Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Dr. Joseph Henry Zanzalari. He goes by J. Henry Zanzalari. This is Shaun Illingworth conducting the interview. The date is August 11, 2008, and we are in Edison, New Jersey. Thank you very much for having me here today.
HZ: Glad to be here.
SI: Okay. To begin, can you tell me where and when you were born?
HZ: I was born August the 20th, 1923, in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, Perth Amboy General Hospital.
SI: What was your father's name?
HZ: My father's name was Henry Zanzalari, of course. My mother's name was Josephine.
SI: Your father was originally from New York City.
HZ: My father was born in New York City, and I suspect most of his life was in Perth Amboy.
HZ: The family moved ... from New York to Perth Amboy. His descendants [ancestors] came from Italy, both his mother and father. So, my grandparents on my father's side were Italian. My mother's grandparents, they came from Poland, both the mother and father. So, on my mother's side, I'm Polish. My name is Italian. I look more Polish than Italian, and so forth, ... but that's the history so far. My mother was born in Perth Amboy, by the way, and they grew up pretty much in Perth Amboy. My father was a Navy veteran. He had served in the United States Navy during World War I. I suspect he, from my memory, ... was probably in there for about four years. He didn't graduate high school. He went to Perth Amboy High School for about a year or so, and then, he decided to join the Navy. I suspect he probably lied about his age to get in there, but, anyhow, he served on the United States [USS] Nebraska [(BB-14)], a battleship, and, during World War I, he conveyed the troops from the United States over to Europe. ... After discharge, he became a policeman and he served as a policeman in Perth Amboy for the [next], oh, I suspect, about forty years, as I remember, where he retired. He had won the Garretson Medal for Bravery and, in the Perth Amboy Police Department, if you ever visit there, you will see the plaque with his name on there, and so forth, and, unfortunately, about ten years ago, my father died, or maybe even longer than that, probably about fifteen years ago. He died of cancer, ... but he had served the City of Perth Amboy well and, as I say, he was a veteran from the United States Navy. He always wanted me to join the Navy, always wanted me to go to Annapolis, but I wasn't particularly interested in that, not that I didn't like the Navy or anything. It's just that I wasn't interested in the military. I wanted to go to Rutgers and finish my education. My mother was pretty much a housewife. ... Perth Amboy was well-known for its cigar-making, and my mother worked in a cigar factory, as most of the young Polish girls did during that time, and then, when [she was] married to my father, she did not work. She was probably considered a housewife. You know, when I was a counselor over at the vocational school, I'd interview some of the kids and I'd say, ... "Does your mother work?" and they would say, "No, my mother never worked. She's a housewife," and then, that always amused me, because housewives always work, but, anyhow, that's the basic history of my mother and father and my grandparents.
SI: Did you ever get to know your grandparents who had immigrated to the United States?
HZ: Yes, oh, sure, yes. I knew my father's mother and father ... and I knew my mother's mother and father, because I grew up in the Polish section, and they lived upstairs in the house and we lived downstairs, and it's interesting, I had grandparents, all four of them, for the longest time, and then, in 1941, all three of them died, three of the four died. ... So, I remember the year, of course, 1941, and I lost all three, three of them, and so, sure, ... I knew all four of them.
SI: Did they ever tell you any stories about what life had been like in Italy or Poland?
HZ: My grandmother pretty much was the only one. My grandfather, I don't recall too much, although, you know, as I say, I was in high school, a senior in high school, when he died, but he was never one that was close to me, and so forth; he worked most of the time, that's why. My grandmother came over from Poland with two older sisters. Her older sister came over from what they call Warszawa, which is Warsaw, and they were farmers, and, at the time, she told me that there just was not enough work to do, and so forth, and so, they looked towards America as a place where there was opportunity, not only for jobs, but for husbands as well. So, the first older sister came over and found a person that she married. Then, she brought over the second sister and she, too, married, and then, they brought over my grandmother, and my grandmother was the youngest of the three, and so, she lived with the second sister for awhile and found my grandfather and they were married, and so forth, and then, of course, they had children. Oh, God, let's see, ... they had about six children, which was really a small amount during those days, because most of the families that I [had] experienced with had six, seven children, and so forth. So, that's pretty much what they [related]. They didn't talk too much about Poland. They spoke Polish, and then, they learned English here. Education-wise, I just don't think there was that much education involved. I don't remember my grandmother working at all. My grandfather worked for the St. Stephen's Church in Perth Amboy, and, as a janitor, ... I would say. I'd classify him now as custodian, ... but I don't remember my grandmother working at all. We lived in Perth Amboy, on Hall Avenue and Cortlandt Street, and my other [grand]parents, I don't remember them working at all, for some reason. I don't recall. Oh, I know, my grandfather on my father's side worked in what was called terra cotta. ... Perth Amboy was famous for terra cotta. I don't know whether you know what terra cotta is. It's like the brickwork, and so forth.
HZ: And I don't think they do that very much more anymore, but he worked in terra cotta. In fact, before my father became a policeman, he worked in terra cotta. Everybody in Perth Amboy worked in terra cotta, for some reason. So, that's pretty much what I can remember about them. Now, talking about [their homeland], I don't recall my father's parents talking about Italy, not at all, and I don't recall too much about my grandmother and grandfather on my mother's side talking about Poland. As I grew up, I was too small, really, you know, from zero, age zero until fourteen, and we never just got involved in anything like that, about the past history in Europe. ...
SI: You said that the area where your house was in was a Polish section.
HZ: Yes, I grew up in the Polish section, yes, ... on Cortlandt Street, right. I can remember the streets being unpaved and I can remember the streetcars going down State Street in Perth Amboy and how horrible it was going to be, because, now, they're going to use buses and take away the trolleys, and how everybody was upset, and so forth, with [that decision], because we liked the trolleys. You know, you could hear the "ding, ding" on the trolley as it was going down State Street. So, they removed those and they put busses in, but I do remember that. I remember, in the City of Perth Amboy, we did have five theaters, for instance, and I do remember going to the theaters with my mother and you'd get a piece of kitchenware. They'd have those nights, and so forth. Is this what you want me to talk about?
SI: Yes, absolutely.
HZ: Yes, and I do remember that. I remember the kids, we all played on the street. Once they paved the streets, and so forth, we all played in the streets. It depended upon the season. Football season, we played touch football. ... In the basketball season, we'd have the pole and we'd put a little rim around it and we'd have a little, some sort of a ball, or a rag that looks like a ball, and we'd play basketball, and then, we'd play stickball, always on the street, and so forth. An occasional car would come, and then, we'd have to stop, you know, and let the cars go by, and so forth, but I do remember all the kids going out there, and I'm talking about fifteen, twenty kids [laughter] always out in the street, and so forth. I don't remember anybody being accused of robbery or using knives and guns; everybody was friendly. There was rivalry amongst the kids, you know, and so forth, but everything was pretty much [civil]. The kids were pretty honest, and so forth, and there was no "riches-ness" in there. Everybody was relatively poor, relatively from families similar to the one I described about my own, and so forth. So, I do remember that. I remember, we were right next to a lumberyard and, because of that, there were, oh, I don't know how to call them, rats and mice, and so forth, that were always in the lumberyard, I remember that, and we always kept cats and a dog. We always had animals, to protect ourselves from that sort of thing, and so forth. I can remember, in the house in Perth Amboy, that we were using oil lamps. We didn't have electricity. We were using oil lamps, and the one thing you'd learn fast, never to grasp the glass part of the lamp, because you'd burn your hand pretty good, and so forth, but it took a lesson to find out, and so forth. So, at night, you know, my mother and father would come in and turn down the light, and so forth. ... Being Polish, you, in the wintertime, ... had what they call a pierzyna. A pierzyna is a big feather bed, a cover, and so forth. So, I do remember that, and then, of course, we got electricity put into the house, probably when I was in about second, third grade, or something like that, and then, of course, you had the lights in the street and everything else, and so forth. So, I do remember that part.
SI: Was it just your house that did not have electricity, or was it the whole street?
HZ: No, all of them pretty much didn't, didn't have electricity, and then, one by one, you know, they put the electricity in, and so forth, but it was all pretty much the same idea. You used the lamps, the oil lamps, and refrigeration, there was no refrigeration. I can remember what they called the icebox. What you would do [was], you'd go down to the corner and my mother or father, they'd buy a piece of ice and you'd put it in your icebox, and the thing was, you'd put a pan underneath because the dripping of the water would come down. ... The idea was to make sure you were home when that pan was full, because, ... occasionally, I can remember, my mother and father [saying], "Oh, my God, we forgot about that," and you'd come home and there'd be water all over the floor, and so forth. So, there was none of that. The stove, I can remember, ... the heat from there was all coal. Coal was delivered to your house. The coal man would come in and come in with bags of coal and you'd sit there in the window and you'd count the guy bringing in the bags of coal, to make sure that his count was your count, because there's always a tendency to kind of, you know, if you wanted twenty bags of coal, sometimes, the guy would give you nineteen. So, you wanted to be careful that you got your twenty, and so forth. So, I can remember helping my grandmother and my mother counting the bags of coal, and so forth, as they brought that in. That's what you used to heat your house, and so forth. We had no central heating and, with the pierzyna, that kept you warm, and so forth. I grew up, pretty much, with Polish cooking, pierogies and stuffed cabbages, and stuff like that. ... The times that you would have recreation, as a youngster, was mostly out in the street. We had what they called "The Lumberyard" there in Perth Amboy, and it was a big field, a big, open field, and then, we'd go out there when we had baseball games with other sections of town, and so forth. So, I do remember that. There was plenty of opportunity. There was a cement works that I remember, and that had burnt down by the time I can remember things, and so, in back of that, ... there was a big area of terra cotta, pieces that I guess they didn't want anymore, and so forth. So, you'd go out there and you'd make caves, and so forth, out of that, but we played other teams, as we grew up, and so forth. So, that's some of the things that I can remember. I went to Number Five School, just down the street, and we walked, it wasn't that far, really, and then, from there, I went over to the Samuel E. Shull School, for grades seven, eight and nine. During the year that I was going to high school, the Perth Amboy High School was so crowded that the ninth year was over at the Shull School, and I did graduate there. I can remember, I was the manager of the basketball team and I was always into sports. My father was in sports, and so forth. Unfortunately for me, my father was a Yankee fan and he'd take me over and we saw Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and all the others, but, unfortunately, I say, because I became a Giant fan, for some reason. ... He'd constantly take me to the Yankee game and I'd say, "I want to go see the Giants play," and he was so much of a Yankee ... [fan], it was either [that or nothing]. ... Occasionally, he'd kind of say, "Oh, okay, we'll go over there," and I loved Mel Ott and Carl Hubbell and Bill Terry, and so forth, and Mel Ott would lift up his leg and hit homeruns, and so forth. So, we kind of compromised. What we would do [was], we would go downtown, to the ferry, the ferry from Perth Amboy to Tottenville, and it was probably about a ten-minute ride, and so forth, and, from there, we would take the Staten Island Transit. ... The Transit would take us to St. George and, in St. George, we would get on the ferry and go from St. George ferry to Battery Park, and then, we would get on the elevator [elevated train] and, depending upon if we went to the Giants' stadium, the Polo Grounds, we would go by elevator and, sometimes, I don't remember with my father going by elevator, but we might have, but I remember going with the subway to Yankee Stadium. So, I do remember doing that with my father. ...
SI: Were most of the kids in your neighborhood Giants fans or Yankee fans?
HZ: No, I don't remember too much of that sort of thing there. I had a friend, Henry Johnson, and he was a Giants fan and, once I was able to, and I wasn't that old, really, probably in my freshman year, I could go to New York ... to the Polo Grounds with Henry and I by ourselves. We didn't even need my mother and father, or especially my father. My mother was a baseball enthusiast, but, during those days, ... you didn't do something like that. I don't remember anybody else in our neighborhood doing that, going to the games, just Henry and I went there. ... I can also remember going to see the football Giants playing at the Polo Grounds, and we did the same thing, was just Henry and I. I don't remember anybody else doing that, at the time, but you have to remember that, in Perth Amboy, they had city leagues. They had city leagues in basketball and we always had a team. I grew up as the boy who carried the basketball and the uniforms, and so forth, uniforms we had, ... because they were all older than I was by a good five, six years. So, we just hung along, and so forth. So, you'd always have recreation to go to. Baseball had leagues, and so forth. So, the entire city would go over to the parks, and so forth, and see these games. They were free, and then, every Sunday, they'd have a baseball game against a local team. There were two teams in particular I can remember, the Clovers and the Meadowbrooks. The Clovers were the Italian group and the Meadowbrooks were what they called the "square heads," because they were all Danish, and so forth, from Denmark, and so forth. They called them "square heads" and they would play the New York Yankees, the House of David, on Sundays, and, there, you'd have to pay. ... So, there was so much activity there for people who wanted to, and going to a baseball game with the Yankees or the Giants was, you know, something that most people couldn't afford. You paid a dollar, ten cents; you could go to the game for two dollars, transportation and the ticket. I remember, the ticket cost a dollar, ten cents, and it would cost you ninety cents, with all these ferries, and so forth, and, by the way, the transit, that route, was the route for kids to play hooky from high school. If you've ever played hooky from high school, and I won't tell you whether I played hooky or not, but you use your own imagination on that, but, ... knowing the route, there must have been something behind that, but, anyhow, you'd get on the ferry and you'd go all the way to New York, to Battery Park, and they used to have the aqueduct was there, ... for the fish, what do you call it? ...
HZ: Aquarium, ... and, at Battery Park, you'd go there, to the aquarium, or you'd go to the shows, and, when you got older, they used to have the burlesque shows, and this, I remember some of the kids going, when you were a little older, in high school, and so forth. See, that was popular. In fact, all the adults would go to Newark, to Minsky's, and so forth. They did the burlesque shows, and that wasn't considered any [risqué thing], because, see, there was very little in the way of raw flesh, and so forth. That was a kind of entertainment.
SI: Did they have those in Perth Amboy, too?
HZ: Yes. I can remember my mother and father talking about that in Perth Amboy, well-known shows. In fact, where I grew up, they tell me, on Hall Avenue, that they started there before they went into downtown, in Smith Street. ... Yes, my mother and father would talk about vaudeville. I do remember seeing vaudeville, but not [silent films]; when I was going to pictures, it was mostly moving, talking pictures, and most of the entertainment at night was by radio. You know, there was, of course, no television, and you could remember Just Plain Bill, Jack Armstrong, [the All-American Boy] was a very famous, popular rather, radio [program], Uncle Don for the kids, but everything that you did was pretty much with radio, and I would listen to the games that I didn't go see in New York. I'd listened to the radio, the Giants were on radio all the time, and then, the Yankees were, too, and so, you spent a lot of time on that. Most of the games that you played were, like, hopscotch, you'd draw stuff on sidewalks, because they always had sidewalks and you'd mark the ball with the little ball, I remember, and you'd name fruits, you'd name vegetables, and each one of them had a block and you'd roll the ball, and so forth, and whatever you landed on, you know, you'd have to do. I remember the jackknife with, you put your knife in your hand and you'd go up and down with it, and then, different ways. I remember playing marbles. I remember taking baseball tickets; oh, you saved baseball tickets. They didn't save football tickets, because football wasn't that popular during that time, but baseball was the sport, and boxing, and you'd kind of allow the cards to leave your hand and it'd either come up heads or tails. Now, if you had five cards and three ended up heads and two tails, you would have to match that. If you didn't match it, you lost all your five, and so forth. So, I do remember games like that, but, you see, there was always something to do, you know. ... I was kind of a bookworm, and so, I did a lot of reading when I was home, and I could read and listen to the radio at the same time, and I used to do that. My father, as a policeman, was on shift work. So, sometimes, I disturbed him with my radio. I can remember him saying, "I've got to go to work there. You have to turn down the radio," and so forth. So, that's some of the stuff that I can remember.
