William K. Ross

THE LIFE STORY OF WILLIAM K. ROSS TRANSCRIPT TAPE 1, SIDE I I’m William K. Ross, I was born September 14, 1910 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. At least that is what the records show. I mean I don’t recall it. I had a mother a father and one brother who was almost 10 when I was born. He wasn’t much of a factor in my life until much later because I looked on him as another adult. My parents had purchased a new house a year before I was born. We were almost at the extremity of Harrisburg at that time. Which of course is no longer the case as the town has grown or expanded. I remember as a youngster they use to quarantine the houses when you had an illness like chicken pox, whooping cough, scarlet fever, mumps, measles. It seemed to me that I had them all and then some because there was always a quarantine on the front of our door. They were quit strict about that and the health officer had to come around and look the patient over before the quarantine was released. Even if the doctor, his personal physician, had recommended it. I had quit a few visits from the doctor who incidentally was my uncle. He was married to my mother’s older sister. He use to arrive in a horse drawn carriage. Later on of course he had automobiles. I remember my father worked in a store that sold motorcycles, Indian motorcycles, and electrical fixtures. He was the store manager and the owner of the store was a licensed electrician. He was mostly away from the plant installing electrical work in various projects, house, factories and so forth. My father was really the boss of the operation as far as sales and promotional concerns. I would, later on as I grew up and got older, go over there. He would give me task to do for which I would get small pay. Which was mighty big in those days because 25 cents was a lot of money. Probably a nickel an hour. May not seem to be anything today but it was very fortunate to me at that time. All women in those days were housewifes and very few of them worked. Other than school teaching and possibly nursing there was very little for women. Even the men, my father was an accomplished typist, had gone to business school. Unfortunately my mother became ill when I was about six years of age. I recall the first indication of it was after she went to the market, as was her custom, to a simple market place. You would take a streetcar from our house to go to the marketplace. The marketplace stretched for three city blocks. The farmers each had a stall that they rented. This was in place of chain stores, which we have today, where you can get fresh produce. My mother came to know most of the people from whom she bought. They really became friends to her. They were country folks and she got along very well with them. I know this from the few times that I accompanied her to the market. They got to know me of course. They called me by name and made a bit of a fuss over a kid. They probably gave me an apple or something else to eat like a cookie. This particular morning she came back from the 2 market. It was before Christmas. It was a wet day and she came into the house. She was chilled to the bone. She was shaking all over. We called my uncle and of course he put her to bed. From that time on, she never recovered completely, she went downhill. My uncle said she had tuberculosis of the glands. She was put in the Harrisburg Hospital many times for operations over a period of years. Finally, when I was 10 the tuberculosis took over and she died. That made quite a drastic change in my life. It was then that I realized that my father was an alcoholic. That was the first realization of that. He had always been. He curtailed himself during the time that my mother was ill. He drank only in moderation. How he did that I do not know, because he was not that kind of a drinker. He either drank or he was sober. He would have long periods of sobriety and long periods of when he was drunk. When he was drunk he was drunk and he concentrated on drinking. He had an inheritance so that he was never impoverished. Naturally when a man drops out of work for three, four, five months at a time and doesn’t do anything but drink… A lot of the times he wouldn’t even be home. My mother’s younger sister who was crippled, I believe with infantile paralyses, when she was a child. In spite of her disabilities she could do and enormous amount of work. She ran the house for us. Coupled with that, we had a colored women, which was the custom of that day, come in and do the weekly washing. We had another colored women who came in to 3 do other work. Sometime, when my mother was really sick, we had a full time housekeeper. She was a white women who was very nice. When my mother died it was no longer necessary, for that sort of thing, so my aunt took over. My aunt, because of her illness in childhood, had a limited education. She had a great practical education. She was literate. She could write and she was excellent with figures. But as far as formal schooling was concerned she had had very little. They didn’t send children to school in those days when they were severely ill. I knew one Grandparent. I knew my father’s father. My Grandfather was raised on a farm in Burks County, Pennsylvania. It is in the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch county. However, he was Scotch Irish. He apparently didn’t like the farm life. When he was a young boy he came to Harrisburg. He got a job with the Pennsylvania Railroad. He worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad the rest of his life. Prior to his retirement he was a conductor on a crack train from Harrisburg to Philadelphia and New York City. I remember him. He died when I was about 7 years old. His wife had died long before I was born. Somewhere around 1898. I didn’t know my grandmother. He was re married. I called the woman Aunt Anna. I didn’t call her Grandmother. I had very little contact with her although I do recall my Grandfather pleasantly. Incidentally my name is the same as his. I was named after him. I went to a private school for kindergarten. Then they 4 sent me to first grade. Ms. Barington’s kindergarten and then grade school. It was then that I became ill with one of the quarantine illness. Scarlet fever or something like that and I missed a good bit of school. I really thought, and my uncle the doctor thought … I was quite weak. He recommended that I not go back to school that year. So my mother taught me. Even though she was ill, at that time and going downhill, she was well enough to teach me. I guess I was an apt student or else she was a strict teacher. The next fall at the age of 7 I went to grade school. They were going to put me in the 2nd grade but I ended up in the 3rd grade. The top of the 3rd grade which meant mid year graduation. So I was in the upper half of the 3rd grade at the age of 7. This put me at an social disadvantage right away. I was 7 and the kids there were 9 and 10. I didn’t have too much trouble keeping up scholastically. My mother was still at home and still alive. She saw that I kept up with my work. After she died it was a different story. The aunt who looked after me had not had any formal schooling. She certainly was not illiterate. She was a wonderful women. The little education that she had her parents had taught her because she was ill. She also lacked the social skills which come to someone who had gone to formal school. She couldn’t understand why children didn’t act more like adults then they did. This sort of escaped her. She never could figure that out, although she loved children. When my dad was sober he was an excellent person. He 5 would be sober for periods of six months, eight months. Something would happen and he would just go off the end. I said we never had any problems with money because his father had left him a row of rental properties. Even as a kid I could go up and collect rent for those. We always had money. He never never once, when he did sober up, ask me for an accounting. Finally he lost the job … at the motorcycle electrical place. He then took a job as a salesman. He could sell most anything. As different things developed, like the vacuum cleaner, he sold them. When window stripping came along he sold that. He sometimes worked as a car salesman. He would be separate from them when he would go off the deep end and go on a binge. When he would come back he wouldn’t touch liquor. He would condemn everyone who would drank it. He would go to church. Although he wasn’t too active with church work he was a conscientious attendant at church when he was sober. Then he insisted that I go. When he was sober he was a good parent. My mother was a Lutheran, my father wasn’t. He joined the Lutheran Church when they were married. I became active, as I got along, in church work. I went on and got through grade school. I went into junior high. Junior high was three years at that time. I liked Junior high because we had a football team and all the major sport teams. I was at a disadvantage, age wise, to participate on those teams. I loved to go to watch and I supported the teams. My father never encouraged me to get 6 into any sports. I would have loved to have participated but I could tell that I just wasn’t big enough to play with the other boys. My father would come off a binge and pick up a new product. He would make a terrific amount of money in a very short time. He was an excellent salesman. He could sense a product on the market and knew that it was going to be hot. He got in on the ground floor. In those days all those guys were commissioned. When he was selling vacuum cleaners $50.00 a week was excellent pay for a man. He would go out and make $50.00 in the morning and was through for the day. He could make a tremendous amount of money in a very short period. of course those figures don’t mean anything today. Although the Principal at Harrisburg Technical High was not my uncle I called him Uncle Charlie. He was the brother of the Doctor who was married to my mother’s older sister. I knew him as Uncle Charlie. At social events and at Christmas time and things like that, where I would see him, I would always address him as Uncle Charlie as my Uncle’s children all called him Uncle Charlie. The high school was in downtown Harrisburg. Right in the center of Harrisburg, beyond the capital buildings, about three blocks back from the river. We had an annex that was up on State Street. This was the principal street leading from the river up to the capital building. A very impressive street. We had an auxiliary building up there where the first year students in high school use to take their morning classes. Then they 7 ..d h@@ld .@d @h. f Ih. @@l h@ @@l@d “k@ f h, i. 1924 1925. f@.@ hi,h 1927. @ did .., fl ‘h@ @@h.@l, hilh @l. .11 h.,. h..@, Ih@ @il, b@ill I.. .@. ,@, hi,h .@h..I.. @.d@ f Ih. @il,. Ih@ hill i@h. @h. ..@ @ @@, .. h@,@ @.d .1 Ih@ @ill @@d il @.@ 1,@, h.d ilh 1. Ih@ …. i@, f ‘h@l, h@d 11 I.d f Ih@ ilh .1 Ih@ Ih.1 .1 Ih@ b.il..,.” @i,h Ih@ .1@l, @ilh ,h, 1. d@.1h. @., @ Ihi. li@, Ih.@ i. hi@l 8 social affairs. The affairs were not held in the schools. Even in the new schools that were built with the facilities for such dances. We would rent dance halls right in the center of Harrisburg or go out in the parks in the springtime. We would engage our own bands. We would select chaperons from the facility to attend the dances. We had almost, with all the fraternities and other organizations that sponsored dances and social events, a weekly affair on Friday nights in the center of town. We really had two chapters of the fraternity. We were split up. Some of the fellows in our fraternity had gone to the John Harris High School and others, like myself, had gone to William Penn. There were quite a few members. Pre college was my curriculum. I was 16 years of age and a senior in high school. I no longer lived with my father. I lived with several relatives. My aunt had left my father. I left him too. It is fairly vague when you are moved around like that, from relative to relative. Your not wanted so much. I was not a financial drain on them because I still had enough money to pay for my clothes and that. Ultimately I ended up living with a women from church who was head of the Luther League. She was a sponsor of the Luther League. I was impressed. All through high school I had belonged to the league. My brother then had gone to the University of Pennsylvania in 1917 or 1918. 1 remember my mother, father and I all went down to the university. I remember my mother 9 putting curtains up in his dormitory room. My brother was a scholar. He was an intellectual and I was not. He did alright in his freshman year. See, at this time movies were just beginning to reach there expansion period. He became interested in the technical end of acting. In his sophomore year he got himself in trouble at the university because he was to interested. He spent too much of his time in movie theaters. At the end of his sophomore year they sent him home. They told him not to come back. Well, this almost broke my mother’s heart. She doted on him because he was an intellectual. He had done so well in school. I did well when she was alive but after she died I did not do well. Then my brother went to Gettysburg. He finished college at Gettysburg. He was offered a job as an instructor of English and at the same time he could work on a masters degree. He did this for I year. He came home and told my father that he was not going back. He was going to work at a local newspaper, The Patriot News. He had worked there for 3 or 4 summers. He may have even worked there during high school. He went to work for the paper. About that time I was graduating from high school. He decided that something should be done about my father and that something should be done about my education. He got a lawyer, a friend of the family, to see what could be done. He had my father committed to an institution to see if they could sober him up. The house in which I was born was in my mother’s name. I guess she had bought it herself with her inheritance. Mother died intestate. The house was awarded to my father, brother and myself. We each got a third. My father was not about to send me to college after my brother flunked out of the University of Pennsylvania. He figured that my brother was the smarter of the two. My brother arranged that I become a ward of the bank. The bank would administer or advance me enough money to go through Gettysburg College. This was only about $800 a year. It was agreed that I would borrow about $3600 and I paid in advance for the loan. This was fine. The house at the time was valued at $18,000 so my share was estimated to be about $6,000. Meanwhile, after I graduated from high school, I went out and got myself a job with the Penn Tell Light Company. This was only a temporary job. They sent me down to Stilton, Pa. They were in the process of taking over the little power company down in Stilton. The man who hired me like me. He kept me on that job for about a week. Then he called me back to Harrisburg. He said, “Say, there is an opening upstairs in the payroll department. Would you like that?” I said, “Yes I sure would.” He said he was going to recommend me for the position and would get somebody else to do the temporary work. I knew by this time that I was going to go to college in the fall. I was not about to tell them this as February to September was a long time and $20 a week was a lot of money. That was as much as my brother was making as a reporter over at the Patriot News with all of his experience. They were going to pay me $20 a week to be an assistant II payroll clerk. I got settled in and my job was to pick up the time sheets from all of the linemen and from all of the different tradesmen that worked for the company. I would post them daily and keep a record of their hours. At the end of the week I would total it up and figure out their pay. There were no deductions in a man’s pay. I liked this work. I always liked to work with figures. It gave me an education on what people were being paid. We had the pay records of everyone. The chairman’s pay right on down to the lowest job in the company. Looking back I am amazed at what they earned. The chairman earned $10,000 and the next two earned $5,000 each. The big boss of accounting earned $3600 a year. The linemen there were first class, second class and third class linemen. Third class linemen probably made $16 per week for 40 hours work. The second class linemen probably made $24 a week. The first class linemen probably made $30 a week. They were rather disappointed when I told them, oh around September Ist, that I was going to quit and go to college. Maybe that was a mistake I don’t know. I went to college and in my junior year the depression set in. I had started in the fall of 1927. The bank, at the end of my junior year, said, “No more money. We can’t advance you anymore money.” So, I had to scramble to get through my senior year. The only reason I went over there to college was because father had refused to pay for my college. Meanwhile my father had been released from the institution where he had been sent to sober up. He had remarried a very 12 nice women, an old maid at that time, because my father was in his middle 50’s, his mid 50’s when he married the second time. He