Monte Basbas


Mr. Basbas describes employment and wages of the era


Mr. Basbas on the rise of fascism in the 1930’s

Mr. Basbas was born in 1921 in Manchester New Hampshire, where he spent his childhood. The son of two Greek immigrants, he and his five siblings grew up right in the midst of the Depression. Although the Basbas family was not greatly affected by the hard times, their family owned a grocery store and a few other shops, Mr. Basbas clearly remembers other families who were not so fortunate. Among his favorite things growing up Mr. Basbas recalls seeing his favorite cowboy movies, playing games with kids in the neighborhood, and attending the circus that came to town every summer.

This is Sammy Riley and Jen Payne and we are interviewing Mr. Basbas on May 13th, 2008, for the Wayland High School History Project.

Q: Please state your name.

Mr. Basbas: My name? Monte Basbas. B-a-s-b-a-s.

Q: How old were you in 1929?

Mr. Basbas: In 1929? I was eight years old.

Q: Where did you live during the Depression years?

Mr. Basbas: Manchester, New Hampshire.

Q: What were your parents’ names, and what did they do for work when you were small?

Mr. Basbas: My father’s name was George. My mother’s name was Rose. My father worked in a shoe factory from six o’clock in the morning till six o’clock at night. Then he came home and ran a grocery store that my mother ran all during the day ’til he came home. And he only worked in the grocery store from six o’clock at night ‘til midnight. He really worked many hours. I haven’t got that kind of patience.

Q: How many brothers and sisters did you have?

Mr. Basbas: I had three brothers and two sisters…

Q: How was your mother’s role as a homemaker impacted by the Depression, if at all? Because you said she was working at the market, so was she ever doing chores around the house a lot?

Mr. Basbas: She did all the cooking. She never had any outside cooking at all; she did all the cooking. She was a fabulous cook. And the old Greek cook she brought from the old country, you know what I mean? And we got to like it, surprisingly enough! But she took care of us very, very nicely. Don’t forget there were six of us, all of us, you know what I mean? And she had to cater to us and cater to the old man, too.

Q: What did you eat as a child? Did you eat and pre-made foods or was it all home made?

Mr. Basbas: All homemade. Everything was home done. Beautifully done, too, I really mean it…

Q: When you went down to the local store, what kinds of things did you want to buy, if you wanted to buy candy or something, and how much did it usually cost?

Mr. Basbas: I didn’t have to buy anything ‘cause we had a grocery store. And my father, I said, ran it and my mother ran it during the day, so we had everything we needed right there. Anything else we needed, my mother would go shopping. I never bought a thing! She did all the buying. Like now, my wife does all the buying!

Q: Did you grow any of your own food, and can it or was it all just from the store?

Mr. Basbas: No, my father had grape vines out in back. He liked the idea of grape vines, that’s all. The only things we grew were grapes. Everything else came out of the store.

Q: Did you make wine with them?

Mr. Basbas: No, no he never made wine.

Q: Did your family own a car?

Mr. Basbas: No, not at that time.

Q: So, did you walk around mostly?

Mr. Basbas: Bicycles. We had the bicycles; we took care of them. We built them from scrap. We went all over the place with them! We use to use them to go fishing and what not. But all over Manchester, New Hampshire we bicycled.

Q: Do you think everyone had bicycles or did some people have cars?

Mr. Basbas: My brothers and sisters had cars. They bought cars… When I wanted to go to my high school graduation, the car was brand new. He had just gotten this beautiful big Packard… the family was very closely knit.

Q: How would you compare the typical clothing then to today?

Mr. Basbas: The clothing back then was very simple. It was jeans and cover-alls and very simple clothing. Nothing fancy like today… Everything was simple, very plain, very drab. Blue jeans, yeah that’s what you wore…

Q: What were your earliest memories of the hard time in the 1930s? Did your family go through any hard times with money?

