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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Interviewee: Dr. Robert H. Alexander
Interviewer: Richard R. Alexander
February 18, 1989
Robert H. Alexander has spent was born in 1918. He traces
in some detail the ancestry of both sides of his family, from
Scotland and Switzerland, and he includes some background on
their manner of living, from blacksmithing and electrical
engineering to citizenry of social standing in Alton, Illinois.
Alexander's childhood memories provide interesting reading.
He clearly remembers his early school days. All four of his
aunts were teachers, so he was well steeped in the importance of
education. These were Depression days, and Alexander helped the
family first by baking and selling pies to factory laborers, and
then by working in a filling station. In the school band he
played clarinet and then saxophone, and he soon was playing in
various combos around town--much to his mother's chagrin.
After high school, Alexander went to Washington University
in St. Louis, Missouri, where he majored in English, psychology,
and political science. He also participated in ROTC, where he
was cadet captain and director of the ROTC band, as well as
director of the football band. Upon graduation, Alexander served
in the army's coast artillery for one year to fulfill his ROTC
obligation. After that, he returned to St. Louis.
Then Pearl Harbor was attacked, and Alexander was
immediately recalled to active duty. His recollections of his
war service--he saw action in England, Tunisia, Sicily, and Italy
in the anti-aircraft artillery--provide fascinating reading.
After the war, Alexander's background in psychology proved
to be in demand, and he found work as a counselor with the
Veterans Administration. Eventually, he went back to Washington
University and earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. in psychology.
After a short time as a professor at MacMurray College in
Jacksonville, Illinois, he went to work with Milton C. Baumann,
where he worked in psychological counseling and psycho-
physiological reactions, which was particularly useful to NASA.
Throughout his thirty-plus years in psychology, Alexander
has been an active professional. He has served as president of
the Northeast Florida Psychological Association. Now that he has
retired, he keeps busy with the Shrine Band, the Recycles (a band
of retired citizens in Jacksonville, FL), and other bands. Other
hobbies include upholstery and locksmithing. He also contributes
time to the Downtown Ecumenical Council and the New Life Mission.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Interviewee: Robert H. Alexander
Interviewee: Richard R. Alexander
February 18, 1989
Robert Alexander will be abbreviated as A:, and Richard Alexander
R: This is Rick Alexander. It is Saturday, February 18, and it is
2:30. Today we are interviewing Dr. Robert H. Alexander at his
home at 501 Ocean Street, Number 1702, in Jacksonville, Florida.
Dr. Alexander was born in 1918. He lived through the Depression,
and he fought in the Second World War. After that, he became a
psychologist, where he served for thirty-two years. He moved to
Florida in 1969 and has lived there ever since. To begin this
interview, Dr. Alexander, I think we will start with your full
A: My full name is Robert Harold Alexander.
R: What were your parents' names?
A: My father's name was Harold C. Alexander. The C stands for
Creach. I think it was a family name, but for some reason he
never liked that name and he never used it; so all of his
official documents were signed Harold C. He was known fondly by
his friends as Alec.
R: Was that for Alexander?
A: Well, he was a little, short, cocky guy, and was sort of thin and
wiry. He was pretty aggressive, but most people liked him. Alec
was sort of a nickname that he preferred to go by.
R: Creach is a family name from where? What is the ancestry?
A: I do not know the ancestry on that. I think it was his mother's
family name. As they were inclined to do in some of the regions
in Kentucky and Virginia where he came from, and still do today,
they used the family name as a middle name. Not too much is
known about his mother's family's history. As I recall, she was
orphaned, and not much information was available on her family.
I think this was primarily because they moved quite a bit, and
the relatives, to the best of my memory from what my father said,
died of influenza--which was not uncommon in those days.
Consequently, that part of the family on his side is obscure.
R: Let me see if I can get this straight. Your mother came from
Kentucky, or was it Virginia?
A: You are talking about his mother. Apparently, they were farm
families, and they came from the same general area. How they met
my father's parents I really do not know.
R: We have gotten the family album now, and we are looking at the
actual history. We have found a bit of a different story.
A: My paternal grandmother's name was Catherine Shumaker.
R: Does it say where she came from?
A: No. And I do not know.
R: But it does say a lot about your father's father.
A: Yes. My paternal grandfather was a blacksmith. He was Scotch;
he came from the MacDonald clan in Scotland. After they came to
this country they settled in Virginia. The oldest of his
brothers was blown up hauling nitroglycerin across the mountains.
Apparently the nitroglycerin was to be used for bringing in oil
wells. This was probably in the eastern part of the United
States. At that time Pennsylvania was big in oil, and we can
speculate that that is where he was headed when he got blown up.
R: Your father's father came from Scotland, and you seem to remember
that your father's mother was perhaps from Virginia. Did they
meet in Virginia, or did they meet in Illinois where they
eventually wound up? Or did your father move to Illinois?
A: My father moved to Illinois.
R: Where did he move to Illinois from?
A: He moved from a place called Granie, Kentucky. It is a little
farm community in Kentucky where my paternal grandfather and
paternal grandmother lived. He was an artisan. They were all
into blacksmithing, which was a custom. They handed down a trade
from generation to generation, and this was holding true.
R: In what year was he born? Do you have any idea when this
blacksmithing was going on? Was it in the late 1800s?
A: It was 1885. He was ninety-two when he died, which was in 1977.
R: Where was he born?
A: My father was born in Granie, Kentucky, and he was one of three
R: Do you remember any stories about when he was a kid? What did
they do in Kentucky?
A: They were farmers, but, once again, they were in the smithing
business. In any farm community, there were a lot of people who
needed horseshoes and collars made and tongues for wagons.
Blacksmithing was fairly common. His first job, however, when he
went out on his own, was to work as a switchman on a narrow gauge
railroad. They had some in this country before they went to the
wide rail. The family was poor, and he did this work while he
went through high school. He got his high school degree, and
then he got a degree in electrical engineering. That was
probably a two-year degree. He got it from some technical school
in Michigan. I regret to say that I never bothered to find out
what school it was. I never saw any papers. It was obvious that
he was pretty good at his work, because he eventually became
chief electrical engineer for LaClede Steel Company, one of the
major steel mills in the midwest.
R: When did he move to Illinois?
A: He had to move to Illinois about 1915 or 1916.
R: He left his parents in Granie, or did they come with him?
A: I think that he moved around. The family was still there. The
parents lived and died there, and so far as I know they never
left Granie. One brother went to Michigan where he became a
superintendent of Swift Packing Company, and the other brother,
Sam, fought in World War I and was disabled. He had a couple of
children, and they remained in or around that area of Kentucky.
I have two cousins that I have lost touch with over the years. I
think one of them has died, and I do not know about the other
one. We did not correspond a whole lot, although one member of
the family or the other would occasionally write postcards. They
did keep in touch, but they were not a close family in the sense
that they got together very often. My father, I guess you would
have to say, was a bit of a loner. Again, this is a matter of
speculation--I think he probably always resented the fact that he
was "poor" in the sense of the word that the family did not have
a whole lot of social status. He moved up to Illinois and
married my mother, who was, indeed, a society woman from an old
first family there in Illinois. They were an old settler family,
and their history goes back to about 1835.
R: Let us turn to that, then. Let us start in 1835 with your
mother's family. What do we know about the first people who came
over? Do we know where they came from?
A: Yes. My mother's family was pretty well documented. Several
members of the family had been interested in getting the family
genealogy. One of the documents I happen to have is a reference
to my great-great grandmother. She was born in Switzerland in
the community of Mogelsberg, Canton St. Gallen. The full title
is the community of Mogelsberg Unter Toggenburg; I think that
means city, and Toggenburg is a county, but I do not know.
R: What was her name?
A: Her name was Anna Barbara Kuhn.
R: When did they come to the United States?
A: I do not know. I have a letter here signed by the mayor of St.
Gallen on May 4, 1849, and they had not moved to the United
States at that time, apparently. To my knowledge, part of the
family came as early as 1835.
R: So that would be your mother's grandmother?
A: That is correct.
R: And that part of the family is named what?
A: Here it is: Johannes Kuhn. At that time he was fifty-three years
of age, and here it says the maiden name of his lawful wife was
Anna Lengghenhager, so this must be Anna Lengghenhager who was my
mother's great-grandmother, my great-great-grandmother.
R: It looks like their first daughter was Anna Barbara, who later
married Jacob Eppenberger.
A: At any rate, the family came over approximately 1835 from
R: That was the Steiner family?
A: Jacob Eppenberger married Anna Barbara Kuhn. My grandfather's
family name was Steiner, my grandmother's maiden name was
Eppenberger. The Kuhns are cousins of mine, and old ancestors;
that is a Kuhn who is referred to in this letter.
R: Were they married to a Steiner or to an Eppenberger?
A: The Eppenbergers and the Kuhns were cousins. Charles Steiner
married my grandmother, Gunda Eppenberger. Then they came to
the United States and were one of the first families in Alton,
Illinois. They had one of the first homes there.
R: That was what year? Was that the year that this brick was
laid? I have a brick here that says 1853.
A: That was the second home. The first home was a small home built
on the corner of Sixth and Central Avenues. It was a small, one-
story brick home with the privy, of course, out behind--as
everything was in those days. The family prospered, and then
they bought the property across the street. At one time between
my Great Aunt Sophia Hull and my grandmother owned all the
property between Central Avenue in Alton and the beginning of
Wood River in East Alton.
R: How did they prosper? How did they make a living?
A: They were wealthy when they came from Switzerland. They brought
much of their furniture; they brought the old Bible--which we
have. As a matter of fact, that sea chest that you have came
from the old country.
R: Why did they leave the old country? Do you know? Was it because
of religious persecution?
A: Nobody quite seems to know. I think it was the idea that there
was a fortune to be made in the New Land like I think so many
people did. Indeed, they did prosper. They made money in farms.
They owned a flour mill, the first and only big flour mill in
Alton, and that was big money in those days to store. However,
that burned down. There is an interesting story to that which I
will not go into now.
R: Go ahead. Go into it.