said that he would pay my way. TAPE 1 SIDE 2 I had been out on my own for to long. I was not about to submit to the discipline of a parent much less a step mother. I said, “Nope, I don’t expect you to pay for it. I’ll get through some how”. The aunt who had raised me after my mother died had a house. She had converted it into apartments. I went to live with her, in her apartment, when I was home in the summers from college. That way I did not have a whole lot of expense. I had no meals with her. I also continued to live with the woman from church who was the head of the Luther League. I had maintained that contact. With the help of the bank I could get summer jobs. Without their help I would have been hard put. In between my freshman and sophomore year I got a job with the Tuberculosis Society at a camp in High Spire, Pa. It was for underprivileged children whom they felt would be exposed to tuberculosis if they didn’t have some wholesome atmosphere and good food. I went to work for them and the pay there was twenty dollars ($20) a week. The difference there was it was seven days a week. It was from early in the morning to late at night. As the handyman in the camp I was expected to do everything. I stayed at the camp. Long hours with no time off at all. The lady who ran it was a real drill master. She got her $20 worth and more. The only freedom I had was 13 that they owned a model T Ford. The Tuberculosis Society owned this model T Ford and I was the only one that could drive it. None of them had a driver’s license. I would drive up to Harrisburg to pick up provisions from the wholesale grocer on a certain day of the week. I don’t recall what day it was however it gave me a little bit of freedom. I would go around and see a few of my friends and probably go around and see a girl or two and then drive back. If I was late I had to apologize to the woman. I would tell her I had a flat tire or something else had delayed me. So that was the only real freedom I had during the whole week. Never the less I did save that money so I had spending money for college the next year. The bank didn’t send me any spending money. They paid my basic expenses. They would pay for my washing, my room, my board, my tuition and the books. They didn’t pay anything towards clothes and no spending money. The next summer I got a job selling Fuller Brushes. I worked on that about a week and I was doing pretty good. I had made, in the first week as a salesman, something like thirty dollars in commissions which was a lot of money. The bank called me in and they told me that had a job for me in the State Government. The job was in the accounting division at the Highway Department. I said, “Gee, I’ve already got a job.” I was told that the President of the bank had stuck his neck out to get me this job. They said, “Young man you had better take this job if you know what is good for you”. 14 So up to the Highway Department I went. This was at the beginning of the computer age. My job was to run key punch cards through a sorter. Then give the tray over to another operator who would compile them and make a,printout. Then the cards would come back to me and I would run them through for another sort. This kept on all day long until they had extracted all the information off these cards. That was really the beginning of the computer age. It was Remington Rand machine that we were using. This was 1927 and 1928. They kept the Pennsylvania records on big printouts. These machines made a horrible noise. The sorter didn’t make much noise. It made a little buzzing noise. The printer itself reminded me of an old printing machine. It made a lot of noise. So I spent a summer working at the Highway Department. I was taking the liberal arts, with a major in Political Science, at college. I had the idea that I wanted to go to law school. I don’t know why. I turned 17 right after I entered college. I really didn’t know what I wanted to be. The only reason I was going to school I think I said this before I wanted to show the old man I could get through whether he thought I could or not. I wasn’t to interested in what I was studying. Really, the only thing I enjoyed in college, during the four years I was there, were the athletic events and girls. we didn’t have girls in school and there were only a few local girls. They didn’t have what we call co education. We had to go out of town to find our girls. 15 It is a Lutheran school. You know it’s ranked 36th in the country as a Liberal Arts College. They just hired, this fall, the former President of the University of New Hampshire. He went down there. So you know it has got to be an up and coming place for a man to give up a job like that to take over a small college. I was taking ROTC at college. I took the advanced course. The reason I took the advanced course was that you got paid. I think I got something like one hundred dollars in my junior and senior years. It was helpful. I had no interest in the military, to tell you the truth, none at all. However you got, you bought, a nice Army infantry uniform. It was a snap course but I didn’t get any credits for it. I was allowed 4 hours credits per semester 16 hours. I would have received 16 hours credit. They would not give me credit because I had already had a full schedule. I was suppose to go to camp between my junior and senior years ROTC camp down at Ft. Meade, Md. I went to the Army Captain in charge and I told him of my financial plight. I told him I was sure I could a summer job. This would help me pay my way in my senior year as the bank would not advance me any more money. I asked if he would excuse me from camp. I would complete it after my senior year in college. He said, “Sure we can do that for you”. He told me it would put me to a disadvantage, as far as my rating was concerned, in my senior year but he said I could do it. Meanwhile, the bank had gotten me another job up at the State Department. This time with the supply department 16 filling requisitions for highway construction jobs out on the road. They would send in requisitions for various forms they needed, for the mops and small supplies they needed. No construction but really maintenance sort of supplies. We carried all kinds of cleaning supplies, soaps, detergents, mops, brooms, dust pans, a host of household items. I filled requisitions. It was really a cinch. We could get finished almost by noon any day. The rest of the afternoon, although we couldn’t go anyplace, we could just get lost and have a good time. Nothing was said however the boss said, “Just don’t get caught just keep busy I don’t care what you do be busy”. He said, “I don’t want to have any reduction in organization here”. I was going with a girl who also worked at the highway department. She was older than I. She lived in a rooming house near the state capitol buildings. Her father owned an independent telephone company up in the country. The telephone company consisted of her father and four brothers. They maintained the lines and so forth. It was finally sold to the Keystone Telephone Company which was finally melded with the Bell Telephone Company. Peggy use to take me up to the farm when I could get hold of a car. How I got my cars I don’t know. I do know where I got one car though. I got in a poker game at college and a fellow owed me ten dollars and he couldn’t pay it. He had an old Ford without any fenders on it just the chassis and two bucket seats. So I said, “Ed I want your car.” He said, “All right I’ll give you the 17 car to settle the debt”. I drove that car over to Harrisburg one weekend. Later I ran into my father downtown. He said “What was that I saw you driving down the main street of the town? Martin Street here.” “That’s my car dad.” He said, “Where did you get that Bill?” I said, “I won it in a poker game over at college.” He said, “I tell you what you do Bill. You go back to college and get into another poker game and lose that car. I don’t want to see it again in Harrisburg.” Well in those days, sure, you were known. My father was well known in spite of his short comings. He was well respected because he paid his bills. He liked to drink and he drank. I guess he couldn’t help it you know I mean he was addicted. They didn’t look on it that way he was afflicted. Well I got through college. I belonged to a fraternity at college Phi Sigma Kapa. It was mostly intellectuals because most of the fellows, in that fraternity, went on to become ministers or physicians. Very few of them didn’t attend graduate school of some kind. The head of the Political Science Department told me he had a scholarship to Duke University and if I wanted it I could have it. He would be glad to give it to me if you I wanted it. I could work for him in his department. I don’t know how smart he was because I certainly had not done good work. I got good grades but I had to study very hard. I did like Political Science better then the sciences biology, chemisrty, physics and those things. I avoided those like the plague. 18 I was horrible in Latin. I made a deal with that Professor and he agreed to pass me. I told him I had to get through this because I need it for my Bachelor of Arts degree. I got through the first year alright but the second year gave me trouble. I had, you know, passable grades in my other subjects. All I needed was this darn Latin. In high school I hadn’t paid any attention at all. Somehow or another the teachers knew that I called the Principal, Uncle Charlie. The teachers, I guess, figured they better stay on the good side of Uncle Charlie. I guess I exploited it. I don’t know but that’s the way it worked out. Well, you know I had no prodding at home. I was sort of a free lance. As I said my Aunt didn’t know dittlebeans about school. She thought that if you went to school you were a good boy. Well, I went to school and was a good boy. My father he never checked up. He didn’t concern himself much about it. Matter of fact I don’t recall that the parents paid that much attention to the kids when they were in school in those days. I don’t recall any parent/teachers associations or anything like that. You just went to school. I went to, after I graduated, I went to camp for all 8 10 weeks. I was glad to go because there was no work. As we were going through the graduation ceremony the one fellow quipped as he got his diploma “we are just another hundred and fifteen to the unemployment list”. Really, if you weren’t going to graduate school that’s what you were unemployed. Here I was at least going to have a job with the 19 Army for at least 10 weeks. I think I got $36 a month pay or something like that. I was a cadet Ist Lieutenant. my senior year. Because of that I went to the camp and I was made sergeant of my group in the camp. Of course none of them were commissioned. And what do I get in with I get in with a bunch of boys from the south, from University of Virginia and Virginia Military School. These boys were soldiers. And I knew tiddly about soldiering. Here I was trying to tell them to fall in. One, two, three, four. What are we here for? They rode me unmercifully and it wasn’t too pleasant a summer with those southern boys. But I guess towards the end they accepted me. They realized that I was in a tough spot. They wouldn’t give me my diploma though because I hadn’t completed this military training. And yet I hadn’t accepted any credit for this. I had a 132 hours and only needed 120 hours. I had a 132 hours. How I got them I don’t know. But I had a 132 hours without that so I had a 16 more 148 hours on a 120 hours requirement. They held my diploma till I finished and they mailed it to me. Then I couldn’t get my commission because it wasn’t 21. I had to wait until September. I got out of camp the first of August I guess it was, the middle of August somewhere in there and they wouldn’t send me my commission. It would not have mattered to anything but just interesting. I was not 21 but after I had gone through all this work at the camp. Funny. Interesting thing though my best friend in college Ed Stair took this and he was really gung ho on the military. He was 20 gung ho on everything. He was editor of the weekly paper and this, that and the other thing. He went to work for Proctor and Gamble and keep up his military in the summer went to camp during the summer. He was called to active service in World War II. He was over in Italy with Mark Clark and they fought up through northern Africa there and crossed over and went up the boot of Italy. They were on their way back to the United States for some R&R and they got word to go to the Panama Canal. Go out to the Pacific ocean, forget the R&R, and join MacArthur’s forces. They went out to there and he said, that out in the Pacific, on one island he had 120% of his command shot out from under him. And he wouldn’t get a scratch. He had gone up to some headquarters to report to the Colonel no General. Ed was then a Colonel of some kind. I think a chicken Colonel. He reported to the General and the General told them, gave them instructions, and sent them back. He said he was about 100 yards away from the General when a bomb came through. He said we looked back where the General was standing and the General was no more. He continued on almost 5 years of combat. He said, “I didn’t have a scratch.” He said practically all of his friends were killed. Must have been a horrible feeling. I was sort of glad that I wasn’t gung ho about this. I had no money to go to Duke. I mean the paid my tuition. He had the scholarship this would have paid my tuition. But what am I going to for my room, my board and my books and by this time, you know, I am going 21 to be 21 in the fall. I just had no money and had a debt. By this time I owed the bank. This property that was worth $18,000 when we started out was now marketable for about $4,000. 1 had some $3,000 borrowed against that. Which was not only my share but my father, my brother. So, it behooved me to get to work. My brother was working for the Patriot News and I say an ad in the paper that they wanted somebody in the classified ad section. So I didn’t say anything to him he was upstairs in the editorial. I go in the business end of it. I don’t tell them that I have a brother there. And they hire me. That was a miserable spot to go out and try to sell classified advertising during the depression. it paid me $20 a week, as much as my brother was making upstairs as a reporter. But I wasn’t going to get them any butter or bread either. I went around to where they sent me, to go. They had been to all of these places before and they knew these accounts were dead. So this kept up for about a month. This can not go on. This is miserable, their miserable and I am miserable. I worked hard trying to convince these guys. But you can’t tell people that aren’t doing any business that they ought to be advertising to get more business. At least I couldn’t, I mean I wasn’t much of salesman. Maybe my old man could, he was a good salesman. They called me in one day an says we are going to have to let you go, you’re not producing. I said, ‘I know I am not producing.” I said, “I don’t think anybody can produce.” I said, “All of the leads you give me are dead leads and you know it and I know it. 22 So, if that is all the leads you can give me guess you will just have to fire me. We parted as good friends. After the fellow fired me, he told me that I had to finish out the week to collect my pay. So the next day I came in. He said, “Why didn’t you tell me that you were Freddy Ross’s brother.” He said, “I am a good friend of Freddy.” I said, “I didn’t even tell Freddy I’m working here.” I said, “It’s none of his business.” He said, “He will be awful upset when he hears this.” I said, “Maybe he will but so what!” I said, “You don’t want me I am gone.” So this is then about November of the year. Christmas coming up and I don’t have any money. My Aunt doesn’t have any money and I’m living off of her and I feel awful about it. I certainly ain’t going to my father. So I walk into the Kresge store one day. I always have loved 5 and 1019. I asked to see the manager and I said, “I would like to become a trainee with the Kresge Company.” I said, “I understand that they put men in training, send them out to stores away from the city in which they live and they progress from there.” He said, “That’s right they do.” He said, “I will give you an application. You mail it to the New York office.” No You bring it in and I will mail it to the New York office with the recommendation that I interview you and you are a personable young man and that I would recommend that they hire you. I said, “Ok, thank you.” I had put in all kinds of applications, I had gone back to the Penn Power and Light where I use to work when I was in high school they 23 didn’t like it. I gone back to the bank that advanced me the money and asked them for a job, they didn’t hire me. Any place I could think of I had gone. There were a lot of places that I put in an application. it was just a meaningless gesture. They just took your application and dumped it in file 13 and way you went. So, come January about the 2nd, right after Christmas, I get a letter from Kresge. There is an opening in New Britten, Connecticut. If you report there on the following Monday morning at 8 A.M. we will put you in training. Well, I didn’t even know