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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
INTERVIEWEE: Walter Judd, Sr.
INTERVIEWER: Walter Judd, Jr.
March 5, 1989
Since both participants have the same first and last initials,
Walter Judd, Sr., will be designated J: and Walter Judd,
Jr., as W:.
W: This is an oral history interview with Walter Judd, Sr., of
Dade City, Florida. Mr. Judd is a native of Tennessee and
long-time resident of Miami, Florida. This interview is
taking place at his residence in Dade City. Today is
Sunday, March 5, 1989. My name is Walter Judd, Jr. What is
your full name?
J: Walter Haston Judd.
W: Where were you born?
J: Cookeville, Tennessee
W: When were you born?
J: June 8, 1925.
W: Do you know the background of the Haston part of your name?
J: No, not at all.
W: What was your father's name?
J: The same.
W: And your mother's?
J: Her name was Annie Louise York.
W: Is that any relation to the Sergeant [Alvin C.] York that we
have heard of?
J: Yes, a distant cousin.
W: What are your earliest recollections of school?
J: I guess having to be carried by two older boys, one with
each arm, dragging me down the street.
W: You did not want to go?
W: Was this the first day of school?
J: The first week of school.
W: The whole first week? What was the emphasis of the
education in the school in Tennessee around 1930 or so?
J: It was just a straight elementary curriculum. There was no
gifted program or anything like that.
W: How large a school was it?
J: Probably two hundred.
W: This was not one of those one-room schools?
J: Oh, no.
W: The Depression would have been quite severe around 1935,
when you were about ten. How did it affect you as a boy
growing up in Tennessee?
J: I was caught right in the middle of it. I had to do
whatever odd jobs I could to get a little spare money of my
own. I had to go to the ice house, which was about four
blocks down the street. I had a little red wagon, and I
used to go to the ice house everyday, get a nickel's worth
of ice in that little red wagon, and drag it back home and
put it in the icebox. We did not have refrigerators. I
sold eggs and anything else that came along.
W: Did you have poultry at your house?
J: Yes. We had a cow, some chickens, and some guineas. We got
by on the eggs. Of course, we did not have very much ham or
other meat except poultry.
W: How big a town was Cookeville prior to World War Two?
J: At that time, just prior to World War Two, it was about
4,000 people or less. It was not very big.
W: Was Cookeville strictly a white town, or were there many
minorities in Cookeville at this time?
J: No. There were so-called black sections where all the
blacks lived together, and there were sections where all of
the whites lived together. They did not meet. There was
not very much friction or anything like that. They just
stayed where they belonged, and we stayed where we belonged.
W: Did you have any interactions with blacks at all?
J: Very little.
W: Did you know any personally?
J: I knew black people, but I had no problems with them
W: How far did you make through your education at Cookeville?
J: I quit school when I was a sophomore in high school. Then I
started hauling whiskey and working for a shady character
who had pinball machines and record players and that kind of
stuff. I did that up until the time I was seventeen. Then
I joined the marine corps. That was a turning point.
W: This hauling whiskey: was this moonshine?
J: Well, yes. I had what they called bottled and bond. That
was government whiskey. Then we had plain old moonshine.
W: This was during Prohibition, right? So technically this was
J: Yes, all of it.
W: Did you ever have much federal interference?
J: No, not too much. Back in those days, you could not even
transport beer. That was against the law, too. No beer,
wine, or liquor.
W: How would a sophomore in high school in Cookeville,
Tennessee have been exposed to people running whiskey?
J: It all started during the Depression. My father started
selling whiskey just to make money to live on. He sold it
for several years. Then after the Depression was over, he
kept on selling. It was a lucrative business. It was
dangerous, but it was good money. You met a lot of weird
people. They could be right on the verge of being
legitimate or illegitimate. You had to look out for
yourself to see what side of the fence you were on.
W: Did your mother know this, or did you keep it a secret?
J: Oh, no, we all knew it. We used to bury it out in the yard
in half-gallon jars. We would bury them at the edge of the
flower beds, and around the end of buildings, under trees,
and what have you. Every so often a delivery would come in,
maybe fifteen or twenty gallons. It would come to our house
at two or three o'clock in the morning. We would all get
out and unload it and stack it in the corner somewhere, and
those people would take off. As soon as it got daylight, we
would start digging in the ground, making holes for it, and
W: How did you get around? You had to get ice and other things
for your parents. Did you have a car?
