too much for me." He says "How much you got?" I say, "I've got 50 cents." He says, "Well, I'll tell you what," he says, "you give me the fifty cents and you pay me a quarter every few days, or every week, or so and you can have the first aid kit," and so we did that. We made a deal and I got my mother to give me a quarter every so often, ... and I got the first aid kit; hung it up in the attic in our house and I became the doctor of the house, whenever somebody needed a Band-Aid or something like that, and it was fun ... you know, I enjoyed it and, I think, I really started to think about medicine. I didn't think ... I'd ever make medical school, because we didn't have any money, and so then I thought, "Well maybe if I ... want to be a dentist, you know, it might not be so expensive, it might be easier to get to," so it was one or the other. So Miss Gordon, once she sort of directed me towards college, then I started to think about it. So when the class prophecy, in the graduating class at the high school, they had sort of, whether they called it the class will or class prophecy, my prophecy was, "As a doctor or dentist, he's bound to excel because Charlie Zukaukas does everything well." [laughter]
SH: When you were this young man buying the first aid kit, did your mother and father encourage you?
CZ: No, no. ... My mother and father wanted me to go to school and get every benefit that I could from going to school, but they weren't that knowledgeable about school and education in this country, and so forth, and they encouraged me in every way, wherever I went, whatever I did, ... and always were proud of me because of my report cards, and so forth, but never said, "You're going be a doctor, you're going be this or that or any other." No, no.
SH: Were there other activities that you were involved in, you talked about being involved with the drama, did you continue that into high school?
CZ: Oh, yes. Yes. I was very good in high school.
---------------------------------------END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE ONE-------------------------------------
SH: Please continue. You were talking about high school drama and ...
CZ: I developed a couple of skits, vaudeville-type, vaudeville and on the boardwalk. If you were on the boardwalk in Asbury Park or in Long Branch, there are always these sales hucksters who were there. So what I did was develop a few skits, as I say vaudeville skits, and the one that really brought the house down, and which I was asked to do a lot in college also, was a skit of these hucksters that you saw on the boardwalk who would sell the potato peelers and the knives, sharp apple corers, and sharp knives, and glass knives, and all sorts of odds and ends, and they had a repartee that was very fast and very quick and sort of interesting and funny at times, and I took this into school ... and I had another fellow who, two fellows that came in with me, we did a vaudeville skit and we did it on a stage at the high school and it brought the house down. "Ladies and gentlemen, come one, come all, I'm gonna show you one of the greatest discoveries of modern civilization, I have here a little machine, genuine stainless steel made by Johnson, Johnson, Johnson, and Hirowashima, and, if you'll step up a little closer, ladies, I'm gonna show you how you may attain one absolutely free, no cost, no obligation, whatsoever. Step up a little closer. Little boys get aside, let the ladies come forward."
SH: [laughter] That was great.
CZ: So that was the thing I had, and then I had a fellow come up, there was a movie called Strike Me Pink with Eddie Cantor in it, and he was sort of the stooge in the movie and he's called up to this, up to the platform and they take a whole bunch of white soap and they slam it right in his face and that's what we did, and so, as I say, it brought the house down. I carried that on into college and I did that skit on several occasions for big audiences, yes, and then, I also did a skit for the boys that you wouldn't understand, maybe. But in the burlesque theaters at a certain period of time, between the movies and the stage shows, they would sell items of candy and stuff in between the shows, I also did one of the sales people that would sell the stuff between the shows and, "Ladies and gentlemen, at this time, on behalf of the Empire Theater, I should like to welcome you, and I'm going to introduce you to one of the finest little pieces of candy that you ever saw in your life, and, in addition, I'm going to give you a magazine, which you're gonna see some very interesting pictures in," you know, and that sort of thing. I did that and that was a little more raucous than the other, so again, but that was the end of it. In other words I was a vaudevillian, so to speak, you know, and, of course, when vaudeville died, I died. [Laughter] ...
SH: Were you ever involved in Boy Scouts or any organized ...
SH: Or organizations such as that?
CZ: No, I wasn't involved in any youth organizations. I wanted to be a Columbus Cadet which was sort of the opposition, not the opposition, but they were sort of the other organization similar to Boy Scouts, but I never had the money for it. You had to buy your uniform and it was, my father wouldn't go for that.
SH: Were your father and mother political at all?
CZ: No, not at all.
SH: Over the summers, when you had made your decision to go to college
SH: Did you find that you were working and trying to save for it?
CZ: Oh, yes, absolutely. Yes, I worked and we put that money right in the bank. My folks never took any of that money, that just went straight into the bank and I had, maybe, the end of the summer, maybe about $150.00, which was helpful.
SH: Now it was in the summer that you talked to Dean Metzger on the telephone.
SH: Can you tell us then about, how you were working as a locker boy at the club and then ...
CZ: Then later I got to be a lifeguard, and so forth.
SH: So you were lifeguard then after you went to college?
CZ: That's right, yes, when I was in college I was a lifeguard then, yes.
SH: Tell me about your first times at Rutgers and what you remember, I mean, you went to take the exam and the fellow Long Branchian [laughter] got you in the door.
SH: Do you remember where you took the exam?
CZ: Yes, it was right in ...
SH: Winants Hall?
CZ: No, no, it was in the gym.
SH: Oh okay.
CZ: The gymnasium.
SH: The College Avenue gym.
CZ: Yes, in the College Avenue gym ...
SH: Did it have a name or was it always called ...
CZ: Yes, it did, no, it had a name, it had a name but I ...
SH: Great, I will look forward to doing that. I wasn't aware that there was a 1943 Scarlet Letter Yearbook. So that's great. Then talk about the activities that were going on at Rutgers. You took the exam in the College Ave gym and now when you come to Rutgers the first time, hat in hand, so to speak, where are you housed and what do you remember?
CZ: Yes, well, very well, I remember very well, we lived on Easton Avenue in a house, which was owned by a widow, whose sister was somewhat disabled, and she housed six ... students there, and I had a young man from Long Branch, who I didn't really know, Bill Prout, who was my roommate and he and I, we shared a room in this widow's home on Easton Avenue and we paid $6.00 a week. So that was $3.00 for each of us and we had two small desks and we did fine. One bathroom for the six boys, but we managed fine, and it was very good. We were rushed, we were both rushed by a fraternity and decided that we would not go fraternity in our first year, because we couldn't afford it, and we did go in the fraternity, both of us, our second year.
SH: What about ROTC? That was mandatory then.
CZ: ROTC was mandatory for every student in the first two years, and then if you wanted to continue you had to apply for advanced ROTC and they selected fifty boys in each class to continue in ROTC, and, so there were, the same fifty who were juniors and then seniors in ROTC, and it was fun. It was a lot of fun and my friend, my roommate, incidentally, he stayed in the service and was, he stayed in as a life member of the Army Signal Corps and retired after twenty years, or so, as a colonel.
SH: Have you kept in touch with him?
CZ: As a matter-of-fact, yes, he was a colonel, yes, colonel. Oh, yes, we've kept in touch, yes. We don't see one another but we're still the best of friends, yes.
SH: Talk about what it was like to be a freshman at Rutgers, and, you know, being away from home, and did you know right then you were doing pre-med?
CZ: Oh, yes. I started right out. Yes, by this time I had decided that I was going try to be a doctor. I decided that, I guess, somewhere about midway through high school and I decided, I took the pre-med course at Rutgers, which was called biological science, and it was great. Rutgers, again, in our freshman year we met a lot of people and a lot of friends. They had nice traditions at Rutgers that we liked.
SH: Was there an initiation?
CZ: Not really. There was an initiation when we joined the fraternity. But not as freshmen there was some; a little bit of rivalry between the freshmen and the sophomores but that was more talk than it was really a fact, actually.
SH: Living off campus so to speak in the boarding house ...
SH: Did you still have to wear the dink and ...
CZ: Oh, yes.
SH: The socks inside
SH: Pant leg inside the socks.
CZ: Pant leg inside the socks and the dink, yup, and you had to say "hello" every time you passed somebody and, incidentally, that's another bit of trivia. You had to say "hello" to everybody you passed in one of the college paths and I liked it and I carried that throughout my entire career in the hospital corridors and every time I went by somebody in the hospital corridor, I said, "hello" to them. I did that all my life, and it was fine and, as a matter-of-fact, I encouraged it in other people and, especially, in the young residents, and so forth, yes, encouraged it all the time. I thought it was a great tradition. I don't know whether they do it now, I mean, we only had, when we were in school, I think, there were twenty-eight hundred students. I think, that was the number, there was certainly not anymore than three thousand and in our freshman class I think we had, that's the number, three hundred in our freshman class, and that was the largest freshman class up until that time.
SH: When you entered Rutgers the world scene is changing dramatically that September. Were you aware of it or were you focused on being a student?
CZ: Yes. No, only remotely aware of what was going in the world. The student life was a different life and even, it's not like it is today. We were too intent on, struggling, trying to make an extra dollar here and there and we worked on campus, different jobs that we had, and they had a program called the, I forget what they called it, it was ...
SH: NYA. [National Youth Association]
CZ: NYA, yes, that's what it was, and you were eligible to get $25.00 a month if you put in a certain number of hours. So anytime that we had off, we put it in the NYA, and you were credited with a certain number of hours, and depending on how many hours you put in, you were paid at the end of the month, the maximum of $25.00. [laughter] Everybody got $25.00, you know.
SH: What was your job, what did you ...
