Marion Ross | Interview 2 | July 12, 2011

Oral History Center, UC Berkeley

Transcript Index
Search This Index
Go X

0:53 - Her experience with the start of the war while at Mills College

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: Japanese-Americans; Oakland; Pearl Harbor; World War 2; WW2

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front

3:54 - How Mills College treated the bombing of Pearl Harbor

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: 1941; Japan; Japanese; Prejudice

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front

9:40 - People’s position at the time about putting Japanese-Americans in camps

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: 1941; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Pearl Harbor; Roosevelt

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front

15:40 - How the beginning of the war changed the Bay area and her experience with that

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: Careers; Faculty; Military; Shipyards; World War 2; WW2

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front

19:37 - Why she changed her major from English to sociology and economics

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: College; Mills College; Oakland

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front

23:20 - Rationing during the war

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: agriculture; coffee rationing; Farmer; farming; WW2

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front

24:50 - Her ideas and what she thought the world was going to be like after the war

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: Economics; Germany; World War II; WW2

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front

28:50 - Her job, absenteeism, and firing people during the war

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: African-Americans; Shipyard; U.S. Navy; World War 2; WW2

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front

39:53 - African-Americans from the south working at the shipyards

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: Racial dynamic; Social Security Cards; WW2

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front

45:18 - Lying about her level of education at the Shipyard and bribing

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: Typing; typist

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front

50:37 - Women in the workforce during World War II

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: African-Americans; Shipyards; Unskilled; Women Labor

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front

57:40 - Abortion, homosexuality, affairs, and sexuality during the war

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: Shipyards

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front

67:52 - Her life after leaving the shipyard and what she learned from that experience

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: Capitalism; Corporate America; Corporations

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front

75:10 - Attending Cal after working at the shipyards

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: 1946; GI Bill; UC Berkeley

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front

83:12 - Living in the International House at UC Berkeley after WW2

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: African-Americans; Chinese; Discrimination; Egyptians; Indians

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front

93:48 - Co-ed living at UC Berkeley in 1946

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: Cal; Frats; International House

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front

97:56 - Being a TA in the Economics department at UC Berkeley

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: Football Team; Grading

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front

102:39 - How economics shaped the way she thought about education and the war

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: Shipyards; WW2

Subjects: Community and Identity Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front


REDMAN: All right. My name is Sam Redman, and I'm here today again with Marion Ross. It's our second session today, on July 12, 2011, and today we'll be starting with the Second World War, and following that, we'll talk about some time you spent on the campus of the University of California, and specifically, your involvement with the International House, I'd like ask about.

ROSS: Yes. What happened to the shipyard experience? I thought that's what it was all about.

REDMAN: Yes, let's get into that. Let's spend the majority of today talking about that. So I'd like to begin, then, situating us in time at the very start of the war, what your recollections were about Pearl Harbor.

ROSS: Now, am I to look at the camera or look at you?

REDMAN: You're to look at me, if that's all right.

ROSS: Oh, sure, All right. It was Sunday, December 7. I first heard about the 1:00bombing of Pearl Harbor when I was walking back to my hall, after chapel. There were these girls screaming down the corridors. We had a great many Hawaiian residents in Olney; that was their hall. So we had about twenty, divided over the four years. We also had a number of Japanese Americans and a couple of Japanese students from Japan. Now, the thing is, I can't remember; I think they lived in Mills Hall. They did not live in Olney. At any rate, so everyone was excited. The girls were trying to get in touch with their parents. They nearly all lived in Honolulu. Cissy lived in Paia, which is on Maui, and another girl 2:00lived on the island of Hawaii, but the others were all Honolulu students. Nobody knew anything, and so it was a very frantic time. Our head resident -- Dear me, the whole idea of a chaperone now is so long gone. Mrs. Judd had been the governor's lady of Hawaii for many years, and she was divorced, but she still had lots of friends in Honolulu. I can't remember the rest of the day.

REDMAN: Do you have a sense of how so many students from Hawaii or from Japan, or Japanese American students had ended up at Mills in particular? Do you think it was sort of a coincidence, or was there a reason for that?

ROSS: Oh, well, no, Mr. and Mrs. Mills had been missionaries. They were mostly 3:00in what is now Sri Lanka, but they had had a stint in Hawaii, and I think that was probably the origin. Also it was a time of women's colleges flourishing, and Mills was closest to Hawaii. I think that also had a bearing. Then, once you get a group coming from a particular area, then they have friends and enrollments build on that. Because we had a strong contingent from New Trier Township High School, outside of Chicago, and another contingent from Oklahoma. This happens. At any rate, I remember we usually had assemblies on Wednesday afternoon; but we 4:00had a special college meeting on the Monday, and President Reinhardt gave a wonderful address. What I remember her saying to us is that Japan is the enemy of the United States, but the Japanese people are not my enemy or yours. That made a lasting impression on me, about the distinction between people who were our friends and their government.

REDMAN: It's a very powerful statement.

ROSS: Oh, yes, it was. Well, she was a powerful woman. And she believed it, and you knew that.

REDMAN: It's a really interesting statement, as well because it seems, just in terms of what I've read about the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor, it sounds as though that was something that needed to be said, as well.

ROSS: Oh, yes!

REDMAN: Can you maybe elaborate for me why someone would be moved to make that very powerful statement at that time?


ROSS: Well, I don't know if I told you that I'd gone to elementary school with a great many Japanese children. I don't remember any prejudice about them in that period in my life. But I had seen some of it when I went to high school downtown. Did I tell you that all the Japanese people -- except for the farmers, who provided the children that came to my school -- that the Japanese in San Pedro were all living on Terminal Island.


REDMAN: Yes, yeah.

ROSS: And the Navy took that over. So I think that I became aware that there was prejudice. I may have told you that in my high school, there was one Negro girl, and there were no -- and we called them Negroes then -- workforce in San Pedro at all. So I don't know why I became aware. I don't know. But I was aware that there was prejudice. My parents admired the work ethic of the Japanese, which was evident to them and to us. Us, meaning my sister and me. So when you say 7:00about the need, well, President Reinhardt was very, very smart. She was, in my view, very old then; she was sixty-plus. So, she had experienced a lot in her life. So I can't really explain, except in retrospect, it was necessary, and I'm grateful to her for being so able to express it so beautifully. Then as I told you -- she must've persuaded the faculty to do this, but -- [she] did grant the seniors degrees in absentia. The executive order, which removed the Japanese 8:00beyond the Rockies, restricted them to beyond the Rockies, was very traumatic for them and traumatic for the people that missed them.

REDMAN: Now, it's interesting, because so many people that I have interviewed have talked about their communities in California as being somewhat separated from the Japanese community in California. They often express feelings as though the Japanese community maybe self-isolated or they were isolated for one reason or another. Now, as a student, I would assume that you're living in a dorm, on the same floor with many Japanese students, and you're interacting with them, you're learning with them, you're perhaps studying with them. It seems more 9:00traumatic, in some sense, to --

ROSS: They did not live in my hall.


ROSS: I'm trying to think of the class which -- No, May was the only girl I really knew. She was a Japanese American.

REDMAN: She was taken to a camp, is that correct.

ROSS: Yes. Yes.

REDMAN: So when that happened, some people seem to have had conflicted feelings about that.

ROSS: Oh, I didn't.

REDMAN: You didn't.

ROSS: I thought it was wrong.

REDMAN: Yeah. It's very clear to you at that time, that --

ROSS: Yes. No, I should tell you that in San Pedro, there were two men who were rounded up the day or two after Pearl Harbor. One of them committed suicide in 10:00the hospital, and I don't know what happened to the other one. But otherwise, they were Americans. I may have told you that this wonderful man worked for Daddy. Did I tell you that?


