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So there's a Foner tradition of achievement and of some sense of
commitment to social causes.
Yes, as a family, people always talk about the Foner family. Of
course, in some ways it's an unusual family. There's a song, “Mrs.
Foner Had Four Sons,” that was written during the Rapp-Coudert
period by Henry, describing each one in clever lyrics.
But here are four sons who end up socially committed during a period
of the Spanish Civil War in the thirties and forties, and make a mark
wherever they are. Students love Jack and Phil, and now Eric, my
nephew. Henry was a very gifted person, limited only by the fact that
he became a teacher in stenography and typing, who has assets of
enormous nature of writing, of doing, ended up as the president of the
Fur Workers Union, and is retired now, but still extremely active in
many things and projects he works on with me. He's helpful.
Henry is how many years younger?
Henry is four years younger. There was a four-year spread
between the Foners.
So you're eighty-six?
I'll be eighty-six in August. Henry will be eighty-two in March.
Maybe we should close by talking a little bit about the legacy of the
Davis generation in 1199 that you were a part of, that has charted the
course of 1199 for the last seventy years and, I think, made an
indelible imprint that will be very hard to change. First of all, what is
I think it's a legacy of commitment and concern for the
membership and for working people generally. I think it's been
demonstrated throughout these seventy years that this leadership was
prepared to walk through fire to get what was right and just for
workers. Nobody would dream that we could organize hospital
workers. I remember at the beginning that leaders of the other unions
would say, “Why do you want to go to hospital workers? They'll never
stick together. They don't have any legislation. You'll have to fight the
law. And more important, they're poor. You won't have any dues from
them. So why are you doing it? It's crazy.”
And Davis and the people around him said, “We're doing it because the
problem is there.” We were able to convince drugstore workers,
pharmacists who work in stores that average one and a half workers,
who work in direct contact with their employer every day, to agree to
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