SI: You mentioned that there was a lot of Polish cooking in the household. Were there other Polish traditions, or Italian traditions, that were kept up in your household?
HZ: No, [to] tell you [the truth], I didn't have any relationship to the Italian, quite frankly, but the Polish traditions were, like, Easter, Christmas. I remember, for Easter, my grandmother always had bread. She made bread, right from scratch, and so forth, and she'd always make me one of the little pieces of bread, and so forth, and we always would have a lamb made of butter. ... We would always have a table for Easter, usually between Good Friday and Easter, normally on a Saturday, and the priest would come around to all the homes, from St. Stephen's, and he'd bless the food, and I always remember, you'd have to have some money on the table. ... The kids used to say that, "Oh, the priest would come and bless it quick, and then, take the money," you know, and so forth. We always had a little joke about that, and so forth, ... but, every Easter, that would happen, and, of course, Christmas, we always celebrated Christmas with some sort of a meal. My mother was a very good cook, a Polish cook, and I would say our Christmases were mostly American foods. You know, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas was probably turkey and, you know, the vegetables, potatoes and string beans and peas and stuff like that, rather than the Polish, but, for Easter, I remember going to all the Catholic churches, and there were five, for Good Friday. My aunt and I, and then, later on, my cousin and I, we would go to all the churches in Perth Amboy, starting with the Hungarian church, then, we went over to the Slavish church, which was; Hungarian was our Lady of Hungary, ... the Slovak church was Holy Trinity, and then, over to the Italian church, I don't recall what that name was, and then, over to St. Mary's, and then, finally, to our church. St. Mary's was the Irish, and then, the St. Stephen's was the Polish. We'd end up there, and you'd go over there and the manger was there, you know; no, that was Christmas, [not] the manger, the cross. The cross was there and you'd go there and, you know, you'd kneel and you'd say your prayers, every time, and so forth. So, I remember doing that every year.
SI: Would they act out the Stations of the Cross in any of the churches?
HZ: Yes, yes, but we would end up in St. Stephen's for the Stations of the Cross. We would only do that the one time, ... but just visit the other churches, and so forth. So, that was a tradition. Of course, Christmastime, you know, you'd have your [presents], you go to sleep and you'd wake up. We'd always have a Christmas tree. I had the electric trains, the Lionel trains. In fact, my son has all my electric trains. So, they would be, you know, eighty years old by now. I'm going to be eighty-five in a couple of weeks. August the 20th, I'll be eighty-five. So, I had them when I was five years old, so, they're eighty years old, and he has them running, he and his son. His son graduated Pittsburgh University, as an engineer, so, they take care of that. So, I remember the electric train going around the tree, and so forth, and, I don't know, I think I'm running out of [things to say].
SI: You mentioned the traditions around the holidays. In general, was the Church important in your life growing up?
HZ: Yes. You see what happened, ... as I think back, what happened, as the people came over from Europe, they tended to live in sections. Now, the Budapest section of Perth Amboy was, see, that would be the Hungarians, and the Irish section, they would call it Dublin. I don't recall whether we had a section or not, [what] that was called, and so forth, but what happened [was], anyhow, the Irish had settled with the Irish, and the Danish, and so forth. I'm just trying to think; well, anyhow, ... see, when they came over, they had family and the family could not speak English very well. They were just learning the English language, but, when they came over, like my grandmother, she didn't know how to speak English, so, the family, if they had a problem, whether it be with the family, whether it be with getting a job, whether getting married, who would they go to but their priest? You see, the priest became very important. The priest in the St. Stephen's, the Polish priest, became important to them, because they helped solve the problems, and the same thing over at [the] Slovak [church] and, ... you know, the Irish [church], and so forth, and so, that's the way it became. The priest became very important to them, and so forth. ... I can remember, as you talk, and so forth, the idea was, if you married, you didn't dare marry an Irish Catholic or a Slovak Catholic; you had to marry a Polish Catholic, and so forth, and, "Oh, my goodness, wasn't it terrible that this girl married outside of the Polish Catholic faith? She married a Slovak," and so forth, that sort of thing, and then, after awhile, it didn't matter, it was [fine]. Then, of course, the Protestant and the Catholic bit, and so forth, and you dare not marry a Protestant if you were Catholic, and so forth, and all these traditions were broken down and it didn't matter whether you married anybody, as long as you were Catholic, and then, it didn't matter whether you married a Protestant, and this type of thing, as long you raised the children in the Church, and so forth, and so, there was all these things that were happening, and so forth. I can tell you that the vocational schools were a very important part of people who were not going to high school, and the vocational schools played a very, very important part during that time. ... Many of the kids, ... the European kids, went over into vocational school and they learned their trades and became a very integral part [of the economy], but, you see, you had, also, big industries in Perth Amboy, like General Cable, National Lead, I don't remember Chevron, yes, Chevron, and Copper Works, Copper Works was big there, and so forth, Anaconda, the dry dock. These were all industries ... and all the kids that graduated from the vo-techs always had jobs, whether [as] machinists or carpenters or painters. Whatever they were, they all had jobs when they were finished, and the thing that was peculiar [was], we had what they called special needs kids now, who are slow, and so forth, but there were always jobs for these slow kids in these industries, somewhere along the line, maybe in the supply houses, and so forth, and so, I don't recall any of the special needs programs that we have now. There's not that much opportunity for them as there were during the era. So, at graduation, sheet metalworkers, I was thinking of, too, there was always jobs for these kids, and so forth, and they played a very, very integral part in Perth Amboy, but what also happened was that they'd become the leaders in some of the unions, whether [it was the] electrical union or the carpentry union, painting union, whatever, plumbing, and so forth. A lot of the graduates became very important in the unions and they helped kids from the vocational schools [in] getting into these unions, and so forth. So, that was a part of what happened, and so forth. Education-wise, a lot of the kids that I grew up with went into the vocational school. I went into the Perth Amboy High School and I graduated in 1941. I took the classical course. I remember coming out number nine, in a graduating class of 440. The one, we had some very, very important people, my friend that I knew, who sat next to me most of the time, was Warren Wilentz and Warren Wilentz's father was [New Jersey Attorney General] Attorney Wilentz.
SI: Yes, David Wilentz. [Editor's Note: David T. Wilentz served as New Jersey Attorney General from 1934 to 1944 and gained international prominence as the prosecutor in the trail of Bruno Hauptmann for kidnapping Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh's son. His son, Warren W. Wilentz, became a prominent attorney and Democratic politician in New Jersey.]
HZ: David Wilentz, and I grew up in a Democratic town, and the story [was], later on, when we talk about ... my military career, I remember going into camp and, somewhere along the line, ... somebody says, "How are you going to vote, Republican [or] Democrat?" and I looked at him strangely and he said, "Well, what's the matter?" I said, "What's a Republican?" I said, ... "I only know the Democrats." [laughter] That's all we ever had in Perth Amboy. By the way, my mother worked for the Democrats, by cooking. She did the cooking for the parties. They used to have a lot of parties, and so forth, especially on election night. She did a lot of cooking for them, and I really didn't [know anything else], and, truthfully, [it was] the same thing with another story I can remember, being in the service, and so forth. I said to this fellow, ... somehow, I said to him, "What's that ring? That's a nice, little ring that you have," and he laughed at me. He says, "Are you Catholic?" and I said, "Well, yes." He says, "Well, this is a Mason's ring," and I said, "What's a Mason?" [laughter] and then, he explained to me what the Masonic Lodge was, and so forth, but I had no idea what that was, but, see, you lived a sheltered life, I guess, and then, you didn't realize that, you know, there was such a thing as a Masonic Lodge. We knew the Knights of Columbus, and so forth. The other thing I can remember there; I joined the YMCA. I can remember joining the YMCA, because my two uncles, my father's brothers, they were very good athletes and they belonged to the YMCA and I remember where ... some of the Catholic priests, people--I wouldn't say the priest, necessarily--would say, "No, you can't go to the YMCA. You have to go to the CYO, the Catholic Youth Organization," and so, there was this little bit of, what would you call it? prejudice or bias or whatever you might say, not openly, and so forth, but, you know, you weren't supposed to go to the YMCA, but I was always a YMCA person. ... In fact, later on in life, I belonged to the Y's Men's Club. So, you know, as we go along, I think about some of these things, and so forth. So, I went to high school and I graduated high school [in] 1941, June 1941, and I applied for Rutgers, for the School of Education. ... I remember taking the group of us, I remember driving the car, it must have been three or four of us, oh, John Andreco was another fellow there, John and I, and there may be some other people, I don't recall, but I used my father's car and we went up to New Brunswick to take the entrance exams. ... We took those, and then, we finally got accepted, and so forth, into Rutgers. ...
SI: How did you hear about Rutgers?
HZ: Well, we had the counselors, the guidance counselors. They would talk about the different schools, and so forth, and I remember them asking, "Anybody interested in Rutgers?" and I was. ... I was told how to go about applying, and I remember having to have three teachers sending in recommendations, which ... they did for me, and that's, basically, I think, ... how I got it, was through the ... guidance counselors. I had a good experience in Perth Amboy High School. It was always a good school, the teachers were just great, and I was not into sports there. I was not that good in sports. So, what we did was mostly local area teams, like Hall Avenue teams, and we had what we called the Roessler's Gym. Roessler was a chemist, Dr. Roessler was a chemist, and he had a factory, as I remember it, R&H, was a big factory, chemical factory, I think it became Bakelite after awhile, in Somerset, ... when it moved out. I think I'm correct in that, and Dr. Roessler, when he died, he left his laboratory for the City of Perth Amboy kids and we, as kids, used his laboratory for basketball, and the city league played there. So, we always would go, walk all the way ... from Hall Avenue all the way down to the waterfront, and then, we would play basketball. So, that was my sports, and then, of course, baseball, we had the little leagues, baseball leagues, ... but never in high school did I play. I can remember joining the chemistry club, but that's the only one. ... Our kids were not ones that joined clubs, and we walked ... from Hall Avenue all the way to the school. You know, I just don't remember what we did in the rain or what. I don't recall taking umbrellas, that much I could [recall]. If you took an umbrella, you were kind of a sissy, and so forth, [laughter] but the thing that I remember more than anything else [was], between our Cortlandt Street and the high school was the big railroad tracks, maybe about six across, and, every day, we would go across those tracks and go to school and, sometimes, they had the freight trains [that] were there, with the boxcars full of coal. See, the coal came in that way, and we'd go over the cars, and then, go to school, and so forth, and you had to ... always remember that if those cars started to move to get the hell off that thing pretty fast, and there was never any accidents. You know, the kids were wise, and so forth, ... but I can remember going across those tracks. In fact, I remember going to the city field, in Perth Amboy, where you'd have to go through the tracks. Everybody would go down across the tracks, and then, up. ... Now, these are very high-speed trains going through, the Blue Comet, [a passenger train that ran between New York City and Atlantic City from 1929 to 1941], I remember, and, you know, you'd look both ways and you thought nothing of it. ... This became a part of life, and so forth. So, I do remember that. The other thing [that] comes to mind is the beaches in Perth Amboy. We have very good beaches and there was the free beach and the Bayard's Beach. One of them, you had to pay a nickel, I think, to get in, and so forth, which was quite a substantial amount, and the other one we went to were the barges, off the water here, and [it] used to be a Public Service in there. Now, I don't know what there is there now, but we would jump off, dive off the barges into the water, and so forth. You'd have to know when the high tide came in, and we would do the swimming, and so forth. Everybody could swim and everybody could dive. Some people jumped off the barges, and so forth, and the barge captains would let you do that, and so forth, and it was always very safe. I don't remember anybody drowning in our group or getting hurt, but they were docks, I remember the docks, that you'd have to walk down, and so forth, and it'd depend upon when the high tide was in. Sometimes, the swimming would be in the morning, sometimes, it'd be in the afternoon and, sometimes, later at night, and we all had swim trunks and, every so often, you'd go nude. The kids would take off their swimsuits and they'd go nude, just to fool around, and so forth, ... but we did have fun swimming off the barges and off the docks. We would also go crabbing. We would, they call it spiling, where you'd look and you see the crabs coming near the dock, and so forth, and you'd go with string and you'd catch him, and then, you'd scoop him up. Another way of crabbing was with the nets. You'd open up the nets and you'd have fish heads in there, and then, you'd pull up the nets, and so forth. Crabbing was very good, fishing was good, and then, the Outerbridge [Crossing], I remember, also, having a bicycle and driving all the way to Roosevelt Park. That was nothing, like going [to] that, and then, over the Outerbridge, you could always go into Staten Island with the bridge, and so forth, and I remember having a bicycle. I can remember not too many kids had bicycles over there. The Depression, you talked about the Depression. My father worked as a policeman pretty much, and so, I don't think that we had as much of a problem during the Depression. We were not rich by any means, but I don't think we had a want for anything. I can remember, the only problem [was] that we were paid in bonds, my father was paid in bonds, rather than money, and you would have trouble getting rid of those bonds. For instance, you could pay your taxes, your house taxes, with the bonds, but, when you went into the store, you'd have to, if it was a five-dollar bond, you'd have to spend the whole five dollars, because they didn't want to give you any money in change. So, money was tight, ... but I remember him getting paid in bonds and my mother arguing with a storekeeper, or something like that. I remember going to grocery stores; they always had grocery stores around there. In fact, I can remember one A&P, but they were mostly local grocers, and what you did, you always did everything on credit, my mother did, always credit. ... What happened [was], there was two sets of books, one you kept and one that the grocer kept, and, at a certain period of time, maybe one week or two weeks, whatever it was, he'd add up the whole book, and then, you would check to see what he had with your book, to make sure that they came out even, and so forth. So, most of that was done on credit. I do remember Wheaties was the "breakfast of champions," I remember that was very, very popular. I remember the food that we had was always plentiful, and so forth. We always had Thanksgiving Day, but our neighborhood was hard-pressed for jobs. There wasn't that much, and I can remember, there was always a tavern on every corner, pretty much, and, you know, beer was, I guess, what? five cents, and so forth, and my father occasionally would go over to the tavern, where they would play cards. They would play pinochle, pretty much, and so forth, never gambling. I don't recall anybody gambling in the tavern, you know, like the horserace betting, and so forth. What I could remember, they used to have what they called numbers, three numbers, and you'd bet a penny and, for a penny, you could win five dollars. So, it was like five-hundred-to-one [odds]. I think that was what it was, and we had a candy store on Hall Avenue called Smithy's, and people would go there and play numbers, and then, they would have people go from house to house and take number bets and, you know, some places, they would pay a penny, some two pennies and five pennies, and so forth, but I do remember the numbers. ... If you went past Smithy's at a certain hour, let's say about six, seven o'clock, they'd have a number out there, and, occasionally, I think, they weren't supposed to do it, it was against the law to do it, so, they would be shut down and stuff like that. ... My father had a tough time, because, you know, he was living in the situation where they had it, and then, of course, he didn't want to, you know, do anything about it, necessarily, because that was all his family and friends, and so forth. So, it was pretty hard for him. I can remember, this is interesting, while we're talking, I remember, every Sunday, there was a dice game amongst the kids and they would roll the dice. ... They would always have a lookout for my father, because, when they saw him coming, they'd scatter, because what he would do [was], he'd break up the dice game, and so forth. So, they'd always have a lookout, ... and my father ended up with so many pairs of dice, that he'd get there, you know, and they'd leave the dice, and so forth, but he'd break that game up, because he had to, and so forth, ... but they always looked out for my father. My father provided a lot of security for the neighborhood. They always knew [he was there], and there was another policeman around the corner, too, by the name of Patten, and he was on the next street. ... They provided, you know, security, and whenever people got into trouble; never with cars, because nobody had a car. My father had a car, by the way, but he's probably the only one on that whole block that had a car. It was an Essex, [an automobile manufactured by the Essex and Hudson Motor Companies between 1918 and 1932], as I remember. ... They would come to him, and so forth, and, if there was any trouble, and so forth, ... he'd try to help them out, and so forth. He'd help some of the younger kids. I remember, he always would take some of these kids that were in trouble and he'd recommend the Navy to them and they'd go into [the] Navy. I know one of his friends did very well in the Navy, and so, he helped out. He was very good with kids. The one trouble with having animals, you'd have a dog, this is interesting, you'd have a dog, and this happened to me, where dogs would chase cars. ... Sometimes, they would get ahead of the car and the car would just run over them, and so forth, and it'd kill them, and so forth, and I can remember, at one time, whereby they ran over this dog and my father had to go along and what they had to do was shoot him, you know, and so forth. ... He never liked to do that, but he had to do it where he saw the dog was suffering, and so forth. So, I remember him doing that, once, but I do remember that part of it. ... During my time that I was in grades seven, eight and nine, I delivered papers for what they would call The Perth Amboy Evening News. I remember one of the things that they had, ... on some events, was the extra at night, where there was something that happened, for instance, boxing, Joe Louis; see, a lot of people had radio. You had to listen to the radio, and then, whoever won, like Joe Louis would win, they'd come out with an extra. The kids would go out, "Extra, extra, extra," and people would buy it, for about two cents, three cents. I used to deliver papers and I would charge eighteen cents for the week, for a customer, and that would include six days, no Sunday delivery. ... They would pay me eighteen cents and I would have to pay The Perth Amboy Evening News fifteen cents, and so, I would make three cents profit out of every customer, and I had maybe about forty customers, maybe less than that, twenty-five, and so forth. ... If somebody gave you a penny for a tip, and so forth, boy, that was great, and so forth. So, I did that for about three years. ...
