|All interviews were taped and documented. They are available through the Reference Department of the Teaneck Public Library. The Library is not responsible for the accuracy of the statements nor does it necessarily endorse the opinions expressed.|
|INTERVIEWER:||Clifton B. Cox|
|DATE OF INTERVIEW:||October 24, 1984|
|TRANSCRIBER:||Jackie Kinney (7/1985)|
(N) That's right. It was a new experience with producers and writers and all this kind of thing and to tell you the truth, I don't think, and Jim is dead and gone, Jim Haggerty, I think he was a decent man but I don't think they had any intention of ever putting me on anchoring (END OF SIDE I - BEGIN SIDE 2) In case anybody did call, they sent me to the United Nations supposedly for training. Now how are you going to get any training at a place where maybe at best you get six or eight good stories a year out of the United Nations. Like the one yesterday, the Security Council meeting where they condemned South Africa and for the first time the United States, they didn't approve the condemnation but they abstained. Normally they'd veto it, one of the five principal nations in the UN, but this time they did not veto it but at any rate, you don't get those kind of stories every day at the United Nations but so how would I get any training? I am sitting over there looking across the desk at my friend, my co-worker, the late John McVane who just passed away a few months ago, so no chance of getting any training but they put me over there and this was my assessment so that if anybody did call and they said why don't you have some negro doing news and they said well we got one now. We have one over at the UN. And then people would begin to say we never see him. So they sent a guy over one day, I think the chairman of the board who was the president then, he was a little upset because I wasn't on and so they sent somebody over there one day and said, well let Mal interview one of the, when the General Assembly opens, let Mal interview one of the ambassadors and I interviewed the ambassador of Iran whose name I could not say. I didn't know what I was going. I was with John McVane and it was a poor operation but they put it on the air anyhow and one of my friends said you were a little nervous but you had no chance like the whites to develop posture and confidence like others because you were not on every day, it was a rarity.
(I) Being in front of the camera. .
(N) That's what I'm talking about. You get your bearings. And today I could do it without batting an eye and everybody brags, talks about Cosell and about doing this and doing that. Well I could do what Cosell did the best day he ever lived as far as talking off the cuff and whatnot.
(I) I am sure you could.
(N) But it was not their intention but you know, grandma used to say and my mother, God works in mysterious ways, I am not a religionist and I make no apologies for it, but God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform and this was an example of it. The Cuban Missile Crisis broke out seven weeks after I got there.
(I) What year was that?
(N) 1962. In October. It got real bad. They started debating in the Security Council around the 15th or 16th of October.
(I) Kennedy was president?
(N) Kennedy was the president and he and Khruschev were on the hot line and finally that last weekend in September, they had these, every day they had a Security Council meeting which is a rare thing and so they, on Thursday, October 25th and I remember it so well, Adlai Stevenson was our ambassador and he challenged the Russians about the missiles. They had blown up pictures taken by our reconnaissance planes of the missile sites and brought them in during the lunch break and put them behind the draperies in the Security Council room where they met and about a quarter to five that afternoon, each month one of the fifteen member countries of the Security Council has the presidency. This month, of October, 1962, the Soviet Union had the presidency and Adlai Stevenson called role and incidentally, it was one of the under-secretaries in Adlai Stevenson's office, they do that to bring a couple of prominent people in and Carl Rowan and somebody else, they brought the pictures from behind the draperies and set them out on easels and Adlai Stevenson said to the president, Zoren from the Soviet Union, let me ask you a question. Are these your missiles? And Zoren said to him, I'm not in the prisoner's duck. You'll get your answer in due course. Stevenson said, Answer me now. Sometimes they wait for the translation. Don't wait for the translation. Answer me now. I'm prepared to wait until hell freezes over for your answer. That's a famous expression. Like John Paul Jones said, Don't shoot till you see the whites of their eyes and whatnot, but at any rate, I was less then thirty feet in our radio room from Stevenson, looking out at him when he made that statement. Well, either that night or Saturday or sometime Friday, Gromeko came, the foreign minister who was here not too long ago, Gromeko came and he talked to U Thant, the secretary general, then he left here and went on down to Cuba to talk to Castro but Stevenson, over the weekend, Kennedy had said to Khruschev, you get those missiles out of there or we are going to bomb them out and we knew then, if you can remember it, we thought sure that we were going to war with them.