where New Britten, Connecticut was. I wired back, somehow or what ever, and accepted and said that I would be there. Pay was $20 a week. Everybody paid $20 a week. That was the entree level for somebody with a college education. I got a train up to New Britten, Connecticut and I got a room with a Hungarian women, a Mrs. Urban. I explained to her what I was going to do and said that I just got a job here. I paid her a week’s board a weeks room, I didn’t pay board. She said, “I could give you your meals on Sunday if you like cause I like cooking a big meal on Sunday.” She said that will be a dollar extra for the meals on Sunday. That sounded like a good deal. So I said that I will pay you $6 a week and I’ll eat here on Sundays. I got up early the next morning got up to the store. They put me to work in the stock room. We had to gone out to lunch. I think back I worked until 6 o’clock, got out for dinner. They said you come back at night. So I came back at night and we worked there trimming windows till 24 11:00 at night. That’s my first day at work. So, off I trot to my rooming house. The land lady wasn’t going to let me in. You had me worried sick. Where have you been out drinking? No, Mrs. Eurban I’ve been working. I see … I said you can smell my breath I hadn’t had a thing to drink. They just worked me to 11 o’clock at night. I said, “I had no idea that they were going to work me that late.” You had me worried sick. Well, I am sorry that’s what happened and from what I understand talking to the other fellow there that I am working that this is going to be the way it’s going to be everyday of the week. So, don’t wait up. I said, “I don’t drink in the first place” and which I didn’t. I mean that I had seen enough of drink and I didn’t touch it. She got convinced that I was honest about it. She told me an interesting story about her father. She said he died when he was 98 years of age and the only reason he died is that he was still working. He was a roofer. He fell off the roof of the house he was building, this was in the old country. She said that he never recovered from that, he died. He use to take a little nip the first thing in the morning. He said that’s what kept him going. One night I came home with a horrible cold, and she says to me “Oh, you need attention. I’m going to get you some wine, hot wine.” And she did. I had never tasted wine in my life. Hot wine. Boy oh boy did I ever get stiff my head spun. I really began to know what it was to get drunk. I often thought since then she protested so much about me coming home drunk, yet she made me 25 drunk. But, you know, this hot wine did sweat this cold out of my system and the next morning, of course I am young, got up and felt fine. That was the first time I had ever had tasted alcohol knowingly in my life. I guess I took it in medicines. I was there 3 months. I got notice to report to Brooklyn, New York. There I was told I would to be the stockman. I go to the store and there was a manager,, an assistant manager, and a stockman. Those were the three company men. This store you didn’t have to worry about whether you were going to work or not. It was open from 9 in the morning to 10 at night 6 days a week. Much as they are today. Most stores in other states the store I had left up there in New Britten, Connecticut was open only Saturday night. it closed at 6 o’clock. That was the way most stores operated. But not in New York City in the Jewish neighborhood. This was strictly Jewish neighborhood. This was a kosher neighborhood we were in. Brooklyn, out on King’s highway in Brooklyn. There I got another room with a German family. They were one of the few Protestant families in the area. They made me a member of the family and treated me great. I remained there I guess for, in that store, for about a year and a half. I was sent down to the big store in Brooklyn on I think it was Fulton Street. The main store in the New York area, it was the biggest store in the New York area. They hadn’t any in Manhattan. Rents were too high in Manhatten so nobody went to Manhatten. I was made a floorman 26 down there and that meant that I patrolled a section of the floor and bought the merchandise for that section. I had the rear end of the basement sales floor. This was a big store. We had two floorman in the basement and they had four floorman on the first floor an assistant manager an a manager. Those were all company men. The rest of the help was hired helpers. This manager was a drill master and he had a horrible reputation. He rode the men unmercifully. He gave no quarter. 27 TRANSCRIPT TAPE 2, SIDE THE LIFE STORY OF WILLIA ROSS There was no spare ti Sundays, if I didn’t have to work on Sunday, I mean we ould work on Sunday… There out on King’s Highway I had to check in all the freight that came in. Put it away. Price i . I had not help with that. They would call me up to do things on the floor, you know breaking me in as floorman. And also I had to buy merchandise for a couple of departments. The flow of merchandise would back up back there, because there was things were bulky. There was a lot of merchandise at the five and ten. When dinnerware came in, you thought the roof would fall in on you. You’d have 120 cartons of heavy dinnerware to unpack and put away. Count the breakage. keep a record of it for a railroad claim. Make out a railroad claim. Boy, you did that with Kresge. I mean you tend for every damn penny! One time there when things got so dad when I was in King’s Highway, the superintendent came through and said, “I’ve got orders to cut the pay of everybody. I realize that you’re only making $20.00 a week, but I’ve got to cut you to $19.00.” 1 just spoke up and said, “The hell you do ‘ I’m not going to take any cutl@ And I got away with it! I don’t know why. He must have liked me. The store manager didn’t, but he didn’t like the store manager either. Because he used to, rather than take the store manager to lunch, he used to take me out to lunch with him. So he liked me. This was 28 Mr right in the Depression. I went to work for them in 131. This is ’32 or ’33. Things are getting rough. Roosevelt is just about to take over. n 1933 he took over. Hoover was through in ’32 and he took over in March then, of 1933. Things were tough. so we fought for ever@ nickel and dime that we could get in those days. Anyway, I ot down to the big store and I’m working for this fellow an I’m there about a year. The girls used to call for change. If they got a $5.00 bill, they weren’t allowed to change it. Anything, but a dollar they couldn’t change on their own register. The foreman had to go and get it, go to a change register and get them the five ones or change for a 010.00 or change for a $20.00 whatever it was. I guess it was for security. It was go the girl wouldn’t make a mistake in making change. she would have change for a $5.00 or $10.00 most likely and it would be all ones, but we would get the change for her. Sometimes when there was a busy period, we’d carry $50.00 or $100.00 in our pocket and wc ! would sign out for it. Then we wouldn’t have to run back for a changer. But during the normal course of events we’d just take it over to a change register and get the girl there to change some money for them. Then another ting, they didn’t . want anybody pocketing five and ten dollar bills. So this girl. called me over and I spoke to her about something that she hadn’t done at the counter. I said, “I told you to do that, now how many times … and I want it 29 done.” Because if I didn’t do it, I’d have the assistant manager and manager down oo me. So I want it done. And she starts to explain and I said, “No explaining. Do it.” Then she grabs my sleeve to explain why she hadn’t done it. And who the hell is standing at the back of the store, but the manager. So, I get away from her and I don’t think anything of it. Pretty soon he’s disappeared and my phone rings “Ross, come up to my office.’ “Yes, Sir.” So up to the third floor I trot to his @ffice. And he sits me down and says, “What were you holdi@g hands with that girl down there? You know we’re not allowed to socialize with any of the girls in the store.” I said, ‘N@, I know that. I reprimanded her for not filling up the counter down there the way I wanted it filled the way you wanted it filled. She was trying to explain to me why she hadnlt done it. I wasn’t about to buy her story and she just grabbed my sleeve to explain it to me.” “I didn’t want any explanation,” he says, “You’re carrying on an affair with the girl.” I said, “Mr. Cleaver, I am not carrying on an affair with the girl or any other girl in this store. I have no interest in them. First off, I don’t have the money to have any interest with any of them.” He kept badgering me about this and I said, I don’t have to take this. The hell with it.” And out I walked. Now I’m without a job! Su@h a big shot! So I go to a pay phone and call the New York office and I said, “I’d like you to let me know where Superintendent Brumley is.” That’s the man I want to talk with. So I got Superintendent Brumley on 30 the phone and I said, “I did a very silly thing Brumley. I walked out on Cleaver. It was either that or hit him. I really did to him what I just told you” and he said,, ithe really doesn’t have a very good reputation with the New York office regarding the treat ent of his trainees.” He then said,, “I think I can talk the boss into getting you back there, but you stay by tha@ pay phone where you are give me the number and I’ll be b@ck to you. just be there until I’m able to get through. @ou may be there an hour or two hours.” It was only about a half hour and the phone rang. He said, “Well, I’ got throigh to the boss. You’re to go home to Harrisburg and wait unt@l they’ll need you. I think they’ll call you within the week.” This was the beginning of the week. “of course there won’t be any pay during that time, so you’ll have to pay your transportation home. Have you got money to get home?@ I said, “Yeah, I have enough money.” So I did and I went back to my aunt’s house. My brother was living there then and I slept with him. I guess I got back there on a Monday or Tuesday anyway. I wasn’t there a week. Saturday morning I’m preparing to go over to Gettysburg to see @a football game. My brother is going to take me in his car. of course, he was interested in seeing it too. A telegram comes just as I’m going out my aunt’s door and I say, ‘Th t is from Kresge. I’m not opening that until I get back.” I don’t care what’s in it. We’ve got plans to go to the game, we’re going to the game. So off we go. of course, my brother he’s a Socialist anyway. he 31 wasn’t going to reprimand me for bucking the company. He thought that was big time stuff. I threw it on the table in my aunt’s apartment and off we go. We come back after the game and I opened the telegram. Report to Washington, D.C., store so and so, address so and so, Monday morning 8:00. Advise return wire. Well,, I thought I better answer it, so I did. I got down to Washin ton on Sunday. I rented a room at the YMCA there. What a dive that was. Mice running all over the place. I guess I got # room with another fellow. They didn’t have any single rooms. I don’t recall what happened, but I lost a couple of thi@gs there while I was there. I was only there about a month. They had had a remodeling in the store and they needed an extra floorman, while this remodeling was completed. One afternoon, around 4:00, the manager comes down. “Ross@ I’ve got instructions here for you. You’re to be in Boston tomorrow morning at 8:00 at store #18. Short notice i@n’t it?” I said, “Yeah.” He says, “Where do you live?” I said, “YMCA.” He says, “I’ll tell you what. We’ll get @ou tickets on a sleeper to Boston. If you can get over to the house and get your things back and get back here.” So, I came back with two suitcases and he had the tickets for me. I went down to Union Station and got on the sleeper and got into Boston, South Station there, at 7:00 the next morning. It was snowing. It was November. it was just a week before Thanksgiving. It was interesting working for Kresge. You worked your butt off. But everybody wdrked their butt off those days. 32 Somebody would readily take your place back then. They made no bones about it. You either do it or get the hell out. I was lucky to have I made a friend there with somebody who could speak up for me. I was one of the few guys that ever walked away from that guy and told him off and still worked for the company. I’m up to Boston and this had been a dollar store. KreBge had two types of stores. They had what they called a dollar store where they had higher priced merchandise. That had the green front on it. The five and dime store had the red front. And in some towns, they ran them side by each. They had two managers, two organizations. This had not been successful as a dollar store, so they were converting it into a ten cent store. It’s depression time. This is in the heart of the ritzy part of Boston. This is Tremont Street. Who do I run into? Gladys! Gladys is on the hosiery counter and she’s in my section. But she is assigned to work with me and learning how to lay the notion counter. I didn’t know anything about notions at 011. I’d never merchandised it. You know, this is all women ‘s stuff. And Gladys knew even less! So they say lay out the notion counter. So I said, “Gladys, you go up to the stock room and you get one of each item we have up there in the stock room. Put it in the stock basket and have the boy bring the stock basket down here. Then come down and help me lay this thing out.” So she disappears. She’s gone for an awfully long time. so, I call up the stock room and ask, “Is Gladys up there?” “Yeah” 33 Well, Gladys is up there c@tting up with the stock boys. Just passing the time of day with the stock boys. I said, “Tell her to get the hell down here.” Gladys got down and she’s teed off this time, because she doesn’t like this job any better that I do. And she doesn’t like me very well. So, her boss form the dollar store she had worked for him in the dollar store comes along and says, “Miss Ross, what are you doing here on the potion counter?” She said, “Well, Mr. Piece made me work with Mr. Ross here and laying out the notion counter.” He said, “You don’t belong on that counter. Get back on the Ikosiery counter where you belong. You don’t know anything about notional” So, he called over Piece and he says, “Piece, get somebody to work with this fellow here.. he doesn’t know anything about notions either. Just put Ross, that was her maiden name too back on the hosiery counter.” So she went back to the hosiery counter but she was still in my section. I do@’t know how notions ever got laid out but we did and the store opened on time. This was about a week before Thanksgiving and the store was fairly successful through the fall season and the Christmas season. It was fairly busy so I th@nk they thought it was going to be a success. And another th@ng was, the NRA had passed. Roosevelt had put. some rule into effect that you could not work an executive over 48 hours a week unless you paid him $35.00 a week. I’f you did@lt, you had to pay him at his rate for all the hours overtime that he worked. Something like 34 that. These guys, you know, they were working us inordinate hours. So I came under this rule and was making $35.00 a week. This was up from $25.00. I made $25.00 down at the big store. I’m making $35.00 a week. My brother hears this back in Harrisburg. He’s out of college since ’23 almost ten years and he’s making $30.00 as a reporter at the paper. Here’s your kid brother making $35.00 a week and he was teed off, even if he was a Socialist. He knew how to count. That’s another story. I’m there until just after the first of the year. I get a notice that I am to report as assistant manager to the store in South Boston. So I go over to South Boston. I get a taxi cab, my suitcase from Beacon Hill I lived up on Beacon Hill up near where Kennedy was in a rooming house $5.00 a week. Nice big room, wash stand in it real nice room. Of course I have to move over to South Boston. I got a taxi cab over there and I got over there and I say, “My expenses to come over here are $1.50”. He said, “What the hell did you spend a $1.50 to come from Boston to South Boston?” I said, “I had two suitcases and a pile of books. How was I going to put those into the subway?” Well, he paid me a $1.50 moving expense from one store to another. So I got a room over in South Boston. I’m there a week. I got up one night and the bathroom was an awful mess. I’m tied up with a bunch of alcoholics in this place. So I went down to the landlady and said, “The end of the week, I’m leaving. I can’t put up with conditions like this”. So I went to 35 another rooming house and got a room that was cleaner. I didn’t run into any trouble there. Meanwhile, back at the store, I’m the assistant manager. The assistant manager is also the stock man and merchandises fifty percent of the store. That’s all the assistant manager of the store does and acts as manager when the manager isn’t there which isn’t often, except when on vacation or out to lunch. I got along well with Walt, the manager. I was there two and a half years. At this time my net pay is cut back to $25.00 a week because if I work overtime now, it’s voluntary. It isn’t because they’re making me do it. It’s voluntary. I’m dating Gladys now. Once you leave the store the first week or so, I call her up. Somehow I got her number her telephone number I don’t know if I got that from the store records where I left or not. But I did get a hold of her. I got her address that was it. Milton, that sounds like a little suburban town south of Boston. I got on the subway and went out to look it over. Maybe I’ll walk right by her home. So I go out there one Sunday and I walked around Milton. There was nothing but millionaire’s homes. Hell, she ain’t working at a five and ten cent store and living in one of these houses! So then I got her telephone number and I call her up. I make a date with her. Then I said, “Hay, I was out to your town Sunday and I couldn’t find your house. Maybe you better meet me in front of Filene’s at such and such time 7:00 and we’ll go to dinner and then a movie”. She said, “Your supposed to like my girlfriend.” 