ROSS: Yeah, Frank Inouye. Well, he was born in Hawaii, but he wanted to be an American, and he was an American. His brother-in-law served in the U.S. Army. But no, in March, he was carted off.

REDMAN: So there seemed immediately to be a tension there for you between, to state it baldly, the democratic ideals and freedoms of the United States and the treatment of the Japanese.

ROSS: Yes. Yes. Well, I don't know. This order [Executive Order 9066] was signed 11:00by Franklin Roosevelt. One of my historian friends made an error, one of the few errors he ever made, by telling me that it was an order put out by General -- I think his name was DeWitt -- who was in charge of the whole western United States. No, it was right straight from President Roosevelt. I can only think there was such confusion in Washington, and I think it's human nature to want to blame somebody. So who do you have to pin the tail on the donkey?

REDMAN: Is it your sense that that confused a lot of progressives, even at the time, in terms of maybe the faculty members at Mills or at Berkeley. It seems as 12:00though when I talk to people who were ardent supporters of Franklin Roosevelt all along, and even continuing on through the war, a lot of people were either quietly frustrated by that decision or very upset by it.

ROSS: Well, I honestly thing that it receded from most of our minds, except for the one or two people that I was in touch with. There was so much else going on. There was a strong, strong view about keeping America out of the war. And this 13:00was a shock. I don't think we'd ever had foreign troops -- maybe Mexico at some time; I'm a little hazy on my history there. So it was a great shock. I think a lot of people just thought, well, this is a terrible price to pay, but we're going to pay lots bigger prices. We had sort of a public forum on Thursday nights, at the college, in which the then professor of economics and a political scientist invited people from the community to come and have a discussion on the 14:00campus. I don't ever remember any discussion in those meetings. I don't.

REDMAN: How about general dissent against the war, in any sense? That's something that we see as commonplace now, in terms of the post-Vietnam era, especially, with protests or visible protests or visible speech.


REDMAN: Nothing like that.

ROSS: Not in my recollection. Not in my recollection at all. There were impassioned speeches before Pearl Harbor, but --

REDMAN: That dissent was sort of silenced after Pearl Harbor. Now, when a traumatic event happens in 1940 or '41 or '42, and you're a student on campus, 15:00is your first reaction to run to the radio?

ROSS: Yes. I can remember the blare. We didn't have lots of radios. Every student didn't have an iPod and didn't have the equivalent radio then; but there were a few radios in the hall and the news was, blasting, for the whole corridor to hear.

REDMAN: I see. So my next question, I fear that I wrote it before the start of the interview and maybe I should change the wording. I wanted to ask about how California began to change immediately at the start of the war. There was such a massive influx of workers, especially to the Bay Area, to work at shipyards. I'm 16:00curious about your own story, if you could sort of explore for me how the Bay Area was changing; and then also your own life, getting involved in the shipyards, when that came about.

ROSS: Okay, well, that's in '44. So let me say what did happen before that was that a good many faculty took secondary jobs in the shipyard. George Hedley, a Methodist minister who taught religion and sociology, he became a timekeeper, I think, at the shipyard in Richmond, on the night shift. Then a number of the faculty went off to war. Dean Rusk went off and Dan Dewey went off. I think he 17:00went off as a private. He was a classical scholar, and he went off as a private. [they laugh]


ROSS: After the war, he and Mrs. Dewey took over the Anna Head School, which is now part of the Head-Royce complex.

REDMAN: I see.

ROSS: He was a true academic, and I've often wondered -- of course, I didn't dare ask him -- how he did as a private. Let's see. Miss McElwain went off, and another person in the phys-ed department, went off and joined the WAVES, Miss Williamson. Yeah, that was it, and Miss McElwain joined the WAVES.

REDMAN: Did that have any effect on the student body, in terms of seeing your faculty either go off to a branch of the military or volunteer in some capacity?


ROSS: I think we admired those who went off to the war, but it didn't really impact us very much. It didn't. One event I can remember is that the grounds staff was decimated. I think they must've been of military age, for the most part. So we noticed, and we began something called Heyday-Playday, which one of the faculty organized, we would take a day off in the spring and volunteer to 19:00clean up the campus. Then in the afternoon, we'd have races of some sort or another. I just think that we were so self-absorbed, at that time, in our own lives. I think most of the population that I knew thought it was a very just cause.

REDMAN: How about yourself at that time? You're in the midst of taking classes and studying. You're interested in English; but then I assume you're also becoming, in some sense, interested in economics.

ROSS: Well, in the fall of my senior year, I changed my major from English to the combination major of economics and sociology. I was really much more 20:00interested in sociology, but that was really because I so admired Dr. Hedley.

REDMAN: Can you talk about Dr. Hedley a little bit?

ROSS: Well, maybe I told you that when he retired, Time Magazine had an article about him, calling him. Dr. Chips. But he was more than Dr. Chips. He brought different viewpoints to the campus. He brought -- Oh, the man who organized the longshoremen. Oh, wait a minute. He was an Australian, and he led the '33 strike of the longshoremen. Harry Bridges. Do you know the name?

REDMAN: So he was a labor activist.

ROSS: Oh, very.


REDMAN: Yes, yeah, an important labor activist.

ROSS: And Dr. Hedley went over to San Francisco to observe the 1933 strike. He was then [a] Methodist minister in Oakland. He wasn't associated with the college then; and he went over and wrote an article about what he observed of the '33 strike -- a very different viewpoint from what you read in the paper. In 1943 he brought Harry Bridges to one of the campus assemblies, he urged opening the second front. He was a very outspoken friend of the USSR, and he made a very impassioned speech for opening the second front. I can remember that very well. When Dr. Hedley died in 1970, there were a great many Catholic priests at the 22:00church service. When I was walking up to St. Paul's Church, who should I see but Harry Bridges. I almost told him I remembered that day, and then I thought better of it; but I'm sorry now I didn't.

REDMAN: Interesting. But that's a powerful thing for a student, to get some radically different viewpoints from the mainstream, perhaps.

ROSS: Oh, yes. Oh, yes, we did.

REDMAN: Yeah. Did this occur in terms of both from the left or the right, or was it mainly doing the more radical viewpoints and having the progressive --

ROSS: Yes. We didn't have very many right-wing speakers.


ROSS: I think we didn't probably need them. I think we were pretty much exposed to that under ordinary circumstances. No, but I also remember Dr. Hedley 23:00bringing a very powerful Negro minister as the chapel speaker one time. I have a copy of that talk. Let me fill that in later.


ROSS: I can remember that. Oh, and we had a farmworker.

REDMAN: Oh, is that right? That's very interesting. Speaking about agricultural issues?

ROSS: Yeah.

REDMAN: Yeah. It seems that it's quite an interesting time to be on a college campus; not only in terms of rationing and changing housing situations in the Bay Area, but also the ideas that were prevalent at that time.

ROSS: Well, mind you, rationing didn't amount to a hill of beans. People who 24:00tell you how important it was, it wasn't.

REDMAN: I would love to hear why that's the case. I'm very curious.

ROSS: Coffee was rationed. My parents sent a can of coffee with me back to Dr. Hedley because he talked about missing the coffee. My parents had a cup of coffee and breakfast and otherwise, didn't bother. So they shared their coupons. Gasoline was a pinch. But otherwise.

REDMAN: It was fairly easy to navigate?

ROSS: Yes. Oh, yes.

REDMAN: So now, as you're completing your degree, you're studying now sociology and economics, can you tell me maybe a little bit more about some of the things 25:00that interested you, in terms of the ideas that --

ROSS: Oh, well, I thought there was going to be a whole new world after the war. We had Thursday night meetings where I remember being the representative to talk about what was going to happen to the Mariana Islands. Talk about significant! [they laugh] But I was an important cog in the whole machinery, and somebody else talked about what would happen to Germany. I guess that's the first time I read Keynes' The Consequences of the Peace.