Mr. Basbas: No, we were lucky. We saw it all, and we didn’t suffer through it because I say my father had worked so many hours and what not. And he ran the store, he had the grocery store and he had his shoes and [inaudible] store right next to it. And he bought a couple of buildings. He was smart enough to pick up a couple. He didn’t have much money when he came from the old country. You know what I mean? But he was smart enough to do that. We didn’t have to worry about anything like that. When you’re talking about money, food, you’re talking about five or eight cents a quart of milk, five or eight cents for loaf of bread, yeah. And then again when I went to Dartmouth. I paid a fortune to go to Dartmouth! It was 450 dollars. Now its 45,000!… 450 dollars a year…So the kids then, it was the simple life. Everything was simple! We didn’t have the enjoyment part of the community that you people have, all the young people today have. You have the schools involved. The only difference is this: I played football, lacrosse, and what, all the way through high school, prep school, and college, but they paid for everything! We didn’t pay for a dime… They gave us all our equipment. All of our equipment came free of charge, in high school, prep school, and college. In those days, it came that way, even though there wasn’t much money around and the people were suffering. I saw, what I saw. I watched these people come into the store to buy food, and they didn’t have much money. They were either working with WPA or one of the other organizations, and the money was scarce…That’s why my mother would go around on Saturdays and take bags of food to some of these people that we knew who couldn’t afford anything. You know what I mean? So we were lucky in that respect. We saw it, but we didn’t have to live it. You know what I mean? It was sad. It was really frightening to see what was happening to some of the people.

Q: How did you spend most of your time as a kid? What did you do for fun and what games did you play?

Mr. Basbas: I raised hell! [laughter] No, no, no, no. Actually, I did work, even as a youngster, at the post office at Christmas time, sorting mail and what not. And the money I made, we use to every Saturday, we would go to the theatre, the Crown Theatre in Manchester. It cost us a fortune! It cost ten cents to go to the theatre. Ten cents! But we would go to the theatre and enjoy the theatre. We’d do that, and we’d do a little fishing; we did a lot of fishing. And even at age fourteen, I was able buy a gun, and an old timer who used to take me rabbit hunting with him. So we’d go to the…joining community, and hunt for rabbits. And I enjoyed just being out in the woods. And the old timer was there to make sure everything was right, and that he was careful, and that you did everything with care. But that’s what we did for entertainment. And on the street corners, my neighborhood was a conglomeration. There were Greeks, French, Irish, Italian; the whole group was there! The governor, Johnny King, who then became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Hampshire, he lived right down the street from me. John King, he was a great guy. He was a great lawyer and a great Chief Justice of the Supreme Court up there. But we’d go out there and play kick the can. Running from one corner to the other corner, you know what I mean? That’s the kind of stuff we use to do. It was very simple stuff. Nothing elaborate, nothing organized as you have now, all the organizations.

Q: Did you eat the meat like when you went rabbit hunting and fishing, did you eat what you caught?

Mr. Basbas: I wouldn’t, but the folks did. They loved it. My father loved rabbit.

Q: I saw you brought in pictures of the carnival and the circus, so did you go often to the carnival or the circus?

Mr. Basbas: Never missed a circus never missed a carnival. I had a good time, but fortunately my dad having these stores; he had five stores all together… He would let them put signs up on the window advertising Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus. As a result, what do you think? We got coupons. We got tickets. So we never missed it. And then after you went to the main show. You always had the Wild West shows afterwards. And we’d watch the Wild West guys…

Q: Did they come once a year, or twice a year?

Mr. Basbas: Oh, once a year… Yeah, in the summer. They came through a field that was just close to my house anyways.

Q: What were the types of movies you liked and radio stations?

Mr. Basbas: Oh cowboy movies! Buck Jones, Ted Maynard, Hood Gibson. Those were our stars. And usually at the very beginning there were silent movies, they didn’t have sound. Then we came with the sound after that. But I loved the cowboy shows. All the excitement… Bang bang!

Q: And were there radios shows that you listened to every day?

Mr. Basbas: Yes, on the radio? Yeah, yeah. We had to listen to the radio a lot because there was no television. And you couldn’t get around much anymore because you didn’t have a car. So you were stuck around the house, and you turned on the radios.

