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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA PERSONALITIES
INTERVIEWEE: Dr. John Craps
INTERVIEWER: Robert Johnson
DATE: July 17, 1973
I: This is an Oral History interview this morning with Dr. John
Craps of the German Department. Is that the correct title?
Is it German Department or Germanic Languages?
C: Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literature.
I: This is July 17, 1973, we're in the Arts and Sciences Build-
ing on the campus of the University of Florida. Dr. Craps,
let me have your full name, please, and your date of birth,
and place and so forth.
C: John Ellis Craps, born August 21, 1904 at Lexington, South
I: You have a birthday coming up pretty soon.
C: Quite soon.
I: Let's see that makes you, sixty-nine, is it?
C: Sixty-nine next month.
I: I guess you were reared around Lexington there, sir?
C: I was reared in Lexington County until my parents moved to
Miami about 1924, 1925.
I: Is this Miami, Miami Beach, Florida?
I: Miami, Florida. Where is Lexington? I'm familiar with
South Carolina somewhat.
C: Well, Lexington is the next county seat...Lexington County,
approximately twelve miles west of Columbia.
I: I see. I'm familiar with Parris Island, but that's about
it as far as South Carolina. Let's see now, I believe you
went to the University of South Carolina for your bachelor's.
Did you first begin your German studies there, in other
words, what first aroused your interest in German as a,
C: I began undergraduate work at the University of South Caro-
lina in January 1928 with the idea of majoring in chemistry.
I: I see.
C: German was necessary in order to complete a chemistry
major, but I had to work my way through school. I had
worked several years doing...I'd worked for several years
as a bookkeeper in a wholesale fruit and produce concern.
I: Is this around Lexington, there?
C: No. In Columbia.
I: In Columbia.
C: After finishing high school,
I: So there is an interim between your high school and your
C: Yes. I graduated from high school at the ripe old age of
fifteen. I took a business course and worked in the office
of the Moffit-Dupress Company, wholesale fruit and produce
dealers for seven or eight years.
I: So this is right after the First World War, I guess?
C: ...1921 approximately....
I: What was Columbia like in those days?
C: Oh, yes, Columbia at that time was...I don't know...a town,
I don't know of any place in Florida now that would be com-
parable to it, shall we say something like Waycross, Georgia.
I: Oh, yes.
C: A town of twenty-five thousand population, a somewhat over-
grown country town with many streets still unpaved...street
I: Street cars?
C: Yes, street, street cars.
I: I guess Saturday was the big day of business.
C: Oh, yes.
C: Particularly, when all the farmers came into town and did
their shopping on Saturdays at....
I: Are your parents or were your parents farm people, or were
they in business or something?
C: They were originally. But my father, my mother had one year
of college, at a college of that day.
C: Teacher training and taught school. My father was somewhat
self-taught. He became a...he operated a furniture store,
did watch repair, was postmaster, he was a well-known person
in Lexington County.
I: Where were your parents from originally? Were they from
C: They were both from Lexington County.
I: Lived there all their lives, I guess.
I: Yes. All right now, you went ahead and graduated from high
school and worked for, I guess, what seven or eight years
there. And you worked your way,..were you working when you
were at South Carolina, at the University?
C: Yes, scoutmaster and in charge of boy's work with the title
of Lay Assistant to the Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church
in Columbia, South Carolina, while I was a student at the
I: Are you Episcopalian?
C: Yes. The duties there at the parish house interfered with
my chemistry laboratory work, all of which was scheduled in
the afternoon in those days.
I: I see.
C: And...so...the German professor continued to give me A's in
German and I continued to take it and...
I: You reinforced all the way?
C: I ended up majoring in German rather than in chemistry.
I: It happens to a lot of us, I know. We start out one way and
end up another. What were German studies like in those days?
In other words, was it strictly just rote memory or did you
have...what was the system as far as the way the language
was taught? Was there a text as such?
C: Yes, I don't recall any such thing in those days as direct
method or oral.... We had dictation, but there was no attempt
made other than in a course designed for that purpose. Well,
such as we have here, in oral composition.
I: I see.
C: I don't really recall whether we had a course there in...I
mean in conversation.
I: In conversation.
C: I don't recall that we had a course in conversation. The
professor was a very able man and I'm sure that he could
speak German. In fact, he was Woodrow Wilson's interpreter
I: Did you keep in contact with him over the years?
C: Yes, I did until he died a few years back, and I'm quite sure
he gave us dictation in class, but I didn't develop facility
in speaking, I developed a facility in readings as I studied
German, particularly in the third and fourth years when I
was for all intents and purposes the first...I was actually
the first major, undergraduate majoring in German in the
history of the University of South Carolina. Then in my
senior year the only other student in German on my level
was a lady who was the wife of the dean of the College of
Engineering who was teaching German at the Girls College,
Columbia College, in Columbia, and simply wanted to brush
up her own German.
I: I would never have guessed that. That's interesting.
C: So, we were reading German novels and were expected to read
ah, oh a sizeable number of pages, fifty, seventy-five pages,
for an assignment and each of us would make an oral report
in German of what we had read, and only then did I arrive
at anything approaching a facility to use German.
I: I can see why you have,...that was an excellent method.
It seems like quite a volume of work there. It's curious,
I wonder how Wilson came in contact with this professor.
Wilson went to, let's see, what school was it? Was it
Virginia? I want to say Virginia, but it wasn't. It was
Princeton, excuse me. It was at Princeton.
I: Did this professor have any contacts with Princeton there?
C: I really don't know. You may not know this but Woodrow
Wilson grew up in Columbia, South Carolina.
I: Is that right?
C: His boyhood home is there.
I: Well, I can see the connection now.
C: There are many people there or during my boyhood days, in
fact until quite recently people were there who were Woodrow
Wilson's first cousins.
I: I see.
C: In fact an English professor here who came from Columbia,
Wash Clark, was Woodrow Wilson's first cousin.
I: I never realized Wilson was from South Carolina.
C: His antecedents, Wilson's father taught at the Presbyterian
Seminary in Columbia when...when Wilson was a boy of ten to
fifteen, I would think, for some years. I really don't
know how this professor was selected other than the fact
that he was an army officer, and had some knowledge of German.
1: The right place at the right time.
C: The right place at the right time.
I: Let's move on now. You went to the University of Vermont.
If I may ask, what took you up that way?
C: Well as I say, I majored in German at the University of
South Carolina, and graduated in 1932...and this was the
depression and no idea what I would do with it. Someone
suggested that I apply for fellowships at various institu-
tions. I went to the Registrar's Office and found where
such fellowships were available or might be available.
I: Still available because...
C: Still available since it was already February.
C: I applied for three and got the one at the University of
Vermont, which paid $700 the first year and $800 the second
year, which at that time was...
I: You were very glad to get.
C: ...a fabulous sum. The others didn't pay so much.
I: Did you find it difficult to live on that or were you prob-
ably very glad to get that?
C: I was glad to get that. I got by, Then you could get a
room for...a nice room for twenty-five dollars a month.
I: Was that the first time you had left South Carolina? It's
quite a change to go from South Carolina to Vermont.
C: That was the first time I had left South Carolina for any
length of time. I had set foot in Georgia and North Carolina
I: Still in the South though.
I: All right now, when you graduated from Vermont, what was
that, '33 I guess or...?
C: Well, '34. I stayed there two years and had my first exper-
ience in teaching while there...which is something that in
many places, I don't believe that the University of Florida
in the early days that the graduate students who had no
master's degree were put to teaching. They are now, but I
don't believe that they were until about 1960 or so here.
I: Probably with this new Master's in Arts Teaching Program
that they have now. I believe the student has to teach X
amount of hours, you know, before he can obtain his degree.
Well, that was an excellent experience.
C: I think it is a good idea.
C: But I don't believe that we're asked to or even permitted
I: Permitted in those days.
C: ...in earlier days. I don't believe that the graduate
students in German, for example, who got their master's
back...here back in the forties and fifties don't recollect,
or we don't have any record that any of them did any teaching.
I: Well, that was an advantage to you to have that situation.
Now you left Vermont let's see, in '34?
C: I stayed on an additional year doing part-time work and then
went to Chapel Hill. I was supposed to go there on a fellow-
ship, but one of the elderly faculty members passed away in
August and that was changed to full-time teaching. The first
year I was there I taught full-time and took only one course
as I recall.
I: So we can say thanks to the Episcopal Church, you more or
less were a full-fledged German student by this time and
not a chemist. Did you retain an interest in chemistry
perhaps? Did you regret, in other words, going ahead
and pursuing German, in lieu of chemistry?
C: I sometimes wondered what my life might have been like.
Certain things have happened over the years that have been
directly the result of my interest in and connection with
teaching German. Particularly during the Second World War,
if I hadn't known German I wouldn't have been doing what I
I: Yes, I'm anxious to get to that too.
C: But I certainly would have made...I suppose if I hadn't
blown myself I would have made more money here...if I had
I: You're always torn between, you know, making an excellent
salary and doing something you perhaps don't like as much,
or doing something you like very much and perhaps making
less salary. I know historians can say that for sure. Now
you came to Gainesville, University of Florida, soon after
this. When was this?
C: I came here in 1939...January...in mid-term, 1939, '38.
January '39, from Chapel Hill to take the place of Oscar
Jones; Oscar F. Jones, who was originally from Maine, and
had considerable musical talent and had gone to Germany,
to Heidelberg, to study music. [He] became interested in
the language so that his interest in language, particularly
in the older dialects under the linguistic aspects of Ger-
man, engaged his interest more than music.