J: I am not sure [how I got around before I got a car]. I know
I had a car. I was driving when I was nine and a half years
old, and I owned a car when I was twelve. I had Tennessee
state driver's license when I was twelve years old.
W: Was there no age limit then, or did you disguise your age?
J: There was the age limit. When they came out with the new
license, my dad said, "There is no use in your filling out
an application for it, since they are not going to give it
to you." I said, "I am going to fill it out anyway." So my
uncle, my father, and myself filled out the three
applications and sent them in with the money. I was the
first one to get mine back, so I was a legitimate driver for
about two weeks before they were.
W: So there were no inspection places and tests at that time?
J: Not then, no. The next year there were.
W: So you just got in. The Depression, I guess, ended with the
war. Do you remember what you were doing when you heard of
J: Yes. I had been to a football game, but that was quite a
while later. We had gotten back to my mother's restaurant.
She had a kind of a diner. Anyway, we were all standing
outside talking, and I was sitting on a cousin's motorcycle.
It was not running; I was just sitting on it. Someone came
out and said that the Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor.
Nobody knew where Pearl Harbor was, not for a minute or two,
anyway. It did not take long [for us to find out].
W: At that time, you were not old enough to get into the
service, were you?
J: No, I was only fourteen.
W: In the days immediately after Pearl Harbor, did you know
that you were eventually going to fight in this war?
J: Yes, I knew that I was going to be there. I did not know
when, but everybody was going to be there.
W: Before you left, what changes did the war bring to
Tennessee, or Cookeville?
J: It brought quite a bit of prosperity. Tennessee was very
fortunate in the fact that the terrain around Cookeville,
Lebanon, Carthage, and all the small towns in the middle of
the state were very much like the terrain in Europe. There
were the hedge rows, there were the dips--it had everything.
It was just exactly what the army was looking for to train
the guys to go in and fight. When they got there [to
Europe], it looked like what they had been doing anyway.
W: So the army was doing quite a bit of training.
J: Oh, yes. Millions of troops came in to train.
W: Did your mother still have her diner? Did she get much
business from the army people?
J: Yes, it was a regular Saturday night hangout. It was
different from any other time. Everybody went to the Cedar
Inn. That was where you met Saturday night. You met there
to get a date or whatever. It was quite a place.
W: What were you doing at this time? Your father had passed
away by then, right?
J: I was kind of helping run the place. I got involved in it a
little bit. I guess I was lucky I did not end up in jail
again. Working there with her in the Cedar Inn, I had a .38
Smith and Wesson special that I carried around in my pocket
all the time.
We had a big fight one night in a booth. I walked in to the
booth and recognized the one guy. He was no good. He was
trying to take advantage of the other guy. I walked in and
told him to get out, and he told me to go to hell or
something. He was not going to get out, so I just reached
in my pocket and pulled out that .38 special. I put it
right beside his head and said, "I told you to get out once.
I am not going to tell you again." He left. It could have
gone either way.
W: Whatever trouble you had then, was it locals, or was it
J: It was a combination. I guess it was more locals than it
was soldiers, really. All they wanted to do was to get
through it--survive and get by.
W: So your exposure to the military, prior to your going in,
was with the army. What brought you to the marines?
J: That is a long story. One of my hobbies was photography. I
used to develop my own pictures and enlarge them. I got to
be a pretty good amateur photographer. In fact, I won a
state championship one time with a picture I had made of
frozen tree limbs, covered with ice, with lights reflecting
off of them. They had a program where if you were an
amateur or advanced photographer and could pass this test,
you could get into the marine corps as a combat
photographer, or into the navy. I really did not want to be
a photographer for the army. I went to Nashville on my own
and took the written test to qualify as a combat
photographer. They told me I had it made: all I had to do
was to get into the army. As soon as I got in the army,
they said I could request duty as a combat photographer.
Then I could go right into the navy or marine corps. That
suited me fine.
I got back home, and the time came. I went Fort Oglethorpe,
Georgia. They put us through a couple more small tests
there, but they did not amount to a hill of beans. We did
have to go through a physical and everything.