Q: Did you have a favorite radio show?

Mr. Basbas: Not really, not really.

Q: What type of music did you enjoy when you were little?

Mr. Basbas: Gene Autrey type of music [laughter]… Cowboy music [laughter]. That was the excitement those days. You know what I mean? They always fought for the good of the individual. They were always the good guys. And they fought the bad guys. That made you feel great. When you get the Gene Autrey and what was his wife’s name? She was a singer too, but anyway.

Q: Did you play any sports when you were a kid? I know you mentioned hockey, football and lacrosse.

Mr. Basbas: I played football and I played lacrosse. Football was no good ’cause I played tackle. Tackle you’re a blocking dumby [laughter]. Lacrosse at least and against Army and Navy the coach had me playing midfield which meant I had to run the whole length of the field. My size and my weight? I’m not that fast! But against Army and Navy, those guys, they all thought they had sabers. They didn’t know they were military, you know, they would slash you with a stick.

Q: Did you follow any major league sports? Like baseball or anything.

Mr. Basbas: Yes, because Jim Pearsall lived next to me. He was a baseball player, and Ted Williams was a good friend. And Ted Yastremski and I shared the head table at the sports fair in Manchester, New Hampshire. And I’ll never forget Yastremski. All the speakers were horrible. He went up there and said say what you have to say and shut up! [laughter] And Ted Williams used to come down, one of the finest guys you’ll want to know. Most people did not realize that he was a very passionate guy. For example we use to go to the sport show in Boston. He was a fly caster. He would say, ‘you want me to come down to the sportsman show? I’ll come on one condition, you bring Jimmy Foxx.’ Well what’s Jimmy Foxx? I don’t want to bring him. Then I’m not coming he’d say. They’d bring Jimmy Foxx; pay him $500. He’d say ‘nice to be with y’all. You know what I mean? But Jimmy Foxx had a lot of money. He had a trucking company and a golf course, and he lost it all. Then going up to New Hampshire the sportsman up there would every year annually a big sport. And all the ball players would come. Ted Williams would not come, but finally he would come up. He would not wear a jacket. But one time he came up, and he said Monte and Joe we drove up leave your car here tonight, and I’ll bring it back to Boston. So we left him the car. But Ted was a decent kind of guy. You realize he was a fighter pilot. Jimmy Pearsall too: Jimmy lived two houses away from me. He would throw cigars in the window, and we’d run out. He was a very sensitive guy, and he had nine kids. Don’t drive up perched on the road. Jimmy’s kids are playing on the road. But when you’re talking about sports fan I went to all the sporting events as a kid.

Q: In those days a lot of kids had heroes, and you talked a lot about cowboy movies and there were all these good guys. So did you have a hero or cowboy and who was he or she and why?

Mr. Basbas: Well Ted Williams a lot after that. So for me it was still those cowboys. Those were the ones you would see every Saturday morning. They were decent guys. They fought for the good people. They were goods guys, Ted Manley and Buck Jones.

Q: On an average day what did you do? Did you have any adventures?

Mr. Basbas: On the average day I was out fishing most of the time. And we loved camping. And I enjoyed fishing and bike riding all over the place ’cause that’s what we had to do. We didn’t have cars. When my brother bought his first car, we borrowed it all the time. It was an old jalopy, but it served the purpose.

Q: Was there a lake near your house that you fished at?

Mr. Basbas: Oh yes, there was a pond Nuts Pond and Crystal Lake. We went to Nuts mostly. There was also the Merrimack River. We would mostly go to Nuts Pond and sometimes Crystal Lake. We’d do all our fishing there.

Q: What was community life like in the 1930’s? Was it tight-knit?

Mr. Basbas: Very Simple. It isn’t like the life today. You people have 50,000 organizations for young people, senior citizens, ill, sick people. You know what I mean. So many organizations, no one’s alone. We never had any of that. No great activity, organized activity. You had to fine ways of doing things yourself and keep out of trouble.

Q: What was your school like?

