Archive for the 2001 Category


This is a short story about three good guys – Dick Lewin, Emory Wilbur and John Rosenburg. The villain is Henry Killingsworth, the man who ran AT&T Long Lines Department for many years. In supporting roles are my sister Verna, an aspiring opera singer. In other incidental roles we have Gannaro Papi, the conductor of the St. Louis Grand Opera Association and Giovanni Martinelli, one of the leading tenors in the world from about 1925 to 1950. Incidental roles are assigned to the Episcopal Church and the Jewish faith. This isn’t a great inspirational story, but before some of the characters in the play cash in their chips, it probably needs to be told.

Henry T. Killingsworth was a miserable SOB. As a matter of fact, he was a spherical SOB – which means that no matter how you looked at him, he is still a miserable SOB. There is no other way to put it. The people who worked with Killingsworth or had anything to do with him, detested him. I knew him for a long time. I can’t think of a single act of decency attributable to him. Among other things, Killingsworth seemed to take pleasure in suppressing the earnings of Long Lines employees even giving back to the FCC money that could have been used to raise wages to a decent level at this important unit of AT&T’s long distance service.

From about 1950 to 1962, he ran the Long Lines Department of AT&T as a martinet. Finally, in 1962 his bosses at 195 Broadway tired of his act and moved him to a staff job in the AT&T headquarters. He soon headed toward retirement.

Now I hate to waste time on Killingsworth because he was a worthless piece of work. But if I’m going to get my point in about Dick Lewin and Emory Wilbur and John Rosenburg, I’ve got to deal with him.

Killingsworth came to New York having started in his native South Georgia. He brought with him every racial, religious and social prejudice that afflicted Southerners 30 or 40 years ago.

Whereas Killingsworth was unspeakably evil, there were three gentlemen who worked in the Public relations side of the Long Lines operation who were absolutely good and decent men. John Rosenburg ran our press contacts. Emory Wilbur and Dick Lewin were responsible for employee information. So Rosenburg was Mr. Outside and Emory and Dick were Messrs. Inside.

I worked very closely with all three men because in the 1950’s and 1960’s, labor developments were important subjects. During those years I was the Labor Relations Manager for AT&T’s Long Lines Operation. During contract negotiations which took place almost yearly, the three men more or less lived with me. It was in that fashion that they were able to formulate what would be said to the press and to what would be said within the business. So at the end of each bargaining session, not matter how late, I would meet with John Rosenburg and either Dick Lewin or Emory Wilbur or both of them. They would usually type up something in the pressroom, and show it to me. If there was no time, as was often the case, I trusted those three men to proceed in the name of the AT&T Company. They used good judgment and never caused a problem to anyone.

They were very different people. John Rosenburg was in his early forties having spent a lifetime in newspaper work. Before he came with AT&T, John had worked for United Press. John had the skepticism that marks all good newsmen. He was no pushover for anyone in AT&T, including Killingsworth. He kept news people away from the bargaining team, which was a very valuable contribution.

Killingsworth marked off John Rosenburg’s aggressive nature to his Jewish heritage. But John was not Jewish. His family was of German ancestry. In the First World War, John’s father married a Frenchwoman, and John was a product of that marriage. But that made no difference.

The Grand Opera season offered three productions per year with performances over the weekend. Remember those were depression years and no one had money to waste.

Verna was single at the time. No one else in the family cared about opera. As a matter of fact, if Verna had not been involved in it, the Carr family would not have even thought about it. But the Grand Opera rehearsals and performances took place in downtown St. Louis. We lived in suburban Richmond Heights, about an hour away on streetcars. At least two transfers on the streetcars were needed to get to the opera.

Getting Verna home from the Kirkwood-Ferguson street car stop was a major problem. There was a stop about three quarters of a mile away which involved crossing a railroad. There was no illumination on that route as it cut across fields. On a cold winter night, it could be challenging. When it rained the problem grew worse. Later a new stop was added about a quarter mile from the house.

From Verna’s point of view, the new stop presented major difficulties. The new stop was added on the Kirkwood-Ferguson line to accommodate passengers going to the newly-constructed McMorrow grade school. The school had a large cinder back yard in the direction of the street car line. Now I ask underage readers to avert their eyes at this point.

During the depression, men and boys would do anything to own or borrow a car. Without a car, love life with females couldn’t exist. Now once ardent swains got a relatively willing female in the car, he might drive around looking for a secluded place to park. (To engage in necking or much worse, it you have to ask.) Well, in many cases the ardent swains would drive to the cinder lot in back of the McMorrow School. As they got into their work, many couples would produce blankets and retreat to the grassy spots around the cinder parking lot.

Now if Verna got off at the McMorrow School stop, she had to wade through this sea of affection and that made her cringe. Now I should point out that when the opera was in rehearsal or in production, I was drafted to either come to the opera house or to escort Verna home after she got off the streetcar. I rode with Verna to the McMorrow stop or when I met her there, she more or less instructed me to look straight ahead with eyes uplifted so that I wouldn’t see what was taking place. I did this, after a fashion, until one night with my eyes upraised I stumbled over an amorous couple.

I didn’t really mind all this tending to Verna. Sometimes she gave me a dime for my trouble. But going to the Opera House opened up a new world for me. I read about the operas and the featured performers. The stagecraft was entire new to me and made a lifelong impression.

By the time I was ten years of age I was hooked on Italian opera. Fortunately, there were few German operas to deal with, but the Italians were big deals as far as I was concerned.

During a rehearsal, Verna took me to meet the director of the St. Louis Grand Opera Company. He was Gennaro Popi. Apparently, Popi had many contacts in the United States and in Italy, and one of those contacts brought Giovanni Martinelli to St. Louis. For his day, Martinelli was as big as Pavorotti became in the 1980’s and 1990’s. I don’t think I met Martinelli.

I didn’t become an expert on Opera, but I did like it and I came to understand how it worked. It worked by talent and a lot of hard work.

Many years later I found myself in New York working in an organization dominated by Henry Killingsworth. Henry liked to brag that he had season tickets to the Metropolitan Opera. He could do this with no trouble because he would hold his chauffer over after a long day to drive him to the Met. And to pick him up after the performance.

There was an occasion when I was in the room when Killingsworth began to talk about opera. Now remember he came from South Georgia. I suspect the only singing he heard there was in a church. But because other directors of AT&T attended to opera, old Killingsworth decided he had to be among their numbers. At least I knew about the opera courtesy of my sister Verna. As Killingsworth talked, even with my limited background in opera, it became clear that he knew virtually nothing about the subject. But that didn’t keep him from bragging that he had season tickets to listen to “that purty music.”

Well now I’ve told you about New York where I came to work full time in 1955. And I’ve told you a little bit about St. Louis and my opera career. And I’ve told you about Verna. That’s a pretty big order to cover in one little essay. But as I said on the first page, for John Rosenburg, Dick Lewin and Emory Wilbur, this is a little tale that needs to be recorded because they were fine men and they were gentlemen. I don’t know of any higher praise that I can lay on those three men than that.

September 6, 2001


Not even a week before 9/11 — it’s a little jarring to think back to what the world looked like right before this was written.

It’s must less jarring to think about Killingsworth putting on airs, because the fact that he is a “colossal prick” is well-documented.
This particular essay was rewritten entirely. The rewrite pulls no punches when describing why Killingsworth is so reviled.

As one last note, Pop’s description of the cinder lot full of couples brought me right back to a memory of my own from 2010. I was studying abroad in China at the time, and one night I went on a walk with a friend of mine. We didn’t really have a direction in mind and were content to wander and explore. At one point, we left a building-dense area and suddenly found ourselves in a strikingly dark part of the campus. It was a small field, and it was so dark that I didn’t notice that the field abruptly ended in a low wall with an unlit basketball court on the other side. After almost falling into the basketball court, we looked around and realized that the entire blacktop was packed with couples silently making out. I’ve never seen anything like it before or since, but I can imagine that it was a lot like Pop’s cinder lot adventures.


In recent months, it seems to me that there is renewed interest in hearing from veterans of World War II. Perhaps it is the building of the memorial on the Mall in Washington. Perhaps it has to do with the thought that very few of us will survive the first decade of this century. There is even a group called the World War II Memories Project which has been in touch with me. The Memories Project resulted in the essay on my mother and her involvement prior to my enlistment.

My personal memory of the War would not be complete without a retelling of the difficulty it took to become an enlisted (volunteer) soldier to participate in World War II in the summer of 1942.

The United States Army, before the war, was very slow to adapt to new conditions. In many cases, the Army just didn’t adapt. Starting in late 1940, a draft system was initiated. The Army was in terrible shape. For example, when the draftees were sent on maneuvers in Louisiana and elsewhere, they carried wooden devices made to look like rifles. The Army simply had no rifles to give to its drafted soldiers.

From 1940 forward, the Army relied on the draft. Prior to December 7, 1941 enlistments were few and far between mainly due to low pay and the fact that the public generally looked down upon soldiers. So the Army adapted to the draft and in the main, stayed that way throughout the war.

At the outset, I made a fundamental mistake as I sought to enlist instead of waiting for the draft. I thought the Army would welcome me with open arms. It didn’t turn out that way. Instead, the Army erected obstacles at nearly every turn. In large part, the Army did not want to be bothered by volunteer enlistments.

This was a strange turn of events. We started the war by losing our Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor. Well into 1942 we were being beaten in the Pacific. The Germans drove the Allies off the European Continent. In short, for the better part of the first 12 to 15 months of the war, we were absorbing a terrible beating. So I thought that when I presented myself to the recruiters at the Federal Building in St. Louis, they would throw their arms around me and offer a champagne toast to the new soldier.

I had it all wrong. They told me to get three letters of recommendation attesting to my moral character. Then because I was 19 years of age, they said they would require an affidavit from one or both of my parents saying that they consented to my being a soldier.

I was pretty discouraged by all these obstacles so I called on a representative of the Canadian Embassy in an attempt to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. The Canadians welcomed me but they warned that formidable obstacles existed to joining the RCAF. The major problem was the Johnston Act which provided that an American who joined a foreign military force would automatically forfeit his United States citizenship. Until the foreign military force, in my case, the Canadians, granted citizenship in their country, I would be stateless. I didn’t look forward to being stateless. On top of all that, the enlistee had to get to the nearest recruiting station, which in my case was Toronto. That was a long way from St. Louis. He would have to support himself while the application to join the Royal Canadian Air Force was pending. I didn’t have enough money to get to Toronto much less to support myself while my application was being considered. So I thanked the Canadians and said I’d try again during the next war.

So I started to call my current employer and former employers for letters of recommendation. I worked for Carl Schroth from sometime in 1937 to early 1940. Carl provided the undated letter attached. He didn’t have it quite right as I worked for AT&T, not Southwestern Bell. In any case, Carl was quick in his response. He had been in World War I.

L. R. Johnson was a good fellow who was at least three levels above me in the AT&T organizational structure. Johnson was a little slow in responding, so the recruiter called him. He gave me credit for completion of an electrical engineering course at Washington University at night. With the war going one, my attention was on other things and I flunked the second semester of the course. It was just as well. I was not cut out to be an Electrical Engineer.

I then talked to Ed Williams who ran a Sinclair Service Station in Richmond Heights, Missouri. I worked for him from 1940 until I went to work for AT&T in September, 1941. He said he would be glad to give me the required recommendation. Unfortunately, shortly after I talked to Williams, his father was killed right in front of the service station by a recklessly driven car. I have no record of Ed Williams providing me a letter of recommendation.

Harold Bauer ran a Standard Oil Service Station in Clayton. I worked there on weekends from the fall of 1941 until I joined the Army in the summer of 1942. Harold overstated the case when he said I had worked for him for two years. It was really only about nine months.

When I looked at my files in preparing to write this story, I realized that Harold Bauer’s letter was dated December 28, 1943. I have no idea why I have this letter. By the end of 1943, I had been in the Army for 18 months so I didn’t need a letter of recommendation at that point. Harold died a long time ago, so I am left to ponder this mystery. Miss Chicka, in one of her most generous moments, says that Bauer wrote the letter so that I could use it to impress the Germans when I sought a slave labor job in their Mercedes factory. We will never know what old Harold had in mind. He was just a hard working, honest fellow. We could use some more just like Harold Bauer.

With all my contacts with former employers under way, my mother and I turned to the affidavit which gave her consent to an underage son. For years my parents had been friends with the Autenrieth brothers in legal practice in the Arcade Building in Clayton. So one Saturday morning, we went to see Leo Autenrieth who set about preparing the affidavit. I am almost certain that Leo charged nothing for his services.

With all my documentation in hand, I went back to the recruiter. It was on a weekday because they didn’t work weekends. He accepted my affidavit and letters and said to come back in a week or so. Which I did. At that time he gave me a date certain to report to Jefferson Barracks for processing. The date certain was at least two or three weeks away so from beginning to the end of the recruiting process, I had wasted about six to eight weeks.

I remind you that a war was going on and the Allies – including Americans – were being captured and slaughtered. But the United Stated Army wanted all the formalities taken care of before it would accept a soldier who wanted to volunteer his services.