Well, they lost my papers. The people that I had gotten
there with early in the morning had already finished and
were gone, and I was still sitting there waiting for
somebody to come out. About 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoon,
they finally sent word over to ask, "Is there anybody over
here who has not received their papers back?" I said, "Yes.
I have not." So they started checking around.
For Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, that day there were thirteen
marines scheduled to be picked from the whole blooming
thing. So there were thirteen marines sitting over on the
side of a hill under a big tree. I went over and went
through the processing again. I finally got back through
the middle of the room, where I thought I was home free
again. Some guy picked the papers up and said, "Okay. Out
that door and over to the next desk." He laid the papers on
that desk. I went over to the next desk, and there was a
yeoman from the navy. I had to fill out one of the
questionnaires about whether I had ever been arrested. I
filled that out. There was a banister right down the middle
of the room. I got up and started to go around the
banister, and he says, "Wait a minute, mate!" I stopped,
and he looked at my papers and said, "Okay. Out that door,
over on the hill, and under that tree. You are in the
W: So they put you in the marine corps instead making you a
photographer. This was not what you wanted, was it?
J: Not exactly. But anyway, I ended up in the marines. I was
not in the regular infantry, but in the elite. I was in the
raider battalion. They only had two. So after they stuck
me in the marine corps, I thought I might as well go into
the raider battalion. That is how I started my career in
the marine corps.
W: How did the people back home take this news that you had
gone off to become a photographer and came back a marine?
J: I think they were confused. They did not even know what was
going on, and I did not, either. I know damn well I did
not. I did not have the slightest idea what was going on.
W: From time that you were tricked--or whatever happened--into
going into the marines, how long did you have to spend home
with your family before you had to report?
J: I did not have any time. When I left Nashville, I was
supposed to go to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia to be examined
and signed up. Then I was supposed to have an eighteen-day
furlough to go back to Cookeville. After that, I was
supposed to report to Fort Mammoth, New Jersey for
photography training. After I got there, I found out I was
not going to be a photographer. We met some people at the
Nashville recruitment station that night. They told us that
those people were going to San Diego tomorrow morning and
asked if there was anybody who wanted to go with them. I
said I might as well. I was already gone from my home, so I
said I would go. So at 1:45 that afternoon I was on a train
headed for San Diego. My mom thought that I was coming back
home for eighteen days.
W: How did you finally get word to her?
J: I sent her postcard from Amarillo, Texas.
W: How long did it take the train to get to San Diego?
J: About seven days.
W: Was it strictly a military train, or were you riding with
J: We were riding with civilians. It was a mixture.
W: So you did your basic training in San Diego. What camp
would that have been?
J: San Diego boot camp.
W: It has no name? It is simply called San Diego boot camp?
J: That is all it was called. There is also Camp Lejeune [in
W: Marine corps boot camp is almost legendary. What is it
J: It was one of those experiences you would not take a million
dollars for it, and you would not go through it again for
another million. It is indescribable. You do not know from
one split second to the next what you are going to be doing,
if you are going to be doing anything. You may be dead.
You may be God only knows what. There is no certainty
W: How did they start you in boot camp?
J: Well, my first day, they gave me a bucket and some brand new
dungarees. They told me to go wash them down at the wash
rack. All of us had to take our buckets and go down to the
wash rack and wash our damn dungarees, which we had not even
worn yet. They told you what to do, and that is what you
did. Then it just went from bad to worse.
W: How tense was the physical training side of it?
J: Great. By the time you got out of boot camp, you were
probably in better shape than you have ever been before or
W: You had played some high school football. There is no
W: As far as mental preparation, they were preparing you to go
out and kill. How did they go about doing that?
J: That was a special marine corps training. They tore you
down; they tore down your spirit. You would not have any
spirit left whatsoever. You could walk standing straight up
and go underneath a snake and never feel him. You were
lower than a snake; there was just nothing lower. After
they got you down to where you could not get any worse--no
way you could be any worse--they would start gradually
building you back up. By the time you got out of boot camp,
you felt like you could take on the whole damn world.
W: Did you have any training beyond boot camp, or did you go
right into combat from there?
J: Oh, no, we had all kinds of training. We had the training
in communications. I had to train to be a telephone man:
how to climb telephone poles, how to operate radios, how to
write out messages coming in over the radio. There was also
just plain everyday training on how to survive out there in
the middle of the desert. They did not give you much chance
to survive, but you did.