(I) Right. I remember it.
(N) So it was touch and go.
(I) I don't think that we got the details that you had
(N) No, you didn't but it was touch and go and finally, I was going home almost every weekend, commuting. I had a travel card.
(I) You were still living in Pittsburgh.
(N) Yeah. My family was in Pittsburgh. Something said, don't go home. It is a strange thing but something told me, don't go home this weekend. I stayed. Something said to me, go to the UN today. Nobody was at the UN. We didn't, the reporters were coming later that afternoon because the word was out that they were going to have an emergency meeting of the Security Council that afternoon. So I walk in about five minutes after ten that morning and U Thant is at the door and U Thant is talking to one of my colleagues and she didn't like it too well that I walked up anyhow, which you normally don't do, to hear what they had to say and all I heard him say was that it doesn't look good. I am going to meet with the principals at eleven o'clock, meaning Stevenson and Yost of the U.S. and also Zoren and (inaudible) of the Soviet Union. So when I walked in my office, the phone was ringing. Now they already had a camera crew in the back and I didn't know it and they were trying to find somebody to go to the U.N. no matter how little they knew of it. They couldn't find anybody. Skeleton staff whatever. Well I picked up the phone, Jim almost, Mal, I said yes. He said I am so glad I found you. I said, what's the matter? He said what's going on over there? I said, nothing that I know of. I just talked to U Thant downstairs. What did he say? What did he say? I said, he just said that they were going to meet with Stevenson and Yost and (inaudible) and Zoren. And he said, well do a bulletin. I said, Jim, what kind of bulletin. He said, there's a crew back in the TV room back there. We've been trying to get somebody there. So I was there and I did it, about a 35 second bulletin. They broke into the, we interrupt this program, 25 minutes after 10, to bring you Mal Goode from the United Nations and I did and then the phones, we had three phones back there, and they lit up. I pressed one, the next one was Tom O'Brien of radio. Mal, we didn't record that. Do that one again. The same thing over. We are going to break into radio. We are talking about 1,100 stations. I said, all right, give me a couple of minutes and I pressed again. Jim Haggerty. Hello Mal, that's wonderful. Stay on top of it now and we'll be coming back to you and they did, they came back. Came back to me nine times with television, eight times with television, nine times with radio. I was on seventeen times that day. But by the afternoon, the word had gotten out and a lot of people had heard me who were on their way to church and I think my wife can tell you that some had called from Pittsburgh and said, we saw Mal this morning and what not.
(I) This was on a Sunday then?
(N) It was on a Sunday, Sunday, October 28, 1962.
(I) What's that statement you made a moment ago? God works in mysterious ways. .
(N) His wonders to perform. Plants his footsteps on the sea, and rides upon the storm. It is a fact of life that it was never dreamed I'd get that kind of exposure and one would have thought all my problems would have been over but they were just starting. But that's basically how I got. .
(I) What year did you come to Teaneck?
(N) I came to Teaneck in 1963. I knew Elston Howard, he was with the Yankees. In fact, I had met Ellie when I was with the Pittsburgh Courier and we used to go down every spring to some of their training camps. I was a part of a team along with Bill Jr. that helped to break up housing discrimination against black ball players in the training camps in Florida and in Palmetto and in Tampa, in St. Petersburg, in Baltimore, in not so much Baltimore, Baltimore was the first ones to integrate their hotel accommodations for their players but in Bradenton, Fort Meyers, Clearwater, Fort Lauderdale and the Yankees trained at St. Petersburg but the following year after we went down in 1961, they moved to Fort Lauderdale and they've been there ever since. But I got to know Ellie real well and I'd come to this house, this very house, several times for dinner when I came up for World Series games in 1957 and 58 when they played Milwaukee and in 1960 when they played the Pirates. We beat them, you remember that home run in the. . nobody ever dreamed the Pirates were going to beat the strong Yankees but we beat them in seven games and Roberto Clemente was the star of the series and.
(I) Was that when the second baseman hit the home run?