After reporting to Jefferson Barracks, we were asked to take physical examinations. I had no trouble with that, however the Army wanted to examine all the draftees first. The volunteer enlistments stood off to a side and whenever there was a break in the line of draftees, one or more of us would be called to fill out the line. So maybe the physicians would look at our ears in the morning and then look at other parts of our anatomies at the end of the day or the next day. What should have been a 30 minute exam stretched out to two full days. In the meantime, drafted people finished their exams in short order.

While we were standing around waiting to fill a spot in the draftee’s exam line, we wore only our underwear shorts. Two days is a long time to hang around in underwear but that is only the half of it. At the time most of us smoked. It was sort of a rite of passage. I probably smoked up to two packs per day. When one is standing around with only a pair of shorts on, it is difficult to carry a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. So for those two days, we abstained from what my father called “sucking cigarettes.” He thought cigarettes were evidence of effeminate behavior. The only proper smoke, according to the elder Ezra, was a cigar. I smoked for 18 or 19 years. I disliked every puff on every cigar I ever smoked.

Eventually, I was sworn in and wound up serving more than three years in the American Army. What impressed me most at the outset was the casualness of the U. S. Army. I expected with the war going against the Allies, that I would be welcomed and made to feel part of the Army team. But the Army had other ideas. They had a steady source of recruits through the draft system. Volunteer enlistments were an added burden on the people at the processing station. The army hates exceptions to established routine. Now that I understand all that, I won’t feel so badly in future wars when Army personnel tell me to get lost.

One final note on this whole enlistment business. Volunteer enlistees were given Army Serial numbers starting with the numeral one. My ASN for example, is 17077613. Drafted soldiers were given serial numbers starting with three.

Occasionally, when the Army paid its troops, the old timers, the lifers, whose serial numbers started with zero, were paid first. There were few lifers when I served. Then those of us who had a serial number starting with one were paid next, and finally the threes were paid. It really made very little difference because the pay, at the outset, was $50 a day – once a month.

And so on November 8, 1945 – a wet and cold miserable day – I accepted an honorable discharge from the Army of the United States, as non-lifers were called. Lifers were enlisted in the United States Army. I never wasted much time on the distinction between the AUS and the USA. I knew that I had no intention of joining the United States Army, or the Reserves or the National Guard when I left the army. That refusal cost me my overcoat as the separation people took it away from me.

They did give me a slicker which is alright for rain. On the other hand, slickers provide no warmth at all. The temperature as I left the Separation Center was about 30 degrees.

So I slammed the door on my Army career. Two buses took me from Scott Field near Belleville, Illinois to St. Louis. I hummed and whistled all the way home.

I had reason to hum and whistle. At 23 years of age, I was still in one piece. The nicks and chunks didn’t seem to matter on the way home. And I had not been sent to Japan for the invasion there. So there were many reasons to hum and whistle and even sing.


A note about the title:
Apparently, the United States Army officially adopted the slogan, “The Right Way; The Wrong Way; The Army Way.” During my first six months in the Army, instructors repeated the slogan quite a few times.

This whole business was unintelligible to me. I said to myself, what is wrong with doing things the right way? Is the Army more right than that? Or more wrong?

I never figured the slogan out but as you can see, I’ve remembered it for 59 years.

E. E. Carr
June 23, 2001

Oh man, I hope Judy can help me out with some attachments for this one, if she still has any of those handy.

Re: the title, I love that the Army Way is explicitly set up against the notion of the “right” way. The registration process is also baffling, since they were trying to get as many bodies through that process as possible, but volunteers got the short end of the stick. I guess the army figured that volunteers who actually wanted to be there would exhibit more patience and less discontent than the draftees.

Update: Judy found the letters! Attaching here:

Letter 1

Letter 2

Letter 3


This is a morality story about people I knew when I was President of the Federation of Long Lines Telephone Workers (Local #5) in St. Louis. Among other things, my job was to present grievances to the Company on behalf of the workers. At its peak, there were perhaps 800 to 1000 members of Local #5. When they generated grievances, it provided several officers of the Local with quite a bit of work.

I might point out that the term “grievance” is sort of a technical term in labor parlance. In fact, a grievance is a complaint against the Company, usually alleging unfair treatment. I suppose the Company could lodge a grievance against the Union, but that rarely happens.

One day Gordon Sallee, the Vice President of the Local, told me that he had accepted a grievance from a craftsman who had worked in the
St. Louis Testroom. From what we could determine, the grievant had been on disability for six to eight months with a mysterious ailment in his back. He said he had trouble walking and that bending over was out of the question. He claimed that he had left St. Louis to move to Houston, presumably because of the warmer climate and Houston had a superior supply of back manipulators. His grievance was that AT&T Long Lines planned to take him off disability and to bring him back to St. Louis where Company doctors could examine him.

Gordon Sallee said he knew this man from having worked with him in the St. Louis Testroom. He didn’t know much about what caused his physical problem, but on its face, it deserved to be examined. Union officers rarely turn down a grievance, particularly if it seems to be legitimate.

So Sallee and I went to the District #51 Office at Beaumont and Olive Streets in St. Louis. We were to meet with Louie Houck, the District Plant Superintendent. I should have been suspicious when we found that we were going to meet with Louie Houck. Mostly, he permitted his subordinates to handle grievances. We met Houck and some of his staff, shook hands all around and probably told a joke or two. Then it was down to business. We told Louie Houck how this poor grievant was being treated unfairly and we recited how he had moved to Houston so that the climate and doctors there would help him recover. We made a pretty good case, based on what the grievant had told us.

When we finished our side of the case, Louie Houck opened a drawer in the table where we were sitting. He removed a Sunday magazine supplement from the Houston Chronicle and said, “Why don’t you guys read this.”

Sallee and I were astounded and caught flat footed. The magazine had a photograph of our griever on the cover. The Chronicle painted the griever as a Houston success story who was setting the business world on fire. The story inside claimed that he had invented a new security system for homes and offices. He said that his knowledge came from the phone Company, AT&T to be exact, and that he used largely telephone company parts and equipment to make his new security system work. In the story, he claimed to be an outstanding financial success working 12 to 14 hour days. He said he was climbing ladders and going into basements to install his new security systems.

Sallee and I almost fell off our chairs. We asked for a small recess and for permission to use AT&T facilities to call the griever at his home or office in Houston. The Chronicle story included his phone number.

I have long since forgotten the name of the griever, but when he answered the phone, Sallee asked him about the lengthy story in the Houston Chronicle. He readily admitted that the story was true and seemed to imply to us that he was proud that he had made a fool out of AT&T. That was enough for me. I told him that his grievance would be dropped immediately and from that point on, he was on his own. Returning to the meeting room with Louie Houck, I apologized for the grievance and told him that the case was withdrawn. Houck was very generous and said that sometimes things get out of control. He said he understood.

At that point, Sallee and I wanted to get out of the meeting with Houck before he brought up a grievance about one of our stewards in the St. Louis Testroom. This was a sad tale involving Steward Ray Cybrowski.

The Testroom was located on the northeastern corner of Beaumont and Olive Streets. Across the street on the southeastern corner was an old time saloon. The place was called Beffa’s and it was heavily patronized by telephone people, mainly because it was the only saloon/tavern in that neighborhood.

The neighborhood around Beaumont and Olive had long since started to decline. Long time residents moved out and in some cases, undesirables moved in. When all this happened right after the war ended, hold ups and other crimes became commonplace.

This incident took place in about 1949. At that time, AT&T people were paid once a week by check. The standard joke was that AT&T paid its people weakly. In any event, many people would take their checks across the street to Beffa’s who cashed the checks. The Company did not care if people went to Beffa’s after hours and Beffa welcomed the business because most people bought at least a beer when they cashed their checks.

Aside from beer and booze, Beffa was well known for his hard boiled eggs which he sold for a nickel or a dime apiece. The hard-boiled eggs got Ray Cybrowski in trouble.

Ray was given his paycheck during the afternoon, say about 4PM. It was against the rules to leave the Testroom without permission. Certainly, no boss would give permission for employees to go to Beffa’s during working hours. That would be unheard of. On the other hand, sometimes craftsmen would just disappear and when they woke up, they found themselves in Beffa’s establishment.

Well Ray Cybrowski got his check and took French leave to cross the street to visit Beffa’s because he had an intense desire to eat a hard boiled egg – or two. So he crossed Olive Street, entered Beffa’s, cashed his check and ordered a hard boiled egg. As he finished his egg, a gunman or two or six – Ray was not clear on this point – entered Beffas and robbed the bartender and the patrons. Including Ray Cybrowski.

Ray snuck back to the Testroom and told very few people about his experience. He had to go home and tell his wife that he had been robbed and therefore, had no money for her this week. The incident did not reach the newspapers.

A week later, Ray again received his paycheck and once again, was overcome by a desire to have one of Beffa’s famous hard boiled eggs. He told me later that he felt protected by the law of averages. Certainly, he would not be robbed again, as he snuck away from the Testroom. So Ray took his paycheck to Beffa’s an hour before quitting time, cashed the check and bought a hard-boiled egg. With money now in his pocket, Ray noticed a gunman, or several gunmen, enter the only door from the street. Right on schedule. They cleaned out the bartender and had the customers turn their pockets inside out. Again. So Ray had to go home and tell his wife that he had no money for her again this week.

It got worse. Both newspapers in St. Louis got the story and reported the names of the customers who had been robbed. So Ray had trouble from every direction.

AT&T management said very little about these two robberies during working hours. And so it was that we agreed to meet with Louie Houck on the disability-alarm system grievance right after Cybrowski ate his hard-boiled eggs. That was BAD TIMING on our – the Union’s – part. So you see why Sallee and I wanted to get out of the meeting with Louis Houck before he brought up the Cybrowski matter.

We were successful in that endeavor but we knew that they knew that Cybrowski had no defense. We were just plainly lucky.

When Ray lost his second paycheck to robbers, he was pretty close to broke. The fellows in the Testroom chipped in to help old Ray out. One of the anonymous donors was Louie Houck, the District Plant Superintendent. They don’t make ’em like Louie anymore.

E. E. Carr
September 11, 2001

NOTE 1: Beffa’s was operated by Austrian immigrants who came here during the 1930’s. The owner was Beffa Dotta. One of his sons, Jack Dotta, worked in the St. Louis Testroom along with Cybrowski, Sallee, et al. Beffa and Jack Dotta say the recipe for hard-boiled eggs that was used at Beffas, came from gnomes in Vienna. I also liked Beffa’s eggs.

NOTE 2: I have no idea what happened to Ray Cybrowski or the grievant from Houston. Beffa’s hung on till about 1960 when Beffa Dotta retired. That was the end of the saloon. Gordon Sallee retired at age 65 and enjoyed about 10 years of retirement before cashing in his chips. Louis Houck was killed in an airplane crash not long after we had our meeting on the security system case. He was working on the Dew Line Defense System in Northern Canada at the time. I am reported to be alive and fairly well in New Jersey.


Strange to see this one published on 9/11 but I guess that means he had been writing it for several days beforehand, and just decided to finish it that Tuesday. Also, I totally misinterpreted this essay at first — I thought that Ray was blowing his whole paycheck on alcohol and blaming it on eggs and robbers, but no, he really was robbed twice at the most inconvenient time possible. Insanely bad luck!


This is a seldom told story of mistaken identities, a nervous decorator, a Polish waitress, a Florida bon vivant and telling the time of day. That is quite of bit of ground to cover but with the help of my long time friend, Charlie Miller, I think we do it with ease.

During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, I was the Labor Relations Manager for AT&T Long Lines. Several times each year, I would be asked to discuss labor matters at various locations in Long Lines. There were, as I recall it, about 400 locations where Long Lines had installations. I didn’t get to all 400 locations, but I was able to talk to a lot of people as area, division and district managers would call people in to hear what I had to say and to ask questions.

Neal Wade was the Division Plant Manager in Springfield, Massachusetts. He had districts in Albany, Boston, West Haven, Connecticut and perhaps one or two more locations. Charlie Miller was the district manager at West Haven, and so I met Dr. Miller for the first time in a meeting called by Neal Wade in maybe 1958 or thereabouts.

Unfortunately, the night before our meeting, a Texas Tower off of Long Island had collapsed. There were injuries and I believe loss of life in that accident. You may recall that in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Soviet Union was perceived as a security threat to the United States. About three or four Texas Towers were built on the East Coast to give United States inhabitants early warning of attack. The one located several miles off the tip of Long Island was the first casualty. Not long afterward, all the Texas Tower locations were abandoned. In any event, the collapse of the Long Island Texas Tower threw a pall over the meeting called by Neal Wade, and I really had no chance to get to know Charlie Miller on that occasion.

AT&T and Long Lines moved many people around the country in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Buying a house in that climate meant risking a big loss in the event of a transfer. So most of us rented. In many cases, rent was the only way to go as homes in the New York and Chicago markets, for example, were priced beyond the reach of telephone workers, particularly when there was a chance of loosing your equity in a house in event of a transfer.

So Brother Miller and I shook hands at Neal Wade’s meeting and each of us set out to put in time at various AT&T and Long Lines locations across the country. I lost track of Charlie but I had heard he was at Scott Field in Illinois, but I did not know why.