W: After you got through the basic training and your own
selective training, what did you qualify as?
J: Well, I was in the regular infantry. My communications
training was very important. I could have gotten a job when
the war was over. I could have gone straight from the
marine corps into the telephone company, and I could have
been making $1,800 a month, with all expenses and everything
furnished. At that time it would have probably been [the
equivalent of] around $75,000 a year today. It was
extremely high tech.
W: You mentioned you were in one of the two raider battalions.
When did you start doing the more selective training that
J: There were classification classes that we had to go to after
boot camp. There they gave you general intelligence tests
to determine your natural aptitudes. My communication part
of it turned out real good. One of the big things they had
was this radio communication: dit, da-dit-da-dit, dit-dit-
da-dit, da-da-da, dit-dit, and so on. A lot of people could
not learn it or understand it. Anybody that could pick it
up had an advantage. The rest of the training covered about
everything. You got experience in this and that. You got
experience in loading boats and unloading boats, what to do
if one capsizes--just everything.
W: In total, how long were you in San Diego?
J: Probably about six or seven months.
W: Did you ever have a chance to see much of San Diego?
J: Sure. Every night.
W: What are your remembrances of San Diego?
J: It was an unrestrained town that was full of wine and wild
women, wilder marines, and even wilder sailors. It was easy
to get into a fight. You could just walk into a bar, and
there would be a couple of sailors. Then someone says, "I
do not like your looks." By that time, it was too late.
Either your looks had changed or his had.
W: How did the town adapt to all of these wild marines and
J: Just the best they could. They had them, and there was
nothing they could do about it. All they could do is try to
keep as many people from getting killed as they could. Just
try to hold everything down.
W: During your time in San Diego, did you get any leave long
enough that you could see more of California, or were you
pretty much confined to San Diego?
J: No, you could get up to forty-eight-hour passes. That was
not too bad. You could take off on Friday, and you would
not have to be back until Monday. So you could go up the
coast, through the little towns up the coast, whatever you
wanted to do.
W: What kind of relationships did you have a chance to form
with some of the civilians from there?
J: I had cousins that lived there. I had Boy Judd, an uncle,
and his wife Irene. They had gotten a divorce. They had a
daughter, and her name was Catherine. Then Lanny B. Hill
remarried Irene and adopted Catherine. Lanny B. is the one
that was driving the wagon when I was driving the wagon
home. My fingers froze to the reins, and they had to pry my
fingers off the reins when we got to the house. Anyway, he
was like a brother or an uncle, whatever.
W: Boy Judd. That was his name?
J: J. D. was his name, but we called him Boy.
W: Was there any reason why you called him Boy?
J: Back in those days they just did that a lot.
W: After training, basic and advanced training, in San Diego,
where did you go?
J: From there I went to Camp Pendleton, which is about sixty
miles north of San Diego, up the coast on Highway 101, near
Oceanside, California. Camp Pendleton at that time--I do
not know if it still is--was the biggest marine base in the
world. They had everything. I think it was seventeen and a
half miles to the front gate. That is where you got off.
Then there was another twenty miles to go to town.
W: You did communications training there?
J: Yes. That is also where all of our amphibious training came
together. It was not just "you do this and you do that."
W: Now, the amphibious training is the storming of beaches.
How much longer were you at Camp Pendleton?
J: About six months.
W: Had you been assigned to a division or company by that time?
What was your division and company?
J: I was with the Signal Company, Headquarters Battalion, 5th
Marine Division. We were Marine Force Pacific.
W: What did they tell you you would be confronting when you
finally did meet the Japanese?
J: Damn little. They did not tell us very much.
W: Do you think that was because they did not know, or they did
not want to tell you?
J: A lot of it they did not know. They were fighting them for
the first time, too. They had no way of knowing what the
little bastards were going to do. The only thing you could
be sure of was they were not going to do what you thought
they were going to do. You could be sure of that.
W: Once your California training ended, where did you start off
in the Pacific? Where did they send you?
J: They took a detachment of us to the 4th Marine Division. We
accompanied the invasions of Saipan and Tinian [on the
Mariana Islands]. Ours was strictly a role of observing and
learning as much as we could of what was going on. After
that, they brought us back to Hawaii. Then they put us
through our training for Iwo Jima.