REDMAN: What did you think of that text, in particular? Had you read Keynes before?

ROSS: No. I took economics from a professor who never mentioned him.


REDMAN: Ah, interesting.

ROSS: Yes.

REDMAN: Because he's such a significant thinker in economics of the twentieth century.

ROSS: Yes. Yeah. But it took a long time for his ideas to penetrate.

REDMAN: I see. Okay.

ROSS: But to Keynes, in his books, he simply talked about the folly of World War I financing and the reparations demanded of Germany. That book had been published long before; it had been published in the twenties, I think. [1919]

REDMAN: But it suddenly again became quite relevant.

ROSS: Yes. I palled around with a great many idealistic students, and we didn't 27:00foresee Bretton Woods at all, but we looked forward to -- I don't think that it really sank into us that we might lose the war. I remember my father, who listened to the radio avidly, was very, very worried. We thought that was because he was old. Then, of course, there was the dreadful Battle of the Bulge. But by the time I graduated, which was in May of -- No, it was June; it was just when we -- I was thinking about D-Day. I graduated on a Sunday, and D-Day was June 6. So it couldn't have been the same day, but --


REDMAN: It was right around the time of the invasion.

ROSS: Yes, it was within a day or two. I gave the commencement address and it was, ever onward. By then we had such tremendous dominance of forces, dominant forces, that it was pretty clear that we'd win. I wanted a job to help the war effort. Nobody seemed to want me. [they laugh] So I might as well be honest and say that Daddy, through his friendships with the people in town, got me hired by L.A. Ship. The man who ran L.A. Ship was the father of one of my friends in high school.


REDMAN: Is that right?

ROSS: Yeah. And he'd run L.A. Ship for a long time. Well, the Navy took over and it didn't think it was a very efficient shipyard. Well, it wasn't, I guess. It was used to turning out a ship once in a while and repairing ships. So the Navy put in Todd, which was a big New York firm, and renamed the yard as L.A. Todd. The Todd men came in in boilersuits. Do you remember seeing pictures of Churchill in a boilersuit?

REDMAN: Oh, sure. Yes.

ROSS: A zip-up thing.

REDMAN: Right.

ROSS: Well, these men all wore white zip-up suits. They were arrogant and --


REDMAN: There are organizational management types coming in and --

ROSS: Yes, yes, yes.

REDMAN: -- the workers maybe didn't --

ROSS: Nobody liked them.

REDMAN: Nobody liked that so much.

ROSS: They replaced some of the supervisors. I was going to say, so I started in in absentee control.

REDMAN: So you were checking --

ROSS: Why people missed work.

REDMAN: -- why people missed work.

ROSS: I'm sure they all lied to me now. I worked six days a week, from eight-fifteen to four-fifteen, with twenty-five minutes for lunch. There was a hideous cafeteria, which I only went into once because I didn't think it was clean. Also in twenty-five minutes, there wasn't time to go to the bathroom, wash your hands, and eat lunch. So my mama made me lunch every morning and I sat 31:00on a bench outside. The only other place that you could sit, besides going to the cafeteria was this hideous room with no windows, adjacent to the ladies bathroom. Talk about unpleasant places.

REDMAN: Right, right.

ROSS: So I arrived and I worked for Mr. Leroy B. Zust. He was in charge of absentee control. So I went around the yard asking people why they'd missed work.

REDMAN: So maybe they'd missed work the previous day and you were checking in on them.

ROSS: It was usually checking up on the previous week.

REDMAN: I see.

ROSS: So I had Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday to check up on in the previous week. I don't think I could check up on the current week, because I think those absences didn't get processed that quickly.

REDMAN: Now, I have seen posters of a government campaign against absenteeism. I 32:00believe there was also a song that was, don't be an absentee, and little jingles or things like that.

ROSS: Don't remember those at all.

REDMAN: So I'm just curious if those were commonplace or anything like that.

ROSS: Well, there weren't any posters in the plant. I can't see a one. But I can't see it for anything. In other words, later, when I went on the night shift to see what it was like, [chuckles] then I saw these pinups down in the holds. But there weren't any in public.

REDMAN: Now, what were some of the reasons that people gave you for being absent?


ROSS: Now, mind you, I now see that here I had my mama to make my lunch and I washed my own hair.

REDMAN: You were maybe, what, nineteen at the time?

ROSS: Yes. No, I just had my twentieth birthday. So some places wouldn't hire me, because I wasn't twenty-one. So then as I say, Daddy -- Mr. Hanna, that was his name, found this vacancy. So I don't know what Mr. Leroy B. Zust did before he had me to work for him. But I went around and asked them and they told me that they'd been sick. Some of them were honest. See, a lot of these people had children. So the child was sick or -- They told me all these believable things -- the car didn't start, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera -- and I wrote it all 34:00down. Then I made little charts. Some departments had more absenteeism than others did, and nobody had made a little chart like this before, so I made improving little suggestions. The arrogance. One's mind boggles thinking about it. But I felt useful.

REDMAN: At the same time, it seems like a useful idea to me, to sort of see which departments are suffering from this more than not, to see if you can address those things. But was that received, that idea of creating this chart? Or did that make too many waves?

ROSS: Well, I don't know that anybody read it. [Redman laughs] No, I really don't. So then I was "promoted," quote/unquote, to terminations. The employment 35:00office at that time was divided, terminations and entries. I've forgotten what they called entries. Maybe that was called the employment office. Anyway, I was in terminations. There in the war, if you left a job, if you wanted another job, you had to have an Availability Certificate. Have you heard about these?

REDMAN: No. So did you have to go to, let's say the next shipyard? Would you have to go to Kaiser and make sure that there was a slot or something?

ROSS: No. In order to prevent an escalation of wages, the government introduced the idea of having an Availability Certificate, which supposedly, was very hard to get, to prevent somebody from then going over -- see, Kaiser was just across the water -- and get a better job.

REDMAN: I see. Okay.

ROSS: And then ping-pong back and forth. So in terminations, we had a couple 36:00kinds of quits. One of them was that they were fired. There were two things for which the union would not object to being fired; otherwise, the union would take up -- Because management quite wanted to get rid of some of the, quote, "trouble makers." So if a person was found drinking on the job or fighting on the job, the union wouldn't discuss it, wouldn't mess with it. So people would -- men; I didn't see any women do this -- go around swigging an open bottle. You could arrive drunk on the job, but you had to be drinking on the job. So the foreman, who would be furious because he was losing a good man, had to send him up to be fired. Had to. So there were two men who were security guards. They were 37:00sweet-tempered men. They would go down and say, "Oh, come along; we know what's happening."

REDMAN: So they'd usher this drunk man, or partially drunk or whatever else --

ROSS: Yes. Well, had been seen drinking. So we then had to fire him. Then he got an Availability Certificate, because he was fired.

REDMAN: I see.

ROSS: It wasn't a voluntary quit.

REDMAN: So did you sort of read them their version of the Miranda Act or --

ROSS: No. No. No. No, they came up --

REDMAN: Merely to get the papers.

ROSS: Yeah.

REDMAN: I see.

ROSS: Then they got paid off immediately, within four hours. Now, if they were a voluntary quit, it could take a week to get their pay. But if they were fired, boy, I think Mr. Massengill handed out our cash. He was the paymaster.

REDMAN: So they just wanted to get people out of there, if they had made the 38:00decision to get themselves fired, more or less.

ROSS: Yes.

REDMAN: I see.

ROSS: And then the other one was fighting on the job. But that was harder.

REDMAN: Because you needed a willing partner, in some sense, to fight with. [laughs]

ROSS: Yes. So then maybe somebody hadn't like somebody, so he'd think, oh, well, I'll just --

REDMAN: Here's my chance. Okay.