Things changed for the better in 1969 when I was transferred from Washington back to New York. Both of us were Directors at the time with Charlie having one of the Marketing organizations and I became the General Sales Manager. Our offices were located next to each other on the 25th floor of the Long Lines headquarters building at 32 Sixth Avenue in New York City.

Having offices next to each other did not add to the tranquility of several people because those folks say that we looked alike. Charlie at that time, was a handsome dude standing perhaps 6’-3” to 6’-4” and weighing what a well conditioned full back should weigh. His head sported a sparse amount of hair. When Charlie walked, you could tell that he was no toe dancer. Now at that time, I was not as handsome, I only reached to six feet and I weighed what an out of shape half back or line backer weighed. And I probably had less hair on my head than Charlie. When I walked, far from being a toe dancer, some people said I resembled an elegant Missouri farmer stepping over three rows of corn.

When people saw us together, they usually could make the distinction between the two of us. Apart, that is where the tranquility of some people took a beating. Charlie and I agreed on a code. If someone misidentified either one of us, we would never straighten him or her out. That would be a deliberate violation of the code, so whatever name a person used in addressing us, became our name with no correction.

So here is a case in point. Mary Yoshida was the official decorator for Long Lines. She was not Japanese at all; she had married a fellow who was of Japanese ancestry. Mary seemed never on firm footing when dealing with male clients. She was given to self doubts and hand wringing. She was a lovely person but to male clients she talked in terms of that color needs some more sand rose or this place doesn’t really welcome you because the colors clash. Or the carpet is not in harmony with the walls. Most men care very little about such things, but Mary agonized over them.

So it was decided by some other authority that the Directors offices were to be refurbished and painted. We were to have draperies which was a new innovation. Draperies were a major expense. The 32 Sixth Avenue building was constructed mainly as a telephone equipment installation. The ceilings were perhaps 10 to 12 feet high. The double hung windows were at least six feet in length and the ledge under the windows started at waist high levels. So the draperies started at the top of the windows and dropped down to the ledge underneath the windows.

My office was done first. I was out of town when Mary was having my place done. When it was finished, Mary moved over to perform her decorating magic on Charlie Miller’s office. With me being temporarily gone from New York, Charlie moved over to my place and operated from there for a few days. The identification outside my office still said Mr. Carr.

So one day while Charlie was sitting at my desk, Mary came up to look at the completed office. She noticed the Carr sign outside the office and asked if she could come in. So Mary said to Charlie, thinking it was Carr, “How do you like your redecorated office? Isn’t it nice?” So Charlie said, “I don’t think so.” Then Mary asked about the draperies. Charlie said the draperies stunk. Mary fled from the scene wringing her hands. Charlie never straightened Mary out about him sitting in my place, and he didn’t tell me.

In a few days, I came back and occupied my regular quarters. With great trepidation, Mary came in to inquire about my objections to her decorating work. I told her it looked fine to me. Then she plaintively asked about my complaint about the draperies. I told Mary I had no complaint and that the draperies were fine. Mary looked at the sign outside my office and it still said Carr. Mary withdrew from my office as quickly as she could. I couldn’t figure out why she asked about the decorations and the draperies. I suppose Mary went back of her office and called for cold compresses and in the process, she assumed that I was insane. Miller didn’t tell me what happened for perhaps a week. But he didn’t break the code.

Now about the bon vivant from Florida. Cal Tuggle was a very likable, story telling Southerner. He had known Charlie Miller for a long time. At the time of this incident, Cal was working at 195 Broadway. I was leaving Stamm’s bookstore which was located in an annex to 195 Broadway. As I walked out on Fulton Street, Cal was walking toward me. I knew who Cal was although we had never worked together nor had we attended conferences together. Cal did know Charlie Miller. Cal stepped right up with a cheerful grin and said, “Good Morning Charlie”. I said, “Cal, how are you?” And then Cal told me how he was. So after a little more chit chat, I said, “Nice to see you, Cal” and Cal replied, “It’s good to see you again, Charlie”.

A few years later, Cal came to work with me in the Overseas Department. I never mentioned the incident on Fulton Street which would be breaking the code. A little later, Cal, Howard Pappert and I were in Kuwait City where there had been a public hanging at the time we were to arrive at our hotel. The execution took place a block or so away from the Hilton, our hotel.

The English language paper in Kuwait City is normally a six page publication. For the execution, the paper expanded to eight pages. In the expanded edition, the paper covered the exploits of the Kuwaiti football (soccer) team and the report wound up just after the story of the execution. For some time after that trip, old Cal loved to tell the story of how the Kuwaitis reported the hanging as a sporting event. Even then, I never broke the Miller-Carr code by telling Cal that he had the wrong man back on Fulton Street.

Now we come to two ceremonial occasions. In 1971 I was honored for completing 30 years with AT&T. This was not a big deal. Anniversaries were commonplace. In this case, Dick Nichols the Vice President of Marketing had a conference dinner and after it was about finished he handed me a fine wrist watch. That was a standard gift from AT&T. I had at least one other wristwatch from my 25th Anniversary so I could wear one on each wrist.

Now the fact of the matter is that I only use watches when I travel and the watches are carried in my pocket, never on my wrist. During the war, the army gave me a wrist watch with a sweep second hand so that airplane fuel transfers from one tank to another could be timed. In November, 1945 when I made it clear that I had no intention to re-enlist, the Army asked for its watch back. That was fine by me as I had no use for it.

I got along fine using wall clocks and sneaking peaks at other people’s watches. In any case, in all these years from 1945 to 1971, I never missed a meeting or an airplane. But I did have the watch I carried in a pocket when I traveled where I might not be able to find a wall clock or someone else’s wristwatch.

So when my new Girard Perregaux watch was given to me in 1971, Dr. Miller was well aware of my habits. As part of the ceremony, Charlie presented me with my own copy of “Ant and Bee Time” by Angela Banner. This book explains to children how time is told. In presenting this rare volume, Charlie wrote:

E. Carr

This was exhumed from a pile of books during some remodeling work at home. My kinder can now tell time with reasonable facility and hence do not need to refer to Ant and Bee. However I’m told you still carry your watch – hidden – which means you still are unable to tell time. Use it in good health.

C. H. M.

A true copy of these documents is attached. I read “Ant and Bee Time” several times until I attained a small degree of competence with telling time. Nonetheless, I still have the Girard Perregeaux watch which runs perfectly as long as I carry it in my pocket when I am on the road. Now a secret. That watch has a magnificent band – which won’t go completely around my wrist. But that matters not at all. I still carry it in a pocket.

Now a few more words about the watch and the pocket I carried it in. Perhaps I was influenced by my father, but I doubt it. As a young man, my father worked for the Illinois Central Railroad as a fireman working mainly from the Kankakee, Illinois division point. Every railroad man carried a watch. In my father’s case, it was a 21 jewel Illinois pocket watch. In work clothes, every man carried their watches in the watch pocket of their trousers. These days, watch pockets seem to have disappeared. For the uninitiated, the watch pocket was located at the belt line on the right side of the trousers. On Sundays, my father carried his watch in a vest pocket accompanied by a gold chain across the chest and a fob.

The old man was death on wrist watches. For girls, wrist watches might be grudgingly accepted. But for men, a wrist watch would be a sign of effeminate behavior. If there was anything old Ezra was not, effeminate behavior was it.

My parents used to attend Pentecostal and Nazarene churches that barely stop short of snake handling. The preachers at those churches used to rail against women with – as they called it – bobbed hair, and lipstick and high heels. They claimed that all these things were forbidden by Scripture. I suspect that, with no trouble, I could find some preachers who would contend that wristwatches were contrary to scripture teachings. I didn’t think of this thought back in 1971 when Miller was nagging me about using my pocket to carry my wrist watch. But now, I want to tell Dr. Miller that my method of carrying my watch was in accord with the teachings of the Bible, both in the New and the Old Testaments.

There is one other case where as Master of Ceremonies, I led the shouts of “Charlie Who?” Somewhere along the line, Charlie was asked to take the top marketing job in the Eastern Area at White Plains. That was Charlie Miller. At about the same time, headquarters advertising appointed a new director named Charlie Mitchell. Two different Charlies.

The Eastern Area had a newspaper for employees. The naming of a new Marketing Director was big news. Somehow, the editors wrote a story about the new Director – saying it was Charlie Mitchell instead of Charlie Miller – which was a colossal mistake. For Charlie Miller’s farewell, Wes Laugel produced a dozen question marks, each one being three feet tall. So as each of Charlie Miller’s accomplishments was noted, a new question mark was introduced together with the shouts of “Charlie Who?” To the best of my knowledge, the editors of the Eastern Area newspaper did not put out a revised issue. So I suppose instead of being mistaken for me, old Charlie Miller was now confused with Charlie Mitchell.

There is another story to be told of misidentifying Charlie and me. In the seventh floor dining room, there was a large table in the corner that could seat perhaps twelve people. As the earlier arrivals finished eating, new people would sit down so over a two hour period from 12 noon to two in the afternoon, the waitress would serve many customers.

I have developed a vapor lock in my brain as I can’t recall the name of the waitress. Perhaps it was rendered as Freda in English. In any case, she came to this country from Poland and spoke English surprisingly well. But most of all, Freda was a good waitress who followed orders.

I didn’t always eat at the table in the corner preferring to go to the Franklin Coffee Shop. When Charlie was in town, he must have eaten at Freda’s table every day. Unbeknownst to me, Mr. Miller decided to go on a diet. He was to have half a grapefruit without sugar, a piece of white toast without butter and black coffee without cream or sugar. He was so intent on making his new diet work that he informed Ann Bristow the Manager of the Dining Room and Freda, that if he ordered something other than the three things his diet called for, they were not to serve it. So Brother Miller had his new diet – but while he told the people in the Dining Room, he did not tell me.

Miller was out of town. It was raining so I went to the Dining Room on the seventh floor. There was a wire rack in the center of this large table to hold menus. So I wandered in and sat down at Freda’s table and started to read the menu. While I was reading the menu, Freda placed a grapefruit half in front of me and moved the sugar out of my reach. When I could catch Freda’s eye, I told her that I had not ordered grapefruit.

As I said before, Freda was very strict in following orders. She said to me that I had better get started on the grapefruit because my butterless toast was on the way. When the toast was served, Freda proudly poured black coffee. She reminded me that there would be no cream or sugar for the coffee. When I mumbled something about a tuna sandwich, Freda said, “Mr. Miller, that’s all you are getting.” Finally, a light bulb went on. She thought I was Charlie Miller. So I paid the check and was quiet but the next day, I went to the famous Franklin Street Coffee Shop where a man could get a proper tuna sandwich.

In a day or so, Charlie returned to the office and both of us repaired to the dining room for lunch. This time, Freda guessed right and gave Charlie his diet lunch. As we left the dining room, I mentioned to Charlie that a day or two earlier, I had eaten his lunch. When he figured out what happened, old Charlie doubled over with laughter. That was before we had Polish jokes, but in this instance the joke was on me.

I last saw Charlie at Frank Tuttle’s farewell party when Frank retired. Charlie had lost a lot of weight and presented a handsome figure. That’s all well and good, but his new reduced weight didn’t help his noggin. It was about as sparse as usual.

There is one other story of misidentification. Our boss, Dick Nichols, the Vice President of Marketing apparently told me to do something. I have long since forgotten what that something was. In any case, Dick Nichols waited until he thought that whatever he wanted was about to be forgotten. He then politely growled at Charlie. Charlie listened to Dick and then he came to tell me to get on my horse. He never explained to Dick Nichols that he had the wrong guy. That would be breaking the code.

I hope that you can tell that Charlie Miller and I were good friends. In all the years I knew him, he never tried to take advantage of anyone else. He was and is a very intelligent man. People instinctively like him. And so after all these years and in spite of the mistaken identities, I’m still delighted to call Charlie Miller a first class friend. But he is still a lousy toe dancer.

September 14, 2001

PS: After a lapse of at least 14 years, I spoke to Professor Miller on September 17 on the phone. He still laughs just like he used to and has the same happy outlook on life.

On the same day, I spoke also with Cal Tuggle to get him to release the copyrights on his life story. He wants a cut from the vast proceeds of this essay. As always when I called, Cal asked whether I was out of jail now. I told Cal that my sentence had been computed or commuted. I get big words like that mixed up. Whatever.


This is one of the essays that I can definitely remember reading in hardcopy as a kid. I’m sure it was much later than 2001, but I think I got a big stack of essays in 2004 or so that I sat down and read all at once, and this one stood out to me for the grapefruit story in particular. Anyway, both then and now I found it fun that he had a friend who would go along with that particular charade with him.

Also kind of funny that this essays are in a position where they actually could be monetized, in relation to the postscript where pop was definitely joking. Of course I have no intention to ever sell ads on this site, and do not plan on ever getting any sort of page volume, but it’s a little silly nonetheless.



AT&T Long Lines had its headquarters at 32 Sixth Avenue in New York City. At its peak, that building housed about 10,000 employees with telephone operators accounting for about 80% of that total. Because the operators and the telephone craftsmen worked around the clock, the Company provided two cafeterias and one dining room. The dining room doesn’t figure in this story so we can forget it.