W: Let me make sure I have the chronology correct. You
finished your training at Camp Pendleton, and then you
sailed from California to the Pacific island of Saipan?
J: Saipan and Tinian, with the 4th Marine Division.
W: How long did it take to get there?
J: Three months.
W: We were at sea for three months. How did someone being from
the hills of Tennessee adapt to being at sea for three
J: You just got used to it, like everything else. The human
being is pretty adaptable.
W: Let me backtrack a little bit. You found yourself on a ship
sailing to Saipan to do combat with the Japanese. Back when
you were fourteen and the war started, and you knew you were
going to be in it, did you think you were going to be
fighting the Japanese or the Germans, or did you care?
J: I guess back then it did not make any damn difference. Then
I got involved in it and started realizing what the Japanese
were doing and what the Germans were doing, and I was making
comparisons. Then you start taking on your own hatred.
W: Your training had helped you with that.
W: In Saipan and Tinian, did they keep the action that your
division saw purposely limited?
J: No, we were attached to the Signal Company of the 4th Marine
Division. [We were] the same as the 5th Marine Division,
except we were the 4th. We had our jobs to do, and we had
to do everything that the 5th Marine Division did. It was
not any vacation.
W: You had undergone a lot of training for the landing. Did it
pay off for you when it came time to do it?
J: No. When we hit the beach at Iwo Jima, the first time we
took a step on the beach we went up to our knees in volcanic
W: This is jumping a little bit ahead, but things went a little
better on the first two islands?
W: Saipan was bombarded. The newsreels you see of that kind of
invasion now gives you the impression of an almost
unbelievable sight, with all the battleships and all of
that. What was it like to have actually been there?
J: Just like the newsreels that you saw: unbelievable. You
could not imagine anything like it. Iwo Jima endured
seventy-two days of bombardment. Seventy-two straight days,
every day of the week. They said we killed three people.
W: After Saipan, you went back to Hawaii. Was that to train
you for Iwo Jima, or did they keep you in reserve?
J: No, we were training new recruits in what we had learned
from Saipan and Tinian. Nobody knew anything about that
W: When you put out to sea, did you know where you were going
J: We did not have the slightest idea. We could have been
going back to Tennessee as far as everybody was concerned.
W: That was not very likely, though.
J: We did not have any idea where we were going. In fact, we
did not find out where we were going until about seven days
before we got there.
W: Of course, by this time you had some combat experience, so
you had a little better idea of what you would be facing.
J: Yes, we had a much better vision of what could happen. We
had trained for it. Someone would say, "You six men, it
will be your job to take this piece of high ground right
here and hold it for ten days." Ten days later we were
still sitting there--we had not taken anything. We had not
even moved. There was the high ground sitting over there,
and you were still sitting over here. It was something you
just had to learn.
W: You said Iwo Jima was bombarded for seventy-two days. How
much of it did you see? How much of that were you off the
island witnessing that bombardment?
J: I was on the ship right around the island the whole time,
the whole seventy-two days.
W: The history books tell us that Saipan and Tinian, while they
were not a picnic, were nothing compared to Iwo Jima.
J: That is true. The biggest reason we had to go for Saipan
and Tinian was because they were in a direct line to Japan.
We had to take those two islands so the Japanese could not
send up their fighter planes and fight our bombers on their
way to Tokyo and on their way back.
W: How long did the battle of Iwo Jima take?
J: From February 19 to March 29.
W: You were there the whole time?
J: Yes. We left at 6:40 in the morning and got out about 8:00
W: This is all pretty vivid.
J: Yes. I will never forget it.
W: Probably one of the most famous pictures of the war,
probably any American war, is the flag raising. Did you
J: Right after it happened. I saw the flag, and a big shout
went up, "There's the flag!" Everybody turned and looked
back to Mt. Suribachi, and you could see it up there. It
was not the original one; it was just a little two-by-four
that somebody had found and had put up there. The regular
flag raising was done about two days later.
W: The battle was nowhere near over.
J: God, no! It had not even started.
W: Through all of this, what was your opinion of the Japanese
soldier? Had it changed since your days of training?
J: The Japanese soldier was a good soldier. In fact, I guess
one-on-one, they were probably better than we were. What I
mean by that is better than the marines, the navy, the army,
and the air force--the whole schmear. If you pile them all
together, they were probably better than we were. But as
far as individual training, you could not beat us.