SI: Did you have any other part-time jobs or summer jobs when you were growing up?
HZ: No, that was the only one that I had. I always collected stamps. I love stamps, and so forth, and I don't do that to any great extent now, except for the modern stamps. Any issues that come out now, ... I do that. That was my hobby. I tried building airplanes, the model airplanes, but I was never good at it, and so, I had to give that up. Sports was my life, football, basketball, whatever it was, on the radio or actually going, and so forth. I graduated high school, and then, from before high school into college, I worked in a handkerchief factory, off New Brunswick Avenue, and I was a delivery boy. I'd go down and bring the material upstairs to whoever was going to cut it into the various shapes, and so, I worked there during the summer and I left them to go to school. ... I met the secretary that was there, who was the secretary for Coach [James] Reilly. Now, Coach Reilly was the swimming coach in New Brunswick, at Rutgers, and he had one leg, there was something wrong with one leg, I forget what it was, [if] it was too short or whatever it was. ... When I went to Rutgers, I met him and I said, "The secretary's over there," and, of course, he knew that, but, so, from there, I would work, you know, typical nine to five, whatever it was, and so forth, and I made twelve dollars a week. I remember the twelve dollars a week, and then, my mother was very good in saving that money for me, and we used that [for] tuition. I think the tuition that we paid was a hundred dollars for a semester, as I recall. I think it was a hundred dollars for the semester and I was going to commute. There was nobody to help me out on that, "How do you get a dormitory?" or stuff like that, and so, I decided I was going to commute, and a fellow by the name of Edward Vince was in Edison and I picked him up and, one day, he would drive and [I would drive] the other. I think I did it for two days or three days. I hated it, I really, truly hated it, and my father was talking to a fellow policeman by the name of Keating. ... Keating said, "Well, you know, my son just graduated Rutgers and he belonged to a fraternity called the Raritan Club. Let me see what I can do for your son." Well, before the day was out, I got an invitation from the Raritan Club, as a freshman, to join the fraternity, and so, after three days of commuting, I moved in with them, on George Street, up on the top of the hill, and I became a freshman member. There were about four or five, and there was Bill Kenny, that's when I met him, as a freshman, and I became a freshman at the Raritan Club. So, I was in the School of Education. ...
SI: Did you enroll in that right away or did you choose a major later on?
HZ: No, right away, School of Education. I was impressed with several of my teachers, as I was going along, and I never knew what to do, but this was the only thing that I thought I would like to do, to become a teacher, and mostly because of the people I respected as teachers. One fellow by the name of Mr. Maddock, I forget his first name, Mr. Maddock, and he became very friendly with me and he was good, and then, in the high school, I met so many good teachers there, Mr. Goldstein and a few others there. ... I just admired them and I thought, "Gee, I would like to [do that]. You know, here's a model for me," and so, I went into the School of Education right away. I majored in math and science, and the first thing, first course I ever took was with [Oscar K.] O. K. Buros. I don't know whether you know who O. K. Buros was. He was a fellow that tried to get a book published and O. K. Buros couldn't get it published, and so, he published it himself, and it's called Mental Measurements Yearbook, and it became world famous. ... I had him as my first instructor and, boy, did I get along with him, and I got a "1" in the course, and so forth. Everything was built in with my mind, and so forth, and I used to walk down from the Raritan Club, all the way down to Old [Queens]; oh, my first class was in Old Queens, where it's now the administration building, and I got there and the class was cancelled, because they didn't have it in that building anymore, and I didn't know what to do. What you had to do, by the way, ... what you had to do there [was], you had to wear a freshman cap and they whistled at you and you had to run. Any upperclassman could do that, and so, they'd whistle at you and you'd have to run, and so forth, and so on. You want to turn that off for just a minute.
HZ: Rutgers, right, and I talked to you about O. K. Buros . Well, this was in September of 1941 and things were peaceful. I really enjoyed being a freshman. I can remember, we had study time. Study time had to be, oh, right after dinner. We all had breakfast together, lunch together and dinner. We had a cook that came in and did the work. I don't remember too much about the cost, but I do remember that every; oh, during a period of a year, you had two weeks where you worked in the kitchen as the person who delivered the food, and so forth, and then, you got your meals free. I do remember that, ... but we all were together, and so forth, and we had camaraderie, especially at night. My president and my roommate actually was Jim Kenny, who was Bill's older brother, and so, they fit me in, because I was a late arrival, with a fellow by the name of Ron Jarvis, who later became a Marine, and a Marine major, I think. He was very high; you know, oh, God, what the heck is his name now? would know him very well. He's the one, ceramics, he's from ceramics.
SI: Bill Bauer?
HZ: Bill Bauer.
SI: Yes. [Editor's Note: Professor William H. Bauer is a Professor Emeritus of Ceramics.]
HZ: Bill Bauer would know Ron very well, because they were classmates, and so forth. I sit with Bauer and his wife at the games. ...
SI: Yes. Actually, Ron Jarvis and Jim Kenny were both interviewed for this program.
HZ: Oh, were they, yes?
SI: They were both from the Class of 1942.
SI: The Class of 1942 founded this program. Originally, they were just interviewing Class of 1942 people, and then, it just grew from there.
HZ: Yes. Well, Ron Jarvis and Bill are both dead now, and Jim, too, yes.
SI: Professor Bauer is still alive.
HZ: Yes. See, that's how I met Bauer, because we started to talk, and so forth, and then, I said, "Well, Ron Jarvis was my roommate as a freshman," and ... Bill Kenny had somebody else. ... Oh, he had Al Brady. I don't know whether you ever knew Al Brady.
SI: Yes. He is on the board of this program.
HZ: Is he? Well, Al Brady was roommates with Bill Kenny, as freshmen, and I was put in with the two seniors, who I never saw, by the way. [laughter] They'd be out all the time and I had the room to myself, most of the time, and so forth, and I can remember, my mother would always do my clothes. My father would stop, about once every two weeks or so, and he'd pick up my clothes and she'd always stick in some candies and cookies and stuff like that, and I would have them in my drawer. ... Somehow, there was either mice or roommates who ate my cookies, and so forth, and they'd love to have me as a roommate, and so forth, because they could always have something to eat, and so forth. So, anyhow, Jim Kenny and Ron Jarvis was my roommate and everything was peaceful and I enjoyed it. You'd have to get up at dinnertime and sing your high school song, or something, and so forth. They'd always haze the freshmen like that, and so forth, you know, not hazing, and so forth, but you'd have to get up and sing, and so forth. I remember getting up there and, oh, how nervous I was, and sang, and, oh, God, it was awful. I don't have a good voice and I enjoyed every minute of it, and so forth, and then, of course, ... Pearl Harbor, I happened to be home at that time, with my father and mother. I don't know why I came home, for whatever reason, and they were driving me back to the school that night and we heard when Pearl Harbor was bombed. ... My first reaction was, you know, "Where's Pearl Harbor?" you know, "What is Pearl Harbor?" and so forth, and there was no recognition. Surprising, I don't recall whether my father told me where it was, since he was a Navy man, or not.
SI: Before Pearl Harbor, had you been following the news of what was happening with the war in Europe and the Far East?
HZ: Yes, we had. You know, Rutgers would have speakers that came in, and the fellow that wrote Berlin Diary[came in], I think, Sheer, Shirer?
SI: William Shirer?
HZ: Shirer, he was our speaker, and he spoke. That was the first inclination that; really, not [my] first inclination, but that's the one memory I have, more than anything else, about how he explained what was happening in Germany, and he said, "It's coming here." I remember him saying that, "It's going to come and influence us," and so forth. I don't recall paying too much attention to what was going [on], because I guess I was interested in my studies, more than anything else. I had no recollection that it would interfere with my life at all, and so forth. I don't remember. It could have been, but I just don't recall that having any influence. I remember, the day after Pearl Harbor, we were having lunch and Ron Jarvis, as president [of the fraternity], we all stood up and he said, I can always remember that, ... "After today, we probably will not ever be together again like this," and we sang Auld Lang Sine, and then, we held each others' hands, right around the table, and it was very, very solemn. ... Sure enough, the way it turned out, you know, we had several [men killed from our fraternity]. I know one, I can't recall some of the names, and so forth, but I do know one fellow that was killed in the service. ... Then, you know, it was hard to recognize that there was something going on there, you know, that would influence your life. I think we went back to just the [usual] way of doing things, and so, I finished the freshman year without anything happening, and so forth. It didn't influence me at all. I did know, like, Ron Jarvis was gone. We were taking ROTC at the time, and I know the instructors, they were called into active duty right away. I remember one in particular, he said he was going to go to Australia, and so, that was happening, and so forth. I know they discontinued the final exams, where you didn't have to take final exams anymore and you just got your marks, but, you know, I just don't remember anything. Oh, I can remember one episode. My father, who would have been; [in] '41, well, I don't know what he would have been there, [in his] forties, fifties, he went into [the] Navy to join the Navy and they told him to go home and protect the City of Perth Amboy, because, you know, he was not fit for that, but he did try to join the Navy again. ... My mother [would] be yelling at him, and so forth, when he got home, "What did you try to do that for?" and so forth, and, you know, on and on, and it was very comical, and so forth. ... He came home dejected, and so forth, and he said, "I want to protect my country," and so forth. [laughter] So, I do remember that, but, you know, I don't recall too much happening.
SI: Were there any Civil Defense type of activities going on at the time?
HZ: No, no. I just don't recall that, anything that was unusual. We quit school in May, and so, from May, June, July, August, I worked in what they called a defense factory, General Ceramics, in Keasbey, [New Jersey]. I applied for a job and I was given a job in a laboratory, the ceramics laboratory, and a fellow by the name of Glenn Howatt; Glenn was a graduate of Rutgers and he was an outstanding ceramist, I guess you'd call it. ... He ran that factory and they did all defense work for the Air Force and the Army, through whatever ceramics that was needed, and so forth. ... He hired me. I said, "I'm a freshman and I just finished my freshman year." He said, "You're going to go back to school?" I said, "No, no, I'm not going back to school." I said, "I want a job," and so, I give him a hard luck story, and so forth; lied, I lied. So, he hired me and I worked there for the four months, and then, did quite well. I remember, the pay was getting to be almost ninety cents an hour. When I left, it was almost a dollar-ten cents an hour. ... You know, you'd work all sorts of hours. I made a lot of money there, for the time, and so forth, because, let's see, '41, I was eighteen, and I was seventeen, really, when I was [first] working there, and then, eighteen when I left. So, it was hard work, in the laboratory, because I met a German fellow, Mr. Kramer. ... I was the "college boy" and they put me on boxcars, to unload boxcars, because they needed people to unload boxcars. So, they took everybody and they always got me. The college boy was going to work hard. Oh, I can remember. Let's see, I'm just trying to think here, now, how did that work out? Yes, that's right, before I went there; there's more to come. Anyhow, ... I had a couple of my father's sisters [who] worked there, too, and they were very friendly with this Mr. Kramer, and Mr. Kramer pretty much ran the place, with the workers, and so, he treated me pretty good, but he wanted me to understand the value of money and the value of working, and so forth. So, I worked hard, and so forth. In fact, I walked, from Hall Avenue all the way to Keasbey, every day. I don't know how I did it, now, when I look there, and because that's a long place [way], but I walked that every day, and, of course, at night, and then, maybe halfway through, they started to need workers and they had a bus that came through and picked up the workers, so, after awhile, [I got a ride]. ... My father, every so often, if it worked out with his shift, he'd come and pick me up or take me there, and so forth, but, most of the ... [time], I walked in the beginning, but I enjoy[ed] that.
SI: How long were the shifts at the factory?
HZ: I would say seven to three, and then, three to eleven and eleven to seven, three different shifts, and then, they had victory parades. I remember, they would have victory parades. I remember going to Newark, with the General Ceramics group, and participating in the victory parade. ...
SI: Would these companies be exhibiting any materials they were making?
HZ: No, just marching, selling bonds, you know, the bond sales, and so forth, waving American flags, and so forth, and just parades of that nature, like they have the Dominican parade here, I guess on Sunday, where they were proud about their heritage. This was "Proud to be an American"-type thing, and so forth. ... I don't remember anything else, except it worked out well. You know, I did well. They liked me as a worker, and so forth, and then, of course, September was rolling around and, in August, I went to Glenn and I said, "Glenn, I'm going back to school." He said, "I knew you were going to do that when you came." He says, "I knew you were lying to me." So, he laughed, and so forth. Glenn Howatt was a champion boxer at Rutgers, ... when they had boxing, and because of the, I guess, injuries to boxers, and so forth, in college, they gave it up. ... He was an extremely fine boxer for Rutgers and he established his own factory here, in either Metuchen, or that would be Edison, I think it'd be Metuchen, Glennco, after the war. He established himself. He died after awhile, because he was much older than I was, and he did very, very well. ...
SI: During this summer period when you were working in the factory, did you notice changes, such as a lot of men leaving and women coming in to take their jobs, nontraditional workers coming into the workforce?
HZ: Oh, yes, you saw that, sure, yes. You know, it's interesting, because General Ceramics had been a German factory and there were a lot of Germans in there. ... There were a couple of older Germans who had sympathy for Germany, and, yes, you saw that, more and more workers, sure. The women started to come in and do the work of men, and so forth, yes, oh, yes. In fact, the two fellows that worked in the lab with me, they finally went into the service, too, oh, sure.
