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Andrews, Jr., Wilson J., Part 1

Greg Flynn:  This begins an interview with Wilson J. Andrews on November 7, 2008, in Bridgewater, New Jersey, with Greg Flynn and ...

Sandra Stewart Holyoak:  ... Sandra Stewart Holyoak.

GF:  Thank you very much for your time and for having us here.

Wilson J. Andrews:  Okay.

GF:  We would like to start by asking you about your family background, if you would tell us about your father's family history, as far back as you can go.

WA:  My father was of English-Irish-Scottish ancestry.  He was born in Los Angeles in 1905, to a woman who was from Cincinnati, and I have no idea why she was in Los Angeles, nine months pregnant, in 1905, but they moved quickly back to Cincinnati, where ... he grew up, and she, apparently, was divorced from my father's father, which is where the name Andrews came from, and she remarried.  ... My father was a commuter to the University of Cincinnati and, after graduating in 1927, he went to work for General Motors and worked there for his entire career, in various geographical locations, and that's how I wound up in New Jersey.  He died in Michigan in 2000, at the age of ninety-four. 

GF:  He worked in management at General Motors.

WA:  Yes.

GF:  What specifically was his job?

WA:  Oh, material and production control.  He worked for Fisher Body first, and then, he worked for the Buick-Olds [Oldsmobile] Pontiac Assembly Division, which was located here in Linden, and then, he wound up, while I was still an undergraduate at Rutgers, being transferred to Detroit, in the home office. 

GF:  Was he a tinkerer?  Did that sort of thing interest you from a young age?

WA:  A tinkerer?  He was a tinkerer, but not in anything that interested me.  [laughter]

GF:  Okay.

WA:  My younger brother was interested in the same sort of thing [as my father], and my younger brother probably explained what a carburetor was to me seven times and I never remembered.  [laughter] Now, you don't need to know that anymore.  My father's hobby was woodworking, mostly, and he trapped me into helping him when he had major projects, and I hated it.  On the other hand, he hated the music I played.  [laughter] ... 

GF:  For the record, what is your brother's name and is he older or younger?

WA:  My brother's name was Thomas Andrews and he was four years younger than I.  He was a juvenile diabetic.  He graduated from Michigan State and he, eventually, wound up being a computer programmer for EDS [Electronic Data Systems].  He worked for General Motors, and then, when they acquired EDS, he was funneled into EDS.  He started having medical problems as a result of his diabetes and he died at, like, age fifty-four, as a result of a stroke.  That was in 1990. 

[TAPE PAUSED]

GF:  What do you know about your mother's family background? 

WA:  I know that they were old German-Americans, living in Cincinnati.  My great-grandparents emigrated from Germany and settled in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas.  My mother was an illegitimate child.  She was adopted and raised by her maternal grandparents, and she would be very distressed if she knew I told you that.  She also died at age ninety-four and carried that secret to her grave.  She felt disgraced about the whole thing the whole time.  She was raised with these older sisters, who were really her mother and her aunts, and she didn't find that out until she was about fourteen.  She left school ... in the eighth grade, because they needed the money, and she never went back to any formal schooling after that, although she did receive practical nurse training during World War II.

SH:  It was a program that was set up to train nurses during that time.

WA:  It was out at Camp Kilmer.  Actually, it was not World War II; it was after World War II.  It was in the late '40s and the early '50s.

SH:  Really?

WA:  Yes, yes.  They had a program out there.

SH:  That is very interesting.  We are also documenting that kind of history.

WA:  Yes, yes.  Well, I thought that was going to be your main thrust.  [laughter]

SH:  It is.  It will be.  We are getting to that. 

WA:  Okay.

GF:  When did your father and mother meet?

WA:  They got married in June 1930.  I don't know how long they knew each other.  I think my mother was a secretary in my father's office, not his secretary, and I think that's how they met.  ... How long before they got married, I don't really know, late '20s. 

GF:  Were you born in Michigan?

WA:  No, I was born in Cincinnati. 

GF:  Okay.

WA:  The family was still in Cincinnati.  My brother was born in Cincinnati and the four of us moved to a suburb of San Francisco in 1938.  I was six and my brother was two, because my father had been transferred to a plant in San Leandro, California.  We lived there for about a year-and-a-half, and then, he, we, were transferred to Flint, Michigan, in 1939.

GF:  Do you remember anything about the Great Depression, or do you recall people talking about it?  You were in California at the time?

WA:  Well, I don't think I had any concept of what a depression was.  ... I know I sometimes complained about the food on the table, and was told that was all they could afford.  [laughter] I developed a great dislike for hominy, and stuff like that there, but it was only after the fact, you know, that I really understood what the Depression was all about. 

GF:  Was that because people would talk to you about it?

WA:  Oh, you know, that's hard to answer.  I don't think, as a kid, I had conversations with other people about the Depression.  I think it was just something that, in the course of going to high school, I learned about, and then, I could look back and say, "Oh, that's what that was all about," you know.  ... I do know that I guess ... I was aware of the fact that we were one of the lucky ones, because my father had his job throughout.

SH:  Basically, your father's family and your mother's family, the extended family, was in the Ohio area.

WA:  They're all in the Cincinnati area, yes.

SH:  When your father was assigned to these different places, did you often travel back to Cincinnati?

WA:  Well, when we went to California, we were there for about a year-and-a-half and we made one round-trip, on vacation, back to Cincinnati, mother, father, two little kids, great-grandmother, in a 1936 Chevy with no trunk, stopping off at cabins along the way, made it in about four days.

SH:  You really have a good memory of the trip.

WA:  Oh, I have an excellent memory of it.  I can remember stopping on the last night before we got back home, or before we got there, rather, in Sacramento, and sharing a bedroom with my great-grandmother, who left the screen open, and I was all bug bitten like crazy the next morning.  I'm sure those are very important things for your [recording].

SH:  They are.

 WA:  But, at least it's evidence I have a pretty good memory.  [laughter]

SH:  I think it is also important to talk about how people traveled.

WA:  Yes.

SH:  As family units or not.

WA:  Well, of course, the whole concept of motels, in those days, didn't exist, but there were a lot, as further West you got, the more there were what everybody called "cabins."  Whether they were cabins or not, that's what they were called.  I can still remember, when we came back, we took the southern route, which was then Route 66, and we stopped in New Mexico, at a place that called itself the Wigwam.  ... It was a big teepee, as the office, and each unit was a little teepee.

SH:  You had to stop there.

WA:  And, in 1994, I drove past it and it's still there, yes.  [laughter] How about that?

SH:  I would have had to have stopped again.  Talk to us a little bit about your relatives that you know that were involved in World War II.

WA:  Well, I had at least three uncles, ... two of them on my father's side, one on my mother's side.  My one uncle on my father's side was a navigator in a "Billy Mitchell" B-25 and was in the Asian-Pacific area.  He was actually involved in the escape, the flight, from Burma of the Air Force personnel, because the Japanese were coming in.  [Editor's Note: Through much of 1944, the Japanese military waged a campaign in Eastern China known as Operation Ichi-Go, which forced the US Army Air Forces out of its bases there.]  ... At one point, when we were living in Flint, Michigan, during the war, we went to the movies a lot, and, of course, in those days, the movies always had a newsreel, and, of course, the war was the major thing.  ... We're sitting there and they're talking about [the] Air Force leaving Burma and, damn, there's a picture of my uncle carrying a briefcase, wearing his cap and his sunglasses.

SH:  Really?

WA:  Which was really very exciting.  His brother was in [the] paratroopers, and I believe he was in the European Theater.  I'm pretty sure.  Somewhere in this house, I have his paratrooper's wings, because he gave them to me when I was a kid, and he's still with us.  The both of them are still with us, at age eighty-five.  The other uncle, well, two other uncles, on my mother's side, one of them was wounded at Iwo [Jima], and he just died three months ago, at about age eighty-seven.  ... The other one, I don't really know what theater he was in, but he was an enlisted man in the service, as were the two who weren't in the Air Force, and he's been dead now for a good ten years.

SH:  Was this something that they would talk to you about as a young boy?

WA:  Well, when I saw them, which was infrequently, mostly based on me asking them questions, but I think my knowledge of what was going on at the time was not principally through them, because they weren't around.  I mean, it was principally through my relatives and what I heard at school and the kids talk, because, you know, I didn't have a brother or a father in the service and some of my classmates did.  You would hear about that, but I think I can remember, gee, [when I was] probably not more than twelve years old, reading lengthy newspaper articles, because, hey, ... you've been doing this long enough to know, that was the topic of life.  ... If anybody said to me, "What was the predominant thing of your childhood?" it was World War II, just no question about it at all. 

SH:  Do you remember talking to other people in the community about it?  You talked about having classmates who had brothers or fathers and uncles in the military.

WA:  Yes, I mean, nothing major stands out, but you talked to everybody about it.  We would be involved from the school or from the [Boy] Scouts, in paper drives, in scrap metal drives, and we all knew why.  It was a big thing to buy war stamps, so [that] you could get war bonds.  I remember, one time, finding a five-dollar bill on the sidewalk, and I was a stamp collector and I was so excited.  ... I told my mother, "I'm going to go down to the stamp store and buy some stamps," and [she said], "Are you sure you don't want to buy some war stamps with that?" and I thought, "Well, okay, I'll do that."

SH:  You went and bought war bonds.

WA:  Yes, war stamps, yes. 

SH:  That is amazing.  That is one of the questions that we always ask.

WA:  Yes.

SH:  What do you remember of the war effort as far as you and your family's participation?

WA:  Well, I certainly remember those drives that I just mentioned.  I certainly remember the rationing, you know, and the little red tokens and the little blue tokens, some of which I know I have downstairs.

SH:  Do you?

WA:  Yes, and I know that because my father was working at a plant outside of Flint, where they were building tanks, he had an "A" sticker for gasoline, which was a big deal.  Wait a minute, have I got that right, or was it a "C" sticker?  Whichever the unlimited was; now that I think about it, I think it was the "C" sticker that was unlimited.  There was an "A," a "B" and a "C."  [Editor's Note: The A ration classification level was the lowest priority, C was the second highest priority and an X classification entitled the holder to unlimited gasoline.]

SH:  Did he ever talk about how they retooled the plant to produce tanks, as opposed to automobiles?

WA:  No.  If he did, I wasn't aware, or didn't pay attention to it.  [laughter] ... When we were still living [in Ohio], and I was only five or six, ... I remember him going, on one Saturday morning, down to his office in Norwood, Ohio, and he took me into the plant.  ... The minute I got in that plant, I wanted no part of this whatsoever, and all throughout my growing up and through college, the thing I knew I didn't want to do is go to work for heavy industry.

SH:  Really?

WA:  In fact, as a senior at Rutgers, I interviewed with Chevrolet and Cadillac.  They both made me offers and I said, "No."  [laughter] 

SH:  Was it the size of the building?

WA:  Well, it was just the cacophony and the fact that it wasn't clean and, to my young mind, it didn't look like it was very well-organized.  Now, why, at five years old, that would be an issue, speak to my mother; it must have been the toilet training.  [laughter]

GF:  Do you remember specific moments during the war?  Do you remember Pearl Harbor?

WA:  Well, I remember Pearl Harbor in a kind of a non-remembrance way.  I can remember I was a Cub Scout, my mother was a Den Mother, and ... they were friendly with the guy who was the Cub Packmaster, and he and his wife and his son, who was a Cub, needless to say, came over on this Sunday afternoon to visit.  ... I became aware of the fact that the four adults were huddled around the radio, and, "What's going on?" said I.  "The Japanese have bombed some place in Hawaii."  "Where's Hawaii?" much less, "Where's Pearl Harbor?" which was what most people said.  ... You know, I got the message that this was something really important, but it didn't register on me that they were attacking the United States.  Of course, they weren't, at that time, [laughter] but I remember that quite vividly.  [Editor's Note: Hawaii was a territory prior to becoming a state in 1959.]  ... I remember reading all about the Bataan Death March, [in] great detail, I mean, reading about it, hearing about it on the radio and seeing it in the newsreels, and a lot of other [events]: Iwo [Jima], just Guadalcanal, Corregidor, and then, going to see the Hollywood movies about this stuff, which, as [a youth], I ate it up.  ... Then, looking at these movies ten, twenty years later, as an adult, I said, "God, such unbridled propaganda."  "The Japs and the Germans are terrible people."  Well, hell, I'm half German, and it didn't take me long to figure out that, once the war was over, the Japs were great and the Germans were our friends and, now, all of a sudden, the Chinese and the Russians, who were our allies, are our enemies; doesn't make any sense; made a big impression on me.  [laughter]

SH:  You were going to college during all of this as well.

WA:  Yes.  [laughter]

SH:  Did you have a victory garden?

WA:  Oh, yes.  I didn't enjoy it.  [laughter]

SH:  We have heard that before.

WA:  But, I was drafted into [it], you know, by my parents.  Oh, yes, we had one. 

SH:  Did any of the war play out in your play? 

WA:  Well, I guess, instead of cowboys and Indians, we could have been Americans and Japs.  I don't remember specific instances, but I'm sure that kind of thing happened, but I don't think it had deep significance.

SH:  You talked about being in the Boy Scouts.  Did you remain in the Scouts?

WA:  Well, ... after Cub Scouts, I went into Boy Scouts and, when I turned fourteen, I entered the DeMolay, if you're at all familiar with what that is.  [Editor's Note: DeMolay International, or the Order of DeMolay, is a Masonic youth fraternity for boys and young men aged fourteen to twenty-one, at that time.]  My parents were both in the Masonic organizations and, once I got in the DeMolay, at age fourteen, I just sort of dropped the Scouts, and there was another reason, too, because, in order to be a First Class Scout, you had to swim.  I didn't learn to swim until I was a freshman at Rutgers.  [laughter]

SH:  Really?

WA:  Really.

SH:  Why was that?  You just did not like water. 

WA:  Didn't like water, but neither did my folks.  I mean, ... we spent very, very little time at lakes or things like that, and then, only visiting relatives or friends.

SH:  Did it have anything to do with the polio scare at that time?

WA:  You know, my mother, many years later, said that they didn't want my brother and me going because of that, but I was never conscious of it when it was happening. 

GF:  Can you talk a bit about Flint?  What was Flint like when you were growing up?

WA:  A very prosperous city that consisted of almost nothing but General Motors and Ford and Chrysler.  It was, I think, the third-largest town in Michigan.  It's sixty miles north of Detroit, a little bit smaller than Grand Rapids.  I got there when I went into the second grade and I was there to the end of my sophomore year in high school.  It's sort of where I developed.  I tell people I grew up in Flint.  It's where I became a person.  To be perfectly honest with you, I wasn't terribly happy with who that person was.  I think I was a real nerd [laughter] and I don't think I was terribly acceptable socially, but, when my father said, "We're moving," I was very, very distressed, because it was right before my last two years of high school.  ... I distinctly remember pulling out the map to find out where Westfield, New Jersey, was, Scotch Plains, really, and, all of a sudden, I see, "Watchung Mountains."  "We're going to see mountains again?" and I really thought we were going to see mountains again, like we did in California, but I don't have to end that story for you.  [laughter]  [Editor's Note: The Watchung Mountains have an elevation of 879 feet above sea level at their highest point.]  ... The truth of the matter is, my last two years at Scotch Plains High School were probably the best thing that could [have] happened to me.  I mean, I was kind of aware of why I was not terribly socially acceptable and I kind of did an about-face and became the charming person I am today.  [laughter] 

GF:  You talked about stamp collecting and, also, the Boy Scouts.  Did you have any other hobbies or play sports?

WA:  Well, I was never into sports.  I was chubby when I was young and that probably had a lot to do with it.  I'm chubby again.  There was a period, a long period of years, when I wasn't that chubby, [laughter] but it's in my genes.  I occasionally would go out with kids and try to bat baseballs around.  I, for about a year, took piano lessons on a pump organ.  I took tap dancing lessons for maybe six months.  I made model airplanes, carving [them] out of balsa wood and things like that.  I was very interested in aircraft, and even to the extent that when I finally got to Rutgers and they tried to slug me into an Army ROTC course, I said, "No, I'm going to the Air Force."  "Well, it doesn't make any difference."  "I want to go in the Air Force."  It did make a difference, but they were wrong.  [laughter] Oh, I was an avid stamp collector.  I was very much into that.  I think the great benefit of being a stamp collector, as a kid, is, man, do you learn geography, because I knew about places that none of the kids knew anything about, which is why I was a nerd.  ... I read comic books, like all the other kids, and I collected them and was pretty tuned into some of the radio serials.  I don't know ... how much of that is where you're heading or what you want me to head [towards].  ...

GF:  You did touch on the fact that you were making model airplanes out of balsa wood.

WA:  Yes.  You would buy them as kits.

GF:  Would that have been specifically because of World War II or was it a more general interest?

WA:  Oh, boy, I don't know the answer to that.  It may have been because I had this uncle in the Air Force, but I don't really remember that for a certainty.  But, I knew my airplanes.  Now, you know, in those days, in fact, I think I still have them, they had aircraft spotter's handbooks and flashcards, with the silhouettes of the three views, the head on, profile, of all the aircraft of all the warring countries.  You know, I could have spotted a Japanese Zero right outside.  I would have known what it was.

SH:  You were prepared.

WA:  And I think that's part of what got me interested, then, in the models.  I also had a pilot's kit, where you could set ... this up in front of you and you had gauges and you had a control stick and everything, and a test to see whether you could be a pilot, which I specifically remember included a color blindness test.

SH:  Did it really?

WA:  It really did, yes. 

SH:  Because that was what sunk so many pilots.

WA:  Yes, yes.

SH:  That is amazing.

WA:  The first time I ever saw one of those ... for real, you know, I knew exactly what it was.

SH:  I am sure that must have all come out of World War II.

WA:  I'm sure it probably did, yes. 

SH:  Were you involved in the church in Flint at all?

WA:  Yes and no.  My mother came from a Methodist family, my father came from a non-functional Catholic family, and so, ... when we moved to Flint, we went to the Methodist church.  ... I would go to Sunday school and my parents would go to church, and I didn't think it was anything that thrilled me, and then, one day, maybe six months after we got there, or maybe a year, I'm not sure, my mother told me that we were changing to the Presbyterian church.  I said, "Why is that?"  "Because we don't really like the minister of the Methodist church," and, somehow or another, I got stuck in my mind, "If you can change religion because you don't like the preacher, it must not amount to much."  [laughter] So, about a year later, I convinced my parents that I could color pictures of Jesus at home on Sunday morning just as easily, and so, fundamentally, that was pretty much [it].  I mean, I go to church for special occasions, I'm not an atheist, but I certainly don't put a great deal of stock in the religious sense of what the Bible says or what the Koran says or what the Book of Mormon says.  ... My mother always said that she failed my brother and myself because she didn't provide for a religious upbringing, and we both thanked her for that.  [laughter]

GF:  What were some of the differences between Michigan and New Jersey, aside from the humongous mountains we have here?

WA:  I assume you mean socially and in my education and that sort of thing.

GF:  Yes.

WA:  Well, I had a much smaller class.  I had a much smaller group of people that I was interacting with.

SH:  Where?

WA:  In New Jersey.  It was, like, 103 people in my class in Scotch Plains.  In those days, it was Scotch Plains and Fanwood people, but it was still just called Scotch Plains High School.  There were, like, seven hundred in my class back in Michigan.  I tried out for and got the starring role in the junior class play, in the fall of my first year there, and so, I became very well-known.

SH:  What did you sing?  What was the show?

WA:  The show?  Did you say, "What did you sing?" 

SH:  I did.

WA:  In those days, high schools did not do musicals, my dear.  [laughter] When I first started finding out that high schools were doing musicals, I was astounded.  The play was called Stardust and it was written by Walter Kerr.  Is that name one you're familiar with?  It was never produced on Broadway.  It folded out of town.  It was about an eccentric Russian drama teacher who has a school in Connecticut and he gets a well-known actress from Broadway to come and appear in one of his productions, and it's a comedy.  We all did nothing but comedies in those days.  My senior year, I was Henry Aldrich, [a character in Clifford Goldsmith's play Whata Life, made popular in a series of radio shows], and I guess I got to be known quite well in a lot of positive ways.  ... It was funny, because, as a result of my interest in classical music, I gravitated immediately to these two guys who, it turned out, were the nerds of the class and, as soon as I learned that, I kind of expanded my horizons.  I'm still very friendly with both those guys, but I expanded my horizons to include a lot of other people, including the jocks, and I was much more socially acceptable.  I don't know if that's where you wanted me to go.  ...

GF:  Do you think that is at all a geographical phenomenon?

WA:  ... Do I think it's a geographical phenomenon?  Well, there are certainly differences, no question about the fact there are differences.  I don't know how those differences really affected me.  I can only say that I've said many, many times, well, because my parents went back to Michigan when I was still in college and I used to visit them until they died, when I'd get out there, I'd say, "What do people do here?"  You know, they just don't seem to have any intellectual pursuits, which is not true, in an absolute sense, but it just seems to be much more narrow in its scope.  In Detroit, the Michigan Opera has a very fine opera season.  It does four operas a year.  The Met [the Metropolitan Opera] does twenty-six.  [laughter]

SH:  You talked about your interest in classical music, even before you came to New Jersey.

WA:  Yes.

SH:  How had that started?

WA:  I wish I knew.  I know that ... I befriended a couple of kids in Michigan, who were a year or two older than I, who were into it and who would play me, introduce me to, classical stuff.  This one guy in particular, I remember some of this stuff, I don't know, do you know [Arnold] Schoenberg? 

SH:  Not well.