W: They taught you to hate the Japanese. When it was over, had
the Japanese earned the marines's respect, as far as you
J: No, we hated them just as much the last day as we did the
W: The Japanese swore they would never be captured. Did you
see any prisoners?
J: Yes, I saw prisoners. I saw special orders come out from
our commanding generals to take Japanese prisoners because
we needed them. We had not taken any. We went seventeen
days, and we did not take a prisoner. They wanted to know
what was going on. Nobody was taking any, so they finally
asked us to take prisoners.
W: So some were taken?
J: Oh, yes. Some funny things happened. We had taken three
Japanese prisoners early one morning, and they had them in
the interrogation tent. They were talking to them trying to
get information out of them. None of them would even open
their mouth, not even make a sound. The prisoners were
wounded. They finally gave up and said they were going to
send them to Saipan. They took one of them, put him on a
stretcher, laid him out behind the jeep, and went back to
get another one. The marine corpsman was standing there
guarding him. He knew what had been taking place all day.
The prisoner looked up at this corpsman and said, "You damn
marines think you are going to take this island, don't you?"
W: Perfect English?
J: Perfect English. The corpsman looked at him for a second or
two and said, "Yes, you son of a bitch. And you think you
are going to Saipan, too." He reached and pulled out his
.45 "pow pow pow pow pow pow pow"--seven shots right
W: After the battle had been declared over, was it actually
over? Were there in fact Japanese left?
J: There were still hundreds of Japanese on the island in caves
where they thought they could not be found. There are
probably still some out there.
W: This was when instead of trying to get them to come out,
they would blast the cave closed?
W: After Iwo Jima was secure, it was used mainly for crippled
bombers to come in. Did you see much of the bombers coming
J: Oh, yes. They were landing bombers at one end of the
airfield while we were still fighting trying to take the
other end. There were Japanese mortar shells landing all
over the damn place and all kinds of things happening. We
would fight over here for a while and over there for a
while. In the meantime, they would move the bombers back
over here somewhere to keep them from getting hit.
W: These were the big B-29s. How big were they?
J: About the length of two football fields and half as wide.
W: Did you stay on Iwo Jima long after it was secure, or did
they ship you back out?
J: No, they shipped us back out. We went back to Hawaii where
we started training for occupation duty. We trained until
September of 1945. That is when they sent us to Japan.
W: What kind of battle were they expecting if you had to invade
the Japanese islands?
J: We would probably still be trying to get on the damn beach.
W: Did they know it would be that heavy?
J: It was no surprise.
W: You were in Hawaii when you heard of the atomic bombs?
J: Yes, I guess I was.
W: Had you ever thought such a thing was possible before you
saw the pictures or whatever they showed you of the bombs
J: Nobody knew anything about the bomb. Very few people knew
it even existed. When that thing dropped out of the bottom
[of the airplane], nobody knew what happened or why.
W: For you and the marines in Hawaii, the bombs got you out of
what could have been an extremely bloody battle.
J: Oh, yes. It probably saved 90 percent of our lives.
W: So, to this day you do not think there is any problem in
dropping the bomb on Hiroshima?
J: No, not at all. We could not have done anything else.
W: So you were in the occupation force?
W: How did the Japanese civilians treat the occupiers? Were
there any problems?
J: Not really, not that much. When we arrived, it was raining,
and it was nighttime. We went in combat loaded, and we were
ready to fight. We had our rifles, we had our K-rations, we
had everything. When we got there, we saw that they were
not going to fight, so we just started straightening things
out. But we were ready. Anybody that hollered "boo" would
have gotten it.
W: Where were you stationed in Japan?
J: A place called Sasebo. We took over the "Annapolis" of
W: The naval academy?
J: There was a great big school, and we took over the whole
W: Did you see much of Japan?
J: A great bit of it. I was working on pole line construction,
so they sent us up in the mountains. We would put in new
telephone lines, telephone poles, and everything involved in
communication. I spent more time out of camp than I did in
W: What about Hiroshima or Nagasaki?
J: I was in Nagasaki for about four months.
W: In the city? Nobody knew about radiation then?
J: Oh, yes. There was nothing left there. Nobody knew much
about anything, except that everything was gone.