SI: Were they replaced by women?
HZ: Yes, pretty much, yes. I would say more in the mechanic line was the older worker [who] came in, and, like, for maintenance. I don't recall women taking over that type of job, mostly the assembly work, some in the laboratories, some, when the stuff would come in by little trams, they would take over, where some of the bigger, stronger women would take over jobs like that, and so forth. Oh, yes, the influx of women was, yes, very noticeable, oh, yes.
SI: Was there any resistance to that?
HZ: No, no. Women enjoyed working, I would say, and did a beautiful job. ...
SI: Were the men wary of the fact that women were coming into what would have been a man's job?
HZ: I would say there was trickery, every so often, you know, little tricks played against them or something like that, but they were mostly in good humor, and so forth. I would say most of the workers there were Hungarian. See, at one time, as a German [company], after World War I, the United States took it over and they had had housing in Keasbey for the workers, and so forth. So, it would seem to me that it was a majority, especially some of the older maintenance people, the supervisors and the foremen were all Hungarian. ... I would say they played tricks, but they got along with the women very well, yes. That was very good. ...
SI: What kind of tricks would they play?
HZ: Oh, they'd lose their lunches, for instance, you know, or they'd put a little something in their lunchboxes and stuff like that. Oh, they'd want what they call a glaze. ... They'd make it a little watery, and so forth, and then, the girl would say, "Well, I can't use this thing. It's all watery," and they'd say, "Well, if you give me a date, you know, then, I can give it to you," you know, this type of thing, and so forth. ... She said, "Well, I'm married," and they'd say, "Oh, you're not married, you're too young," and so, you know, just joking, and so forth, and so on, but, yes, it was tricks like that, and so forth, or they'd hide their cards or the stuff like that, and so forth. ... No, I think the people that I worked with knew we were at war and that was the main issue, and so forth, to get the job done, and everybody was united with that, and so forth. No, I didn't find any animosity, and so forth, amongst any of the workers. My crew that I worked with, I got along very well [with them]. I was a college boy, too, there, and so forth, as I mentioned, and so forth, but, you know, they'd give me little tough assignments, and so forth, but, beyond that, I don't recognize [anything]. I always got along with ... the ceramics people, but they were both Rutgers graduates, because the Department of Ceramics in Rutgers was always well-known for ... producing some good ones, and they did. His name was Jimmy Gleason, I remember that, [as] I think about that, his name was Jimmy Gleason, and Glenn Howatt. ... Glenn was in the service, by the way. When he was there, he wore a uniform, and so, they didn't take him into service until later. He always wanted to go, he really did want to go, but they wouldn't let him go because he was so important to the factory, but he did wear a uniform every day. ... I think he was a little embarrassed by it, but a tremendous boss. Oh, he was just great, really, ... but he took care of me. I guess he liked the fact that ... he went through what I was going through as a younger boy, and so forth. So, we produced, we put [out] what they called "spaghetti;" it was a red ferrite and it was used in airplanes, somehow. I don't recall what ever it was, and so forth, and you'd come home and you'd be all red, and so forth, ... but imagine making a dollar, and almost a dollar, an hour, and just the year before, getting twelve dollars a week, and so forth. So, it was good. Once again, my mother was very frugal with my money and she saved it for me, and then, I went back for my sophomore year. Somehow, during that time, I learned how to smoke, [laughter] and that was one of the worst things I could have ever done. ... So, as a sophomore, I came back a smoker, from the factory, and everybody was smoking, and so forth. So, I did come back, and this is now September. So, that's when Harold Miers [joined the fraternity], I brought Harold Miers into my fraternity, and Jim Kenny was already there, of course, as a freshman, and Harold Miers was in the School of Education. ... By the way, I came out as the top student, in my freshman year, in the School of Education. I was number one. I had, let's say there were ... seven grades, I got six "1s" [equivalent to "As"] and one "3" [equivalent to a "C"]. The guy that gave it to me was a guy by the name of [Donald F.] "Scotty" Cameron, who became the head librarian. I never forgave him, until today. I had every one of the "1s" and he gave me a "3," and, oh, I shouldn't say I hated the guy, but, oh, boy, I never [forgot]. I met him so many times in years later. He became friendly with me, too, and, oh, I was so disappointed, and so forth, see.
SI: Do you remember what the course was?
HZ: English. I wrote a composition and he didn't like it, and he was tough. Oh, he was a tough guy. So, anyhow, I did very well in my freshman year, and so forth. I got all "1s" in all my courses, and so forth. So, now, in the sophomore year, ... [it] got a little tougher for me and my mind was now on the war, just how to go about handling what I was going to do, because, now, you're registered for the draft and you wondered ... just what to do. ... Harold and I, they had posted a notice on the bulletin board. I guess we were still taking ROTC, because you had to take it for two years, and we saw what they called the Enlisted Reserve Corps, ERC. ... So, Harold and I, we said, "Well, gee whiz, it seems as if you join the ERC that they'll allow you to stay in school and maybe at least finish the sophomore year, and then, maybe even further." So, the day before, in December, I don't remember the date, could be December 28th, or whatever it is, the day before the last day, he and I went down and we enlisted in the Enlisted Reserve Corps. I don't know what happened to Bill. Bill was something different. He didn't come with us, and so, we enlisted, and then, about two days later, they brought everybody in. There must have been thirty, forty of us. The one from Perth Amboy with me was Sidney Sewitch. ... I see him every so often, because I graduated with his wife, but, someday, if you look him up, [his name is] Sidney Sewitch in Perth Amboy, and he was a basketball star for Rutgers.
SI: How do you spell his last name?
HZ: S-E-W-I-T-C-H, Sewitch. ... I think his first name was Sidney, Sidney Sewitch. ... Well, anyhow, Harold and I, we went down, and so forth, and we enlisted, put that right hand up, and so forth, and then, what we had to do was to notify our draft board that we were enlisted in that. ... So, I had to go back into the draft board and they gave me a number I can still recall. Why do I remember that? Because that's the way you got paid. When you came up to the officer that was giving you the pay, you had to give your number, and, boy, that sticks in your mind. So, anyhow, they eliminated me on the draft board, and then, I remember, we were having a basketball team for the inter-fraternity [league], and so forth. ... We were beating everybody, and so forth. ... In March, about the 1st of March, now, that's, what? two, three months later, we get the notice. We all thought, when we signed up, [since] we were going to go in the Enlisted Reserve Corps, we're going to be officers. "They're going to send us to the Officers', OCS [Officers' Candidate School], and they would let us stay, maybe, in school. Maybe, when we were called, we'd go to OCS," and so forth. Then, we got this notice, "You are to report to Fort Dix, ... in the end of March," March 23rd, I think it was, and so, holy smokes, here you are, in your sophomore year, the second half [of it], "What do we do now?" you know. So, what we did [was], as a group, we went over to Rutgers Queens [the Old Queens Building], to the president's office. I remember, everybody was in there, all at once, and so forth, and we kind of requested that we be given credit for our sophomore year, and so, they were deciding, whoever it was deciding what to do, and so forth, and I remember standing outside and everybody's [saying], "Oh, they'd better give us that," you know, and all this other bravado, and so forth, ... and then, the news came out. They were going to give us credit for the sophomore year. So, I got credit. Although I was only halfway through my sophomore year, I got credit for it and I got the marks and everything else. Fortunately for me, I wasn't doing too well, [at] that time, because ... I guess my mind wasn't in it, and so forth. So, I can remember, I ended up with two "1s," two "2s," two "3s" and one "4," and so forth. Isn't that something, how it sticks in your mind, and so forth?
HZ: And we had qualitative analysis and quantitative analysis, and I was just completely lost, and so forth. I guess my mind just wasn't into it, and so forth, and so, anyhow, we got credit for the sophomore year.
SI: Did you meet directly with President Clothier or was it with Dean Fraser Metzger?
HZ: I think we met with ... Clothier, the President, yes, and then, he came out, and he was a wonderful man, too. You know, I keep saying wonderful people, but he was a wonderful man, really, President Clothier. [laughter] Metzger was a little tougher. I remember him coming into [the fraternity]; he'd come to your fraternities and make sure that you had people, older people, there for chaperones. ... One day, he thought we were having a party and he came in through our bathroom. He stuck his ... foot in the toilet, I remember that. [laughter] He started to get angry, and so forth, but we were okay. You know, come to think of it, just an aside, in our fraternity, we must have had twelve guys sleeping in one room, you talk about [overcrowding], ... up in bunk beds, and so, we must have had about twelve guys in one room, and so forth. I think you couldn't do that nowadays.
HZ: ... Nobody said anything about it. So, anyhow, Clothier, yes, he was a terrific guy. I remember, his son, they always used to criticize him because his son went to Princeton and why he didn't come to Rutgers, and so forth, but, outside, that's the only thing I ever heard that was [negative], but he was a tremendous guy. I can still visualize his gray hair, tall individual. Oh, one other aside; of course, I was Catholic and, on Sundays, they had the services over at the chapel, Kirkpatrick, and we were required to go there on Sunday, and so, Bill Kenny and I, Harold was Protestant, so, he went [to Kirkpatrick Chapel], but Bill Kenny and I wanted to go to St. Peter's Church. ... So, we went over to the office and we wanted to get excused and we had a hell of a time getting excused. We said we would go to church, you know, rather go to church, our church, than to go there, and they wanted us to go to services. ... It's too bad, in a way, that we couldn't have done both, because they had some very fine speakers come in on Sundays for the chapel. ... I don't remember their names, and so forth, but I do remember Harold telling me about, "Oh, we had him there," and I said, "Boy, I would like to have heard him," and the other thing is, once a week, we had to go to chapel, where they made the announcements, you know. So, you were actually recorded, because you sat in the same seat every time, and so forth. ... If you weren't there, you were marked absent. If you missed three, they would do something. So, I don't know what the punishment was. I went every week, so, I didn't [have trouble with] that. ...
SI: When you heard William Shirer speak, was it during the weekly meeting or on Sunday in the chapel?
HZ: Oh, no, no, this was a special assembly for all the kids. Oh, the other thing, now, that you would have to do [is], you would have to take physical education and you would have to go for exercise. I don't recall now how many days, whether it was every day or twice a week or whatever, that was added to your program. You had a spot in the old gym and you would take exercises, and so forth. ... So, now, we get this [induction notice] and we all go into Fort Dix and you were placed in a barracks, and I remember one kid crying that night, because I guess he was homesick, and so forth. ... We were in the barracks, and then, we got to find out that we were privates. There was no such thing as Officer's Candidate School. [laughter] We were going to be privates. So, that was kind of a shock, and so forth, but you got used to it. Now, during that time, they gave you certain tests, and so forth, and then, what would happen [is], they would take you, one group would go to Atlantic City, another group would go to Miami Beach, one group, one day, [went to] Atlantic City, [and another group the] next day [went] ... to Miami Beach. Well, Harold ended up in Atlantic City and I ended up in Miami Beach, and this was with the Army now, and I don't know, eventually, it became the ... Army Air Corps, and then, it became the Air Force. [Editor's Note: The US Air Force was established as an independent branch of the US Armed Forces in 1947.] My records now, when I send for my medals, is in the Army, although I was with the Air Force. So, I don't know the workings behind that. So, anyhow, down to Miami Beach I go and we stayed in motels. It was nice living in the motels, and so forth. You did your PT, physical training, out in the beach, out in the sand there, and so forth, and then, afterwards, you went for a swim in the ocean, and so forth. ... Then, they trained you ... [with] a lot of speeches, as [to] what to do, and so forth. I remember, you'd go from one group to another and they had a lot of speeches about safety, about, well, all different things. There were sexual [lectures], be careful about sex, you know, and venereal diseases and all this other stuff, and so forth, and guns, how to hold on to guns, and so forth. ... Then, they gave you a series of tests, and mechanical was one of them and I wasn't very good at mechanical, and so forth. I guess I didn't do anything, but they asked me what I wanted to do and I saw; oh, I had taken a course, Harold and I had taken a course, in meteorology in school. ... So, I saw weather observer, and so, I put that down as my number one. So, after about, let's see, ... two months, maybe a little longer, in Miami Beach, they shipped me to weather school, in Chanute Field in Chicago, actually, not Chicago, Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, by the University of Illinois. ... We went to weather school and, in weather school, I guess we were there for awhile, whatever period of time, maybe two months, to weather school, and that's where they really had you train physically. We would have to run almost five miles, I guess, by the time we were through, but they would train us, and then, we'd have to run to go to school. ... The first time, you know, you'd go a mile and you were gasping for air, and then, the next time was two miles, and then, three, and then, by the time they were through with you, you could run the five miles without any problem, and so forth, but it took a long time to do. ... Then, I graduated from weather school, and then, we were all split up all over the place. ... I ended up in what they call Davis-Monthan Field in Tucson, Arizona, and then, in Tucson, Arizona, we were in an actual situation. We were at an airport and we were predicting, helping [the] forecasters, we were observers, doing weather maps, balloons, to see what the winds were aloft, and so forth, and all those weather requirements, and so forth, that you did in a weather station. ... Then, we stayed there. I remember, it was hot, because it was in the summertime, and so forth, and, you know, you would just go through daily routines, and so forth. ... I remember, oh, in Chicago, we would go in every Friday night, until Sunday, from weather school, because they would close it down ... Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday night, we would take the bus into Chicago. I don't remember how long it took, maybe two hours, whatever. ... We would go to the YMCA, and then, we'd get a room, and then, at the YMCA, they gave you tickets to wherever you wanted to go. Chicago was, once again, a wonderful city ... to be in. They gave you passes to the baseball games. I remember going to see the White Sox play and a fellow by the name of [Rip] Sewell. He was pitching slow ball, lopper ball, and he became famous for it. [Editor's Note: Rip Sewell pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates throughout the 1940s.] We saw him play, and then, you'd go [get] tickets to the Broadway shows, or whatever, and restaurants, that they'd give you free [admission], and so forth. ... I remember, I would go with a couple of fellows, I don't remember who they were, and we'd go to a restaurant, I remember, one time, and we were looking at the menu and there was steak. Oh, God, we really wanted to have that steak and we didn't have enough money, and I remember an elderly woman, and I wish I could remember her name, because she was a movie actress. ... I can't remember who it was, and she looked over that [situation] and she called the waiter over there and she says, "Give them what they want." ... We thanked her, and so forth, and we had a steak dinner, that she did [pay for]. I remember that, and I can't for the life of me think of her name. ... Anyhow, in Chicago, you'd have whatever you wanted to, and so forth. ... They treated us very, very nicely. So, we liked, you know, baseball. So, we went [to ballgames]. You know, they had Wrigley Field and they had Comiskey Park, and then, the restaurants, and then, the shows, and then, you came back to the YMCA. ... I don't know whether you paid a dollar for the bed or not, whether it was free. I said it was free, but, ... all of a sudden, I thought maybe we paid fifty cents for it, or something. I don't recall. So, I won't say it's free or that we paid a limited amount, and so forth, but, anyhow, we did stay in the YMCA, and then, we came home. We went to weather school, and so forth, and then, they shipped us out. ... We didn't know where we were going and, all of a sudden, when we got to Miami, here it was with the palm trees and everything else. ... We never saw a palm tree before, and then, the same thing, they shipped us by rail all the way up to Chicago, Champaign-Urbana, by rail, and then, by rail, all the way to Davis-Monthan Field, ... which is still there, by the way, and then, we got our orders for overseas.