I: What was Mr. Jones's position here at the University? Was
he an instructor?
C: He came here after his stay in Heidelberg. He came here and
finished up an undergraduate major in German, and then stayed
on as a staff member for a year and a half.
I: I see.
C: He also had some work at N.Y.U. I'm not sure just when that
was, whether it was in summer or...whether it was as under-
graduate work or as graduate work. In any event he left
here and went to Stanford to get a Ph.D. degree and the
work that he had done at various places he had excess credit
hours which counted which were allowed toward graduate
credit at Stanford and he completed his Ph.D. in a year and
a half there.
I: And this is, in other words, while he was there you were
more or less replacing him on the faculty here.
C: That's correct.
I: What were your first impressions of Gainesville as such
when you came here? Being from the South, of course, you
were used to more or less small rural-type towns. What
were some of your first ideas of Gainesville when you came
C: Well, I thought Gainesville was a very nice town. I really
don't remember the population figures, but I remember that
nothing was built beyond North Main Street and Eighth Avenue.
I: I see.
C: Everything beyond there was pine trees.
I: Pastures and so forth.
C: When the train came in, I didn't have a car. The train came
in from the north along Main Street. Where the First National
Bank building is now was the railroad station.
I: I see. What year was this now, sir?
C: University Avenue was pretty well, perhaps not entirely but
was at least from Sixth Street...Sixth Street west...and
from...Second Street east divided with palm trees and other
trees and flowers...down the...
I: It sounds like a very pretty scene.
C: ...middle. Live Oak trees with much...
I: Southern atmosphere and so forth.
C: ...spanish moss.
I: Were the streets paved mostly or brick or mainly dirt?
C: I think most of the streets were paved only recently, you
know, the street alongside Wilson's Department Store had
been dug up and the bricks removed there. I think quite a
few were paved with brick. I couldn't say now, it was not
unusual because I'd seen that elsewhere. I'd say that
Gainesville was probably a town of...then some nine to
eleven thousand population. I fit in with the rest of the
other southerners and made friends. As I mentioned before,
I knew Wash Clark, who was in the English Department. He
had been at the University of South Carolina.
I: And what was his first name now, sir? How do you spell it?
C: Wash. W-A-S-H.
I: Just how it sounds.
C: Washington Augustus Clark.
I: I see.
C: His father was a banker in Columbia, South Carolina.
I: I see.
C: He and I began playing bridge.
I: You were contemporaries at the University of South Carolina?
C: He was a graduate student, but I knew him there, and he was
a graduate student in English when I was an undergraduate
there. But I lived near him...down on what is...well, in
the vicinity of the hospital, Alachua General.
I: That was probably the center of town in those days.
C: Oh, yes.
I: Down in that area.
C: Having no car, it was desirable to live near the University.
I: Did you have an apartment or did you share a house?
C: No, I just had a room with a family. And incidently I'm
still...I have been for close to twenty years, director of
the Gainesville Bridge Club, and at least one lady remembers
playing bridge with me back in 1939.
I: My wife is a big bridge fan, but that's something I never
have come very...can do very well. It's very popular. What
about, you say you and Mr. Clark played all the time. Did
you have any other faculty members in those days come over,
you know for a foursome, or did you more or less just get
C: We played with people out in town who were not faculty.
I: Were you considered what, an instructor in those days?
C: Yes, I was an instructor or an interim instructor.
I: What was your salary, if you don't mind me asking, in those
days? This was 1939?
C: I don't really recall but I think it was about $1700 or $1800,
perhaps $1700 the first year or half year and $1800 the
I: I see. Were all the faculty members paid, I guess, the same
as far as Arts and Sciences and in Engineering, and so forth?
In other words, that was the standard salary for an instructor?
C: I really don't know, but I don't think that I was discrimin-
ated against. Language teachers traditionally are not the
highest paid members of the...
C: ...faculty at a university, but in my situation I don't
think that anyone tried to take advantage of me.
I: Was that adequate to get by on pretty much in those days?
The depression was almost over, just about, and I guess $1700
or $1800 was a fairly good income for Gainesville in those
C: No, you weren't getting rich, but I remember that I had to
have some dental work done. I had four permanent fixed
bridges which were done by the best dentist in Gainesville,
Dr. Tison. That total bill was $400. People tell me
today it would probably be well over $2,000.
I: Probably at least that.
C: But at that time $400 out of my $1800 was considerable.
I: I hope he let you pay it over a time period.
C: He did. But I lived quite comfortably.
I: You had a room with this family, I guess, you...did you take
your meals there?
C: No, meals...
I: Went out.
C: Were out.
I: What about the campus in those days now? It was pretty
much centered around, I guess, Anderson Hall and some of
the core of the present-day campus now. Where was German
taught and so forth in those days? Did it have a separate
building or what?
C: No, it's only in the last few years that we have decent
quarters. Only the last four or five years, that we have
been in anything other than, shall we say, one of these
I: Is that right?
C: In 1939, the German as well as the Latin, and Greek, and
French, and Spanish, and everything in the way of languages
was in the north end of Buckman Hall.
I: I see. Did you have your own office?
C: Yes, I had my own office; those small cubical flats, eight
or nine [feet] or something like that. But the larger rooms,
two on each side, were classroom buildings and perhaps some
other small office space.
I: I see. What was the percentage of German students as compared
to the Spanish and French or Latin students? You mentioned
Latin, I guess most, more students took Latin in those days
than they do now, perhaps?
C: I really don't know. I don't think as late as 1939 that any
great number of students took Latin.
I: I see.
C: In the earlier days, of course, pharmacy students were re-
quired to take Latin and it may have been so even at that
time. But Pharmacy, the College of Pharmacy, doesn't con-
stitute a great percentage of the student body even today,
I don't believe.
I: That's true I imagine.
C: And so I really couldn't judge about that.
I: What was the calibre of German students in those days? Do
you see much difference in '39 than you do now? Was there
more of an interest in languages? It was a requirement,
I'd say, for the bachelors, of course, but...
C: I beg your pardon.
I: I said it was a requirement then I'm sure for the bachelor's
degree, the language.
I: Did you find students taking it for that?
C: That has always been true. The number of students who take
German, or any language for that matter, in any given year
varies considerably as it...and I think the calibre of the
students that take German or any language varies. It's
possible to have a class which seems as if everyone is, or
a great percentage of the students are, very much interested,
willing to work, glad to do so, feel that they're getting
something out of it, enjoying it. It's also possible to
have another section in the same year or even in the same
term, even at the same level, those students just couldn't
I: Even in 1939 or 1969, it's still the same way?
C: I believe so.
I: Over the years.
C: I don't think students have changed that much.
I: No, probably not. Let's talk about personalities just for
a moment. The head of the department then in those days
in '39, you recall his name I'm sure?
C: In 1939, when I came here there was a Department of Spanish
and German and the acting chairman was Oliver H. Hauptmann.
I: And now we're going to spell that. We spelled it one time.
C: Now he had a Wisconsin degree earlier, and so far as I can
ascertain there had been a Department of Spanish and German
since 1925 or thereabouts. That's as far back as I have
I: Was French part of this?
C: No. There was a separate Department of French with Doctor
Atkin as chairman. Ernest G....From 1925, Doctor C. L. Crow,
was chairman of the Department of Spanish and German, and
apparently he became ill and inactive and retired just about
1938. Shortly within a year of the time I came here.
I: I see.
C: He lived on for some years. I saw him once, but I just
recall an elderly gentleman ambling about with some difficulty
and no longer able to participate.
I: I see. How many classes did you teach in those days?
C: It was not unusual to teach fifteen hours a week in those days.
I: I see. More or less, would that probably be about three?
Did you teach any graduate classes?
C: There was practically no graduate work in German in those
days. I would have to check and see if I can find out
from the graduate school when and who the first graduate
student in German was. There had been a rabbi from Valdosta,
Georgia, who did a thesis here during the Second World War
with Oscar Jones; something to do with the Nazi persecution
of the Jews or anti-semitism in Nazi literature. But I
don't recall his name and no one else seems to be able to
help me on it.
I: Are you saying probably '43 or '44 or even perhaps '45 there
were...he was probably, maybe even the first German graduate
student working on his master's?
C: Yes, and I would say he was, yes. See, I was away from 1940
to 1946, and I would say he was here doing this work probably
I: I see.
C: Some such date. Then there was an occasional graduate stu-
dent. I could rack my brains, but back in those...and name
some, but I don't know that that would be of particular in-
I: But were these graduate students in German just more or less
taking some courses and then...
C: They completed...
I: ...going elsewhere or...
C: ...they completed degrees in German with a thesis.
I: I see.
C: The only one, the first one that I know of who completed a
thesis here and is still active in German was a young lady
named Marilyn Klein. K-L-E-I-N.
I: This was after the war now?
C: She was an undergraduate about 1951 or '52, and came back
and completed a master's degree in 1958, and went on for a
doctorate degree at Wisconsin.
I: I see. So it was after the Second World War that German
graduate studies really got off the ground here?
C: Yes. There was just an occasional one.
I: I see.
C: Even those who did complete master's degrees in German back
in the '40s, we have no knowledge of them continuing in the
field of German.
I: A master's degree in those days, of course, was a very good
education and I think fewer persons went on for the Ph.D.
because you could do...you know, so much with a master's in
those days as compared to today. Now teaching fifteen hours
a week it was a fairly busy schedule. What extracurricular
activities took place here on the campus in those days?
