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How did you know Will Geer and people like that?
I knew them through Ossie, Ruby. Will Lee, I knew. Will Geer, I
guess I just knew him. Or if you went to Ossie and you said, “Get
some people.” Pete, I knew. Then we had a comedian at the program.
The comedian was Bernie West. Bernie West came out of the student
movement. At that time he was performing with Judy Halliday. What's
that, where he played the role of the dentist in that musical? It was
with Sidney Chaplin, “Just in Time,” “The Party's Over.” Anyway, he
also did a stand-up thing, but he came out of the student movement.
He was a comedian, he used to do “Pens and Pencils” at the ASU
things. He later went on to write. He's still writing in Hollywood. He
wrote the Norman Lear thing, “All in the Family.” He's a top producer
Is that right?
That's right. But anyway, so that was the entertainment. That
was a big, big event. A big event, you know.
At that time, was it easier, do you think, to get union members to
participate in the kinds of activities you're talking about?
Well, remember that the spread to the suburbs had not yet
taken hold, so people lived in New York. There was a tradition of
activity in the union, and the union provided the opportunity and was
very competitive about getting it. I would always work on the theory
that you have to have competition. We had geographical divisions that
you were getting so many from this one, you were going to have
somebody from that one, and organizers would look at each other.
You've got the union leadership. Davis at the top was pushing these
What was your relationship with Davis like at that point? How did
I think I told you how I got to know Davis and how I got the
job. It's one of the true things about the article in New York magazine.
We would drive in. He at that time drove in to work, and so I would
drive in, or George Glotzer would drive in, and we would drive in and
out together, three or four of us who lived not far from each other.
Those trips were the basis for just talking about things. The union was
your whole life. You were always talking about things, always figuring
out angles. I would figure out something to test it. So I had a
relationship with Davis where I would say, “I'd like to do this.”
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