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At the beginning, I'm doing things like classes and there are cultural programs, right away, cultural programs. I go to my friend, Mady Lee, Jack Gilford's wife, whom I knew from the student movement, and Will Lee, who died recently, who ended up on “Sesame Street,” a very fine actor and very wonderful guy, and I say to them, “I'm now in this union. I'm doing this thing. Maybe you can help me.”

And they say, “Sure, we'll help you.” And they both at different meetings say, “There's a couple you've got to meet. He's working in the post office now. His name is Ossie Davis, and his wife is Ruby Dee. You ought to get to meet them.”

And I get to meet Ossie and Ruby, and before long, Ossie and Ruby are coming to do things for us.


How did you meet them?


I called them up. They had worked with Will Lee and Jack Gilford in “The World of Shalom Aleichem” that had been produced at that time, that Howard De Silva directed. So Ossie was the stage manager, and Ruby was one of the avenging angels. So they knew each other from that period. So I said, “Oh, them, they're great. What do you want?” And I tell them. “Sure, we'll do it.”

So I'm doing things like we have a Sunday night film series and we have one night a Chaplin series, and I get -- What is his name, he's dead now, but I know it -- Sidney Meyers. He made a very important documentary film, “The Savage Eye,” something like that. He is an expert on Chaplin, and he tells me, “Do Chaplin films.” I get “Nothing but a Man.” We show “Nothing but a Man.” You know, select films, and we do them on Sunday. And after if there's a social, serve tea and cookies. Then a series of lecture discussions, I get a psychiatrist who will talk on something and someone else will talk on something else. So we involve people.

I remember the first meeting of the rank and file committee, and so I ask Les Pine, who is the stand-up comic and writer, very clever, I said, “Les, will you come to this meeting and do your routine? Do your routine on the drugstore.” He had a routine about drugstores. He comes in this darkened room and he does this routine, and it like falls on deaf ears. Anyway, but everybody's happy anyway. A guy comes and entertains.

So we do that, we do children's programs, we do a big Christmas kiddie program, a Negro history celebration, Salute to Israel, a

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