1 36 said, “I’m asking you. it not asking your girlfriend.” She said, “She thinks you like her!” So I said, ‘Maybe I do like her, but I like you bettert” So we made a date and she came in town and we went to din er and then a movie. From then on it became a weekly affair. I would meet her, I guess it was every Sunday night. I exp ained to her that @ had been out to look and couldn’t find @er home. She told me how to get out there. On Wednesday I usually took off Wednesday night I’d get on the subway an4 go out to her home. Sometimes we’d go out to a movie on a Wednesday night. That went on for five years. I Back at the store again I’m working like heck in the store with all these windows to trim. it had an inordinate number of windows. It was a big store that had been cut in the middle because the business had been so poor. They had reduced the counter space 4nd they didn’t need the help. They put up a sham partition and reduced the counter space. We had all kinds t:)f competition there. We had a Woolworth’s store and a Grant’s store. They both had better locations than we had. This is in t@e heart of the depression and this is in South Boston. The drunks around there were terrific and they talk about police brutality now. Right out in front of the store on a night whe@n the store was open I think we were only open on Friday and Saturday nights as we usually closed at 6:00 you could see the policemen on their beat grabbing hold of a drunk and beating him right down to the pavement. Then they would call the paddy wagon and throw him 37 in. There would be blood c?ming out of their head and nothing was ever said. It was a blue collar area. I use to watch one fellow in particular as he was coming home. He would come to a c?rner of the street and he couldn’t manipulate around @he corner. He would back himself up, throw his hands against the front of the window and slide around the corner like this. He did this quite regularly. I use to get a big kick out of this! So I’m there about two years and the Superintendent and this was a different Superintendent now a fellow by the name of Kelly. I wasn’t too sure whether Kelly liked me too well. I want’s too sure whether Kelly liked anybody very well. I said, “Mr. Kelly, @ ‘m making $25.00 a week and working long hours. I’ve been here two years. I’ve been with the company almost five years and I think I’m due a raise. I think I do a pret@y good job.” He said, “I agree with you. You do a pretty good job. I’m not going to give you a raise, but I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you two weeks off with out pay so you can go out and see if you can get a job paying you anymore than that!” I said, “I can’t take two weeks offl” He said, “Then I recommend that you stay here “‘ About six months later I got transferred over to Somerville, Massachusetts and this is a better neighborhood. Th@is was a working class neighborhood but it was more of a white and blue mix high quality blue collar neighborhood. The boss there thought he was a tough nut, but he was a pussycat. He threw his weight around. I’m there 38 about a week and he calls @e up into the office He starts blasting me out and I sit there and take it. I said, “I think I did a pretty good job, whether you like it or not.” He said, “You didn’t do too bad.” So after t@at , he doesn’t throw his weight around so much anymore. He sees something he doesn’t like, he tells about it. He doesn’t become too abusive. He chewed me out for a long time. I would just speak right up and he would back right down. So he and I got along and then we became good friends. I kep@ in touch with him for a long time, even fter he left the company and I left the company. He was transferred down I was there about a year to the store that I had been at originally store $18 transferred down to the manager of that store down on Tremont Street. A new manager came in and he was easy to get along with too. I had no trouble at all with him. In this store we had a stockman so I didn’t have to worry about the stock room. He could also help trim the windows. I had the responsibility for the windows but I had him to help me. He could Put in a window. He put in a good window. I was responsible for merchandising about half of the store and managing when the manager wasn’t there. Things were tough then. The Depression was still on and we were very hard on the 9*rls. we’d have girls come in on a Saturday morning and it would be raining there wouldn’t be any business. Extra girls because Saturday was a big day. We’d tell them to sit up in the rest room and we’d tell them if we needed them we would call them. They’B just sit up 39 there for maybe and hour or two hours. It’s still raining or snowing and I’d call them down. I’d say, “Welll give you car fare for in and out,” and send them home. Welll call you when we need you. You felt like a crumb doing it but brother you had to do it. @hat was it. That was the job. Mr. Kelly was still the Superintendent of this store and he arranged to get: me out o there when I was asking for a raise. Incidentally, I got $30.00 when I took over there. I was coming up in the world again but I wasn’t up to $35.00 yet. I trimmed some windows and I put up a Valentine window that attracted a lot of att@ntion. He said, ‘I want that photographed,” an(i we sent it out to Detroit. I had two or three other windows where he came by and said, “I like those windows. Get those photographed and get them out to Detroit.” They would publish them and send them out to all the store as examples of great trimmed windows. That’s where I would get my ideas from other pictures that I had so it was helpful. This gave me recognition. Kelly, who I didn’t think liked me, came in one day I’ve been there this is now 1938 or the early part of 1939 and he says, “How would you like to go to Detroit go out and work in the home office? There’s an opening out there. If your get out there Monday morning they’ll interview you for the job. Pack all your things and get on the train and go out there.” I said, “What if they don’t want me?” He said, “They4il want you!” So he got me that job. I called up Gladys. This is a Friday night. I said, “(31adys, I need a trunk.” She said, “What do 40 you need a trunk for?” going to Detroit.” By this time I’m engage to Gladys. I’d given her a ring. Gladys didn’t like this at all. I didn’t like going to Detroit either but that was the way it was. So she went down to Sears, to a store about three or four miles from my store, got a trunk and took it up to my rooming house and left it with my land lady… I don’t know how I got the money to her. She didn’t have any money. She was on@y making $15.00 a week. I got on the train Sunday and got out to Detroit. I got a room with an auto worker who wasn’t working. He explained to me at that time that after General Motors made so many cars, during the peak of’ the production, they began laying off their men. The men on the @ob had become more efficient and therefor they don’t need as many men on the jobl You’d get laid off. It didn’t seem right that in the peak of production you’d get laid off. In Detroit I was worki g in the equipment supply department and I was one of the two assistant manager to a buyer. I was the assistant on the equipment side. My job was to provide equipment for new store openings, including the soda fountain or restaurant whatever the size of the operation. I worked from b@ue prints. I determined how much equipment was needed for each counter that was glass and the bins that they laid it out @n the display fixtures that were needed. For the restaurants, I would determine how many pots and pans they would get, the size of the service that they needed the plates, the cups, the services, menus, 41 sugar holders, scoops for i@e cream, all the @ools for the kitchen… Then schedule these in according to the opening of the store. Some of those things would need to be staggered because they would be needed earlier. I would order cash registers, scales for the candy department, electric fans for around the store most anything in equipment other than the counters themselves. This was the home offi e. I met Mr. Kresge there. That was my primary job. Then I would have replacement equipment. I would order that for store that were in operation when the equipment wore out. Cash registers would reach a point in age that we didn’t feel it would 20 years I think it was, a register was in service 20 years you wouldn’t attempt to repair it. You’d replace it. A fellow would send in a repair request to have it repaired, I wouldn’t approve it and I’d tell him to trade it in and get a new register. I’m still going with Gladys. I can’t travel back and forth between Detroit and Boston, But I’ll tell you that story a little later. I worked from blueprints to determine what was needed. I also replaced equipment for stores that had been in operation. This got quite busy during the construction period which began about February and carried on right into Thanksgiving so I was kept busy. There was a lot of homework with that. There was a constant flow of letters. I had a secretary so I didn’t have @o… I couldn’t type anyway. That’s a big mistake not to learn to type. A big mistake. I didn’t lear anything at Gettysburg I got 42 through but I didn’t learn @nything. I had no guidance in those days. Nobody told me@ Here I was, getting out of high school at 16 and the closest person was my auot I was sort of on my own. I was a smart kid I was an adult early but also I was a juvenile delinquent. The only thing that saved me there was probably my connection with the director of the YMCA, who had made me president of the club there and the church that had me as president of the youth league. They kept me in good company. Really the only reason I went to church was that I liked the girls. That’s what kept me in… The job kept me very busy a@d I had a lot of homework. Gladys can attest to that. I used to bring it home and work on it. of course I’m a workaholic anyway. I can make a big job out of nothing at all. 43 TRANSCRIPT TAPE 3, SIDE I THE LIFE STORY OF WILLIAM K. ROSS I only worked there because I that was ia hell of a place to work. I mean Kresges worked me harder than Sears but I mean I enjoyed what I did at Kresges. S(:), I knew all the top executives but they were sort of aloof and stand offish in those days. They were, you know, th(@y felt their weight. Course they should because those men were making sixty to one hundred thousand dollars a year when I was making forty a week. They had come up the samf@ way I did but those were the original partners of Mr. Kresge that were running the company. He had selected his men zknd they were his first store managers that he had promoted. They felt their oats. There were one or two nice ones, but Incidentally, Mr. Driscal, whom I knew in Brooklyn, New York also landed out there as a buyer in the Stationary Department. I am divorced from merchandising … I am up in the Engineering Department, really, I am sort of an off shoot of the Engineering Department cause I worked right with the fellows who are making blue prints. I met Mr. Kresge and he was then about 75 and you wouldn’t think he was much over 45, maybe 50. He bounced around like a young man and he knew what was going on, too. He visited the stores. I got to know the Vice Presidents. Nothing into it, they just didn’t work with intimacy. They weren’t even that intimate with the assistants that they had in from the stores training under them, either. There was 44 only one man out there that was really descent was a man who was later to become President of the company. His name was Dan Fisher and he was the Sales Manager. incidentally, the first fellow I worked with in New Britian in the stockroom, Larne Wright, became his assistant at the same time I became the assistant in this department. So after the, 1931 38 years we’re reunited in Detroit. We became very fast friends. He was from Pennsylvania too. He went to what was once called Pennsylvania Military College. That’s down in Chester, Pennsylvania. The name of that college has been changed but they are still in existence. It is no longer a military collage. I can’t think of it’s name. In any event he and I became fast friends. He was married. If you want to know about Gladys. I wrote to her that I didn’t know about getting married. I don’t want to come back and go to a big church and get married. I worked awfully hard out here just getting married amongst people I don’t know to well that she’ll invite to the wedding. it doesn’t appeal to me at all. I said, ‘Maybe we better forget about it for a while.” So I am in the office on Saturday. The office isn’t open on Saturday I am working. I get a telephone call Gladys! “I am down town in a hotel.” I said, “Good. How did you get here?” She said, “I came by bus.” I said, “That was a long ride.” I said, “Well, I’ll meet you. You stay where you are and I’ll come down to the hotel and we’ll go out to lunch.” I said, “I am about, just about, ready to fold up here anyway. I only come to work in 45 the morning to clean up some letters.” Incidentally, that use to burn my secretary up because Monday morning she’d come in we dictated on those wax cylinders and she would find a tray of these wax cylinders to start off with on a Monday morning. There was a glass between her office and mine and she would get up and shake her fist at me. So, I went down to meet Gladys. We decided that we were going to have a small wedding at her sister’s house in Union Springs, New York. Her brother in law, who was a minister, would marry her, merry us, and her sister would provide the wedding reception. I said, “That’s fine.” By this time now, I had bought a car out in Detroit. My first car. I was making forty dollars a week. I bought a brand new Ford, it was an 8 cylinder Ford, Model A, gear shift, two seater coup…no rumble seat in the back… $640 I paid for it. It was a hum dinger of a car. It could really travel. I think it could go faster than this Oldsmobile I have. It had an awful lot of speed. Didn’t have the pick up that this had but it had the speed In any event, I had that so I had paid about half of it in cash and was paying off the rest in notes. $10 a week or something. Where do we go from here? Oh, Well, I am out in Detroit now and we get married and we one year after we are married we had an addition to the family. Billy is born. Next year next year He was born in 1940. We were married in June of 30 and he was born in July 39 He’s born in July of 40 in a downtown Detroit 46 hospital. Colored people it’s warm there and the colored people were all spread out over the lawn in front of the hospital because it is nice and shady. They were making all kinds of noise … all night long. The nurses kept throwing ice water out of the windows on the poor souls down there. Gladys’ mother comes out. We had moved from our first apartment that we had to a second one with another bedroom. So, we had room for her mother to stay with us. It was upstairs of a two family home. They called them income homes out there in Detroit. We had the second floor. The owner lived in the first. We were there when Carol was born in February of 1942. By this time we’re pretty much into a war. Roosevelt couldn’t figure anyway else to get us out of the depression so he figured the war will do it because we weren’t built up with armament. This would put people to work. The government wasn’t in debt so it could go into debt a little bit. I mean, I don’t know whether he did that but this coincided and there was no way he was going to get this country out of a depression. I am not to sure that there’s a way their going to get us out of this depression either. I don’t know whether we will or not … So, this is breathing down my back. Then they start clamping down on us. I couldn’t get metal for the cash registers. I couldn’t get metal for the store fixtures. We did have some exemptions that I sent in to the I guess it was I don’t know what department it was. I would have to 47 sit and make out a request and get an approval*#oget metal at least from manufactures. But, finally the boss said to me on day, he said, “We have got to get some cash registers to take us through the war.” He said, “Write an order.” They were only $150 apiece then. “Write and order for 10,000 cash registers,” he said, “if this last a long time we are going to need 10,000. See if we can