(N) The second baseman, Bill Maseroski, hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning when the score was 9-9, he was the second man up, I saw all seven of those games, but when the Yankees came to Pittsburgh to play three games, the first two games were in Pittsburgh, then we came to New York, the Pirates came here but when they came to Pittsburgh, we had Arlene Howard and Elston up to our house for dinner. When I came here, I came to see the Pirates play the Yankees, there was three games, and when I came out here, I'd wait for him after the game was over and I had dinner with him. So Ellie said to me after I moved in, one of the first calls I got when the word got out in the New York papers that I'd been hired, Arlene and both of them were on different phones in this house, called, and Arlene was screaming, we are so glad and whatnot, never dreaming I'd ever live here but when we got here, I came over several times for dinner when I was staying at the hotel and then they, Ellie asked me what I was going to do about housing. I said, I don't know. Jackie suggested I consider Connecticut where he was living and somebody said, talked about New Jersey, somebody talked about, Campenella and them talked about out in Queens and Long Island and places like that but Ellie said, well, and I said, but I'm not going to make a decision for a while because our daughter was, we won't be moving for another year. He said, that's good. I might have something you'd be interested in. Never thinking he was talking about this place.
(I) Did he tell you anything about the township of Teaneck?
(N) No. He just said it was a growing town, it was a good town, schools were good and whatnot. So then we had, in the spring he told me he had bought a lot over on the other side and he and Arlene were going to build and this place would be available maybe around July or August so we made a deal for the house but we didn't get in until October because they had some delay in construction.
(I) October of 1963.
(N) 1963 right.
(I) December of 63 is when we moved in here.
(N) Oh, you did? 27th of October.
(I) What did you think of the schools when you once got here and became a resident?
(N) Well, the schools were good. Our daughter who now is a lawyer in Pittsburgh, only two of our children went here. Our youngest boy who is an electrician in Pittsburgh, he was a junior in high school and our daughter Rosalia was in sixth grade.
(I) You have how many children?
(N) Six. But four of them were out of high school and two of them were out of college. The oldest daughter, she was at Bennett College. No she was a senior in high school when we moved here in October of 1963.
(I) Then she would know my daughter Gwen. She was a senior too.
(N) She was in her first year at Bennett College down in Greensboro, North Carolina and then subsequently she transferred to Virginia Union but, then the youngest boy was in his junior year and he had played football at Westinghouse High School and he went out for the team and they gave him a uniform and wouldn't let him play and I went up there, that's when I first sensed there was something wrong here.
(I) This was Teaneck?
(N) This was Teaneck, right. I went up to the school and I talked to the principal and it wasn't very nice and I am not too proud of . .
(I) Was that Miss Hill? Was she the principal?
(N) Yeah. No, no. I talked to the coach. I talked to the coach and I said to him, you know, I hope this is not because my boy is colored. Oh no, no, we have lots of colored boys on the team - which they did, they didn't have a lot of them like they have now but they had some, and I said well I hope it isn't because with the kind of taxes I'm paying, I am not going to stand for this or anything like that and I said it in more severe language. I sensed that there was something wrong. And then subsequently he graduated and then my baby, youngest child, she finished with honors in 1970, seven years later and then she went on down to Spellman in Atlanta where she finished with high honors and then she went to Duke law school in Durham, finished there in 1977 and she's been in Pittsburgh since then. But when I say I sensed something was wrong and it kept growing, two things, and there is no point in hiding it. There was deep apathy on the part of blacks who lived here and I've said this recently in the council meetings and I still say it. There was evidence last night. We had a meeting with the council and we sent notices to the churches and asked them to read them, to Goodman down in Hackensack to tell the members of your churches who live in Teaneck that we'd like them to come to a meeting, many of the people probably didn't even know about it. A meeting of the City Council because we were going to review this matter of discrimination in employment and I've been down there along with Ms. Jones and along with the other fellow whose name is Jones too. Only about two or three of us ever complain and of course it got to the place where it was meaningless because the attitude was, well here he is again. And first there is apathy and secondly, there is a system in operation of nepotism, so many fathers and sons and daughters and relatives and cousins on the Teaneck payroll. They have over 400 employees here. And it is, I mean in the township itself, and it is criminal when you think of, and I know you know what you pay in taxes.
(I) Oh yeah. Quite high.