A: There was series of little shops that grew up around the flour
mill. In those days nothing was covered by insurance. One of
the men who had a little shop nearby kept telling Charley
[Charles Steiner] that he had better get some of this new
insurance because, of course, flour mills are like big powder
kegs--if they blow up it is just like a shotgun shell going off.
Charley did not get the insurance, and sure enough Charley's
grain elevator went up in smoke. Then that was followed by
another disaster: they had invested in potatoes, and there was
a trainload of potatoes coming in. Somehow they were not taken
off the railroad and they froze. A lot of the assets went down
the drain with the flour mill and the potatoes, but they still
had the farm land.
R: Who is this Charley?
A: Charley Steiner. He was a sheriff there in Alton, and he was a
nice fellow but a lousy businessman.
R: It must run in the family. [laughter]
A: He married my grandmother. He was a handsome dude. I have got
pictures of them. She was the one who had the money. He married
her, but he could never quite seem to prosper. Eventually they
ran through all the family money. He still had a little when the
old lady passed away. She died during the war when I was
overseas. I believe she died at the age of eighty-seven. That
is Gunda Steiner.
R: I have a very curious question here. How did a poor dirt
scratcher from Kentucky--your father--end up marrying a rich
society girl from Illinois--your mother. How did they meet? He
came, you said, in 1916, and I know you were born in 1918.
A: That is right. He came well recommended for this job at the
LaClede Steel as chief electrical engineer. He was quite bright
and he was quite affable, but he lost that job because he got
into a conflict with an Irishman by the name of Jack Gething. My
mother always claimed it was politics, but my father tended to be
loquacious and he got into an argument with Gething. Gething
won, and he lost his job. After that he always worked well and
had good jobs, but he never quite attained the status he had
before. To answer your question, this society lady at Alton
married an up-and-coming engineer. So far as anybody knew, his
career would keep going up; however, it did not. That is how
they happened to get married.
They were very fond of each other, however, and lived a long life
together. Outside of the usual arguments and whatnot, they had a
mutual love; I would not call it respect, because sometimes as I
recall the respect was not there. My mother, in her own way, was
very dependent upon my father. She was very much of a Victorian
lady, and he always respected her wishes in that area. Aside
from that, he did not drink hard liquor, which was always a bone
of contention with my mother and her sisters. Their father, old
Charley, took to drink in his later years of life and caused some
R: Was she a Prohibitionist?
A: She was against the sin. She was against drinking, she was
against gambling, she did not smoke, and she did not like my
father's smoking. He was one of the old guys who rolled his own
R: Would you describe him as a "good old boy"?
A: Yes, he was a good old boy.
R: What did he do? You said he did not drink, but he did roll his
own cigarettes. What did he do for fun?
A: He loved to hunt and fish. He was an outsdoorsman. Some of my
fondest memories are of my trips with him up and down the
Mississippi in little old "john boats" catching fish. He was a
good father. Then, too, he fit in really well with my uncles.
Uncle Carl had had the first and only ferry boat across from
Alton to the Missouri side to get to St. Louis. Then they built
the bridge that put him out of business, so they went into fish
R: This was your Uncle Harry?
A: No, this was my Uncle Carl.
R: What was Carl's last name?
A: Carl Steiner; these were the Steiners.
R: The Steiners got along well with your dad, then.
A: Yes. The men did. The women, well, not so much.
R: They did not approve of him because he lost his job?
A: Not particularly that. They did not approve of rowdy men. They
tended to see men in terms of the dandy types--the romantic
picture of Victorian men. These guys just did not fall into that
R: Were your father and the Steiners members of the [Ku Klux] Klan?
A: My father was early on in his life. He joined the Klan for a
short period of time. He belonged to the Klan when he was in
Alton. I remember he, my mother, and I drove to Granite City,
which is in Illinois some thirty or forty miles away, to "see a
parade." When we got to Granite City my father disappeared, and
my mother and I watched the parade with these guys in their white
robes and peaked hats, with their crosses and other paraphanalia.
I remember seeing this, and I remember my mother was very uneasy.
I also remember when my father came back he was anxious to stay
and fraternize with the boys, but she said, "We should get out of
here." She prevailed, and we got in our car and went back to
R: After that, do you think there a fight between your parents that
you did not witness?
A: No, I do not think so. I think my mother's attitude was not
anti-Klan as much as "let us not get into this mess because
somebody is going to get hurt." However, at that time the Klan
was--by the WASP [White Anglo-Saxon Protestant] contingent--not
considered bad. They were still considered in the old Civil War
mode of thought as the vigilante or white knight--as a matter of
fact, I think they called themselves the White Knights of the
Cross or something like that. He did not talk a lot about it.
As the orientation of the Klan became more apparent he dropped
away. I was a little boy when this happened, four or five years
old; I do not think I was in school yet.
R: That would be, then, the early twenties when the Klan was at its
A: I think so.
R: Let us talk about your childhood. This is one of your earliest
memories, what about your first day at school or Sunday school or
something like that.
A: I suppose my first memories of school of any kind would be the
Sunday school and church. My mother was a devout Presbyterian,
and the Presbyterian church was the church to belong to in Alton.
R: It was the society church.
A: Right. We would walk or ride--it was not unusual for us to walk
the mile to church and back every Sunday. I remember my early
days in the basement. At that time, children were not allowed in
the sanctuary, and I remember peeking in and having this feeling
of great mystery.
In terms of school, it was a rather strange situation because all
four of my aunts were teachers. Aunt Irene was the oldest; she
married and went to Colorado to live in Denver. Then there was
my Aunt Hilda who at one time taught me. My Aunt Sophia at one
time taught me. Then there was my mother, who at that time was
substituting, and she occasionally taught me. So I attribute my
substantial education to the fact that, while this was a public
school, I certainly had the best of private tutoring in my early
I remember enjoying kindergarten tremendously. There was a very
jovial lady, Miss Marum, who taught kindergarten. That was great
fun. Then came the time for first grade, and one of my aunts and
my mother started warning me: "School is going to be a lot of
work. There will be no more horsing around." They succeeded in
scaring the living daylights out of me, which was what they
wanted to do. What they did not count on was that this ployable,
happy little boy was going to dig in his heels and refuse to go
to school. Boy, did I ever refuse! Naturally, it set the whole
educational community in Humboldt School in turmoil, because here
all of a sudden they had a little demon on their hands who
happened to be from the family of the teachers.
I remember one of the very bad things they did to me. When I
refused to go to school, they put me up in my room on the second
floor--we were living with my grandmother at the time in the Big
House--and they pulled the shades down and made me stay in bed.
I was going to have to stay there until I agreed to go to school.
I was yelling and screaming and throwing a tantrum until finally
they left the closet door open. I asked them please to close the
closet door, but they would not. I began to see things moving
around in that closet, so they finally broke my spirit and I went
to school, however begrudgingly.
There was a big difference in personalities between the
kindergarten teacher and Miss Hastings, who was one of the old-
time Victorians--high-collared, straight-laced, ruler in hand,
very severe, and very demanding--like the old school marm,
Ichabod Crane female-type. Her appearance was just enough to
scare the daylights out of me, and she managed to keep discipline
in everything. But I did not learn much. They finally had to
have my father lay off work and sit in back of the room because
something would happen and I would get up and bolt out of there--
they would not find me until the truant officer came and ran me
down. Anyway, it left a rather bad taste in my mouth, and it
took a number of years for me to put that aside. I am surprised
I ever became a scholar because of situations like that. As I
look back now as a psychologist I can see that it did indeed have
a profound effect.
R: So you hated school, then.
A: No. After I survived Miss Hastings the second grade teacher was
sort of nice; we came to terms. Then there was Miss Crist, who
was a really young, sexy lady. She was talked about because she
was a "modern" girl. The kids all liked her; she was cheerful
R: Was she a flapper?
A: She was indeed a flapper, right. You are right about that. Then
I gradually became interested in school itself. After we got by
this rather horrendous start and once I saw that I was learning--
not only learning, but doing well--I got a lot of supportive help
from my aunts and my mother. As a matter of fact, I think I
skipped half a grade. I remember it because it was damaging to
the extent that I was taking times tables and I had learned all
my times tables up to the nines. At the time of what they called
the extra promotion they said, "You just go ahead and learn them
on your own." You know, I never did learn the rest of my times
tables. Well, I did learn them, but it slowed me a little bit in
that area, and I think that made my future in mathematics
difficult. That is interesting because I finally did my Ph.D.
dissertation in experimental mathematics; it was not, however,
what I had in mind. The rest of my school was pretty good. At
Humboldt School I got to be cock of the roost up until about the
end of sixth grade.
R: The other kids responded to you?
A: I was the leader, yes indeed. Of course, I came from a
neighborhood that did not contain a lot of strong students.
There was me, and there was Helen Edwards and George Miller. The
rest of them all fell in behind someplace. Then I went to
seventh grade at a junior high school; I went to Roosevelt Junior
R: You were about eleven?
A: I am not quite sure.
R: You must have been eleven in 1929 when the stock market crashed.
A: I could have been. I remember when it crashed.
R: What happened?
A: What happened was my parents had just bought a new house we built
across the street from the Big House. It was not exactly a
mansion, but it was of the old solid type of construction.
R: This is the house they have now? You keep talking about this Big
House. Which is the Big House?
A: The Big House was my grandmother's home with a big front porch.
It was a large house. It had large bedrooms, it had a parlor and
a large dining room--the dining room and kitchen were the center
of activities. It also had a large hallway with a spiral
staircase and four bedrooms upstairs. Then there was a large
attic, and it had a slate roof, which in those days was
R: Was it the talk of the town?
A: It was sort of. Of course, the other parts of the town were
building up, too. But that was further downtown; that was up
around Alby Street on the other side of the bluffs. We were on
one side of the bluffs, and the rest of the town was growing on
the other side. I grew up in the Big House until 1927. About
then my mother and father bought the piece of property that the
original old house was on, the one built around 1835 or 1840--not
the 1853 house, but the old one across the street. It was one of
the original five houses in Alton. I have pictures of it. It
was torn down, and our home, which you are familiar with, was
It was a nice sturdy brick home, and it cost a whole lot of
money. It cost $10,000, and in those days $10,000 was a lot of
dough. My father had a good job; he was working for Shell
Petroleum as what they called a pyrometer engineer, which means
that he was in charge of all the meters and gauges for Shell
Petroleum. That was a big operation. Also Corry Shippers, who
was a daughter of the plant manager from Holland, was a friend of
mine. We went to dancing school together.