SI: Before we get into your overseas time, I want to ask you more about training.
SI: To go back, you first got involved with meteorology through ...
SI: It was a wartime course at Rutgers.
SI: What did they teach you in that class? Do you remember who taught it?
HZ: His name was Beam, Professor Beam. He had been from Europe and he spoke with a very [thick] accent, Beer or Beam or something like that, and he spoke in an accent. "Sus winds, sus winds," I remember him saying, south winds, and he called them, "Sus winds," and, you know, you'd sit there, ... it was hard to understand him, and so forth, but he told us he had been a recognized meteorologist. ... See, I was a math and science-er and it gave me credit for one of my science courses. That's why I took it. ... Biel or Beer, Professor Biel or Beer; I'm close to that name, [Dr. Erwin Reinhold Biel]. ...
SI: Was he Scandinavian or German?
HZ: No, no, I would say more of ... a Russian-type accent, Slovak, Polish-type thing, accent, and I liked it. I liked meteorology. So, that's why, you know, when I saw weather observer, I took that, yes.
SI: Was it all classroom work or did you do any practical work?
HZ: In Rutgers?
HZ: No, all academic, yes, theory.
SI: Before you went into the service, had you ever had an opportunity to travel outside of the New Jersey and New York area?
HZ: No. Furthest I ever went, probably, was Asbury Park; yes, pretty much limited.
SI: What did you think of the South and the Midwest and the Southwest, all the different areas that you had the opportunity to visit?
HZ: Shangri-La. Oh, my God, ... you know, palm trees, wow, Florida, holy Toledo. I mean, you know, my father, in the Navy, had been all over, to South America, to Rio de Janeiro, and I heard him tell me stories about that, Barbados, and he had been to France, and so forth, and that he always had the National Geographic. ... I'd always look at the National Geographic, and, all of a sudden, it was like a whole new world to me, because, as I say, the furthest I ever went to was New York, and Asbury Park, probably, was about the furthest south I ever went. I guess Pennsylvania would have been a foreign country, [laughter] you know, even New York. I mean, I heard about Niagara Falls and that sort of thing, but never thought I'd ever get there. Philadelphia with, oh, my goodness, you know, Betsy Ross's home and all that stuff, history, and, oh, it just opened up a whole new world. ... Well, I was just elated, really, I mean, surprised, elated and pleased, ... oh, everything, just a whole new world, yes, Shangri-La, really, yes.
SI: Were you encountering people from all over the country in your training units and at these different bases?
HZ: Yes, you know, this is very interesting; when we were down there, Jim Kenny was down there also. ... So, I happened to meet one of my other roommates down there, Bob Messenger, who was in Bill Kenny's group of freshmen, with Al Brady and us, and I met Messenger. He was down there. He looked me up. ... Somehow, he saw me there, and then, he looked me up, but Jim Kenny was a pilot by then and he'd come and be with us, but it was such an awkward situation, because he was an officer and we were just privates. ... Everybody was saluting him, and so forth, as we would all go down [the street], [laughter] you know, and it was so funny, you know, and so forth. ... After awhile, they took him away and wherever he went, and so forth, I don't know, but that was an awkward sort of thing, and so forth, yes. ... Then, of course, ... when you were down there in Florida, you had guard duty at night, you know, and this type of thing, to protect the hotels, and you had fire drills, and so forth. You had all of that, and so forth, but it was kind of like basic training. I would call it basic training.
SI: Did you have strict drill instructors and strict discipline?
HZ: Yes. ... You know, you marched and you sang. I don't know how many people we would have in our unit, but it could be thirty, forty, maybe, and you learned to sing as a group, and all throughout Miami Beach, there was one group after another, marching, singing, different songs, and so forth. ... You'd march along there and there was a pretty girl walking down the street, and so forth, and the drill instructor would say, [Dr. Zanzalari sings], "Eyes, right, pretty girl, let's sing for the pretty girl." You know, everybody would say, "Eyes, right, pretty girl, how you doing, pretty girl?" you know, and the girl would smile, ... and so forth. Then, you'd go and you'd sing, all sing, [Dr. Zanzalari sings], "Alouette, pretty alouette," and then, everybody would sing together and you'd hear this one down there and that one down there, and there was just singing all the way through, and so forth, just great, really. ... It was discipline. You learned to march, you know. See, I had ROTC. So, a lot of this stuff [I was familiar] with, you know, right face, left face, about face, and we didn't have any guns. There were no guns, and so forth. Where did ... I get the guns? I don't recall now. I was on a firing range. Maybe it was down in Miami Beach there that they took us out to the firing range. It had to be. Well, maybe it was with my overseas training. I don't remember. Somewhere along the line, we went to the firing range and they used to put up the targets and bring them down and, sometimes, you had to go behind there, being the ones that were bringing up and down with the targets. ... See, we had practice with rifles. I had ROTC and that was my only experience with guns. My father had always had a gun in the house, because he was a policeman, and he always warned me about guns. So, I was shy about guns, ... but I came out with a marksman in the pistol and the carbine, and so forth. So, somewhere along the line, we did get training, but I don't know, I don't remember where, whether it was either Miami Beach; it just doesn't seem to be Miami Beach, but there was great camaraderie with your group, and so forth, yes.
SI: Was it difficult in general for you to transition from civilian life to military life?
HZ: ... No, I did not find that difficult at all. ... I think I experienced, when I left home to go to Rutgers, I mean, Rutgers did a lot for me, that sort of adjustment, and I've never had trouble adjusting, but I think that ... helped me out quite a bit, because living with the fellows like that, and, you know, the proms that we went to. I didn't talk about any of that stuff, but we did have, you know, the Soph Hop, the Junior Prom and the Senior Prom. They had all that, and so forth. I got to the freshman dance and the sophomore dance, but, later on, it was something different. So, no, I didn't have a bit of [an] adjustment, no. The only thing that worried me [was], I wore glasses and my sight was 20/100 or 200. I couldn't see very well and I was always afraid that they would not let me go overseas and, sometimes, I'd look at the chart and I said, "Please, let me get by," and so forth, and I seemed ... to always be able to get by, but that was my only fear that I had, that I can recall. ...
SI: There was about a year between Pearl Harbor and when you went into the service. Did you face any kind of prejudice from people because you were not in uniform?
HZ: No, but I saw it. I remember, this was [when] I must have been home during the summer. Friends of mine, a couple of buddies of mine; yes, it must have been during the summer, probably, maybe. Let's say I finished my freshman year and before I got to sophomore year. ... I was working in General Ceramics and we went to a tavern called Callahan's, and we'd go to the movies, and then, on the way back, we'd stop for a drink, and this is in Callahan's Bar, which was, you know, close to home. ... I remember a civilian and a soldier coming in, a couple of soldiers, and they started after this guy, and [were saying], you know, "Why aren't you in service?" and so forth. "What are you, 4-F?" [a military classification meaning that one is not fit for service]. ... They got into a fight and I remember that was one instance, yes, of what you're talking about, and I'll add a little story to it. Who comes in to stop the fight? Would you guess who? My father, the cop; he comes in there and he looks over to the bar and he says, "What in the hell are you doing here?" because I was underage. ... He says, "What in the hell are you doing here? Get out." So, yes, I remember, he came in to break up the fight, and so forth, but I did see that. You have to remember, when I went into the service, you were all-white eating [areas], your theaters, your sleeping quarters, your dorms, or whatever you call them, barracks, they're all-white and the blacks were in a whole new area. ... I had heard of, let's see, it would be the Southern whites and Northern blacks, every so often, there'd be a breakout, because the attitudes were different and, when they hit, [fights would ensue], but not to any great extent, but I did hear that there were some. I did not experience anything. When I went to Miami Beach, it was all-white in my basic training. I don't remember seeing any black people there at all and, in weather school, I don't recall any blacks. I don't recall any when we were going overseas or in my experiences in the service. I really didn't experience anything, when I come to think [of it]. I haven't thought about this [before], ... but I do recall we were segregated. Now, when that stopped, I don't know.
SI: It stopped after the war.
HZ: Is that when it was?
SI: A few years after. [Editor's Note: President Harry S. Truman's Executive Order 9981 officially desegregated the US Armed Forces in July 1948.]
HZ: Yes, see, I don't recall when that stopped, and so forth, but, you know, come to think of it, yes, all that was all-white, yes.
SI: Before you went into the service, had you been aware of segregation in the South?
HZ: No, never even gave it a thought, because I was taking a little beating when I came from Perth Amboy to college. [laughter] You know, "Pert Amboy" was the way I talked, "Pert Amboy," and, when you say, "Hall Avenue," "Up Hall Avenue," it was, "Upall Avenue." ... I had to take a speaking course, public speaking, and, boy, did they give it to me, with my language. You know, you talk about "Brooklynese;" well, Perth Amboy spoke their own language, too, and so, I used to get teased a lot, and so forth, yes, about that, and "dese" and "dos," and so forth. That was me, when I came to college, and so, no, I grew up with a very limited [amount of] black friends. In my neighborhood, we have Shorty Brian and his brother, Ralph, who were very good athletes, and they played with us, mainly because they were the best athletes. ... They always helped us, and so forth. I remember that, and we were not friends, but we went into school together, we were in the classroom together, and, you know, those are the only two, and then, a Fitzroy Dove, I remember, he was in our class, but that would be the only three blacks. Then, when I got to high school, I remember a Daisy was black. The reason why I remember [this is that] I look in my yearbook every so often, and so forth. ... The blacks had their own baseball team. ... I forget even what they call themselves, Aztecs, or, no, it wasn't that, Anzacs or something, [perhaps Anguillans], and they had their own baseball team. ... After high school, I don't recall any black stars, you know, I just don't, but most of them dropped out before. They didn't go beyond, maybe, eighth grade, and so forth, but the only two friends I had were the Brians, Ralph and Shorty; his name was Randolph. ... I've seen them occasionally, but I think one's dead by now. It was mostly by accident. One time, ... Ralph came in here, he was servicing one of my appliances, and I recognized him. ... I was given, later on, the Hall of Fame in Perth Amboy High School, and, when I was being marched in, Shorty Brian came up to me and that's the last time I saw him. So, he may be alive and I don't know. He'll be the same age as I am, but, no, Chinese, we would have an occasional Chinese, but they usually, as they say, had the laundry or the Chinese restaurant, and most of Perth Amboy was all-white. I mean, every movie you saw was white, [with all-white casts], you know. In the war, I can remember seeing Lena Horne [a famous African-American singer and actress in the 1940s] in a movie, but that, a black girl, was very, very seldom, that you ... saw anything like that. ... There were no black stars. Robinson, the dancer, [Bill "Bojangles" Robinson], I can remember, but the other thing about Chicago [was], we did get [to see] a lot of shows that you could go to from popular people for the servicemen. You know, they'd come in, and so forth. We did see that. Oh, God, what the hell was his name here? I forget his name, the Italian guy; not Gene Krupa. Well, I forget now, and his wife. He had his wife [who] was a singer, and so forth, but it's been too long ago.
SI: Was it a Big Band?
HZ: Yes, he had his own band, and so forth. I'll remember it after you leave, and so forth, but, yes, you had the Big Bands that came in and gave performances, and they probably came into Chanute Field and had the performance, and so forth.
SI: How intense was your training at Chanute Field? Were they teaching you every aspect of observing the weather? Were they preparing you for any and every eventuality?
HZ: Nothing military, in terms of guns and action, and so forth. It was more of a school for weather. I don't remember carrying a gun, I don't remember target practice. It was mostly physical, in the morning, and after physical, you would go to school all day, very intense, yes. ... Then, they'd take you out, and then, you'd have to [practice], like, when you traced the balloons that went up in the air. You know, you'd have a theodolite and you'd go, and so forth, and operate that. [Editor's Note: A theodolite is a device used to measure both vertical and horizontal angles and is commonly used in meteorology.] Sometimes, it's difficult if it went overhead, where you'd have to switch it around, and they gave you practice on that, and then, of course, drawing up a weather map and understanding, you know, the isobars and stuff like that. [Editor's Note: Isobars are lines of equal atmospheric pressure drawn on a meteorological map.] It was like going to school again, yes. ... I don't remember any military stuff, with guns or training with guns, and so forth, no.
SI: Did anybody wash out of that school?
HZ: Not that I recall. They probably did, but I don't recall any, no.
SI: It was just observation; there was no forecasting.
HZ: No. On my level, the forecaster was a officer. See, I was a weather observer. So, I was, like, an assistant to ... a forecaster. So, when I got to Davis-Monthan, there were officers there and ... we did our work, and so forth, and the officers, they were the ones that forecasted. Most of those were college graduates. You know, somehow, they got information on going to school for forecasters. I never experienced that, where I could see something like that. If I did, I was only seventeen ... or eighteen, and whether they would've allowed me to become an officer, I don't know. I just never saw the opportunity to become an officer. It never bothered me, really. I didn't really think about it, and so forth, but I never saw [the opportunity]. Usually, they post stuff, and, you know, "If you want to apply," and this type of thing, but I just never saw it, but it was intense, yes.
SI: As an enlisted man, did you think that you did not have as good of a life as the officers did?
HZ: Oh, no, ... we did all right. ... They must have had privileges, I suppose, and they had their own officers' club, but we had the NC[O], non-commissioned officers' club. ... No, there was nothing that I wanted that [they had], except the prestige. I would've loved to have been an officer and come home, ... not on my account, but my mother and father, probably my father particularly, would have liked to [have] seen it, but he never said anything. ... From that point of view, the prestige that's involved in being an officer, you know, but, no, when I worked for these people, they had been, as I say, mostly college graduates. So, I knew that I had not been a college graduate, and so, I never had that same opportunity, but, no, I didn't.
SI: Had the officers that you worked under been a part of the regular military or were they in for the war?
HZ: No, in for the war, yes. They probably just ... [were] college graduates and saw some sort of a notice that ... you could go to forecaster's school, and they probably applied and got in. None of them were, no, from West Point or any military school, not in my experience, no.
SI: How long were you at Davis-Monthan?
HZ: Probably a couple months, and the next thing you knew, we got orders to go up to Kearns Field, Utah, for overseas training. That's where I think we got the experiences with the guns. Now, by then, we were into carbines, which is that light gun. ... Although we got experience with those other things, we were into carbines, and I guess, with the Air Force, they didn't want you to have one of those big things that the infantry carried, I guess. ... Our officers had the carbines, too, and so, we got training in that, and I remember the pistol, ... because I got a medal in the pistol, and I got a medal in the gun. I don't remember shooting a machine-gun. I may have, but I don't remember that, you know, the Browning [Automatic Rifle], or whatever it was, and so forth. [Editor's Note: Dr. Zanzalari imitates the sound of a machine-gun.] I just don't remember doing that, but that's over in Kearns Field, Utah, and that's where it was cold at night and hot during the daytime, and, oh, God. ... Then, there's where you got intensive overseas training, airplane recognition, all sorts of things, ... how to take care of yourself in bombings and, you know, what to look for in enemy uniforms and stuff like that. ... Then, I remember, yes, that's where we got the training ... with the guns and the outdoor targets, and so forth. Now, I don't recall, now, any use of the education, you know, the weather part. This was all mostly the weather part, and that's where I can remember, we used to have Sundays off, I guess. ... I love bowling. I used to go bowling, and so forth. Now, this is probably November that I'm in ... [these] things. Now, I had left Harold in March, and this is November, and I'm in a bowling alley, and so forth, because we corresponded, and so forth. ... I'm in a bowling alley and who comes up to me but Harold. He says, "I knew that you were here," and ... he said, "I knew, if you weren't in your barracks, where you would be, you'd be in a bowling alley." So, he picked me up in a bowling alley and we spent the day together, and then, after that, we were split again. So, Harold Miers, and I can always remember a Gary Cooper movie, I don't know why I remember some of these things, and so forth, but, then, the next thing you know, we were shipped [out]. I don't think we were there in Kearns Field ... very long, and then, from Kearns Field, we got on a troop train and we stopped at, oh, let's see, Columbus, and then, Kansas City. I remember stopping in Kansas City. We stopped in three different places along the way. ... I remember Kansas City, because one friend of mine lived in Kansas City and he took us to his home and his family took us out for dinner. There were four of us. ... We stopped in Colorado; isn't that something? What's the capital of Colorado?