Mr. Basbas: School? It was great. It was great. I enjoyed it. I got a picture of high school, no grammar school. They were a bunch of people, very compassionate and nice to get along with. You wouldn’t find the attacks you guys have today on young people. Girls, men, everyone else, you didn’t have that. You didn’t have that. You did have, though, which was a problem was bootlegging. This was when Prohibition was around. You couldn’t buy liquor, and yet the bootleggers were all over the place. And half the time the cops would be raiding these places. We use to call them the speakeasies. The place where these people went in to get their booze, get their drinks. I was not a drinker, you know? A lot going around. After they got rid of Prohibition and liquor became available the bootleggers had to step aside. That was bad. They were bad. You know what I mean? They came out of Chicago mostly, really.

Q: What kind of subjects did you study in school?

Mr. Basbas: English, math, what not, all the way through elementary and high school. And in college I was in political science. I wanted to be a druggist, no a dentist. But I had a professor, Richardson, who said, ‘Monty, I want you to go to law school.’ My father hated politicians. So when I decided to run for mayor of Newton I never told my father. He would have been very unhappy with me. So one of the neighbors of my father at Hampton Beach told him. I got a phone call from my father. You’re going to go into politics? Why, why? I sent you to college to send you to law school to become a practicing lawyer. I don’t want you to be a politician. But it turned out to be a great field because Newton was very honorable, you know?

Q: What chores and responsibilities did you have growing up? Were these impacted by the fact that it was the Great Depression? If so, how?

Mr. Basbas: I said I was fortunate ’cause my folks had our own business. But we did observe the others, and it made you sit and wonder. And we knew about Hitler, and that that went on. And that broke our hearts because we didn’t think this country was doing enough to stop him before he did so much harm, but that was coming up. We saw that building up, and we saw the people really starving, I mean really, without food, without clothes. They didn’t have nice jeans like you people had. They didn’t have shoes, they couldn’t afford it, you know what I mean? They couldn’t afford the food, let alone the clothing. The clothing was very sparse, basic. If you had a shirt and trousers, that was it. Don’t look for any underwear ’cause you couldn’t afford it. You know, they couldn’t afford it, most of them. That’s the way we observed them. We didn’t suffer from it, but we lived through it and observed it all happen.

Q: Did most people get to go to school or did most people suffer from so much poverty that they didn’t get the chance to go?

Mr. Basbas: They had to go out and get a job. They did not continue. Most did not go to college. Most did not even want to go to high school. They’d take a job somewhere and try to help the family. Any kind of job, Let’s face it. The WPA was paying eighteen dollars a week. You know what I mean? And even then one guy used to come into the store with three children and would come into the store with eighteen dollars a week. He couldn’t clothe them or feed them. I really mean that; it would break your heart to see them, it really did.

Q: What was your first job? Did you as well have to get one?

Mr. Basbas: Yes, the post office. I was working there, and I was putting mail in the boxes. And they didn’t pay a lot of money, but it was enough, but it was enough you know. It gave me enough money that I could go to the cowboy shows on Saturday mornings. And after that I worked at a restaurant even as a youngster. The guy who owned the restaurant was a wonderful guy. A matter of fact, I will never forget the day. There was a young girl who worked inside. And this old duck, she made some kind of mistake with his order. And he said if you had any more brains you wouldn’t be here, you’d be going to college. And I said sir, I let him have it good. The owner was standing right there. He said congratulations, and I thought he was going to fire me ’cause I let this guy have it. I said this girl’s going to college. She just started college. Okay? She’s doing a damn good job. If she made a mistake, so what? Everybody makes mistakes. I let him have it good. And the owner said to me, ‘Monte, congratulations’ [laughter]. That bothered me, honest to God. To see some poor duck take a young girl and blast her, and call her a moron, an idiot. You know? All right.

Q: did the Great Depression affect members of your extended family, like aunts and uncles?