get the government to approve this requisitions He says, “National Cash Registers agreed to honor their current price if we can get them.” They’ll make them, piece meal, as we need them, if we can get them the metal. So, I did that. A million dollar order and the government approves it. We said, ” We would use these over a period of time as replacement for all the updated equipment.” if they wanted the old metal, well, they could have it. This went through and I saw the handwriting on the wall. I went to the boss and I said, “You are not going to need me around here much longer the way the fellows are getting drafted out in the stores. They are going to need assistant out there. Your going to need managers. I think I better get back to the stores and get to work.” Meanwhile, my friend downstairs had already gone back to Pennsylvania. He went back to his home and was living with his brother in a farm outside of Chester. He was … moving to Delaware. He was working as an assistant in Wilmington, Delaware store. So, I got orders then to report to Philadelphia to Chestnut Street store in Philadelphia … So we pack up everything in the little coup. The two 48 kids and all the possessions we had. Except he furniture which was sent to a we had four or five rooms of furniture by this time the refrigerator, the stove this was sent to a warehouse pending our getting a place to move into in Philadelphia. Course, Kresge was going to pay for that. They were also going to reimburse me for my mileage going east and the meals. So, I didn’t know what to do! Here I am with a wife … two kids myself and no place t go in Philadelphia. The company wasn’t about to hel They didn’t help you at all. The company didn’t help me w th that so I got in touch with Larne and told him of my pli ht. He said, “All right, come to my house. We got a farmho se here, we got a big place.” He said, “My brother lives @n another house. I don’t think it would be a bother.” So, I did. I went there…l commute into Philadelphia from there by train. Somehow or other I got in touch with realtors and they found a place for me out in northwest Philadelphia. New row house that had never been occupied. Three bedroom, row house, two floors and a basement and garage. The fellow had been drafted and wasn’t going to get married but he wanted to hold onto the house. So I rented it for $50 a month Incidentally, when I went back to the stores I was then making $50 a week out in Detroit. I am a big shot now. Store assistants don’t make $50 a week. Store assistants make $40, even big store assistants which I was going to do. I was going to a big store. They said that they would subsidize me for the difference. I said, “Okey, 49 that’s fine. You make up the difference, send me a check every month to make up the difference. That’s fine.” I lived with Larne for a month and we overstayed out welcome there cause the kids started raising hell y u know young kids. So, we got into our little house there. We got settled. I use to take a bus then every morning in town Philadelphia. That was quite a way. Take a bus to get to the subway and then ride into town, down to Philadelphia. Then what do I run into there? I run into a manager who is on the bottle. I don’t know diddaly about store operation anymore, been out in the home office doing altogether different type of work. I had nothing to do with the merchandise. we have manager for the restaurant, we had a 150 seat restaurant there, a big operation. He is on the bottle! He says it’s a heart condition. He is on the bottle! What do I ha@e for a stockman? A black, colored fellow who worked @n the mines. Quit the mines because he was going blind. He worked in the coal mines. He has only partial sight. A good fellow. I mean, he was cream of the crop. He had another wise acre colored fellow that worked with him. Couldn’t trust him any further than you could see him. That was we had two girls in the office that were well trained. We had good office help. we had one floor lady that was very eff cient but she resented any assistant manager coming in teiii g her what the hell to do. So … and she was a pet of the bose cause she ran the store when he was out drinking. 50 So, there I was. We had a nucleus of abo@t twelve girls for this big store, other than the soda founta @n that I to run the store. That was just not enough. You’d need, when the store was busy, you’d need at least forty girls to operate the store. I really had a.jo@ cut out for me. The boss would be across the street in Ke lys Bar next to the firehouse. He would spend his day over there and come back and see how things were going. This girl in back of me I mean I had a girl for the front of the store where I was mostly. I had a girl that was … a very cooperative, but she wasn’t as efficient. She hadn’t had the train@ng like the girl at the back. I had a hard time until I got along with the girl in the back of the store because she thought she was just about it. All she thought of was Mr. Harkins and she was number two. I worked long hours there. I’m there a m nth and Kresge writes back and says that it doesn’t conform to the government regulations to subsidize your pay while your assistant manager so we are going to discontinue that. Here I am working 7 to 6 days a week and coming in on Sundays to keep this going. The help would come in and the girl would say, “Do you have a job?” “Ya, go up and fill in an application, get a time card, and come down and report to the floor ladies. They will put you to work.” Dion’t check anything. There was an interesting story abou@ that, too. One day an old lady comes up to me, very dignified, and says, ‘Young man. Do you know that young girl over at the register 51 is stealing from you?” I said, “She is?” I said, “I tell you what Madame, we don’t pay that girl very m@ch.” I said, “If she wants to take a few nickels and dimes out of that register I am going to close my eyes to it because I need her more than I need, the company needs, those nickels and dimes.” I have my cashiers come down and pull out all the big bills out of these registers every hour. rhere isn’t that much money in there that she can take and it will show up. She said, “Well, I thought you should know.” I said, “You told me and I know. Thank you.” About a week later the boss comes down “What the hell have you been doing?” He says, “I get a letter here from the President of the company.” Says one of the men insulted one of our stockholders. He says, “What are we going to do to apologize? What did you do?” I told him what I did. He said, ” Well, you shouldn’t have done that.’ ‘Should I have fired the girl?” “No, you shouldn’t have fired the girl.” So, he wrote back some … an excuse. There weren’t about to fire me but I didn’t know this. So one day; while I’m there, I get a call from another store that Mri Kresge is in our town and is headed towards the store. Oh @hi Well, up front I parade. Mr. Kresge comes in the stores “Hello Mr. Kresge it’s good to see you again!” He said, ‘I know you don’t 1?” I said, “Ya you know me. I used to ride up in the elevator with you out in Detroit, Michigan, I v@orked for Dewey.” Oh, he says. “Ya, I remember. He di@In’t remember me. He says, “How are things going?” “Great, great Business 52 is good.” He says, “Where is Mr. Harkins?” I said, “I’ll see if I can raise him for you.” So, I calle@ upstairs and said to the girl up there, “Call over to the Oar and tell Jim that Mr. Kresge is here and wants to see hirn.@ She said, “Your kidding?” I said, “I am not kidding. Mr. Kresge is standing right here.” I say, “I know him personally I worked with him out in Detroit.” So, I said, “He will be right down.” I said, “His office is upstairs and there is no use to climb up those stairs, we don’t have an el vator.” So Jim comes in. He is a little flush but I guess I don’t know if he picked up he was drunk or not. However, he wasn’t.** After I left, he was transferred out of that store to another, up to Harrisburg and from Harrisburg he was fired. So maybe, Mr. Kresge had something more to wit@ it than… After two years there I got a call to go @nto the New York office. They told me I was to take over @he York, Pennsylvania store. They said, “The man up th@re has been drafted.” I said, “How old is he?” They said, “He is about 37 or 38.” Anyway he is a lot older than I am. I am what this is ’42 I’m only 32 now. He has been drafted… “Your own store do you want it or don’t you?@’ I am on the way of course. I don’t know what York, Pennsylvania store is like. I know the store in Harrisburg was a pretty nice store. So, we get up to York, Pennsylvania and I don’t have a place to go. So, I had to keep Gladys in Philadelphia. So, I am there for over three months looking for a place to live. 53 This is tough. I was even thinking of sending her back to Boston with the kids. I am living in the YMCA again. This is a nice YMCA, in York. York was a clean town in those days. So, I get to the store. Oh boy, what a store! The building is 4 stories above me. It has all been condemned. The company isn’t allowed to rent it out or anything. All they are allowed to use is the first floor. Some kind of addition was put on the back… well, I guess they joined two buildings. They joined a house, I think this *as a house at one time, a big house in the center of town. It was next to a church right in the center of town. on the Other side was the Grants the other side of the church was he Grants and up the street was a oh, a Murphy or something, I don’t know. Woolworth was further down the street, McCory was down the street and another dime store across the street. I have a little hole in the wall with all these new sto es, brand new spanking store most of them. When I say that hey weren’t more than 5 or 6 years old. This is the original installation in York. York was store 203 so Ki@esge had 600 and some stores at that time. It had been there a long time, like 25, 26 years and never had any remodeling and it’s in a building that’s condemned except for the first floor. So I get there. The first rain storm to come up, the skylights up there what do you do? When it starts raining you put buckets on the floor to catch the water coming in. I said, “Well’, I have got to make the best of a bad thing here.” I had connections with the merchandise boys out in 54 Detroit. So, I start writing them and asking them to feed me merchandise the other stores couldn’t get. I took over the store it was doing a volume oh something around $80,000 a year or something like that. By this time a store manager you had your guaranteed $3,600 a year plus a percentage of the profit. So, you were pretty sure then that there is $5,000 even in a small operation like that. Big operations, the manager could make $60,000 $70,000. in those days that was big, big money. That would be equivalent to what $300,000 today. So I got them to feed me merchandise. Fellows that I made acquaintance with out there, assistants. Just send it in to my store. They couldn’t send it to the other stores. It would be odds and ends of scarce merchandise. So I began to build this volume up, you know. Meanwhile, I am looking for a house. Calling up Gladdy down in Philadelphia every Sunday morning … saying I am out hunting for a house again. Finally, I get an old house. A three story house. It’s semi detached and it’s in a nice neighborhood. It’s old but it isn’t in town. It is away from downtown. I call her up and said, “I have rented a place up here, a house, for $50.00 month and it’s an old house, but it’s big, plenty of room for the kids to romp around in. I don’t know whether you will like it or not, but it is the only thing I can do.” I said, “It is either that or you go back to Boston and I don’t think you want to do that.” Then … She was to leave Philadelphia and arrive in York, 55 Pennsylvania at around 6 o’clock at night. I got a train schedule and we both agreed that she would be on that train. I go down this night to meet the train at 6 o’clock. She isn’t on it. I meet the next train and she isn’t on that. I am going wild! My wife and two kids and I don’t know where the hell they are. So, I go down to the Police Station. I tell them my predicament. They said, “Were you fighting with your wife?” I said, “No, I haven’t been fighting with my wife. I haven’t had any rift at all with here.” They kept that pressing on me that she had up and left me. I said, “She didn’t leave me. Run off with two kids?” So, I am back to the store, I guess. No, no, I go home and the next door neighbor says, “There has been a call from the Police Department. They located your wife and she is down at the station and they are sending here home up here in a taxi cab. She’ll be up here in a few minutes.” I says, “That’s fine.” At least that relieves me of that they know that I wasn’t lying. So, she gets there and I’m “Where the Hell have you been?” I am mad. I am glad to see her but I am mad. I said, “I have been through torment here.” She said, “Well, they wired ahead and you were supposed to be notified that we didn’t make the train.” I think they had gone to a movie and overstayed in the movie, because they had time to kill, but they killed too much time. I said, “They didn’t give me any wire and no one said anything because the policemen checked.” “So, we caught the next train that we could to get over here.” I said, “Well, there was a train 56 over that.” “Well, we must have missed that one, too.” I said, “Well, in any event you are here.” About that time the furniture pulls up in front of the house. This is now about 9 o’clock at night. The two guys driving the truck are stinking drunk. So they got it in but it was a hectic night. We settled down there and we had a pretty good home to live in. She like it after awhile. it was nice and plenty of room. More room than we’d ever had or had since then because of the three floors. I didn’t have a car then. I had sold my car down in Philadelphia because you couldn’t get any gas. I sold my car down in Philadelphia that was a mistake but I had done it anyway. I had to walk or I could walk to work there or I could take the bus in. I took a combination of the two. Sometimes I walked and other times I … I worked every night down there because I couldn’t hire any help for the store. I had a few girls who stayed on but other than that it was just the same as in Philadelphia you came in and put a girl on the counter and she stayed as long as she wanted to and out she’d go. The beginning wage, entry wage for factory workers was $60 a week in York, Pennsylvania, that was a war town. They were short of help and that’s what entry level was, 60 bucks a week. I mean this is fantastic. Here I am going through all this training and they’re making $60 there. But what chance did I have of getting help? Besides that, I am competing against five other modern stores. If the girl wanted to work, she could 57 go in there. They had nice dress room facilities … everything was clean, bright. Here I am in a crummy old store. So, what do I do? I have got to build the store up. The meat man, is a Russian, that supplies my hot dogs. He has excellent meat so I go over to him and said, ” I need hot dogs for that restaurant over there. You know what I am up against; you are a retail merchant.” He says, “Do you have stamps for meat?” I said, “I have a checkbook of stamps, I can get an account up at the bank… I’ll never use all the stamps I got.” He says, ” You will get all the hot dogs you want. All you got to do is write me a check every once and a while for so many thousand pounds of meat.” I said, “Okay.” He said, “Your wife doesn’t have to spend any stamps when she comes in here to get meat, either. You tell her to come in here and get what she wants.” So my wife use to send my aunt out in Johnstown, Pennsylvania stamps so she could buy cat food for her cat. This is horrible to say but we did this. Probably get put in jail as a Communist for… This built up my business cause I had hot dogs that these fancy restaurants and these guys didn’t. I would have people lined up a my little counter there for this. I began to sell pies. Excellent baker there I don’t know who’s they were it was a commercial baker. I started to order all kinds of creams. This little restaurant that I had was just a little stand up bar. No seats at all. People would come in and eat. Had hot dogs, some kind of canned meat that was very tasty that I bought from our suppliers. I could get 58 that just by ordering it. In no time at all I was doing a land office business out of this thing. So I say, “Oh oh!” The rest of the store didn’t make much of a difference. All I got to do is just keep this thing going. So I rode this and pretty soon I’m have the biggest sales increases in the whole territory, percentage wise. There were bigger stores but percentage wise my sales are going up… I am leading the roost. That and what the fellows were feeding me from Detroit, Michigan with, hard to get stuff. Another interesting thing happened in that store. There were selling We had You had your prices. I guess it was the NRA or some regulation that you froze the prices on all, all merchandise. I had rayon pants that use to sell for $.29. The store next door, a department store a fine department store, was selling the same damn pants for $2.00. He was buying it from the same manufacturer that we bought it from. I only got an allotment of these things. I mean, I couldn’t order them. I only got an assignment. They assigned merchandise. A lot of the merchandise you couldn’t order at all. They just assigned it to you and you,took what you got. So, I put them out on the counter for $.29. 