ROSS: -- punch him in -- Well, then maybe that fellow liked the idea and maybe he didn't. Of course, I was just bug-eyed at all this.

REDMAN: Right, certainly.

ROSS: Then when the other people who wanted an Availability Certificate, they had to go home. Nearly all of the laborer jobs were held by Negroes, who came from the Deep South. They came from Arkansas, they came from Alabama, some from Texas. They truly would want to go home. There'd be somebody sick. So they'd go 39:00home and then drift back some time later. If they had nothing bad on their record, they'd be rehired. There was a little checkmark on the back of everybody's quit slip, which said, "do not rehire." So if somebody'd been a pain to the foreman in one way or another, he wouldn't be rehired.

REDMAN: But if he had gotten himself fired and the foreman was upset that they were losing a good man, you maybe might not check that box.

ROSS: Right.

REDMAN: So that they could potentially change their mind and come back.

ROSS: Yes.

REDMAN: I see. This is a broad and a challenging question to come at, but I'd like to hear your perspective of -- There are 150,000 workers coming in from all 40:00over the country, but especially a lot of African Americans from the South, as you'd mentioned. I'm curious if you immediately saw, when you entered the shipyard, a racial dynamic that you were unfamiliar with, having grown up and having had one Negro friend in high school.

ROSS: Yes, one. And she wasn't much of a friend. She wouldn't be friends; I just knew her.

REDMAN: Okay, an acquaintance, I see. So now there's a massive influx of African Americans from the South. Did that surprise you?

ROSS: No. There were all sorts of white people coming from those very same places.

REDMAN: I see.

ROSS: Now, what I think distinguished [the African Americans] -- and in that period, they were Negroes -- was when I moved to the employment office from terminations, to the front office, was to see groups of men, five, six to a car. 41:00It was usually an old black rattletrap, but a sedan. They would've driven out from wherever they came from, and they would not have a Social Security card. Or if there was one, they would present it as though each one of them had George Washington's Social Security card. I tried desperately to explain to them about the retirement system and they should have separate Social Security cards, so they could be building towards their future. I never got that message across. That was just me, who tried for this. We had a Coast Guard man up on the second 42:00floor, who looked over everybody's papers. We actually had one German spy pass our scrutiny. He was later collected. But I think about that Coast Guard man waiting to question all these poor Negroes using the same Social Security card. Where else would they have come from? They had to be Americans.

REDMAN: But it maybe showed the depth of the poverty, in some sense, in the South, and the lack of education --

ROSS: Yes. Yes. Yes.

REDMAN: -- to see those things. Now, I've heard from a woman who worked at a hiring hall at the Moore Dry Dock, that one of the questions that they asked everyone was about health. Are you healthy enough to work at a shipyard? Were there any sorts of questions like that, that you recall?


ROSS: If they could mark the space, they were hired.

REDMAN: They just needed bodies. Warm bodies.

ROSS: One thing, a lot of people came in and said they were painters, and they weren't. The painter foreman, oh, was he irascible! So I asked him what questions I should ask. He told me about the rules of painting. You start up in the corner. He told me all these things that I was to ask. So I devised a little test, both for the painter people and one other group, of asking them to draw a rectangle and a triangle. Some of them didn't know what a triangle was, or a rectangle. So that didn't last long, [laughs] because the test was too hard. But 44:00the painting test did save the foreman oodles of time, and he was very grateful.

REDMAN: That's very interesting. Even a very, very basic test, from the sounds of it, that a lot of people were incapable, at that time, of doing it.

ROSS: Yeah.

REDMAN: Interesting.

ROSS: So it was interesting. Actually, I was befriended by a man in the termination section, who had shared with me a manual that he had written at another place, about what these people did. Because when I saw these job labels, chipper and caulker, I had no idea.

REDMAN: Yeah, certainly. There wasn't a college class at that, I assume.

ROSS: No. No, no. I knew what welding was because I'd read about it. But riveting? I didn't really know what a riveter was. There was Rosie the Riveter, 45:00but I'd never seen anybody rivet. So he shared this manual with me and I got in and read it. I had also said that I didn't type, when I took the job. I didn't type. One day, Mr. Zyink, who was the person -- No, he wasn't the personnel manager, he was assistant personnel manager. He came into the office and I was typing away like crazy. He said, "I thought you didn't type." I said, "I don't." He accepted that. We had some typists and Inez was the girl who typed for me. She was a high school dropout, very attractive and, I think, very bright. Of 46:00course, I was only supposed to have graduated from San Pedro High; that was my cover story, because I thought then, they wouldn't take me, probably.

REDMAN: Interesting. If they knew you were a college graduate. Did you tell them that you couldn't type because you were afraid that as a woman, you would be funneled into a particular type of job?

ROSS: Absolutely.

REDMAN: I see. Okay.

ROSS: I was never a very good typist, but I could type. I was horrified at Inez's lack of ambition. I knew I was not going to make a career out of this; I was going to do my war bit. So then I got promoted to the employment office and had this interesting time, seeing all these different people float through the 47:00office. Then there was a man in the employment office -- there was just one; well, Mr. Cameron, who'd been there when I first got there -- he disappeared into some other better job, somewhere outside the yard. Mr. M was not given Mr. Cameron's title, but he was the senior interviewer. He had a secretary, and then there was Edith, Mabel, and me. I didn't know that he was taking bribes.

REDMAN: Interesting.

ROSS: He would take people into his office. The rest of us stood at the counter. Daddy made me a wooden, slatted board to stand on. Then one day, a painter, whom I'd seen a number of times over the year, came through as a drunk discharge. He 48:00called me bright-eyed little girl or something or other. I was never little, but was dignified. Anyway, he said something to the effect, you don't have a clue what's going on. I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Well, think about it. Who does that man see?" So I thought about it. I went home and told my parents that this painter man -- My parents listened to me.

REDMAN: Interesting. Okay.

ROSS: That he'd suggested that Mr. M took bribes. Daddy said, "Probably." So 49:00then I brooded about whether or not I should report my suspicions. Mama said, "Why don't you quit?" [chuckles] That was Mama's answer, stop doing what you don't like.

REDMAN: Right.

ROSS: I can't remember what that man's name was. His first name was Fred. He came into the office and said to Edith and Mabel and me, something like, what's going on in this office? We all looked blank. I think Edith and Mabel had tumbled to it. But, they were in their thirties and this was a job that they needed and wanted. So he said that he'd now had two complaints, just over that 50:00weekend. So maybe the painter fellow talked to some other people. Said that Mr. M would ask them for a loan, and then never pay it back.

REDMAN: I see. So they, in some sense, the accusers, were no longer implicated in bribing this individual.

ROSS: No. So Mr. M was gone that day, I think.

REDMAN: That's quite interesting, that that was caught. I want to ask a question that a lot of historians sort of go back and forth. I think you've indicated a bit of an answer. A lot of historians debate the degree to which women who had found jobs during wartime wanted to stay on, versus if they considered it a wartime job, and maybe wanted to go on to another career or return to the home. 51:00One of the possible answers for this seems to be that some women who were older or less educated, they'd had a higher paying job in the shipyards; of course, they would want to keep that job. But someone who was younger or was maybe a student or a college graduate like yourself might not want to stay working in a factory.

ROSS: Well, I should tell you there were two classes of women. Well, three classes of jobs that women held. One were the electricians. They did those boards.

REDMAN: Sure, circuit boards.