At any rate, my folks invested their money in the new house, and
my father had a good job. About that time he was offered a
better job in the Matthews' lime quarry. I forget the name of
it. He was superintendent there of the whole thing. That was
about the time the stock market crashed.
R: What do you remember about it? What were you doing? When did
you realize what was going on, or did you realize what was going
A: I remember the conversation. My mother asked my father if they
were going to keep the plant open, and he said something to the
effect, "Yes, but we are all going to have to take a lot less
salary. Salaries are going to have to be cut in half." They
wondered how in the world they were going to pay the bank for the
house. I remember the next day my mother went to the bank.
Apparently everybody was having this problem, so the bank made
out some sort of arrangements. Everybody was scared stiff
because if you paid the bank there was not going to be enough
left to eat, literally.
That is when I was first exposed to the work field. Around about
that time I got two jobs. I got a job working for a fellow by
the name of Scovell, who was an amateur radio operator. He had
become unemployed, too, through the Depression, but he was an
enterprising man. He set up a pie factory making nickel pies.
He needed a helper, so I would get up at 1:00 in the morning and
we would make pies from two until about three or four or five in
order to get to the factories by six and sell those pies. I
received fifty cents for my labor, and if any pies broke I got
part of the broken pies. That was my first job. Fifty cents was
considered good for a boy my age to have coming in.
R: Did you give it to your parents?
A: Absolutely. It was used for me to pay for my stuff. Then I got
a job at Joe Funk's filling station. That was a little better
job; I got paid fifty cents for the whole day. We started at six
in the morning and worked until six in the evening, but it was a
better job. Then as time went on I got a job at the lime quarry
doing what they called tamping. When they drill holes in the
limestone and put in the dynamite, they have these paper bags
full of ground limestone that they tamp in to keep it from
blowing straight up, to control the explosion. I worked doing
that for a couple of years.
R: About how old were you?
A: I was in high school at the time. I remember my mother was
having an awful time with my music career. I was playing in
bands. When I was about thirteen of fourteen I started playing
saxophone. I started on the clarinet in the seventh grade, but I
moved up to saxophone in the high school band. I got a job from
an old fellow playing in saloons. It was a three-piece group--
piano, drums, and me.
R: You would go down to the cathouses, right?
A: It was set up in those days down on Piasa Street, just off
Broadway. There were two or three taverns, and these taverns
were in two-story buildings that were called saloons at the time.
The band played in the saloon, and there was room for dancing and
the bar. Then there was this mysterious beaded curtain and a
dark room next door on the first floor. These mysterious women
would be flitting in and out. I asked about it and was told to
mind my own business--that was not my affair. Of course, I did
not get the meaning of it; I just knew there were some awfully
cute-looking, pretty women in there, and they did not seem to
have on the right kind of clothes, and there were a lot of men
who went back to see them. The stairs would squeak; they would
walk up to the second floor, and there was an awful lot of
traffic up and down those stairs. I do not think my mother ever
did really know what was going on, or if she did the money was so
good--I was making about a dollar an hour--and things were still
tight. The old man in charge would pick me up in his car and
bring me home so I was safe. I remember a discussion or two that
my mother had that he would make sure that I was taken care of
R: Do you think she knew or not?
A: I do not really think she did. I do not think she wanted to
know. It is quite possible that she did not. I am not really
sure. It is sort of like that scene in Gone With the Wind where
so often the women do not know what really goes on in a saloon or
a cat house or a dance hall, whichever words you choose to use.
That was probably my most interesting job. I kept playing three-
piece and then five-piece jobs. Then I had my own band.
R: So it is obvious, then, that music was one of your passions.
Were there any others?
A: Yes. Mr. Stage, the physics teacher, started a class in amateur
radio, and I was fascinated by this. I remember way back early
on when my father had a little crystal set, and he got KDKA in
Philadelphia I think. I got to listen, and I was a little chap
at the time, but that left an impression. The idea of working
with wireless was intriguing, so I joined the amateur radio club
and subsequently got my license. I had a ham station in the
basement, a very nice fifty-watt "push-pull" crystal control rig.
R: How did you afford that?
A: Well, things had improved some. My father's job had improved,
and my sister was old enough that my mother could go back to
teaching school. She had been substituting, and she took on a
regular full-time job. We had means. The Depression was
lightening up some, too. I think were supportive, too. My
father was delighted and my mother thought it was a good thing,
so we all got to play with it.
R: Let me ask you one question before we leave the Depression. What
do you remember about the people who did not have means--bread
lines and those things--and what were your feelings about those
A: My direct recollection is that we lived up on the bluffs, and the
railroad tracks were down about three or four blocks. I remember
an awful lot of men were riding about, moving through town, and
there was no food for them. I remember my grandmother and my
parents, who were all poor, would always try to provide something
for them--bread and lard (not butter), and any sugar that was
left. We had to be careful about that because there were times I
remember when we would just lock up and play like there was
nobody there because these hungry men--I do not know where the
women and children were--would come knock on the door. I
remember being quiet and waiting for them to go away; we would
peek out the curtains, and they would eventually go. I did not
realize all the implications of it, but these people were
R: How did you feel about it at the time? Were you too young to
A: I did not quite understand it. What I did not understand was we
were farmers and there was always plenty of food around. We had
our own gardens, especially during the Depression. Food was
skimpy, but there was always food, and what I did not understand
was why these people could not have their own gardens and grow
their own food. That was a puzzle to me.
R: So you got through high school, and you have been playing in
bands and so forth. What made you decide to go to college?
A: My chief encouragement for that came from my Aunt Hilda and Uncle
Brownie, who lived in St. Louis. My parents felt that my father
could get me a good job at Shell; after all, my Uncle Carl had
been working there for twenty years, and dad had gotten him the
job. They felt that I should go to work at Shell, but I had to
have typing. I remember taking typing in my senior year of high
school in preparation for this, and I passed the course. They
had a pretty good job spotted for me, but the job did not work
out. Somebody else got it or they did not need me at that time.
The summer ran on to fall, and college had been mentioned from
time to time. I had a choice of going to the University of
Illinois, which would be expensive and a long way from home, or
to Shurtleff [College], which was in Alton. It was a small
denominational college. Shurtleff was the name of one of the
local gentry who donated the land and the first building, as is
often the case.
R: Is that the school that eventually became Southern Illinois
[University at Edwardsville]?
A: Right. All of those schools eventually were taken up in the
university system. One of the ones I taught at later, MacMurray
College [in Jacksonville, IL], was also eventually swallowed up.
At any rate, I was spending part of my summer with my Aunt Hilda
and Uncle Brownie. He was doing well; he was the personnel
manager at International Shoe Company in St. Louis. That was the
summer I got the job working at the warehouse for International
Shoe. My aunt and uncle had bought this big house, upper middle
class management-type, in Clayton, Missouri, which was right near
Washington University. They evidently thought it over, and they
invited me to live with them in their beautiful new house on the
second floor in a room to myself.
R: Did you think that was a great idea?
A: Yes, I did because it was sort of a compromise. I did not have
to go a long way from home, and I really did not want to go to
Shurtleff, primarily because Mr. Hussong, who was my manual
training teacher when I was in junior high, was out making a
pitch for Shurtleff, and I never liked him very much, and I do
not think he liked me. So Shurtleff was out. Almost by default
I went to Washington University.
R: When you got to Washington University, what did you decide to
study? What were some of the things you did as a student?
A: Another reason I went to Washington University was some of my
friends went there, too. We had a high school fraternity called
the D-Double-Os, and, as a matter of fact, I became president of
that. Two of my D-Double-O friends, Bob Gaines and Ted Young,
were at Washington University, so I felt good about going there.
R: What did they think of you? What was your image, I guess would
be the question?
A: Strangely enough, my image was that of a musician and a bit of a
scholar because I always have increased my vocabulary, and I
still do. While I did not consider myself a scholar, I used big
words. My nickname was "the Professor." That image appealed to
me, I guess, because I did indeed become a professor later on.
The same people also joined the fraternity at Washington
University, Beta Theta Pi, so consequently I got in once again on
the upper social level of Washington University. I was very
active in the band. I became student director in the course of
R: That is the Washington University band?
A: Yes. I was director of the football band, which paid money. I
was that first. Then I progressed through the four years, and
eventually I wound up becoming a cadet captain for the ROTC
[Reserve Officers Training Corps] and director of the ROTC band.
I was really more interested in those things than I was in
academics, and, much like you, at the end of four years I really
did not know where I was going. I liked geology, but I did not
want to take the chemistry and the physics they had outlined for
me. I started majoring in English, and I got involved in English
drama. I was also directing plays and acting in plays, and I
belonged to the honorary National Collegiate Players. That was
about where I was when I graduated. My grades were about a B
R: What was your major?
A: My major was in English, more specifically in dramatics. I had
three majors. I had a major in English; that was my primary one.
I also had majors in psychology and in political science.
R: How did that happen? Did you just take enough classes?
R: I caught on about my junior year, when I really began to enjoy
academics. I guess I became a bit of an over-achiever because
things began falling into place. It was getting easier, and I
had this desire; I was carrying fifteen hours, eighteen hour
sometimes, and I went through the summers, and that built up
R: You said earlier that you were in the ROTC. How did that come
A: That came about because I was always interested in military
activities. I guess it goes back to the Boy Scouts, which I
joined at the age of twelve. While I was never a good Boy Scout,
I liked the idea. I read a lot of books about the military, and
here was a chance not only to wear a uniform but also get paid
for it, so I joined. You had to be a junior. Moreover, there
was an opening; they needed somebody who had my background to
direct the ROTC band. It just fell into place. That had some
repercussions later, too, because when the war started you cannot
do much fighting with a baton. During the summer between my
junior and senior years I attended ROTC basic camp at Fort
Sheridan near Lake Forest, IL.