CZ: Oh, gosh, one of the jobs that was interesting I had was in the infirmary, and my job was to cut the electric cardiograph tapes and paste them into these pages. I met Dr. Greenwood there, who was the infirmary physician, and he, ultimately, proved to be an important factor in my life also.
SH: Really? Where was the infirmary when you were on campus?
CZ: It was on College Avenue. It was, I don't know what's happened to it, but it was on College Avenue and it was about where the student bookstore is, in about that area.
SH: Not too far from the gym then?
CZ: No, it wasn't far from the gym.
SH: Okay, great.
CZ: But it was across the street from the gym along in there somewhere.
SH: What were some of the other jobs that you did?
CZ: We were ushers, like, as freshmen. The freshmen football players got jobs as ushers at the stadium when varsity was playing, and we also got jobs as ushers for the basketball games, collecting tickets, and so forth. That was a real con job. I mean, that was wonderful, you know, you got paid for easy work and you saw the football game, still ...
SH: Now do the freshmen have their own traveling schedules? Did they travel at the same time as the varsity?
CZ: It was completely different from today. Freshmen had their own schedules and you had freshman football teams and all freshman sports were separated from varsity sports.
CZ: So there was a freshman basketball team, freshman football team, freshman everything was separate.
SH: Who was your coach when you were a freshman?
CZ: A very fine person by the name of, oh, our coach? Our coach, when I was a freshman, was a great guy, his name was Art Matsu, M-A-T-S-U, and he was a wonderful individual and ... he was a little tough, but he was a great guy.
SH: Where was he from?
CZ: I can't tell you that. He was probably a first generation Japanese, yes.
SH: Do you know what happened to him when World War II started?
CZ: I don't know what happened to him, no. I lost track. It's interesting there is a woman by the name of Matsu at our golf club in Florida and I've threatened to call her and say hey, did you, because the name is unusual ...
SH: Yes, it is.
CZ: I did call her and she indicated that she was Art Matsu's daughter-in-law. She was unable to shed any light on coach Matsu's subsequent whereabouts.
SH: To go back then to your freshman year and your initiation, so to speak, into Rutgers life, are you and Mr. Prout cooking your own meals or is that provided by the woman that you were boarding with?
CZ: No. We had to buy our own meals and it was very interesting. We went where the food was plentiful, and inexpensive, so that we went to many of the greasy spoons in the City of New Brunswick for our dinners and for thirty-five cents we could get a whole bowl of stew, or pot roast, or something, and it was very good, or we ate in the college cafeteria.
SH: Did you?
CZ: Yes, then there was substantial food, it was good and inexpensive, but you got tired of the same food all the time so you went into the city. During football season we ate at a special training table. This was great.
SH: What about New Jersey College [for Women]?
CZ: NJC was great.
SH: How soon does a freshman at Rutgers realize there are girls across town?
CZ: Oh, right away, because you have a, they had freshman dances, yes.
SH: Like a mixer?
SH: The school had, yes, exactly what it was. Well chaperoned, but you had an opportunity to meet the girls there and I knew a couple of girls who were from Long Branch that were there so it was good. It was very good.
SH: Did the young woman that had been with you at the top of your class here at Long Branch, did she go to NJC?
CZ: She went to NJC, right.
SH: There was mandatory chapel ...
CZ: It was mandatory, but loosely mandatory. In other words, you had to make chapel two, three times a year, or something like that. You didn't have to go every week, but you had to somehow or other go a reasonable number of times.
SH: Do you remember any of the convocations that they had, or special programs, musically, or dramatically, or anything?
CZ: Well, there was no drama really at Rutgers, but there was in NJC, and so the boys from Rutgers went over to NJC and they participated in drama. I never did. You just couldn't do everything. I would have liked to have been in the Glee Club, you know, but it was just too much. Lenny [Leonard J.] Hansen, he was very, very devoted to the Glee Club and continued to have the fellows that he was in school with, they continued to have their Glee Club as alumni over the years and just recently as a matter-of-fact.
SH: I know their Glee Club is getting ready to take another European tour this year.
CZ: Yes, sounds great.
SH: How difficult were your classes for someone coming from Long Branch, were you well prepared, or did you, ...
CZ: Yes, we were well prepared. We had a wonderful education in Long Branch in those years. We had a lot of New England women but most of them were single and they were dedicated to their profession and we were very lucky. The principal, I think, at the school at Long Branch at that time brought these gals down from New England through some connections, or whatever, and we were well taught, well schooled and we had no problems. Any problem that we had at Rutgers was not because we weren't well prepared, it's because we were not smart enough.
SH: Who was your favorite professor at Rutgers?
CZ: Oh, that's easy. My favorite professor in Rutgers was a fellow by the name of Donald McGinn, and he was Professor of Shakespeare, and in my third year and I only knew him for a couple of years, two years. I was a good Shakespeare student and we got along very well and I enjoyed the course very, very much.
SH: It is interesting someone who is in pre-med ...
CZ: Right, right.
SH: When you were at Rutgers in the pre-med program, what was the discussion about where you would go to medical school? Were there any mentors there as well guiding you, or was it Dr. Greenwood or ...
CZ: Well, yes, to a certain extent. We didn't think about it too much in our first two years in school but starting in the third year and the fourth year, then you had to start worrying about where you were going to go to medical school, and you relied a great deal upon what the professors said about you. ... The fellow [Louis] Lasagna was the number one fellow in our entire class and another friend of mine, who also became one of my best friends, was very high up and there were guys that were higher than I was. [Editor's Note: Dr. Zukaukas is referring to Dr. Louis Cesare Lasagna, who graduated in 1943. After a distinguished medical career, he received an honorary Sc.D. from Rutgers University in 1983.] I was probably, maybe, in the class, I was maybe ranked about fifth or sixth in the biological science group. But the boys from Rutgers were getting into medical schools fairly decently, pretty good. Somehow or other, I don't know, oh, I know what it was, Dr. Greenwood asked me, "Charlie," he said, "Where are you going go to medical school?" And I said, "Gee, I really don't know." He said, "Well, would you like go to Pennsylvania?" I said, "Well, that would be very nice." I have to diverge just a little bit. So then I sort of had a feeling that maybe Pennsylvania would be good, but I decided I'd try for Harvard, and Dr. McGinn, whom I said was one of my favorite professors, he wanted to know where I was going go to school. He said, "You know, my brother is a professor of medicine at Harvard." He said, "You know, maybe you should apply there, and I will call him and tell him and see what we can do." So those were the two schools I applied to, Harvard and Penn. So just like Dean Metzger, I get a call one day, this is after we applied and made application, this is in my senior year, I got a call from the University of Pennsylvania, and who is it but Dean William Pepper. Pepper is a very famous name at the University of Pennsylvania and he spoke to me and introduced himself and asked, "Are you interested in coming to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine?" I said, "Yes, I would be." He said, "I'll tell you what. I'll accept you if you give me an immediate response, to the University of Pennsylvania." So I said, "oh, my," (same question), I said, "Could I have twenty-four hours?" You know. He said, "Of course." So I went to see Dr. Greenwood and he said, "Look Charlie," he said, he was, incidentally, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. He said, "You know, you have to make up your mind and you better do it in the next twenty-four hours." So then I went to see Dr. McGinn and I said, "Dr. McGinn, I can go to the University of Pennsylvania, but I have to tell him overnight." So he said, "Well, why don't you see if you can wait a few days? We'll see what we can do up at Harvard." I said, "I don't want to do that." I said, "You know what? Cancel me out from Harvard," and he was angry, yes, he was upset and so then I just simply told the dean that I'd be very happy to go to the University of Pennsylvania, that was it, and I never had to do anything more. Here, again, I enjoyed my three years at Penn. Dr. McGinn and I remained good friends.
SH: Wow, that's a great story. [laughter]
CZ: [laughter] I'm telling you all these great stories. I hate to say it, but they're all nice things that happened to me, you know, over the years. Amidst all of these things, there were great trials and tribulations. You only hear the top end of it.
SH: I'm willing to hear all of the above.
CZ: Incidentally, so you know, when I told my folks that I could go to medical school, they said, "Well, how much is it going cost?" So I said, "It's going cost $500.00 a year for the tuition and so I have to get up $250.00 to start out." Well, so anyhow, they scraped up the money and I think things were a little better. The rooming house business and the boarding house business was getting a little bit better, you know, so we scraped up the money so that I could go.
CZ: There will be more to say about that also as time goes on.
SH: Let's go back and talk a bit more about Rutgers. Were there any other memories of your freshman year that stand out?
CZ: Well, there was, oh ... after I was in school about half a year and I played football and the alumni director, was a fellow by the name, I think his name was Stan March [?]. He came up to me one day, he says, "Congratulations." I said, "What for?" He said, "Well you got the highest grade of the football team. Your marks were the highest on the football team." He said, "You're on the honor roll." So that was very exciting, you know, and I can remember that and, of course, I played freshman football. Then the coach, a fellow by the name of Fred Fitch, of the lacrosse team, he was very interested in getting all the football players to play lacrosse, as many as he could get, you know. So he got me and he got Ken MacDonald, who was captain of our freshman football team, and Johnny Schmidt, and a bunch of guys that played football for the freshman to come out for freshman lacrosse. So we all did. We all went out and God, we loved it. We absolutely loved playing lacrosse, it was just absolutely great. So I learned to be a lacrosse player there, and I played for my three years. Now, unfortunately, the biggest tragedy that occurred to me in my career at Rutgers was that I missed my fourth year of lacrosse because of the accelerated program of the war. I had to go to medical school before lacrosse season, I had to graduate before lacrosse season and so that was my biggest heartbreak, and that was the year, as a matter-of-fact, that the lacrosse team beat Princeton and I wasn't there.