ROSS: Circuit boards, yes. They were highly skilled. But I don't think any of them was classified as a journeyman electrician. But these were good jobs. A lot of these women had stable marriages and were doing this balancing act of 52:00husband, kiddies, job; just terrific. There were very few quits among them. Then there were the welders. I don't think there were any women riveters. Let's skip that one. There were lots of women welders. They came and went. You could advance to being a journeyman welder, which isn't terribly skilled, in my view. Then there were the women laborers. They were sweepers. That's what they were called, they were called sweepers. They were all black. That was the term, I think, that was used for that category, unskilled. I became friends with the 53:00woman who -- Well, what she did was she monitored and cleaned the john in the yard. In the yard. When I'm talking about eating lunch in this airless room, I'm talking about where the white-collar women could eat. I didn't know that there were two gangs in this African American group of sweepers. Later, when I got promoted, when V-E Day came. Mrs. Icy M. Early, that was her name, was the wife of an admiral, and she was the women's coordinator for the yard. On V-E Day, she quit. So she was an example that she was doing her duty, doing it, now over with. So then I was asked if I'd like to do it. Sure. There was a woman in the 54:00office already. I think probably she resented me, but she was always perfectly nice to me. But her job was going to be gone when the shipyard's job was done. So she had fudged the numbers of women who were employed. So when I got to be promoted to this job, I then wore trousers and a hardhat -- I'm sorry I don't have the hardhat still -- and I walked around the yard. So at one point, I didn't know it, but I broke up a gang fight. The woman who ran the johns -- 55:00there were several there -- she said I wasn't to do that. She said, "They've got knives."

REDMAN: Wow. Okay.

ROSS: I never told my parents that.

REDMAN: [laughs] Right.

ROSS: So Fanny -- that was her name, Fanny, this nice woman; she was very nice -- she said to me once, "I've been married umpteen years to my husband. We never had no kids. But Effie, she's only seventeen and she's had two kids already." Well, this was a shockeroo to me.

REDMAN: Right.

ROSS: But I got along fine. The black women were kind to me. They could've made 56:00trouble. But I think that was because a worker was injured down -- she was eight flights, eight decks down. The nurse wouldn't go down there. She was wearing a skirt, and said, oh, the men might look up her skirt. I said, "Well, why aren't you wearing trousers, then?" So I went down and the woman wasn't hurt; she was hysterical. But she could've been badly hurt. So I thought, well, she deserves to be lifted up. We had a litter in the so-called infirmary, and the men who were trained to do that went down with the litter and put her on, and I said the doctor would check her out. But she said, "Oh, I'm fine now." So I think she 57:00didn't want to be carried up.

REDMAN: Steal a little time, yeah.

ROSS: But they worked in gangs of eight.

REDMAN: I see. Okay.

ROSS: So this put me in good order, that I'd come down.

REDMAN: With that, I'd like to add a new tape.

ROSS: No, it was interesting. I was interested every day. I was.

REDMAN: Yeah. I can imagine. Being exposed to some new people and new experiences, is that correct?

ROSS: Yeah.

REDMAN: I wanted to ask. You've brought up several very interesting things that I wanted to ask about. But one is a pretty sensitive subject, is about -- We talked a little bit about women having children; I'm wondering if you heard any stories around the shipyards about abortions.

ROSS: No. No, never.


REDMAN: And the sort of follow-up question that I'd like to ask is if there were any stories or accounts of homosexuality at that time. Okay.

ROSS: Never heard the word.

REDMAN: Gay or lesbian?


REDMAN: Not until much later.

ROSS: No. Absolutely not.


ROSS: The first time that I ever heard -- there was a euphemism for homosexuality -- was when Alger Hiss -- I was a graduate student. We were at a party at Miss Davis; she was the secretary of the econ department. We were 59:00discussing -- we were always discussing things passionately -- about why would anybody who had the best of US to offer, betray us? Then there were those of us who said he didn't betray us; it was all a lie. There was this discussion, back and forth, back and forth. Then somebody said, "Well, he didn't dare have the State Department know this because he'd lose his job," blah-blah-blah. And somebody said, "And lose his wife." I said, "Well, how could he lose his wife, by being a traitor to his country?" That might make her very unhappy, but for 60:00better or worse. So somebody turned to me and said, "No," and used some term, that he could be blackmailed. Well, that he could be blackmailed because, and used this word for homosexuality, which I can't remember now. That was the first time that I'd ever heard it discussed.

REDMAN: So now going back to, let's say, in between V-E Day and V-J Day, as the war seems to be winding down. I understand that already at that time, a number of goods or products or services that were unavailable during the war, began to appear again. New cars, new washing machines. Some women ended up leaving jobs at shipyards or at airplane factories or in the defense industry, as the war started to wind down. I'm curious if you could tell me a little bit about what 61:00the end of the war was like, through your eyes.

ROSS: Well, as I remember, there weren't any new models for a couple of years. They were the 1941 models. Well, when I was this women's coordinator, and I rushed around the shipyard checking on -- Because women were supposed to wear hard-toed shoes, and particularly the sweepers would come to work with open sandals. Well, it really was dangerous. Then there was also a rule that a woman couldn't lift more than forty pounds. I think I got that enforced.


REDMAN: Now, how did the issue of skirts or dresses versus trousers -- You'd mentioned that as being an issue for some of the nurses, whether or not they could go up and down the decks.

ROSS: The women in the yard, the welders wore trousers, and the women electricians, I think they wore trousers. No, it was only the nurse -- Well, the women in the office wore skirts. I never saw Mabel or Edith or the girl with whom Mr. M was having an affair -- She was pregnant, and I wondered if she ended up having an abortion. But I wouldn't dream of discussing this with anybody.


REDMAN: Interesting.

ROSS: With anybody.

REDMAN: So even if there was a potential for a rumor for something like that, it was something that was off the table for discussion or interoffice rumor.

ROSS: Mm-hm.

REDMAN: That's very interesting. Okay.

ROSS: Now, mind you, this was a very small office. But no. So no, the nurse -- I went down to see Dr. Wildman -- that was her boss -- and I complained to him about her, because what good was she?

REDMAN: Right.

ROSS: I think he was having an affair with her.

REDMAN: Is that right? Was there a lot of that going on? Sort of the code word that I use for a lot of these interviews, I'll say, was there any hanky-panky going on?

ROSS: [laughs] Oh, that's an old-fashioned term.


REDMAN: Yeah. A lot of people react to that and they say, oh, well, I was married, but I knew a lot of other people who were maybe having an affair or something else. So it's clear that that sort of activity was occasionally taking place, even on the grounds of the shipyard. But I'm just sort of wondering about sex and sexuality at that time. With a lot of young men being away overseas, do you get the sense that there were affairs between men and women who maybe a woman's husband was away or a boyfriend or something else?

ROSS: Or they were there.

REDMAN: Or they were there. Yeah.

ROSS: Now, every morning, Daddy drove me to work -- it was on his way to his job -- and we picked up Irene. Irene's husband was off at the war, and we picked her up every morning. Never found another thing out about her. Never. Never.


REDMAN: Just part of a share-the-ride sort of --

ROSS: Yes. She was always prompt, and she got in the car and we all said hello and we drove on. So I don't think that she was having an affair. Anybody as self-contained as she was -- But I didn't socialize with any of these people. I was all business. Now, when I did work those two nights on the night shift, Daddy took me down, of course, and picked me up. I remember I was going in the hold of one of the ships in the repair yard, and one of the workmen said, "Don't go any further." I said, "Why not?" He said, "She's plying her trade." Even I 66:00got that.

REDMAN: Right.

ROSS: So I backed out. So there was commercial activity.

REDMAN: Even in the hold of a ship.

ROSS: No, I remember that very well, because --

REDMAN: That's an amazing incident.

ROSS: I thought about this man wanting to -- I don't know whether he was protecting her, I don't know whether he was one of her customers, or whether he just thought it would be a shock to --

REDMAN: To little old you, if you walked in on --

ROSS: Yes. Yes. So I don't know. But I wrote a report that I thought the night shift could be disbanded, because actually, the day crew had to redo a lot of 67:00the things they did.