R: What did your parents think of your joining the ROTC?
A: They had great misgivings about it, but by that time we had a
R: What year was this?
A: It must have been about 1937 or 1938 because I graduated from
high school in 1936.
R: Were they worried about the conditions in Europe, or was anyone
worried about that at the time?
A: No. The honeymoon was still on; there was going to be peace
forever. The American public was not aware of the events in
Europe. The media did not scream about it like they do now.
There was no television.
R: What was everybody worried about in 1937? Were they still
worried about the Depression or something else?
A: The depression was still very much on peoples' minds. They were
beginning to come out of it a little bit. There was more
religious participation. I seem to remember hearing Bishop Sheen
on the radio a lot.
At that time, FDR's social programs were making quite an impact.
People were building back through programs like the CCC [Civilian
Conservation Corps), WPA [Work Projects Administration], and the
rest of them. There was an upsurge of an interest in athletics
and major games, particularly baseball in those days, and
football was gaining popularity, too. So the mood was more
R: Is that the time Joe Louis was boxing?
A: Yes, boxing was big. Absolutely. People were beginning to feel
more upbeat about the whole situation. Isolationism was still
prevalent; there were a lot of people who felt we did not have
any business messing around with Europe, and what happened over
there was not our concern. There was not as much concern about
world affairs as we know it now.
R: So you were on campus, and you had majored in English with majors
in psychology and political science. Did you have a car on
campus? Did anyone have cars on campus?
A: Oh, yes. While the fraternity boys all had their nice, new,
fancy ones, I had my little Model A Ford, which my dad
resurrected for me and kept running, God bless his soul. I
appreciate that man more as I look back on the good things he did
for me. I kept that little Model A Ford, and it took me across
the mountains to Ft. Monroe, Virginia.
R: This is when you graduated?
A: After I graduated, yes.
R: The way it works now is if you are in ROTC you are committed to a
certain amount of time. Is that the way it worked then, or how
did it work?
A: The way it worked was you carried class hours. There were
requirements in what they called military science, and you had to
have your summer's basic camp. Then when you graduated you
received a commission as a second lieutenant. Mine was in the
United States Army in the Coast Artillery.
R: Did you have to take that, or was that an option? Once you
graduated, were you then committed to the army?
A: No, no, that was just a commission in the inactive reserve.
However, an offer came down the pike that they needed twenty
officers to go on active reserve for one year at Ft. Monroe,
R: You seem to be excited about that. What does that mean?
A: I was very excited about it. I realized that my parents were
probably going to blow their stacks with the idea of my actually
becoming directly involved in the real army. They did not
perceive ROTC as being much of a threat, but to pack up and go
away was another matter.
R: Why is Ft. Monroe, Virginia such an exciting thing to you?
A: I never had really been anyplace except to the world's fair with
my aunt and uncle, and, frankly, I wanted to get out from under
the home atmosphere. I could see myself being smothered in there
and working someplace like a factory. The idea of getting paid
good money, as much as I could make anyplace, as a second
lieutenant--and having all of these adventures, too--sounded like
a good deal to me. So I signed up for a year.
R: What did your parents say?
A: They reacted in much the manner I expected. There was an
explosion. Then, surprisingly enough, they calmed down. I think
they were convinced by the same factors that influenced me.
"Wait a minute, now. Here is a good income. He will certainly
develop a skill." They accepted reluctantly, but reasonably
gracefully, after a week or two. I graduated, and my commission
put me on active duty. I think I graduated on June 4, or
something like that, and I was on active duty about two weeks
R: What year is this? They must be thinking about the war by this
A: 1940. No, not really.
R: There is a world war that has already started in Europe, and
nobody was thinking about the war?
A: But you have to realize that all of the talk was against war;
that no United States president and Congress was going to send
our boys to fight any wars anyplace outside of this country.
That was the prevailing attitude. America was surprisingly
unaware as I look back on it; not aware, not ready, certainly not
on the alert, even then.
R: So you went to Ft. Monroe. What was Ft. Monroe like?
A: It was paradise. I enjoyed every bit of it. It was great
because it actually was a show post for the visiting senators and
representatives and big shots from Washington. One of the main
jobs of the second lieutenant was to entertain the daughters of
dignitaries, so I had to get dress blues and dress whites. I
must admit I was well fit for the job because of my college
We put in the hours, but the hours working were not especially
heavy. We did not train much with weapons because we did not
have any weapons except those big fixed emplacements at Ft.
Monroe. I did have a tour of duty where I was the tracking man
for some target practice that they had. They had a few 35mm
shells that they would shoot subcaliber to a target out in
Chesapeake Bay, and I had my first little bout of seasickness,
and that went away. I am glad I had it then, because I did not
have it later on.
R: How long did this go on?
A: For about a year. It was exactly a year.
R: Is this where you were when Pearl Harbor was attacked?
A: No. By this time the army personnel was becoming very concerned
about the foreign situation. The older officers could see it
coming. As my year's duty expired I was going to stay in the
army. There were openings for three officers and 800 men to take
a battery of long rifles--155 heavy caliber guns--to the
Philippines, and I volunteered. As fate would have it, they did
not cut the orders for the three officers. The 800 men went on
down, but it would be at least two or three weeks before they
could get the orders cut for the three officers, during which
time I was a civilian. Nobody seemed to know what to do about
it. Of course, the big problem was there was no pay during that
two or three weeks. I went in to the colonel and asked, "I am a
civilian now?" He said yes, and I told him, "I am going back
home to get a job. Would you give me a recommendation?" That is
how I got a recommendation from Colonel M. M. Kimmell, who was a
brother of Admiral Kimmell who was at Pearl Harbor. I still have
the recommendation in my records.
R: That is interesting. Within two weeks, while you were waiting
for these orders to be cut, Pearl Harbor was attacked?
A: No. I went back to St. Louis to see about getting a job, and I
was hired as a private investigator investigating un-American
activities on "Dego Hill," which was Italian; St. Louis has a big
German population. The outfit I worked for was a cover for the
information that was sent on to intelligence.
R: Army intelligence?
A: I do not know where it went. I just know the reports were made
and the types of persons and leaders were identified and their
associates and activities were recorded. I could speak and
understand some German and some Italian, but it was not
necessary. It was a matter of watching and reporting. I did
that for a while.
R: The concern about the Italians and the Germans was because they
were potential opponents in a war?
A: Right. We were keeping an eye on the spies within the United
States, and for me specifically St. Louis. I also got a job
working for an aircraft company for a while. They wanted me for
security because of my background. However, I think it was a
Sunday afternoon that Pearl Harbor was attacked, was it not?
R: It was Sunday morning there, so it was Sunday afternoon here.
A: I remember Bob Sidner and a couple of my other buddies were
sitting there when the news broke. We were sitting in a car
outside of one of my friend's houses with the car radio on, and
it was approximately 1:00 when the news came over the radio that
Pearl Harbor was being bombed.
R: What did you think? What was going through your mind?
A: What went through my mind first was a feeling of disbelief and
unreality. Of course, at that time none of us knew the extent of
the devastation. I also could not believe the stupidity of the
Japs to attack what was one of our finest points--Pearl was the
big bastion of the Pacific. Then, after a few moments, I began
to think in terms of my personal life: what does this mean to me?
Strangely enough, there was almost a feeling of elation, but it
was misguided in the sense of "we will go over and wipe those
little birds out really quick." The American public as a whole
did not know. None of the damage was promoted or advertised
because communications, even then, were not extensive. You have
to remember that General Marshal sent that famous telegram to the
defenses in the Pacific, that got there a day late, by Western
Union. That was the state of communication in those days.
R: So the next day when Roosevelt makes his request for a
declaration of war and he describes that there were many American
lives lost, was the extent of the damage clear then?
A: Not yet, but there was a gradual awareness coming. The films had
not come back. In those days when you went to the movies you got
to see newsreels. Then, too, there was some hesitancy in letting
that stuff out; they held that back for a while.
R: They did not want anyone to panic, right?
A: I do not know what their motivation was. I do know that they
probably tried to figure out how to handle it. This was a
massive disaster of the first order, of course. I do know that
it was either Monday or Tuesday after Pearl Harbor (maybe
Wednesday) when I got a telegram to report back to duty.
R: So they were on you quick! What did you do then?
A: I think I was to report to Camp Hulen in Texas in ten days. I
packed my gear, got in my car, and drove down to Camp Hulen,
which is located between Galveston and Corpus Christi.
R: Did you train there, or were you already trained? Or did you get
a whole new training?
A: That is a very interesting story. Camp Hulen was on the mudflats
of a place called Palacious, Texas. There were a bunch of old
National Guard barracks that were depleted and in very bad shape.
Of course, the National Guard had already mobilized, and they
were beginning to bring troops in. They had just had the
electricity turned on, and the first contingent of officers from
all over were beginning to come in. We had no enlisted men yet;
they were being processed. This was what was known as a cadre,
and this cadre of officers eventually developed into the 432nd
Anti-Aircraft Battalion, which I served in for a bigger part of
R: They were training you in anti-aircraft, then, down there?
A: There were about eight or ten officers, and first of all we had
to set up a structure for a battalion. For a while I was
battalion executive, and then in turn I became battalion supply
officer and personnel officer. They put me in personnel, which
was a big job because all these men were coming in without any
records, and we had no clerk/typists. In other words, we had to
set up a battalion from a bunch of recruits which were just now
being brought in.
R: They were green.
A: They were as green as we were.
R: How long did this take?
A: Things came about surprisingly well. Some of our people were
National Guard officers, and there were people like me who had
actually spent a year in the service. I had worked in personnel
in the army in the year I was in, so I knew what I was doing.
Other officers started coming in with no experience, and we would
train them. It was about six weeks of intensive training before
we got any guns at all. Then they sent us one or two old 40
Bofors, and we began to try to train battalion of men. In the
meantime what we did, of course, was go to basic arms training--
close order drill, command, that sort of thing.
R: When did you leave for Europe? That was the next sequence of
events. You have your book here that you are writing--actually
you wrote it, and now you are typing it. This is your diary?