The main cafeteria was on the 9th floor. It provided 24-hour service. There were no places to eat anywhere close to 32 Sixth Avenue, particularly at night, so the cafeteria was the only place to go. Operators and craftsmen who worked evening and midnight tours relied on the 9th floor cafeteria for a hot meal. All of these conditions applied up to about 1970. Conditions changed during the 1970’s, but that is part of another story.

The 9th floor cafeteria had rails to support the trays. It was about 70 feet long to get from the soup at the start to drinks and the cashier at the end. This was a busy place all day long what with meals being served and rest breaks as well.

When I met Lila in 1950, she always seemed to work at the far end of the line, near the cashier. From that vantage point, she could see how the line was moving and if needed, Lila would move somewhere up the line to help out. In baseball terms, Lila was sort of a utility player.

Lila was a black woman. She was self assured and quite comfortable talking to customers and the other members of the dining service staff. In short, Lila was a proud person who felt she was as fine as any of the big shots she served. And she was. The only drawback about Lila was that she lived in Brooklyn and was a ferocious booster of the Brooklyn Dodgers. As a devotee of the St. Louis Cardinals, I saw Lila’s devotion to the Dodgers as a serious character flaw. What she thought about my devotion to the Cardinals was expressed in loud terms as I pushed my tray down the 70 feet of the cafeteria line.

I first showed up in Lila’s cafeteria line in 1950. At the time I was President of the Long Lines Telephone Workers Union (Local #5) in St. Louis. That spring I had been elected to one of the five memberships on the national contract bargaining committee. The talks in 1950 were only about a week long as we bargained a new military leave agreement.

When I first met Lila, I was accompanied by Averill Hildebrand, a Traffic representative on the Bargaining Committee. Averill came from Kansas but had worked at 32 6th Avenue for several years. Averill introduced me to Lila and told her that the members of the bargaining committee were in New York to try to make things better for Long Lines people. Word about what brought union people to New York spread quickly up and down the Dining Service line. Whenever we came there for lunch, the servings were quite large and we were greeted with big smiles.

Lila wanted to know if we could get her a big raise that year. I explained that in 1950, we were only dealing with the Military Leave agreement, but that if she wanted to join the Army, we would see that she would be cared for. Next year, 1951, was when we would deal with wages. Lila filed that away in her head and when I showed up to bargain again in 1951, she was all over my case.

As soon as I met Lila, she asked where I came from. I knew where she came from. When I told her St. Louis, she asked about the Cardinals. I told Lila that I hoped the Cardinals would win every game, especially against the Dodgers. Well, that started the uproar that lasted until I left New York in 1963.

During that first go around with Lila in 1950, a very embarrassing misplay happened to the Cardinals during a game at Ebbets Field. For many years, the Cardinals employed Mike Gonzales as their third base coach. Mike came from Cuba and returned to Havana after the season. Obviously, this was before Castro came to power. Mike had previously been a catcher for the Cardinals and, one way or another, had never really mastered the English language.

In a game with the Dodgers at Ebbets Field, a Cardinal base runner reached third base. The next batter hit a short fly to right field. I suspect the Dodger right fielder was Carl Furillo, the strongest arm in the league. In any case, the fly was so short that anyone could have thrown out the runner trying to score.

Gonzales saw the short fly to right and yelled to the runner, “No Go.” That was Mike’s way of saying hold the base. Unfortunately, the runner heard only the “Go” part of Mike’s instructions and took off for home. He was thrown out by 15 or 20 feet. That story got to the Daily News, the Mirror and all the other New York papers. So when I started down the line at lunch the next day, Lila started berating me. “Doesn’t anyone in St. Louis speak English?” That was the start of all the abuse and Lila never let me up.

In the bargaining on the big contract in 1951, everyone joined with me to see that the Dining Service workers were treated better than in the past. Averill Hildebrand, Ernestine Locknane from Cincinnati, Joe Darling from Utica, New York and Carl Peters, the National Director all said that we wanted fair treatment for the dining workers. After the bargaining ended, it was about 7:30AM. We had been up all night. Some of us went to the cafeteria for breakfast. Lila, who didn’t know the terms of the new contract, left her station and came out to sit with us and to thank us. That made the whole bargaining experience worthwhile.

Ah, but that didn’t stop the abuse. I was gone from New York for four years and had been promoted to a management job. I had moved from St. Louis to Kansas City and then on to Chicago. In the spring of 1955, I found myself again in New York. When lunch time rolled around on my first day back, my colleague John Finn and our boss Dick Dugan suggested that we eat in the 9th floor cafeteria. With moving to New York and a new job to master, I had for the moment forgotten Lila. But not for long.

As soon as I put my tray down on the rails at the start of the serving line, old Lila yelled, “What? You back?” That was followed by loud cackles. She hadn’t seen me for four years but Lila was all over me. I didn’t know John Finn or Dick Dugan well at all and I was a little concerned what they would think of Lila’s needling. I was much relieved when both men said that Lila had been picking on them for years and that it was a pleasure to give her somebody else to bite at.

Lila, as I hope you can tell, was one of my big friends in New York. We often talked about going to a Dodger-Cardinal game together but I’m sorry to say, it never happened.

At the end of the season in 1958, the Dodgers announced that they were moving to Los Angeles. They had experienced two or three bad seasons before Walter O’Malley, the owner, decided to look for greener pastures. Ordinarily, this would be a reason to even up with Lila but the fact was – and is – that baseball belongs in Brooklyn. Even now, the Mets have a new Class “A” club there, the Cyclones, and they sold out their new stadium (7500 seats) every game. So far from wagging my finger at Lila, I felt almost as bad as she did. So I put my arm around her shoulders and told her that maybe things would get better. I even offered her a chance to root for the Cardinals. She politely declined.

When the Dodgers left town, Lila felt as though she had been disowned. But she still greeted me with the same old style and the same old cackles. Sometimes she would yell to me, “Here come Stan the Man” (a reference to Stan Musial) or maybe it would be “Hello big man.”

I left Long Lines in 1963 and the Company greatly reduced the Dining Service hours a few years later. I’m sorry to say I don’t know what happened to Lila. I hope that she got a pension and naturally, I hope that she is doing well. For all those years that I knew Lila, she added a lot of sparkle to my life. Wherever she is, I am indebted to her for that.

E. E. Carr
September 10, 2001


Daw. I don’t have too much to say about this one, aside from the fact that this is exactly the kind of friendship that Pop was always making. His ability to recall decades-old baseball stories is also striking. Similarly, it’s nice that even though she served thousands of employees, Lila still remembered Pop after several years.


When I sat down to write this essay, my intentions were to deal with four good guys. John Rosenburg, Dick Lewin and Emory Wilbur were all my colleagues when I was the Labor Relations Manager for AT&T Long Lines from 1955 until 1963. Lowell Wingert, the President of Long Lines, came later.

Unfortunately, my efforts to tell you of these four good men, suffered the intrusion of Henry T. Killingsworth, an evil and miserable man. Killingsworth ran the 35,000 employee Long Lines division of AT&T from about 1950 until 1962 with an iron and biased hand. In the words of a friend who served with me in the U. S. Army, Killingsworth was a spherical SOB. That means that no matter how you looked at him, no matter what angle you viewed him from, he was a miserable SOB. Before I can deal with the four good guys, I suppose I had better deal with Killingsworth.

Killingsworth is a long name so to save space we will call him HTK, his initials. The people who worked with HTK or had anything to do with him, detested him. I spent 33 years of my 43 year telephone career with Long Lines. In all that time, I can’t think of a single act of decency attributable to HTK. He ran Long Lines as a martinet. Finally, his bosses at 195 Broadway tired of his act and moved him to a staff job in the AT&T headquarters where his staff consisted of two or three unlucky individuals. He soon headed into retirement.

Now I hate to waste time on HTK because he was an unspeakably evil and worthless piece of work. He came to New York from South Georgia. He brought with him every racial, religious and social prejudice that afflicted Southerners 30 or 40 years ago.

In the 19th Century, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote a poem with the jaw breaking title of “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways.” In Killingsworth’s case, I will attempt to try to count a few of the ways that he earned the disdain of the people of Long Lines. Let’s start with the nun who spent countless hours asking for alms in the lobby of the Long Lines Headquarters building at 32 Sixth Avenue in New York.

Outside of working hours, Larry Pierce was a mover and shaker in the American Legion. For the Company, he was responsible, among other duties, for the Headquarters lobby at 32 Sixth Avenue. Each year around Memorial Day, the American Legion asked some of its members to sell paper poppies as a form of remembrance for departed servicemen.

The nun sat with a basket near the entrance to the subway in the lobby of 32 Sixth Avenue. She or her sister nuns bothered no one. When given a contribution, they would simply say “Thank you” or “Bless you.” There was seldom more than one nun on duty in the lobby.

Each year before Memorial Day, Larry Pierce would get permission from his supervisors to call upon Killingsworth to see if it would be agreeable to sell poppies in the lobby. Until this particular year, HTK had always given his permission to Larry Pierce to sell his poppies in the lobby. On this occasion, Larry must have caught Killingsworth on a bad day – of which he had many. When Larry asked for permission to sell poppies as he had done before, Larry said Killingsworth replied, “Hell no. And while you’re at it, get rid of that Goddamn nun.”

The nun bothered no one. HTK was driven by his chauffeur to and from the office and had no occasion to pass the nun. I suppose there was some sort of divine intervention on behalf of the nun because she never seemed to miss a beat.

Now, the end of the year was approaching. Traditionally, the head man at Long Lines would write employees a holiday letter. In it he would say how much he enjoyed working with the employees in the past year and how much be looked forward to working with them again in the coming year. And in previous years he would extend holiday greetings to everyone. That was not Killingsworth’s style.

HTK used the holiday letter to demand more from employees in terms of greater effort and the saving of money. In his year end holiday letter, Killingsworth demanded that employees “take up the slack in the trace chains.” He explained that this was “South Georgia talk.” Actually, that method of speaking had to do with getting greater production out of your team of mules in planting cotton. The trace chains had to do with driving a mule team. HTK thought his holiday letter was clever, effective and well received. In point of fact, outrage was the emotion exhibited by the people who received the letter.

Killingsworth was paid quite well. In the mid 1950’s, his salary was $50,000 per year. He was quite proud of his earnings as it was reported by the FCC. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, the New York Yankees enjoyed considerable success in winning pennants and World Series. One of their mainstays after Joe DiMaggio left was a catcher who called St. Louis home. His name, of course, is Laurence Peter “Yogi” Berra. Berra dropped out of schooling after the eighth grade to go to work and to play ball. In recognition of Berra’s contributions to Yankee fortunes, Dan Topping, the President of the Yankees, gave Yogi a $50,000 contract.

For the better part of month, Killingsworth was in an even more foul mood than normal. He referred to Yogi as “that little Dago.” And to think that the “little Dago” was making as much as Killingsworth was more than HTK could bear. Yogi made even more money in the next year or so.

Aside from Italians, HTK had an active bias against Jews, black people, the Episcopal Church, gay people and men who wore bow ties. And he greatly disliked people with labor union backgrounds. I had been the President of the St. Louis Union Local and a member of the national contract bargaining effort in 1950 and in 1951. According to HTK, a special place in hell was reserved in my name. Kind of ecumenical, I suppose.

Earlier in this essay, I said that in all the time I had worked in the telephone business, I could not recall a single act of decency attributable to Killingsworth. Let me give you an example.

When labor contracts are negotiated, the talks on the final day generally go on to 4AM or 5AM before agreement. Ordinarily, contracts expire on their final day at midnight, but in every case where I have been involved, there is an agreement to hold the clock at 11:59PM and to continue talking. I have been on both the Union side and the Company side and I can tell you, that the reason talks go on so long is for the Union negotiators to be able to say to members that they wrung the last drop of concessions out of the Company. Company negotiators would much prefer to reach agreement earlier than the contract deadline, but Union negotiators would balk at such an arrangement. So the talks go into the early hours until everyone is exhausted and then finally, there is some sort of agreement.

After agreement at say 4AM or 5AM, all kinds of work still remains to be done such as deciding about wage schedules and other important matters. Ordinarily, the whole process comes to an end around 7AM or 8AM. This means that the negotiators have been awake for at least 24 hours. The other members of the Company’s negotiation team would be free at that time to go home or to return to their hotel rooms. But not the Labor Relation’s Manager – namely me.

I would go back to the office from the negotiations room to answer questions and in some cases, to accept well wishing from friends. If fortunate, I could leave for home around noon.

During the Killingsworth era, he would frequently call my boss, the Personnel Vice President, or he would call me. Typically, he would complain that we had “given the store away.” Of course, nothing could be further from the facts of the negotiations. But as a general rule, we had to take Killingsworth’s abuse and hope for the best.

Then in 1962, I believe, Killingsworth was relieved of his Long Lines duties and was succeeded by Lowell Wingert, who had been president of the Mountain States Company headquartered in Denver. Wingert had only been on the job for a week or two and I had not met him. I heard he was a good man.