WA:  Well, I mean, Schoenberg is grating on the ear.  If you're not really into Schoenberg, you don't want to hear it.  He said, "You've got to hear this," and he put on this Schoenberg, and I said, "Oh, my god, what is that?"  But I respected the fact that he really liked it.  I, on the other hand, was addicted to Spike Jones and I think I learned a lot of classical music from Spike Jones.  He did a lot of parodies, and I'm still addicted to satire.  In fact, I still have, as MP3 files, practically everything ... Spike Jones ever recorded.

SH:  I think that was how a lot of kids started.

WA:  Yes, yes.  My daughter, who is thirty-five and a performing arts teacher and lives in Somerville, she, somehow or another, went to some kind of a dance recital and she came back home and she said, "I heard this one number and I couldn't believe it.  It was, Hello Mother, Hello Father."  [laughter] See, you didn't know that was from an opera, I bet, did you?  [laughter]  

GF:  Did you have a summer job during high school?

WA:  In high school, no. 

SH:  What did you do during the summer?

WA:  Goofed.  [laughter] I know I had a paper route for awhile, but that was not a summer job, specifically.  I don't know the answer to the question.  ...

SH:  Did you go into New York often, after you came to New Jersey?  Was that someplace that you ventured in to visit?

WA:  When I was still in high school, not really.  My parents were not exactly addicted to going to New York, you know.  I didn't really start going to New York until I was at Rutgers.

SH:  Did your parents adapt well to New Jersey and the culture here?

WA:  They certainly made very good friends in the neighborhood.  I would say, yes, but, for all I know, when they went back to Michigan, they might have been thrilled.  I really don't know.  My brother wasn't, because he was yanked out right before his senior year in high school. 

SH:  I was just going to say, that is the tough part of this.

WA:  Yes.

GF:  Why the move to New Jersey, aside from the fact that it was probably related to General Motors?

WA:  ... The question's not clear to me.  Why did we move to New Jersey?

GF:  Yes, just in general.  Obviously, it was related to General Motors.

SH:  My question would be, it was the end of the war, in that era.

WA:  Yes.

SH:  Did that have anything to do with the move that sent you to New Jersey? 

WA:  I have absolutely no idea.  My father was transferred.  Why he was transferred, I don't know.

SH:  Because everything was being retooled then.

WA:  Yes; well, I mean, but this was three years later.  This was 1948.

SH:  Sometimes, it takes time.

WA:  You're absolutely right.  My assumption was that it was a promotion.  In fact, he was out here a good six months before we moved out.  He was coming home one weekend a month, and the reason for that was so that my brother and I could finish the school year before we moved. 

SH:  Before we go on and start talking about your college career, what do you remember about the end of the war?

WA:  Well ... 

SH:  Do you remember Roosevelt's death?

WA:  Oh, vividly. 

SH:  What was the reaction?

WA:  Well, we were kind of Republicans, [laughter] and I can remember my mother making a statement, something to the effect of, when Truman was elected Vice-President, my mother said, "Oh, my god, if something happens to Roosevelt, we're going to get a Missouri mule for our President;" some things never change, right.  [laughter]

SH:  I guess they were Republicans. 

WA:  Yes, they were Republicans, and they were very definitely anti-labor union.  Anyway, we used to go to the movies one night a week, and we'd parked the car where we always did.  We crossed the street, we went into the movies and ten minutes passed, fifteen minutes passed, movie didn't start.  The house was dark.  So, finally, my father got up and went back and says, "What's the problem?"  "Well, didn't you know?  Roosevelt died today, and we're not sure whether we should show the movie."  What was I, thirteen, twelve?  I wasn't even thirteen yet, but I remember that vividly.

SH:  Did they show the movie?

WA:  Yes, eventually, they did, yes, they did, and, of course, the next day, then, everybody was talking about it.  All the radios were playing nothing but somber music.  I guess it was a pre-television version of Kennedy.  ... I did not vote for Kennedy, but, when he was assassinated, I was just crushed, at the whole idea that it could happen; no reaction like that whatsoever with Roosevelt's death.  I mean, he was an old man and I didn't have any strong feelings about him.  It wasn't until many years later that I could feel like I could credit both him and Truman for what they did, which was considerable.

SH:  What about the end of the war in Europe, in the Spring of 1945?

WA:  Yes.  ... When you asked that question originally, I was trying to remember; well, I don't remember that as vividly as V-J, well, no, V-J Day is in September, but the ending of the war in Japan, I remember all of that vividly.  [Editor's Note: Japan surrendered on August 14, 1945.  On August 15th, news of the surrender broke in the Allied countries, which led to massive celebrations and was known as V-J Day.  The formal surrender ceremony took place in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, which was also known as V-J Day at the time.]

SH:  Can you tell us about it?

WA:  Well, I mean, of course, the first thing I know is, the first atomic bomb, and then, a second atomic [bomb]. 

SH:  You remember hearing about that.

WA:  Oh, and reading it in the paper and seeing the newsreels.  ...

SH:  Did anybody try to explain what an atomic bomb was?

WA:  If they did, I don't remember.

SH:  Was this something that was discussed in school?

WA:  Sure.  It was obvious to us that this was not an ordinary bomb, because we could tell how much more powerful this single bomb was.  Now, what the hell was fusion?  [Editor's Note: The atomic weapons used against Japan worked on the basis of nuclear fission; later weapons took advantage of nuclear fusion.]  I don't know if any of us knew, had any idea, or even knew the word, you know, but it was obviously something just all [the] more powerful than anything that had ever been developed.  ... [However], right at that point in time, I don't think any of us, at my age, understood the implications for the future, you know, that it was something to be afraid of.  That didn't happen until later, but, in Flint, Michigan, there was a minor league baseball team.  Guess its name: the Flint Arrows, and, in August 1945, as a very rare occurrence, my father decided that the four of us should go to that game.  So, we drove downtown and we couldn't even get the car anywhere near downtown, and we just parked and we walked in and it was like Times Square and what you see in the movies.  It was like that in the main street of Flint, Michigan. 

SH:  Really?

WA:  And I ran into high school friends of mine and, you know, we were cheering and all that good stuff.

SH:  There was a real sense that it was over.

WA:  Oh, God, yes. 

SH:  Because I wondered, as the war wore on, had you or your parents ever talked about the fact that you might be called?

WA:  If they did, I don't ever think I had any knowledge of it.  My father was over thirty-five ... and he had two kids, so he was not [going to be called up].

SH:  He was also working in a plant.

WA:  Well, true, yes.  There were all sorts of reasons why he wasn't going, but, I don't know, ... the war would have had to go on for a long time, because I was thirteen ... when it ended, and then, of course, I remember seeing the pictures, the newsreels, of the V-J Day surrender on the USS Missouri [(BB-63)].

SH:  When do you first remember hearing about the Holocaust?  Was that in the newsreels?

WA:  Yes, I think I remember reading that in newspapers, with the pictures, and very lengthy articles as to what it was all about, and I don't really know that I totally comprehended what that was all about.

SH:  How graphic were the pictures that a young boy would see?

WA:  Well, they were graphic pictures of, you still see some of them today, of the skin and bones people hanging onto the fence and looking out, that kind of stuff.

SH:  Because I wondered if that was something that was not portrayed, the actual human suffering, or was it more just a headline.

WA:  Well, no, I think the human suffering was very definitely portrayed.  I didn't have much of an appreciation for the concept of genocide.  I just knew these were people that he [Hitler] wanted done in.  You know, it wasn't until quite a few years later that I [learned more]; well, at the time, I had no Jewish friends.  

SH:  That would have been in Flint. 

WA:  Yes, when I was in Flint, ... up to the end of World War II. 

SH:  Before we talk about the diversity that you found in New Jersey, was the Flint school system that you attended integrated?

WA:  If you're talking black and white, yes; if you're talking Chaldeans, yes.  [Editor's Note: Chaldean Americans trace their heritage back to the northern area of the Tigris-Euphrates region, in modern Iraq.]  I don't know why these Middle Easterners called themselves Chaldeans, but that's what they called themselves.  I think they were Assyrian, but the area around there was one of the largest concentrations of ...

SH:  It still is.

WA:  It still is, and I had a lot of friends; some of them weren't necessarily my friends.  You want to know why I wasn't acceptable?  I remember sitting in an English class with a guy whose name was Shaheen Shaheen Shaheen.  He was not a very friendly guy to begin with, and the teacher asked for an example of alliteration, and I said, "Shaheen Shaheen Shaheen."  A lot of them thought it was funny, but Shaheen didn't think it was funny at all.  [laughter] So, diversity in blacks, diversity of people of that ... heritage, certainly, there were a relatively small percentage of Jewish students, and I had no previous experience interacting with any of them.

SH:  Was the Chaldean group made up of recent immigrants, because of the war?

WA:  No, they weren't.  ... They dated back, because the people that I was familiar with were born in the United States.  I mean, it was their parents who had immigrated.  Why, I'm not sure. 

SH:  Perhaps World War I.

WA:  Yes.

SH:  When you got to Scotch Plains, was it equally diverse and integrated?  We are talking about the late 1940s.

WA:  Yes, we're talking '48 through '50.  I would say not much more than ten percent black and there was one Jewish guy in our class.  You know, outside of our class, I don't really know for sure.  So, it was really less diverse, but, then, there were fewer people.  I would say that our relationships between the whites and the blacks was excellent, and has continued to be throughout our class's history.

SH:  When you were in Scotch Plains High School, when did you begin to think of college, or had you always known you were going to go to college?

WA:  I think I had always known I was going to go to college.  I was valedictorian of my class and the guidance counselor told me I was selling myself down the river by choosing Rutgers, because I could go to any place I wanted to.  What she wasn't really aware of is that when I lived in Michigan, I did a lot of research on colleges and I knew I wanted to be a math major and Rutgers' math department had a damned good reputation.  What I didn't know was that, in the State of New Jersey, at that time, none of the kids wanted to stay in New Jersey.  They all wanted to leave New Jersey.  The Midwest had the exact opposite attitude, "You're not going to State?  You're not going to Ann Arbor?  You must be crazy."  So, I was totally out of sync, but, ... before I ever got here, I had my eyes on Rutgers.

SH:  Did you really?  That is great to hear. 

WA:  Yes.  What's not so smart is that it wasn't until my freshman orientation week that I realized it wasn't coed.  [laughter] Oh, well.

SH:  They never mentioned that.

WA:  They never did. 

GF:  Your father attended the University of Ohio. 

WA:  No, [University of] Cincinnati.

GF:  Okay.  Were you expected to go to college? 

WA:  ... Well, expected kind of implies like I might have gone against my own will.  ... I mean, there was never any doubt in my mind I was going to go to college.  I think there was never any doubt in my parents' mind that I was going to college, and had I resisted in any way, I'm sure they would have pushed, but they never had any need to. 

SH:  Did you receive a scholarship because you were valedictorian of your class?

WA:  I received what they called a State Scholarship, which meant I got a hundred dollars off my tuition every semester.

SH:  That is all.  [laughter]

WA:  That's it, that's it, and, at the time, with the wonderful support of higher education that New Jersey has historically given, [laughter] I could have gone to Penn State, as a Jersey resident, cheaper than going to Rutgers.

GF:  What was your first impression when you arrived as a freshman?

WA:  "Wow, this is great."  [laughter]

SH:  You had not gone down to see the campus before.

WA:  Oh, no, I'd been down for several weekends.  ...

SH:  When did you come down to campus? 

WA:  Oh, for several scholarship weekends. 

SH:  How did they treat you?  What was it like?

WA:  Well, the format was, like, you came down on a Friday and you stayed over Friday night, and I think maybe Saturday night, too, at a fraternity house, and you went to meetings and were told what you would be doing and getting an idea of what the curriculum would be, and so on, and so forth.

SH:  Did it include a football game or any kind of activities?

WA:  It might have included a basketball game.  It was not during football season.  ... I did two, or maybe even three, visits like this and none of them were in the fall.

SH:  Was it the same fraternity house that you stayed at?

WA:  Yes, but I was connected to it already.

SH:  How?

WA:  By one of the guys in the fraternity who was from my high school, and I didn't really know him, but he was dating one of my classmates, in addition to which the assistant director of admissions at the time, and I don't know how far back your memory goes, but Hank Evans was the guidance director at Scotch Plains before I got there.  So, he had been apprised of me and he made sure I got over to the Phi Gam house.

GF:  Was there any other reason you joined Phi Gamma Delta?

WA:  You know, I have to say, ... I remember the first time I was there for lunch and, when lunch was over, a quartet of members stood up and sang three songs, two Rutgers songs and a Phi Gam song, and it just blew my mind away.  ... Then, on another visit, I could overhear somebody in one of the rooms playing a Beethoven symphony.  I thought, "This is for me, man.  I speak their language."  Of course, you know, fifteen years later, I'd run into women down at Johnson & Johnson, where I worked, who couldn't believe I was Phi Gam, because, now, they were all jocks.  [laughter]

GF:  You were president.  For how long?

WA:  I was president of the fraternity my senior year.

GF:  What was that like?

SH:  Did you move up through the ranks?

WA:  Well, yes, I did, but that was not typical.  Typically, all of the officers are seniors.  You know, they start in the spring of their junior year and they go to the spring of their senior year.  The Class of 1953, ahead of me, was fairly sparse and they elected me, as a sophomore, to be the treasurer, which was the number two officer, there was no vice-president, and it's really kind of what influenced me to get out of math and go into accounting; the fact that I really enjoyed this.  ... I took accounting courses because of it, and [discovered], "Hey, man, this is for me," [laughter] but [it was a] fantastic experience, oh, my god.  I mean, being treasurer was, like, I don't even know how to translate it, in terms of today's dollars, but, at the time, you know, like a five-hundred-thousand-dollar a year business, and being president, by my standards, and the standards of the people who were with me in those years, was, you pretty much have to figure out what's right for the group as a whole and enforce that amongst the people when they stray.  ... Of course, at the time, you could have beer or wine in your parties, but you couldn't have any hard liquor at all.  ... You'd have chaperones and the chaperones' responsibilities were to enforce this, and we knew damn well that the other fraternities, some of the other fraternities, were ignoring this completely, and I remember going to the dean, after a house party weekend, ... Dean Howard Crosby, and I said, "Are you guys serious about this or not, because, you know, it's well-known that a whole bunch of these fraternities are doing it?" and, within three or four weeks, man, there was a crackdown, and I was the bad guy.  [laughter]

SH:  Describe the fraternity and how it was setup, as you remember it?  Where was it located?

WA:  Well, it was located at the corner of Hamilton [Street] and Easton [Avenue], which was torn down a few years ago and is a medical building now.  I'm not sure what your question is driving at here.

SH:  Because it is gone, I wanted you to recall what the building was like.

WA:  I mean, geographically, ... construction-wise?  You walk in the front, the purple door, in the front door, and here's the living room and here's the dining room, back there's the kitchen and back there's the den, with the fireplace. 

SH:  Okay.  Was it one of the old Victorian homes that were in the area?

WA:  Not like Mine Street.  It was a church, at one point in time.  As a matter-of-fact, I think when we bought it, it was a church, and we bought it in, like, 1949, or something like that. 

SH:  You were actually almost there from the beginning of being in that building.

WA:  In that particular facility, yes.  In fact, I was in it, as a high school senior, the first year that they were in it.  Unlike some of the fraternities, we did not have dorm style.  We had individual rooms, where it was your room with your roommate.  We had some rooms that housed four people, some that housed three and some that housed two.  The president and the treasurer always had a specific room for just the two of them, which was the office.  We had a phone booth on the first floor, which is only funny to me, [laughter] you know, one phone for the whole damned place.  ... It was a closet, it was literally in a closet, a pay phone.  We called ourselves the Fijis, because Phi Gamma kind of sounds like Fiji, and that was not just us on our campus, that's all over.  We dug a hole in the side yard and cemented it in, so that we could make a pond every year for Military Science Weekend in May, to have the Fiji Island party.  ... Everybody dressed like somebody from the islands, and so on, and so forth, and that was the way it was. 

SH:  Did you participate in the homecoming parade?  Did your fraternity have a float?

WA:  My recollection is that we didn't have; well, yes, I guess we did have floats.  What we had [was], all the living groups had displays in their yards.  That was the principal thing, and that's what you were judged on.  Some of them were transportable into a parade on homecoming day, but the big activity was Friday night.  ... I can remember, we had a thing where there was, of course, it was the Chanticleer at the time, it was not [the] Scarlet Knight, and [we had a] rooster which was killing an owl, because we were playing Temple.  [laughter]  Seemed very important at the time.

SH:  You had a housemother that lived with the fraternity.

WA:  Absolutely, and I think it was the great failure of the fraternity system that they did away with them.

SH:  Was she there alone?

WA:  She had a husband who worked in New York and was there with her in the evenings, who was a member of the fraternity from another chapter, from years past.

SH:  Was dinner formal?

WA:  Absolutely, except on Friday nights, unless it was a house party weekend.  No, everybody wore a coat and tie, everybody stood at the table while the president said grace, and then, held the housemother's chair out, so [that] she could sit down, because she always sat next to the president, and once that was done, then, everybody could sit down.  Dinner was served.  When dinner was all over, we would sit there for a good half-hour, singing songs.  The kids today just can't grasp that.

SH:  That is why we have to get it on record.

WA:  Yes, I mean, and I'm not saying it's bad that they don't do that, I'm just saying they can't even imagine that anybody would do such a thing.  [laughter]

GF:  In general, about the communal song, is that just something that you have noticed over time, that it seems to be less popular? 

WA:  Music?

GF:  Yes, that there is less of that.

WA:  I mean, you know, aside from my kids, it's the dominant force of my life.  I mean, it had nothing to do with my career.  I mean, I worked with computers for Johnson & Johnson for forty years, but it's just been my primary avocation.  I've done a lot of world traveling and most of it has been based on going places to hear operas being sung.  ...

SH:  Did you ever consider joining the glee club?

WA:  I never considered myself to have a good enough voice to do that.  Now, in those days, the living groups had what they called ... the Brett Song Contest and it started out as a quartet contest and, in the late '40s, it was held in the chapel, and it had Soup Walter, [F. Austin] Walter, yes, and, later on, the guy from Indiana, who's now retired, Dave Drinkwater.

SH:  Drinkwater.

WA:  Yes, Dave Drinkwater, they were the judges.  ... Well, Dave wasn't there yet, but, anyway, they had Howard McKinney, Howard McKinney and Soup Walter, judging the contest.  So, on this one particular occasion, we adopted a different strategy and we brought in the entire brotherhood as a glee club.  Now, of course, some of those people couldn't sing worth a damn, but they were mouthers, and we went up there and we sang two Rutgers songs and a fraternity song and we won the contest, and, from that time on, it became more of a glee club contest.  ... For ten years, we took it every year, and I was thrilled with that.  I still have tape recordings of rehearsals in the house.

SH:  Really?

WA:  Yes, you can hear the guy leading it, prompting the group, "Louder," or, "Softer," and, in the background, you can hear the cleanup crew doing the dishes in the adjacent room, and the cook, who had a marvelous laugh, you could hear her all over the place.

SH:  The cook was someone that you hired.

WA:  The cook and her husband, and their little son, lived in an apartment in the basement.  Yes, we hired them, and, as I tried to convey this, they were part of our family, I mean, as was the housemother.  ... We loved these people and they had a summer job up at Camp Mount Allamuchy Boy Scout Camp and they had a house in Riverton, down south, and, when Jackie graduated from high school, they retired and went down there, so [that] he could go to college.  ... Last I knew, he was a CPA.

SH:  That is amazing that you kept up with that.

WA:  Her name was Beulah Jackson, one of the ... most wonderful people you'd ever want to meet, and I'm getting sentimental, and she died.  She had a heart attack, and I got a call from her husband, who told me she had died.  So, I rounded up a bunch of the guys and we drove down to the funeral.  I'm thinking, you know, we're going to this little black church and we're going to be the only white people there.  We got there, it was as big as the [Kirkpatrick] Chapel, it was packed, and we had to sit in the basement.  [laughter] You know, she was very much loved by many people, yes.

SH:  This is a good story to recount for the record.  I am glad you did that.

WA:  Well, good; Ralph and Beulah Jackson.

SH:  Were you part of the Inter-Fraternity Council, as president?

WA:  Yes, I was the representative to the Inter-Fraternity Council. 

SH:  Was it contentious, or was it easy?

WA:  Oh, it wasn't really contentious; you mean the council itself?  No, I mean, it was just, we'd get together, I think, one night a month and have a meeting to discuss matters of common interest.  ... You know, the big issue in those days was discrimination, the fact that the fraternities had discriminatory clauses, and nobody was more against that than I was, but I was solidly in the camp that said, "This is the fraternity's business and we're working from within to get rid of this and leave us alone," but there was a significant faction on campus, especially the non-fraternity people, who were constantly putting on pressure.  ... As a result of that, some of the fraternities did go public and announced, "We got rid of our clause," and all that kind of stuff.  Have you ever come in contact with Art Kamin? 

SH:  No.

WA:  ... He had a letter in the recent Rutgers alumni magazine [RutgersMagazine].  He was the editor of Targum at the time, in my class, and he was an independent and he was forever harping on this.  ... That's a prejudicial word, but, I mean, you know, it was an issue that he was [passionate about], you know, and he and I would just get into these damned debates, you know.  I said, "Let us alone, we're working on it," you know, and I remember, one time, I had the unfortunate experience of writing a letter to the editor in which I said, "All right, already, most of the people out there don't care," and then, of course, the handful that cared wrote opposing, opposition, letters back, so that I was really the bad guy, you know.  ... I remember running into Art, maybe at our twentieth reunion, and I said to him, "Boy, those things certainly seemed very important to us in those days, didn't they?" and he said, "Yes, they really did."