HZ: No, no, begins with a "C."
SI: Colorado Springs?
HZ: Could be, yes, could be, and Kansas City, and then, one other spot, wherever that would be. You know, it's funny how I forget that, and then, we ended up in Hampton Roads, Virginia. ... There's where we waited for, oh, maybe several weeks, and so forth. There's where ... they gave you a pretty good health examination, and then, teeth. They brought you to a dentist's [station] and the dentist went through your teeth, and so forth, made sure everything was okay, and something with purple. I mean, ... there was something I remember with purple, and you'd go down with your overcoat and you were nude. ... You'd go down there for your physical and the nurses ... would always make fun of you, because they knew, when you were marching down there with your coat on, that you were nude underneath. ... The nurses would tease you, "Take off your coats, take off your coats," you know, and they'd laugh. ... So, the next thing I know, it's December 24th, Christmas Eve, and they put us on a boat and they put us on a; what did they call those ships, K ships, C ships?
SI: Was it a Liberty ship?
HZ: Liberty ship, and they put us on this boat and I remember looking at the coast with ... the buoy, "Bing, bing," Christmas Eve, and we were leaving. ... We were just anchored there and we could see the land, and so forth, and it was Christmas Eve 1943. By then, it was '43? yes, '43.
SI: Were you going over as an entire unit or were you going over individually?
HZ: Yes, ... oh, the ones that were in Utah, brought together, they were all that unit [that] was going over there.
HZ: We didn't know where we were going.
HZ: But, we went there, and, let's see, then, it took us, honest to goodness, almost thirty days to go across there. I don't know how long, but it was a long time. We finally met up with a convoy, and, ... of course, at night, you weren't supposed to go on the ship, but, in the daytime, if you had duties, they gave you duties, and they exercised you, and so forth, and we were with a group of Greeks. They were American Greeks that were going into Greece, and they were all volunteers, and we were five high in the troopship, and, oh, jeez, ... you wanted the top bunk, because, see, the people are getting sick, you know, and so forth. ... When I looked outside, in the daytime, all I could see was ships, all over, oh, God, that convoy was so big, and then, there were these battleships and destroyers, diving in and out, and so forth, and you were hoping that nothing would happen to your ship, because, you know, you'd be left behind. ... I don't know whether [it was true], there was a rumor that one of the ships is being left behind, but ... I could never verify that. ... Oh, it was just so tremendous. You just looked around, that's all you saw, was ships, and the convoy went over, they'd go this way and that way, and this way and that way. ... Then, you'd hear the destroyer, with that horn, [Dr. Zanzalari imitates the horn], and you didn't know whether it was a submarine or they were just practicing or what, and so forth, and then, we got to the Strait of Gibraltar. ... Then, one ship at a time would go through the Strait of Gibraltar, and I don't know just exactly where the Germans were. They had just been defeated in North Africa. Rommel had just been defeated, and what was the [leadership], I guess ... Patton was there, maybe Eisenhower, I don't recall now, was it Alexander or Montgomery for the British? and I don't recall just exactly where Sicily was at the time. ... Either we had just got that defeated or we were just fighting there. I just don't remember the timing, and the one ship went through and the Germans hit it, and then, we went through without trouble, and the one in back of us got hit by some Germans, or something. I don't know what that was, and we landed in the Suez Canal. We went down to [the] Suez Canal. I think that's, what, Alexandria, up there? I forget what's up on the top there. Then, we went through the Suez Canal, and then, we landed, I guess that town was Suez, and then, from there, they took us out and they put us on trucks and they trucked us into Cairo, right outside of Cairo. ... In Cairo, we were put in barracks and they had an Army camp, and, from that Army camp, we didn't stay there more than about a month, and then, we were assigned all throughout Africa, all over Africa. You have to remember that the British Overseas Airways something, BOAC, B-O-A-C, and Pan American had had routes from the United States into South America, Ascension Island, and right straight through Africa, the heart of Africa, into India, and whatever they were going [to]. BOAC had it from London down there. So, there were airbases all along, and so forth. So, it didn't take much to, you know, do something different. So, they had that, and then, we were assigned to different places, and, now, we were in airplanes. So, I was assigned to a place called Salalah, in Saudi Arabia [modern Oman], and I flew from there to Khartoum, from there to Aden, from Aden to Salalah, and there were, oh, I would say twelve of us that were on that place, in that airport, and our job was, ... if there were any planes or any ships that were in trouble, that they would come to us, and then, we would be a safe haven for them, and we were in that camp and we were surrounded by guards, Arabian guards, and not allowed to go anyplace. ... So, in that place there, we were there, oh, God, I know at least a year. We experienced the monsoons that came in, with the, instead of rain, it was dust, and, oh, boy, that was dusty, really, and the ... one thing I can remember was that, while I was there, one of my wisdom teeth came in and I couldn't open up my jaw, and here I am, in Arabia, can't eat a damn thing. ... A plane flew in and took me to Aden, where they had some dentistry work, and then, they took out the tooth, and so forth, and they flew me back, and so forth. So, I don't know, a thousand miles, just to take one tooth out, [laughter] and so forth, I do remember that, and, there, we had guns. They did have a British base there, too, with just about an equal number, but we never saw them, they never saw us. We would meet them once in awhile, but I don't know where they were. We were maybe about four barracks, and so forth. We had sufficient food and we had sufficient water. There was [free] time, you know, where there was a movie every night. We had a movie every night, because it was calm, you know. There was no action, and so forth. It was just a calm place to be. ... They flew in movies, they flew in books. ... If you wanted to, every so often, you could go fishing and stuff like that, and so forth. So, it was a relatively good life, and, while you were there, you'd hear about, you know, Europe and all the poor guys up there getting killed, and, you know, the war going on, and so forth, and you were, like, isolated down there. ... I remember the officer, when we were going on the troop train, on the convoy, he said, "I'm not going to tell you where you're going," but he says, "I picked this out myself and I'm going there," and he says, "You're going to like it." So, I did remember, when we were in Cairo, we got to see the Pyramids, we got to see everything, and so forth, while we were there, museums, and, down in Khartoum, they had the "fuzzy wuzzies," [Hadendoa tribesmen], those big natives, you know, and that sort of thing, and Aden is where you have trouble now, and so forth. ... We were pretty much by ourselves. Now, while we were there, we also had contact with India. So, we flew into India, to Karachi, and there was one other station they called "Misery Island," and so, we had our contact and, every so often, we had to go to Karachi, India, and that was, I guess they called that the CBI, the China-Burma-India section, and we were North African, because, on my medal, there's a greenish brown and the other one was a yellowish one. [Editor's Note: Dr. Zanzalari is referring to the campaign ribbons for the European-African-Middle Eastern and China-Burma-India Theaters.] So, from there, then, after about a year's time, it's hard to say, ... maybe about a year we were there, and then, they felt that you were getting too much [time there], and so forth. Then, they shipped me to Accra, in, what is that now, Gold Coast. ... Our outfit, if you ever [look into it], before we got there, when we got to Cairo, off the convoy, the Australians were coming in off the battle with Rommel and the British were coming in, and, boy, they hell-raised, oh, God. You know, those poor guys had been fighting, you know, with the tanks, and so forth, and we got them. They were good people. They were very, very good people, and, boy, they were rough guys, oh, the British, and so, we didn't [mix]. The Americans were on the other side, and Cairo was the [borderline], because you have to remember, King Farouk was the king there in Egypt and that was a British protectorate. The Egyptians did not like us too much, because we were like invaders, you have to remember. We were taking over, the British had taken over their country, and they were, like, a protectorate, and ... they didn't show any signs of that, but I gather that they would rather have been independent. ... So, we did [have] experience with the Aussies and the British, and so forth, while we were there. So, then, I ended up in Accra, which is the Gold Coast. I forget what it is now. It's a different name now, [Ghana], and then, we were stationed in Casablanca for awhile, and then, over into Marrakech, and that was a desert. Oh, God, after being over [in Salalah], there's another desert. They tell me that it's all built up there now, but Marrakech, and there, once again, with the weather, and so forth. ... Then, by that time, the war was over and they were beginning to go home. Harold got ... sent to Italy and he got a lot of Battle Stars. Although he was in administration, he got the same [campaign medals]. So, he got a lot more points. So, he ... sends me a letter from Rutgers, [saying] that he's back in Rutgers, and I'm in Marrakech, in the desert. I'm saying, [laughter] "You son of a gun," and, anyhow, I got to be a sergeant. My rank was sergeant, and then, they shipped me all the way back, from Marrakech, all the way back to Cairo, to get on a troopship to go back all the way to the Strait of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean Sea, and, boy, that's the roughest sea I [have] ever been in. I had been so sick, seasick, and everybody else, too, and then, we got back and it was two years later to the day, Christmas Eve, that we got back to the United States, and that would have been 1945. So, I was overseas for two years, exactly, to the day. Then, they took us over here to; not Fort Dix. What's the other one out there, the Navy, the Air Force [base] there? ...
HZ: Is that Fort McGuire? I forget now.
SI: Now, it is called McGuire Air Force Base.
HZ: McGuire Air Force Base. ... See, by then, we were in the Air Force then, Army Air Force, and Air Corps, and then, we get discharged. I got discharged in January. By then, I can remember, a bunch of guys coming by train, they just took off. The whole thing just took off, to go home, and they were so happy, and so, they came back, of course, and then, I get discharged, from Fort Myer [McGuire], and I took the train from Fort Myer [McGuire] to New Brunswick. It was during a week day. I don't recall whether it was Monday or Friday, I mean, let's say it was a Monday, and I said to myself, "Here I am in New Brunswick. I'm going to call up somebody to get me, pick me up," and I said, "While I'm there, I'm going to go over to the School of Education," and I did. I went over there and who's there but Dean Parch and his secretary. Oh, God, I forget her name. She was very nice, and Dean Parch says, "Oh, you're back," and so forth, and I talked to him, and so forth. He says, "By the way, on Saturday, your second semester begins." I said, "Well, you mean I can enroll?" He said "Sure." So, that Monday, I got out of the service, that Saturday; that following Monday, I was starting school.
HZ: Yes, and then, ... from January 1946 to June '47, I finished two years in a year-and-a-half. Fortunately, I had credit for those two years, and so, I went to summer school. They allowed you to go to summer school. I made up a whole half a year in the summer school, and I graduated June '47, graduated on a Thursday and got married on a Sunday, because the girl I was with had waited for me all this time, and so forth. So, we got married in June 1947. So, then, I got a job in the vocational school, as a math teacher, and I don't know, how far else do you want to go?
SI: I want to ask some questions about your time overseas.
SI: However, first, was the vocational school you speak of the one that is still on Easton Avenue?
HZ: I had five of them.
SI: All right.
HZ: ... Yes. Eventually, I became the superintendent of all five.
SI: Your initial station was in Salalah.
SI: You would be sent to all these other places from Salalah.
HZ: Yes, but I spent almost a year in Salalah, never going anywhere.
SI: All right.
HZ: That was my base.
SI: It was not as though they sent you everywhere from there.
SI: What was a typical day like there? What would you do as a weather observer?
HZ: Well, typical day was, you see, you have to remember that from Aden to India, the planes could not make the run. So, they had to stop at our base, and then, refuel, and then, make the other [leg], and so, that was before, ... what was that, the [B]-29? The one, after awhile, they had, you could fly [direct], because they were bigger planes, and so, they had to stop at our [bases], planes. I'd say our weather was pretty much the same every day ... and it was clear, except during the monsoon season, and I forget when that was, September, October, and it lasted for about a month or two, and then, your planes would have little difficulties getting in, but, outside of that, the weather was clear. ... You got up in the morning, ... you had a place where you had your breakfast, and the breakfasts were good. You had eggs and bacon and stuff like that. There was no GI stuff at all. I didn't know where they got the food. I remember, the fellow [that] was in charge there, he said that he got them from somewhere and he showed me what the GI menu was and what we were getting, and it was really great. Now, whether the Arabs furnished us with that stuff or not, I don't know, but, anyhow, then, we had good lunches and good dinners, and so forth. Occasionally, we had a movie every night, that I know, and then, occasionally, you'd have one of the entertainment groups [that] came in. ... I think one was Nelson Eddy, and I think he came in, and it was groups like that would come, but very rarely, and you just did your weather [observations]. You'd have the different stations that would call in by Teletype, and, when your chance came, you put your weather on the Teletype, and after going out with the balloon and checking the thermometer, the humidity, temperature, and stuff like that. The one danger that we had was from insects. You had the scorpions. You had to be careful, in the morning, with your shoes, and so forth, and then, at night, you'd have to be careful with the scorpions. They had that tail, you know, and so forth. We would have to get a little, round piece of paper, and so forth, and then, burn it, and then, put it right around on top of them, and then, that would burn the scorpion, in the center, and so forth, but, you know, it was a relatively calm life. There was certainly no military action. The only thing that I can recall [was] that when I got to Cairo, they had just bombed the Ploesti oil wells in Romania. It was the first offensive act on the part of our military, and that was our group that did the forecasting for that. So, you know, it was a relatively calm life there, I mean, the routine, every day, and so forth.
SI: Would you say that at all the different places, in India and across the Middle East, it was about the same?
HZ: Yes, yes. You know, there were natives, you know. The women didn't wear any tops, you saw their breasts all the time, and so forth, and they wore, you know, the bottom. You saw that it was all black, you know, throughout Africa, and so forth. ... You were out of the war, so-to-speak. I mean, you hoped you got back. There were tragedies. I mean, I've been at airports, in Accra, where planes crashed and people died. We had, in Accra, we had, oh, I think it was, let's say about twenty-five WACs [Women's Army Corps members] that were there, where we're doing the administrative work, and so forth, and they were called into England, because ... of the invasion, or whatever it was, and they got on this plane, in Accra, and it flew to London and it got lost in the ocean. I don't think they ever found out what happened to them. That's written up somewhere, ... but that was our girls that we knew and they left. One had his wife on there. ... They don't know what happened to them, twenty-five girls just evaporated, with the pilot and plane. I read the story one time, and I don't recall when, and so forth, but it was like a routine sort of thing, Casablanca. You know, it's like routine, by then. They had met there, and so forth, and Marrakech was routine. I remember, ... in Marrakech, [laughter] they had these big toilets, like four [feet?] across, and you have four guys going to the bathroom at the same time, and so forth, and you had to have water in the Lister bags, and it was very crude. That was the worst part, was Marrakech. The other places, you did have toilets, and so forth, and showers and stuff like that. So, there wasn't any action, and so forth. As I say, I saw plane crashes, [if] you mean that, and I've had friends die. One of the friends, I was the last corporal, for instance, Zanzalari, to get on a plane, and the next plane was Anderson, my friend, PFC, and his plane went down. He was killed, and you can say to yourself, "You know, I just made it by one." There was that type of thing, and so forth, and, you know, you're lucky that that [was] done, but there was plenty of plane crashes, ... not plenty, but every so often, and so forth, sure.