SH: Oh, no. That is sad. To back up then, a bit about the summer between your freshman and sophomore years, that's when you began to lifeguard?
CZ: That's right.
SH: Did you have to qualify?
CZ: Oh, yes. Oh, sure. Well, as a matter-of-fact, my roommate, Bill Prout, he was a good swimmer and he was already a lifeguard and he insisted that I come and work with him. I said, "But I don't have the ..." He says, "Come on, I'll teach you." So he taught me all the stuff that you had to do to become a senior life ...
SH: Now, he taught you at the shore, not at the school?
CZ: No, at the shore, yes and then there was a fellow by the name of Harry Roland who's around still, and is still in the lifeguard business pretty much, and he was the examiner for whatever the course was that qualified you to become, to wear this senior lifeguard emblem. So I did, I did that and I passed the course and so then I became a lifeguard.
SH: Where were you life guarding that year?
CZ: At a place called the Casino Beach, which is in North Long Branch, and it was great.
SH: Now was Mr. Prout from North Long Branch, or from ...
CZ: Yes, he was from Long Branch.
SH: So you had known him prior to going to Rutgers?
CZ: No, I didn't. I mentioned that before, that I didn't know him until we went to Rutgers. What happened was, it was very interesting, you know, all these nice things happened. Bill's father worked for the New Jersey State Transportation Department, or something in that category, and he traveled all over the state by car, and that was his assignment; was to go and visit certain outposts of the department and staff and make reports. It was so good because he was able to stop in and see us at school, pick up our laundry, take it home. My mother would do the laundry and he would pick it up and bring it back so we didn't have any laundry expense. Of course, he would bring us, my mother would put in food and his mother would put in food, and it was a very, very nice situation, and he would take us home from time to time when he could, when he was traveling through that area. When he didn't take us, we hitchhiked, Bill and I, and it was great. We got to know the road pretty well and it was very easy. Hitchhiking in those days was very acceptable, I mean, it was no problem and we did it often enough and it was good, worked out all right. So again here was another nice thing that happened, you know, the fact that his dad was so good to us. We roomed together, Bill and I roomed together for two years and then at the third year I became a preceptor in one of the dormitories and, I guess, Bill and his dad weren't very happy when I sort of moved out. But on the other hand, it opened the door for Bill and he became a preceptor. So we were both preceptors in the dorm, and neither of us knew anything about obtaining a preceptorship. But what had happened was a fellow by the name of Jim Wallace, was also from Long Branch, was an end on the football team, and he was a junior when we were freshmen, and he was a fraternity brother preceptor and that's where we learned that such a thing was available, because the administration didn't have any, there was no advertising or anything for the job. So Bill and I were preceptors.
SH: Which dorm was this?
CZ: I was in Hegeman and he was alongside of Hegeman. I don't remember the name of that one.
SH: Was that a hard job to be a preceptor?
CZ: No, not at all. In return for your efforts as a preceptor you received your room free, and you also earned some benefits in addition to the room, but these were all already covered by our scholarship, so all we really earned was our room. It involved a certain amount of tutoring and counseling. ... You were the senior in the dorm, and living in the dorm that I was in were all freshmen and it was nothing very difficult. You were responsible for the conduct of the freshmen in the dorm and at times were a disciplinarian or advisor.
SH: You immediately become like a leader then.
SH: In the yearbook I read that you were also in charge of the activities for the sophomore- freshmen week? Do you remember what you ...
CZ: You know what? I don't remember that. I don't remember that. I think, what they did was they had various athletic activities and games, of the freshmen playing the sophomores, but other than that I don't remember too much about it.
SH: As a sophomore coming in, you were also now trying out for the football team.
SH: And how did that work out for you and your studies?
CZ: Well it was difficult. There were one or two other pre-medical students on the football team. It wasn't easy because of our laboratories, and late classes . The pre-meds had laboratories until four o'clock in the afternoon, and so you had to run out and get the bus and go out to the field and get dressed and warm up. By that time it's easy five o'clock and it's getting dark. So they put the lights on so you practice under lights, and fortunately, as a football player you did have a training table so you had your dinner, it was provided for you which was nice, and then you studied until eleven o'clock at night.
SH: Now if you are a sophomore are you preceptor of a dorm ...
CZ: No, only as a junior was I preceptor of the dorm.
SH: I thought your sophomore year you were.
SH: Oh, so, two years you stayed in the ...
CZ: Two years we stayed at that same place, off campus, on Easton Avenue, yes.
SH: Because you also have ROTC. How many days a week did that take your time?
CZ: During the first two years ROTC was mandatory for every student. The second two years were voluntary and by selection of the staff officers. There were two-three classroom sessions per week and two hour marching drills one afternoon per week. A total of four-five hours per week. That wasn't too bad, yes, unless you belong to the Scarlet Rifles, which was a special drill team. In your voluntary ROTC, which was junior and senior year, it took a little more time than that.
SH: Did you do that?
CZ: Yes. That's how you saw my picture there. That's the higher ranks.
SH: Now how much time did that take? Don't you also have to go to camp in the summer?
CZ: Yes. You had to go to camp in the summer. I didn't have that because of the accelerated program that we had. The fellows who graduated with me, or after me, all had to go to camp, but they didn't have to go during their school year. That was changed. Previously, you had to go to camp during the school year.
SH: Because I'm trying to figure out how you could keep up that kind of a schedule; play football, do ROTC, it just sounds pretty demanding.
CZ: It is, as I look back on it. I didn't think so at the time, but as I look back on it, yes, it was pretty demanding, yes.
SH: Were there any professors who were not cooperative with that kind of schedule?
CZ: No, no. They were all cooperative, all cooperative. Playing football in those days had to be a little easier than playing football today, because there's so much expected of these guys and so much training that they have to do, and it's almost an all-year-round activity so it's pretty tough. We didn't have that much pressure on us, no.
SH: In your sophomore year you played lacrosse again in the Spring?
CZ: Right, and football.
SH: Then in the summer you were guarding down here at the shore. You come back then for your junior year, you have already been accepted to the voluntary section of the ROTC.
CZ: Yes, in junior year, yes, right.
SH: So talk to me a little bit about that. I mean, are you aware now, as a junior, this is in the same semester that Pearl Harbor happens, are you, because you are involved with the ROTC, perhaps aware of what's going on in Europe a little more so than maybe the average student?
CZ: Yes. Yes, a little more so, because, yes, you realized that this ROTC business was important and it wasn't anymore just an elective course, which it had been previously. It was hoped that if you went into your senior ROTC, the chances were that you would have a higher rank when you did go into the army.
SH: Because the draft has been initiated in 1940 ...
SH: After your freshman year.
SH: So you would have been eligible for that as well.
SH: As an eighteen year old.
CZ: Oh, yes. As a matter-of-fact, we lost our football team to the draft.
SH: Did you really?
CZ: Oh, yes, yes. We were scheduled to be pretty good in our junior and senior years, according to the recruiting that was done at the time, and we had a full scale team in my sophomore year, but after that, it was a skeleton team in the junior and senior year, it was just ...
SH: They were being drafted right out of high school ...
CZ: No, no, from college, right out of college.
CZ: They were drafted right out of [college]. Depending on what course you were in and if you weren't in a course that was essential for the government, you were drafted. Yes, we lost our football coaches and our team was decimated.
SH: You were there when the ASTP program came to Rutgers.
CZ: No, that was after me.
SH: That comes after you leave, then, with this accelerated program, which I thought that came in the spring of '43.
CZ: Yes, well I was gone in the spring of '43.
SH: That's right. When did they institute the accelerated program?
CZ: During my junior year, it must have been in my junior year, because I had to go through summer school that year.
SH: Did you?
CZ: Yes, and that was it. We accelerated through the summer school and got in two or three months and then we graduated about two months early.
SH: Like in February.
CZ: No, we graduated in April.
SH: Was it April?
CZ: April, early April.
SH: Talk to me please, if you would, about what you remember about Pearl Harbor?
CZ: We heard about Pearl Harbor, it was on December 7th, and we were all sitting in the fraternity house at the time, and I hate to say it, but the guys were getting a little bit hysterical and were ... there was sort of an uproar; shouting and hollering and mimicking soldiers, and so forth, and, you know, putting muskets on their shoulders and marching around through the fraternity house, singing songs, Over There, and so forth, like as if they were ready to go. But they didn't realize at that time what was going on, really. All they knew was that President Roosevelt had declared war, I think it was December 7th, and they were eligible. A lot of them knew that they were eligible to go.
SH: More of a bravado ...
CZ: Sort of, yes.
SH: The administration at Rutgers, how did they react to the news of Pearl Harbor?
CZ: They took it pretty seriously.
SH: Did they, that Monday or Tuesday, did they gather you all together and talk with you?
CZ: The president of the college called a convocation everyone attended.
SH: Because you would have been a preceptor at that point.
SH: Did they advise as to how to talk to your students?
CZ: No, no. I don't remember that but I know they did have a convocation and the president indicated that things were going be a little bit different.
SH: We talked about Dean Metzger in the beginning, in your freshman year. Did you continue to interact with him at all?
CZ: No, I did not. Other than to join with him at meetings or events involving both of us.
SH: No other Dean Metzger stories or ...