Is it the same old football games and the baseball games?
What do you recall about the student body in general? Stu-
dents haven't changed perhaps over the years, they're still
pretty much the same types, perhaps less radical, you might
say in the forties or late thirties anyway?
C: I don't recall anything of that sort. The most excitement
might have been a panty raid. There was no political agita-
tion that I recall. There was student government. In 1939
I happened to be a member of Alpha Chi Omega and took some
of my meals at least for some of the time over at the frater-
nity house and Steve O'Connell was president of the chapter,
as well as being president of the student body.
I: He was president of the student body, this was in '39?
I: I see.
C: As well as being on the boxing team and I think you know his
personality and it is the one who is going to set the tone
that it would be a far cry from what we wentt:through in the
I: Did you know him yourself? Probably had no contact that much
with him, being a student. What do you recall about him?
Was he...when you first met him...or do you remember?
C: I remember Steve very pleasantly from...as I say I...
I: Took your meals there at the...
C: ...ate at the fraternity house and frequently sat around
and played bridge with the boys.
I: He was president of the student body in '39. He went to
Law School, I guess, soon after this.
C: Yes. He may have...I suppose he was then in Law School.
I: He could very well be. Now sir, you returned to North Car-
olina, is this it, I believe, just before the war or were
you here when the war broke out?
I: Well, this Mr. Jones, I believe, came back here?
C: That's right, I was here for a year and a half, and Jones
came back from Stanford having completed the work for his
I: To your regret, I guess, you were more or less hoping...
C: I had hoped that he would get a better offer elsewhere and
that I would...it would be possible...possible for me to
stay on here.
I: Stay on.
C: ...but it didn't work out that way. So I went back to Chapel
Hill and as I recall now continued work there on my disserta-
tion perhaps taking one course, I don't recall.
I: I see. So, you went up to North Carolina. This was in 1940?
I: And you stayed there until the war broke out, working on
your dissertation. Was this in eighteenth century German
literature? I believe that's your main area, isn't it, that
you're interested in?
C: Yes. I was working on a dissertation dealing with Goethe's
criticism of Klopstock and the Goettinger Dichterbund.
I: Was this your eventual dissertation at Johns Hopkins, I guess,
you went ahead and pursued this.
C: Yes...yes...I revised...rewrote...the dissertation at Johns
Hopkins and received a degree there in 1952.
I: '52. Now this interesting interim between '40 and '46 I'd
like to talk about. War broke out, of course, in December
of '41. Did you sign up or were you drafted or...let's talk
a little bit about that now when you went into the army.
C: Well, first of all I went for an interview with the FBI in
Charlotte and after some weeks, was notified that I had been
accepted and should report for training as a special agent
for the FBI, which I underwent in Washington and Quantico.
I: Quantico, you went all through that?
C: Went all through that.
I: I didn't realize the FBI school was at Quantico in those days.
C: Certain phases of it...
I: Field-work type aspect, I guess.
C: The weaponry, I had to use seven different types of weapons...
I: Is the old shooting gallery still there, you know, you walk
down the street, and the gangsters pop up.
C: I suppose it is, I really don't know, I haven't been back
and I've been back through Quantico, just to drive through
the base, but not to try to locate the FBI shooting range.
I: That's the Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia, where the
FBI school is.
C: That's correct.
I: Well, that's very interesting. In other words, you were
qualified as a special agent in the FBI.
C: Then I was assigned first to Chicago, where I stayed for
about...until December, from September to December. Given
routine sort of works, white slave cases...
I: This was...in '41 now or '40...
C: It was '40.
I: '40, I see.
C: Worked on an investigation of the Pullman Company which was
very uninteresting. Then one afternoon I received instruc-
tions to proceed with two other agents to New York, both of
whom were...one had been a Morman missionary in Germany and
had some knowledge of German. I've forgotten who the other
was, but I don't think he knew any German. We reported to
the New York office and were put to work on investigation
of some of the espionage cases where homes were bugged, and
offices were bugged, and the same sort of thing that you're
reading and hearing about.
I: Hearing about today.
C: Today, yes.
I: I guess, as of a few years ago, Hoover was still the iron-
hand of the FBI.
C: Oh, yes. This was...
I: What were your recollections of Hoover in those days?
C: Didn't see Mr. Hoover but one time; that was when he came
to shake hands and congratulate each one upon completing
the course. It was like shaking hands with each member of
the graduating class. Otherwise he sat in his office pretty
much. His days of getting out and...
I: Actually arresting someone.
C: Actually arresting John Dillinger. He had made his name and
he had his...
I: I think Machine Gun Kelly, I believe he arrested...wasn't
that the one I believe, you know, and...Machine Gun Kelly?
C: I'm not sure whether it was Kelly or Carpis. I'm sure he
was in on John Dillinger's arrest in Chicago. But I don't
believe he did that sort of thing anymore, and he was the
boss; he directed the operation.
I: Had the FBI already begun surveillance on German aliens and
Japanese aliens in the 1940s?
C: Oh, yes.
I: '40s. 1940. Of course, before the war. Did you have any
connection with that or was this...you just remained a field
agent mostly in New York or Chicago?
C: Well, field agents...when you're at a field office as they're
called...do whatever assignment is given them. I recall that
on the seventh of December, I believe it was the seventh...
I: Yes. Day of Infamy.
C: The Day of Infamy. I was visiting...it was on a Sunday, of
course, I was visiting friends at Huntington, Long Island,
out on the north shore. I received a call to report back
into the office and when I got back in, of course, I knew
what had happened before I got back, but the work for the
rest of the day and the night was to round up the German
and the Japanese aliens, all who might conceivably be
suspected of doing anything or being disloyal to this country.
I: I imagine most of the aliens in those days, those rather
hectic early first days of the war were completely innocent,
wouldn't you say? At least, did you have a prepared list,
in other words, in some cities to pick up aliens?
C: Oh, yes. Particularly in the larger cities I don't...we had
a list already in New York, and I don't know upon whose
orders it had been prepared, but it was ready and we knew
where every Japanese and...
C: ...every German, who was to be suspected of Nazi collabora-
tions was to be found.
I: When I say innocent that's not exactly a good word. Out of
these that you rounded up, you know, perhaps, do you recall
any that were actually subversive or that were actually
C: I had nothing more to do with them after they were rounded
up. They were put into detention centers and exchanged
for our own nationals.
I: I see. That's the last you heard of them, I guess.
C: I don't think the FBI acted as security agents and guards.
They were just rounded up and turned over to, I suppose,
federal marshals and some other agencies. Some other arm
of the government supervised their detention until such
time as they were shipped to Germany and to Japan. But to
know the stories of Japanese on the west coast who were
removed from San Francisco and other California cities to
the interior, allegedly, unjustly and I've always wondered
how many of the Japanese particularly were disinterested
I: What was going on in Japan?
C: Yes, who were probably more loyal to or would have been
more loyal to this country than to Japan.
I: Did you find the German element the same way or did you have
any impressions along this line?
C: I don't know, but my own impression would be that the Germans
would there's more Germans. There was a very active German-
American Bund in this country. Fritz Kuhn was the head of
it. I would think that there was a much higher percentage
of Germans who would have been pro-Nazi and more likely to
commit sabotage or further acts detrimental to the interest
of the United States than among the Japanese. But certainly
the United States government felt that it was in no position
to take a chance with either group and shipped them home
I: I can understand those hectic days when in the early part
of '42 there, when it was better to be safe than sorry.
Were you still in the FBI, you remember when I believe
there were eight German saboteurs [who] landed in Florida?
I believe this was '42. You were, of course, out of the
FBI, I guess, by then, but do you recall that particular case?
C: I recall the case, yes.
I: You were in the army by that time or...
C: If it was 1942, yes.
I: Now how did you get in the Counter Intelligence course from
the FBI? Were you assigned to that while in or were you...?
Did you resign or how did that come about?
C: I resigned from the FBI. There was much about the FBI that,
I felt, to use the vernacular, was not my cup of tea. I was
forever doing something such as leaving my weapon in a hotel
room where it was found by the house detective much to the
embarrassment of the FBI...and blowing my own value as an
undercover agent on a case.
I: I see.
C: So that I decided to get out of it.
I: A lot of paper work too, a lot of drudgery that you probably
C: And there's no privacy. You have to report at all times
where you are. When you leave in the morning you don't
know when you're coming back, maybe three days. It was in-
teresting, but there was also much about it that was
routine and uninteresting. To be on a surveillance job for
six weeks to three months and be listening to the same
couple in their apartment by means of tape recording and
telephone tap, it can become very monotonous.
I: Was this type of operation illegal in those days or did the
FBI more or less go ahead with it without worrying too much
about the legality of the wiretapping?
C: That was not my problem.
I: You could care less?
C: I would presume that the Attorney-General at the time, who-
ever that may have been, the first Clark, I believe, but
I'm not sure. It was Ramsey Clark's father, Tom Clar, I
believe. I would suppose that Mr. Hoover got the approval
of the Attorney-General in each instance.
I: I see. At least that made it...he was covered as far as
the legality of it. The Attorney-General issued the record?
C: It was in the interest of national security.
I: So that's right, that's the blanket coverage we need.
C: Then as now.
I: Right. Now you went into the army. Did you volunteer or
I...I can't imagine you being drafted.
C: No, I've...after some...yes, I was drafted.