SI: At all of these airbases, did they have response teams to go out to the accidents, or would everybody have to go out?
HZ: No, they had response teams. Yes, see, in ours, in Salalah, there was only twelve of us in there, and so forth, and, every so often, ... they'd think it was a Jap submarine coming in there, and so, you'd notify them, and then, the plane would go out, and then, look, and so forth, and, for the most part, [laugher] they were a whale, or something like that. ... We never had any Japanese invasions, and so forth, but you had to be careful. You know, the Japanese were still in Malaysia, and stuff like that. I remember, when Stilwell, General Stilwell, was dismissed from CBI, and he came through. [Editor's Note: In October 1944, General Joseph W. Stilwell was relieved of command at the request of Chiang Kai-shek following a dispute over his authority.] I remember seeing him, "Vinegar Joe," and he came through, I remember, on his way home. He was recalled. I don't know, he didn't follow orders from Roosevelt or something, whatever happened there, but he was well-liked, I think, from my [perspective], and then, Patton, of course, I remember, he was up north when we were going through, but we didn't see any [of] Italy or, you know, that sort of thing. We were down in Africa, ... and it's mostly Central Africa. We went all the way through Maiduguri, [in what is now Nigeria], and all the way to Central Africa, all the way through, ... but I was fortunate, I was fortunate, and, when we got to ... Accra and the Gold Coast, we had to take Atabrine, and Atabrine would turn you yellow. ... Your whole skin, you became yellow, and you knew people came from there if you went someplace else, because you were all yellow. That was because of malaria. ...
SI: When you were in Salalah, you mentioned that there were Arab guards around the base. Were they there to protect you or to keep you from going off base?
HZ: I would say both.
HZ: Yes, I would say both. ... Sacaris, I think they called them, Sacaris, and they all had guns, the funny kind of guns. I never saw them before, not like ours, and they had funny guns, and they were all dressed in Arab uniforms, and so forth, ... but they never bothered you. They're friendly, you know.
SI: In other places in the Middle East, were they that concerned with keeping you separate from the natives?
HZ: No, no. Cairo was open, Khartoum was open, Aden was open, Accra was open, ... Karachi certainly was open. I remember seeing the cows, the sacred cows, and so forth, there, and big population, ... a lot of people. You know, they were all [united], the world was against the Japs and that sort of thing, and, you know, they were mostly possessions, you know. ... India was not split into Pakistan and that sort of thing. That was all India, and so, people were friendly, except in Egypt. I had a feeling that they would be something else, yes.
SI: Were you able to communicate with the natives at all?
HZ: Oh, sure. They were English-speaking, yes, oh, yes, sure. They were Arab-speaking, and, you know, a lot of them were [versed] in English, especially out in Accra, you know. That was all English, sure.
SI: Did you get an idea ...
FZ: Oh, we went to Eritrea, too, that [it was] Abyssinia, then, yes.
SI: Did you observe any aspects of native life?
HZ: Oh, sure, we saw the dances, the native costumes, and so forth. ... Of course, in Salalah, we were isolated, you know. You're isolated there, and it was like just a regular business-type thing there. I don't remember anything differently. They live a life, which was, in the cities, was great, and then, outside, they were, you know, a little different. In Accra, you know, they had huts there yet, and they did everything crude. Fishing was out of the boats, you know, these canoe-type boats, and so forth, and they called it the Gold Coast and I guess it was because of the gold, I guess. I don't know what it's called now. I really don't know that.
SI: Did the military tell you, "Do not go here," and, "Do not do this?"
HZ: Oh, sure, oh, yes.
SI: Did they prepare you for where you would be going?
HZ: Oh, yes, don't eat stuff, oh, sure, especially in Cairo. When we first got there, it was one of the first things they told us, "Don't eat anything unless we feed it to you." Oh, yes, people had done that and got sick, oh, yes. They used to use their fecal material for fertilizer, you know, and so forth, oh, yes, oh, sure, same thing with the sex, but, while I was in Cairo, too, I had, oh, I don't know, maybe a week's leave, and I got to go to Palestine, which is Israel now. ... I saw all those religious places there, when I was there, and, you know, [the] Garden of Gethsemane and where the Stations of the Cross were, the Dead Sea, Nazareth, Tel Aviv, but it was Palestine when I was there, it wasn't Israel, and I did get to see that, when we were, I don't know, when we were coming home, I guess, and then, the Pyramids and the Sphinx, and all that other stuff, yes. So, is this all recorded?
HZ: Oh, yes, really? good.
SI: Does anything else stand out about your time in Africa, India or the Middle East?
HZ: No. The mail, you know, you had your mail. It was censored by your officer. The two officers I had, one was a captain, one was a lieutenant. They were both college graduates, in Salalah, Captain Forest and Lieutenant, I don't recall his name, and, you know, you had your sports there. You had ping-pong, you had baseball teams, with not enough players for everything, but you did have, you know, [you] made up for it, and so forth. Maybe there were about ... twenty people [who] were there, and I don't remember anything else now. [laughter] It's been so long ago, you know, that I just don't remember. I remember, when I came home, on Staten Island, and got off that boat, there were people cheering us and everything else, and so forth. That was nice, welcome home, that was great, really, and we docked in there, and the next thing, they took us over to the camp there.
SI: When you came back ...
HZ: Oh, no, we came back ... to Camp Kilmer.
HZ: We came back to Camp Kilmer. At Camp Kilmer, they sent us back to the other place, McGuire.
HZ: I said, I remember saying, "Jeez, I'm almost home and they're sending me back over there," yes. [laughter] So, then, I went to school.
SI: Yes, you jumped right back into school. Was it a difficult transition, going back to civilian life?
HZ: No, no, I didn't [find it to be]. ... When I got home, I took my uniform [off] and worked for a couple of days, and then, went back. My mother had my clothes. I fit in my clothes. In Rutgers there, I played 150-pound football, fencing and crew.
SI: You joined all those after you came back, or had you played them before?
HZ: Before, and, when I came back, I was a little too old for some of that stuff, and I was more interested [in other things]. I was now going with my wife, as a girlfriend, and so forth, and I had the studies to try to get back, and so forth, and it was a lot easier. The last two years in education was a lot easier. I quit doing the sciences. I took one course in physics and that was okay, but I started to [expand]. I got enough credit in science and math, and so, I took a lot of the English and history courses and that was lighter. The math and the science was tough at Rutgers, very, very difficult, and I enjoyed the history courses in particular, and so, I got enough credits to minor in those, and so forth, picked up a few science courses, and, as I say, physics, and that was hard. That was very hard, and then, I had enough credits in math, and so forth, ... and I was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. I got into Phi Beta Kappa there.
SI: Did you pick up with the fraternity again?
HZ: Yes, I did, yes, ... and Bill Kenny didn't come back and Harold already had been married, and so, he lived with his wife away from that, so, he never came back. Bill Kenny went to the Agriculture School [now the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences] and he stayed there, and I stayed there. I became an officer, and so forth. I helped guide them [to] come back, and, for the next two years, yes. We had rented that place during the war, and then, we picked up little bits of people, one person here, one person there, and we built that in there, and so forth, yes. I can recall, you asked me about bias; oh, let me say this, that the first year I came back, I stayed in Winants Hall, because our fraternity was taken over by a rental and it took us a little while to get them out. Yes, I was in Winants Hall ... and that's where Harold was, too, in Winants Hall, and I remember, we were going to go back. We started. I'd gotten friendly with this Chinese fellow, and I took him to one of the affairs at the [fraternity]. By then, our Raritan Club became Sigma Phi Epsilon, which is a national organization. So, somehow, we had an affair over at the fraternity house, and I brought this Chinese fellow in, ... because we got to be friends, and, after the next day, he came up to me and he says, "Henry, did you ever check your charter?" I said, "Well, no." I said, "I didn't even know we had a charter." He says, "Well, I think you ought to check your charter." I said, "Why?" and he said, "Well, why don't you just check your charter?" and I never knew what the hell he meant, and then, ... somehow, I got a reading of the charter, and, sure enough, "Whites, Christians, only." I said, "Oh, my God, I never realized that," and I said, "Here's this guy, Chinese, a good friend, [would] make a wonderful brother," and so forth, and, of course, since then, it's been changed; I mean, the charter was changed. I don't know how many years after there or what time element. Now, of course, it's wide open, ... and that was the first time, really, that I'd experienced anything like that and had no knowledge that it was white, Christian [only], and so forth. So, that's all been changed, but, you see, you grew up in that sort of thing. The Jewish boys had Sammies, SAM [Sigma Alpha Mu]. That was the Jewish organization and they were all Jewish in that. I don't know whether they still do or not. I have no idea, but ours is open to everybody now, [could] be black, white, Christian, Protestant, Catholic, and so forth, [laughter] but, yes, I do remember that part, yes. ... The Chinese fellow's name was Huey, and I forget his last name, Huey Long? No, it couldn't be Long, no, Huey, but, boy, I was stunned, I was stunned.
SI: Do you think your outlook on issues like race relations had changed during the war years?
HZ: No, I never really; as I say, I was [living] a pretty sheltered life, and so forth. So, in Perth Amboy, you were Democrat, you were white, you were Catholic, you were [of] Polish and Italian descent, and so forth, and every kid around you was the same thing, and so forth. ... When you experienced all these different things, you know, ... the world opened up, and so forth, and you realized, "Oh, my goodness, there are certain things that are different." I don't think it ever bothered me, and so forth. The one, that Chinese thing, bothered me, but, you know, you experience all these other things and you say, "Oh, gee, now I know the Masonic hall in Perth Amboy." You know, when you saw this ring, and so forth, you know you always knew that there was a Masonic hall and, now, you knew that was a Masonic hall, that's different than the Knights of Columbus, and so forth, ... but, so far as [that], no, it never bothered me one way or another. I just adjusted to whatever it was, and so forth, like Harold was a Protestant and [I am] Catholic. We never discussed, you know, him being Protestant and me being Catholic. [laughter] My wife's mother is Jewish and Margaret's Catholic. Her father was an Irish Catholic and her mother was Jewish. ... Right now, we celebrate all the holidays, the Jewish holidays and the Christian holidays here, ... and we never talk about it. It never comes up. They come down here for Christmas and we go over there for their holidays, whenever, you know, we can, and so, no, I never felt bias, and so forth, never. I just really never thought about it, even in school. They used to accuse me of calling all the women "girls," and I said, "Well, gee, that's the way I [was raised], you know, the girls are girls," [imitating the women], "Well, we're women, or female." I said, "Well, please, I mean, I'm not doing it purposely, just that I [am used to it]." You know, I'd say to my secretary, "Are the girls all in today?" [imitating the secretary], "Oh, Dr. Z, come on now, they're not girls." Okay, you know, when I was their boyfriend, you had a boyfriend, but it wasn't a gay situation, it was your boyfriend. I mean, it was a guy that was your friend and it had no sexual orientation, or anything like that, and you had boyfriends, and the girls had girlfriends, and they had a different connotation, I guess, than it is now.
SI: Going back to your time at Rutgers after the war, there were obviously a lot of veterans like yourself coming back on campus, along with the regular people who were just coming out of high school. What impact did the veterans have on the campus? Was there any conflict between the students who had just graduated high school and the veterans?
HZ: ... Oh, no, no, never. I never saw anything like that. Veterans that came back were serious. I think they wanted to get it over with. Our class was very small. I graduated in '47 and our class was one of the smallest, and never, never, did I see anything like that. When we started in our fraternity, ... it was mostly veterans coming back, and then, we got some of the other younger boys in there, and they always fit in, and so forth; no, never, no. The problems with a lot of the married people, they were living in some of the trailers, and I waited two years, a year-and-a-half, to get married. I wanted to finish my education first, and my wife then was willing to do that, ... and then, when I graduated in '47, I came back to the fraternity and chaperoned. My wife and I were now married and we were chaperoning people who were a year younger than us. So, we did do that, and so forth, ... but no, no.
SI: To put it more positively, did the veterans lead by example?
HZ: I think so, I think so. Yes, I think they had a great influence on that, and so forth, on the younger people, and, you know, you had Vinnie Utz, for instance, ... he lived here in Metuchen, and so forth, that he lost his arm. I don't know whether you knew that story, and so forth, and then, his house got on fire and, because he only had one arm, he couldn't get out. As I understand, as I remember, his air conditioner was in that building and with only one arm, he couldn't get it out and he died in the fire, but his stories to the [younger students], I imagine, had a great influence on stuff. I know we had influences on our kids, in the fraternity. So, one of the big decisions was, could you have liquor in your fraternity? I remember that, ... because we were having beer and stuff in the fraternities at one time, and then, they stopped that. ... I don't think they can do that anymore, but, yes, I think they had a great influence on the kids, and so forth, but the veterans, like myself, we were serious. We just wanted to get it over with, and then, get on with your life. ...
SI: Okay. Did you enroll right away for a master's program?
HZ: Yes. This is all under the GI Bill, and so, they paid all the education. I remember, when we got released from the service, the government unemployment, we got a check, twenty-one dollars a month or so. [Editor's Note: The GI Bill entitled veterans to twenty dollars in unemployment funds a week for up to fifty-two weeks, a provision known colloquially as the "52-20 Club."] I forget now what it was, but we did have enough to keep us going for awhile. That was great, that was very helpful, and then, we enrolled in PL-346 [the GI Bill], and then, by then, I was working. I got a job in the vocational school in Perth Amboy and I was a math teacher, then, became a guidance counselor, and, at night, or Saturdays, I went ... for my master's. It took me two years to go. By then, by that time, I was married, and we lived with my wife's parents and, in '49, I finished up my master's degree, and, during that time, my son was born. We lived in Perth Amboy for awhile, then, we moved to Woodbridge, with the mother and father, my wife's mother and father, because we couldn't afford the house, and so, we lived there. Then, my father-in-law and mother-in-law, we broke up, because our family was growing. ... My son was born. So, we moved to Metuchen over here. We bought a house in Metuchen, in probably 1950. ... '49 was the year I got my master's, and then, after that, I left school for awhile, and then, I met this fellow from the School of Education, a professor, and I was one of the leaders in guidance in the State of New Jersey, and he said, "Why don't you go for your doctorate degree?" and I said, "Well, I never even thought about it." He said, "Yes, apply." So, I took the test, I passed, and then, from ... about '50 to 1960, maybe, '53, '54, I left altogether, because I figured a master's degree was enough. So, it took me about six years for my doctor's degree, and I got it in 1960, and ... I worked in the Perth Amboy school. Then, I was transferred to the New Brunswick School, where I became the assistant principal, and then, from there, I was appointed the assistant superintendent, and then, in Somerset County, they called me and I became the superintendent in Somerset County, for three years. I built that school, the vocational school in Bridgewater, and then, there was the opening here in Middlesex. My boss retired, so, I applied for the job back here and I got that, and that would have been, oh, God, ... [laughter] about twenty-five years ago, ... about thirty-seven years ago, so, subtract that, and, for twenty-five years, I was the superintendent of the Middlesex County Vocational Schools. ... I had one in East Brunswick, and then, I built a school in Piscataway, and then, I had New Brunswick, Woodbridge and Perth Amboy, and then, I retired. I think I'm in my thirteenth year, so, that would be, what? 1995, maybe, yes, 1995. So, for about thirteen years, I've been retired. During the time, I've been president of the Epsilon Pi Tau, which is the vocational fraternity, I've been president of, ... let's see, the Alumni Association [of the] School of Education, I've been president of that, Kappa Delta Pi, which is an honorary society there at Rutgers, I've been president of that. I've been in the Hall of Fame, in Perth Amboy Schools. I've got all sorts of [accolades]; ... the home economics group, the farmers, Future Farmers of America.