W: It completely wiped out the city?
J: Damn near like that tray right there. [There was a tray on
the bed. Ed.] There was a city of 400,000 people, and that
is about what was left.
W: A flat surface?
J: Rubble. No intact building.
W: Did you see Tokyo?
W: So you have no way of knowing how the time bomb compares
with fire bombing.
W: I mentioned the radiation. Did they know at that time that
after an atomic bomb there was still radiation in the air?
J: Oh, yes.
W: Did they give you any kind of preventive ideas?
J: Not really. It was too new. We were just there.
W: It was too new to you to cause much concern?
J: It was too new to everybody. Nobody knew what they were
talking about or doing.
W: What kind of social activities did the occupation forces
J: Very little to none. Even though we were not fighting them,
there was a feeling of dread or whatever you want to call it
that could have exploded at any time, so everybody just left
everybody else alone.
W: Did you have much of a chance to learn any of the Japanese
J: A little bit. I was in a class and was beginning to learn a
little, and I could speak a little Japanese. I could go
into town and bargain with someone about a price or what
have you. I was getting along all right.
W: Did your commanding officers encourage their soldiers to try
to pick up the language at all, or did they prefer you to
stay away from it?
J: They did not really care.
W: How long were you in Japan?
J: From September of 1945 until April of 1946.
W: And then you went home?
W: Did you separate from the marine corps then, or did you go
J: They sent us to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and that is
where we actually separated.
W: Did they demobilize everybody, or did they try to get people
to remain in the corps?
J: They gave them a pitch, but at that point the pitch was not
that enticing. I mean, if you have been overseas twenty-
eight or twenty-nine months, and they say, "Aw, come on.
You can stay with us another three months," bullshit!
W: So you were mustered out in Camp Lejeune. Did you go
straight home, back to Cookeville.
W: How did you get back home?
W: Was this supplied to you, or did you have to find your own
J: No, it was just a regular Greyhound bus.
W: Your part of Tennessee experienced war-time prosperity due
to the army's using the area for training. Was that
prosperity still there?
J: It was still there. I do not know what is there now.
W: How did you go about continuing your education, once you got
out of the service?
J: I went to college, but only to play football. I enrolled as
a special student to get around by the fact that I did not
have a high school education. Then I had to take the
equivalency test to become a regular student.
W: This is at what college?
J: Tennessee Tech. [Tennessee Technological University.]
W: That is in Cookeville. Did you use the G.I. Bill?
J: Yes. After it was all over with and I had used everything
that I needed, I had seven hours of eligibility left.
W: So you got your four years out of the G.I. Bill. We hear a
lot now about Vietnam veterans and some of the difficulties
that some of them have had in transitioning back to civilian
life. You went basically from the marine corps to a college
football player. Was that difficult?
J: No, not at all. In fact, I just cannot see the Vietnam
deal. There has to be something out there that I am
missing, but I do not know what.
W: How did Cookeville receive you when you returned? Was there
any mention of their veteran's coming home?
J: No, we just all hit town at the same time. It was right at
the time for signing up for freshman classes, so we just
plunged right in to that. We had no problems whatsoever.
W: What was your major in college?
J: Physical education, recreation, and school administration.
W: Was that all in one major?
W: Upon receiving your bachelor's degree, what did you do then?
J: I was already going for my master's.
W: Where was this?
J: That was at George Peabody College [for Teachers].
W: Where is that?
W: What field is your master's degree in?
J: Physical education and recreation.
W: What did you want to do with those degrees?
J: I thought I was going to coach, but I discovered it was too
much politics and too much trouble.
W: What do you mean by that?
J: Well, it was not worth it. You were not making the money
that coaches make today, and you just did not have the
prestige. It just was not that great a job.
W: Where did you coach?
J: Athens, Alabama.
W: What sports?
J: Football, basketball, and baseball--I had all three.
W: Were you the head coach?
W: Did you have assistants, or was it pretty much a one-man
J: I had a couple of assistants, but it was mostly one man. It
was more or less what you could do.
W: Now, you had not had much playing experience in anything
other than football.
J: No. I had none in basketball, and only a little in
baseball. Basketball turned out to be my best sport.
W: Once you became disillusioned with coaching, what did you
figure you would try then?