We went through the end of bargaining mating dance that year ending around 7AM. I arrived in the office from the hotel negotiations room a half hour later. The phone rang. The fellow on the other end of the line said he was Lowell Wingert and said we had done a fine job and offered his personal congratulations.

At that point, I had never talked to Lowell Wingert in person or on the phone. For several moments, I thought it was one of my joker friends pulling my leg. So I said something to the effect “Are you really Lowell Wingert?” He said “Man, if you don’t believe me, I’ll walk down to your office and tell you the same thing.” He didn’t offer to call me to his office; he suggested that he knew I was tired and therefore he would come to my office.

I told Lowell Wingert what a contrast he made to that miserable Killingsworth. Wingert laughed. I thanked Wingert and as you might imagine, he is one of my heroes in the telephone business. Lowell Wingert is the first of four good guys in this epic story.

Now we come to Killingsworth’s fixation and obsession with automobile doors. Killingsworth was nuts on this subject.

Harold Patterson, a fine fellow, was the Plant Superintendent in Omaha as I recall it. Pat needed a new car to replace the Company car he drove. So he got bids from Omaha dealers at the time of model changes. He finally found a good deal and bought it. What he didn’t know was that this model came with electric windows. It must have been one of the early such cars, this being in the late 1950’s. When Patterson’s bosses found out about the electric windows, they warned Pat that HTK was death on such devices. Before HTK came to Omaha, Pat had to locate a car with wind up windows before Killingsworth came to visit him. What ever Pat saved on the original purchase was more than lost during the windup door episode.

In the early 1960’s, Killingsworth decided that he wanted a personal Cadillac. He assigned the job to the Personnel Vice President, Bill Whittaker. Whittaker must have spent dozens or hundred of hours in locating the best deal in a Cadillac car. Part of the specification was that HTK wanted his initials on each of the four doors. Finally, the car was delivered. Bill Whittaker proudly showed Killingsworth the new car. As he looked it over, HTK flew into a rage. Each door had a small plaque attached to the doors containing HTK’s initials. The initials on the doors were in BLOCK letters. Killingsworth claimed that he had specified script. So the car was returned to have the four doors replaced. It was not a matter of replacing the block letters with script; HTK demanded that the doors be replaced. I suppose AT&T picked up the extra expense.

Now I end this part of the story of a very bad guy with a thought on personal honesty. AT&T was considered a public utility for many years. For employees, it was required that honesty was a pre-requisite for working for AT&T. Cheating was supposedly not tolerated. Well, HTK had a liberal view on this subject.

When he visited his home territory in Georgia, he returned to New York from Atlanta. HTK had a thing about airplane seating. He insisted that he have a seat near the exit so that he would be the first, or among the first, to leave the airplane. In those days, the flight HTK took originated in New Orleans. AT&T made reservations and paid for HTK’s seat near the door as though he would be traveling from New Orleans to New York. In point of fact, in the leg from New Orleans to Atlanta, HTK’s seat flew as a vacant seat until he claimed it upon boarding in Atlanta. I suppose kings have their privileges.

I will cite one other example of HTK abusing the trust to control expenses of a public utility. Killingsworth decided that he wanted to paste identification markers in his own private library collection. That’s all well and good, but he loaded this project on the Long Lines Public Relations Department. He didn’t go to a bookstore; he asked that Long Lines artists design an identification marker and have it printed. This happened in about 1960 – some 40 years ago. John Rosenburg was sufficiently impressed that he sent a copy of “No frigate like a book” to me. His envelope and the marker are attached.

Comedians often say that people like Killingsworth are going to put markers in their whole library – both books. Unfortunately, HTK had hundreds of these markers printed – at AT&T’s expense. Maybe he had only two books but he had hundreds of the markers printed.

I know this story of Killingsworth’s failings is longer and drearier than even I thought. These are only some of the recollections that come to mind after forty years. But now that HTK is largely out of the way, let’s go on to some cheerful news about some good guys. Whereas Killingsworth was unspeakably evil, there were three gentlemen, aside from Lowell Wingert, who worked in the Public Relations side of the Long Lines operation who were absolutely good and decent men. John Rosenburg ran our press contacts. Emory Wilbur and Dick Lewin were responsible for employee information. So Rosenburg was Mr. Outside and Emory and Dick were Messrs. Inside.

I worked very closely with all three men because in the 1950’s and 1960’s, labor developments were important subjects. During contract negotiations which took place almost yearly, the three men more or less lived with us. It was in that fashion that they were able to formulate what would be said to the press and to what would be said within the business. So at the end of most bargaining sessions, no matter how late, I would meet with John Rosenburg and either Dick Lewin or Emory Wilbur or both of them. They would usually type up something in the pressroom, and show it to me. If there was no time, as was often the case, I trusted those three men to proceed in the name of the AT&T Company. They used good judgment and never caused a problem to anyone.

They were very different people. John Rosenburg was about my age. He had spent a lifetime in newspaper work. Before he came with AT&T, John had worked for United Press International. John had the skepticism and brashness that marks all good newsmen. He was no pushover for anyone in AT&T, including Killingsworth. He kept news people away from the bargaining team, which was a very valuable contribution.

Killingsworth marked off John Rosenburg’s aggressive nature to his Jewish heritage. But John was not Jewish. His family was of German ancestry. In the First World War, John’s father, an American soldier, married a Frenchwoman, and John was a product of that marriage. But that made no difference to Killingsworth. With all the certainty that a South Georgia upbringing can offer, Killingsworth seemed to take credit for having a pressman with a minority background.

Somewhere in the early 1960’s, John tired of Killingsworth’s patronizing attitude and took a transfer to Philadelphia where he worked for the Bell Company there until he retired. After a lapse of perhaps twenty years, I spoke to John after I wrote this essay. He laughs just the way he did 40 years ago. And we both remember the same stories about Killingsworth. John is a first class piece of work.

Killingsworth did not run over John Rosenburg because of his demeanor and because of the credentials he brought to the job. On the other hand, Dick Lewin and Emory Wilbur were sort of shy, retiring types of men. That is how it appeared to people who didn’t know them. But in their reporting on news within the Bell System, they did not run from controversy. Fortunately, the Public Relations Vice President defended them because they were almost always right.

Both men, as I recall it, were single. Both were tall and handsome. Dick Lewin lived in Greenwich Village. According to Killingsworth that made both of them queer, as it was then termed. To top it all off, Dick Lewin attended an Episcopalian church in the Village, so Killingsworth said Lewin was a Jew. According to Killingsworth, every Jew who attempts to act as a gentile joins the Episcopal Church. Most Episcopalian preachers have never tumbled to that fact, but Killingsworth knew all about it.

Two more decent men never lived. I’m here to tell you that Dick Lewin and Emory Wilbur were top notch people who would be welcomed in my home anytime. I have no reason to believe that either one was gay – and that would make no difference. And as far as Lewin’s religious preference, John Rosenburg told me that Dick’s family had always been Episcopalians. I have not seen either one of those fellows for many years, but I thought it right to set the record straight on them.

The passage of three or four decades has not diminished my respect for John Rosenburg or Emory Wilbur or Dick Lewin or Lowell Wingert. They were good, decent men back then. Maybe there will be more like them in the future, but I’m not so sure. I just hope so.

A sad note. When I called Dick Lewin’s residence in the Village after I wrote this essay, I was told that Dick died of kidney failure at the end of August, 2001. He was 80 years of age.

E. E. Carr
September 6, 2001

Wow, Pop just missed being able to speak to Lewin — that’s really rough. Killingsworth seems a little like a comic book villain. More essays about him can be found here and here. The Cadillac and library anecdotes both seem more than a little absurd, but I guess archetype of the self-impressed businessman is nothing new, and certainly hasn’t gone anywhere in modern times.



Last week, there arrived in our mailbox a life changing letter. It was a check for $600. In the first place, it was mailed from Austin, Texas which now seems to be at the center of Bush’s universe. The United States Treasury is on 15th Street in Washington, but for this purpose was moved to Austin. Most people would fail to notice this relocation, but as a former lobbyist, I was right on top of it.

The third line of the check said “CARR BRKHAVN TAX RELIEF.” At the bottom of the check there is the legend “Tax Relief for America’s Workers.” The check is for $600 which will enable us to establish a new order for the way things are done in this country.

Robert Byrd, the Senator from West Virginia, is going to send his rebate right back to the U. S. Government because he voted against the give away. The estimable George Bush says he will probably send his to a charity. Rudy Guiliani will probably pay for some of his lawyers or his recent medical care or buy his new girlfriend a present.

All of these efforts, laudable as they may seem, really miss the mark. The idea of a tax rebate is to stimulate the economy. Nobody has addressed the secondary thought that manufacturers whose economy is stimulated, will pay more in taxes, but that thought is not in keeping with the euphoria that Tax Relief and Tax Breaks bring to American workers. Bush has given us this great windfall so it is up to us to put it to good use.

My own thoughts are based on lofty ideals. My first thoughts about Bush’s tax Relief check have to do with the Mormons, the Moonies, the Muslims and Catholics. These four religions have all been in the news in the past week or so. As a non-believer in all religions, I believe I can comment without prejudice. As I say, I do all this in the interest of lofty ideals.

Last week Thomas A. Green of Provo, Utah learned from a state court there that he will spend the next five years in prison. He also has to repay $78,000 to the state for welfare checks fraudulently collected by his family. Green is 53 years of age.

Green’s offense against the State of Utah is that he violated the law on polygamy. I mean, he did it big time. In the last few years, Green has acquired five wives, 30 children with at least two more on the way. Most of his wives seem to be in their twenties. He is still to be tried on charges that one of his wives was acquired when she was 13 years of age. The State says that’s not marriage; it’s rape. So old Tom may be laid up for awhile and will be out of the marriage business for some time.

Now with my rebate check I can do something about all this. I don’t propose to do anything about polygamy. It would be pointless because Green’s defenders say that the man who prosecuted Green (Leavitt) and the senior Senator from Utah (Hatch) are products of polygamist marriages in the past. Instead, let’s deal with the fact that in this country, there are 1000 men and about 1004 women in the general population. I believe the same ratio also applies to Utah.

Given that fact, let us suppose that each man acquired five wives and that 30 children came from these unions as with Tom Green. It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to figure out that soon we’d run out of women for the polygamists to marry.

On the other hand, women outnumber men by large margins in many countries of the world. That condition can be found in India, the Philippines, Zambia, Korea, the Congo and Uganda as well as among the Eskimo tribes near the North Pole.

Before the male-female situation becomes more dire, I am going to use my $600 rebate check to advertise to females in those countries that willing wealthy husbands await them in Utah. The polygamists out there will make me a saint in Salt Lake City. That would be fitting, since I am retired and would have ample time for saint work.

Now we turn to Emmanuel Milingo, the Catholic Archbishop of Zambia. Milingo lost his head a few weeks ago and fell under the influence of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon of Korea and New Jersey. Reverend Moon arranged a wedding of several hundred couples. Reverend Moon picked out the brides who all seemed to come from his native Korea. It is now claimed by the church in Rome, that Archbishop Milingo took leave of his senses when he fell under the influence of Reverend Moon. When it came time for the marriage ceremony to be performed by Reverend Moon, he (Moon) told Milingo “Have I got a girl for you!” The girl he had in mind was a 45 year old manicurist named Maria Sung. Milingo is 73 or 74 years of age. So Reverend Moon married the former Miss Sung and Archbishop Milingo. Both were very happy, even though Milingo spoke no Korean and the former Miss Sung spoke no Latin or Swahili.

Now at the outset, this causes a technical problem. Do the Moonies address the former Ms. Sung as “Mrs. Archbishop” or as “Mrs. Milingo”?

The happy couple had a week or two of wedded bliss until the Vatican decreed that Milingo would have to dump his wife or face excommunication. Somehow, the Vatican got him to come to Rome – and man, that’s all she wrote. In short order, old Milingo said that he had been moved by the words of Pope John Paul II and wanted now to obey the laws of the church. As part of the deal, Milingo now says that he likes Maria Sung as a sister and “I will continue to pray for you for the rest of my life.”

It seems to me that Milingo’s promise of lifetime prayers are of dubious value. He has to do something dramatic to get back into the good graces of the Holy Roman Church. Now we know that the Church frowns heavily on divorce. There was a scare a week ago when the former Ms. Sung (Mrs. Milingo) said she thought she was pregnant. Now this is great theatre. Let’s say that she did produce a child. Naturally, that child would attend Catholic schools. When registering that child, the nuns naturally would ask who the child’s father would be and the child or Ms. Sung would reply “The Archbishop of all Zambia.” And fortunately, that script will not apply as Ms. Sung says it was all a false alarm.

Now with a divorce out of the question, the only possible answer is annulment. Millions of people get them including the beloved mayor of New York who succeeded in having his marriage to one of his cousins annulled. So annulment is the answer. The Archbishop and Ms. Sung can’t go forward as a married couple. Ah, but here’s the rub.

Annulments cost money. Lawyers are involved. There is record searching to be done. An annulment may take as much as 10 years although I suspect that John Paul II would set a new course record for Milingo’s annulment. So the answer is clear. In answer to a call from higher authority, I will use Bush’s rebate check to underwrite Milingo’s annulment. I know $600 won’t cover all the costs, but what ever is left over, I will cover from my Social Security payments and from personal savings. However, if Ms. Sung doesn’t cooperate, I’ll have to rethink the whole scheme.