CZ: No, here and there, we bumped into one another and I don't know whether he remembered. He did remember, in my senior year, during freshman class orientation we were in Kirkpatrick Chapel and I was one of the fellows who was asked to orient the freshmen in the various programs at Rutgers. My subject was athletics at Rutgers, I was very busy at the time and this was quite a task so I pleaded with my friend Dick Nelson, who at the time was the sports editor for the Targum, to write a speech for me for the freshman orientation. We only had about forty-eight hours before the program. Well, he wrote it and it was very good and helpful, but long.
--------------------------------------END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO-------------------------------------
SH: This continues an interview with Dr. Zukaukas on October 31, 2006. Please continue. You were talking about Dr. Metzger.
CZ: Right, and Dean Metzger was sitting about three seats behind me in Kirkpatrick Chapel. He had introduced the entire program and so I was to give the talk on athletics, the athletic program at Rutgers, and I sort of made some jokes on it; involving the girls at NJC. I made some typographic errors about some female involvement in certain athletics and the freshmen were really laughing. I was afraid the Dean might not be too happy about this, but I peeked around and I saw that he was laughing, too. So after the program finished he came up to me and he said, "Charles," and every time that we talked, he called me Charles. He said "That was very nice, I'm very proud of you." He made my day.
SH: Wonderful. It sounds as though the man did remember.
CZ: Well, I think that he had enough time to put it together a little bit, you know.
SH: Because I'm sure that for someone in administration, when there's a young man that they have supported against, you know pretty substantial odds, and they do come and now they have accepted the responsibility and are doing well, it must be very satisfying for them. I know you wind up later on being an instructor, professor, teacher, as well, and you probably can identify with that very well.
CZ: I agree, right.
SH: Please, then talk about how you, being in advanced ROTC, just how Rutgers changes now that we're in the war.
CZ: Well, let me say a couple of things about the ROTC class. We had fifty students in the ROTC class. The fellow who was the colonel, who was the cadet colonel and the leader of the whole two battalions, he was a graduate of Valley Forge Military Academy, so he was really, he was hyped-up pretty good all through college.
SH: Do you remember his name?
CZ: Oh, yes. His name was Malcolm Schweiker, [Jr.], S-C-H-W-E-I-K-E-R. His older brother, no his younger brother, or his older brother, I'm not sure, ... became a senator for the State of Pennsylvania, and was, his older brother was a candidate for the vice presidency with Ronald Reagan, in the first year that Ronald Reagan was going for the presidency, and one of the ... reasons that Ronald Reagan did not get the nomination for the presidency, was that Schweiker, the senator, was too far to the left for the conservatives in the ... Republican Party. ... But anyhow that was his brother, and this fellow, Malcolm, he was also the editor of the yearbook and he was an outstanding student at Rutgers ... Unfortunately, he went into the war very quickly, and he was killed, I think, in the first wave of the African, I think the African campaign, but I'm not a one hundred percent sure. I did know, but I'm not sure now, but he was killed and in the fifty that we had, we lost in the war, we lost about seventeen men. So that one-third of our ROTC class went down in the war. [Emil] Potzer [Jr.], that fellow you mentioned his name, Potzer, he was the first one, he was the first one that we lost. He was an end on our football team and a very nice person and he also (he was brought up by his grandmother) ... came up the hard way, and he was [a] good ballplayer and he was a pitcher on the baseball team, too.
SH: Had people like Schweiker gone on to the war when you were still in school?
CZ: No. A frequent topic of conversation was which students were called up for service and what branch of service they went into. Every day there were students dropping out from school. ... No, he graduated; no, he graduated in the accelerated program like I did, yes.
CZ: But then he went right into the military service. They had to go to school, and then he became an officer right away.
SH: Did you know of any students who had gone in who, perhaps you would have known through football or other sports that had graduated in the years, in '42 or '41? I mean, was Rutgers already beginning to hear of any losses before your graduation in early '43?
CZ: No. No, I don't recall that there was anybody that was lost before that.
SH: So there was still the sense of "we can do," and it was not really hitting home the losses that were to come.
SH: Does your training with the ROTC change because of the war? I mean, we talked about the accelerated program, so you go to school in the summer, did you also do ROTC in the summers between your junior and senior years?
CZ: Well, you want to hear some more trivia? This is another interesting point. When I was accepted to medical school, with the acceptance and the approval to go to medical school, I was given an appointment in the Medical Administrative Corps as a Second Lieutenant on inactive duty, in the army. So I took this letter, which notified me of this, to the Colonel in the ROTC at school. Colonel, oh, I remember his name now, Colonel Koehler. He says, "You can't stay in the ROTC, you're in the army, you're an officer, you can't." So he said, "What are we gonna do now?" He said, "We'll take you out of the ROTC, and you're gonna march with us," but I'm still a student, you know. [laughter]
SH: Was his name Johnson?
CZ: No, it was Koehler. Major Robert B. Johnson was second-in-command. His son [Franklyn] was in our class. And so, he says, "We have to move up forty-nine people." [laughter] I'm second in command of the ROTC. So they had a dilemma as to what to do with me and what to do with the class and everything, yes. ... So I still marched and everything with the class, but I had second lieutenant bars on me, and ... I sort of felt funny, you know, yet I couldn't be in line with the battalion. I had to be on the outside with them, with the officers. So, well, then, that was a requirement that exempted you from being sent off into what the other fellows were doing in the infantry. See, this was an infantry unit, our ROTC.
SH: Did you ever think of any of the other services whether it be Navy, or Air Corps, or was there any thought of ...
CZ: No, because it was sort of, it was sort of laid out for you. You came to medical school and you were put in the army, but there were also Navy students in our class.
SH: Does this then basically transfer to the University of Pennsylvania, because they, too, have programs there? Were you still considered in the military?
CZ: No. When we went to the first year in medical school, we were still second lieutenants, on inactive duty, and then, when the Army and Navy took over all the medical schools, we then became privates, yes. ... Then the ASTP came into existence, and we were actually inducted into the army. We were no longer inactive officers. Our medical study was interrupted by a three week orientation course. We were shipped to Fort Meade, Maryland, to be inducted. We received uniforms, fatigues and some equipment.
SH: So your status changes then.
CZ: Yes. And how! We were privates. Recruits. Recruit is less than a private. When we got promoted from recruit to private, that was a big deal, because when we went to Fort Meade [Maryland] to be inducted, and the corporals and the sergeants there said, "Oh boy, look at these recruits from college. [laughter] Now we'll show you." We were picking up cigarette butts, and washing dishes, and everything, ... lots of KP, right, absolutely, yes, "the recruits." ... If a guy was a private first class, he might have been a general as far as we were concerned, because, you had to listen to him, and do what he ordered. If you showed any disrespect you might get latrine duty.
SH: Was that hard to take?
CZ: Well, it depends on who you were. Some guys found it hard to take, but if you had a sense of humor, and you realized it was orientation, you performed appropriately.
SH: You knew it was only going to last so long.
CZ: Yes, and it was okay. It was all right.
SH: Let's back up and continue with the story at Rutgers. These advanced classes, is everybody having to take advanced classes? No one can say, "Oh, gee, I'm going to take the summer off and come back in the fall and start up. This was something that was almost mandatory?
CZ: It was mandatory for certain courses. The engineers, and the medical students, and one or two other categories had to take the accelerated program. It was pretty much all mapped out. But a good portion of the class was allowed to graduate on the regular date.
SH: Were the activities curtailed, what we considered the fun stuff?
CZ: Yes, there was a curtailment of activity, every student was required to take the basic military preparation courses as far as physical training was concerned. They had to go to physical training classes, which they didn't have to do before. Now they had to go, unless you were disabled, or physically not qualified.
SH: Did anyone claim to be a conscientious objector or ...
CZ: Not to my knowledge, not to my knowledge. There might have been, but ... I didn't know about it.
SH: Prior to Pearl Harbor, were there any demonstrations or discussions on campus about whether we should get into the war, or not, isolationists versus ...
CZ: I was not aware of any isolationist feeling, absolutely not. There was nothing like that. ... Everybody knew that this war was on and, we were all in it. ... There were no grounds for objection. Pearl Harbor occurred and ... how are you going to object? What are you going to object to?
SH: Did you keep track, when I say keep track, were you looking more at the newspapers or listening to the radio to see, to be more aware than maybe you have been before?
CZ: Yes, yes, we did, yes. We listened to the radio more often than we did before, absolutely, yes, and we had one or two fellows that lived with us in the same fraternity house, they were constantly reporting to us what was going on. They listened to the radio all the time.
SH: You talked about being in the fraternity when you heard about the news of Pearl Harbor. When did you pledge the fraternity, your sophomore year, I think, you said?
CZ: Yes, in my sophomore year.
SH: Was there a house? Was there a chance to live in the house or was it more of a service fraternity?
CZ: No, no, you could live in the house. There were, I would imagine, maybe, fifteen fellas or so that lived in the house, yes.
SH: So your social life then revolves around the fraternity?
CZ: A lot of it, yes, a lot of it did, a lot of it did.
SH: Which fraternity?
CZ: Beta Theta Pi. We were, I liked to think of us, as being the outstanding fraternity on the campus at the time, and, unfortunately, Beta Theta Pi is no longer in existence at Rutgers.
SH: What other activities were you involved in at Rutgers?
CZ: Well, we belonged to different academic clubs, the German Club, the Biological Science Club, and there was Scabbard and Blade, which was limited to juniors and seniors, and Scarlet Rifles. We went to all the dances, freshman-gala, sophomore hop, junior and senior ball, military ball. These were all formal and I was able to borrow a tuxedo especially from a dear friend, Dr. Bernie Koft for three years. His tux fit me like a custom made fit.