I: You were drafted?
C: Yes, I tried to get other employment after leaving the FBI.
Not too seriously because I knew that I would probably be
drafted. I just sat in New York and waited to be drafted.
I: Not quite sure of what you wanted to do, but knowing sooner
or later you'd be drafted.
C: That I would be drafted. I was sent to Fort Jackson in South
Carolina. From where I was...they didn't know what to do
I: You were about what thirty-four, thirty-five [years old]?
C: No, I was thirty-seven.
C: 1904 to 1941.
I: '41, right. That was just about the cut-off, wasn't it, to
C: That was right at the cut-off, in fact if I had, I just
missed the cut-off by a month or so. I suppose later on I
could have petitioned and got out, but I said what the heck,
I'm not in any dangerous situation here, I might as well
go ahead with it. I was drafted. I could have volunteered,
might as well have. But I didn't, I just waited to be drafted.
It didn't make any difference. From Columbia south...from
Fort Jackson...they didn't know what to do with me...having
practically a Ph.D. in German and an I.Q. that I won't men-
tion. They sent me to Fort Riley, Kansas. They didn't
want to put me in the infantry. They didn't want to put me
in the artillery. They might of put me in the signal corps,
I suppose, but they ended up, with this FBI experience, they
put me in the military police.
I: I was going to say, having been a former special agent that
would even complicate it more. Not too many FBI agents
with a near Ph.D...
C: Yes, so...
I: ...that were drafted.
C: After ten days or so at the reception center, I was sent to
Fort Riley, Kansas. I went through basic training there in
the heat of August. About the third day after my arrival
there papers came from Washington that I was to be held for
assignment to the Counter Intelligence Corps. Papers that
I was to fill out. I wasn't sure I wanted to fill them
out, but after inquiring as to what the Counter Intelligence
Corps was all about...
I: Sounded like a good deal.
C: Well, it sounded at first as if I might be dropped behind
the enemy lines. I wasn't particularly enthusiastic about
that. I thought someone might be overestimating my knowledge
of German and my fluency.
I: You began to rationalize quickly.
C: But after further inquiry I filled out the papers and I
applied for Officers Training School. That was approved,
but this Counter Intelligence Corps hold on my record pre-
vented anything from coming of that. So eventually after
spending the winter in Fort Riley helping with training aides
at regimental headquarters, about February all the inquiries
and their investigations had been completed and I was ordered
to go to report to Washington. There I spent about a year
in civilian clothes, out of uniform. We had a uniform with
non-descript, non-specific insignia, just U.S. on each side
of the collar.
I: Let's see, you did not have a commission then in those days.
C: No, no, I never did get a commission.
I: You're more or less a special...special category then. What
about your pay? Were you paid as an enlisted man or were
C: Paid as an enlisted man.
I: For all the work you did?
I: It seems curious.
C: Ah...we didn't...another agent and I...all of the agents,
there were perhaps a hundred, had an office in an old school
down in what is now "Foggy Bottom." Down near the present-
I: State Department.
C: ...State Department.
I: Was that OSS Headquarters in those days, I believe, along in
there, old "Foggy Bottom."
C: It could of...it could have been.
I: Wild Bill Donovan, did you have any contacts with him?
C: Well, that was farther over where CIA is still or were...
I: It's out at Langley, Virginia, now. They have their own huge
complex out there.
C: Well, they were...they were farther around on...on Virginia.
I: Now this was G-2, a part of the regular army. This wasn't
like as I say OSS, Office of Strategic Services. This was
a Counter Intelligence Branch of the army, that you were in.
C: That's right.
I: I see.
C: In other words, this is the Counter Intelligence Corps, a
separate organizational branch, if you wish, of the army,
which has a detachment at various levels with the Army
Headquarters, Corps Headquarters, Divisional Headquarters
throughout the army in wartime and I suppose the...perhaps
in peace time at least on the T/O, Table of Organizations.
I: I believe they're still called the CIC, right up to the present.
C: Oh, yes, I'm quite sure it is.
I: So now you went through Washington for a year at the school
there. Was this in what, general counter intelligence
work, and more or less geared towards the German or the
C: It was just general investigative work, personnel backgrounds.
I don't recall anything that you might say at Washington
would have...that I did, that would have had any...would
have been of any importance or significance with respect to
winning the war.
I: Yes. Which you don't recall anything, you never know.
C: You never know, but...
I: Mainly, just rather, in a routine type investigation?
C: Routine type of investigation; you investigate this indivi-
dual. I remember investigating one lieutenant who was
suspected of having communist connections and I thought we
got a pretty good bit of evidence pointing in that direction.
True to army procedures, the next thing we hear he's promoted
I: With Russia, of course, in those days as our ally, was there
less, what shall I say, conspiracy type attitudes as far as
the communists? Since Stalin was one of our friends in those
days, was the army or the government too concerned with the
communism as a subversive type thing?
C: I think there was considerable division and difference of
opinion, even then, as to the wisdom of our alliance with
Russia and as to the dependability of, the trustworthiness
of Stalin. There was a clique allegedly, at least, centered
around Mrs. Roosevelt, which was the intelligencia of the
C: Pro-Russian. I suppose some which came of Alger Hiss.
I: Could be.
C: His type centered around Joseph Raul, I believe and the
book store on Connecticut Avenue, as I recall. At least
there was a group, a chic clique, that it was the fashion-
able thing to be pro-Russian.
I: I see.
C: I think would be looked upon askance by many...there were
practical politicians, and certainly by most of the military
leaders. They certainly regarded Russia with suspicion.
I: Particularly as the war progressed, I imagine this suspicion
became even more evident.
C: Yes, and I think that was shared by England that this was a...
that Stalin was not a person that you could do business with,
that this was a marriage of convenience.
I: I imagine Churchill, particularly, as I recall was very
suspicious of Stalin's moves and...Roosevelt you wonder, you
know, you wonder whether he did realize that perhaps possibly
in the post-war years they would take a turn for the worse
as far as our relations with Russia.
C: I think my own opinion is that Roosevelt had a slightly or...
I would take out the word slightly...I think that Roosevelt
had a super ego. I think he was convinced that he could deal
I: They were two of a kind almost, you know, as far as ego.
C: That's possible.
I: Now, you mentioned one time that you were more or less a
companion to one of Roosevelt's German friends or an alien
that was in the country at the time, one of the intelligencia
perhaps. Tell me a little bit about that.
C: Yes, while I was stationed in Washington one of the assign-
ments that I did have that got me out of the city at least,
was to act as companion, I suppose I was a sentry, to report
if he decamped...
I: ...this man now was?
C: Ernst. E-R-N-S-T.
C: Hanfstangel. H-A-N-F-S-T-A-N-G-E-L.
I: I see.
C: He was an old acquaintance of President Roosevelt from his
days at Harvard.
I: I see.
C: When the war broke out he was in this country. He was a
very well educated, refined person. He played the piano
quite well. It was President Roosevelt's wish that he not
be treated as any alien, not like a routine enemy. But still
it was necessary that he not be allowed to run free.
I: Sort of a house arrest...
C: Yes. I'm not sure, he may have of...it may have even been
felt that it was not safe for a German national of such re-
known, one who was so well known at least, to be free to
move about in the country. In any event he was, as you sug-
gest, placed under house arrest and kept at General Marshall's
hunting lodge near Leesburg, Virginia, and I was assigned to
keep him company at this retreat.
I: It must have been a very delightful assignment.
C: It was, as we talked and played music and walked through
the fields and valleys of northern Virginia, for several
weeks, perhaps as much as two months, before arrangements
were made for him to be sent back to Europe.
I: I see. He went back to Europe during the war? He was...
was he an exchange perhaps?
C: No, I don't believe he was exchanged. It's possible that
he was...that arrangements were made for him to go to
Switzerland or to some other country. I'm not...don't recall
now...if I ever knew.
I: Did you lose contact with him after that?
C: Oh, yes.
I: Ships passing in the night type of thing.
I: When did you get to Europe now? Was the war over when you
got there or did you go earlier and do some counter-intelli-
gence work, or when was this now?
C: About March of 1944, a group of us who were stationed in
Washington were ordered to Baltimore to Camp Hallburge, the
CIC training camp and headquarters for a refresher course
of six weeks after which we were sent on by ship. I've
forgotten which one, whether it was the Il. de France or
what it was, big troop transport, we were sent to...
I: Queen Mary maybe?
C: I don't believe it was the Queen Mary. We were sent to
England. Landed at Liverpool, and were quartered near
Wolverhampton which is north of Birmingham. It was there,
incidently that...it was there that I was assigned to
General Patton's Third Army.
I: Counter Intelligence Corps?
C: I was, of course, counter-intelligence and was assigned to
the Counter Intelligence Corps of General Patton's Third
Army, which was not yet operational, but was in process of
formation or grouping.
I: This was in now, what '43, or...?
C: No, this was in '44.
C: About April of '44.
I: Before the invasion then.
C: Before the invasion, and it was here in...at Wolverhampton
incidently, at least one place that General Patton made his
celebrated speech that George Scott, that's his name, isn't
it, the movie actor?
I: George C. Scott, yes sir.
C: George C. Scott introduced his film...
I: Is that right?
C: ...of Patton whose famous...
I: Hell-raising, fire and brimstone type of thing.
C: Which I can assure you was...has been...cleaned up a bit
since the...Scott delivered the expurgated edition of Patton's
I: I was going to ask you if you saw the movie.