Mr. Basbas: Uh, not really, not really. They were all doing pretty well. We were very fortunate in that respect. They came from the old country, and they came with the idea they had to work. You know? None of them looked for any welfare. None of them looked for any handouts. Because from the old school they had to work, work. You know what I mean? It was a pride they had in doing that. As a result they didn’t have to worry that much. Really, we were lucky.

Q: Do you have any memories of people in tough circumstances? I know you mentioned the people coming into the store.

Mr. Basbas: No you’d see them when they needed help, medical help, they couldn’t afford it. And we didn’t have the walk in clinics that we have today. You couldn’t walk into the emergency clinics we have today. They would sit with it and suffer with it in hopes that we’d be able to tell them what to do to help them ’cause they couldn’t afford the doctors, the doctors’ help. We were lucky. One of our apartments, a doctor lived there [laughter]. He, he was character. His name was Doctor Nisho. But he came from the old school, but he was good man. You know what I mean? Very dedicated guy, but we were lucky we had him right there.

Q: You mentioned your mom made you go to church every Sunday, so was your faith very strong as a young person? Did the Great Depression impact your faith at all?

Mr. Basbas: We were involved with the church and having to go. You didn’t go voluntarily. My ear hurt, you know, ’cause she’d drag me into [laughter]. You went to a Greek Church; it was a four-hour deal. You’re there at nine o’clock and you sit there to one o’clock. You’d sit there, and you’d be like ‘oh my God what am I doing here?’ [laughter]. But it was great. Because, you have to remember, her father was a priest, and therefore church meant everything to her. Then we became Congregationalists. You know what I mean? ‘Cause my kids were not Greek [laughter]. My wife wouldn’t know what Greek is…

Q: Did you know anything about Franklin Roosevelt?

Mr. Basbas: Oh, absolutely! He was a godsend. He really was. My father felt that, knowing, having seen the people starving to death, really having troubles. And you know, we saw the people at the WPA, and the CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps, and what happened down at the Tennessee Valley Authority and what not. And we saw what was going on. And thanks to him and his New Deal, he tried to bring us out of the Depression. Not as quickly as we would have hoped, but he did a darn good job. What he did was a godsend. My father felt he was really a godsend. You know what I mean? And his wife was a fantastic female. She spent a lot of time trying to beautify the countryside, the roads, the roadways and whatnot. She was a gung-ho young lady, not a young lady. And so was he. He did a fantastic job.

Q: So the next question was about Eleanor Roosevelt. So is there anything else you would like to say about her?

Mr. Basbas: Yes, she was the right-hand to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And she beautified the countryside, which is what I like about her, and what we admired about her. She was concerned about people. She was very much involved. She was not a snotty person, not at all. She was down to earth, very regular, very decent, very honorable, and incredible for the country and the president.

Q: Do you ever recall seeing a “Hooverville” of homeless people? What was that like?

Mr. Basbas: No, fortunately not, we did not have that experience at all. We didn’t have any homeless people. They all had places to go, although they were not the best places. They joined up. People would bring other people with them. So they were not necessarily homeless. If you had a room, you would have a friend that used it. And they allowed people to do that. Very compassionate, the people were very down to earth in those days, more so today than they were then. But then people knew what it was like to be without. So if you had a room, you allowed somebody to come in and use it. Same with the food, you’d share your food.

Q: So you talked about some of Franklin Roosevelt’s plans and his New Deal. Do you recall any other programs?

Mr. Basbas: Well the CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps. The older people would get in the WPA to earn a living. The younger people would go into the CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps. And that kept them busy, and they were doing beautification work and whatnot, doing a lot of good work. And that was one of Roosevelt’s best jobs, okay? Then of course he did the TVA, Tennessee Valley Authority. Tennessee was having a serious problem in terms of land down there, and he did a great deal with the TVA group. That was very helpful. It created a lot of jobs, and that’s what Roosevelt did. All his jobs, TVA, CCC, WPA, you know what I mean?

Q: I know you said your dad supported Franklin Roosevelt. Do you have anything further to say on him?

Mr. Basbas: What he did was to take us out of the Depression. And of course we are still living the results of that good for many, many years until recently, of course in this recession. It’s not a depression; it’s somewhat of a recession [laughter].