REDMAN: Ah, is that right?

ROSS: Yes.


ROSS: Because the welding supervisor -- he was over the foreman -- he'd created a big stink about the work they had to redo. In some report -- I don't know whether it was a Kaiser report -- There was a report that when the night shift was disbanded, output figures rose.

REDMAN: That's very interesting.

ROSS: Yeah. I wish I could tell you the reference, but I can't.

REDMAN: So then you stayed at the shipyard until the end of the war, or a little after the end of the war?

ROSS: Yeah, a little after the end of the war. What I did was begin processing 68:00RIF [reduction in force] notices. So a lot of people left the shipyard between V-J Day and -- It was really later, because you see, Japan was thought then to -- going to be a terribly long and bloody war. So it wasn't until about September that we began issuing these RIF notices. Then in January, I expected to be RIF-ed, because now there're almost no women left. I think Mabel wrote me my RIF notice. I can't remember now. But at any rate, so I went home and told my parents my job had come to an end. They thought that was fine. Mama said, "Why 69:00don't you go to Berkeley and take a few courses?"

REDMAN: That was a major turning point in your life, that little statement right there.

ROSS: Mm-hm. Because I said I didn't know quite what I wanted to do. I said I didn't want to work in industry, because the best job there was the secretary of the personnel director.

REDMAN: Tell me, what do you think you learned? This is an enormous question. But it seems as though you learned quite a bit from --

ROSS: Oh, I did.

REDMAN: -- your time at the shipyards. Being there from maybe '44 to '46?

ROSS: Yes.

REDMAN: It seems like there were a lot of experiences crammed into those two years. Can you maybe summarize for me, the place of the shipyards in your life?


ROSS: Well, I think I saw the ruthlessness of really big business. One of the things that made a tremendous impression on me was when Mr. Hanna came through the terminations. He was escorted.

REDMAN: This is an individual that you'd known.

ROSS: Well, he was the head of the L.A. shipyard.

REDMAN: Right, yeah. Okay.

ROSS: Furthermore, he was the father of a girl I knew. I didn't really know her well, but -- He was a pillar of the San Pedro community. They'd stripped him of his badge. We all had to wear badges, and then your identity card. I gave him back his identity card. I remember Edith saying to me, why was I crying? Because 71:00I saw a man who'd done his best, and he was just tossed out and I don't know what happened to him. But he was probably fifty-five or sixty. I still think that's no way to treat anybody.

REDMAN: Right.

ROSS: I also saw Mr. Massengill, the paymaster, who took Edith, Mabel and me and Mrs. Massengill to the company Christmas party, just that once. I never went the second time. But Mr. Massengill thought we should show up, so he drove us to Los Angeles. People were drinking much too much. Daddy's rule had been, even though 72:00I wasn't twenty-one, you're to have a Scotch and water, and no mixed drink, ever. [chuckles] I took his advice. Then I think lots of people went off with people who they didn't come with.

REDMAN: I see. So this sort of opened your eyes to corporate America, in some sense.

ROSS: Yes, and I didn't want any of that.

REDMAN: Yeah. Okay.

ROSS: You see, also I didn't think much of supervision, in that Fred, whatever his name was, came and asked us about Mr. M. Well, I think he had not been doing his job. He might've tumbled to this by looking in on Mr. M once in a while. No, and I saw a great many people who just didn't like their lives.


REDMAN: Right, okay.

ROSS: I thought that was too bad.

REDMAN: Yeah. It seems like a lot of powerful lessons about the corporation, the structure of a major corporation, and thinking of capitalism as, in and of itself, without a conscience.

ROSS: Yeah, but I believed in capitalism. I think it's what somebody said to me in graduate school; there're lots of problems, but every other system seems worse.

REDMAN: Right. Yeah, yeah.

ROSS: But no.

REDMAN: So it didn't make you fundamentally question the economic structure, but you saw these individuals behaving --


ROSS: Badly.

REDMAN: -- badly, within the system.

ROSS: Yeah. And I didn't want it.

REDMAN: I'm going to pause just for one moment. [audio file may stop & restart]

ROSS: We had dates on Saturday night, but these were people who passed through the airwaves. Sunday was mostly getting ready for Monday.

REDMAN: So were there USO dances occasionally, things like that, that you would attend?

ROSS: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Yes, yes. Oh, yes.

REDMAN: Were those things enjoyable.

ROSS: Oh, sure. Oh, sure.

REDMAN: But there was never a deep, meaningful relationship that --

ROSS: No. Now, one of our friends, Catherine, met the man she later married. Elise, my sister, and I went to their fiftieth wedding anniversary.


REDMAN: Oh, terrific.

ROSS: That was swell.

REDMAN: But that was not a common occurrence.

ROSS: No. No, it was passing.

REDMAN: So now, your mother makes this comment, in 1946, that maybe you should go take some classes at UC Berkeley. It seems like a major turning point in your life. You go back, and what classes do you decide to enroll in?

ROSS: Oh, that first semester, I was just in time; for the spring semester, it was just time to enroll. I took a seminar in agricultural history with Paul Taylor. I've come to admire him enormously. But at the time, he had us read agricultural journals of the nineteenth century. We simply noted them and summarized them for him. Articles that had to do -- Oh, I can't remember now. 76:00But at any rate, it was a very boring.

REDMAN: It sounds pretty tedious.

ROSS: Obviously, it was part of his research. Then I took a very interesting course with Mr. Gulick, on labor movements. It compared the Austrian labor movement -- Of course, when he told me that he was going to compare Austria with the US and a bit of Britain -- I thought he meant Australia, because Austria, to me, was a foreign land.


ROSS: Well, no, he did mean Austria, because of course, his great work was Austria From Habsburg to Hitler, a two-volume work. That was interesting. Then I 77:00took another course, and I took micro, micro theory. That was wonderful. It was taught by Professor Ellis, who -- No. I took that in the fall. No, I didn't take that. I took three seminars, the third one I can't even remember.

REDMAN: So it strikes me that -- this is maybe a bold proclamation -- but that to be on the Berkeley campus in 1946 is one of the most interesting, amazing times to be a student on campus. You're looking forward and you have people like Henry Luce talking about an American century that we're embarking on. You yourself had been thinking about a post-war, international economic landscape, 78:00even as a senior. But things like the Marshall Plan were only barely coming into focus at that time. It was unclear what the post-war economic world would look like. Did those issues resonate with you at the time?

ROSS: Oh, sure. In the spring of '45, I guess I was entitled to a week's vacation, and I came up to attend some of the public meetings of the UN conference. That made a terrific impression on me.

REDMAN: It seems like people who were aware of international politics at the time or people who were reading newspapers, that was a very powerful moment in the Bay Area, having those meetings take place here. Then of course, signing documents.

ROSS: Yes. Oh, I was thrilled by that. By change, I met Clement Attlee.


REDMAN: It seems that a lot of people at that time -- and I'm talking specifically about maybe let's say 1944, '45, and '46 -- were talking about a sense of international unity and cooperation and peace. Were those messages, too that resonated with you?

ROSS: Oh, yes. It was a time of hope. It truly was.

REDMAN: How long do you think that that moment lasts, before more of our senses of fear --

ROSS: Over the Cold War.

REDMAN: -- [over] the Cold War start to emerge as more of a reality?

ROSS: Mm-hm.

REDMAN: So is there a moment where there was a turning point? Was it Sputnik? Or was it earlier than that? Or was that sort of a gradual transition from this sort of hope of the United Nations and the Marshall Plan, against the backdrop 80:00of the Cold War?

ROSS: Well, wait a minute. When did the McCarthy era really begin to bite?

REDMAN: So early, mid-1950s, I believe. But there would be a window in time that I could see that if McCarthyism really changed attitudes, that would make sense.