C: I saw the movie. Somewhere I believe I have the unexpurgated
edition of the speech.
I: I imagine Patton was some character. We could probably sit
here for hours just talking about him, even though you
probably....Did you ever meet Patton by chance?
C: No, not personally.
I: You were still a poor enlisted man in those days?
C: Oh, yes, that's the way I came out. I was put up for officer's
rank three times and something hindered it before I left Fort
Riley. I couldn't go to OCS because I was scheduled to go
to CIC. When I was with CIC in Washington I couldn't go to
OCS because I was scheduled to go overseas. Each time you
change service commands you had to start from scratch. After
I got overseas I was put up for commission, but it would have
necessitated then that instead of coming back to the states
after almost...well, after thirty-nine months in the army,
it would have necessitated that I agree to stay in the army
for another year or two years. So I decided to come home
rather than become an officer. It didn't mean that much to me.
I: That was quite a responsible job, to have been an enlisted
man throughout all this time, that's very curious.
C: I came out as Master Sergeant, which is the highest enlisted
I: That was something anyway.
I: Now you went in England with the Third Army. Did you remain
there until after the invasion?
C: Yes, we...one other man...we were split up into small groups
and one other agent and I were sent up to Lymington, which
is across the river from Southampton, and across the Solent
from the Isle of Wight. There was what is called a Hard,
a concrete pier extending out into the water where these
landing ships would come to load the soldiers who were to
take part in the invasion on D-Day. There were encampments
throughout the countryside and camouflaged throughout that
whole area there. All southern England was a vast encamp-
ment that we were in charge of security. We went into such
small encampments with two or three thousand soldiers, we
were to go in and inspect security arrangements around the
place and make talks to the soldiers concerning security
prior to D-Day.
I: You know, there's quite a story on operation "Overlord" that
the Germans knew beforehand almost to the day when the in-
vasion would take place, but the...I believe the ABWEHR, am
I pronouncing that correctly?
C: ABWEHR, yes.
I: ...knew almost, as I say, to the day when the invasion was
going to take place but there was some dispute over the loca-
tion, you know, whether it was at Cherbourg, I believe, or
Normandy. Did any of your counter-intelligence work gain
any knowledge as far as perhaps did the Germans know beforehand?
C: I have no knowledge.
I: You were probably not involved with that too much.
C: No, what may have been known or surmised at "SHAFE" at
Eisenhower's Headquarters, didn't trickle down to me.
I: Tech Sergeant or something there.
I: When did you actually get to Germany now? I guess you stayed
in England until the end of hostilities or did you get there?
C: Oh, no.
I: You were over there earlier.
C: No, D-Day on June sixth, I believe.
I: Yes, sir.
C: Meanwhile we regrouped and prepared to go into France the
last two days after receiving our instructions. We water-
proofed our vehicles, and on July 4 we...
I: Is this...this was after the...about a month after actual
I: Fourth of July.
I: I see.
C: Just approximately one month after D-Day on July 4, 1944.
We embarked, I believe from Plymouth, and went across with
our jeeps waterproofed. It was gray...
I: Typical English day, I guess?
C: Typical, misty English channel crossing, I suppose. Well,
I remember very calmly reading Don Marqui's "Archie and
Mahitable" during the crossing. If you've never read that,
I: I'm familiar with the book, but I haven't read it.
C: So, on the next day we landed, driving our jeeps the last
hundred yards or so onto the beach and landed near Saint
Mere Eglise, on the Cotentin Peninsula, which goes on up
I: I believe yesterday we left off when you were just arriving
in France with the Third Army, you were still in the CIC
and you had landed I believe at Cherbourg or someplace nearby
C: The peninsula south of Cherbourg at Saint Mere Eglise. After
spending approximately three weeks in the apple orchards there,
camped out, and learning French by buying apples and eggs
from the local peasants, the Third Army became operational
and we moved near St. Malo. From there to Rennes and from
there across France by way of Le Mans and Reims, Verdun,
Nancy, St. Avold and finally into Luxembourg before going on
I: What type of time period was this now? Was this a matter
of six months, or five months, or...I know Patton's army
moved rather quickly.
C: No, all this took place in a matter of about six weeks. We
I: July something.
C: July 4 or July 5. Became operational August the first and
by September we were all the way across France into Verdun
which is not far from the junction of France, Luxembourg,
I: I see. This was when Patton was running out of gas and
C: That's right.
I: I believe he was moving so quickly.
C: Right. I believe that we...I know I arrived in Verdun early
in September about the fourth or fifth of September, and I
believe the army took Verdun by the thirtieth of August, so
that's thirty days across the whole width of France. During
this time we were engaged in interrogating and disposing of
any persons caught by the army and to some extent turned over
to us by the French citizenry and to the French Resistance
organizations, the FFI, FFE in French, the snipers and parti-
sans. The army was moving so fast that we were concerned
chiefly with simply putting these people into camps, to
places where they were not in a position to cause any imped-
iment to the forward process of the American army.
I: During this quick advance, did you categorize many of the
prisoners if you discovered they would probably have a bit
of intelligence with them or in their mind; for instance,
some of the majors or the colonels, the officers? Did you
interrogate them in more depth or did you more or less just
put them all in an enclosure type thing and wait till some-
body else in the rear came up and began interrogating or...
in other words did you actually in the field...did you more
or less try to separate them?
C: Well, we were not in the field, there's a CIC detachment
with a division and with corps and I was with the army. We
either routinely established on the basis of information
given to us that the person was sufficiently suspicious
to be detained and if so, he was summarily transported to
the rear to an encampment, an enclosure.
I: French and German. French and German, I guess?
C: Yes, any suspected persons, any who were anti-American or
who were reported some, on the basis of true information
and reliable information and some on the basis of petty
jealousies, suspicions, and personal dislikes, and what not.
But we had no time to weed them out, as I say we were not...
we did not feel qualified to judge these local citizens; we
left them in the hands of the local authorities, the military
government, or the French civilian governments for ultimate
disposition, because they knew the people. They could better
evaluate evidence against them and make proper disposal.
We were simply interested in seeing to it that they were not
left to be an obstruction to the progress of the army or to
commit sabotage against the army.
I: I see.
C: After this slow-down when Patton was ordered to slow down
so that other elements of the army, particularly the British,
could catch up.
I: This brings a point...I know Patton had some trouble with
Montgomery. Did you, of course, in your position you didn't
come across too much of the higher command problems and so
forth, but did you hear of any actual out-and-out disagree-
ment between Patton and Montgomery or any of the British and
Americans? Was the relationship rather strained most of the
C: I was not privy to any such estrangement or...I don't doubt
but what it was there from reports that I've read...since
then. But after leaving Verdun the army headquarters moved
on to Nancy and one of the most interesting experiences I
had was working with Photo Intelligence and examining aerial
photographs of a segment, a sector rather, of the Siegfried
line stretching along the area in the vicinity of Sauerbruchen.
This German general who had been captured in southern France
had become very much disillusioned with Hitler and the
prospects for German victory.
I: You don't recall his name now?
C: I never was even told...
I: I see.
C: His son had been killed in southern France which made him
all the more eager or willing to cooperate with the Americans
so...he had planned this sector of the Siegfried line cover-
ing a stretch of about twenty miles over which he had rambled
as a boy, hunting, fishing. From these aerial photos he
marked out and told us the armament of every bunker and
pill-box in that sector of the Siegfried line, what type
of gun was...gun or guns were in there and its field of
fire, its range, and the thickness of the concrete and
everything that the artillery and the infantry would need
in order to knock it out and overrun this portion of the
I: That was strong intelligence. I'm sure everyone was tickled
to death to get hold of that.
C: This bit of information I presume was used later by General
Patch's Seventh Army since Patton's Third Army was diverted
northward during the Battle of the Bulge and during that
time I was in Luxembourg City for a bit over three months,
got shot at, got strafed twice on the way from Nancy to Lux-
embourg and had to hit the ditch. But in Luxembourg City I
was in charge of travel permits for the whole duchy of
I: Luxembourg remained neutral or was it occupied?
C: It had been occupied by the Germans and during our stay there
we were quartered in a hotel directly opposite the Palace of
the Grand Duchess. The Germans had a big piece of artillery,
a "Big Bertha," I suppose we might call it, in a railroad
tunnel, they let loose a few times every night with such
force that you could feel the ground shake each...
I: Each time the shell went over, I guess.
C: Yes, and there were numerous frightening incidents, shells
were falling in the city within...at a distance of no more
than a block and a half of two blocks from where we were
lodged on occasion.
I: That's strange they used Luxembourg City as a target because
there was probably hardly any military importance to the
city, was it, except perhaps a headquarters type of thing or...?
C: They were not really shelling with the idea of...
I: Just harassment or something.
C: Harassment. The theory at that time was that the Germans
were letting the Luxembourgers know that they were still
around. The Germans of course, hoped to march on to the
sea, to the North Sea through Belgium and to regain control
of Luxembourg. They dropped propaganda leaflets and they
dropped Nazi flags with Hitler's picture on them for the
Luxembourg populace to wave upon the return of the German
people. I have one of them at home yet, as a souvenir.
I: Is that right? How did the Luxembourgers feel about the
Germans? No doubt they're very nationalistic, you know,
in such a small duchy, like that. Was there much animosity,
I wonder, during the occupation or did they more or less
get along together fairly well?