A: It is a journal. It covers most of my experiences from the time
we left the United States and went to England, Africa, Sicily,
and I got sent back in the middle of Italy. From March 1, 1942,
until June the 432nd Anti-Aircraft Battalion had been going
through a rushed training schedule to prepare it for combat
services overseas in the shortest possible time. It was July 25,
1942, when we received our orders. We were called into the
officer's mess barracks at Camp Hulen, Texas. We shipped out
from Camp Hulen; they loaded all men and all officers. We had
our basic field equipment by then, such as rifles and packs. We
had our hospital set up, kitchen supplies, mess, and all that
good stuff. They loaded us on a long freight train with small
passenger cars. I guess they were all old passenger cars; there
were no freight cars.
We shipped out from Camp Hulen and made a long, slow journey to
the port of embarkation in New York. There we de-trained along
with many other military units; we were at the port of
embarkation. They put us aboard some big troop carriers, which
were large ships. We were on the former U.S.S. America luxury
ship. There were many troops on this ship. When we departed New
York I sat there on the deck--cold, eating a bologna sandwich,
watching the Statue of Liberty slide by off our port beam and
disappear out of sight.
R: What were you thinking?
A: Waiting. Anxious to get to where we were going, which appeared
to be England, although nobody would say. As a matter of fact,
we had formed up a convoy and swung up the northern route.
Before long our air cover was gone and the waters got rough. My
particular job on that trip was gunnery control officer up on the
flying bridge. Our gunners were picked to man the fore and aft
five inch guns, which was quite interesting because we did not
have any ammunition for the guns that would work. The guns
themselves were rusted inside. We did put the thing together,
but if we had had to shoot at anything I am not sure whether or
not it would have blown up. We did have a screen of little
English ships (I forget what they were called), and they covered
us. We went through some heavy seas. We got several submarine
warnings. Fortunately, our convoy was not hit.
One of the most beautiful sights I saw was one morning--my stand
was from 0400 to 0800 in the morning and 1600 to 2000 in the
evening--we received an alert, and then we received a message
that it was friendly aircraft, do not fire. That is when I saw
my first Hawker Hurricane, one of the most beautiful airplanes I
have ever seen. He waggled his wings, and we went on and landed
in Scotland in the Firth of Forth. We went in there, and
Scotland was beautiful. But that was not what we were there for.
We unloaded, and they put us on British lorries and took us to a
place called Tidworth, England, where we continued our training
for some time after that.
R: How long was it before you left and went to north Africa?
A: I remember we did not have any weapons; we had not been issued
weapons yet. The American gun factory was turning them out, but
there was too much war and not enough guns. They did issue us
some British weapons, some 40mm Bofors, and we trained on those.
This was about the time that Hitler decided to get on his feet
and invade England. We were over there at the time, so our job
was to run up and down the English coast wherever they felt the
invasion was going to hit and pepper the German invasion fleet
with our little 40mm shells.
R: Are they small?
A: They are designed for anti-aircraft.
R: And you were going to shoot at ships?
A: They had no guns, and we were all they had to repel the invasion
fleet. We were mobile and we could move up and down. We
traveled an awful lot of English roads before long. It was mud
with these heavy guns and trucks trying to move. We did that for
a few days, and they finally decided that the Germans were not
going to invade, or at least they did not invade, so we pulled
back. This is when we went into really heavy training--forced
marching twenty miles through the English mud in full field pack.
That is when we toughened up--we really toughened up.
R: That was tough work?
A: It was tough work. We gradually got our guns. My next action
was to load for the invasion of Africa.
R: What happened? Where did you go?
A: We loaded our guns full field and ready for action. They put us
on the same landing craft that landed tanks [an LST], and they
had to get us in there early because they anticipated unfriendly
French naval and air action.
R: From the Vichy French?
A: From the Vichy French, right. Historically you know what
happened. They were wavering, and General [Mark W.] Clark's
mission to North Africa was taking place. In the meantime our
convoy was sailing by. We went through the Strait of Gibraltar.
We had a rather treacherous trip down from England because there
were twenty Focke-Wulf 111 bombers sitting there waiting for our
convoy. Fortunately, the clouds were so low that they never got
through or they would have pulverized us; the weather was
terrible. We got through the submarine nets at Gibraltar. They
closed them, and about the time they closed them the German
Wolfpack was sitting out there, but they missed our convoy. They
really caught the next one bad, and also cut off our supplies.
We made our landing, our guns were ready, our men were ready.
The infantry went in before us. We made steady progress.
R: When did you see your first combat? Here, when you landed?
A: Everything was quiet until we reached the soccer field. The
French had backed off.
R: This is where?
A: This was in Oran, Algeria. Our infantry invaded and the French
dropped back, and later a deliberate counter-attack was ordered
by the French. Our troops took everything; there was no
opposition, no signs of the French. They left plenty of wine
around, all our troops got drunk, and the French counter-
attacked. That is when we saw our first action.
R: What was your personal experience with combat at this particular
A: My main concern was really professional. It had been raining and
I had to get my men under cover. It was a cold, damp, chilling
rain that will cause pneumonia really quick. Before I had the
chance to do that the fire started coming in on us, and I was
ordered to wheel my guns out. It was difficult to do because of
The French were sitting on the other side of the soccer field (I
think that is what it was), and we could see their gun flashes.
They did not have any heavy artillery; they did not have any
heavy tanks. They had light tanks and weapons carriers. My main
concern was to be able to drop the elevation on my guns--they
were designed to shoot up, not down. You crank them down as low
as you can, and I was concerned that the elevation was still too
high. What we had to do was make arrangements to drop the front
wheels so that we could get down and shoot straight out at these
people. With either the front wheels down and the back wheels up
we did manage to do that. We started firing; we fired all our
ammunition, which we did not have very much of. It should have
been armor piercing, but it just regular. But we fired enough so
that the infantry by that time regrouped and retaken the terrain,
and we received a telephone call by signal to stop shooting, that
our own men were getting near where we were firing. That was our
first combat action.
R: What was going through your mind, then, was just pretty much
thinking about what was going on?
A: My personal reaction was that it was so damned disorganized I
wondered why somebody did not take charge. Of course, somebody
was taking charge, but it was just that what one sees is only
one's own little picture; you do not see the big picture.
We went on and then invaded Africa. We tangled with the "Desert
Fox," [Field Marshal Erwin] Rommel, at Qasserine [Tunisia]; we
went as far as there. Qasserine Pass is where Rommel counter-
attacked with all his tanks, and he was coming down our throats.
Once again, we dug in our little 40mm Bofors.
R: You were still using the British guns?
A: No, I left a part out. We were gradually being resupplied with
our own new weapons, but they were still 40 Bofors. It is a good
gun, but it is not designed to be hauled around in the mud and
sand, which we had to do. At any rate, we stopped at the
Qasserine Pass and gradually worked on protecting our air fields,
shooting down German aircraft surrounding us while we were giving
top cover to American airfields.
R: That was heavy fighting?
A: That was all heavy fighting, yes. We had some very heavy
R: What was going through your mind then?
A: I would have to say at that particular time a lot of things went
through my mind. I think, in general, it was a maturing process,
not just for me, but for most of us. From the time we made our
landing in Oran to the time we got to Bizerte [Tunisia] and cut
off the Germans and taken the Italians, we were seasoned,
experienced troops as good as any the Germans had. That is
saying a lot, because the Germans were damn good.
From there we were being re-equipped; they took our 40 Bofors
away and gave us a new type of American gun, M15s, and M16s,
which we used all the way up in Italy. We did not invade Sicily.
I took a recon [reconnaissance] flight over there at night. They
flew us over in dark in artillery spotting planes, and we landed
at night to set up our gun positions. It turned out our invasion
force was making so much progress that when we got back the next
day, our battalion's orders were canceled. I did make an
invasion of Sicily there. There was a group of artillery
officers--air spies, and artillery commander. What actually
happened was they decided they did not need us, so we continued
to gear up for the invasion of Italy.
R: Did you fight in Sicily?
A: I was fired upon in Sicily. I was in Sicily long enough to get
my Battle Star. As it happened the high command decided to save
our guns for the invasion of Italy because armaments were still
minimal; we did not have enough of anything. We made the
invasion of Italy. Then in Italy, I went as far as Monte
Cassino, where my outfit was shot up pretty badly.
R: How did you attack Italy?.
A: We hit the beaches at H+8 at night--which means eight hours after
the invasion; the first troops go in at zero. It is an H+1
hours, H+2, and so forth, or H+23 minutes or whatever. "H" is a
designation of landing. We took our guns in, and we had a chance
to get our machine guns and stuff set up. The engineers had been
in front of us, and they had laid out the white stripes and
cleared the land mines, and our orders were to just barrel ahead
and not stop until we ran out of gas, ammunition, or whatever.
R: Is this when you were working with [General George] Patton? It
sounds like his tactics.
A: I do not think so. I do not think Patton showed up on the scene
yet. I was attached to his infamous brother-in-law for a while,
but that is another story. At any rate, we moved all night. By
dawn we had reached high ground, up the hills, away from the
docks. It was a fairly commanding position, but we were
constantly being buzzed and strafed by German aircraft, and we
had a tremendous shortage of ammunition.
One of the little side trips I took was taking a truck down that
road to get ammunition, being fired upon all the way down the
hill, loading a truckload of ammunition, and then being fired
upon all the way back--with a truckload of ammunition.
Then we gradually moved forward. I got as far as Monte Cassino,
and that is where they held us up, and that is where I had some
of my most difficult fighting. We got to Monte Cassino, and our
company was pulling out troops to make the abortive landing at
Anzio Beachhead. But it did not work out. They were pulling
troops out and were not giving us replacements. Of course, they
were sending everybody back to England to make the invasion of
Normandy. Our gunners got down to not more than five or six per
gun, and attrition was setting in. We were getting a lot of
combat fatigue and were taking a lot of casualties.
R: How did you keep the troops together? That was your job, was it
not, to keep things working?