ROSS: Because now, there were some good things that happened. Truman integrated the armed forces.

REDMAN: Did you see that as a big step?

ROSS: Yes, I do. And I see the GI Bill as maybe the most important thing in the 81:00first half of the twentieth century, because that allowed education of people who had no chance.

REDMAN: Right. Right. I'd love to ask about, following the war, some of the things that I've seen listed in historical documents that I haven't found anyone who's able to speak to it. I think you're the perfect candidate who would notice this, is that a lot of people came back, at Berkeley in particular, not just to begin undergraduate training, but a lot of people came back to either advance their education -- So people who had bachelor's degrees saw in the GI Bill an opportunity, maybe, to go get their masters or their PhD. And a lot of students that were starting were maybe a few years older --

ROSS: Oh, yes. Yes.

REDMAN: -- because the war had interrupted their education or postponed their education. They had this, often, amazing life experience of traveling; sometimes terrifying experiences that made you grow and change in all sorts of different 82:00ways, during wartime. I'm curious how that would affect the campus and the feel of the campus at that time.

ROSS: Well, what really impacted me and how it became real for me, was that in September -- no, it must've been in the spring -- I met a woman at a bus stop. I lived up on Cragmont, and I used to go down to the library at night. There was a streetcar, mind you, that ran from the North Gate, up Euclid. So I met her at this bus stop -- it was only a streetcar -- and she said to me, well, why was I living in this dopey boardinghouse, when I could be living at International House? I didn't even know that International House existed. So I was admitted 83:00for September, and it's in many ways, that's what changed my life, because I met all of these interesting people.

REDMAN: Now, I've read that you started living in International House maybe later in '46, and you lived there between '46 and '51?

ROSS: Well, '46 to '48, and I was a dropout, and then I came back and then stayed till '51.

REDMAN: I see. Now, I've noticed that you describe this as a golden age of the International House, and I was wondering if you could describe what that might be, for me. What was it like living in the I-House at that time?

ROSS: Well, now, somebody has just done a book on the golden age, Jeanine Costello Lin and Tonya Staros. She did it for her father and her father's 84:00friends, and then I-House undertook to publish it because they thought it would make good publicity, which it did. The only thing is that I think all of the contributors, except one maybe, are Americans. And they're typical of the Americans who were going to college then, in that most of us were white, middleclass.

REDMAN: That's right. Yeah, sure.

ROSS: The were some interesting Americans, American men who'd had fantastic war experiences, but most of the really interesting people were foreigners. They, of course, were enchanted to be here, because even if they hadn't had distinguished 85:00war records, they'd been miserable.

REDMAN: So you think especially emerging from the context of war, that they may have spent the last five years of their life or more, then suddenly coming to peaceful little Berkeley, in some sense, with a --

ROSS: Well, it's a wonderful place.

REDMAN: Gorgeous campus, beautiful International House. So this was an eye-opening experience.

ROSS: And lots of good food for the international students.


ROSS: And sweet American girls.

REDMAN: Right, right. Do you get a sense of what programs many of these students were coming to the United States on?

ROSS: Oh, yes. There was tremendous -- what's the word I want? -- national identification. There were a tremendous number of Indians and Egyptians, and 86:00there were financed by their countries. These students were financed by their governments, so a lot of them were not privileged. The Indians mostly studied engineering; and the Egyptians, mostly civil engineering.

REDMAN: Was there an influx of Chinese students at any point during this time? Or did that come later. I know International House has, for quite some time, had a relationship with China, but I'm curious if --

ROSS: Yes. Well, now, Wen Yen and Milton, they came from Tientsin. But yes, there were a number of Chinese. Well, there were, but now, some of them came 87:00later. Of course, '49 was a big exodus of Chinese from the mainland. Milton had actually been born in Oakland. His father, I think, was a dentist in Oakland. But both true in the Chinese culture and in the Japanese culture, he was sent back to be educated in what was thought to be home. Milton walked by night and slept by day, from Tientsin, a port city -- back to where the American forces were, over in Chunking, and he joined the American Army. Of course, his Chinese was perfect, because he'd been raised in China.


REDMAN: Right, yeah.

ROSS: And passed as Chinese and essentially, spied for the American government.

REDMAN: Is that right? Okay.

ROSS: So he came in '46 and later married Wen Yen. She is still playing tennis every day. Milton died a couple years ago. They're the ones I've known best.

REDMAN: I see. So then turning again generally, you've mentioned, in an article honoring you for winning the Alumna of the Year at I-House, you talk about a really diverse array of people that were on campus during that time, and how much they influenced your life.

ROSS: Yes.

REDMAN: I'd like to ask a series of questions, but most of them are focused on how the campus was changing at the time, specifically in terms of the students. I'd ask you to think back to your time before the war, at Mills, and thinking about maybe what you knew of UC Berkeley and what the students were like there.


ROSS: Well, we had -- Oh, what's the word. They weren't individual dates, they were invitations to various fraternity houses; and then various groups at Mills invited fraternity X. They were dancing mixes or whatever you want to call them. Some of my friends married men they met that way, and some of them married -- Well, two of them married pilots who'd passed through the space at some time. A lot of people at I-House married each other. It was a matrimonial factory. 90:00[Redman laughs] It truly was. The marriages, with one exception that I can think of, lasted.

REDMAN: Interesting.

ROSS: Well, the men were ready to get married. They were five, six years older and, I think, knew what they wanted.

REDMAN: Were there a number of instances of foreigners, then, marrying American women?

ROSS: Yes. Yes. Yes. And some foreign girls. That lovely girl from Turkey, Eren Sunel (sp?) married Paul Olsen, a Norwegian. Yes.

REDMAN: Now, do you get the sense that those relationships, in 1946, was there any discrimination at that time in a place like Berkeley, in terms of --

ROSS: Oh, yes.


REDMAN: -- relationships of different races or cultures?

ROSS: Oh, sure. Now, when I-House was created in 1930 -- and it's written in Mr. Blaisedell's -- he was the long-time director -- oral history, about Harry Edmonds -- who was Mr. Rockefeller's front man, as it were -- [that he] wanted I-House to be built where it is, so it'd be an affront to the stodginess of Berkeley, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. Well, lots has been made of that. But also, I think it's got to be said that there were tremendously good forces that welcomed this sort of activity. Ralph Fisher, who was a businessman in Oakland -- or was he a banker? he was something or other -- was very supportive, as were people in Berkeley, of integration. What some of them worried about was men and 92:00women together. But there was discrimination. The coffee shops along Telegraph Avenue -- And Telegraph Avenue went all the way up to Sather Gate then; the boundary hadn't been moved yet.

REDMAN: Right.

ROSS: They did not serve -- we were still calling them Negroes -- coffee. So I sat in with two men who were in economics. And there's an oral history about one of them, Emmett Rice, in Bancroft. He only died this spring. His daughter, child of a mixed marriage, is now high up in the State Department.

REDMAN: Interesting. Okay.

ROSS: But I know that when he went to Cornell, the way was paved for him by 93:00somebody here, who knew somebody at Cornell, so they lined up an apartment for him in advance, et cetera. When Wen Yen and Milton wanted to buy a house on Grizzly Peak, they bought it through a friend, because --

REDMAN: Going through a realtor at that time --

ROSS: Yeah, the realtors were redlining the area.

REDMAN: So there were clear instances --

ROSS: So there were instances of discrimination. And blatant.

REDMAN: Blatant discrimination, very open. Now then, another question I wanted to ask, going back to your understanding of -- It's a little bit of a tricky question, but I'm wondering if there were other dorms that were co-educational 94:00or men and women, or was that unique to the I-House, at the very early founding?