SH:  Did you, in fact, get the clause out before you left?

WA:  Yes.  Well, before I left; it was, like, two or three years after.  Now, this was not a question of our chapter; this was a question of the entire international fraternity.

SH:  How was your fraternity ...

WA:  My fraternity, who had, at Rutgers, initiated at least a dozen ... Japanese, not Japanese-Americans, into the fraternity in the 1920s, had in its constitution a clause that said that in order to be eligible to be a member of the fraternity that they had to be of Caucasian and of Christian tendency or persuasion.  ... In discussions with my colleagues on the Inter-Fraternity Council, some of whom were ZBT and Sammy, and so on, and so forth, great guys, we had good rapport.  I learned, for instance, that ZBT was founded by a bunch of rabbinical students for Jewish boys.  Well, who the hell is this guy sitting here telling them that they've got to take in Christians?  That ... was my attitude, but I didn't like the idea of anything which said you can't take anybody who's not Caucasian.  So, eventually, about 1958, we changed it.  It was a sneaky change; it said, "In order to be eligible for membership, a member, a person, must be compatible to the fraternity as a whole."  Big Southern element, [laughter] and then, I would say it probably wasn't until the mid-'60s that we actually took in blacks.  We had taken in Jews and Catholics.  We didn't have any Catholics when I was [there], until I was, like, a junior.  In fact, I remember one guy, one time, saying, ... he said, in the main meeting, which was in the dining room, he said, "As soon as this meeting is over, there will be a conference between the Catholic membership in the phone booth."  [laughter] But, those were big issues in those days.  Other than that, I don't recall any major, contentious issues on the Inter-Fraternity Council.  It was mostly about, "Well, how are we going to organize Greek Week this year?" and, "We hear this chapter is hazing more than they should, so, what are we going to do about it?" and stuff like that.  I actually ran for president.  I was extremely naïve, didn't get it, and I'm convinced, to this day, and the guy who beat me ... just told me five years ago that he thinks this is true, too, I did no campaigning whatsoever.  I didn't even think it was a thing that was necessary to do.  Well, he was out making contacts, saying, "Will you vote for me?" and that's what happened.  [laughter]

SH:  You talked about the relationship with the administration as a fraternity.  What kind of oversight did they have?

WA:  Well, I mean, the dean's office consisted of something like five people, Larry Pitt, Ed Curtain, Howard Crosby, Cornelius Boocock, and there was not, at that time, a dean of fraternities.  So, it was kind of whatever the occasion required.  There's no formal structure. 

SH:  You talked about having the editor of the Targum in your fraternity.

WA:  No, no.  He was the guy who was constantly telling us we had to change our constitution.

SH:  He was the independent. 

WA:  Yes, he was a member of the Scarlet Barbs. 

SH:  Were there other issues with the Targum during that time?

WA:  What do you mean, between the fraternities and the Targum?  Not that I recall, but, being a journalist, he found lots of issues.  [laughter]

GF:  You were involved with WRSU, right?

WA:  I was station manager my junior year.

GF:  Okay.  Was it a musical program type format?

WA:  ... The total program content was quite varied--pop, classics, discussions, drama and attempts at comedy.  When I started my freshman year, I went immediately to the place and said, "I love classical music and I'd like to do a classical music show."  So, right off the bat, I was doing, one night a week, the closing show, playing from my own record collection and doing my own narration.  Then, at the end of my sophomore year, the station manager and the program director, from Class of '52, called me in and said, "We don't think there's anybody in the Class of '53 who is really qualified to be the station manager.  So, we'd like you to be the station manager."  So, I was.  I don't think I did a great job of it.  I mean, in hindsight, I think I could have done a much better job.  I was so doggone involved with fraternity activities, and I was treasurer of the house at the time and everything, I didn't devote enough of my personal resources to that job.

SH:  Where was the station located at that time?

WA:  Up in peanut heaven, next to the Zeta Psi House, you know, up on the third floor, with sloped ceilings.  [Editor's Note: "Peanut heaven" was a term used for the top balcony of a theater.]  In fact, you may or may not know, they had a sixtieth anniversary banquet in the spring. 

SH:  I did read about it.  Did you attend?

WA:  Yes.  Well, they had each one of us stand up and say a few things, and I said, "I think one of the reasons they took me on is because I'm short and didn't run into the ceiling."  [laughter] I loved it.  I mean, it was a great experience.  We did a lot of improvisation and, as the closing show of the night, I would go in before the show, to a little alcove, where there was a Teletype, the news Teletype, tear it off and, while the music was playing, I'd be picking out the items.  ... As soon as the show was over, at five minutes of eleven, I think it was, I would read four minutes of the news, and then, put on the Star-SpangledBanner and sign off. 

SH:  Do you remember any of the breaking news that you reported?

WA:  No, not really.

SH:  How does the Korean War figure in?

WA:  Well, it figures, [laughter] and ... I was just about to say, probably, some of it had to do with the Korean War.  [The] Korean War broke out three days after I graduated from high school.  I had every intention of going into ROTC, but there were a lot of people who only went into it [to avoid the draft].  Well, of course, you had to take two years of it, because it was a land-grant college and those were the rules in those days, but I had, all along, intended to stay with it and, once I was there and the war was going on and people were getting drafted, and people were getting student deferments, ... I thought, "No, I'm going to stick with ROTC."  ... In December of 1950, the University announced that any student who left the college to join the Armed Forces would receive passing grades in all of their classes for that semester.

SH:  This is in 1949?

WA:  Sorry, this is the first semester of 1950.  I knew a fair number of people who were failing who took advantage of that, who went into the service and wound up in Korea.  ... Everyone I knew came back, eventually.  ... That's one of the major things that I remember about it, because that's a pretty radical thing to do, and there were plenty of people who took advantage of it.  I went to Air Force ROTC summer camp the summer between my junior and senior year.  Most of my colleagues were down some place in Texas or Alabama.  I was on Cape Cod.  [laughter] Talk about luck, and, while there, the Korean War ended and half the guys walked out.  Half the guys in that class, in that camp, walked out, said, "I don't need this."  I, and not just me, but a number of us, said, "You know, you don't know when the next one's going to break out and, if I stick it out for another year, I'm going to have a commission."  That's what I did, but I had friends who didn't.  I had one very close friend, who today is a millionaire, who had a student deferment.  He was really not doing all that well academically, and, at the end of the first semester, he flunked a course, and that meant he wouldn't graduate on time.  They drafted him right out and sent him to Texas for two years.  He came back a new man.  He found out what it would be like if he didn't buckle down.  He stayed on, got a PhD, started his own business, he sold his own business to a bigger business, and, today, he's the most financially successful person I know.

SH:  That is wonderful.  You talked about the ROTC and making sure that you got into the Air Force ROTC.  Was there a competition between the two?

WA:  No, no, it was not that.  In those days, and I assume it's no longer the case, registration was one of the most horrific, horrible processes you could imagine.

GF:  The lines?

WA:  It still is?

GF:  No, it is all online.

WA:  Yes, well, that's what I thought, and, basically, what they did was, they'd take graduate students and interns and people like that, who really didn't know the ins and outs, but who were just there to make sure that everything got signed properly.  ... I said to the guy I was assigned to, who was a young man, ... "If I take these courses that they say I'm required to take as a math major, then, I can't get into Air Force ROTC."  "Well, it doesn't make any difference," said he, and I said, "Well, it does to me," I said, "and I don't see any reason why I have to take chemistry when I could take biology."  "Well, why do you want to take biology?"  "Because I want to take psychology in my sophomore year."  "Oh, okay, you can do that," and, you know, after standing in line for five hours in this huge crowd of people.  ... There was no competition between the Air Force and the Army for my body.

SH:  Okay, all right.

WA:  Yes.

SH:  Once you were in uniform, did you ever march together?

WA:  Every Tuesday.

SH:  It was together; Buccleuch Park?

WA:  Yes.  You'd assemble on whatever the name of the street is that's adjacent to the gym, or one block over.

SH:  Senior Street?

WA:  No. 

SH:  Yes, Sicard Street.

WA:  Yes, one of those, and it was a military formation, both the Army and the Air Force, and you'd get formed, and then, you would march over to Buccleuch Park.  ... Then, for an hour-and-a-half, you would do all sorts of crazy drills, and then, they would march you back and they would say, "Dismissed," and then, you'd take off your hat and walk home.  ... The non-ROTC guys in the fraternity, every Tuesday, when we went out, they would stand there and make fun of us, you know, waving flags and singing songs.  [laughter]

SH:  You talked about how some people left right away because of the war, but did word come back of any casualties?

WA:  No; I mean, not really.  I was not personally aware of anyone who was either wounded or killed in Korea, of the people who went from Rutgers. 

SH:  Was chapel mandatory still?

WA:  Chapel was mandatory in the freshman year, but not for religious reasons.  It was just nothing but an assembly.

SH:  Okay, a convocation-type thing.

WA:  Yes.

SH:  Do you remember any of the speakers that were there?

WA:  Well, Boocock, on the first day, said, you know, "Look around you, because three hundred of you won't be here in four years."  [laughter] You know, that was encouraging; not really!

SH:  Were there other events, social events or serious academic events, that you remember?

GF:  You were also a member of the Queens Players, the Booster Club, the Student Co-Op.

WA:  ... Where the hell did you get this?

GF:  The yearbook; [laughter] the Inter-American Culture Conference, which you were the chairman of.

WA:  Well, that was the thing that I was just going to bring out.  I was not the chairman of the conference, I was a conference chairman, big difference.  I was chairman of audio-visual for the conference meetings.  It was a Latin American thing.  ... Jose Amaral was the professor at the time [in the early 1950s] and I think he was personally friendly with the president of Mexico, or something like that, he had a lot of pull, and he brought in a lot of authors, philosophers, from Latin America, and they staged this conference.  This was the weekend before I didn't campaign for [fraternity counsel president], and I think that's one of the reasons, because I was so busy running around to all these meeting rooms, making sure that the PA systems were set up; Booster Club?

GF:  Yes.

WA:  ... I don't know what the hell that [is].  Isn't that something where you give them five dollars and they give you a card?

SH:  I would think that the Booster Club would have something to do with ...

WA:  Athletics.

SH:  Right. 

WA:  I didn't.  I mean, I went to games, because [they were] great social events, ... but I don't even remember that being in my yearbook, but I'll take your word for it.

GF:  The Queens Players, what was that? 

WA:  That was the drama club, in effect.  It put on a couple of productions a year.

GF:  Were you acting?

WA:  I was semi-active.  I was in a couple of their productions, and I've always enjoyed theater, and, as I mentioned before, my daughter is even, and my son-in-law, they're both theater teachers in high school.  Was there anything else on there?  ...

GF:  The student co-op.

WA:  Oh, that.  The student co-op was a thing where it was a way of getting your books cheaper.  [laughter] Why was that even there?

SH:  I ask them to do research.

WA:  Yes, well, he did his research well.  I'm going to head back and look at my yearbook, ... but, you know, you're always trying to fill out everything you can think of. 

SH:  Because you were involved with the fraternity and WRSU, I am thinking, because, in the 1940s and 1950s, they would bring in name bands ...

WA:  Oh, sure, I mean, I see where you're heading.

SH:  ... And classical artists. 

WA:  Both.  There were three house party weekends every year, in the fall and in, like, February, and then, one in May.  Those consisted of a Friday night dance in the gym, the one on College Avenue, by name artists of that period, and, on Saturdays, if it was the right season, going to a football game or a basketball game, and then, on Saturday night, the fraternities and some of the living groups had their house parties.  So, we had, three times a year, dance bands of national renown play and we would have dances, ... formal dances, in the room.  Do you know what formal means?

GF:  Yes. 

WA:  [laughter] I'm sorry, can't resist.  I'm poking fun at your youth, not anything else.  Anyway, yes, I think Sammy Kaye was there once and Art Mooney, and, you know, so on, and so forth.  In addition to that, there were concert series put on, really arranged and put on by the Music Department.  There was one series of, maybe a half a dozen a year, classical orchestras, major classical orchestras.  We had the Philadelphia Symphony, we had the Eastman-Rochester [another name for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra], we had the New York Philharmonic, and one of those concerts every year would be a joint concert with the Rutgers Choir.  So, I heard the Rutgers Choir do "The Coronation Scene" from [Modest Mussorgky's 1872 opera] Boris Godunov and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with Eric Leinsdorf [of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra] conducting.  I heard them do Carmina Burana by [Carl] Orff with [Leonard] Bernstein [of the New York Philharmonic] conducting, and that was par for the course.  They [the Rutgers concert series] eventually moved out of the [College Avenue] Gym and they went into the State Theater [in downtown New Brunswick, New Jersey] and I was going there for awhile.  ... This was the point in history at which, I mean, this is well after I graduated, and this is a point in time when I was starting to avail myself of New York City a lot more, so, I sort of tapered off.  Now, I guess the State Theater, along with a lot of places in New Brunswick in that area, fell on hard times.  Now, they talk about how much better it is today and I say, "Yes, it's much better today than it was in the '70s.  Is it better than it was in the '50s?  I don't think so," but, anyway, the State Theater started showing porno flicks. 

SH:  Are you kidding?

WA:  No, I'm not kidding.  They had been in the one that, in the old cinema, the small cinema that was where 301 George Street is now, and that got folded, and so, they started showing porno flicks, and I got a call from somebody in the Music Department, maybe three years after I stopped subscribing, and saying, "We're calling people to find out if the reason you're not coming is because, on other nights, they're showing X-rated movies."  I said, "Hell no, that had nothing to do with it at all."  Anyway, I thought you might enjoy that story.  [laughter]

SH:  I did.

WA:  But, that's the kind of thing you're talking about, and ... there were other cultural things, too, that didn't necessarily appeal to me.  I think we did have some outside drama groups come in from time to time that I would attend, and speakers.

SH:  Was politics important on campus?

WA:  You mean national politics?

SH:  Yes.

WA:  My first impulse was to say no, but, then, I remember, in 1952, the entire gymnasium, one night, became a mock political convention, where every living group from Rutgers and Douglass sent delegates representing different states, and they actually had speakers speaking in favor of the major candidates of that era, in both parties, and then, they cast votes, to see who was the nominee.  ... My group, the Fijis, were cast as Guam.  So, when their name came up, they yielded to the Virgin Islands.  Harold Stassen was actually there as a speaker.  [Editor's Note: The former Governor of Minnesota, Stassen was a potential Republican presidential candidate in 1952.]

SH:  Really?

WA:  Yes.  Eisenhower got the nomination, but Stassen [was there], and the reason I remember so vividly is that I was doing the coverage for WRSU, and I was down there, you know, talking into my microphone, [Mr. Andrews imitates a newscaster's speaking style], a lot of fun, but, in terms of spending a lot of time sitting around talking about national or international politics, I don't really recall doing that very much.

SH:  Was the term "smokers" something that you used at that time?

WA:  You mean, you're talking about porno flicks?

SH:  [laughter] I did not know that was what you called it.

WA:  Well, that was one.  Are you talking about, like, rushing parties, you talking about strip teases, you talking about any of these things?  [laughter] That's what you're supposed to be asking me, right.  I don't think we used the term smoker all that often, but it did come up occasionally, for any one of those three things.  ... If you had a bunch of guys in a smoke-filled room, you know, watching a girl doing a striptease or seeing a porno flick, and then, of course, sometimes, if they were doing really heavy recruiting on potential freshmen, they might ... call that a smoker.  I never experienced any of that or saw any of that, so, I can't say, but the other two, I saw, occasionally.  ...

SH:  I have to say, that is a new definition.

WA:  Well, is it anywhere near what you had in mind?  [laughter] ...

[TAPE PAUSED]

WA:  Speaking of smokers, there was a period of time in the '50s, and I think it extended even into the early '60s, when a fraternity wanted to rent a porno movie, the main contact was a member of the New Brunswick police force.

SH:  The colloquial term was "skin flick," you said [during the pause].

WA:  Well, "skin flick" was what we generally called them, yes.

SH:  This has to be a first on record. 

WA:  Well, good, I'm glad; I'm always glad to contribute.  [laughter]

SH:  I hate to use this as a segue, but you had talked about being shocked to find out that Rutgers was an all-male college.

WA:  Yes, it inhibited me.  [laughter]

SH:  How long did it take you to realize that there was an all-women's college nearby?

WA:  Oh, right away, right away, but, no, the issue was that I didn't share classes with any of them, which meant I wasn't going to develop any kind of rapport with anybody before trying to date them.  That's really what the significance was. 

SH:  Were there social events that were staged specifically for this at that time? 

WA:  Well, no doubt, I mean, you know, they would have ...

SH:  Mixers between Rutgers College and Douglass?

WA:  Yes, yes, although I don't recall them as being any big deals, and I don't recall them as being frequent.

SH:  There were no women in any of your math courses, as a math major. 

WA:  In my math courses, I don't think so.  There were occasionally women in courses that they didn't have at Douglass, and vice versa.  I knew some guys who wanted to take theater, so, they had to go to Douglass, but I can recall a Douglass student in one of my classes, and I think it was an advanced math class; maybe it was a math class, or maybe a physics class, or something like that. 

SH:  Was there any separation or a fractured relationship between the agricultural students and the Rutgers College students?

WA:  Yes, we made fun of them.  They were the "aggies," but, you know, my fraternity had a mixture.  See, we were very diverse; we had "aggies."  [laughter] We had quite a few "aggies," in fact, and I never really saw any evidence of any kind of discrimination or avoidance or anything like that at all, although, you know, we'd kid them.

SH:  How were the jocks, as you called them, perceived?  Were there any in your fraternity at all?

WA:  Oh, yes, oh, yes.  There were a handful of jocks who were mediocre students, but we had some really superb athletes, student-athletes, including Billy Austin, who was All-American!  I think we prided ourselves on the fact that we had very few guys who had only their athletics to commend them.  I can recall counseling some of the undergraduates, maybe ten, fifteen years ago, you know, that we used to go for what we would call "triple threats," high in academics, high in athletics and high in some non-athletic activity, and, as I would say, "If I were there today, they would never have picked me," but we did pretty well.  We had some really superb students who were on the teams, letter-winners on one team or another, and who contributed to the University and the fraternity in a lot of ways that were not athletic.

SH:  You talked about learning to swim at Rutgers in your freshman year. 

WA:  Yes.

SH:  Was this something you kept up or was that a required course?

WA:  Well, you couldn't graduate unless you swam.  ... First, one of the things you did when you were in your freshman week was take a swimming test.  You had to swim the length of the pool and back.  I didn't even try, and so, therefore, as I recall, gym was three days a week, for my first semester, I spent it all in the pool, getting accustomed to it.  The guy who was coaching me to swim was Dick Voliva, who was the wrestling coach, and, by the end of the semester, I barely made it up to one end and back to the other, and I think I've swum maybe three times since then.  ... I'm a Cancer, too, you know.  [laughter]

GF:  Why did you become a math major?

WA:  Well, I'll tell you why I became a math major, because I was looking at a book of potential occupations and I saw this thing called an actuary, and it said,  "Every CEO of every insurance company is an actuary and it requires high skills in math."  ... I had high skills in math in high school, and I said, "That's for me."  So, I started off with that as my goal.  I had a classmate by the name of Jack Byrne.  [Editor's Note: John J. Byrne is a former CEO of GEICO and former chairman of Overstock.com.]  I don't know if you [Greg] know who Jack Byrne is, but she [Sandra] does, I can tell, and we were both going to be actuaries, and, one, I worked for two semesters for the Home Insurance Company in New York City and I found it incredibly boring, and, two, the more I got involved with higher math, the less enchanted I was with it.  You know, I'm a deterministic type, you know, that's what I like, not this ethereal stuff, you know.  Well, Jack is the guy who stuck it out and he certainly benefited from it.  ... Well, as I told you, by the time I got out, I'd decided I wanted to be an accountant, and then, of course, I was an accounting trainee for nine months at J&J, and then, I went in the Air Force and they showed me how to program a computer in 1955, and I said, "Who would want to be an accountant when they can program computers?"

GF:  Did you have a favorite professor?

SH:  Before we go on to the military, yes.

WA:  I certainly did.  Now, you're talking about math or all?

GF:  Any class, any professor.

WA:  Well, Fred Fender was my favorite math professor; he was the only math professor that I thought I enjoyed.  Allan Kaprow, the first year he was teaching, he was wonderful, crazy man, but he was wonderful.  You know who I'm talking about?

SH:  I have heard stories. 

WA:  Well, he died a few years ago; he invented the thing called "the Happening."  He would get a field and get people to come out in the fields and, you know, it was his form of artistic expression.  He taught first semester of art appreciation from the perspective of art as it reflects the culture that it represents, and that was absolutely fascinating.  I got an "A" in that.  Second semester, it was all the stuff you already knew about anyway and didn't have much interest in.  I got a "C," but he was there for a long time.  I'm trying to think if there's anybody else I'd add to that list.  Well, I had McKinney, McKinney for music; you couldn't do better than that.  ...

SH:  I have heard some great stories about him as well.

WA:  Yes, great man.

SH:  Let us talk about your graduation and what you remember of that, and then, we will talk about your service.

WA:  I remember holding my breath as to ... whether or not I was going to flunk advanced calculus, my second semester [in] my senior year.  I probably deserved to flunk it.  I had a bad start with calculus, the first semester of it in ... the second semester [in] my freshman year.  I would say he was one of the worst professors I ever had, and it wasn't all his fault, some of it was my fault, but he just did nothing to help matters at all, and I just fell behind with calculus.  ... Normally, a math major would take advanced calculus as a junior; I deferred it to my senior year.  So, it was like, you know, I was going in, after final exams, saying, "Should I telegraph," and I was doing this to be melodramatic, "Should I telegraph my parents in Michigan whether or not ... they should come out for graduation?"  So, he passed me, and I think it was a gift. 