C: They were like the French I think. They lived in peace
with the Germans while the Germans were there because they
had to. But when the Germans were gone, they began thumb-
ing their noses and were glad they were gone.
I: I see.
C: But there was a sizable...perhaps ten to fifteen percent
including some officials who were at least allegedly pro-
Nazi and that's one of the things that I had to watch out
for in screening travel permits. There was a local group
ready to take over the control, loyal to the allies, pre-
sumably already arranged from London, probably in radio
communication with London prior to our arrival just as in
France, particularly in Paris with General DeGaulle. And
so wherever we went there was this local group already
organized with the collaboration, ready to collaborate with
our military government officers and, as I said before, for
our information as to who was reliable and who should be
trusted...we went to, for clearance, to this local group,
and if they said the person was a good Luxembourger, was
not pro-German and he wanted to...his request was reason-
able then it was granted.
I: It seems like a very wise method, you know, to use the
cooperation of the locals, as against just moving in...
C: Because we certainly didn't know ourselves...
C: From Luxembourg with the taking of the Remargen Bridge, we
moved pellmell across Germany.
I: What were your first impressions when you crossed the Rhine?
What did you feel like...well, the war is over or did you...
was there any emotional feeling involved?
C: That it was rapidly approaching an end.
C: Went across the Pontoon Bridge across the Rhine and into
Frankfurt. I was in Frankfurt for about ten days trying to
separate the sheep from goats among the thousands upon
thousands of Russian forced laborers. They had swum to the
west ahead of the Russian Army and the roads and the towns
were choked with them.
I: I see. I can imagine that situation. What about the Frank-
furters themselves, were they...? What was the attitude
toward most of the American army, you know, as you went into
Germany? As always, I guess, of course, once the Wehrmacht
was out of the way the American army was more or less
accepted as, you know, inevitable...friendships probably
crept up, I imagine.
C: The Germans are a friendly people. The army, the Wehrmacht,
had departed. Frankfurt itself was a mass of rubble, you
could hard...bulldozers, tractors, something had gone through
to clear a path six feet wide from the...so that a jeep
could go from the area of the railroad station on out past
the I. G. Farben Company.
I: That was a war plant or a defense plant type set up, wasn't
C: That's a large chemical plant.
I: Chemical plant, that's right.
C: I'm not sure whether it was left undamaged intentionally or
not, as some alleged, but it was taken over by the Americans
later as Eisenhower's headquarters; a big, nice building.
I: Are most Germans in large cities like you think of New
Yorkers? Are they fairly closely knit? In other words,
are they rather proud to be from Frankfurt, or from Berlin,
or from Munich [Munchen]?
C: I think the Germans are very conscious of the fact that they
are Frankfurters, or Munichers [Muncheners], or Berliners
perhaps more so than most Americans are with a few exceptions.
I don't think Chicagoans or St. Louisians...
I: Gainesvillians or...
C: ...are particularly...
I: Feel any attachment.
C: ...proud of the fact. I don't think someone from Omaha, for
example, would feel anything approaching the national
patriotism, if...even if that...if Omaha were a nation. I
mean I don't think there was any great...
I: Identification or attachment.
C: ...identification and its great civic pride separating them
apart from the citizens of Oklahoma City, for example. Cer-
tainly, New Yorkers are a different lot and Bostonians are
a different lot, but comparable to Bostonians perhaps, people
from Hamburg or Munich are very much aware of their local
I: I see. That's interesting.
C: After leaving Frankfurt we made various stops across Germany,
until the war was over in May 1945, at which time I was in
Regensburg. The headquarters would soon be located at Bad
Tolz, south of Munich. An interesting thing happened while
I was there. I was detailed with one other agent to search
Heinrich Himmler's summer villa.
I: Himmler was assassinated, wasn't he, or was that Heydrich
I'm thinking of?
C: I believe Himmler committed suicide.
I: I know Goebbels, of course, did.
I: I wasn't sure about Himmler, I couldn't remember.
C: I believe Himmler was one of those who escaped during Nurem-
berg by taking poison.
I: I see. But Reinhardt, is it, H-E-Y-D-R-I-C-H, I think it is?
Heydrich was assassinated by Czech partisans, if I recall.
C: Yes, he annihilated the inhabitants of a Czech village out
of vengeance for the death of some German.
I: Now I believe that he was, in other words, he was assassinated
by these Czech partisans and the S.S. under Hitler's orders,
I want to say Leipzig or something like that, but anyway, a
Czech village was destroyed because Heydrich died, Reinhardt
C: Yes,...all right...
I: Two of a kind, Himmler and Heydrich, anyway.
C: That's quite possible. Himmler was head of the Gestapo. I
found numerous documents there and have turned them over to
persons engaged in research into the Nazi period. A bit later
I was sent to be in charge of interrogations of the couple
of thousand prisoners who had been arrested subsequent to
the termination of hostilities. They were lodged in a former
German work camp, a camp that the Germans had used for forced
laborers was now used to hold German prisoners, political
officials and leaders. Also members of the Gestapo who had
been caught to members of the S.S. elite guard. There were
farmers who were accused of having pitchforked American
aviators to death as they had parachuted to the earth.
I: That did happen.
C: So people of every description were there including at least
one V-2 rocket expert from Peenemunde up on the Baltic coast
who, after I had obtained paper and pencils of various colors,
came up with detailed drawings of the V-2 rocket, its design,
its electrical wiring, its whole make-up as well as the
organizational set-up at Peenemunde and the physical layout
of the plant.
I: Was Werner von Braun in this area or was he captured?
C: I really don't know. Werner von Braun was not a well-known
I: In those days.
C: ...at that time. He became well-known after he came to
America, and it could have even been Werner von Braun for
all I know. But I really don't think so. I had a choice
of staying longer and becoming an officer or coming back
to the States. I chose the latter course. I arrived back
in the States in November 1945, and was discharged, honor-
ably, of course, from Fort Dix, New Jersey. I came back to
Gainesville and was told it was too late to be added to the
faculty during the academic year of 1945-46, but was engaged
for the fall of 1946 to '47 by Dr. O. H. Hauptmann who was,
as previously mentioned, acting head of the Department of
Spanish and German. Having nothing better to do, and having
a bit of money saved up, I went back to Europe to see the
Europe which I had not seen, such as Paris, during the
war. And came back in the fall of 1946 to find that Dr.
Hauptmann had resigned and gone to Cornell College in Iowa
and that there was no longer a Department of Spanish and
German, but that there was a Division of Language and Litera-
ture with Dr. Lyons, Clifford P. Lyons, as chairman. He was
on leave of absence, I believe.
I: What brought this about now? Was this purely because Dr.
Hauptmann had resigned or was this an administrative change
C: No, I think this was an administrative change. I don't know
whose idea it was. I suppose someone thought it would be in
the interest of efficiency.
I: How did it affect the curriculum, in other words, the student
taking Spanish or German? It didn't affect his...the curric-
ulum, it was just from the administrative angle, more than
it was...it didn't affect the student body that much perhaps.
C: I really don't know that it affected the student and his
curriculum at all. It could be that this came about simul-
taneously with the introduction of the University College.
I: I see.
C: I'm not sure of the date when the University College was.
I: Nor am I, but that sounds very reasonable, that could very
well be the...
C: In any event, the listing of the faculty of the Division of
Language and Literature in the catalogue for 1945 lists no
more than a dozen names for English, French, Spanish, Latin,
Greek, German, everything together.
I: Quite a bit of overlapping, in other words, one professor
C: No, there was very little overlapping.
I: Very little.
C: There were just that few people. There were two people in
French, Dr. Atkin and Dr. Brunet. There were two in German,
Dr. Hauptmann and Dr. Jones, when I came back, and after I
came back there was Dr. Jones and myself.
I: This was the Dr. Jones who you mentioned earlier?
I: The same.
C: That is in 1946. More came in rapid succession, as we'll
see. There was perhaps one in Latin and Greek together, and
there [were] perhaps seven in English.
I: In other words, English and the foreign languages were lumped
under this one departmental head of Literature and Languages?
I: In those days.
C: There was this Division of Language and Literature that was
supervised by an executive committee representing English
with Dr. Charles Archibald Robertson, whom we all know fondly
as "Archie." Representing French was Dr. Ernest G. Atkin,
and representing German was Oscar F. Jones, as of fall of
1946. So there was an executive committee of three who
transacted the business and approved action to be taken in
the name of the division or approved projects to be presented
to the dean and authorities higher up.
I: I see. In other words, if someone in French wanted to hire
a new instructor, he would present his case before the execu-
tive committee. Then the committee would go ahead with it
or could they squelch it right there or did it have to have
more or less a majority approval? How did it work?
C: I think...I really don't know. I did not attend meetings
of the executive committee since I was not a member of it.
An executive committee of three would tend to be rather in-
formal I should think, and a faculty group consisting of
only a dozen or so, certainly no more than fifteen, is not
unwieldy at all.
C: Everyone knows everyone else and these people were acquainted
with the problems, and if there was no need for a new French
instructor certainly there wouldn't be one hired. Certainly
the budget wouldn't have stood the additional drain. The
same thing went for books. There was one budget for this
division then and the pie had to be cut equitably based on
staff and enrollment, and foreseeable needs. I mean if we
were giving master's degrees in French and German and a
doctorate in English, certainly English justifiably got a
larger portion of the funds to be distributed than did French,
Spanish, and German.
I: We had the master's in French and German by this time but
there's still no Ph.D. degree is there in German, or is there?