Now we turn to a question that has bothered me for many years. It involves the Muslim faith. In the old days we used to call those people Muhammadans, but now they have been upgraded to Muslims.

A week ago on a Sunday, which is a work day in Israel, a Muslim suicide bomber took a strapped on bomb into a Sbarro Pizza parlor in the heart of Jerusalem and set it off. In the explosion, many Israelis were murdered and wounded. The Muslim bomber was wiped out. Not even a trace of him was left. To Western eyes, this is nothing other than deplorable murders. To the Moslem clergy, it is a cause for rejoicing.

Now, whenever this sort of thing happens, the Imans who are the preachers of the Muslim faith, say that the bombers were martyrs because they are doing God’s work which is to wipe Israel off the map. Islamic martyrs are guaranteed a good deal according to the preachers of that faith. According to the Imans, entry into Paradise is automatic for martyrs. Secondly, the Koran promises that every martyr is entitled to 77 virgins and 70 wives. The preachers say this is all covered in detail in the Koran. Unfortunately, I don’t read Arabic and if I did, I wouldn’t spend much time with the Koran. But if this is what the Koran says – and I believe that to be so – then certain questions are raised.

If the martyrs are entitled to 77 virgins and 70 wives, then the question arises are these two different groups of people? That would mean that the martyrs would have to deal with 147 women. (For purposes of this discussion, I am assuming that we are dealing with women.) That is a pretty heroic task even though the martyr may have many hundreds of years to complete his work. And I am assuming that he will be required to make love to all the 77 virgins, which may not be true.

Secondly, if the 70 wives are taken from the 77 virgins, that is all well and good, but what happens to the seven virgins not picked? Are they put back into stock or pensioned off? If the martyr has had his way with all 77 virgins, at least seven of them will not qualify as virgins and thus, not be able to marry.

In this day of equal treatment for women, let us assume that a woman straps bombs to her body and proceeds to blow up Jews all in the name of advancing Islam’s interests. The Imams, while rejoicing, would then have a large quandary. By blowing up the perceived adversary, the former lady would have to be called a martyr. So far so good. But now comes the reward part of the proposition. Does the female martyr qualify for 77 male virgins or 70 husbands? Or does she qualify for only female virgins and female wives? What with all the harems and belly dancing shows, I doubt that 77 male virgins over the age of ten exist anywhere in Israel or in the Middle East. I would think that potential female martyrs ought to give some thought to the unfairness of the whole proposition before they strap on the bombs.

So much for female martyrs. Now we turn to the practical aspects of the reward offered to male martyrs. Muhammad was born in the year 570 AD and lived until 632 AD. According to the beliefs of Islam, Muhammad upon his death, was seated on a white horse from which he ascended bodily into Paradise. The site in Jerusalem is now the Dome of the Rock Mosque. So we must conclude that the idea of Paradise started at least by the year 632 AD. That was 1369 years ago.

I am assuming that every one continues living while they are in Paradise. Apparently, death does not occur to residents of Paradise.

Now this is a sobering thought if it ever occurs to the average male martyr. From what I have read, the average male martyr ranges from 18 to 24 years of age. Before he straps the bombs on, he should realize that his reward could be a 1000 year old virgin or a much younger one of only 400 years. Or one of his rewards wives may have 250 years on her speedometer. I don’t know much about Islam’s martyrs, but thoughts like these would surely slow me down. I’m not going to live long enough to solve this mystery. So to deal with these questions, I am going to use Bush’s generous rebate check to establish a think tank sort of like the Brookings Institute. I know these questions are deeply troubling to me and to thousands of other religious scholars just like me. I believe that a Brookings-like Institute will provide the answers to these troubling questions and in so doing, will offer relief to the many thousands of information deprived sufferers who look to Islam for guidance.

Now we come to the beloved Rudy Guiliani who is suing Donna Hanover for divorce. If he succeeds, he will be free to marry his “good friend” Judith Nathan. If he goes through with marriage to Ms. Nathan, it will be his third marriage. And he sits in the front row pews at St. Patrick’s.

I could use Bush’s rebate for a large wedding present to Guiliani however, he doesn’t stay married for long so the money may be wasted. I could donate the $600 to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York where it might come to Cardinal Egan’s attention, in which case he would find some reason for them to be married in church. In the end, I believe the best use of Bush’s $600 would be to buy a one-way ticket to Utah where Guiliani would feel at home. He may take over when Tom Green goes to jail.

I have several other ideas for the $600 windfall. With all the kids gone, it might be a good time to double the size of the house. Or maybe it would be better to use the money for ballet lessons for me. In the end though, I’d like to devote some sympathy and understanding to the German Army. I know it’s 58 years late in coming, but if not now, when?

The problem that concerns me is that German Army commanders drove around their prisons (Stalags) in Mercedes cars. Some tried to imitate Hitler by driving cars with wheel wells to hold spare tires. Now this had to be expensive. Mercedes were eight cylinder or 12 cylinder cars made largely for racing. As a means of spreading love to everyone, I propose that my $600 check be used to buy commanders of German Army prisons Fords or Chevvies. I know it’s a little late for recent wars, but it strikes me that this is good solution for the Germans and it would help the American automobile industry.

In this little essay, I have offered five different proposals to dispose of the 43rd president’s tax relief check. All of them are especially meritorious. I haven’t cashed mine yet because I am anxious to make the right choice. After all, $600 windfalls don’t happen every day. So if you see me alone in the back yard with my lips moving, you will know that I am still wrestling with the happy problem that George Herbert Walkers Bush’s son has given me.

A final thought. I hope Bush was paying attention when his English professors at Yale discussed Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” An albatross figures greatly in the telling of that story. I have concluded that Bush’s “Tax Relief for America’s Workers” will be his albatross and his political epitaph.

August 26, 2001

I wrote a pretty extensive bit of commentary on the 77 virgins before, which you can find here. Rereading it, 2013-era Kevin comes off a more than a little insensitive, but the facts are correct and my incredulity was, I still think, legitimate. If you don’t feel like going back, the bottom line is that the Koran doesn’t go into almost any detail at all about the companions that one gets in the afterlife; all the detail is in the Hadith, which are thousands of lines worth of basically hearsay that’s taken incredibly seriously by the Muslims of the world.

Also, the Koran is pretty explicitly anti-suicide, and of course not all Muslims are radical, so it’s unfair to assume that all Imams rejoice after a successful suicide bombing. If I remember correctly from my classes, to qualify as a martyr one has to actually engage in combat, and blowing up civilians doesn’t count (at least to mainstream Islam).

All that aside, I love the flow between the rebate check, polygamy, and terrorism. Certainly the kind of essay that only Pop could write.


The choir at Central Presbyterian Church in Summit has a number of outstanding voices. One of them belongs to Bill Dembaugh, a tenor, who is a retired school teacher.

As a young man, Bill seemed headed in the right direction for a career as a tenor. He studied hard and wound up in New York. Somewhere in his New York experience, Bill concluded that other tenors had better voices and they seemed to wind up with the roles he sought. So he made a choice and became a school teacher in New Providence, New Jersey. Talking to Dembaugh made me think of my sister Verna. Verna had a good soprano voice, but like Bill Dembaugh, she found that other people had better voices.

Now all this thought about Verna encourages me to write about my exposure to grand opera – as we used to call it. That is to distinguish it from light opera. “Naughty Marietta” and “Old Man River” are typical light opera presentations. “Il Trovatore” and “Carmen” are grand opera pieces.

Verna was borne 15 years before I came along. After high school, she aspired to sing opera for a living. She hedged her bets by working as a secretary for the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company. Verna’s voice was nice and pleasant. It was not outstanding. To make her voice outstanding, she spent a small fortune during the depression with a voice teacher.

So she took countless lessons from a Mrs. Ettinger and she practiced at home between lessons. For an aspiring grand opera soprano, Mrs. Ettinger took Verna in the wrong direction. After several years of lessons, Verna and I both figured out that German music had a very limited future. Verna did not speak German. Unfortunately, that was what Mrs. Ettinger gave Verna to sing. She sang the limited German opera music as well as the folksier lieder. In point of fact, Italian operas greatly outnumber German operas. But Mrs. Ettinger was German and once Verna started with her, she never broke away.

There was a benefit to Verna’s opera career. She spent four or five years in the St. Louis Grand Opera Association as a member of the chorus. I was probably around nine years of age at the beginning and perhaps thirteen at the end. The Grand Opera season offered three productions per year with performances on Friday and Saturday evenings and a Sunday afternoon matineé. Remember these were depression years and no one – neither the customers nor the Opera Association – had money to waste.

Verna was single at the time and lived at home. No one else in the family cared about opera. As a matter of fact, if Verna had not been involved in it, the Carr family would not even have thought about it. It cost too much to see, the location was inconvenient and the language was foreign.

Getting to the grand opera rehearsals and performances posed a bit of a logistical problem. The opera performed in downtown St. Louis. We lived in suburban Richmond Heights, about an hour away on streetcars. At least two transfers on the streetcars were needed to get to the opera.

Getting Verna home from the Kirkwood-Ferguson streetcar stop was a major problem. There was a stop about three quarters of a mile away which involved crossing railroad tracks and their embankment. There was no illumination on that route as it cut across fields. On a cold winter night, it could be challenging. When it rained the problem grew worse. Later a new stop was added about a quarter mile from the house.

From Verna’s point of view the new stop presented major difficulties. The new stop was added on the Kirkwood-Ferguson line to accommodate passengers going to the newly constructed McMorrow Grade School. The school had a large cinder back yard in the direction of the streetcar line. Now I ask underage readers to avert their eyes at this point.

During the depression, men and boys would do anything to own or borrow a car. Without a car, love life with females couldn’t exist. Now once an ardent swain got a relatively willing female in the car, he might drive around looking for a secluded place to park. (To engage in necking or much worse, if you have to ask.) Well, in many cases the ardent swains would drive to the cinder lot in back of the McMorrow School. As they got into their work, many couples would produce blankets and retreat to the grassy spots around the cinder parking lot.

If Verna got off at the McMorrow School stop, which was much closer to our house, she had to wade through this sea of affection and that made her cringe. I should point out that when the opera was in rehearsal or in production, I was drafted to either come to the Opera House or to escort Verna home late in the evening after she got off the streetcar. I rode with Verna to the McMorrow stop or when I met her there, she more or less instructed me to look straight ahead with eyes uplifted so that I wouldn’t see what was taking place. I did this, after a fashion, until one night with my eyes upraised I stumbled over an amorous couple.

I didn’t really mind all this tending to Verna. Sometimes she gave me a dime for my trouble. But going to the Opera House opened up a new world for me. I read about the operas and the featured performers. The stagecraft was entirely new to me and made a lifelong impression.

By the time I was ten years of age I was hooked on Italian opera. Fortunately, there were few German operas to deal with, but the Italians were big deals as far as I was concerned.

Instead of school songs and hits from the Lucky Strike Hit Parade, I began to hum the “Improvviso” from Andrea Chénier or “Il Balen Del Suo Sopriso” from Verdi’s Il Trovatore. There were many others with duets being among my favorites. These are beautiful melodies, much better than something like “Flat Foot Floogie with the Floy Floy” which was played constantly on the radio then.

During a rehearsal, Verna took me to meet Gennaro Popi, the director of the St. Louis Grand Opera Company. Apparently, Popi had many contacts in the United States and in Italy, and one of those contacts brought Giovanni Martinelli to St. Louis on several occasions. For his day, Martinelli was as big as Pavorotti became in the 1980’s and 1990’s. I don’t think I personally met Martinelli, but Verna did. More about Martinelli later – about 35 to 37 years later.

With Verna approaching or being a little past 30 years of age, she decided that marriage was her best bet, and so she didn’t pursue her opera ambitions much longer. Like Bill Dembaugh, it was time to settle for the long pull. Verna made a few dollars singing for weddings and funerals after her opera career was finished. I’m sure she thought she was as good as Lily Pons, but the opera career was not to be.

During the war, I had hopes that I’d hear some first class opera in Italy, but that was also not to be. I saw an occasional opera troupe and a singer here or there, but during the war, the Italians had other things than opera to occupy their minds.

After the war I returned to St. Louis but the Grand Opera Association was long gone. In 1951 I moved to Kansas City which had only a light opera company in the summer. In 1953 I was sent to Chicago where the Lyric Opera Company presented first class opera. In 1955 I came to New York and had an opportunity to see opera, but it was very expensive. From 1966 to 1969 I worked in Washington, but opera was largely unknown there.

So in 1969, I came back to New York. One day one of the secretaries came into my office and laid a photograph down in front of me and asked me to tell her who it was. I suppose she knew that I had an interest in opera.

I didn’t even blink once. I told her, Lois Tancredi – later Reda, that the photograph was of one of my boyhood heroes, Giovanni Martinelli. She was flattered by that, I think. For a number of years, Lois had acted as Martinelli’s secretary when he came to New York. As far as I could tell, this was a labor of love – purely chaste – because Lois liked opera and Martinelli. She had good seats at the Met when he sang and I suppose she attended various functions revolving around opera stars.