SH:  You accepted it.

WA:  Yes, I accepted it, and so, my parents drove out from Michigan and I got my ROTC commission, and my mother, to the day she died, talked about the beautiful smell of the, whatever the flowers were, that they're no longer there.  I'm trying to remember what kind of flowers they were, ... not rhododendron, no.  They were vine like flowers with blossoms.  They smelled good; anyway.

SH:  Honeysuckle?  I am trying to think of what would be blooming in May in New Jersey.

WA:  ... That's it!  This is not my field.  I've told people many times, over the years, "Almost everything in life interests me, except for agronomy."  [laughter] I mean, that's about it.  ...

SH:  Before we talk about the military, I just wanted to clear something up; you actually lived in the fraternity house as a freshman.

WA:  No.  I commuted from Scotch Plains as a freshman.  I didn't move into the fraternity house until my senior year; I'm sorry, my sophomore year.  So, those Thursday nights when I was a freshman that I was closing up at eleven o'clock, I would then drive a half an hour to go home.

SH:  Did you have someone to commute with?

WA:  No, did it all by myself. 

GF:  Just one other question; you were the high school valedictorian and you had a real range of interests.  I was wondering, even since elementary school, were you really invested in school or were you just good at it? 

WA:  Good at what?

SH:  Being a scholar.

GF:  Yes.

WA:  Being a scholar?  Well, yes, I had high marks all the way through.  I mean, there were a couple of times that I just lost interest, and so, I didn't get such good marks, but it was purely because I lost interest.  In junior high school, I was on the projection squad, which meant I [would] run the sixteen-millimeter camera for all the classes, when they were going to show movies to the classes, and for entertainment during lunch hour.  So, I saw such fantastic films as One Million, B.C. [the 1940 film version], with Victor Mature and Carole Landis, and TheLast Days of Pompeii [a 1935 film].  I must have seen those movies twenty-five, thirty times.  So, I know them by heart, but that awakened an interest in film for me, because I'm very avidly interested.  I've got something like four thousand movies on tape and DVD in the house.  I go to the movies once a week, if I can, and I've attended film forums where you see an unreleased film, and then, you have somebody from the film interviewed and all the performing arts interest me, except maybe a ballet.  I'm not too keen on ballet.  ... I've seen performances by the Bolshoi, where they're doing spectacular excerpts, and I loved it, but, if I go see SwanLake and they're all there in their tutus, I get a little bit bored with it after awhile, yes.  [laughter] So, I don't know if that addresses your question or not.  I guess I was never considered to be a slow student. 

SH:  Was there any pressure?  You were commissioned at graduation; was it difficult to get a job, because you now had this commitment to the Air Force?

WA:  No. 

SH:  How did that work?

WA:  Because just about everybody had a commitment, one way or another.  When I decided to apply for work at Johnson & Johnson, not knowing if I'd get it, I took other things, like I told you, Chrysler and Cadillac, and several others.  Anyway, I applied to Johnson & Johnson as an accountant, to go into accounting, and one of my friends had applied to Johnson & Johnson to go into their management training program, and he'd been accepted and I didn't hear anything.  Now, the main reason I applied to Johnson & Johnson was because I knew I was going into the Air Force within nine months and I wanted to spend the fall social season in New Brunswick.  That's the main reason I applied there.  [laughter] So, I said to my friend, you know, "Ask the guy," who was the head of personnel at the time, they ... hadn't come up with that brilliant phrase "human resources" yet, "Ask him if I [will be hired]," and he came back and he said, "Well, we like him, but he's too gregarious to be an accountant," and I said, "Well, I really want to be an accountant."  [laughter] So, they hauled me in there and they gave me, what is it, a (Couter?) Preference Test?

SH:  I think that was what it was called, yes.

WA:  Which does a fantastic job of ... determining what you're interested in right then and there, but has no bearing on whether you're going to be interested in the same thing two weeks from now.  [laughter] So, I took the test.  It said, "Man, does he want to be an accountant."  They hired me and I was in an accounting training program for nine months. 

SH:  Was it right there in New Brunswick?

WA:  Yes, you know, right across from the campus.

GF:  This was between graduation in 1954 and when you entered the Air Force.

WA:  Yes, from June 1954.  I started on the 21st of June, 1954, and I left the end of March [1955] to go into the Air Force, [for] which I was told to report to Bolling Air Force Base in Maryland, which is right outside of Washington, DC.  ... You know, I knew I had a two-year commitment, I wasn't looking forward to it, and I'm not militarily-oriented, and I got there and they put us; well, first thing they said at Bolling was, "We have no bachelor officers' quarters.  We can't recommend [anything], but here's a rooming house downtown, you know.  So, we suggest you go there."  So, I go there, here's a widow with a big house with a lot of rooms that she's renting to something like a dozen brand-new Air Force second lieutenants.  So, I stayed there for about three or four months, until I and two other guys rented an apartment in Virginia.  Meanwhile, we're living six blocks away from what everybody was referring to at the time as "ground zero," the Capitol Building.  All of the posters about the possibility of an atomic attack and everything, why, we're six blocks away from it.  [laughter] We were put into temporary holding classrooms that were in Quonset huts, right on the Mall, which have since been torn down, which somebody pointed out were lettered R, E, D, and S, God only knows why, and they were really keeping us there while we were waiting for our top secret clearances, because we were being contributed into the National Security Agency in 1955, when not only did nobody know what the hell that was, nobody knew what a computer was. 

GF:  When you were in the Air Force ROTC, was computer programming something that you were looking at?

WA:  ... Were there specific programs I was looking at, you mean within the Air Force?

GF:  Yes.

WA:  No.  I mean, I knew I couldn't fly, but, no, I just [figured], you know, "I've got to serve my country, I made a commitment, I've got to go and do whatever they tell me to do," you know. 

SH:  When did computers first get on your radar screen, that it could be something you were interested in doing? 

WA:  There.  I didn't know beans about it.  This is 1955, my dear.  [laughter]

SH:  It was the Air Force who picked you to go into computers.

WA:  No.  It was the Air Force who picked me to go into the National Security Agency, which is a civilian agency; they're the ones who decided, once I got there, that I should, because there were a lot of other possibilities.  It was not just computers.

SH:  Okay, all right. 

WA:  Right.

SH:  That was what I was going to ask; where did computers come in?

WA:  Yes, it was the people in the Agency who decided I would best be suited, and they trained me.  ... They actually trained me to program one of the first-generation IBM computers which were oriented to commercial activities, as opposed to scientific research.

SH:  Where was the NSA at that point?

WA:  It was split up.  It was not all at Fort Meade, and I was in a location called Arlington Hall, which was in Arlington, Virginia.  It's still there, and it's still called Arlington Hall, but, just as I was getting out of the service, they were consolidating everything in Meade.

SH:  Talk about the security and what you had to go through for that.

WA:  Well, I was kind of astounded at ... the information they wanted, like, they wanted every address I'd lived at since the day I was born.  I had to call my folks and get some of this information, and every school and all sorts of background [information], and names of associates and relatives and everything, and then, of course, I found out later, it's kind of standard operating procedure when you're making these kind of studies.  You go to the friends and you say, "And who else was he friendly with?" and then, you go to them, you know, and it took them almost six months to clear me, during which time we were hearing lectures that were right next to Attila the Hun.  "The Government is always right.  Don't talk against it," etc., and they weren't happy with [Senator Joseph] McCarthy soliciting government workers to squeal to him.

SH:  That was what I was going to say, where does he fit into anything that you were dealing with?

WA:  Well, ... I guess I was still [a civilian], before I went in the Air Force, when he hit his peak.  ...

SH:  You were still at Rutgers in the McCarthy era.

WA:  Yes, and I think I was still in New Brunswick, after Rutgers, when that was still going on, and, of course, most of what I knew, I saw on television.  I saw Welch ask him if he had no sense of decency, and I had no sympathy for the man whatsoever, but one of my friends, who had taken advantage of the opportunity to go to Korea, to get passing grades, who had, by this time, come back, said, "You might not feel that way if you'd ever been shot by them," or, "shot at by them [communists]," you know, as he had been.  So, I [said], "Oh, okay."  [Editor's Note: The nationally televised Army-McCarthy Hearings, running from March to June of 1954, are remembered for the moment in which Army chief counsel Joseph N. Welch asked Senator McCarthy, "Have you no sense of decency, sir?"  The hearings led to the demise of Senator McCarthy's political career.] 

SH:  What did they do with you now?  They have got you in a Quonset hut. 

WA:  I'm not really doing anything, except keep busy while, you know ...

SH:  What did they have you doing?

WA:  Studying.  I learned a certain amount of Russian, I learned a certain amount of cryptology, a little bit of geopolitical history.  I learned that our staunchest ally in the whole world at the time was Turkey, which came as a great surprise, [laughter] you know, and I have no idea how neutral all of this stuff was.  Some of it may have been very inaccurate, but that's how they were indoctrinating us, because one of the things they were trying to do is make sure that we were going to be loyal and not give away secrets.  ... When we were contributed into the Agency, we were told, "You don't tell anybody; you don't even mention it by name.  You know, if somebody asks you where you work, you work for the Department of Defense.  Nobody knows what you're doing," and I'm sure that, today, there are agencies where that's the same thing, but no longer the National Security Agency.  I drive down there every once in awhile and I go past Fort Meade.  [laughter] ... In the unit that I was in, I was the only military officer.  There were some enlisted personnel and there were civilians, the particular unit for the programming of this one computer.  So, every time we had to do something which required a security guard, guess who?  I was the security guard.  So, we had a temporary duty to go to New York City to debug programs for a new computer, which was sitting in the corner window of IBM at Madison and 57th Street.  ... We had to go up there and go in there at six o'clock in the morning, after IBM put canvasses down to block the view from the windows, which was absolutely ludicrous, and, after two hours, we'd finish up, take everything [out].  I then had to take all of the materials down to Governor's Island and put them in the safe at Fort Jay, and then, go down at five-thirty the next morning and get them.  ... The important thing is that I was on the plane from Washington to LaGuardia and I was the only one in uniform, because the others didn't need to wear uniforms, but I was issued a .38 pistol and a shoulder holster.  At no time was I ever briefed in how to use the damn thing.  The only thing I ever fired in my life was an M-1 at ROTC summer camp.  So, I took the thing home to my apartment and played around with it until I assured myself I knew what to do.  So, there we are, walking through LaGuardia Airport, these three guys in front of me with attaché cases and I'm in the rear, and I think, "Somebody comes up and grabs one of those, I'm supposed to pull this out and shoot him?  They've got to be kidding."  [laughter] I talk too much.

SH:  No, this is great stuff. 

WA:  Well, you think things are lax today; some things were pretty lax in those days, too. 

SH:  Did you receive any kind of briefings in your work there?

WA:  I'm not quite sure that I know what you mean.  ...

SH:  As you said, you found out that Turkey was our ally, but were you getting other briefings, because there were lots of incidents going on during this period?

WA:  Well, okay.  While I was in that hold area, before I was cleared and actually physically sent to the Agency, ... we were getting all sorts of crap like that.  Once I was there, doing my job, no, I was just doing my job.  ... There was never anything that I was tempted to want to tell anybody anyway, not until after I was out of the service, ... and I got out in 1957.  Three years later, [Francis] Gary Powers went down in the U-2 and Eisenhower immediately denied that we were doing that.  [Editor's Note: On May 1, 1960, a US Air Force U-2 aircraft piloted by Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union, exposing the overflight practice and creating an international incident.]  "Ah-ha," says I, "we lie," because I had been writing computer programs to analyze the data that he was collecting with those overflights.  That's the kind of thing, oh, and the tunnel in Berlin, I knew about that, too, but, other than that, there was never anything.  [Editor's Note: Mr. Andrews is referring to a tunnel burrowed from West Berlin to East Berlin in the mid-1950s by the CIA for the purposes of monitoring Soviet communications.  The tunnel was discovered and exposed by the Soviets in April 1956.]  I assume that's no longer classified.  [laughter]

SH:  Where did you go to learn to program a computer?

WA:  Right there, in house, yes.

SH:  They did that right there.

WA:  Yes.

SH:  The NSA trained you in how to do that.

WA:  Well, they had a lot of people there from IBM who were helping out. 

GF:  Specifically, what kind of programs were you developing?  What was the exact purpose?  Was it to engage the Soviet threat or was it something more general?

WA:  Well, as I say, I was writing programs to analyze data that was being collected from the overflight program.  I was writing programs to analyze data from a lot of stuff like that, but, I mean, it was not political in the context that I think you're asking the question.

GF:  Okay.  It was just more general, something that the Air Force could use.

WA:  Well, we knew doggone well why we were doing it; I mean, it wasn't that.  It's just that that wasn't the thrust.  It was not like, "You've got to do this because the Soviets will do something bad if you don't," you know.  It was nothing like that at all and, in some cases, all I was doing was writing programs to do the same function that punch card equipment was doing.  So, I mean, it wasn't all for the war effort.  ... It contributed, but it was not a direct contribution.

SH:  Were there any areas that you were told not to go into or activities you were not to engage in?

WA:  You mean like, "Don't go in the next building," or you mean like, "Don't join the Communist Party?"

SH:  Things like that, either way.

WA:  Yes.  Well, I mean, yes, in any facility like that, you're going to go find [areas] closed off, [where] you've got to have very high clearance.  When I got out of the Air Force, it took me a year to get used to not having to put a badge up, you know.  There were restricted areas, sure.  Why they were restricted, I don't know that I ever knew.  I don't ever recall being told to stay away from the Lincoln Brigade or, a couple of years later, I might have been suspect because I was a big fan of the Weavers ... and Pete Seeger was on somebody's bad list.  [Editor's Note: The Abraham Lincoln Brigade was a group of American volunteers that fought against Francisco Franco's Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War.  Singer-Songwriter Pete Seeger drew the ire of the House Un-American Activities Committee, beginning in the mid-1950s, for refusing to testify on people he knew from his prior involvement with the Communist Party and other groups.  Seeger faced legal persecution for years afterwards and he and the Weavers suffered under the blacklist.]

SH:  Definitely.

WA:  I'm going to a concert of his with Arlo Guthrie at Carnegie Hall later this month.  He's ninety years old.

SH:  It is amazing how these people keep singing and doing whatever they are doing. 

WA:  Yes.

SH:  With the security clearance that you had, was there ever any thought that you would stay in the military?

WA:  Any thought on my part?  No, definitely not, but they wanted to keep me on as a civilian. 

SH:  Really?

WA:  Yes, as a GS-13, which, at the time, was pretty high, and I really didn't like the idea of being a government employee.  ... What I did was, I went back to Johnson & Johnson, and I went to the guy who was in charge of the finance area and I said, "Okay, I've changed my career goals.  I no longer want to be an accountant, I want to be a computer programmer, and I'm convinced there's a big future in that," and he said, "Well, that's pretty interesting, because you get out in April and, in July, we get our very first computer.  We have nobody on the staff who has hands-on experience.  They're all punch card equipment people who have been trained to do it."  So, he offered me, he matched the GS-13 figure, and I went back and that was my whole career.

SH:  Did you stay in the Reserves?

WA:  No, not really. 

SH:  The whole time, you worked for NASA; excuse me, NSA.

WA:  Yes, right.  I was only spaced out occasionally.  [laughter]

SH:  Were you always right there in Arlington Hall?

WA:  Well, except for when we had things that had to be conveyed, but, I mean ...

SH:  Did that happen often, where you would have to go retrieve or deliver things?

WA:  Occasionally, I would be ... going to Chicago on business, you know, TDY to IBM, or the New York trip or a few things like that, but towards the end of my two years was when they started consolidating, and so, they were already starting to break down everything in Arlington and take it to Meade.  ... For everything in my unit, I was the shotgun.  It was kind of intriguing, because nobody ever went through [the] District of Columbia with sirens blaring and lights blinking in those days, unless you were, like, an ambulance.  ... We formed, on two occasions, I was sitting in the lead car, in a cavalcade that consisted of a bunch of semis [semi-trailer trucks] with all sorts of classified material that we were transporting, US Park Police, military police, District of Columbia Police and me.  We're sailing through downtown District of Columbia with the lights blaring and everything.  Everybody's [wondering], "What the hell is that?" you know, just little, old me.  [laughter] So, I did that three times, but it was the exception, not the rule. 

SH:  Were you a bachelor at this point, enjoying Washington, DC?

WA:  Yes, I was.  I didn't get married until I was thirty-seven.

SH:  Okay.  You were enjoying Washington, DC.

WA:  Not as much as, in retrospect, I could have.  [laughter]

GF:  Was there a communal atmosphere among the computer programmers and the people working there?  Did you ...

WA:  Socialize?

GF:  Yes. 

WA:  It was an interesting mix of people.  I don't know how many of them socialized with each other, but I don't think I was ever a part of them.  I was more socializing with my fellow Air Force officers, friends that I had come in with originally, and then, had met during that five months or so that I was in hold.

SH:  You were still housed with them.

WA:  Yes, until the day I left.  We had a two-bedroom garden apartment.  ... This has nothing to do with what you're [asking about], but my son, who is thirty-four, recently moved from just north of Baltimore to Arlington, Virginia.  ... He bought a townhouse and I went down there just a couple of weekends ago.  He is literally three miles away from the ... garden apartment I lived in over fifty years ago and it's still there, and that was a spooky experience, I'll tell you.  I'm driving in the parking lot and I looked up and said, "My God, that's my bedroom window."  [laughter]

SH:  Before we end for the day, tell us about coming back and being on the cutting edge in J&J in the computer programming department.

WA:  ... Computers and telecommunications was really the area; I kind of pioneered ... voice messaging.  No, forget it; I did that, but what I was really trying to say was, I kind of pioneered putting together a worldwide email system for J&J.  They had a lot of individual ones that didn't work with each other and my last assignment was managing a group of people who were putting them together.  ... At one point in time, I was also managing what we called the consultant group for the computers, that would actually go overseas and visit and coordinate all this stuff.  So, that was a fun assignment.

SH:  You basically lived in this area then. 

WA:  Yes.  When I came out of the service, I lived in [the] Century Apartments on Easton Avenue, and then, I moved to and bought a house in Piscataway and, thirty-five years ago, I bought this house, got married in the interim, got divorced, also.

SH:  We know you have two children. 

WA:  Yes, right. 

SH:  Technology, from that point, just mushrooms.

WA:  Yes, it is kind of breathtaking.

SH:  It must have been very exciting, especially now, when you can look back and see how, every two years, it leaps forward. 

WA:  A lot of excitement, but a lot of frustration, too, because a lot of people are slow to adapt, not because they're stupid, but because, first of all, they now have to be motivated to adapt.  Do you know what it's like trying to get a staff of lawyers to use a computer?  [laughter] "A keyboard, you want me to work a keyboard?"

 

SH:  That is why they have secretaries, right?

WA:  Exactly, and they're all good girls. 

SH:  There are a lot of things that happened in that forty years.  Not only did technology boom, but Civil Rights and women's rights and all of this; did any of that interplay with your work?

WA:  Well, I don't know that it had anything to do with my work so much.  I mean, it certainly had a lot to do with my own feelings and my interests, but I guess the closest I could come to it is to say that I think I was kind of leading edge within my own organization for employing women in professional capacities, because my field lent itself to that very well, whereas the old traditional fields, at that time, didn't particularly.

SH:  Was it diverse in its integration as well?

WA:  Slow, slowly.  I mean, we had one black cost accountant when I came there right out of college.  He eventually left.  It's pretty diverse now.  In fact, a number of the people; has the name Clark Johnson ever come up?  He was the CFO of J&J for a good many years.  He was very instrumental in doing a lot of integration of the professional staff.

SH:  Had you always stayed involved with Rutgers and your fraternity?

WA:  Up until recently.  The fraternity has moved in directions that I don't feel compatible with.  I've tried very hard to steer them [in] directions that I thought were productive and I really haven't been active with the fraternity at all for the last five years.  I'm certainly still in close contact with many of my fraternity brother friends, some of whom are, like, thirty years younger than I am.  ... As far as the University is concerned, if I'm in town and it's not raining horribly, I go down for the parade every year, you know.  I don't generally march with my class, because my class sucks.  [laughter] My class is not very active in alumni affairs.  Anyway, ... I went to my fiftieth and I fully participated, and parts of it just bored me silly, and I have two close friends who are coming into town for the fifty-fifth next spring.  So, "Okay, I will go to your stupid luncheon and I will go to the class dinner and I will go to the Old Guard dinner and I will march in the parade, ... but the rest of the time, I'll just spend socializing with you," you know.  I don't know how well that answers the question.  ...

SH:  It does. 

WA:  I'm not in sync with an awful lot of what the administration is doing in recent years, you know.  I've got, Downing?  I've got Downing's book sitting right in there; I've read it twice.

 

GF:  Dowling.  [Editor's Note: William C. Dowling is a Rutgers professor who has been critical of the university's athletic programs and published a memoir of his efforts in 2007 entitled Confessions of a Spoilsport: My Life and Hard Times Fighting Sports Corruption at an Old Eastern University.]

WA:  Dowling, yes, yes.  Anyway, I sympathize greatly with what he says.  I've met [Rutgers University President Dr. Richard L.] McCormick.  I don't know him personally.  I don't care if you record this, but if you want to ...