A: The troops were seasoned combat people, and they knew the
situation. None of us could understand why they were pulling
troops out. Our biggest fear was that we were not winning the
war. The other situation that developed was we were fighting
[Field Marshal Albert] Kesselring's Wehrmacht troops, and they
pulled the Wehrmacht out and sent in the SS [Schutzstaffel]
Panzers and the SS Waffen. This was no holds barred; they did
not take any prisoners, and neither did we. This was showdown;
this was hard ball. About that time my tour of duty was up, and
I got sent back home, ostensibly to train troops in this country.
So I got back to the United States in one piece.
R: Tell me about that. When you got your orders, what did you
think? Did you feel guilty that you were leaving these troops at
Monte Cassino, or was Monte Cassino over?
A: It was a strange feeling. It was a feeling that you were
deserting--you should stay on, you cannot leave the rest of the
guys here to suffer--and yet you wanted out of there so damn bad.
Of course, you were always supposed to wear your steel hat, but
for most of us that was a signal--like graduating from college
when you throw away your hat up in the air--and you threw your
steel hat away and put on a field hat. I do not think I even
took my clothes or anything; I just took my German Luger and my
German camera that I had captured.
R: How did you get those?
A: That is a very interesting story. The very first plane we shot
down was on the desert in Bizerte. We had pulled our guns in
overnight and they did not know that we were there. This German
recon plane--I think it was a Messerschmitt, but I know it was a
bomber--stuck his nose out, and we blew away one engine and it
caught fire. He was going down, and we hopped into a Jeep and
went over the sand dunes and found him. The plane had crashed
and burned out, and the whole crew was dead. I got to the pilot
and I decided I needed his camera and his Luger. I was the first
one there with my Jeep, so I got first pick.
R: Something like a scalp?
A: Exactly. It was a trophy. However, I used that trophy to take a
lot of pictures during the war, and I carried the Luger until I
came back to this country.
R: How did you get rid of it? Did they let you bring it back in or
A: What happened was I was anxious to get back home, of course, and
I knew that there were certain ways to get back to Algiers and
get out of the country. One of the air force boys was flying a
DC-3 cargo plane, and I traded my Luger to him for a ride back to
Casablanca [Morocco]. I caught a ship out of Casablanca, and
that is the way I got back home.
R: What was it like when you came home? What happened?
A: That is very interesting. We were put in quarantine for awhile.
R: For diseases?
A: I do not know why. I think it was a matter of logistics; to get
us out and dispersed and whatnot. I drank a lot of real milk for
the first time in a long time. Then I hitchhiked a flight to
Chicago. I was on leave; I was a civilian. I found a train from
Chicago to Alton. By that time they had given me a bunch of
medals, and I spent the night in Chicago; I could not get a train
out until the next day. I got a big hero's welcome in Chicago
because I guess I was one of the first real live combat soldiers
to come back. I had four gold stripes on my sleeve and a bunch
of medals. For one evening I was a war hero. On the way home I
did not feel that I was up to being a war hero again. I was
going to call home, but I did not, so I just took the train. I
got off and called a cab.
R: Did anyone recognize you?
A: No, it was evening by the time I got home. I walked up the back
steps and knocked on the door.
R: Were they shocked to see you?
A: Oh, my, yes. Of course, in hindsight, I should have called them
and let them have had a big parade for me and the whole nine
yards because I was the first one from town to come back alive.
By the same token, the feelings were very mixed. The war had
taken its toll emotionally and I had lost too many of my friends.
The war was over for me in the sense that I got tired of the
killing, I guess. Then I spent my two weeks leave and went back.
They sent me to another anti-aircraft outfit in Virginia (I
cannot remember where it was); they had all kinds of guns, and
they were training. Interestingly enough, they were going
through all of these final maneuvers before they shipped this
R: You were training the green kids about how to go over and do
exactly what you had just done?
A: Exactly. They were using live ammunition and planes that were
diving, but it was just a maneuver. Of course, I had a couple of
years of conditioning as to how to stay alive. In their
perception, I suppose, they thought I was crazy, because a plane
would dive and I would hop into a shell hole and everybody else
would be sitting around wondering "what is wrong with him."
Anyway, I ran into Captain [Herbert H.] Moody (he had come back
before I had), and he told me they are sending everybody to the
Pacific. I said I was here to train the troops, but he said, "Do
not kid yourself. You will be over there three days." They had
me on a three-day alert, and Moody told me to go into the
hospital because I had ear trouble. Of course, most combat
veterans had ear trouble; it is know as gunner's ear. When that
outfit shipped out they put me in another one that was due to
ship out in about three weeks. Again I went into the hospital,
and they had the colonel look at my ears. He said something to
the effect, "Well, boy, you know your ears are bad, but that
ain't what is wrong with you, is it?" I said no, and I began to
cry. So he said, "What you need is a good rest in a hospital."
He put me in the hospital, and I spent the rest of the war
sitting in the hospital. I was in command of a prisoner of war
camp when Germany surrendered, and the rest of the war was anti-
climactic. I was finally discharged from the Wakeman Hospital
Center in Camp Atterbury, Indiana, on January 20, 1946.
R: Is this what they call shell-shock?
A: At the time they called it combat fatigue. Now they know current
diagnoses is post-traumatic stress, which has shown up remarkably
in the Vietnam veterans. It was also common among World War II
veterans. That is what I am getting my disability pension for
now is post-traumatic stress.
R: Let me ask you this. You got back, and I guess after you left
the hospital in Dayton or the prisoner of war camp, what did you
A: I decided that I wanted to be an English teacher. I went into
the Board of Education and applied for a job. I was a retired
veteran, of course, and at that time we were on pedestals. I
requested a job teaching English. They looked over my credits
and said, "Yes, you would make a fine English teacher, but you
have all of this training in psychology, and we need a
psychologist." I asked what they needed a psychologist for. It
turned out that the Veterans Administration was setting up one of
these rehabilitation centers, and all the guys who were coming
out had to go through rehabilitation service. They did not have
anybody to run it. While I only had a bachelor's degree, I had a
tremendous number of credits, as well as the usual stuff, like
testing and measurements. I was immediately hired as the
director of the VA clinic there.
R: How was the Board of Education tied in with the VA?
A: The Board of Education was given a contract to handle the
rehabilitation of veterans to upgrade them educationally.
R: This was the state Board of Education in Illinois, or what?
A: This was the Board of Education in Dayton, Ohio; I was still in
Ohio at the time. I took this job and worked at it for a year.
They hired a couple more people, but two things became obvious to
me: one, I really did not want to be in Dayton, although there
was no particular reason, and the other thing was it became
obvious that I really did not have enough education in
psychology, although after a year I had experience that few
others had at that time.
R: You were working with these people who had come right out of the
war and had this post-traumatic stress?
A: That is right. There were all kinds of physical and mental
R: So that was hard-ball psychology, then?
A: I was a good person for the job because, once again, I had been
there; they did not have to tell me how they felt--I knew. But
after a year's time the need for more education became apparent,
so I came back to Washington U. and paid a visit to my old
professors. The same old three of them were there, and they
greeted me with open arms. I said I would like to get a master's
in psychology, and they said fine. They asked what I was doing
and so forth, and I told them what experience I had had. They
said they needed me on the staff there. I said great, "but can I
get my degree?" They said sure, I could be a teaching assistant.
So from there on it was all down hill. I worked my way through
my master's and my Ph.D. requirements. In the meantime, I was
teaching classes, believe it or not, of 200 to 300 people.
R: Did you have time to prepare for those classes when you walked
A: I was full of energy. All the time during the war you read a
lot, and I read everything I could get my hands on regarding
psychology. I was not really aware of it, but I had enough
background. Besides, as most teachers know, you just have to
stay one page ahead of the students. In a lot of cases, that is
what I was doing. It worked out very successfully. I got my
master's and Ph.D.
R: Tell me about your first wife.
A: My first wife and I married a couple of weeks after Pearl Harbor.
She went to Monticello College [in Alton, Illinois]. On January
5, 1942, we eloped and I took her down to Texas with me. She
became pregnant while we were there; she had the test done at the
navy facility, and sure enough she was pregnant. She went on
home to Oklahoma City, and I went on overseas. I had a son,
James, who was born November 9, 1942; I did not find out about
his birth until about three months afterwards. When I got back
home it turned out that my wife had been having an affair with an
attorney there in Oklahoma City who was 4F, which means he was
physically unable to serve in the military forces. By mutual
agreement we split. I went on back to the service.
R: Did you get a lot of letters from her when you were in Europe?
A: Mail was very sporadic.
R: Did you know it was coming?
A: Yes, it was coming. It was the "Dear John" letters that you hear
so much about, so by the time I got home I was mad, anyway. It
sealed itself off except for the fact that her 4F died--he really
was 4F--and then I started getting some desperate phone calls,
but by that time I had separated myself from her. In the service
I was dating a young lady, a marine officer, and we married.
R: What was her name? First of all, let us get your first wife's
A: My first wife's name was Louise Willingham, and my second wife
was Rita Schamel. Rita was a German girl from Dayton, Ohio; she
was what kept me in Dayton. I met her when she was a U.S. Marine
stationed at Cherry Point, Virginia. However, we did not get
along after we both left the service. While we were waiting for
the divorce to go through, she became pregnant. She was a devout
Catholic, and the family did not want any part of me. Besides
that, she had an uncle who's wife was barren, and he wanted to
adopt a kid. It so happened that Rita's child died of a chest
problem. That child's name was Darlene. That marriage
terminated when she locked me out of the house when I got mad,
and I stuck my arm through the window and cut my arm. I backed
out and licked my wounds. [It was a mismatch from the beginning.
In hindsight, she seems quite shallow. Rita and I were divorced
on November 12, 1946. In due course, I took up with my third
R: This is when you were back at Washington U.?
A: Yes, it was back as a teaching assistant.
R: What was her name?
A: Her name was Mary Ann Wiseman. She was a very nice girl. She
was a beauty queen and all that. She had been going with a guy
for a long time, and he turned out to be queer, which shook her
up, so she started going with me.
R: What year was this? 1947?
A: We were married June 5, 1948 at the First Presbyterian Church in
R: So you were almost done, then.