I am glad I learned a little about opera not just because it made Lois Tancredi happy. For the better part of 65 years, it has provided me with a sense of pleasure. So I have been amply rewarded for my late night journeys with my sister Verna to the opera and the walk home from the street car. And I still hum Giordano’s “Improvviso” from Andrea Chénier – quietly.

Now a thought in closing about opera. Most operas can be long and tedious. Almost all are sung in a foreign language. The Metropolitan provides an English translation of the libretto on a screen of the back of a seat in front of you. But by the time you have studied the translation, something else is taking place on the stage. So I say “To hell with the translation” and watch the stage.

Now about the length and tediousness of opera. Even my favorite, Umberto Giordano’s Andre Chénier, has four acts. Typically, the cast treats itself to a break between acts of from 30 minutes to three quarters of an hour. Under the best circumstances, that means 90 minutes of downtime. A performance of Andre Chénier will rarely finish by 12:30AM. So it is a long evening.

The tediousness has to do with convoluted plots and the need to present a full cast at work. To my mind, the worst offenders in terms of tediousness and length are German operas. I would rather take a beating than go to see something by Wagner. And he seems to favor dark sets imparting a sense of gloom. So keep me away from German opera.

There is a way to avoid the length and tediousness of opera. And it is a way to enjoy the opera without leaving home. In all operas, the principals in the cast exchange dialogue which is called recitative. It can get pretty boring particularly when the exchange is in French, Italian, German or even Russian. From time to time, a member of the cast stops the recitative and launches into an aria. Arias are, of course, the high lights of the opera. And so for many years, I have collected the highlights of the opera in arias, duets and quartets. The new CD’s offer as much as 70 minutes of music which is plenty to present the highlights of one opera. And so for many years, I have listened to opera highlights without struggling to make it to the Met in person.

Earlier today, I caught myself humming “Inquesta Tomba Oscura,” In This Dark Tomb from Fidelio, a Beethoven opera. Unfortunately, that is the only aria in that opera that is singable. Somewhere along the line, Fidelio was translated from German into Italian which makes In This Dark Tomb easier to sing. Aside from this aria, I am pleased that the Fidelio cast sports three basses and only two tenors. In other operas, tenors outnumber basses by at least four to one. Now that I applaud the Dark Tomb aria and the good supply of basses in Fidelio, I have said about all that I find laudable about German opera.

Well this is the story of my involvement in Grand Opera. My sister Verna died a few years back at the age of 86. She didn’t necessarily intend to provide me with a lifetime of enjoyment in opera music, but that is what she did. And I am thankful.

This add-on to the opera story has to do with one of my Long Lines colleagues in St. Louis. Gordon Gintz knew nothing about opera and did not pretend that he did. He was part of a lunch time crowd looking for a decent place to eat. In 1948, when this episode took place, there must have been five or six ex-soldiers who worked for Long Lines and who often ate lunch together.

We all worked at 1010 Pine Street, the headquarters of the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. Long Lines rented space at 1010 Pine Street. The leading purveyor of piano and organ sales in St. Louis was the Aeolian Company, on Olive Street, a block or two from our office. Aeolian, also sold sheet music for piano and organs and had recently added phonograph records to its inventory. Aeolian was a high class place. The workers there dressed to reflect the fact that this was a substantial establishment. Men wore ties, ladies wore dresses and the whole place had wall to wall carpeting. Opera music fitted Aeloean perfectly so I bought quite a few old 78 RPM records from them. This was before 33 1/3 records were invented.

The last player in this incident was James Melton. In the late 1930’s through the middle part of the 1950’s, Melton was an important part of the American musical scene. He was a top rated tenor who had a Sunday afternoon radio show for several years. My memory is that Melton had appeared in opera houses in Europe and at the Met in New York. Melton’s heritage was Irish so he often made recordings of Irish music. He was a well known tenor who could pick and choose his appearances.

This incident happened in the Spring, perhaps around Easter. After lunch, Gordon Gintz went with me to the Aeolian Company. I told one of the men there that I wanted a 12 inch 78RPM record of James Melton performing “The Holy City”. That, of course, is about Jerusalem. There is no religious significance for me in asking for this record. I simply thought James Melton had an outstanding voice. If he had recorded “O Sole Mio”, I would have bought that too.

When the clerk turned away to find the record, Gintz said to me in a fairly loud voice, “Jezzus Carr. Why do you always buy Irish music?”

Gintz was active in a Lutheran church and I thought he would know about Jerusalem being the Holy City referred to in that song. At first I thought he was joking, then I realized that he was serious. I assured Gordon that there could be more than one Holy City and that most Irishmen looked to Dublin as their candidate. He never offered an objection.

September 7, 2001


I’ve never been one for opera myself, but I can certainly appreciate the talent it requires. I can also note that both Italian and even German opera both thoroughly trump Beijing opera. Hell, even Flat Foot Floogie with the Floy Floy beats out Beijing opera, and that’s really saying something. I’d suggest that you should investigate ol’ 京剧 (fun fact — we learned how to say this in Chinese before we learned the words for “Please,” “Rice,” and about a million other much more practical words) to verify for yourself, but I honestly wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Suffice it to say that it’s so hideous and garbled, even Chinese people often can’t understand it, so they have to have subtitles to an opera in their own language. This in part happens because Mandarin is tonal, so words need to have specific tones in order to connote meaning, and Beijing Opera, er, distorts these tones.


This piece is being written largely at the request or demand of Miss Chicka. She makes editorial suggestions and tries to correct my grammar. And she does all the typing. So as you can see, I pay attention to her.

After I wrote “Lillie,” the piece about my mother and my enlistment, Miss Chicka suggested that I should write a little more about my mother. So here are some random thoughts that come to mind 40 years after her death.



One of my earliest memories concerns Lillie’s singing. She sang in the country style which is a high, nasal sound. All the women who went to her churches sang that way. I am at a loss to tell you why they favored that sort of singing.

The song that most always came from Lillie’s lips was “Amazing Grace.” My memory of my mother goes back to the 1920’s. All during the 1920’s, the 1930’s and the 1940’s, “Amazing Grace” was almost never heard at all in mainstream churches, particularly in the New York area. It would be sung at Nazarene or Pentecostal churches. It would often be sung when traveling evangelists would hold revivals. But certainly it would never be heard in Episcopal or Anglican churches in New York or thereabouts. The Catholic Church never heard of it then.

My mother sang it all the time. She promised that it would be sung at her funeral. This was 40 years before her funeral occurred.

Sometime around 1960, “Amazing Grace” began to be played in Protestant mainstream churches. I say it was the work of the British Army’s Royal Scots Dragoon Guards who played in a concert in Madison Square Garden about that time.

For several years, British Army Regimental bands appeared in concert in many locations in this country. They would offer band music and precision marching. The Black Watch Regiment was greatly favored by American audiences. It raised money for the Brits and was enjoyed by American audiences.

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards raised the ante. They had a large trumpet section that played ruffles and flourishes and other fancy stuff. But most of all the Royal Scots had a band of 10 – 15 bagpipe players who played “Amazing Grace” about three or four times during their concert. They played it at Madison Square Garden and at the Long Island Nassau Coliseum and all across the country until they got to San Francisco. I am absolutely certain that those concerts got Protestant mainstream churches to include “Amazing Grace” in their services and hymnals. The Catholics came somewhat later.

In the mid to late 1970’s I attended a funeral in a Catholic church. When the organist started “Amazing Grace,” I said to myself that sounds a lot like what Lillie used to sing. Well he played the whole song and I was clearly astounded. “Amazing Grace” had arrived.

Lillie passed away in 1961 not long after her 79th birthday. The funeral was held at Jay B. Smith Funeral Home in Maplewood, Missouri. Her five surviving children were there as were her grandchildren. Long before she died she had specified that “Amazing Grace” would be sung at her funeral. It was not only the offering of a forceful soprano, but as the family left the room, the pianist played “Amazing Grace” as a recessional. I always thought that song was a mighty fine piece of work. Maybe memories of Lillie have something to do with that thought.


My mother was given to eccentric behavior at times. Often her eccentricities were associated with her reading of scripture.

Before the depression occurred while my father had the superintendent’s job at the Lilac Roast Farm and after that when he worked at the Evans-Howard Brick Refractory, he brought occasional gifts to my mother. He favored gold so he brought her a lovely gold lapel watch. There were also some pins and some brooches.

After being unceremoniously dropped by the Davis brothers at the Lilac Roost Farm after 25 years of service, he built a house in Richmond Heights, perhaps a half a mile south of the Lilac Roost Farm home. In the basement, he constructed a fruit cellar. It was meant to hold fruits and vegetables canned during the summer.

As soon as my father gave my mother gold jewelry, she put it in baking soda cans and stored it in the fruit cellar. On the rarest of occasions, she might wear the lapel watch or one other piece of gold jewelry. For all but those rare occasions, the gold jewelry stayed in the fruit cellar down in the basement.

She said her conduct was in accordance with the Bible. I suspect that some illiterate preacher must have told her that it was a grievous sin to wear gold jewelry. She even growled at my father because on Sunday, he would put his gold pen and pencil set in the outside pocket of his suit. According to Lillie, that was an unseemly display that offended the Lord.

When she died, she left three or four of those baking cans in the fruit cellar. Now while she would not wear gold jewelry, she chewed snuff. It would seem to me as an unchurched outsider that chewing snuff would be a greater sin in the eyes of the Lord than wearing gold jewelry. But I have never been conversant with what constitutes a sin in the eyes of the Lord, so I guess my thoughts count for nothing.


The depression was very tough on a lot of people. My family was no exception. When the Evans-Howard Brick Refractory closed down in 1930, my father was again out of work through no fault of his own. It took my father until 1934 or 1935 to find a full time job – and it paid depression era wages. Those years were tough for us.

In the good years when my father had a good job at Evans-Howard, John Gualdoni provided us with our groceries. When the Brick Refractory shut down and my father was out of work, John Gualdoni still provided us with groceries. When my mother would worry about paying his bills, John would say “don’t worry about it.” When my father found work again, he began to pay John back. But one way or another, John Gualdoni saw to it that the Carr family got through the depression. He was a prince of a man.


During the depression to help with the food problem, my mother kept chickens. The eggs were good but taking care of the chickens was a mess. Much of the responsibility fell on my young shoulders. Aside from the mess the chickens made, my mother would serve chicken perhaps three or four times a week. Fried, boiled or whatever. I hated chicken. And I still do to this day.

Two or three other ladies got into the chicken business in competition with my mother during the depression. My mother was often soft hearted and would extend credit to customers, particularly black customers who were temporarily down on their luck.

One of the competitors of my mother got into a debate with her about the pricing of eggs. The competitor, a white lady, claimed she could sell eggs for less than my mother. I think she said she could sell eggs for 25 cents a dozen which was somewhat below market pricing. There was some debate about whether she really had eggs to sell.

Now this is not grammatically correct, but it got the job done. Lillie looked this woman in the eye and told her, “If I didn’t have no eggs, I could sell them for 25 cents a dozen just like you.” Faced with logic like that, the competitor folded her tent and walked away.


I mean no disrespect to my mother or her two sisters. But if three more inept cooks ever lived, I’d be astounded.

All three learned from their mother. Irish cooks are hopeless. Let’s repeat that. Irish cooks of that generation were clueless and couldn’t boil water.

For example, I never drank coffee at Lillie’s house. She used a percolator and when she served the coffee, a half-inch of grounds fell to the bottom. That made it undrinkable for me. When I joined the Army, the cooks at Jefferson Barracks served coffee without the grounds. Can you imagine that? Army coffee was drinkable. That was at the outset of my Army career. I thought I was really going to like being a soldier with the food and the good coffee.

As I’ve already told you, Lillie served chicken in several styles. I hated every one of them. To this day I still hate them.

Nora, her older sister, made home brew during the era of Prohibition. I gagged when it was served to me. It was bad. I was seven or eight at the time. There is one virtue to this story about Nora. The home brew she made was so foul that I rarely drank beer even during my days in the Army. When we were in a place with a PX or with the British where they have a NAAFTI (Navy, Army, Air Force Trade Institute) store that sold beer, I gave my coupons to other soldiers. This is now pretty close to June 30, 2001. So far this year, I expect I have consumed perhaps three bottles of beer when we have chili for dinner. Three beers in six months. So Nora set me on the straight and narrow.

When she wasn’t making home brew, Nora like to cook geese. If there is anything I dislike more than chicken, it is a goose.

Finally, there was Grace, who lived in the bad lands of Pope County, Illinois. Grace lived and cooked on a wood stove pretty much as her mother had done. I know that William Grimes in the New York Times never uses the term “nadir” to describe a restaurant he dislikes, but I believe if he had ever feasted with Grace and her children, I believe “nadir” would jump to his lips and to his pen.

Now I tell you about Lillie, Nora and Grace because individually and collectively, they led me into a statement of Irish nationalism. As a child, the three of them individually and collectively would catch me and demand to know, “Boy, if you weren’t Irish, what would you be?” As I had been taught, I would reply, “I’d be ashamed.” Lillie and Nora and Grace seemed to like my answer so this colloquy continued for maybe five years. I like the “ashamed” part a lot better than the chickens or geese they cooked.