C: It has been approved, a new Ph.D. program was approved this
past year lumping together German with French and Spanish
into a doctorate of Modern Languages.
I: I see.
C: We have already a couple students who are actually at work.
I: On the doctorate?
C: ...on the doctorate. Yes.
I: I see. This lasted until how long now, this particular
set-up, this Language and Literature department?
C: I would say that this lasted until about 1950. It was of
a fairly short duration. Immediately after the war, the
enrollment at the University sky-rocketed and we were hard
put to get instructors in German. The returning G.I.s who
had some acquaintance with German were eager to take more
of the language and I'd say that by 1947 we probably had
without having made any check on it, we probably had five
people teaching German instead of two. Even in 1946, when
I came back, a rush order had to be sent to Stanford to
get an additional instructor and a young Icelander named
Walter Jonosen came, but his wife didn't like Florida.
They lived at Keystone Heights and they left after one year.
I: So German was the most popular language it seems like.
I: Following the war I guess, as you say the veterans returning.
C: We had a retired professor from the University of Utah, a
Dr. W. T. Runtsler, and we had a retired professor from
Vanderbilt, Dr. George P. Jackson who were here. We had a
man named Joseph Rysan, who went on to become head of the
Department of German at Vanderbilt. We had a man named
George Tenhore from Holland, Michigan, who had a degree in
German from the University of Chicago, a Dutchman.
I: Was the University on the semester system in those days?
C: Oh, yes.
I: What were the requirements for the B.A. degree as far as the
language? If you recall.
C: I have tried to puzzle it out sometimes from the records of
students who graduated with majors in German up to about ten
years ago and it would appear that it was eighteen semester
hours above German 202.
I: This is for the major in German?
C: Yes, in other words, it would be equivalent to twenty-seven
quarter hours. Now we require thirty-six quarter hours
plus a subsidiary requirement of German 512, the History of
the German Language, or German 555, which is Middle High
I: I see. When did you have time there to work on your disser-
tation then about this time? Wasn't it around '50, '51 there?
C: In 1949 we had a celebration of the two hundredth anniversary
of the birth of Johann Wolfgang von Goeth, the most celebrated
German poet here at the University and the speaker was Dr.
Ernst Feise of Johns Hopkins University.
I: Do you have that name down?
C: Yes, I do.
I: All right, sir.
C: I became acquainted with him and he interested me in contin-
uing my graduate studies at Johns Hopkins so that I obtained
leave of absence in the fall of 1950 and went to Johns Hopkins
and studied there with him and Dr. Arno Schirokauer, whose
specialty was in linguistics. Then a year after that, after
taking course work there for the 1950-51 academic year, I
came back and wrote my dissertation and took the examinations
and received the doctorate from Hopkins in June 1952.
I: I see. Now you've received your Ph.D. in '52 from Hopkins
and you came back here now as an instructor or assistant pro-
C: I'd been instructor throughout my employment at the University,
but was immediately given tenure upon receiving my degree and
promoted to assistant professor in 1952.
I: What course load or did you have in these days? I know you
mentioned earlier fifteen hours. Did you still have that many?
C: Fifteen hours was a maximum that was imposed upon us all
regardless of rank. If there was a need, of course, those in
the lower ranks were called upon to take a heavier load
than those in the higher ranks if it didn't work out 100%
equitably. But I would say that whether an assistant
professor or professorial rank, twelve hours was a normal
I: Which is, I believe, the requirement today. Isn't it, I
believe, twelve hours at least?
C: It could well be.
I: I believe it is.
C: In my own case things have been greatly relaxed over the
years as I approach retirement.
I: Yes, I think there are stipulations, you know, various
ranks of age or something, [for which] of course, this
twelve hour requisite is changed or altered.
C: I taught, as all of us taught, beginning German, first and
second year work, because that's what the work of the Ger-
man Department consists of chiefly. I also taught on
occasion a course at the 300-level, German Civilization.
I taught on occasion German Composition. I taught on occa-
sion a 500-level course, the Aufkla Rung and the Sturm
und Drang; that is, the period from about 1768 to about
1780, including the younger days of both Goethe and Schiller.
I: I caught the second term but the first term was what, sir?
C: Aufkla, A-U-F-K-L-A, Rung, R-U-N-G.
I; Right, so you had rather a spread of classes there, all the
way from beginning German to a 500-level composition or
literature type course.
C: Yes, that latter course was the course that was in my field
of graduate study which as I may have mentioned dealt with
Goethe's criticism of Klopstock and the Goettinger
I: Yes sir, you did.
C: So on occasion even though I was a low man on the totem pole
in rank and otherwise...
I: Were there that many Ph.D.s here?
C: Oh, yes. The situation became such that without a Ph.D.
you simply did not get tenure and without a Ph.D. your
employment was terminated.
I: Even in '51, and '52 and '53?
C: It would have been.
I: Twenty years ago.
C: If I had not gone on to Hopkins and got the degree, I doubt-
less would have received notice in a year or two that I
could look elsewhere.
I: I see. That's interesting. I would have said this was some-
thing in the early sixties, you know, that was beginning to
be a requirement.
C: No, it was policy and it had become policy in the College
of Arts and Sciences by that time that wherever humanly
possible new appointments were given only to those with a
doctorate, and those who were already here should get the
doctorate unless they were already so...
I: Far advanced.
C: ...far advanced in age and rank that...
I: That they had tenure many years ago.
C: Like Phil Constan e, head of the Speech Department. They
didn't insist upon him getting a doctorate. Dean Little
also had no doctorate.
I: You mentioned earlier that you don't think students changed
too much over the years, you know, the caliber of student.
They're either conscientious or they could care less and so
forth, and there are a lot of in-between types. The veteran
probably, no doubt, was rather a conscientious type student,
at least for the most part. Did you notice a change after
the war in some of the students that you had in your classes?
C: Oh yes, they were older and more mature. They hit the books
more assiduously and...
I: Realized the importance of an education?
C: Yes, they were eager to get the degree and whether German
was being taken simply as a language requirement was because
they had had some exposure to it in Germany and they wished
to know more about it. For whatever reason they were willing
to work and did work and it was refreshing and a pleasure
to teach them.
I: Has this assiduous attitude gone out by now or do you still
see more or less this same attitude? In other words, did
you see a stage when more or less this reached it's optimum
and then it slipped back down into mediocrity? Do you
think on the average the student is, besides the language
requirement as such, still rather very conscientious as
far as languages, foreign languages?
C: I think students today generally are very intelligent and
capable. Many of them don't have to work as hard as some
seem to in previous generations. The thing that I would
object to today is this pass-fail option.
I: I see.
C: That as soon as they know they don't have to work, as soon
as they are contented with an "S."
I: Or a "P" or whatever.
C: It's an "S" or a "U."
I: I've never had a pass/fail course, and I was assuming it
was a "P" or a "F."
C: Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory.
I: I see.
C: As soon as they...it doesn't make any difference whether they
get an A, B, or a C, it still comes out as an "S."
I: I see.
C: Then there's no...
C: ...incentive to work harder. If you get a class of twenty-
five students, of whom fifteen are taking the course pass/
fail, then those who are taking it pass/fail come unprepared.
You can't get any response out of the students, you might
as well just be talking to the wall.
I: They more or less are hoping they'll come through on the
test and that's all they're really interested in.
C: That's right.
I: As far as the work.
C: Other than that and again you can get a good class, you
can have a bad class in the same course, at the same
level, same subject matter, same days. You can have two
different sections. One extremely bright, responsive, the
other section, lackadaisical and uninteresting.
I: Do you foresee anytime in the near future, for instance,...
you know, many schools nowadays are doing away with the
language requirement as far as for the degree. I know some
of the big Ivy League schools have done away with it and
it's left completely up to the department, for instance, the
history department or the English [department] or whatever.
What do you think about here at the University of Florida,
you know, of course, it's still required for the bachelor's
to have the foreign language. I think it's fifteen quarter
hours, I believe, isn't it?
C: Yes, it was eighteen quarter hours up until oh, two or
three years ago, and it was reduced to fifteen hours as a
result of some hue and cry to...
I: Um, hum. Lower it some.
C: To lower the proportion of the student's work...a proportion
of the student's total number of hours that is devoted to
foreign language. I don't doubt really but what the day
will come, perhaps ten, fifteen years from now when the
foreign language requirement as it is presently constituted
will be done away with.
I: Done away with?
C: That's my own...that would be my prediction. There has
been whether you know it or not, over the past several
years, the past ten years, there has been...a repeated
demand from certain quarters that the foreign language
requirement be done away with here at the University of
Florida. Someday they will carry this...they will get
the majority vote in the College of Arts and Sciences
I: I know for instance in the [College of] Journalism, I be-
lieve there's no language requirement.
C: No. There's none in various colleges, none in Education,
none in Nursing, none in Engineering.
I: Except on the graduate level, I guess, in Engineering
then I believe there is. Of course, the Graduate School
requires the language.
C: That's possible...yes...possible...yes.
I: Which makes it even more difficult, I guess, for the student.
C: But the way this is administered for the graduate students
is certainly less than ideal.
I: I see.
C: It's done on a percentile basis. I don't know how true it
is, but a student was telling me a month ago, that he knew
of a graduate student here who had taken the examination and
scored forty-nine percentile. Fifty percentile is what is
required to pass, at present at least. The percentile re-
quired has been gradually increased over the years. The
last I heard was fifty. In any event, this student had
allegedly scored at the forty-nine percentile rating. He
took it over again and got only two percentile. I find
that most difficult to believe. But still...the way such
things are scored and taking into account the fact that if
everybody takes this examination every time, then sooner or
later everybody's going to pass, whether he knows anything
I: Right. I know cases like that also.