SH: Were you involved in those?
SH: With all your extra time. [laughter]
CZ: Right. I think they were the ones, mostly, that I can think of. ... I'd have to look in the yearbook and see.
SH: You were also in Crown and Scroll.
CZ: Well, Crown and Scroll, that was the Junior Honor Society, yes, right, Crown and Scroll. Cap and Skull, too.
SH: You did that in your ...
CZ: Senior year. President of Cap and Skull, the senior honor society.
SH: You had leadership positions in all of these I understand.
CZ: ... Delta Phi Alpha was the German Honor society. I was a member of the Student Council, Scabbard and Blade, Scarlet Rifles, the Deutsche Verein, that's the German Club, President of Cap and Skull, Beta Iota Lambda, that's the honor biological science group, Crown and Scroll, Beta Theta Pi, Vice President, ROTC, Cadet Lieutenant Colonel. Those were my activities.
SH: What were your responsibilities as the cadet lieutenant colonel?
CZ: Well, you were in charge of the First Battalion. There were two battalions, and you marched once a week, and you had a class, and you taught the first-year students how to drill, and once a year they had a Military Science Day, which was an all-day affair for the parents, and friends. When the day activities were over there was a dance at night, the [Military Ball], and the Scabbard and Blade was involved in that, they ran the dance pretty much. During the day there were military exhibitions for the Military Science Day, and that included things like operating machine guns, rifle drills, assembling some of the cannons, and marching. That was Military Science Day, and it was very nice. Parents came. We had team competitions. winning times for assembling cannons and setting up and firing machine guns. The Scarlet Rifles performed rifle drills.
SH: Did your parents come?
CZ: No. My parents never, the only thing my parents ever came to was graduation, yes.
SH: Really? They never saw you play football at Rutgers or anything like that?
CZ: No, no. Never saw me play in high school either.
SH: Really? Was it because they were afraid you will get hurt?
CZ: No. They just weren't into it. ... Athletics wasn't a part of their life at all.
SH: It probably wasn't something they grew up with either.
CZ: No, not at all.
SH: As the cadet colonel then what would be your job at the Military Science Day?
CZ: Yes. I marched with two battalions, and took part in machine gun tactics and competition.
SH: Did your equipment change at all? Were you better equipped than, say from your freshman year to your senior year?
CZ: No, it was the same. Our artillery was the same, our rifles were the same.
SH: When the ASTP came on campus then, you are already in Pennsylvania.
CZ: Penn, right.
SH: Did you ever come back to Rutgers after you left?
CZ: As a student? No. When we were medical students at Penn we were invited by Dr. H. Greenwood to assist in physical examinations of the Rutgers students as a part of preparation for the military activity. As an alumnus I remained close to Rutgers for my entire lifetime and retuned frequently.
SH: Okay, I didn't know whether you came back for the games, or anything, while you are at medical school.
CZ: The athletic programs at Rutgers were limited and at that point we were involved with the University of Pennsylvania activities.
SH: What do you remember about your graduation? You said it was in March.
CZ: In April. To be honest with you, I remember very little about it, except for the fact that that was the one thing that my mother and father came to, and they were brought there by my sister and brother-in-law, and we had just a little small party, but that was it.
SH: Do you remember who spoke at your graduation?
CZ: No, I don't. To be honest, no, I don't. Dr. R. Clothier, president of Rutgers at that time presided. Very likely somewhere in my Rutgers memorabilia I still have the program.
SH: I have not met a student yet ...
CZ: That remembered, really? Good, then I don't feel so bad. [laughter]
SH: I do have one who remembered because he said he looked in his yearbook and he was quite amazed to find out that former President Eisenhower spoke at his graduation.
CZ: Really? Is that right? But that was at a much later date. Well, I would remember that. If that happened I would have remembered, certainly.
SH: Were you a political person at all?
SH: Ever in your life, have you ever gotten involved in politics?
CZ: No, I stayed away from politics. ... You know, as a physician, politics could be a very sore subject, and so I didn't get involved.
SH: Before we move on, are there any other Rutgers memories that you would like to share?
CZ: Well, yes, I think I'd like to say that the friends that I made at Rutgers were friends for my entire life, and even though we never saw one another often, for any length of time, we still remained the best of friends, so that when we did get together it was wonderful. It was wonderful. I have retained some Rutgers memorabilia even to this date. I have two varsity sweaters, still in good condition, several footballs of victorious games. Freshman and varsity football helmets and parts of football and lacrosse uniforms. Also ROTC medallions and pins. I still have my Rutgers mementos framed alongside of my various diplomas.
SH: When you went off then to the University of Pennsylvania, did you go immediately after your graduation?
CZ: Yes, we reported to Penn two weeks after graduation.
SH: Okay. Can you talk to me then about how your orders came and where you were?
CZ: Yes. The orders came while I was at home, after my internship and after my marriage, and said you were to report at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. So then, we reported to Fort Sam Houston, and we stayed there for two months. Something like that, and I have some interesting memories about what we did at Fort Sam Houston. One of the things that I remember very, very well, is the fact that when we finished, with our daily teaching and drills that we had to go through, we were allowed to go to the officers' club, and we could swim and dive whatever we wanted to do and, as it was, there was a little Oriental fella who used to play touch football with us, and ... he was a good diver, and we used to watch him dive, and we found out he was Korean, and the Korean Conflict was ... sort of imminent at this particular time, and we said, "Oh, boy, he's gonna be the first one that's gonna go because probably he can talk Korean," and, so anyhow, so we used to watch him dive and he would be on the high diving board and, you know, beautiful diver.
SH: Now this was in 1949?
CZ: I don't remember exactly.
SH: This is after you graduated from Pennsylvania?
CZ: No, this was after our internship which was fifteen months after graduation. So then our orders came through as to where we were assigned, and we figured this fellow definitely had to go to Korea. Well, he was sent to Presidio, California, and we subsequently found out that his name was Sammy Lee, and that he was the champion diver, who won two gold medals in two Olympics while he was in the service. He stayed at Presidio, California all that time, [laughter] and then, he got the gold medals in the Olympics. Then he became the coach of the Olympic diving team, and his student became the best diver that I have ever seen in my life and maybe the best ever.
CZ: Louganis, Greg Louganis, he was the best diver that I ever have seen. I think he won four gold medals, if I remember correctly. ... He was fantastic. So anyhow, I remember that. Here, he was, this little guy that we played touch football with, ... after our drills, and so forth, and we were worried about him going to Korea, and he's in Presidio for the next eight years, you know, beautiful. [laughter] And, incidentally, he remained in the Army Medical Corps during all these Olympic years and then I lost track of him.
SH: Was he really?
CZ: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. ...
SH: Had he gone to school in Pennsylvania as well?
CZ: No, the fellows that were in ... were from all over.
SH: Jumping back again, you had also mentioned that you had met your future wife on the beach as a lifeguard. Can you talk a little bit about that, if you like? What year was that that you met?
CZ: I don't know, I don't remember. No, I don't remember.
SH: Was it your sophomore year, junior, senior ...
CZ: It was my junior year, yes, and she was just a little kid, actually. She was, she's five years younger than I am, and my buddy there that I mentioned earlier, Bill Prout, he and I were the lifeguards together, and we saw these two girls on the beach one day, and they were both looked very nice, and we're kiddingly, we said, "okay there's the two girls there," ... Bill, my roommate, he was shorter than I was, he said, "I'll take the short one, you take the long one," [laughter] and that's the way it was. Actually, we didn't really date or anything, but we were aware of one another over a long period of time.
SH: Was she from Long Branch?
CZ: She was from Long Branch, yes, and then, I guess, ... she came to see me play football a couple of times and, we sort of, when I came home I sort of got together with her, and so forth, and that ultimately, and I wasn't gonna get married before I, oh, my parents would have been very unhappy if I got married before I graduated from medical school, you know. At this time there were very few married men at med school. I married after my internship.
SH: If you could, talk a bit about going into medical school, and how you chose the direction you went and who was your mentor there.
CZ: Yes, let's see. I didn't really have a true mentor in medical school. What happened was, I'll tell you just another bit of trivia. When I was a first-year medical student, somehow or other, we were challenged by the dental students to a football game, and so we put together a six-man team, and I was the quarterback. We played the dental students, and we beat them. They wanted a return match, so we played them again and we won again in a tougher game. So then we had to play the vets, and the vets, the veterinary students ... were a very nice bunch of guys, you know, at that time there were only seven veterinary schools in the country and Pennsylvania was the tops in the veterinary schools. I remember them, they were very impressive and good sports. They had a football team, too, and we played them and we beat them. So I was the quarterback, on the teams that beat them, and so I got a little notoriety. As a consequence, I subsequently got to be president of the class, [laughter] but only because I was known, you know, not because I was the top student, or anything. Because that was another thing, that I can really talk about seriously, and that is that all the way through Rutgers and college and everything, I didn't have any trouble with courses or so forth, but when I got in medical school, it was different. You had to work, you had to work hard, and I'll tell you one of the things that is scary, a little bit, at that particular time, is there were sprung quizzes. That scared the death out of you. But when in the final examinations, you're coming home from dinner, or whatever, and you see, you're going home, and you see these two guys going in the opposite direction, and you say, "hey, where are you going, you've got final exams?" "Oh, we're going to the movies." Two guys are going to the movies the night before a final exam, and we're knocking our brains out, you know. Well, the one guy gets like a ninety-eight and the other guy gets to be AOA, which is the honorary student, (medical Phi Beta Kappa). You suddenly realized that, you know, there's a difference, there's a little difference in the brain-power, and you're on the short end, you're not on the long end anymore, you know. [laughter] So you suddenly, it's brought home to you that there's a difference in the brain-power of different people. To survive, it is essential to adjust your mind to this realization.