SH:  It is up to you, if you like.

WA:  I don't mind.  You don't have to turn it off on my account.  Judging him primarily by what I read in the press, the local press and the Rutgers press, it doesn't thrill me.  ... As you can tell, I'm not a big sports nut and he [Dowling] kind of makes the case that Division 1-A sports is going to kill any university, and already has some of them, and the Board of Governors of Rutgers is kind of dominated by the Scarlet R Club and, as soon as I see or hear something like that, my back goes up, because, although I have a lot of friends who are Scarlet R Club members, I know a lot of them that I don't have any desire to associate with at all.  [laughter] ... I don't know if you saw, in today's paper, there is a guy who has brought suit against the Board of Governors for running closed meetings when they're not allowed to; oh, my.  I know you've got to go.

SH:  I was just going to say, do you have a closing question?

GF:  I think this is it for today.

SH:  Thank you so much for talking with us.

WA:  As you could tell, I like to talk.  [laughter]

SH:  Thank you.

WA:  Sure.  Well, you're entirely welcome.  You know, I knew about this program for a long time, but I figured all they wanted was World War II vets, and then, I don't know if you know who Don Taylor is.  Don is one of my closest friends, wonderful guy.  About six months ago, he said, "You really ought to do this."  So, that's what caused me to send in my paper.

SH:  I thank Don Taylor, for the record, for talking you into this.

WA:  Well, you're not going to find a better guy in the world than Don.

SH:  Thank you.  With this, we conclude today's interview.

WA:  Well, you're welcome.

---------------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW-------------------------------------------

Reviewed by Daniel Ruggiero 9/20/09

Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 12/18/09

Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 1/9/10

Reviewed by Wilson J. Andrews 1/23/Greg Flynn: This begins an interview with Wilson J. Andrews on November 7, 2008, in Bridgewater, New Jersey, with Greg Flynn and ...

Sandra Stewart Holyoak: ... Sandra Stewart Holyoak.

GF: Thank you very much for your time and for having us here.

Wilson J. Andrews: Okay.

GF: We would like to start by asking you about your family background, if you would tell us about your father's family history, as far back as you can go.

WA: My father was of English-Irish-Scottish ancestry. He was born in Los Angeles in 1905, to a woman who was from Cincinnati, and I have no idea why she was in Los Angeles, nine months pregnant, in 1905, but they moved quickly back to Cincinnati, where ... he grew up, and she, apparently, was divorced from my father's father, which is where the name Andrews came from, and she remarried. ... My father was a commuter to the University of Cincinnati and, after graduating in 1927, he went to work for General Motors and worked there for his entire career, in various geographical locations, and that's how I wound up in New Jersey. He died in Michigan in 2000, at the age of ninety-four.

GF: He worked in management at General Motors.

WA: Yes.

GF: What specifically was his job?

WA: Oh, material and production control. He worked for Fisher Body first, and then, he worked for the Buick-Olds [Oldsmobile] Pontiac Assembly Division, which was located here in Linden, and then, he wound up, while I was still an undergraduate at Rutgers, being transferred to Detroit, in the home office.

GF: Was he a tinkerer? Did that sort of thing interest you from a young age?

WA: A tinkerer? He was a tinkerer, but not in anything that interested me. [laughter]

GF: Okay.

WA: My younger brother was interested in the same sort of thing [as my father], and my younger brother probably explained what a carburetor was to me seven times and I never remembered. [laughter] Now, you don't need to know that anymore. My father's hobby was woodworking, mostly, and he trapped me into helping him when he had major projects, and I hated it. On the other hand, he hated the music I played. [laughter] ...

GF: For the record, what is your brother's name and is he older or younger?

WA: My brother's name was Thomas Andrews and he was four years younger than I. He was a juvenile diabetic. He graduated from Michigan State and he, eventually, wound up being a computer programmer for EDS [Electronic Data Systems]. He worked for General Motors, and then, when they acquired EDS, he was funneled into EDS. He started having medical problems as a result of his diabetes and he died at, like, age fifty-four, as a result of a stroke. That was in 1990.

[TAPE PAUSED]

GF: What do you know about your mother's family background?

WA: I know that they were old German-Americans, living in Cincinnati. My great-grandparents emigrated from Germany and settled in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas. My mother was an illegitimate child. She was adopted and raised by her maternal grandparents, and she would be very distressed if she knew I told you that. She also died at age ninety-four and carried that secret to her grave. She felt disgraced about the whole thing the whole time. She was raised with these older sisters, who were really her mother and her aunts, and she didn't find that out until she was about fourteen. She left school ... in the eighth grade, because they needed the money, and she never went back to any formal schooling after that, although she did receive practical nurse training during World War II.

SH: It was a program that was set up to train nurses during that time.

WA: It was out at Camp Kilmer. Actually, it was not World War II; it was after World War II. It was in the late '40s and the early '50s.

SH: Really?

WA: Yes, yes. They had a program out there.

SH: That is very interesting. We are also documenting that kind of history.

WA: Yes, yes. Well, I thought that was going to be your main thrust. [laughter]

SH: It is. It will be. We are getting to that.

WA: Okay.

GF: When did your father and mother meet?

WA: They got married in June 1930. I don't know how long they knew each other. I think my mother was a secretary in my father's office, not his secretary, and I think that's how they met. ... How long before they got married, I don't really know, late '20s.

GF: Were you born in Michigan?

WA: No, I was born in Cincinnati.

GF: Okay.

WA: The family was still in Cincinnati. My brother was born in Cincinnati and the four of us moved to a suburb of San Francisco in 1938. I was six and my brother was two, because my father had been transferred to a plant in San Leandro, California. We lived there for about a year-and-a-half, and then, he, we, were transferred to Flint, Michigan, in 1939.

GF: Do you remember anything about the Great Depression, or do you recall people talking about it? You were in California at the time?

WA: Well, I don't think I had any concept of what a depression was. ... I know I sometimes complained about the food on the table, and was told that was all they could afford. [laughter] I developed a great dislike for hominy, and stuff like that there, but it was only after the fact, you know, that I really understood what the Depression was all about.

GF: Was that because people would talk to you about it?

WA: Oh, you know, that's hard to answer. I don't think, as a kid, I had conversations with other people about the Depression. I think it was just something that, in the course of going to high school, I learned about, and then, I could look back and say, "Oh, that's what that was all about," you know. ... I do know that I guess ... I was aware of the fact that we were one of the lucky ones, because my father had his job throughout.

SH: Basically, your father's family and your mother's family, the extended family, was in the Ohio area.

WA: They're all in the Cincinnati area, yes.

SH: When your father was assigned to these different places, did you often travel back to Cincinnati?

WA: Well, when we went to California, we were there for about a year-and-a-half and we made one round-trip, on vacation, back to Cincinnati, mother, father, two little kids, great-grandmother, in a 1936 Chevy with no trunk, stopping off at cabins along the way, made it in about four days.

SH: You really have a good memory of the trip.

WA: Oh, I have an excellent memory of it. I can remember stopping on the last night before we got back home, or before we got there, rather, in Sacramento, and sharing a bedroom with my great-grandmother, who left the screen open, and I was all bug bitten like crazy the next morning. I'm sure those are very important things for your [recording].

SH: They are.

WA: But, at least it's evidence I have a pretty good memory. [laughter]

SH: I think it is also important to talk about how people traveled.

WA: Yes.

SH: As family units or not.

WA: Well, of course, the whole concept of motels, in those days, didn't exist, but there were a lot, as further West you got, the more there were what everybody called "cabins." Whether they were cabins or not, that's what they were called. I can still remember, when we came back, we took the southern route, which was then Route 66, and we stopped in New Mexico, at a place that called itself the Wigwam. ... It was a big teepee, as the office, and each unit was a little teepee.

SH: You had to stop there.

WA: And, in 1994, I drove past it and it's still there, yes. [laughter] How about that?

SH: I would have had to have stopped again. Talk to us a little bit about your relatives that you know that were involved in World War II.

WA: Well, I had at least three uncles, ... two of them on my father's side, one on my mother's side. My one uncle on my father's side was a navigator in a "Billy Mitchell" B-25 and was in the Asian-Pacific area. He was actually involved in the escape, the flight, from Burma of the Air Force personnel, because the Japanese were coming in. [Editor's Note: Through much of 1944, the Japanese military waged a campaign in Eastern China known as Operation Ichi-Go, which forced the US Army Air Forces out of its bases there.] ... At one point, when we were living in Flint, Michigan, during the war, we went to the movies a lot, and, of course, in those days, the movies always had a newsreel, and, of course, the war was the major thing. ... We're sitting there and they're talking about [the] Air Force leaving Burma and, damn, there's a picture of my uncle carrying a briefcase, wearing his cap and his sunglasses.

SH: Really?

WA: Which was really very exciting. His brother was in [the] paratroopers, and I believe he was in the European Theater. I'm pretty sure. Somewhere in this house, I have his paratrooper's wings, because he gave them to me when I was a kid, and he's still with us. The both of them are still with us, at age eighty-five. The other uncle, well, two other uncles, on my mother's side, one of them was wounded at Iwo [Jima], and he just died three months ago, at about age eighty-seven. ... The other one, I don't really know what theater he was in, but he was an enlisted man in the service, as were the two who weren't in the Air Force, and he's been dead now for a good ten years.

SH: Was this something that they would talk to you about as a young boy?

WA: Well, when I saw them, which was infrequently, mostly based on me asking them questions, but I think my knowledge of what was going on at the time was not principally through them, because they weren't around. I mean, it was principally through my relatives and what I heard at school and the kids talk, because, you know, I didn't have a brother or a father in the service and some of my classmates did. You would hear about that, but I think I can remember, gee, [when I was] probably not more than twelve years old, reading lengthy newspaper articles, because, hey, ... you've been doing this long enough to know, that was the topic of life. ... If anybody said to me, "What was the predominant thing of your childhood?" it was World War II, just no question about it at all.

SH: Do you remember talking to other people in the community about it? You talked about having classmates who had brothers or fathers and uncles in the military.

WA: Yes, I mean, nothing major stands out, but you talked to everybody about it. We would be involved from the school or from the [Boy] Scouts, in paper drives, in scrap metal drives, and we all knew why. It was a big thing to buy war stamps, so [that] you could get war bonds. I remember, one time, finding a five-dollar bill on the sidewalk, and I was a stamp collector and I was so excited. ... I told my mother, "I'm going to go down to the stamp store and buy some stamps," and [she said], "Are you sure you don't want to buy some war stamps with that?" and I thought, "Well, okay, I'll do that."

SH: You went and bought war bonds.

WA: Yes, war stamps, yes.

SH: That is amazing. That is one of the questions that we always ask.

WA: Yes.

SH: What do you remember of the war effort as far as you and your family's participation?

WA: Well, I certainly remember those drives that I just mentioned. I certainly remember the rationing, you know, and the little red tokens and the little blue tokens, some of which I know I have downstairs.

SH: Do you?

WA: Yes, and I know that because my father was working at a plant outside of Flint, where they were building tanks, he had an "A" sticker for gasoline, which was a big deal. Wait a minute, have I got that right, or was it a "C" sticker? Whichever the unlimited was; now that I think about it, I think it was the "C" sticker that was unlimited. There was an "A," a "B" and a "C." [Editor's Note: The A ration classification level was the lowest priority, C was the second highest priority and an X classification entitled the holder to unlimited gasoline.]

SH: Did he ever talk about how they retooled the plant to produce tanks, as opposed to automobiles?

WA: No. If he did, I wasn't aware, or didn't pay attention to it. [laughter] ... When we were still living [in Ohio], and I was only five or six, ... I remember him going, on one Saturday morning, down to his office in Norwood, Ohio, and he took me into the plant. ... The minute I got in that plant, I wanted no part of this whatsoever, and all throughout my growing up and through college, the thing I knew I didn't want to do is go to work for heavy industry.

SH: Really?

WA: In fact, as a senior at Rutgers, I interviewed with Chevrolet and Cadillac. They both made me offers and I said, "No." [laughter]

SH: Was it the size of the building?

WA: Well, it was just the cacophony and the fact that it wasn't clean and, to my young mind, it didn't look like it was very well-organized. Now, why, at five years old, that would be an issue, speak to my mother; it must have been the toilet training. [laughter]

GF: Do you remember specific moments during the war? Do you remember Pearl Harbor?

WA: Well, I remember Pearl Harbor in a kind of a non-remembrance way. I can remember I was a Cub Scout, my mother was a Den Mother, and ... they were friendly with the guy who was the Cub Packmaster, and he and his wife and his son, who was a Cub, needless to say, came over on this Sunday afternoon to visit. ... I became aware of the fact that the four adults were huddled around the radio, and, "What's going on?" said I. "The Japanese have bombed some place in Hawaii." "Where's Hawaii?" much less, "Where's Pearl Harbor?" which was what most people said. ... You know, I got the message that this was something really important, but it didn't register on me that they were attacking the United States. Of course, they weren't, at that time, [laughter] but I remember that quite vividly. [Editor's Note: Hawaii was a territory prior to becoming a state in 1959.] ... I remember reading all about the Bataan Death March, [in] great detail, I mean, reading about it, hearing about it on the radio and seeing it in the newsreels, and a lot of other [events]: Iwo [Jima], just Guadalcanal, Corregidor, and then, going to see the Hollywood movies about this stuff, which, as [a youth], I ate it up. ... Then, looking at these movies ten, twenty years later, as an adult, I said, "God, such unbridled propaganda." "The Japs and the Germans are terrible people." Well, hell, I'm half German, and it didn't take me long to figure out that, once the war was over, the Japs were great and the Germans were our friends and, now, all of a sudden, the Chinese and the Russians, who were our allies, are our enemies; doesn't make any sense; made a big impression on me. [laughter]

SH: You were going to college during all of this as well.

WA: Yes. [laughter]

SH: Did you have a victory garden?

WA: Oh, yes. I didn't enjoy it. [laughter]

SH: We have heard that before.

WA: But, I was drafted into [it], you know, by my parents. Oh, yes, we had one.

SH: Did any of the war play out in your play?

WA: Well, I guess, instead of cowboys and Indians, we could have been Americans and Japs. I don't remember specific instances, but I'm sure that kind of thing happened, but I don't think it had deep significance.

SH: You talked about being in the Boy Scouts. Did you remain in the Scouts?

WA: Well, ... after Cub Scouts, I went into Boy Scouts and, when I turned fourteen, I entered the DeMolay, if you're at all familiar with what that is. [Editor's Note: DeMolay International, or the Order of DeMolay, is a Masonic youth fraternity for boys and young men aged fourteen to twenty-one, at that time.] My parents were both in the Masonic organizations and, once I got in the DeMolay, at age fourteen, I just sort of dropped the Scouts, and there was another reason, too, because, in order to be a First Class Scout, you had to swim. I didn't learn to swim until I was a freshman at Rutgers. [laughter]

SH: Really?

WA: Really.

SH: Why was that? You just did not like water.

WA: Didn't like water, but neither did my folks. I mean, ... we spent very, very little time at lakes or things like that, and then, only visiting relatives or friends.

SH: Did it have anything to do with the polio scare at that time?

WA: You know, my mother, many years later, said that they didn't want my brother and me going because of that, but I was never conscious of it when it was happening.

GF: Can you talk a bit about Flint? What was Flint like when you were growing up?

WA: A very prosperous city that consisted of almost nothing but General Motors and Ford and Chrysler. It was, I think, the third-largest town in Michigan. It's sixty miles north of Detroit, a little bit smaller than Grand Rapids. I got there when I went into the second grade and I was there to the end of my sophomore year in high school. It's sort of where I developed. I tell people I grew up in Flint. It's where I became a person. To be perfectly honest with you, I wasn't terribly happy with who that person was. I think I was a real nerd [laughter] and I don't think I was terribly acceptable socially, but, when my father said, "We're moving," I was very, very distressed, because it was right before my last two years of high school. ... I distinctly remember pulling out the map to find out where Westfield, New Jersey, was, Scotch Plains, really, and, all of a sudden, I see, "Watchung Mountains." "We're going to see mountains again?" and I really thought we were going to see mountains again, like we did in California, but I don't have to end that story for you. [laughter] [Editor's Note: The Watchung Mountains have an elevation of 879 feet above sea level at their highest point.] ... The truth of the matter is, my last two years at Scotch Plains High School were probably the best thing that could [have] happened to me. I mean, I was kind of aware of why I was not terribly socially acceptable and I kind of did an about-face and became the charming person I am today. [laughter]

GF: You talked about stamp collecting and, also, the Boy Scouts. Did you have any other hobbies or play sports?

WA: Well, I was never into sports. I was chubby when I was young and that probably had a lot to do with it. I'm chubby again. There was a period, a long period of years, when I wasn't that chubby, [laughter] but it's in my genes. I occasionally would go out with kids and try to bat baseballs around. I, for about a year, took piano lessons on a pump organ. I took tap dancing lessons for maybe six months. I made model airplanes, carving [them] out of balsa wood and things like that. I was very interested in aircraft, and even to the extent that when I finally got to Rutgers and they tried to slug me into an Army ROTC course, I said, "No, I'm going to the Air Force." "Well, it doesn't make any difference." "I want to go in the Air Force." It did make a difference, but they were wrong. [laughter] Oh, I was an avid stamp collector. I was very much into that. I think the great benefit of being a stamp collector, as a kid, is, man, do you learn geography, because I knew about places that none of the kids knew anything about, which is why I was a nerd. ... I read comic books, like all the other kids, and I collected them and was pretty tuned into some of the radio serials. I don't know ... how much of that is where you're heading or what you want me to head [towards]. ...

GF: You did touch on the fact that you were making model airplanes out of balsa wood.

WA: Yes. You would buy them as kits.

GF: Would that have been specifically because of World War II or was it a more general interest?

WA: Oh, boy, I don't know the answer to that. It may have been because I had this uncle in the Air Force, but I don't really remember that for a certainty. But, I knew my airplanes. Now, you know, in those days, in fact, I think I still have them, they had aircraft spotter's handbooks and flashcards, with the silhouettes of the three views, the head on, profile, of all the aircraft of all the warring countries. You know, I could have spotted a Japanese Zero right outside. I would have known what it was.

SH: You were prepared.

WA: And I think that's part of what got me interested, then, in the models. I also had a pilot's kit, where you could set ... this up in front of you and you had gauges and you had a control stick and everything, and a test to see whether you could be a pilot, which I specifically remember included a color blindness test.

SH: Did it really?

WA: It really did, yes.

SH: Because that was what sunk so many pilots.

WA: Yes, yes.

SH: That is amazing.

WA: The first time I ever saw one of those ... for real, you know, I knew exactly what it was.

SH: I am sure that must have all come out of World War II.

WA: I'm sure it probably did, yes.

SH: Were you involved in the church in Flint at all?

WA: Yes and no. My mother came from a Methodist family, my father came from a non-functional Catholic family, and so, ... when we moved to Flint, we went to the Methodist church. ... I would go to Sunday school and my parents would go to church, and I didn't think it was anything that thrilled me, and then, one day, maybe six months after we got there, or maybe a year, I'm not sure, my mother told me that we were changing to the Presbyterian church. I said, "Why is that?" "Because we don't really like the minister of the Methodist church," and, somehow or another, I got stuck in my mind, "If you can change religion because you don't like the preacher, it must not amount to much." [laughter] So, about a year later, I convinced my parents that I could color pictures of Jesus at home on Sunday morning just as easily, and so, fundamentally, that was pretty much [it]. I mean, I go to church for special occasions, I'm not an atheist, but I certainly don't put a great deal of stock in the religious sense of what the Bible says or what the Koran says or what the Book of Mormon says. ... My mother always said that she failed my brother and myself because she didn't provide for a religious upbringing, and we both thanked her for that. [laughter]

GF: What were some of the differences between Michigan and New Jersey, aside from the humongous mountains we have here?

WA: I assume you mean socially and in my education and that sort of thing.

GF: Yes.

WA: Well, I had a much smaller class. I had a much smaller group of people that I was interacting with.

SH: Where?

WA: In New Jersey. It was, like, 103 people in my class in Scotch Plains. In those days, it was Scotch Plains and Fanwood people, but it was still just called Scotch Plains High School. There were, like, seven hundred in my class back in Michigan. I tried out for and got the starring role in the junior class play, in the fall of my first year there, and so, I became very well-known.

SH: What did you sing? What was the show?

WA: The show? Did you say, "What did you sing?"

SH: I did.

WA: In those days, high schools did not do musicals, my dear. [laughter] When I first started finding out that high schools were doing musicals, I was astounded. The play was called Stardust and it was written by Walter Kerr. Is that name one you're familiar with? It was never produced on Broadway. It folded out of town. It was about an eccentric Russian drama teacher who has a school in Connecticut and he gets a well-known actress from Broadway to come and appear in one of his productions, and it's a comedy. We all did nothing but comedies in those days. My senior year, I was Henry Aldrich, [a character in Clifford Goldsmith's play What a Life, made popular in a series of radio shows], and I guess I got to be known quite well in a lot of positive ways. ... It was funny, because, as a result of my interest in classical music, I gravitated immediately to these two guys who, it turned out, were the nerds of the class and, as soon as I learned that, I kind of expanded my horizons. I'm still very friendly with both those guys, but I expanded my horizons to include a lot of other people, including the jocks, and I was much more socially acceptable. I don't know if that's where you wanted me to go. ...

GF: Do you think that is at all a geographical phenomenon?