1 said to the girl, “How have they been going?” She said, “Oh, very well.” I said, “Well look, we’ve got some other signs under the counter there.” She said, “Ya.” I said, “Well, put one out there for $.79.” 1 come back an hour later and I says’ “How are they going?” She said, “They are selling real good.” I said, “The next time we get an assignment the price is going 59 to be doubled.” So, I should worry about what the girls behind the counter are taking course I am not taking anything. Now, if I were taking something it would be something else again but I am letting all this money go into the stores coffers. So, the end of the year comes. We take an inventory and I have an overage. Another rule Can’t pay managers on the profit of an overage because… Of course they love it. I mean, you know. Oh, they love it and they don’t even have to pay a cent. one day my cousin from Harrisburg comes down. He is a well … He has been through law school but he never passed the bars. He is the son of the doctor. He was never really a friend of mine but he was close to my brother because they went through high school together. He comes in and comes up to me in a vicious manner and said, “I am in to check prices here.” I said, “Ya. Well, what are you going to check Bob?” He said, “I am working for the NRA and I am an inspector in this territory. I need to look at your list books.” And I thought… TAPE 3, SIDE 2 He was a shady character anyway. He always lived on his wits. Not that he didn’t have money because he inherited a lot of money from my uncle. He still loved to live by his wits. Well, of course, Gladys knew that I did this (worked 60 long hours) cause all the years I was going with her she knew that I was. Course her mother and sister didn’t believe it but she believed it. She would call me at the store at 10 O’clock. “You still there?” I said, “Of course I am still here. Where do you think I was up to the corner drinking beer?” I don’t drink beer. So, this is beginning to catch up on me, you know. I’m there two years and I’d had that tough two years down in Philadelphia. I was losing weight, my stomach is jumping, I’m smoking cigarettes like they are going out of style even though they are hard to get. Even though the store is doing all right on paper I know that this thing can’t last forever. Come along 147, things began to cool down. Peace is coming. Even though I can get merchandise I can’t sell it because I don’t have the store. My sales begin to slip … on top of that they transfer the Superintendent and put in a top Superintendent that had been riding the desk down in Washington as an officer. He was a nasty son of a gun anyway. The moment I saw him I knew I wasn’t going to get along with him. The other fellow that was there was great. So, I went to a doctor one day. One day I went to the doctor. I felt so bad. He says, “You are going to have to take some time off. I recommend to you that you get another job.” Boy, that was easy for him to say! He says, “Your not going to be living very long if you don’t slow down. Smell the roses.” I wrote to them and told them that the doctor recommended that I take some time off. A month off to 61 recuperate and build myself back. I said, “I have been under@ Btrain every since I left Detroit.” Well, they didn’t like that. They sent down the assistant from the Harrisburg store. Now my drunken manager from Philadelphia was a manager up in Harrisburg. So, I called him up. He said, “Yea, you had better take time off Bill. If your doctor told you to take the time off you had better take the time off.” So, I did and I came back in a month. In the meantime I had decided that I had better retire. Meanwhile, the house we were renting was sold. The company that bought it had bought it for some people that were to come to work in the war plant and they didn’t come. So the house was sold out from under me and I was told to move out. What am I going to do now? All these things are always falling in on me at once. This happens just prior to the time that I got sick. So, I call the company up in Detroit and told them what my problem was and they said go out and rent another house. T said, “That is easy for you to say out there. Where the Hell am I going to get one? It took me three months to buy this one and I haven’t seen a house for rent since then. I have been here for two years now. I have got no choice but to buy a house.” “Don’t do that ‘” “Don’t do it.” What am I going to do? “We don’t want the managers to buy a house, especially the younger managers.” So, I went out and bought a house and that too weighed on my mind cause I knew they were not backing me on it. There was no such thing as going to them for money, a 62 loan, a mortgage or anything else. They didn’l@ do that in those days. There they did… right then … they were going by pre war standards … I kept telling them when I was writing theit you can’t continue to pay girls 14 and 15 dollars a week to work in your stores. The day is over. I am competing her in York, Pennsylvania against a $60 entry level for untrained help. The other stores are operating, you can operate your store, was all the answer I could get. I raided some salaries to keep the girls. Not much, but I raised some salaries. They didn’t like it. They didn’t cancel. I just took the bull by the horns. The office girl that… She had been there some fifteen sixteen years and she was making $20 a week. She was a gem. So, I raised her to $30 and I hired a stockman and paid him $30. The girls on the floor one girl on the floor that run the floor for me when I went out to lunch I gave her five dollars more a week. I was still making a good profit but things now began to fall down in volume because I couldn’t or didn’t have the edge on the other merchants. There was no reason to come into my store for that. My volume began to sink. Course this all weighed on me. I was getting all kinds of letters. I would write back and give a sarcastic remark. “Led the territory for two years in increases. That doesn’t count for anything. Now it turns sour on me and beyond my control and I can’t do anything about it, but, I showed you I could get business when there wasn’t any…” 63 I came back, meanwhile, I put the house up for sale. Unbeknown… I did not advertise it. I put it up for sale. got exactly what I put into it. I paid $11,000 for the house and I got exactly that out of it. That house today is worth $150,000. It was a beautiful brick house, but, that’s the way it goes! So, that ended the career there with Kresge cause in June of that year I sold the house and notified them that I was retiring. That was the biggest mistake of my, life! I found out right after, that the reason I hadn’t beent drafted was that the company guy was allowed a certain amount, of exemptions and I had one of the few exemptions. They had me marked for upward movement. They didn’t tell you anything. No, they didn’t tell you anything. So I quit! 16 years ’47 16 years inl So, we moved up to Boston to her mother’s house. I go all around looking for jobs. I couldn’t find anything I wanted. I was out and talked to Montgomery Wai d, was back to Harrisburg, Pa., and I couldn’t find anything I’ wanted. One day I walked into Sears Roebuck and they seem interested. I talked to two or three people and before I left I had a job. I worked in the catalog plant there north of Kenmore Square on Brookline Avenue. I was with them for 27 years. I ended up here in Maine because I was in Philadelphia working for them then. That was the eastern territory. I was working the catalog plant, the eastern territory had offices in there, but I worked the eastern territory. So, I promised Gladys that if she’d move 64 Boston to Philadelphia for five years that I would move back to Massachusetts when it was through. Course this would be on my own expense. I had to pay that. The company wasn’t going to pay it. When you are through you are through! It ain’t over till it’s over but it’s over. So, ‘we go back to Massachusetts and the prices in houses there had skyrocketed, where in Philadelphia they hadn’t. But that is another story… I think I better cut that off and talk about Sears later. Cause that about finishes up with Kresge. There is one interesting thing about Kresge. We use to go to store meetings in Allentown, Pa. that were conducted by the manager of the eastern territory out of New York City. They controlled the whole eastern seaboard. They assembled the managers from several groups there and discussed the problems and so forth… The man I had walked out on in Brooklyn was now the manager of the Baltimore, Maryland store. Here I am on equal level with him now. of course, not pay wise, but you’d thought we were the best of buddies. END OF THE FIRST INTERVIEW When I left Sears (Kresge) we moved back to Boston, rather the Boston area. Gladys lived with Gladys’ mother in Milton until such time as I could relocate. Then we would begin looking for another house … We sold our house in York so as soon as I I had the down payment to buy another house in the area of which I would worked. It was sometime before I could find exactly … an opening that was suitable. I didn’t want to go back into the retail chain business and 65 move all over the country. I wanted the kids to be stabilized in an area and go through the school system. thisi was in 1947. The summer of 1947. I learned a lesson: Never give up a job until you had obtained another one. It was very difficult to go in and say, that I was unemployed and I’m looking for a job. There are more questions raised. You go in and you are working it is much easier to begin the interview. At least you don’t have to apologize for being out of work. After traveling around the east for interviews I decided that I would remain in the Boston area where I had worked before with Kresge and I was familiar with it. I went into Sears Roebuck One in the Catalog Division and asked for an interview. I’ was given an interview with the merchandising manager. He was short of buyers and said that he would put me in a short. training program and put me to work as a buyer. I soon learned that Sears and Kresge were different as night and day. No one seemed to have compete responsibility. The main gaps were between operating and merchandising. They were interdependent on each other but neither had the final say on anything. This was very confusing to me because with Kresge, the manager of the store was the king of all he surveyed. Course with the restraints of many organizations place on a person, that was so. Perhaps that puzzled me for the entire 27 years I remained with Sears. I could never get accustomed to having to sit down and negotiate with somebody rather than tell them to go ahead and do the job. For instance, Your 66 secretary would do your work and not be actually responsible for it. The clerical group was the same way. They answered to a different boss but they were directly responsible for doing my work. I couldn’t arrange their schedule. They had to abide by the schedule that their supervisor set up. Well, that was my main reason for going into the Catalog Division. I refused to go into the retail. Figuring that I would be stabilized and not moved around. This of course was a fallacy. I soon learned that they did transfer people between catalog houses and they also transferred people to the main office in Chicago. But in any event, I completed the short three months training for the buyers position. I was assigned in the soft lines to buying a line of girls and boys children’s ware from infants up to seven years of age. At that time, following the cessation of the World War II, it was the hottest wearing apparel department in Dears. I really stepped into a bee hive of activity. Children’s clothes were selling as fast as we could possibly get them from the manufactures. The demand was phenomenal. So, then I also took on after a few years took on a line of older girls clothing, ranging from seven to sixteen years of age. I was buying just for the Boston area. That is the catalog plant which supplied customers in all New England states and eastern New York. That was six, I guess, states. After about two years plus in that job, the General Manager came through one day, whom I had hardly… was not acquainted with. He, well, came up to my desk and said, “Ross. How do 67 you like it here?” I said, “Fine, I like it fine.” I wasn’t going to tell him I thought it was for the birds. He said, “Well, we have another little job that you’ll be hearing about that we think you would be well adapted to because of your retail experience.” I didn’t at that time. About two weeks later I was summonsed down to personnel and asked if I would like to transfer into the sales division of the company. This … Course catalog sales offices located through the entire territory, which at that time we had, I believe, a total of about 100 that were satellites of the catalog plant. After a short training period in there I went on the road with the territory covering twenty two stores in Massachusetts northern Massachusetts, all of Vermont, all of New Hampshire and New York State as far west as Oneida, New York. For two years I visited those stores on a daily basis. I would have make an itinerary of five stops that I would cover in a week. Just prior to this time, we located a house in Wakefield, Massachusetts which of course is north of Boston. We moved over to Wakefield and entered the children in school there. That part of my plan worked out as they were able to finish their schooling in the Wakefield system. I liked to work on the road. It was a sales promotion, it brought me into a different office every day different people. We had mostly women managing the sales offices. this was very similar to what I had been accustomed to in Kresges. For a while sales were very good. After about 18 68 months there was a did in sales and I was called in, together with another fellow who had been hired at the same time I was. He was hired especially for the job. He was not taken off another Sears job. we were told that because the sales were not coming up to expectations we were going to be laid off. My boss said told me we would be kept on our jobs for another two weeks and he said, “Ross if I were you I wouldn’t report in here to work. I would go out and start looking for a job. They gave you the shaft you give them the shaft.” I followed his advise, I was out looking for work in Boston and I had had a couple of interviews. They sent the records into the Personnel Office and the Personnel Manager called up my wife and said, “Where is your husband?” She said, “What do you mean where is my husband? He told me he didn’t have a job. He is out looking for one.” So, he said, “Well, that isn’t exactly so. We want him back on his other job that he worked on before he left. That job is still open. We haven’t been able to find a satisfactory replacement for him up there.” He said, “I have a couple of references … He has been out looking for a job. I’ll have to notify these people that he is satisfactory but I want him to know that we have an opening. Tell him to come in and see me tomorrow morning.” So I did. I went in the next morning. I would be back on the job in the buying department. incidentally, I’ll have to explain that. The actual section of the catalog merchandise was made by parent buyers in Chicago and New York. The catalog buyers in the store 69 determined the quantities of each item that they would sell projected these and then when the initial sales came in they made projections for an entire season and corrected their original estimates. Hopefully this worked out alright. In actuality it didn’t. You always had stock imbalances of shortages and also overages. Catalog businesses presented a problem because you were locked into the advertising that was in your customers hands. It was difficult to stimulate demand. our principal source was then to turn to our retail brothern and offer the goods at a drastic price reduction so that they could run a promotion and move the goods out for US. You also learned one thing in merchandising: that when you do that your first loss is your smallest loss. If you have a sale for an item regardless of how ridiculously low if may seem it is beat to let it go than to keep it in your inventory. Especially this is especially true in the style merchandise lines. Children’s clothes are definitely a style item no matter how practical they may bel They are still dependent on the style to change from season to season… I stayed the rest of my time at Sears in the buying end. In the buying departments … In the meantime, I was offered a job in New York buying office. I didn’t want to move there. I did live there when I was single but I didn’t think it was a good situation for a family. I told them that I would be glad to go if they would double my pay when they promoted me. This of course eliminated me from any further consideration, immediately. 