Q: Were any of your friends part of the New Deal program? Did any of your friends work in the CCC?

Mr. Basbas: Oh absolutely, yea some of my neighbors. Some of the kids I went to school with joined the CCC and enjoyed it very very much. A lot of the older people were WPA, and we saw them in the store everyday with their checks, and we got to know them that way. The younger people, some of them worked for the WPA, but most of them were the older group. The younger people went to the CCC.

Q: Do you remember any of the big construction projects going on at that time?

Mr. Basbas: Well the TVA for one thing, and of course you’re talking about the Empire State Building and that kind of construction. Those construction projects created a lot of jobs and provided a lot of good for the area, provided jobs and very basic needs

Q: In the 1930’s there was the World Fair, which was titled ‘World of Tomorrow’. How do you remember this famous fair?

Mr. Basbas: I most certainly loved it. We went there, and I loved the swimming. Esther Williams was a swimming star at that time, and she was fantastic. She really was. She was really quite a gal, but the swimming, everything was fantastic. We were young, and to see all this it shook us up and to watch Esther Williams swim, bounce around [laughter].

Q: While the country was going through the Depression, do you recall learning about Hitler’s rise in Germany and the Japanese military advances?

Mr. Basbas: Oh God yes, we sure as well did. We were very upset that the country was not doing more to stop Hitler from killing so many people, Jews and others by the way. Far too many groups. He went over and took over all of Europe and massacred people. When they talked about the ovens, we heard about it, and it was frightening. We’d sit there, and what about the people that were there? What could we do to keep them alive and keep them from being massacred? Oh yes, and Japan was a vicious country. I am sorry. To this day, I will never buy a Japanese car. I’m sorry. I flew fighters against them. And them Japanese Mitsubishi cars. And you know the other day I looked at my TV. And it was a Mitsubishi! I would never buy a Mitsubishi. The Japanese, let me tell you off the record. The Germans were tough, but the pilots they shot you down, went by you, saluted you, and went off. The Japanese, you bailed out, they shoot you down. They warned us. If you have to bail out, don’t pull that chord until you are very close to the ground ’cause the Japanese would shoot you down. The Germans would not do that. If you were a prisoner of the Germans they would tell you to get into a prison camp ’cause the Luftwaffe was a lot more honorable. One of my friends, who belongs to the Boston Club with me, flew P-47 in Europe. His wingman got shot down. He bailed out. The German pilot in the NE-49, flew by him, saluted him, and was on his way. Didn’t shoot the pilot down. That’s what happened with the German pilots. That doesn’t mean Hitler was any good at all, not at all, not at all! I’m just saying some of their pilots were decent. Japan… I would have never allowed the Japanese to take me as a prisoner. I want you to know that. I would have rather killed myself than let them take me as a prisoner [laughter]. I would have; I’m serious.

Q: Do you think we’re affected at all by the Great Depression today?

Mr. Basbas: To a certain extent… To the extent that we should have learned something from them. Some lessons, I don’t think we have learned enough from them, I don’t think we want to remember them. We want to forget them. A lot of our people do not want to remember anything about the past. They don’t want to remember a World War II. They don’t want to remember that Hitler was there. They want to forget about Hitler and want to forgive him. I’m sorry I can’t do that. The Depression was bad. A lot of people suffered. Yes, it was there. Many of us remember it, but not enough. I’m sorry. I’m surprised you people even are talking about it; want to remember it. I’m glad you do. It’s important we remember it and do not go into the same situation again.

Q: How are the kids different today than they were in your childhood?

Mr. Basbas: They’re still as concerned as our kids were, but they’re more sophisticated, more knowledgeable, more compassionate today, and more involved than our kids were. Our kids were living a secluded life. There was not enough going on, not any of the organizations you have today. You have 50,000 organizations in every community. And you know what, working with you and working with us, with the whole group working together we didn’t have that as youngsters. The youngsters then did not have that. They were compassionate, they were understanding, they got along well, but very limited. You kids are entirely different, really. Compassion, understanding, knowledge, intelligence, involving, I really mean it.