WA: ... Do I think it's a geographical phenomenon? Well, there are certainly differences, no question about the fact there are differences. I don't know how those differences really affected me. I can only say that I've said many, many times, well, because my parents went back to Michigan when I was still in college and I used to visit them until they died, when I'd get out there, I'd say, "What do people do here?" You know, they just don't seem to have any intellectual pursuits, which is not true, in an absolute sense, but it just seems to be much more narrow in its scope. In Detroit, the Michigan Opera has a very fine opera season. It does four operas a year. The Met [the Metropolitan Opera] does twenty-six. [laughter]

SH: You talked about your interest in classical music, even before you came to New Jersey.

WA: Yes.

SH: How had that started?

WA: I wish I knew. I know that ... I befriended a couple of kids in Michigan, who were a year or two older than I, who were into it and who would play me, introduce me to, classical stuff. This one guy in particular, I remember some of this stuff, I don't know, do you know [Arnold] Schoenberg?

SH: Not well.

WA: Well, I mean, Schoenberg is grating on the ear. If you're not really into Schoenberg, you don't want to hear it. He said, "You've got to hear this," and he put on this Schoenberg, and I said, "Oh, my god, what is that?" But I respected the fact that he really liked it. I, on the other hand, was addicted to Spike Jones and I think I learned a lot of classical music from Spike Jones. He did a lot of parodies, and I'm still addicted to satire. In fact, I still have, as MP3 files, practically everything ... Spike Jones ever recorded.

SH: I think that was how a lot of kids started.

WA: Yes, yes. My daughter, who is thirty-five and a performing arts teacher and lives in Somerville, she, somehow or another, went to some kind of a dance recital and she came back home and she said, "I heard this one number and I couldn't believe it. It was, Hello Mother, Hello Father." [laughter] See, you didn't know that was from an opera, I bet, did you? [laughter]

GF: Did you have a summer job during high school?

WA: In high school, no.

SH: What did you do during the summer?

WA: Goofed. [laughter] I know I had a paper route for awhile, but that was not a summer job, specifically. I don't know the answer to the question. ...

SH: Did you go into New York often, after you came to New Jersey? Was that someplace that you ventured in to visit?

WA: When I was still in high school, not really. My parents were not exactly addicted to going to New York, you know. I didn't really start going to New York until I was at Rutgers.

SH: Did your parents adapt well to New Jersey and the culture here?

WA: They certainly made very good friends in the neighborhood. I would say, yes, but, for all I know, when they went back to Michigan, they might have been thrilled. I really don't know. My brother wasn't, because he was yanked out right before his senior year in high school.

SH: I was just going to say, that is the tough part of this.

WA: Yes.

GF: Why the move to New Jersey, aside from the fact that it was probably related to General Motors?

WA: ... The question's not clear to me. Why did we move to New Jersey?

GF: Yes, just in general. Obviously, it was related to General Motors.

SH: My question would be, it was the end of the war, in that era.

WA: Yes.

SH: Did that have anything to do with the move that sent you to New Jersey?

WA: I have absolutely no idea. My father was transferred. Why he was transferred, I don't know.

SH: Because everything was being retooled then.

WA: Yes; well, I mean, but this was three years later. This was 1948.

SH: Sometimes, it takes time.

WA: You're absolutely right. My assumption was that it was a promotion. In fact, he was out here a good six months before we moved out. He was coming home one weekend a month, and the reason for that was so that my brother and I could finish the school year before we moved.

SH: Before we go on and start talking about your college career, what do you remember about the end of the war?

WA: Well ...

SH: Do you remember Roosevelt's death?

WA: Oh, vividly.

SH: What was the reaction?

WA: Well, we were kind of Republicans, [laughter] and I can remember my mother making a statement, something to the effect of, when Truman was elected Vice-President, my mother said, "Oh, my god, if something happens to Roosevelt, we're going to get a Missouri mule for our President;" some things never change, right. [laughter]

SH: I guess they were Republicans.

WA: Yes, they were Republicans, and they were very definitely anti-labor union. Anyway, we used to go to the movies one night a week, and we'd parked the car where we always did. We crossed the street, we went into the movies and ten minutes passed, fifteen minutes passed, movie didn't start. The house was dark. So, finally, my father got up and went back and says, "What's the problem?" "Well, didn't you know? Roosevelt died today, and we're not sure whether we should show the movie." What was I, thirteen, twelve? I wasn't even thirteen yet, but I remember that vividly.

SH: Did they show the movie?

WA: Yes, eventually, they did, yes, they did, and, of course, the next day, then, everybody was talking about it. All the radios were playing nothing but somber music. I guess it was a pre-television version of Kennedy. ... I did not vote for Kennedy, but, when he was assassinated, I was just crushed, at the whole idea that it could happen; no reaction like that whatsoever with Roosevelt's death. I mean, he was an old man and I didn't have any strong feelings about him. It wasn't until many years later that I could feel like I could credit both him and Truman for what they did, which was considerable.

SH: What about the end of the war in Europe, in the Spring of 1945?

WA: Yes. ... When you asked that question originally, I was trying to remember; well, I don't remember that as vividly as V-J, well, no, V-J Day is in September, but the ending of the war in Japan, I remember all of that vividly. [Editor's Note: Japan surrendered on August 14, 1945. On August 15th, news of the surrender broke in the Allied countries, which led to massive celebrations and was known as V-J Day. The formal surrender ceremony took place in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, which was also known as V-J Day at the time.]

SH: Can you tell us about it?

WA: Well, I mean, of course, the first thing I know is, the first atomic bomb, and then, a second atomic [bomb].

SH: You remember hearing about that.

WA: Oh, and reading it in the paper and seeing the newsreels. ...

SH: Did anybody try to explain what an atomic bomb was?

WA: If they did, I don't remember.

SH: Was this something that was discussed in school?

WA: Sure. It was obvious to us that this was not an ordinary bomb, because we could tell how much more powerful this single bomb was. Now, what the hell was fusion? [Editor's Note: The atomic weapons used against Japan worked on the basis of nuclear fission; later weapons took advantage of nuclear fusion.] I don't know if any of us knew, had any idea, or even knew the word, you know, but it was obviously something just all [the] more powerful than anything that had ever been developed. ... [However], right at that point in time, I don't think any of us, at my age, understood the implications for the future, you know, that it was something to be afraid of. That didn't happen until later, but, in Flint, Michigan, there was a minor league baseball team. Guess its name: the Flint Arrows, and, in August 1945, as a very rare occurrence, my father decided that the four of us should go to that game. So, we drove downtown and we couldn't even get the car anywhere near downtown, and we just parked and we walked in and it was like Times Square and what you see in the movies. It was like that in the main street of Flint, Michigan.

SH: Really?

WA: And I ran into high school friends of mine and, you know, we were cheering and all that good stuff.

SH: There was a real sense that it was over.

WA: Oh, God, yes.

SH: Because I wondered, as the war wore on, had you or your parents ever talked about the fact that you might be called?

WA: If they did, I don't ever think I had any knowledge of it. My father was over thirty-five ... and he had two kids, so he was not [going to be called up].

SH: He was also working in a plant.

WA: Well, true, yes. There were all sorts of reasons why he wasn't going, but, I don't know, ... the war would have had to go on for a long time, because I was thirteen ... when it ended, and then, of course, I remember seeing the pictures, the newsreels, of the V-J Day surrender on the USS Missouri [(BB-63)].

SH: When do you first remember hearing about the Holocaust? Was that in the newsreels?

WA: Yes, I think I remember reading that in newspapers, with the pictures, and very lengthy articles as to what it was all about, and I don't really know that I totally comprehended what that was all about.

SH: How graphic were the pictures that a young boy would see?

WA: Well, they were graphic pictures of, you still see some of them today, of the skin and bones people hanging onto the fence and looking out, that kind of stuff.

SH: Because I wondered if that was something that was not portrayed, the actual human suffering, or was it more just a headline.

WA: Well, no, I think the human suffering was very definitely portrayed. I didn't have much of an appreciation for the concept of genocide. I just knew these were people that he [Hitler] wanted done in. You know, it wasn't until quite a few years later that I [learned more]; well, at the time, I had no Jewish friends.

SH: That would have been in Flint.

WA: Yes, when I was in Flint, ... up to the end of World War II.

SH: Before we talk about the diversity that you found in New Jersey, was the Flint school system that you attended integrated?

WA: If you're talking black and white, yes; if you're talking Chaldeans, yes. [Editor's Note: Chaldean Americans trace their heritage back to the northern area of the Tigris-Euphrates region, in modern Iraq.] I don't know why these Middle Easterners called themselves Chaldeans, but that's what they called themselves. I think they were Assyrian, but the area around there was one of the largest concentrations of ...

SH: It still is.

WA: It still is, and I had a lot of friends; some of them weren't necessarily my friends. You want to know why I wasn't acceptable? I remember sitting in an English class with a guy whose name was Shaheen Shaheen Shaheen. He was not a very friendly guy to begin with, and the teacher asked for an example of alliteration, and I said, "Shaheen Shaheen Shaheen." A lot of them thought it was funny, but Shaheen didn't think it was funny at all. [laughter] So, diversity in blacks, diversity of people of that ... heritage, certainly, there were a relatively small percentage of Jewish students, and I had no previous experience interacting with any of them.

SH: Was the Chaldean group made up of recent immigrants, because of the war?

WA: No, they weren't. ... They dated back, because the people that I was familiar with were born in the United States. I mean, it was their parents who had immigrated. Why, I'm not sure.

SH: Perhaps World War I.

WA: Yes.

SH: When you got to Scotch Plains, was it equally diverse and integrated? We are talking about the late 1940s.

WA: Yes, we're talking '48 through '50. I would say not much more than ten percent black and there was one Jewish guy in our class. You know, outside of our class, I don't really know for sure. So, it was really less diverse, but, then, there were fewer people. I would say that our relationships between the whites and the blacks was excellent, and has continued to be throughout our class's history.

SH: When you were in Scotch Plains High School, when did you begin to think of college, or had you always known you were going to go to college?

WA: I think I had always known I was going to go to college. I was valedictorian of my class and the guidance counselor told me I was selling myself down the river by choosing Rutgers, because I could go to any place I wanted to. What she wasn't really aware of is that when I lived in Michigan, I did a lot of research on colleges and I knew I wanted to be a math major and Rutgers' math department had a damned good reputation. What I didn't know was that, in the State of New Jersey, at that time, none of the kids wanted to stay in New Jersey. They all wanted to leave New Jersey. The Midwest had the exact opposite attitude, "You're not going to State? You're not going to Ann Arbor? You must be crazy." So, I was totally out of sync, but, ... before I ever got here, I had my eyes on Rutgers.

SH: Did you really? That is great to hear.

WA: Yes. What's not so smart is that it wasn't until my freshman orientation week that I realized it wasn't coed. [laughter] Oh, well.

SH: They never mentioned that.

WA: They never did.

GF: Your father attended the University of Ohio.

WA: No, [University of] Cincinnati.

GF: Okay. Were you expected to go to college?

WA: ... Well, expected kind of implies like I might have gone against my own will. ... I mean, there was never any doubt in my mind I was going to go to college. I think there was never any doubt in my parents' mind that I was going to college, and had I resisted in any way, I'm sure they would have pushed, but they never had any need to.

SH: Did you receive a scholarship because you were valedictorian of your class?

WA: I received what they called a State Scholarship, which meant I got a hundred dollars off my tuition every semester.

SH: That is all. [laughter]

WA: That's it, that's it, and, at the time, with the wonderful support of higher education that New Jersey has historically given, [laughter] I could have gone to Penn State, as a Jersey resident, cheaper than going to Rutgers.

GF: What was your first impression when you arrived as a freshman?

WA: "Wow, this is great." [laughter]

SH: You had not gone down to see the campus before.

WA: Oh, no, I'd been down for several weekends. ...

SH: When did you come down to campus?

WA: Oh, for several scholarship weekends.

SH: How did they treat you? What was it like?

WA: Well, the format was, like, you came down on a Friday and you stayed over Friday night, and I think maybe Saturday night, too, at a fraternity house, and you went to meetings and were told what you would be doing and getting an idea of what the curriculum would be, and so on, and so forth.

SH: Did it include a football game or any kind of activities?

WA: It might have included a basketball game. It was not during football season. ... I did two, or maybe even three, visits like this and none of them were in the fall.

SH: Was it the same fraternity house that you stayed at?

WA: Yes, but I was connected to it already.

SH: How?

WA: By one of the guys in the fraternity who was from my high school, and I didn't really know him, but he was dating one of my classmates, in addition to which the assistant director of admissions at the time, and I don't know how far back your memory goes, but Hank Evans was the guidance director at Scotch Plains before I got there. So, he had been apprised of me and he made sure I got over to the Phi Gam house.

GF: Was there any other reason you joined Phi Gamma Delta?

WA: You know, I have to say, ... I remember the first time I was there for lunch and, when lunch was over, a quartet of members stood up and sang three songs, two Rutgers songs and a Phi Gam song, and it just blew my mind away. ... Then, on another visit, I could overhear somebody in one of the rooms playing a Beethoven symphony. I thought, "This is for me, man. I speak their language." Of course, you know, fifteen years later, I'd run into women down at Johnson & Johnson, where I worked, who couldn't believe I was Phi Gam, because, now, they were all jocks. [laughter]

GF: You were president. For how long?

WA: I was president of the fraternity my senior year.

GF: What was that like?

SH: Did you move up through the ranks?

WA: Well, yes, I did, but that was not typical. Typically, all of the officers are seniors. You know, they start in the spring of their junior year and they go to the spring of their senior year. The Class of 1953, ahead of me, was fairly sparse and they elected me, as a sophomore, to be the treasurer, which was the number two officer, there was no vice-president, and it's really kind of what influenced me to get out of math and go into accounting; the fact that I really enjoyed this. ... I took accounting courses because of it, and [discovered], "Hey, man, this is for me," [laughter] but [it was a] fantastic experience, oh, my god. I mean, being treasurer was, like, I don't even know how to translate it, in terms of today's dollars, but, at the time, you know, like a five-hundred-thousand-dollar a year business, and being president, by my standards, and the standards of the people who were with me in those years, was, you pretty much have to figure out what's right for the group as a whole and enforce that amongst the people when they stray. ... Of course, at the time, you could have beer or wine in your parties, but you couldn't have any hard liquor at all. ... You'd have chaperones and the chaperones' responsibilities were to enforce this, and we knew damn well that the other fraternities, some of the other fraternities, were ignoring this completely, and I remember going to the dean, after a house party weekend, ... Dean Howard Crosby, and I said, "Are you guys serious about this or not, because, you know, it's well-known that a whole bunch of these fraternities are doing it?" and, within three or four weeks, man, there was a crackdown, and I was the bad guy. [laughter]

SH: Describe the fraternity and how it was setup, as you remember it? Where was it located?

WA: Well, it was located at the corner of Hamilton [Street] and Easton [Avenue], which was torn down a few years ago and is a medical building now. I'm not sure what your question is driving at here.

SH: Because it is gone, I wanted you to recall what the building was like.

WA: I mean, geographically, ... construction-wise? You walk in the front, the purple door, in the front door, and here's the living room and here's the dining room, back there's the kitchen and back there's the den, with the fireplace.

SH: Okay. Was it one of the old Victorian homes that were in the area?

WA: Not like Mine Street. It was a church, at one point in time. As a matter-of-fact, I think when we bought it, it was a church, and we bought it in, like, 1949, or something like that.

SH: You were actually almost there from the beginning of being in that building.

WA: In that particular facility, yes. In fact, I was in it, as a high school senior, the first year that they were in it. Unlike some of the fraternities, we did not have dorm style. We had individual rooms, where it was your room with your roommate. We had some rooms that housed four people, some that housed three and some that housed two. The president and the treasurer always had a specific room for just the two of them, which was the office. We had a phone booth on the first floor, which is only funny to me, [laughter] you know, one phone for the whole damned place. ... It was a closet, it was literally in a closet, a pay phone. We called ourselves the Fijis, because Phi Gamma kind of sounds like Fiji, and that was not just us on our campus, that's all over. We dug a hole in the side yard and cemented it in, so that we could make a pond every year for Military Science Weekend in May, to have the Fiji Island party. ... Everybody dressed like somebody from the islands, and so on, and so forth, and that was the way it was.

SH: Did you participate in the homecoming parade? Did your fraternity have a float?

WA: My recollection is that we didn't have; well, yes, I guess we did have floats. What we had [was], all the living groups had displays in their yards. That was the principal thing, and that's what you were judged on. Some of them were transportable into a parade on homecoming day, but the big activity was Friday night. ... I can remember, we had a thing where there was, of course, it was the Chanticleer at the time, it was not [the] Scarlet Knight, and [we had a] rooster which was killing an owl, because we were playing Temple. [laughter] Seemed very important at the time.

SH: You had a housemother that lived with the fraternity.

WA: Absolutely, and I think it was the great failure of the fraternity system that they did away with them.

SH: Was she there alone?

WA: She had a husband who worked in New York and was there with her in the evenings, who was a member of the fraternity from another chapter, from years past.

SH: Was dinner formal?

WA: Absolutely, except on Friday nights, unless it was a house party weekend. No, everybody wore a coat and tie, everybody stood at the table while the president said grace, and then, held the housemother's chair out, so [that] she could sit down, because she always sat next to the president, and once that was done, then, everybody could sit down. Dinner was served. When dinner was all over, we would sit there for a good half-hour, singing songs. The kids today just can't grasp that.

SH: That is why we have to get it on record.

WA: Yes, I mean, and I'm not saying it's bad that they don't do that, I'm just saying they can't even imagine that anybody would do such a thing. [laughter]

GF: In general, about the communal song, is that just something that you have noticed over time, that it seems to be less popular?

WA: Music?

GF: Yes, that there is less of that.

WA: I mean, you know, aside from my kids, it's the dominant force of my life. I mean, it had nothing to do with my career. I mean, I worked with computers for Johnson & Johnson for forty years, but it's just been my primary avocation. I've done a lot of world traveling and most of it has been based on going places to hear operas being sung. ...

SH: Did you ever consider joining the glee club?

WA: I never considered myself to have a good enough voice to do that. Now, in those days, the living groups had what they called ... the Brett Song Contest and it started out as a quartet contest and, in the late '40s, it was held in the chapel, and it had Soup Walter, [F. Austin] Walter, yes, and, later on, the guy from Indiana, who's now retired, Dave Drinkwater.

SH: Drinkwater.

WA: Yes, Dave Drinkwater, they were the judges. ... Well, Dave wasn't there yet, but, anyway, they had Howard McKinney, Howard McKinney and Soup Walter, judging the contest. So, on this one particular occasion, we adopted a different strategy and we brought in the entire brotherhood as a glee club. Now, of course, some of those people couldn't sing worth a damn, but they were mouthers, and we went up there and we sang two Rutgers songs and a fraternity song and we won the contest, and, from that time on, it became more of a glee club contest. ... For ten years, we took it every year, and I was thrilled with that. I still have tape recordings of rehearsals in the house.

SH: Really?

WA: Yes, you can hear the guy leading it, prompting the group, "Louder," or, "Softer," and, in the background, you can hear the cleanup crew doing the dishes in the adjacent room, and the cook, who had a marvelous laugh, you could hear her all over the place.

SH: The cook was someone that you hired.

WA: The cook and her husband, and their little son, lived in an apartment in the basement. Yes, we hired them, and, as I tried to convey this, they were part of our family, I mean, as was the housemother. ... We loved these people and they had a summer job up at Camp Mount Allamuchy Boy Scout Camp and they had a house in Riverton, down south, and, when Jackie graduated from high school, they retired and went down there, so [that] he could go to college. ... Last I knew, he was a CPA.

SH: That is amazing that you kept up with that.

WA: Her name was Beulah Jackson, one of the ... most wonderful people you'd ever want to meet, and I'm getting sentimental, and she died. She had a heart attack, and I got a call from her husband, who told me she had died. So, I rounded up a bunch of the guys and we drove down to the funeral. I'm thinking, you know, we're going to this little black church and we're going to be the only white people there. We got there, it was as big as the [Kirkpatrick] Chapel, it was packed, and we had to sit in the basement. [laughter] You know, she was very much loved by many people, yes.

SH: This is a good story to recount for the record. I am glad you did that.

WA: Well, good; Ralph and Beulah Jackson.

SH: Were you part of the Inter-Fraternity Council, as president?

WA: Yes, I was the representative to the Inter-Fraternity Council.

SH: Was it contentious, or was it easy?

WA: Oh, it wasn't really contentious; you mean the council itself? No, I mean, it was just, we'd get together, I think, one night a month and have a meeting to discuss matters of common interest. ... You know, the big issue in those days was discrimination, the fact that the fraternities had discriminatory clauses, and nobody was more against that than I was, but I was solidly in the camp that said, "This is the fraternity's business and we're working from within to get rid of this and leave us alone," but there was a significant faction on campus, especially the non-fraternity people, who were constantly putting on pressure. ... As a result of that, some of the fraternities did go public and announced, "We got rid of our clause," and all that kind of stuff. Have you ever come in contact with Art Kamin?

SH: No.

WA: ... He had a letter in the recent Rutgers alumni magazine [Rutgers Magazine]. He was the editor of Targum at the time, in my class, and he was an independent and he was forever harping on this. ... That's a prejudicial word, but, I mean, you know, it was an issue that he was [passionate about], you know, and he and I would just get into these damned debates, you know. I said, "Let us alone, we're working on it," you know, and I remember, one time, I had the unfortunate experience of writing a letter to the editor in which I said, "All right, already, most of the people out there don't care," and then, of course, the handful that cared wrote opposing, opposition, letters back, so that I was really the bad guy, you know. ... I remember running into Art, maybe at our twentieth reunion, and I said to him, "Boy, those things certainly seemed very important to us in those days, didn't they?" and he said, "Yes, they really did."

