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Notable New     Yorkers
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Moe FonerMoe Foner
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together. The union became the place where they fought. “Sing while you fight” was the slogan of 65. They would develop union songs about their struggles, and people came to the union. There were meetings going on every night in the week after work. Most of the work force lived and worked in the New York area. Very few people lived outside of Manhattan. Therefore, it was easily accessible from the shop to the union hall.

The union hall had everything going there, not only meetings. They had classes. They even developed a consumer service, where you could shop, and because of the wholesale trade, they were able to buy materials and to sell them at low prices. This also became a thing that encouraged people to come with their families to shop. So there was something rocking in that building all day long--choruses, classes, entertainment, you name it. So that the union was the center of people's lives -- not for everybody, but for a large number of people, a very, very large number of people.


One thing that struck me in talking last time was that when you began to organize these various cultural events and in your own modest performing career, you were hooked up with people who were real cultural figures, especially, for instance, when you talked about the production of “Thursdays ‘Til Nine” and the people that you were able to call upon. All these people came out of the “progressive milieu.” This is really maybe an elaboration on the questions I've been asking, but was it that the left the youth movement sought to create around itself a cultural retinue, so to speak? Or was it just something that happened and survived the splits and the problems, and there just was more of a sort of progressive cultural milieu than there is now?


Well, for one thing, the party had great strength among intellectuals. They had strength among youth. They had lesser strength among workers. So you play it where you got it. Now, where you have influence among intellectuals, some were rather important intellectuals who themselves influenced other intellectuals and brought others in. Now, this was true not merely among writers. Remember, this is a period when The New Masses is an important magazine, where, for example, the cartoons -- I'm not merely talking about Art Young and Robert Minor, the editorial cartoonists, but I'm talking about cartoonists who appear in The New Yorker are doing cartoons for The New Masses. You're talking about writers like Albert Maltz, who were writing for The New Masses, Malcolm Cowley, who was in The New Republic, but also writes for the -- It's a very respectable kind of thing. Then because of its influence in the theater, the left had formed

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