SH: Go to the movies before a final exam?
CZ: Yes, and, incidentally, the fellow I'm referring to, who was doing that, he became the Director of Psychiatry at Harvard University, and it is the number one [program ]in the country, and a very bright student. As a matter-of-fact, I think, it was in our sophomore year, in our class, I think it was in physiology, the professor was having a little trouble getting across to the students. He called in this chap, and he said, "Come on up here, tell these students how to do this." ... At that level he could still teach the same level, you know, amazing. Yes, it is amazing, right, and we had other guys who were brilliant and you're in a class with these guys, and now, now years later, you realize how bright these guys were and how productive they were in future years. They really became great physicians, properly honored, and so forth. As a matter-of-fact, I mentioned to you that I was president, of the class. I still am president of the class, even today, and this year we're going have a reunion of reunions. We're going to get together, and for those of us who have survived, we're going have a big, big blow out.
SH: Good for you, you deserve it. [laughter] You talked about the difference in some of the students and their ability to go to the movies, or whatever, what was the toughest thing for you as a freshman in medical school?
CZ: Well, I don't know. ... Everything was tough in the first year because, I think, the first year in medical school, at least at that time, and for many years afterwards, they sorted out the students that they didn't feel could make it, or would be okay, and they dropped ten percent of the class were failed out. I don't know whether it was made so that the lower ten percent dropped out, or, I don't think they were selective, I think it was just a matter of grades, that they didn't have the grade power.
SH: There must have been a tremendous pressure also because of the war. I mean, if you dropped out of medical school ...
CZ: You went into the service, oh, absolutely. You went in as a private, absolutely.
SH: Did that cause any problems for any of the other students? Was that an added pressure?
CZ: It's an added, no, that's, well, it's both, it's both. Incentives can still be, under pressure, you know, but, as I look back on it, and I knew some of the fellows that were let go, ... yes, there was extra pressure. There was extra pressure. ... It wasn't the main pressure. The main pressure was embarrassment, to be dropped out; to be accepted, originally, and then to be dropped out, I think, that was terribly embarrassing to the individuals, because they were all thoughtful guys, serious and sensitive. ... Some of them, I hate to say this, some of them their fathers were physicians. This could be heartbreaking for the parents. It was tough to be dropped out, and the first year was the toughest year.
SH: Now as a freshman medical student, are you still involved in some sort of military training?
CZ: Oh, yes, you're involved in military training. You had to drill once a week, yes, and also you lined up in the morning, and if there were any particular affairs that you had to go to, you had to line up and march. You had groups, you had your, well ... actually, you were companies, platoons. They were platoons, and you had to line up. We were taken over by the Army, and they fed us, yes, and so we had to line up in the morning in platoons, and we had to march to breakfast. For any mass gathering, convocation, or anything like that, a big going on, you had to line up, in platoons, and march.
SH: And you were in uniform.
CZ: In uniform. Wore a uniform for the rest of the war and until graduation. We graduated in uniform.
SH: Did you really?
CZ: Yes, for the rest of the graduation, and everything.
SH: Now you were commissioned when you graduated at Rutgers.
CZ: Yes, right, Second Lieutenant in Medical Administrative Corps, right.
SH: So then you went into your freshman year, and you're still maintaining your military rank?
CZ: Right, right. But when the Army and Navy took over the medical school we lost our commissions and became privates.
SH: Now is there in medical school, as a freshman, you talked about the accelerated program at Rutgers in your senior year, did they accelerate medical school?
CZ: Yes, they accelerated medical school. ... We went three years instead of four, because we had no summer school, so we went right through the summers. You made up the four years by going to summer school for three years.
SH: In Philly where were you housed?
CZ: Until we went into the army, we were housed in boarding houses, yes.
SH: So there weren't dormitories.
CZ: No, no, because the dorms were pretty much occupied by undergraduate students.
SH: How did you keep up with the war and your classmates from either the fraternity, or Prout, or any of those folks? Did you keep up with them at this point?
CZ: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.
SH: Was it through some Rutgers alumni magazine, or was there some way that you ...
CZ: Well, my close friends, we corresponded.
SH: Did you?
CZ: Sure, yes. We corresponded, like I said, my close friend, and then, we did receive from Rutgers, newsletters and so forth, in which different people would be ... in the newsletters, you know, they'd show their pictures, and if they were awarded anything, if they died, they were all in the newsletters of the school.
SH: Did you keep in contact with the school as well yourself?
CZ: I always did.
SH: To tell them where you were.
CZ: Yes, I always did. ... Yes we had a class correspondent, and so forth. I kept close to the school all the years.
SH: Talk about then, because there is hardly any break, there's no break actually, as your sophomore year begins, because you start right to school in the summer. Am I right?
CZ: We had two week break between school years.
SH: So then your sophomore year in medical school actually starts the summer of '44?
CZ: January '44 there were four nine month sessions during three years rather than four years.
SH: The war at that point, do you think it's going to be over quickly?
CZ: No. No.
SH: Because then that December, is the [Battle of the] Bulge and they break up the ASTP program. What happened? Did that affect anyone in medical school when that was disbanded?
CZ: The ASTP didn't disband until we graduated. We graduated in the ASTP.
SH: The medical school did, okay.
SH: Okay, all right because I know that the ASTP program for engineers ends in early '44.
CZ: Well, maybe so, but we graduated in '46, and we were still in the Army at the time.
SH: At any point in this, were you concerned that they were going to pull you out of medical school or were you quite confident?
CZ: That was always, that was always a rumor that, and you don't know where the rumor came from, but there was always a possibility that if they needed the manpower, that we would go and serve as warriors.
SH: Because you had been the cadet colonel, and had had the four years, or almost the four years of ROTC, did you find yourself in leadership position because of that experience in medical school?
CZ: Yes, a little bit. A little bit. But you weren't called on particularly. There were few situations where you were called upon, but here and there someone knew that you had the ROTC experience.
SH: Because were there not some students that were there who would have ...
CZ: None, no military experience whatsoever, yes.
SH: There weren't any?
CZ: Oh, no. I think most of them did not have the, did not have any military experience. Well, only if they had ROTC programs. ... But we had also in our class, the Navy had, certain boys had applied for the Navy originally, and so we had naval medical students, and we had Army medical students, and then we had some students that had no, neither affiliation, and I think that in those instances, I think they were advised by their parents, or something, not to get involved, or they might have been 4-F and, you know, physically not acceptable.
SH: Did any of your Rutgers friends catch up with you in Philadelphia as they were coming and going?
CZ: Oh, yes. One of my, well, what happened was, oh, you know, remember I mentioned that Dr. Greenwood was the one really who was a big help for me? As a matter-of-fact, he was pretty much responsible for me going to the University of Pennsylvania. There was another boy at Rutgers that he also helped, who came to the University of Pennsylvania, and he and I got together. He was in my class in pre-med and everything, and we knew one another, liked one another, but we didn't associate with one another particularly, but we decided to go, to get together and become roommates.
--------------------------------------END OF TAPE TWO, SIDE ONE-------------------------------------
SH: Please continue.
CZ: Well, Dr. Greenwood, as I mentioned, was responsible for both this other young fellow and I going to the University of Pennsylvania, and we were roommates for two years, and he was a very bright fellow, and I have to tell you that he and I, we had one hell of a good time throughout the University of Pennsylvania. ... I have to tell you this also, his name was Arthur Katz, and he changed his name before he went to medical school. So when he went to medical school his name was Keats, K-E-A-T-S, and so, Arthur and I we had a wonderful time and he was very bright. He made AOA, which is Alpha Omega Alpha, ... it's like Phi Beta Kappa of the medical schools. So, he and I, we lived together, went into the army together, and ... after we were in the Army as medical students for two years, we were put in different housing situations. ... We were in the dorms, we lived nearby one another, and we ultimately graduated. Arthur, and this was true of lots of guys in our class, Arthur became the number one anesthesiologist in the country. He was the editor of the Journal of Anesthesiology, he was the president of the American Board of Anesthesiologists, which is the certifying board for anesthesiology. He was on several of the President's commissions, ... for drug abuse and he still, he continues working today. He was the main anesthesiologist, he was the anesthesiologist for Drs. Denton and Cooley [Editor's Note: Dr. Denton Cooley and Dr. Michael DeBakey pioneered heart surgery in the 1950s and worked separately after 1960.] Dr. Keats invited me down there one time and I saw the seventy-fifth, seventy-sixth, and seventy-seventh heart transplants that were ever done. But anyhow ... when Cooley and DeBakey separated, he went with Dr. Cooley, and they started the Texas Heart Institute, which is a fantastic cardiac complex, and he, up until this past year, has been the director of that program. Marvelous man and a guy with a tremendous sense of humor and a distinguished alumnus of both Rutgers and Pennsylvania, but he won't accept it.
SH: Really, does he say why?
CZ: I think that has to go unwritten. But we're very unhappy about that because the boys in our class at Rutgers would have loved to have him as one of our distinguished alumni group. He and this fellow, Lasagna, whose picture you saw there, Lasagna was the other distinguished physician from our class at Rutgers.