So these are the random thoughts I set out to write in this piece about my mother. Now that I have written about my mother, my father and the United States Army, I think I’ll take some time off until another idea percolates up in my brain.

June 24, 2001


Hahahah, that last part is fantastic. Also, gives me ideas about how to turn my kids off beer later in life. Re: his aversion to poultry, I can confirm that he didn’t exaggerate one bit in this story. The man would eat fish for Thanksgiving; he was simply that opposed to consuming any sort of bird. I wonder just how many times in a row he ate chicken as a kid. It must have been extraordinary.


Since September 11, which only happened last week, I have had a fairly bad case of the “glums.” This is a new noun. The dictionary shows glum as an adjective meaning broodingly morose, dreary and gloomy. So I have constructed a neologism, a new word, a noun, the glums, to mean in a funk and to include broodingly morose, dreary and gloomy. I suffer from the glums because of the tragedy at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon but also because the Bush administration seems intent upon starting a war without an obvious adversary. More on that a little later.

The last time I suffered an attack of the glums was in 1950 at the start of the war in Korea. In the spring of that year, I was a delegate to the annual convention of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the union that represented most telephone workers in this country. I was 27 years old and had returned from duty in World War II only four and a half years before the Korean War started. My recollection is that the start of the Korean conflict was announced on a Sunday at the start of that convention. I had a short reaction to that announcement. It was “Oh” followed by a strong “expletive deleted,” as Nixon would say.

While I had specifically rejected the idea of entering the Ready Reserves and the National Guard in November 1945 when I left the Army, I thought that at my age, there would be a good chance of being called back. The thought of going back to drafty barracks, dubious meals and military discipline was quite enough to give me the glums. But when the thought of more combat was added on, the glums became a full load to carry. In the end, I was not called back but the glums lasted for much of the Korean War.

Now back to the Bush administration. As long as Karen Hughes and Carl Rove and others have Bush’s ear in top administration jobs, I am going to choke and to continue to have the glums. They, like so many others in the Bush team, are Texans. The only reason for their existence is to rig things so that Bush can be reelected. They are spin masters with no military expertise and that is not what is needed in Washington now or ever.

Condileezza Rice is Bush’s alter ego or more. She feeds him information and answers difficult questions that Bush can’t handle. Rice is an academic. She has no experience in dealing with real life issues such as death and human suffering. She is still top dog in Bush’s administration taking precedence over Colin Powell who has seen war. Bush addressed Congress Thursday evening on the war. It was announced to the public by his real voice, Condileezza Rice.

Bush spoke tonight reading his speech quite well. As David Martin of CBS said, he did not provide the incontrovertible truth about the terrorist attackers that Mubarek of Egypt has asked for. The Russians and Chinese have also been demanding proof before signing on as members of a coalition. And in his list of deplorable people – Nazi, etc. – he did not mention Communists. Aside from cheerleading, Bush was belligerent in demanding that other countries are with us or they are against us. What about countries that are forced to stay neutral because of demands of their electorate? And finally, Bush was at his bombastic best in demanding that all the leaders of the alleged terrorist group in Afghanistan surrender to us with our having the right to inspect their camps to see that everyone has complied. This is an advance demand for unconditional surrender. What happens if Syria with the Bekaa Valley group, for example, fails to satisfy our demand? And Iran and Iraq and North Korea – and on and on. How do we bend them to our will?

Bush did not ask Congress for a declaration of war. I suppose he could not because we don’t know what country or countries to name. If he sticks with his pledge that you are either with us or your country is against us, I suspect he may declare war on a large number of countries.

Bush is an inexperienced man with a lot to learn. Unconditional surrender of all the leaders of Afghan groups? If they don’t comply, does he plan to use the infantry? Unconditional surrender is a mighty big order. Unconditional surrender demands usually occur when it becomes clear that your enemy is on the ropes.

Well, I suppose we’ll have to see how this plays out.

Aside from Hughes, Rove and Rice, we have the Attorney General John Ashcroft, an ultra-rightist polarizer. Can you imagine him as boss of the FBI? Can you imagine Ashcroft trying to straighten out the failings of the FBI in the Pentagon and World Trade Center cases? Ashcroft’s sole recommendation for his job in the Bush cabinet was that he is or was the most far right member of the Senate – and he was defeated by the voters in Missouri last year. The religious right, personified by the rejected image of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, insisted that Bush name one of their number to his Cabinet. Falwell and Robertson! Does that bring back a very recent memory of the deity they worship pulling aside the curtain of protection over the United States so that the World Trade Center and Pentagon could be destroyed?

Karen Hughes is currently bragging that Bush is now speaking partially without scripts. She says it shows the real man. The real man is spooking Europeans, who are potential partners in a coalition, by such comments as “I want Isama bin Laden dead or alive” or “Man, we are going to smok’em out of their hiding places.” This is psuedo cowboy talk. It is followed by the Secretary of Defense saying, “We are going to drain their swamps”. This may be the colorful language of how Bush’s people think old Westerners would talk, but what it really reveals is the intellectual deficiency that exists in this administration. They are dumb – starting with the alleged President – and they are determined to stay that way.

Today, I read of aircraft carriers being sent presumably to the Middle East. The administration uses the word war over and over. “The first war of this century,” etc. The fact seems to be that people outside New York are clamoring for “bombs away” but New Yorkers seem to be saying that more casualties, particularly among innocent civilians, ought to be avoided. It clearly appears that the bomb throwers led by VP Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz are prevailing over the more rational Colin Powell. We are going to regret such an outcome if Colin Powell is ignored – and he has been to a large extent up to now.

The problem is that none of the people around Bush, with the exception of Powell, have any understanding of war. In the Vietnam War, Bush fled to the Texas National Guard and ordinarily failed to show up for duty. Cheney arranged one college deferment after another and never served. Karen Hughes, Carl Rove, Ms. Rice and John Ashcroft know nothing about armed conflict. They would do well to learn about it before our troops are engaged in places like Afghanistan.

In the 19th century, Great Britain made several attempts to control events in Afghanistan. In the end, they were slaughtered for their efforts. Late in the last century, the Russians set out to conquer Afghanistan. To a large extent, they went home in body bags.

I suspect that Bush read no poetry at Yale. If he did, I suspect that he would be loath to admit it given his adoption of cowboy culture. I hope that some one lends him a work by Rudyard Kipling, the leading poet of the Victorian era. Queen Victoria had long hoped to extend her hegemony to India and other places like Afghanistan. Do you recall Kipling’s “Recessional” – which goes…

God of our Fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far flung battle line,
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget.

Before this administration plans to impose its will with “Dominion over palm and pine,” I hope it gives thought to another Kipling poem. The final verse of “The Young British Soldier” goes like this –

When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.

I hope that no one should confuse my saying, “Let’s think this thing through” with a lack of courage. In World War II I enlisted and served more than three years. In the process, the Army says I officially served 28 months overseas. I think it was only 26 months, but this is the first time the Army ever gave me the benefit of the doubt. I saw enough human misery in Africa and Italy to last several lifetimes. So my friends, it’s not a lack of courage that moves me; it is that the Bush people – leave Colin Powell out of this – are all for war and destruction and more misery. And we haven’t identified the enemy. Are they going to bomb the Afghan people? How do you tell a terrorist from an ordinary Afghan person? Are we going to bomb Afghanistan back to the Stone Age? That has already been done.

When we begin to talk about war and bombing, an unpleasant and revolting thought springs to mind. It has haunted me for 59 years. These thoughts are not for the timid and faint hearted, so if you are afflicted in those directions, please read instead some of my more pleasant essays.

For the past 59 years, I have discussed my thoughts about war experiences in only abstract and superficial terms. My daughters did not need to know the details of men dying. With other veterans of World War II, occasionally I shared a few thoughts about what occurred in war operations. I never belonged to the American Legion or to the Veterans of Foreign Wars so I was spared frequent discussions about the war. It was my haunted thought that I had no right to ask others – family or friends – to bear the burden.

Every Aerial Engineer and every Radioman had to qualify as an Aerial Gunner before he could fly in Army Air Force operations. Basically, Aerial Engineers performed mainly as Aerial Gunners in combat operations. He sat in the rear cockpit of the attack bomber known as the A-20. Obviously, when enemy aircraft set out to cripple or kill the A-20, the attacks came from the rear, from the sides and from underneath. Generally, the earlier models of the A-20 were armed with one 50 caliber machine gun to be operated by the Aerial Gunner. As I recall it, a few had twin 30 caliber guns. Attacking aircraft could bring a many as six 50 caliber machine guns as well as a 20MM cannon to bear on their targets. Obviously, this was a mismatch unless the A-20 gunners combined their fire on what were called bandits – enemy aircraft.

Now at the end of the mission after the A-20’s landed on the airstrip, crews would start the grim task of recovering the dead and wounded men from the airplanes. In the earlier models of the A-20, the gunner sat with a canopy over his head. That had to be removed. In the later models of the A-20 with a turret, the turret had to be pried open. In too many cases, the Aerial Gunner was removed in pieces. Fifty caliber machine gun bullets will cut a man in half a lot quicker than you can read this sentence.

And so when I hear the war drums pounding as they are right now, I think of good men cut in half by enemy fire. The war hawks in the Bush administration ought to give this sort of thing some thought.

If Bush and his people are gung-ho for war, why have they failed to advocate return of the draft system to spread sacrifice more evenly among American men? Why have they failed to conserve petroleum supplies with a lid on the 12 – 14 mile average of the ordinary SUV? And why have they failed to turn to brighter heads than a thousand Karen Hughes, John Ashcroft, Carl Rove and Condileezza Rices can offer? While Bush’s people are still pushing for his missile shield and while his lieutenants are trying to repeal the capital gains tax, which benefits the wealthiest Americans, there exists in this country a wealth of brilliant people who have been demonized by the likes of Trent Lott and some administration figures. What about Robert Rubin, the former Secretary of the Treasury? What about Bill Cohen, a Republican who had been Clinton’s Secretary of Defense? What about George Mitchell, Bill Bradley and former VP Gore, or former senators Warren Rudman and Gary Hart? I’m sure they would have ideas to help this country in this emergency. And how about Bill Clinton? I know that Bush wants nothing to do with Clinton because the Arkansas hummingbird would expose Bush for the imposter that he is.

As long as this administration relies on the biased contributions of Karen Hughes, Carl Rove, John Ashcroft, Ms. Rice, Cheney and Wolfowitz, et al, it is fighting the battle with one hand tied behind its back. I weep for this country when it begins to engage in a war when so little intellectual preparation for it has been made so far.

We met the manager of the local farmer’s market, a woman of about 40 years, on Friday morning after Bush’s speech. She was greatly aroused by his words. “Let’s bomb the hell out of them” is what she said. Bomb who? If Osama bin Laden goes back to his native Saudi Arabia, should we bomb him there as he hides among the pumps for our oil supply?

This attitude of bomb “the hell out of them” is exactly the reason I set out to write this essay. I know that my thought of thinking this thing through before we bomb “the hell out of them” may not be popular this morning, but it is advice that the Bush Administration ignores at its peril. I understand the idea of punishing the “evil doers” as Bush calls them. I fully understand the thought of revenge. But remember what Sicilians say. “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Right now, revenge is a red hot topic in Washington. When this country goes off half-cocked to an ill defined war on distant shores, that is only the beginning of it. In the latter stages when the body bags begin arriving, we will realize the full cost of our folly.

And that, my friends, is why this old soldier has a bad case of the glums. I’m afraid they won’t go away anytime soon.

September 20, 2001


First, it’s a little surprising how quickly the attack took on the moniker of “September 11th” and how well that stuck.

Second, this essay seems insanely prescient.

“I saw enough human misery in Africa and Italy to last several lifetimes. So my friends, it’s not a lack of courage that moves me; it is that the Bush people – leave Colin Powell out of this – are all for war and destruction and more misery. And we haven’t identified the enemy. Are they going to bomb the Afghan people? How do you tell a terrorist from an ordinary Afghan person?” and the entire penultimate paragraph were both completely on the mark. I’m sure there were many other voices all trying to explain the same consequences, but ultimately they were all ignored and we embarked on a disastrous campaign. ISIS exists today in part because of these actions, which is a handy bonus.


As an amendment to this essay, here are Pop’s thoughts immediately after the attack, which are similarly on-point:


1. This has to sound the death knell of the Missile Star Wars Umbrella.
2. The U. S. hubris in going it alone – backing out of treaties, etc. – will result in other nation’s failure to warn us of impending danger. You know it all so deal with it.
3. Where was the CIA? Where was the FBI? Where were the other agencies – some are secret – why did they not warn us?
4. Hours after this event, three at, Bush could only say he had talked to Cheney, to some of his cabinet. Are those conversations the substitute for action? And then Bush goes into an undisclosed location.
5. Why isn’t Bush visiting New York or the families of the Pentagon workers?
6. This effort took a lot of planning and the participation of many people – and they weren’t discovered. Apparently the airplanes carried highly explosive material. Who got those packages abroad without discovery?

September 11, 2001