ROSS: The co-ops were separate. I can't think of any mixed sex, because there were only two dorms, university-sponsored dorms, and one was Bowles Hall, and that was all men. The other one was the women's one, built in '42. I can't think of its name. Anyway, no, I can't think of any. The women's dorm was named Stern.

REDMAN: So were men and women at International House separated in any way?

ROSS: Oh, yes. Yes.

REDMAN: How would that work?

ROSS: By floor.

REDMAN: Okay, so by floor.

ROSS: Yes.

REDMAN: I see.

ROSS: Now, can I tell you this story of a Swedish economist?

REDMAN: Please.

ROSS: He was being shown around. Mr. Blaisedell had shown him the Golden Gate 95:00Bridge, and the Swedish economist said, "Ah, we abolished toll bridges in the twelfth century, in Sweden." So then when they were at I-House, Mr. Blaisedell showed him around. So the Swedish economist observed that the men and women are separated by floors, and Mr. Blaisedell said yes. So he said, "In Sweden, don't you?" He said, "No, they're not." Mr. Blaisedell said, "Well, don't you have trouble?" The Swedish economist said, "Yes. Don't you?" [Redman laughs] Isn't that darling?

REDMAN: Yes, it is. Yes. It shows that it's not just where the sleeping arrangements are, necessarily.

ROSS: Now they're not separated.

REDMAN: So let me ask. Let's say you're a young graduate student or taking courses at the Berkeley campus. What sorts of trouble could you get into at that 96:00time, socially or -- I'm not insinuating that you were out drinking and carousing.

ROSS: What sort of problems that were frowned upon? You're thinking about --


ROSS: -- social issues? Well --

REDMAN: I assume that so many of the students were so diligent that that was less of an issue. Would you say that most of the students were fairly studious during their time here, and focused on their studies? Were there other students that were celebrating the fact that --

ROSS: Oh, there were the fraternity boys. What did they do? Did they see how many men could get into a telephone booth?

REDMAN: Sure, okay. Yeah.


ROSS: Then there was something about goldfish swallowing. But the cops, the Berkeley cops -- and I'm thinking of the campus cops -- they mostly were sort of getting drunks home. And there were panty raids.

REDMAN: It sounds like nothing too dangerous.

ROSS: I can't remember. I can remember there were some barrels set on fire at some point, but I can't remember when that was. No.

REDMAN: All right, maybe we can turn back to scholarship for a moment. I'm 98:00curious about what you were learning in these classes that you were taking now.

ROSS: Well, one, I've got to be very grateful to Mr. Kidner. He taught statistics. He called me in, I guess the second week of class, in September, and asked me if I'd like to be a TA. I said, "Well, I've never taught." He said, "Well." I didn't realize at the time, but of course, they were desperate. They had oodles more people enrolling in economics than they'd ever thought, and so they needed a live body to teach. He then went on to say, he said, "Well, you did well in your two economics classes as an undergraduate, and you seem to have done all right this spring. So," he said, "Why not?" So I said, "Sure." But before that, he said to me, "I see that you got an A from George Hedley." I said yes, and he said, "What'd you think of him?" I said, "I thought he was 99:00wonderful." He said, "Well, why don't I give you your first job then?" He said, "George gave me my first job."

REDMAN: Oh, wow. That's very interesting.

ROSS: So this is a story about the old-boy network.

REDMAN: Yes. Yeah.

ROSS: I'm sure he would've given me the job anyway, but --

REDMAN: But it was clear in that --

ROSS: -- he was pleased. He was pleased.

REDMAN: So then let me ask about your experiences teaching. I can imagine teaching economics at this time at Berkeley, for the reasons that we've discussed, were very interesting. I can imagine the normal groups of young recent high school graduates, combined with students who had come back from the Pacific or Europe, to other students who had maybe spent time working in defense industries. [doorbell or phone rings] Would you like me to pause that? [audio file stops & restarts]

ROSS: -- and that's because they'd been too lazy to sign up in at a decent hour.

REDMAN: So you had all of the football players in your first economics 100:00discussion section. Eight a.m. on Saturday.

ROSS: For the most part, they were hopeless students. We gave them quizzes every week, and these were multiple-choice quizzes. No, we didn't. No, that was later. No, I take that back. But we had several exams before the final. Professor Gordon looked over the A's and the D's and the F's and he read them. He was very conscientious. So the A's, he agreed with me. The D's, sometimes he moved up to a C. And the F's, oh, failing, he moved up to a D. I didn't like this because F 101:00meant they hadn't done anything. A good many of the football players were in that category, because in my other sections -- We had six sections a week. When I think about it now -- And there were at least fifteen people to a section. That's a lot of papers to grade.

REDMAN: Yeah, that's a lot of papers to grade.

ROSS: Then I had one or two older men -- they were probably thirty -- who argued with me in class. Sometimes they were right. That was very embarrassing, but okay. It wasn't that first semester, it was later, that I had a student who'd 102:00been troublesome to me. Then when I was home for Christmas vacation, he had taken captive his girlfriend, at pistol point. Made the L.A. Times.


ROSS: But she got away. So he didn't come back. That was kind of exciting and a little bit troublesome. But I had very few women. Very few. They were mostly men.

REDMAN: I hate to say this, because I'd like to go on and on with you about your time at Berkeley, and let's do a follow-up on that. But to conclude today, I'd like to conclude by thinking about the war, if you wouldn't mind. In particular, we talked about the place of the shipyards in your thinking, but I'd like if 103:00you'd maybe put in context for me, the place of the war in your economic thinking, in your political thinking and your social thinking, as far as the immediate aftermath for it. Well, you were this bright-eyed young graduate student, some sense; but you'd also had some very deep and heavy and powerful real-life experiences, working in the shipyards. So it seems to me a blending of this sort of youthful naiveté with, also the experiences of someone who had worked at an interesting place.

ROSS: I never mentioned it.

REDMAN: So you would never mention to your professors, say, that you had an experience at the shipyards? That's very interesting.

ROSS: I didn't say anything to my professors. No, I didn't.


REDMAN: How about for you internally?

ROSS: It was a new world.

REDMAN: It was a new world. Okay.

ROSS: Yes.

REDMAN: So yet again, you've had this new world at the shipyards, and then you're entering a new phase in your life that is, in some sense, completely disconnected. Now, it seems like there maybe were some lessons. We talked about feelings about big corporations and maybe were there questions about capitalism? Can you add anything else to that? Is that a pretty accurate portrayal of who you were, then, in 1946, as far as these thoughts churning about in your mind?

ROSS: I never had a life plan. This is one of the things that sort of upset me in the last few years of teaching, was that by then, the women I taught were so 105:00determined to -- or at least felt that they ought to know what they were going to be doing in twenty years. What I thought about when I went to college was that I was very impressed, again, by Dr. Reinhardt's statement that the purpose of a liberal arts education is to make a woman more interesting at forty than she is at twenty. Now, that can probably be thought of as sexist. You were to move into Mrs. Three-in-one, as the wife of a successful businessman, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But I was very optimistic. One of the pieces that I wrote 106:00for I-House once upon a time, when I said it was the best of times and it was the worst of times, to paraphrase -- not even to paraphrase, to quote --

REDMAN: Dickens.

ROSS: Dickens, thank you. That there were all these real problems about the under-developed world, and terrible, terrible poverty abroad and at home, and prejudice, but it was still a time of hope, that we could -- This is one of the things that I thought economics would do for me, would be make me a skilled person to "solve," quote/unquote some of these problems. I saw the war as 107:00inevitable, in hindsight. I saw it as inevitable. Now that I've read a bit more than I did then, I think I clearly see now there were ways that we could've acted, and should've acted, in advance. But we didn't. So then I thought we should make the best of it.

REDMAN: I think I'll conclude with that and we'll pick it up again in a future session.

ROSS: Okay, fine. Did you see Midnight in Paris?