SH: Where did Lasagna go to?
CZ: He went to Columbia. Lasagna went to Columbia and then he, ultimately, trained at Mt. Sinai [Hospital]. He served his military requirements in public health.
SH: One of the questions that I asked was, did you ever see any of your other Rutgers alumni going to, perhaps, as part of their military deployment through Philly?
CZ: Yes, we did. Not infrequently we met fellows in uniform that we knew.
SH: As roommates, but did you catch up with any of the other classmates from Rutgers during that time, during the war, I guess I should say?
CZ: You know we did here and there, but I can't recall specifically. ... There were other medical students, there were other students from Rutgers who were in Philadelphia, a couple of them were at Hahnemann Medical School and, I think, there was at least one of them in Jefferson Medical School. I don't think we had Temple, anybody at Temple, nor at the Women's College. They were also in services.
SH: Then in your junior, senior years, by now the war is over, if my math is correct.
CZ: I don't recall specifically where we were when the war was over, but we were there, because we celebrated, yes, through the streets of Philadelphia. You know, Philadelphia was a wonderful town for the service people, it really was. They did a marvelous job.
SH: Did you do any work with the VA [Veterans Affairs] at all before you graduated?
CZ: Yes, we had some clinical courses there and saw patients. What did happen was that many of our professors came back, and one of them was one of the outstanding surgeons in the country at the time, a fellow by the name of Isadore Ravdin, R-A-V-D-I-N, who was one of the consultants when President Eisenhower had his intestine resected, and a lot of the professors who had been in the service were back at school.
SH: How did their experience in the war impact how they, did they talk about how it changed the way they taught, or what they have learned?
CZ: Oh, absolutely. No, we had courses, as a matter-of-fact, that we took on trauma and the Army actually showed us, we had to go see movies of how to set up hospitals and so forth, in the field, you know, we were trained in that. ... Yes, we had that training, oh, yes. Yes, frequently the professors interjected war experiences, if appropriate, to the subject being discussed.
SH: As the war is coming to an end, prior to the end of the war, President Roosevelt dies. Was there a reaction to that in that community that you were aware of?
CZ: Yes. I think that there was a deep sadness, deep sadness. I think that everybody really loved him. There wasn't this type of thing that you have today. He was highly respected and, actually, I think if there was anything that they didn't feel was right, they didn't feel that staying on for a fourth term was appropriate, especially that he didn't look well to us, as medical students. He did not look well, and I think generally speaking, although it wasn't voiced, there was a feeling that he was not going to be doing too well.
SH: Was there confidence in the ability of Truman to lead?
CZ: I think that was mixed. I think we probably were like everybody else. We had not necessarily mixed emotions, and we were questioning whether he would be able to do it or not.
SH: When the war ended in Europe in 1945, in May of 1945, where were you in your training as a doctor?
CZ: You know, I really don't know. I think in 1945, I can only go backwards from '46 is when we graduated, so '45 we were juniors, I guess, yes.
SH: Had you already started to pick your specialty?
CZ: In some cases, yes, some fellows knew just exactly what they wanted to go into. I knew pretty much that I wanted to be a surgeon.
SH: From the get go or ...
CZ: No, not from the get go. At this point, ... I guess, I was always more inclined for the physical, and I think surgery sort of has a certain amount of physicalness to it, and I sort of liked the thought, and I had always been constructive; when I was a kid, I was building model airplanes, and stuff, and did it well, you know, so I think that had something to do with it.
SH: Did anything that you were aware of in the war, or that was happening because of the war, did that impact your decision at all other than the physicality?
CZ: Yes. Seeing pictures of wounded men and battle injuries made me realize I should better be well prepared.
SH: You talked about the party when the war finally ends in Japan, was there any discussion of the fact that it was an atom bomb or, it was two atom bombs that we dropped?
CZ: Oh, everybody was happy that they dropped them. You know, we'd curse and swear, and so forth, because you didn't like them at all over there, and ... nothing was too bad for them.
SH: Did you see as a medical student and as someone who has done the advanced ROTC and is now in the military and going to medical school, did you perceive the enemy in the Pacific Theatre differently than you perceived the enemy in the European Theater?
CZ: Yes. We could not forget what happened at Pearl Harbor. You perceived what was obvious. As far as the injuries that were concerned, I think they were pretty much the same. They were bullet wounds, shrapnel wounds, shell wounds, and pretty much that sort of thing, and you had them in both fields. However, the effects of radiation were not appreciated until later. We studied the pharmacology of gases and available defenses.
SH: So those kinds of injuries are also part of your curriculum that you're learning how to deal with?
SH: Had they been a part of the curriculum prior to that, or was this because of the war?
CZ: Some of it was new. Actually, again, I have to repeat that we were shown motion pictures of a lot of the things that were current while the war was continued. We studied the types of wounds caused by different weapons.
SH: I mean you talked about being able to set up a field hospital and equip it.
CZ: We were taught the various stages for the level of care, which was dictated by the seriousness of the injury. There were motion pictures demonstrating the hospital chain and new equipment.
SH: In 1946, when you graduated, then you go to Fort Sam Houston?
CZ: No, after we graduated we were required to have a fifteen month internship. Then we were to report for active duty at Ft. Sam Houston. After graduation I took a surgical internship at St. Luke's Hospital in New York City. Following completion I was married. I was married and then we reported for active duty in Texas.
SH: How much time do you now owe the government?
CZ: Two years.
SH: Can you talk then about that?
CZ: See, when you entered active duty, the army gave you certain options. ... At that period your training was very basic, and you pretty much knew what you would like to do. So the army gave you two options. They either said ... "We can send you to a place where you can train in the specialty that you want, or you can have ... a choice of geographical locations," but they would decide which [option and location], okay. So I opted to go to Colorado and get trained in pulmonary surgery, chest surgery, or to come back to New England. So I found out that I was shipped, going to be shipped, to Fort Monmouth. I didn't get the choice of my training that I wanted, but I got the geographical location and which was not too far from home.
SH: So what did you do then? Are you still reporting to a military base? You're working for the army.
CZ: Oh, no, you're in uniform.
SH: Right, but you were working in a military hospital.
SH: Okay, that's what I wanted to know, if were you able to continue ...
CZ: Sure. ... So, I came to Fort Monmouth
SH: Back to Fort Monmouth?
CZ: Right. Well, I remained at Fort Monmouth for just about two years. After being there one year I was to be shipped to Japan, and the colonel of our hospital ... didn't want to let me go, and so ... he did whatever he had to do, and I remained at Fort Monmouth for another year. The first year that I was at Forth Monmouth I was a ... first lieutenant in the surgical department, and in the second year that I was in the Army, I became a captain and was elevated as head of the orthopedic department at Fort Monmouth, which was quite an experience; many, many, many stories to emanate from my captaincy [at] Fort Monmouth.
SH: Can you share one or two of those?
CZ: I'll share one of them. While we were at Fort Monmouth and I was in charge of orthopedics, we had a shop for shoe repairs, because, you know, walking in the Army is something that every man does, and they had all kinds of foot problems. So one of the things that we saw, most were problems with the feet, and we would put different kinds of assists for the shoe; we'd raise a heel or lower a heel, or put side bars on them. We would cut out pieces of leather, we would reform shoes, and we did a lot of things with the machines, and we had one of the local shoemakers would come in and maintain our machines for us, the brushes, and the hammers, and all the mechanical odds [and ends], and he would come in and do this for us, and, in the meantime, he would have some problems, some medical problems, and, of course, we would handle them for him. They need not have been with shoes; they were just his complaints. So he was always appreciative, and this one year [it] was Christmas-time and he brought us each a jug of wine, the officers there, and I tasted the wine, and I said, "Boy, this is good wine. Boy, this is very good." So Lee and I had a little party in which, it was a lobsterfest, in those day you could get a dozen lobsters for $2.50, and so we had a little party, and I was going to have my wine, which I was so excited about, and one of my best friends was a wine expert. So we started to sit down to enjoy our meal and we poured the wine and I was so anxious. I said, you know, "Mario," I said, "you taste this wine, you're going like it." So he tasted and then he sets his lips a little bit in his tongue, tastes a little more, and I said, "Mario," I said, "how is it?" He said, "Well, it's not vinegar yet." [laughter] So I thought it was terrific, but he says, "It's not vinegar yet." "Ouch!" So that was a little trivia from the orthopedic department, right.
SH: After you were at Monmouth, where did your career take you?
CZ: Yes, then I went to Bellevue Hospital in New York City. I applied for a residency. I wanted to go back to St. Luke's Hospital, which was also in New York City, which I liked very much, which was a very fine program. But I was informed by the chief of surgery there that they were only going to take one resident from my class, and ... the resident that they accepted at St. Luke's was sort of a, it was a heritage type of thing, and his father was a physician and a former staff member at St. Luke's, and they were taking him for the residency, which was okay with me. But then I said, "Well, do you think you could write some letters of recommendation for me?" He said, "I'd be glad to." He said, "You did a good job here. Be glad to write a letter for you." So, anyhow, the letter helped me get an appointment in residency at the postgraduate division of Bellevue Hospital, and Dr. J. William Hinton was the chief of surgery there and he was one of the outstanding surgeons in the City of New York, and so it was quite an honor to even get on that program. So I stayed on their program for four years and ... that allowed me ... to have the necessary pre-requisite requirements to get my boards in general surgery, and that was quite an experience.
SH: Had you already started to have your family?