Q: Did we have the same qualities as the kids in your era?

Mr. Basbas: Very much so, even more so, better qualities. Better quality because there’s a better education, better experience, better exposure. Parents have learned to live with the problems of society, and so have you, so have the young people. No, I think young people of today are better off, and they are acting much better.

Q: We have been hearing about how badly the economy is doing these days. Oil prices are at record levels, food prices are way up and so is inflation and unemployment. War costs are costing us to the trillion dollars; international debt is over seven trillion. How are these lessons of the Great Depression going to help us with what we’re dealing with today?

Mr. Basbas: For one thing we’ve got to tighten our belts, provide the necessities of life in our society and our government. I’m talking about government. I had to fire my street commissioner when I was the mayor. I had to fire my election commissioner who was a member of my Masonic Lodge and a good friend of mine. I had to fire the building commissioner. Why? I said to the building commissioner, we’re building three schools, a new high school and three junior high schools. I don’t want to hear or see any contract overrides. This is what we decided on. Let’s do it. My friend David Cohen in Newton now he’s talking about a two hundred million dollar high school. They tell him they want him to quit. He’s not going to run for re-election because he wanted to spend too much. I like David. He’s a hell of a nice guy. He’s a good representative, a good alderman, but the trouble is you got to tighten your belts. So I said to my building commissioner “I don’t want to see contract overrides”, and they all came in. I called him in and I said… I won’t tell you his name [laughing]. But you know something, I said, “I don’t want to fire you ’cause if I fire you your reputation goes bad. People would know I fired you. I’ll accept your resignation.” I got his resignation. Now the election commissioner was a good, now I say was a Masonic friend of mine… of my lodge. And I said, “Arthur, you’re always down at the pub in Newton center. When you come to City Hall, your briefcase gurgles. You and I know why. It’s got booze in there.  You can’t do that.” So finally I said to him, “I don’t want to fire you, Arthur. You’re a good friend of mine. And I like you very much. I’ll accept your resignation.” I waited a couple, didn’t get anything. Finally I sent a cop down to the pub that he hangs out with a letter of resignation for him to sign, and he signed it. My street commissioner was a great guy, a colonel in the Air Force. And I said “Mac, you’re a fighter pilot so I can relate to you.” Our relationship was very close. “But you’re not running a department. I get down here. One of the guys gets four or five yards, and every guy is driving filling up their gas tank with city gas. Another guy running a chicken coop in one of the city lots.” I said, “You can’t do that, Mac. You don’t know what’s happening in your department.” And again I said to him, “I don’t want to fire you I wish you’d resign.” He said, “I’m not going to.” I said, “Mac, do me a favor. Talk to the city solicitor. I could fire you. I’d prefer not to fire ’cause I don’t like the idea of firing ’cause I don’t like having you say ‘I was fired.’ Talk to the city solicitor, and tell me what you want to do. You tell me what you want to do.” He comes back and says he’d like to resign. Then he resigned. Now that’s running a department. And I talk about management, municipal management. There are many areas where you talk about your schools. As a mayor I couldn’t afford to buy calculators. My son and I had twenty-eight departments we had to worry about their budgets. I walked into the art school, and down where the kids hang their coats I see about a dozen calculators. The kids are standing on their calculators to hang their coats. Now I love my photography. My movie camera, my movie projector was an optical metal sound projector. It cost me eleven hundred dollars. [It is] Great! I walk into the Meadowbrook Junior High School every classroom had one of these expensive projectors! Why? Did they all use them at the same time? You couldn’t roll them from one room to another? You know so I said, “wait a minute. Let’s save some money here.” I’d rather see us pay the teachers where the money should go and the equipment that they need. Class books or whatever they need, not junk like this that’s unnecessary. That’s what I’m talking about management. You know when you cut expenses. In the Depression, if we learned that kind of stuff about management and municipal management and expenses, we would have learned a lot. I’m sorry I didn’t mean to give you a lecture [laughing].

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