C: If nobody knows any German, and everybody takes it, fifty
I: That's true.
C: Then eventually everybody passes, except that there's an
infinitesimal fraction presumably that passes into the
grade beyond without passing.
I: What do you suggest as an alternative perhaps for this test?
There's some controversy on its validity anyway, as you are
saying. It seems to be in some quarters almost a racket,
you know, this Princeton test. They have the GRE test, of
course, and they have the foreign language test. They seem
to be more or less just living off the blood of students,
so to speak, that are trying to pass this thing, and as you
say you could pass it with just a mediocre knowledge of
German if you take it long enough. Is there any suggestion
you might have? Should the school be responsible for,
you know, getting the student through or should they not
rely on this particular test as much as they do? It seems
to be an either-or type situation.
C: I feel that in most fields what is published in foreign
languages is summarized in English. Briefs are published.
Extracts of chemical articles are published in English.
If need be the entire article can be translated presumably
by a person adequately capable in the field. I mean if the
article deals with some aspect of organic chemistry that
the person would not be totally ignorant of organic chemistry
and could come up with a...
I: Some knowledge of the...
C: ...a great facility would be.... Shall we say an expert in
German, first of all, would have enough common sense and
know his way around in the field of science and organic
chemistry, for example, to come up with a meaningful trans-
lation and if it didn't mean it.... If it were not intel-
ligent, the customer, the one who ordered the translation,
could send it back and ask for a better interpretation of
these few lines; could it be this, that, or the other thing
instead of the way it was rendered. But ordinarily, a person
needing a translation should be able to get a translation
of any article he needs in a reasonably short time from
the translation service or from persons on University cam-
pus. I've done numerous translations of that sort myself
in various fields here.
I: So in other words, except for the pure discipline the lan-
guage gives you as a student, you know, the study of a
foreign language plus as part of the philosophy of education,
foreign languages are probably not as necessary to the
C: It's good to know a foreign language. It's good for all of
us not to be so ignorant about other languages, other
nations, their people, their government, their ways of living,
their countries, their money and banking, geography, every
aspect of their lives, all parts of the world. As general
information. But for utilitarian value, I'd say knowledge
of a foreign language is not necessary; from a cultural
standpoint it's beneficial, desirable. Even in the Watergate
testimony yesterday, one of the announcers, T.V. announcers,
was saying that Mr. Herbert Kalmback [bach] didn't like to
be called Kalmback [bach]. I started to send him a telegram
to tell him, he didn't study enough German.
I: German, right.
C: He didn't know why.
I: Like calling Bach, Back.
C: From a strictly utilitarian point of view it's not necessary.
From a cultural, a personally satisfying point of view it's...
I: It's part of it.
C: ...it could be very useful. It's better to be able to read
the article in the original yourself, than to have it trans-
lated. When I took the reading examination in French at
Hopkins, I was asked to read a selection from a literary
history, a history of German literature written in French
and asked to read a couple of pages at sight and was ques-
tioned concerning the contents after reading at sight in
five minutes. That's the way it should be done. That's
what a reading knowledge really consists of, and to stumble
over a German text with a dictionary and come up with some-
thing you call a translation an hour or two hours later
that's shot through with mistakes, I don't see that that's
of any value. Or to come up with a translation, Lord knows
how good or how bad, that merits...that rates fifty per-
centile nationally, who's to say whether it represents any-
thing or not.
I: That's getting back to that test. That's interesting.
You've been here now about thirty-five years, have you re-
tired in June of this year?
C: Yes, retired...
I: Officially retired?
C: Officially retired at the end of June.
I: Is there anything you'd like to add to the interview that
perhaps we haven't mentioned? Of course, there's so much,
that you know, we could talk about over the years.
C: I was promoted--a bit late, I feel--effective July first.
I'm not sure whether that's the official date of retirement
or the day after, but I was promoted to associate professor
and made an emeritus for which I am grateful.
I: Will you be staying in Gainesville or going back to Washington?
C: Yes, I have my home, I'm staying on at least one year as a
consultant, so-called...supposed to work five hundred hours.
I'll continue to do the other things in the department that
I have been doing the last few years.
I: I guess with this new doctorate program coming up, Ph.D. in
Modern Languages, you'll be called upon to add comments and
suggestions and so forth. Do you wish they had had this
earlier? In other words, do you miss, do you think you will
miss, I should say, not being able to work with a doctoral
student, to any extent, or have you been pretty much satis-
fied with the curriculum you've been teaching over the years?
C: I've been satisfied with what we've been teaching. I am
afraid I do not share the enthusiasm of some people for spend-
ing the money of the taxpayers of the State of Florida to
turn out Ph.D.s in German. I just don't see that there's
that much need for Ph.D.s in German in the State of Florida.
German is not taught to any great extent in the high schools
of the state, more so now than in the past. I believe there
are now some thirty-two high schools in the state, particu-
larly on the lower east coast, in which German is taught,
and in some with considerable success and enthusiasm. Some
of the teachers that I know of are not really well-prepared
in German in the high schools.
I: They have the credentials but they don't really have the
C: Well, they were education majors and had eighteen hours or
so of German with "C." I know one in particular who never
got as high as a "B" in any German course she ever took
here and she's teaching German. I won't say where.
I: That could be one problem with why many students dislike a
language, you know, by the time they get to college. It's
just like mathematics, I think, if you don't have a good
math teacher when you're young, you're more or less turned
sour against it, I think your whole career.
C: Yes, your taste for it, whatever interest or enthusiasm you
may have had for it initially has been killed before you
ever got here. And so many of the students that we get
coming from junior colleges and high schools...the students
admit that they sat there and did nothing. That they were
given the book and told to read this book. Whether they
did or not, the teacher either was not capable of knowing,
of ascertaining what the student accomplished, or didn't
care. The student passed and was given a grade of "A" or
"B" and comes here and has credit for one, two, three
years of high school, junior college German and we give
them a placement test and they score about six. They place
...in...when twenty-four, we'll say, is the minimum score
to go into the second quarter of work. They show they
could guess and get six right. They don't know anything.
I had a story of what happened at one of the junior colleges
not too far from here. A student came with two years credit
in German. In the first year they had a textbook with
twenty-three lessons in it. In the first year they covered
seven lessons and didn't learn anything. So the teacher in
the second year, upon learning that the students didn't know
anything proceeded to start at the beginning and covered
the same seven lessons in the second year. The students
have credit for two years of German at this junior college
and still don't know anything when they get here, and that
fouls up their records.
I: I can imagine. The placement test is a very good idea then.
It's almost a mandatory type thing you all have to use...
I: ...you could more or less categorize the students when they
get here. You can't go by their transcripts at all I guess
C: Oh, no, the transcript doesn't mean anything...doesn't
represent any knowledge. In 1966 I suffered a heart attack
and the chairman of the department was very considerate, in
fact everyone in the way of assignment of work, so that
since that time I haven't done as much teaching. I've taught
German 602 and 603 chiefly with occasionally a beginners'
course, but in the last couple years hardly anything but
this course for the graduate students to develop their read-
ing knowledge. I also served as undergraduate counselor
and I have a good effective system for keeping track of
their records as well as all the files concerning the
graduate student's records. Before we conclude I would like
to mention a couple of my colleagues. Dr. Melvin E. Valk,
who has been here all these years, coming in 1947 from the
University of Alabama and who has as his special field of
interest, medieval German language and literature. Dr. Max
0. Mauderli who came in 1948 from the University of Pennsyl-
vania after having received his doctorate there. Dr. Valk
was educated in Germany, in Hamburg, and Dr. Mauderli is a
native Swiss. Over the years these two gentlemen together
with Dr. Jones and I have formed the nucleus of the German
Department with hardly any noticeable comings or goings
until 1970, when Dr. Jones passed away. Dr. Joseph Brunet
became head of the Department of Foreign Languages in 1950
and was succeeded in 1962 by Dr. Wayne Connor who is still
chairman of the Department of Romance Languages here at the
University. German and Russian which had been introduced
meanwhile remained a part of Dr. Connors' department until
1968 when the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages
and Literature was formed with Dr. Krispyn, a native Austral-
ian who has his degree from the University of Pennsylvania
came as chairman. He had been here one year previously and
had returned to Pennsylvania and is now a Research Professor
at the University of Georgia. Last year after Dr. Krispyn's
departure the chairmanship was assumed by Dr. Christian
Gellinek, a native German. I think that brings us up to
date personnel-wise. The enrollment has burgeoned tremen-
dously; we have seven or eight sections of beginning German.
We now, instead of an occasional graduate student, we have
regularly six to eight working on their master's and as men-
tioned we have already two, I believe, who are in progress
towards a doctorate.
I: Dr. Craps, you've had a very interesting career, and I'd
like to thank you for this opportunity to speak with you.
It's been two days here, we've been sitting and talking.
I know you're looking forward to your retirement. You say
you're going to remain in Gainesville. You know I never
did ask you, are you married?
C: No, I am not.
I: A bachelor from way back then. So thank you again and all
the best in your retirement, and I'm sure we'll be seeing
C: Thank you very much.
I: Yes, sir.
C: Enjoyed it.
I: Thank you.