CZ: No, as a matter-of-fact, it wasn't until I was in practice that we started to have a family.
SH: Did your wife work?
CZ: My wife did something very interesting. ... When I started to work at Bellevue Hospital, she wanted to get a job so we could have some money, because in those days you didn't get any salary for being a resident and the only thing that we got at St. Luke's Hospital, for instance, was our laundry, but no pay, and, of course we got our meals, and at Christmas-time we got $25.00, that was the most that we got, that was at St. Luke's Hospital. But when you worked for the City and Bellevue Hospital, it was good because they gave you $50.00 a month and in spite of the fact that you worked every other night and every other weekend. So anyhow we couldn't live on $50.00 a month very well and maintain some living quarters in New York. Well, for a while, my wife didn't live with me and ... her mother wanted her to get a job with the telephone company. I said, "Look," I said, "why don't you do something different?" I said, "Why don't you go to, you're a phys ed major, why don't you go study physiotherapy for a year, and then that'll teach you a little something about medicine and the profession, and then after that you can get a job as a physiotherapist and you could support us," and so she thought that was a good idea and she did. She obtained a scholarship for physiotherapy at New York University for a year, and then she got a job at New York University with a prominent physician ... by the name of Dr. Rush, who was the outstanding physical medicine man in the City of New York, and she worked with him for the next three years, until I graduated, and she never regretted it. She thought it was a wonderful experience and to this day it has always stood her in good stead. So that was the story on my wife, and then, of course, we started practice and at the time, the question in every young doctor's life is, particularly if they've trained in an academic environment, as to whether they want to stay in the academic environment, or go out and practice in wherever they could, at home, or in the vicinity, or whatever. I decided that the thought of coming back to Long Branch, New Jersey appealed to me because there was no great number of surgeons and doctors, but it was a very tight little society that was hard to break into. But that's where I thought I'd like to go, and, ultimately, we left New York and then came to Long Branch where I started ... in practice, and it was a surgical practice. I limited my work to surgical work.
SH: Did you then also begin to teach?
CZ: Well, at that time, our teaching program at the hospital was limited. We didn't have too much going on as far as teaching was concerned, and the interns and the residents that we had were, they were just there satisfying their necessary requirements to ultimately get a license, so they were taught, but, more or less, on a one-to-one basis, and not really a fully organized academic program. It was during the course of the next, oh, I'd say four or five years that one of our directors of surgery became friendly with Dr. Isadore Ravdin, director of surgery at Penn. Ultimately, we had residents from the University of Pennsylvania come to Monmouth Medical Center which was the hospital that I practiced in, and they trained there. We set up an academic program for them, and, gradually, our training program improved to the point where we became affiliated with Hahnemann Medical Center, and our staff members ... received staff appointments from the Hahnemann Medical Center. It improved over the next thirty, forty years to ... a very approved academic center. We graduate three chief residents a year who, after spending five years with us, are eligible to take their boards in surgery, and we're very proud of that program.
SH: Just in reflection as someone who grew up in the Depression and was greatly impacted by World War II, do you see it as a positive impact or is there more negative ...
CZ: Well, I'm trying to think about the ramifications of that question. For my sake, again, I was very lucky and timing is everything. If you remember, I told you we scraped up $250.00 to get into medical school, and the fact that the Army took over after one year in school and paid the rest of our tuition and everything else. I said that was really a very beneficent situation as far as I was concerned. It relieved my parents tremendously. So that was just a fortunate unfortunate thing that happened, as far as my career and training were concerned, and who knows what it would have been otherwise, I don't know.
SH: Were you eligible for the GI Bill?
CZ: No. No, we were not.
SH: Is there any question I forgot to ask, or anything you'd like to leave on the record before we end?
CZ: Well, I'd like to say that I am ... president of my class to date. As a matter-of-fact, and I am very proud of my class. We graduated, and I think just about every physician that we graduated at the University of Pennsylvania was a productive individual and was highly ranked somewhere along the line, and at the time that we were in school we regarded the University of Pennsylvania as one of the best and over the years it has only gotten better, to the extent that right now the University of Pennsylvania, which, incidentally, the tuition for the University of Pennsylvania at the present time, I mentioned was $500.00 then, is now $65,000.00 a year, that's a little bit of a difference. But today the NIH, the National Institute of Health, and Washington programs, the University of Pennsylvania is the second highest recipient of research funds from the NIH, which speaks very highly of the school, and it's always been a school that was research oriented, right from the first year to the fourth year, they [were] always talking about research and teaching, and even to this extent that today they're probably, I'd say, one of the three, four top schools in the country.
SH: You stayed involved with both institutions where you went to school.
CZ: Yes, both institutions. I have established charitable gift annuities to both institutions, and this year, I don't know whether I mentioned to you, was on the record or not, but we're going to have a reunion that I'm working on, which all those papers down there are due to, and we're going have a big blow-out reunion of the sixty-five people who have survived over the years. We started school with a 125 or 130, and we now have sixty-five people alive, but we're going plan on having, really, a wonderful time in Philadelphia this coming year.
SH: With Rutgers I do hope that you keep in touch with us and thank you so much.
CZ: Well, right now I just, I'm a lifetime member of the Scarlet R, and I just recently attended the Hall of Fame football dinner, and yesterday, I went to see the ballgame, so I keep pretty close to the school, although my association with the school gets more distant as the years go by, namely, because the years go by.
SH: Well, I thank you very much.
CZ: Now wait a minute, we're not finished yet are we?
SH: Oh, okay. I will leave that to you, I'd love to hear more.
CZ: Let me think a second. I really don't want to give you a detailed history of my professional career, which on the tape we're just entering but maybe I could just give you some highlights of the career. ... By virtue of our affiliation with Hahnemann University School of Medicine, I ultimately became a professor of surgery at the university, and ... we taught university medical students at our hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, and, I think, we did a good job. I was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and I was president of the New Jersey chapter in 1974. I was also a member of the national committee on operating room environment of the American College of Surgeons, and I was a Governor-at-Large from the State of New Jersey to the College from 1984 to 1987. I also, subsequently, was president of the Society of Surgeons of New Jersey and was a member of that organization for many years. I was chairman of the executive committee of the New Jersey Division of the American Cancer Society, from 1974 to 1976, and, in 1977, I was denoted as the New Jersey Physician of the Year, in the State of New Jersey, by the New Jersey Division of the American Cancer Society. I receivedemeritus status ... as a professor of clinical surgery at the Hahnemann University School of Medicine in 1992, and, subsequently, I was listed in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in Medicine and Health Care. I am a lifetime member of the American Legion. There were a lot of civic organizations that I belonged to and which I'm sort of proud of, but, well, I was a Rotarian in the City of Long Branch, a trustee of the Shore Area YMCA. I received an award from the Chamber of Commerce for the so-called Libutti Award. [Editor's Note: The Louis G. Libutti Community Service Award has been given annually since 1969 by the Greater Long Branch Chamber of Commerce for exemplary leadership and community service. Dr. Zukaukus received the award in 1971.] I received awards for teaching students and nurses at Monmouth Medical Center, and I was a director of the Long Branch Public Health Association for a time, and for the Nursing Association of the Long Branch Public Health [Association], and I was an adviser to the Explorer Club, which is the Boy Scouts of America group interested in medicine. Since my retirement from medicine, I have been a trustee of the Board of Trustees of Monmouth Medical Center and a trustee of the Monmouth Health Care Foundation. I've published a few papers but I have lectured fairly widely in this area and also at the Hahnemann University. ...
One other organization that I'm sort of happy to be a member of, is the Knights of Lithuania, and this is sort of unusual because, over the years, I completely lost my vocabulary in Lithuanian, yet I can speak and understand it well. But since I've been retired and I've had a little more time, I joined the Knights of Lithuania, which gives me a great opportunity to resume speaking some Lithuanian and reestablishing what little vocabulary I had to start off with.
SH: Now where do you meet as a group?
CZ: In Florida.
SH: In Florida. Now are any of them from your old neighborhood?
SH: Just from all over the country.
CZ: All over the country, yes.
SH: That's amazing. What are you most proud of?
CZ: You never said anything about the kids, all right. I don't know what I'm most proud of.
SH: Please tell me about your family.
CZ: ... Yes, Lee and I have been married for sixty-one years and I love her more and more as the years go by. We have two daughters, of whom we are very proud because they are two absolutely wonderful girls, and certainly we have maintained a very, very close family relationship over the years, even to this date. We have five grandchildren, two with one of the daughters and three with the other, and we're very happy with these youngsters. However, there are four boys and one girl. One of the boys is an outstanding athlete, and he was captain of three teams at Brunswick Academy in Connecticut, where he was captain of the lacrosse team, the soccer team, and the squash team. He is nationally ranked in squash and played for ... the finals and the championship of the country in his category, which was high school and prep school, and he now goes to Trinity College where he's a member of the undefeated Trinity College Squash Team. In Squash Trinity is the national college champion and they are undefeated in 185 consecutive matches. Then I have two young athletes, who are now playing Pop Warner Football, and baseball and hockey. ... And my little girl, grandchild, is now on the crew team for Greenwich Academy, and she plays squash, period.
SH: As we end this, I'd like to say thank you very much Dr. Zukaukas, it's been a wonderful experience and thank you so much for sharing with us.
CZ: You're very welcome and thank you.
-----------------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW-----------------------------------------
Reviewed by Ben-Zion Jaffe 9/30/07
Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 10/30/07
Reviewed by Charles Zukaukas 3/2/08 & 5/7/08