1 70 remained in the job. Several years later there was an opening in Chicago. I wasn’t particularly anxious to move t Chicago either. I told the people the same thing. “If you double my salary I will be glad to move to Chicago.” Incidentally, doubling my salary would not have to great a bargain for the company. But Those also were mistaken judgments on my part because they removed any possibility of any further promotion. The only promotion I could get was within. In large catalog plant the competition for advancement is terrific. The infighting and the politics are almost unimaginable. I did draw attention of one of the managers who was later to become the Merchandise Superintendent. It was his intention to promote me to manager. Unfortunately, he became ill and took an early retirement before he was able to make the move. A new man came in from California to take his place from our Los Angeles catalog plant to take his place. Somehow or another we never did see eye to eye. I never did get advanced beyond the buyers stage. I did make a mistake by refusing to take the promotions to both New York and Chicago. Well, I didn’t want to move my family. That was it. I thought, well, I have given up Kresge and the fact that the doctors thought I overworked was overworked. Gladys didn’t want to move. There is a lesson there When you work for large companies and they want to move you you don’t have to many times to say, “No!” They won’t necessarily discharge you but they won’t necessarily promote you either. 71 We began to dabble in the computer with Sears. It finally reached the merchandising departments. We began to prepare for the day when the computers would take over a good bit of the functions we did in buying and re ordering. At first none of us thought this could be accomplished but after a few years we could slowly see that progress was being made … In actuality that it would become an actuality that computers would be able to handle a great deal of detail that was now done by hand. Well, it got mixed reviews. Some of us could see that it had potential and others felt that it didn’t. The way they experimented with a few departments at a time. They didn’t attempt to swallow the whole kit and kaboodle with Sears because it is such a big operation. They didn’t even extend it to all the catalog plants at one time. They worked it a step at a time. Certain just certain departments within the catalog plant. Till they could feel along it was sort of a trial and error basis. Ultimately over the period of 15 years the computer…all departments were recorded on the computer. We would go in the morning and find a sheet of papers a foot high on our d(ask that told us right up to the last sale of the day or evening before, at the time we closed, and recorded all merchandise receipts so that we had a complete picture of each item by size or color or by any other specifications you could think of. It was very detailed. We were still, at that point, for the most part projecting our sales. It was not projective sales which was the ultimate goal. Here again we entered a great period 72 of trial and error. Even though it didn’t project the sales, we went over them item by item and made corrections, we knew, within the parameters that we were taught to wc,rk with prior to the computer. Those refinements were developed over a course of time and so the computers could project pretty accurately what the demands would be. This is especially a delicate operation in the styles lines. In hard lines it is almost a given pattern depending on the season of the year or whatever factor effects the sale of hard line merchandise. Style goods it’s a different thing. It’s a short window of opportunity to sell a fad until a new one comes along. So, to project sales on that is very difficult. In 1969, we’re notified that we were to close out the merchandising department in the Boston plant and combine with the Philadelphia plant where they would buy fro:m both houses. As large as the Boston plant was it was minuscule in relation to the Philadelphia plant. They sold three time the amount of merchandise that we did. We are talking now about some 75 buyers that were told to either arrange to move to Philadelphia or probably be laid off. At this :stage of the game I was 59 years of age. I knew that going out and looking for a job would not be easy. My chance of getting anywhere near the salary I was on made would ]De almost impossible. I did try. I was offered some jobs but the salary was inadequate. So, I was one of the first to step forward and say I would go to Philadelphia. This encouraged a lot of the other younger men, who were very hesitant about 73 moving their families to Philadelphia, to fall in line and go. So they got the company to to get to the company that they wanted to move there which was actually about 45 men. Yes. (The kids were out of school.) I didn’t talk anything about them yet. So we moved to Philadelphia in June, no, August 1969. Sold the house in Wakefield, Massachusetts. We purchased a house in Glenside, Pennsylvania which was about a twenty minute drive from the catalog plant in Roosevelt Boulevard, which is northeast Philadelphia. Well, I was there the Merchandise Superintendent had transferred from… 74 TRANSCRIPT TAPE 4, SIDE I THE LIFE STORY OF WILLIAM K. ROSS Yeah well This is the fellow with whom I did not get along too well. Although he was a big cheese as far as merchandising is concerned. He treated me alri,ght then, until about matter of fact he treated me alright, civilly up in Boston. It’s just that he wasn’t going to do anything for me, and I wasn’t going to do much for him, either. He ran a number of contest down there for the buying organization. The first three of them I walked off with the first prize. They weren’t much, but it was quit a competition among because in Philadelphia they had a buying staff of about 120 men, plus our 45 men. I don’t believe he liked that very well because he soon stopped running contests for the buyers. on each occasion he had to have his picture taken with me and put it in the company’s periodical that came, that was published there locally. I’m sure he didn’t like that very well. He also, every chance he would get, would remind me that the company required me to retire at 63 years of age, and I only had 4 years to stay in Philadelphia. I would meet him in the elevator coming in in t’he morning, and he would needle me with this. I said, “I understood that when I moved down here Mr. Daley, and when the time comes, I’ll have to leave.” The time passed very rapidly. I began looking for a house, I went back to Boston and at the time, the prices of the Boston area houses had soared and in Philadelphia, the 75 prices had not gone up that much. There was a great disparity. So we were up here visiting my daughter and she said, “Well, why don’t you look for a house in the Portland area/” So we did, and this is , of course, June or July of 1973. I was required to get out in early 1974; I believe it waso We came across this house we’re in now on. Rustic Lane. It’s just a little development and it suited our purposes because we hadn’t any children and it was within our price range. It seemed to be accessible to all the things we wanted there was a shopping area close by, it was near to our daughter’s house so we could get over there in a few minutes, and in town Portland seemed like a nice shopping area which was not too far away and the mall was just then developing, and that too was within easy riding distance. So we decided we’d buy it and gave them a down payment and told them we’d move in sometime after the first of the year. I went back to Philadelphia with the intention of putting the house on the market, but at that time Nixon had clamped down on mortgage money. He called a moratorium on mortgage money and people couldn’t borrow banks wouldn’t advance the money to the people, I can’t remember exactly what the circumstances were beyond that, but I (Io know that it was very aggravating’ especially to the Realtors! Most especially to the Realtors, and to the people who had to sell their houses, like I did. So the morning I went back to work I ran into my boss coming up in the elevator. fie said, “I want you to know, the company has changed its policy. ” You 76 don’t have to get out until you’re 65.” Like the song this was a fine time to tell me, Lucille! So not too long after that I learned that he had no doubt known this for a long time, because it was six months prior to that the Board of Directors had changed this rule. They just hadn’t let me know. So it appeared to me that they were just trying to force me out, at least he was. I suppose I said that to him at the time I said, “This is a fine time to tell me because I just purchased a house up in Portland, Maine, and now I own two houses, which I can ill afford to keep on the money you’re paying me.” I said, “I plan to sell this house and move out at the time you wanted me to go.” “Oh,” he says, loyou can always rent the one up there.” And I said “About the same to you.” Well I with this moratorium on mortgages, it became apparent that I wasn’t going to move the house in a hurry. I talked to the Realtor about it, and he said that he knew no way of speeding it up. He had to find a customer with a lot of money to buy the house outright or he couldn’t sell it until they eased the money. Towards the end of this was in ’73 August of ’73 1 guess that I put the house up for sale. After the first of the year, ’74, the Realtor called me up and said that he had a buyer for my house, $1,000. less than what I was asking, and was I interested? He said, “He would be able to get a mortgage”. I said “Fine”. “I’ll take that because I’m carrying a big mortgage on the house up in Portland, Maine paying taxes, and the heating bill to keep it warm, the electric bill.” So 77 we did, and I didn’t mention any of this at all to Sears because I figured it wasn’t any of their business. When I finally signed the papers that the house would be sold, and I was assured that I had a buyer, I went in and told them that I was leaving at the end of the week. I’d sold my house, made arrangements to move my furniture, and I was leaving. My immediate boss said to me, “Do you want a farewell party?” and I said, “No, I don’t want a farewell party. I don’t want anything, I just want to get out of here. You don’t treat me very well down here and I don’t see why you think I’d want to have a party”. That sounds like sour milk. I guess they’ve forgotten about it by now, I guess. Well, to get back to the family, the children went through grad school junior high school, and high school in Wakefield, Massachusetts and they graduated. My boy became interested in athletics and he followed them through junior high and in senior high he played on the football team for three years and was co captain his senior year. He as a lineman tackle and defense, no tackle on offense and a linebacker on defense. He was especially good in sensing the oppositions’ play and in stopping it right at the line of scrimmage. The coaches marvelled at his ability to do this. As a result, he won state recognition for his ability as a linebacker. At the same time, he had been a very steady scholar, pretty good through school, until has senior year. After football season his grades, for no reason at all began to falter. I didn’t know what was wrong. He had hurt his 78 hand playing a game in the season, had a broken hand, which kept him from working at the grocery store, so that he didn’t have a job. I guess he got into the wrong company and started to run around. Later on he was brought home by the police in a drunken condition on two or three occasions. I did everything I could to straighten him out, not drink and so on. I got him a job that summer at Sears Roebuck, but meanwhile he had applied to colleges and been offered a football scholarship at the University of Massachusetts, the University of Rhode Island and Bates University here in Maine. He had applied to Ivy League schools where he thought he wanted to go. He was turned down by Dartmouth and he was turned down by Brown and he hadn’t heard from Harvard. The coach at Harvard had come from Gettysburg and I knew him. So I took him over there and he said, “He wasn’t much interested because he had his quota now anyway, and he couldn’t offer him a scholarship.” But it was just as well because it was shortly after that he received notice that Harvard didn’t want him either, wouldn’t take him. He said, “I’m not going to play football. I’m going to go up to the University of Massachusetts.” So I said, “Okay, if that’s what you want to do. You had a chance to go to Bates which your own football coach thought you should accept.” He said, to It isn’t big time,” and he said, “We thought you’d fit in there very well because you’re pretty good student.” The coach told him that’s the reason you go to school it’s not to play football, but to try to learn something,, Well, he 79 got up to the University of Massachusetts and decided he was going to take engineering courses. Why I don’t know. I guess after a while he wondered too, because at the end of the first semester he had pretty much dumped engineering and decided he would major in English become an English major. I got signals from one of the other boys that come back to Wakefield that he wasn’t doing too well up there. Pretty soon I learned from the Dean there that he wasn’t doing very well and had been in a scrape. He was going to be suspended at the end of his freshman year. So he was because he was drinking. Well, he came home and we sent him to a psychologist and he got a job in Boston and he wouldn’t stay at home. He got an apartment in downtown Boston. He decided that in the fall he would go to Emerson, so he enlisted in Emerson and stayed in there in town. He got through a semester at Emerson and I guess he spent a whole year there. I guess he just completed the half year at the University of Massachusetts. Then he re applied to the University of Massachusetts and they took him back. So he remained up there and he graduated in ’62, 1 guess. He should have graduated in ’61 but he graduated in 162. And he, of course, didn’t do any athletics at all during the time he was there. I think he dabbled in drinks and also in narcotics. I don’t know that for sure, but I just surmise that. He did get through, and he had fairly good marks because he applied he got married his senior year up there, to a girl that we liked very much. He 80 had met her at that college and had brought her home on a number of occasions. She would stay overnight at our house, They loved her father lived in Worcester, or her father worked in Worcester. Her father worked in Worcester. They lived in a suburb of Worcester. Her father wasn’t opposed to his daughter getting married, but he didn’t think that they should have eloped, and I didn’t either. Because I said, I wasn’t opposed to it. He said that I thought they should have waited until they graduated. So he applied to the University of Iowa to take his Master’s degree in the Writer’s School. His wife said that she would work and support them and she did. She got a job in Iowa and supported them Meanwhile, they had a boy, and after about three years, I don’t know, maybe four years, he finally got his Master of Fine Arts degree. They moved east, back to Worcester, and lived in the house that her family owned that wasn’t occupied. He was floundering around from job to job. I couldn’t make head nor tails out of it except that they both concealed the fact from me that he was drinking, and drinking heavily. Anytime that I was him he was sober. Well, I didn’t really know what was going on. We didn’t communicate. So the next think I know, they’re moving back to Iowa. She’s going to take a Master’s degree. She had, when she was coming back her east, she worked for the social services department for the State of Massachusetts. They were going to pay her tuition out there and give her some kind of subsistence allowance while she was there. My son was supposed to work to help her get through. Well, I didn’t know much about it, but I wrote letters and got letters back, but nobody actually said what Bill was doing. Finally, they moved back east again. One day I got a letter from Worcester and he said, I’ve been concealing it from you for a long time, but I’m a schizophrenic.” Well, once you’re judged I consulted psychiatrists and so forth and they said, well, he could be, or he could not be. He said, “Once you’re judge a schizophrenic a schizophrenic, you are. That’s a medical diagnosis that’s just the way it is.” While, he was out there in Iowa and just before his son was born, he went into some kind of indoor clinic. He was given some kind of shock treatment that would stop him from drinking. It did stop him from drinking, but it also stopped him from a desire to do any work. Now whether that was the schizophrenia or not, I don’t know. Finally, in Worcester, his wife after 17 years with him, she decided to divorce him. When he got this news, he tried to commit suicide by taking an overdose of his medications, They were able to save him. put him in a state institution for a while, and he seemed to be straightened out, came out. I told him it would be best he didn’t want to live with us I told him it would be best for you to stay in Worcester where you can have visiting rights with your son. So he did that until the boy got through high school. 