SH: Did you, in fact, get the clause out before you left?

WA: Yes. Well, before I left; it was, like, two or three years after. Now, this was not a question of our chapter; this was a question of the entire international fraternity.

SH: How was your fraternity ...

WA: My fraternity, who had, at Rutgers, initiated at least a dozen ... Japanese, not Japanese-Americans, into the fraternity in the 1920s, had in its constitution a clause that said that in order to be eligible to be a member of the fraternity that they had to be of Caucasian and of Christian tendency or persuasion. ... In discussions with my colleagues on the Inter-Fraternity Council, some of whom were ZBT and Sammy, and so on, and so forth, great guys, we had good rapport. I learned, for instance, that ZBT was founded by a bunch of rabbinical students for Jewish boys. Well, who the hell is this guy sitting here telling them that they've got to take in Christians? That ... was my attitude, but I didn't like the idea of anything which said you can't take anybody who's not Caucasian. So, eventually, about 1958, we changed it. It was a sneaky change; it said, "In order to be eligible for membership, a member, a person, must be compatible to the fraternity as a whole." Big Southern element, [laughter] and then, I would say it probably wasn't until the mid-'60s that we actually took in blacks. We had taken in Jews and Catholics. We didn't have any Catholics when I was [there], until I was, like, a junior. In fact, I remember one guy, one time, saying, ... he said, in the main meeting, which was in the dining room, he said, "As soon as this meeting is over, there will be a conference between the Catholic membership in the phone booth." [laughter] But, those were big issues in those days. Other than that, I don't recall any major, contentious issues on the Inter-Fraternity Council. It was mostly about, "Well, how are we going to organize Greek Week this year?" and, "We hear this chapter is hazing more than they should, so, what are we going to do about it?" and stuff like that. I actually ran for president. I was extremely naïve, didn't get it, and I'm convinced, to this day, and the guy who beat me ... just told me five years ago that he thinks this is true, too, I did no campaigning whatsoever. I didn't even think it was a thing that was necessary to do. Well, he was out making contacts, saying, "Will you vote for me?" and that's what happened. [laughter]

SH: You talked about the relationship with the administration as a fraternity. What kind of oversight did they have?

WA: Well, I mean, the dean's office consisted of something like five people, Larry Pitt, Ed Curtain, Howard Crosby, Cornelius Boocock, and there was not, at that time, a dean of fraternities. So, it was kind of whatever the occasion required. There's no formal structure.

SH: You talked about having the editor of the Targum in your fraternity.

WA: No, no. He was the guy who was constantly telling us we had to change our constitution.

SH: He was the independent.

WA: Yes, he was a member of the Scarlet Barbs.

SH: Were there other issues with the Targum during that time?

WA: What do you mean, between the fraternities and the Targum? Not that I recall, but, being a journalist, he found lots of issues. [laughter]

GF: You were involved with WRSU, right?

WA: I was station manager my junior year.

GF: Okay. Was it a musical program type format?

WA: ... The total program content was quite varied--pop, classics, discussions, drama and attempts at comedy. When I started my freshman year, I went immediately to the place and said, "I love classical music and I'd like to do a classical music show." So, right off the bat, I was doing, one night a week, the closing show, playing from my own record collection and doing my own narration. Then, at the end of my sophomore year, the station manager and the program director, from Class of '52, called me in and said, "We don't think there's anybody in the Class of '53 who is really qualified to be the station manager. So, we'd like you to be the station manager." So, I was. I don't think I did a great job of it. I mean, in hindsight, I think I could have done a much better job. I was so doggone involved with fraternity activities, and I was treasurer of the house at the time and everything, I didn't devote enough of my personal resources to that job.

SH: Where was the station located at that time?

WA: Up in peanut heaven, next to the Zeta Psi House, you know, up on the third floor, with sloped ceilings. [Editor's Note: "Peanut heaven" was a term used for the top balcony of a theater.] In fact, you may or may not know, they had a sixtieth anniversary banquet in the spring.

SH: I did read about it. Did you attend?

WA: Yes. Well, they had each one of us stand up and say a few things, and I said, "I think one of the reasons they took me on is because I'm short and didn't run into the ceiling." [laughter] I loved it. I mean, it was a great experience. We did a lot of improvisation and, as the closing show of the night, I would go in before the show, to a little alcove, where there was a Teletype, the news Teletype, tear it off and, while the music was playing, I'd be picking out the items. ... As soon as the show was over, at five minutes of eleven, I think it was, I would read four minutes of the news, and then, put on the Star-Spangled Banner and sign off.

SH: Do you remember any of the breaking news that you reported?

WA: No, not really.

SH: How does the Korean War figure in?

WA: Well, it figures, [laughter] and ... I was just about to say, probably, some of it had to do with the Korean War. [The] Korean War broke out three days after I graduated from high school. I had every intention of going into ROTC, but there were a lot of people who only went into it [to avoid the draft]. Well, of course, you had to take two years of it, because it was a land-grant college and those were the rules in those days, but I had, all along, intended to stay with it and, once I was there and the war was going on and people were getting drafted, and people were getting student deferments, ... I thought, "No, I'm going to stick with ROTC." ... In December of 1950, the University announced that any student who left the college to join the Armed Forces would receive passing grades in all of their classes for that semester.

SH: This is in 1949?

WA: Sorry, this is the first semester of 1950. I knew a fair number of people who were failing who took advantage of that, who went into the service and wound up in Korea. ... Everyone I knew came back, eventually. ... That's one of the major things that I remember about it, because that's a pretty radical thing to do, and there were plenty of people who took advantage of it. I went to Air Force ROTC summer camp the summer between my junior and senior year. Most of my colleagues were down some place in Texas or Alabama. I was on Cape Cod. [laughter] Talk about luck, and, while there, the Korean War ended and half the guys walked out. Half the guys in that class, in that camp, walked out, said, "I don't need this." I, and not just me, but a number of us, said, "You know, you don't know when the next one's going to break out and, if I stick it out for another year, I'm going to have a commission." That's what I did, but I had friends who didn't. I had one very close friend, who today is a millionaire, who had a student deferment. He was really not doing all that well academically, and, at the end of the first semester, he flunked a course, and that meant he wouldn't graduate on time. They drafted him right out and sent him to Texas for two years. He came back a new man. He found out what it would be like if he didn't buckle down. He stayed on, got a PhD, started his own business, he sold his own business to a bigger business, and, today, he's the most financially successful person I know.

SH: That is wonderful. You talked about the ROTC and making sure that you got into the Air Force ROTC. Was there a competition between the two?

WA: No, no, it was not that. In those days, and I assume it's no longer the case, registration was one of the most horrific, horrible processes you could imagine.

GF: The lines?

WA: It still is?

GF: No, it is all online.

WA: Yes, well, that's what I thought, and, basically, what they did was, they'd take graduate students and interns and people like that, who really didn't know the ins and outs, but who were just there to make sure that everything got signed properly. ... I said to the guy I was assigned to, who was a young man, ... "If I take these courses that they say I'm required to take as a math major, then, I can't get into Air Force ROTC." "Well, it doesn't make any difference," said he, and I said, "Well, it does to me," I said, "and I don't see any reason why I have to take chemistry when I could take biology." "Well, why do you want to take biology?" "Because I want to take psychology in my sophomore year." "Oh, okay, you can do that," and, you know, after standing in line for five hours in this huge crowd of people. ... There was no competition between the Air Force and the Army for my body.

SH: Okay, all right.

WA: Yes.

SH: Once you were in uniform, did you ever march together?

WA: Every Tuesday.

SH: It was together; Buccleuch Park?

WA: Yes. You'd assemble on whatever the name of the street is that's adjacent to the gym, or one block over.

SH: Senior Street?

WA: No.

SH: Yes, Sicard Street.

WA: Yes, one of those, and it was a military formation, both the Army and the Air Force, and you'd get formed, and then, you would march over to Buccleuch Park. ... Then, for an hour-and-a-half, you would do all sorts of crazy drills, and then, they would march you back and they would say, "Dismissed," and then, you'd take off your hat and walk home. ... The non-ROTC guys in the fraternity, every Tuesday, when we went out, they would stand there and make fun of us, you know, waving flags and singing songs. [laughter]

SH: You talked about how some people left right away because of the war, but did word come back of any casualties?

WA: No; I mean, not really. I was not personally aware of anyone who was either wounded or killed in Korea, of the people who went from Rutgers.

SH: Was chapel mandatory still?

WA: Chapel was mandatory in the freshman year, but not for religious reasons. It was just nothing but an assembly.

SH: Okay, a convocation-type thing.

WA: Yes.

SH: Do you remember any of the speakers that were there?

WA: Well, Boocock, on the first day, said, you know, "Look around you, because three hundred of you won't be here in four years." [laughter] You know, that was encouraging; not really!

SH: Were there other events, social events or serious academic events, that you remember?

GF: You were also a member of the Queens Players, the Booster Club, the Student Co-Op.

WA: ... Where the hell did you get this?

GF: The yearbook; [laughter] the Inter-American Culture Conference, which you were the chairman of.

WA: Well, that was the thing that I was just going to bring out. I was not the chairman of the conference, I was a conference chairman, big difference. I was chairman of audio-visual for the conference meetings. It was a Latin American thing. ... Jose Amaral was the professor at the time [in the early 1950s] and I think he was personally friendly with the president of Mexico, or something like that, he had a lot of pull, and he brought in a lot of authors, philosophers, from Latin America, and they staged this conference. This was the weekend before I didn't campaign for [fraternity counsel president], and I think that's one of the reasons, because I was so busy running around to all these meeting rooms, making sure that the PA systems were set up; Booster Club?

GF: Yes.

WA: ... I don't know what the hell that [is]. Isn't that something where you give them five dollars and they give you a card?

SH: I would think that the Booster Club would have something to do with ...

WA: Athletics.

SH: Right.

WA: I didn't. I mean, I went to games, because [they were] great social events, ... but I don't even remember that being in my yearbook, but I'll take your word for it.

GF: The Queens Players, what was that?

WA: That was the drama club, in effect. It put on a couple of productions a year.

GF: Were you acting?

WA: I was semi-active. I was in a couple of their productions, and I've always enjoyed theater, and, as I mentioned before, my daughter is even, and my son-in-law, they're both theater teachers in high school. Was there anything else on there? ...

GF: The student co-op.

WA: Oh, that. The student co-op was a thing where it was a way of getting your books cheaper. [laughter] Why was that even there?

SH: I ask them to do research.

WA: Yes, well, he did his research well. I'm going to head back and look at my yearbook, ... but, you know, you're always trying to fill out everything you can think of.

SH: Because you were involved with the fraternity and WRSU, I am thinking, because, in the 1940s and 1950s, they would bring in name bands ...

WA: Oh, sure, I mean, I see where you're heading.

SH: ... And classical artists.

WA: Both. There were three house party weekends every year, in the fall and in, like, February, and then, one in May. Those consisted of a Friday night dance in the gym, the one on College Avenue, by name artists of that period, and, on Saturdays, if it was the right season, going to a football game or a basketball game, and then, on Saturday night, the fraternities and some of the living groups had their house parties. So, we had, three times a year, dance bands of national renown play and we would have dances, ... formal dances, in the room. Do you know what formal means?

GF: Yes.

WA: [laughter] I'm sorry, can't resist. I'm poking fun at your youth, not anything else. Anyway, yes, I think Sammy Kaye was there once and Art Mooney, and, you know, so on, and so forth. In addition to that, there were concert series put on, really arranged and put on by the Music Department. There was one series of, maybe a half a dozen a year, classical orchestras, major classical orchestras. We had the Philadelphia Symphony, we had the Eastman-Rochester [another name for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra], we had the New York Philharmonic, and one of those concerts every year would be a joint concert with the Rutgers Choir. So, I heard the Rutgers Choir do "The Coronation Scene" from [Modest Mussorgky's 1872 opera] Boris Godunov and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with Eric Leinsdorf [of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra] conducting. I heard them do Carmina Burana by [Carl] Orff with [Leonard] Bernstein [of the New York Philharmonic] conducting, and that was par for the course. They [the Rutgers concert series] eventually moved out of the [College Avenue] Gym and they went into the State Theater [in downtown New Brunswick, New Jersey] and I was going there for awhile. ... This was the point in history at which, I mean, this is well after I graduated, and this is a point in time when I was starting to avail myself of New York City a lot more, so, I sort of tapered off. Now, I guess the State Theater, along with a lot of places in New Brunswick in that area, fell on hard times. Now, they talk about how much better it is today and I say, "Yes, it's much better today than it was in the '70s. Is it better than it was in the '50s? I don't think so," but, anyway, the State Theater started showing porno flicks.

SH: Are you kidding?

WA: No, I'm not kidding. They had been in the one that, in the old cinema, the small cinema that was where 301 George Street is now, and that got folded, and so, they started showing porno flicks, and I got a call from somebody in the Music Department, maybe three years after I stopped subscribing, and saying, "We're calling people to find out if the reason you're not coming is because, on other nights, they're showing X-rated movies." I said, "Hell no, that had nothing to do with it at all." Anyway, I thought you might enjoy that story. [laughter]

SH: I did.

WA: But, that's the kind of thing you're talking about, and ... there were other cultural things, too, that didn't necessarily appeal to me. I think we did have some outside drama groups come in from time to time that I would attend, and speakers.

SH: Was politics important on campus?

WA: You mean national politics?

SH: Yes.

WA: My first impulse was to say no, but, then, I remember, in 1952, the entire gymnasium, one night, became a mock political convention, where every living group from Rutgers and Douglass sent delegates representing different states, and they actually had speakers speaking in favor of the major candidates of that era, in both parties, and then, they cast votes, to see who was the nominee. ... My group, the Fijis, were cast as Guam. So, when their name came up, they yielded to the Virgin Islands. Harold Stassen was actually there as a speaker. [Editor's Note: The former Governor of Minnesota, Stassen was a potential Republican presidential candidate in 1952.]

SH: Really?

WA: Yes. Eisenhower got the nomination, but Stassen [was there], and the reason I remember so vividly is that I was doing the coverage for WRSU, and I was down there, you know, talking into my microphone, [Mr. Andrews imitates a newscaster's speaking style], a lot of fun, but, in terms of spending a lot of time sitting around talking about national or international politics, I don't really recall doing that very much.

SH: Was the term "smokers" something that you used at that time?

WA: You mean, you're talking about porno flicks?

SH: [laughter] I did not know that was what you called it.

WA: Well, that was one. Are you talking about, like, rushing parties, you talking about strip teases, you talking about any of these things? [laughter] That's what you're supposed to be asking me, right. I don't think we used the term smoker all that often, but it did come up occasionally, for any one of those three things. ... If you had a bunch of guys in a smoke-filled room, you know, watching a girl doing a striptease or seeing a porno flick, and then, of course, sometimes, if they were doing really heavy recruiting on potential freshmen, they might ... call that a smoker. I never experienced any of that or saw any of that, so, I can't say, but the other two, I saw, occasionally. ...

SH: I have to say, that is a new definition.

WA: Well, is it anywhere near what you had in mind? [laughter] ...

[TAPE PAUSED]

WA: Speaking of smokers, there was a period of time in the '50s, and I think it extended even into the early '60s, when a fraternity wanted to rent a porno movie, the main contact was a member of the New Brunswick police force.

SH: The colloquial term was "skin flick," you said [during the pause].

WA: Well, "skin flick" was what we generally called them, yes.

SH: This has to be a first on record.

WA: Well, good, I'm glad; I'm always glad to contribute. [laughter]

SH: I hate to use this as a segue, but you had talked about being shocked to find out that Rutgers was an all-male college.

WA: Yes, it inhibited me. [laughter]

SH: How long did it take you to realize that there was an all-women's college nearby?

WA: Oh, right away, right away, but, no, the issue was that I didn't share classes with any of them, which meant I wasn't going to develop any kind of rapport with anybody before trying to date them. That's really what the significance was.

SH: Were there social events that were staged specifically for this at that time?

WA: Well, no doubt, I mean, you know, they would have ...

SH: Mixers between Rutgers College and Douglass?

WA: Yes, yes, although I don't recall them as being any big deals, and I don't recall them as being frequent.

SH: There were no women in any of your math courses, as a math major.

WA: In my math courses, I don't think so. There were occasionally women in courses that they didn't have at Douglass, and vice versa. I knew some guys who wanted to take theater, so, they had to go to Douglass, but I can recall a Douglass student in one of my classes, and I think it was an advanced math class; maybe it was a math class, or maybe a physics class, or something like that.

SH: Was there any separation or a fractured relationship between the agricultural students and the Rutgers College students?

WA: Yes, we made fun of them. They were the "aggies," but, you know, my fraternity had a mixture. See, we were very diverse; we had "aggies." [laughter] We had quite a few "aggies," in fact, and I never really saw any evidence of any kind of discrimination or avoidance or anything like that at all, although, you know, we'd kid them.

SH: How were the jocks, as you called them, perceived? Were there any in your fraternity at all?

WA: Oh, yes, oh, yes. There were a handful of jocks who were mediocre students, but we had some really superb athletes, student-athletes, including Billy Austin, who was All-American! I think we prided ourselves on the fact that we had very few guys who had only their athletics to commend them. I can recall counseling some of the undergraduates, maybe ten, fifteen years ago, you know, that we used to go for what we would call "triple threats," high in academics, high in athletics and high in some non-athletic activity, and, as I would say, "If I were there today, they would never have picked me," but we did pretty well. We had some really superb students who were on the teams, letter-winners on one team or another, and who contributed to the University and the fraternity in a lot of ways that were not athletic.

SH: You talked about learning to swim at Rutgers in your freshman year.

WA: Yes.

SH: Was this something you kept up or was that a required course?

WA: Well, you couldn't graduate unless you swam. ... First, one of the things you did when you were in your freshman week was take a swimming test. You had to swim the length of the pool and back. I didn't even try, and so, therefore, as I recall, gym was three days a week, for my first semester, I spent it all in the pool, getting accustomed to it. The guy who was coaching me to swim was Dick Voliva, who was the wrestling coach, and, by the end of the semester, I barely made it up to one end and back to the other, and I think I've swum maybe three times since then. ... I'm a Cancer, too, you know. [laughter]

GF: Why did you become a math major?

WA: Well, I'll tell you why I became a math major, because I was looking at a book of potential occupations and I saw this thing called an actuary, and it said, "Every CEO of every insurance company is an actuary and it requires high skills in math." ... I had high skills in math in high school, and I said, "That's for me." So, I started off with that as my goal. I had a classmate by the name of Jack Byrne. [Editor's Note: John J. Byrne is a former CEO of GEICO and former chairman of Overstock.com.] I don't know if you [Greg] know who Jack Byrne is, but she [Sandra] does, I can tell, and we were both going to be actuaries, and, one, I worked for two semesters for the Home Insurance Company in New York City and I found it incredibly boring, and, two, the more I got involved with higher math, the less enchanted I was with it. You know, I'm a deterministic type, you know, that's what I like, not this ethereal stuff, you know. Well, Jack is the guy who stuck it out and he certainly benefited from it. ... Well, as I told you, by the time I got out, I'd decided I wanted to be an accountant, and then, of course, I was an accounting trainee for nine months at J&J, and then, I went in the Air Force and they showed me how to program a computer in 1955, and I said, "Who would want to be an accountant when they can program computers?"

GF: Did you have a favorite professor?

SH: Before we go on to the military, yes.

WA: I certainly did. Now, you're talking about math or all?

GF: Any class, any professor.

WA: Well, Fred Fender was my favorite math professor; he was the only math professor that I thought I enjoyed. Allan Kaprow, the first year he was teaching, he was wonderful, crazy man, but he was wonderful. You know who I'm talking about?

SH: I have heard stories.

WA: Well, he died a few years ago; he invented the thing called "the Happening." He would get a field and get people to come out in the fields and, you know, it was his form of artistic expression. He taught first semester of art appreciation from the perspective of art as it reflects the culture that it represents, and that was absolutely fascinating. I got an "A" in that. Second semester, it was all the stuff you already knew about anyway and didn't have much interest in. I got a "C," but he was there for a long time. I'm trying to think if there's anybody else I'd add to that list. Well, I had McKinney, McKinney for music; you couldn't do better than that. ...

SH: I have heard some great stories about him as well.

WA: Yes, great man.

SH: Let us talk about your graduation and what you remember of that, and then, we will talk about your service.

WA: I remember holding my breath as to ... whether or not I was going to flunk advanced calculus, my second semester [in] my senior year. I probably deserved to flunk it. I had a bad start with calculus, the first semester of it in ... the second semester [in] my freshman year. I would say he was one of the worst professors I ever had, and it wasn't all his fault, some of it was my fault, but he just did nothing to help matters at all, and I just fell behind with calculus. ... Normally, a math major would take advanced calculus as a junior; I deferred it to my senior year. So, it was like, you know, I was going in, after final exams, saying, "Should I telegraph," and I was doing this to be melodramatic, "Should I telegraph my parents in Michigan whether or not ... they should come out for graduation?" So, he passed me, and I think it was a gift.

SH: You accepted it.

WA: Yes, I accepted it, and so, my parents drove out from Michigan and I got my ROTC commission, and my mother, to the day she died, talked about the beautiful smell of the, whatever the flowers were, that they're no longer there. I'm trying to remember what kind of flowers they were, ... not rhododendron, no. They were vine like flowers with blossoms. They smelled good; anyway.

SH: Honeysuckle? I am trying to think of what would be blooming in May in New Jersey.