J: I really did not know. I moved to Florida.
W: When was this?
J: That was in 1950. I went to work for the Firestone Tire and
W: In Miami?
W: What did you do for Firestone?
J: I was service manager of the 1200 W. Flagler St. store, and
then I was assistant manager of the store.
W: You went into Firestone with what kind of experience in
J: Nothing. I did not have one iota.
W: Did you pick it up pretty quickly?
J: Yes. My boss asked me what experience I had, and I said
"None." He asked, "Can you learn?" and I said, "Yes." He
said, "All right. I am going to try you out. Report here
on Monday morning."
W: How long did you stay with Firestone?
J: I was with them for about two years. Then I went to work
for North Miami Beach.
W: You had mentioned that your training could have gotten you a
very lucrative job with the telephone communication. Was
there any reason why you did not choose to pursue that?
J: The main reason was that you went wherever they wanted to
you to go. You did not go where you wanted to go. You
stayed where they wanted you to stay, and when they wanted
you to leave, you left. I had had enough of that.
W: To you it was worth the smaller salary. What was the North
Miami Beach job?
J: I was director of parks and recreation.
W: What year was this?
J: I guess it was 1951.
W: What made you decide to get back into recreation or coaching
J: Well, I was working for Firestone, and the job came open for
North Miami Beach. A friend of mine encouraged me to try
out for it. I did, and I got the job. That was when I made
W: What was Miami like in 1951 and 1952?
J: I guess it was about like Tampa or Gainesville, or even
W: Orlando has gotten pretty big. It was a southern city, of
course. Was it segregated like Tennessee? Did it have
separate sections for the white and for black people?
J: Not in Miami.
W: What were your responsibilities at the North Miami Beach
J: It was just my department. I did everything that had to be
done. If it did not work out, it did not work out. If it
W: Did they have anything in place, or did you have to start
J: There was very little. They did not even have a tennis net.
They had a rope stretched across a tennis court--that was my
tennis court. I started strictly from scratch. I hired
Dick Bollettieri, who became the best tennis pro that ever
lived. A lot of it was luck.
W: Dick Bollettieri? He was your first tennis instructor?
J: He was nineteen years old, right out of the army.
W: Was there any particular reason why you chose Florida among
all the other states when you decided to get out of
J: Well, that goes back to my mother. She said if I ever moved
out to California, I would never get back to Tennessee. If
I moved to Florida, maybe I could get back.
W: Why did she say this?
J: Well, she figured it was too far. If I ever had moved all
the way out there, I probably would never move back, which I
probably would not have.
W: How long did you stay with North Miami Beach?
J: Until 1959.
W: What prompted you to leave North Miami Beach?
J: The county assumed responsibility for managing Haulover
Beach, [and I accepted the job].
W: So you moved from a fairly small city bureaucracy to a
considerably larger county one. Was that a big change?
J: Nothing really. It was just a stepping stone. It was a
gradual step--just step up and up. The thing worked out
pretty well. That is the way it worked out.
W: Were you still in charge of Haulover at the time of the
Cuban missile crisis?
J: Yes, I was in charge of Haulover and everywhere else.
W: Were you in charge of the Crandon Park Beach then?
W: So during the Cuban missile crisis, you were in charge of the
Atlantic-side beaches. What kind of an impact did it have
on you? Did they expect anything out of you?
J: No. We kind of expected to be attacked at any time. We did
not know when it was going to happen or why. We felt we
would be surprised.
W: You were expecting an attack?
J: Oh, yes.
W: Did they bring those big missiles on the beaches there?
J: Yes, they had them all over the place.
W: Did the military keep you out of it as much as they could?
J: Well, as much as they could, but there was not that much
that they could do. We had the land, and they had the
missiles. One without the other was not any good.
W: So they had to deal with you. Castro's revolution in Cuba
resulted in an influx of refugees. What kind of an impact
did that have on you and, from what you could see, on the
J: Well, I worked for about a month every night greeting them
as they came in by the boatloads. We greeted them at the
youth fair [Dade County Fairgrounds], processed them, and
got them signed up and shipped out.
W: What kind of people were these?
J: Bums, 90 percent. They were all convicts that Castro was
getting rid of.
W: Was this the first group in the 1960s, or was this the
Mariel group in the 1980s?
J: I am talking about both of them.