A: Yes, I was almost done. She developed endometriosis and could
not have children. Endometriosis is a disease whereby a woman
would become sterile because the endometrium of the reproductive
glands do not work. She got terribly upset over that and finally
had a nervous breakdown.
R: About what year was that?
A: This was about 1953. I had gotten my Ph.D. and was working. It
may have been 1954. At any rate, she got better, but the net
result was we got a divorce.
R: When did you get the divorce?
A: October 4, 1961 at Springfield, Illinois.
R: You have your Ph.D., and you have been divorced three times.
What was going through your mind as far as that goes?
A: I guess I regarded myself as pretty confused and pretty much of a
failure at that time. I thought I had treated the women well,
and I was beginning to wonder what I did wrong to not get along
with women. At any rate, we were divorced. We had a big home
out at Lake Springfield and I sold that and moved into an
apartment in town.
R: In town? This is where?
A: In Springfield, Illinois.
R: How did you get from Washington University to Springfield?
A: What happened was after I had everything done on my Ph.D. except
the dissertation, and I had run out of money--the G.I. bill
money--so I had to go to work. I took this job with the Illinois
State Department of Public Instruction. That involved setting up
the special education units in the state of Illinois. There were
three of us to set up the whole state.
R: Special education for kids who needed special facilities,
teachers, and techniques? Did that mean the same thing then as
it does now?
A: Mentally handicapped, emotionally handicapped, and gifted. I
worked at that for awhile. Then I received an offer to become a
professor at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois.
R: Was this something you thought would be a good move?
A: It was a status move. Professor H. M. Halverson had worked with
Professor Arnold Gesell, who were well-known authorities.
R: Were these people from Washington U.?
A: No, these were people who were noted and had high profiles in the
field. Halverson was an old man, and we talked and he liked me.
As a matter of fact, he gave me part of his personal library,
which I still have. I have kept the first edition books he had.
I took the job as professor of psychology at MacMurray College in
Jacksonville, Illinois. I did well.
R: This is in 1955 or somewhere in there? You got your Ph.D. in
1953, and then you worked at MacMurray College from 1955 for four
years. How was that? What was that like?
A: My Ph.D. was conferred on June 10, 1953. I enjoyed teaching very
much. I think I probably would have continued in teaching and
research. My degree was in research--my master's was in test
construction and my Ph.D. was in experimental psychology. As a
matter of fact, a lot of the stuff we were doing there was a
precursor of what they later set up in the psychology department
at the space agency at NASA [National Aeronautics and Space
Administration]; it was the same type of research. I liked
teaching and research, but the pay was so poor; I was making
$6,000 a year, which included teaching a summer course and
putting out the school catalog and counseling about twenty
freshmen. I did not mind the heavy workload, but I did mind the
poor pay, so I started moonlighting with a private psychiatric
outfit in Springfield, Illinois, which was about thirty miles
R: That is not much of a drive, so you just drove over there?
A: That is right. I worked with Milton C. Baumann, M.D. These were
people from World War II. Garm Newberry was a chief of staff of
the eastern theater of operations in psychiatry, and Milton
Baumann was his executive officer, so these were people with whom
I could identify and who had considerable background and
experience. Besides that, the pay was outstanding. I had a
chance to take a job at De Pauw University [in Greencastle, IN]
as a full professor and eventually become head of the department,
so I had to make a decision as to whether I was going to stay in
clinical psychology or in teaching. I was enjoying the clinical
work and was gradually being drawn into it, so I decided to work
full-time for the Baumann Clinic. And, of course, I made plenty
R: This was the very beginning of psychological counseling.
A: That is right, it was just beginning to be a big thing.
R: So you caught on at the very beginning.
A: I hit the crest of the wave, and I worked there at the Baumann
Clinic as well as the Springfield Mental Health Clinic and did
number of other things until about 1969.
R: In 1959 you left MacMurray College. Is that when you went to
full-time private practice?
R: And about that time is when you met my mother, Louise Snyder, is
A: That is right.
R: Tell me about that.
A: We met at a horse show at Dr. Floyd Barrringer's. Your mother
was just in the process of getting a divorce. We met, and after
about a year we married.
R: You dated for a year?
A: Yes. She was not free to date very much because her ex-husband,
Phil Evans, was giving her a rough time in court, and she had to
get completely free of that alliance, so we just dated. When she
was finally free, we were married. [It was on November 17, 1962,
at the First Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Illinois. Dr.
John Paul Graebel married us. Some time later he gave the
funeral service for Senator Adlai Stevenson.]
R: What did you do together? What kinds of things did you do? You
went to horse shows.
A: We had a lot of interests together. We both had an interest in
horses. I was a farm boy and I used to break horses early on,
and I rode in the last remaining unit of the United States
Cavalry at Fort Monroe. She was a much better rider than I was.
We also moved in the same circle of friends. She was a dancer,
and I have always admired dancers. We liked square dancing
together. We were both interested in antiques; I had refinished
all my family antiques, and she had some. There were a number of
common interests, but basically we just had a very good
relationship, a lot of camaraderie; she became the love of my
life and was until she died.
R: So at last you found a woman that you could be happy with.
A: I would say that I was very happy during that period. Time
passed so fast, and we always enjoyed each other.
R: So you were married a couple of years--I talked to my sister
about this--and there is some question as to whether there was
some arm-twisting as to have me. Is that right?
A: I would not say arm-twisting, exactly, except that I was getting
pretty old, and so was she. We questioned the advisability of
starting another family.
R: You were forty-five and she was thirty-four?
A: Yes, I think so; that is close. I am not sure about the exact
R: I have an older sister and an older brother. What was the story
A: We had you, and it turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. It
was gratifying to me because I had a chance to raise a son of my
own. I was really pleased with my son, and I think I did most
things that a father thinks about doing with his son.
R: Tell me about Adlai Stevenson. You got to know Adlai Stevenson
when you were in Springfield and he was running for president [in
1952 and 1956].
A: I was a Presbyterian, and a friend of mine was Dr. John Paul
Graebel, who had the First Presbyterian Church in Springfield.
That was a rather famous church for politicians going many years
back. I do not know whether Abe Lincoln went to it or not; he
may have. Of course, his home is there. He [Lincoln] had been
to the church; I do not know whether he was a member, but at
least he had attended that church.
John Paul Graebel was a very good personal friend of mine. We
went to his church, and he and I would have lunch together. He
also was a good friend of Adlai's, and before long he invited me
to have lunch with him and Adlai, and we had lunch together on a
number of occasions. Adlai was a very impressive man, very
bright. He had much more humility and much more of a common
touch than he was given credit for. He did not relate very well
to people, and often times his attitudes and behavior were
I think, for example, at his state house he had his own private
elevator to the third floor, and he would always use it to sneak
out. He really did not sneak out; what he was doing was avoiding
people. He simply did not relate with large groups of people.
If you got him in a private conversation he was very charming,
very bright, and he was very interested in psychology and in
spiritual life. This was the bond that we had. His daughter
rode horses, too. Of course, his business as governor kept him
busy quite a bit, but we were friends enough so that at the
county fair for several years we sat in the governor's box during
the county fair courtesy of Adlai Stevenson.
R: Were there any other politicians that you knew when you were in
Springfield, since it was the capital city?
A: I do not really know of any that I had personal dealings with. I
must say that I had a few who came through as patients; either
they or members of their family. One became quite a famous
ambassador; I do not want to mention his name because I suppose I
still should not reveal patient confidentialities. No, I think
in general my contact was minimal. I worked with a lot of high-
level boards of directors and community leaders, but I could not
really say that I met a lot of famous politicians. After we got
to Florida we met some prominent political leaders, but not so
much in Illinois.
R: You told me in the past that you had an offer at NASA.
A: Yes, that is right, because of the nature of my work. I did my
work under Dr. George Kreezer, who was into psycho-physiological
reactions on the human mind to external stimuli. In those days
it was called bio-mechanics. There were three studies: one at
Harvard University, one at General Electric, and one done by
Kreezer, who had worked at the Woods Hole Research Laboratory.
These were the pilot studies for those that came later. It
became clear to the scientific community that the speed of nerve
fibers in the human body were not going to be sufficiently
appropriate to fly speed-of-sound-plus aircraft. Consequently,
we were developing and adapting machines that would compensate
and later become computers for humans that were flying airplanes.
R: How would those work? The computer would make all the
adjustments because the human mind could not think quickly enough
to do that?
A: That is right. My particular study involved subjects who were
given input to follow a dot with a stylus. Then using
oscilloscopes and square wave generators and modifying curves to
put the curve of the response, we would be able to measure the
various responses of various people and consequently develop
machines that would make these adjustments quicker. That was the
initial study, and, of course, there were many modifications
R: How did this tie in with NASA?
A: The White Rogers Corporation, which was under contract early on
to do some work for NASA, asked me if I wanted to go down and
take the job because of my experience. At that time NASA was
just another government agency, and it was in its infancy. I
have often wondered if I had considered it more seriously, I
might have had a chance to fly one of the big birds before I got
R: What year was this? Were you still at MacMurray College, or were
you in private practice, when this offer from NASA came?
A: That came about the time I took the job at MacMurray College
because I had just completed my Ph.D.
A: That would have been about 1954 of 1955.
A: It came in early 1954 or 1955.
R: As a psychologist, you said you were oriented toward [Carl] Jung.
What is your orientation now?
A: Early on I was impressed with the works of the Gestalt
phemonologists Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Kohler, and Kurt Koffka,
who established the Gestalt school of perception. Also, I go
with the collective subconscious in the sense that there are many
things we do not know, and our puny minds are not equipped to
handle it in the strictly Freudian sense. Freud was pretty good
for what he did, but he is history now; he is archaic. There are
not many neo-Freudians anymore. Jung was more willing to accept
the spiritual, in particular. I cannot in my own philosophy rule
out the need for some grand design, and Jung makes allowances for
that. He also has a place in his psychology for animals and
other forms of life, even with the presumption that there may be
higher forms of life, which you may consider spiritual if you
wish. At any rate, I like Jung's concepts.
R: You moved to Florida in 1969. What prompted that move?