WA: ... That's it! This is not my field. I've told people many times, over the years, "Almost everything in life interests me, except for agronomy." [laughter] I mean, that's about it. ...

SH: Before we talk about the military, I just wanted to clear something up; you actually lived in the fraternity house as a freshman.

WA: No. I commuted from Scotch Plains as a freshman. I didn't move into the fraternity house until my senior year; I'm sorry, my sophomore year. So, those Thursday nights when I was a freshman that I was closing up at eleven o'clock, I would then drive a half an hour to go home.

SH: Did you have someone to commute with?

WA: No, did it all by myself.

GF: Just one other question; you were the high school valedictorian and you had a real range of interests. I was wondering, even since elementary school, were you really invested in school or were you just good at it?

WA: Good at what?

SH: Being a scholar.

GF: Yes.

WA: Being a scholar? Well, yes, I had high marks all the way through. I mean, there were a couple of times that I just lost interest, and so, I didn't get such good marks, but it was purely because I lost interest. In junior high school, I was on the projection squad, which meant I [would] run the sixteen-millimeter camera for all the classes, when they were going to show movies to the classes, and for entertainment during lunch hour. So, I saw such fantastic films as One Million, B.C. [the 1940 film version], with Victor Mature and Carole Landis, and The Last Days of Pompeii [a 1935 film]. I must have seen those movies twenty-five, thirty times. So, I know them by heart, but that awakened an interest in film for me, because I'm very avidly interested. I've got something like four thousand movies on tape and DVD in the house. I go to the movies once a week, if I can, and I've attended film forums where you see an unreleased film, and then, you have somebody from the film interviewed and all the performing arts interest me, except maybe a ballet. I'm not too keen on ballet. ... I've seen performances by the Bolshoi, where they're doing spectacular excerpts, and I loved it, but, if I go see Swan Lake and they're all there in their tutus, I get a little bit bored with it after awhile, yes. [laughter] So, I don't know if that addresses your question or not. I guess I was never considered to be a slow student.

SH: Was there any pressure? You were commissioned at graduation; was it difficult to get a job, because you now had this commitment to the Air Force?

WA: No.

SH: How did that work?

WA: Because just about everybody had a commitment, one way or another. When I decided to apply for work at Johnson & Johnson, not knowing if I'd get it, I took other things, like I told you, Chrysler and Cadillac, and several others. Anyway, I applied to Johnson & Johnson as an accountant, to go into accounting, and one of my friends had applied to Johnson & Johnson to go into their management training program, and he'd been accepted and I didn't hear anything. Now, the main reason I applied to Johnson & Johnson was because I knew I was going into the Air Force within nine months and I wanted to spend the fall social season in New Brunswick. That's the main reason I applied there. [laughter] So, I said to my friend, you know, "Ask the guy," who was the head of personnel at the time, they ... hadn't come up with that brilliant phrase "human resources" yet, "Ask him if I [will be hired]," and he came back and he said, "Well, we like him, but he's too gregarious to be an accountant," and I said, "Well, I really want to be an accountant." [laughter] So, they hauled me in there and they gave me, what is it, a (Couter?) Preference Test?

SH: I think that was what it was called, yes.

WA: Which does a fantastic job of ... determining what you're interested in right then and there, but has no bearing on whether you're going to be interested in the same thing two weeks from now. [laughter] So, I took the test. It said, "Man, does he want to be an accountant." They hired me and I was in an accounting training program for nine months.

SH: Was it right there in New Brunswick?

WA: Yes, you know, right across from the campus.

GF: This was between graduation in 1954 and when you entered the Air Force.

WA: Yes, from June 1954. I started on the 21st of June, 1954, and I left the end of March [1955] to go into the Air Force, [for] which I was told to report to Bolling Air Force Base in Maryland, which is right outside of Washington, DC. ... You know, I knew I had a two-year commitment, I wasn't looking forward to it, and I'm not militarily-oriented, and I got there and they put us; well, first thing they said at Bolling was, "We have no bachelor officers' quarters. We can't recommend [anything], but here's a rooming house downtown, you know. So, we suggest you go there." So, I go there, here's a widow with a big house with a lot of rooms that she's renting to something like a dozen brand-new Air Force second lieutenants. So, I stayed there for about three or four months, until I and two other guys rented an apartment in Virginia. Meanwhile, we're living six blocks away from what everybody was referring to at the time as "ground zero," the Capitol Building. All of the posters about the possibility of an atomic attack and everything, why, we're six blocks away from it. [laughter] We were put into temporary holding classrooms that were in Quonset huts, right on the Mall, which have since been torn down, which somebody pointed out were lettered R, E, D, and S, God only knows why, and they were really keeping us there while we were waiting for our top secret clearances, because we were being contributed into the National Security Agency in 1955, when not only did nobody know what the hell that was, nobody knew what a computer was.

GF: When you were in the Air Force ROTC, was computer programming something that you were looking at?

WA: ... Were there specific programs I was looking at, you mean within the Air Force?

GF: Yes.

WA: No. I mean, I knew I couldn't fly, but, no, I just [figured], you know, "I've got to serve my country, I made a commitment, I've got to go and do whatever they tell me to do," you know.

SH: When did computers first get on your radar screen, that it could be something you were interested in doing?

WA: There. I didn't know beans about it. This is 1955, my dear. [laughter]

SH: It was the Air Force who picked you to go into computers.

WA: No. It was the Air Force who picked me to go into the National Security Agency, which is a civilian agency; they're the ones who decided, once I got there, that I should, because there were a lot of other possibilities. It was not just computers.

SH: Okay, all right.

WA: Right.

SH: That was what I was going to ask; where did computers come in?

WA: Yes, it was the people in the Agency who decided I would best be suited, and they trained me. ... They actually trained me to program one of the first-generation IBM computers which were oriented to commercial activities, as opposed to scientific research.

SH: Where was the NSA at that point?

WA: It was split up. It was not all at Fort Meade, and I was in a location called Arlington Hall, which was in Arlington, Virginia. It's still there, and it's still called Arlington Hall, but, just as I was getting out of the service, they were consolidating everything in Meade.

SH: Talk about the security and what you had to go through for that.

WA: Well, I was kind of astounded at ... the information they wanted, like, they wanted every address I'd lived at since the day I was born. I had to call my folks and get some of this information, and every school and all sorts of background [information], and names of associates and relatives and everything, and then, of course, I found out later, it's kind of standard operating procedure when you're making these kind of studies. You go to the friends and you say, "And who else was he friendly with?" and then, you go to them, you know, and it took them almost six months to clear me, during which time we were hearing lectures that were right next to Attila the Hun. "The Government is always right. Don't talk against it," etc., and they weren't happy with [Senator Joseph] McCarthy soliciting government workers to squeal to him.

SH: That was what I was going to say, where does he fit into anything that you were dealing with?

WA: Well, ... I guess I was still [a civilian], before I went in the Air Force, when he hit his peak. ...

SH: You were still at Rutgers in the McCarthy era.

WA: Yes, and I think I was still in New Brunswick, after Rutgers, when that was still going on, and, of course, most of what I knew, I saw on television. I saw Welch ask him if he had no sense of decency, and I had no sympathy for the man whatsoever, but one of my friends, who had taken advantage of the opportunity to go to Korea, to get passing grades, who had, by this time, come back, said, "You might not feel that way if you'd ever been shot by them," or, "shot at by them [communists]," you know, as he had been. So, I [said], "Oh, okay." [Editor's Note: The nationally televised Army-McCarthy Hearings, running from March to June of 1954, are remembered for the moment in which Army chief counsel Joseph N. Welch asked Senator McCarthy, "Have you no sense of decency, sir?" The hearings led to the demise of Senator McCarthy's political career.]

SH: What did they do with you now? They have got you in a Quonset hut.

WA: I'm not really doing anything, except keep busy while, you know ...

SH: What did they have you doing?

WA: Studying. I learned a certain amount of Russian, I learned a certain amount of cryptology, a little bit of geopolitical history. I learned that our staunchest ally in the whole world at the time was Turkey, which came as a great surprise, [laughter] you know, and I have no idea how neutral all of this stuff was. Some of it may have been very inaccurate, but that's how they were indoctrinating us, because one of the things they were trying to do is make sure that we were going to be loyal and not give away secrets. ... When we were contributed into the Agency, we were told, "You don't tell anybody; you don't even mention it by name. You know, if somebody asks you where you work, you work for the Department of Defense. Nobody knows what you're doing," and I'm sure that, today, there are agencies where that's the same thing, but no longer the National Security Agency. I drive down there every once in awhile and I go past Fort Meade. [laughter] ... In the unit that I was in, I was the only military officer. There were some enlisted personnel and there were civilians, the particular unit for the programming of this one computer. So, every time we had to do something which required a security guard, guess who? I was the security guard. So, we had a temporary duty to go to New York City to debug programs for a new computer, which was sitting in the corner window of IBM at Madison and 57th Street. ... We had to go up there and go in there at six o'clock in the morning, after IBM put canvasses down to block the view from the windows, which was absolutely ludicrous, and, after two hours, we'd finish up, take everything [out]. I then had to take all of the materials down to Governor's Island and put them in the safe at Fort Jay, and then, go down at five-thirty the next morning and get them. ... The important thing is that I was on the plane from Washington to LaGuardia and I was the only one in uniform, because the others didn't need to wear uniforms, but I was issued a .38 pistol and a shoulder holster. At no time was I ever briefed in how to use the damn thing. The only thing I ever fired in my life was an M-1 at ROTC summer camp. So, I took the thing home to my apartment and played around with it until I assured myself I knew what to do. So, there we are, walking through LaGuardia Airport, these three guys in front of me with attaché cases and I'm in the rear, and I think, "Somebody comes up and grabs one of those, I'm supposed to pull this out and shoot him? They've got to be kidding." [laughter] I talk too much.

SH: No, this is great stuff.

WA: Well, you think things are lax today; some things were pretty lax in those days, too.

SH: Did you receive any kind of briefings in your work there?

WA: I'm not quite sure that I know what you mean. ...

SH: As you said, you found out that Turkey was our ally, but were you getting other briefings, because there were lots of incidents going on during this period?

WA: Well, okay. While I was in that hold area, before I was cleared and actually physically sent to the Agency, ... we were getting all sorts of crap like that. Once I was there, doing my job, no, I was just doing my job. ... There was never anything that I was tempted to want to tell anybody anyway, not until after I was out of the service, ... and I got out in 1957. Three years later, [Francis] Gary Powers went down in the U-2 and Eisenhower immediately denied that we were doing that. [Editor's Note: On May 1, 1960, a US Air Force U-2 aircraft piloted by Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union, exposing the overflight practice and creating an international incident.] "Ah-ha," says I, "we lie," because I had been writing computer programs to analyze the data that he was collecting with those overflights. That's the kind of thing, oh, and the tunnel in Berlin, I knew about that, too, but, other than that, there was never anything. [Editor's Note: Mr. Andrews is referring to a tunnel burrowed from West Berlin to East Berlin in the mid-1950s by the CIA for the purposes of monitoring Soviet communications. The tunnel was discovered and exposed by the Soviets in April 1956.] I assume that's no longer classified. [laughter]

SH: Where did you go to learn to program a computer?

WA: Right there, in house, yes.

SH: They did that right there.

WA: Yes.

SH: The NSA trained you in how to do that.

WA: Well, they had a lot of people there from IBM who were helping out.

GF: Specifically, what kind of programs were you developing? What was the exact purpose? Was it to engage the Soviet threat or was it something more general?

WA: Well, as I say, I was writing programs to analyze data that was being collected from the overflight program. I was writing programs to analyze data from a lot of stuff like that, but, I mean, it was not political in the context that I think you're asking the question.

GF: Okay. It was just more general, something that the Air Force could use.

WA: Well, we knew doggone well why we were doing it; I mean, it wasn't that. It's just that that wasn't the thrust. It was not like, "You've got to do this because the Soviets will do something bad if you don't," you know. It was nothing like that at all and, in some cases, all I was doing was writing programs to do the same function that punch card equipment was doing. So, I mean, it wasn't all for the war effort. ... It contributed, but it was not a direct contribution.

SH: Were there any areas that you were told not to go into or activities you were not to engage in?

WA: You mean like, "Don't go in the next building," or you mean like, "Don't join the Communist Party?"

SH: Things like that, either way.

WA: Yes. Well, I mean, yes, in any facility like that, you're going to go find [areas] closed off, [where] you've got to have very high clearance. When I got out of the Air Force, it took me a year to get used to not having to put a badge up, you know. There were restricted areas, sure. Why they were restricted, I don't know that I ever knew. I don't ever recall being told to stay away from the Lincoln Brigade or, a couple of years later, I might have been suspect because I was a big fan of the Weavers ... and Pete Seeger was on somebody's bad list. [Editor's Note: The Abraham Lincoln Brigade was a group of American volunteers that fought against Francisco Franco's Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War. Singer-Songwriter Pete Seeger drew the ire of the House Un-American Activities Committee, beginning in the mid-1950s, for refusing to testify on people he knew from his prior involvement with the Communist Party and other groups. Seeger faced legal persecution for years afterwards and he and the Weavers suffered under the blacklist.]

SH: Definitely.

WA: I'm going to a concert of his with Arlo Guthrie at Carnegie Hall later this month. He's ninety years old.

SH: It is amazing how these people keep singing and doing whatever they are doing.

WA: Yes.

SH: With the security clearance that you had, was there ever any thought that you would stay in the military?

WA: Any thought on my part? No, definitely not, but they wanted to keep me on as a civilian.

SH: Really?

WA: Yes, as a GS-13, which, at the time, was pretty high, and I really didn't like the idea of being a government employee. ... What I did was, I went back to Johnson & Johnson, and I went to the guy who was in charge of the finance area and I said, "Okay, I've changed my career goals. I no longer want to be an accountant, I want to be a computer programmer, and I'm convinced there's a big future in that," and he said, "Well, that's pretty interesting, because you get out in April and, in July, we get our very first computer. We have nobody on the staff who has hands-on experience. They're all punch card equipment people who have been trained to do it." So, he offered me, he matched the GS-13 figure, and I went back and that was my whole career.

SH: Did you stay in the Reserves?

WA: No, not really.

SH: The whole time, you worked for NASA; excuse me, NSA.

WA: Yes, right. I was only spaced out occasionally. [laughter]

SH: Were you always right there in Arlington Hall?

WA: Well, except for when we had things that had to be conveyed, but, I mean ...

SH: Did that happen often, where you would have to go retrieve or deliver things?

WA: Occasionally, I would be ... going to Chicago on business, you know, TDY to IBM, or the New York trip or a few things like that, but towards the end of my two years was when they started consolidating, and so, they were already starting to break down everything in Arlington and take it to Meade. ... For everything in my unit, I was the shotgun. It was kind of intriguing, because nobody ever went through [the] District of Columbia with sirens blaring and lights blinking in those days, unless you were, like, an ambulance. ... We formed, on two occasions, I was sitting in the lead car, in a cavalcade that consisted of a bunch of semis [semi-trailer trucks] with all sorts of classified material that we were transporting, US Park Police, military police, District of Columbia Police and me. We're sailing through downtown District of Columbia with the lights blaring and everything. Everybody's [wondering], "What the hell is that?" you know, just little, old me. [laughter] So, I did that three times, but it was the exception, not the rule.

SH: Were you a bachelor at this point, enjoying Washington, DC?

WA: Yes, I was. I didn't get married until I was thirty-seven.

SH: Okay. You were enjoying Washington, DC.

WA: Not as much as, in retrospect, I could have. [laughter]

GF: Was there a communal atmosphere among the computer programmers and the people working there? Did you ...

WA: Socialize?

GF: Yes.

WA: It was an interesting mix of people. I don't know how many of them socialized with each other, but I don't think I was ever a part of them. I was more socializing with my fellow Air Force officers, friends that I had come in with originally, and then, had met during that five months or so that I was in hold.

SH: You were still housed with them.

WA: Yes, until the day I left. We had a two-bedroom garden apartment. ... This has nothing to do with what you're [asking about], but my son, who is thirty-four, recently moved from just north of Baltimore to Arlington, Virginia. ... He bought a townhouse and I went down there just a couple of weekends ago. He is literally three miles away from the ... garden apartment I lived in over fifty years ago and it's still there, and that was a spooky experience, I'll tell you. I'm driving in the parking lot and I looked up and said, "My God, that's my bedroom window." [laughter]

SH: Before we end for the day, tell us about coming back and being on the cutting edge in J&J in the computer programming department.

WA: ... Computers and telecommunications was really the area; I kind of pioneered ... voice messaging. No, forget it; I did that, but what I was really trying to say was, I kind of pioneered putting together a worldwide email system for J&J. They had a lot of individual ones that didn't work with each other and my last assignment was managing a group of people who were putting them together. ... At one point in time, I was also managing what we called the consultant group for the computers, that would actually go overseas and visit and coordinate all this stuff. So, that was a fun assignment.

SH: You basically lived in this area then.

WA: Yes. When I came out of the service, I lived in [the] Century Apartments on Easton Avenue, and then, I moved to and bought a house in Piscataway and, thirty-five years ago, I bought this house, got married in the interim, got divorced, also.

SH: We know you have two children.

WA: Yes, right.

SH: Technology, from that point, just mushrooms.

WA: Yes, it is kind of breathtaking.

SH: It must have been very exciting, especially now, when you can look back and see how, every two years, it leaps forward.

WA: A lot of excitement, but a lot of frustration, too, because a lot of people are slow to adapt, not because they're stupid, but because, first of all, they now have to be motivated to adapt. Do you know what it's like trying to get a staff of lawyers to use a computer? [laughter] "A keyboard, you want me to work a keyboard?"

SH: That is why they have secretaries, right?

WA: Exactly, and they're all good girls.

SH: There are a lot of things that happened in that forty years. Not only did technology boom, but Civil Rights and women's rights and all of this; did any of that interplay with your work?

WA: Well, I don't know that it had anything to do with my work so much. I mean, it certainly had a lot to do with my own feelings and my interests, but I guess the closest I could come to it is to say that I think I was kind of leading edge within my own organization for employing women in professional capacities, because my field lent itself to that very well, whereas the old traditional fields, at that time, didn't particularly.

SH: Was it diverse in its integration as well?

WA: Slow, slowly. I mean, we had one black cost accountant when I came there right out of college. He eventually left. It's pretty diverse now. In fact, a number of the people; has the name Clark Johnson ever come up? He was the CFO of J&J for a good many years. He was very instrumental in doing a lot of integration of the professional staff.

SH: Had you always stayed involved with Rutgers and your fraternity?

WA: Up until recently. The fraternity has moved in directions that I don't feel compatible with. I've tried very hard to steer them [in] directions that I thought were productive and I really haven't been active with the fraternity at all for the last five years. I'm certainly still in close contact with many of my fraternity brother friends, some of whom are, like, thirty years younger than I am. ... As far as the University is concerned, if I'm in town and it's not raining horribly, I go down for the parade every year, you know. I don't generally march with my class, because my class sucks. [laughter] My class is not very active in alumni affairs. Anyway, ... I went to my fiftieth and I fully participated, and parts of it just bored me silly, and I have two close friends who are coming into town for the fifty-fifth next spring. So, "Okay, I will go to your stupid luncheon and I will go to the class dinner and I will go to the Old Guard dinner and I will march in the parade, ... but the rest of the time, I'll just spend socializing with you," you know. I don't know how well that answers the question. ...

SH: It does.

WA: I'm not in sync with an awful lot of what the administration is doing in recent years, you know. I've got, Downing? I've got Downing's book sitting right in there; I've read it twice.

GF: Dowling. [Editor's Note: William C. Dowling is a Rutgers professor who has been critical of the university's athletic programs and published a memoir of his efforts in 2007 entitled Confessions of a Spoilsport: My Life and Hard Times Fighting Sports Corruption at an Old Eastern University.]

WA: Dowling, yes, yes. Anyway, I sympathize greatly with what he says. I've met [Rutgers University President Dr. Richard L.] McCormick. I don't know him personally. I don't care if you record this, but if you want to ...

SH: It is up to you, if you like.

WA: I don't mind. You don't have to turn it off on my account. Judging him primarily by what I read in the press, the local press and the Rutgers press, it doesn't thrill me. ... As you can tell, I'm not a big sports nut and he [Dowling] kind of makes the case that Division 1-A sports is going to kill any university, and already has some of them, and the Board of Governors of Rutgers is kind of dominated by the Scarlet R Club and, as soon as I see or hear something like that, my back goes up, because, although I have a lot of friends who are Scarlet R Club members, I know a lot of them that I don't have any desire to associate with at all. [laughter] ... I don't know if you saw, in today's paper, there is a guy who has brought suit against the Board of Governors for running closed meetings when they're not allowed to; oh, my. I know you've got to go.

SH: I was just going to say, do you have a closing question?

GF: I think this is it for today.

SH: Thank you so much for talking with us.

WA: As you could tell, I like to talk. [laughter]

SH: Thank you.

WA: Sure. Well, you're entirely welcome. You know, I knew about this program for a long time, but I figured all they wanted was World War II vets, and then, I don't know if you know who Don Taylor is. Don is one of my closest friends, wonderful guy. About six months ago, he said, "You really ought to do this." So, that's what caused me to send in my paper.

SH: I thank Don Taylor, for the record, for talking you into this.

WA: Well, you're not going to find a better guy in the world than Don.

SH: Thank you. With this, we conclude today's interview.

WA: Well, you're welcome.

---------------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW-------------------------------------------

Reviewed by Daniel Ruggiero 9/20/09

Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 12/18/09

Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 1/9/10

Reviewed by Wilson J. Andrews 1/23/10

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