(N) And when you break it down to five black policemen out of ninety, four black firemen out of sixty eight, we have one person, the Crockett girl, who it is temporary. They said she has to take Civil Service exam or something. But they weren't going to give that to her if two or three others hadn't been criticizing...
(I) Is this the recreation. .
(N) Recreation, yes. She's the only one who, she makes I think $34,000 but all those big jobs, like the girl that
(I) She took Dick Rodda's place?
(N) Right. When he retired. They had that all cut and dry. This I know from inside. It was all cut and dry for a white person and I had been up there council meeting after council meeting just trying to plead with them, how do you do this, and each time Schmid would say that we have no, we can't find people, policemen. Well how do you go about trying to get them? And the last time, when they hired last April, when they hired seven, in all fairness to Brooks, he asked them, well can you tell us, he said well we offered it to two minorities, two black men, and they turned it down and we had a black girl, lives across the street, Lou Robin, they turned her down and said she had to put on more weight. Well I saw the white girl they have there. A little white girl on the force now. I saw her the other day over at the garage. She's not a bit larger than Robin is so it isn't that. .
(I) Is this the Police Department?
(N) Police Department yeah. But Schmid runs the town and make no mistake about it, the council doesn't, Schmid has full power. He makes $70,000 a year plus some other parks that go along with the job. Nobody, and I've said that to the council, and Bernie criticized me and said, no, no, he works for the council but I said to him, you can't do anything with this man. This man is the Czar of Teaneck. And he is. That's what he wants to do and this is unfortunate because, and with the attitude that he has toward us as a group of people, there is no chance of ever getting, if he continues with this kind of power. Now if you don't believe me, go down to Glenpointe and see what's down there. Just walk around for a half hour and call me and tell me how many black people you see doing anything. When they had the black political meetings, five or six weeks ago down there for three days, we must have, black people must have spent a half million dollars down there in those three days because they were down in those big rooms at $50, $60 a night and they were spending money at the bar like it was going out of . . they came from allover the state of New Jersey, the black political convention, I don't know the exact name of it but at any rate, I saw two employees, a girl in the office and a bellhop, two black employees and I mean people work down there at Glenpointe.
(I) What do you think is needed for the black people to change this?
(N) Oh, we need what did not happen last night. We need black people to stop the attitude of I am glad to live here. I can't get involved in this. That is their attitude. I can't get involved in all of that. And some say, well they are going to do what they are going to do. Well they are not going to do what they want to do and if you don't believe that, come go with me south somewhere to Columbia, South Carolina to Sumter, South Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia where they virtually run the city, to Birmingham, Alabama, to Jackson, Mississippi, to Houston, Texas. I mean they are not running it but when you, there are 260 black mayors in this country, over 200 of them are in the eleven southern states so they use their political clout to get something for the black people. I don't want everything but I'd like to share and I said that to the council. I am just asking, I know it is a voice and I know what your attitude is toward me, I said it very personally, toward me is and I would just would like to share a little. I just happen to be a black man who believes he is as good as anybody else is. My father taught me that. But when you. .
(I) I know the population is about 21 % black.
(N) Oh, it is more than that. Oh sure, it is about, it is close to 30%. So you are talking about in the neighborhood of 3,000 families black. Now you got a Police Department with three white families with nine members on the force. A father, a son and a daughter, a father and two sons, and a father and two sons. Nine members of those 90 policemen, nine of them come from three white families. Not only that but the secretary to the assistant superintendent of Public Works is the wife, the secretary to the superintendent of Public Works is the wife of the assistant superintendent of Public Works. If you go over to the Department of Public Works, you will see thirteen foremen out of about 150 men. Two of them are black with no power because they have told me that. They don't want to give their names, I don't even know who they are. They are scared to death but there are eleven, thirteen foremen for about 150 men and there are so many father and son and cousin combinations, you would not believe it. The nepotism that exists here.
(I) And Schmid is allowing this?
(N) Oh sure. He knows it. He is a part of it. There is no question about that.
(I) Because he makes the appointments, right?
(N) Right. And you don't get, you are not hired in Teaneck if Schmid doesn't approve it. They fired two men in the last two years, one of them had 18 years in but he was outspoken, a fellow named Sylvester Gray. He just lost a suit against them. The Civil Service Commission