A: That move was prompted by the fact that Baumann was building an
empire, and he was adding more and more people. I thought I
should be next rank after the other psychiatrists. Dr. Al Rauh,
a psychiatrist, committed suicide; he jumped off the roof of the
hospital. Since I was next senior, I thought I should be next in
command. But he hired a German woman by the name of Louise Kuehn
with whom he developed a personal liaison.
R: What do you mean by that?
A: He was having a love affair with her, and the whole thing was
getting messy. I was getting shoved aside, so I figured I could
go someplace and set up my own operation. The bottom line was he
was making the money and I was still making about the same. I
just figured I could make it instead of him if I went to another
location and set up my own shop, which I did here in
R: You came down and worked with Dr. Melvin Reid, an industrial
psychologist whose office is in the Seaboard Coastline building.
A: That is right. I worked with him with the idea that he was going
to teach me industrial psychology and I would teach him clinical
psychology. However, that did not work out. We were two
dominant personalities. Besides that, Dr. David Hicks, a young
psychiatrist who interned under me, was becoming dissatisfied
with the Baumann Clinic, and he was on his way down from
R: Davey Hicks was a friend of yours?
A: David Hicks was a psychiatrist from England, and we spent many
years working together, about twenty, sharing the same office
here in Jacksonville.
R: You knew him from Springfield?
A: Yes. As a matter of fact, I trained him. He was younger than I.
When he came from England he did not know much about the
psychiatric and psychological management of patients, and, since
I was a teacher anyway, he was given to me. It turned out that
we developed a very fine personal relationship.
R: When did you take your own private practice?
A: I guess I stayed with Reid not a full year, sometime around 1970.
R: You were elected chairman or president of the Northeast Florida
Psychological Association. When did these things start coming
A: I was very active in professional organizations for many years.
I do not know when they started coming around; I was just always
active in promoting psychologists and psychology.
R: So this was during the 1970s, I guess, which was the heyday of
A: Pretty much, yes.
R: Tell me about that. What was it like?
A: There has always been a conflict between psychiatrists and
psychologists, and there still is--I understand now more so than
ever. During that period of time at the Baumann Clinic I had
R: What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
A: A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has taken advanced work in
neuro-psychiatry and neurology. Professionally they are not as
well trained in psycho-therapy; but they are M.D.s and they can
write prescriptions, give shock treatments, and sign death
certificates. Psychologists cannot.
R: The late sixties and early seventies are a time of tremendous
social upheaval, you could say--revolutionary and cultural. How
did this affect the psychological field?
A: The period of the sixties, as you know, was one of liberalizing
ideas, and psychology was developing its various different
disciplines like bio-feedback. My particular spin-off happened
to be hypnosis. I became very skilled in hypnosis, and I have
always used hypno-therapy. In my later years, the last ten
years, I became a forensic legal expert in testimony, both
testifying as an expert witness and as a consultant to an
attorney in handling cases dealing with mental and emotional
R: Speaking of the sixties reminded me of something that we spoke
about earlier: the Klan, and your father's participation in that.
I always thought it was interesting that in 1955 you were a
member of the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People]. Why did you join?
A: I joined it probably for the same reason that you would now. I
felt that the blacks were not getting a fair shake. I was, I
guess, a few years before my time. Some friends of mine fought
in the Vietnam war, and they had some black friends.
R: The 'Nam war? That was from 1965.
A: Well, this was before that. The Korean War. At any rate, I came
under the influence of an education professor, Theodore Lorenz,
who was a liberal, and he had this group while I was still in
graduate school. I did not have time to focus in on this as a
problem, but I had my sympathies and joined the NAACP. I still
have my card around someplace.
R: I would like to return to the seventies. In 1973 my mother
became ill with cancer, and I want you to talk a little bit about
A: She was quite healthy up until about 1973. She was always proud
of the fact that she was in good health. She was a heavy smoker,
however, and she was taking birth control pills perhaps longer
than she should have. She went in for her Pap smear, and it came
out (I think) gravid two or three. She went back in, and they
did an exploratory and a biopsy, and she had cancer of the
cervix. The doctor, Dr. Joseph S. Hasbani, called me over to the
hospital and told me about it.
R: What did he say?
A: He just said, "I have some bad news for you. We have a very
fast-moving malignancy here. We will do everything we can to
stop it, but I want you to be prepared for anything that might
R: Which translated into what to you?
A: At the time I was shocked, but I was hopeful that it was not as
bad as it was and that it would not be terminal and that they
could operate--all the things a person usually thinks of.
R: Then as time went on, how did the year progress?
A: As time went on he and Dr. William Ridings told me that it was
terminal and moving very rapidly. From the cervix it had jumped
to one kidney. Of course, they could trace that. Then within
eighteen months it had jumped to the other kidney. When that
happened both kidneys shut down, and she died of carcinoma uremic
poisoning, which means the kidneys just backed up and stopped.
R: How did translate into your work? How did you manage to listen
to patients with problems all day and then come home?
A: It was very difficult. In this respect David.Hicks was a big
help; he gave me support. It was not easy, and I do not know
that I did an entirely good job, but I did the best I could.
Aside from that, I could shut it out of my mind when I was
R: My mother dies, and I am ten years old. What was going through
A: Of course, it was a terrible shock. I was sort of disoriented.
I really should have sought out professional help, but nobody
suggested it and I did not do it. I was very angry, I was
fearful about raising a son by myself because I wanted to do it
right and I did not know that I could do it right, so for awhile
I was rather lost.
R: Then you had another marriage that did not work out; it lasted
only a year. How did your professional career progress during
that period? Were you just hanging on with your career?
A: My professional career was the stabilizing influence in my life.
It was something I was doing--I was helping people, and I could
feel good about that. I would say that my professional career
went on on pretty much of an even keel, until about the time that
Davey Hicks passed away. After that it began to gradually
R: Would you describe that briefly?
A: After Hicks was gone I sort of left the office to be run by
secretaries who were either stealing from me or were not
interested in the work.
R: How old were you at this point?
A: I was getting old; I was feeling old. I was not really paying
proper attention to my patients, and I was not writing up good
reports anymore. Outside of the hypno-therapy and the legal
work, I was not into my work. I was making mistakes--errors of
omission and commission. What I should have done, of course, in
hindsight, was just simply cut down the stuff I was doing wrong.
But I did not, and my practice gradually reached the point where
I could not handle it alone. I took on a partner for awhile, a
fellow with a master's degree by the name of James Mathes, but he
was not up to it, so he split. I sold my office building
downtown and went down to work with an old friend of mine, a
doctor by the name of Lionel Gatien. I took a room in his
building. But I had lost interest; I had reached the point of
burn-out. I was beginning to accept the burn-out, so I
R: How long did you practice? You started private practice in 1959
A: I began to retire in January of 1985. I stopped taking new
patients, and I closed my office in January of 1986. I was in
practice about thirty-two years, two years too many.
R: After you retired you became active in a number of things.
Please tell us about the things you have been doing since you
A: After I retired, I had this condominium in Village Green in
Baymeadows, and I was alone and feeling very lonely. Besides
that, it had a high maintenance cost, and I did not want to pay
that. I wanted to get rid of it, but I had trouble selling it.
This bothered me a lot because I could not see myself continuing
to pay for this condo. I was fortunate enough to finally sell
it, although I took a loss on it.
I then moved into the Cathedral Townhouse, an Episcopal
retirement home, and began to reshape my world. I got quite
comfortable. The first thing I did was return to my music. I
had played sporadically, but I really got back into it. I joined
the Shrine band and the Recycles band and played in several other
bands. I also became quite interested in upholstery. I took
about ten courses at about six weeks apiece and became quite
proficient at that, or reasonably proficient at it. Then I also
took up locksmithing, which I could do at home by correspondence,
and I became a bonded locksmith.
I am writing now; I have three different projects. The main
project is I am writing on my military career, which sort of
follows the format of Omar Bradley's book, A Soldier's Story,
which is written informally but is very interesting and flows
well. A second, more ambitions undertaking, which I have been
laying the groundwork for, is a history of hypnosis. Most
histories of hypnosis start with [Franz A.] Mesmer and [Jean M.]
Charcot, and that is the medical approach. I am going to go back
and do some cultural, anthropological, and other aspects of
hypnosis aside from the medical. The third one is a book called
From the Inside, which is a sort of how-to book in the geriatric
field, written for relatives who have somebody who has to go to a
nursing or retirement home, or for the patients themselves. I am
building it on the insights and experiences I have had, both
personal and professional.- Those are all goals.
R: Of course, there is the political campaigns.
A: Oh, yes, the political campaigns. We work very hard. I got
swept up in it. I was charmed by the personality of [U.S.
Representative Kenneth H.] "Buddy" MacKay and got to know him. I
worked very hard, along with my son [Rick], to got him elected
[to the U.S. senate], but it was not to be.
R: Not yet, anyway. Through all of your experiences--and it should
be obvious from this interview that you have had many--what
aspect of yourself or what types of situations do regret the
A: I probably regret the things I have not done that I could have
done. I regret having great hindsight in thinking about things.
I think I would have spent my life being nicer to people, being
gentler or kinder. So far as I am concerned, I have finished my
personal life. I am seventy now, and I have probably got some
good years ahead of me that I am devoting not only to my personal
hobbies but I am also active in the Downtown Ecumenical Council,
which feeds hungry people, and New Life Mission, which provides
shelter. I spend a lot of my time working on those boards. What
would I do differently? I wish I would have had a more stable
R: Of course, the next question is obvious: what are you most
pleased with? What are the things you have done or the
situations or aspects of your personality that you think are the
A: I think the best thing I have done is successfully raise a very
fine son. My wish is to see him happy and successful, although I
realize this is a large order. Concerning my life, I see it as
having completed a career. I was not the greatest of students
starting out, but I managed to worked my way up through the
highest levels of academia. I think I contributed a lot to the
well-being of many people's lives, and I think I did it to the
best of my ability. Now I would like, in the traditional sense,
to fade away and get myself out from under pressure and stress
and live the rest of my life in peace and quiet, but still
contribute what I can.
R: I think we have covered a lot of ground, and I guess that is it.
I would like to tell you that I enjoyed this interview.
A: Thank you very much. So did I.