HZ: 4-H, I was honored nationally by that. I've got the honorary degree from that. That was done in Kansas City. That's where I went out to see Ronnie Jarvis, and I was that. Let's see, what else is there? I talked about the Hall of Fame. I have the medals, mostly the Good Conduct, the European Theater, I think the CBI Theater, oh, boy, American Victory Medal, and I think I got five of them. There's one more in there. So, I gave those to my grandson and he has those.
SI: Tell me about your doctoral work. Did you have to write a thesis?
HZ: Oh, sure, yes, yes. I wrote a thesis about the evaluation of a guidance program in a vocational technical high school, and it was published, and I don't know whether they use it anymore or not, but, yes. ... Then, oh, sure, you have to go before an orals committee, you have to have a doctor's program, yes, and, through the orals, that was in 1960, oh, God, ... thirty-eight years ago, oh, 1960, yes; oh, my God.
SI: Yes, forty-eight years.
HZ: [laughter] 1960, holy Toledo; yes, well, I'm going to be eighty-five. ...
SI: You have had a long career in vocational education in Central New Jersey. What were the major changes or challenges that you saw in your career?
HZ: Well, we started off with small schools in Perth Amboy, Woodbridge and New Brunswick. Then, I became the superintendent over at the Somerset County [school system], and I built that school over there. We had been in rented facilities there, and then, of course, they opened up the year I left there, and, [as] I say, I can't remember, '68, '70, about '71 or '72, and I left there when the school opened up to come to Middlesex County. In Middlesex County, they had just built the East Brunswick School, and so, I took over and organized the faculty there, while having the three other schools, and so forth. While I was there, after about a year or so, I was instrumental in building a horticulture building there, and then, I was instrumental in building the big vocational school over in Piscataway. Then, I organized the sports program. We didn't have any sports, and then, we developed a sports program for the entire school. That included basketball, soccer, baseball, softball for the girls and basketball for the girls, and introduced the work study program. I introduced the honor society, because the vocational school didn't have any honor society at the time, which we introduced that. I introduced a big program for special needs kids. We put an addition on the Piscataway [school], we put one on in East Brunswick, and we put one on in [the] Woodbridge School, and I think the total was maybe about four hundred special needs kids, they must have, right now. I initiated the idea of the technical school, I forget what they call it now, over at the county college. They have the institute there; oh, the Academy, [the Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies]. When I was just about ready to retire, I brought up the idea, and I had it all planned, and so forth, and then, I retired, and then, they built that Academy over at the Middlesex County College, and so, I had that. I talked about the work study. Those are the other ones. [laughter] Oh, well, it's hard for me to remember. I had been president of the teachers' association for about six years, and so, when I became a superintendent, I was negotiating with the people that I used to be president of, you know, because I had been president of the union, and so forth. ... I was pretty well accepted, because I was a local person, and I knew [many people]. My family is large, and so, no matter what town you go to, I have family, and so, I was pretty much accepted as a superintendent. A lot of the kids I went to school with were teachers in my schools, so, I knew a lot of them, and I was invited to a lot of the union activities. ... I don't think some of the superintendents do do that, but they were my friends, and so forth, and so, my wife and I went. My wife died, actually, my first wife died, in, oh, about thirty-five years ago. I had two children, one was David and one was Linda, and she [his first wife] died and I was by myself for about a year-and-a-half. ... About thirty-three years ago, I met Margaret, through friends, and she had been from Perth Amboy, she's a local girl, and she had no children and she had lost her husband, and he had been one of the executives in Chevron. ... We were married, after about a year of courting, and so forth, and so, we'll celebrate our thirty-two years [soon]. So, I was married the first time about twenty-five years and, now, thirty-two years. So, I guess I'm a pretty good risk, and we've been happy. We have no children, of course, with Margaret, but the grandchildren, we have, I told you, four. They don't know ... my first wife, they only know Margaret, because they were born ... while I lived here, and so, we've been pretty happy, and so forth, together. So, it's worked out quite well. So, that's the family, and so forth. ... I would say, in terms of students, from about nine hundred, I think we've probably got about five thousand students in the vocational school, anyhow, day and night, and we inaugurated some of the union programs, and so forth, with the electrical union, and so forth. I was in with most of the labor leaders and, as I say, some of our kids were the presidents, and so forth. So, I'll show you some of my awards that I have. ... I got one from the Pope. [Motioning to the award] That's the one from the Pope there. ... I had done something for one of the churches. The next thing I know, I got that from the Pope.
SI: How nice. It is an Apostolic Blessing.
HZ: Yes. So, I got that, and I'll show you, before you go, some of my awards there.
SI: Doing so much of your work in the vicinity of Rutgers, along with having so many ties with Rutgers, were you able to use resources, such as the School of Education and the Labor Center, during your career?
HZ: No, not with the Labor [Center], no. So, by the School of Ed, most of it has been in the Alumni Association.
HZ: But, nothing [else]. I taught at Rutgers.
HZ: Yes, I taught the guidance course for the State Department of Vocational Education. I've taught, I should tell you, yes, here, I've taught at Kean University, I've taught at Trenton, whatever they call themselves. It used to be Trenton State.
SI: The College of New Jersey?
HZ: Yes, College of New Jersey, whatever it is. I've taught at Yeshiva in New York, I've taught at Seton Hall, part-time, you know, along the way, and so forth. So, I've taught on the college level, and I liked it. It was pretty good. Most of the courses were in guidance and vocational education. So, I did that for about ten years, on and off, and so forth. I'm a Rotarian. I belong to the Rotary Club. I belong to the AARP. I've been president of the AARP for a couple [years], local, and so forth. I belong to the senior citizens, I belong to the Knights of Columbus, [laughter] I belong to the Elks. Oh, God, what else is there? I don't know, I've got them written down. [laughter] I wrote my obituary already, so, I've got it all written down. So, I don't know what else to say.
SI: One question I usually wrap up with is, looking back at the Second World War, what is your most vivid memory of that period, what stands out the most when you think about that time?
HZ: Well, the first thing that [I think of] is the joy of it being over, I mean, ... twice, the first with the European Theater being over, and then, of course, Japan. You know, now, you know you're coming home. That's vivid. Secondly, what's vivid is the surprise of being attacked by Japan. You know, that's vivid, and so forth. The other thing is when you think about the veterans, oh, I belong to the American Legion, too, is the loss of your friends, when they have the ceremonies for them, you know, the people that were killed along the way, and so forth, mostly by accidents, not by, you know, gunshots or that sort of thing, but mostly in plane accidents, and the more minor [memories are] the acceptance by the American people, like I gave you that episode in Chicago, where the woman bought us that dinner, and [was] so graceful. I remember the going underneath the barbed wire, where they were shootings blanks above you, you know, that sort of thing, and the training, ... military training, and so forth. I think, more than anything else, although I didn't see the action that many of the people saw, I felt that I probably donated three years of my life for my country, and so forth. That, I've never regretted, even though I take kidding from a lot of people about my military service, by [them] saying, "Oh, you were the guy with the balloon, huh?" and so forth. Even my assistants in my staff used to kid me, you know, say, "Hey, yes, there goes the balloon, there goes Zanzalari, training his balloon," and so forth, but, you know, there have been times where it's tricky, and even, you know, some of them didn't come back doing what I did, and so forth. So, those are things I can remember, and so forth. When you think back, you were at a part of history. You talk about the bias and the change of the country, and so forth; when I went in and what it is now, the great changes, and so forth, for the good, and so forth, that's pretty much what I [recall]. If you asked me; it's been so long ago, so, it's hard to remember, and so forth, [if] you asked me about my greatest thrills recently, I've been to three bowl games for Rutgers football, most recently to Toronto, and then, to Texas and to Phoenix. [Editor's Note: Dr. Zanzalari is referring to the Rutgers Football Scarlet Knights' appearances in the International Bowl in 2008, the Texas Bowl in 2007 and the Insight Bowl in 2005.] I can tell you, those were standout things, and so forth, because those are most recently. As I mentioned, my wife and I would go to the football games, and the girls' basketball, men's basketball, and then, we go to baseball, too, and so forth. So, I remember some very, very thrilling stuff there, especially with the girls' basketball and football, but, I don't know, I haven't thought about it too much. ...
SI: Let me ask you a couple of questions about your time as an athlete at Rutgers. What was the first sport that you got involved in?
HZ: I would say, probably, 150-pound football, only because Bill Kenny dragged me there. His brother had been on the 150-pound football [team] and he dragged me there, and it was cut short in my sophomore year; it was cut short because of the going into the service. In my freshman year, it was fencing and crew, only because of fraternity people who drove me there. I can remember going out for the crew and they put me ... in a boat and the damn oar almost knocked me out of the boat, pulls you right out, if you're not experienced, and so forth, ... and then, fencing, I think I did the best in. ... I was in epee, and I went up against a guy from Princeton, I remember that, ... and I won. ...
SI: Particularly in your era, the Princeton games were always the biggest games.
HZ: Oh, yes. You'd have to go to Princeton all the time, because Princeton didn't want to come up here, in the traffic, and so forth, oh, yes, and we very rarely won. ... So, a couple of years afterwards, we did win, when we got stronger, and so, then, they dropped us, because they didn't want to play us anymore.
SI: Do any of the 150-pound football games stand out in your memory? At this time, they were very popular.
HZ: Yes. They were swift, and then, what happened [was], the one game I can remember, when they put us up against the New Brunswick High School football team, ... there was no 150-pounds there, we were playing against big guys, and so forth, you know. ... We got kind of beaten up, and so forth, but the practices, you know, that you had, and so forth, [Thomas] Kenneally was our coach, Coach Kenneally. I think that's what his name [was], as I remember it, Kenneally.
SI: I believe so, yes.
HZ: Yes. ... They were three strange sports to me, because baseball and basketball was my sport. Harold Miers, you'll find out, he was a good basketball player, but these were three strange sports. I was learning them more than anything else. So, I was never particularly good at it; I wasn't a star or anything, and so forth, but I never played in the football game, nor did I get in competition with the crew, but I did get into competition with the fencing. ... We were on the team, you know. They took our picture, you know, and so forth. ... You're asking me stuff, I'm thinking about all this stuff now. [laughter]
SI: If anything else comes to mind, you can always add it to the transcript later. Is there anything else for this session that you want to say?
HZ: Jeez, I don't know, ... I can't think of anything, and so forth. You want to wait for a minute?
SI: Sure. ...
SI: We were talking about some other activities that you have been involved in. You mentioned that you were on the Board of Education in Edison.
HZ: Yes, I was on the Board of Education in Edison, and so forth, ... then, the Edison Elks, the Knights of Columbus, I mentioned the American Legion, Rutgers Alumni Association, Rutgers Court Club, Touchdown Club, the volunteer work at JFK Auxiliary, and, of course, the Rutgers Scarlet R, and we belong to the American-Italian Civic League, Walt Disney Society, Rotary Club, and I did work for the Urban League. ... I used to be the treasurer there. I was with the Urban League for about, oh, maybe six years, and then, I told you about the faculty, and so forth, and then, I was superintendent of the schools, and so forth.
SI: Going back to the Urban League, what kind of actions were the Urban League involved in when you were with them?
HZ: With the Urban League, mine was mostly with the school, with the vocational school. I was involved wherever we had a problem, ... or for some information. Oh, gosh, what was the name of that nice, young, older fellow; oh, gosh. He had been president of the Urban League for quite awhile and, occasionally, we would have some question about what the boy was doing in school, [someone who] got into trouble, and so forth. So, I'd go with the Urban League and we'd work it out with his family, and/or, [if] they had somebody that they had an interest in vocational education, or possibly vocational education, they would bring him over. So, mine was pretty much limited to educational problems, but, yes, I was there for quite awhile, and so forth. Gosh, I forget what the name of that nice [man was]; he's dead now, and so forth.
SI: You can add it later, if you can remember.
HZ: Yes. So, you got what I [did].
SI: You received a lifetime achievement award from the School of Education.
HZ: Yes. That was the Graduate School of Education Distinguished Service Award, and the Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame, National FFA Organization, Honorary FFA. Oh, ... this is something I didn't say. They had a government project that I initiated, and I can't remember, this has been too long ago, what that program was, but I was invited to Chicago and presented this through the Federal Government, somehow. ... I was presented this award by, of all people, what an honor, Coretta Scott King.
HZ: I wish I could describe the feeling when you met her for the first time. It's interesting that there are two people, three people, really, that had that influence on me. It's like you can't believe that this person is in front of you, that there's such ... an aura about that person, and so forth, that ... I just stood there, and so forth. It's just like a queenly [charisma], just so great to be in her presence. The other one was Judy Garland and the third one was Humphrey, Humphrey, ... you know, who was Vice-President Humphrey.
SI: Hubert Humphrey.
HZ: Hubert Humphrey. The three people that I had that same feeling about, with the personal contact, and so forth, with all three of those. ... She was the one that gave me this award and I can't remember the award anymore. I have a picture of it somewhere, and so forth, but that's been so long ago, and I'll show you why I can't remember the awards. I'll show you on your way out, ... but that's really something. ... Oh, yes, here's the African Theater Award, Victory Medal, Good Conduct, [New Jersey] Distinguished Service Medal, and there are a couple more. ... I gave this to my daughter, said, "This is my obituary." [laughter] That was it, and so forth. I don't know what else to tell you.
SI: As I look over the transcript, I might have some questions.
SI: I might do a short follow-up interview.
HZ: Yes, I'll remember a lot of things after you've left, and so forth. [laughter]
SI: Yes, a lot of people do.
HZ: ... Yes, there've been a lot of changes, of course, you know, over the years, and so forth. ... When they honored fifty years, Rutgers, fifty years after graduation, that group there. ...
SI: The Old Guard?
HZ: Old Guard, yes, we were there for that already. ... You know how this [Dr. Zanzalari's involvement in the Rutgers Oral History Archives] started? I was in Carino's. You know where Carino's is, in Piscataway? It's a spaghetti place, or Italian food, and I was sitting there with my wife and my mother-in-law and we were having spaghetti and meatballs and this fellow was there, with his father-in-law, who was in a wheelchair, and the wife, and so forth, and he saw me with my Rutgers cap.
SI: Okay, Robert Kneller.
HZ: Is that who it was?
SI: Yes. His father was one of our "founding fathers."
HZ: Right, that's the guy, and he said to me, "Oh, I see you're Rutgers." I said, "Yes," and we got to talking, and so forth. He says, "Why don't you get in touch with," your organization. I said, "I've heard of it, but ... I just never thought about it, one way or the other," and he said, "Well, I'm going to go down and put your name in there." ... That's how it started, in Carino's. He told me about his father, and so forth.
SI: Yes, both great guys. His father was very important on our alumni board and, also, Robert has photographed some of our events.
HZ: I notice that you have; you want to shut that off?
SI: Let me end the tape; thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
HZ: Oh, this is very, very good. I enjoyed it, very, very much so.
--------------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW--------------------------------------------
Reviewed by Corey Ershow 12/2/09
Reviewed by Mitchell Gilson 12/2/09
Reviewed by Catherine Dzendzera 12/2/09
Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 12/22/09
Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 1/14/10
Reviewed by J. Henry Zanzalari 2/20/10