82 When the boy finished high school he didn’t remain in Worcester; he joined the Army. And at that point, Bill seemed to be all interested in everything and one day when the son was home on leave from the Army, he went up to his apartment, Bill’s apartment, and he couldn’t get in. He had an appointment to meet his father. He got a hold of his mother, and his mother got a hold of the superintendent of the building and got into the room and found him dead. Held taken an overdose. Course, this was a shock, but it was hard to say whether it could have been prevented or not but any time we tried to do anything to help him he seemed to be always just running the other way. Even the psychiatrist that I had him to, I had him go to, in the Boston area, would never give me a definite statement of what his mental condition was. They never said he was schizophrenic. All they would way when he was in college send him back to school, he seemed to do alright up there. Well, I mean, that got him off there. They didn’t know what to do with him. we’d say, well you could live at home, but he wouldn’t live at home. Try to pin him down, and he’d just run. Whether he was a victim of the drug culture or whether he was schizophrenic, I don’t know. I spent a lot of time thinking about it, but I don’t know. So maybe it was inherited from my father, I don’t know, the drinking, maybe he inherited it from my father cause he didn’t get it from me; because I never drank that much. I wasn’t a teetotaler, but I never, I never drank to the point 83 of insensitively. I could take a social drink. When I came home from work, especially from Sears, I usually would have a drink of wine or a drink of whiskey before dinner. That was about the extent of my drinking. That was to relax more than anything else …. He died in ’84. He died in 184. Yeah, he died in 1984. We buried him down in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Carol was a year behind Billy. She went through high school, and she was just a mediocre student for the most part. She was very active in social activities. Dramatics, she was active in church work, especially young people’s organizations. She teachers were always comparing her to her brother. She got the same teachers going through high school, and they said, “Your brother went through here, and he got A on this, and he did this, and he was excellent in English.” This and that, he was an outstanding football player, played on the baseball team. Also played in the track team. But you just don’t seem to measure up to him. Well, I think that she just rebelled when they did that because she got through there and she said she wanted to go to nursing school. So the Baptist Church down there which we were attending was connected with the New England Baptist Hospital, which is considered an excellent hospital. We were able to get her in there, which was apparently, at that time, thought to be the best training, nurses training education around Boston. She didn’t do too well up there, and the supervisor called me up and see the supervisor was 84 from my home town, Wakefield, Massachusetts I didn’t know her personally until that time. I said, “If she can’t cut it, she can’t cut it she’ll have to come home.” She said, “I don’t think it is a matter of that. She has an excellent way, she has an excellent personality with her but she’s just not applying herself.” So I set her down and said, “What do you want me to do? Come up here and take those damn examinations for you?” Well, from that time on she seemed to straighten out. She did excellent work. She got through there and they asked her to stay on as a nurse there. She became a supervisor within six months after she graduated Nurses’ Supervisor. She came home one day and said to her mother oh, by this time now she had established an apartment of her own in Boston. She wasn’t coming home, but she could come home almost anytime she had free time. Course, she’d get the family wheels, too, when she came home. I did lose my train of thought here …. No,no, she came home and said she was going down to Columbia Bible College with another girl from New England Baptist Hospital that she had graduated with. Well, I didn’t like this girl. There was nothing horribly wrong with her, but she just seemed to be a fanatic on religion. I mean, a real fanatic. otherwise, you know, the girl was very nice. Very polite. I said, I don’t wee any reason to do that. You’ve got excellent skills here around Boston. If you want to go to school, I’ll send you down to Gettysburg. I said, “I can get you in there” No, she 85 wanted to go down to Columbia Bible College; no this is Columbia, South Carolina, the capitol. So, off she goes and she spends I was mad. I wouldn’t even write to her. We were having all this trouble with Billy, you know, Gladys was upset, and I was upset. Gladys dotes on Carol, she always has and so I had another problem on my hands with Gladys. So the world didn’t look very bright. Off she goes. She spends a year and a half down there. It might have been two years. She didn’t stay to get a degree. She came back to Boston. She came back with the girl who had gone through Columbia, four years at Columbia. She was a nurse. They had an apartment in town, Boston. Carol went back to New England Baptist Hospital where she was supervisor. Incidentally, while she was down in Columbia, she also worked in a Catholic hospital won there and supported her whole way through she wasn’t depending on me for any money. She supported her way through she wasn’t depending on me for any money. She supported her way through Columbia Bible College. I didn’t pay or I, you know, I’d send her to Boston University or any of the colleges she wanted to go to around there or down in Gettysburg but she didn’t want any part of it. She knew what she wanted to do. So it wasn’t long after she came back that she invites me up to her apartment for lunch one day, which was only a stone’s throw really about, no more than a ten minute drive from where I was working down at Sears. So I came up. She had quite an elaborate lunch. She finally told me that she 86 met a fella that she liked and she was going to get married. He was in his senior year of medical school at Boston University. She was going to bring him out to the house that next weekend. I was to be on my good behavior. So she did. That’s the fellow to whom she is now married Steve Paulding. She helped him get through medical school and worked part time while he was interning. They were married, I guess, oh well, I believe they were married immediately after he got through medical school down at Boston University. He is from the Boston area … just beyond Brockton Holbrook. So they were married. I guess it was then that they moved up he became an intern and they moved up to Maine. She also continued to work at nursing. I don’t believe full time but part time to help support them. They moved over into an apartment in South Portland. Later, when he became a resident, they moved out to Cumberland and rented a house out in Cumberland. Not far from where they’re living now. He went through Boston University on the Navy no, Air Force ROTC. Well, Steve had completed his internship and his residency at Maine Medical School. Then he had to satisfy his obligation to the Air Force for providing his education. He went to Plattsburgh, he was assigned to Plattsburgh, New York Air Force Station. He was there when we were living in Glenside, Philadelphia. I believe that he had only two years, at that time, to serve. it doesn’t seem to me that it was any longer than that. But that’s immaterial. It was, I guess, it was while he was an intern up here, 87 that their first child was born however. Timothy, he’s now in medical school in Vermont. Then Carol was born two years later. I think they were still living in Maine that was just before he … Beck is the granddaughter but Betsy, everybody calls my daughter Betsyl Well, where were we? We Both those children were born while they lived in Maine prior to his going into the Air Force. When we moved here, he had finished that and come back to Maine. They had bought a house in Cumberland, not the same one they’re in now, not the old house, they bought a brand new house. They were there about three or four years and he sold it and bought the house they are in currently, now, which is supposedly almost 200 years old just short of 200 years old. That had been a doctor’s office. He left the affiliation that he was with when he first came to Maine and went into practice for himself. Later on then he built, about five years later, he built the office that adjoins, that is next to his home. We came up here in 1974. April of ’74. When I came up here In that fall of ’74, 1 took the Block training course which was located at that time in on Congress Street at the Block office. They hired me after that as a tax preparers and I worked for them for eight years, part time, during the tax season. I’ll tell you one thing, I certainly wasn’t doing it for the money! I enjoyed it, I enjoyed it more that I’d ever enjoyed working for Sears. You’re more or less on your own. Your almost an independent tax preparer when you work for them, There’s not too much supervision. At least, 88 there wasn’t in this area. Well, the long term, the long term you had to work in Kresge’s, you became a workaholic whether you wanted to or not. That carried on to Sears. The thing of it is, the person that does a lot of work gets a lot of work shoved on him. I found out when I went to Philadelphia that I’d been doing, really, up in Boston…. TAPE 4, SIDE 2 Well, how far back do you want to go? … Mean my What I’ve talked an here is all work and it looks rather bleak. We did have a very nice social life in Wakefield. We belonged to a Baptist church there and we were active in the church activities and became co presidents of the Couple’s Club and served in that for a long number of years. And some of those people we still entertain either here or we visit them down in Massachusetts. Friendship that goes back now, with some, over 30 35 years. Course, a lot of them are dead, too. With Sears there were a number of people we socialized with all around the perimeter of Boston. Fellows that worked at Sears use to entertain other Sears employees. We had good times with them. Unfortunately, most of those people are dead now and they were all younger than I am. Gladys never worked after we were married for any length of time. She may have worked out in Detroit, Michigan. She probably worked for two weeks one Christmas at Hudson that was before Billy was born. She was actually pregnant with Billy at that time. Then when we lived in Wakefield, she met 89 a man that had worked for the Enterprise Company, for whom she worked before we were married, who was now running a children’s store in Wakefield Square. On Jewish holidays she would go in and take over the store for him because she was familiar with the children’s clothes. She had worked in that department for Enterprise. But other than that, she never worked. That was more of a courtesy thing than anything else. We had out 50th Anniversary in 1989. Also, we’re going back to Gettysburg quite frequently for different events. I like to go down there to see the football games and on occasion I ah on our 50th Anniversary, I received a citation for service to the college which included a number of things. One of them was record of not large contributions but continuous contributions over a long number of years to the college alumni fund. In addition to that, I have served in any event, I was a recruiter for new students. My job was not to be promotional or gung ho in going out and contacting a lot of people. It was mostly the referrals of people who had applied to the college that I interviewed and reported back to the college on my impressions and also on their intentions as to whether that was just a second, third or fourth choice. Many of these kids apply to up to ten colleges. It’s a little expensive, but they do it. I worked on that began to work in that in 1956 in Massachusetts and continued working while I was in Pennsylvania and continued working while I was up in Maine up 90 until about two years ago. So I have a long record of following up applicants for the school. That was interesting work. I met very interesting young men. So, I had a new thought but I can’t recall … escaped me now’. Had wanted to do with Gettysburg. So, have you any more prompting questions there? The reason I had to give up Block was at that time Gladys had a stroke. That pretty much, I have been confined at home since 1984. 1 think it was ’84 she had her stroke. It was her 77 year … Her capabilities deteriorated as time progresses which makes it even more confining. My principal job these last three years anyway is taking care of her. I had a little leeway but not enough so that I could go out and work. I always preferred, you know, to do some work in the field. Yeah, even keeping busy around the house keeps you young. I wouldn’t ever want to just sit down and sit and watch the world go by. But we’re, you know, we’re restricted as far as traveling in concerned. it’s almost impossible to travel with her unless you have money, you know, and then she couldn’t stand it for any great distance. Well, I’ve always gone to church except when I first left Gettysburg. I’ve shifted around the country so much. When I was single I didn’t go much to church but after I met Gladys, why we went to church. Most of our friends, other that ones at work or our immediate neighbors, we met through churches. We were very active, as I said to you, in the Baptist Church down in Wakefield. And the Lutheran I’m not 91 strictly denominational. I’m not, maybe I’m not that devout in my religion, but I can worship in almost any kind of Christian church and feel at home an not get involved in the doctrines or or their philosophy. Well, if you look back you think there’s always some things you should have changed. At the time I left S.S. Kresge, I thought it was the right thing to do, but in retrospect I don’t think it was. Because was I never really enjoyed any work that I did for Sears Roebuck. I never got any satisfaction out of it. As I said, you never felt that you had the responsibility the ultimate responsibility. With Kresge you hadl Any advise for young people. They are not going to follow it and they might as well make their mistakes anyway. Well, I was just thinking that we hadn’t done much as far as any social activities or anything. When we we did socialize with people during all that time. Most of it, as I say, was through the church. My brother was Frederick, yeah. He passed away, he died after my son died. He passed away about ’86. Well, as I said in our younger years he was older than I was and he was I looked more on him as another adult or a pain in the neck if he was going to restrict me from doing what I wanted to do. By the time I was, let’s see, 9 years old he was already in college. He was going to the University of Pennsylvania. Then later on he went to Gettysburg. Then he came out and he was in and out of Harrisburg. He worked in 92 Harrisburg a few years and then he worked down in Lancaster and then he went down to New Jersey. He worked in the Elizabeth Daily Journal down there. Then he finally worked his was back into Harrisburg. Meanwhile, I was away with Kresge. Although we corresponded, we probably saw each other once or twice a year maybe, but that was about it. That was only for a few day or so. We weren’t very close. We were probably closer when he lived in California and I use to write to him and he wrote to me frequently. He did visit he usually got East about once a year. He was the person you should have interviewed. He was a newspaperman. He had a great command of the English language. Like I told you, he was a scholar. He was and intellectual. He was a Socialist not a revolutionist a Socialist. He knew a lot of outstanding political figures because he had worked in Washington, D.C. both on the … Worked on the Washington Post for awhile. Then he worked on some labor papers. He worked for George Meany and the CIO he knew him. He worked for four or five papers down there in the labor movement. One time he worked for the Baltimore Sun. He moved around a lot. Then he decided that he would go to Mexico and in Mexico he would retire. He retired for a period of the years and then he moved back to California. He went back after ten years in California, he tried to go back to Mexico where he was I don’t know he was going to write a story or book on some figure I don’t know what happened. In any event, it was during the time that they had an upheaval a monetary 93 upheaval and he took what money he had left of his saving and his inheritance. He practically lost everything down there in converting and trying to get back into the United States. So he ended up out in Palo Alto. that’s where he had been for ten years before going to Mexico. But I had begged him, you know, begged him not to leave Palo Alto because he had a good retirement home there… run by the Unitarian Church. He belonged to the Unitarian Church… They don’t believe that Christ was a deity. At least not all of them. I guess you can’t believe in Jesus Christ if you belong. They take someone it’s an umbrella religion. If you’re able to struggle then you’re a member. 94